An Ode to Scotch 2228

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 2228 BoxThat 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.

Free Idea

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? 

New Server, Same Old Site

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.

The Road Ahead


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.

LG B450 Contacts from Backup

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.


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.

Interpreting light

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.

Lens Master – Los Angeles Magazine

Bird Strikes

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