Category Archives: Geek

Technilicious awesomeness

Virtualization configuration notes using an Asus M5A 78L-M LX Motherboard

This post will be updated as new items are discovered.

General notes: There is only one switch that needs to be turned on in the bios to enable hardware virtualization

Microsoft Hyper-V:

  • The NIC drivers from ASUS will seem to work, however the server will not be stable.  If you obtain the NIC drivers from the realtek website, this will save you some time.  This applies to Hyper-V running on Windows Server 2008 R2 as well as the free Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor.
  • There is an MS patch which will not show up automatically through liveupdate which needs to be installed before Hyper-V will allow you to start virtual machines.

VMware ESXi 5.0:

  • I was having random connectivity issues, tried several different switches and cables, and eventually determined it was an ACPI setting in the BIOS.  The vSphere Client was constantly disconnecting after only being connected for a few seconds.  After changing the ACPI setting, it now seems much more stable.
  • Load default values
  • Set boot order for CD ROM
  • set SATA to AHCI (Except CDROM)
  • Enable Secure Virtual Machine Mode

Citrix XenServer 5: No issues, however I didn’t spent too much time playing with it.

Geek Therapy – In Dash Garage Door Opener Remote

Sometimes, when I need to take my mind off of other things, for one reason or another, I start finding miscellaneous projects to work on.  This one was surprisingly simple, probably less than an hour from start to finish (assuming you already have the parts).  My wife’s car has a built-in garage door opener button, but as mine is a little older, it didn’t have one.  Using parts around the house and a switch which cost me  $3.19 from Radio Shack, I was able to quickly install one this morning in my 2002 Nissan Frontier SC Crew Cab.

Tools:

  • Soldering Iron
  • Solder
  • Spare Garage Door Opener Remote
  • Pushbutton Switch (Momentary) – I used Radio Shack Part # 275-0644
  • a few inches of wire (around #18-#22 gauge, it doesn’t really matter)
  • Optional – crimp on connectors so that it can be disconnected without cutting wires
  • Multimeter
First, pry open the remote.  You will need to locate the two solder points with the multimeter set on the Ohm or Diode setting… When you have found the correct two points on the circuit board, the resistance should be infinity when the switch is not pressed (off), and zero while the switch is depressed (on).
You should have basic soldering skills or you risk ruining the garage door opener remote.
Wires Soldered on Circuit Board

Prepare two wires (I suggest pre-tinning the ends with solder) and then attach one wire to each solder point which you located previously.  This is the part where you should be careful not to connect anything on the circuit board which is not supposed to be connected via messy solder.  You should solder quickly and efficiently so that you do not damage the circuit board.

 

 

 

You will need to drill a hole in the case to allow the wires to come out.  This will vary depending on what model garage door opener remote you are using.  Leaving the garage door opener remote within its existing case is strategic, otherwise you have to figure out a way to keep the battery connected to the circuit board.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pre-tin leads and switch contacts, then solder the other ends of the wires to each of the two contacts

Solder wires to switch (in my case, I added crimp-on connectors so that I can disconnect the switch, otherwise I would have been soldering directly in my dash, which I wouldn’t recommend unless you have a lot of skill – and I don’t).  In my case, I had to feed the switch wires through the hole in the dash, and then connect them to the wires soldered to the garage door opener remote, so this is an additional reason to use some method to disconnect the switch from the remote without having to cut wires or solder.

 

Once this is completed, you should test the garage door opener remote to make sure it works (obviously – it needs to be programmed to your garage door opener).  The remote should still operate the door, and the external switch should also open the door.

 

 

 

 

Once this is working, you should be able to install it in the dash and enjoy a finished project!  Most vehicles have blank spots for accessories which are not used, I was able to utilize one of these spots to mount the remote button.

Completed Project!

Brad’s thoughts on the iPad

This is an amazing little device, and I thought it might be beneficial to share my experience with my friends. After my mother-in-law bought one, Angela and I finally had the chance to play around with it and realize that it actually could be useful, both for entertainment as well as business purposes.  My biggest fear was that it would be an expensive toy that we would only use for a couple of months, and then it would sit on its charger unless we wanted to play Solitaire or something.  So far we have been able to integrate it so completely with our lives that I now want one for myself!

I have found a few things to complain about (not in any particular order), but please do not let this detract from the usefulness of the product!:

  • Inability to install extra fonts – at first I thought I just didn’t know how to do it yet, as the IOS interface is not yet intuitive to me.  To my shock, there simply is not a way to install additional fonts on the device, at least not without hacking into it (assuming this is possible).
  • No flash support (This may be coming in the soon to be released IOS 4.2 update.  Again, I make no claims to be an expert with the IOS platform (iPOD, iPhone, iTouch, etc.)
  • Still awaiting the long-anticipated (at least for those people who have had their iPads for a while) upgrade to IOS 4.  This is supposed to come out this month for the iPad, even though IOS 4 has been available for a while now for the iPhone, iTouch, etc.  This is supposed to give you multi-tasking and have many other improvements, I’ll have to revisit this post once I know for certain whether it resolves any of the bulleted items or not.
  • The apps can be very expensive (iWorks is misleading, it appears to be included, based on the commercials and videos but costs an extra $30 – $10.00 for each of the three iWorks applications)
  • Mail (even when using Mobileme) doesn’t truly sync unless you are using IMAP.  The Mobileme service at first glance syncs e-mail, but in reality it only syncs your e-mail configuration information from Outlook and not the actual messages.
  • No true multi-tasking (although most people probably wouldn’t notice this)… should be resolved in the upcoming software upgrade.
  • No hardware GPS – although the cellular solution seems extremely accurate so far…  the Zillow app is very useful while driving (assuming you are just a passenger, of course) to judge the approximate home value of the houses you are driving past… in real time.
  • No ability to repeat a slideshow in Keynote.  We had to hack together a solution using exported powerpoint slides to JPG and then use the Picture slideshow so that Angela could use this at her booth at a recent business event.  This missing feature seems so basic, I am baffled that it wasn’t included originally.
  • CUMBERSOME 5 step process to transfer documents (Keynote, etc.) using iTunes (1.  open iTunes on the computer, 2.  attach document in iTunes on the computer, 3.  sync iPad, 4.  open Keynote on the iPad, 5.  Import document from iTunes – plus a clunky document conversion each time to get it back and forth between Keynote and Powerpoint.  Maybe this works better for people who have a MAC?
  • No easy way to sort photos in “Photos” app without manually manipulating picture data.  To get the previously mentioned slideshow to work, we actually had to alter the dates of the pictures in the slideshow so that they would appear in the correct order.
  • You really need to charge it from a wall outlet due to the extra power requirements compared to an iPod, iPhone, iTouch, the computer cable is strictly for synching (however it does trickle charge VERY slowly) while connected to the computer, but it would take at least 24 hours to charge from what I have seen.

With that said, please keep in mind that my “real” job is to find the flaws in solutions and determine work-arounds or fixes for them, so my emphasis on the negative should in no way detract from the usefulness of the product.  Also, I do believe these devices are overpriced, supposedly due to the advanced technology in the screen itself, but as long as it ends up actually being used as the tool it was meant to be, and not some toy sitting on a shelf, the cost can be justified.  Please do not waste your time looking for a bargain, or fall for any scam e-mails on the internet.  The price is the same everywhere you go, however, depending on where you work, you might be eligible for a corporate discount (check with your employer and/or the Apple store).

The data plan is surprisingly simple… if you get your WiFi set up properly at home, most people can get away with the $15.00 a month, 200 Meg plan, rather than the $25.00, 2 Gig plan (the plans mirror the regular AT&T data plans for smart phones).  The beauty of the plan is that it does NOT tie to your cell phone bill, it is independent and requires no contract.  In addition, when you use up your alloted minutes, it just shuts off so that you don’t go over, and you have the option to purchase another $15.00 plan at that time, or wait until your monthly cycle rolls around and it will recharge itself automatically, and you do not have to sign up for a data plan right away, you can activate it at any time (assuming you bought one of the 3G versions, of course).

For entertainment value, I’ve included the Visio diagram of how I have this configured for Angela’s business, which I created a few weeks ago sort of as a joke… however the information in the diagram is accurate.

If you do decide to purchase an iPad, enjoy it, and I hope that it increases your productivity, giving you more time to focus on the most important things in life, which of course is your family and friends and making memories together!