Aug 10, 2016

Aug - 10 2016 | By

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 will be here. Recent shows are here.



Both Paul and Glenn broadcast from the Nevada County Fair.
– Located at the fair grounds in Grass Valley.
– The fair runs from Wednesday thru Sunday.
– Gates open at 10am every day and close at 11pm. On Sunday they’ll close at 9pm.
<Happening Each Day At the 2016 Nevada County Fair>


Phone calls could not be taken at the fair and the listeners were invited to email their questions and comments. The address is zen at kvmr dot org.

Back in 1999, when this show started, people used flip phones which, as Paul remembered, were analog and therefore subject to interference and hacking. The analog phones had a longer range than digital phones which require a stronger signal.

There was a recent show, though not a Zen Tech show that broadcast from the Nevada City city hall. One of the things discussed were the booster antennas on a local building. <From what I could tell, these transmitted the KVMR signal.> Paul noted that the radio signal is propagated horizontally, not up or down, in a donut shaped pattern.
<The subject of warnings on radio towers was briefly mentioned during the 7-13-16 show.>
<Correction: Though it sounded like Paul talked about a meeting at the city hall that already happened, in fact it was postponed until 8-18-16 when one subject will be cell phone booster antennas. It’s not clear if there will be much tech discussed or if it will be broadcast on KVMR. More info here.>

Glenn helped Paul install a refrigerator at Paul’s home recently. Glenn was fortunate in finding a manual and related material on the internet. And Paul said that such searches often turn up material that has nothing to do with what you were looking for. He said it’s because some sites that use a download manager, get an affiliate fee by displaying ads while downloading. <They take the opportunity to send you ads without giving you what you expect.>

Glenn talked about a BSR home control system that controls the lights and appliances. VSR eventually was taken over by X10. He installed the system in his home but found that it can’t handle low wattage lights (his 7 & 9 watt LED bulbs). When he turned the lights off, they would flicker because there was there was still a small amount of current flowing. The same was true with some compact fluorescent lights. The solution was to switch from using X10 lamp modules to appliance modules. Apparently, the lamp modules had the ability to be dimmed, but they leaked current. The appliance modules couldn’t be dimmed and worked fine.

Paul said the appliance modules have a relay that would be either on of off. The lamp modules use a silicon controlled rectifier that expects at least 20 to 30 watts for the load. He said the modules were made before LED lights (and possible before compact fluorescent lights) became popular.

The question then became, can you use these modules to control an air conditioner? Now you’re dealing with an inductive load that can temporarily go higher than the typical 15amps you normally get from a wall outlet. Paul looked closely at one of the modules and it was rated for a plain resistive load of 15 amps and an inductive load of 10 amps. He thought it would go up in smoke if he tried to run the air conditioner with it.

The date for controlling in the X10 system is transmitted along the house wiring at the point when the sinusoidal AC current is at zero, Paul added.

Rea Callender, the CEO for the Nevada County Fair, join the conversation. Some of the highlights follow:
– He’s been with the fair for 14 months.
– He said that of the 78 fairs in California, this one is said to have the most beautiful fair grounds. The marigolds are especially beautiful this year, he said.
– There 7400 exhibits at the fair and the exhibitors can enter using online forms.
– The land is owned by the state and is operated by a fair board that’s appointed by the governor, unlike other fair grounds that are typically owned by their respective counties.
– There are wi-fi hot spots for all of the vendors.
– Broad-spectrum wi-fi can be hard to set up. Buildings, trees and the shear number of people make it difficult.
– The fair has a presence on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as well as conventional print media, to promote the fair.
– All of the California fairs pool together to buy insurance against bad weather as a hedge to protect their revenue.
– You can buy a ticket with your smartphone and have the phone scanned at the gate when you enter. You can also print the tickets yourself.
– The fair is in a partnership with Nevada City Film Festival to show movies. As a test, they featured 3 movies this summer on their huge screen and high tech sound system. They plan to have 6 movies next summer.
– This year the fair has charging stations for mobile devices. One is by the entrance, one by the “foundation station” and another at gate 1 by the ATM. Bring your own cable that can use a 110 volt socket.
– You can get to the fair by going to “nevada union” <a school, I think> and catch a free bus. They leave every half-hour.

Paul mentioned that the Zen Tech website runs WordPress on a virtual Linux server. In the past you could buy a domain ( for about $30 a month. A similar price can get you a virtual server now.

Glenn said the Flea Market show doesn’t broadcast during the fair because they can’t take phone calls at the fair. A music show will be aired tomorrow in its place.

Also, the Flea Market website is down. Paul has been working to get it going on the new virtual server. He said it’s a issue of running old software on the new system.

Glenn wonder if the free Windows upgrade offer is still available. Paul said the offer officially ended last month. If you’re getting the notification to upgrade, Microsoft might want to charge you for it, but he wasn’t sure.
<How to: Download Windows 10 Free (Extended) After Deadline
Taking the Windows 10 Express; Windows 10 Anniversary Update; even if you chose the Express Settings during setup, you can still make adjustments:>

Microsoft no longer supports the developers of software for Windows 7 but they will support your copy of Win7 itself up to 2020.

Glenn said he’s having problems with Win10 bogging down his computer. He’s thinking of backing up Win10 and switching back to Win7 and also putting Linux on his computer.

The disclaimer:
The views and opinions heard on the radio show are those of the speakers only and not necessarily those of KVMR staff, volunteers, underwriters or anyone else.

A listener named Paul wrote in with a question about his Samsung Galaxy Note 2. He’s been having trouble with the GPS while using Google Maps for driving directions.
– The phone’s GPS needs a pretty good view of the sky.
– The dash of a car is usually a good spot.
– The GPS takes maybe a minute to acquire its location after you turn it on.
– Get out in the open with at least a 90 degree view of the sky so it can acquire the signal. Once it’s done that it can cope with a weaker signal, like inside of a car.
– Trees and tall buildings can mess it up.
– Go to Settings -> About and update the firmware of the phone. Do this while on wi-fi so you’re not using up the data of your cellular plan.

Paul (the caller) also wanted to know if resetting his phone would help and if so, how to save his contact info.
– Glenn suggested he do a Google search.
– Paul said that the latest version of Android (Marshmallow) will do a complete online backup so when you restore your phone, it puts you back where you started off. He said to do the firmware upgrade first before wiping the phone.

Correction about a city hall meeting about booster antennas. See above.

Last Updated 4:31 PM 8-15-2016

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