Garadget and IFTTT refresh

September 25th, 2017

I’m loving my Garadget – thanks Denis! Recently, IFTTT stopped working with my Garadget. When I logged into IFTTT.com and looked at “My Applets” they appeared fine, but if I tried to look at the settings for them, IFTTT.com would throw up a red bar across the top of the screen saying “We can’t connect to your service.”

I corrected this  by clicking Services->Garadget->Settings->Edit connection and then entered my Garadget user credentials. I’m hoping this is related to the 90 day expiring token and that Denis’ new non-expiring tokens can be used with IFTTT to stop this in the future.

American Gardener CS18 Battery Replacement

August 17th, 2017

My bride takes care of our lovely garden and lawn. One of her favorite trimming tools is the American Gardener CS18. We’ve gone through a couple rechargeable batteries now and this thing keeps running. For others trying to replace or upgrade to a more potent battery pack, I’ve used a couple of these:

The Venom  Power 3000 mAH NiMH flat battery pack has more capacity than the inferior 1800 mAH Ni-Cd (p/n 700228) battery pack the tool came with. Yes, the new battery will take longer to charge, but does this really matter to most yard warriors? Plug it in and charge it overnight. You can initiate an online claim for Venom Power’s lifetime warranty; the first year Venom Power offers complete replacement and years two and greater they will give you 30% off a new battery. I’ve exercised the latter option once – the first Venom Power battery pack lasted 3 years before it suddenly failed on us…

There are 4 Phillips screws to get into the tool, all located on the side. Once inside, take a picture in case the spring flies out later, which it will. The wiring connectors the Venom Power comes with are different than your existing battery. If you’re handy with a soldering gun, I recommend breaking apart the wiring harness the tool came with to reuse the metal slip on jacks inside (or don’t be a cheap bastard like me and pick up new jacks at the hardware store). Here’s a pic inside the tool, in case it helps anyone:

View of CS18 innards when replacing battery back.

Run PNNL Visual Sample Plan 7.9 on macOS Sierra

August 8th, 2017

Early versions of Visual Sample Plan were not supported on the Mac, but I’ve used wineBottler with success in the past, so I set out to test it with VSP 7.9 on my Mac. The following steps should work on a Mac running macOS Sierra (10.12.6):

  1. Download wineBottler and install it and the bundled wine in your Applications folder.
  2. Download the latest version of VSP to the Downloads in your home directory/folder.
  3. Open the wineBottler application, click the “Advanced” button, and configure it as shown in the screenshot below:                    
  4. Click “Install” and then click “Next” whenever prompted by the Windows installer.
  5. The installer should run for a few minutes and you’ll need to click “Next” or “Agree” whenever prompted.
  6. Near the end of the installation process, you’ll be prompted to select a Startfile. The default, selected option is incorrect – you’ll need to click the file path drop down menu, select the option for “Program Files/Visual Sample Plan/VSample.exe”, and click OK, as shown below:                                                                   
  7. After doing this, you should reach the dialog/prompt “Prefix created successfully” and then click OK.
  8. To run the newly created application, search for “Visual Sample Plan 7.9” on your machine and launch it – should be inside your Applications folder and you should see something like below:                       
  9. Bonus step – on my machine, I launched Visual Sample Plan and noticed its icon in the Dock is generic, even though the VSP icon for the application in the Applications folder has the green and red grid. To fix this, I selected the icon for VSP in the applications folder, pressed command-C, command-I, clicked the icon in the Get Info window, and command-V to paste in the icon. Make sure you do this when the application is not running.

Livall Helmet Review

June 13th, 2017

In late-November 2016, I ordered a large (58-61 cm) Livall BH81 bicycle helmet in fluorescent green. I was drawn to the helmet’s backside illumination and the ability to make and receive phone calls through Bluetooth while riding. For the last couple years, I’ve been using a Jabra Sport+ bluetooth headset, which works well until it fails – this deserves another entry at another time… At the time of my helmet order, I also requested a BlingJet 100 (BJ100) – more on this later.

I was excited to receive the BH81H and BJ100 on March 7, 2017, less than 4 months after placing the order on Indiegogo. After opening the package, I was surprised at how light the helmet actually is – the battery can run for several hours, yet the helmet seems to weigh about as much as my locally sourced NiceRide helmet. The helmet seems solidly assembled and the straps and padding all seem to be high quality. Overall, my first impressions are favorable.

The helmet didn’t have sufficient battery charge on arrival to power up and the instructions say that you must charge it. I plugged the included micro-USB cable into the helmet to start charging it – two red lights in the rear of the helmet illuminated with a steady glow to indicate charging. The manual said to give the helmet about 3 hours of charging time, which I did, but after unplugging the USB cable, the helmet still did not power up. I let it continue charging overnight and the next morning it powered on!

The setup guide describes pairing the BH81H and BJ100 to each other and a separate Bluetooth pairing with my iPhone was easy and just like other Bluetooth devices. If you are interested in reading other data the helmet measures, like heart rate, download the iPhone app. In this early version of the helmet, the heart rate data does not appear to feed into the iPhones HealthKit/Health app, but it seems this type of feature could be added later.

I ended up using the helmet for a little over a month, but in early April, I noticed the helmet was no longer taking a charge. Slowly the helmet lost all of its charge and hasn’t powered up since. I contacted LivAll support and they said they’d send a new helmet out, but two months later and I’ve received no update. Reports on their site indicate there are issues with the heart rate sensor killing the helmet. I’m not sure if this is actually the case though, because the heart rate sensor on my helmet continued to work while it had battery charge left. It would seem the charge control chip is failing?

While the helmet worked, I enjoyed listening to music and news and placed a few phone calls that appeared to be better quality than my Jabra headset, but I was hoping to get more time with the helmet before making these assessments.

I’ll post more as my experience develops, but I remain optimistic.

DiamondBack’s Axis and Overdrive Pedals

June 6th, 2017

I happily used DiamondBack Axis MTB SPD pedals (344 grams) for almost a year, until the bearings escaped from the drive side pedal (heh, Amazon says they weigh 352 grams with all the bearings present). After contacting DiamondBack’s excellent support staff, they offered a set of replacement pedals, which I received less than a week later.

While I was waiting for the new pedals to arrive, I tossed on a very old and used set of Shimano PD-M520 pedals, which weigh in at 375 grams. When the new pedals arrived, DiamondBack surprised me with their Overdrive MTB pedals, which are also SPD, but sport sealed cartridge bearings and weigh in at a feather-light 295 grams. I quickly installed the Overdrives this evening and based on the brief post-installation test ride, they spin smooth. Will report more later, but I would say the Axis pedals were fine until I had logged about 5,000 miles on them. The Axis pedals also weren’t as smooth to click in and out of as my PD-M520’s, so I’m curious to see how the Overdrive’s compare.

Windows 7 Auto Log Off

April 28th, 2017

Just got a new Smell laptop at work and it was logging off every 15 minutes, which was a bit annoying.

Fix: Hold down Windows key and “R” key-> type in “gpedit.msc”->computer configuration->windows settings->Local Policies->Security Options->Microsoft network server:Amount of idle time required before suspending session, right-click this and choose “Properties”.

Set “Disconnect when idle time exceeds to:” to “0” and now your machine should no longer auto log you out at the interval it was previously set to.

Bosch Spray Arm and Tube Gasket Hack

April 24th, 2017

Its always something… Our Bosch SHU8805 is usually meticulous at cleaning dishes, but suddenly we noticed that the upper rack wasn’t getting as clean as the lower rack. I love solving a crime that involves broken things. Upon opening the dishwasher, I removed the top rack and noticed the back wall of the dishwasher had a sort of halo about a foot across around the location where water is suppose to enter tubing for the top and lower spray arms, as shown below:

I figured the gasket must be worn, as the spray arm is constantly removed and inserted into the fittings on the back wall. Being the exceptionally cheap bastard that I am, I could have replaced the upper spray arm (00359976) and tube (00350321) with these parts, as described by the nice woman at e-Spares:

http://www.bosch-home.com/us/store/product/SprayArmAssembly/00359976

http://www.bosch-home.com/us/store/product/Tube/00350321

But, no, I’m too cheap to spend $80. Instead, I entered my hellhole, unkempt shop area in the basement and proudly emerged with some bits that were suddenly useful, including two standard garden hose gaskets and two rain barrel gaskets that were just barely bigger than the hose gaskets (you might be able to pull this hack off with 2-4 total garden hose gaskets). To do the repair, I popped the rain barrel gaskets on to the Tube fittings first, as shown in the picture above, and then slipped the garden hose gaskets on. After popping these gaskets on to the tube fittings of the dishwasher, the top rack is now getting clean again – woohoo – cheap bastard wins! And I spent more time writing this useless entry for some schlep as cheap as me.

Ok, and I probably wrote this so that when the hose gaskets fail miserably due to the hot water and strong detergents, I’ll know which parts to quickly order.

Thanks to Bosch for making all their parts readily available and to e-Spares for the slick video.

Safari.app and secure websites, fixed

April 3rd, 2017

Suddenly when I was visiting my own website (to edit my blog), Safari was being forced to a secure website on my own domain. I had been editing my blog a couple days ago on the plane and didn’t finish an edit – my connection with gogo dropped and left the update in limbo.

Figuring this might have something to do with it, within Safari I went to Safari->Clear History… I tried deleting one day of history, but the problem wasn’t resolved. Knowing the issue happened a little over 2 days ago, I then tried to delete “Today and Yesterday” and bam! Problem solved and I was now able to see all content when I visited my own website.

Calendars.app fixed

April 3rd, 2017

The Calendars.app on my Mac hasn’t worked correctly in a few weeks, the calendaragent process would run wild and sap my battery. Lucky for me, the temporary workaround was to not use Calendars.app on my Mac and my iPhone’s calendar worked fine.

After reading Apple’s Forums (follow the tip from “ST Munees”) and an older Chris Breen Macworld article I was able to fix Calendars.app on my Mac. I can elaborate more later, but following those tips got mine running again and calendaragent is behaving again.

Lock Wi-Fi to Specific BSSID

March 29th, 2017

If you enjoy using older Apple AirPort routers and use more than a couple in your house, this post may be for you. Ridiculously enough, I’ve got an old AirPort Extreme and three AirPort Express (AE) routers in the house all sharing out the same SSID, “SchwieNation”. The multiple AE routers aren’t so much to extend the massive network, but to give the occupants AirPlay for streaming music.

The AirPort Extreme router nestled away in the wiring closet in the basement is creating a 5 Ghz N-only network and the lowly AE routers scattered throughout the house are set to non-bridging mode and sharing out the same network SSID over 2.4 Ghz. Lately though, I noticed that just about all of the devices in our house were joining the same AE router in the back room and it was causing significant network congestion on our location network and reducing internet download bandwidth.

Devices in our house are running macOS Sierra, which Apple deprecated the ‘airport’ command line’s ability to join a specific BSSID on your network (this means, the ability to join a specific wi-fi router on your network). In Sierra, it seems a Mac just joins the router with the strongest signal.

All reports on the web indicated that the workaround is to create separate SSID’s or network names, one name for your 5 Ghz network and a separate name for your 2.4 Ghz network. I didn’t want to do this, as I have several older 2.4 Ghz wi-fi internet of things devices like security cameras, garage door openers, etc. and I didn’t want to have to tell all of them to join a separate network SSID.

The workaround I came up with was to use open the AirPort Utility and connect to the AE router that had all the wi-fi clients in the house. After connecting to it, I hit the Network tab and then placed a check in the box for “Network Access Control”. Then I clicked “Timed Access Control…” and entered in the IoT devices that I wanted to have access and blocked all other users – doing this allowed the legacy devices to connect, but rejected the newer 5 Ghz devices:

Now all the newer devices automatically connect to the AirPort Extreme on 5 Ghz with improved bandwidth (about 10x better throughput in our unscientific testing) and the legacy devices are still happily connected to the older AE router at 2.4 Ghz.

Problem solved!