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I bought some eclipse sunglasses on Tuesday. Seems like I did it in the nick of time, as they are becoming scarce around here. I got some cheap cardboard ones, and some slightly less cheap 2x magnification cardboard ones (I ordered the latter from Best Buy in the morning, and picked them up after work. When I checked the website in the evening again, they were sold out.) The glasses are neat! You can look at the midday sun while it's high in the sky! What you see is a nice orange disk. That may not sound special, but it's neat to be able to look straight at the sun without it being sunrise or sunset. I'm not sure I could see any sunspots or flares with these glasses, but they should be fine for watching the eclipse. As long as we are lucky and have clear skies. The forecast isn't looking good so far... a 50 to 60% chance of thunderstorms all day on the 21st till 8pm. But things may change, and even with thunderstorms, there might be a break in the clouds. (please, pretty please, at least during totality, please?)

I've been debating whether to work from home that day, or go in to work like usual and take my lunch break during the total eclipse. Now I think I'll work from home... that way I can occasionally check what is broadcast from the other parts of the country that experience the eclipse before we do.

I replaced the pull-chain light switch for the light fixture on Qiao's ceiling fan with a 3-way pull switch. Now we can turn on either 2 or all 4 lights, where before you could only turn on all 4 at once. Now while sitting on the sofa, we can turn on only the 2 lights which face towards the other direction, so that the room isn't uncomfortably dark, but without as much glare from above as before. When we want more light, we can turn them all on. Previously, I had replaced the lamp shades and bulbs, but it was still too bright for me.

One of the metal spines on my umbrella broke. I can't think of any simple way to fix it. It's a fairly new umbrella which my neighbors gave me recently, as thanks for looking after their dogs while they were on a trip. A nice lime-green color with reflective edging. I can't bear to throw it away. I couldn't even bear to throw away my old umbrella yet.. On it, the fabric had worn out and had holes. I cut the fabric off that one, and still have the metal umbrella skeleton. It's pretty useless, slightly dangerous, but looks neat in a goth-steampunk kind of way.

My dad has been researching his side of the family tree. It's amazing what you can find in old census records. This FamilySearch website is run by the LDS church, and lets you search records for free. There's an 1885 census from the state of Nebraska, with an entry for my grandpa's father and grandfather. We also found 1870 and 1880 census records which seem to match, but there are some discrepancies which we haven't been able to explain yet. We found that the Nebraska Historical Society has microfilms of church records from the area my grandpa's grandpa lived. Those records don't seem to be online anywhere. My dad contacted them, and they have a volunteer who will check the microfilms for us, even translating from Latin! How nice is that?


Wednesday, April 12th, 2017 11:14 pm
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Putting silicone sealer on the mouse wheel to add traction had very good results, even though it didn't go on very smoothly.

Actually, it's an acrylic sealer. I previously had a silicone-based one, but when it ran out, the store no longer had it, so I got the acrylic one, which was listed as non-toxic and low odor.

Today it occurred to me that: 1) The insects are spelled 'beetles', 2) the cars are spelled 'beetles', 3) but the band is spelled 'beatles' 4) because the music has beats. It's a word-play, and it's possibly the first time I recognized it as such. I guess I always just thought they named themselves after the insects or maybe the cars.

The fig tree is growing little fig leafs again! The young leaves that died earlier haven't fallen off yet.

Just as I had driven up to my driveway this evening, I looked left out of the car window and saw a light moving across the sky in a straight line. In a direction from the south towards the southeast, sort of. Just a single white light, small, not blinking. It wasn't moving very fast, nor slow. The light flickered out for a moment, then came back, still moving, then flickered out again and stayed out. I thought it might have been a meteor, but the Lyrid meteor shower isn't supposed to start until the 16th. And my visibility here is poor. So it was probably a plane after all, maybe disappearing behind some clouds.

I like this song & video:

Video title: Space Unicorn - Parry Gripp and Brianne Drouhard
Posted by: ParryGripp
URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17o1OlroNSE

And these songs:

Video title: Imagine Dragons - Believer
Posted by: ImagineDragonsVEVO
URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wtfhZwyrcc

Video title: Wardruna - Wunjo (New Album Runaljod - Ragnarok)
Posted by: Tatiane Akemy Oshiro
URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heDBX-HCMDA

wheels a turnin

Friday, April 7th, 2017 12:32 am
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On the one mouse I bought, the mouse wheel is rubber in the center, but smooth chrome/plastic on the edges. It has enough resistance (even though it isn't difficult to turn) that if I only lightly brush my finger across the edge of it as I am wont to do, my finger slides over the smooth surface, and it doesn't turn. I have to apply more pressure than I'd like. On some mice, I've been able to reduce the mouse wheel resistance (as well as reducing the ratcheting noise) by tinkering with the parts inside. But this one's design is different and doesn't allow for that.

My next thought was to paint a layer of something rubbery on the chrome edges of the wheel. It would need to be a very thin layer. But of what? The best thing I thought of so far is silicone sealant. Does anyone have any other ideas?

I also thought of swapping in the mouse wheel from my old mouse, but it doesn't fit.

The buttons on both of the new mice are really nice and quiet; light thumpy noises instead of clicks.

week in review

Sunday, March 26th, 2017 11:38 pm
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Driving into the parking lot at work on Monday, I noticed the low tire pressure warning light on. There was a nail in my tire. I got the hole plugged at the service station nearby, but they recommended getting the tire replaced as the hole was close to the edge. So I the next day, I got the tire replaced at the Toyota dealership. The price seemed reasonable; I was surprised by that. The "advisor" who handled my case was cool... very gender variant looking. At first she struck me as a butch lesbian. Then I wondered, why did I assume that? Maybe he was FTM. Or maybe they were non-binary like me. His/her/their business card was stapled to my receipt. They have a gender neutral name! Later I wondered if they staple their card to everyone's receipt, and if they were as tickled by my gender variance as I was by theirs. And I wondered if something they had jokingly said early on could be considered flirting.

The waiting room at the dealership had many noises. Two TV's on, tuned to different channels. Kids shrieking and crying. Music playing. Vending machines humming. I had brought my work laptop to do some work while waiting, which I did, but the noise was distracting and stressful. Next time, it would be good to bring my noise-cancelling headphones.

The little fig tree didn't react well to the snow we got a couple weeks ago. The leaves withered and dried up. The pink magnolia reacted similarly. I hope they recover.

On the way to work, another company has a row of trees by the street. I saw them pruning some of the larger trees one day. It was after the trees had already sprouted leaves. (They surely didn't expect to trees to sprout so early this year.) Now when I drive by, the ones that were pruned are all bare, while the other ones still have their pretty green leaves. I hope the pruned ones recover too.

Yesterday I washed the dogs.
While I had the hose unfurled, I also washed the green algae and dirt off of one side of the garage.

I went to Best Buy to see if they have any quiet/silent wired mice, as the scrollwheel on my mouse at work is messing up, even after me taking it apart and cleaning out the dust. I didn't see any particularly good ones at Best Buy, so I ordered 2 from Amazon that were specifically advertised as being quiet. Two, because the one looks good and practical, but the other one looks awesome and lights up. And maybe the way the scrollwheel is on the latter, I can turn it further in a single swipe. I'm sure I'll need another mouse anyway, sooner or later.

I replaced the clear glass lampshades on the ceiling fan light fixture in Qiao's den with some translucent/milky alabaster glass ones, to reduce the glare. I also bought 2 colored LED light-bulbs (green and pink - Qiao chose the colors) to put in the 2 sockets which face us when watching TV, to further reduce the glare, as even 40W bulb equivalents up there seem pretty bright. The colored bulbs, even though they are only 3W each!, are still brighter than I expected them to be.

I raked some of the yard. I washed clothes. I vacuumed, and washed dishes and dog collars. I cleaned the tub using 4 different cleaners, and it's still not as clean as I'd like (I wish I had written down how I got it so clean last time). The "tub grip" (gah, they've increased the price by 50%!) that I applied to the floor of the tub to keep it from being slippery is very good in that regards, but it traps more dirt than a smooth surface would. Ecover used to make a tub/tile cleaner that worked very good, but it's not sold here any more. I'm not sure if a similar one I found on Amazon has the same ingredients or not, but I may get it anyway to try. Because I want my darn tub to be spotless! Then again, I read something about using dish washing liquid mixed with vinegar, which I may try first.
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you had inserted a DVD into the DVD player, but still had the TV source set to a TV channel which you were momentarily watching.

And then you hear a strange noise like muffled music... where did that come from? Must be a car driving by outside with their radio on very loud? Then a moment later you hear a roaring noise like a gigantic aircraft, so you run to the window and look outside, somewhat nervous... until finally realizing that the sound isn't coming from that direction after all.

locks and keys

Sunday, January 29th, 2017 06:45 pm
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I rekeyed two locks today; it was my first time doing that. One was an Andersen storm door lock, and was very easy to rekey. The other was an old deadbolt lock which both Lowes and Home Depot hadn't been able to do. Lowes had just looked at it and said "No", which makes me think they refused simply because it's a brand they don't sell. The guy at Home Depot, on the other hand, at least tried. But apparently because of it being an older style, he wasn't able to get it apart. I had watched him trying, and it looked like something was stuck. He wasn't able to get it apart, to get to the pins.

Today, I was able to get it apart fairly easily. The one end of the cylinder needed to be screwed off - maybe the Home Depot guy didn't realize that. I have a Kwikset rekeying kit. The springs in the kit don't exactly match the ones from the old lock. So I tried reusing them, but in the process lost one. I searched high and low for it, but it's disappeared into the ether. I ended up using one of the non-matching springs, which made it more difficult as it stuck out more. And my kit didn't have a tool that fit for keeping the bottom pins and springs pushed down (aka "follower bar")*, so I had to improvise. And the top pins fell out a few times, and each time the sizes of the pins didn't seem to match what I had written down before... weird. So I got out new top pins. I finally got it back together and working with the new key.

*which is probably a good thing, in hindsight. If I had found the right instructions, and if my follower bar fit, I wouldn't have seen that the springs and bottom pins had a lot of oxidation on them, which was making them stick. It was when I was cleaning off the springs, that the one sprung away and disappeared.

wireless mouse sound

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015 09:26 pm
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Every once in a while, I start hearing a high-pitched sound when I move my mouse or scroll the mouse-wheel. It's not very loud to begin with, and when I try to figure out where it comes from, it gets quieter and disappears. Now that I'm writing about it, it's dead silent. So I'm still not sure if the sound comes from the mouse itself, the laptop, or my nearby speaker. It doesn't seem to be coming from the wireless receiver.

Search results show that I'm not the only one with this problem. It may possibly be due to coil whine.

Update: It's definitely not coming from the speakers either. It's got to be either the mouse or my laptop. And maybe it only happens when my mouse is in a certain position relative to the laptop... Maybe the wireless signals are causing something in the laptop to vibrate?

Update #2: I figured it out - the noise is coming from the mouse itself!
darkoshi: (Default)
Got home, washed specks off my windshield, washed algae off the vinyl siding on one side of the garage, washed dishes. Ate. Vacuumed dog hair off the carpets.

It felt comparably cool this evening when I left work and got home, though it was still 89 degrees outside. That is why I decided to take advantage of the relative coolness to do the windshield and siding washing.

I've had a small watering can sitting around the house for a while. It's the kind for potted plants with a long narrow spout. It hasn't gotten much use, as I usually use a tall plastic cup to water the plants. But I used it today, along with a sponge, for washing the windshield and siding. Much easier than dragging out the big hose. Much cleaner than having water in a bucket and rinsing the sponge in the bucket and getting the remaining water all dirty. Yep, the watering can has finally found its calling.

My passport will expire soon, and who knows when I might want or need to go on a trip. So I need to fill out a renewal form. Monday I went and got photos taken for it. But now I'm procrastinating filling out the form. It is just a form, but for some reason it seems like a difficult task.


Saturday, February 7th, 2015 07:20 pm
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I keep being startled by unexpected beeps/chirps/whistles/whatnot in the house. We've got so many gadgets and devices that make noises nowadays, that it's hard to keep track of them all. Especially when it's a noise I haven't heard before, or when I didn't even realize the gadget made any noises.

Sometimes it's been a cordless phone, beeping that is is starting to charge (odd, as it was plugged in the whole time).

One time, the wireless doorbell chose to play a different tune than usual, when my mom came over. I was wandering around the house wondering "what the heck was that?" when she knocked on the door.

One late night at my computer, I heard a nearby whistled tune, as if someone was in our yard whistling nonchalantly. Creepy. Later I found out it was a notification sound on Qiao's new phone.


I upgraded my Notepad++ to the latest version today. I won't give it away, but it does something special after the install. You might want to check it out, if you use the program (unless of course, you already upgraded it a month ago when this version came out).
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Forestfen lost her camera, so I decided to buy myself a new one and give her my old one. (When her old one broke a few years back, I bought her a new one as a gift, and was slightly envious over the extra features it had compared to mine, although mine was still perfectly good and still is.)

As I've had audio problems in the past when recording videos, the main feature I was looking for in a new camera was an external microphone port. There aren't many compact point&shoot type cameras to be found with an external mic port. But snapsort.com had a listing of cameras with this feature. I finally decided on one - the Canon N100 - which was only slightly larger than my current camera.

I then ordered it from the website of a local store so that I could pick it up at the store without having to deal with shipping and delivery. Today while inspecting my new camera and reading the manual, I find out that it doesn't actually have an external mic port! Snapsort.com was DEAD WRONG about that, and also wrong on my 2nd choice, the Canon SX700 - apparently that one doesn't have an external mic either.

I thought I had seen the external mic port mentioned in other reviews, but that must have been when I was still researching other cameras, not the Canons. Why didn't I think to double-check the specs on Canon's website? Doh!

It might end up being a great camera in spite of that, but that's a lesson for me. Never trust the specs listed on a single website! As it was my own mistake, and not the store's, I'm not going to try to return it. At least the built-in microphone is in stereo.

This is almost on par with my great vacuum cleaner debacle of 2007.

Hrmm, re-reading that first post, I never did get around to painting any of the rooms in this house. All I painted was a closet and a doorway. I still feel proud about that closet.

Oh, and speaking of carrying a heavy vacuum cleaner up the ladder into the attic, I was doing that just this last weekend to clean out the remaining rat droppings from up there.


Saturday, November 30th, 2013 07:06 pm
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On the 8th tape since I started re-recording them in stereo... the cassette player eats my tape! I suppose Vangelis' "The City" seemed tasty to it.

Ah, kids these days are too young to know what it's like to have their music player eat their tape.

I shall tape the tape back together and see if it still plays. But I may need to find a different player. I don't trust this one anymore.
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Verdict: undecided. (See Below)

It's a nice, light, quiet, and inexpensive keyboard.

But a defect with the Enter key on the keyboard I got makes it fairly unusable for me. I am returning it for a different model, rather than risking getting an exact replacement which might have the same problem.

The end portion of the video compares the loudness/quietness of typing on this keyboard compared to a laptop and a standard keyboard.

2013/10/13 UPDATE: I returned the defective keyboard and ended up buying another one of the same model, as I really liked it except for the defective key. The Enter key on the new one worked fine, but unfortunately the new keyboard had a different defect. The period (.) key didn't work unless pressed very hard. The Alt key also sometimes didn't work. As I got 2 bad keyboards in a row, I would advise against this model.

I have also tried out a different SIIG model - JK-US0412-S1. That one is more expensive, and the one I got does not have any defects. It is fairly quiet, but seems somewhat louder than the JK-US0612-S1. Key-presses on the US0612 sound thuddy, whereas on the US0412, they sound higher-pitched and "clickier". I'm not sure why, but typing on the US0412 doesn't feel as good to me, particularly when I happen to hit keys with fingernails rather than fingertips.
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Refrigerator wasn't cooling right this morning. Had a repair person check it. A piece of insulation had simply gotten stuck in the fan, keeping it from turning. Therefore, the motor would come on for a few minutes, overheat, and then a thermal shut-off switch would cause it to stop until it cooled off again. Once the errant piece of insulation was removed, the refrigerator started cooling down again.

- Temperature in fridge and freezer too high
- Refrigerator still had power
- Motor came on once in a while, but only for a few minutes (~6) at a time
- I think cool air was still blowing into the freezer while the motor was on, but I'm not absolutely certain
- No warm air blew out of the bottom vent like it usually does, while the motor was on

Later, reading the refrigerator manual which I had downloaded, I was delighted to find out that my 30-year old refrigerator has a feature which "operates electric heaters around the door openings. These heaters help keep moisture from forming on the outside of the refrigerator". There's a switch in the back of the fridge for this, which has been turned OFF the whole time I've been here. I must have never paid it any attention, as the On position is clearly labeled "reduces exterior moisture".

Maybe with the switch turned ON, the fridge seals won't get moist and moldy, and I won't have to clean them anymore! (They've been getting grimy again lately, so cleaning them has been a task on my mental to-do list which I haven't been looking forward to).

Another thing I discovered is that the refrigerator has a night-light! There's a little button (not noticeable unless you're looking for it) next to the ice dispenser, labelled "Light". I may have seen the label before, but didn't understand what it meant, as I never noticed the button before now.

The manual doesn't even make much mention of one of the refrigerator's best features - the extra "Serva-Door" on the right side, which gives access to some shelves where you can store drinks, so that you can get to them quickly and easily without opening the main refrigerator doors.

Oh, and not to mention that the fridge has a "sentinel" display thingy that warns you about things like the fridge temperature being too high!
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One of our pedestal fans stopped working. When turned on, the motor still hummed but the blades did not turn.

Happily, I was able to fix the fan simply by lubricating the center shaft with mineral oil. After removing the fan blades, I dabbed some oil around the area where the metal shaft sticks out from the motor. I also removed the plastic casing over the motor, and dabbed some oil on the inner part of the shaft. It's possible that simply doing the outer part may have sufficed, but I didn't test that.

I prefer using mineral oil for lubricating things rather than WD-40, as mineral oil is odorless. One can pour a bit of oil into a small container like a bottle-cap (not the cap of the mineral oil bottle itself - one wants to avoid contaminating the bottle). Then one can take a q-tip, dip it into the oil, then dab it onto whatever is being oiled. One must be careful not to let the cotton tip unravel and get stuck on the item; if that happens, one should pull the cotton out using tweezers if necessary.

This works well for squeaky door-hinges too.

Sometimes oscillating fans make squeaky noises as they oscillate. That may be ameliorated by determining which moving parts are squeaking, and dabbing some oil and/or petroleum jelly in between those parts.

On a related note, one time one of our ceiling fans wasn't turning. In that case, the motor could still be felt humming too. But what had happened was that we had accidentally moved the direction switch halfway between the forward and reverse settings!
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Boost Mobile / Nextel is phasing out their IDEN network. I've already noticed reduced coverage / signal on my phone. So I'm looking for a new phone and researching the options. Page Plus Cellular looks the best so far. Their coverage map (apparently they use Verizon) is quite good, and they have inexpensive prepaid rates. I'm still debating how much data I'll want to use if I get a smart-phone, and whether a different carrier might have better data rates. And I'm debating whether I should get a small tablet rather than, or in addition to, a smartphone.


Qiao was given an iPad as a gift. I've been wondering why the display says "AT&T" in the upper left corner, even though we're only using it via wifi, and we don't have a contract with AT&T. I looked at the Apple website, and it indicates that there are basically 3 kinds of iPads: for use with wi-fi only, or wi-fi plus AT&T, or wi-fi plus Verizon.

The AT&T version won't work on Verizon, and vice versa, because each network uses different technologies. The next link explains it pretty well.

What’s the Difference between GSM and CDMA?
darkoshi: (Default)
I'm glad to find that I still enjoy most of my music, now that I can play it in shuffle mode on my MP3 player, rather than playing it in album order from the music CDs. Only about one song in ten (or even less) is irritating enough to make me want to delete it from my collection.

The fact that all this music fits on a little chip the size of my smallest fingernail still amazes me a bit... it's a 32GB micro flash card, and is only half full. I haven't yet converted my audio cassettes into MP3 files; still plan to do that someday.

I'm also impressed by how the MP3 player shuffles the music... it almost seems like it has an algorithm to determine which songs will sound good after one another.

Ooh, lightning! Sky is darkening.

I have had 2 problems so far with my Sansa Fuze+ MP3 player. The original player worked fine with a 16 GB card. But with a 32 GB card in it, the player wouldn't start up, even though it was supposed to support that size card. SanDisk ended up sending me a replacement player of the same make and model - their customer service was quick and commendable. The replacement player works fine with the 32 GB card.

The 2nd problem happened a few days ago. While I was deleting a song (which had worked several times before), the player locked up. When the player finally restarted, *all* my songs had somehow gotten deleted from the card. So I had to copy them all back again. Hopefully that won't happen again.

too doo too dah

Sunday, January 1st, 2012 01:56 am
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8 more CDs to rip, to finish the first shelf. Then there are still 7 more shelves. This is going to take a while. [/understatement]


I got a wireless doorbell with 2 remote push-buttons. Now I have to figure out how to attach the push-buttons by the front gate and the mail-box, so that they 1) are easily visible; 2) won't get too wet; and 3) won't be too easy for someone to steal.

The main purpose for having them is so that the mail carrier can ring us (when we're home), rather than trying to jam barely fitting boxes into the mailbox* or leaving a pick-up slip. Understandably, the mail carrier is afraid of the dogs, and one has to get by the dogs in order to get to the front door where the normal door-bell is.

I hope passers-by won't ring them a lot as a prank.

* At least two or three times now, I've had to use *tools* to pry out tightly-jammed packages from the mailbox.

CD to MP3

Friday, December 30th, 2011 10:59 pm
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For Christmas, Qiao got me an 8GB MP3 player with a microSDHC slot and a 16GB card. Now, I've embarked on the task of converting/ripping my collection of 300-odd CDs into MP3 files. My old MP3 player was only 2GB, so till now I never bothered ripping more than a few of my favorite CDs.

First I had to decide what quality and bit speed settings to use. Based on several tests*, using various speakers and volume levels and different songs, I can't tell any difference between the quality in tracks at 128 kbps vs 320 kbps. I decided to use 256 kbps.

I am using EAC (Exact Audio Copy) with the LAME MP3 encoder to do the rips. It has a fairly simple interface (once it's been configured, anyway) for retrieving the freedb song/album info and album artwork.

When I think about it, it would be nice to be able to play songs based on certain criteria. I'd like to be able to rate each music track, for example from 0 to 10. And then I'd like to be able to choose to only play songs with a rating of 10 (in a random order). Or to play songs with ratings in a certain range such as from 5 to 10. Or to play all songs from 1 to 10 randomly, but weighted so that the ones with higher ratings are more likely to be played than the ones with lower ratings. And I'd rate a song as zero if I never wanted the song to play unless I manually selected it. Unrated songs could get a default rating of 5.

I still have to finish reading the MP3 player's manual, but I doubt it has that kind of functionality. But maybe some computer-based audio players do? It would be nice if you could store your ratings in some standard format, so that they could be used no matter what player you were using.

* foobar2000 along with the ABX Comparator component lets you switch back and forth between 2 tracks in order to compare them. This video explains how to do it.

Waterpik odor

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011 02:27 pm
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Qiao's dentist recommended that he use a Waterpik flosser, so he got one. I've used it a few times myself. We each picked out separate tips for ourselves; we don't share the same tips.

Each time I've used the Waterpik, when I first turn the unit on after having filled the reservoir with water, the water that comes out of the tip has a clearly noticeable, unpleasant odor. I don't know how to describe the odor... it's sort of bitter, but not like anything else I'm familiar with. After about 5 to 10 seconds, the odor is gone. Because of that, after the first or 2nd time, I don't even put the tip in my mouth to begin with, but rather flush water out directly into the sink until the odor is gone.

Neither Qiao nor I have been using the Waterpik very often or regularly. My suspicion is that after the Waterpik is used, some water remains inside it, and that the odor comes about from the water sitting in there for some period of time. But the manual makes no mention of this being a potential problem.

I've done some internet searches, and found no reports of anyone else with the same problem. That seems odd. I'm posting this here, so that anyone else who may have noticed the same thing can post a comment if they wish.

Because I found no indication that this is a normal problem, I'm hesitant to even continue using the Waterpik.