Use thread sealing tape to keep screws and bolts from backing out

Frequently I have a problem with self-assemble furniture not holding together as well as I would like. The bolts back out over time the legs in our kitchen chairs get wobbly. Or a bolt from an office chair falls out completely and something that used to work stops working. If I don’t notice the mystery bolt on the floor and the malfunction on the same day, I get other problems.

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Gary Kildall’s death investigation

I was selling computers at retail when I heard of Gary Kildall’s death. We had a few copies of Wordstar for Windows and someone asked about it. I said it was easier to remember the keyboard shortcuts in Wordstar than Wordperfect.

“You sound like a CP/M guy,” said someone who overheard me. “Did you hear that Gary Kildall died last month?”

I hadn’t, and he wasn’t surprised. I was curious, so I went to the library and found a whole lot of nothing. A month or two later, I found a mention in a computer magazine column that Kildall had died in a barroom fight but it gave no specifics.

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Why Bowman sold out to Topps, or how Topps bought Bowman

Why Bowman sold out to Topps, or how Topps bought Bowman

Virtually every schoolboy who is interested in baseball cards knows the story of how Topps bought Bowman. After World War II, Bowman was the leading brand of baseball card, or, at least from 1948 until 1951. Then, in 1952, Topps released its landmark 1952 set. Bowman and Topps battled for baseball fans’ nickels and pennies until 1955. Then, in early 1956, Topps bought Bowman, and that was the end of Bowman until the late 1980s, when Topps dusted off the brand name and started issuing Bowman cards again. And Topps faced precious little competition in the baseball card field until 1981, when Fleer and Donruss won the right to produce cards.

That’s the story as I knew it. But there’s a lot more to the story, starting with the details of the purchase. In January 1956, Topps bought its once mighty rival for a mere $200,000. Normally a company sells for 10 times its annual revenue, and Bowman had sold $600,000 worth of baseball cards alone just two years before. The purchase price makes no sense, until you dig a bit deeper.

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Marvel Mystery oil in a snowblower

I’ve had such success with Marvel Mystery Oil in my lawn mower than I’ve gotten questions about Marvel Mystery oil in a snowblower.

Yes it will work. It will work in any gasoline-powered yard tool. And I would expect the same results. It works in small engines, it works in cars, and some pilots even use it in airplanes.

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I didn’t winterize my lawnmower but I got away with it. Here’s how.

Last year I didn’t winterize my lawnmower at the end of the season. Shame on me. So I took some extra precautions this year to avoid a $50 lawn mower repair, and got away with it. Here’s what I did.

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Port 2381: What it is and how to manage it

I was doing some scanning with a new vulnerability scanner at work. It found something listening on a lot of servers, described only as Apache and OpenSSL listening on TCP port 2381. The versions varied.

Luckily I also had Qualys at my disposal, and scanning with Qualys solved the mystery for me quickly. It turned out to be the HP System Management Homepage, a remote administration/diagnostic tool that, as the title says, lets you manage HP server hardware. It runs on Windows, Linux, and HP-UX. Read more

Tips on buying used stuff

I just found a Lifehacker piece on buying used stuff without getting ripped off. I have plenty of experience in this area.

The key, I think, is to deal in person, and test as much functionality as you can before handing over the cash. Read more

The estate find that broke my slump

I wrote a few weeks ago about finding a scarce Marx windup train at an estate sale, but I actually went a good couple of years without finding a train worth buying until recently. The train that broke my slump was at a sale close to home, and I actually didn’t even set out to buy a train that day.

It was a cold and rainy morning in St. Louis. It was Friday, and I was in between jobs. The estate sale was close, so I went. Otherwise I would have had no reason to go. I don’t remember exactly what I was looking for, but I didn’t expect to find a train. Read more

My greatest estate find

If you’ve been reading this blog for a few years, you know I kind of like trains. But my favorite way to buy them isn’t to buy them at a train store. I like to buy them from estates.

One week, I spotted a few late-production Marx 6-inch cars and a plastic locomotive in an estate ad. I tallied up $30 worth of trains in the picture, and figured I’d be lucky if they asked $60 for it. But I decided to take another look at the picture,  just in case.

This wasn’t an ordinary train. Read more

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