Zip.exe: Compression on the Command Line

Of course “command line” is ancient writing unknown today, but still I find the FOSS zip thing highly useful for batch files etc. This (that’s my internal CD #) is what I use and even, somewhere in a sub-zip, contains a Manual! This software is I believe documented to contain numerous deadly bugs and there may even be more recent INFOZIPs which I couldn’t find in a few minutes search.

... And now, as a heroic public service, mostly for myself, I will produce the no-argument informative command-line which you can’t redirect to a file ’cause the stupid program is convinced you want to zip something, so I have repeatedly copied it off the windows screen and saved it in a file to look at it, and so now I won’t have to do that again, God wot:

Copyright (c) 1990-2006 Info-ZIP - Type ’zip “-L”’ for software license.
Zip 2.32 (June 19th 2006). Usage:
zip [-options] [-b path] [-t mmddyyyy] [-n suffixes] [zipfile list] [-xi list]
The default action is to add or replace zipfile entries from list, which
can include the special name - to compress standard input.
If zipfile and list are omitted, zip compresses stdin to stdout.
-f freshen: only changed files -u update: only changed or new files
-d delete entries in zipfile -m move into zipfile (delete files)
-r recurse into directories -j junk (don’t record) directory names
-0 store only -l convert LF to CR LF (-ll CR LF to LF)
-1 compress faster -9 compress better
-q quiet operation -v verbose operation/print version info
-c add one-line comments -z add zipfile comment
-@ read names from stdin -o make zipfile as old as latest entry
-x exclude the following names -i include only the following names
-F fix zipfile (-FF try harder) -D do not add directory entries
-A adjust self-extracting exe -J junk zipfile prefix (unzipsfx)
-T test zipfile integrity -X eXclude eXtra file attributes
-! use privileges (if granted) to obtain all aspects of WinNT security
-R PKZIP recursion (see manual)
-$ include volume label -S include system and hidden files
-e encrypt -n don’t compress these suffixes

The Noah’s Ark of Mystery

I bought this Noah’s Arc for $35 at the Adamstown Mad Hatter (probably where I bought my ravishing hp35). ... Now: what is it? ... Click on it to see it in its vastness, maybe. ... It’s not a toy Noah’s Arc — the animals are fixed in place. It’s probably some kind of promotion, but there was obviously a tremendous effort put into constructing this model. It looks like it’s manufactured — but by whom? For what? ... The addled and wandering want to know....

Well the conference board has come to a conclusion: it’s a promotion for a Noah’s Arc toy, manufactured by prison slaves in China for use in toy stores — when, I suppose, there were toy stores. I’ve seen things like this in toys ’r’ us for various dubious products, where the intricate model purports to demonstrate what the kids could do, if only they weren’t destructive monsters. ... The animals were manufactured, and supplied in the toy box in a plastic bag all jumbled together. The slave labor glued the manufactured amusing creatures into the diorama, in a limited production run of 10s or 20s, each destined for a retail store. And since it doesn’t look like the animals’d fit into the boat, perhaps neither scenery nor boat was included with the plastic bag of animals. ... And I forgot! The thing has 6 or seven pitiful battery-powered tiny LED lights; perhaps a shadow box display was its destination, with the tiny lights providing exciting accent....

Bad Malwarebytes

They’re still my goto choice for downloading a free copy and scanning a computer I’m paranoid about — never found anything, over the years — and based on that, I bought several copies to sustain my pitiful Windows 7 computers as they dived into the dust. ... But then

  • Without asking me of course, they upf--ked, causing the usual chaos that the endless win10 upf--ks create: my pitiful win7 PCs crashed, other typical weird stuff.

  • Again, just like usux™, they upf--ked the malwarebytes GUI interface I knew and loved into something totally alien.

So on my still-in-the-game win7 PCs, I have set malwarebytes — after struggling through unknown menus for a while — so it wouldn’t auto-upf--k. ... I hope. Maybe. ... And, of course, any plans I had to install malwarebytes in the win10 machines are gone — the idea being, it might’ve been less annoying than the MSE can’t-change-the-schedule every-morning-relentless-churning — but that’s over, now that malwarebytes randomly upf--ks the interface whenever it feels like it....

Sunday, October 2, 2022 9:06 am. So it had a fit this morning on one of my beautiful win7 antiques, and I had to run the program from the command line to wake it up. ... Such is the bitterness of age....

How to Really Select a Default Program in the Glorious & Gracious Win10

I all started when, presumably after some stupid update, I noticed multiple copies of firefox wandering around my computer. And to cut the chase, it can’t be fixed. ... However ...

You can set the default app — for HTML files for instance — the icky-poo way with WIN+I, Apps, Default apps, but that only lets you use installed apps, the official guranteed-to-be-broken junk approved by Usux™, the incompetent and mendacious. ... Not, for instance, my wonderful .BAT files. ... No, the way to do it is (to force opening one of my beloved HTM web files with my beloved ALL.BAT) is

  1. Open file explorer.
  2. right click HTM file, select “Open with”.
  4. Then I selected my ALL.BAT program ── if necessary clicking the “MORE APPS” and/or standing on my head and selecting it explicitly.
  5. This process can probably be reversed in file explorer by right-clicking, “open with”. Maybe....

’N Bob’s Ur Uncle! So Ez! ... But then I discovered it still doesn’t get the same browser — in this case, firefox — as all my own batch files! ... So it’s impossible. ... Of course all this used to work so easy in those boring old-fashioned winders of ancient days. ... This link discusses the ridiculously complicated way to bludgeon thunderbird’s choice of browser, which is how I started this nonsense. ... And it turned-out the ingenious thunderbirdoids didn’t provide any way to reverse their ridiculous procedure, although they claim they did....

Broken USB/Ethernet Adapters?

@ 2/18, I bought two different USB/ethernet adapters from amazon:

  1. AmazonBasic USB 3.0 to 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet Adapter
  2. Ugreen Ethernet Adapter USB 2.0 to 10/100 Network RJ45

and both failed. The test they failed was “ping” which was a known ethernet address, actually the address of the computer I’m typing this on. But other such addresses failed with both purchased adapters, and worked with the adapter attached to the machine already. That adapter was a “Cable Matters” brand, and the PC was an Asus Vivobook F510UA FHD 2016 Windows 10 laptop. ... I was trying to replace its working adapter because it was falling asleep every morning, so I had to unplug/plug it. ... Little did I know how trifling such a complaint is, in the modern only-works-on-Tuesdays world....

But now I will confirm my deteriorating reputation with the amazon robots, and buy another presumably non-working, but Cable Matters brand, usb/ethernet adapter. Wish me luck....

The Fault is Not in Our Stars

But before I did that, I realized I had a drawer full of these things — well, at least four — of the exact same “Cable Matters” brand. Which also failed.

Short story: I forgot to perform the required Windows mumbo-jumbo. ... Long story: If one is using a specific numeric ethernet address, when one replaces a Windows USB/ethernet adapter, it will always failunless one does the mumbo jumbo to assign the exact same numeric address to the “new” adapter. And Windows will complain when you do that.

... So I groveled before the amazon robots, in my shame and ignorance, correcting my bad reviews...

68HC11, 8048, 80C166 Siemens(?) Assemblers, Linker, with Source

Get ’em while they’re hot and free free free. ... These are the illustrious Owen Labs assemblers / linker, with C source, about 500K, and the 6811 variety was actually used in production work for years. ... They have seen a long & weary road (see endless murmurings in the included MACA.TXT) but they’ve got genuine expression analyzers with c-like operators (&&, & etc.), amazing dangerous macro support, advanced relocatable expression evaluation (the assembler exports unresolvable expressions to the linker), and heaven knows what else. ... These tools have worked repeatedly under test conditions with very few major injuries. ... The 8048, incidentally, was an early Intel “embedded” processor; its great role was as keyboard controller in the original IBM PC.


The “A” in “MACA” is for “ASCII”. ... Well, one of the “A”s. Actually I’ve just realized I have no idea why it’s called “MACA”, although the only thing that has that name is the endless documentation MACA.TXT. ... But really, in calmer latter days, I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to mean “MACro Ascii assembler”, denoting a macro-assembler without binary chicken tracks anti-competitive garbage, and it is undoubtedly the case that instead of the vile bit-saving proprietary-DRMing junk of Microsoft’s M80/L80 — the bytes in the linker files weren’t even aligned, and random bit-size fields’d be saved across byte boundaries! — it was hideous! and I despised it with a fierce undying fury — my tools waste bytes with prodigious abandon, and produce ASCII linker files. Unintelligible of course, but ASCII....

68HC11 Debugging

If you happen to use the antique TECICE-HC11 68HC11 emulator — not a bad product, but seems to have sunk beneath the waves — my TECIFAKE Delphi program (200k?) might be useful; it’ll load up listing files from my assembler so you can look at them, and communicate with the emulator. It’s awful, but still better than the MSDOS terminal thing that came with it. There was a TECI windows program — I won’t be cruel; I checked it out, and suffice it to say it’s Windows 3.1, and they wanted $hundreds....

And at Wednesday, April 2, 2003 6:25 pm, if you try ever so hard TECIFAKE will trace through listings emitted by my assembler, or at least it has once or twice. ... You might even get the Delphi 5 source, so you too can try and figure-out why it crashes the IDE sometimes....

Now with dangerous GUI Cross Reference tool XA! ... I actually used this to detect mislaid blocks of code in a ~30k 68HC11 project! ... Actually it turns-out it’s useful for ferreting-out various makefile errors, like failing to include a module in a complete remake — you do of course implement remake, no? ... You understand, it’s not designed to do that. I erase all the *.xf~ cross-reference files ma6811 produces, remake, and then run XA, which will tend to expose as unresolved or unreferenced things that obviously aren’t, because the make didn’t remake them. So handy....

Tale of a Toy

I heard (Monday, January 21, 2002) Intel was leaving the toy business, and I know why: I bought this remaindered for $7 (suggested $45) and it didn’t work. ... @ one computer, it couldn’t deal with the sound controls (never saw the gadget, or any microphone), and crashed on start-up consistently. ... Elsewhere, pressing F1 (help) sent the system into eternal slow motion. ... Finally it would more-or-less behave on a laptop, but was without correct function: the upload button uploaded the 1st second each or so of four things I had recorded. ... It was sad.

... But please please: I’m not complaining — I’m amusing myself at Intel’s expense, and musing on how even

Against stupidity, the Gods themselves strive in vain

— Schiller

... Oh and the pitiful plastic belt clip came pre-broken.

How Can I See What My Servers and Pages and Junk are Saying in HTML? ... Wireshark!

Whenever I concoct one of my world-famous industrial printer Windows control programs (see resumé), one of the first things I do is the log feature, so I can figure-out what the program thinks it’s doing while chatting with the printers.

... But these HTML books yammer on about GET and POST methods with little figures showing the purported traffic — but I wanted to see my traffic with my broken pages and servers and stuff. ... After much senseless suffering I came upon the very helpful FAQ which sadly no longer seems to be with us; try googling for “sniffer faq”.... Anyway, it recommended the Wireshark (née “ethereal”) program, which these days seem to hang-out at (apparently also continues on in zombie fashion). To make this thing work, I’m pretty sure you have to install WINPCAP, maybe at http:// install/ default.htm#Developer (which I found via the WINDUMP site, http:// windump/).

Wireshark is a little exotic, based as it is on the Windows version of the Unixoid Gtk or something, but installed OK after I stopped worrying and just said “go ahead” to everything (WINPCAP.EXE installed in a trice).

You tell Wireshark to start capture; on my system it would show both the dial-up adapter and the ethernet card, and you have to select the right one, click OK, and it’ll capture away, printing little statistics in a box. Then you do your webbery stuff, tell it to stop capture, and it fills a main window with tons of stuff. You find something that says HTTP in the “protocol” column, right-click on it, and ask it to trace TCP stream or something, and by golly so it does in another window and you can see the whole thing! Really quite impressive.

... In the main window, you can click any of the traffic, ethernet whatever, and it’ll show you a hex window, with parts of it highlighted to indicate what part of the protocol you’re looking at — you click-down to parts of the protocol, and the highlighting changes. ... It’s cool. ... It is worth literally $100s of stupid TCP-IP books. ... And is probably the “category-killer” in this area. ... And the Linux version works good, too!

VLC 2.0.6 and its Secret Codes!

As all sentient beings know, it is the audio and video Windows player par excellence in our internetty universe, but has numbers of little details and five thousand options. I will reveal a few here, this with VLC 2.0.6 “Twoflower”; they will all undoubtedly change in the next ten minutes and the new version. ... No lie! They did!

Total Disclaimer

Naturally the Secret Settings of Power only worked in version 2.0.6, because all programmers, native to methane atmospheres as they are and hostile to all human life, want no mere mortal to be able to understand the stuff or even use the stuff. So for instance, in my most recent version of VLC which I downloaded in an attempt to fix some other error, which it didn’t, it won’t save/restore the compressor setting. ... So maybe these hints and infallable tricks’ll be helpful as a starting-point; I learned my lesson and returned to 2.0.6, and will never stray again. ... Until the March of Progress — mandatory Windows upf--ks — forced me to....

Volume is Controlled by Mouse Middle Wheel aka “Scroll”

Yes it is. You probably didn’t know this, and might only notice when mysteriously the volume decreases to inaudibility or increases to annoying distortion “by itself” — but no, it’s you, or in my case, me, playing with the mouse wheel when, in that wonderful random Windows way, the focus has shifted from whatever I was doing to VLC. So, click the “Tools” menu at the top of the player screen, then “Preferences” / Check “Show settings [x] All” / “interface” / “hotkey settings” / “hotkeys”, which mysteriously has a single non-hot-key entry “MouseWheel up-down axis control”, click the drop-down list and set it to “ignore”. Then click “save” at the bottom of the screen. Then close and restart VLC; it won’t honor the setting until you do that. But then, at least on my machines, it middle-moused no more. ... But then tragically on another day in 12/17 I found the magically-changing-by-itself volume, and the preceding instructions were worthless — oh of course windope™ version 37 weekly update! Ahhhh. ... Well anyway, I had to not “show settings [x] all” and then it was hiding amongst the hotkeys more-or-less as before....

Enable Compression Forever

VLC has a wonderful compressor feature which I could access by clicking on the “controls” icon on the bottom of the screen, and then the “compressor” tab. There you can laboriously setup the compression, which I use so I can hear my beloved classical music at a subdued background level. But then after you exit VLC, all the settings are lost....

Unless you save them:

“Tools” menu / “Preferences” / Check “Show settings [x] All” / “Audio” / “Filters” / and check the “[x] Dynamic range compressor” box. Then, on the left, click “+ filters” and the “Compressor” entry. But so far when I do that, the values are already whatever I adjusted in the compressor interface itself. Then of course click the “Save” button on the bottom of the form. ... A comparable procedure can probably be used to adjust the equalizer, and perhaps other wonderful features of VLC. ... And then again, sometimes it won’t save the compression-on setting at all no matter how pitifully I whimper. ... But that was probably just old-version-itis....

Reset Volume

I normally would prefer the volume to start at the same level every time I start VLC — particularly before I figured-out how to crush inadvertent mouse interference. To make it do that: top “tools” menu / “preferences” / don’t click the “all” feature; click or leave it at “simple” / “audio” / check “Always reset audio start level to:” / and set the level to the percentage you want. And click “save” of course. Note that if instead you then click the “all” button, your “simple” stuff won’t be saved; I think; or vice versa?

... And such is everything I know and so much more about configuring VLC to my desires. ... A remaining desire is to figure-out how to make VLC save and restore a playlist position, when the same playlist is loaded subsequently, so my lovely randomized 5000-song playlists won’t get repeated; but I have not the VLC feng-shui for that today. ... And oh yes, the interval between songs is zero in VLC by default; apparently many pilgrims desired that the next song should start immediately if not sooner. I’d prefer a few seconds delay, and I suspect it’s somewhere in the 500 options, but I haven’t found it yet....

Exciting Video Keyboard Commands

E:Step. After stopping the video by clicking pause (or typing space?), moves forward a single frame.

[ ] =: Slow-down, speed-up 10%, back to normal speed.

^T: Goto hours:minutes:seconds menu.

Other Versions?

At 7/4/16, VLC 2.2.1 seemed to retain the compression settings I had made to my beloved 2.0.6 and who knows? You might be able to set them. ... But it’s a rocky road: on this occasion I’d tried to download the super latest 2.2.4 version, but several renditions said they were all hopelessly corrupt and wouldn’t install. The VLC organization has no doubt its trial and tribulations....

MP3 Stuttering ...

As part of the advanced windows 10 innovations, VLC stutters pathologically under various conditions. Windows 7 of course has no such problem, because it’s so backwards. This with a less-than-year-old VLC — and laptop. ... Anyway, googling “VLC MP3 stuttering” got me a frozen google (probably another win10 feature) which, eventually, condescended to show me a site with 3 simple steps which of course don’t work with the current VLC, but the general idea was to change the audio “output module” from the “automatic” default to “WaveOut audio output” or something, and while of course it continued to stutter, it seemed to do it less. And I am looking forward to trying bizarre alternative output modules. ... Of course sticking with Windows 7’d be the best, but it is forbidden....

This is an eight or 10-second “stutter”. Like it went out of the computer to get a smoke, or perhaps a drink. ... Actually I suspect it might be related to my beloved “Endless Screen Saver” ’cause that sometimes seemed to be hung up — I have to use control+alt+delete to get out of it — so maybe that’s it. ... But later I restored VLC to “automatic” and it stuttered again even without my cranky endless screensaver, so case closed. ... This week. I’ve done probably hundreds of these adjustments to stop stuttering in VLC, and I doubt this’ll be the last. ... And yes it definitely stuttered yet again.... Not so much. ... Maybe.

... And “pausing sync” in Dropbox worked for me once or twice — if you are a dropbox addict, as am I. You gotta unpause it if you want dropbox to work its magic again, but surely you don’t want to listen to music and synchronize your files at the same time?!?!?!

Caffeine fix?

10/7/19: This cnet site recommended Caffeine and Mouse Jiggler and, by golly, caffeine at least seemed to do the trick, presumably for the usual day or minutes, until the incompetent mediocrities over at Usux™ can convene another upf--k to fine tune cortana with 4 hours of download convulsions. ... So it’s worked 2 days in a row! I got the thing when I finally noticed the stupid computer only did its magical stutter when I wasn’t in the room. I really don’t know what I was thinking, but more than once I’ve had the experience of marching in to the mad stutter and just touching the mouse and voila! it went away. Caffeine pretends to press F15 once a minute or so, thus fooling the wily windows 10 into thinking someone doesn’t want it to count the names of God or whatever it likes to do in the wonderful lazy idle times.....

I mean this is really back to the future. These “keep awake” programs were introduced in the early days of microcomputers, at least as soon as they got thoughtful helpful GUI interfaces with “features” including a tendency to go to sleep when you never asked them to. And now at last in 2019, the excrudescence of Win10 brings ’em back!

& Don’t SD

Apparently the SD technology’s too new, and playing music from one of the delightful secure digital film and/or floppy replacements won’t go either. At least it’s stuttered @ two machines in my ever-saddening experience.

... Can’t be fixed

It plays for minutes or hours flawlessly, but enters into convulsions of stuttering that some of the above seem to affect or not. And after all it’s entirely possible it has some fifth-dimensional dependance on the state of the wireless internet at the various dubious hostelries we visit across the fruited plains, which is when these symptoms are actually noticed. ... And I do play VLC MP3s on PCs without stuttering at home: on windows 7 and windows 8....

But with the advanced Windows 10, the bottom line is Usux™’s busy busy stealing money from their beloved customers and can’t be bothered with MP3s for goodness sake! ... After all, they’ve gotta scam their OS to benefit their hardware surface scammy products, so they can emulate the wunnerful success of the world’s towering benefactor Apple....

So maybe I’ll buy an SD MP3 player + a portable miniature amp — they’re cheap, and nobody uses a personal computer to play MP3s anymore, which is why the players work and the usux™-junk doesn’t. ... Or maybe I’ll just put up with the intermittent occasional convulsions in my precious baroque organ music, a capella renaissance transcendent beauty, and George Wright’s superlative theater organ trash. ... Or maybe I will turn in resignation & joy to a windows 7 laptop and live on the non-stuttering edge. Which is where I learned about the wily SD failure....

— the musical cranky programmer

P.S. See also the tragic tale of VLC and Casablanca....

Randomizing Fat32: jSDcmd

All the kids are doin’ it. ... But you shouldn’t. ... The program you can download here will ABSOLUTELY DESTROY any “Secure Digital” card with which it comes in contact, and all those you love and cherish, not to mention the space/time continuum in your neighborhood....

Having dispensed with the preliminaries, I recently (well, 2015?) got a lovely “SoundflySD player, and wished to play 30Gb or so of my super-snooty baroque/renaissance/acapella MP3s — plus a seasoning of George Wright theater organ — but I wanted everything all mixed together. The process of copying my ripped CDs from their residencies on various hard drives tends to randomize selections a bit, and there’s a “shuffle” button or at least indicator of uncertain provenance on the Soundfly unit itself, but what I really wanted is a bit of dangerous software that’ll mutilate the SD’s directories right in the electrons — note that for this particular incantation, file system “FAT32” only need apply....

So I found a likely place on the wandering web and downloaded his Which, sadly, only sorted the files on my SD, nice ’n’ neat.... Blah. ... So I duly mutilated his code in foolish and dangerous ways entirely unattributable to his innocent efforts, and thus we have containing jSDcmd.exe of course, which will commit the above-referred-to mayhem upon a vast space around your current location. ... But for me, it randomized two SDs without major injuries. ... And’ll probably still sort them if you want.

I would definitely start with a test SD you can afford to slag, and see what the program does. It’s a command-line program; it only works in a DOS box. If you don’t know what that means, you are doomed and should’ve given up years ago. ... Note that it comes with my Borland Builder 5 (~2000) C-- source, considerably degraded from the author’s shining Visual Studio flavor I started-with. ... Oh I should note that with my 30 gigs or so of MP3s, when jSDcmd or FAT32Sorter gets to the “flushing” stage it takes a while, a minute or more? That’s when the program writes the mutilated directories back to the SD card, and you probably shouldn’t interrupt it while it’s doing that — which is really easy to do with the errant ^C — ’cause the result will be broken directories and a sad MP3 SD. ... There’s some way I’ve never tried which can supposedly recover from such a tragedy, by renaming/copying some file it saved as “dirs.dat” and doing the #3 selection in the program. ... Also I must note that my MP3 files have been curatorialized to exlude non-ASCII title characters with extreme prejudice, so I wouldn’t notice if jSDcmd, which I have similarly abused, exterminated them all. I doubt it, but I didn’t test it or anything....

Does It Make a Difference?

Regrettably, the only way you can tell if your FAT32 files are sorted or gloriously random is by how annoying the playback is or isn’t, because Windows File Explorer and command-line DIR both insist on sorting the files before you get to see them. I, on the other hand, use my dangerously overkill ’n’ erratic OwenShow whose ^F7 directory display shows ’em unsorted and/or my beloved command-line JGODIR which you could also download if you wish to finish-off the smoking ruin that used to be your home before jSDcmd, and go “jgodir /u /b | more” on the command-line in the giant directory with all your beautiful MP3s....

64gig Bad!

I must sadly report that my attempt to randomize a 64gig SD crashed. So you probably shouldn’t do that; who wants that much music anyway? ... Actually it was a µSD card carefully inserted into an SD “carrier” and which I converted to FAT32 using strange and dangerous software, to wrench it from its nativish exFat. ... But the 8 gig µSD I extracted from the music player was happy happy, and now I have 8 gigs of random baroque, renaissance, and George Wright at my beck and call even outside the province of my car player. ... And eventually, in an exciting unprecedented development a 32Gb µSD worked great in the music player; randomized like all get-out. ... Ad astra!

— the ever-delving cranky programmer
Wed 4/5/15

Subst x: c:\bongo

Would make an imaginary drive x: with the stuff @ c:\bongo in its root. “Subst x: /D” gets rid of it. And you don’t even have to do it with higher privileges!

I find this tremendously useful. For more exotic/permanent/dangerous purposes, there’s the dreaded “mklink” which requires privilege and should. But good ol’ subst’ll take care of some harmless about-the-computer tasks I occasionally need to do without moving too much furniture — including “subst x: \\\c\bongo”, i.e. stuffing a networked directory onto a local drive....

Sam’s Club (#6637) and the adorable “Seville” 10-Drawer Rolling Cart

I’d have to login to whine about it at Sam’s or any of the wildly-proliferating would-be whistle-blower sites on our beloved internet. So I’ll whine here. ... The beautiful object is $35 and up at the google shopping sites, but only $28 @ Sam’s! ... Of course those more costly units probably don’t have a broken drawer and a dented leg. I mean nothing I couldn’t fix with a pliers and some packing tape but still not shall we say top drawer? ... At first I figured it was a reject from the factory — i.e. the other stuff goes to the $35 places. But then the injury to the drawer kind-of looked user-inflicted. But it could be both; the returns show-up at the distributor/manufacturer, and he reboxes ’em into the store-club shipments....

And of course like all these “store clubs” we had to pay the yearly membership thing just to buy things! And wait half an hour in line to get the membership! ... My beloved claimed she signed-up on line, but it was just fraudulent. Like the rolling cart....

The place is amazingly like the previous place we tried a few years ago — Costco I think? ... Stuff was practically in the same places, freezers in the back, ridiculous TV/hifi junk in the front, on the right. It’s my general impression you’d be a fool to buy any hi-priced drivel from one of these club stores, but that’s just prejudice since I never have. I do have occasional fits of folding table acquisition frenzy, and they had ’em, but after my rolling cart experience I’ll have to consider such purchases very carefully — it’s harder to bend and packing-tape-up broken tables.


... I hear the gentle susurrus of my vast readership wondering “why not return it?” ... To wait in that 1/2 hour line, after driving whatever vast distance? ... The way I see it, organizations like Sam’s Club have invisible signs hung-up everywhere, suggesting “shop at amazon”. Where I can return stuff via UPS, and choose the UPS store, which is closer, and doesn’t have a 1/2 hour line. Or in modern times, just put it in the mailbox! ... Amazon prices, with shipping, are higher — $37 for our beautiful rolling cart — and at least two days shipping, and often longer. But the time and aggravation of the return trip to the real store is costly, too, even if your time, like mine, is practically worthless....

— the kindly not-such-a-merchant programmer
Tue 4/28/15

The Mysterious Case of the Exploding Kefir & The Non-fizzy Publix

... I will begin this saddest of whinings with the tragic absence of Lifeway Cappuccino Kefir. ... Sure, there are scammy offers on the web — i.e. “s&h only $129.95” — but since the Florida Publix supermarkets cruelly exiled them for reasons unknown to man nor kefir, there’s been no sightings on the ground. Variously lesser groceries will provide the average fruit/plain flavors, but no cappuccino, which is bound-up so poignantly with my personal Florida history. ... Why, it was encountering the stuff at a Tampa Publix a decade or more ago when first I thought I might like living here!

... And then, so sad, a year or two passed, and many of the fruit Lifeway kefirs I was still buying anyway were defective. Finally, after I switched from the supermarket with the best selection after at least half of their kefirs exploded and the others were excitingly fizzy, another supermarket’s Lifeways didn’t explode — yet — but were definitely unacceptable fizzy. ... And so I asked the oracle, googling “rotten lifeway kefir” and got at least one pilgrim at Lifeway’s facebook page with precisely my complaint — but the clincher was, the Lifeway spokesthing was trying to sell the line that kefir is naturally that way. The lady wasn’t having any, and I don’t need a Facebook page — thank Heavens — to agree. ... I’m afraid it’s the old old story, too much success, too much fun, too many unrefrigerated trucks in too many sunny parking lots. ... The silver lining is, I’ve never gotten a rotten dairy or other product from Publix — which is certainly not true of past supermarket experiences, and probably explains what’s going on, in a kind of perversely-noble reassuring way: my beloved Cappuccino kefir didn’t meet Publix’s standards. ... Story of my life.

... And finally, at last, behold: a blueberry kefir that doesn’t fizz, or explode! — for some reason, the blueberry flavor is most subject to such fits. But not this time! ... Why? ... Could it be because — I bought it at ... Walmart?!?! ... I think so, Inspector Random Web Passerby. As I see it, in the old days, Publix was the 800-pound gorilla in the exciting Lifeway kefir market. And it is true, the inauguration of the Walmart “local market” scheme overlapped the time of Publix kefir-resignation, and thus the fiendish scheme developed. ... I should note that all these fizzings and explosions occurred with product whose expirations were at least a month ahead. ... No I’m afraid the devilish truth is obvious; what Walmart wants, Walmart gets; others must wait....

But still, no cappuccino....

Foreign Walmarts

I should note that while I haven’t hired a guide and sherpas, as far as I can determine in brief tests Walmart didn’t stock kefir in various other realms through which I travelled. And I can definitely report that random Walmart “superstores” in Virginia and Pennsylvania made a lesser-quality all-round impression than the spiffy Florida rendition. Which after all is the competitive style, and which Walmart is always accused-of, as if it were weird: compete ’em out of business, than laze back and reap the rewards. ... But Zounds! I bought a dozen Walmart “Great Value” CFL “curlies” at one of these lesser locations, and at least 4 were duds! ... Not gonna compete with Publix that way....

Lesser Keffir

And then after a while one of the lesser suppliers managed to sell a Coconut keffir that wasn’t fizzy/rotten. I am so glad; I suspect it got reformulated, to help ward-off the rot but who knows. Maybe it’s just September. ... And still, no Cappuccino....

Rot Hints

Incidentally, if your Lifeway kefir container doesn’t “glug” when you shake it, and/or the bottom is noticeably sticking-out, it’s probably rotten....

— the unwilling kefir expert and resigned programmer


And then, a “Lucky’s Market” I think, had a Lifeway “Chocolate Truffle” kefir which approaches, if not surpasses, the Capuccino of sacred memory....

— the kefir consumer

My Bricking Mazda 2015 CX5 & the Inspiring Gunter Mazda Dealer

It is beautiful like the sun and I love it deeply, but it has a regrettable tendency to brick.

A few months after we bought it (@ 5/15) around 7/15, I came into the garage and it knew me not. Actually it was still powered a little at that point, but not enough to start, and swiftly lost that ability as I pitifully tried to rouse it back to beautiful life. The dealer “Gunther” Mazda (FL) “fixed” it, after ritually blaming the customer, and I’m not sure what they did but around 2/17/16 it bricked again; this time dark and still. And we will pay vast sums to a third party, who says the wiring harness had intermittent shorts.

I do not drive the beloved vehicle every day, but certainly at least every third day, and mostly oftener. Conceivably, somebody who used their car every day might never notice. Although I doubt I’m the only geezer in creation with this problem.

I’m whining about it, because I would’ve preferred Mazda would’ve fixed it the first time, and under warranty. I could write them a note on their web site or forum or whatever, or I could put a note in a bottle and toss it in the ocean. So I’ll adopt a comparable procedure, and put it here on my world-famous earth-shaking web site & technical memoir.

Mazda Won’t Fix Its Cars ...

And I’ll probably write an official letter to corporate suggesting they reimburse us, although I suspect the bottle-in-ocean approach would do as well for that, too. ... And it was just so! ... So you bricking mazda cx5 owners, mazda refuses to fix your car. Not interested. Take it to the incompetent dealer, or go away....

We’d been buying Toyotas for years before our radical Mazda departure. TheToyota dealerships are repulsive, as is ordained by the strict American dealership laws, but we never had a Toyota brick on us. So that’s something....

... But Autotech Could

Yup Auto Tech & Body @ 429 N. Dixie Highway FL fixed it @ 2/16 and it hasn’t bricked since (5/18). Actual competent car repair — startling! They used sophisticated equipment to reveal the wiring harness had intermittent shorts — which Gunther Mazda is presumably too cheap to own and/or too stupid to operate....