How to use DealDash.com


There’s only one correct way to use DealDash.com and that’s to use it in conjunction with an analytic data helper. The only free one is at LetsGoBidding.com which will give you all the data you need to see who you are bidding against for each auction. Other sites make you pay $30 or more PER MONTH but Letsgobidding is completely free and has basically all the same information. When you’re bidding on dealdash make sure you’re not bidding against high rollers who will throw down thousands of bids for a worthless item. The only way to see that information is to look at their previous bidding history, which you can see easily for free on LetsGoBidding. There’s absolutely no reason not to use it.

Six Flags Magic Mountain Reviews for the Motion and Vibration Sensitive


I love going to Six Flags and riding roller coasters. I also have much higher sensitivity to rough rides than the average theme park enthusiast. Most reviews on roller coasters only factor in how Extreme and Awesome the rides are and ignore how it will make your head and body feel afterwards. Here I will rank the roller coasters in terms of nausea and jerkiness. A lower score is always better.

Apocalypse

This is a fast paced wooden roller coaster in the back of the park. It used to be themed after a Terminator movie, now it’s about some sort of world ending apocalypse. There’s barely interesting videos to watch in line showing no-name actors re-enacting war movie tropes. I don’t know what it’s all about but the ride sucks. You know those paint can mixers they have at hardware stores to shake your paint around? Apocalypse does the same thing except to your head and spine. I don’t even remember the ride that well because I’m pretty sure riding on it damages your brain into temporary amnesia. On the plus side the motion is mostly going up and down so you won’t get that dizzy. Still, I will never ride this roller coaster again.
Jerkiness: 10/10
Nausea: 4/10

Batman: The Ride

Batman the ride is replicated in parks across the country because it’s a pretty basic and reliable hanging looping coaster. It’s older so it has a few jerky moments here and there, but the cars never get that fast keeping the ride relatively smooth. The downside is there are a lot of tight loops and corkscrews meaning you’ll get tossed around in unpredictable directions. The frequent changes in speed and direction make the ride rather disorienting, especially if you’re sitting somewhere you can’t see what happens next. On the whole it isn’t that bad or especially long but it does make me a little dizzy so I’ll usually avoid it.
Jerkiness: 3/10
Nausea: 6/10

Full Throttle

Full Throttle is my favorite ride at Magic Mountain. It’s a launch coaster that jettisons you out of the station at 75 mph into the tallest loop in the world. Your speed is barely fast enough to get around the top of the loop as you will be hanging there upside down for several seconds, long enough for you to desperately try to remember: Did I buckle my seat belt? Then you rush down the giant loop into some curvy track and into a dive loop which leads you through a tunnel. The breaks stop the train in the tunnel and launches you backwards. If you sit near the rear of the train you will be completely upside down again the in the dive loop. Gravity starts working and pushes the train forward again through the tunnel which launches you forward even faster back over the top of the giant loop you went through at the beginning. There’s just enough time to feel some airtime before the brakes hit slowing the train down back to the station.

The track is buttery smooth. There is very little vibration or jerking you around while on the ride, it’s all acceleration and airtime. The loop is huge and not disorienting at all. The only place I felt a little uneasy is when going backwards in the tunnel, but once you know what to expect it’s not that bad. I could probably ride Full Throttle all day and still feel fine at the end. Definitely the best roller coaster in the park for sensitive headed people. The only downside is expect a long line wait and the “extreme” music videos they show at the first part of the line are way too loud. Those darn kids and their loud extreme sports videos.
Jerkiness: 1/10
Nausea: 2/10

Gold Rusher

Gold Rusher is a, well, children’s ride. It’s also the oldest roller coaster at the park. It’s made by Arrow Dynamics, if you’re not familiar with Arrow Dynamics all you have to remember about them is that their roller coasters are all very jerky. Gold Rusher is no exception. The coaster doesn’t roll along the track so much as it keeps jumping into line with it. The movement of the ride is somewhat tempered by it never going very fast. You also only have a lap bar that doesn’t restrain you at all so you can maintain free movement of your body. Use that to your advantage to move along with the car to anticipate turns and angles. Also at the very and of the ride there is a sudden stop that seems to catch people off guard. Overall the ride isn’t that bad and I still go on it frequently.
Jerkiness: 5/10
Nausea: 2/10

Goliath

Goliath is most notable in that you go very very fast and there are no inversions at all. Despite going near 85 mph the ride really isn’t that jerky and the first few drops are actually quite fun. The problem I have with the ride is after the speed brakes. The speed brakes slow the train as much as possible without stopping it completely. I can tell the engineers goofed on the next part because the train is still going much to fast in the final downward helix before the end of the ride. Everyone I have talked into going on this ride has had some symptoms of blacking out. Sometimes it’s just some black on the edges of vision, or full on darkness. You’ll be pulling between 4-5 vertical Gs on that helix sustained for near 10 seconds. Keep your breath steady and clench your stomach muscles and you’ll get through it okay.

The ride overall is pretty fun, but the experience of almost or entirely blacking out near the end is an unpleasant feeling that ruins this otherwise excellent hypercoaster.
Jerkiness: 2/10
Nausea: 5/10

Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom

Doom Drop is a free standing drop ride where you go up 415 feet on the side of Superman: The Ride, and then free fall down to the bottom. This ride is great since it has tons of excitement, there’s great views on your way to the top, and it’s very smooth. During the weightless part of the ride you feel nothing but free fall. The brakes at the bottom are gradual and don’t stop you too quickly so the ride feels great. I always go on this ride if the line is short enough, when the metal room with the robot is empty, otherwise the wait could be upwards of an hour or longer for a ride that really only lasts a few seconds. There is a trick at the top of the ride where it feels like the car is about to drop but it doesn’t actually happen for another 4-5 seconds.
Jerkiness: 1/10
Nausea: 1/10

Ninja

Ninja is another “children’s” roller coaster that is too jerky to be comfortable, I would say it is worse than Gold Rusher. It’s also not especially fast or exciting since you’re sitting in little gondolas that bank around turns until the ride is thankfully over. I think something about the ride design makes it really jerky as your gondola shifts from one side to another. I would skip this ride every time for something more pleasant.
Jerkiness: 7/10
Nausea: 3/10

Scream

Scream is one of those Roller Coasters that is more a “safe play” than anything new or exciting. It’s a generic fast coaster with a lot of loops. It doesn’t have a floor so you can get great views of the unused parking lot below you while you ride. It’s relatively fast, I find some of the first drops at the beginning to be unpleasant since I can feel significant vibration at the higher speeds. Some of the cork screws at the end are also a little too loopy and feel disorienting. It’s not a terrible ride but it’s definitely nowhere near the best in the park. It’s near a seldom walked corner of the park so lines usually aren’t that bad.
Jerkiness: 5/10
Nausea: 4/10

Tatsu

Here at Six Flags all the ride operators are instructed to say the word “Tatsu” in as irritating a way as possible. Just being close to the station will cause some discomfort by the frequent: tatSUUUUUU, enjoy your ride on tatsUUUUUUU, I hope you don’t get stuck on taTSUUUUUUUUUUUUUU. The ride itself is fun. It’s like you’re flying. Go on it at night and it’s even scarier. I dislike the barrel rolls on the ride since they spin you around and make you dizzy. I think riding in the middle two seats helps since you won’t turn as quickly. There’s also a weird loop near the end where you end up pushed down onto your back, which is somewhat unpleasant. The fun of the ride sometimes makes up for the negatives since it is a unique riding experience at the park. The other down side to this ride is it frequently breaks down. I saw some people get stuck in the “flying” position for a couple hours and had to be forced out of their seats with special tools. Right after this happened I decided to ride it and was likewise stuck in a similar fashion, although thankfully for a much shorter duration since all the crew was already there.
Jerkiness: 3/10
Nausea: 5/10

The Riddler’s Revenge

The Riddler is a fun ride. It’s fast, unusually long, and relatively smooth. You stand up for this ride which has its pros and cons. The pros are that you can absorb some of the vibration and impact of the ride with your legs, protecting your spine and head from injury. The con is that it can crush your testicles. You NEED some warning before going on this ride on the proper way to stand/sit in your seat. The trick is to keep your feet planted flat on the floor and your knees bent slightly so that you are a couple inches shorter than usual. When you first get on the ride the seat will move freely up and down so you can adjust it, sometimes you have to put all your weight into the seat to get it to move down. At a random time after you are secured in your seat it will lock into place and no longer move. At this point you better hope you got it into a comfortable position or else you’re in for a long and painful ride. If you sit correctly this is a great ride. You can get a lot of airtime if you sit near the rear of the train. Some of the loops near the end are a little tiresome, since the ride is one of the longest in the park.
Jerkiness: 3/10
Nausea: 3/10

Twisted Colossus

Twisted Colossus is a lesson on how to build an exciting roller coaster. You go through the cycle twice, although on two different tracks. The two tracks have similar elements: steep drops, banks, and an inversion. Sometimes you get to race along with another train, but more often than not I find that doesn’t happen. The ride itself is pretty smooth since the track is now steel and not wooden. It’s a very exciting and fun ride, one of the best in the park. I think it’s also the longest ride in the park since the time from when you leave and return to the station is over 4 minutes which can be an eternity if you begin to feel nauseated on the ride. I think the ride is more jerky in the front so I generally try to sit in the middle.
Jerkiness: 4/10
Nausea: 3/10

Viper

Viper is one of the last remaining super coasters Arrow Dynamics made during the late 80’s early 90’s. I assume all the other ones were torn down because they are jerky and unpleasant to ride in every way. The speeds are too fast. Your over arm restraints are too hard and will bang you in the side of the head repeatedly. The loops are too narrow and will throw you around too much. I would only ride this if you enjoy feeling like you’ve just received a concussion.
Jerkiness: 9/10
Nausea: 6/10

X2

X2 is what happens when a company like Arrow Dynamics looks at roller coasters like Viper and thinks: Let’s just do that but more EXTREME. It’s a recipe for instant migraine disaster. Take the rickety tracks and cars of Viper. Make it go faster. Oh and then make the seats rotate around like crazy. This is a bad ride. It is a very bad ride. Do not go on this ride.
Jerkiness: 10/10
Nausea: 10/10

Having a squirrel as a pet

pet_squirrel_25
If you search the web for information about pet squirrels you’ll find a variety of horror stories about keeping a squirrel in your home. A common argument is that squirrels are wild and belong outdoors and attempting to tame a squirrel is a recipe for disaster. I will try to dispel some of those myths but also confirm others. I will give my unbiased assessment on raising and having a pet squirrel.


Raising a baby squirrel

Before even thinking of having a pet squirrel you have to know the only way to possibly make it work is to raise an orphaned squirrel from baby to adulthood. There are other sites that document very well the important first steps in handling an orphaned squirrel you found outside. SquirrelTales.org is a great resource with plenty of information.

I first found my baby squirrel when he was about 5 weeks old and just about to open his eyes. Keeping this squirrel alive took an impressive amount of effort. I was always jumping to the local pharmacy to pick up pedialyte and syringes(eye droppers work best), or to the pet store for puppy formula. Not to mention I had to give feedings every 3-4 hours, including in the middle of the night. My squirrel was lucky I was unemployed and could devote my time to keeping him well fed. Feeding a baby squirrel is a slow process since it is nearly impossible to feed a baby squirrel without him aspirating; a serious condition that can easily lead to pneumonia and death.

Giving your squirrel a home

If your squirrel survives to adolescence, you will have to adjust to his gaining independence. Number one is make a safe place to house a squirrel. When a squirrel is very young any cardboard box can easily contain a baby, but when they reach 7 weeks or so and can start hopping around you need to upgrade to a strong and sizable cage. Generally the larger the better since squirrels can jump and move around very quickly. Since no one sells “squirrel” cages, you should use similar alternatives such as a ferret or chinchilla cage. It won’t be cheap, expect to pay over $100 dollars for a new one, or look for used ones on craigslist.

Feeding the adult squirrel

Feeding a squirrel isn’t much more difficult than any other pet. My squirrel eats mostly rat food pellets, but I try to give him a variety of other foods as well. He loves pretty much any fruit: grapes, apples, oranges, berries, pears, bananas. I enjoy plenty of fruit as well so I usually share with my squirrel a slice of whatever I’m eating at the time. Squirrels should also eat their vegetables: lettuce, broccoli, carrots. Sadly, my squirrel is as picky as a human child when being forced to eat veggies. Squirrels also like nuts of course. If I see a deal at the super market for almonds, walnuts or any in-the-shell nut I will pick up a bag. Acorns you find on the ground are also good for feeding.

Playing with your squirrel

The best part of owning any pet is being able to play with it, and squirrels are no different. I suspect this is also the part that many people have a problem with.

Squirrels Bite.
This is unavoidable, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. My squirrel bites me all the time but they are “play bites” and not once has he broken skin. Although he could easily bite right down to bone, and then keep going, if he wanted to. If you’ve spent a lot of time with your squirrel and socialized him around a variety of humans he won’t be prone to vicious attacks. My squirrel is very friendly around other people and I feel safe letting him out when guests are over as long as they are wearing adequate clothing. Wearing the proper clothes is necessary when handling squirrels due to the next issue:

Squirrels have very sharp claws.
The biggest negative to owning a squirrel, and the only reason I could understand why someone would consider them too wild to keep in a home, is their claws. A squirrel is able to hang vertically upside down from trees. To do that they dig their claws deep into the bark. I know this because my arms are my squirrel’s trees and the marks prove it. To prevent getting scratches everywhere I need to wear at least two layers of clothing on every inch of skin I want protected. Even then there are some exposed areas such as hands and face that will occasionally be scratched. The scratching itself isn’t that painful and the cuts aren’t that deep but they are very visible and people in public will think you have been playing with too many cats.

Is a squirrel happy in a home?

The big question we have to ask ourselves is can a squirrel actually be happy living inside a home when it could be outside and free among the trees. In truth, I do not know. I know I saved my squirrel’s life and had humans not intervened he would be dead, and I’d like to think my squirrel would rather be alive than dead. I also think in the grand scheme of things a squirrel is not that different from other pets. Dogs, cats, birds and many other animals are kept in homes when they could easily have remained living outdoors, although at a much shorter life expectancy. I wish I could communicate with squirrels since they are clearly very intelligent animals. But if they could speak our language I’m pretty sure it would simply be an endless stream of “gimmenutsgimmenutsgimmenutsgimmenutsgimmenutz”

Forcing ADB driver to work for your device (can’t find driver for your Android on Windows)

Sometimes you will find a device that simply won’t let you use the ADB driver from the Android SDK, even though that driver should work with basically every Android device. If you’ve followed the steps for downloading and installing ADB and you still don’t see any ADB devices, you might need to modify the driver so that it can be used with your device.

C:\>adb devices 
List of devices attached
  1. Go to your device manager.
    Control Panel->System->Hardware->Device Manager
    If the ADB driver never installed correctly you should see an unknown device named “android” or something similar. Double click it to open up the properties. Then go to the Details Tab and select “Hardware IDs” from the drop-down list.
    hardware_ids
    You’ll want to remember this information since we’re going to modify the ADB driver to include these Hardware IDs.

  2. Go to your ADB driver location.
    You’ll want to edit “android_winusb.inf”. There are two sections of this file, one for 32-bit Windows and one for 64-bit Windows labeled [Google.NTx86] and [Google.NTamd64] respectively. You’ll want to edit below the section for the correct version of Windows you are running. I’m using 32-bit windows so I modified the file like so:
    modify_driver
    Note that I just copied the Hardware IDs found in the device properties into the text file. Once you add the 2 new Hardware ID lines you can save and exit the text editor.

  3. Install the driver again.
    The next time you install the driver point the wizard to the location where you modified the “android_winusb.inf” file and it should now recognize your device as valid for using the ADB driver.

How to get free cell phone service for life with FreedomPop

Recently I switched my carrier from T-Mobile to FreedomPop . FreedomPop is a free cell phone service that operates off the Sprint network. On T-mobile I was using the $30 Walmart plan, which was previously one of the best deals for getting your cell phone service. However, free is definitely better. The “free” plan on FreedomPop is for 200 minutes and 500MB of data per month.

The plan is technically free but there are some upfront costs you need to be aware of. Here is a list of ALL the initial money I spent to get free monthly service.

  • A used phone compatible with the Sprint network…… $94.98
  • Activation costs for the phone………………….. $19.99
  • Porting phone number…………………………… $9.99
  • TOTAL………………………………………… $124.96

If you’re like most people you can recoup the cost of these upfront fees by not paying your old cell phone build for a few months.

Step 1: Get a phone

myphone
The first thing you need is a phone compatible with the sprint network. FreedomPop has a BYOD(Bring Your Own Device) plan where you can pick your own device to use. Most of the older generation Samsung and Apple phones are supported. You can get the complete list on the FreedomPop website. For my phone I picked the Samsung Galaxy S3, SPH-L710. I think it has the best bang for the buck. The phone is modern enough to run most of the latest apps, supports Android KitKat, and has plenty of memory for all your files. I bought a used one for $94.98 on ebay.

An alternative is to buy a phone from FreedomPop which is already configured to run on their network and is preloaded with their non-free plan. You can sometimes find great deals if you want to go this route on Slickdeals. Just remember to cancel the plan after your free trial is up so you can go back to the free plan.

Step 2: Activate your phone on FreedomPop

Go to the FreedomPop BYOD page and input your information. It should ask for your Address and Email and then the ESN/MEID/IMEI of your device. On the Samsung device I bought the MEID was under the battery after popping off the back Cover. You can also find it in the Android settings: More->About device->Status. Type in the “Dec” version into FreedomPop since I couldn’t get the “Hex” one to work.

If it all checks out you can now pick your plan! Go for the obvious choice: the free plan.
get_free_cellphone_service

Next it might say how you qualify for more “free” services! Don’t be fooled, they’re trials that you have to cancel or you will be charged money each month. It’s better just to avoid them. Hit the little “No Thanks” in the corner and move on.

Once you reach the end your shopping cart should have the $19.99 activation cost and everything else should be free.
freedompop_shopping_cart
Uncheck any Voicemail or whatever other service they’re trying to peddle to you so that your Monthly Total is all zeros. Then fill in your billing information and activate your phone.

Step 3: Important configuration

FreedomPop makes their money primarily by confusing people into accidentally paying them money. They’re not entirely dishonest business practices but most people won’t read all the fine-print to see that they’re there. For example: Automatic Top-up is enabled by default in your newly made account. This means if you get almost-but-not-really close to hitting your bandwidth limits FreedomPop will automatically steal $10 from your credit card and put it in your account. Just like for banks and overdraft fees I’m sure everyone would prefer that services stopped working instead of having more fees added on without us knowing. Uncheck the Automatic Top-up scam in your account Billing information after logging into the FreedomPop website.disable_automoatic_top_up

Oh and remember to check your e-mail for a message from FreedomPop with your account log in information. They made up a random password for you to use, I would change it asap to something you’re more likely to remember.

You’ll also want to setup a number. Before you can port your old number to FreedomPop you have to use a brand new number provided by FreedomPop. In “My Account” go to Number Selection and pick “Get New Number”. If you’re planning on porting a number then pick anything for now, it will be temporary until you get your official number ported.

Step 4: Phone configuration

You’ll need to do some setup on your phone to get it working on the FreedomPop Network. To start with you’ll want to update the PRL and profile on your device. On my Galaxy S3 I did it in Settings->More->System Update-> Update PRL & Update Profile. This might actually take a very long time, like 30 minutes or longer so be patient.

Lastly you’ll want to install the FreedomPop Apps. Go to the play store and search for FreedomPop, you’re going to want to download the FreedomPop Free Call and Messaging Apps. Start the apps, log in, and hopefully it should all be configured and ready for you. Enjoy your free service!

Impressions

FreedomPop’s Free plan has been good for me. I never get close to the limits. The call quality is good. Telephone calls actually go over the data network so you can technically make phone calls in places no one else can by using a Wi-Fi network. But keep in mind if it’s a flaky Wi-Fi network then the call will suffer. I also noticed there’s a bit more of a delay during phone calls than on my previous service. Think of when people on television are talking via a satellite connection. It might take up to a couple seconds for the person you’re calling to hear your voice or for you to hear theirs.

The data speeds are pretty good too. The Galaxy S3 supports LTE and I can get connections in many places around San Diego. Just remember not to download big files since you can hit the limit quickly.

Making an Android Shell Script

On an earlier article I wrote about using Android Shell Scripts. Now i’m going more in depth into writing and using scripts specifically for Android.

Let’s take an example shell script that I made to be used on Android:

#!/bin/bash
for i in 0 1 2 3
do
	echo "cpu$i Online:"
	cat /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu$i/online
done

This is a simple script that will print out what CPUs are online when you run it. If you want to learn more about how to write more complex scripts a google search can help you.

If you’re writing your scripts in windows it’s important to use the correct format or your scripts won’t work. I like to write all my code in notepad++. If you’re using that, you have to remember to switch the EOL conversion to use UNIX/OSX format.
EOL_setting
If you don’t, you’ll get strange errors like: unexpected.sh[3]: syntax error: ‘do when you try to run the script.

I saved the script as the non-descriptively-named script.sh. Then I pushed it to the /data folder on the device using adb push:

C:\scripts> adb push script.sh /data/

And finally, set the script to be executable and run the script on the device!

adb shell "chmod 777 /data/script.sh"
adb shell "sh /data/script.sh"
cpu0 Online:
1
cpu1 Online:
0
cpu2 Online:
0
cpu3 Online:
0

Flashing factory images: error: cannot load ‘radio-mako-m9615a-cefwmazm-2.0.1700.98.img': No error

If you’re trying to load up the latest Android Factory Images you might face this strange and uninformative error when you run the flash-all.bat script.

rebooting into bootloader...
OKAY [  0.001s]
finished. total time: 0.002s
< waiting for device >
error: cannot load 'radio-mako-m9615a-cefwmazm-2.0.1700.98.img': No error

This error could also show up if you’re trying to flash any of the other images:

error: cannot load ‘recovery-clockwork': No error
error: cannot load ‘boot.img’ : No error
error: cannot load ‘recovery.img’ No error
error: cannot load ‘bootloader-hammerhead-hhz11k.img': No error

None of the images actually get flashed since there’s a problem where if you execute the flash-all.bat script from windows explorer the window that pops up doesn’t actually know where the images to flash are located since the script uses a relative path to the Android factory images. To fix this open up a cmd window and navigate to where you unzipped the factory image .tgz file.

For example if you saved the images to C:\dropbox\android\4.4.2 then you would do this in cmd

C:\users\bamboopuppy> cd C:\dropbox\android\4.4.2
C:\dropbox\android\4.4.2> flash-all.bat

Change your DNS servers in Android

Sometimes on PC it helps to change your DNS server because it’s common for your ISP’s DNS server to go down randomly. You can change the same thing on your rooted Android Device.

root@:/ # ndc resolver flushif     -- flushes old DNS servers
root@:/ # ndc resolver flushdefaultif -- flush resolver
root@:/ # ndc resolver setifdns    -- Add the new servers
root@:/ # ndc resolver setdefaultif  -- Set as the default device

Running shell scripts on Android

On most Linux systems it’s easy to run any shell script. Set the script to be executable and then run the file.

root@:/ # chmod 777 test_script.sh
root@:/ # ./test_script.sh

But on android this doesn’t work and gives you the very confusing error message:

/system/bin/sh: ./test_script.sh: No such file or directory

Even though that file is definitely there. A workaround is to use sh. Sh is the old shell that is still present on Android.

root@:/ # sh test_script.sh

Also typically the sdcard is mounted without execute permissions set. You won’t be able to run any executable on the sdcard without remounting it. I usually put all my scripts/binaries in /data/ and that will work just fine.

For more information on Android Shell Scripts read this other article I wrote about it: Making an Android Shell Script.