Landscape Photo Diary Updated
I recently had the opportunity to photograph the area around Drumheller, Alberta. This is a spectacular and beautiful area of Alberta. I took time to walk and drive parts of the now abandoned CN Drumheller Subdivision (CN Rail). This particular subdivision winds its way through some wonderful areas of the Alberta Badlands.
I have put up a selection of my landscape and railway images on my photo website: Drumheller Badlands, Spring 2014
Enjoy the wonderful Alberta Summer!
Nest thermostat: Should I assign an IP or Not?
The question is: Does assigning the NEST thermostat a static IP using your router result in a more reliable wireless connection? For my first generation NEST running v4.2.3 of the NEST software, the answer is a definite no.
I am using my home router as a DHCP server in order to assign IP addresses to various devices behind it. This is the typical default behavior of most home routers. I like to tweak the setup, however and assign static IP addresses to various devices so that troubleshooting is simplified and IP address conflicts are avoided.
My NEST thermostat connectivity had been generally very good, until a couple of weeks ago when I found that the NEST thermostat could not connect reliably to my router. (I had updated my router firmware about that time as … Read More »
Xbox 360 Power Supply Replacement
If you own one or more Xbox 360 in its various incarnations, including the newer 360S and 360E, you have likely experienced a power supply failure. These units all use an outboard power supply which plugs into the wall outlet at your local voltage, and connects to the 360 by a special power cable. I say special cable because the cable and plug design has charged numerous times over the years. The failure modes that I have experienced go something like this:
1) The power supply (“brick”) begins to get noisy on power up, but then settles down to its former noise level in a few minutes. This behavior continues for a few weeks or months. At this point I generally take the brick outside and blow it out with a super duster (canned air).
2) The noise … Read More »
Xbox One Media Center Solution
I have been learning the ins and outs of my new Xbox One over the past couple of weeks and here are some of my observations:
I like the tiled menu interface, and the look and feel of the menus
The entire system feels very fast and responsive
The integration of kinect seems to work well
No TV integration (guide or satellite/cable box) in Canada
Some games available, but nothing I am interested in as yet; let’s see what happens at E3
No Media Center (like the Xbox 360)
The last point is really critical for me. I want to use my Xbox One for my own music, pictures, videos, recorded TV, etc. In other words, I want Media Center functionality on my Xbox One. This is right in line with Microsoft’s vision for the Xbox One :
“The all-in-one entertainment system. Where … Read More »
NEST Thermostat Update and Voltage Measurements
I have had my NEST Gen1 for almost 16 months now and I probably could not go back to a regular dumb thermostat, given the choice. The NEST charging problem has been solved by connecting the “C” (AC Common) wire from my furnace to the NEST. See this post for details: Nest Thermostat Charging Solution
I find the monthly NEST Energy Reports very useful, and I am saving them so that when I make important changes to our house (new windows, more insulation, more efficient furnace, etc) I can see an actual difference.
I thought it would be helpful to anyone still troubled by the charging problem if I posted my NEST reported and measured voltages:
Furnace running (heating) NEST Reported Voltages: Voc 38.33V, Vin 31.57V, Vbat 3.864V, Lin 100mA (i)
Voltage measured between Rc and C (Power and … Read More »
The Nike Fuel Band: 5 Months On
I purchased a Nike Fuel Band in late June 2013 with an idea that I could use it as a step counter over the summer and during the winter. I did quite a bit of research, and examined competing products. While other products had more features, the Nike FuelBand was elegantly simple, easy to use, looked great and had the best software support (I do not use Android devices). Since receiving it in June, I have used it continuously for over 5 months, and I am still using it. How do I feel about it? I love it. It is easy to wear, rugged, and easy to use. No gimmicks, no BS; it just works.
I love statistics, so the hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and yearly charts on the Nike website are great. I can … Read More »
No Video Card Upgrade this round: No compelling reason
AMD recently came out with their reference design for the R9 series of video cards (Hawaii Chipset): R9 Video Cards Overview . I have read the reviews and the benchmarks, including comparisons to the 7990, GTX690 and Titan. I see no compelling reason to “upgrade” my GTX690. In fact, based on the benchmarks and reviews I have read GTX690 to R9 290X is more of a downgrade in power consumption, noise and mulit-monitor (2560 x 1600 X3) performance. Crossfire is out of the question, since it does not support individual monitor color calibration, and I don’t even want to think about the TDP of such a setup.
I have looked through many benchmarks which have the GTX690 and HD7990 in the top spot for most games at the resolution I mentioned above. The … Read More »
Windows Update Breaks Windows 7 Media Center Extender
This is a follow-up to my post regarding restoring Windows 7 Media Center after having problems with a couple of patches from Microsoft.
After restoring the WMC7 PC, most functions worked correctly, with the exception of:
1) TV Archive (it was working but failed on every file due to incorrect file permissions)
2) WHS 2011 did not longer see the restored WMC7 PC as a client, therefore automatic backups did not work, and the Lauchpad indicated that the WHS 2011 server was offline (it was not)
3) Some files, notably Recorded TV files, were no longer accessible from the WMC7 PC or from Extenders.
All of these issues were solved by performing the following steps:
1) Uninstall and then re-install the Extenders
2) Uninstall and then re-install the WHS 2011 connector software on the restored WMC7 PC
3) Make sure … Read More »
Windows Update Breaks Windows 7 Media Center Extender
The second Tuesday of the month has passed and Microsoft released another round of updates, fixing some critical vulnerabilities.
A summary of the July 9, 2013 update can be found here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/security/bulletin/ms13-jul
It turned out that my Windows 7 64-bit WMC (Windows Media Center) PC had 17 updates available. I applied all the updates, rebooting as required, and everything seemed to be running fine.
Unfortunately, I found that two of the patches had adverse effects on my WMC (Windows Media Center) Extenders. Specifically, the Extenders (Xbox 360) would boot into Media Center and then report a “Connection Failure” , reboot into Media Center, report a Connection Failure, etc, thus rendering them unusable.
After doing a system image restore to return the PC to its pre July 9 patch state (I have been down this road before), I … Read More »
Audible: Get it to work with WMP, Sonos and Itunes
I recently looked into joining Audible again after a hiatus of several years. Looking at the greatly expanded catalog, and the new owner (Amazon), I decided to take the plunge. My goal was to have all the audio books available on all my devices: Audible, Windows Media Player, my iPads and Sonos. The good news is that this can be done, but the process is not straightforward. There are a number things to watch out for:
Only use Audible Audio Format 4 for replay on all of the above devices. This is the highest quality that is available on all the devices. The “e” format sounds better, but will not play on Sonos or WMP
You need two pieces of software from Audible: the Audible Manager, and the Audible Download Manager. It is … Read More »