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Kartik Cating-Subramanian
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Me trying to "fix" my hardware at home.


Oh Indian consular services...  you inspire so much faith.

The Indian Embassy in DC which has jurisdiction over all my matters has no phone number to the consular wing.  You can try to access if through a phone tree from the main chancery but that leads to an unattended phone.  Turns out that the embassy has outsourced all application processing to an external firm - one that has only 1 listed phone number which appears to be disconnected.


Bah...  my wallet went missing recently and I was hoping that it was just me being an idiot and misplacing it.  But then a charge showed up for $35 at a local gas station (the card was charged at 4am after failing the zip-code test).  I caught it and canceled the card but the local gas station doesn't have any records/footage (at least ones that the employees can access).

Ok internet.  What next?  Is it worth filing a police report over?  Any other internet sleuthing alternatives.

Picas, points, ciceros, ems and ens...  what bizzaro world have I just entered?

"We recognize your time is valuable and we're working to respond to your call as soon as we can."

Time to catch up with facebook, twitter and G+.

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I'm disappointed that the public policy of the US is to discourage folks from learning practical chemistry (under the drug/terrorism/something else programs).  I found it incredibly hard to acquire anything but canned chemistry kits shipped to me.  The sad part is that the chemicals that are ostensibly dangerous and should be handled with respect are the ones that are easily available in tainted forms.

I'm trying to run an oscillating reaction ( and the really dangerous bits in it are the H2SO4 and the peroxide - both of which are readily available.  The hard to get chemicals were the malonic acid and the iodide and those aren't even that scary.  The thiosulphate is just pool chlorine neutralizer.  The starch is available as liquid starch for art projects.  The only problem with all of these is the lack of purity and labeling that will let me know if I'm accidentally mixing something I'm not supposed to.  The end result is that the current policy only makes it harder for me to ensure a safe reaction, instead leading me towards tainted but commonly available precursors.

Thankfully in this particular case, I was able to find a chemistry kit online...  but I shouldn't have to jump through this many hoops when trying to be safer.  Safety should be the easy option - not the cumbersome one.

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Steam store sale:  75% off of all Bethesda & Id Games:

All the Quake
All the Doom
Skyrim + DLCs
Fallout 3
Fallout New Vegas
All the Wolfenstein games
A bunch more that I don't recognize
$90 is total.

Why you do this steam?  I want to hate your DRM...  but you're so nice to me.  You make me want to love you....

Ok...  new problem.  How does one backup a phone with a cracked screen?  One that doesn't have an SD card.

I am very disappointed with LG's service for my Nexus 4.  They have an 800 phone line with script readers who aren't authorized to give me a ballpark estimate for how much a screen replacement costs.  "I am sorry sir.  I am not a technician.  A technician will complete a full technical evaluation of your phone and will then give you an estimate for what the repair would cost."  Do people seriously just blindly ship their phones into a random facility with no idea how much it's going to cost and an extra return charge/penalty if you don't accept the service at that point?  I mean...  it's a cracked screen!  That's all I want replaced.  How hard is it to have a pricesheet for the cost of a screen replacement?  I'm not going to pay more than the price of the phone itself in trying to replace its screen.  Is it so hard to understand that someone may want to know what something costs before agreeing to purchase it?

Do any of you have Nexus 4s?  Have you gone through LG for a screen replacement (technically, I only need the digitizer and glass replaced)?

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I recently used #GoogleTakeout to back up my G+ data.  It's a fairly solid interface and the output format is all html - so I don't even have to go grovelling through some JSON to quickly get at my data.  One thing I did discover was that all the images are hot-linked.  This makes a certain amount of engineering sense:

You don't want a million html documents, each of which contains the same $n profile thumbnails and the thumbnails of everyone who +1ed that post.  My current G+ stream data is 3MB.  That's it...  2-3 years of posts and reshares and comments is 3MB.

On the other hand, it'd be really nice if the data you were downloading was a more high-fidelity backup.  If I share pictures or had pictures shared to me, it's of no help to me to know that there might have once existed some base64 picasa link.  It would really help if I actually got the picture itself.

But again - do you really want to package and download all the images from all those reshares?  Don't those pictures "belong" to other people?  I can see how the somebody thought of it along these lines.  I don't seem to have access to comments I've made on other posts either (comments seem to belong to the post owner) and those probably contained the more insightful/useful bits of text amongst all the text that I've generated.

There is a separate G+ stream photos download that you can make and that gives you a bunch of files that are labeled by various dates.  The dates are even in different formats like yy-mm-dd or yyyy-mm-dd and mmm dd, yyyy depending on the service that generated it I guess.  These files are independent from your G+ posts download.  You can correlate them with posts from your stream by using the posted date but it is manual work.  It also only contains your images - not images shared to you.  It makes sense since G+ gutted picasa and removed the notion of a shared album but it's still annoying.

Speaking of shared albums - there is no #picasa  takeout.  You can't even access it directly.  You need to use  Note the noredirect flag - if you don't have it, you'll get dumped right back into G+.  Even from that link, you only have access to your own Albums.  I remember having old graduation pics shared with my.  To see those, you need to click "Recent Activity" (remember - you need to think like G+ now) or go to  Then you can go and download your photos from there, one picture at a time.  If there is a better way to do this, please someone let me know.
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