Tip of the Day: Dust is bad for computers

When your computer’s fan seems to be louder and come on more often than usual, it probably means it’s a good idea to open it up and blow the dust out.

Our main living room HTPC, an Intel NUC6i7KYK, was seeming really loud, even when not under load. Looking back, it was clearly one of those things where it must have been getting steadily worse over time, but so gradually that I hadn’t actually noticed just how much louder it was and how much more often the fan was at high speeds than when we first got it. Opening it up and blowing the dust out (and it really didn’t seem like that much dust at the time) substantially improved things.

The CPU was running around 70°C even with no load, and pushing 80°C with the fan on full speed when under load. After blowing out the dust, it’s now around 50°C or even less, and even under load I haven’t seen it over 60°C and the fan is still quiet enough to not really be noticeable. It’s just such a small computer that even just a bit of dust can make a big impact. I clearly should have been monitoring it more carefully, I just hadn’t even thought to do so until it had gotten so bad that we noticed a problem and I started taking measurements.

Recurse as needed


Staples “Brighton Professional” brand hand soap has, like most commercial products that have any sort of chemicals in them, a Material Safety Data Sheet stating important stuff like a list of the chemicals in it, so that it’s documented what chemicals are in the workplace. It also includes First Aid information, just because one wants every product to have clear instructions about what to do if swallowed or whatnot.

One of the First Aid instructions is “In case of skin contact”. So, just in case this hand soap for some reason ends up touching your skin, here’s what you should do:

“In case of skin contact : Wash with water and soap as a precaution”

Quote of the Day


I am starting to think that the right way to think about blockchain and cryptocurrencies and tokens might be the way you’d think about stocks, if stocks had just been invented. Here in 2017, it is uncontroversial to say that the invention of limited-liability joint stock companies utterly changed how humans organized their economic activities, and had huge impacts on economic productivity and on society as a whole. But it is also fair to say that the first few hundred years of stocks were mostly fraud and irrational speculation. Similarly with cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings, it is possible both that proponents’ grandiose claims about how they will transform finance and society will turn out to be true, and that most crypto stuff in our lifetimes will be nonsense.

— Matt Levine, “Money Stuff”, July 11, 2017


After many many years having my domain happily hosted by GeekISP, I’ve taken the plunge and moved to hosting on Amazon Web Services. While it’s a bit more work having a whole virtual server than just using shared hosting (particularly for email, as apparently only masochists run their own email server nowadays), it’s the kind of infrastructure setup I freakishly enjoy. This web site and my email now support TLS (thanks to Let’s Encrypt), IPv6 (finally catching on in the world after well over a decade of “coming soon”), and all data more-or-less in my control (on Amazon’s systems, but encrypted in transit and at rest).

So, I thought I’d add a post for the first time in years. My life seems too busy now to post more often, but one never knows when the next post might come.

On buying a car

It’s finally time. After many years of being a one-car family, with kids and needing to go more and more places, it’s finally time to become a two-car family. Jessi worked very hard and finally got her license (hooray!), so then it was time for me to go car shopping, as she would primarily be driving the minivan with the kids, and I’d get a new (or at least new to me) car for my daily commute. Taking a large vehicle (and thus mediocre gas mileage) with just me in it all the way to work wasn’t making a lot of sense anyway.

So, I go car shopping. I’m pretty overwhelmed with the number of options. New versus Used, different brands, different models, and plenty of trims, packages, and options within each model. It’s a fairly terrible process. I think that Planet Money’s podcast episode on the subject pretty much covers it. For a variety of historical reasons that may have made sense at the time but don’t make as much sense now, one can’t go to a new car retailer, but one has to first select a brand that one likes, and then from there compare the options. Somehow, I can’t just pop onto Amazon, filter by features, select what I want, and put in my credit card number (or send Bitcoin) like buying pretty much anything else works.

There’s no real purpose to this post; I’m mainly just ranting. All the people I’ve worked with have been very friendly and helpful, but as with many sales-related things I feel that upon doing just a little research ahead of times made me more knowledgeable than the sales reps, at least about the parts I care most about. (And it’s likely that what I care most about isn’t what most people care most about.) I don’t think that the sales reps did anything wrong or even that there was anything that they could have done better, I’m just so much more used to being able to buy things without a person involved that it’s jarring to involve one, especially when I’m not sure that they added a whole lot to my experience. Perhaps eventually, the industry will catch up.

Ford Focus Stock PhotoBut I have selected a “2014 Ford Focus SE with SFE”, which is being ordered and I should have “in 4–6 weeks”. I’m sure I’ll be very happy with it, and it should get twice the mileage I get in the van, but I sure wish that the whole car buying experience had been less annoying.