Ring Video Doorbell 2

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This post contains Amazon Associate links. If you purchase something through them I may get a small commission, which helps cover the hosting costs for this blog.

Within the past couple of months I purchased two Ring video devices to monitor a property. The first device I decided to get was the Ring Video Doorbell 2.

This device can replace an existing doorbell or be installed where there isn’t one. It provides video and audio recording and can be used to record motion events and interact with someone at your door, live and remotely, from a devices using the Ring app, which works on iOS, Android, Mac OS and Windows.

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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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My Experience with Google Chromecast

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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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Learning Experience: Attempting to Transfer a Windows 7 Install to Boot Camp (PC to Mac)

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Source System
Lenovo Notebook
SSD Hard Drive
Windows 7

Target System
MacBook Pro (Late 2013, 13.3″ with Retina Display)
SSD Hard Drive
Boot Camp

For the more literal folks, I apologize. I realize that a Mac is actually a PC but for the sake of simplicity I added it to the title so everyone would understand what I was trying to do.

I recently needed to transfer a Windows 7 install from a Lenovo notebook over to a MacBook Pro Bootcamp partition. I need to make it clear that this project was not a success. However, I have learned a few things that others will find useful. In addition, had I followed some advice available in a blog post it’s possible that it would have worked. After all, I did succeed in migrating the partition over and it did attempt to boot…

This particular transfer was a bit more challenging due to the fact that both systems use SSD drives. As a result, I couldn’t simply pull a drive and execute more direct partition clones.

Should you be considering such a move then a good place to begin is a blog post by twocanoes titled Migrating a Real PC to Boot Camp with Winclone 4. Basically, this is the advice I did not follow. Now, my reason for not following it wasn’t irrational. I was very concerned that I’d run Sysprep before cloning, only to then discover that it simply wouldn’t work. Perhaps if I hadn’t been trying to do this quickly I could have attempted this while also having a good fallback clone of the partition made BEFORE running Sysprep or any other changes (and it did not turn out quickly – I spent more time trying to make this work than I did simply starting with a fresh Windows 7 Bootcamp install).

So, once again, I’m confident that I could have succeeded in this endeavor had I followed the advice from twocanoes. However, even though I wasted a lot of time I did learn a few valuable things along the way.

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Moving from mControl 3 (Windows) to Indigo 6 (OS X) for Home Automation

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Indigo-6

The Short Version: I moved VPN, home automation control, and video recording from an ASUS eeeBox PC (Windows) to my iMac (OS X Mountain Lion). VPN was changed from PPTP to L2TP using iVPN to control the server. Video recording is with the same program (Vitamin D Video Pro) using the same license. mControl was dropped and I’m now using Indigo 6 to control everything.

For home automation control I’ve been running mControl over the past few years. The development team rarely updated the software but rather than invest in a different package I went ahead and upgraded to version 3 when it was released. The software was running on an ASUS system I had setup at the house for managing home automation and security video recording.

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May Flash N64 Controller Adapter for PC USB

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The Short Version: On a Mac it seems that only the port on the right can be used but Windows users didn’t report the same problem. I had a calibration issue the first time I used the adapter with an original N64 controller but the next time I fired up Sixtyforce I set the axis deadzone to zero and it worked perfectly.

For Valentine’s Day my wife bought a couple of items from my Amazon Wish List along with some other cool gifts. One of the items was a May Flash N64 Controller Adapter for USB. While I haven’t had a chance to really put it to a good test I did get some time to hook it up to an N64 controller that I bought yesterday from a pawn shop for $5.

The USB adapter includes two N64 controller ports and it works with Windows and Mac OS X. There aren’t any drivers available. It seems to work via the standard HID interfaces.

Note that there is one important caveat for use with a Mac. So far it only appears to work with one controller. Specifically, only the N64 port on the right. I don’t know if this is specific to the OS X drivers or if it’s a software compatibility issue. Amazon review comments hint that it may just be a general problem when using the adapter with OS X. I’ve used it with Sixtyforce and that’s the only N64 emulator I’ve used on a Mac.

In Sixtyforce the button mappings worked well. I did have problems with the calibration of the stick on the controller. Its resting position caused the character to constantly move forward. At this point I don’t know if it’s just a sign of an old controller or if there’s something I can do on the OS side to fix the alignment. I’ll keep toying with it, but I don’t think it’s a problem with the adapter itself.

Overall, this is a cool little device. I also have their SNES adapter but I haven’t acquired SNES controllers yet.

Updated 02/18/2012: I tried the controller again and set the axis deadzone to zero in Sixtyforce. This time it worked perfectly.

Building a Multiboot ISO USB Drive in Windows (YUMI)

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Every now and then I’m asked to fix a computer for family or friends. Typically, the hardware is fine but the system will need to be cleaned of malware. I usually have a collection of various rescue discs at home or in my car. If it’s been a while since they were created then sometimes I need to download and burn a new set to ensure that I have the latest updates (though that’s not always as much of a problem since many of the AV/malware removal discs have built-in update capability).

The time that it takes to burn new discs isn’t much of a problem but after a while it can seem wasteful. I decided to look for a tool that would give me the ability to boot multiple ISOs from a single USB flash drive. I’ve been somewhat aware that this could be done for a while, but the last time I investigated this capability it seemed that it was much more difficult to implement.

These days it’s not difficult at all. I found a free utility called YUMI, which does exactly what I was looking for. YUMI will format a USB drive and install the necessary software. It can then be configured to include various rescue discs. Each ISO is automatically added to the boot menu on the drive, if it’s in the list of supported ISOs (unsupported ISOs can also be added manually).

This won’t work on a computer with a BIOS that doesn’t supporting from USB, though even that problem can be circumvented by using a boot floppy or CD-ROM running Plop Boot Manager (in that case you’d only need one disc that you could use to access additional ISOs on the USB drive).

I’ve tested it with a handful of rescue discs and so far it looks like it will work well.

Updated 11/21/2011: Here’s one important note if you plan to use this on a USB drive. I advise against creating multiple partitions on the drive with the intention of installing YUMI on one of the partitions. Though I’m not certain, I think installing YUMI destroyed some partition data when it updated the MBR. As a result, while the FAT32 partitions can still be used in OS X, they won’t be visible in Windows.

Updated 11/27/2011: During the Thanksgiving Day holiday I had a chance to test out several ISOs using YUMI. They worked just fine and helped in removing several different types of malware, though I had to remove at least one from within Windows using Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (unfortunately, my UBCD4Win builds haven’t worked so far).

Remotely Solving a Windows Problem Using Two Macs

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My wife’s grandfather recently ran into a problem with his new laptop. At some point he had to restart his laptop but wasn’t able to login Windows (Windows 7 Home Edition). We’re not sure if someone changed the password without his knowledge or if he forgot that he had a passwords (it’s possible that he simply hadn’t restarted his computer since it was given to him).

The simple solution is to download a Windows password reset tool. There are many free tools available for download from the Web. In this case, I chose to use the Offline NT Password and Registry Editor.

However, the plan was to have his laptop for only a short window. My wife picked it up last Sunday and planned to return it the following Friday. Normally, that wouldn’t be an issue, except I was out of town and my wife had not used this type of tool before.

Fortunately, we both have Macs. Specifically, MacBook Pro systems. By using FaceTime and Screen Sharing we were able to burn the tool to a pre-built ISO, run it on the laptop and successfully clear the password.

I used Screen Sharing to see and chat with my wife. I also used it to view the display of the Windows laptop (from the camera on her Mac) and inform my wife which options to select. Screen Sharing was useful because I could guide my wife through downloading and burning the ISO image for the tool.

You certainly don’t have to use Macs to remotely diagnose and provide assistance. Combinations of devices, such as an iPhone and an iPad or even a mix of Windows and Macs can be used, though Windows to Mac setups will require cross-platform tools to replace FaceTime and Screen Sharing.

The point of this article is simple to serve as a reminder that remote diagnosis of a computer can often be done using built-in or free tools.