Anxiety Reducing Music

According to researchers at Mindlab International in the U.K., the music “Weightless” by Marconi Union promotes a high reduction in anxiety. Check it out…

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Nest Thermostat and Heat Pumps w/ Aux

I recently found myself in a position of having the learn about heat pumps. I house I recently bought had one installed with auxiliary electric heat. What this means is that the house will heat up using the heat pump outside first. If it can’t catch up it will use the auxiliary heat to supplement. My auxiliary heat is provided by electric coils installed above the A-Coil in the air handler. But getting heat from the heat pump is about 300% more efficient than electric coils even though it will be on longer. Therefore we want to use the heat pump over auxiliary heat for cost reasons. This is called a “single-fuel” system. From what I understand, if the air handler has gas heat instead, this would be called a “dual-fuel” system.

While researching different aspects of the heat pump, I noticed that the blower was always on. Searching Google I found most people said this was normal. Though I thought it was odd. Why would it be blowing when the heat pump and coils are off?

When we had a few nice days, I decided to turn the heat off. But yet the fan still ran. This I know is not normal. Once I removed the head unit of the thermostat I found the batteries badly corroded. The electronic board was likely shorted out on the fan circuit.

I’ve been interested in getting a smart thermostat like Nest or Ecobee and have been indecisive. But now that I needed a new thermostat and the fact that I’ve got Nest Protect units installed, I decided to stick with the Nest ecosystem. I find Nest to be like Apple. Quality products but they really keep you inside their proprietary eco-system. But I decided to go with it anyway.

I have an American Standard system with an American Standard LCD thermostat. What got tricky was the B wire, which Nest has an O/B slot and the X2 wire, which Nest does not have.

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From my understanding this is what each wire does:

X2 : Black : Turns on another set of standby electric coils for emergency heat
W1 : White : Turns on electric heat coils
RC : Red : 24V AC Power Hot
O : Orange : When on, reverses the heat pump valve to go from heat to cool in the summer
Y : Yellow : Turns on the heat pump compressor
G : Green : Turns the fan on (in my case, on low)
B : Blue : 24V AC Power Common

Inside the air handler, the following wires a hooked up to the following codes:

Black : W2 & W3
White : W1
Red : Bk
Orange : O
Yellow : Y
Green : G
Blue : Bk

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Needless to say, there really needs to be a better labeling or coloring system. In fact, thermostats should really go towards an IP system and use an Ethernet cable.

After calling Nest, after I figured out that it thought I had dual fuel instead of single-fuel, I figured out that black goes to * and is programmed for emergency heat. (* can be used for emergency heat or humidifier circuit) The blue wire becomes C.

Let me say that Nest support was awesome. I could talk with a clearly spoken woman who worked in Oklahoma and took the time to understand, address, research and resolve my issue promptly. She sent me an email to reply back with photos of the original thermostat wiring and my current wiring on the Nest which helped things along. Their number is 1-855-469-6378.

Here is how I now have my Nest 3rd Generation thermostat wired and working:

Y1 : Yellow : Turns on the heat pump compressor
G : Green : Fan
O/B : Orange : When on, reverses the heat pump valve to go from heat to cool in the summer
Rc : Red : 24V AC Power Hot
W2/AUX : White : Turns on electric heat coils
C : Blue : 24V AC Power Common

  • : Black : Turns on another set of standby electric coils for emergency heat

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After I got the corrected wiring, I went into the pro settings and switched it from dual-fuel to single-fuel. At that point in time the Heat Pump Balance option showed up. I started with “balanced”, but that seemed to aggressive still. So for now I have “Max Savings” on with “Early-On” turned on to 5 hours.

Note: System and wiring vary widely. This is a reference only to my specific system and wiring. Yours likely varies. Professional installation recommended.

#hvac, #nest, #thermostat, #wiring

Native Apps vs. Responsive Website

I see more and more ads out there that say “Your business needs a mobile app” usually indicating your company will die without one.

But lets think about this for a second. Look at the apps installed on your smartphone’s home screens right now. The list may look something like this:

  • Email
  • Social Media
  • Chat
  • Security (MFA, passwords, etc)
  • Health tracking
  • Music
  • Calendar Widget
  • Weather
  • Game
  • Map / Navigation

All of these you likely use on an hourly and daily basis. Many provide functionality that a browser is not suited for, though not all. And many provide alerts and access sensors constantly.

But, let’s say for example, yesterday you wanted to see how late your favorite restaurant was open. You may have said “Okay Google, how late is Smoking Jay’s open?” or opened a browser and searched for “Smoking Jay’s”. Where did both land you? Google’s search results that happened to be smart enough to know that answer.

Or another example, today you wanted to know where to find a DeWalt Cordless drill. So you either asked Google or Apple via voice or opened a browser to search.

In neither case did you open the app store or Google Play and search for an app that searched for power tools or restaurant times.

So if you’re running a Law Firm, do you really think anyone is going to look for your app and install it? Lets say I ran that law firm and think I want a mobile app. Now I need someone to write 3 apps for Microsoft, Android and Apple and maybe more. I would need to make it useful enough to warrant such expense. And I would need it to make sense enough for many of my clients to install.

Lets say that I make the law firm app present agendas, a calendar and and confirm receipt of documents. How would spending time developing 3 platform specific apps benefit me rather than working on just a single, responsive, secure web site? I can’t think of any reasons in this example.

So before you go app crazy, consider that it may be best to just improve your likely existing web site to be mobile and user friendly. For one thing, I guarantee you it’ll cost less, be more efficient and likely used more.

AWS Windows AMI’s Showing As Other Linux Platform

If you create a snapshot of a Windows volume in AWS (Amazon Web Services) EC2 and create an AMI from that you’ll notice that the platform column says it’s “Other Linux”. You then can’t launch that AMI.

Instead of creating an AMI from a snapshot, you will need to create an image from the instances screen. Right-click instance, click “Image” then “Create Image”. This will work fine.

Flying UAV’s in Omaha, NE

Haven’t flown a drone in awhile. Since then FAA rules have changed and you have to notify the airport control tower if flying within 5 miles of an airport for hobby or recreational purposes.

I tracked down the control tower’s number: 402-271-7505

They ask that you call the day you are going to fly, give them your maximum flying height and your phone number.

I mentioned I’d probably fly 50-60 feet, and they said that wouldn’t be an issue.

Note: DJI hasn’t added OMA’s and MLE’s (Millard) into their No FLY ZonesList yet as of 4/26/2016.

Avoiding Collision Damage Waiver Fees

A month or so ago I put my truck into the shop for about 5 days to get painted. I thought about getting a rental car for the week and stopped by Enterprise. I knew that getting the collision damage waiver was a smart idea and I even asked how often damaged is charged to the customer. The agent told me that about 50% of all cars brought back are have damaged charged to the customer, mostly from rock chips. Seems like an extremely high percentage to me and likely abused. If I were to get the waiver on a mid-sized car it’d cost about $15 per day or more. With that in mind I decided to just car pool and use Uber.

Today I just received an email from my bank. I have a credit card through them, being US Bank. The card has a very high percentage rate but I keep it to avoid the $10/mo “maintenance fee”. Their email states that if I pay the full amount of the car rental via the card then I’ll be covered with their auto rental collision damage waiver – for free! Continue reading

SpamAssassin Automatically Restarts

At CF Webtools we run SpamAssassin on our Windows email server via means of “SpamAssassin in a Box” by JAM Software. (We also use their TreeSize software which I love to use to track down disk space issues in Windows.) SpamAssassin is a local service that our SmarterMail server talks to, filtering out SPAM based on a scoring system.

SA-eventThis morning I was alerted to the service not responding via our alerting software Nagios. When I checked on the service I saw it was stopped. From there I went down the freak’n rabbit hole.

I opened the even log and saw “SpamAssassin daemon (spamd.exe) restart successful. Looking through the list I see it restarts every hour. I hate when this happens because that means that some other process is likely running on a scheduled basis and causing it to crash. I did note in the “Recovery” tab of the services window that the service is set to restart upon failure. So my thought is it’s crashing and then automatically restarting.

On to further investigation. I found a “SpamD.log” file in “C:\ProgramData\JAM Software\spamdService\sa-logs\”. Upon inspection around the time of the alleged crash I found this entry:

[4980] info: spamd: server killed by SIGINT, shutting down

Okay, so what is “SIGINT” and what is it doing to my service? Googling really didn’t help. Any suggestions were Linux based and didn’t seem to be relevant.

I then turn to “Service.config” under  “C:\ProgramData\JAM Software\spamdService\”. Here I find “<SpamdRestartIntervalInMinutes>”. Wait what?! Looking at the manual I find this bit “Specifies the interval for restarting ‘SpamD’ (in minutes).”. Well this is interesting. I do some further Googling and find a changelog note for version 1.0 back from 2010. It reads:

To consider possible changes in SpamAssassin configuration and to prevent potential memory leaks,SpamAssassin in a Box periodically restarts the daemon.

Okay, now this sounds like some hacks I’ve done in my younger years.

But at least I found my answer. It’s supposed to do that!

Why didn’t the service automatically restart? Just a one-off issue I suppose. I found this in the log:

SpamAssassin daemon (spamd.exe) was started, but didn’t respond to any signals from localhost.
Please restart the service. Should the problem persist, please contact support