Jul 13, 2011

Jun - 29 2011 | By


Detecting Power Bill Anomilies using For Example the "Kill A Watt" device

Additional notes 

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Paul was in the studio, Glenn called in from Sacramento after some great difficulties in the studio.

Scott called about power line network adapters <these use the wiring in the house to carry the data between devices>. He's house was built in the '40s and all of the plugs are 2-pronge — there's no separate ground connector. He wants to know if the adapter will work in his house.
– Pauls thought it will work better if there's grounding but will probably still work without it.
– Buy it and try it. <Presumably making sure you can return it if it doesn't work>
The distance Scott has to span is about 30' to his workshop and Paul thought Wi-Fi should work if:
1) You get the units as close as possible.
2) You keep them away from cordless phones.
He's already tried using a combination modem/router from AT&T that has an internal antenna and Paul suggested getting one with an external antenna or a range booster.

Scott asked if the power line adapters are faster than wireless and Paul thought that his lack of a ground, old wiring and possibly having to go thru more than one electrical panel can make it slower (theoretically they might go faster Wi-Fi, under ideal conditions). He said a range booster could make wireless go up to 100 megabits/sec.

Paul kept trying to receive phone calls but some problem prevented him.

Paul mentioned that another KVMR broadcaster noticed her electricity bill went up substantially for no apparent reason.
– Ideally, call in electrician, if you can afford it.
– You can do some research yourself but don't interfere with the wiring in the house, you shouldn't have to in your initial investigation.
– Go around the house and make an accounting of everything plugged into the electrical outlets. Just because an appliance is off don't assume it's not drawing current.
– Keep a daily record of your utility meter reading.
– Keep in mind that there can be a huge difference in electrical consumption of appliances — e.g. stovetop burner vs. fluorescent lights.
– Each day, turn off a suspect appliance, including outside devices like well pumps (check for safety issues first). Then compare your record of meter readings to see if there's a substantial change.
– Old refrigerators may have deteriorating insulation or the refrigerant may have leaked causing the compressor to work more than it should — using excess energy. Check for similar issues with other thermostatically controlled appliances <e.g. air conditioner>.
– Paul said he's found a probe thermometer on Ebay for a few dollars that you can use to monitor the temperature inside a refrigerator or freezer.

<Paul didn't actually get around to the Kill A Watt device, whose link is above. Two previous shows mentioned it, too: May 19 2008 and May 5 2008.>

A clip from WHITE AND NERDY by Weird Al was played. See the above link.

Paul next talked about key cameras or spy cameras, which can be bought for about $10.
– They function as well in low light as full-scale tape video recorders of 5 to 10 years ago.
– They're about the size of USB flash drive and come with a tie clip-like bracket that allows you to attach it to, for instance, a dog or a kite. <To get interesting footage>
– They generally run at 30 frames/sec so they're not very good for rapid motion, but there may be some that run at 60 frames/sec.

Paul rebooted the Comrex system used by KVMR to receive phone calls.
<I think this may describe it. The company is here.>
– Paul said that computers (which is what the Comrex is) that have been running continuously for a long time may need to be rebooted, even the iPhone may benefit from a reboot every week or two.
– To reboot an iPhone hold down the power button on top of the phone for several seconds and slide the slider to the far right — that will shut the power down for a cold reboot. This is useful if you want to conserve power for a few days without a recharge. This is unlike a typical shut down where you push the button briefly and where the phone still receives calls.

After rebooting the Comerx, the phone system came back online we were able to hear Glenn calling in.

Glenn talked about the new-to-him iMac he bought recently, it's actually a couple of years old. He said he just upgraded the operating system to 10.5 and will eventually move it up to the latest — Lion.
– Access to the App Store has been added to the Mac computers so you can now buy and download Lion for $29.
– Paul said he's heard that when upgrading to Snow Leopard on a blank machine, you can use the previous version's, Leopard, CD to satisfy the licensing agreement, and complete the installation.
– Paul said that when you think you've closed an application on a Mac, the menu bar is left at the top and you have to go to File -> Quit or Option + Q.
– In the dock (on the Mac) are aliases <a particular type of icon> and there's a small mark under the alias if an app is still running in memory. If you hold the mouse button down while on the alias, you're given options to deal with the app — quit, force it to stay in the dock, or start at login.

The 1st step in diagnostics is to define the problem. If you can do it in 4 words or less, and they're unusual words, Google will have the answer. Youtube also has short tutorials that may solve your problem; use the same strategy to search for them.

Glenn's ultimately unsuccessful effort to fix his iPhone <mentioned in the Apr 27, 2011 show> was inspired by a Youtube video.

Paul warned people not to leave their cell phones in their hot cars, as he had done. It still worked but there was damage to the LCD screen.

Glenn received a message from Mike. He's using a Novatel USB 760 3G CDMA wireless to connect his laptop to the internet. He wanted to know if there is a device that can create a personal 3G hotspot.
– Yes but you have to be sure the one you're buying supports the model of your USB modem. These are called Mi-Fi units.
– It may be smarter to contact your carrier and ask them about the cost to convert your existing contract to Mi-Fi.
– Be aware that most providers now have data caps and it's easy to go over with multiple users on the hotspot.
– For $149 virginmobileusa.com has the Mi-Fi 2200 that has pay-as-you-go pricing for 3G.

Jay called. He's using XP Pro and would like to combine 2 logical partitions without losing data in the other partitions. He doesn't want to use Partiton Magic because of the cost. <Info about partitioning here.>
– Back up your files first.
– There is a free utility but it doesn't run under windows. It has to be booted from a CD. It's called Gnome Partition Editor or Gparted. <Read more about it here. You can get it here.>
– It comes as an ISO image file & you have to burn it to a CD using Nero or FreeUtility before using it. <I think he said FreeUtility but I couldn't find such a thing.>

<A couple of other ISO burners:
Infra Recorder…download here
ISO Recorder>

Vern called. He has a Macbook Pro upgraded to 10.6 & he lost his address book except for 1 entry. However, his mail program can see all the addresses.
– Paul thought some of the data files got moved and the data path was lost.
– Do a Google search for the words: data path mac address book

 Last Updated: 8:48 PM 7/13/2011

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