One Aging Geek

Saturday, November 25, 2006

After market battery genius

This guy has a brilliant replacement for the instruction manual. Those things are usually written by someone for whom English is a fifth language and are damn near useless.

Right about two years ago I bought a 40GB hard-drive based iRiver MP3 player. It has a few quirks but it's been a workhorse player until recently. The battery hit end of life. First symptom was that it would suddenly power off when trying to do line-in recording. And it went downhill from there. When new the player would go a good six to eight hours on a charge. At end-of-life it was down to between 10 minutes and an hour.

I checked into buying a replacement player since technology has moved along. But to get something of equivalent capacity I was looking at nearly the same price as I paid for the iRiver. Google came thru with a pointer to a battery available on for $29. The confirmation email came along with a pointer to an instructional video for replacing it.

There is the brilliant concept. No indecipherable manual with about a third as many diagrams as you really need, a video. And along with the battery came a teeny phillips screwdriver and a plastic pry tool for opening up the player.

Very cool.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Upstairs pet, downstairs pet

Two and a half weeks in and we're still not sure what the dog thinks of the cat.

The dog can't handle stairs, she's only been upstairs once. The weekend after we got her, I put her leash on and walked her upstairs so she could get a bath.

So the cat is staying upstairs for the most part. The cat is a complete wuss about dogs. Our previous had been trained by previous cats that cats own the house and rank higher than anyone else, including the two-legged staff members that tend to the food dish. So this cat never had to worry about the previous dog.

But this new dog has never been around cats. And the cat is pretty much the exact size and color of the lure that the dog has been chasing for the last three years.

We knew this could be an issue going in to the situation. So far we're keeping an eye on them when they do end up on the same floor. And when we're gone the dog goes in her kennel.

Last night the cat came downstairs to be adored while we watched TV. The dog kept eyeing the cat but never quite stirred out of her bed.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Googling the dog

This past Sunday afternoon we added a new member to the family. We adopted a retired racing greyhound. There is a dog racing track about 15 miles down the freeway from us. When the dogs are no longer winning, they go into the adoption center. When we visited there were 17 dogs up for adoption plus a couple that won't ever be adopted out. One had snapped at a child when placed and because of that has been parked in the center for two years. Probably not his fault, greyhounds are not used to children and are not recommended for homes with small children. Fifty to eighty pound animals that stand up to 30 inches at the shoulder just don't mix with rambunctious little kids, no matter the breed.

Our dog, "Gertie" (an abbreviated version of her racing name) is a four year old female who raced for a bit over two years. She's just over 60 pounds, about average size for a female. She's "red fawn" colored, a reddish tan, with some white markings and a bit of black on her tail and ears.

Because all racing greyhounds are registered and have a unique racing name, it's possible to google for the dog's racing name. That turns up a number of racing cards and information sites. One of the result sites shows that she won a total of 10 races out of around 70. She had six siblings. Two other than her had decent racing careers, the other three ran only a handful of times.

The dogs live such a structured life, it's odd to find what they just don't know. Like stairs. Stairs are a complete mystery. Because they spend a large portion of their day in a kennel, a "crate" is mandatory equipment. They feel safe in the crate and will go there when ever things get too confusing or stressful. Gertie is crashed out in hers now having an after breakfast nap.

The most interesting thing we still have ahead of us is getting Bailey, the wussy cat, and Gertie to know each other without any bloodshed. Bailey is a flame-point siamese mix so he's nearly white... too close to the color of the lure that racers chase. Since Gertie can't handle stairs, the cat has retreated to the upstairs. I'm in no hurry to teach the dog stairs until she and the cat are safe together.

When Bailey ventures downstairs, we keep a close eye on them. A proper cat would walk up to the dog, hiss, give it a couple of quick smacks to show it who owns the house and that would be it. But Bailey is a complete wuss. He ignored our previous dog, Zoe, rather they ignored each other. Zoe had been taught by Sherlock, a previous cat, that cats rule the roost.

So far Bailey is eyeing Gertie from a distance and running upstairs if she comes out of her crate. Sunday evening Gertie made a move like she wanted to get a close look at him. We've muzzled her from some encounters but having the muzzle on and not going anywhere just confuses her. Time will tell how this works out. We have reasonable hopes since Gertie isn't showing signs of high "prey drive". We just have to convince her that Bailey is part of her pack and not lunch.