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Just getting over a stinker of a cold. It is great to be working daytime hours and taking part in real life with real people, but it's less cool when you feel like you want to by a box of tampax and shove 'em up yer nose!

My head still hurts. Gah. Bloody colds.


Rice: Deal or No Deal?

The other day at the Super U I saw a bag of Shinode Japanese rice. Actually, it is grown in Italy, but it is Japanese style (the sticky sushi rice). It wasn't tagged, and the beep-for-price machine said it was an unknown article.
So I took it to the information kiosk. The girl there listened to my demand, tipped her head to the side, then said slowly, as if I was a little stupid, "It is a bag of rice, it will be about eighty three centimes.". The worst part was she said it in English. Gah!

So I picked up two.

When it came to paying, I was using an automatic machine because only one till was open and the queue reached nearly from there to Tōkyō. Apparently I was supposed to use the till for the untagged rice. Sod that. Sensing that I wasn't about to take my four items to an obscenely long queue, the woman in charge ran off, grabbed something, and said "pass this instead of the rice". It was a pack of tights or something, cost me a €1,46. She took back the tights, gave me the rice.

Thus, I bought two bags of Shinode rice at a cost of €0,73 apiece.

I wasn't entirely innocent here, I knew Satsuki listed it at about three euros a bag (1kg bag). Actually, it is €3,17 a bag.

Shinode rice

I went back a few days later. The rice still wasn't tagged, but it was recognised by the machine.
This picture speaks for itself.

The markup on this leaves me speechless


Japanese teapot

Another vide grenier, another collection of odds and ends.

Most of this won't be of interest, but there's one thing I did especially like. It was a Japanese (actually made in Japan too, not a PRC pot) teapot. Sadly cracked and with a glued-together lid. But it's a pretty pattern.

I had a brainwave. My phone is capable of taking panoramic photos. So I thought, perhaps if I switch the phone to panorama mode and rotate the teapot, it'll be tricked into taking a complete photo of the design? Bingo! It worked!

Pretty Japanese teapot
[click image for larger version; 2200×480, 297KiB]


A whole pile of Fail

Mom, in her "endless fountain of useless knowledge" mode, told me what Tabasco was, where it was from, and what was in it. She also told me it was extremely hot. This was information I decided to ignore since she considers the light gingering/paprikaing I do to my meals to be too spicy.

McFreakin' Hot!

It was... refreshing. In a short of way that strikes revenge for all those crappy bland school dinners I put up with in my childhood. It was... unbelievably hot. While I (frequently) slam McDo for being stingy with the chips, they didn't hold back on the Tabasco. Either that or the cook is a sadist.

I ate it. I was determined. I pretty much finished my large coke in tandem. It was... an experience.
Probably not one I'll be in a hurry to repeat. ☺


Labelling machines

My favourite, and the ultimate most powerful, labelling machine I have is the Casio EZ-Label I got last year. It seems to be unique in being able to change styles/fonts/sizes freely in the run of text.

Two months ago, I got myself a Dymo LetraTag LT-100H. It cost €19,99, and if I remember to apply I'll get a refund of €10 from Dymo. Plus it came with a white/black spool (useful) and an iron-on-fabric spool (I [don't have/am not] a schoolchild so this is less useful). But it was a freebie. All that, eventually, for a tenner. Can't argue.

The Letratag isn't bad. It is a bit basic (can't make some text bold), but it has a reasonable variety of styles, options, and additional characters (hearts, cats, floppy discs, etc).

On Sunday our local town had an "exchange". You bring stuff, you take stuff, no money changes hands. We took some books and wool. The wool flew out the door. Seriously, we blinked and it was gone.
I picked up a Letratag (XR? XM?) labeller and mom picked up a tabletop weaving loom.

Later that day we went back to collect the remaining books. Which, sadly, was most of them. There was another label writer, and since it was still there (five hours later) I took it as well. And a book in English following the life and craft of a bamboo weaver in rural Miyazaki (that's the lower-left part of Japan), which sounded interesting.

Here they are:

All three labellers

As you can see, my Letratag (centre), cannot do macrons (that's the bar over vowels in my preferred version of Japanese romanisation; for I find "Tōkyō" a lot nicer to read than "Toukyou"), so I have used a circumflex. The wibbly heart is quite stylish.
On the right, the picked-up Letratag. It's a pretty clunky interface and while the LCD showed a line over the 'o', what printed was a tilde. Well, close enough.
The DymoPocket on the left couldn't be tested - it runs on 6 AAA cells which I didn't have.

Here's a close-up on the two Letratag machines, the output generated, and what the user interface looks like.

Closeup of the two Letratags

Both, as expected, can print on two lines, with tiny text. Notice the LT-100H centres its output.

Printing on two lines

LATER: I picked up some cheap AAAs at the supermarket. The two Letratags used the same cartridge, which was nice, while the Pocket uses an entirely different system.
Prices ( are around the €14 mark for the Pocket, size depends upon colour and width, the cheapest appearing to be black on transparent 9mm×7m for €8,97. For the Letratag, €8,23 for a black/transparent (12mm×4m); with about €9 being average.

Here's the Dymo Pocket in use. It is an interface bordering on horrible, but it gets the job done. The output is respectable enough.

Dymo Pocket

Here's a comparison of the three. Pocket at the top, little Letratag in the middle, and my nicer LetraTag at the bottom. Worth pointing out is that while the mini Letratag could possibly have done with having its print contrast bumped up (or maybe cleaning the print head some more?), there is a noticable difference in print resolution. The new Letratag's default print is slightly larger, however if you look you will see the mini Letratag uses three print lines for its accent, while the new Letratag uses five. Comparing like with like, the new Letratag runs four lines resolution in the same space as older one runs three lines.
It appears that the same increase of finesse applies horizontally as well.

Comparison of all three labels

Now, to be fair, the Letratag LT-100H is not aimed at those who want fancy labels. It won't do barcodes, you can't design your own characters, and you'll need to hunt around to find stuff like comma and apostrophe; however for people who just want to turn it on, type out some text, and bang off a convenient resistant sticky label in a matter of moments, the Letratag hits the spot perfectly. They use one at work for putting names on lockers, clocking-in cards, titling ring binders, etc.
There are no stupid symbols to learn with the LT-100H. Select Styles and it says in written words: Bold, Italic, Outline, etc etc. Select Borders and it displays generic text "ABC 123" and will actually show a preview of the desired border. There's even a flippin' crocodile border (how often d'you suppose that gets used?). On-screen you can instantly see the chosen text size (one of five), caps/nocaps, second line, numlock, not to mention a clear simple-to-use editor. And a plethora of symbols from the floppies and smileys to cars and ice skaters and screws and cats and just enough Greek to be useful in maths. If I had to level one criticism, I would say that there should be a Shift key to give easier access to basic punctuation (instead of Insert key, choose Symbols, select appropriate one, OK it). On the other hand, you won't find any accents listed. This is because to get an accented letter, you just long-press the letter and it'll step through the options with each press of a letter. It would have been good if, at least, long-pressing Space stepped through basic punctuation. But alas.
However, for its price and for its simplicity, it is really easy. I've yet to crack open the user guide. Not just because it is in French, the user guides (including older models) are on the Dymo website.

On, there is a report of rapid fading and peeling of labels; plus the machine ceasing to print correctly after a short period of time.
I would imagine the print failures are down to the batteries wearing out. Some tests with my EZ-Labeller last year suggested that thermal printing clobbers the batteries. The LT-100H can accept an optional 9V power pack to mitigate this in cases of frequent label creation.
As for the fading/peeling, I have a label attached to my netbook that... well, look, here it is:

Azumi, labelled
It has been there nearly two months, attached to the battery pack so it is in a place that gets handled. No fading, no peeling.
I'm sure if the situation changes, I'll gladly whinge about it here - however I should point out that a Dymo labeller has labelled all the lockers at work, and around 120 clocking-in cards. The labels do start to peel from the clocking-in cards from time to time, but they are in a damp place, they get dropped in puddles, etc etc. They've lasted longer than writing on the things!

Anyway, I'm going to go scratch my head and try to figure out how I went from one labelling machine to three. Yikes.


Harinezumi [ハリネズミ]

I put together a logging bootloader for RISC OS that works around the problem of the boot sequence "giving up" if an error is encountered. It works by replacing the boot command file, and instead uses that as a script of instructions which it carries out one by one, recording if it worked, or if it failed.
While I have only tested it under RISC OS 3.70 and 5.19 under emulation, others have tested it on a RiscPC (RO3.60) and a Beagle-xM (RO 5.19), among other setups. BUT NOTE THIS SOFTWARE IS CURRENTLY ALPHA. That's not Alpha as in Alpha-Male, it is Alpha as in May-Go-Bang. ☺


Fancy giving it a whirl?

Download a copy of Harinezumi [for RISC OS!]
[ the !Help file explains the unusual name ☺ ]


Your comments:

Please note that while I check this page every so often, I am not able to control what users write; therefore I disclaim all liability for unpleasant and/or infringing and/or defamatory material. Undesired content will be removed as soon as it is noticed. By leaving a comment, you agree not to post material that is illegal or in bad taste, and you should be aware that the time and your IP address are both recorded, should it be necessary to find out who you are. Oh, and don't bother trying to inline HTML. I'm not that stupid! ☺ ADDING COMMENTS DOES NOT WORK IF READING TRANSLATED VERSIONS.
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Rick, 4th October 2012, 23:56
If you plan to use Harinezumi on RISC OS 3.5 or 3.6, you will need to load the CallASWI module *first*. I am working to remove this necessity. 
Explanation/discussion on the RISC OS Open forum here:
Rick, 8th October 2012, 01:45
Harinezumi v0.03alpha does not require the CallASWI module, and it does more stuff. Refer to the forum link given in the previous comment for more info.
Stewart Goldwater, 21st October 2012, 16:10
The tabasco tale puts me in mind of the story of The Transcaucasian Kurd: 

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