Java SE 6 fix for Illustrator CS5

December 15th, 2017

I recently updated my Mac to High Sierra and Illustrator CS5bwould no longer launch, because it wanted Java SE 6. I downloaded and installed Apple’s Java SE 6 run time, because the other workaround that follows DID NOT work, even though I tried enabling the root user and booting into Single User Mode to try and execute the following:

sudo mkdir -p /System/Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/1.6.0.jdk

sudo mkdir -p /System/Library/Java/Support/Deploy.bundle

ln -s /System/Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/1.6.0.jdk/Contents /Library/Internet Plug-Ins/JavaAppletPlugin.plugin/Contents

Install CouchDB on Ubuntu 12.04

December 9th, 2017

Click the “Dash Home” icon in the upper left hand corner of the screen, just below “Ubuntu Desktop” and type “Terminal”. Click the Terminal icon when it appears.

In Terminal’s window, type in the following commands:

sudo apt-get install python-software-properties

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:couchdb/stable

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install couchdb couchdb-bin couchdb-common -f

To navigate to where CouchDB database files are stored:

cd /var/lib/CouchDB



sudo chown -R couchdb:couchdb /home/adam/Desktop/couchdb

sudo chown -R adam:adam /home/adam/Desktop/couchdb

sudo chown -R adam:adam /var/lib/couchdb

To get Debian version from command line:

cat /etc/debian_version

Download JW Player Content

December 5th, 2017

For documenting my attendance at a webinar for professional development, I wanted copies of slides that were posted in a¬†JW Player format. Right-clicking the video wouldn’t allow me to download it, boo hiss.

Using Safari on my Mac, I pressed Option-Command-U to view the “Resources” and then clicked the “Elements” tab. I then hovered over the video feed and Safari highlights portions of the code that generate the content. Keep expanding the carrots/arrows until you drill down to the code generating the feed. In my case, it looked like this and I right-clicked the code to “Copy Link Address”:

JW Player content download

Neck Pain Fix

December 5th, 2017

I am not a doctor. Over four years ago, I visited urgent care as some neck pain began a trip down my neck and ultimately into my arm and hand. The best thing the UC doc requested was an x-ray and she told me the C6 was a degenerative disc causing the pain. She sent me home with a prescription for a worthless bottle of percocet and no plan to fix the issue.

A friend of mine also had an ER visit a couple years go; his face looked half-paralyzed and it was believed he was having a stroke. His ER doc visited him and kindly told him his condition had nothing to do with his heart, rather it was a C6 degenerative disc in his neck. His doc prescribed physical therapy and weeks later he was good as new.

I didn’t want to bother going on in, but I knew I had the same condition based on my X-ray results. I read about some of Robin McKenzie’s work in developing exercises to fix these conditions. The best video I found on a C6 degenerative disc condition in your neck is from Bob and Brad, a couple of physical therapists, who explain: what’s going on with pain/numbness radiating down into your arm and finger tips, who developed the treatment method, and what exercises make the pain better:

The first exercise they show, the chin tuck, supposedly helps 80% of people and is what I focused on. It takes some practice to get the form right and to get your neck muscles responding – the goal is to pull your head back and up if possible. When Bob and Brad demonstrate, they are exerting the kind of strength you’ll want to try when you first start the exercises, but as you move along in the treatment, you’ll want to exert much more force than they exhibit. When I first started, it was like my neck muscles were non-existent, so I started with reps of 10 and days later moved to reps of 15 and then 20. When I started doing reps of 15 and 20 a week into the treatment, it was like my neck muscles had suddenly reawakened and I could really start to pull my head back and up. About this time, the numbness in my arm was going away, but the neck pain started to get worse. The good thing is, doing this and the following exercises helps to relieve the pain and its something you can do at work. I also noticed that the exercises felt more effective if I was standing and grabbed on to something, but now I seem to be able to do the exercises standing or sitting and without having to hold on to anything.

Brad also shows a variant of doing chin tucks while laying down, but these didn’t seem to help me as much. I tried a few when I first hopped into bed at night, but that was about it. They felt good, but not something I did during the day.

Exercise #2, head roll backs, were helpful to me when the pain started to intensify in the back of my neck. I like how Bob stresses, try to roll your head far as you can – I used a lot of force to do this later in the treatment. They both suggest using towels for support early in the process, but later in the treatment, your muscles will be stronger and you’ll have no need for the towels.

Exercise #3, chin tuck and then side roll, was also helpful to me. I started doing these later in the treatment as the pain worsened in my neck. Towards the end, you just want the pain to go away and doing any of the preceding exercises will help.

Bob recommends doing each exercise in repetitions of 10, once per hour. When Brad says, you should feel improvement by the 7th or 8th rep, I say phooey. Sometimes it would take me 12-15 reps before the pain came out of my fingers or moved up my arm. When your neck muscles get toward the end of treatment, you’re going to start to feel a lot better and then suddenly, the pain just seems to go away. I started this back in August and by the end of the State Fair, I was completely better and have yet to have a set back.

One other thing Bob and Brad didn’t mention that brought relief for me: roll your pillow up at night and jam it under your neck so your head is craning backward. This sounds really awkward and strange, but when the pain intensifies toward the end of the treatment, laying in bed this way felt so good. My head/neck position didn’t last that way all night, but it was a good way to fall asleep. Since my neck pain went away, I no longer have to sleep that way ūüôā

I wanted to capture this somewhere and I hope it helps you feel better!

Removing Platforms and Accessories from Homebridge

October 24th, 2017

I added a few LIFX devices to Homebridge to make them available through Apple’s Home app. After LIFX added native HomeKit support to their lights, I decided that keeping the homebridge-lifx-lan plugin on Homebridge was unnecessary. I first quit Homebridge by pressing Ctrl-C and then used the following command to remove the plugin:

sudo npm uninstall -g homebridge-lifx-lan

Soon after I launched homebridge on my Mac mini and then the Home app on my iOS device to find that the LIFX accessories were still stuck under Homebridge. I also tried deleting the LIFX platform from the config.json file, but it was no help.

To fix this, I restored the config.json file and reinstalled the plugin:

sudo npm install -g homebridge-lifx-lan

Then I installed the Hesperus app on my iOS device and followed these instructions:

Success! After this, I quit Homebridge, removed the platform code from the config.json file, and removed the plugin using this command:

sudo npm uninstall -g homebridge-lifx-lan

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 and looked at “My Applets” they appeared fine, but if I tried to look at the settings for them, 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 Рthe 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.