Category Archives: Internet

Thermal Snap in the City of Angels

I am sharing my story to shed light on a little-known phenomenum that we have dubbed “Thermal Snap” Why? Because it sounds a lot cooler than “Thermal Expansion of Toughened Glass.” And it could result in damage that may not meet your auto insurance deductible, and you’ll have to pay for it yourself.

CT_shattered_glass

The following interchange tries to make sense of what happened :

 

 

Last week, I left my car parked at the Metro station in the full sun. Upon my return 10 hours later, I found the back window completely shattered. Did I get hit by a meteor or a large bird? I looked around but I could not find a point of impact or a large object that could have caused the damage *to the window only* The rest of the car was undamaged.
The cops that came to fill out a report said that it was “blown out” from the pressure building inside the passenger compartment, and that they see this type of thing all the time. I had never heard of it.

When I closed the front door of the car, the vibration brought the window down in a shower of small glass fragments; it had been staying in place held together by friction between the pieces.
Bottom line: if you’re parked in the sun, leave one of your windows ever so slighty cracked down so that there is an air space to allow pressure to equialize with the outside.
The good news (if any) is that the window replacement people come to your house and the replacement cost is not much higher than what I paid back in the 90’s for a similar service.
===================== Bladerunner

Thank you, this is exactly the kind of information CT agents need in the field. I will pass this along to others, along with the proper way to tie your shoes, which has yet to fail me.

I do have a few questions:
Was your sun shade up?
Was there any external shade at any point in the day (tree, building, etc)?
Was your A/C vent open?
How many people did you flip off on your way through the parking lot?
Glad you are OK, and that the window shattered when you closed the door, and not while on the freeway. Still a huge pain :-(

Thanks,
=====================Archangel

All seriousness aside, I find it difficult to believe that your vehicle is sufficiently airtight to cause that kind of damage. That would take some serious big time air pressure. Most car cabins are not fully sealed – check the bottoms and backs of the doors. Even if fully sealed, the weatherstripping is just soft rubber and cannot contain any significant pressure. Nor can the air valves in the ventilation system.
More likely I would think is thermal stress due to expansion in the sun.
Or the car was infected by ebola.
=====================Avatar

I agree with Avatar. I believe after a 6 month failure mode analysis that “Thermal Snap” will be found to be the most likely cause. This is the technical term for what Avatar was referring to when he said ‘thermal stress due to expansion in the sun’
The glass frame and gaskets of cars are supposed to be designed to prevent/minimize this phenomenon. Thermal Snap, as all CT members know, is where the expansion of a planar object such as solar panel or windshield will heat-up but the mounting sticks and does not allow it to slide along the edges to expand, until after a certain amount of build-up pressure the glass suddenly unsticks and “snaps” to its expanded size. If this occurs while you are in the car (on earth) you will hear a loud sharp snap [as was previously observed by Agent Aquaman on a mission somewhere in the deserts of the SW]. Thus the name “Thermal Snap”.
Feel free to add this to the subject posting. This posting will surely be copied for the Society of Mechanical Engineers monthly magazine or perhaps a PHD thesis at MIT.
Adventure and Integrity
=====================Agent Aquaman

Yeah, once or twice I have seen this, where a rear
window has crumbled into postage stamp sized
pieces. And I figure it’s thermal expansion, too,
happening on a hot day, and the outward
movement of the pieces just might be due to the
window being somewhat concave, and outward
is the way to relieve pressure.

I checked with Uncle Cecil at The Straight Dope,
but came up somewhat empty, hardly worth it:  http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/archive/index.php/t-618261.html

This seems better:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spontaneous_glass_breakage

The Crack.

Is Back.
=====================Agent Renegade OUT.

Our police forces are well trained in the use of military-grade weaponry and crowd-pacification techniques (and I for one, am glad for this protection) but they may not have had the scientific training of CT operatives. I’ll accept the thermal expansion or “thermal snap” as a more likely solution than air pressure.
Therefore, leaving an air space will be totally useless and we are still at the mercy of the elements.

By the way, the window shades (reflective silver) were deployed when this happened, as was a secondary set of grey shades on the side. It sounds like none of this would have made a difference. Good to know. Our best solution is to park in the shade.
===================== Bladerunner

I’m tellin ya, it’s ebola.
=====================Avatar

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Avoid “Escape From Tomorrow”

I’m about to give you 2 free hours in your lifetime, that can be used for *any* purpose you select.

If you are tempted to watch the Netflix offering “Escape from Tomorrow,” let me save you the time that you’d spend watching it. one and a half hours of wasted time, that is now yours. I will provide you a quick summary below, if you are still curious. But please don’t be curious; this is not a bad movie that’s so “bad” that you’d want to see it. It is just bad. Even my son Michael, who’s very young and has some time to spare, gave this movie a one-star rating (he tried to stay until the very end)

escape_tomorrowWarning: Spoilers follow !!

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This movie was filmed at DisneyWorld, without permission from Disney.  You can see that the crowd shots are real,  the venue is very real and all the actors do well in mingling with the crowds while trying to shoot their scenes.  There are several extended shots of the actors in the rides, and this would have been a very easy activity to conceal.  Where stealth was not an option (say, an extended dialogue scene) they put the actors in front of a blue-screen background.

This is an interesting concept, but don’t be tempted to watch the movie just for that.  Watching an extended home movie gets boring fast, and the plot of the movie (an engineer going insane after being fired from his job, during a vacation at DisneyWorld) is just barely passable.
Are there interesting points?  Yes.  Let me outline a few but these are the only bright moments in a really dull film:
Since Disney owns the characters, music and logos, you will see from time to time a “blacked-out” part of the screen to hide the Disney name.  There’s even a sonic bleep when the word Disney is uttered.  Also, it is a little disconcerting (yet fascinating)  to see the
It’s-A-Small-World ride being filmed with an equally annoying and cloying replacement song that is used by the film makers.  However, the images of Donald, Mickey and Pluto greeting park guests is used;  I guess this is in the public domain, somehow.
Having some of the Disney images turned into demonic versions of themselves (while the main character is going mad) is interesting.  But these are short 1-second snippets which are infrequent.
The subplot of a former princess cast-member turning into a sexual predator gets your attention. Give this film an extra star if you’ve ever wanted to have a tryst with the Evil Queen from Snow White.
This is a 30-second sequence that you’ll remember.
Some special effects shots showing EPCOT blowing up are memorable.
The subplot of the main character stalking some teenage French babes is not memorable.
There you have it.  I hope I have not piqued your interest; my descriptions are probably more entertaining than the film itself.
If you want further information, here’s the review from RogerEbert.com; I’m afraid it will just increase your interest in the film.

Man’s (Mad) Ingenuity

I read somewhere that the only difference between men and apes is the former’s ability to use tools. So were it not for our simian friends’ lack of access to a Tool Depot credit card, we could see chimpanzees driving down the freeway or flying planes1. And although we have seen rudimentary behavior by apes using branches or twigs to extract ants out of the ground, they still have a long way to go before they invent an air-compressed bolt extractor.
Which brings me back to Man: is tool-invention still part of our mental process? Since every tool has already been invented, do we still strive to create new ones? The following pictures show that the answer is a resounding YES.   These are creative uses for everyday items and are sometimes referred to as Life Hacks2.

But call me an apostate, I don’t believe everything I read on the Internet.  My comments follow each life hack below, and there’s even a fun video presentation that is a lot more entertaining than my dry prose.

lifehack1

 

My take: If you use the lid as a coaster, you can now spill your drink.  And if you pick up the cup, the coaster comes with it.  Looks strange, but it would work.

 

lifehack2

 

The proposal: All pots are designed to allow you to rest your spoon on the handle.

My take: The pan hole was made primarily to hang the pan on the wall.  You could use it to hold a spoon, but only if you found a spoon that fits the hole.  I suspect that some “creative” whittling was done to make it work.

 

lifehack3Was the soda can designed to hold your straw in place?

My take: Soda can tab was modified in order to save material.   It just happens to also function as a straw holder, if you rotate it.  But then, why was it  made to rotate?  The rotation serves no purpose.  I suspect it’s a manufacturing side effect (to attach tab to can)  and not intended to facilitate your straw holder configuration.

 

 

lifehack5The proposal: Tic Tac boxes were expressely designed to dispense *one* Tic Tac at a time.

My take: I believe this one.  But could someone tell me what happened to the “Toe” in tic-tac-toe ??  Someone got paid really well to come up with this name, incredibly.

 

 

And here is a video that will put it all in perspective.  Enjoy.

 

POSTSCRIPT:  I promised that I would add a life hack of my own so that you can promote/criticize it. Turnabout is fair play, as they say !

 

lifehack8My proposal:  Cut an empty tube of toothpaste in half and clean out the bottom part (throw away the part that has the cap).  You can now flatten the other half and put it in your pocket for a handy-dandy drinking cup.   As a kid, I loved the telescoping plastic drinking cups and bemoaned the fact that you cannot find them anymore.  But this flexible, unbreakable, plastic tube becomes a nice drinking cup.  You can make it shorter for convenience and you can fold the top to prevent it from getting cruddy with pocket lint (yuk).

  1. They were admirable astronauts in the Mercury program, but that’s another story []
  2. visit www.lifehacker.com for more of these []

Steve Jobs 1955-2011; too soon for jokes?

Logo created by a Hong Kong student. Click for more information.

It’s true, I never was a big Apple fan. I got my kids iPods because they relentlessly kept on asking. Oh, and the players were free when I signed up for a bank account (back in the day).

I inherited the old iPods and am using one today. They are not bad devices: easy to use and pretty to look at. But they are overpriced and I hate having to use iTunes to access my music. I hate being sold new material at every turn. I would love to have a simple drag-and-drop interface.

Sure there were MP3s before the iPod. I don’t blame Steve Jobs for making lossy music palatable. But I don’t share in the global outporing of grief that’s on every TV, computer and iPlatform in the world, either.

And Steve Jobs has a family that’s going thru the grieving process. So why start these tasteless Steve Jobs jokes? We may as well ask why we climb Mt. Everest. It’s because we can.

And you have to admit that it takes talent to make a clever joke about a sad, troubling situation. Sort-of like those improvisation shows where a performer is asked to make a joke about starving Somalians. A very poor-taste request, but also a challenge.

So here’s some jokes about the death of the iconic founder of Apple and the creator of the greatest devices in the world:

  • I hear President Obama has been implicated in the passing of the iconic Apple founder…
    his economic policies killed jobs.

 

  • Steve Jobs’ funeral will feature a private viewing for his many fans.
    As each person passes in front of the casket, they’ll pay 99 cents.

Erasing Your Background

Listen up! This is required reading for all Crack Team agents. A sharp agent in the field1 has documented how to remove yourself from all background check web sites. This is your first step in erasing your background and living off the grid!

Actually, this only goes so far. An employee from one of the companies in that list offered the following informative comment:

All of this data is public data. The data itself isn’t going away, opting out just makes people who want to find it have to look a little harder. As an example, I live in Washington State. The state provides a site to search through public records. From here I can directly see my marriage license and the land I own.

What these sites do is take all of this publicly available information (address history, phone numbers, marriage records, death records, criminal history, etc…) and consolidates it. Some sites with more success then others. Often this data is quite vague, and it can be very difficult to actually tie a record back to a specific person. The amount and accuracy of data on these sites is dependent on how “active” you are to the public eye. Get married a lot, have multiple crimes, there’s a pretty good chance the data on you will be quite full. But if you have a fairly low public footprint (young and single with few addresses and no criminal record) the data my be somewhat spotty, especially if you have a fairly common name.

The common name thing is a bit of a problem for me. Looks like when it’s time to go underground to escape the bad guys, I’m changing my name to James Smith.

  1. Note this comes from someone with the handle LawyerCT. []

Canceling Netflix – And They Don’t Care

After over a decade of patronage, I am canceling my Netflix account. Yes, price is a factor – they are raising my subscription fee by 40%. But I have a pretty high tolerance for this sort of thing, already paying $20/month for Tivo,1 and keeping Netflix despite having a “free” streaming video source in Amazon Prime.

What irks me is that what attracted me to Netflix at first, and held me all these years, was how they catered to film buffs. This has ended. Example: for years, I’d rent the Harry Potter movies to prepare for the sequel, and really enjoyed watching all the extras. I’ll admit, I’m a huge Potter fan, so I appreciated that Netflix made available the extras disc. With great disappointment I discovered that for Deathly Hallows Part 1, only the rental version of the disc is offered. This version has only the movie and a personal invitation from Netflix to go fuck yourself. I’m kidding about the invitation – they couldn’t be bothered. I’ve been seeing an increase in these rental versions, which have zero extras, but tons of trailers and commercials that you can’t skip.2 The Deathly Hallows rental includes a 6 minute commercial for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I can tell you that if you’re on the fence about visiting that wondrous place, being forced to watch a 6 minute commercial may resolve you to boycott it.

And I’m not being melodramatic when I say they don’t care. For one, their subscriber base has gone from 10M to 25M in the last few years, so they assume they’re doing the right thing. If you want concrete proof, go to their cancellation page. They threaten to charge you for discs you don’t return within 7 days, and let you know that even though you’re paid up through the month, you won’t get a partial month refund or even be allowed to continue streaming until it expires! But the most callous part is that they don’t even ask you why. No short answer box, not so much as a multiple choice question with lame answers. And there’s no other form on the site for critical feedback. They really don’t care why you’re leaving.

Well, good riddance. In place of Netflix, I’ll start renting from Amazon or PPV, and even though it will cost me more, I’ll make a greater effort to see films in the theater.3 With the money I save, I’ll invest in a nice collection of films on BD, which I frequently find on sale at SlickDeals. I think I’ll start with the Harry Potter Ultimate editions…

Update: I’m not the only one, as Netflix has revised their projections for this quarter downward, causing their stock to tumble. Sounds like they already factored in the massive subscriber exodus, which proves my point that they don’t care about it.

  1. Although now that I’m on Cox cable, that will also be canceled when my contract is up. []
  2. Well, you can with some software, which you can read about here. []
  3. Note that all major theater chains allow you to buy premium discount tickets in bulk (50+), typically for less than $9 each. I go in with friends and split it. []

We Wuz Hacked

Sorry for the recent technical difficulties, the site fell prey to some sort of SQL injection attack that appended a malicious script that redirected users to a malware site. The tricky bastard used cookies, though, so you only saw it once. After that, visitors saw the regular site, unless they used “private browsing” in Firefox or IE 8; the lack of cookies causes redirects every time. Anyway, I scrubbed the database and upgraded WordPress to the latest and a few key plugins, so hopefully we’re safe until the next hack hits us. Just the cost of using WordPress, I guess. For full details, see this:

http://wiki.mediatemple.net/w/WordPress_Redirect_Exploit

We’re not hosted by Media Temple, but apparently a lot of the sites they host got hacked and their fix worked for us.

If you see any other problems, don’t hesitate to contact me. And thanks for ZBalance and my buddy Karl for pointing out the problem in the first place (I visit via the admin interface and Google Reader, which weren’t affected.).