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Ask MetaFilter posts by Koko

Ask MetaFilter posts by Koko

Published: Wed, 08 Nov 2017 07:54:06 -0800

Last Build Date: Wed, 08 Nov 2017 07:54:06 -0800


friend needs help buying and setting up a laptop

Wed, 08 Nov 2017 07:54:06 -0800

Asking for a friend who is older (late fifties?), mostly computer illiterate and is looking to buy a laptop so he can have a simple website to run his small independent business. I know just enough about computers to get myself into trouble when I start fiddling with things, but that’s more than he or anyone around him knows, so he’s asked for my help. He’s going to buy a laptop, either new or used, and needs help getting it set up. I’ve never bought a laptop so I’m asking for your help (I’ve been using a desktop PC running Windows at home for decades).

I’m thinking that one big concern about buying either new or used is having a copy of Windows on disc that can either be booted from or used to reinstall Windows should any problems arise. Would a new laptop come with a Windows disk? If he bought a used laptop, would he also need to buy a copy of Windows? Does he need to pay $$$$ for it, or can copies be obtained for cheaper? Any questions he should be asking when purchasing (either new or used)?

Once Windows is running, setup wizards can be used for getting wifi going, printer, email, etc. I would think. Then it’s just a matter of him going to SquareSpace or whatever website service he’s thinking of to get his website set up. Correct? Am I missing anything?

Thanks in advance!

Hope Me Hope My Mechanic

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 18:37:09 -0800

2005 Honda Civic sedan, electrical failure. Towed three times now since Thursday. Mechanic is stumped. On Thursday night I was driving around running errands as I normally do when I noticed my dashboard lights getting dimmer, then the check airbag light came on, then the clock went out, the headlights dimmed, the odometer went blank, the heat turned off ... basically everything electrical died. I was able to drive it a little farther to a parking lot where it stalled. A few minutes later I got the hazards on, tried starting it and it started ok, ran for a few minutes and went blank again. I was able to leave the hazards on for the couple of hours that I waited for the tow truck. Three people I talked to said it’s got to be the alternator, since the power went out while driving.

The next morning at the dealership they ran a diagnostic and ... nothing wrong. With anything. Except the battery was flat (I forgot to turn off the hazards when they towed it). They recharged the battery, took it for a test drive, all’s well so I took it home. Saturday night I went out for dinner, left it out in the cold unplugged for three hours (-25c here), started up fine, drove about 1/2 hour fine, made a stop at Safeway for a few minutes, got about 5 minutes further down the road and the electrical went out again. I managed to drive the few blocks to home, had it towed back in this morning and went to the dealership with it.

They ran the diagnostic again, still finding nothing wrong but gave me a new battery anyway in case that would solve it. Drove 1/2 hour to work fine, parked (plugged in this time, –17c) for about 4 hours. Started it up after work fine, got about 5 minutes down the road and the dash went blank again. I thought, maybe I can drive it to a car rental place. Didn’t make it, it died at an intersection and I couldn’t even put on the hazards or press the brake to put it in neutral. I managed to get home OK after getting it towed again.

Is there anything besides the alternator or battery that could be causing this issue? Is there any non-electrical issue that could affect the electrical system? I do have a laundry list of needed maintenance, which I’ll list below. I need them to fix the car this time, I can’t keep breaking down in Winnipeg in the middle of winter. The cold can drain a battery which probably doesn’t help the situation, but it’s not causing it. It’s never behaved like this before, and it’s only lived in Winnipeg. I plug in the block heater whenever I can, even at home in the garage.

Thanks in advance!

2005 Honda Civic SE, owned since 2007
100,010 km
4 door sedan, FWD
needed maintenance:
air filter replacement (“fail” on the last inspection)
replace brake fluid (“fail” on the last inspection)
replace power steering fluid (“caution” on the last inspection)
replace transmission fluid (“caution”)
service brakes (“caution”)
oil change (“caution”)
Back in October I got the timing belt and drive belts replaced.

Can I run my hot tub with most of the jets missing?

Tue, 01 Sep 2015 10:55:58 -0800

We purchased a house last year that came with an older hot tub, the one I referenced in this previous question. I ran it all winter long, and gradually a bunch of the jets popped out; 24 of them overall (2 large, 5 medium and 17 small), which is probably most of them. The guy at the shop tells me the backings wear down over time and that they all need to be replaced. He says that without them, the water won’t circulate properly. I’m putting the question to the disinterested hive because a) you’re not wanting to sell me spa products and b) Googling mostly gives me sites wanting to sell me spa products. The guy at the shop is very helpful and knowledgeable, but I need some second opinions.

My question to you is, under the circumstances (below), is this worth fixing now? Will the tub be OK without them?

The circumstances are these:
1. the hot tub is very rarely used; I think I used it about 4 times last year, and Mr. Koko not at all
2. because of the low use, I only adjust the chemicals about once a month
3. I do use the tub during the winter, but not when it gets below -15C / 5F
4. in spite of low usage, the tub does run all winter long, and air temps can get as low as -40C/-40F (usually they’re around -20C / -4F)
5. we are on a very tight budget, only making necessary expenses; we don’t care about keeping the hot tub in top shape, only about preventing it from getting completely broken

Bonus question: if we DO decide to run/use it with so many jets gone, what should we do to work around the issue?

Depending on what the cost might be of keeping the tub going through the winter with most of the jets gone, I may look into the cost of getting a professional to close it for the season instead. I’ll go with whatever’s cheapest.

Thanks in advance!

help my friend Alzheimers-proof his house

Thu, 12 Feb 2015 18:51:55 -0800

My friend from this question needs advice and direction caring for his mom in her home. Her dementia is getting steadily worse, and last weekend she went wandering. The sheriff’s deputy brought her home in the early morning; sometime during the night when my friend was asleep, she had left the house with no shoes or coat on. He is currently living in her house and working from home in order to care for her 24/7, but is becoming quickly overwhelmed. Getting his mom into a facility is not a financial possibility, and there are no reliable family members to relieve him. He can’t leave her alone at all.

Please advise any and all resources I can throw his way; people to call, books to purchase (I’ve already recommended this one, which he’s ordering),
services available for little or no money, etc. He’s looking into special locks for the doors, but what else? He’s also in the process of applying for an adult day care program through VA Tech. My friend has POA now, and his mom has both Medicare and MedicAid. They live in Radford, VA, in Pulaski County.


start me making jewelry

Mon, 19 Jan 2015 11:00:25 -0800

I need the basics to start making jewelry as a hobby. I needs me a hobby, and I've been thinking about jewelry-making. I have a background in art, I'm good with my hands and have skinny fingers, I'm nearsighted and have a ton of patience, so I think jewelry making would be a good fit. Plus, I love jewelry. And storing things in little containers. And tools.

I want to start really basic. Would that be beads and wires, or is there something else that's simple? What tools / materials / books should I start with? Websites / instructional videos I can look at? I'm interested in working with found objects as well as traditional materials to make unique pieces. Eventually I want to work with silver and resin, so any info on working in that direction would be helpful as well. But that's pretty far down the road, so please help me get started! Thanks!

is this a valve?

Sun, 19 Oct 2014 06:32:54 -0800

Is this a valve of some kind? If so, how do I close it? The part that looks like you should be able to turn with your fingers, doesn’t budge at all and I don’t want to bend it. It’s in the middle of a 1/4” tube that runs from the water pipe to the flow-through humidifier on the furnace, so I would think the purpose would be to turn the flow to the humidifier on and off. I can’t see any other way to do it, other than turning the water off completely. I need to be able to turn off the water to the humidifier so I can fix a connection (and for maintenance in general).

Thanks in advance!

rookie homeowners

Mon, 15 Sep 2014 14:04:16 -0800

Is asking questions of the previous owner of one's new house a thing that people do? Bought our house in April of this year, took possession in July, and from April to shortly after we moved in I've had to send the previous owners (whom we've never met) a few questions, which I always did through our realtors. These were questions that either A) I could not figure out myself, because we had not yet taken posession of the house (homeowners insurance questionnaire), or B) I might have been able to figure out, but not before a lot of time and/or money were spent. There have only been four instances, and I got responses on all but one of the emails, and though they didn't answer fully and sometimes required prompting, the answers were more or less sufficient. (I can provide more details on the questions I asked if anyone feels it's relevant / interesting.)

I feel it is reasonable to ask questions of the previous owner, up to a point. I would be happy to answer reasonable questions, if it was me. But I have a nagging suspicion that I may be annoying the sellers, and that by now I really should be figuring things out for myself.

Which brings me to the second part of my question: the hot tub that came with the house needs to be cleaned, drained, etc. before we can use it, and I'm fine with figuring it out for myself / asking professionals / Googling etc., which I've done but now I've hit a snag. I cannot find the valve for draining the tub. It's not where the owner's manual says it should be (along the "skirt"), so I suspect it's in the equipment compartment, which neither I nor my husband can figure out how to open. The cover is just a loose board on one side of the tub, and no amount of jiggling/pushing/pulling will get it to open. Picture here. Every other side of the tub is solid, so that's really the only possibility. It's an older model, Coast Spas SSPA1, and the control panel looks like this.

So my question has two parts: 1. is asking questions of the previous owners a thing that people do, or do I need to just suck it up and stop bothering them; and 2. if anyone is familiar with the type of hot tub I now own, please let me know how to find the drainage valve and open the equipment compartment!

thanks in advance

POA (and will) in VA

Thu, 03 Jul 2014 13:28:38 -0800

Asking for a friend who lives in Virginia: my friend's mother has had a chronic illness for many years, and over the past year her health has begun to steadily decline, and she has been phasing in and out of bouts of dementia. Lately the bad days seem to be getting more and more frequent. No one has power of attorney at the moment; I'm trying to help him get it in place ASAP. The problem is money; no one in the family has very much. My friend is living with and taking care of his mom as best he can, but he has no steady income. I know from my own experience that getting POA in place before his mom completely succumbs to dementia is crucial.

Google brought up this DIY site, but advice I read on this site tells me that the POA really should be set up by an attorney, or banks and other institutions may not accept it.

A will also needs to be made, ideally at the same time, but I think the POA is probably more urgent.

My questions are these:
1. do they really need a lawyer, or can this be done cheaply and effectively as DIY?
2. if lawyering is really the way to go, can anyone point me to affordable lawyers and/or services in Virginia? Pulaski County.

Thanks in advance!

dog ate black licorice candy, will he be ok?

Mon, 05 May 2014 19:19:49 -0800

I had a bag of chewy black licorice sticks, and my mom's dog (a bichon frise) got into it. Not sure how much the little feller ate, maybe 5-8 sticks max before I stopped him. Will he get sick? Googling delivers different results (safe in moderation, OMG poison), so I thought I'd bring it to you folk. He's on a steroidal medication for some kind of itchy skin condition, but I think that's it.

Vancouver condo rental

Wed, 10 Jul 2013 08:26:59 -0800

Planning a week in Vancouver in October, thinking of renting a condo instead of staying in a hotel. Anyone done this? Recommendations / things to look out for? What generally happens when you rent a condo for a week? I’m assuming things like dishes, cookware and linens are provided; is there usually a washer and dryer or should we find a place convenient to a laundromat? Are the units generally cleaned / checked between rentals or is there a chance we’ll get one that’s been trashed by the people before us? I don’t mind cleaning up after myself, but having to clean up after other people would make me very grumpy. What recourse would we have if something went wrong? What sort of questions should we ask before we rent?

Also, which areas of the city would be best / worst? We are a mid-forties married couple with no kids; we like: good eats, theatre, museums, art galleries, shopping (record stores, book / comics stores, funky gifts / unique clothes), cool bars / occasional live music, and would like to be within easy walking / public trans of these things, as well as a decent grocery store if we’ll be cooking for ourselves some nights.

Thanks in advance!