Thank you so much for your surport and love to Baixt! If your satisfy our quality product and service,please kindly light 5-star rating,We will be dedicated to provide you the best quality service! An exciting season to arrive,May the angel bring you peace,happiness,fortunes and a Happy New Year! Best regards Shen Zhen Baixt Group Ltd.

Thank you so much for your surport and love #grammarfail (Part 1)

Thank you so much for your surport and love to Baixt! If your satisfy our quality product and service,please kindly light 5-star rating,We will be dedicated to provide you the best quality service! An exciting season to arrive,May the angel bring you peace,happiness,fortunes and a Happy New Year! Best regards Shen Zhen Baixt Group Ltd.

Thank you so much for your surport and love to Baixt!

Yeah, bad English (aka Engrish) is low-hanging fruit, but it’s fun nonetheless.

I ordered a connector to connect my iPhone to a projector (to add multimedia to our classes) from a Shen Zhen-based company. They included this thank-you note.

The text of the note for screen-readers:

Thank you so much for your surport and love to Baixt! If your satisfy our quality product and service,please kindly light 5-star rating,We will be dedicated to provide you the best quality service!

An exciting season to arrive,May the angel bring you peace,happiness,fortunes and a Happy New Year!

Best regards

Shen Zhen Baixt Group Ltd.

It’s been said a million times before, but why don’t these companies spend $10 on getting someone to proofread?

I’m going to try an experiment. I’m going to email this company with my corrected version. (Yes, I’m making this up as I go along.)

Here’s the email I’ve sent them:

Hi there! I’ve just received the product you sent me and the thank-card. That was very kind.

I noticed many English mistakes, and I would like to offer you a corrected version. I’m actually an English teacher, and I have done translations and corrections in the past professionally.

Here is the corrected text. (Please note that I have simply corrected the grammar and flow, but have not changed the content.)

Thank you for purchasing from Baixt. If you are satisfied with the quality of our product and service, would you kindly give us a 5-star rating?

If you need support or have any questions at all, we will do our best to provide you with excellent service.

Finally, as the Lunar New Year approaches, we would like to wish you peace, happiness, prosperity, health, and most of all, a very happy New Year!

Best regards,

Shen Zhen Baixt Group Ltd.

Let’s see where this goes. I’m optimistic. 🙂

Edit (2013-03-21): I received a quick reply from the company. They replied something like “Thanks for the advise,our english are poor, thanks for your helping and supporting.”

Dead Skeletons “OM MANI PEME HUNG” – Psychedelic, tribal, trance, dirge, drone rock

Dead Skeletons Dead Magick Album Cover

Tautology alert–great band, if you like this kind of music.

Can’t stop listening to Dead Skeletons, from Iceland (other Icelandic bands of note: Sigur Rós, Björk, and Björk’s former band The Sugarcubes). First heard them on Pandora. Yay, Pandora!

Dead Skeletons “Om Mani Peme Hung Hri”:

Listen if you like psychedelic dirge-drone rock. Sounds a bit similar to a heavier Black Angels or Crash Worship with more music.

So what does mean?

Once again, Wikipedia to the rescue:

Oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ (Sanskrit: ओं मणिपद्मे हूं) is the six-syllabled Sanskrit mantra particularly associated with the four-armed Shadakshari form of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion. Mani means “jewel” or “bead” and Padma means “the lotus flower”, the Buddhist Sacred Flower.
It is commonly carved onto rocks or written on paper which is inserted into prayer wheels, said to increase the mantra’s effects.

TL;DR: It’s a Sanskrit mantra that can serve many purposes.

Quick review of TutorPanel

TL;DR: TutorPanel is nicely laid out, and has a ton of features for the right company or person. It looks to be better-suited for tutoring centers that specialize in live, one-to-one tutoring rather than live group classes. There’s no demo, but registration is fast and free, so you don’t have much to lose to check it out.

I run a “learning center” in San Francisco. (What do you call these places? Tutoring center? Test-prep center? Juku? School? Cram school?) My latest software research has me hunting for scheduling software so that we can efficiently and accurately get our schedules online.

I’d come across tutorpanel.com several times in the past (they seem to spend a bit of money on advertising). But I’d never taken the time to evaluate them simply because they require a sign-up and account creation, which is kind of a hassle when you’re not even sure whether the product offered even comes close to fulfilling the functions you need.

I have not done a comprehensive review of TutorPanel, but I did find out enough information to know what it’s not for me, and maybe this information will help others. So here it goes.

First, my goal is to find software that can generate schedules for on-site, live SAT prep classes, after-school tutoring, enrichment courses, and the like. Ideally, I’d like to be able to input information (start day, end day, start time, end time, holidays, etc.) and have an entire list of classes output in easily exportable format. In other words, I want to be able to embed my information on testmagic.com, facebook.com/testmagic, and other places as well, if necessary.

I created an account, which was fairly quick and painless, although the tutorpanel.com registration system did not accept my +tutorpanel.com email address; i.e., I was not able to use myname+tutorpanel.com@example.com; instead, I had to use myname@example.com. (Many websites reject email addresses with + in them, even though it’s a perfectly valid character for an email address.) I then had to validate my email, after which I was ready to play with their dashboard.

First impressions: Nice, clean, intuitive layout. Lots of helpful tips and links to articles. For example, there was a link to an article about setting prices for classes on the pricing page.

My goal was to set up class simply to see what my scheduling options were. It was easy enough to do this, except the option to select “group” didn’t work—I got an error on the next screen with the “Group” option selected.

So I just created a summer-long class with one student in it, Pookie Riby (the offspring of the mother Eleanor Rigby). On the calendar-view page, I saw the option to export the information to a spreadsheet, so I tried that, too. For the sake of convenience, I created an online spreadsheet to display the data (to save you a step if you just want to see how it looks).

I played around with the system a bit, and realized that there was no option to take attendance, either. Nor did I even see a link to see all the classes that I could offer (e.g., Calculus, SAT Prep, Essay Writing, etc.).

So, I’ll be submitting a report to myself to pass on TutorPanel for our learning center and keep evaluating other options.

Summary of TutorPanel

Obviously, one of the first considerations anyone will make is whether they want to install and host software themselves or use a “cloud-based” service. Both have their pros and cons, but software-as-a-service is extremely helpful and convenient when it works and when it’s priced affordably. TutorPanel is relatively inexpensive. They have clear, simple pricing (Jan 2013 cost: $20 per month, plus $0.50 per active student).

The TutorPanel interface is clean and nicely designed.

If you’re a small-ish shop and do mostly private tutoring and you want to get something up and running quickly and inexpensively, take a look. But I’m going to be researching a few other tools, including Mimosa, the mighty, open-source Moodle (which we already use), the somewhat-clunky OpenSIS, SchoolTool (designed to run on Ubuntu), and the beautiful Fedena.

Screenshots

Here are some screenshots of the TutorPanel account pages:

 

2005 Honda VFR800 motorcycle

How to change the oil of a 2005 Honda VFR800

2005 Honda VFR800 in the garage

Getting ready to change the oil.

Note: I will try to keep this post updated with more information and photos.

Specifications from the owner’s manual:

  • Oil weight: 10W-40
  • Oil capacity: 3.3 quarts (3.1 liters)

Tools and supplies you will need

  • 4 quarts of oil
  • Oil filter
  • Oil filter wrench (On older cars with lots of access, you could often gorilla the filter off with your hands or a chisel and hammer, but the VFR puts the filter tucked away tightly, so I don’t recommend doing this without an oil filter wrench.)
  • 5mm hex key (also called a hex wrench, an Allen® key, or Allen® wrench; they’re all they same tool)
  • 17mm wrench or socket
  • Optional: Various socket wrench extenders to make the job easier. As mentioned, the oil filter is a bit recessed, so an extender (3″ or so) might help reach it.
  • Torque wrench (Sort of optional; if you’re a pro, you can estimate the correct force.)
  • Sealing washer (You may be able to get away with reusing the one on there; the manual specifies replacing the washer every other oil change.)
  • Container to catch the old oil. Please, never, ever throw oil away in the trash or down the drain. Doing so will harm the environment and could poison or kill animals or fish. Find out where to recycle used motor oil.

Detailed steps to change the oil

  1. Obviously, make sure that you have the proper tools, enough oil, an oil filter, and something to catch and hold the old oil.
  2. Make sure that you can unscrew the oil filler cap. No point of getting all set up only to find that the oil filler cap is stuck or something.
  3. Now, park the motorcycle on firm, level ground. Put the motorcycle up on the center stand.
  4. Start the motorcycle, and let it run for a few minutes (3 to 5 minutes should do the trick; longer if it’s cold outside, shorter if it’s warm) to warm up the oil so that it flows out more easily. Be careful with parts of the engine and exhaust that may now be hot.
  5. Remove part of the fairing so that you have access to the oil filter and oil drain plug:
    1. From the left side of the fairing, remove the three hex bolts.
    2. From the underside of the fairing, remove the two plastic clips that secure the left and right sides of the fairing. (See the video below for a close-up.)
    3. From the left, inner fairing, remove the two bolts that connect the inner and outer sections of the fairing.
    4. Now pull the fairing away a bit, just to make sure that you will have access to the oil drain plug and oil filter.
  6. Place an oil pan under the oil drain plug to catch the old oil as it comes out.
  7. Unscrew the oil filler cap. Unscrew the drain plug (also called the crankcase drain bolt) and sealing washer, making sure not to drop the plug or washer. Put the plug and washer aside.
  8. Remove the oil filter. You may need to use a filter wrench, or just unscrew it backyard-mechanic style with big locking pliers, or other tools. But it’s generally better to be gentle so that you don’t strip or stress any of the parts.
  9. Prepare the new filter by rubbing a thin coat of oil on the new gasket.
  10. Install the oil filter by screwing it on by hand. Tighten firmly by hand. Now tighten the oil filter with a wrench to 20 lbf-ft (26 N-m or 2.7 kgf-m).
  11. Screw the drain plug back in. Tighten to 22 lbf-ft (29 N-m, 3.0 kgf-m)
  12. Add approximately 3.3 quarts of oil. You may need more if your filter is larger (Remember, oil goes into the filter.).
  13. Wait a few minutes and check the oil inspection window to make sure that the oil is between the upper and lower marks in the window. Be sure that you check the oil with the motorcycle on the center stand, not the side stand; if you check it on the side stand, the oil will slosh over to one side and appear to be almost empty.
  14. Screw the oil filler cap back on firmly.
  15. Start the engine and let it idle for a few minutes.
  16. Stop the engine and wait several minutes.
  17. Check for leaks. If there are leaks, double-check everything to make sure it’s tight.
  18. Re-install the fairing.
Video of the how to remove the clip in the fairing of a Honda VFR800
iTunes 11

iTunes 11 can’t import folders. How I fixed the problem

TL;DR: Delete the .m3u, nfo, cue, and pls files in your directory. They  files cause iTunes to freeze when you import folders of music files. Update: I have discovered that nfo, cue, and pls files cause iTunes to choke, too. Delete those as well. (FLAC files don’t seem to cause any problems.)

After I updated to iTunes 11 (a huge update!), I was unable to import folders as I had been able to in the past. I have a couple thousand CDs that I’ve been ripping for the last few years, and suddenly, things stopped working. After a lot of trial and error, I have fixed the problem–iTunes was choking on the playlist files (m3u) that were in the folder.

Relevant info
  • Operating system: Windows XP and Windows 7 (the same thing happened on two different computers)
  • Location of files to import: External hard disk drive. Letter was J:\ or so.
  • iTunes version: iTunes 11.0.1.12
  • Keep iTunes Media folder organized: Checked
  • Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library: Checked
Duplicate the problem: iTunes crashes when it imports folders
  1. Start up your Windows 7 computer
  2. Make sure you have a folder with at least one .mp3 files and one .m3u file in it.
  3. Open iTunes 11
    1. Make sure this option is selected: Keep iTunes Media folder organized
    2. Make sure this option is selected: Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library: Checked
  4. Click File > Add Folder to LIbrary…
  5. Navigate to the folder listed in Step 2
  6. Click on that folder
  7. Click Select Folder
  8. iTunes, at least on my computer, starts the import, but freezes
  9. To force iTunes to close, do a quick CTRL+Shift+ Esc (CTRL+ALT+DEL doesn’t work in Windows 7 as it did in earlier Windows version)
Solution: How to search for all .m3u, files on an external drive in Windows 7

Simply delete the .m3u files. In my case, I actually moved them to a different folder for later use. The easiest way to do this is to use Windows search. Just enter *.m3u in the search box. You can also specify a location as well, if you don’t want to search all of your drives. Here’s how:

  1. Start your Windows 7 computer
  2. Click the Start button or the Windows key
  3. In the search box (which says Select programs and files) type *.m3u
  4. Right above that, you should, in a split second, see an option that says See more results Click on that. A new window should appear.
  5. At the very bottom of the window, you’ll see some options. If you don’t see the options, try scrolling all the way to the bottom.
  6. Click on Custom…
  7. Click the locations you’d like to search. In my case, to search an external drive, I just click the little triangle next to Computer, which will expand more options right below. Check the box to the left of the drive you’d like to search.
  8. Click OK
  9. Wait for your results.
  10. Update: Repeat for nfo, cue, and pls files.

That’s it! You should now see the files you were searching for.

Hope that helps someone.

 

Isla de las Muñecas photos

So there is this place in Mexico called Isla de las Muñecas, or “Island of the Dolls.” It is outside of Mexico City, and it is a bit difficult to get to, but it is well worth the trip–I guarantee you will not see anything like it anywhere else on Earth.

How to get there? First, you need to drive an hour so to Xochimilco, a small town with a system of canals that tourists and locals alike enjoy. You basically rent a gondola for a few hours and float around the canals with the other vistors. If you pay extra, the boat dude will take you to “Isla de las Muñecas,” small island that w

as inhabited by a guy who somehow became obsessed with a girl and dolls. (It was hard to understand the whole speech–something about a girl who died, a guy who became obsessed with her, yadda yadda. Hard to know what was true and what was embellishment.) He collected these dolls for many years and attached them by various means to the structures on the island.

The island is a bit creepy, so if you are into that sort of thing, put it on your list of things to do one day.

Anyway, an assortment of photos to enjoy.

ie9 review

Wow. I actually like Internet Explorer 9. It’s still in beta, but it feels finished. Mind you, I don’t think I’ll give up Google’s Chrome or Mozilla’s Firefox anytime soon, but IE9 is worlds apart from the earlier versions of Internet Explorer, which I found effectively unusable (way too slow and ridiculously, even comically obtrusive).

What’s to like? Well, it’s pretty. It’s fast. It’s got way less bloat and clutter than the horrible IE8. In a word, it’s now a lot more like Chrome and Firefox. It’s almost as if Microsoft were listening to customers’ complaints. 😛

And speaking of beta versions of browsers, the beta version of Firefox 4.0 is available, too. Maybe I’ll take that for a test drive as well.

First day of SAT summer school at TestMagic (2007)

Today was the first day of our summer school at TestMagic. As is always the case, I’ve been pretty nervous for the past few weeks while enrolling students, coordinating schedules for our teachers, and deciding on the best materials to use with our new students. And as always, today once I was in the classroom teaching, interacting with students, it was the same reaction–yes, these are young, fresh minds who are eager to learn, and I can teach them a lot. We’ve got a great program planned out for our students this year. While we’ve always done a lot of free, informal workshops and one-to-one assistance, this year we have a bunch of workshops planned for our students, including workshops to help students with the personal statements, college admissions in general, and a few other things.

I was very happy with the students that I met today. One class consisted entirely of Lowell students. Not a single student from another school. We have more Lowell students at TestMagic than we do students from any other school, so I am very familiar with the Lowell students. In general they tend to be bright, but often a bit tired because they’re loaded with so much work. But my students today were very promising, and for the most part, hard-working.

I always like to make a lot of jokes during class (to be honest, I get bored if I don’t make the class interesting), and this group was pretty fun to work with. We got a lot done, which to me is ultimately the most important thing.