Home automation

A New Dismal Gadget, an Air Quality Monitor

Dismal Dave suffers from rhinitis, a general non-specific rhinitis brought on by particulates more so than a specific allergen. Cooking smoke, Diesel smoke, jet smoke, the Great Dismal Swamp Fire smoke, pollen, and other things make the sinuses angry. To get a better feeling for what it might be correlated with, I decided to add an air quality monitor to our Apple HomeKit rig.

The bits and pieces needed to make one are inexpensive and can be ordered as a kit with a PCB. A number of DIY websites describe air quality monitor projects. But if you want a case, and there is software to write, …

There are only a few HomeKit capable residential air quality monitor finished products with the QingPing Air Quality Lite being regarded the best value of the lot. Most of the products out there are portable monitors designed for work-place safety applications.

After the break, I’ll explain my initial motivation, selection criteria, intended application, and initial experience.

Car talk

Electrify America Account Setup

The 2021 VW ID.4 comes with unlimited CCS DC fast charging and Level 2 charging courtesy of Electrify America and VW’s settlement of the Diesel emissions fraud case. To take advantage of this offer requires an Electrify America app account with public charging configured. Thanks to the smart folks of Reddit VW ID.4 group for their Cliff’s notes.

Car talk Personal Computing

Volkswagen ID.Software Updates

With the ID.Generation, VW has brought over-the-air updating to key system software of its battery electric vehicles. This process updates the MIB-3 user interface, various electrical control unit software, and importantly, the traction inverter and other important software giving your ID its personality.

Every European car v-logger seems to feel he (it’s almost always a he) should make an ID.Software Version 3 update video. But I’ll bet not a one of them has actually applied an update to an ID.3 or ID.4. Why, because they almost always use a press vehicle to make the video and not their personal daily driver.

So I spent some quality time with the Duck to find this actual page of information from the actual VW folk and not the 10 insanely great ways to update your VW’s software people. You know them. The ones killing the Internet for enthusiasts or just the actually curious. Following the break, the link and some highlights.

Personal Computing Photography

Luminar Neo HDR

Skylum developers remain at work in Ukraine. Women and children have evacuated while military age males remain in the country to be called up to fight if needed. Skylum collaboration tools are hosted internationally allowing a measure of safety from acts of Ivan. Remember Ivan? He’s back. And worse than ever.

Boy do I miss Khrushchev! When he invaded a neighbor, he just seized the joint. Putin, medieval siege warfare. He is leaving rubble, mostly destroying the economic value of the contested territory.

Anyway, Luminar Neo is now Version 1.2. Version 1.2 adds bug fixes but also integrates most of the RAW HDR development capabilities of Aurora HDR, another Skylum product.

Personal Computing Photography

Apple Photos Gripe

We begin and end most days by taking a photo of the dramatic Dismal Dominion skyline as viewed from Dismal Manor. The Staff finds clouds fascinating and is pleased to have an editing tool that does them some justice. While editing such an image, Staff foolishly put the iPhone 11 on to charge by connecting it to the iMac’s Thunderbolt Dock. Photos abandoned the edit to import something from the phone. But, normally, there is nothing to be imported. Said Apple ID has “Use iCloud Photo Library” enabled. And we pay for extra storage like good Apple dumplings. So, what happened and what was the lineup.

Car talk

Millenium Falcon Update

A short note to update you on a couple of Millennium Falcon things, dog happens and the scary 12 V battery message.

Dog Mishap

Rocky narrates.

Me, Rocky on patrol. All 29 inches and 80 pounds!

As you can see, Millennium Falcon has plenty of room for a greyhound or two. I’ve been riding back here as I can muscle up pretty easily. Missy is riding row two as she has trouble making the back in the carport. Miss this leap and you can tear your hip capsule, a serious, possibly life-ending injury. It happens as we get older (after 10).

Me Again. On a ChuckIt tuffet. In the Falcon WayBack

Anyway, the staff was opening the driver door to retrieve something like the USB car tunes button. I tried to board crawling under the wheel and over the console and got a trotter in the open phone pooka. Pooka can be Celtic for spirits of one sort or another (but not the potable kind). Or it can be submarine/Navy for a small storage space. The phone shelf is an example of the latter.

Ickle Rocky checks the worktops with four on the floor

The antenna assembly snaps in with a plastic flange supporting it. A thin plastic flange. After all, normal load is well less than 1 Kg. But a dog paw fits through the roll-top easily. And the sliding top exposes the phone shelf a bit. Enough for a big 40 Kilo beast to trod on it. Crunch. USB unplugged. All passenger USB out. WiFi out. Phone charging out. Oh, and it is a $600 part! The working parts are fine. Checkered Flag VW reconnected the WiFi and USB and stuffed some cardboard under to raise the shelf to usable. Just the stupid mounting flange failed.

Really, don’t VW engineers have dogs? Don’t they take their dogs about in the test vehicles? Don’t they note and fix the rough bits? I suspect VW engineers have basket-riding bag rats, not manly dogs like me that ride loose.

Stupid Message

The Falcon was in space dock for a few days without travel as tourists were crawling over the beach and church was ditched to sleep-in. So the Falcon’s 12 V battery ran down enough to need a charge. I (Dave writes) hop in to go grocery shopping to top up on summer fruit and pantry supplies. I put Falcon in start and a scary message about HV electrical trouble greets me. I watch the car complete POST and come to READY with full power available. WTF, VW?

Millenium Falcon in Space Dock

I drive down to Wegmans for a shop, about 20 minutes underway, park, and go in. I return after shopping to drive to a second supermarket to complete my list. (Wegmans is wonderful but they never have Rao’s Sausage and Mushroom sauce. That’s the best of the lot, meaty with a minimum of meat and lots of button mushroom slices.)

Falcon starts without messages. The HV trouble annunciator is cleared as a short drive remedied whatever was the matter. Apparently, Millennium Falcon needs regular exercise.

More about EV Batteries

There are at least two, the HV battery that runs almost everything and a 12 V aux battery that runs the locks, HMI displays and processors, lights, and stuff that you need to get in the car and start up the HV system and the 12 V inverter that powers all the accessories underway. Once the HV power electronics are going, the HV to 12 V inverter charges the 12 V aux battery that keeps the car alert between trips.

The 12 V aux battery is a deep cycle marine battery, usually small frame size, that normally powers sailing vessel amenities when the engines are secured. These are very similar to trolling motor batteries used by bass fishermen to maneuver around a fishing hole. They are made to supply moderate current for a long time and to be discharged fully and recharged.

These batteries have a short service life because the charge/discharge cycles cause the plate structure to change and plate bridging can occur. They have been a reliability sore spot for most EV brands. Even Tesla.

Most famously, a 12 V aux battery made James May walk when he returned to his Tesla Model S as lock-down was ending. James May, being a YouTube film maker, made a little film showing with James May understated irony the pains needed to uncover the Model S aux battery for jumping or replacement.

Tesla buried the battery out of sight under the bonnet trim. And to remove one plastic trim bit required pulling a T-handle cord that could be reached only by removing a front wheel. Oh, there were two lanyards to pull, one in each wheel well. Who would think you should need to lift the vehicle to replace a regular 12 V battery? Tesla, obviously.

So duly embarrassed, Tesla designed a replacement Lithium iron phosphate replacement battery in a nice little aluminum box that should last the life of the vehicle. More likely, the life of several batteries as the cells chosen have a much longer lifetime that the traction battery cells.

Tesla is unusual in the industry in that it has a vigorous program of continuous improvement. As Tesla discovers friction in assembly or in service, Tesla revises its vehicles to remove the source of difficulty. The replacement lithium ion 12 volt aux battery is a classic example. Many of these planned improvements significantly reduce build cost, build time, or field service costs. Today’s Model S and Model 3 are very different under the skin than the originals.

Personal Computing Photography

Mylio Photos

Featured image courtesy of Mylio.

Mylio Photos is a new device independent and operating system independent image asset management tool for MacOS and Windows 10 or later. Mylio’s architecture and design is based on the premise that tech comes and tech goes but that your images are unique and irreplaceable. Mylio offers well-conceived image management by date, geo-tag, people-tag, categories, and keyword tags, etc. Mylio works because file formats are standardized and long-lived. As a result, images can be edited and rendered multiple times over their lifetime if they can be kept safe and located. Mylio’s design allows you to work with its internal editor or an editor of your choice.

Mylio is offered as a service for $100 per year software subscription. Your images stay “within the lifelines”, that is, on your local machines. Mylio is a non-destructive editor. That is, Mylio keeps your images using standard file formats for image encoding and image editing specification encoding. Mylio preserves the unedited original and reconstructs and presents the edited version upon request. Edited thumbnails are available for browsing. And all of your portable iOS and Android devices can participate. Read on to learn more.

Personal Computing Uncategorized

SOHO Storage

This post comes out of a discussion with the folks at Take Control Books who write a line of topic and capability oriented Apple product guides like Taking Control of Your Digital Storage. This is a big topic that Jeff Carlson capably explores. NAS (network attached storage) is among the topics he considers. There are 3 sorts of systems available in this market space,

  • Those targeted to small office and home offered by Synology and QNAP (the two best know) and some others.
  • Professional products offered by the global IT vendors at departmental scale. EMC, NetApp, DELL, HP, IBM, the usual suspects.
  • Cluster computing products like those offered by IBM Red Hat and various Linux distributions. These systems provide a single file system view to numerous computers formed into a capacity or reliability cluster. 45Drives, ix Systems, and others are in this space with hardware, drivers, CephFS scale-out file system, etc.

In this article we will consider the essential capabilities a small NAS should have. The intent is to prepare my readers to venture into the world of marketing slicks, spec sheets, and white papers.

Personal Computing

Updating TrueNAS from V12 to V13

Earlier this week I updated Peabody and Sherman to TrueNAS 13. Following the update, I discovered a couple of issues. First, replication from Peabody to Sherman had stopped. That is, Peabldy was no longer transferring backups to Sherman. And Time Machine had stopped. What the hey.

With some community help, it turned out that I had made a mistake in doing the update and that I ran into a somehwhat hidden design feature.

Car talk Citizenship

EV Surprise

Featured image by the author.

I received a postcard from Virginia DMV reminding me that it was that time again and that I should renew my motor vehicle registration. When I arrived at the DMV website, I found I had a second task to perform …