i went down to harvard square to see yulia this morning. i checked her machine, there was nothing suspicious: windows 7 wasn't secretly updating the system in the background, nor was OS X doing the same thing. there were a few updates available for non-essential apps which i allowed the system to update, and i explicitly turned off auto-update in the preference, just to rule out any future surprises. i really didn't have any other answers, i just told yulia to continue using the machine and to remember what she was doing the next time it crashes. she told me she'd take a photo of it with her phone.

my chain was still skipping, even though earlier i tightened the cable. i checked the cable again and noticed there was some slack. i'll have to tighten it again at some point. with batteries fully charged, i reinstalled them back into the fuji wheel lights. i cut strips of foam insulation to use as a bottom layer on the hub before i put in new strip ties and attached the battery packs. i finished by putting away the fuji bike back into the basement, and exchanging it for the air conditioner.

although i can't remember, last year i installed the air conditioner on july 19th, so i'm a few days early this year. typically when the indoor temperature is in the 80's with high humidity, i tend to break down and install the AC. i've had this sharp model for 7 years now, but i hardly use it. i wait until i can barely stand the heat before installing it during the summer, and come labor day, it'll be back in my basement. despite giving me much needed cooling relief, i don't like using the AC for several reasons: it uses a lot of electricity, and the unit is loud. the noise is a major concern on rainy nights, when the rain beats down on the metal back of the AC so hard i can hardly hear anything. this sharp unit is much better than the AC i had before, which still sits in my basement. that one is a steel monster, requiring 2 people to install it, and breaking backs in the process. i really should throw it out, it's just taking up space since i'm never going to use it.

i was expecting a bunch of amazon prime items to arrive today. the only thing that came in the afternoon was a 64GB sandisk microXDHC card ($14.99). i sort of regret not getting the shark rocket handheld vacuum that was on sale during prime day. i didn't like it at the time because it seemed like it'd be heavy and didn't have a retractable cord. it's also one of those products that sells through infomercials, which immediately makes me suspicion. but it has a lot of good reviews online, and i seriously need a vacuum because i don't have one at the moment. i've been researching canisters, and i haven't seen any good ones.

i waited as long as i could for my packages (that didn't come), but finally left for belmont via motorcycle around 4pm. it was too hot to do any yard work so i stayed indoors, enjoying the AC, snacking on my hainan hard candy. during dinner we saw on the news of a coup in turkey, which seemed to overshadow the nice terrorist attack just 24 hours ago. soldiers blocked bridges around istanbul, tanks rolling in the streets, jets screeching above the city, and reports of a siege in ankara. a person can only take so much breaking news these past few weeks before suffering from breaking news fatigue!

after dinner i returned home, eager to play with the presents i was expecting to be waiting for me on my doorstep.

i tried the jbuds earbuds first, which were terrible. i bought a pair before which were excellent, but these new pairs have a terrible cheap sound. next i unpackaged the xtech handheld steam cleaner ($28.75). it resembled a futuristic plastic tea kettle and was smaller than i expected. i followed the directions, making sure i don't accidentally scald myself. it did produce steam, but it couldn't really clean anything, so it's not the miracle cleaning device i thought it'd be. i tried bath tiles, grout, toilet, sink, faucets, nothing seemed cleaner than before. i even tried a stain spot on one of my rugs, which didn't seem to do anything.

i got a solar-powered motion-sensing light. i didn't realize that it doesn't have an off setting. it's either always on (but dim) when it's dark, or super bright for 30 seconds when it detects motion. i rather have something that's dark and then turns on when there's motion. i'll probably give it to me parents to hang in their backyard; i can't really use it anyway because my backyard is so shady.

finally, i tried the goertek laser distance measure ($37.59). it's brand i never heard of before, and the same model sells as several other brands as well, which is typical for generic chinese-marketed devices. despite such a nameless pedigree, the laser measure works quite well. it looks like a thick nokia cell phone. i got the 60m which is almost 200 feet. originally i was going to get the 40m version (131 ft), but for a few dollars more i could measure a longer distance so i upgraded. for laser measurers, the more you spend, the longer the measuring distance. i thought 60m was a respectable distance, but on the box there were checkboxes for other models with even longer distances, the maximum being 150m (nearly 500 ft). besides length, it can also measure area and volume, as well as trigonometric measurements. the trigonometric features is the one i find most interesting, because i can use it to find the height of trees by measuring the hypotenuse and the base (to the tree). i look forward to finding out the height of certain neighborhood trees!