Saturday, September 24, 2011

From Fahrenheit to Celsius with a Sears programmable thermostat

We have an old Sears programmable thermostat, model C387-47145-1. It was installed when we bought this house and we don't have the manual for it. There is a sticker on the flip-down door to the buttons that tells you how to program the schedule and time. There's also one on the inside of the cover when you remove it. What neither of these stickers tell you how to do is change it from Fahrenheit to Celsius. Up until today, that wasn't a problem. When it showed the LOW BAT warning, I replaced the three AA batteries and it was happy.

Today I noticed that the LCD display was blank. I replaced the batteries. I don't know how long it was blank, but it was long enough to lose its schedule programming, including the Celsius setting.
I scoured the internet and found a manual for a different Sears thermostat model. It said to press and hold the two TIME buttons at the same time to switch between Fahrenheit and Celsius. Ours doesn't have those two buttons.

I found many requests from others looking for the manual for this particular model, and a few others. What I didn't find was a solution to my problem.

I walked back over to the thermostat and tried resetting it again by removing the batteries. Maybe I missed something when it first powers up. Nope.

I started pressing buttons in combination with each other. After a few minutes I saw a single number on the display instead of the usual time and temp. It said 78. I pressed buttons again, this time the single number was 26.

Bingo.

If you have one of these thermostats, you need to press and hold the HOLD TEMP button and then press the TIME button to toggle it between Fahrenheit and Celsius.

You're welcome. :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

If you have a bike helmet, why not use it properly?

I'm not one of those who thinks everyone should wear a bike helmet. To each his or her own. If I didn't have to buy one to participate in a charity ride years ago, I might not even have one today. I paid for it, so why not use it? And yeh, there's the whole safety aspect of it. :)

I've seen two examples of bike helmet stupidity this summer that puzzle me.

  1. cyclists who wear their bike helmet tilted back on their head, and
  2. cyclists who ride with their helmet hanging from the handlebars or strapped to a carrier

Regarding the first one; if you're not going to wear it properly, why bother wearing it at all? There's no law that says you have to, if you're over 18. It also makes you look rather stupid.

As for the second; why the hell did you bring it with you? I don't understand what the point is. If anything, I think it's more of a hazard swinging from the handlebars, and at risk of falling off and into your path or someone else's.

Neither of these is going to do your head much good if you fall off your bike.

Can someone please explain these to me?

 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

No ink level monitoring for Epson Workforce 633

We bought a new printer a couple of weeks ago: an Epson Workforce 633. It's a multi-function printer. For the most part, I got it up and running via wife and all our computers printing, scanning and faxing with it in no time.

I had one tiny problem, and the problem existed only with my PC. The driver preferences allow you to see the ink levels. With my PC, that didn't work.

I couldn't find any answer to the problem on Epson's web site. I did find references on the web from of other people with the same problem using other Epson printers. Nobody seemed to have a solution.

It wasn't a critical problem. It didn't prevent me from using the printer. But I can be pretty picky about things. If something is supposed to work, I wanted it to work. If it doesn't work, I want to know why.

I tried uninstalling and reinstalling the printer, updating the driver, and changing firewall settings. Nothing worked.

This morning I submitted a support request via Epson's web site before leaving for work.  I received a step-by-step reply at during my lunch hour. I connected to my PC remotely and tried the solution. It worked.
Although the instructions worked, they did need a little tweaking. I decided to post them here for others to find, along with my comments.

The solution was to remove and reinstall the printer, but I also had to remove the port that was created during the original installation, and then recreate the port.

If you already know the name or IP address of the printer, the first 4 steps can be skipped.
  1. Press Setup button. (on the print panel)
  2. Use the up or down arrow buttons to select Network Settings, then press OK.
  3. Use the up or down arrow buttons to select Confirm Network Settings, then press OK.
  4. Write down the IP address displayed on the LCD.
  5. In your computer click on Start menu > Device and Printers.
  6. Under Printers and Faxes right click on your printer icon then click on Remove Device.
  7. Click on Microsoft XPS document writer icon then click on Print Server Properties. (this is a button along the top of the window)
  8. Click on Ports tab.
  9. Look for EpsonNet Print Port that indicate the IP address of your printer. Select it then click on Delete Port.(My printer's IP address was NOT listed, but it did have EPSON in the port name. Also, when I tried to delete the port it wouldn't let me because there was another print device, the Epson fax, using the same port. I had to remove that printer before getting to this point)
  10. Click on OK. (aka CLOSE)
  11. Click Add Printer (select "Add Local Printer") then click Next.
  12. Select Local Printer attached to this computer and unchecked Automatically detect and install my Plug and Play printer then click Next. (this entire step wasn't even needed)
  13. Click Create a new port and on Type of Port select EpsonNet Print Port.
    • If you see your printer select your printer then Next.
    • If you don't see your printer select Manual Setting then click Next
    • Enter your printer's IP address then click Next (if you know the name of the printer, you can enter it instead)
    • Click on Finish
  14. Under manufacturer select Epson and under printer select your printer then click Next. (Even though my printer is the Workforce 633, the driver is listed as Workforce 630 series)
  15. Select default Printer then click Next.
  16. Select do not Share this printer then click Next.
  17. Select Yes to print a test page then click Next.
  18. Click Finish.
Somewhere between step 14 and 18, I was prompted to allow the printer access through the Firewall. I chose Private network.

That reinstalled the printer and I had access to the print levels in the driver preferences. However, I also had no fax printer because I had to remove it before it allowed me to remove the port. I wasn't provided any instructions for reinstalling the fax printer. A couple of minutes of poking around the Epson software I had installed got that fixed.
  1. Click the Start Menu > Epson Software > Fax Utility
  2. Click the Add Another Printer (Fax) button and follow the prompts. If you had this set up previously, you'll be clicking Next throughout the entire setup.
That's it!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Feeling a little deflated

In the months that I've been cycling to work, and even in the years prior that I cycled only on weekends, I've never gotten a flat. I've often seen cyclists at the side of the bike path or road fixing a flat on their bike. Every time I see it, I can't help but feel for them. "That must really suck."

This morning I got to know what it feels like to be one of those cyclists. :( But I wasn't able to repair my tire.

I was about half way to work, not far from Major's Hill Park, when something didn't feel right about my bike. The rear wheel felt like it had a little too much side-to-side movement. I glanced down and it seemed ok. My first thought was that maybe the rear wheel was loose. I stopped at a traffic light and looked at it again. The wheel was fine, but the tire pressure seemed a little lower than a minute earlier. The light changed and I kept riding.

I decided that when I got to the top of the steep hill leading down to the Rideau Locks, I would get off the bike and have a better look at it. The last thing I was for my wheel to come off or have a full flat when I hit ~40kmh going down that hill.

As I approached the hill, I looked down at the tire again. It was flatter. I got to the top of the hill and dismounted. I pressed on the rear tire. It was definitely going flat.

Fuck.

I have a repair kit and pump with me all the time, but I don't have the tire levers. I'm not sure why I bother to carry anything with me when I don't have the tools to remove the tire.

I grabbed my cell phone and called my wife, whom I was sure would almost be at work by now — she was just passing my work, so yeh, she was almost at work. I told her I had a flat. She got off the highway, turned around and I met her in the Byward Market about 10-15 minutes later. We put my bike in the back of the truck and I drove her to work.

I'll be heading to the bike shop at lunch to pick up a new innertube and some tire levers.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Beware of National Home Services

This past Saturday a representative from National Home Services rang our door bell. I don’t normally let anyone get much of a word in when they ring our door bell and try to sell us some kind of service. In fact, I have a small sign on our door to ward off Direct Energy and Rogers reps. I usually interrupt them to say “No thanks” and close the door on them.

He identified himself and asked to speak with the owner of the house. I told him that was me. He said National Home Services was taking over for Direct Energy and that he was booking appointments to have our hot water heater rental checked to see if it needed replaced, free of charge. If it was replaced in the last year or two, it probably wouldn’t need to be replaced.

Perhaps that was the hook that kept my attention.

I told him that I wanted to check with Direct Energy before making any commitments. He said that they had nothing to do with it.  I told him that I’d still like to verify with Enbridge or Direct Energy. He actually said he would wait if I wanted to confirm with them over the phone. He even added that if I checked my gas bill, I would see that National Home Services was listed as a partner. I went paperless a while ago, so I couldn't verify at the time.

I asked him if he had any information he could leave with me. He said he didn’t because he wasn’t the sales guy, he was just booking the appointments and head office would follow up.  I asked him if he had a business card. He said he didn’t, but he did offer to write down his name and phone number so I could call him once I had contacted Enbridge.

I got a piece of paper and he wrote it down. He also explained that it was his cell number and he was heading back to Toronto.

It all seemed pretty ballsy if it was some kind of a scam.

We thanked each other, shook hands, and off he went to the next house.

I went to Enbridge’s web site and pull up my recent bill. There was no mention of them. However, they are in fact listed on the Enbridge web site as a "participating company”.

From a customer point of view, that adds a little legitimacy to the situation.

I next visited Direct Energy’s web site. I couldn’t find any warnings. I have heard their radio spots in the past warning people that they do not solicit door-to-door, but this guy never claimed to be from Direct Energy.

My next stop was Google. I searched for “national home services” and “water heater”.

Bingo.

I found old forum posts from people warning about National Home Services. I also found and old Toronto Star article online with the same warnings to consumers. These are warnings from 2007, 2008, and 2009.

I’m still puzzled why there’s nothing more prominent on Enbridge’s web site, or Direct Energy’s web site for that matter. My brother in-law sent me a link to something he found on Direct Energy’s web site. Even in that article, they quote an old Toronto Star article.

I can’t, for the life of me, find that article by going to the main page and digging for it myself. Seriously. They’re running the risk of losing customers to a competitor — you would think they’d be a little more concerned about it.

After some more digging I did eventually find someone else’s blog post from March 2011. That’s part of the reason I decided to make my own post. The more warnings out on the web, the better off we all are.

In retrospect, I should have asked him if he knew my name. If he was in fact “taking over” for Direct Energy, I would think that Enbridge would have supplied him with more contact information. I found out from a neighbour later that he had visited their home as well, with the same story. They own their water heater, they don’t rent it from Direct Energy. The guy even questioned whether they were sure they owned it.

I never did call the rep’s phone number to see if it’s even a legit number. If I can find the paper, maybe I will. Or maybe I’ll post it here. :)

I'd like to add that they are a legitimate company; it's their sales tactics that are sleezy and scammy.

Monday, September 12, 2011

New weight goal

On Saturday morning I weighed 215.4 lbs, my new lowest-to-date weight. :)  I expected the usual weekend weight gain but for the most part I managed to keep it off and this morning I weight 215.7 lbs.

Friends and family are still telling me to stop losing, despite my "ideal weight" being in the 200 range. My doc says 190, but that's based on his assistant saying that I'm 6'2" tall. My wife measured me recently and I'm just under 6'3"; the height I have always thought I was.

Anyway, I've decided to set my goal at 210 lbs for the time being. When I reach that weight, I'll reevaluate and decide of I should continue to 210. Or maybe I'll wait for my annual physical exam and see what my doctor says. I'm hoping that when that time comes, he'll let me discontinue my hydrocholorathiazide prescription since I'm fairly certain that my blood pressure has dropped significantly since the weight loss. When I first started taking them 8 or 9 years ago, my then-doctor said it was a lifetime thing, unless I "made some drastic lifestyle changes". I think losing almost 60 lbs is pretty drastic. Anyway, I'll cross that road when the time comes.

Once I reach my goal, going into "maintenance mode" makes me a little nervous. I'm sure most of my routine will remain the same: count calories, weigh myself and workout. But when winter hits, my cycling time will also be reduced. I'm not going to be a crazy cyclist and ride in the snow, so instead of 2 hrs of cycling to and from work most days, it'll be 1 hr per day after work with my bike on the trainer. Maybe it'll balance out if I make a point of cycling every day, unlike during warmer weather when I skip it on rainy days.

Speaking of the bike trainer. I had originally planned on buying one. I did a little research and the one I wanted, the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine, was around $400. A couple of weekends ago we helped some friends move into our neighbourhood. While we were unloading his car, my friend picked up a box from the trunk and said something like "Here, a gift for you..." and handed me the box. I was a Schwinn Magnetic Bike Trainer. I wasn't sure if he was serious or joking and didn't know what to say. My wife said "Are you serious?" He said he was. Apparently he had bought it a while ago, but never got around to using it. He heard through the grapvine that I was looking for one, so he gave it to me. :) It's not a fluid trainer that I had planned on getting, but a free mag trainer is perfect. Free is always good. I tried it out one day and I think it'll work fine.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Extra-long weekend summary

You could probably also call it the end-of-summery...
  • Thursday — Helped some friends move into the neighbourhood
  • Friday — Went for a long cycling ride
  • Saturday — Woke up early to go shoot photos of hot air balloons, which I will post a link to below. This was followed by our neighbourhood Family Fun Day, and parking lot dance, with to much "La Beer Day" celebrations. :-\
  • Sunday — La Beer Day recovery
  • Monday — Chillin' at home. Would have liked to go cycling, but the weather wasn't too good.
And here are the balloon photos:

Friday, September 2, 2011

The true origin of Labour Day

Wikipedia describes the meaning of Labour Day as:

Labour Day is an annual holiday to celebrate the economic and social achievements of workers.

It goes on to describe the differences between our countries and so on... what a load of crap.

I'm here to tell you the true origin of Labour Day.

It was a French holiday celebrating beer. That's right... La Beer Day.

It was a heavily celebrated holiday with much love shown for this amazing beverage. As a result, speech slurred and eventually transformed it into what we know today as "Labour Day".

I shit you not. Don't let anyone tell you different. Why else would there be line-ups at beer stores on the Friday before the weekend?

Have an awesome La Beer Day weekend, have fun, and play safe. :)