Monthly Archives: January 2014

Where did the netbooks go?

My 2014 inexpensive laptop buying advice….

Q: Dell, Acer, Asus — all used to make 7″ and 10″ netbooks. We have a great Dell netbook called the Dell Inspiron Mini 1010 from several years ago with Windows 7. It has a 10″ screen and no CD/DVD drive, but otherwise is a very functional laptop with a full-sized keyboard. Perfectly great for email and facebook and Netflix and youtube and such. Why don’t they make such things any more in 2014?

A: It seems like they do, it’s just that they call them inexpensive Ultrabooks now. For example, the Dell Inspiron 11 (Haswell/Intel Celeron 2955U based) looks great for $300.

Q: But what about a “chromebook” like the new Acer C270?

A: It’s a tradeoff. A Chromebook is much simpler, but if you are ever going to want to have the option to run actual Office apps or Steam or Minecraft or Portal, etc, etc. for video games (for example), then one has to go Ultrabook route.

Finally: One of my most important qualifications is a laptop must be dead-simple to install more RAM. Some laptops make this difficult, but with others one can do this in 3 minutes.

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Filed under computers, shopping

calcium propionate seems to cause our son to stutter

Just a note that our current theory on A’s sporadic stuttering (none for a while now) is that it was most likely due to an allergy/sensitivity to calcium propionate, a preservative used in bread. (Well, crappy/typical bread that we get only sometimes, hence the “sporadic”). We are in the beginning stages of re-introducing a few other things — like we might try raspberry jam, high in salicylates — but calcium propionate is my current theory. Well, and I suppose it could be a combo.

Regardless…. Food preservatives. Just say no.

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Insulation! 3000 => 1400 CFM50

Insulation by definition does not necessarily tighten up a house (think fiberglass batts) but many types of insulation do:
– spray foam
– cellulose
– foam board (as long as it is sealed at seams with the proper tape, and at edges with “good stuff” type spray foam.

So that’s been the story with the insulation we just added to this house:
– walls (there was none) => DENSE PACK CELLULOSE
– garage wall and ceiling separating garage from the house
– attic (loose fill cellulose, lots of spray foam filling up leaks everywhere, and some poly iso foam board on a few knee-wall areas touching living space)

Original blower door was 3000+ CFM50. The one today after the work was 1400 CFM50.

I am not sure I quite believe it, but we’ll see… I believe an inspector will also do a blower-door test.

– windows and doors
– cathedral ceiling (someday…. maybe 4″-6″ of polyiso right on the existing drywall, with new drywall over it?)


Interesting, Washington state has a new-building requirement for SLA — Specific Leakage Area

Click to access air_leakage_testing.pdf

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Filed under about the house, deep energy retrofits, erik-green, green

ESC – electronic stability control

This is partly why we bought the minivan we did — it has ESC. I also see it is in the top 20 list for fewest driver deaths.
I believe IIHS also has a chart with injury statistics as well, though I assume it is correlated pretty well with the deaths one.

“Institute research shows that ESC reduces
fatal single-vehicle crash risk by 49 percent
and fatal multiple-vehicle crash risk by 20 percent
for cars and SUVs (see Status Report, June
19, 2010). It lowers the risk of a deadly crash
by 33 percent overall and cuts the risk of a fatal
single-vehicle rollover by 73 percent.”

Click to access sr4605.pdf

More recently, more and more cars offer “forward collision warning and automatic braking systems”. That’s going to become like ESC — required (since 2012 in US).

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Filed under car