Found a Great Solution for Protecting Against Single Point Sump Pump Failures

(posted 6/11/2015) - Everyone with a basement eventually has a sump-pump failure. This is separate from the cases where electricity goes out. That failure can be dealt with via backup generator and an automatic transfer switch, or by running a local battery and inverter with built in auto-transfer switch. I'm talking about those cases where the primary sump-pump either fails to start or fails to draw water.

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One Man Band (OMB 11) Converts Yamaha PSR Style Files to Midi Which Can Be Directly Converted to JammerPro 6 Styles

(posted 2/18/2015) - So JammerPro Vers. 6 was released in 2006 and has languished as a product (no more development). It is a great MIDI composing application with several hundred musical styles available that allow some really nice musical compositions to be created quickly. It has the ability to convert any Midi sequence (usually in one measure chunks) into a named style file to which one can then add further midi 'riffs' along with weights and rules for how to compose the actual midi events into melodic, chord, and percussive sequences.

The problem has been that JammerPro users would prefer to build on the shoulders of other composers rather than create each style from scratch. Yamaha has published literally tens of thousands of style files for their PSR / Tyros lines of arranger keyboards. The format for these file is not readable by JammerPro and many a user has moved on from JammerPro because of this lack. Now I've found a workaround!

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Thoughts on High Performance Summer Tire Replacement

(posted 10/25/2014) - Bought a 2014 Ford Focus ST this summer. Really enjoy the car... the OEM 235/40R18 Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 tires, mounted on 5-108 18x8 wheels, provides fantastic traction when putting down 200+ horsepower to the front wheels (ST rated @252 BHP).

Here in the mid-west winter temps arrive beginning in November. I found that summer tires are hazardous when temperatures drop into the 30 F degree range. It's called the 'glass transition' temperature. The summer rated rubber compound turns from grippy to glass-like when it gets cold. The result is that even on cold clear days you've lost most of your traction and the car becomes hazardous to drive. How hazardous? Actual tests indicate 20X increases in stopping distances between winter and summer tires in cold weather!

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Interesting Rule for Finding X and Y Coordinate intercepts when given a Linear Parameterization In Each Coord Variable

(posted 11/15/2013) - So my new son-in-law was doing some math exercises for class this evening and called to ask why he was not getting an answer that matched his tutoring software. He gave me a problem to work, we did it together and our agreed upon answer didn't match the 'answer-book.'

Well, hubris always brings one low, cause I first tried to do the variable substitution in my head and of course got it wrong (but so did John)! After I actually wrote it down and looked at my algebra I quickly realized I can't subtract and divide very well ... needless to say I did ultimately get the same answer as the tutorial required.

But, to get to the point of this post, I think I discovered a kind of cool alternative to doing parametric substitution to get the desired line and solving for Y with X set to 0; then solving for X with Y set to zero (ie, the intercepts). So, I've included my new approach to finding X, Y intercepts when X and Y are parameterized functions of another variable.

Anyway, here's the solution I worked up -- the only real challenge was verifying the 8-permutations of sign associated with two slope coefficients and the system determinant. The mental exercise was kinda fun, actually...

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Using the TC-Helicon VoiceTone Harmony-M Midi Harmonizer

(posted 10/19/2013) - Like a lot of amateur musicians I have longed for a good real-time harmony composer to go along with my arrangements (guitar and keyboard). I've been looking at the current crop of $500+ voice effects boxes, which also include 3 to 8 harmonized voices intelligently generated based on the analog multi-timbral instrument signal and/or midi-control information passed into the box along with the singer's voice signal.

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Initial Reaction: Using the New LeapMotion 3D Controller

(posted 7/27/2013) - In a word, underwhelmed. The claimed resolution (1/100mm motion detection) doesn't seem to translate to the vague positional feel I experienced in trying to use one or more fingers to move an icon on the PC screen. I suspect there will be some interesting applications that come to market designed just for this little 3D-space controller, but the ones that came bundled for free were not particularly so.

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How to Epoxy Cold Weld a Broken Window Regulator Shaft

(Posted 8/14/2011) - The manual window regulator shaft on my driver side door broke last week (the gear-reduction shaft into the regulator assembly broke in two). I was faced with spending $70 to replace the window regulator assembly (plus my labor to remove the old twin rail/cable style window carrier and replace with the new unit). Being an engineer it crossed my mind to look into using an epoxy based cold-weld (liquid metal) product to rejoin the broken regulator shaft pieces instead of doing a system replacement. Here's what I learned.

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How to Share a Vista Directory with XP Machines in a Local Network

(Posted 1/6/2011) - It seems simple but network sharing in Vista kinda turns the security access control settings upside down from what you are used to in the XP world.

It is no longer sufficient to just mark a directory (in Vista) as shared and expect it to become visible to other users in your local network. Sharing is a necessary but not sufficient step. It is but step one of a two step process -- both steps will be described in the following paragraphs.

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Odd Forms Behavior Results When Duplicate Server Cookies Created Because of 301 Redirect in HTACCESS File

(Posted 10/21/2010) - It appears that when a PHP session cookie is generated and sent to a client (often because a user form needs to pass information across page boundaries) there is an interaction with htaccess redirection (301, 302) in that one cookie is generated for www.aString.com and another for aString.com -- and while both have the same cookie name, they have different cookie sessionID values.

When a PHP script subsequently attempts to get the value for the named cookie, it may get the wrong sessionID value, with unpredictable results.

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Fix Joomla Install Error 'Cannot Connect to MYSQL Database'

(Posted 9/22/2010) - Most of us forget to first create a database (name) and to setup a user-name and password for full access to our Joomla CMS via PHPmyadmin before we get to the Joomla Install point that declares the database name, user-name, and password.

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Converting QuickTime MOV Files to AVI / WMV Formats

(Posted 8/2/2009) - Everyone has a digital camera or digicam these days. Many of these devices store their digital movies in QuickTime Movie format (MOV file wrapper) containing an embedded H.264 AVC (MPEG 4) packet stream recorded at anywhere from 8 to 24 megabits / second.

If you have a PC running at less than 2.2 GHZ and try to play these movie files you may find that the processing is too much of a load - symptoms of this are stuttering frames, motion speed changes as buffers under / overflow, lost audio, etc. One solution is to transcode the original high definition (720p or 1080p) signal stream to a lower rate which still looks great on your PC monitor but doesn't overload you PC processor during playback. Here are some things you can do on a PC to tune-up your movie editing / playing experience.

  • Unload your MOV files onto your PC using a USB cable, with your camera vendor's USB driver directed to the XP / Vista Digital Camera Wizard. An example tutorial I found for my camera (the Kodak Easyshare Z-1085IS) is here .

    The advantage of not using your vendor's USB application is speed of transfer. The Microsoft Camera Wizard will load your huge movie files more quickly than the picture editing application provided by your camera vendor.

    Alternatively, you can use an SDHC card-reader with USB cable and dispense with any special driver / usb application. They are both equally fast in my experience.

  • To successfully play your AVI (H.264 encoded) movies you should download the GNU licensed freeware codec pack called FDDShow here .

    Install the package and select VFW option with recommended defaults. This will allow all your Video for Windows applications eg. Movie Maker and Windows Media Player (versions 10, 11) to properly decode the H264 stream contained in your AVI file wrappers.

  • Use the Pazera freeware application MOV2AVI to convert each MOV high-rate file to an AVI lower-rate file. A link to one source for the download can be found here .

    This MOV2AVI program doesn't write anything into your MS registry so just unzip it into a directory of your choice and link to the executable on your desktop or start-menu to invoke.

    I selected the following parameters for conversion:

    • Convert to AVI
    • Select 2000 KB/s at 30 fps
    • Use H.264 encoding
    • Select output video size as 852 x 480p HD (assumes 1080p or 720p input stream)
    • Check the box if you want the audio channel suppressed.

    Convert your files (default is to place them in the same directory holding the original MOV files, with the same names but AVI extension).

  • Open XP / Vista Movie Maker and import the AVI files and any mix-down audio files you want for your edits. Use Movie Maker properties-options to set the video format to 16:9 to avoid squishing (default is 4:3). Remember we're using 852 x 480 HD here.
  • When you render to a movie, choose the movie maker option for highest quality - the movie data will indicate the 852 x 480 custom format is being used.
  • Your rendered movie will use the edited H.264 decoded stream and will create a Windows Media Video file type which can be played on virtually any Microsoft based PC.

OK, Enjoy your movies!

Post-Script added 8/23: You can also use Source-Forge GNU licensed MP4Cam2AVI to convert native camera movies for PC editing (especially useful for MP4 wrapped file extension). Click here to download the utility.

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E-MU 0404 PatchMix DSP ASIO Driver Fix

(Posted 3/15/09) - If your trusty Creative Labs E-MU 0404 PatchMix DSP console shows your input WAV source is received but your sound card outputs are non-functioning, it may well be that you've got an ASIO (Application Stream I/O) Driver problem. The problem appears to be related to Windows SP3 fixes that came out in 2008 and which destabilize the 2005 release of E-MU driver software.

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Using ASSP on a WebHost when your ISP blocks SMTP Relay Over Ports 25 and 465

(Posted 2/15/08) - Here's the scenario, you've created a new domain name "XYZ.com", set up a website at that address, and have created email addresses like "somebody@XYZ.com" for use with the website. You've also perhaps activated the webhost's anti-spam package, called ASSP (Anti-Spam SMTP Proxy).

But, if your ISP is not your webhost, you may have some work ahead of you to make this all work properly.

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JPEGCrops - Automated Image Cropping Freeware Utility

(Posted 11/22/07) - We all own image editing software, but often you need to quickly change the aspect ratio of a whole directory of pictures to fit a display format. I'm not talking about resizing, but cropping dimensions.

I've found a really great freeware utility under GNU license for MS Windows systems, called jpegcrops which lets you select a default cropping ratio to be applied to all images you select. To quickly process a directory of images you select-all and open. Thumbnails appear with a crop-rectangle pre-centered in each picture. If it looks OK as is, click the crop button by the thumbnail and the cropped image is created in your specified destination directory (has auto-naming feature too). You can drag the crop window frame up/down or left/right on the thumbnail image if need be, while it keeps a constant aspect-ratio.

This is a great utility and is really fast. Here is a more complete description of the tool. Just click on the "vist their website" link on the description page to go to the providers site to download the latest stable version.

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Finding a Vista Driver for Your DWL-G122 Wireless Adaptor

(Posted 5/8/2007) - If you are one of the many Dlink G122 Wireless Adaptor users who've upgraded to Vista (Home Basic) here is some information that may help you determine the driver to download.

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Set Up Broadband ADSL or Cable Account without using Vendor's setup CD

(Posted 3/7/2007) - Most new ADSL or Cable broadband customers activate and set up their new service using a vendor supplied application CD. There are sometimes valid reasons for not wanting to install this CD. To wit:

  • Not wanting to load unknown "repair-monitor" software on your install machine (yet another app running in the background 24/7 that hogs resources).
  • Not wanting to suffer the instabilities that have at times plagued users of 3rd-party software that is auto-installed from the application CD.
  • Having an unsupported OS on the install computer which is incompatible with the activation and setup apps provided by the Internet Service Provider (ISP).

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Recover from Windows Live Messenger Server Error - Sign-in Fails or Contact List Permanently Offline

(Posted 11/14/06) - A recent Live Messenger Registration Server error caused many client PC's MSNMessenger Policy data to become corrupted. This in turn allowed corruptions of client machines' contact data. The effect was two-fold: Clients could not successfully sign in (often with no error message) and/or client contact lists never showed members online.

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Wireless Routers Die from Power Drop Outs and Excessive Heat

(Posted 7/15/2006) - Over the last four years I've purchased and installed 10 wireless routers and have experienced four equipment failures, occuring at intervals of approximately 2 years (3 units), and 3 months (1 unit).

After the latest equipment failure, I researched the internet and found that such events are commonplace for all the popular brands (in my case Dlink and LinkSys).

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Removing the Windows XP Start Sound

(Posted 3/30/06) - This sound occurs whenever Windows Explorer changes directories, even when the file-manager is invoked by a process running in the background!

The Windows XP Start WAV file default is a 'shhk-click' sound that can be quite annoying when the file-manager is invoked by an application running in the background. You hear the sound at the oddest times. Its especially distracting when you are listening to or recording music!

Here are instructions for turning off the sound.

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How to Handle an Ink Cartridge Smart-Chip Expiration

(Posted 3/5/2006) - If you've purchased an ink-jet style printer from Epson, Lexmark, or HP in the last 5 years you may have encountered the dreaded "Replace Ink Cartridge - Supply Expired" message.

This technology shuts down the printer, even when there is ink in the cartridge if the cartridge's smart-chip indicates the ink supply has reached a manufacturer defined age. There are alternatives to buying a new cartridge however.

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TCP/IP MTU (Max Transmission Unit): Diagnosing a Packet Delivery Problem

(posted 10/21/2005) - MTU can be a key variable in TCP/IP network connection anomolies. Not because it's set 'wrong' in the client machine, but because network servers and home LAN products may be configured in so many ways.

Following are the facts concerning an internet upload problem and a wireless LAN data transfer problem that were resolved by adjusting the clients' MTU.

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How to Make DLink dwl-120 Wireless USB adaptor work with Windows XP

(posted 8/29/2004)- When you upgraded to Windows XP did your Dlink wireless usb adaptor stop working? Here's the reason, and a simple system driver fix.

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A WebClient JavaScript SlideShow that Supports Large Collections of Images

(posted 5/6/2004) - After a couple years of making image collections I've come up with what I think is a very good solution for displaying a large number of images organized into collections (linked as a group).

It all fits onto One Screen with intuitive controls. Take a look at an example by clicking on this page's external site link labelled 'Family Photos (Reunions).'

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