Using Fluorescent Bulbs with X10 (Appliance Modules Only)


Note: As far as I know fluorescent bulbs should only be used with X10 appliance modules. I recommend educating yourself before using them in any module. Also, it’s important to be aware that the use of fluorescent bulbs can cause powerline interference. According to what I have read the use of fluorescent bulbs in other modules, especially dimmer switches, is a fire hazard (unless the bulb is specifically made for dimming).

Before I started using X10 automation modules I had replaced all of my incandescent bulbs with fluorescent bulbs. When I started adding X10 I learned that fluorescent bulbs can only be used safely with appliance modules. If you want to know more there are plenty of resources that can be found with a simple search.

I recently switched from incandescent bulbs receiving power from lamp modules (dimmer) to fluorescent bulbs powered via appliance modules with three lamps. Everything seemed to be working fine.

However, my wife noticed the guest room lamp bulb flickered faintly when off. I inspected the module and realized that of the three in place two of them were from X10 but one was an RCA module. This issue wasn’t present with the X10 modules. I removed the RCA module and swapped it with an X10 module from a box fan and the problem did not occur any more with the lamp.

My guess is that the RCA module “leaked” a small amount of power (probably to allow X10 signals to pass through). I had read about this issue previously so I wasn’t surprised. This can also be a factor with certain fluorescent bulbs.

Now, some of you may be wondering if you can use a fluorescent bulb that is made to dim. The answer, as far as I know, is yes. In fact, I’m using one with a lamp module. It’s capable of dimming (and not being a fire hazard) but I do notice a faint flickering and it doesn’t dim as far (or as smoothly) as an incandescent bulb. This is another topic I suggest you do more reading before implementing. Users have reported different results with different bulbs (some are now available that can dim further, operating on lower power levels).

Changing Brake Pads on a 2006 Scion tC


The brakes on one of our cars started squealing a few weeks so we bought some new brake pads. I’ve replaced┬ábrake pads on my previous cars so this was a task I was familiar with, though I hadn’t worked on this car yet. I held onto the new pads for a little while until I finally had the time (and energy) to replace them this weekend.

If you’ve ever changed┬ábrake pads on a passenger car then the process is probably familiar.

Disclaimer: I’m not a mechanic. I work on my own cars when I can to save money. If you damage your own vehicle using my information then, well, you’re on your own.

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Moving a Windows 7 Partition into VirtualBox on a Mac


I’ve been running Windows 7 on an older machine for a while but recently I had the idea to move the partition into a VirtualBox VM running as a guest OS in OS X Snow Leopard. I wanted to save some electricity, reduce the total number of computers, and make management simpler. The old Windows machine seemed to use a lot of power and and most of the time when I was at home the iMac was also turned on.

Here’s a run-down of the major steps and issues that I encountered.

Convert Windows 7 Partition to a VM Image

I didn’t want to have to start from scratch so I started searching for a tool that could convert an existing Windows install into a virtual machine image. Sure enough, I quickly found Paragon Software Group’s Paragon Go Virtual.

Paragon Go Virtual is free though it requires completing a form to receive a product key and serial number, both of which are required to install and use the program. The installation and configuration was simple enough. I already had an extra drive installed in the Windows system that I used as a backup so I just turned off the backup schedule, formatted the drive, and set Paragon Go Virtual to create the image on that drive in a VirtualBox format.

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Blank Screen in OS X Remote Desktop Connection


Recently I started having a problem when connecting to a Windows 7 system from OS X Snow Leopard using Remote Desktop Connection (2.1.0). RDC appeared to connect properly but I could only see a blank screen.

Testing the same version of RDC from another computer seemed to work just fine.

I don’t know why the problem occurred but the solution was simple. I had to change the RDC Preferences for the Display/Color setting from Thousands to Millions. After changing the color depth I could see and interact with the Windows desktop again.

Once I was able to establish a connection I was then able to set the color depth back to Thousands and connect again. I’m not sure what was wrong but changing the color setting and then changing it back seemed to work. It wasn’t an issue with the color setting and the remote machine as the same setting worked when using RDC on another computer.

Enable or Disable OS X Screen Sharing from the Terminal


If you have a need to enable or disable Screen Sharing from a terminal in OS X the commands are very simple. I’ve used these commands in 10.6 (Snow Leopard).

sudo touch /etc/ScreenSharing.launchd

sudo rm /etc/ScreenSharing.launchd

Source: | Starting VNC remotely via kickstart

Updated 06/07/2012: It seems that the process for doing this has changed in OS X Lion based on a post in Ryan’s Tech Notes. I used these commands and they worked as described.

sudo /System/Library/CoreServices/RemoteManagement/ -activate -configure -access -on -clientopts -setvnclegacy -vnclegacy yes -clientopts -setvncpw -vncpw mypasswd -restart -agent -privs -all

sudo /System/Library/CoreServices/RemoteManagement/ -deactivate -configure -access -off