Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Trump Backups

When I built "The Trump" I used Windows Storage Spaces to create a mirrored data drive.

On the Storage Spaces I used Microsoft's Resilient File System (ReFS). The 2 TB drives I used had 4096 byte hardware sectors.

While I still believe that this was a solid technical decision it has caused me difficulties in backing up my data drive.

My "go to" backup solution Drive SnapShot didn't support 4096 byte sectors and couldn't give me a date for adding that support.

This sent me on a quest for alternatives.

For AOMEI Backupper Standard:

In summary I didn't find ANY personal backup (read that "free") tools that supported 4096 byte sectors and ReFS.

The best I could find was Macrium Reflect Free.

It supports 4096 byte sectors but treats the ReFS like a fully used GPT volume. With Reflect's compression and differential backups this has been acceptable.

I'm looking forward to the personal backup tools stepping up to these new technologies.

Sunday, July 17, 2016


OTG stands for "USB On-The-Go."

OTG is a "specification that allows USB devices ... to act as a host, allowing other USB devices ... to be attached to them. ... For instance, a mobile phone may read from removable media as the host device, but present itself as a USB Mass Storage Device when connected to a host computer."

Translation: An OTG drive can be plugged into a PC and then into a phone.

I had never played with these until I came across this one.

Then I couldn't find anything to do with it!

But recently I found a good use case for it.

I had ripped Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt to mp3s and wanted to move it to my Nexus 5.

I put the USB A end into Trump and dragged the mp3s to it. I ejected it and took it over to the phone.

When I plugged it in I got this in the Notification area.

I tapped on "PNY USB drive" and got this.

I long tapped on "Michael Lewis" and then pulled down "...".

I tapped on "Copy to ...".

And I was able to copy the folder to the phone.

To eject it, I pulled down the notification shade again, opened the Settings and ejected it.

If it would just fit on my key chain I'd use it a lot more. By the way, it did get hot while plugged into the phone.

Oh, there's one for the iPhone too with a slight Apple tax.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Comcast Atta Boys

My EMCO Ping Monitor had been complaining about brief Internet outages for a couple of weeks. I almost never noticed them. When I did the Internet recovered before I could do much problem determination.

One day the blip lasted 10 minutes so I called Comcast.

After a few minutes of fruitless discussions with the Philippines I was transferred to to Lisa in Denver (888-824-8988). She said that my signal levels were low and scheduled an appointment for 2 days later between 10:00 and noon. They had offered to come the next day but I was not available.

The evening of the next day Comcast called me and said that they had made repairs in my neighborhood and wanted to know if my problem was resolved. As it was so intermittent I couldn't say either way so we let the appointment stand.

At 9:00 on the morning of the appointment I got an e-mail that the technician was at my house. I looked out the window and there he was an hour early.

Then my phone rang and he announced himself.

He was a Comcast employee, not a contractor, and was very capable. Before he called me he had checked that my signal levels were good. He was aware of what they had done on the previous day and said that that repair was what had corrected my signal levels.

I haven't had the problem since.

Good job Comcast!

Then on Memorial Day, both the Internet and cable TV went down.

When I called Comcast I was greeted with a message that there was a problem in my area and they were working on it. I found this just down the street.

The service was restored before the time they had promised.

Good job Comcast!

And finally, the speed.

Good job Comcast!

Sunday, July 03, 2016

You Won't Believe What My Next Phone Is!

I have a pattern of buying old, cheap, niche mobile phones: Samsung Captivate, Samsung Skyrocket, Moto X, OnePlus One, and Google Nexus 5.

I've loved my Nexus 5 but the battery life is erratic.

So I found something new.

Google Nexus 5New Phone
Device typeSmart phoneSmart phone
OSAndroid (6.0, 5.1, 5.0, 4.4.4, 4.4.2, 4.4)Android (6.0, 5.1)
Dimensions5.43 x 2.72 x 0.34 inches (137.84 x 69.17 x 8.59 mm)5.79 x 3.04 x 0.37 inches (147 x 77.2 x 9.4 mm)
Weight4.59 oz (130 g)6.77 oz (192 g)
Physical size5.0 inches5.4 inches
Resolution1080 x 1920 pixels1440 x 2560 pixels
Pixel density445 ppi541 ppi
Colors16 777 21616 777 216
FeaturesLight sensor, Proximity sensor, Scratch-resistant glass (Corning Gorilla Glass 3)Scratch-resistant glass (Corning Gorilla Glass 4), Light sensor, Proximity sensor
Camera8 megapixels18 megapixels
   FlashDual LEDDual LED
   Aperture sizeF2.4F2.2
   Focal length (35mm equivalent)30.4 mm
   Camera sensor size1/3.2"
   FeaturesOptical image stabilization, Face detection, Digital zoom, Self-timer, Back-illuminated sensor (BSI), Autofocus, Touch to focus, Geo taggingOptical image stabilization, Autofocus (Phase detection), Touch to focus, Face detection, Digital zoom, Geo tagging
Camcorder1920x1080 (1080p HD) (30 fps)3840x2160 (4K) (30 fps), 1920x1080 (1080p HD) (60 fps)
Front-facing camera1.3 megapixels2 megapixels
System chipQualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 MSM8992
ProcessorQuad-core, 2260 MHz, Krait 400Hexa-core, 1800 MHz, ARM Cortex-A57 and ARM Cortex-A53, 64-bit
Graphics processorAdreno 330Adreno 418
System memory2048 MB RAM3072 MB RAM
Built-in storage32 GB32 GB
Maximum User Storage

Storage expansion
microSD, microSDHC, microSDXC up to 2000 GB
Talk time17.00 hours
Stand-by time12.5 days (300 hours)
Capacity2300 mAh3410 mAh
Not user replaceableYesYes
Wireless chargingBuilt-in (Qi)Built-in (Qi, Powermat)
Music player
   Filter byAlbum, Artist, PlaylistsAlbum, Artist, Genre, Playlists
   FeaturesAlbum art cover, Background playbackAlbum art cover, Background playback
SpeakersEarpiece, LoudspeakerEarpiece, Loudspeaker
YouTube playerYesYes
Built-in online services supportYouTube (upload), Picasa/Google+YouTube (upload), Picasa/Google+
CDMA800, 1900 MHz
GSM850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz
UMTS800, 850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz800, 850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz
FDD LTE800 (band 20), 850 (band 5), 900 (band 8), 1800 (band 3), 2100 (band 1), 2600 (band 7) MHz700 (band 12), 700 (band 17), 700 (band 29), 800 (band 20), 850 (band 5), 1700/2100 (band 4), 1800 (band 3), 1900 (band 2), 2100 (band 1), 2300 WCS (band 30), 2600 (band 7) MHz
DataLTE Cat 4 (150/50 Mbit/s), HSDPA+ (4G) 42.2 Mbit/s, HSUPA 5.76 Mbit/s, UMTS, EDGE, GPRSLTE-A, HSPA (unspecified), HSUPA
PositioningGPS, A-GPS, GlonassGPS, A-GPS
NavigationTurn-by-turn navigationTurn-by-turn navigation, Voice navigation
Wi-Fi802.11 a, b, g, n, n 5GHz, ac802.11 a, b, g, n, n 5GHz, ac
   Mobile hotspotYesYes
   FeaturesUSB chargingUSB charging
HDMIvia microUSB
OtherNFC, DLNA, Miracast, ANT+, SlimPort, TV-Out, Tethering, Computer sync, OTA syncNFC, Tethering, Computer sync, OTA sync
NotificationsHaptic feedback, Music ringtones (MP3), Polyphonic ringtones, Vibration, Flight mode, Silent mode, SpeakerphoneService lights, Haptic feedback, Music ringtones (MP3), Polyphonic ringtones, Vibration, Flight mode, Silent mode, Speakerphone
SensorsAccelerometer, Gyroscope, Compass, Barometer, Step detector, Step counterAccelerometer, Compass, Gesture
Hearing aid compatibility
M3, T4
OtherVoice dialing, Voice commands, Voice recordingVoice dialing, Voice commands, Voice recording
Officially announced31 Sep 201325 Sep 2015
FCC Approval04 Nov 201322 Oct 2015

It's a Blackberry PRIV.

So while it's relatively new, I can't get away from cheap and niche.


I found the PRIV on a fire sale on eBay for $299.99. As usual I added a Seidio holster.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

3,278,983 Nissans Recalled

This post is outside of my normal topics but I believe that it is important to share.

In July 2013 we traded our 2009 Maxima for a 2013 Nissan Pathfinder. The 2013 Pathfinder was the first year of a new generation of Pathfinders and is built on the Maxima platform. Mechanically and trim-wise it was very similar to the Maxima.

We get lots of compliments on the ride of the Pathfinder, especially from backseat passengers.


Early on we noticed that occasionally when I was driving and my wife was in the passenger seat that the "Front passenger air bag status light" was indicating "OFF." The owners manual says "The front passenger air bag will not inflate if the passenger air bag status light is lit or if the front passenger seat is unoccupied." The problem happened with other passengers as well.

Several times while this was happening I drove to the nearby Nissan dealership and pulled into the service bay. A few seconds after I came to a stop and before a service representative could come over the light went off.

I eventually took it in to let them look at that problem. Of course, they didn't find a problem. And the problem persisted.

I took it back in and they found a water bottle under the seat and attributed the problem to that. And the problem persisted.

Then I read about a related recall. I took the Pathfinder back in and they applied the recall update. And the problem persisted.

I took the Pathfinder back in and they reapplied the recall update. And the problem persisted.

The service manager asked me to video the problem. I did and submitted 3 YouTube videos. After a week or so, one had been viewed 6 times and one twice (one was probably me) and the third one only once (probably me).

I finally made an appointment to have a Dealer Technical Specialist (DTS) look at the car. The DTS said that when the vehicle is started the sensors (There are two sensors on the left seat rail of the passenger's seat - forward and aft.) determine if there is a child in the seat and "classifies" this to the air bag control module. There are 3 conditions that can be "classified" - empty, child, and adult. When the gear shift lever is moved from Park the status ("classification") at that instant is retained. Subsequently if the vehicle comes to a complete stop (regardless of gear selection) for several seconds then this "classification" is repeated.

The DTS and the service manager were able to "manipulate" the car to leave the air bag status light displaying OFF by putting a partial load in the passenger seat and then moving the gear shift from Park to Reverse and subsequently to Drive. The light would continue to display OFF until they let the car come to a complete stop for several seconds.

They concluded that this "manipulation" was what was happening when my wife and other passengers were in the passenger seat. This is a characteristic of the algorithm of the air bag control module. It is related to the changes made by the recall but not the specific situation.

The DTS then said that this was "normal" and couldn't be repaired.

I disagreed with this and the DTS suggested that I call Nissan Consumer Affairs (800-NISSAN1) about the Pathfinder. They were recording it so I began recording as well. The representative terminated the call because I wouldn't stop recording. On a second call the representative said it was a "user problem." When I asked him to repeat that while I was recording he terminated the call.

I filed a complaint with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in June 2014. There were hundreds of related complaints.

The issue went through years of NHTSA bureaucracy and Nissan's pushback. All the while I had to adopt a deliberate startup process to ensure that the passenger airbag was engaged.

Finally in January 2016 Nissan notified NHTSA that there had been 3 injury accidents attributed to this situation and that Nissan was going to address it.

The recall was issued in May 2016. It affects 3,278,983 vehicles. For reference the top 10 all time recall was 3.7 million.

When I visited the dealership on June 22, 2016 I was told that parts wouldn't be available until August.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Windows 10 Default Browser

On "The Trump" I clicked on an html link and got the pop-up asking which browser I wanted to use. I chose Chrome. Then Chrome asked if I wanted to make it the default. I clicked that I did and went on about my business.

But I'm curious so when I finished, I clicked on that html link again.

Uh,oh. Same thing.

No problem. I'll just go to "Choose a default web browser" and set it there. I chose Chrome and checked "Make it the default".

Still curious so when I finished, I clicked on that html link again.

Uh,oh. Same thing.

A little Googleing turned up this forum post on a Dell site.
Open Control Panel, Search for Default and change it there.
Odd but it worked.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Retired Software

It may be hard to believe but I'm a technical minimalist. I'll go out of my way NOT to install software.

I've been using Virtual CloneDrive for several years.
Virtual CloneDrive works and behaves just like a physical CD, DVD, or Blu-ray drive, although it only exists virtually. Image files can be "inserted" into the virtual drive from your harddisk or from a network drive by just a double-click, and thus be used like a normal CD, DVD, or Blu-ray
And I've been using DVD Decrypter for even longer. I primarily use it to burn DVDs from ISOs.

So when I built "The Trump" I installed them both as usual.

But I didn't need to.

Right clicking on an ISO gives a menu that includes "Mount".

So I don't need Virtual CloneDrive.

And the next entry in that menu is "Burn disc image".

While there are probably some features of those programs that you don't get with native Windows 10, it certainly meets all my routine needs.

2 pieces of software scratched off my list.