30 days of learning, play, and newness

So I’ve decided on my next project! I’m going to spend a month learning new things. Unlike hack-a-day, where the focus was mostly on doing something every day, here I’m trying to cultivate a different attitude. So the following are all encouraged:

  • Being curious about stuff
  • Getting distracted
  • Having fun
  • New experiences
  • Being goofy, even if I don’t “learn” anything from goof experiences
  • Naps
  • Hanging with other people

And these are discouraged:

  • Completionism
  • “Grinding” through a nonfiction book I’m not that into
  • Rigorously writing up everything
  • TV and other mindless activities
  • (tentatively) reading?

Getting rid of mold

Take everything in this article with a cup of salt, I’m not even close to an expert.

Recently I’ve been itchy, so I’m treating a couple areas of my house for mold and mildew–the walls of my basement, and a new couch I got. I’ve been researching mold treatments. Some of them are clearly absolute nonsense.

never trust any cleaning procedure that involves mixing baking soda and vinegar

– za3k’s 42nd law

The sensical mold-killing strategies I’ve found boil down to “Remove moisture, so the mold doesn’t come back”, plus one of the following. I do not know which of these are effective. I also can’t guarantee the specific procedures I tried work.

Sunlight / UV lamp (UV light): I didn’t get good data about whether this works, but it makes some sense. The recommendation I got was 1-3 hours.
My attempt: None. I’d need a UV lamp, since I can’t easily get sunlight where I’m cleaning.

Bleach (oxidizer): Generally held to be pretty effective. Not good for fabrics.
My attempt: I tried it on my basement (dilute to about 0.15%, then pour or spray, scrub afterwards).
My attempt: I also added a little to laundry while I washed the couch cushions and my sheets.

Vinegar (acid): I would suspect vinegar is not very effective (several people claim mold can tolerate low pH better than high pH, and Drew Frye who does a lot of actual testing on boats claims that vinegar acts as food for the mold, helping it come back). OTOH I have anecdotal evidence that it works.
My attempt: None.

Concrobium (a base): This is a mix of trisodium phosphate (pH 12), sodium carbonate or “washing soda” (pH 11) and sodium bicarbonate or “baking soda” (pH 9). I suspect it works really well, because there’s a good explanation as to why it should. Store-bought concrobium is also quite expensive, so I’d make your own. I suspect you don’t need all three ingredients, because I think they’re doing the same thing.
My attempt: I sprayed spray-can concrobium on my couch, which covered maybe 1/6 of the couch with a $13 can. Plan to make some homemade to finish the job.
Edit: Muurkha advises that you can make sodium carbonate by boiling sodium bicarbonate for about an hour.

Clove oil (anti-microbial): Most people who recommend it have a bit of an anti-science attitude, which means they tend to give… silly specific advice. But there’s published research that it works, I just don’t know the best way to apply it, how long it works, or how it works. It seems possible that clove oil is a bit more species-specific than the other methods.
My attempt: None.

Mechanisms, as I understand them:

  • Sunlight and bleach should destroy mold and mold spores, by denaturing things.
  • Vinegar and concrobium should prevent mold growth by making an environment mold can’t grow in (wrong pH)
  • I have no idea how clove oil might work, but both applying the oil and vapor work.

I do not think high or low temperatures will work to kill molds generally, from my research.

The hardest part of this research is that I don’t have a large, visible mold patch. I’m just itchy. So don’t expect a report back about whether this stuff worked, honestly.

Flash media longevity testing – 4 years later

  • Year 0 – I filled 10 32-GB Kingston flash drives with random data.
  • Year 1 – Tested drive 1, zero bit rot. Re-wrote drive 1 with the same data.
  • Year 2 – Tested drive 2, zero bit rot. Re-tested drive 1, zero bit rot. Re-wrote drives 1-2 with the same data.
  • Year 3 – Tested drive 3, zero bit rot. Re-tested drives 1-2, zero bit rot. Re-wrote drives 1-3 with the same data.
  • Year 4 – Tested drive 4, zero bit rot. Re-tested drives 1-3, zero bit rot. Re-wrote drives 1-4 with the same data.

Will report back in 2 more years when I test the fifth. Since flash drives are likely to last more than 10 years, the plan has never been “test one new one each year”.

The years where I’ll first touch a new drive (assuming no errors) are: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 11, 15, 20, 27

The full test plan:

YEAR 1: read+write  1                           [1s]
YEAR 2: read+write  1, 2                        [1s]
YEAR 3: read+write  1, 2, 3                     [1s]
YEAR 4: read+write  1, 2, 3, 4                  [2s] (every 2nd year)
year 5: read+write  1, 2, 3,
YEAR 6: read+write  1, 2, 3, 4  5               [2s]
year 7: read+write  1, 2, 3,
YEAR 8: read+write  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6            [2s]
year 9: read+write  1, 2, 3,
year 10: read+write 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
YEAR 11: read+write 1, 2, 3,         7          [4s]
year 12: read+write 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
year 13: read+write 1, 2, 3
year 14: read+write 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
YEAR 15: read+write 1, 2, 3,         7, 8       [4s]
year 16: read+write 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
year 17: read+write 1, 2, 3
year 18: read+write 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
year 19: read+write 1, 2, 3,         7, 8
YEAR 20: read+write 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6       9    [8s]
year 21: read+write 1, 2, 3
year 22: read+write 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
read 23: read+write 1, 2, 3          7, 8
year 24: read+write 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
year 25: read+write 1, 2, 3
year 26: read+write 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
YEAR 27: read+write 1, 2, 3          7, 8,   10 [8s]
year 28: read+write 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6       9
year 29+: repeat years 21-28

FAQ: https://blog.za3k.com/usb-flash-longevity-testing-year-2/

Hack-A-Day 2023 is done

Hack-A-Day 2023 is complete. I did 20 projects in 30 days. Pretty good considering I got a new job and moved!

The overview of the month is here and highly recommended.

I plan to do a little more followup this year than last. Today’s last-minute fixes:

  • Perquackey (01) works on phones, tablets, and with the mouse. There’s an easter egg that displays any words you missed at the end.
  • Typewriter (10) saves progress, and lets you type more than 1 page of content.
  • Screensaver (12) works on more screen sizes, including phones.
  • Synth (14) looks better on a phone-sized display.
  • Stuff.md (23) has an example from the database
  • Timelapse (24) has a partial video
  • Speed Reading (29) works better on a phone. It also saves your progress.
  • Music of the Spheres (30) works on a phone. It’s also louder.

Hack-A-Day, Day 30: Music of the (Celestial) Spheres

Hack-a-Day is a challenge to complete ~30 fun new projects in 30 days. In my case, I aimed for 20, because I knew I was getting a job and moving. I just barely made it with this last entry, a collaboration with nsh.

Music of the Spheres lets you hear songs on different tonal scales. Listen to the warped melodies. Watch the pretty planets orbit. Surely their sizes and orbits are significant and connected to the tonal scales? Go mad with afterimages of… okay, well it’s kinda fun, anyway. Demo is here, code is on github.

Hack-A-Day, Day 28: 90s Sitcom

Two friends and I wrote the intro to “Pint-Sized”, a 90s sitcom that never existed.

We used DALL-E and stable diffusion for images, Photopea to add captions, and Google’s AI Test Kitchen for the backing music. Cheers were added with audacity. The video was edited together with ffmpeg.

Credits: za3k, stetson blake, jeremy mcintyre