Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Cleaning out grinder in Solis 5000

Okay, so i enjoy a good cup of espresso or coffee. Our Solis 5000 needs its grinder cleaned about once a year or it takes longer and longer to complete the grind. Here's what i do. There are two screws that hold the coffee hopper on, a philips in back and a Torx 15 in the front. Make note of where the grind dial is (12 in this case) as you'll need to set it back there when you put the hopper back on.
This is what you'll see.
Remove the flexible rubber bean guide and make note of where the red index mark is on the outer retaining ring. Three o'clock in this case. Now, rotate the outer ring until it's a little past the twelve o'clock position. This frees the inner part. You'll now see this.
Clean all the old grinds out; i use a dustbuster. Now you'll have this.
Reassemble by putting the inner part back in, rotating the outer dial to where it was before, replacing the flexible bean guide, and then the hopper with the grind dial set to where it was before. You should be good for another year or so.

As always, do this at your own risk, and take pictures at each step so you know where things started.

I also run about two cups of vinegar from the water reservoir out the steam wand via opening the steam valve that produces hot water.  This in addition to Solistabs of course.  Both of these enhance the espresso...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Planned Obsolesence

I had been using this timer to run two watch winders for several years when it crapped out. I like it as it has two outlets and did exactly what i wanted it to do. So, i opened it up expecting to find a soldered in dead battery (manufacturers typically don't want to spend the money on AC/DC converters in their products) and there it was: a 2032 @ ~1v. Strangely, it wasn't soldered, but crimped so that two metal spikes where driven into the battery on each side. Had to pry them off, and then i soldered a new battery in as i don't have a tool that will do such a cramp. See illustration, the original battery is the yellow circle.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Making a bootable USB BT3 from the live CD

Backtrack 3 ( has a download for a USB device, but i was able to create a bootable USB thumb drive from the live CD itself:
umount /dev/sda1
mkfs.vfat /dev/sda1
mount /dev/sda1
mount /dev/hdc /mnt/cd
cp -r /mnt/cd/* /mnt/sda1
cd /mnt/sda1/boot
The thumb drive then worked; it is slower than the live CD, but one can save files etc. to it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Cookie file in Firefox 3

Looks like Firefox 3 is using sqlite3 to store cookies. To see your saved cookies is OSX, do:
sqlite3 ~/Library/Application\ Support/Firefox/Profiles/*.default/cookies.sqlite '.dump'
and under Linux do:
sqlite3 ~/.mozilla/firefox/*.default/cookies.sqlite '.dump'
Later, i found with a lot more good info...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A rather cryptic Java SAX XML error

So, i received this error "The processing instruction target matching "[xX][mM][lL]" is not allowed." from an rss feed using JRSST. Not the most transparent message ever. I found by Googling that this means '<' wasn't the very first character in the file. Sure enough. So here's the Java i wrote to get around this (assuming you already have an InputStream from URL openConnection and connect):
PushbackInputStream pbis = new PushbackInputStream (inputstream);

int c;
while ((c = != '<') {}

pbis.unread (c);

inputsource = new InputSource (pbis);

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Replacement part for Solis 5000

So we have this great Solis Master 5000 super automatic espresso machine. The plastic steamer thingy took it's own life via the disposal recently. Called Solis service which is actually Empire Fulfillment and they said the Gaggia Pannarello Wand is the one that fits. Went to and ordered same. A bit complicated, but the 'net still came through...

Followup. The part came in and i'm disappointed. It "fits" i guess, but extends too far down. The original went all the way up to the knurled region and did not extend much beyond the end of the wand. The replacement is pretty much useless as fitting anything under it is impossible. Not a huge deal as i can simply use the steam wand by itself, but nonetheless...

Necessary firefox addons

Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer