i went to rite aid in the early afternoon to pick up some prescriptions. two weird things happened: the copayment was zero (i typically pay just a dollar per normal prescription) but i only received a 30 day supply instead of the usual 90 day supply. something must've happened when i changed my insurance from neighborhood health plan to partners.
afterwards i biked to the cafe to defrost the freezer. i do it twice a week, and the defrosting at the end of the week usually takes the longest because the ice build-up is much more. i ended up spending 20-30 minutes with the hair dryer melting ice off of the radiator fins. my 2nd aunt gave me a container of pad thai before i left. she also asked if i could get her some chicken thighs, a head of chinese cabbage, and some tomatoes.
the produce i'd get tomorrow when i go to chinatown, but i went to market basket to pick up the chicken thighs. i wanted to get some other grocery items but i already had a lot of food in the fridge so i left with just that one item. i returned home after that, will drop off the chickens at the cafe some other time.
a bunch of items came in the mail today. first there was the tacklife EST01 power outlet tester ($5.38). a tester is a good thing to have to make sure the wall outlets are properly grounded. it's the sort of thing that you kind of use once and then never use again, but i didn't have one and it was on sale so i couldn't resist. i tested a few outlets around the house, they were all properly wired (2 green dots).
next was the xiaomi mi band 2 i got from gearbest. i couldn't believe it. i ordered it on tuesday and it arrived today friday. the last time i bought a mi band from them, it took a whole month to arrive, but this one only took 3 days. they must have a regional warehouse, because this was supposed to be free shipping from china, and no way could it get here so fast. i'll need to set it up for my 2nd aunt but the first thing i did was to charge up the battery.
finally, there were the loneyshow mini smart wifi plugs. i plugged one in to set it up on the local wifi network. it has a tiny LED which i thought simply turned on red when activated, but was pleasantly surprised to learn it's actually a multi-colored LED, and went through the same color sequences as the yidian smart plugs i bought last month. i actually think these loneyshow plugs are better because the LED isn't more discreet; on the yidian it's an obnoxiously large LED panel, and i imagine it's bright enough that if you were to have it in a bedroom at night, it'd light the place up (although you could always cover it up with electrical tape). loneyshow has the exact same functionality but it costs cheaper ($16.99/pair versus $26.99/pair of the yidian - though i only paid $24.29 because of a coupon but still more expensive than the loneyshow). never mind the nonsense-word brand name, or the F grade on fakespot.com: i'm here to let you know these loneyshow plugs are legit.
loneyshow even uses the same smart life app the yidian plugs use. i discovered some hidden functionality a day ago, when i opened up the scene panel and saw a bunch of trigger conditions. there are things like outdoor temperature and humidity, even weather and air quality, but the one i had the most use for was sunset/sunrise conditions. that's always been a holy grail of the perfect appliance timer to be able to turn on and off depending on sunrise/sunset. that way the moment it got dark, the light in my living room would go on by itself. the way i've been doing it now is i set it manually, but as seasons change, i have to readjust the timer every so often to keep up with the changing amount of daylight. i'd previously toyed with the idea of using the 433MHz transceiver setup with the raspberry pi to ping a daily sunset/sunrise table and turn on the light remotely the moment of sunset. it's a little complicated and was only a proof-of-concept idea in my head, but i was so happy the smart plug came with this function.
when selecting the sunset option, it also asked for my location, which it needs to figure out when's the proper sunset time. instead of an exact GPS location or a city/town, the only option was my county, which in my opinion is good enough. instead of creating a separate condition for sunrise (i don't leave the light on overnight when i go to bed), i made a non-conditional timer schedule of switching off at midnight. the fact that there are other conditions juiced my imagination. though not much can be done with a simple on/off switch, what about a smart multi-colored LED light bulb? based on the temperature or the weather outside, it could tell me through a color lamp whether it was hot or cold, raining or snowing. there's a lot of cool stuff to play with. these plugs can't also be paired with my nest thermostat using the IFTTT system. imagine lights turning on in my house the moment i come home, or automatically turning off when i leave. it can use the nest thermostat's proximity detection and trigger events through IFTTT.
i discovered solaredge has monitoring widgets for android. no more turning on the app every 15 minutes to check the status of the solar panels! but the thing that intrigued me was in the thumbnail display, the widgets seem to have more function. in the daily chart widget, there are consumption and production data, but not when i activate the widget. is there a fault in our system? or maybe it requires a solaredge meter to work (our meters is either municipal or a different brand revenue grade). we can calculate the consumption numbers but it involves getting the daily meter data from belmont light using the buggy smarthub app/website. it'd be so much easier to just have that number given to us. there's also a site power flow widget which also doesn't work and that one does tell me it can't find the proper meter.
even though today was a cloudy day, the sky was more milky than actual clouds, and the panels surprised me by producing 34.96 kWh of energy. the graph was spiky but it didn't look too bad, still managed to form a bell-curve shape. one interesting thing was a clump of extra production in the early morning. this might just be additional production from cloud reflection.
i anxiously waited for the start of sunset, which today was 7pm. would the conditional scene function in the smart plug really work? the second it turned 7pm, there was an almost imperceptible clicking sound and the living room light simply turned on. in fact, it's virtually silent compared to my manual timer which makes a very loud click when triggered. so it worked! i'm looking forward to sensible sunset-based lamp controls from now on.
for dinner i heated up the pad thai i'd brought home earlier.
somehow late in the evening i decided it'd be a good time to try fixing the halogen vanity light fixture in the bathroom. this light is nearly 16 years old, installed when i first got the place, purchased from "the purple building" in reading. it'd be a lot easier simply to replace the entire fixture, since over the years it's developed some rust on the finish. but i doubt they make this style anymore, and besides i don't have a model number.
when i first replaced the halogen bulb in the bathroom last month with a brand new one (after suffering through some flickering and dimming issues with the halogen bulbs supply i had on hand), it worked fine, superbright, everyone happy. but then a few weeks later i began noticing subtle dimming, followed by flickering issues. so it wasn't the bulb but rather the fixture itself. it wasn't bad at first, but it's gotten progressively worse. i fixed it temporarily by switching the bi-pin. i noticed one pin was very corroded, while the other one was fine. this worked for a while, but the dimming/flickering is back. when i took out the bulb, i noticed now both pins are corroded.
fixing the light involved taking apart the fixture and examining it to see what part needs to be replaced. i went down to the basement to switch off the electricity in the bathroom. strange thing was, the GFCI power outlet was out, but the lights were still working. i then painstakingly went through my circuit breaker box, trying to figure out which one controlled the bathroom light. it didn't help that it was so cold outside, running and back and forth from the basement (door can only be accessed from outside) to the house. finally i found it, a single circuit breaker that controlled all the ceiling lights in the house, including the kitchen recessed lights and foyer and living lights. i also made sure the electricity was really off with my klein tools voltage detector.
the fixture was pretty easy to remove, just took off two screws (top and bottom). it was still stuck from having been painted around, so i gently tapped it with a hammer wrapped in a towel to finally release it from the wall.
i took the fixture apart and removed the mini bi-pin light socket. there are only so many parts inside of the light, the socket and the transformer and their wires. maybe the transformer went bad, but when i closely examined the socket, i noticed that the two wirres were in bad condition, the rubber hosing melted, the wires frayed. the black live wire was worse off than the other, and i'm guessing that's the side that corroded the pin. i'm thinking at first it was a small break, but that ended up generating more heat, and over time it just frayed the wire so much i'm amazed the light even worked.
finding a replacement mini bi-pin socket turned out harder than expected. the one that i wanted - ceramic socket with a mica top layer - only seems to be made by one chinese company. the problem: the wires were too short, just 5-6", when i needed 7-8". even if i did find a socket with long wires, another problem was snaking the wires through the metal straw neck of fixture. after pulling out the wires i tried putting them back in but it was tough. i even tried greasing the tube with some machine oil, but it didn't make it any easier. so i ended up spending the rest of the night trying to find the right socket, until it was 1am and time to sleep. there's a ceiling light in the bathroom (which i replaced back in 2016) so it's not like the bathroom is unusable without the vanity light. but i'm not used to the ceiling fixture (i almost never use it myself), it's just not as bright as the halogen.