tech

By aaron.axvig, 18 July, 2020

Micro USB is often frustrating because you have to look at the cable and the device carefully to plug it in the correct way.  Optionally you can just try and flip if it doesn't work...pretty quick.  USB C is a reversible port so resolves that issue.

My phone's USB C port has apparently become damaged, probably from a little rain exposure.  Now it only charges with any given cable inserted one way, and not the other.  This is even more annoying than micro USB because it takes longer to see if the phone is charging or not (C) than to feel whether the plug inserts (micro).  So I have about a year of that to look forward to.

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By aaron.axvig, 23 November, 2019

A week or two ago I read this article about AirBnB scammers and it was pretty interesting.  This week we used a Turo car for a day and I can't help but wonder if I was part of some scam.

  1. The listing was for a Fusion, but said in the description that it was actually a Fiesta and for some weird reason they weren't able to update the listing.  Probably they previously had a Fusion listing and wanted to keep the same reviews or something instead of creating a new car listing.  Anna used my phone to make the reservation so I hadn't read the description, so I was more frustrated by this vehicle change initially, then realized that it was partly my fault.  But still...the car model should be correct.
  2. The car still had dealer plates on it.  The dealer paperwork in the glovebox showed that the car was purchased four months prior, so they should definitely have the plates by now.  When I later read the reviews, one said they walked away from the car over this issue.
  3. The host asked that I text them a picture of my driver's license with the odometer.  I'm not sure why including this photo in the Turo app wouldn't be good enough.  Probably Turo has a policy saying that the host can't ask for that sort of personal info.  Anyways, I idiotically did text them the photo so now they have my phone number and DL info.  Not smart.

A few hours into the car rental I started to figure out how sketchy all of this was.  I submitted a support ticket with Turo but still haven't heard anything back two days later.  Hopefully I don't get my identity stolen and hopefully that host gets shut down!  I haven't been able to figure out exactly what the host would be gaining so maybe there is no scam.

Next time we will probably look into a regular car rental.  I don't think it is much more expensive.  And while car rental companies can sometimes be frustrating, at least you know it is almost certainly innocent incompetence and not malicious activity.  So there is a balance: more personal dealings (Turo, AirBnB, Couchsurfing, etc.) which may be cheaper, more convenient, and/or more personal, versus real businesses where you may pay more and get a bland experience that you know is going to be the same every time.

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By aaron.axvig, 16 November, 2019

This is our "anchor watch" situation in an app called Aqua Map Marine. These tracks are since yesterday afternoon when the wind started blowing hard.

I positioned the anchor icon after anchoring so it is kind of a guess, but as we swing in arcs I can move it to the center of the arcs to be more accurate.

It goes off a couple times per night saying "BAD GPS ALERT, BAD GPS ALERT" which just means it has lost GPS signal. Usually it has figured it out by the time I wake up and pick up the phone, so that is annoying.  Out bedroom is under the cockpit so it doesn't have great exposure to the sky.  Fiberglass is pretty transparent to RF but there are some storage lockers with a lot of stuff in them and I bet the solar panels are good at blocking it.

The long straight lines are from when it gets an inaccurate reading, then a line is drawn back to our actual location as correct readings are put into what appears to be an averaging model.  There is a time delay on the out-of-bounds alarm so I think only once has it actually alarmed when it is doing this behavior.

It runs in the background using the GPS continuously which uses up maybe 50% of the phone battery (Pixel 3A) in 8 hours.

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By aaron.axvig, 19 February, 2009

After pounding my head at this off-and-on over the last five weeks (previously thwarted), I have mashed enough VBScript skills into it (my head) that I figured out how to script the pinning of items to the taskbar.

 

Set objShell = CreateObject("Shell.Application")
Set objFolder = objShell.Namespace("C:\")
Set objApp = objFolder.ParseName("Notepad.lnk")
For Each verb in objApp.Verbs()
If verb.Name = "Pin to Tas&kbar" Then verb.DoIt
Next

For this to work, you need to have a valid shortcut Notepad.lnk in C:\.  To do a pin to the start menu, replace “Pin to Tas&kbar” with “Pin to Start Men&u”.  Yes, you need the ampersands, they are there as keyboard shortcuts.  Right-click on a shortcut and push K and it will pin that to the taskbar.

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By aaron.axvig, 5 February, 2009

I encountered an issue at work when we wanted to add some gadgets to the Vista Sidebar.  Upon opening the Add Gadget panel, all of the available gadgets briefly appeared and then faded out, leaving a blank window.

This can be resolved by resetting the user’s Settings.ini file for the Sidebar.  This is located at %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Sidebar.  Just rename Settings.ini to something else after you close Sidebar (must be closed from system tray too), and then re-launch Sidebar.  A new Settings.ini will be created.  All of the user’s Sidebar settings will be reset, but at least they are now able to add gadgets.

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By aaron.axvig, 13 January, 2009

I have been annoyed by needing to setup my taskbar pinned items every time I set up a new Windows 7 install, so really wanted to find out where they are stored.  They are buried pretty deep: C:\Users\**Username**\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch\User Pinned\TaskBar

So now I will be able to keep a copy of a bunch of shortcuts handy and just copy them in there.  I'm thinking cmd, Notepad, Calculator, several Office apps, Irfanview, and Paint will be priorities for now.

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By aaron.axvig, 12 January, 2009

Windows 7 is shaping up to be a pretty perfomant operating system.  I've been ripping CDs in the background, which easily maxes out the processor on my 1.83GHz Pentium M.  All the while I've been playing songs and browsing websites with no performance problems.  Only just now when I added installing Acrobat Reader on to the top of all that did I notice some slow-downs (slight glitches in music playback).

Now you might say that this is no big deal, an OS should be able to do all of those things.  But this is with 512MB of RAM, the afore-mentioned processor, and a crappy laptop HDD.  So far I would say the performance is way closer to XP than Vista was on this machine.  But the features are way better than XP.  I'll try not to get too optimistic, but from what I've seen in the last few hours Windows 7 is going to be a hot item.

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By aaron.axvig, 28 December, 2008

2019-10-26 - Using TT-RSS on my server now.

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I used to use Outlook for my RSS feed reading, and before that IE7.  Outlook was definitely a step up from IE7 as I could group feeds into folders (Microsoft, Tech News, Other, etc.) and then just read all the articles in that folder one-by-one.  However, it was annoying to have to change the location it saved the feed every time that I added a new feed; it would otherwise create a separate folder for every feed.

I re-did my Outlook setup a couple weeks ago due to losing Exchange connectivity, and figured out an easier way to set that up.  I just let each feed create its own folder, and then set up a rule to move all RSS articles into a new "RSS" folder outside of the "RSS Feeds" folder that Outlook uses by default.

However, I just re-installed Windows Vista and found myself setting up Outlook again, but this time the Rules menu is not there.  I think this is because I have no mail account setup.  I can't get Outlook Anywhere to connect through 95% of the NAT routers that I connect from behind, including the one here at home.  Outlook won't connect over Hamachi, and I didn't want to fiddle around with OpenVPN for the seemingly endless hours which that will eat up.  So no Exchange setup in Outlook for now (believe me, I want to get this working so badly but can't figure out anything simple to do it).

Since I couldn't get my rules setup, I figured it might be time to explore a new feed reader.  I have been playing with Drupal quite a bit at work lately and saw that it has a feed aggregator, but that did not meet my needs as it was simply a feed aggregator.  By that I mean there was no way to mark feeds as read or delete them; it just took multiple RSS feeds and combined them into one.

After a few minutes of surfing the RSS feed reader list on Wikipedia, I kind of randomly decided to check out RSS Bandit.  I went and checked out the RSS Bandit site and saw two things that immediately drew me in: it was written in .NET and it supported syncing to Google Reader.

So a quick download and install and it's up and running, and we get to the meat of what this article was really supposed to be: my initial thoughts on RSS Bandit.

The initial folder structure on the left is fairly straightforward.  I promptly deleted all of the existing categories which was tedious.  I added a Microsoft category and started adding feeds.  The wizard for that is 5 or 6 screens long, which gets pretty annoying, but there are a lot of features that it packs in there so I can handle cruising through it with some quick mouse clicks.

Reading feeds is quite similar to Outlook: viewing a category (basically equivalent to an Outlook folder) will show all the articles in a message list/reading pane format.  Read them and they are marked as read, and I also delete them.  An annoyance is that when I need to scroll down in the reading pane the message loses focus so it needs to be re-selected before hitting delete.  There are also some special folders (Special Feeds) setup for things like all unread items which come in handy.

The Google Reader syncing left me disappointed though.  I had been really excited to have the ability to read feeds when online or offline, from both of my computers, and still have everything synced.  I tried to set it up, but it created a whole new list of feeds and I didn't see any easy way to transfer over the feeds and categories that I had already setup on my local computer.  The blame for not getting this working probably lies with me for not putting enough time into figuring it out.

But I quickly found that there is the option to store feed data on a network share.  This would be almost ideal for me, as it is rare that I don't have my tablet PC with me and want to read some feeds, and I could sync my desktop with the share which I would have on my tablet.  I have turned this on, but it has yet to put any data into the folder so I'm not sure what's going on.

A couple last sweet things:

  • For some feeds it will show the comments as sub-members of articles.  Pretty neat.
  • There is a built-in web browser.  No longer does clicking a link in an article open a separate browser window, it just opens a new tab in RSS Bandit.  I have mine set to open in the background so I can keep burning through the feeds and then go back and read the web site later.  When I used Outlook, it would open IE7 and then I would have to Alt+Tab back to Outlook to keep reading.
  • The program stores its data in AppData in the user's profile folder.  As a tech support person that has spent a lot of time getting application to work for users which do not have administrative rights to a computer, it is nice to see a program observing best practices and storing data in the proper place.  Stuffing things in Program Files is not cool.
By aaron.axvig, 18 November, 2008

A while back I posted an idea of mine.  Specifically, I suggested that it would be nice to have an easy way to upload photos to Facebook from Windows Photo Gallery.

Well I just found out that there has been a plug-in developed for Windows Live Photo Gallery for exactly this.  It even covers the most important of the features I had laid out.  Nice to see.

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By aaron.axvig, 6 November, 2008

2019-10-26 - This new blog is set up on Drupal!

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I started playing around with Drupal at work this morning, and this particular package just has me bouncing off the walls with joy.  It's the most excited I've been about a piece of software for quite a while.  Some of this elation is no doubt due to the fact that I've been able to set it up to do almost exactly what I want to do, which is something I had not expected to find a product capable of.  (Sorry for the vagueness of this post, with all the non-specific module mentioning and such, but I don't want to be responsible for damage from leaked business plans.)

The interface is clean, and the administration is smart.  I've added a couple modules, and the installation is really easy.  One of the things that I hadn't seen before in a system of this type was the quite well done system of dependencies.  When you want to turn on a module, it tells you which other modules are required.  You can check the boxes for those, and then you will be able to check the box for the module you wanted to turn on.  Easy.

Then I went to configure the module I installed and it had some things that needed to be setup in another module before I could use the one I had installed.  It actually told me, in the admin pages, what the exact problems were, one at a time, until I had gone and fixed all of them.  No silly searching online for solutions to error messages or for walk-throughs that barely match my configuration.

So, I am now in love with this pretty little content management system.  I literally can't wait to show my boss what I rigged up for him! :)

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