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Ask MetaFilter posts by jquinby

Ask MetaFilter posts by jquinby

Published: Sat, 16 Nov 2013 15:21:20 -0800

Last Build Date: Sat, 16 Nov 2013 15:21:20 -0800


How to troubleshoot the phones in my house.

Sat, 16 Nov 2013 15:21:20 -0800

I'm looking for pointers for troubleshooting the phones in our house. They seem to have been installed by Cheech and Chong and appear to be wired in series: one to the next. However, some work and some do not. Each phone receptacle box in our house has two CAT5 cables coming into it. Both of them are wired to the phone jack screws as follows:

blue > green
blue/white > red

That is, both blue wires are tied to the green screw and both blue/white wires are tied to red. The other pairs are not used at all. All of the jacks are like this, except for one, which I'm assuming to be the end of the line.

I'm struggling to figure out why some of the jacks produce a dial tone, and others don't, to wit:

All of the functional ones are on one side of the house, but not all of the jacks on that side of the house are working.

A small cluster might work, but a jack in between them won't.

One one side of the house, none of the jacks work. All of the them are wired according to the scheme above and I just got done checking to make sure they were all screwed down well.

My question is: when phones are wired this way, do they work like Christmas lights? That is, does a fault in one receptacle hose all of the other ones downstream? Any suggestions for troubleshooting? (this article supports the Christmas light theory).

Additional info: this house has no phone dmarc outside. As far as I can tell, it's only ever had phone service as provided by the cable company, so we followed suit. We have the cable modem in the single bedroom where the cable and phone jacks happen to be on the same wall. So there is no punchdown block or other terminus for all of the connections.

What was this particular web typography plugin/package called?

Mon, 19 Aug 2013 13:51:40 -0800

I used a HTML typography package years ago and can find neither hide nor hair of it any more. It converted HTML to include proper dashes, curly quotes and other typographic elements. It may have been a blogging engine (or included with one). What was it? Some years back I remember finding (and using) a package that essentially converted bog-standard HTML to something close to 'typographically proper': proper em- and en-dashes, curly quotes, and so on. I distinctly remember finding it via a page where you could paste text into a form and see it beautifully converted. The person or persons responsible for the package were kind-of typography snobs, but the output was pretty beautiful.

Festina lente figured prominently on the website, but I'm damned if I can find it now. Maybe it's gone, but not being able to even locate a mention of it via Google is driving me nuts.

You could also download the package(s) to use as a blogging engine. This was around 7-10 years ago, so I imagine that much of what it did has been superseded by CSS and other things.

Design gurus of Ask, what the hell was this thing called?

What's a good table saw for a beginner woodworker?

Wed, 19 Dec 2012 18:09:16 -0800

Woodworkers of Metafiler: give me your table saw recommendations. I am starting to do some woodworking and am looking to acquire a table saw. I read the reviews on this older question, but it's a few years old and many of the model numbers seem to have changed since then.

The projects I'm looking at dovetail (har!) with beekeeping, so small-ish wooden boxes, rabbets and box-joints. Most of the plans I'm looking at require dado cuts and ripping small boards into smaller boards (like cutting 1x2 down to 1x1.33...the bees can be particular).

The garage shop is small, so something on wheels would be good. 120V power is also something of a requirement.

The reviews of this one by Sears seem pretty good. At the other end of the spectrum (costwise) is this Bosch 4100, which features ecstatic user reviews and an adjustable riving knife. I just watched a video on riving knives, and I think I really want that feature.

"Your incabulator is leaking, sir, and we need to realign it."

Fri, 14 Sep 2012 15:10:51 -0800

Comcast just called me and says that something in my house is feeding noise back into their system, and that I need to schedule someone to come out and look around at everything. Is this legit? We have Comcast for internet, cable and phone service. Nothing has touched the wiring since the day the stuff was installed, but I just got a call from them saying that a service tech driving around detected leakage that was 'feeding back' into their system, and that "it could continue building up until it caused problems elsewhere. "

Nothing has changed in our cable setup inside since it was installed, and we've not noticed any change in any of our services, but they want me to commit to a service window for someone to show up and look around. It smells a little weird to me. I'm a little irritated at having to now set aside time for a problem which may or may not really exist.

Has anyone else dealt with one of these? A service manager is supposed to call me back to explain it a little better. This first guy was just the dispatcher/appointment-setter.

How should I treat the inside of my whiskey-barrel planters?

Sat, 25 Feb 2012 14:00:36 -0800

I have two half-whiskey-barrels that I want to use as planters. How can I prevent them from rotting out in a few years? They came with plastic inserts, but these inserts don't reach all the way to the bottom of barrels so there's a gap of a few inches.

The outside of the barrel (which is oak) has been stained and finished, and I expect I'll need to re-treat it occasionally or just let it weather naturally. The inside of the barrel has been burnt to a more-or-less even layer of charcoal-coating. The barrel will be on an iron stand, 4-5 inches off the ground.

As I want to use these as planters, drainage is a consideration so it's clear that I'll be drilling holes in the plastic insert and the wood.

Even with holes, though, I expect some dampness to accumulate in there.

Am I bean-plating this or is there anything else I can do to prevent the humidity from rotting these things out too quickly? Or just perforate the hell out of the wood so that as little water as possible has a chance to collect?

Revenge of the crab: rashes and their treatment

Fri, 16 Sep 2011 17:31:35 -0800

How long can I expect to enjoy my new seafood-related rash and is there anything I can do to speed this up? I tried soft shell crab for the first time the other day and woke up the next morning with an all-over rash. I look sunburnt. The odd thing is that I've had no other symptoms. No upset stomach, tingling, difficulty breathing or any of the really scary allergy signs.

It really doesn't even itch that much except in occasional HOLY SHIT waves of pinpricks. Benadryl at night helps, but I'm interested in hearing about anything else to try (I came across a reference to vitamin C) or how long this might last. You are not my doctor, I get it. This is just really annoying.

Easiest and/or best way to repair a small hole in a brick wall?

Sat, 23 Oct 2010 09:28:17 -0800

DIYFilter: I have a small hole in a brick wall. Can I use expanding-foam to repair it? For reasons not relevant to my question, I had to move a dryer vent to a different spot on the back wall of my house. Unfortunately, I now have a small hole in the wall where the old vent used to be.


Hole in context

It's near the grade, behind a bush. I'm thinking about putting a small bit of hardware cloth behind the hole (as a matrix), filling the whole thing with Great Stuff, sanding it flush when it's dried and hitting it with a little bit of paint. Is this a bad idea?

(Or should I try my hand at filling it with some mortar? And what kind?)

Because of where it is, appearance isn't super important, but I don't want to have to redo this in a year or two and I need to keep the critters (and the weather) out.

What does this Arabic inscription say?

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 18:44:49 -0800

ArabicFilter: What does the inscription on the bottom of my peppermill say? I shot a quick video of it and posted it here. For all I know it says "ACME PEPPERMILL WORKS LTD", but inquiring minds and all that. We bought it via eBay several years ago...if memory serves, the seller was a dealer in all sorts of things from in and around Turkey.

Looking for a 65-70 mile cycling route near Frederick, MD

Thu, 06 Aug 2009 13:47:33 -0800

Maryland cyclists: looking for a 65-70 mile route/loop in (or around) Frederick. Hivemind: I'm heading up to Frederick, MD, to visit family next week but am also training for a century in late August. Next week is supposed to be a 65 mile long-ride, the last until the The Big Day.

I've looked at the cue sheets and maps at the local club site, (esp. this ride from Monocacy MS to Antietam) but would also be interested in hearing from anyone else in the area as regards routes with moderate hills and (if this is possible) light traffic.

We'll be staying near the C&O Towpath, but it's unfortunately not paved. Road is best but I'm OK with paved greenways as well.

The racerback nursing bra. Does this exist?

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 17:30:33 -0800

(ahem) Women of MeFi: Seeking information on nursing bras. Difficulty level: racerback. Google-fu has failed Mrs. Q. in her quest for a racerback nursing bra.

Racerback, because it's summer here and lots of sleeveless tops are on offer and nursing, because, well, she's still nursing.

The only one that keeps coming up is from Bravado, which she has tried and hates because it lacks support (the wide elastic band that runs across the bottom front has a tendency to fold).

She picked up a 6-pack of widgets earlier today that (purports) to turn regular ol' bras into racerbacks via a little thingie that pulls the straps together in the back. I wonder if such a thing will be comfortable since it seems like it'll pull in a way not designed for the apparatus, but I'm only the husband here and the whole thing is a bit out of my milieu.

A single (dated) reference to an alternative has popped up in web searches but the company seems to have stopped making them.

I've gone through a few of the older threads on the subject but have come up dry so far. Does such a thing exist, or will the widget have to suffice?