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Showing posts from 2013

1& Fail

Today we have a consumer alert for 1& - domain registrar and site host. Lots of people complain about their service, and now I know why. A domain of mine expired on 11/30/2013. Okay, my bad. HOLY COW! Within 5 business days, it was cancelled and sent to auction, my 1& account was deleted, and the issue was sent to their collections agency - all without a single attempt to notify me via phone, e-mail, or letter. Called and paid the collections agency plus an extra $12 fee. Collections agency said they would notify 1&1 immediately. Days later, no status update from 1&1. Called billing department, the person who answered had no idea what was going on and said I just have to keep waiting. My site has been down for 13 days now and I have no estimate as to when this is going to get fixed. The first thing I will do if I ever get my domain back is transfer it to Godaddy . Thanks 1&1! And I used to complain because Godaddy sends out a half-dozen e-mail

Perl script for comparing files: List missing lines, regardless of order

The other day, I was comparing two different sitemap files of the same site. One had more links than the other, and I was trying to get a list of what was missing from the shorter one. However, since they were from different sitemap generators, the order of the links were completely different in each file. Surprisingly, this turned out to be a much bigger challenge than I thought. I figured I could use some variation of a grep command line, or diff, but I wasn't able to find a simple combination of command line options for either that would do what I was looking for. It seems like everything I found was more geared toward comparing files that were in the same order. Diff simply dumped a large list of all the lines in file2; since the order was different than file1, every line was considered a mismatch. Knowing this was a fairly trivial operation to do in Perl, I decide to write a quick script to do it. I'm sharing it here in case it can benefit anyone else: #!/u

200K Rehab: Steering Wheel Cover

My steering wheel, being as old and heavily used as it is, was unsuprisingly rotted and has literally become smaller everytime I drive somewhere as it disintegrates in my hands.  I searched around for a replacement steering wheel, and quickly found that to be prohibitively expensive.  There were very few new OEM replacements, and certainly the ones I found were hundreds of dollars.  I really didn't want a crappy slip-on aftermarket steering wheel cover.  So after some deliberation, I finally settled on a pleather, stitch-on cover.   All things considered, it didn't come out too badly: The kit I got cost under $10 shipped, and came with a needle and thread.  I wasn't trying to be cheap, but this one seemed to get good reviews and had everything I needed.  The thread they provided seemed fine - it was attractive and tough enough.  However, the amount they provided was about half what was actually needed, and I found myself having to run to the local craft store after h

People of the world beware: An assault on our privacy is coming, of unimaginable proportions.

Yes, that's kind of hyperbolic, but it's really the only way to get the point across.  Your personal data and information is quickly becoming digital - and almost everything digital is accessible online.  Here are a few small examples of the things that you probably don't think about being accessed by someone you haven't authorized, and how it could impact your life: A GPS track of everywhere you have been in the last year, from your phone or your car A list of the radio stations or music you listen to every day Pictures/video of you taken as you sit in front of your computer There is no denying that we are heading toward a completely on-line existence.  Progress has spoken - social networking has propelled much more than photos of you and your friends to be put online.  Devices like exercise bracelets, music sharing websites that advertise what you listened to, refrigerators that track what you've eaten, cars that log your speed and driving habits, and SO MUC

Turbo Boost Zero: Conclusion

Well, I got my car back together and everything went pretty much as planned.  The turbo does reach full boost now (about 18-24 psi as measured by my VDO boost gauge, known to read about 4 psi high).  The first day the car was a little peppier, nothing too noticeable.  But after a couple of day, there was a very noticeable difference! I now remember that the air/fuel mapping is adaptive.  Since the turbo probably has been having issues for at least a year now, the ECU probably remapped in order to compensate for the lack of boost (in an attempt to maximize power and minimize smoke, with what is available).  Over the course of 3-4 days, I noticed the car became really zippy again, and seems to smoke a lot less in general (don't worry, it still has the " anti-tailgating"  feature if you stand on it for a few seconds). So in the end, a 50 cent retaining clip was all that was needed, but because of what it took to get to it, along with other issues I noticed while I was in t

Turbo Boost: Zero pt. 3

After tearing into the engine (removed hood, various piping, intake manifold) I saw what was causing the problem.  The issue was in fact the actuator on the turbo.  Specifically, the circlip that holds the actuator on to the vane lever had broken/fallen off, and the whole assembly was wedged together.  I went to the auto parts store and bought a kit with a bunch of spare parts including assorted circlips - one of which fit. The assembly seems to move quite easily and there is no rust or dirt, so I think there is no point in going any further.  I tested the actuator with a vacuum pump and it seemed to be fine.  I did notice some loss but I'm hoping that doesn't matter.  I tried to make a better seal around the actuator vacuum port by using a larger piece of rubber hose and a hose clamp. I am almost done putting the car back together, but I did notice that I seem to have lost two bolts out of the intake manifold.  I called the dealership and, of course, they don't stock i

Turbo Boost Zero: pt. 2

I got underneath the car and pulled the vacuum hose off the VNT (turbo) actuator.  I hooked up a hand vacuum pump with a gauge on it and put some vacuum on it.  The vacuum wouldn't really hold very long, either because the vacuum pump hose or the actuator leaked, but that wasn't really here nor there - I did manage to get well over 10 inches of vacuum plenty of times and the actuator didn't even think of moving.  I tried to move the assembly with my hand and the thing was frozen stiff. The turbo actuator with the hose off So I've pretty much come to the conclusion that either the actuator is frozen, the vanes or frozen, or/and the actuator is screwed.  Furthermore, I think the easiest way to deal with it is to try to get the turbo off.  Then I can fix it whatever way I need to, or even replace the turbo if need be (and if I can find another one I can afford).

Turbo Boost Zero

I've got a bunch of half-written blog posts in the can waiting to be finished and released.  Had a really busy summer, and NOT without it's car and e-bike issues.  I'll get them out eventually. Wanted to give a play by play of this one.  Yesterday I was driving up the big hill in Randolph in my 2002 VW Golf TDI, and my turbo boost went out.  I tried stopping/restarting the car (which has worked in the few times in the past) but... nothing at all.  So whatever is is pretty shot.  As far as I can tell, the car has absolutely no turbo boost at all (I can hear no whistling and feel very little power).  The car is technically drive-able but has a hard time keeping up with traffic.  Reminds me of my old '81 diesel rabbit (NA). I pulled the codes when I got home, and (among the massive list of other known issues) I saw a new one: 17964 - Charge Pressure Control             P1556 - 35-00 - Negative Deviation So at this point I'm thinking that it's one of the fo

Baby Motion Pager

Are you a new parent?  Do you have an infant that sleeps lightly at times, or needs attention frequently?  Perhaps you need to do something as soon as they start to wake up, and seconds are of the essence?  That has been the situation for our son, so I decided to put together a baby motion pager system, to alert me as soon as he stirred.  If this sounds interesting to you, read on!

Review of the Gallien Krueger MB212

As a new Dad, I recently relieved myself (and my back) of much of my former bass gear, which included Hartke 2x10 and 4x10 cabinets, a 2x10 Mesa Boogie combo, outboard preamp and Hartke head mounted in a rack case, a massive powered Yorkville sub, and more.  All of this I traded for a single 2x12 combo: the Gallien Krueger MB212 .  500 watts, 37 lbs., fits easily behind the driver seat of my car.  The size and weight is nothing short of a dream - but my big question was, of course, going to be - what about the tone?  Last night I had my first gig with it. Here's a look at my experience.

New tires for the E-bike

Windows 7 & 8 Install New Updates: anytime it wants to?!

Today, both my desktop (Windows 8 Home Premium) and my laptop (Windows 7 Home Premium) shutdown and rebooted to install Windows updates WHILE I WAS USING them.  Yes, sitting there, typing, not idle, not at 3 AM when I have supposedly configure updates to auto install, and not with any warning or chance to postpone or override...  Just, boom!  Programs start closing, Windows logs me out, and "Windows is configuring updates".  Then computer completely reboots, Windows starts back up, and resumes "configuring updates". My question is, how is this acceptable?  This is the default behavior of Windows.  I have not modified it in anyway, I simply chose "install Windows updates automatically for me (recommended)" during the initial setup of Windows.  Last I knew, that should not sign me up to have my computer randomly shut down while I am using it for something, possibly in the middle of typing a very LONG post on a forum or website. And what of the only confi

New regulator for alternator, e-bike riding after battery drama

I replaced the regulator in the alternator.  The VW MK4s have a module complete with the brushes and everything, so if you replace this module, 90% of alternator problems are cured.  Unfortunately it was a very tight space and it took me a couple of hours to get to it, but now that it's done, it works.  I uncovered a different way of getting to it, which I posted on the forum.   Happy to have my car back in action. I have been working on the appearance update for the car.  I received my new front grill, which I painted: New Kamei front grill which I painted silver, before clear coat It looks great, I think it will be a nice improvement for the car.  I also got my new headlights, they are projector style with halo DRLs.  I haven't looked at them a lot, but I think they will look nice.  Lingering concerns involve difficult (running of all the extra) wiring, and more difficult bulb change access. Still waiting to hear back if my fenders are covered by VW,

What broke today

I just realized I could pretty much title every blog post with above, or better yet, change the name of the whole blog to it.  Ha ha(!) Yesterday I cleaned up the car a lot.  Finally got a chance to go to the car wash, and I pressure washed the engine bay.   I know, I know, always a little risky for electrical problems, but I've done it before and never had any problems. Anyway, we get in the car to go home from a friend's house. I start the car, glance down and notice the alternator light is on.  I hook up my radar detector (a Beltronics Vector V995, an awesome machine with a bonus voltage readout, totally brilliant!), and sure enough, it's about 12.1v.  No alternator output.  Since child is now screaming, I shut off the headlights (still a little before dusk, so okay) and make for home.  On the way, the alternator output flicked on and was okay for the ride home.  This morning it seems to be down for the count.  I wiggled all the wires, and it doesn't seem to be a

The Golf's 200K Rehab

Now that my car has rolled 200K, and I've decided the budget doesn't allow me to by my dream Golf anytime in the near future, I've been thinking about doing some other fairly serious rehab.  Over the last 11 years, there have been a lot of things that broke, rusted, burnt out, collected, or what-have-you in and on the car, and I think it's time to address a lot of it.  Since I drive this car so much, it has a chance to really improve my life.  The older I get, the more I realize investing time and money into things you use the most is time/money well spent. So starting today, here's the partial list of rehab items as they came spewing forth.  I will be adding to this list as I think of things. Exterior Headlight lenses Kamei mesh front grill Rear spoiler Rust repair - Fenders, hood, trunk, above windshield Interior Clean out glove box (remove tapes) Fix rear defroster Tint windows Steering wheel Design custom console around

Obligatory 200k shot

So this happened. Here's hoping it'll make it to 300k before I have to do major surgery on it again!

On the road again

We had a big trip coming up, so I managed a last minute push and got the transmission in.  Finished Tuesday night, including front brakes rotors and pads, and new tires.  Trip started Thursday.  The car has been preforming very well.  The new transmission is awesome - very quiet. I even managed to do the 5th gear swap, which was much harder to do on the new transmission. It took a lot more force to get the gears off  for some reason, I had to buy a new impact wrench and modify a new gear puller on the bench grinder. Seriously, I think I spent an extra 4 hours on this (including trips to the store for tools).  I probably had it easy with my old, worn out transmission. The Veggie Golf rides again! First leg of the trip saw 46.2 mpg - lower than I'd hoped, but not bad when I consider how much idling with the air conditioner on we had to do (while feeding the baby).  Also, part of that leg was done with my snow tires and roof rack on.  The round trip mileage was 819 mile

Baby auto rocker

Here's a mini project I am working on.  My new son (~4 weeks old) is doing pretty well, but he has trouble calming down when he wants to fall asleep. My wife and I spend a lot of time rocking him, and that helps to calm him down. I thought it would be great for him to be able to rock automatically, but all of the rocking devices I have seen are swings that require the baby to be upright, which is not ideal for putting him to sleep.  I decided to make a basic rocking machine out of parts I had lying around.

Another day, another transmission job

Sometimes it feels like it never ends.  But nonetheless, another day has brought forth another chapter in my struggle to have a perfectly working car.  So let's get down to it.

48V LiFePO4 Battery Repair, AKA: Something goes right for once this month

Amidst countless failures this month, most of which to do with my VW Golf, and will be saved for another post, I was successful at recommissioning my 48V bike battery.  And I'm pretty psyched about that, since a new one would have been well over $500 shipped.  Let's have a look at the story.

48v Bike battery pack investigations

As I think I mentioned a few posts ago, my 48v bike battery seems to have a problem with cutting out under full throttle.  This is the case even immediately after charging.  I haven't known much about the battery pack, since I bought it used and it came with no documentation, but after reviewing lots of eBay auctions selling similar items, I have a pretty good guess at what I'm dealing with.  I think I've even figured out what happened, and what to do if there's any chance of fixing it.

The Probe awakens early from its winter nap

Well just when I thought I'd finally gotten past this auto maintenance nightmare... What was only supposed to be an exciting couple of weeks in incoming baby-world (my wife is due next weekend), I have spent basically dealing with my cars.  I'll try to summarize the story as simply as possible.

Windows 8 audio clicks and glitches narrowed down to Malwarebytes

Ever since I got my Windows 8 PC, I have been having serious problems with audio.  Basically all sound playback on my system experiences a brief  but frequent click, skip, glitch, stutter, whatever you prefer.  I can reproduce the issue on any sound card or firewire sound interface (devices tested include the onboard Conexant SmartAudio HD, my external Phonic Helix 12, and my Edirol FA-101).  All of them seem to have audio clicks, with the firewire interfaces' clicks seeming more harsh for whatever reason.

Seal replaced, back on the road!

Last night things moved ahead considerably.  I was very happy to see that the replacement seal arrived priority mail (from - they've never done me wrong) on Monday, after I ordered it on Friday night.  I also went out and found a seal puller (similar to the one pictured) at Sears, of all places.  None of the regular auto parts stores carry this thing for some reason. The elusive seal puller I finally obtained.

Gears replaced, leak found!

Well, I was going to update this the other night, but sometimes there's only enough time to work on the car.  So a few things have happened since my last post: for one thing, I got the old gears off.   

Torn up gears, and a dead end for now

Well today I got the transmission cover off.  There were two gears in here (5th gear and the selector gear) that were totally rounded (all teeth were sheared off).

Bye Bye, 5th Gear

It had to have been within 10 minutes of my staring at the odometer, marveling at the nearly 199,000 miles I had wracked up on my VW Golf and thinking how trouble-free the car had lately been, when my cruise control disengaged, and the car started to do the all-too-familiar "death coast".  Without thinking or trying anything else, I immediately turned on my four-way flashers and started moving into the breakdown lane -scoping the distance to the next rest area.

It's Wednesday.

...And it's snowing. Have a great week, and a safe drive home.

Sunny but windy test ride

The more I thought about my minimum voltage yesterday, the more it was bothering me.  The battery holds a lot more energy than that.  It occurred to me that if the voltage is dropping, but the energy isn't being used, it's probably a loose or high resistance connection somewhere. The weather was still pretty warm today (and actually sunny and somewhat dry), so I decided to do a decent test run and see if I could figure out what's going on.  First I fashioned a temporary front fender out of cardboard.  Looked kind of ghetto, but it did help a lot.  I rode down Shelburne Rd. and back on the bike path, about half of yesterday's trip.  Throughout the trip, I wasn't completely sure, but I did seem to see 2 different behaviors on the instantaneous volt meter.  At times it would only drop one bar under full throttle (normal), and other times it was down to half.  I also noticed my top speed dropped about 10MPH when this happened. When I got back, I checked all the

Crock Pot modification

One of the neat things we got as part of our Christmas haul is a Crock Pot.  I've been wanting one for a while, and it was really perfect timing.  We've already made quite a few dishes in it, and it's been going very well.  One thing that kind of sucked was that one outlet in the kitchen (apparently) doesn't work, and it took an hour to find out that the Crock Pot wasn't cooking.  There is no power light on the device anywhere, and the only way you know anything is happening is by the surface getting hot, which either takes a long time to do so, or is so hot that it will burn your hand.  Besides these lengthy guessing games, it's a safety concern when there is no visual indication that the thing is so hot you can't touch it.  Not really ideal. To complicate matters, I also invested in a simple outlet timer that would shut off power to the cooker in case no one was home to do so.  The timer I got also lacks any sort of on/off indicator, so it's even mor

Muddy ride to co-op

Today I took the bike out again after a (supposedly) full charge.  I decided to do an errand run downtown, normally a medium difficulty run in the summer because of traffic, etc.  During the winter it was slightly higher difficulty due to the high winds and mud (from melting snow).  I really need to get a front fender.  My face was covered with brown polka-dots when I got back.  Photo by: Steve over at ADV Garage I guess the slightly concerning thing was that my pack voltage was lower than it should have been.  It seems like perhaps it didn't get a full charge.  A 12 mile ride is generally not anywhere near enough to drain the pack, and by the time I got back, it was close to the cut out voltage.   The overall juice consumption seemed reasonable for the ride, but it seemed like that was about all that was in the pack. Stats after ride: 12.34 miles 45 degrees.  42 minutes round trip. Amp Hours Used: 8.431 AH  Watt Hours Used: .403 kWH Pack voltage minimum

January ride on the Spear Street loop

One of the amazing things about winter in Vermont, at least a normal one is that we typically get a January thaw.  Almost like clockwork, the second week of January will give us a quick break from the brutality of cold, snowstorms, and short days.  Today was one such day, and I decided to venture out on my e-bike once more. 

HeatTrack Project

For a while now (long before the invention of the Nest Thermostat  (which is an awesome accomplishment in its own right), I've had the idea of building a smart heat management system for my house. Here are some of the issues that prompted me to consider doing this.

DIY Snowshoes

Susannah was talking about snow-shoeing today, and I got the idea that it might be neat to try to make some.  From a pure practicality standpoint, at worst, it would be nice to have something to help the occasional trek out to the storage shed when the need arises.  At best, I might actually try doing some real snow shoeing (in a place where I won't be judged by some yuppie with their $300 designer L.L. Bean, carbon fiber jobbies).  I decided to use any of the million scrap pieces of wood in the garage.