Fixing a Blank Default Web Browser Setting in OS X El Capitan

I don’t know what causes this problem but recently I discovered that the “Default web browser” setting in the General preferences tab was blank. Clicking on the drop-down showed no browser names so I could not change the use of Safari as the default browser.

The fix was relatively simple. I opened Chrome and via settings within Chrome I set it to be the default web browser. After completing this action I then had the names of the installed browsers in the “Default web browser” drop-down.

This fix may work using any browser that allows you to set it as the default from within the browser settings itself.

Back to the Pebble (Time)


A couple of years ago I jumped onto the smartwatch bandwagon with the Pebble Smartwatch, which I enjoyed. Last summer I had the opportunity to use an Apple Watch instead.

I enjoyed the Apple Watch but after several months I switched to Pebble Time.


I’m drawn to technology that is not overly complicated and I found that the Apple Watch offers more features than I needed. In addition, it’s not a watch.

The Apple Watch is an extension of the iPhone. It’s a watch as much as an iPhone is a phone. Sure, the Apple Watch can display the time but it does much more.

I certainly didn’t hate the device. I simply wanted a smart watch that did little more than provide some notifications on my wrist. Even while I had the Apple Watch I rarely used most of its capabilities. I used it the way that I used the Pebble, except it is not really well designed to be used in this manner.

The Pebble devices can last for several days without a charge whereas I usually had to charge the Apple Watch each night (simply a result of the hardware used by the different devices). The Pebble watches are waterproof while the Apple Watch is technically considered water resistant.

I didn’t need to view photos on my wrist, send canned text replies or talk to someone through the watch. I just wanted a device that would display minor details and vibrate when I receive a phone call, text message or important e-mail message. And behave like a watch when it wasn’t doing those things.

For myself the Apple Watch is overkill.

I’m not stating that it’s a bad device or that others would not love it. But if you just want a smart watch then a Pebble is a good way to go and it is also much less expensive. It bends to suit my life rather than working the other way.

DEWALT DCST920P1 20V MAX 5.0 Ah Lithium Ion XR Brushless String Trimmer


The trimmer finally died… I suppose it was at least partially my fault as I did very little to care for it properly though on the other hand I’m not sure it ever functioned well. In any case, when I retrieved the trimmer from the shed and tried to crank it after several attempts I determined that it finally had given up. Gas was leaking out of the engine case.

I detached the trimmer attachment from the motor and tossed the motor. Perhaps some future yard sale shopper will benefit from the purchase of an inexpensive trimmer head along with a tiller and edger.

I wasn’t interested in spending a lot of money to replace it but I couldn’t find many good alternatives based on the various reviews I read. Initially, I looked for something that could use the old attachments but after a while it became less of a concern, especially since it may not be a major concern in the near future (a long story that is still in-progress).

While a gas-powered trimmer certainly has… power I decided to go a different route and instead purchase a DEWALT DCST920P1 20V Max 5.0 Ah Lithium Ion XR Brushless String Trimmer. I simply didn’t want to mess with an engine with moving parts that needs a good bit of maintenance and I’ve seen Dewalt tools in use and knew that the battery-powered tools usually have a surprising amount of power.

I wasn’t disappointed. The first time I used the trimmer (twice now) I quickly learned that it was much quieter and lighter and in terms of power it did not disappoint.

One fully-charged battery had just enough to charge to finish every spot in our yard that I usually hit (and it’s a good sized yard on a parcel of land about one acre in size). It actually died right after I finished the last spot. If you have a larger yard or simply like to trim everything in sight then you might want to purchase an extra battery.


That’s where the cost really gets you. At the time of purchase this trimmer cost about $199 but the trimmer itself can be purchased without a battery and charger for $99. Dewalt is proud of its batteries though that may be well deserved from what I have seen.

The only real problem I’ve discovered is that I have yet to determine whether or not I can adjust the guard (and I’ll admit that I haven’t checked the manual yet) as its default (and perhaps fixed) position kicks up a lot of debris directly onto myself.

I am very happy with this purchase. It’s effective and easy to use.



Bose SoundLink On-Ear Bluetooth Wireless Headphones


I’ve never been very interested in Bose audio equipment. I certainly don’t think the gear isn’t good; I just don’t think the cost is justified. Regardless, last year I actually purchased an expensive pair of Bose headphones.


At the time I was originally looking for something that could work with my (then new) Xbox One. My preference was for something wireless, rechargeable and that would work with other devices in the home.

I never did find anything that hit all of these marks well and migrated away from looking for something to use with the console and instead for something that I could use with my phone, laptops and TV.

The Bose SoundLink On-Ear Bluetooth Wireless Headphones is not a typical purchase that I would make. I’ve certainly purchased expensive gadgets before but investing this much into a single piece of gear that, let’s face it, doesn’t really do very much is not what I would typically do (yeah, I’m sure some would disagree). I purchased them from Best Buy but they are available from

I do enjoy listening to music, and good quality does make a difference, though I wouldn’t have spent this much on a pair of headphones, no matter how good they sound, without the wireless Bluetooth support and built-in rechargeable battery. In addition, when the internal battery dies one can still use these with a regular audio cable.


From time to time I do use them with my phone, laptops and to watch TV at night (without disturbing my wife). I did all of these activities more frequently, before the arrival of our son, but late-night TV watching is a rare habit these days.

The headphones are recharged via a standard micro-USB connector. A carrying case is included, which the headphones fold into very easily. A regular audio connector is also included though I’ve only used it once or twice as the battery does a good job of maintaining a charge while not in use.

The quality sounds great to me but I’m not an audiophile so if you’re picky about your headphones then don’t use this post to make a decision.

The headphones also have a built-in microphone so they can be used to answer phone calls. It’s a nice feature as it doesn’t require removing the headphones to speak on the phone but most of the time I’d prefer to simply use my stock Apple earbuds for managing phone calls.

What’s the verdict? Do I think they’re worth the cost?

I suppose it’s fair to declare that I think they are overpriced but at the same time I also don’t feel like I was cheated. If you have some extra cash (which I did then but usually don’t any more) they’re not a bad pair of headphones but if you’re on a budget you might be able to find something suitable for far less.


Finding the Last Bottle in Tortuga – LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game for Nintendo 3DS

The Short Version:
This appears to be a glitch. For some unknown reason the tenth bottle in the Tortuga level is only awarded for achieving “True Pirate” in Story Mode. 

Finding time to play any video game is a challenge these days but I did manage to pickup my Nintendo 3DS and work on finishing Disney’s LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean. The various LEGO games have many hidden items to be discovered.

I managed to find every red brick, medallion, and all but one bottle. After all of this effort I wanted to achieve 100% completion. After all, not only is it rare that I actually play a video game to the end but it’s extremely rare that I complete every side mission and find every collectible.

Fortunately, the game shows the player a count of the items that have yet to be discovered and which levels they are located in.

In this case I was lacking a bottle in the Tortuga level (level 1-2). Finding the bottle proved to be frustrating; after numerous re-visits I was unable to discover this one item.

I had noticed that on other levels, when one achieves “True Pirate” by collecting enough LEGO pieces (referred to as “studs”), that a bottle is awarded.

After collecting and activating various multipliers it was easy to achieve “True Pirate” in Free Play mode. Yet, I still lacked this bottle so I decided to replay the Tortuga level in Story Mode.

Surprisingly, when I hit “True Pirate” again I was awarded the missing tenth bottle. It was at that moment that I also achieved 100% completion.

Perhaps it was a random glitch or maybe it can occur within other levels. I was unable to find this information on the Web after numerous searches though I did find a post by someone else who was asking a question that indicated that this person experienced the same problem that I had.

It’s worth mentioning that the 3DS version appears to be very different from the versions made for the larger console systems such as Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. The guides and walkthroughs describe level elements that don’t match up with the 3DS version.

Home Automation: “The dryer has finished drying your clothes.”


While most of the things that I can do with my home automation setup are only of interest to myself on occasion I manage to add something that my wife also thinks is useful. This is one of them.

A while back I decided to add the ability for the home automation system to know when the washer has finished washing clothes and to make an announcement. This worked well though the module itself appears to have been damaged and is no longer communicating. Before that module failed I managed to find a way to sense when the dryer has finished. This was accomplished using an Aeon Labs Energy Reader.


The unit is a Z-Wave device with two clamps, which is typically intended to be used at a breaker box. It wouldn’t have been able to properly sense current flow if I had just placed the clamps around the power cable for the dryer; the clamps need to be over individual wires that are normally within the cable sheath. However, on my dryer the three wires are individually accessible for a few inches before they enter the main sheath and are then covered.

It was just a matter of placing the clamps around two of these cables. Fortunately, as with the washer, our dryer is low-tech and doesn’t draw any power while not in use so setting up the sensing thresholds in Indigo was relatively easy (actually easier than setting up the washer). Though the washer module is not currently working the dryer notifications still continue to work.