Cheating Roomba

The roomba came with battery powered infrared fences that can be placed to limit the area that it cleans. For the past week I’ve had one set up to keep the roomba out from under my desk because I didn’t want to rearrange the wires there to keep them out of its way. The way I placed the fence also cut it off from the balcony door.

The problem is that the fence is line of sight only. The docking station works the same way and Talore has confused the roomba by lying down in front of the docking station while the roomba was attempting to home in on it to charge. I have a couple small boxes that I close toys in for Talore to get out and the roomba occasionally pushes them around, usually just to the nearest wall. Today the roomba pushed the larger box right in front of the fence emitter, then charged my desk.

I came home to find the roomba lifted partially off the floor by some of the cables it snagged and tried to back off of. It also pulled my speakers off the back of the desk and pulled that plug out of the back of the computer. As far as I can tell nothing got damaged, but the roomba didn’t do much cleaning.

Roomba Repair

When I got home yesterday the roomba had made it about ten feet before stopping. When I started it up again it made a clicking noise as it went a few feet, then it stopped and told me: “Error 2. Open Roomba’s brush cage and clean brushes.” The brushes were already clean, but they wouldn’t turn when I tried it. I figured that something inside it had gotten packed with cat hair since none of the stuff that was there to keep hair from wrapping around the moving parts that were exposed actually worked very well.

Simply taking the bottom cover off revealed the modular design of the insides and a large amount of loose cat hair, but nothing that was problematic. I meant to get a picture of the impressively large pile of cat hair I removed, but Talore lay down on it and tracked it all over before I managed to. Since the brushes were the part that wasn’t working I took out the brush module and took it completely apart.

Sure enough:

The drive gear and the gear next to it were tied together such that they couldn’t turn. Oily cat hair is a pain to wipe off of stuff, but I did manage to get most of it out. What I didn’t manage to do was find all the clear plastic washers that came out with the cat hair (or so I assume, I only ever saw one). I also didn’t re-oil the gears when I put it back together due to lack of oil.

I’d have thought that the pet model roomba would be able to handle cat hair better than it did, but at least it was all put together with standard screws and came apart pretty easily, even beyond the part that was probably intended to be user serviceable.

Once I got it all back together (which was nearly as easy as taking it apart) it was willing to start right up and start making up for being out of commission since Friday. It now makes a slightly different noise on the linoleum in my kitchen (probably the noise it made before it got full of cat hair), but while I was watching it it had no trouble cleaning.

The schedule and the clock did get cleared while I had the battery out, but those are both easy to set, and I even changed the schedule I have it on slightly like I’ve been meaning to do for a while.

Weekend report

Another long and varied post. Oh well.

Apparently wordpress publishes posts dated for when you first started the post. The last two posts I made showed up out of order and several days earlier than I actually finished them. I started them with a list of notes I intended to write about figuring I’d finish them over the weekend and post them on different days, but it didn’t let me.

I just got up for a minute to take the trash out and Talore stopped pretending to be asleep and stole a slice of bacon off my plate. At least she’s mostly stopped trying to steal my food when I’m there.

Since the first one didn’t really have a lasting effect I gave Talore a proper bath last night. She was curious while I was filling the tub, but not curious enough to step in it. When I put her in she was trying to keep her feet first but not have any foot touch the water. That would have been a great video, but I only have two hands and didn’t have a good stand in the bathroom. Her lack of traction on the bottom of the tub meant it was fairly easy to keep her there, but a good bit of water got splashed over the edge when she’d flail around trying to grab hold of it. I didn’t have any cat shampoo, so I just rubbed her with water where she wasn’t low enough to be in it.

She complained a little, but when I was talking to her and petting/rubbing her (even with water) she was somewhat calm. Toweling her off also went much better this time, though the fact that I had her in the bathroom and could let go of her without her fleeing helped. I did get a couple of scratches from not having trimmed Talore’s claws, but that was just when she was flailing with her claws out, not because she was trying to climb up my arm. It turned out much better than the first attempt: even without soap her fur is much fluffier than it was.

A week or two ago there were noises of someone moving stuff around in the apartment next to me before I went to work. I’m guessing they moved out, because since Thursday I’ve been hearing a beep on an 11 second timer, and I’m pretty sure that it’s the smoke detector in that apartment complaining that it’s low on battery. If I’d guessed that’s what it is before late last night I’d have gone by the apartment office yesterday to ask if they can do something about it.

I forgot to pick up for the roomba today. Apparently the first thing it did was back over the elastic cord for that cat toy as it was getting off the charging dock and declare itself stuck.

It’s come to my attention (see the next paragraph) that I need to dust most of the surfaces that the roomba can’t get to. Unfortunately I got the roomba because I don’t bother to clean as often as I should, so my desk is probably the only thing that will be dusted with any regularity.

Last weekend I was compressing a screencapture video for posting on youtube, so I was using my old desktop. That computer is still set up for transcoding videos, and it prevents the processing time that takes from affecting what I’m doing on my main desktop, even if it takes longer to do it that way. Apparently it had been far longer since I used that computer than I thought. I swiped ram and a power cable from it when I built my server, and I left the side of the case off for a good while. That let a significant amount of dust in, so when I turned on the power supply after plugging it back in and the computer turned itself on I got a face full of dust as the vent fans ejected all of it out the back of the computer. Talore was sitting next to me watching and she fled instantly, but I failed to react that quickly.

The ebook section of the library I live next to now has a decent selection of at least the newer Terry Pratchett books. Last time I checked for ebooks I only found a list of about 100 books, none of which I was interested in, so this is a big improvement even if I’ve already read all of them. Actually, about half of my search results are e-audio books, so it’s not as large a collection as I thought, but still better than I found a few months ago.

Downloading a book (Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson) was relatively painless, though it helped that I already had an adobe id for Adobe Digital Editions. Adobe Digital Editions appears to be a flash application, so right clicking anywhere brings up the flash settings menu, which is extremely annoying when you expect a useful context menu to be there. I did eventually figure out that the book could be dragged from the library section to the nook icon on the left, but that wasn’t obvious to me to start with.