Sunday, December 5, 2010

Bosch Dishwasher Takes Forever

Our dishwasher was taking about five hours to complete its basic wash cycle. And the dishes were none too dry at the end. Well, it's an older model and maybe it's time for a replacement. So we were off to the appliance store where we discovered that nobody any longer makes a dishwasher in white or that takes a wooden front panel. Maybe we'll have to cough up the $250 or so that it will cost to get the thing repaired.

But - this is 2010, so let's check the Internet first. Thank God that Al Gore invented this thing.

Google the phrase, "Bosch Dishwasher Takes Forever" and you will likely find your way to this blog post or maybe this one. I didn't get to this one with the step-by-step "fix it" instructions until after I had completed my repair.

Here's the real Google phrase you need: "Bosch dishwasher solder joint"

When I hit that first blog post and read:
...I opened the control panel, pulled the control board out and, walla!, found a burnt solder joint at the heater relay. How ’bout them apples? In case you haven’t already figgered it out, you can click the picture for the larger, annotated view.

I was doubtful. A couple more posts with the same problem and I suspected I might be onto something.

Sure enough, once I pulled the controller board out on our machine - well, here's my picture:

What a manufacturing operation Bosch must have been running. Think about it. If you can find three people who have the patience and ability to photograph, solder and post to the Web, how many of these damn bad boards must there be?

Well, If you found your way here because of my helpful blog post title, you have two choices. If you are handy with tools including a (low wattage) soldering iron, just go to the step-by-step post here and check this out for a possible solution. Otherwise, you need a new controller board. If you are within warranty, this should certainly be a freebie.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why the Newspapers are Dying

This morning's Minneapolis Star-Tribune provides an easy answer to that question.

Buried back on page D2 in the Business Section is the article headlined, "Sunday circulation up 5.7% to 504,616 at Star Tribune." A bylined story by David Phelps, no less! Well, that's the local spin on the story that I read yesterday via a link on the Drudge Report titled, "Newspaper Circ down 5%..."

Now let's pause and think. Who is interested in this information? Newspaper insiders? Check. How about American culture watchers? Check. Advertising managers at local businesses? Double Check!

So where's the list with the top 25 papers in the country and current rankings? Everyone interested in this story knows that's the format that this story follows. Put the local spin on it if you want, but give us the basic facts. Drudge does this, of course, with his link to "THE LIST ..."

I know Drudge will have this story every few months and will link to the list, usually at Editor and Publisher. The Strib? They seldom ever include "all the facts" with any story.

By the way, just in case you are keeping score on an ongoing basis, here's the past few years of history, as I track it. These are the daily circulations, not the Sunday figures. (click to enlarge)

The bottom line? Most newspapers have suffered circulation declines of 15 to 20 percent over the past four years.

Curious about my selection of papers to track this way?

Well, the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post are there just because they are the "National Papers." I've read and admired the Journal for about 40 years. I used to subscribe to the Sunday New York Times until they lost their ability to do objective news. At least they now have a decent truth detector in Tom McGuire at Just One Minute. The Los Angeles Times was also once a good paper. They also come with a good truth detector at Patterico's Pontifications.

"The Strib", or Minneapolis Star Tribune, was once a halfway decent paper too. We still have a subscription in order to read a bit of local news. Sure needs a truth detector, though. Powerline Blog at least keeps them a bit honest.

And The Oregonian was my home town paper when I grew up in Portland. They earned my admiration for taking on the unions and surviving a bitter five-year long illegal strike beginning in 1959.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How Can Anyone Take These Newspapers Seriously?

I opened up the local Minneapolis paper to the Business Section today and found an article titled "Winners And Losers From A Stronger Yuan." It only took two paragraphs to discover that the Associated Press' Christopher S. Rugaberl had a point of view:

China's decision to let its currency rise in value adds buying power to its exploding middle class — a win for American electronics makers, which can sell more computers and iPods to a hungry market.

At the same time, it puts a squeeze on U.S. retailers like Walmart because Chinese-made imports suddenly cost more.

(emphasis added)

Got that? It was good for the Chinese people but not bad for American people - just bad for those nasty American retailers! Whatever happened to symmetry? Well I suppose that was taught in Geometry Class. And they told the Journalism majors there would be no math!

Why no recognition that this might affect American consumers? Maybe because this guy and his administration had been calling for it. And the AP wouldn't say anything negative about him.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Top Load vs. Front Load Washers

Wintering in Cairo led us to be in the market for a washing machine.  The machines are pretty much limited to front loaders so we went with the flow and bought a popular model, the Zanussi Ideal.  We had a little familiarity with front-loaders from a recent visit to a friend who has one back in the states.

Check around the internet and you might find a chart like this one at 

Now we already knew that there was at least one item missing from this chart based on conversations with our friend. Just try putting "front load washers stink" (don't include the quote marks) into Google and you will see what I mean.  There is a problem with mold building up on the gasket unless properly cared for.  Now we know about two more issues.  Check this vibration thread at "Think Sikorsky helicopter hovering in the laundry room!" And, by the way, there is no opening the door and redistributing the load with a front loader either.  You just have to tough it through.

And the biggest think we noticed is expressed in this discussion threadFront load washer cycle time - is 115 minutes normal?

So, lets just revise that chart a bit:

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Expense of Health Care

Much of the concern with our present healthcare / healthinsurance system seems to center around cost.  "Bend the curve" of cost increases says the president - without much evidence that the bill before congress will do any such thing.

But why are the cost rising?  Carpe Diem, one of my favorite econ-blogs notes the increased use of "other people's money" as a cause.  And it probably is part of the problem.  But there are two fundamental issues that are easily overlooked.

First, there are a lot more older Americans than there used to be.  Frankly, it's us "old farts" that use the expensive parts of health care.  Treating my heart attack is more expensive than setting my son's broken leg.  And let's not forget the mom-in-law's hip replacement.

Remember that image of the babyboomers dominating the market for consumer goods twenty years ago?  Guess where they are now?

And the second reason for increased costs?  Well, we now can do something for the old folks.  Remember grandpa's treatment for a bad hip?  He got a cane.  Mom-in-law got a hip replacement. 

When president Eisenhower suffered a heart attack in 1955, the standard treatment was six months of bed rest.  I believe that Mamie was instructed to cuddle up and "keep him warm!"  Today, we would have seen a stent inserted at a minimum but more likely a triple or quadruple bypass.

The reason we spend more money on healthcare is because:
  • It's possible
  • It's effective
  • We have the money
The only real question is should I pay for my own stent or should I charge it to your children and grandchildren?  That's what the debate is really about.  And that's where professor Perry's "Other Peopl's Money" chart comes in.

(Note cross-posted at my numbers blog)