Easy Accessory Power Switch for a 2008 Chevrolet Impala

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I used a dashcam, phone charger and bluetooth adapter in the car for a while but I grew tired of having to manually unplug those devices when not in use or when I turned the car off. Unfortunately, in my 2008 Chevrolet Impala the vehicle would continue to provide power to any plugged in accessories even when the engine was off. Most of these devices are low power but even a dashcam, given enough time, could eventually drain the vehicle batter, especially if the car wasn’t being used for several days.

Re-wiring the electrical system and messing with fuses is beyond my experience so I decided to see if I could find an automotive power strip that would have a built-in power switch and sure enough I was able to find the perfect device.

The EUGIZMO Cigarette Lighter Splitter only costs about $16, offers three DC outlets, four USB power ports, a large power switch for the unit and also a very good visual indicator to show whether or not it is on.

I chose to mount this upside-down, just below the vehicle’s built-in DC power ports. This placement moves most of the power adapters and cables out of the way; whenever I turn the car on or off it’s very easy to just reach down and hit the large power button.

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At first affixing the unit beneath the dash was a bit of the problem as the first type of velcro that I had used simply wasn’t holding and it would often come loose during the day. Eventually I ended up using some VELCRO Exterme Outdoor Strips and it hasn’t come loose since.

Updated 04/18/2018: The splitter and power button continue to work perfectly. In addition, the VELCRO has held; it hasn’t come loose yet. 

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

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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.

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Washing Machine Notification (Smart Energy Sensor & Indigo)

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As part of my recent dive back into home automation I decided it would be cool (and once again practical) to be able to receive an alert that the washing machine has finished washing a load of clothes.

This wasn’t something I blindly jumped into. There is plenty of information on the Web documenting how others have already done this with various home automation setups. As it turns out, at least with our washer, Indigo 6, and an Aeon Labs DSC06106-ZWUS – Z-Wave Smart Energy Switch it can be remarkably easy.

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Service Battery Notifications and Trackpad Problems (13-inch Macbook Pro, Mid-2010 Model)

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The first problem began with an apparent inability to charge my wife’s 13-inch Macbook Pro (Mid-2010 model). She began receiving battery status warnings as well. At the time I only suspected a software problem so I reset the SMC, which appeared to have resolved the problem.

Several weeks later my wife starting having problems with her Trackpad again, but this was a new problem. In addition to the Trackpad not responding properly, the right side was visibly raised and the ability to ‘click’ the Trackpad simply wasn’t possible.

I powered off the system, removed the bottom screws, and immediately discovered the problem:
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Sophos AntiVirus for Mac Home Edition & iMac Standby Issues

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Several weeks ago I installed Sophos AntiVirus for Mac Home Edition on my iMac. I chose it because I was somewhat familiar with Sophos and I knew that I needed a working malware program (I was using an older version of McAfee Security on my previous iMac but that version wasn’t compatible with Lion).

Since I installed it I began to notice odd issues with bringing my Mac out of standby. It could have been a coincidence but the only other changes I’ve made to the system were some recent system updates.

Today, once again, the system didn’t wake. Previous issues also included the system partially waking but the mouse cursor would change to a spinning wheel and I couldn’t do anything except move the cursor.

After I restarted the iMac the system offered to send a crash report to Apple. I went ahead and let it but I viewed the details before sending. While I didn’t read the information closely it looked like it was possibly caused by the Sophos updater process.

To try to work around the problem I changed some Energy Saver settings. My iMac is on a UPS and I noticed the UPS configuration options were a little different from the standard power options. I disabled the option to allow the hard drive to sleep and then saved the changes.

With those changes in place it’s now just a matter of waiting to see if it happens again.

UPS Battery Indicator In OS X Restarts Continuously After Launching VMWare Fusion

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The Short Version: The UPS’s USB connection had been inadvertently shared with the virtual machine. Setting it to only be accessible by the host OS (OS X) solved the problem.

Recently I noticed my virtual machine instance under VMWare Fusion (3.1.3) seemed to be running unusually slow on my Mac. Yesterday I noticed that the status indicator for my battery backup kept appearing and disappearing in the menu bar.

While inspecting the energy settings for both OS X (Lion) and Windows 7 (VM) I decided to check the connected USB devices for the virtual machine. Sure enough, my CyberPower UPS was showing as connected to to the Windows 7 guest OS. I have no idea how this happened. There’s no reason I would have intentionally connected the USB interface for the my UPS to to the VM. Perhaps I clicked on it when intending to connect a different device at some point.

Regardless, as soon as I disconnected the UPS from the VM both systems started functioning at a more normal speed and the status indicator stayed in the menu bar instead of restarting.