Finished my compost bins

I finally finished my compost bins over the weekend. I decided to build a triple-bin (turning bin) system, each approximately one cubic meter (3’x3’x3′.)

Compost Bins

The bins are constructed entirely of cedar (renewable, weather resistant, and generally termite resistant), using cedar fence panels and 2x4s. The lids are made from cedar 2×2 deck-railing slats, covered in a square, wire mesh (to keep the birds and squirrels out.) The bins are held together with cedar-rated Deck Mate screws, which I had left-over from another project. (It’s pointless to use nice, weather resistant wood if you’re just going to join it with cheap, rust-prone fasteners. Spend the extra money on rust-free nails/screws/staples so you don’t end up with rust stains running from every joint.)

For those new to three-bin compost systems, here’s how they work:

  1. New compost materials are put into the bin on the left. (You can still turn materials in this bin like normal.)
  2. Part-way through the composting process, you shovel-out the materials in the left bin and move them into the center bin. (This provides opportunity to fully flip/aerate the pile.)
  3. When done, shovel the center bin’s pile into the right bin. The right bin stores ready-to-use compost.
  4. Once you have a cycle going, you can have a new pile starting, while still having a steady stream of available compost.

It’s hard to tell in the picture above (by design), but the front of each bin opens for easy access. The doors are held on with a simple gate latch:

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The screen lids lay on top of each bin, resting on simple guides made from exposed screws. The mesh is attached using staples:

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Using cedar raised the materials cost a bit, but the extra durability should be worth it in the long run. All said and done, the materials were a bit over $100 for the whole unit (which is still significantly cheaper then buying a pre-made bin this size.)

For more on composting, see:

Manually fixing Ubuntu Edgy timezone file (my laptop didn’t update)

Even though most articles indicate that Ubuntu Edgy should have automatically patched itself with updated timezone files, my laptop (and apparently a few others didn’t get the update either.) With some googling, I found plenty of suggestions (including “sorry, mine worked”, and “just manually set your clock”), but none got to the core issue, which is that the timezone files themselves were wrong.

No doubt, by now, you know whether your machine updated correctly; but if it didn’t, you can verify your timezone files with this:

`zdump -v /etc/localtime | grep 2007`

If you see “April 1” in there, the machine has old files (as mine did.)

The solution (for me), was to manually rebuild the timezone files (since the system thought it was fully patched.) Step 1: Go here: http://packages.ubuntu.com/edgy/libs/tzdata and download the latest file (for me, it was http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/pool/main/t/tzdata/tzdata_2006m.orig.tar.gz.)

Put the file somewhere (like /tmp/), ‘cd’ there, and un-tar it all. ‘cd’ into the uncompressed files until you find a file called ‘northamerica’. Now compile the timezone file like this:

`sudo zic northamerica`

Remove your previous file:

`sudo rm /etc/localtime`

And sym-link to the new one:

`sudo ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/CST6CDT /etc/localtime` (substituting CST6CDT for your timezone.)

Now verify with:

`zdump -v /etc/localtime | grep 2007`

It should now read “Mar 11” and “Nov 4” instead of “April 1” and “Oct 28”, and the machine should fix it’s clock shortly (it just took a few minutes for mine to correct itself.)

I have no idea what the long-term effects may be of having manually fixed this (as in, what happens when I update to Feisty Fawn), but for now, all is good with the system clock.