Who makes Insinkerator garbage disposals?

Who makes Insinkerator garbage disposals?

Insinkerator is a venerable and popular brand of garbage disposal you can find at at almost any hardware or home improvement store. You can find one at almost any price point you want, whether you want to spend tens of dollars or hundreds. But who makes Insinkerator garbage disposals?

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You might need a new router

Do you need a new router? If your Internet is slow after upgrading to a faster service, and if your wifi range and reception is poor, or your Internet connection just generally misbehaves a lot, you might need a new router.

Even the New York Times, of all places, has published articles extolling the virtues of new routers. If your wi-fi at home is bad, they say, think about picking up a TP-Link Archer C7 router. I like the Asus RT-AC66U myself,  but in my experience, and the experience of my colleagues, a new router makes a huge difference.

When one longtime friend upgraded to a TP-Link Archer, he told me his wi-fi improved so much his wired network was suddenly struggling to keep up with it. That’s fixable. He’s a candidate for Gigabit Ethernet.

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How I freed a seized-up garbage disposal

I’m sure all landlords have a story like this, but let me tell you my garbage disposal story. I don’t know what the last occupant put in that disposal, and I don’t want to know. What I do know is that it was completely seized up and wouldn’t run.

The motor hummed, which I know from years of tinkering with old Lionel and Marx electric trains that meant the motor wasn’t completely dead, so I had to find a way to free up whatever was keeping the motor from turning.

The usual fix is to use a garbage disposal wrench (which is really just an allen wrench–so you can use any allen wrench that fits) to spin the motor in both directions until it turns freely. There’s a little key in the center of the underside where the wrench goes. Mine wouldn’t budge. I wasn’t being wimpy either–I’d lean on it to the point where the disposal itself was shifting in its mount, but the motor stubbornly refused to go anywhere.

At this point I’d about written it off. A 1/3 horsepower Waste King Legend disposal costs around $55 online, and sometimes you can get their low-end half-horse unit for around $5 more, so I figured I didn’t have a whole lot to lose, and I knew I couldn’t make the disposal any worse.

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Lessons of the HP Touchpad

At full price ($499 for the 16 GB model and $599 for the 32 GB model) the HP Touchpad was a colossal flop. Like AT&T’s first PC clones of the mid 1980s, it was a me-too product at a me-too price that wasn’t quite as good as the product it was imitating. So, basically, there was no reason to buy it.

At closeout prices, it became an Internet sensation. The few web sites that have it in stock can’t handle the traffic they’re getting. At $99 and $149, it’s selling like the Nintendo Wii in its glory days.

And I think there’s a significant parallel there that highlights the missed opportunity.
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Windows, ARM, emulation, misconceptions and misremembered history

I keep reading stuff about Windows and ARM and, well, I think people just aren’t remembering history.

I’m not saying that Windows 8 on ARM will save the world, or even change it substantially. It probably won’t, since Microsoft tends not to get things right the first time. But will I automatically write off the project? No. It could prove useful for something other than what it was originally intended. That happens a lot.

But I’m more interested in clearing up the misinformation than in trying to predict the future.
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How Windows knows if your network requires you to visit a web page

This is a nice writeup on how Windows Vista and Windows 7 know whether you have an active Internet connection and whether you need to visit a page in your web browser to activate it. It also talks about the privacy implications, and how to set up the service to use your server, rather than Microsoft’s.

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Fixing weird printing problems in MS Word

Some of my coworkers deal with long documents that give our printer fits. “Fits” meaning that 60-page documents take 30-45 minutes to print if they don’t abort in the middle with a printing error.

The documents in question contain a cover sheet, scanned in at high resolution, and usually have some large charts.

I devised a workaround. Read more

How not to succeed in business

So I have this house. Not the house I live in. It was a foreclosure, apparently one the previous owners walked away from about a year before we bought it. So it sat neglected for a year, and most likely, for several years before that.

I got in over my head a little, so I sought some help. Mowing the half acre looked like a smart thing to outsource.My neighbor’s son mows lawns. He mowed mine for the first year I lived here, but he mowed a little too frequently for my tastes, and he charged more than I could afford back then. Rather than call just anyone, it made sense to drop him a line.

He visited the place. I asked for a quote. He said $300.

Yeah, about three times what I expected was the worst case scenario.

I told him I wasn’t looking to have the place landscaped, nor was I looking for a really thorough job. I just wanted the lawn cut. One quick pass with a big mower, make the place look like someone kinda-sorta cares.

He argued with me a little about what needed to be done. I told him, point blank, that I didn’t have $300 to give him. Which was true. Rehab projects have a way of running away with the budget. The trick is to not spend on frivolous things. Like $300 lawn jobs.

He offered to give me a month to pay him.

I suggested a few other things to try to pare back expenses. He wouldn’t budge. He said pretty much anyone else would charge the same thing, and not to let the yard sit much longer because then it would really be out of control.

So I made a phone call, but not to another lawn guy. I called a lawnmower repair guy, to see about getting my piece-of-junk, died-two-cuts-into-its-second-season 6.5 horsepower Toro mower fixed. Fifty bucks plus parts, he said, and he’d have it done in about a week.

Meanwhile, I bought a battery-powered weed trimmer. It was $120, but I didn’t want a gas one, and it would take $100 worth of extension cords to reach back to the house from the far reaches of that yard.

Today I spent four hours out there with the Toro. At times it was overmatched. The guy next door came outside and decided to coach me, offering unsolicited advice to buy a bigger mower, on how tall the grass was, and, finally, how to start my Toro. All with lots of laughs along the way.

"I had it running earlier," I said. "It’s just being cranky."

Turns out the mower doesn’t like being low on fuel. It took a while to remember that, because it’s been a while since I last ran it. When I drove to the gas station, the neighbor went back inside. Thankfully, he stayed there.

For obvious reasons, the mower wasn’t happy chewing on waist-high grass. But it did surprisingly well on some nasty-looking weeds on the other side. And although it took some time, it got the job done, burning less than 2 gallons of gas in the process.

Considering the neighbor’s kid sad he’d have to have two people out there for three hours with his big mowers, four hours working alone isn’t bad at all. Out-of-shape me got it done in just an hour more with a 22-inch mower with 6 1/2 horses on the deck, so I’m not sure what he was going to have his other guy doing, but that’s his business.

So now the job’s done. I’m out four hours and $186, but the grass is cut, and I have a mower that might work another year and a weed trimmer to show for it. It’s all sitting in the garage, ready for next week.

As for the neighbor’s kid, well, I don’t think there’s any reason to call him again. I need people who are willing to work with me. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I think if I’m signing the check, I ought to have some say in what work gets done and how it gets done.

Intel\’s Atom mini-ITX board has some interesting possibilities

A story on The Register tipped me off to a small motherboard using Intel’s new Atom CPU. A UK data center is using the chip to power servers, and The Reg asks if it’s madness or genius.

More on that in a minute.It’s an interesting minimalist board. It has a single PCI slot, one DIMM slot, PATA and 2 SATA connectors for storage, and the usual complement of I/O slots. The CPU runs at 1.6 GHz. Newegg sells it for about 75 bucks.

One could use this board to build a minimalist PC, but it would also work well as a cheap upgrade for an old PC. It can bolt into a case designed for an ATX or micro-ATX board. It’s made by Intel, so its quality is likely to be comparable to any board it replaces. And the board consumes about 25 watts of power.

Paired up with some sort of solid-state storage, be it a compact flash card in an adapter or a proper SATA SSD like the OCZ Core, it would be a very quiet, low-power system. Performance-wise, it wouldn’t be a barn burner, but it has more than enough horsepower for word processing, e-mail, web browsing, and other productivity apps. At 1.6 GHz, the Atom doesn’t outrun a Pentium M or even a modern Celeron at comparable clock speed, but it should outrun a sub-2 GHz P4.

I think this thing would be awesome in many business environments. Tasks that would bog it down are the kinds of things you don’t want going on in the office anyway–stuff like 3D gaming, ripping and re-encoding DVDs, stuff like that. The power it would save would be tremendous, especially when paired with an LCD monitor and an SSD.

But I even think it has a place in the server room. For example, my first employer used desktop PCs for domain controllers. The logic was simple: DCs don’t work all that hard most of the day, and by their very nature they are redundant, so if a DC were to fail, it’s not in the same league as your mail server failing. You can grab another desktop PC, stand it up as a domain controller, then start asking questions.

In 1997, when a server cost $4,000 and a desktop PC cost $1,000, this was an obvious place for a college with budget problems to save some money.

I think Intel Atoms would make great domain controllers. They have enough CPU power to do the job, but they sip power, which is increasingly important in datacenters. The PCI slot would limit the type of gigabit NIC you could install, but it should still be OK.

They’d make fine web servers too. They might get bogged down on high traffic sites, but they would have little trouble serving up most corporate intranets, and let’s face it, most people’s web sites aren’t nearly as busy as they would like to think they are. You could always use more than one and load balance them. Besides, it’s typically the database servers behind the web servers that do the heavy lifting. Serving up static web pages isn’t all that difficult of a task, and a 1.6 GHz CPU ought to be up to it.

None of these uses are what Intel had in mind when they designed the Atom–I really think their ultimate goal is to end up in cell phones and PDAs, which was why they sold off their ARM-based Xscale CPU.

But if some enterprising company (or struggling behemoth *cough* Dell *cough*) wanted to build business PCs around these, it would be an easy sell. For that matter, they could stuff two of these boards into a 1U rackmount chassis and sell it as an inexpensive, power-saving alternative to blade servers.

Call me crazy, but having actually administered blade servers, I’d much rather have a bunch of 1U systems with two computers inside the case. Besides costing a lot less money up front, they would be more reliable and consume less power while actually saving space–an HP blade enclosure gives you 16 servers in 10 Us, while my crazy scheme would give you 20 servers in the same space.

Maybe instead of posting this idea where anyone can see it and run with it, I ought to buy a couple of motherboards, take them into my basement and start bending some metal myself. Hmm…

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