Refurbishing a UPS and what to do with the old batteries

UPS batteries are usually the lead-acid kind (like car batteries) and need to be replaced every 3-5 years. My UPS recently started complaining that the batteries just weren’t adequate anymore. The batteries were over 7 years old at that point. Looking around the net, I found an excellent small company called Jammin Works which sells very economically priced battery replacement kits for APC UPSes. I was able to get battery kits through them for less than half what a APC branded kit would cost. I got them all installed and they are working out great. (An initial problem I had with them turned out to be due to a loose connection when I installed one of the batteries.) You can often get used UPSes pretty cheap because people don’t want to pay for the branded replacement batteries, so you can often get a good deal on one and replace the batteries yourself for pretty cheap.

Once you’ve done the upgrade, what do you do with the old batteries? It’s ecologically unsound (and in some places illegal) to just dump them in the trash. I tried calling the county hazardous waste department for suggestions, but they only have occasional drop offs for that sort of thing. Finally I found some information that some stores will take old batteries for recycling. One of those was Sears Auto Centers, so I called up a nearby one and they said they’d take them. I drove up there to the battery center and they rolled up a cart and took them off of me for no charge. Nice.

Comparison Review: XtremeMac AirPlay vs. Griffin iTrip Mini

When I got my iPod Mini a few months back, I also got a Griffin iTrip Mini FM Transmitter to listen to it while driving. I should mention that for those who own a car, you really should look at getting a direct line in for your iPod to your car stereo or use a cassette adapter if you have a cassette deck. Either of these options is vastly superior to using an FM transmitter. I don’t own a car, so the only time I drive is in rentals. Most new cars used by rental agencies have CD standard these days, so a cassette adapter is not an option.

Even though I know that no FM transmitter is perfect, the iTrip Mini was still disappointing to me. The main things that bugged me:

– Changing the channel is difficult. A lot of my driving is long distance, which means having to change the broadcast channel every couple of hours, as the ’empty channel’ I was using becomes a used channel further on down the road. On the iTrip Mini to change the channel you need to stop the current song, go into a special playlist where the tuning files are, play the one for the channel you want until the light flashes and then press pause (and if your timing is off, you have to do it over again), then go back and start up the song you are playing. Now imagine trying to do that while driving. Worse distraction than using a cell phone! Ridiculous!
– Poor FM performance, lots of interference.
– Covers up the hold switch.

Recently I heard the XtremeMac has come out with a new iPod transmitter called the AirPlay. Reviews of it were generally very good, but what sold me was the tuning method. Instead of going with painfully complex procedures as above, they just have an up and down button on the transmitter with a backlit LCD to show the channel. Just tune up or down to the channel you want, and that’s it. You don’t even need to interrupt the song you are playing. Besides that, its FM performance seems to be much better. There is still some interference, but much less than with the iTrip Mini. The transmitter is also smaller, and does not cover up the hold button. Overall, I find it much better than the iTrip Mini. The one disadvantage is that the Airplay’s lowest channel is 88.3, while the iTrip Mini starts at 87.9.

Santa Barbara

After finishing up some computer maintenance yesterday morning, I drove down to Santa Barbara to my Dad’s house. My sister and her husband also were up from LA to visit. For dinner we went to a Peruvian restaurant called Zeño Manúe that rosminah went to last week. Pretty nice place, though the tables were a bit low for long legged people like me. I had empanadas for appetizer and Lomo Saltado for the main course, plus a glass of pinot noir.

Two interesting Taipei Times editorials

Yesterday’s Taipei Times had a couple of interesting articles.

The first by Julian Wang is a good one urging President Chen to stop blaming everyone, and do something positive about cross-strait relations. Good comments, Julian.

The second is by Richard Hartzell, a prominent expat in Taiwan who has done a lot of good things in support of the foreign community here, who I respect a great deal. However, I have a strong disagreement with his view on sovereignty issues. His basic analysis is that the Japanese abandoned Taiwan in the 1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty but did not specify a recipient nation to take sovereignty over Taiwan. Further, he says that under international law, it is the occupying force that attains sovereignty in those cases, and since the US captured Taiwan from Japan, then it became and remains a US territory.

His argument is based on the interpretation that the ROC forces which also occupied Taiwan shortly after retrocession in October 25, 1945 were subordinate to the occupying US troops, and that the US did not transfer sovereignty by inviting ROC troops in and allowing them to take control. It’s a persuasive argument except on this point. There’s a few flaws to it though. Who determines which is the primary or subordinate occupying force? Does the initial liberating force always automatically get to determine sovereignty? If the initial liberating force is subsequently replaced by another occupying force, who is then in control?

In my opinion, the ROC became the primary occupying force shortly after retrocession, and was certainly the primary occupying force by 1949, not to mention by 1952 when Japan formally abandoned their claims to Taiwan. If they had captured the territory or Taiwan from the US by force, this would certainly be true by the above argument alone, so why should it be different if they occupied Taiwan by agreement? It certainly complicates matters that US forces remained in Taiwan for quite a while after this, but that is not necessarily an occupation. The US made no effort to form a governing body in Taiwan, while the ROC did. The US had every opportunity to either object at the ROC governing Taiwan or formally cede Taiwan to the ROC. Instead, the US chose to recognize the ROC government in Taiwan through the late 70s.

I think it is a flimsy argument, and that the ROC qualifies as an occupying force and thus gained sovereignty over Taiwan legally.

(As an aside, I suspect Richard Hartzell was the one who left the anonymous comment in my April 26 entry on my subscription problems.)


I was feeling tired the middle of the afternoon yesterday, so I took a nap with Emily. Later we went out for dinner and I was feeling increasingly uncomfortable on the way back home. I went straight to bed and next time I woke up, I had a fever developing. It peaked at 38.7C (101.6F) in the middle of the night. By morning it had thankfully subsided. Now I have no fever but still achy. Hopefully that was the end of it, because I need to fly to the US tomorrow.

Avoid Ritek media

I’ve been a big fan of Ritek branded media, both for DVD-R/+R and CD-R for a few years now. It used to be a brand you could rely on for consistently good results, but that has been changing. I’ve been having problems making DVDs lately, and at first I thought it was one of my burners. But when I found I was having problems with BOTH burners, and that scans of the ‘good’ burns had very high error rates, I came to conclude that it was the media and not the burner. I went out to buy a few other brands of media today and burned a batch as a test. Those came out with NO problems and very low error rates. Looking around the web on sites like CD Freaks, it turns out that there’s a lot of complaints about Ritek quality declining lately. The sad thing is the bad spindle I bought is Ritek labeled, not an OEM brand like Ridata or another. The Ritek labeled ones are supposed to be only Grade A rated media. What has happened to you, Ritek?

I recommend not buying Ritek-made media from now on.