Coat the garage floor with polyaspartic or epoxy? Put in an air conditioner?

For the first time in my life, I live in a house with a reasonably nice garage. The floor is a concrete slab poured in 2003. For a lot of neighbors, however, this is apparently not sufficient. Because there are no basements in Florida, the garage is a critical storage facility and also sometimes the home of N-1 or N-2 cars (where N is the theoretical capacity of the garage in cars).

Does it make sense to put in a plastic floor? The cost is about $2,700 for a polyaspartic floor, which dries quickly and therefore enables the contractor to show up from 9 am to 2 pm and the homeowner to put everything back into the garage by 3 or 4 pm. The old religion was epoxy, which I think resulted in two days of downtime for the garage and two visits by the contractor, but Science now says that polyaspartic is better?

Readers who’ve done this: Why? And what material?

Also, I’m thinking that items stored in the garage will be in better shape if the temperature and humidity are limited to some extent. It will also help with my dream Internet system since the CAT5 wires all come back to a panel in the garage and typical modems and routers are rated to operate at temperatures no higher than 40C (104 degrees in the units that God prefers). Does it make sense to try to keep the garage to a maximum of 85 or 90 degrees with a split system?

Finally, if polyaspartic is the right choice, what color? The exterior has a lot of beige and the garage door is brown, so I was thinking of “Saddle Tan”. On the other hand, most of the ones that I’ve seen are gray (e.g., “Midnight” or “Smoke” below). “California Gray” can be ruled out since we don’t want to have to wear masks and show our vaccine papers in the garage. There is no “Blue Steel” or “Magnum”, sadly.

Full post, including comments

Department of First World Problems: the Tile tracker system

One of the good things about Florida is that you can walk out of your apartment or house without bothering to put on shoes or more clothing than gym shorts and a T-shirt. The downside is that you are often leaving wallets and keys somewhere inside, thus leading to a search challenge a few hours later when it is time to drive to a restaurant. Also, your typical Floridian may have at least three vehicles for which keys are required: car, pickup, golf cart. Putting these all on one huge keyring is cumbersome.

The New York Times/Wirecutter says that the choice of tracker should be limited to Apple AirTag and Tile.

If you’re already paying $1000+ per year to be part of the Apple ecosystem, why not Apple AirTags? They’re great if you lose things outside of the house because there are so many other people paying $1000+ per year to be part of the Apple ecosystem. They’re bad in every other way, though. You can’t put them on an existing keychain because there is no hole in an AirTag. You can’t put them in your wallet because there isn’t a version that is shaped like a credit card. The AirTag’s speaker isn’t as loud. If a heretic in your house decides to use Android, he/she/ze/they won’t be able to locate anything that is attached (using a proprietary Apple keychain that costs $29 to $449) to an AirTag.

The advantages of Tile:

  • thoughtful physical packaging (e.g., a hole for your existing keyrings)
  • no need to buy all new keyrings, wallets, etc.
  • a variety of physical packages (e.g., a “thick credit card” for your wallet, a small cylinder with included adhesive for sticking to TV remotes and similar)
  • there are a lot of devices that are already “tile enabled”. Laptops from HP, Dell, Lenovo, ASUS, for example
  • louder speaker to facilitate finding within the house or yard
  • multi-platform
  • press button on Tile to make your phone sound an alert even when it is on silent (i.e., if you’ve found your keys or wallet it will be easy to find your phone)
  • lifestyle video advertising the product includes a golden retriever on the couch (sadly, lower down on the page is a photo of a hipster)

With Apple there is no subscription service offered. With Tile you can use all of the core services without paying, but if you pay $30 per year (free for the first year) you get more location history, free battery replacements, and some insurance for lost items.

It took me about 5 minutes to download the Tile app for the iPhone, create and verify an account, and activate the the first tile. Additional tiles take about 1 minute to activate. Giving a tile a custom name, e.g., “Awesome Honda Odyssey Keys” instead of “Keys” takes a scroll and an extra press or two (would be nice if this were an option when activating, which it is if you select the “Other” category). The tiles are pretty rugged. I crammed one into the clip of a Stanley FatMax contractor-grade tape measure, which also includes a strong magnet, and it works perfectly. They’re spec’d to handle immersion in water for up to 30 minutes (IP67).

Now that I’ve played with the system one question that jumps out is “Why don’t car keys, all of which already have batteries, come with Tile built in?” Surely Honda, GM, Toyota, and Ford don’t want consumers to lose their keys. The list of Tile partners is extensive so plainly it wouldn’t be tough from a business or technical point of view to integrate Tile.



Full post, including comments

UniFi versus Araknis versus Ruckus

Our old apartment was small enough that the AT&T Fiber-supplied modem covered the entire space with awesome WiFi. The new house is just a little too big for a single base station to cover reliably and is currently suffering from Xfinity cable Internet with two Xpods (Comcast’s own mesh networking device, comparable to Eero; so we have three access points including the modem/base). The system does not seem reliable and oftentimes devices are not connected to the nearest pod, but rather are trying to talk to the base station.

The house was built in 2003 and has a fair number of CAT5 runs, many of them never terminated. My plan is the following:

  • return the rented Xfinity modem/WiFi router and replace with a Motorola MB8611 that can be mounted to a wall near where the cable comes in and the CAT5 wires gather (don’t want to put this in a cabinet because it can draw 15 watts)
  • install a compact 16-port Power-over-Ethernet switch in the A/V wall cabinet where the CAT5 wires come in (the cabinet is 14″ wide by 19″ high and 3.5″ deep; it has a cover that can be left off for cooling, but has no provision for airflow); The UniFi Switch Lite is an example of something that would fit (only 7×7″) and will drive half the ports with power.
  • give the Xpods away to a neighbor
  • install three WiFi access points inside the house and one outside, all driven by PoE; maybe something like the UniFi “mesh” access point?

The neighborhood is packed with busy physicians and dentists who apparently aren’t capable of watching TV or getting an iPhone online without significant assistance. (By contrast, none of our neighbors in the apartment building reported any trouble getting everything that they wanted from AT&T!) It is common to see A/V service providers’ trucks, therefore, and when I ask them what they install for network hardware the answer is always “Ruckus and Araknis,” never the brands that I’ve used before (Cisco, Netgear, Linksys). One installer said that the Ruckus gear is used by municipalities to provide public WiFi (not by the Palm Beach County Schools, apparently, since the other night the guest network was non-functional and also Verizon mobile data was unusable, as is typical in Jupiter) and that he likes it because his company logs in every morning to each client’s house to make sure that all of the equipment is operating properly and has the latest software updates applied.

Readers who are networking experts: What is the correct solution for a standard McMansion like ours? UniFi, Araknis, Ruckus, or “other”? We don’t want to pay an A/V firm to log in every day and, in fact, don’t need any capability of remote management (though maybe it would be nice if we have a house-sitter and the network fails?).

A Reddit thread on this subject:

Ruckus is professional wireless networking. Good stuff but you pay for it.

As for Araknis I have to ask how you even heard of it. Are you dealing with an A/V installer? If so they are trying to scam you. Araknis is mediocre quality gear sold only through “dealers” at crazy prices. They target people who want to throw money at problems instead of doing any research.

An advantage of UniFi for me is that a friend has a big setup and is an expert on configuration. At a minimum, I think that I want to pay an A/V company to do the CAT5 terminations and clean-up in the A/V cabinet. A degree in electrical engineering does not imply skill at CAT5 crimping compared to someone who does it all day every day.

From a security point of view, is remote management a feature or a bug? Xfinity can presumably log every web site that we visit, but why create additional opportunities for individuals or governments to see that, for example, household members are viewing misinformation on a Muskified Twittter?


Full post, including comments

Laptop with off-center keyboard due to numeric keypad

After digesting reader advice in response to What is the best 15-16-inch laptop right now? I decided to go with the $1200 LG Gram 16 2-in-1 from Costco. I’m setting it up now and already somewhat at war with the device because the keyboard is off center. Why isn’t the QWERTY keyboard that I want to use in the middle of the device? Because LG crammed in a numeric keypad, which I will never use.

For the Apple zealots, I will note that even their biggest (16″ pro) has the keyboard smack in the center:

They don’t bother with a numeric keypad because bookkeepers aren’t going to need a $3,000 notebook computer.

Who has used a laptop with an off-center keyboard like this? Did you get used to it?

Full post, including comments

What is the best 15-16-inch laptop right now?

It is time to replace my 5-year-old Dell XPS 13. Despite multiple return trips to Dell for service, the computer has never worked properly, refusing to sleep when closed or even to sleep when “sleep” is selected from the power options at lower left (the only way to prevent the battery from being drained is “shutdown”). It lacks whatever mojo is required to run Windows 11:

I probably could have predicted this given that the machine runs out of CPU zorch on Zoom calls and warnings about compromised audio quality pop up. Also, having the camera at the bottom of the screen is an unbelievably bad idea for Zoom (others on the call will see your fingers as you type and, thinking that they’re on mute, will say “that guy has more chins than the Shanghai lockdown registry”).

The experience of being a Dell customer was traumatic, so I don’t want to repeat that. I’m not ready to abandon my love for all things Microsoft (the keyboard, the folding mouse, Windows itself) so I can’t join the young, hip, and stickered with MacOS. I haven’t enjoyed the 13″ screen, despite the high (3200×1800) resolution, but lugging a 17-inch laptop in the old days wasn’t fun.

[My 17-inch HP laptop died to support a worthy cause. A friend and I had it almost completely apart so that we could remove a failed component. Another friend walked in the door wearing a “women in STEM” T-shirt (“Maker Girl” or “Girls Code”?). She decided to assist us and, confused by a zero insertion force connection, rather than flick the male part out with a pinky, snapped the female portion off the main board (surface mount and therefore not field-repairable). (Are “male” and “female” terms for connectors obsolete in our 2SLBGTQQIA+ world? If so, what are the new names?)]

Back in 2019, I selected an LG Gram 17-inch laptop for Senior Management (see What laptop for Senior Management? and 17” laptop for seniors (note that Senior Management is not a senior!) and notice the lack of progress in specs; the LG Gram 17 had 16 GB of RAM, which is still the prevailing standard for higher-end laptops three years later). The machine is still functional, despite some abuse from the kids, and no tech support has been required either from LG or the Domestic IT Department (me). This machine will be used for travel and I like having a touchscreen, which LG still doesn’t make in a 17-inch version. So I am thinking about a 16-inch version. Last year’s model, which includes an 11th generation CPU, is marked down to $1200 at Costco (the newest 12th gen version isn’t quite available):

Given the feeble progress that I’ve noted in GPUs, for example, is there a practical difference between 12th and 11th gen Intel CPUs?

The Surface Laptop Studio direct from Microsoft is probably a great product, but the screen is only 14.4 inches in size. It is $1,550 with a 512 GB SSD (the minimum for me) and over $1,800 with the “i7” CPU. It also has the 11th gen CPU and a similar resolution (2400 x 1600).

What about gaming laptops for someone like me who mostly carries a machine into a conference room or a hotel room? Do they offer big advantages for sound quality, Zoom, etc.? I wouldn’t actually play games, though I would love to have (a) the time, and (b) the skill.

The old HP worked great until its encounter with Women in STEM and HP allows customers a certain amount of configuration flexibility. Maybe it is time to consider HP? Like LG, they won’t sell you a high-res 17-inch touchscreen, at least not on the Envy models. Maybe there is a conspiracy over in Asia to deny Americans 17-inch touchscreens? For $4,000+, HP will sell a laptop for “creators” with similar specs to the LG that I purchased in 2019: 16 GB of RAM and 256 GB SSD: HP ZBook Studio G8 Mobile Workstation. It has a 15.6″ screen.

I poked around on the Lenovo site and didn’t see anything comparable to the LG. They don’t seem to make 16-inch devices, for example, and their 17-inch laptop is low res (HD) and non-touch. Perhaps their specialties are 14-15-inch business laptops and gaming laptops?

Maybe this is why Apple is so beloved. Since they’re the monopoly hardware supplier, consumers don’t have to cope with a paralyzing array of choice.

Readers: Please help! I want to make sure that I have a good laptop in time for Hate Week in case I am traveling then! (prediction based on what I’m hearing right now here in Washington, D.C.: Ron DeSantis and Kathryn Kimball Mizelle will be featured)

(Separately, I tried using a supersized iPad and keyboard as a Windows substitute on one trip and was unsuccessful. I couldn’t figure out how to use Dropbox and Office 365 together effectively and found myself missing the Windows File System(!), despite having previously raged against the tyranny of a single hierarchy.)

Full post, including comments

Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband compared to a 56K dial-up modem

Our neighborhood in Jupiter, Abacoa (created by the MacArthur Foundation), is home to a Major League Baseball training stadium at which the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins practice. A light post beyond the outfield bristles with mobile phone antennae, which presumably includes one for Verizon. Sitting in the stands, exactly one baseball field away from these antennae, I was unable to use a web browser. Here’s a Speedtest result:

Decoding the above: Max signal strength. On the new 5G Ultra Wideband network that Verizon advertises. Sub-LTE download speed. Upload speed, which is presumably making it tough for me to request pages, almost the same as a 56K modem dialing up AOL on an analog phone line (see Brent Townshend’s patent filed in 1994, which kept patent litigators busy for even longer than Verizon kept me waiting for web pages).

Young people: AOL was like Facebook and Twitter except that you wouldn’t be kicked off for saying that you believed masking kindergarteners wouldn’t stop an aerosol virus. Also, the typical user didn’t spend time and energy raging against things done by governors and legislatures of states other than the user’s own.

Full post, including comments

A 13-inch iPad costs the same as an 86-inch TV with the same capabilities

An iPad Pro costs between $1,100 and $2,200 (plus $350 for a keyboard), depending on precise configuration. It features a 12.9-inch LCD display and weighs about 1.4 lbs., making it inexpensive to pack and ship. It runs a Unix-based operating system and a bunch of apps to decode streaming digital video and paint pixels on the medium-resolution (less than 4K) screen.

What about an 86″ TV? It runs a Unix-based operating system and a bunch of apps to decode streaming digital video and paint pixels on a full 4K resolution screen. Here’s an example LG 86UN9070AUD from a recent Costco trip:

In addition to its prodigious 7′ diagonal size, it weighs 100 lbs. (130 lbs. when packaged) and therefore consumes substantial shipping and warehousing costs.

An obvious answer is that LG competes with other TV manufacturers and Apple is the only place to get a device that will run all of the apps targeted to iOS, but it still surprises me that these two items could have roughly similar prices.

Full post, including comments

GPU performance improvements since 2015 (and why not just use motherboard graphics?)

Moore’s law says that we should get GPUs twice as fast every two years (GPUs are inherently parallel so adding more transistors should add performance). Huang’s law says that GPUs get 3X faster every two years.

Because everything desirable in this world is being scooped up by the Bitcoin enthusiasts, my seven-year-old desktop PC makes due with a seven-year-old ASUS STRIX GTX980 graphics card. It was purchased in April 2015 for $556 from Newegg.

A similar-priced card today, exactly seven years later, should be at least 10X faster, right?

The 2015 card’s benchmark:

It can do 47 frames per second with DirectX 12.

Let’s look at the $1,050 RTX 3080 for comparison. Using the same inflation rate as Palm Beach County real estate, $1,050 today is a little less than $556 in 2015 dollars.

It can do 98 frames per second with DirectX 12. Even the cards that sell for $2,000+ are only slightly faster than the RTX 3080.

I pride myself on asking the world’s dumbest questions so here goes… if building a new PC for activities other than gaming or video editing, why not use the integrated graphics on the motherboard? The latest motherboards will drive 4K monitors. The latest CPUs have a lot of cores, especially AMD’s, so they should be competent at tasks that are easy to parallelize. Back in 2020, at least, a graphics card was only about 2X the speed of AMD’s integrated graphics (Tom’s Hardware). Intel, it seems, skimps in this department.

One argument against this idea for those who want a fast desktop PC is that the fastest CPUs don’t seem to come with any integrated graphics. The AMD Threadrippers, for example, say “discrete graphics card required”. The Intel Core i9 CPUs with up to 16 cores do generally have “processor graphics”, but does it make sense to buy Intel? AMD’s CEO is frequently celebrated for identifying as a “woman” (example from IEEE, which does not cite any biologists) while Intel’s CEO identifies as a surplus white male. Tom’s Hardware says that the latest Intel CPUs are actually faster for gaming: “Intel holds the lead in all critical price bands … In terms of integrated graphics performance, there’s no beating AMD. The company’s current-gen Cezanne APUs offer the best performance available from integrated graphics with the Ryzen 7 5700G and Ryzen 5 5600G.”

Is the right strategy for building a new PC, then, to get the Ryzen 7 Pro 5750G (available only in OEM PCs; the 5700G is the home-builder’s version) and then upgrade to a discrete graphics card if one needs more than 4K resolution and/or if the Bitcoin craze ever subsides? The Ryzen 7 fits into an AM4 CPU socket so it won’t ever be possible to swap in a Threadripper. This CPU benchmarks in at 3337 (single thread)/25.045 (the 5700G is just a hair slower and can be bought at Newegg for $300). The absolute top-end Threadripper PRO (maybe $10,000?) is no faster for a single thread, but can run 4X faster if all 128 threads are occupied. What about the Intel i7 5820K that I bought in 2015 for $390? Its benchmark is 2011 for a single thread and 9,808 if all 12 threads are occupied.

(For haters who are willing to pass up chips from a company led by a strong independent woman, the Intel i9-12900KS is about $600 and includes “processor graphics” capable of driving monitors up to 7680×4320 (8K) via DisplayPort. It can run up to 24 threads.)

These seem like feeble improvements considering the seven years that have elapsed. I guess a new PC could be faster due to the faster bandwidth that is now available between the CPU and the M.2 SSDs that the latest motherboards support. But why are people in such a fever to buy new PCs if, for example, they already have a PC that is SSD-based? Is it that they’re using the home PC 14 hours per day because they don’t go to work anymore?


  • Best Integrated Graphics (from Feb 2022; AMD Vega 11 is the winner)
  • ASUS “gaming desktop” with the Ryzen 7 5700G and also a GTX 3060 graphics card (could this ever make sense? Is there any software that can use both the GPU packaged with the CPU and simultaneously the GPU that is in the graphics card?)
  • William Shockley, who needs to be written out of transistor history: “Shockley argued that a higher rate of reproduction among the less intelligent was having a dysgenic effect, and that a drop in average intelligence would ultimately lead to a decline in civilization. … Shockley also proposed that individuals with IQs below 100 be paid to undergo voluntary sterilization”
Full post, including comments

People who were afraid to leave their bunkers for two years want to wear the same watch as the Apollo 11 astronauts

Two Apollo 11 astronauts wore the Omega Speedmaster after riding the Saturn V to the moon. Swatch has recently released a replica “moon watch”. Demand for these watches, and an association with the men who were brave enough to go into space, was overwhelming (Daily Mail). I would love to know how many of those who are donning the Watch of Bravery were cowering in place for two years, wearing an N95 mask while walking in the woods, etc.

Here are the original and copy side-by-side:

If you got some of the $500 billion in fraud from the PPP and other Covid relief programs, you might prefer this $45,300 gold version that is so white it looks like inexpensive stainless steel (so the Justice Department won’t suspect you!):

Which one would I choose if I were going into space? None of the above! Everything in aviation is done with UTC so I’d want a 24-hour hand or a 24-hour digital display of UTC in addition to the 12-hour local time. Torgoen makes a lot of these (quartz movements) and, if you want to spend 30X as much to get the same function, the Rolex Explorer II (except that it will cost you 50X as much and you’ll have to accept a used one because new Rolexes, all million/year that they make, are sold out (at least one to this guy who got caught defrauding PPP)).

Full post, including comments

Who has ordered Jeremy’s Razors?

A reader sent the following:

The product can be ordered at

Based on the photos, it doesn’t look like this is yet another private-label Dorco (the Korean experts behind the marketeers at Dollar Shave Club).

The commercial is fun and the product description includes “It identifies as the best shave kit ever assembled and its preferred pronouns are Buy/Now.” However, I’m not convinced it is worth $60 (8 blades, handle, and some shaving cream in a “socialism-resistant bag”). The comparable Dorco product has a trimmer on the back, a “3D Motion” handle, and is available on Amazon for $23 (then every time you stop at CVS for a COVID-19 vaccine booster pick up some Edge, which is no doubt superior to Jeremy’s cream). Dorco hasn’t taken any position on American politics as far as I know. If you’re in Maskachusetts and need to disguise the fact that you’re not using Gillette anymore, put all of the above in this zippered pouch:

Update: for those who wondered about where razors are made, I did some exhaustive Scientific research (i.e., drove to CVS). I found Gillette products made in China (the latest and greatest “GilletteLabs” razor) and Germany (the core Fusion5 cartridges).


Full post, including comments