i went to the community garden this morning. not to water - i probably don't need to water for a few days given how much rain we got over the weekend - but rather i went down to check on my plants and to spray diatomaceous earth. sure enough, i found cucumber beetles feeding on my ground cherries, they flew away as soon as they detected i was nearby. i doused the ground cherries, as well as bitter melons, eggplants (i noticed some flea beetles), and baby bokchoi. i noticed a few of the nasturtium seedlings have emerged.
back at the house, i started making my tea eggs. i bought 2 dozens eggs a while back, i don't remember when, but i want to say at least 3 weeks ago, if not longer. i waited all this time because i read old eggs make better tea eggs because they're easier to peel. i don't remember if i ever tested this out myself, and when i told my mother she said it was nonsense, that she always use fresh eggs to make tea eggs.
back in 2018 i wrote a very detailed description of how to make 2 dozen tea eggs. i basically followed that recipe. i used all white eggs, and they were straight from the fridge. like i said, they're at least 3 weeks old, maybe older. i didn't bother adding the sichuan peppercorns this time, since i can't really taste it. after an hour of boiling in tea egg brine solution, i left them to cool. once they were at room temperature, i put them into 32oz. yogurt containers, filled them up with tea egg brine, then put them in the fridge. they should be ready to eat in 3 days, so by friday. i've made so much, i'm going to some to my parents to sell. one great thing about making tea eggs at home is the house starts smelling like a taiwanese 7-11, brings back some memories.
so today i was waiting for my ASUS zenpad Z8s tablet to arrive. i was hoping it'd get here early enough so i could take it to belmont and do a test flight. the reason i bought a used tablet is because the DJI fly app keeps crashing on my pixel 3XL (even though it'd one of the officially listed supported android devices). it's gotten so bad it's taken the joy out of drone flying, because i'm always worried that i'll lose the drone, and half the time i'm waiting for the phone to recover or reboot. it's definitely a phone issue because when i tried my mother's samsung S9+ or my father's moto G7, in the limited testing i've done, neither of those phones crashed. so i've been searching a cheap solution, originally looking at cheap phones (either android or iphone) that would be compatible with the DJI fly app. then i read about the ASUS zenpad Z8s in some drone forums, where multiple people had success with that tablet. originally i didn't want to get a tablet because it felt too cumbersome, like trying to take photos with an ipad. but the specs on the ASUS were pretty good, but mostly importantly was the price: i could find one for sale on ebay/mercari for less than $100, which was the extend i was willing to spend.
so the pros: compatible with DJI fly app, price, bigger screen, 1536 x 2048px resolution, 3GB ram, compass (some tablets don't have compasses), USB-C connector. cons: 4 years old (august 2017), only 16GB of storage (although can be expanded), runs android 7 (can't seem to upgrade), unable to install custom ROM (at least not easily). and when it arrives i'll be able to list some more pros and cons.
i couldn't wait any longer and left for belmont around 2pm. i was there to plant my 2 lotus seedlings. i'm 2 weeks behind in my planting compared to last year. the reconstituted leftover clay mix in the plastic basins weren't as watery as it was yesterday, but it was still more liquid than solid. i thought about adding more clay, but decided that if i added a top layer of sand it'd prevent the watery clay mud from dissolving in the water. at one point a large dragonfly landed on the sandy surface, maybe mistaking it for a sandy shoreline. it was completely fearless as it groomed itself, and i got close enough to take some photos and a video. my parents' house, with its close proximity to fresh pond, frequently gets dragonfly visitors. later on when i had time to look it up, i discovered it was an immature male whitetail.
after covering up the clay mud with sand, i planted the lotus seedlings then started slowly filling up the barrels. filling them up too fast might wash away the sand and expose the muddy layer underneath, which would then dissolve in the water. after that was finished, i erected some wire fencing around the barrels. i learned the hard way the past two seasons that raccoons occasionally wander into the backyard and find the water-filled lotus barrels irresistible as they did through the muddy look for something to eat. as for the third lotus seed, it's partially germinated, i'm keeping it in water, but i don't have much hope. if it does sprout a second stalk (since the first stalk broke), i may try raising it as a tabletop mini lotus.
while doing a cursory backyard inspection, i noticed that a lot of our tomatoes have "dead" spots on the leaves. at first i thought it was fertilizer burn, but it was showing up everywhere, even in the jiffy pot seedlings where we didn't add any fertilizer. could it be disease? or maybe overwatering from all that rain? later in the evening i did some research, and it's possibly sun scorch, a combination of wet leaves and sunshines that act as a magnifying glass. however, it wasn't sunny at all this past weekend, just rainy, so could the leaves still get scorched?
i also filled a squeeze bottle with diatomaceous earth and sprayed all the ground cherries and eggplants. i haven't noticed any flea beetles or cucumber beetles, but better to spray before their arrival instead of waiting for them to show up and start feeding on the leaves.
my mother called me, asking if i deposited the check she made out to my niece tangtang. i was supposed to do that today but accidentally left the check back at home. i was going to go back and get it, but my mother decided she would give tangtang the money in person instead. tangtang finished her masters degree in new york city and will be returning to taiwan on thursday. she actually got vaccinated, which is something that most people in taiwan can't get because the country is having a hard time securing doses.
i stopped by the community garden before going home, to harvest some garlic chives for my yangbaechu kimchi recipe. there was a lot of people there, but everyone was so busy, nobody greeted me as i came into the garden with my motorcycle helmet. i took out a long bread knife from my bag and cut a bunch of garlic chives from the southeastern corner. i finally got home by 4pm.
a box was waiting for me on my doorstep: the ASUS tablet! i didn't have time to open it just yet though, as i needed to visit the cambridge recycling center to drop off my used brother printer. it's only opened on tuesday and saturday. i wrote a little note on the printer regarding its issues (i don't think they care, it's just going to get scrapped, i don't think anyone is there trying to fix the printer, nevertheless, just in case). i strapped the printer to the back of my bicycle with some bungie netting then slowly biked to the recycle center. slow because any bumps might jostle the printer and have it fly off the bike. originally i was just going to relegate the printer into the basement, maybe one day figure out a way to fix it. but i already bought a new brother's laser printer, and the chance of me ever using this old printer is probably zero, despite the sentimental value. so the logical choice was to throw it out responsibly.
i got back home by 4:40pm and finally was able to check out my tablet. the packaging was a bit flimsy, everything was basically just thrown into a USPS box and allowed to jostle around without any padding. luckily nothing was damaged and the tablet appeared like new. i bought this off of mercari for $75, with an additional $12 for shipping, and $4 for taxes, so the grand total was $91. still not a bad price, as i've seen cheaper ones ($60) but with broken screens or buttons, or better quality ones but with higher prices ($130). it was my first time purchasing from mercari, it's like a combination craig's list crossed with ebay.
the thing i noticed right away about the ASUS zenpad Z8s tablet was how thin it was. it also felt pretty solid, with a hefty metal backing. i tried powering it on but the battery was completely drained. i plugged it into a charger. the seller also gave me a case and a charger. i don't think i'll ever use the case, and the charger and cable were mismatched, the plug was for some texas instrument equipment, the cable some white USB-C. i don't need them anyway, since i have my own charger and cables.
while the tablet was charging, i sifted through my garlic chives in the kitchen sink. not everything i harvested was garlic chives, half was it was actually just grass, both are very similar looking.
when the tablet had charged to 12%, i finally managed to boot it up. the previous owner had done a factory reset, so it was asking me the usual setup questions. android 7 is a little antiquated but it's still the familiar android. if i really don't like the user interface i could always install a different launcher (like nova). for the time being i'm trying to keep it as factory stock as possible, to not introduce anything that would mess with the DJI fly app. i started by downloading the DJI fly app, the whole reason why i got the tablet. you can no longer find it in the google store, it's only available from their website, which i then installed after downloading. i was able to log in without any problems, and managed to download my flight data (800MB) from the cloud. i then downloaded a few other apps, all for watching videos: netflix, youtube tv, amazon prime. i checked the flimsy memory - out of 16GB, i was down to less than 2GB. so i installed an SDHC card, a sandisk extreme 128GB. it's kind of a waste - that card is too good to just live inside of a 4 year old tablet - but it has very fast write (90MB/s) and read (160MB/s) speeds and designed to be durable, even though that particular card is actually a replacement from sandisk because the previous one actually failed (so much for extreme durability). i formatted the card as portable storage.
i started playing around with the ASUS zenpad Z8s. one thing i don't like is the back and recent buttons aren't illuminated, so they're impossible to see in the dark, and kind of hard to see in the daylight as well. the tablet itself has black bars on the top and bottom, about an inch in width each, which makes the tablet taller than it should be, since most modern day phones and tablets use up the whole screen, no wasted dead space. the Z8s was a tablet exclusive to verizon, so it'll accept a sim card to allow data access. actually, when i installed the SDHC memory card, i took out the sim card, and the tablet didn't seem to like that, giving me several warnings that the sim card was missing. later i put it back, just so i don't have to see anymore warnings. all my video streaming apps work fine. i finished watching army of the dead on netflix, and couldn't get over the lousy video quality. the app itself has no option to choose stream quality, although there was a place where i saw some specs and they said the highest quality was only 480p. i went online searching for answers, apparently this is a problem with a lot of android tablets, that streaming services due to some security issues doesn't allow them to access their higher quality streams for some reason. the only time i could access higher quality videos was either through youtube (i sampled a 4K tour of shinjuku) or via a copied downloaded movie. google photos work very well though, displaying at the maximum resolution, like an apple retina display.
because the Z8s is tied to verizon, there's some verizon apps that can't be erased, like my verizon or [verizon] cloud. there are also the standard contacts/todo/email/calendar/clock apps. i've been using pixel 3XL for so long, i've taken it for granted the stock google apps, so it's weird to see these knockoffs.
the screen on the Z8s is very bright. when i first saw it i thought it seemed dim, but that's when i realized it was on adaptive brightness. once i turned it off, i could get the screen blindly bright. i also noticed when i played videos it was doing this weird blur-free motion effect. i looked in the display setting and sure enough, it was something that could be turned off. finally, even though i didn't try flying the drone with the new tablet today, i still put the tablet in the remote controller to see if it'll fit. with the adapter bracket, it fits perfectly, and the DJI USB-C cord can reach as well. tomorrow i'll go back to belmont and do a test flight to see if i experience any app crashing. i've lived with the DJI fly app crashing for so long, it'd be weird to fly without crashing.
something else i realized: the DJI fly app only seems to cache data in internal storage, not the memory card. some users have had some luck with samsung phones, but the ASUS under android 7 doesn't sort this hack. problem is the tablet only has 16GB of internal storage, and after installing my video streaming apps, it available space was just 1GB. i uninstalled a bunch of them, which got me back to 2GB. but in the end, i decided to format the SDHC card as internal storage. i done it before with my father's phone, but the card managed to get corrupted and he lost some data. when you format the card as internal storage, the card is encrypted, so if you should ever eject the card and put it though a reader, it's unreadable. but this way the DJI fly app can access the 128GB card without any problems and now i have plenty of storage space, so i reinstalled all those apps i previously erased.
a few more things about the DJI fly app: under profile, all my auto-sync flight records show up immediately. on my pixel 3XL, it usually takes a few minutes to load. in the warning zone, normally it shows me where i am and what areas nearby are flight restrictions. however on the ASUS, it just says "locating..." and shows me a map of beijing. i waited to see if it'd find my current location but it never did. not a big deal, since i can just type "cambridge" and it'll bring it the local map and restrictions. but out of curiosity, i zoomed out and found chongqing. it showed the nearby airspace restrictions, but what's cool is it also showed user-uploaded photos. i saw some amazing photos of chongqing taken with the drone, it made my very nostalgic to revisit one of these days.
for dinner i had some leftover barbecue. i ate while watching the celtics-nets game. boston put up a good fight, but they were outmatched, and brooklyn ended up taking the series, as well as they should, since they're heavily favored to win it all. i rooting for the bucks though, i hope giannis can lower the nets a peg or two.
i was going to start making the sichuan paocai and yangbaechu kimchi, but it was just too late, and my heart wasn't into it. i'll have more energy tomorrow. the only reason why i wanted to do it tonight is because tomorrow's trash day. when i took the trash out, i noticed none of my other neighbors had their trash out on the curb, then i realized monday was memorial day, so the pickup schedule is a day behind. i sheepishly went back inside the house with my trash. but good news is when i make the fermented recipes tomorrow, i can throw out everything in the trash.