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Bookstore Oddities

Treah and I went to Barnes & Nobel this afternoon. I found some interesting things while I was there.


Logitech Harmony 880 Surgery

I have had a Logitech Harmony 880 universal remote for about 2 years now. Nothing beats being able to push a single button and have the remote turn on the tv, put it on the right input, change the stereo settings, and power on the appropriate component. This feature alone might have saved my marriage, not to mention not having to keep track of 5 or 6 remotes.

This being said, the construction of the remote leaves much to be desired. I’m on my second remote. I had to RMA the first, luckily it was under warranty. The replacement remote I was sent is now out of warranty. Since going off warranty this remote has had several problems.

The first problem was that the remote would no longer charge. It turned out that the battery wasn’t keeping a good connection. This was a relatively easy fix. I just had to clean the contacts, and wedge a folded up business card between the battery and the edge of the battery compartment.

The second problem developed over the course of several months. The channel up and volume up buttons eventually stopped working. At first I just had to push the buttons extra hard and they would work. It got to the point that it felt like i was going to break something if i pushed any harder, and the remote never did anything.

I did some research and it turns out that this is a common problem with my model remote. The problem is that due to some bad design, eventually the buttons stop making contact with the contacts. Several people had luck with putting a small amount of epoxy on the remote contacts. This causes the contacts to be taller, and the button to again make a connection.

I thought I’d give it a shot. Here’s some pictures from along the way.

The remote comes apart in two pieces. There are only 2 screws, one in the battery compartment, and one below the IR port plastic. Once you have these screws lose, you have 8 clips to deal with, 4 on each side.

Here’s what the 2 halves look like:


  

The next step was to get the epoxy ready. I got some from lowes that required mixing. Here is what it looked like

Tube:


Unmixed:


Mixed epoxy:


Next I used a tooth pick to put small amounts of the mixed epoxy on the remote contacts. You can see the white blobs on the 4 round contacts in the corners of this picture.


I let the epoxy dry for 24 hours. After it dried the epoxy was rock hard and stuck the to contacts. All that was left was to put the remote back together. I’m glad to report that my remote still works. Not only that, but the epoxy seems to have done it’s job. The channel up and volume up buttons now work again!


Ecycle

WVU is having a free “e-cycling” event tomorrow. They’re only asking for 1 canned food item per item you bring in. I plan on taking full advantage of this event. I just got done loading up my jeep with all of my old computer and electronics. It only took me about 2 hours to do it. Here’s the end result:

I don’t think the picture does it justice so here’s a list of what I got rid of:

  • 9 desktop pc’s
  • 3 CRT monitors
  • 3 Printers
  • 2 Stereos
  • 5 Keyboards
  • 2 Sets of computer speakers
  • 2 Pairs of stereo speakers

Now I just have to find room to put 26 cans of food.


Getting Around SMTP Blocks

I am spending the week in Beckley, WV visiting Treah’s parents. They have Suddenlink for there cable tv and internet provider.

I fired up my laptop this evening, got on there wireless, and went to reply to a couple emails. All of them failed to send. I tried telnet’ing to port 25 on my smtp server, it never connected. I though this was odd. I ssh’d over to my web host and tried the same thing. It connected right away.

I’m not hell bent on using my own smtp server, I just want to use thunderbird to send my email so I can avoid using a slow/clunky webmail app. So I thought I would try to use Suddenlink’s smtp server (smtp.suddenlink.net). Wouldn’t you know they make you authenticate to use there smtp server. Since I’m not one of there customers I don’t have an account to authenticate with. They’re sure making this hard.

I turned to trusty google and found out they are indeed blocking port 25 to all hosts except there own, to help prevent spam and viruses. You can read there “Unsolicited Email Spam FAQs” for yourself if you want more information on this. I’m not sure this is the best approach, but that’s a different story.

To get around this policy I decided to try and connect via SSL encryption rather than TLS encryption. This changes the port you connect to from port 25 to port 465.

After making the change my mail sent out right away. So if you’re having problems sending mail through your own SMTP server give this a try. You may also have success just changing the port your SMTP server listens on.


Safari Web Inspector

Here’s another tip for Safari. With Safari 3 Apple has added a new way to view source on a website. It will should you the code for a site in a collapsible tree. This is great for debugging code. In addition to HTML it will also show you style sheets, images, javascripts, and “Other”. There is also a console section that will show any errors that come up when you load a website.

One of the coolest things is the network area. It will show you how long it takes to load each individual element on your page, it puts this out in a time line that shows what is getting loaded when.

For some reason the Web Inspector isn’t enabled by default, so you’ll have to do a little work to get it. Here’s how:

  1. Quit Safari
  2. Fire up the Terminal
  3. Type:
    $ defaults write com.apple.Safari WebKitDeveloperExtras -bool true
  4. Restart Safari
  5. Right click some where on the page, and click on “Inspect Element”

I know Apple tries to hide this kind of stuff because most everyday users will never need to use this feature, but I think they should have put this in the preferences. There is an advanced section in there, with some less than advanced features. I’m not afraid of the big bad terminal.app, but many are.

If apple truly want to compete in the browser war this would be some good ammo. That being said, I still use Firefox 99.9% of the time.


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