The miracle of electrician’s tape

To paraphrase William Burroughs: “Warning to young couples with Select Comfort beds: watch out for the family dog!” To be more specific, watch out for dogs that like to sleep under the bed and like to chew things.

Last night I went to adjust the pressure in my side of the mattress, using the wired remote. The partly-wired remote. One of our dogs managed to chew through the really tough insulation on the remote and short out the controls.He also made a real mess of our front room carpet, dangers of having pets! We called area rug service to help us with that mess, but for the remote I found another solution.

Tonight I managed to fix it, using a multi-gauge wire stripper, a large set of diagonal pliers (a.k.a. “dikes”), and electrician’s tape (and a little bit of help from my friend who works for Here’s how:

  1. Unplug the pump from its electrical connection.
  2. Cleanly cut the control wire at the chewed part, using the dikes.
  3. Using the wire stripper (or the dikes if necessary), strip the thick insulation from both sides of the cut control wire, revealing the five small (22-gauge) wires inside.
  4. Strip all the small wires using the multi-gauge stripper.
  5. Matching colors, twist the cut ends of the bare control wires around each other (white to white, red to red, and so on), and wrap each with a small twist of electrician’s tape.
  6. Once the five wires are reconnected, wrap the whole shebang with electrician’s tape.
  7. Douse liberally with bitter apple spray or the anti-chew remedy of your choice…

Once I plugged the pump back in and checked the control, it worked on the first try. It’s great, I won’t be needing to call on Contractors Today! I guess those wild summers as an electrician at CEBAF (now Jefferson Labs) weren’t spent in vain.

Jack Valenti meets The Tech

I had to point to this item about MPAA chairman and anti-DVD-piracy bigmouth Jack Valenti being interviewed by the savvy staff of The Tech, the student newspaper at MIT. As one might expect, Valenti came away… schooled, but there’s no evidence of forward motion:

TT: No, you said four years ago that people under Linux should use one of these licensed players that would be available soon. They’re still not available — it’s been four years.

JV: Well why aren’t they available? I don’t know, because I don’t make Linux machines.

Let me put it in my simple terms. If you take something that doesn’t belong to you, that’s wrong. Number two, if you design your own machine, you can’t fuss at people, because you’re one of just a few. How many Linux users are there?

TT: About two million.

JV: Well, I can’t believe there’s not any — there must be a reason for… Let me find out about that. You bring up an interesting question — I don’t know the answer to that… Well, you’re telling me a lot of things I don’t know.

TT: Okay. Well, how can we have this dialogue?

JV: Well, we’re having it right now. I want to try to find out the point you make on why are there no Linux licensed players. There must be a reason — there has to be a reason. I don’t know.

[Rich Taylor, a spokesman for the MPAA, later pointed to one company, Intervideo, that has a license to sell GNU/Linux DVD software, although the company does not actually sell a product that Linux users can purchase. Linux users who want to watch DVDs should “perhaps buy a DVD player instead,” Taylor said, or “write to Intervideo and others, encourage them that they’re the market,” he said. Will Linux users ever be able to view DVDs on their computers without breaking the law? “I’m sure that day is not far away,” Taylor said.

A spokesman for Intervideo, Andy Marken, said the company’s product is only for embedded systems and that Intervideo has no plans to release a software player for end users.]

Link credit: Pho, Creative Commons blog, others.