Preparing to Install a Solar-Powered Gable Vent Attic Fan

Attic-Gable-Vents
Attic view of gable vents where the fan will be mounted, facing south.

This is a home improvement project I’ve been thinking about for a long time that may offer considerable benefit. It’s been on my mind since our first summer in the house. Cooling our home in the summer to a comfortable level is somewhat challenging and expensive. Our home was originally built in the 1920s. As a result, it simply doesn’t have much insulation. Yes, some was added over the years, but it just isn’t sufficient for a home of our size.

Unfortunately, due to other factors related to when this home was constructed, we can’t simply drop more insulation everywhere in the attic. I’ve added some, but it simply cannot be done in most parts of the attic without some major renovation.

Recently, I ordered a Natural Light Energy Systems 30W Gable Mounted Solar Attic Fan. The intention is to cool down the attic considerably, thus also making it easier to cool the house.

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Macs Unable to Connect to Wi-Fi After Changing Network Mode (Cisco Wireless Router)

One day, while modifying the wireless settings for our Cisco wireless router, I discovered a rather stupid problem. It surfaced when I changed the Network Mode for the 5 GHz network from Mixed to Wireless-N Only. This seemed to make sense since we don’t have any devices using Wireless-A. This is in reference to 802.11a in case anyone was wondering if I had actually meant 802.11ac, which my current router does not support.

And that’s the moment when I was disconnected from Wi-Fi and unable to reconnect. Two different Macs (one MacBook Pro and one MacBook Air) were unable to connect. Once again, I resorted to searching and found the solution. It seems, that for whatever unknown reason, when Wireless-A is disabled on my router then all Macs will decide that they require a different feature enabled in order to connect. In this case WMM (Wi-Fi Multimedia).

The reason for this seems more absurd considering that the support doc implies that it must be enabled in the first place but, before changing the Network Mode, those devices connected just fine with it disabled.

Enabling this capability on my router solved the problem. I’m not sure why. It doesn’t seem to be a feature that should be required simply to connect to a wireless router but there’s no question that enabling it resolved the problem. More details are available via the linked support page included below:

Wi-Fi: Unable to connect to an 802.11n Wi-Fi network

Simultaneously Pushing Audio to External Speakers and Bluetooth from a Mac

A couple of months ago I had the idea to see if there was a simple way to play iTunes music from the built-in iMac speakers while also playing it through a Bluetooth speaker (in this case a JBL speaker). My goal was to have the music playing from the computer in one room and also playing from a Bluetooth speaker in the dining room. Sure enough, OS X has a way to do this (I’m running 10.9 so I don’t know how widely this feature is supported across older versions of OS X).

Thanks to user Eric Ross in the Apple Support Communities I didn’t have to do much searching to find the answer. As detailed in his response, the solution is to open the Audio Midi Setup application located in the Utilities folder and then simply create a Multi-Output Device that has both speaker types selected. Note that in order for this to work the Bluetooth speaker needs to already be connected to the Mac.

MOD-Setup

At this point we’ve only created the multi-output device. One additional step is required – setting it as the current output device (System Preferences -> Sound -> Output) :

MOD-Select
I originally did this with my iMac but the screenshots in this post were created using my MacBook Air.

And that should work. The Bluetooth audio (at least with the settings I used) will have a slight delay in comparison to the system speakers. Bluetooth has a relatively short range so the practical applications of this method may be limited by obstructions within one’s home and the receiving capability of the Bluetooth device that is used.

 

Adobe Acrobat Pro (CS6) Stops Opening in Windows

I recently ran into an odd little problem while working with a copy of Adobe Acrobat Pro (installed as part of a CS6 suite) in Windows. In this case both the problem and the solution were specific to when I had installed Acrobat and the platform that I was using at the time. This particular instance of Windows 8.1 wasn’t very old – all of the data had recently been transferred from a Windows 7 system.

Sometime last week, while attempting to view a PDF file from within Outlook, the installed copy of Acrobat X simply quit working. It didn’t fail with an error. It simply didn’t launch. My other Adobe CS6 applications continued to work just fine. This sudden change in behavior was a bit alarming at first but it didn’t take me very long to identify the problem.

It seems that, for whatever reason, Acrobat encountered a problem when it had passed the initial 30-day trial period. This is even more of an oddity considering that I had never set it up to act as a trial – the product key was correctly entered when I originally installed the software.

While searching for a solution I stumbled upon an Adobe support document (possibly linked from a forum post somewhere) that describes the problem I was having and it also offers a file to fix the problem. In my case Solution 1 worked perfectly. Acrobat Pro now opens once again. The link to the support document is included below:

Acrobat Help / Doesn’t launch after 30 days | Installed as part of a CS6 suite

 

Crystal View Headlight Restoration Kit

Headlight-Restoration-00

The headlights on my wife’s car had become clouded and were in desperate need of a good restoration. Taking advice from a friend of mine, I purchased a Crystal View Headlight Restorer/Defogger kit from one of the local auto parts stores for just over $20. You can easily find several different restoration kits from various manufacturers. I have no idea if one is better than another but I’m pleased with the results of this kit (and my wife is as well).

This isn’t a run-down of the process. To put it simply, I followed the directions exactly as outlined in the included instructions with only one exception (the addition of masking tape around the edges).

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Nyko Uboost (Wii U Gamepad Battery Back)

UBoost-WiiU-01

The Wii U Gamepad is good and certainly very useful if one wants to play a game “off TV”. But the darn battery just isn’t very good and that’s rather annoying, especially since the thing seems to be required to stay on, even when streaming video using Netflix or other services.

To deal with this issue I purchased a Nyko Uboost extended battery for the Wii U Gamepad, which has significantly improved the total charge of the Gamepad. It’s not a replacement battery – it fits over the existing battery and provides additional power.

Surprisingly, it’s compatible with the original Gamepad charging dock and is very inexpensive at just under $15.

As a backup for longer gaming sessions I also purchased a Gamepad charging cable. It can’t charge the Uboost itself (the Uboost only charges on the dock connections) but the Uboost doesn’t prevent me from being able to easily access the more traditional charging port on the Gamepad. The charging cable also appears to be compatible with a USB extension cable I already had, which works well for a player position farther away from the Wii U or a power outlet. I chose to purchase the additional charging cable so I wouldn’t have to move the existing cable is connected to the Gamepad charging dock.

My Experience with Google Chromecast

Chromecast-01

A few months ago I picked up a Google Chromecast from Best Buy. I was curious about them for a while and at $35 I wasn’t going to be out very much cash if I didn’t find it useful.

It turns out that $35 is an excellent price point for this product and, compared to most similar devices, I think you may actually get a bit more than you paid for. In some cases it can be very convenient. If you already have a device such as a Roku or Apple TV this may not be very impressive, but that all boils down to how each person chooses to use it.

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