Taxes and COGs and online sales

I have started selling a few thrift picks on ebay. It’s going pretty good. I need to start keeping track of COGs and inventory of the picked goods, though, and probably need to enforce sales tax collection on the items, which is always a huge pain since online platforms don’t follow the destination-based sales tax rules that local municipalities and taxation districts have opted for.

At any rate. Some notes intended to guide me on this.

Personal used goods: treatable as a loss-sale, as in the instance of a garage sale where a used good is sold for a fraction of its’ new or replacement cost, and therefore not required to incur a COG line item. HOWEVER some sources say that a personal good can be converted to a sales good with a fair-market value assigned to the item at the time of the conversion, thereby changing the COG from zero to a positive number. This seems like it is most appropriate for items expected to be sold for a profit, that is, an appreciated good. Revenue from some appreciated goods can, it seems, also be treated as capital gains, which has a favorable tax structure and presumably exempts the converted goods from annualized inventory taxes.

Picked goods: items purchased for resale from a retailer, usually with sales tax associated and paid. There is a deduction for the sales tax that I forget how to account, but it’s there. The COG would be the full price including tax and then the sales tax paid would be treated as an offset somehow, possibly against federal taxes? I forget. Have to look that up again. At any rate the COG of the unit would be entered as the purchase price of the item (which is demonstrably a fair market value).

Deadstock: I have a bunch of deadstock that passed to me as personal property when I dissolved my S-Corp earlier this year in order to get out from under the annual grand-or-so in accountants and lawyers it cost to keep the licensing up. The dissolved corporation also incurred a personal loss to me of about 14k which I cannot offset personal income taxes against without keeping the corporation open. I think I can offset the losses via sale of deadstock, at least as far as I can, and therefore I don’t think I need to track COGs and inventory on these items (which already incurred their inventory taxes when owned by the corporation). I might be mistaken. At any rate the headstock will be selling for less than the cost of the items at wholesale and therefore represent a loss, so that would seem to place the goods in the least-accounted category.

A final puzzle is that while I have two eBay and PayPal IDs, one personal and one associated with my LLC, the personal eBay ID is a much more effective selling platform because it has such a large number of transactions. I think I need to convert it to the LLC ID and use the LLC ID as my personal ID from now on. I should have thought of and worked on this about a year ago, because ID changes take time to propagate and can cause record keeping confusion even at the programmatic level.

Getting there

I have been baffled and frustrated with figuring out how to get to the airport lately. I had intended to switch to bus and train at the end of this year but ran into a couple of stumbling blocks that ended up pushing that off the list for the moment.

I started thinking about making the change due to the escalating cost of on-site airport parking. So far this year we’ve spent over $300 parking at the airport proper. Off-site parking is available, generally at about half the cost, but adds an unknown and variable amount of time to the trip, which I will estimate as 30 minutes, changing the no-traffic 35 minute drive into an hour or so.

The primary deal breaker with regard to transit currently is the estimated travel time to the airport from Northgate Transit Center. Trip Planner places the trip at 1.5 to 2 hours, not accounting for the 15 minute walk from the station to the terminal. Starting the trip at the northern terminus of Link Light rail places the trip at an hour, so the variable is the 41 to the transit tunnel downtown.

Adding to the inconvenience is the need to get from the house to the transit center. Taking a cab over is $8.75 one way before tip. Grabbing a Car2Go involves walking to the C2G first and back to the Transit Center after parking it away from the Mall and I estimate should cost about $4. The walking should average an additional 20 minutes beyond the estimated 20 min drive (the drive may be significantly shorter based on traffic).

(I won’t ever be a customer of Lyft or Uber so they are not represented here. Demand-based pricing makes it difficult to plan for anyway, so fuck them. If you want to estimate, look at the cabs and cut the cost basis of the cab fees in half and use that, at the moment. In a few years that differentiation will fall to something like 15% rather than 50%.)

Taking a cab to the new UW station is estimated at about $28 before tip and the total trip time as stated above is drive + rail+ walk, estimated at about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Car2Go is a non-starter here as the light rail design decision to deliberately not provide parking near station terminuses combined with C2G’s no-parking rule for non-public areas such as, oh the entire campus of the University of Washington would mean there would be a mile walk from the car back to the station after dropping off the bags and Viv.

Anyway, I went over a total of NINE transportation strategies with Viv. We originally switched to cabs when we lived on Capitol Hill, which at the time from the area cost about $30 each way plus tip. Prior to that we were using Shuttle Express at about $25 each each way. Viv didn’t like SE because of the trip length uncertainty and anxiety and even back then, before TSA, we would always arrive at the airport later than I preferred to.

Once Viv looked at the transportation options, she decided we’re sticking with on-airport parking.

I made a table which presents the methods, estimated travel times, and estimated costs of each method. The news isn’t good. The basic least-expensive 2-way travel cost is about $30, representing a Car2Go to the Capitol Hill Link station and back therefrom. There is an offsite parking option for C2G now, and that trip looks like about $40 for both in and out. Of course, who knows how well-provisioned the C2Gs will be at WallyPark, so that adds some uncertainty cost.

Taxi to the airport is only marginally more expensive than taxi to UW Link, $130 vs. $160. Shuttle service came in at $90 round trip for 2.

The fundamental market-setting rates appears to be Seattle’s taxi fare rules that are a $2.60 meter drop and $2.70 / mile. That produces a fare base of $40-60 plus tip, and if an average trip is five days and a consumer takes advantage of the airport parking discounts (usually $19/day), the airport has set parking for that trip to be about right in-between the top and bottom costs of travel to the airport via cab from downtown to Shoreline. If you live in the south end, none of this will apply – the train’s gonna be your best bet.

Travel times including walking to a C2G, getting to a transit point, or waiting for a cab, vary between about 35 minutes to 2 hours or a bit more. So not only are you potentially paying the equivalent of an additional plane ticket, the amount of time just getting to your plane including time required at the airport (2 to 3 hours) is equivalent to or greater than many regional or half-continental flights.

My personal preference in this matter? Stay home! The time I spent investigating this only taught me what I already know: traveling is too expensive and insufficiently rewarding, forces me to participate in intricate economic planning that brings me to sense of satisfaction or joy, and that over time, the cumulative cost of all of this – increasing scheduling and price uncertainty, longer delays, more broken out and undisclosed fees – will only increase.

Here’s the table:

COST, low to high TIME,

low to high

1 6 Car2Go to CH Link 5:10 AM 1:30

(10+ 1h + 20min)


($8.20 one way + $2.50 + $2.50)*2

2 8 Car2Go to NGTC, Bus, Link 4:50 AM 2h $30

($4 + $5 + $5)*2

3 8 Taxi to NGTC, Bus, Link 4:50 2h $42


4 3 Car2Go to airport (Wallypark) 5:40 AM 1h




5 4 Wallypark 5:50 AM 1h $65.70 and up
6 5 Shuttle service 5:30 AM n/a, pickups add time $90 ($45/2 passenger)
7 1 Airport parking 6:10 AM 30 min $120 ($19/day)
8 7 Taxi to UW Link, Link 5:10 AM 1:30

(10+ 1h + 20min)



9 2 Taxi 6:00 AM 30 min $160 (2x $80)
n/a Car2go to UW Link Not viable

June already

More than two months ago, my buddy Tod asked me to do a couple weeks of work with him at his warehouse. A full eight weeks later, I am about to start another month’s work on an InDesign project for the same employer, which should be fun. I developed pre-release samples as a contractor for a launch release of InDesign, probably around 2002.

In prepping my production environment for this I decided it made sense to finally spring for a 1tb SSD to pop into my main axe, a late-2008 unibody MBP (the last model with the HD and battery access door, ordered refurb from Apple in April 2009).

Long story short, I ordered and installed not one but two 1TB SSDs and neither were compatible. The first one is actually definitively described as incompatible with the specific model Mac by the manufacturer. The second was confirmed as compatible by the manufacturer before I purchased it, but after a successful clean install and data migration, the machine crashed out and rebooted into the recovery partition. I performed a recovery and went to reboot – but the device was (and remains) unresponsive. Presumably it is the motherboard.  I guess seven years is reasonable use, but I’m still a little cheesed off about it – I certainly was not planning on replacing or upgrading for another five years or so.

So I ended up using the Crucial SSD on my other machine, an old Mac Pro 4,1 tower, and it’s a huge improvement. I had actually pre-ordered an OWC Mercury SSD for the dead laptop and had to RMA it. Immediately after learning the ’08 machine was dead I sourced a third-party refurb MPB from ’12 on eBay for about $500 and that’s what I’m writing on now. It could clearly benefit from an SSD swap too, and I see that OWC has just introduced a raft of new SSD options including a 2TB SSD for about $500, so that’s not out of the question. The CPU on the ’12 MPB is definitely beefier than that on the tower, but the difference between HD and SSD makes the tower far faster in use.

Simultaneously, I had decided to update our set of five-year-old iPhone 4 units and the replacement 5 units arrived this week. So between this and that, it’s been two weeks of intensive hardware and software chaos, hopefully resolved now for another five or six years.

Not sure how I feel about iOS 9 – Notifications in particular are a hideous annoyance that is apparently impossible to turn off globally and re-enable; predictably most apps install with Notifications turned on, in order to maximize ad impression opportunities. Annoyingly, apps that get *updated* ALSO have their on-install Notifications prefs reset. Which truly blows.

Anyway, off to remaster an InDesign workflow. Looking forward to it.

Leaving and taking it with you

Another MT export struggle narrative:

Movable Type to WordPress: A migration slightly less painful than the Trail of Tears – Makeworthy Media

So here’s where I’m at. The Ex Ratione command-line script seemed like the way to go after noting that the in-MT export tool produced a consistent truncated output, cutting off at blog entry 1249.

However, my hosting service doesn’t provide shell access (grr) and running the script via cron produced an empty file, probably as a result of their security settings. Their support group was able to run it directly and it produced exported output. Yay!

Except the output was just the same as the output produced using MT’s native export tool. Boo.

So there’s more banging to do.

Video card follies

As I’ve noted a couple times here in the past month, I impulsively bought a contemporary-architecture video card, a GTX 960, with the intent of using it in my Windows PC. On seating the card I was frustrated to note that it failed to operate, and have been engaged in a technical odyssey since then trying to troubleshoot the issue or to determine the extent to which the card may or may not be compatible with the machine.

This entry is going to be a link-and-data-dump consolidating my online discussions regarding the unit.

The card proper is the GeForce GTX 960 SSC 2GB, purchased from Amazon for under $200. The intended destination machine was a stock Inspiron 570 with an upgraded 500w power supply – the stock PSU for the machine was 350w and I bumped it when I bought my last set of GPUs, GTX 470s.

Here is the long narrative doc I wrote to clarify what tests I’ve run a few days ago. By the time I wrote this I had begun to try he card on one of my Mac towers as well, the current best-fit implementation but one with its own extreme limitations that need resolution as well.

(composed July 10, 2015)

GTX 970 narrative notes

First attempted install into i570

Useful link:

Thread appeared to validate card as OK based on power reqs, but card would not power on boot.

response notes probably higher power requirements

750w Corsair CS750M suggested PSU replacement.

Have add’l supercompact drive-bay PSU in hand originally sourced with the idea of driving 2x GT 470 in Mac Pro, not needed for that purpose. Mac Pro install is non-standard. i570 install may be wiser choice, certainly an acceptable test case.

After hitting power wall, began to experiment with GTX 960 in Mac Pro. In the meantime, correspondence with Nvidia established that the card was unsupported on the Mac hardware and that flashing it would void the warranty.

Kernel panic at boot with GTX 960 seated under Mavericks 10.9.x. Card is known as ‘Maxwell’, Maxwell wholly unsupported under pre-Yosemite OS X. Vanilla Yosemite install produces non-native video resolution to 3x monitors via DisplayPort to DVI cables, no reason to expect more out would also be supported.

Please note this is with stock GT 9500 / 120 seated. 120 is a fully Apple supported Nvidia card and as such displays what is known as the ‘boot screen,’ the apple and progress bar at startup or the boot drive selection at option-key startup.

No readily apparent downside to a Yosemite migration on the Mac Pro 4,1; even iPhoto is said to remain operable despite the hype of Apple migrating iThing services to new software packages.

Initial installation of Win 7 to discrete internal boot drive went smoothly. Both cards were recognized in Device Manager. GTX 960 appears with error triangle and is disabled. Error reports as Code 43. Diagnostic is step-through of disable, reenable, roll back driver, uninstall, reinstall. No resolution.

After several rounds of this the GeForce installer reported a problem with “MSI”, the remedy for which was to either rebuild MSI through a series of registry-type edits or via a clean install of Windows. I opted to start over.

Once back and up, the same issues generally presented themselves.

Using downloadable GeForce installers, installer numbered 3.41 is installed. On reboot, whichever card was disabled at GeForce install reports as enabled but video is available ONLY via GT 120. Additionally, Device Manager consistently installs more recent drivers for the GTX 960 than the GeForce installer.

(Update, a few days later the GeForce installers are fetching and installing the same drivers as WU, .5330)

In a Hail Mary, I rebooted without the GT 120 seated. The 960 came right up.

So to summarize:

  • To boot in Mavericks 10.9.x, the 960 must be unseated.
  • To boot in Yosemite 10.10.x, both the 960 and the 120 may be seated, and best results are obtained via Nvidia’s web drivers.
  • To boot in Win 7, both cards may be seated, but only the 120 will output video even when it is shown as disabled in device manager.
  • To produce output from the 960 under Win 7, the 120 must be unseated during a power-down cycle.
  • To observe the boot screen in Yosemite, the 120 must be seated.

This is clearly untenable; the two cards must be harmonized under Win 7 in order for this configuration to be acceptable.

SIDE NOTE: Bootcamp cannot maximize PCIe data transfer rates (it is limited to PCIe 1.x) and therefore the i570 is likely to produce higher throughput to the card. It would still be worthwhile to benchmark and experimentally run RoF on the MacPro prior to moving to the power upgrade procedure on the i570. if the i570 power upgrade fails, retrench with the expectation of selling the 960.

A random benchmarking site rates both the Mac Intel Xeon and the AMD stock chip in the i570 as roughly equivalent.

I need to post in on a Mac site regarding the conflict between the GT 120/9500 and the GTX 960 in Windows. I really think there should be a way to get the two cards to run concurrently.

Framerates in RoF with a direct-feed triple-screen setup at 3x 1080p (in either orientation) run mostly in the 50s and 60s with very occasional slowdowns under certain high-information-density conditions (flying low over an in-game town through mist with gfx settings on max). Overall a significant performance improvement is immediately apparent.

Shortly after I wrote this, I initiated a post on Dell’s community forums regarding the attempt to bring the card up on the i570. The same forums host a very detailed, insanely ambitious, highly-informative, but somewhat dated LOOOONG post on upgrading and modding the i570. The thread was written quite some time before the 900 series cards came out and does not address the issues I have been experiencing.

In my thread, a user suggests another power upgrade, to a 750w system that offers 20w on the PCIe power feeds (‘rails’). This sounds plausible but something about the suggestion led me to more carefully look at the power specs of the 960. As it turns out, the 960 has a lower power budget than the 470 it’s intended to replace, so while that 750w power supply *might* do the trick, it seems to me more likely that the problem is elsewhere. I’m reposting my contributions to the thread here.

(posted June 23, 2015)

Hi, after scrubbing forums here and elsewhere (such as Tom’s Hardware) I have not found a specific user testimonial to success running a GTX 960 in a power-bumped i570.

Is this card supported in the i570? Failing official Dell support, should it work anyway?

The master upgrade thread was posted prior to the 960 and is light on GPU details.

In general, user advice seems to indicate that given sufficient power, which 500w appears to be, BIOS update, and successful gfx driver uninstall, it should work.

What actually happens is: system powers on, all fans spin up, GPU fans spin up, no POST code beeps are heard, boot procedure halts at ‘checkpoint NN’ (A2, I think). I found a list of the Dell checkpoint codes and it indicated something about failure to start, I assume indicating a failure to initialize the GPU.

I use DDU to strip the gfx drivers. BIOS is current (A06, iirc).

I can boot the system without the card seated, with an additional antique VGA card in the lowest slot on the mobo and the 960 seated, and with the current GPU (gtx 470) seated. when the system boots with the VGA card and the 960 seated the 960 fans do not spin. I have not taken the time to examine the 960 status in device manager in this configuration.

I do not have another wintel machine to test the card in.

Signs seem to point to a bad card. GeForce appears to be willing to authorize an RMA. However, if the card won’t work in the machine, it may be wiser to send it back to the merchant rather than the mfr.

SpeedStep’s concrete analysis reads in part,

“You need an EPS12v 2.92 power supply. 500W is not sufficient.

You need 170W on the 3.3v/5v rails and 15 to 20W on the +5VSB rails and Minimum 375W on the 12v Rails.”

He also provides a detailed chart of the EPS12v 2.92 spec and a specific product recommendation, extremely helpful.

After I ran my power experiment with a discrete 450w unit, I posted an update to the thread.

Further progress or lack thereof.

First of all, thanks to SpeedStep for pointing at power as an issue. I’m not sure that’s the solution, however, after doing some investigation.

First, although the Mac does have a 900w PSU, and the actual max draw for cards has not been well-documented, the standard recommendation for dual hi-power cards is the implementation of a second PSU in parallel with the Mac PSU. I can’t recall the estimated top draw off hand but I think it was something like 300w, I could definitely be wrong. Given that the 960 comes up, and is described was a low-power card in comparison to others in the 900 series I wondered what its actual draw and PSU reqs were.

This PC World review notes that “The GTX 960 has a scant 120 watt TDP”. The GeForce 960 specs state that the minimum PSU is 400w.

The previous card I had seated on the i570 was a GTX 470. The linked specs suggest a min PSU of 550w, so it appears I was just lucky getting it to roll with the 500w unit. The wikipedia roundup on the 400-series cards indicate that the 470’s TDP is 215w.

(Update: I was misstating the specs, as will be discussed below. Nvidia’s specs do not call for a minimum PSU, they call for minimum available system power, which can be roughly estimated as PSU total power availability minus allocated power consumption prior to the card’s desired power draw. So that 400w min above more likely calls for a 550w PSU or more despite the card’s stated maximum power usage of 120w.)

So to summarize the data, the newer card appears to have a specification that calls for it to have considerably less need for juice than the predecessor card.

The 500w PSU currently installed does also have some deficiencies with regard to the specific available power that SpeedStep recommended, however. In particular, the PCIe jacks are rated up to 18w, not 20w. For the sake of experimental thoroughness, I poked around in my stack of parts and came up with a 450w PSU that had been acquired with the idea of implementing the dual-PSU mod to the Mac to enable dual 470s. This particular PSU was designed for use in the ride-along role and offers dual PCIe power feeds at 20w each. Given that the card would be the only draw on the additional PSU, I felt it should help to eliminate or confirm power as an issue.

As before, with the 960 seated and the on-board video disabled prior to seating and reboot, the system does not complete a boot sequence, and on next restart provides the “System halted at boot checkpoint [A2].” Slotting an antique VGA card into the PCI slot does allow the machine to boot with the 960 slotted, and consulting device manager results in the 960 being reported as active, installed, and working properly. Sadly, there is no video being produced by the card in this state.

There are some quirks in this i570’s startup sequence, the most notable being that it seems the USB ports are not being activated until after the initial startup screen, offering F2 and F12 setup options, has zipped past. This of course makes it impossible to get into these startup menus to examine them for video-device options.

In short, while it’s still possible replacing the 500w PSU with a beefier unit might resolve the matter, it does not appear that the card in and of itself requires the additional power by spec, as the unit in this power configuration exceeds the spec’s maximum power requirement and can be shown to do so with a higher TDP card.

I still have not found a positive anecdotal report that the 960 can work with the i570 under the current (and probably final) BIOS update, which was released in 2012. There are many instances of people asking this question online and being advised that with sufficient power the card should work; none of these interactions have produced a troubleshooting thread like this one, so I am inclined to think it should be possible.

Thanks again to SpeedStep for prompting me to take a closer look at the power issue.

So currently my suspicion is that the motherboard is experiencing some sort of issue which is preventing the keyboard from being recognized at boot. Earlier in this project I was very definitely able to get into both the F2 and F12 startup screens. The USB sketchiness is very odd – it seems to affect certain ports more than others, which could I suppose indicate intermittent physical connectivity. However visual inspection of the ports does not seem to support a bad connection from the port I/O unit to the mono. The port cluster is modular and does rely on a slotting system for mono contact, however.

One aspect of the i570 that I had not noticed previously and which normally is NOT a bad thing is the apparent lack of a built-in speaker. In this instance, it means that there are no boot-cycle status beeps, which is impeding my troubleshooting.

Just after I posted this SpeedStep replied with more information elucidating the writer’s perspective on power supplies and power specs. The upshot is that the manufacturer’s suggested minimum system power spec line refers to available power to the card after all other draws are accounted, not to the total available power provided by the PSU. So my 500w PSU may have as little as 354w available for the card after accounting for all other draws. This does not invalidate the power test conducted with the ride-along PSU, however, which certainly did have 450w available to the card.

As I was reading this and thinking about it I realized I had another thread to pull in here, concerning getting the 960 up on the Mac. MacRumors forums has a super-long and active thread about working with Nvdia non-EFI cards in Mac Pros, and I posted this in thread:

Hi, thought it might be beneficial to share experiences slotting a GTX 960 in a Mac Pro 4,1 late ’09.

First, as well-documented here, I had to install Yosemite to get any video out on the 960. Vanilla Yosemite provided video out even prior to installing the Nvidia web drivers, but not at my monitors’ optimum resolution. I don’t recall what the available resolutions were but they were all higher than the 3x 1080p I wanted; the video was scaled and usable if ugly. With the web drivers installed, 1080p was available. I have not tried installing the web drivers on the extant Mavericks boot volume and do not expect that to succeed but intend to try it for the sake of completeness.

Using Bootcamp to install a Win 7 boot volume has also succeeded, although the process was hairy and took several days of troubleshooting to master. I went through two complete clean installs of Windows before I could get the Nvidia installer to successfully implement the current drivers for the 960. I was able to get the correct drivers (.5330) for the 960 both by using Windows Update and by using the Nvidia installer in the end.

However, there are some major issues that remain unresolved.

First, the stock GT 120 (or GT 9500, the OEM EFI card), *must* be removed prior to booting into Windows or Device Manager will become confused and direct video out ONLY the GT 120. Disabling and/or uninstalling either card in Device Manager does not affect this; Device Manager can report either card as active and the other as disabled and the only video out is the 120. On reboot, one of the two cards will be reported as functioning normally while the other is yellow-triangle halted with, I believe, Code 43. It does not matter which card is shown flagged, there will only be video out from the 120. The only way I have noted to get video out of the 960 is to unseat the 120, which makes booting back and forth between Mac and Windows less than convenient.

Second, the Bootcamp / Win 7 audio issue which is customarily resolved by reinstalling the Realtek drivers under Windows does not successfully restore normal audio operability. I have been able to implement an audio solution by plugging in an external USB audio in/out module. This is actually an acceptable long-term solution for me even though it’s inelegant.

Hope this helps others running similar configuration experiments.

In-thread, another user suggested that preventing install of any Nvdia drivers for the GT 120 / 9500 would resolve the disabled 960 issue. I haven’t run a controlled experiment to verify that but am skeptical as I very definitely have seen the 120 come up as a generic VGA and with the 960 reported as active in Device Manager but in actuality with no video out. I should still see if I can get it to work as just keeping the 120 around in a static bag in case of emergency or booting back into Mavericks seems problematic at best. Reading the thread it does seem to be the most common response.

The runs

Last week (or the week before? I keep meticulous records but don’t care about them in a way which leads me to memorize them) I met my desired weekly mileage budget for the first time, twenty-five miles. In general I find it best to try to run twice as much as required on Monday and Tuesday so that I have some flexibility at the end of the week.

At twenty-five five miles, this makes my Monday and Tuesday runs quite time consuming. Yesterday I turned in seven and today I did eight. An ideal would be to drop ten on a Monday and five on Tuesday, but if it comes out to fifteen at the end of Tuesday I’m cool.

Boy do my feet hurt, though. So do my hips. Pretty much it all just hurts. There’s no real reason for doing this, as far as I can tell. It sure hasn’t made me feel better.

Up in the air

Viv had a tooth out today, which was trying for both of us but in the end not that big a deal. The dentist is located on the shore of Lake Washington in the extremely well-to-do neighborhood known as Madrona, and with the gloriously sunny weather it was a lovely drive over this morning.

She’s to be on a mush food diet for a couple of days so I knit my brow to come up with a decent dinner. In the end I served poached eggs on polenta with pureed cooked carrots and finely chopped spinach. I did something spectacularly right with the polenta because it was like eating some sort of soft, spicy cheese.

While we were out at the pharmacist I idly checked my email to find a note from my London-based internet friend Sumit wondering about my absence from Twitter. I wrote back explaining. I was very glad to have heard from him as although our exchanges have been brief and reflect the compression of the medium I recognize my relationship with him as important to me and he had been one of the folks on Twitter I knew I would most miss.

After Viv went to sleep I spent some more time wrestling with my setup for Rise of Flight. For years I have been frustrated by unaccountable difficulty with TrackIR, an infrared-based head-motion tracking system which, when it works, becomes an essential aspect for POV style games such as RoF. Last week I thought I had solved this issue by applying it directly to my forehead. Earlier this week it became apparent that I had not.

Eventually it became clear that the issue was that I had sufficiently moved the infrared camera as well as the three-point tracking reflector widget from their design-intended relative locations that it was not gonna work the way I had hoped. So I went back to the drawing board.

In the end, I found a short strap made of stiff black nylon webbing originally made for use on a small piece of luggage. A bit of fussing, and it became a headband, to which the widget is no affixed in reasonable emulation of the designed position on the brim of a baseball cap. I was able to successfully fly a couple of scenarios with this in place, so, huzzah.

Like, what else? There was a white dress that was a blue dress, and Leonard Nimoy died. Still ploughing thru Imperial to no accountable purpose. My ex-bandmate announced he has cancer and needs cash to help with treatment. Waiting on my accountant to return our books so I can get to the next stage in our taxes for last year. Started on the post processing for a shoot, imagine that will be done Monday. Looked for gigs on Craigslist, no plethora of product photography to be found. I imagine I’ll start tossing some retail items up next week.

Hobo Aeron

Last week, I scored a base-model Herman Miller Aeron chair on Craigslist for $20.

The base-model version lacks the side paddles and seat-base cabling that permit one to adjust aspects of the chair’s forward and backward tilt. It does have the side knob that is intended to adjust the resistance of the chair’s recline spring.

It is the largest size chair (“C”) and was sold cheaply by the seller because he was leaving the country, had been given the chair, and he thought that the chair was broken due to its apparent inability to recline.

On getting it home, the first thing I did, of course, was find information on disassembly and repair of Aerons. I also noted that the chair now did in fact recline. It reclined so eagerly, in fact, that I feared I had broken a spring. The tensioning knob also appeared to be stripped and therefore did not add any appreciable stiffness to the declinability of the chair.

Once I had disassembled the chair, I was able to glean some useful information.

First, while the tensioning knob’s gear is indeed partially stripped, the reason that the gear was skipping is that the knob drives a right angle gear up and down a center post and the knob had driven the gear to its’ full extent against a heavy-duty metal strap stop.

The inevitable conclusion is that over the chair’s life the recline-tension spring has simply relaxed to the point that the gear mechanism cannot increase the tension available. The chair itself has an original manufacture date of 1998. So I guess it is understandable that the spring has relaxed in its dotage.

After several days of searching it’s clear that while Herman Miller makes a subset of Aeron parts available for direct consumer sale and replacement, the main tensioning spring is not among them. Rather, the base itself is replaced and the base and replacement labor is only available via authorized Herman Miller dealers with a sticker price north of $300.

I did find a couple examples of the base unit on eBay with ship-inclusive prices at about $200.

The forward-and-reverse tile paddles and cables are also in the no-direct-sale category and have individual list prices of about $175.

eBay also has paddles and cables available and they vary widely in price, so while I am unlikely to spring for a $200 base-and-parts assembly I might well lay out up to ten or eleven American dollars for these cables and parts. Until then, however, I wanted to see how far I could get with chewing gum and baling wire.

I am happy to report that a single conventional wire hanger has now been repurposed to provide a strut-based replacement system for the cable-and-paddle mechanisms the chair was designed for. The control cables enter the base via twin access passthroughs to the rear of the base assembly and each cable-and-paddle drives a plastic rocker gear through a short arc of about an inch travel. Pinching the coat hanger wire over the attachment ears of the rocker gears gave complete freedom of movement to the gears actuated by simply sliding the wires forward and back. A bit of fiddling and experimenting with wire-bend detents and right-angle bends to make the wire struts accessible from a seated position and I am good to go.

It is a darn shame that Scott Chaffin did not make it to see the day.


Taxes: filed.

Man, I am really slipping. I try to file the day I get my last externally-dependent form (w-4, 1099, whatever) and waiting for these things drives me bananas.


I wish someone would explain to me how it is that making Google products less useful improves Google’s projected profitability. It sure as hell make me pissed off every other day.
That link is to an explanation of how to access actual useful search results on a tablet, missing since August. The key is an override in the results URL, the string which I have made the title of this post.
UPDATE: or so I had thought. I had neglected to entity-encode the ampersand.