Mar 25, 2015

Mar - 11 2015 | By

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Both Paul & Glenn were in the studio today.

Glenn said the check engine light in his car came on and he went over to Paul's house to borrow his OBD2 code reader to diagnose the problem. After some research and finding the right software, he discovered the car had a problem with the emission control system. He cleared it of the error state and decided to wait and see if it comes back, before fixing the problem.

OBD stands for on board diagnostics. The device works with cars made since about 1999 that have a socket for it to plug into. Garage mechanics have an expensive diagnostic tool that plugs into the socket to determine the condition of the car.

The software Glenn found for his iPhone communicated with Paul's OBD2 to find out what error codes his car was sending. His iPhone connected to the OBD2 using wi-fi. He wanted to use Bluetooth instead so he could then use wi-fi to get on the net and search for the meaning of the error codes. But he couldn't get his iPhone to talk to the OBD2 via Bluetooth, though Paul's Nexus tablet, running Android, had no problem connecting to the device. Glenn was not able to find similar software for his iPad.

Bluetooth has gone thru at least 3 manifestations since it appeared some 12 to 15 years ago, Paul said. But he had trouble believing that the OBD he got from China has Bluetooth so advanced that the iPhone can't talk to it.

The OBD operates in 2 modes. It stores any error codes that indicate problems and it can continually send dynamic info such as engine rpm, inlet vacuum, fuel consumption, etc.

Glenn mentioned that freight trucks here in the US have barcode on them and that weigh stations along freeways have barcode readers deployed a couple of miles before a truck gets to the scales. As a truck approaches the scales, its barcode is read, allowing the scale operators to decide if they want the truck to be inspected or to bypass the scale facility.

Paul had his Nexus 7" tablet with him. It's the 2013 edition <2nd edition as I recall>. They're now up to the 4th edition and is made by ASUS. It's the only Android tablet with the Google name on it and the one that developers tend to use. All of the editions are eligible for the latest operating system update — version 5.1 called Lollipop. Google staggers the updates so only a certain percentage of users will get the update on a given day. The updates tend to become slimmer (take less memory) and use less power to minimize battery drain.

Paul is grudgingly getting used to using the touch screen. Glenn took to it quickly but still prefers a full keyboard if he has much typing to do. If he uses the iPad in landscape mode (held horizontally), he can type pretty well, but the iPhone is just too small, Glenn said.

Always looking to reuse and recycle, Paul has settled on Lubuntu (a version of Linux) as a replacement operating system for computers currently running Windows XP.
– It doesn't have a great demand for hardware resources and is therefore more suitable for older computers. Be sure to get the 386 version, Paul said. <I think he meant the 32bit version>.
– It doesn't look like XP but it's familiar enough that people should be comfortable with the transition.
– He said it comes with Open Office or its offshoot Libre Office. Both are replacements for Microsoft Office.
– Glenn helped a computer illiterate friend install a version of Ubuntu and she's been getting along with it just fine.
<About Lubuntu (see "External links" on that page)>

Windows 7 & 8 are not, strictly speaking, multi-user systems. They are single user systems with multiple logins. To run some updates, like for the anti-virus, requires an administrator privilege. Ordinary users have a lower privilege. At KVMR there's software that runs as an administrator to do the updates while an ordinary user is also logged in and browsing the internet. This situation opens a computer to being exploited by malware, which elevates its privilege to administrator. This is less likely to occur on Linux and Mac machines.

Glenn said Apple services like iTunes do not let people with AOL email addresses to login. The same is true if your email ends in @me.com.

Ellen called. When she was working for a particular company, there was no company email so she used a her personal email to get an Apple ID <for company use, I guess>. Once she left the job, "the Mac continues to default to the old Apple ID". She changed her email address but she still gets notifications when the user of that computer tries to do something that involves Apple. She asked, "is there a way to disconnect the Apple ID from the computer".
– You need to log in to your Apple ID on a web page using a browser.>
– On that page click the button 'Manage your Apple ID' and use your former email address and the associated password.
– Then change the password on the account so that Mac can't log in as you any more. Or you can change the email address. But she said she's already done that.
– Paul asked if there's another device that uses that Apple ID, like an iPhone. She said no. She added that the notification she gets comes to a backup email address.
– Eventually Paul realized that what's happening is that the notifications come when the current Mac user tries to log in and fails. If they try that often enough, they'll be blocked, he said.
– "In order to get around this, would be to change the email address itself so that email address is no longer valid, so neither the email address nor the password is valid on that Mac", Paul said.
– Again, she said she's changed the email address. Paul said "it shouldn't be notifying you".
– The person currently using the Mac should create their own Apple ID at that website.
<It seems like she should change the backup email address, if that's where she's getting the notifications.>

Richard called. He's a former Windows XP user who switched to Linux (to Mint 16 Cinnamon). He likes it so far and it's pretty stable. He wants to know how to determine what hardware works with Linux. In particular, he'd like to get a sound card.
– If the hardware is pretty mainstream, Linux should work fine with it.
– At the command line issue the command 'lspci' <maybe ls pci> to get a list of devices plugged into the motherboard that it recognizes. Similarly, 'lsusb' <maybe ls usb> will list the devices using USB.
– Most stuff works without additional software. Typically you don't have to download drivers.
– Alternately, go to Ebay and get a USB sound card for $3 or $4. It should work without additional drivers on both Windows & Linux machines.
<New features in Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon
You can download it here>

Richard also said he hasn't been able to update the Flash player on his machine.
– Somewhere in the Mint menus, look for where it says update or upgrade Mint. That will usually get the newer Flash player, too.
– Get Chrome, the browser made by Google, which uses HTML5 — websites are gradually replacing Flash content with HTML5.

Richard asked if it's possible to run iTunes on Linux.
– No but you can use WINE to run some Windows programs. Then use iTunes for Windows.
– For more info, search for the words: mint wine.
<This webpage gives some guidance.>
<A little more about Wine here.>

Finally, Richard asked about listening to audio on Linux. Paul said try VLC (Video Lan). It's a great program that plays various formats and video too. It's available for Windows & Mac.

Last update 12:07 AM 3/26/2015