Cook the Router!

Don't cook the router!

I lost my Vonage phone service today. Well, sort of...

I started getting calls on my cell phone this morning that were forwarded from my home (Vonage) number. I thought that was odd, so I checked the settings at Vonage. I found that the forwarding feature was not active. I was reminded that Vonage offers a network fail over feature. IF they detect the phone is not attached to the network, they will forward the incoming call to a number of your choosing. I chose the cell phone and that is my I was getting the calls this morning.

That's odd, thought I, did my cable company fail, did my power company fail?

No, no James it was you who failed.

We bought this house, um, used. For whatever reason the first occupant had connected the cable to the front room of the house. This is the first room guests see and is therefore a show piece. I cannot have my router and repeaters and amplifier and associated wiring just lying about without risking divorce. I neatly stacked all my cables, network appliances, stereo components and printer in a cabinet. A cabinet with door to hide my "mess" you see.

Well, desert living has its advantages. We spent an extended Easter Weekend with my nieces. The weather was wonderful and the doors were open and the pool was the central point of their stay. It was lovely really.

With all the indoor / outdoor living going on here the Air conditioning was turned off. So let's add this up...

7 components that generate heat
1 enclosed space
Remove ventilation, remove air conditioning place in 97 degree ambient temperature

Equals one thrashing router. I came home to find the little bugger flashing its little activity lights but providing no service to any port. I promptly removed it from atop the amplifier and over to the vented corner of the cabinet.

Vonage discovered my telephone quickly and I have service again. The iMac saw the Internet so you get this story and a recipe for baking Linksys products.

Third Sign, Technology Hook

My wife informs me,

”the heart rate monitor is an essential tool in maintaining an aerobic workout.”

Which I kind of understand. Aerobic workouts are entirely defined by maintaining your heart rate in a target zone for a period of time. This is stuff we have know since Jane Fonda sold VHS tapes.

I am expecting a wristwatch that takes your pulse. Maximum logic might include 2 beeps if your heart rate is too high, 1 for too low, not working hard enough. I seriously underestimated.

This is the most insidious sign so far. Cue the "Imperial March" for this one.

The Sensor

It comes with a sensor. A wireless data transmitting device. Say it with me, Sensor.

See, now I have the attention of all my technolusting, Gizmodo and Engadget reading IT brethren. Sensor? How does that work? Well, it gets strapped to your chest so it can sense heart beats and transmit an RF signal. It runs off a watch battery both to transmit and apparently to sense the heart. The Velcro® connector must be wetted for proper function, so they must be sending some current across the length of the strap.

The signal is picked up by the wrist watch receiver. Apparently, taking the pulse at the wrist doesn't work very well. Maybe there is something more to this, though. The signal is also picked up by the treadmill at the studio. So the sensor feeds a vast array of fitness related equipment.

The Receiver

The receivers can be programmed to emit the aforementioned beeps I suspected according to your personal workout profile. Using software on your PC (yes, PC only, us Mac guys get screwed again) you enter your height, weight, sex and desired fitness level. Then you get emails from 1000's of horny guys from around the globe. Oh, wait that is another kind of website.

The target heart rate and length of your workout get calculated and sent to the watch (or treadmill or whatever). Yes, calculated. It knows about warming up and cooling off periods. This little watch thingy packs more power than my old Zaurus. You can also send little block pixel "backgrounds" to your watch in case you miss your old Tamagotchi.

The data is not send with a cable. It does not employ Blue Tooth® or utilize any 802.x communication. No, not IR. It uses a Sonic Modem. A what?

The Sonic Modem

Here is a low tech, low speed, completely hackersmack way to transmit data. The watch has a microphone and a piezo electric speaker. The PC must have a speaker and a microphone. You guessed it, they screech at each other just like good old analog dial up. When computers were fun. When you were sure that if you listened well and trained your ears you could understand the computer's audible language.

After your work out the data recorded by the watch (treadmill) can be uploaded to the Polar website. Why I would ever want to post my poor performance to everyone on the planet I am not sure.

The Invitation

So the insidious part comes via invitation. Her personal trainer invited me to come in and see the equipment. I can check out all the sensors transmitting, fitness equipment recording, internet uploading and get a free Personal Fitness Report.

A what? Well, they have a machine that will measure my lean mass as a percentage of my overall mass combined with a short run on the treadmill with the sensor we can determine the exact amount of pure flab. Wow. I was still doing the "pinch test!" Boy, am I out of the loop. Of course with all this applied technology they can upload to the internet and all of you can know just how fat I have become. Given the new fame of my fatness I will probably be motivated to work it off at the studio. "Feel the power of the Dark Side!"


I hope this is the first entry for the new host. Welcome to on iPowerWeb.

Mac Scare

I lost my Mac for a few days!

Last Tuesday I came home and smelled a funny burning scent laden with ozone. It has to be a motor or voltage coil, it just had that scent. I know the scent well from the Arcade restorations. So we set about finding which of the thousands of electric and electronic device might be the source.

Given the age of the dishwasher I was sure it was there. Alas it was not so. I still have my crappy (but working) dishwasher. It wasn't the new fridge. It wasn’t anything in the stereo stacks. It was so weird, we could not locate the scent. I didn't check the video games, they have not been on in months.

So I sat down at the Mac to catch up on email. The scent didn't seem any stronger there, so I caught up on email and went to bed.

Next morning the scent was still there. Went to check email and definitely got a stronger sniff at the Mac. I nose checked the vent on the back and decided it was the Mac!

I do not understand how a computer with an ailing power supply continues to function normally, but the Mac was working fine! Very perplexing, but ultimately not good. I decide to shut down the Mac and consider my options for cleaning the vents. I hoped that something (like hair of GIzmo) had lodged in there and I could swab it out and remove the burning possibility.

I checked, no hair, no nothing blocking the vent or intake. For those who do not have the pleasure of owning a Mac, there is really little else that can be done. This is a sealed box. I mean it, one solid piece of acrylic encases the computer behind the screen. No screws to unscrew! There are the ports for USB, FireWire, power, headphones, network, telephone, the intake on the bottom where the air comes (and the sound comes out) in and the vent on the top where the warmed air comes out.

Having nothing else to check I tried turning it back on to see if the smell had stopped by power of good design (I was searching for a blessing here!). The Mac power light just blinked at me. It would not start. Apparently the blinking power light indicates the Mac is not happy with the voltage coming out of the power supply. Well, now what?

Chandler Fashion Center

Chandler Fashion Center is a mall in the style of the old King of Prussia. It is several older malls and "retail concepts" strung together by Westcor. It gives the shopper that maze quality. Chandler is largely a flat land. No rolling hills there. Yet somehow the CFC has two levels (2.5 really, but that is another posting). At some points the ground level is the first floor and other it is the second floor.

It turns out there is an Apple store in the CFC. I am working 2 blocks from the edge of this mall-sprawl complex. I went in on Wednesday and checked it out. The Apple store in CFC is on the first floor. Deep in the part of the first floor that is underground. Perhaps I lack some internal Retail Positioning System that most teenage girls seem to have in abundance, but I cannot seem to locate the shortest distance from the Apple store to a parking space. So this first trip I was way off.

You need an appointment with a Genius at the Genius Bar to get a Mac or iPod examined. Geniuses are apparently the gateway to spare Apple parts. The theory goes they can fix most problems and not need to ship your device "out for parts" which is so inconvenient. Well, I did not have an appointment. So I had to make one.

You can only make an appointment for the same day. The concierge system that handles Genius bookings allow only same day appointments. By the time I got to the store through the maze that is CFC I was too late. The Geniuses were booked for the day! Which was fine, I didn't bring the Mac with me for the Genius to examine.

Thursday didn't go much better. I managed to not get the Mac into the truck in the morning. There would be no Genius that day.

For convenience, you can book a genius online. You go to and find your store and use the same friendly concierge system to book a genius. This sounds great! Get up in the morning, book your appointment over the web to beat all those pesky customers in the store to the Genius. Now if I could only start my Mac and use the web...

OK. Friday. Pack the Mac in the truck. Go to work. Work for a few hours and book the Genius at lunch. By lunch the Geniuses are booked.

Saturday. Explain to your wife why you can't do the thousands of hours of home projects work you keep putting off until the weekend because you have to drive to Chandler to see the Concierge to book a Genius to tell you what you already know, your nice new Mac that you are so proud of is slowly burning inside.

Yep, that went well. Off to Chandler. Remember this is my third trip to the CFC, one would think by now I could find a short walk to the first floor store from the parking lot. It was not meant to be. So I lug the Mac across the parking lot, through the Kids Zone, into the depths of CFC. Get to the Apple store and book a Genius. No problem, someone can see you in about an hour. We are hosting a class on iLife now. You can attend it while you wait. Well, hey free classes in the waiting area sounds good.

The Genius checks out my Mac and determines it is the power supply. I am (of course) just outside my 1 year warranty. This version of the Mac is having problems with the power supplies, so Apple has extended the warranty for the power supply, no charge. (I thought that was very nice) I drop it off on Saturday. They called Monday night. The power supply was replaced and the Mac was working fine, no data loss or damage to any other components. They even found my SimCity CD and had it in an envelope for me when I picked it up.

So, we have quick service, for free and they didn't lose my CD? Wow. I am about as happy as I can be for losing a power supply!

Yes, this bLog is posted from a Mac.