Nov 29, 2017

Nov - 29 2017 | By

3rd. Wednesday in the Month!
Raspberry PI & KODI– oh and a Teeny Keyboard, Too!
Failed High Sierra Update?
Wordpress– How?!
SonOff WIFI Controlled Devices!
Symptoms of a Dead SMC/BIOS battery
Prime Tests

Recycle Road, SAC



Notifications of new show notes and edits are tweeted at:
– They’re tagged with #Zentech.
– When what’s said is unclear to me (or I’m unfamiliar with a topic) I tend to quote (” “) verbatim.
– Editor’s comments are delimited by < >

For a couple of months, the audio of today’s show is here. Recent shows are here.

The intro and outro music was by Pentatonix.


Both Paul and Glenn were in the studio today.


Glenn started out by telling us about the cataract surgery he had about a year ago, which was followed by corrective surgery. He now has mono vision and doesn’t need reading glasses. One of his eyes is set for close-up vision, the other for further out. He can read well out to about 12″. Recently, he went to see the Thor movie in 3D but realized he’ll need glasses to get both eyes to focus at a distance.

Paul told us that the call letters ‘KVMR’ stand for Victoria Museum Radio. The ‘K’ means that it’s a West Coast station. After mentioning that KVMR has audio podcasts, he went on to talk more about podcasts, including videos.

Years ago he used to listen to Science Friday audio podcasts. Science Friday originated from The Canadian Broadcast Corp. They now produce video podcasts and Paul thinks they’re great. To find them, he said to search for the words: cbc science friday videocast.
< I’m not sure these are what Paul found, but they’re pretty good too — here and here>

He implied it was one of these videos that talked about cochlear implants. Earlier implants would regain about 30% of the hearing. The newer ones containing a microprocessor that increases the understanding of normal speech by 80%.

Paul mentioned that colorblind people have difficulty discerning the correct balance of red & green colors. Capuchin monkeys have been used in experiments where a virus is used to insert a gene into the eyes that restores the color receptors needed for the proper detection of color. Apparently it works in monkeys but hasn’t been tried in humans yet. He learned this from another Science Friday videocast, if I heard him correctly.

Paul said Youtube has a channel explaining how things are made. For example, use their search facility to find out how donuts holes are made using the search term: donuts how it’s made. I think the catch phrase is “how it’s made”.

Glenn said he likes the new operating system IOS 11 on his iPhone but isn’t thrilled with the keyboard on his iPad. He didn’t specifically say he upgraded the iPad to IOS 11, but I guess that’s implied.

He uses the feature that turns off notifications while he’s driving. The phone senses movement from driving to implement the feature. Glenn said use ‘Settings’ -> scroll down just a bit to “notifications control center do not disturb” to turn it on. Paul said version 8 of Android (named Oreo) also has this feature.

The guys talked about the new Firefox browser. Glenn said he doesn’t like the black tabs, with the only white tab representing the windows you’re looking at. That’s the only thing he’s noticed that’s new.

Paul said that around version 6 Firefox started putting out updates rapidly and versions jumped by whole numbers. It’s now up to about version 60 and has taken on a version name that he couldn’t remember. <I think it’s version 57 and is called Quantum.> It’s been completely rewritten under the hood but you don’t have to learn a lot of new stuff, he said.

Nobody makes 32bit CPUs anymore, they’re all 64bit now. Firefox used to be available in both versions but is now only for the 64bit machines. “32bit Firefox is still out there. It won’t work in XP. It won’t work in older Macs, which are 32bit. But if you have a new machine, which is 32bit, you can still get Firefox. It tends to rely on the underlying operating system. So if you got Windows 7, you’re going to get the latest Firefox even if it’s the older 32bit. Don’t worry about it,” Paul said.

<If you go to with your browser’s style sheets (CSS) turned off, you should see the links to the older Windows OS versions of Firefox, including XP. I’ve downloaded (but not yet installed v52.5 for XP). The actual 43.4meg .exe file is here.>

There are a couple of ways to upgrade, it will either do it automatically or you can go to the ‘Help’ menu -> ‘About Firefox’. “If it is not up in the 60 region and there is no button that says ‘update’ a couple of things could have happened. One is you are the unfortunate that has a machine that is too old to upgrade any further, especially if it says el1 or ec1, it means end of life or end or cycle. It means that you’re looking at version 40 something and it won’t go any higher. If you try and download it manually, it will not allow you to install it,” Paul said in his sometimes inscrutable manner. <He didn’t say what the second thing is.> <As I said, I haven’t tried to install v52.5, but suspect it will.>

When you go to install version 60 something, it will perform a clean install while saving your bookmarks and history, Paul said. It throws away the cache. To find out more about what’s going on, go to ‘Help’ -> ‘Trouble Shooting Information’. He said the new Firefox gained about 50% in speed and it works a lot better and it works with his plugins. <I heard some old plugins don’t work.>
<New Firefox Quantum Twice as Fast, 30% Less Memory:
Firefox 57 to Kill Many Addons: Tab Groups Alternative>

Glenn invited listeners to write with their questions and comments to zen at kvmr dot org.

Glenn said the old X10 and DSR home control units don’t work properly to dim LED light bulbs. There are control units called Sonoff that do work and the guys ordered some from Ebay. Soon after, the company disappeared and the guys have to apply for a refund. If you get into a similar situation with Ebay, go look at your order and on that page you can apply for a refund.

Paul found another source for the Sonoff switches. They plug into the wall outlet. Then you plug what you want to control into the switch. They have wi-fi and can be controlled directly by your mobile device. If you create an account, you can control them from anywhere you have an internet connection using a proxy server in China.
<Sonoff Wi-Fi Smart Light Switch,Works with Amazon Alexa and Google Home ,No Hub Required, Remote Control your Devices from Anywhere:>

For added security, Paul suggested creating a guest account on your in-house network that the switches will use. That will keep the switches separate from your normal network that you use for computers, mobiles, printers, etc.

A Sonoff unit has a programmable timer so you can set it to turn lights on an off according to a schedule. Paul uses one to switch his patio lights in this way. Glenn said they are about $23 on Ebay.

The Raspbery Pi and Arduino can talk to a Sonoff, too. Paul said they are great for kids to learn programming and build projects. There are knock-offs from China that are around $10, but you may have to download some software to get them to talk your computer.

Glenn noted that the only Sonoff units on Ebay at this time are the type that you have to put in-line in a wire (like an extension cord), not the type you plug into a wall socket. Be careful of the polarity (proper grounding) when you do the wiring. <See below.>

Arnie called. He had bad experience when he had a Mac Mini and did an upgrade only to find out that the software he’d been using no longer worked. So he recently bought a Dell PC and is looking for video editing software that’s easy to use but has a good compliment of features.
Microsoft Movie Creator is free. It’s pretty simple to use and Paul’s had success with it. It supports .mov and .wmv files. BE SURE you download it from the Microsoft site.
– You might also consider getting VLC. It’s free and plays and converts many formats of audio and video.
– There’s also Adobe Premiere and a cut down version called Adobe Premiere Elements. But they might be more than you need.
– Use Youtube for videos of how to use these programs. Search for something like “how to slow a movie down” or “how to create subtitles”.
– Paul looked up Adobe Premiere Elements and found a cyber Monday deal for $60. Be sure you’re not buying the subscription version where you pay yearly to use the software online — get the downloadable version (or CD).
– Glenn said the cyber Monday deal expires today. The regular price is $99. The combo of Photoshop Elements and Adobe Premiere Elements package is $150.
<I CAN’T VOUCH FOR THIS SITE. If you have an older Windows OS check this out.>

Alan Stahler called with some info about the polarity of wires/plugs (mentioned above). The broad blade of a plug is neutral and it’s connected to the white wire. Short (narrow) blade goes with the black wire. The green wire goes to the ground. He also said that disabling (cutting off) the third prong off a plug is a bad idea, especially for outdoor use. It’s there to keep you from being electrocuted.

Bob called with a tip for people with Windows 10. He’s encountered a problem right after a Windows 10 upgrade. The problem is “the display resolution goes to 640 X 480 and the 1920 X 1080 is not available for you.” So the display was crappy. The fix was to do a restore to a restore point just before the upgrade. Apparently, when the upgrade installed the next time, his problem didn’t return. He suspected Microsoft had a bad upgrade package and replaced it, so his second try was fine.

Paul said some people have experienced failure during the upgrade to the latest version of the Apple operating system called High Sierra v11.13. Their machines “blacked out and went squitty”, he said. The solution he offered is that when starting, up hold down the Command key & R keys. That makes it use a recovery partition and you’ll have enough function to go online and use Safari and perform a disk check and reload the operating system.

Glenn said the Flea Market is back to it’s regular schedule and will be on tomorrow.

Last Updated 12:10 AM 11-30-2017

) turned off, you should see the links to the older Windows OS versions of Firefox, including XP. I’ve downloaded (but not yet installed v52.5 for XP). The actual 43.4meg .exe file is