An Initial Review of the Impact of Fuel-Efficient Driving During Long Commutes

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Before I get into what this is about, it’s very important that I make it clear that the results I’m presenting here are not final, by any means. The calculations I’m doing are rough and not refined, at all. Consider this more of a “fuzzy” impression rather than an actual result. But these basic calculations still present some interesting findings.

I’ve been waiting a long time to start this post and, originally, I thought it would only be a single post. However, the mathematics to present very specific findings requires some thought and, simply put, I am not proficient in maths.

Consider this a very high-level observation, perhaps more similar to looking at a city from space, as opposed to viewing a house on a specific street.

My final goal, which is not presented here, is to provide calculations that show the amount of fuel, and money, I’ve saved with the savings based on the price of gas at each refueling. That’s not here. Instead, for this post, I’m only working with grand totals and an average for fuel price. And the values that I’ve presented for a couple of “what if my MPG had been lower” scenarios are based on the number of miles that I drove. A true representation of the number of fill-ups would need to account for the fact that I can’t put more than 17 gallons in my car, so if my MPG dropped, I’d actually have more fill-ups.

So, let’s begin.

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Automatically Disabling WiFi in macOS Mojave When Connecting to Ethernet

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I don’t know why, but macOS doesn’t seem to have an automatic ability to shut down the WiFi adapter when an Ethernet connection is detected. It’s a simple thing that can cause several problems, especially if you are in an environment where you may need to authenticate to a network or access VPN services.

It may be possible to manage locations and some additional tools, but I didn’t want something that required retooling every time I used my system in a new location, so I decided to write a simple script, using built-in tools for everything except the execution of the script.

This script will check for both an active WiFi connection and also an active Ethernet connection. If it detects both, it will shutdown the WiFi interface and display a notification, via macOS notifications, that it has done this. I haven’t tested this on previous versions of macOS (only Mojave), though if the rest of the commands work, the script might function by simply removing the statement that generates a notification.

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Solving a VPN Connection Problem with VPN Enabler on macOS Mojave

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This solution probably applies only to systems that were previously running macOS Server to provide VPN services.

The system I’ve been using to run Indigo for home automation has been stuck on High Sierra, due to the removal of support for the VPN server in the macOS Server application under Mojave. But running an older OS isn’t ideal, for several reasons, so I started searching, again, for a method to provide VPN services under Mojave.

After some brief searching, once again, I found positive reviews for VPN Enabler, a handy, low-cost tool ($15) that provides a GUI for the built-in VPN server in Mojave. The VPN services are still present in later version of Mojave; Apple simply removed the ability to administer it from the Server application (the Server application doesn’t work at all in the latest versions of Mojave).

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Zojirushi: The Perfect Travel Mug

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Ok. Maybe it’s not perfect for everyone but it seems to be a great choice for a technology professional that travels off-and-on. Back in 2017 my reliable Thermos-brand travel mug started to leak around the seals of the lid and rather than simply purchase a direct replacement, I decided to look for something new.

This particular one, a Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug (16-Ounce, SM-KHE48AG) caught my eye, perhaps because of its simple design, as well as the locking cap. It’s small enough, and with the locking cap, perfect for tossing into a backpack when traveling. Even if you have a laptop and other devices in the same bag. While my previous travel mug did not leak very much, the lid was not secured in such a fashion.

The reviews were very positive, it wasn’t expensive (just under $25) and it looked like a good size.

And it has been. I have indeed taken this to conferences, tossing it into my backpack and carrying it around like that much of the day. It keeps coffee hot for long periods of time. In fact, due to how the lid itself is constructed, I’ve let it open for over an hour and just watched the steam continue to flow out of the top, waiting for it to cool enough to drink.

It’s been perfect, but the first one I ordered had one drawback. It was too tall to fit under a Keurig, even with the removable base of the Keurig pulled away, which meant that I had to brew the coffee into a standard mug and then pour it into the Zojirushi.

I know, I know. That’s not necessarily a deal breaker but when you’re never certain if you’ll find your coffee mug, or at least find it clean, in an office breakroom it can be a bit of an inconvenience.

This year I ordered the 12-ounce version of the Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug ($22, SM-KHE36AG), which fits perfectly under the Keurig. And, aside from size, it’s no different from the first one that I purchased. It’s even the same color.

If you’re looking for something to keep hot liquids in, or even cool liquids, I highly recommend this.

Using a FITNATE Mist Maker for Small Fog Effects

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Mist Maker in Action

At some point, before Halloween last year, we ended up with a plastic cauldron. I thought it would be fun to have fog bubbling out of it, but rather than deal with dry ice, I decided to look for an alternative.

And sure enough, I found the FITNATE Mist Maker on Amazon for only $16 (the price has since dropped closer to $11). The device is rather simple. It generates a small bit of mist/fog using ultrasound to atomize water into a light vapor. It requires a very small amount of electricity and needs nothing else more than water. The built-in LEDs help to create a more otherworldly effect.

I’ve tested it in a sink, a couple of times and yes, I also used in a cauldron around Halloween. It worked great for our purposes. It’s a great price and worked perfectly. Note that you’ll get a good amount of fog for something like a cauldron but don’t expect to get enough for anything much larger, like a small stage. 

Neat and Orderly: The Benefit of Cable Ties

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Cable ties may not seem like a big deal to many people but any time you’re dealing with a lot of wires I strongly urge that you consider using them. When I first setup a number of devices in a new entertainment center, when we moved into the apartment, I only used cable ties on a few devices and I regretted it ever since.

More recently, when moving to a new entertainment center, I decided that I would use cable-ties on everything, and I’m already glad that I did. Trying to route new cables can quickly become a chore when they get hung up on other cables and you’re having to feel your way through the various problems.

The Velcro Brand One Wrap Thin Ties I had purchased, from Amazon.com, of course, worked perfectly for this job. It has 100 ties rolled together. I used a large number of these on the latest project that involved pulling everything out of one entertainment center and setting those devices up in a new one…

Admittedly, I used them only after being unable to find them, stealing a bunch of cable ties from rolled up cables in storage, and then stumbling upon them later, about two-thirds of the way through finishing this project.

Just do it. Yes, it’s a pain. Yes, it might add a good half-hour or more to setting up your electronics, but… it… is… worth… it. This is a case of where a little bit of extra work on the front-end will save you a significant amount of time and frustration down the road.

But think it through a little. For example, I primarily used the cable ties simply to tidy up excess cable length. There were very few cases where I actually tied different cables together because doing that can actually make it a pain to remove a single cable down the road.

I’m sure you can find better deals with a higher volume of cable ties, but this particular set worked great for my needs.