Slowing Water Leakage in a Bathtub (Severe Weather Prep)

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We’ve had a threat or two of a hurricane in our area over the summer and into the fall so more than once we filled up the tubs to store water for flushing the toilets and rinsing things. The largest tub in our place can hold a lot of water but unfortunately it had a slow leak at the drain that over the course of several hours was too severe.

Fortunately I found a very simple solution: electrical tape.

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Building a seal around the drain and the drain cap slowed the leak to a point that I couldn’t even tell if it was leaking any more.

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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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.

KeePassX Slow to Open in OS X

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For a while I’ve noticed that KeePassX was very slow to load. It wasn’t until today that I finally got around to fixing the problem. It seems to be caused by using an older version of the password database. I’ve been using KeePassX for some time, so the database format has probably changed since I first started using it.

I’ve had KeePassX set to automatically load a specific password database. It does, of course, still require a password before actually opening the database. Each time I started KeePassX it would take several seconds before I received the password prompt for my database.

In an attempt to fix the problem I opened the password database file, re-saved it under a new file name, and then closed KeePassX. Since then KeePassX has started immediately, every time.

Faster PS3 Downloads (via a Mac Proxy and Disabling UPnP)

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Like many PS3 users, I’ve been frustrated by horribly slow PS3 downloads since I purchased the console (firmware and game updates included). I’ve tried setting a local IP and using DNS servers other than my ISP’s. I also tried turning off the option to search for media servers. None of that seemed to make a difference. I’ve made two changes recently that appear to have improved download speeds. Unfortunately, I implemented them without properly testing them individually so I don’t know if only one change or both is what made the difference.

The first change I made was to implement one of the standard suggestions found in forums, which is to setup a local proxy server and have the PS3 connect through it. Since I use a Mac I downloaded SquidMan (a Squid GUI), which will also download and install Squid itself (the proxy server software). I did have only the proxy setup at first and it didn’t seem faster but that wasn’t for very long so I can’t state that it didn’t help – perhaps it took a little while for the PS3 connection to really get moving through the proxy. When I configured the proxy server I set it up to only accept connections from a local IP address assigned to the PS3.

The second change I made, when setting up the PS3 again after installing a working hard drive, was to turn off the option to enable UPnP (only in the PS3 network settings, not in my router). Perhaps the PS3 detects UPnP as working in situations where it really isn’t and thus the connection is slower than expected?

Again, I don’t know which option (or if was a combination of the two) made the difference but downloads have been significantly faster. It’s worth noting that this seems to have been the solution to my problem, but each network configuration is different so you may or may not benefit from these changes. Please feel free to leave a comment to let me know if it does work for you.

Updated 06/28/2011: I had a request via comment to include more information about the setup of SquidMan. I’m not planning to add a complete guide or screenshots but I am including a few notes that may be critical in setting this up.

I left out one critical piece of information, most likely because it’s how my gear has been configured for a long time. Your Mac will need to use a static IP address configured for the active interface. For example, if it’s connected via ethernet then the port will need to have an appropriate IP setup. By appropriate I mean one that’s in the local subnet and isn’t in use elsewhere.

For example, if your router is configured with 192.168.1.1 then you could assign 192.168.1.2 to the Mac. For a home network the subnet mask will usually be 255.255.255.0.

It may be a good idea to also assign a static IP to the PS3. Continuing the example, it could be assigned 192.168.1.3. You can usually use higher numbers that might be easier to remember. Most residential routers I’ve had won’t use IP addresses below 100 (and sometimes 200) for DHCP assignments so manually assigning an IP address above 1 and below 100 is often safe (again, this depends on your network and additional gear).

If you don’t assign a static IP to the Mac but enter it’s DHCP address into the PS3 proxy settings, then it will quit working the next time the Mac receives a new DHCP address.

My setup of SquidMan isn’t very customized. I went through the standard installation and allowed it to automatically install Squid. I’ve set SquidMan to automatically start Squid on launch, it uses HTTP Port 8080 (which may have been the default), and under the Clients tab it’s configured to only provide proxy services for the PS3’s IP address.

Sony | PS3 Internet Connection Settings (advanced settings)

Updated 07/12/2011: I had another request via comment. This time I was asked if I could recommend Windows software that would do the same. I couldn’t find a Windows GUI for Squid but I did find a couple of resources that might be useful for someone needing a basic a proxy server in Windows. I haven’t had a need to run a proxy under Windows (at least not since the days when Windows 98 was still new) so I’m not familiar with any of the current options. I’ve listed two resources that may be useful, but I haven’t tried either so I really don’t know how well they’ll work.

Updated 08/18/2011: I rarely even turn the PS3 on so I decided to remove the proxy server software and not setup another one.