Using a Zubie Key (Vehicle Monitoring Service)

ZubieMy wife recently purchased a new vehicle and so I started thinking about also purchasing a new vehicle. And then I decided that not having a car payment was something that I currently prefer over having a car payment (note – my wife had a very good reason to purchase a new vehicle, I do not).

Instead of purchasing a new vehicle I decided to add some enhancements to my current one. One of those enhancements is a Zubie Key.

The Zubie Key requires a subscription service that costs $99/year. The device works in conjunction with the Zubie Cloud service, which is used to review data via Web browser or from the Zubie App. When connected to a vehicle’s OBD-II port the device automatically connects to the Zubie Cloud via cellular connection. GPS is also built into the device.

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A View of What Fails in the Blend Door Actuators (Impala 2008)

Actuator-01As a 2008 Impala owner I’ve become well acquainted with a specific part failure. Typically, it’s not expensive to correct (as long as it’s not one under the dash) but it can be inconvenient and over time I’ve had to replace two of them multiple times each.

For those that have experienced this problem I decided to post some photos that help reveal where the failure occurs.

The first photo included in this post shows an unopened actuator.

The next photo shows the actuator split open:

Actuator-03

When I opened the actuator several of the damaged teeth fell out of the casing. A closer photograph reveals that several teeth from a gear are missing:

Actuator-04

I suspect that all of these that have failed in my vehicle would show the same problem. Could this problem be solved by using metal gears? Perhaps.

First Impression: Amazon Fire TV Stick

My wife and I decided to pre-order an Amazon Fire TV Stick for her parents, which we gave to them for Christmas. While visiting with them I had the opportunity to setup the device and use it for an extended period. Overall, I’m impressed. The cost is relatively low, performance and stability seemed good (at least during the time I was using it) and the interface was easy to use.

We were both impressed enough that we decided to order one for ourselves, though they’re currently on back-order so it may not be until the end of January before ours ships to us. I was able to pre-order the Stick for my in-laws for $19, but it regularly retails for only $39.

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2014 Year-End Review of Enduring Tech

Over the years I’ve published several posts about various devices. Frequently, I’ll return to the original posts and add notes describing my experiences with those gadgets that include details such as whether or not I still use them or if they turned out to be as useful as advertised.

For this post I’ve chosen to highlight the devices that I still use, at least a few times each year, that have endured and remain useful. Though I’ve acquired some excellent gadgets in 2014 I’ve chosen to exclude those here as those items have not yet been used for an extended period.

Unfortunately this won’t include every device worthy of this recognition – only those that I’ve previously highlighted in this blog. In addition, I chose not to write about all of the devices that have since failed, or failed to live up to expectations – those experiences are typically available in the older posts.

But my search for technology that works well, and meets or exceeds expectations, is the reason that I maintain this blog. Over the years I’ve chosen to share several experiences in the hopes that they’ll either serve as good recommendations or, unfortunately, as suggestions to avoid certain products (or at least know what to expect from them).

I’ll begin with the oldest item first.

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Solving a P0449 Engine Code on a 2008 Chevy Impala (Evaporative Emission System Vent Valve/Solenoid Circuit)

About a month ago my car began showing an engine code, which appeared after I ran out of gas (that is its own story). Using DashCommand on my iPhone, and connecting to my car, I was able pull the following code:

Evap-Valve-Solenoid-00

Unfortunately I was unable to permanently clear the code. Every time I cleared it the code then reappeared a second later. So it wasn’t simply a left-over from running out of fuel, though I suppose that perhaps the event itself contributed to the equipment failure.

After doing some “research” via Google I determined that it was a relatively simple part to replace.

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Cleaning a Vicks Vaporizer (Humidifier)

Humidifier-01
We bought a Vicks Vaporizer a few years ago. Last season we noticed that its performance had degraded and this week, when I filled it up and plugged it in, it didn’t appear to be working. I figured it probably needed to be cleaned but I wasn’t certain how so I located some posts in a few forums that described the basic process. Fortunately, it’s very simple.

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Resolving Windows 8/8.1 Automatic Repair Loop After Windows Updates

This particular solution isn’t one that I discovered, though unfortunately in the course of seeking a solution I neglected to bookmark the post in which I read it.

There can be many causes for an automatic repair loop, so this solution may not fix the problem for everyone.

While working on a laptop for some friends I encountered a problem after applying some Windows updates. On restart the system went into a repair loop, which resulted in an inability to restart into Windows.

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