Weatherstripping Rejuvenated

As soon as I got back from SQL Saturday Cleveland (an event I rather enjoyed), I had to take advantage of the 72-degree weather to work on the Miata.

Today’s mini-project was around weatherstripping.  The weatherstripping on my Miata is old, but not really cracked too badly.  It is, however, not nearly as strong as it was 15 years ago, so I wanted to add a bit more insulation.  Working from this article on how to make old weatherstripping like new again, I bought some poly foam caulk backer and inserted it into the weatherstripping pieces the same as the note at the very bottom.  You only need one bag of this product and you’ll probably have about 12′ of it left over when you’re done.

I needed to find a way to fish the caulk backer through the weatherstripping pieces, and the solution I hit on was to grab a ~3″ screw with approximately 1/2″ diameter and a sharp point.  I screwed the screw into the caulk backer approximately 2″ so that it would stay firm, and that let me guide the foam through the weatherstripping piece so that I could pull it out the other side.  Use scissors to cut the foam (making sure to remove the screw) and you can stuff the insulation material without ripping the weatherstripping pieces.

I have to wait until tomorrow to see if this had any salutary effect.  Ideally, it will reduce wind noise and moderate cold air flow when the top is up, but we will see.


Tightening A Convertible Top

This probably won’t be a very useful post, but it is something I learned recently and figured I would share.

My 1999 Mazda Miata had a bit of a problem recently:  the top got loose on one side, up near the latch on the passenger’s side.


This bothered me for a few days but it was too cold to check out. Fortunately, Friday was a relatively warm day and I got home with some daylight to spare.  It turns out that fixing this problem is quite simple: there is a nut you can turn to tighten or loosen the top.


In this case, looking at the latch from the side, you can see what a loosened nut’s effect is. Looking directly at the nut, the mechanism becomes clearer:


The loosened nut elongated the latch mechanism, making it easier for me to put the top up, but leaving a gap for wind. You can tighten this nut by hand; no tools are required for the job.


Tightening the nut shortens the latch mechanism, leaving you with a tighter seal. Because my top is only about a year old and fits well, I have it tightened all the way. With a top which has shrunk slightly, you might need to loosen the nut a bit.  The end result is a top which forms a tight seal:


In The Papers: The Firm That Slacks Together Works Together

Benjamin Waber, Daniel Olguin Olguin, Taemie Kim, and Alex Pentland have a very interesting piece of work, entitled Productivity Through Coffee Breaks:  Changing Social Networks by Changing Break Structure.


In this paper we present a two-phase study undertaken to experimentally study in a real world setting the effects of social group strength and how to increase the strength of groups in the workplace. In the first phase of our study we measured interactions between workers at the call center of a large bank based in the United States using Sociometric Badges. We confirmed our hypothesis that the strength of an individual’s social group was positively related to productivity (average call handle time) for the employees that we studied. In the second phase of our study we show that by giving employees breaks at the same time we increased the strength of an individual’s social groups, demonstrating that low-cost management decisions can be used to act on these results.

The paper’s goal is to measure social interactions between employees at a large call center (3).  In this case study, the authors note that this is a very large call center (10,000 employees), and despite this, teams still stagger their break schedules in order to ensure coverage.  The authors then were given permission to change around the break schedule in order to measure productivity changes.  They note that there is a positive relationship between social group strength and productivity (3), but more interestingly, that there is a causal relationship in at least one direction:  increased group strength increased productivity (4).

They were able to study this using a tool they created called a Sociometric badge.  It recognizes movements, captures nonlinguistic signals (though it does not analyze words; they prevented that functionality for privacy reasons), locates people within an area of approximately 1.5 meters, and can even detect face-to-face conversations (4).  By tracking the various teams under a single manager and operating in the same guidelines, they found that teams with a common break period performed better than staggered-period teams, because teams with common break periods allowed friends to spend more time together.

Also interesting in this paper:  the word “kith” (11, fn)  Kith is a cohesive group with common beliefs and customs.  Use that word as often as you can.