Moving from an iMac Intel Core 2 Duo to an iMac Intel Core i5

It turns out that my quest to upgrade my iMac wasn’t as critical as I thought (though certainly not a waste of time). One of the gifts my wife bought me for Christmas was a new iMac! The system is considerably more faster than the older iMac.

I’ve managed to test out some of the differences. DVD conversions dropped from taking about an hour and thirty minutes down to about forty minutes. Blu-Ray conversions are much improved. Ripping from disc takes the same amount of time (mostly likely caused by the limitation of using a USB 2.0 drive) but conversions have dropped from 10-12 hours down to about 2 hours. That’s a very impressive difference.

Though I haven’t used Windows 7 via VM Ware Fusion very much I did up the number of cores that it’s using along with the RAM. According to Crucial.com I can max the system out at 16 GBs for about $100, which is much less than I expected it would cost.

In the immediate future I will probably expand the RAM above 4 GBs.

The previous iMac will probably move to my wife’s craft room where it may spend much of its time capturing VHS tapes to digital files.

Updated 12/27/2011: It looks like I’ll be buying my RAM upgrade from Crucial, as usual. I swung by Best Buy today and checked out the prices. It would cost me $40-$50 more to upgrade with RAM from Best Buy. The store only sells the 4GB modules for about $35. I can buy two 4 GB sticks from Crucial for a total cost of about $46. I’ll need four 4 GB sticks to max the system out with 16 GB.

I’m not surprised. It’s rare that I find anything at a good price at Best Buy that isn’t on clearance. I was shopping for some Apple earbuds with the microphone and saw that they charge $40. Walmart sells them for just under $30 and I think both Amazon and Apple sell them for about $30.

Extending CPAP Headgear and Mask Seal Life with Lansinoh HPA Lanolin (and Reducing Leaks)

For a couple of months I’ve been using Lansinoh HPA Lanolin to reduce leaks around the mask silicone seal. It’s been very effective, especially since I have beard that would otherwise lead to increased leaks.

Recently, I decided it was time to replace the headgear and mask seal. Typically I would need to replace the seal every three months and the headgear about every six months.

My experience with replacing the gear this time was a little bit different. Instead of improving my stats they actually decreased a bit. It seems that I was actually doing well with the older seal and headgear when combined with the Lansinoh. The headgear probably isn’t as much of a factor – I suspect the biggest difference is caused by using a new seal.

A new seal is much firmer than an older one. The longer a seal has been used the softer it becomes. Without Lansinoh (or a similar oil) an older mask seal would tend to leak more. However, the firmness of the new seal actually seems to create a less efficient seal. This isn’t what I expected and though it’s an inconvenience now I’ve learned something valuable – I can probably use an older seal with the oil indefinitely.

Is it less expensive to use Lansinoh with an older mask? Yes, if it works for you. A new seal for my mask costs about $55. If I use one tube of Lansinoh each month then it will cost me about $12 per month. In addition, using the Lansinoh seems to extend the usable life of the seal. I’m not sure how long a seal can be used with Lansinoh but I suspect it can easily last a year.

How effective this trick is will vary from person to person. If you’re interested in trying this then I suggest that you just buy one tube before stocking up. I also don’t recommend trying this for the first time with a new mask seal. The Lansinoh probably can’t be cleaned from the seal completely so start with an older mask seal.

Updated 06/20/2012: I haven’t figured out the perfect amount of Lansinoh to use each night but I have made progress on cleaning the oil off older mask seals. The oil really sticks and can even stain so avoid getting it on any clothing that you plan to wear in public again. I’ve previously tried dropping older mask seals into boiling water for a few minutes. It did get some of the oil off the masks but it also coated the pot that I used, which required a lot of scrubbing to clean out.

This weekend I tried a different approach. I gathered up a couple of masks (the same ones I had tried to clean with hot water) and dumped them into a mix of bleach and hot water in a plastic bowl and let them sit for a while. That seemed to do a good job of removing the oil from the masks and also breaking it down so the container wasn’t coated with residue. I’ve only done this once so I don’t know if it will be a good idea in the long term but the masks that I had used were old ones that I would have thrown away anyway. In this case, I’ll probably try reusing them. So far, the bleach didn’t seem to harm the mask seals.

Loss of X10 Control Using a SmartHome 2413U PowerLinc with mControl 3 (Build 4346)

The Short Version: mControl 3 Build 4346 caused problems with controlling X10 devices. Rolling back to a previous build restored functionality.

I recently upgraded my version of mControl 3 to Build 4346. Unfortunately, I soon noticed that I was no longer able to control my X10 devices, including the virtual X10 switches I use to control some macros, from mControl. The log showed mControl was sending the commands but it was apparent that they weren’t actually reaching the controller.

I’m still working on shifting away from using X10 devices. At the moment I have a mix of Insteon and X10 in the house and the 2413U works well since it controls both Insteon and X10.

I started looking for a solution and it didn’t take long to find a new post in the Embedded Automation forums in which other users of this build were experiencing the same problem. Over the weekend I tried a few tricks (disabling unused drivers, updating other software) but finally concluded that until a new release that addresses this problem is available I’d simply have to roll-back to a previous version.

Going back to the previous build that I was using (the first non-beta version of mControl 3) solved the X10 communication problem. mControl is back to managing both Insteon and X10 devices properly.

IOGear Universal WiFi N Adapter (GWU627W6)

Last spring my brothers and I purchased a 32″ LCD Panasonic TV for our mother that includes several Internet streaming apps built-in (Netflix, Pandora, etc). At the time it would have cost an additional $90 for the wireless adapter so I decided to setup a Linksys AP in bridge-mode (to a Linksys wireless router) and connect it to the TV’s ethernet port.

Unfortunately, the AP to wireless router bridge required that I use WEP for her network. This wasn’t ideal considering the weak security that WEP provides but it worked well enough to get the television connected.

About a month ago I purchased an IOGear Universal WiFi N Adapter (GWU627W6) for about $40, which is a much more reasonable price than the other adapter and can easily be used with any ethernet-compatible device. A week ago I went over to my mother’s house and swapped out the AP with the IOGear device.

So far it seems to be working well and I’ve also changed her network to use WPA. I think this is a good device at a fair price.

Updated 11/18/2012: I also bought one for myself that I used to replace a Microsoft USB wifi adapter for my Xbox. Both IOGear adapters are still working great.

Updated 07/18/2013: The adapter connected to my Xbox still works great.