Sunday, August 31, 2008

My Next DIY project....

...come here little doggie...

Calculate your carbon footprint...

According to this calculator, my carbon footprint is good-2-go... so I'm completely guilt-free, and no tree-hugger can wave his little finger in my face. Seems like most of my money is going toward paying off my mortgage early, and not buying mountains of carbon-fueled goods and services. So... getting out of debt is really "green" in more ways than one!

For a limited time, I've added the widget to the blog, in the right column.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

2000 Lexus GS hood latch DIY

After I was hit in the left fender a year ago, the latch has not really worked well... but it's probably too late to complain now. So... I ordered a new one, and gave the install a go today. Lubed up the underhood cable, too, while I was under there.
Total time about 30 minutes, which also included taking pictures.
Geek out,

Remember to click to enlarge.

Here's some screen shots of the HL-T6189S service menu which I use for use a Sypder II spectraphotometer for color and greyscale calibration. The main link is at
My older HL-S6189S Tech thread is HERE

Extended oil change intervals and Lexus maintenance

For the last 100,000 miles on my 2000 Lexus GS400, I've been changing the Mobil 1 synthetic oil every 200 hours of engine run time. The Lexus has an engine clock which can be reset to zero, which I do when I change the oil.
For my typical driving, the Lexus computer computes about a 38 MPH average since the last reset, so that works out to about 200hrs x 38MPH = 7600 miles between oil changes.
Even thought the car is at 180,000 miles, the car burns ZERO oil, and the oil looks just a little darker at 7500 miles. The magnetic plug has no metallic sludge on it, either.
Here's a severe road test by a municipality on it's fleet vehicles, going 20,000 miles between synthetic oil changes (q10k oil filter changes) compared to non-synthetic "dinosaur' oil every 3,000 miles. The verdict? Synthetic 20K miles changes showed LESS WEAR on rod and main bearings!
Even General Motors goes a minimum 10,000 on oil synthetic oil changes with computer monitoring of the oil life.
It you 'feel' you need to change it more often, then that's not science... that's emotional decision-making. I'm trying to stick to science here. Kind of like how you would 'feel' eating worms is "yukky" and you wouldn't do it ever, but it would make perfect biological sense that worms would keep your body fed with nutrients....
Longer oil intervals = less money spent needlessly, and more Saturdays to do other projects besides changin oil.

After the driving vacation, it'll be time for the second 90K timing belt/water pump/plugs/tranny fluid/diff oil/brake fluid/power steering fluid change. There is a little "shimmy" at around 75mph, so will check the ball joints, too.

Just got new tires, rear 12 months ago, last month for the fronts. Sweet tires: Yokohama Avid V4S ... quiet, smooth, long-wearing and great grip. Use

Internet Explorer 8 beta is out...

So, I use Firefox for just about everything except Microsoft downloads (though Firefox has an IE-tab function, which works pretty good at fooling websites into thinking you're running IE instead of Firefox).

Here's the link to the IE8 beta download site here.

I'll report back after the break how it functions, and whether it's worth the switch either from IE7 or from Firefox...


Well, I downloaded IE8 overnight, and rebooted as directed.

First thoughts: looks the same (which can be good... who wants to learn all new button locations for familiar stuff?) but I've never liked the new IE7 layout, so I'm not crazy about IE8 then, either. Homepage button to small and far away, forward and back buttons are too small. Hate that dull, gray look. Yuk. Where's the custom skins options????
Interesting upgrades:

1) Suggested Sites: kind of learns where you've been and then suggests sites based upon your browsing history. Here's what was suggested for me after about three minutes... since I was working on my blog, it is suggested some other blog services.

2) A "safety" button/menu with delete history, "private browsing" to leave no footprints for that birthday gift shopping and a SmartScreen Filter which checks the website, and also screens download files for problems (virus and spyware?)

3) There's a small "broken page" button near the address bar to "fix" bad websites... haven't had opportunity to fix a page yet, though the log-in page looked a bit "broken". Firefox renders it perfectly, (of course).

Bottom line: will I switch? No way. Firefox add-ons are fun and helpful. Page rendering seems better (but not faster at this point). Firefox has better buttons and skins, too.
Sorry, M$ Bill... no switching today....
Geek out,

Friday, August 29, 2008

Vivix is here!

Just got in our first auto-shipment of Vivix, the resveratrol product by Shaklee. Interestingly, this is a purplish liquid (it is made from grapes), whereas most resveratrol products are powdered capsules. The Vivix tastes pretty grape candy. One teaspoon is all it takes. Shake well, take with food. Since I'm not a big candy eater, I wash it down with water, or like Toni, with a Sierra Mist soda...which she says tastes even better after the Vivix "shot".
Here's a Wikipedia entry on the anti-aging, and anti-cancer, properties of Resveratrol

As a physician, I've dug into the 1000's of pure medical research on this compound, and the overall consensus is that the benefits of resveratrol are real (at least in all the animal studies from unicellular organisms to mice), and could be life-changing for humans, too.

I've been a huge skeptic about most nutraceuticals which are hawked by companies with very little data but for anecdotes of "how my uncle got better after a couple teaspoons" of some snake oil. Resveratrol has the science from thousands of independant medical labs, and more is coming out all the time.

Do a NCBI scientific journal search for resveratrol... 2300+ articles, mostly positive, and growing all the time. Here's a couple thousand more articles also listed at

Glaxo-Smith-Kline has a spin-off pharmaceutical company that may be coming out with a resveratrol product to help control adult- diabetes. One board-certified internist physician-author, states that resveratrol can reduce cancer risk by 77%, increase health, and decrease risk of cardiac disease.

Here's an ABC nightline article and news video on the chemical resveratrol, which is in Vivix.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Advantium Oven Repair -- F3 error --

Well, you would think for $2400, you'd get a quality microwave that would pretty much last till the 22nd century... well, you'd be wrong. Our GE Advantium Oven ( ZSC2001FSS02 ) started beeping and whining after two years like it'd been hit with a sharp stick. Plus it would just show -- F3 -- , the error code. Fortunately, this is a common problem, as evidenced by LOTS of Google hits on this code. F3 is a "keypad error". Hmm.. recall anyone?

Anyways... I was off to and this diagram. I ordered drawing #68 (GE part # WB07X10680) for about $127 with shipping, and it came in two days. Wow! That's service. I think GE wanted a $160 bucks plus $11 shipping... but I've had great luck with, so they win my business. Good return policy, too.

Here's the step by step for the DIY guy'r'gal. All you need is a magnetized long philips screwdriver, a soft surface, and a friend who can afford the oven if they drop it. :)


1. Turn off the circuit breaker first, then remove the unit from the wall, with a tall support platform in front due to armored electrical cable which prevents moving it far from it's cubby hole.

2. Remove the top panel (multiple screws). Tilt the panel'r rear edge upwards to disengage the panel's front lip.

3. Remove the four screws holding the stainless keypad panel to the oven

4. To fully remove the stainless keypad panel, lift it up off the support posts

5. Disconnect the black/white wire bundle from the main electrical board at the back of the oven, so you can fully remove the stainless keypad panel from the oven.

6. Remove the stainless keypad assembly with wiring from the oven and place upside down on a padded towel to avoid scratching the old (and the new) stainless keypad assembly.

7. Remove the knob from its post... careful and slow... it's REALLY on there. I was able to use my fingers only...but it was a workout.

8. Remove the three screws holding the rotary knob circuit board from the black plastic base. (This will allow you to remove the black base from the stainless keypad surround.

9. Disconnect the flat ribbon cable by pulling outward on the black plastic sleeve. (You might want to practice re-inserting it... and see how far in it really has to go to bottom out and be firmly inserted.)

10. Remove the three screws holding the black base to the stainless keypad surround, and remove the black base... it is held in place by a small metal tab under just to the side of where the rotary knob circuity board was prior to you removing it.

11. Remove the four brackets from the old stainless surround and save for the next step.

12. Now get your new keypad and stainless surround, lay it on the soft towel, and mount the old four brackets to the new piece.

13. Now reverse install everything. Remember, the black plastic base that holds the display will NOT go back into the new part if the knob shaft is installed... the rotary knob shaft/circuit board has to be re-attached *AFTER* you mount the black plastic base onto the new keypad stainless surround assembly.

14. Reverse install everything and then power up the circuit breakers. Make sure you put the top back on to avoid electrical shock.

15. The display should completely light up (all pixels) for about 15 seconds, and then you set the clock when it appears. If you can set the clock... you are good to go. If things don't light up, turn off the circuit breakers, and check ALL your connections are tight... especially the ribbon cable and the two wire bundles to the main circuit board.

Good takes about 45 minutes (and that's going nice'n'easy pace). If it doens't work... just call for GE service. :)