How to clean a Dalek

One of the great mysteries of the Universe, well, at least in the Sol System, is how to dirty daleks get cleaned?

Answer: They go to the Robo wash! (Anyone remember those!?)

Okay, this may be a more plausible answer:

How daleks get cleaned


Of course, while documenting this, Red was being a camera hog!

Red getting in front of the camera

Welcome Otos

After reading positive things about the otocinclus dwarf suckermouth catfish, I ordered six from my local fish store. They arrived this morning.

As per my understanding, they need to be acclimated slowly, so I did several things to minimize the shock.

First, I carried them out of the store in a black metal pan with their bag wrapped in cloth. This provided a dark-ish and hopefully secure feeling environment for the trip. (When I picked up Red and Blue, it was night-time so bright light wasn’t an issue then.)

In my home office, I mean my fishes territory, I turned off the main lights and put them in a large wide mouth glass container that holds about a gallon.

Next, I inserted a bubble stone with a slow air stream. Whether this was necessary, I’m not certain but certainly it wasn’t going to hurt.

Finally I have a two gallon container with a spigot that I purchased at the local WalMart. It was originally intended for serving drinks. I placed it up on a top shelf with an air hose line attached to it along with an adjustable restriction valve.

After adding about a half-gallon of water from the 10 gallon tank, I set it to go drip-drip-drip into the glass container. For the next four hours or so, the goal was to give the otos a very slow, steady and hopefully low-stress acclimation period.

BTW, I have another of these that is plumed into the 10 gallon tank and will put two gallons of prepared water in there. When I do water changes / vacuum the gravel, I pull out two gallons down to a line that I marked on the glass and open the spigot. It takes about 15 minutes to refill the tank and doesn’t cause a serious water current to disturb the residents.

I then extracted some water from the glass container using a turkey baster and repeated the process with another half-gallon from the 10 gallon tank.

At this point, I felt the otos were as ready as they will ever be to enter their new home.

Oto on Thermometer

So far, the bettas have been curious about the new residents. I’ve seen a few brief chases but the otos are so much faster than the big finned bettas that it was no contest. It was like a lumbering 1960 Lincoln chasing an Ariel Atom.

Oto on Leaf

Underwater Dalek, Amazon Sword plants

Brave Blue! He isn’t the least bit concerned about the Dalek. The Doctor would be proud.

Brave Blue, he isn't the least bit afraid of the Dalek. The Doctor would be proud!


I also added an Amazon Sword plant to each side. From what I can tell, the plant might end up a bit too large so will likely require trimming. However I understand that bettas like to lay down on leaves to relax/rest/sleep and I figure this would be much nicer than the nasty plastic ones.

Day 1 in their new home

I spy something red WP

Red and Blue are now in their palace.

The white divider is a piece of needlepoint plastic reinforced by those (terrible) sliding-bar ‘report’ covers. I need to for on the anchoring a bit so that it won’t fall over and they get into a fight.

The floating plants (left side of each section in this picture) are java ferns. They’re support to do will in lower light situations. (I forgot what the other one is. but it was free at the pet store.)

For the next few weeks, I will have to do daily water tests, in particular watching for ammonia. The moment ammonia is detected, I’ll have to swap out some water. However, considering the low bio load and large size, I don’t expect that happen for a few days.

My next step is to figure out how to reduce to deflect the water flow. Thankfully, this filter has an adjustable flow which helps but I would like to diffuse it a bit more. Perhaps some of the needlepoint plastic would help.

Welcome Red and Blue

Welcome “Red” and “Blue”, my two new betta fish. Here they are in their old mobile homes waiting to be transferred their new palace, a 10 gallon aquarium divided in half.

Red and Blue in their containers

Details to follow. I’m currently setting up the tank…

The Rude List – LightBox-style Popup Messages

As far as I know, it began with showing a picture or slideshow. Darkening the rest of the screen has the effect of turning down the lights in the room. Thus, in itself, the lightbox-style is an effective means to concentrate the users attention on a popup message. However there can be a number of issues.

The first of which is that the “close” button is often tiny or hard to find. I do not want to waste my time trying to figure out how to get rid of the popup.

Some have had popups on each page. This probably goes back to cookies and security settings that don’t store or keep them between sessions. I’m in the latter group because I don’t want a zillion little cookie crumb files littering my computer. (That is subject of another Rude List item in the future.)

Staples popupAnother problem is if the window is too small because of a small or lower-resolution display. Think about tablet users, mobile phone users using the desktop version of your site. I have seen sites where the popup ran off the screen and it was literally IMPOSSIBLE to continue. Sorry, in that case, my business went elsewhere just because I couldn’t reach the site.

Thankfully in my Staples example here, I could click outside the popup and still proceed but it is still annoying.


First, make sure the close buttons is clear and easy to activate, even on touch screen devices. Furthermore, process clicks outside the popup and use that as an indication the user wants to close the popup.

Next, I would also make the popup close itself after a few seconds and never come back, cookie restrictions permitting.

Finally, really consider if such an intrusive popup is really necessary. Is the message THAT important? Does the message even apply to the viewer ? For example, in the case of Staples above, I already have their Rewards card, and yet I continue to see the messages. That happens a lot !

The Rude List

Today marks the beginning of a series I am calling The Rude List, a compilation of rude software and web site behaviors.

This is not a “top 10” type list as entries will be in no particular order, even though some raise my  blood pressure more than others.

To software and web site developers, if your product has these any of these characteristics, my only request is that you give these comments some consideration and know that your customers may have strong feelings about them.

Rude #1 – Lightbox-style Popup Messages



Time And Relative Capacity in Space

Back in 1977 or 1978, I remember my dad and I riding down to a nearby major city to pick up one box of ten 8″ diskettes. I remember they were SS/DD (single-sided, double-density) Nashua Five Disks vs Playbookbrand with a formatted capacity of about 230k under CP/M. The trip was justified because they were a great deal at $50 for the box.

That was $50 for a total 2.3 MB of storage.

For a simple comparison, my BlackBerry Playbook, a full computing device with input and output, is thinner than 5 discs and certainly smaller and has 64 GB of built-in storage. It would have taken over 291,000 SS/DD 8″ disks to reach 64 GB. Of course, one could upgrade to DS/DD 8″ disks and cut that around 146,000 disks.

(And don’t forget, we now have 64 GB MicroSDXC cards that are (roughly)

Looking at it from the dollars perspective, using, that works out to about $175 in 2013 money, about the cost of a tablet today. For 2.3 Megs! To reach 64 GB back then, it would have cost over 1.4 million dollars.

Just thought it was an interesting observation.