Bandwidth usage, phone edition

Was curious about my data usage -- I have an unlimited (non-smartphone) text and data plan from AT&T. They will soon be changing to a dual-tier plan, with caps at 200MB and 2GB. The ridiculous bit is that they want to charge you and additional $20/month for tethering, something I commonly do when I travel with my laptop already. iPad owners get really screwed: the unlimited data plan they were promised is now the 2GB plan. This only very shortly after the 3G version was released.

Anyway, here is my usage for the last several months.


RIP Alexander McQueen

Fashion designer Alexander McQueen appears to have committed suicide.

One of the things he is well-known for is the "bumster" pants: super low-slung pants which bared buttcrack. However, no one seems to know exactly when they were introduced, which is odd. The BBC News Service say 1996; Grazia Daily, a fashion blog says 1994; the Fashion Page (a fashion site which has been up since 1994) claims 1995; The Guardian claims the earliest with 1992.

UPDATE (2013-01-13): Here is a definitive source (MoMA): the bumster skirt was introduced in the Highland Rape collection for autumn/winter 1995/96.

Bumster (via The Guardian)

Why you would flash your phone with generic firmware

So, my phone died again: it stopped recognizing the battery. AT&T sent me a warranty replacement. Of course, it had the default AT&T-branded firmware. I had forgotten how obnoxious it was: everything is locked out, and you have to pay to use them. You can't use the GPS without paying $10/month, you can't play MP3s, you can't use your own MP3s as ringtones, you can't tether the phone to your laptop for Internet access.

The only added feature is that it supports IM: AIM, Yahoo, and MSN. The built-in email client, however, is pretty braindead and doesn't have GMail as an option, and there is no way to manually set the account info.

This is why I reflashed my phone with the generic Sony Ericsson firmware. My phone is actually useful, now. Not bad for $16.

On the other hand, I am not terribly impressed with Sony Ericsson's quality control. This is the second replacement. I've had other SE phones in the past which never had problems, and I tend to use my phones for 3 years or so.

Luggage geek-out

I just got this Burton Flight Deck Wheelie carry-on suitcase from Sierra Trading Post (on sale at $70). I am geeked out about it like nobody’s business. It is very well-constructed, it has pockets, two separate main compartments which are independent, a laptop sleeve with shoulder strap, good material, handles on 3 sides, quick-access top pocket.

I don't think I've seen a bag as well-thought out since the Brenthaven laptop backpack I got years ago for my Powerbook. The Brenthaven is barely worse for wear despite being 7 years old, except that the stitching on the shoulder straps has come undone on one side.

New suitcase


I don’t know what these insects are, but I am hearing them for the first time tonight in my apartment complex. They are in the little wooded area, and in the trees. They are very loud.

I also just got Google Voice. Their rates are somewhat better than Skype’s for calling to Malaysia. Google charges 3¢/minute to a landline, and 4¢/minute to mobile. Skype’s charges are 2.1¢/minute and 5.8¢/minute respectively. I think I’ll be switching to Google Voice completely since I won’t need to use client software on my mobile phone.


KitchenAid Pro Line burr grinder stepless mod

From a user at, a way of modding the KitchenAid Pro Line burr grinder for stepless operation, reproduced here for my convenience:

I "modded" mine by taking out the metal pieces that hold the clicker(the 1-8 settings) in their specified spaces...

If you unscrew the black knob with the 1-8 settings on it by using an alan wrench (size 5/32), you see that the only thing keeping these settings as they are is the fact that the white piece with the little indents (the white gear looking thing) has two pieces of metal keeping it in a specified location, depending on your adjustment. You can see this in the picture two pages earlier in this forum post.

If you unscrew the whole front end like you would to get at the grinders(this is mentioned in the manual under how to clean the burrs): by unscrewing the two large flat-headed screws in the front of the grinder(using a flat-head screw driver... note that you need to unscrew both sides evenly: by turning one full turn on each side and alternating, in order to avoid threading the screws), then can get at the back of the assembly for the little metal pegs that hold the 1-8 settings in place. The back of these pegs look like two little alan wrench screws, which you can unscrew using the same alan wrench you used before. Unscrew them and save the two little screw pieces, two springs, and two pegs in a ziplock bag for safekeeping. I taped the plastic bag with the (now) extra pieces in it to the bottom of the machine in the little indent.

Ok, now you can just put the whole assembly back in place(without the pieces you put in the ziplock bag). Keep in mind that the white gear looking piece is the thing that now "stepless"ly adjusts your setting. Notice that the white gear is attached to a large plastic screw-shaft? Well, adjusting the screw on the screw-shaft to the left or right is what now adjusts your grind settings to fine or large. You could, if you wanted to, leave the black plastic nobbin off the front and use your hands to adjust the white gear, but I put mine back on.

The main issue is whether adjusting the white nobbin through the black nobbin is as effective as adjusting the white nobbin and leaving the black piece off. I assume this is why someone earlier in this forum post replaced the black nobbin with a copper nobbin and someone else replaced it with a plastic piece that reconnects to the black nobbin, and someone else used some sort of teflon tape(?)? I'm mostly concerned that adjusting the setting through the black nobbin is somehow less effective. I'm somewhat concerned with the fact that this machine vibrates so much... now that I've made it stepless, will the vibration somehow rotate my setting slowly?