Prep for paint

DIY continues.  The front pillars are falling apart, and I hate the way they look anyway, so it’s time for them to go.

IMG_0866

What’s a pillar on a house built in the 90′s?  A big PVC pipe.

IMG_0869One down.

IMG_0875Building an epic marble run with the remains of the pillars.

IMG_0871These little dudes are everywhere on the house.  CUTE!!!one1!

IMG_0876Slapping some paint on for a little instant gratification.

Windows 8 – Classic Shell and the Auto Reboot Irritation

I’ve moved on to Windows 8 on my primary laptop and desktop because, well, time marches on. Microsoft did well with 7. 8, not so much. 9 will probably be better. But I have to admit that things seem peppier on 8, especially my virtualbox vms. That may just be the byproduct of a fresh build though.

Two things I absolutely have to do with a fresh 8 install are to wrest control of the UI from the poorly conceived desktop-for-a-tablet, and stop the damned thing from force rebooting after updates.

When it comes to the UI, Classic Shell is your savior. And it’s free! Can’t recommend it enough.

Stopping the auto-reboot is a simple reg hack. In the editor, head to:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\AU

Create the dword value NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers with a hexi value of 1. Or even easier, slap the below into a text file, rename it .reg and double click it to insert into the registry:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\AU]
"NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers"=dword:00000001

Toying with the SickBeard database – SQLite

I’m moving around a bunch of data managed by SickBeard because I’m running out of drive space.  While SickBeard nicely allows for mass changes, it isn’t so friendly when it comes to gleaning certain information, such as a list of shows that reside in a common path.  SQL to the rescue.

Currently SickBeard uses SQLite as its default database.  Head to SQLite’s download page and grab the appropriate copy of the command line shell (in my case, Precompiled Binaries for Windows).  Stick it in the install path for SickBeard, where sickbeard.db resides.  Because I like to be safe I made a copy of my database, which I named sickbeard_2.db, just in case I did something stupid and broke it.

In a CMD window, path to the aforementioned location and fire up SQLite:

SQLite3.exe

Open the database with

.OPEN filename.db

01

You can list tables simply with

.TABLES

02

We’re after the information found in the tv_shows table. Want to see the columns in that table?

pragma table_info(tv_shows);

03

This simple query gets me what I am after, which is all the shows located in the Toons directory:

SELECT location, show_name FROM tv_shows WHERE location LIKE '%Toons%';

04

To dump the data to a file rather than to the screen:

.mode csv
.output FILE.csv
SELECT location, show_name FROM tv_shows WHERE location LIKE '%Toons%';
.output stdout

05

Find FILE.csv in the directory containing SQLite3 and the db.

Google Authenticator Application Passwords

I use Google Authenticator extensively, as I’m a big fan of multi-factor authentication.  In fact, I wish I could use it everywhere I’m required to input a password.

But when using it with your Google account it can get in the way of applications requiring access.  A thick mail client, for instance.  An app that publishes to YouTube.  An addon that syncs contacts.

They’ve solved this problem by allowing the creation of app specific passwords.  Works great.  But, as per usual with Google, finding the information you need can be problematic.  So, log into your Google account and head here:

https://security.google.com/settings/security/apppasswords

Windows 8.1 Clean install : We couldn’t find any drives. To get a storage driver, click Load Driver.

“We couldn’t find any drives. To get a storage driver, click Load Driver.”  That’s the message I got trying to install Windows 8.1 on a slightly used drive for my heavily used desktop.  Simply cleaning it in Diskpart solved the problem.   I

  • Open an elevated CMD window
  • Diskpart
  • List disk – find the disk you want to clean
  • Select disk XX – where XX is that disk number
  • Clean

that’s it.

The Harbor Freight Conundrum

People love to hate on Harbor Freight.  I’ve had people who don’t work with tools professionally, or regularly, or even occasionally – total non-DIYers – proclaim HF to be the “Wal-Mart of Tools” and vow to never buy anything from there.

And I sort of get it.  I’ve seen lots of equipment of questionable quality from HF.  But I’ve seen the same from Lowes and Home Depot, and even the mighty Craftsman name has been branded onto some real garbage.  Sears – once absolutely trusted for tools if nothing else – has fallen off, especially in the realm of power tools.

And some of us don’t need that saw that can handle being run 7 hours a day 7 days a week.  Some of us need it for a project or two.  Some of us just want to try our hand at something, and can’t afford to make an investment into professional level equipment to do it.

However, I’m definitely That Guy when it comes to “disposable” tools.  Disposable anything, really.  I hate cheap shoes, cheap printers, cheap anything that’s designated as throwaway rather than repair when it breaks.

So there’s a balance to be struck.  Is everything at Harbor Freight crap?  I don’t know… but luckily I’ve found a thread on The Garage Journal where pros and serious DIYers weigh in on their Harbor Freight purchases.  Some of the info within is expected – and some is surprising.  This thread’s an invaluable resource, I think.

The Deck Continues

I actually finished this awhile ago, but I’ve been engrossed in things other than posting to sites no one sees.

After opting to forgo fancy wire cabling deck rails in the name of being frugal, I decided to go traditional with the two unsafe areas of the lower deck that needed railing.  In the process I managed to recycle a lot of materials from that left at the house by the previous owner.

photo 1Running beneath the previously installed privacy screen.

photo 2The other side.  The railing here wasn’t missing, but what was there wasn’t tied in correctly on either side, and was wibbly and loose.  It was also constructed by the ubiquitous brad nailer the previous owner so loved to use on everything.

photo 3So I tore it all out and redid it, including redoing the stair bannister.  It’s much better.  You can get an idea of the “quality” of workmanship I’ve been dealing with by scoping out the rail on the upper deck.  It really seems like the railings were total afterthoughts.  I’ll be redoing the upstairs next.  Then I’ll put a sloped ceiling above the lower deck to divert precipitation and we’ll paint the whole mess something purty.

 

Resizing a VirtualBox VDI

Expanding drive space in VirtualBox has gotten easier!  Just clone the VDI (this step isn’t required, but if something goes wrong you’ll be happy you did it), then zap the clone with this:

VBoxManage modifyhd <absolute path to file> --resize <size in MB>

Fire up the clone.  If you’re running a modern Windows OS you can use Disk Manager to expand the partition to fill the volume.  Otherwise check out gparted.

 

Cleaning iPhone 5 Holes

My iPhone 5 stopped charging the other day.  My employer just upgraded me from the 4 not too long ago, and I knew they wouldn’t be happy with me telling them my new phone wasn’t working.  I peeked into the charging cable hole and saw roughly 5 tones of pocket lint within.  After rooting around a bit I found the perfect device with which to get it all out.

IMG_0744

GUM Soft Pick.  Normally I would never, ever support these things.  They’re a waste of material, and the ocean is probably littered with them already.  I hate – HATE – single use shit like this.  But we had a couple laying around from a dentist visit.  I snipped off the pointiest bit of one and used the remainder to dig around in my phone (which I’d turned off of course).  The rubberyness of the pick grabbed the lint and drug it out no problem.

HP OfficeJet Pro Plus 8600 time date problems

I got this new printer/fax/scanner/toaster the other day.  It’s a cheap home version of an office multifunction copier.  So far it’s nifty enough for the price.  One giant complaint I found online is people being unable to accurately set the date/time on it, which effects time stamps for emails and faxes.  After fiddling I believe I’ve figured it out.  It is, perhaps unsurprisingly, completely unintuitive.

printerAbove is the time setup in the web config.  You can hit this with it on wireless – no need to have your computer physically plugged into the printer. Set the Current Device Time to actual GMT using the Date field and stupid drop downs for Time.   No, not the current time in your zone…. GMT.  Check the box for Use the same time zone set on this computer and Apply it. This should make the device subtract or add the correct amount of hours from the GMT setting to correctly time stamp correspondence sent from it.  When you return to this page the Current Time will continue to show GMT, not your zone’s time.  I know, I know, that’s stupid too.   An easy test to confirm things are set up correctly is to go into the scan/email set up and send a test page.