IR Controlled SPDIF Optical Audio Switch (TNP Toslink)

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I continued dealing with some audio problems after replacing the TV that our son destroyed. The audio output, when routed through the TV from different devices, often had a significant delay when playing via the soundbar. The soundbar received the audio signal over an optical cable from the TV. I tried adjusting numerous audio settings on the TV itself, as well as the connected devices, but no configuration would ensure that all devices worked without a delay (in some cases one device might be good but others experienced problems).

It’s likely that simply using the TV’s speakers would have resulted on no audio lag but that’s simply not why I have a soundbar in the first place. In order to test this problem I grabbed an old optical audio switch out of the closet and set it up with each input running into the switch. It has a single output that I connected to the soundbar. This was a manual switch, so in order to change inputs one had to turn a large dial on the device to physically change the active connection.

Sure enough, it worked without any problems. I decided to order something more modern, that could be controlled via infrared (IR) in order to allow the Harmony Companion system to handle the audio switching.

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After reading through several reviews on Amazon I settled on theĀ TNP Toslink SPDIF Digital Optical Audio Switch with Remote Control and ordered one. We’ve had this in place for a while. The product itself seems to work great but I’ve had some issues with using it in the Activities. Specifically, it doesn’t always change the source input. However, I don’t believe this is a problem with the unit itself but simpy the fact that the IR receiver for the optical switch often becomes slightly misaligned relative to the Harmony Companion IR blaster. I suspect this is the result of my son moving the soundbar from time to time. It may also be in need of some tweaking within the Activity setup as it usually works when I manually change the source via the Harmony Companion app.

Overall, I think it works well and it’s much better than the manual switch I was using. I think it will work perfectly once I take the time to rework parts of the Harmony Companion setup, including the physical location of devices.

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Scheduling Automatic Modem and Router Power Cycling Using a NetReset NR-1000US

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Back at the house the cable modem and router usually operate just fine but every now and then something hangs up and unfortunately it’s not always practical to go by to reset the gear. And asking a friend to do it for me, even when they’re eager to do it, just seems unfair.

So I searched for a device on Amazon.com, as usual, and sure enough someone has a product that is intended for exactly this need. The NetReset NR100US, which cost about $45 $60 $73, can be set to automatically reset the power to both outlets on the device using a set delay between them. It will turn off one outlet for a minute, turn it back on, and then a minute later do the same for the next.

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Using a Zubie Key (Vehicle Monitoring Service)

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ZubieMy wife recently purchased a new vehicle and so I started thinking about also purchasing a new vehicle. And then I decided that not having a car payment was something that I currently prefer over having a car payment (note – my wife had a very good reason to purchase a new vehicle, I do not).

Instead of purchasing a new vehicle I decided to add some enhancements to my current one. One of those enhancements is a Zubie Key.

The Zubie Key requires a subscription service that costs $99/year. The device works in conjunction with the Zubie Cloud service, which is used to review data via Web browser or from the Zubie App. When connected to a vehicle’s OBD-II port the device automatically connects to the Zubie Cloud via cellular connection. GPS is also built into the device.

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Resolving Windows 8/8.1 Automatic Repair Loop After Windows Updates

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This particular solution isn’t one that I discovered, though unfortunately in the course of seeking a solution I neglected to bookmark the post in which I read it.

There can be many causes for an automatic repair loop, so this solution may not fix the problem for everyone.

While working on a laptop for some friends I encountered a problem after applying some Windows updates. On restart the system went into a repair loop, which resulted in an inability to restart into Windows.

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Using TextWrangler to Generate HTML Form Option Values from a Text List

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While working on a project I needed to find a way to take a text-based list of values and convert them to drop-down options for an HTML form.

For example, I a have list in a text file like this:

One
Two
Three
Four

I need to convert them to this:

<option value="One">One</option>
<option value="Two">Two</option>
<option value="Three">Three</option>
<option value="Four">Four</option>

The items above would then be enclosed within a SELECT tag.

For a list this short I would just code it by hand but when you start hitting lists of 25 or more options it quickly becomes time-consuming. I attempted to use a Find and Replace operation in Dreamweaver using RegEx but ran into a problem.

Eventually, I moved over to TextWrangler for Mac. I’m not a RegEx guru but after doing some reading I came up with a method that works well.

In TextWrangler I opened the file and then went to the Search menu option and clicked Find.

Here’s what I’m using:

Find: ^(.*)$
Replace: <option value="\1">\1</option>

Also, and this is critical, I checked the option to use “Grep” under Matching. This enables the use of Regular Expressions.

The find pattern captures anything between the beginning and end of the line. In the replace section it takes whatever matches and then inserts it into the surrounding text (\1 instructs the software to insert the contents of the match).

Here’s a screenshot of the dialog:

Shut Off Wi-Fi when Ethernet is Active (OS X)

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Over at Mac OS X Hints a contributor has posted a hint with a script that will turn off Airport whenever the LAN port is used. For most folks this isn’t a concern but sometimes, in corporate environments, there are several reasons one may not want to be connected to ethernet and wi-fi at the same time.

The instructions are well explained though I had to reboot my system to get it working. In addition, you’ll also need to install growlnotify with Growl if you want to receive the pop-up notifications.

Auto-disable AirPort when ethernet is active Network (Mac OS X Hints)

Updated 08/18/2011: I’ve been using this for about ten months and it’s really not an essential function. Sometimes it’s convenient and other times it can get in the way. In some situations when I wake my laptop up, after it was previously connected to the WiFi, it doesn’t automatically start Airport. All-in-all, it’s no better or worse than not having it installed. Your mileage may vary depending on your needs and network environments.