Radiator air valve

There are a lot of bad jokes about fix­ing things with duct tape. None of them are fun­ny because–let’s be honest–duct tape sucks. There are lot of fine tape prod­ucts out there, and 3M makes most of them (dis­clo­sure: I’m a huge fan of pret­ty much every 3M prod­uct), but there is one stand­out that nobody has heard of and every home­own­er should own. That would be Scotch 2228, an EPR-based self-fus­ing mas­tic rub­ber tape intend­ed for the elec­tri­cal indus­try. It is thick, a lit­tle bit sticky, and stretch­es like taffy. It has the incred­i­ble prop­er­ty of fus­ing with itself to form a sol­id rub­ber blob. It is meant to be wrapped around out­door elec­tri­cal splices to pro­tect them from mois­ture, but I have dis­cov­ered a much more awe­some off-label use.

Scotch 2228That would be for the tem­po­rary repair of plumb­ing leaks. Like all good New Eng­lan­ders, we heat our house with cast-iron hot water radi­a­tors, which are gen­er­al­ly awe­some. But they have an Achilles heel, the low­ly air bleed valve, which has one job in life: to let trapped air out and keep the water in. Until one day, when it just can’t take it any­more. Once the air valve starts drip­ping stinky radi­a­tor water on the floor, it’s hope­less. You can try to tight­en it way hard­er than it’s designed for and hope that helps (that’s what plumbers like to do, judg­ing by the wrench marks). Or you can replace them. But what do you do in the mean­time?

Enter Scotch 2228. Wrap a piece of this stuff very tight­ly around the leak­ing valve. Cinch down on it with a cou­ple of zip ties. Blam­mo! The leak is stopped with­in min­utes. When you come back to replace the valve for real, you can’t peel the tape off because it has fused into a sol­id object. You have to saw it off with a knife. That’s how great this prod­uct is.

October 3, 2015 October 3, 2015 home by Scott 1 Comment

In my dream last night, I was con­front­ed with a prod­uct so annoy­ing that, upon wak­ing, I couldn’t believe it doesn’t already exist.

It’s a Self­ie Alarm Clock. You know, like a reg­u­lar bed­side alarm clock1, but instead of a snooze but­ton, it has a “self­ie” but­ton. It works as you’d expect.

Go ahead: build it and get rich. You can thank me lat­er.

  1. Remem­ber alarm clocks that aren’t phones? 

September 16, 2015 September 16, 2015 design by Scott 5 Comments

I final­ly moved this site from a first-gen­er­a­tion Rack­space Cloud instance to a mod­ern SSD-based Dig­i­talO­cean droplet. I’ve been mean­ing to do that for at least a year.

It should be way faster. And it final­ly sup­ports IPv6. If you’re not using IPv6, it’s time to get on that.

September 16, 2015 September 16, 2015 meta by Scott No Comments


I am pleased to announce that, two weeks ago, I became the father of a healthy, amaz­ing baby girl. The expe­ri­ence has been beau­ti­ful and mean­ing­ful beyond my wildest expec­ta­tions. I look for­ward to watch­ing her grow up, and being there to observe and take part in every mile­stone along the way.

September 3, 2015 September 3, 2015 family by Scott 3 Comments

LG B450

You’ve prob­a­bly heard of the B450, the hottest new flip phone from LG. It sup­ports voice calls, text mes­sag­ing, and it can take pic­tures with up to 1.3 mil­lion pix­els. The mar­ket­ing lit­er­a­ture promi­nent­ly fea­tures stock pho­tos of elder­ly peo­ple smil­ing at each oth­er.

F need­ed a new dumb­phone so we brought one of these bad boys home today. I was dis­ap­point­ed to find that you can’t sync files to it over USB. It only shows up as a USB device if the SIM card is removed, but then you’re locked out of the phone. That’s crazy. (Hey, it’s 2015, isn’t it?)

Copy­ing con­tacts off the old dumb­phone was easy with Wammu, which can quick­ly save them in any of a half-dozen file for­mats. But get­ting them onto the new one was going to be prob­lem­at­ic. The man­u­al says noth­ing about con­tact sync­ing, nor are there any menu options for it. LG offers no desk­top soft­ware for it. There is even an offi­cial T-Mobile forum post claim­ing that con­tact sync is just not pos­si­ble.

Wrong they are! In an act of des­per­a­tion, I found that you can send it a vCard (VCF) file over Blue­tooth. The phone responds by ask­ing if you want to restore con­tacts from the file. What! Since this is an undoc­u­ment­ed fea­ture, I here­by com­mit it to the Inter­webs.

August 18, 2015 August 18, 2015 tech by Scott 1 Comment

WKRC-TV Master Control c. 2001

I haven’t watched his show in years, but it is strange to think it’s done. When I worked (briefly!) in tele­vi­sion years ago, I would end every shift with the first 15 min­utes of Let­ter­man.

May 21, 2015 May 21, 2015 in-the-news by Scott No Comments

On Julius Shul­man:

He doesn’t shoot dig­i­tal and has no plans to start. He bought an expo­sure meter in 1936 and tossed it the same year because he didn’t want to lose the abil­i­ty to read light him­self. If you can’t inter­pret light and the way in which it plays with and defines its sub­jects, if you can’t under­stand the sub­tle and not-so-sub­tle rhythms of the sun, if you can’t rec­og­nize an architect’s intent the minute you walk into a room, no amount of mon­ey you spend on a cam­era will make you a pho­tog­ra­ph­er.

Source: Lens Mas­ter – Los Ange­les Mag­a­zine

May 18, 2015 May 18, 2015 photography by Scott No Comments

Sonic Arboretum at the ICA

This was amaz­ing. With­out ques­tion the coolest thing at the ICA. See it before it clos­es!

Son­ic Arbore­tum
Ian Schneller (speak­ers) & Andrew Bird (music)
ICA Boston
Feb­ru­ary 4–May 10, 2015

May 6, 2015 May 6, 2015 reviews by Scott 1 Comment