Nov 26, 2014

Nov - 13 2014 | By

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Podcasts of some Zentech shows are here.

Both Paul & Glenn were in the studio for today's show


Connie Coale, who contributes to the Music Magazine show on KVMR, came into the studio with her Mac Pro that has a CD stuck in it. She went online and got some tips to eject the CD but none of them worked. Later models of the Mac have a motor that pulls the CD into a slot, unlike older models, which had a drawer.
– Be sure there really is a CD in there.
– It's possible to get 2 CDs into a 'slot loading' type of drive, if you quickly put in the 2nd one before the mechanism, that's designed to prevent that, has a chance to engage.
– When the CD goes in, it goes down onto a spindle. If you use a bent wire to pull it out, the wire has to be pretty stiff so you can lift the CD off the spindle before pulling it outward.
– Check Youtube for videos of a disassembled drive to get a better idea of how CDs are positioned inside. It doesn't just sit on the spindle, the spindle actually holds the disk so it needs to be pried upward.
– Check to see if some foreign object got into the drive. Try shaking the laptop.
– In cases like this, try progressively more forceful methods, up to the point of damaging the CD disk. Start with the least invasive remedy.
– Also check if you have a warranty still in force — Apple Care, for instance. <Should probably be the first thing to do>

The disclaimer (paraphrased):
The views and opinions expressed on this show are those of the speakers only and not necessarily those of KVMR, its board, management, staff, contributors, or broadcasters.

Someone called in with a tip to eject a CD in a tray type of drive not realizing Connie had a slot type drive.

Glenn asked if it's easy to take the back off of a Mac Book Pro. Paul said it is easy except that newer models use proprietary screws — pentalobe screws. <Mentioned during the 8-27-14 show> The pentalobe screwdrivers are cheap and it may be hard to tell that's what you need — not a Phillips driver. You can get to the Mac Book Pro battery after taking off the back, but taking out the CD drive is harder. When buying a replacement drive, as with batteries, get a new one, Paul said. He mentioned, which has instruction for various repair jobs.

Paul said that as product designs become more efficient & compact, they also become harder to repair. He gave the example of Volkswagen engines that he used to work on. He used to be able to repair the 1600 engine with conventional tools. Then came the 2 liter fuel-injected, air-cooled engine, which was more complex and required special tools. The 1969 1600 engine had 40 brake horsepower and got 20 mile per gallon. Whereas 10 years later the 2 liter engine weighed only 1/5 more, had 5 times the number of components, with many things not repairable, but it had 60 brake horsepower and still got 20 miles per gallon. So it's not for nothing that things get more complex, he said.

The guys wished everyone a happy Thanksgiving. And Paul noted that Canadians also have Thanksgiving, but on a different date and for a slightly different reason. Their Thanksgiving follows a harvest festival, he said.

Paul mentioned a turkey recipe that involves putting a beer can inside a turkey. He cautioned people to make sure the beer can is opened first. One year he put leftover turkey bones in a microwave to make a stew. The marrow in the bigger bones expanded and eventually exploded the bones.

Paul went on to talk about microwave ovens.
– Microwaves heat by exciting the water molecules. Dry food has trouble cooking.
– The ovens need something in them to absorb the microwave energy. Empty ovens or dry food can damage the magnetron.
– Microwave ovens don't like to have conductive foil inside.
– If you want a demonstration of the wavelength used by these ovens, which are about 2.5 to 3 cm, put a piece of cheese on a slice of bread in the oven. Then run the oven without using a turntable. The standing microwaves will make the cheese melt in a pattern, leaving some parts unmelted. Then measure the distance between adjacent melted areas to get the wavelength.
– The wire mesh on the oven door prevents the microwaves from escaping.
– For those worried about EMF radiation, consider that the transformer, which supplies the magnetron, is where the bulk of the energy is. Those work at a much lower frequencies and don't produce ionizing radiation.
– You can order EMF meters from China that show you the frequency and intensity, if you're really concerned.
– Remember, you're almost always surrounded by man made EMF radiation from many source. Even if you can get away from that, there's always radiation coming from space.
<Much of this was covered during the 9-10-14 show>

Neil called. He's having trouble with his Internet Explorer browser on his Windows 7 computer. When he goes to some websites it says "Page cannot be displayed".
– If you have trouble starting IE, Paul suggested starting it in safe mode. <A couple of ways of doing it were discussed on the 6-18-14 show>. Starting IE wasn't Neil's problem.
– Go to Tools -> Internet Options -> Advanced and at the bottom it says Reset to default conditions. That should change errant setting to their default without changing the home page or passwords. The buttons you see in the settings depend on which version of IE you're using.
– If that doesn't work, there is button above it that says "restore advanced settings", which does a more aggressive reset.
– Go to Connections -> Lan settings and under Local Area Settings, none of the boxes should be checked. This should correct any problems with proxy servers.

Neil said that when using the Firefox browser, he gets a lot of advertising pop-ups. Glenn said there is a setting in Firefox to turn them off. Neil said he's tried that setting and it didn't help.
– Neil might have some malware on his machine and that may be the reason he's having problems with Internet Explorer, too.
– Update your anti-virus program and do a full scan. See if it comes up with anything interesting.
– In Firefox go to Tools -> Addons. Something may have installed itself there. If you see something that's not familiar, either Disable or Remove it. You may want to google an unfamiliar addon's name to see if it's been reported as malware.
– Try using the Chrome browser. Glenn said he doesn't think it even allows pop-ups.

Paul went on to say that laptop computers can be a fire hazard. Their Lithium-ion batteries are a liability even though there are failsafe features designed into them.
– The batteries are very vulnerable if they are physically damaged — dropped or bent. They may seem to work ok but they are subject to ignition because the insulation inside may have failed.
– Keep the batteries in a moderate temperature range — not over 70C, and don't put them in the refrigerator.
– Higher temperatures shorten the battery life.

Yvonne called. She had dropped her Mac laptop and damaged some of the cable connectors. She also said the battery doesn't hold charge like it used to.
– You can buy cheap a Chinese battery for about $30 and it may last a few months.
– You can buy a Chinese battery with a brand name on it and it may last 2 years and cost 3 times as much.
– You don't need a battery if you don't go anywhere. <Use the A/C wall plug>
– Eventually they determined her battery performance is actually quite good for being a few years old.
– For a new computer with an LED screen you can get several hours between charges. For machines 4 or 5 years old and a new battery, expect 2 or 3 hours. She gets more than the 2 to 3 hours, so she actually doing quite well.

She thought it was the Ethernet plug that's bent and the cable doesn't plug in. But they determined she has wi-fi so she shouldn't be using the cable. Then she clarified that the cable with the problem is the one that goes from the laptop to the tv — likely the VGA connection (not HDMI), considering the laptop's age.
– Since it's a Mac, Paul suggest she get Apple TV for under $99.
– By itself it can play Netflix content on the TV. It comes with a remote control.
– Using it with the Mac, she'll be able to send anything to the Apple TV and never have to worry about cables.

Paul then talked about inductive charging of mobile devices. This uses coils of wire in the charger and the device to transfer energy without wires to charge the battery. He discovered by accident that his 2013 2nd series Nexus 7 tablet has the ability to use the industry standard called Qi (chee) to charge inductively. Any Qi compliant charger should be able to charge it. He has one on order from China for $12. There are retrofit kits to install an induction loop into a device that didn't originally come with it.
More about Qi from the Wireless Power Consortium
Compatible products

He also discovered the Nexus 7 has the ability to read radio frequency ID tags (RFID) like the kind used to tag your cat and dog or the kind used on shipping containers and pallets of merchandise. Go to the Google Play store and search for RFID.

Additionally, there is a device available for the USB slot on the Nexus to allow it to send HDMI signals
— used for sending video to a TV.

Last Update 11:22 PM 11/26/2014