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Monday, March 16, 2020

Fix: Mac running out of disk space

I had a serious problem with my Mac running out of disk space. I wasn't adding anything, but I started getting warnings that my 'disk was running out of space.'



I downloaded DaisyDisk to help diagnose where the problem was. I found that in my 'Library > Application Support > AddressBook >' ONE CONTACT IMAGE keep being written in to the Sources directory.

I went into the contact nad changed the image, then the new image kept getting re-written to disk. Over and over again.

A Google search lead to to this fix, Fix: Mac is Running Slow due to AddressBookSourceSync.

I am implementing it now, and hope it solves my problem.

Posting it here in case someone has experienced the same thing.



Monday, March 02, 2020

Review: Orbi WiFi System with Xfinity xFi Gateway 3rd Generation XB7-T.

I am continuing to test the best way to get faster speeds from my Xfinity xFi Gateway (3rd Generation) XB7-T on the third floor, to the second and first floor.

I re-installed my Orbi WiFi System, and gave it the SAME WiFi name that the Xfinity xFi Gateway (3rd Generation) was using. This allows everything in the home that was connecting to WiFi on the Xfinity xFi Gateway (3rd Generation) to continue working with the new orbi mesh network.

BRIDGE MODE
Online advice suggests putting the Xfinity xFi Gateway (3rd Generation) into BRIDGE MODE. I did that by going to http://10.0.0.1 and ENABLEing BRIDGE MODE. This disables the WiFi on the Xfinity xFi Gateway (3rd Generation), and does not allow you to use the xFi App to manage the network. You use the orbi app to do that.

In this configuration, I connected the Orbi Router, situated on the third floor, to the Xfinity xFi Gateway (3rd Generation), then I connected the Xfinity xFi Gateway (3rd Generation) to the Orbi Satellite #1, situated on the second floor, via an Ethernet cable using a backhaul connection. Orbi Satellite #2 then connects to Orbi Satellite #1 via the Orbi mesh network.



SPEED TESTS:

OFFICE
BEFORE(Wired Base eero) 230 Mbps
AFTER (Wired Base orbi) 230 Mbps

UPDATE (Xfinity xFi Gateway 3rd Generation) WiFi 120/130/310 Mbps
UPDATE (Xfinity xFi Gateway 3rd Generation) Wired 1 GB Port 950 Mbps

NEW (ORBI and Xfinity xFi Gateway 3rd Generation) Wired 560/740



LIVINGROOM
AFTER (Wired Satellite eero) 220 Mbps
AFTER (WiFi Satellite orbi) 210 Mbps

UPDATE (Xfinity xFi Gateway 3rd Generation) 120 Mbps

xFi Pod Livingroom 66/78 Mbps

NEW (ORBI Satellite #1 WIRED in Livingroom and Xfinity xFi Gateway 3rd Generation) 310

KITCHEN
BEFORE (WiFi Satellite eero) 110 Mbps
AFTER (WiFi Satellite orbi) 210 Mbps

UPDATE (Xfinity xFi Gateway 3rd Generation) 100/110 Mbps

xFi Pod Kitchen 85/48/24 Mbps
xFi Pod Kitchen CONFIG #2 51 mbps

NEW (ORBI and Xfinity xFi Gateway 3rd Generation) 250

DEN
BEFORE (WiFi Satellite eero) 59 Mbps
AFTER (WiFi Satellite orbi) 210 Mbps

UPDATE (Xfinity xFi Gateway 3rd Generation) 100 Mbps

xFi Pod Den 60/38/38/31/81
xFi Pod Den CONFIG #2 85

NEW (ORBI Satellite #2 MESH and Xfinity xFi Gateway 3rd Generation) 330

FRONT DOOR
BEFORE 45 Mbps
AFTER 220 Mbps

UPDATE (Xfinity xFi Gateway 3rd Generation) 23 Mbps

xFi Pod 16/12 Mbps
xFi Pod Front Door CONFIG #2 65 Mbps

NEW (ORBI and Xfinity xFi Gateway 3rd Generation) 240

Sunday, February 23, 2020

North Conway and Woodstock NH School Vacation Week Review

My wife Carol and I had the experience of heading up to North Conway, NH during School Vacation Week.

We experienced a few days with family. We had fun skiing, exploring the seasonal Ice Castles, and discovered some great places to eat.

SKIING


We put three kids, 4, 7, and 9, into the Cranmore Mountain Resort Ski School. They all loved it and were skiing up and down as much and as long as they could.





OUT TO EAT
May Kelly's Cottage North Conway

I love a good turkey dinner, and May Kelly's Cottage had one of the best turkey dinners that I've ever had.

Zip's Pub and Grill at Cranmore Mountain Resort North Conway

The hand cut potato fries were amazing. It's hard to believe, but these hand cut potato fries were some of the best I've ever had. I was on a roll.



Also, the boys loved the giant pretzels. If you don't like a lot of salt, you might have to brush some off. Good local beer list here and a huge fireplace to warm up in front of after a day of skiing.



Woodstock Inn Brewery Woodstock
20 plus years ago we began with a seven-barrel system, added a 30-barrel production facility and lab that visitors will discover on the premises today. Visit the brewery, take a tour, eat, or stay with us at the Inn

Here I ordered adult grilled cheese which is made with brewery spent grain bread, Pigs Ear Cheddar, Pecanwood smoked bacon and tomato. Guess what? It was one of the best grilled cheese ever.

ICE CASTLES
Ice Castles, Woodstock New Hampshire

Ice Castles is an award-winning frozen attraction located in six cities across North America. The experience is built using hundreds of thousands of icicles hand-placed by professional ice artists. The castles include breathtaking LED-lit sculptures, frozen thrones, ice-carved tunnels, slides, fountains and much more.





AIRBNB
Airbnb: The Treehouse (Luxury Home in N. Conway/Cranmore)

This was the first time I'd stayed in an Airbnb. Everyone in the family had their own room, and Carol and I had the Yves Saint Laurent LOVE room!



Perfect vacation paradise. Walking distance to Cranmore Mountain, North Conway Village, attached to Whitaker Woods. The main floor's open layout, wood walls and beamed ceilings, 2 gorgeous stone fireplaces - perfect spot for appetizers & drinks while watching the sunset! 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, full basement, washer/dryer (linens/towels included). New (seasonal) heated pool! (New) shuffleboard & games for kids, cable...kitchen is brilliantly equipped (enough to host a big Thanksgiving dinner!)

Not on Airbnb yet? Join Airbnb via this link and you'll get $55 off your first trip—and once you complete your reservation, I’ll get up to $30.

Review: Xfinity xFi Pods increased my dead spot coverage, but decreased overall speed

When I upgraded to the new Xfinity xFi Gateway (3rd Generation), the WiFi speeds in my house increased in speed and range.

There were a few 'dead spots' that needed a boost, so I got a 3-pack of Xfinity XFi pods to test, to see if they could help increase speed to those areas that were farthest away from my Xfinity gateway.



Setup was easy. The xFi smartphone app guides you through placement of hte xFi pods, and automatically recognizes them as you go from room to room to install them. The app allows you to add a descriptive name to help you monitor each xFi pod after installation.

My first test installed xFi Pods in the Livingroom, Kitchen, and Den, all are one floor below the Xfinity xFi Gateway (3rd Generation). For my second test, I removed the Livingroom xFi pod and moved it to the third floor bedroom, to be closer to the Xfinity xFi Gateway (3rd Generation). When researching online, I read that the WiFi signal hops from one xFi pod to the other, so having one on the third floor closer to the modem improved my performance.

In my testing, I found that although the xFi pods did increase the speed available at the farthest point from my modem, they decreased the speed in the rooms that are closer to the modem.



xFi Pods Frequently Asked Questions:
Pods will not exceed the maximum provisioned speed of your Xfinity Internet tier of service. Pods have a maximum throughput of 200 Mbps over a WiFi connection in laboratory settings. Other factors can affect speeds.

SPEED TESTS:

CONFIGURATION Prior to xFi Pod Installation

LIVINGROOM
Xfinity xFi Gateway 3rd Generation 120 Mbps

KITCHEN
Xfinity xFi Gateway 3rd Generation 100/110 Mbps

DEN
Xfinity xFi Gateway 3rd Generation 100 Mbps

FRONT DOOR
Xfinity xFi Gateway 3rd Generation 23 Mbps


xFi CONFIGURATION #1

LIVINGROOM
xFi Pod Livingroom 66/78 Mbps

KITCHEN
xFi Pod Kitchen 85/48/24 Mbps

DEN
xFi Pod Den 60/38/38/31/81 Mbps

FRONT DOOR
16/12 Mbps


xFi CONFIGURATION #2

BEDROOM
xFi Pod Bedroom 290 Mbps

KITCHEN
xFi Pod Kitchen 51 Mbps

DEN
xFi Pod Den 85 Mbps

FRONT DOOR
65 Mbps

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Review: SONY A9G MASTER Series LED 4K High Dynamic Range (HDR) Smart TV (Android TV)

Review: SONY A9G MASTER Series LED 4K High Dynamic Range (HDR) Smart TV (Android TV)

The vibrance of the colors on this TV are incredible. Now that I have an OLED SONY TV, I see why everyone was telling me that OLED is the only way to go. We are enjoying 4K shows on streaming services, and re-watching some favorites.



OLED
"Powered by the Picture Processor X1™ Ultimate, this OLED TV pairs the deep black and natural color of OLED with Pixel Contrast Booster™ for enhanced color contrast in high luminance. Everything you watch comes to life with fine detail and vivid color."

NETFLIX
"Enjoy studio quality with Netflix Calibrated Mode
This mode was specially developed to enjoy Netflix originals and reproduce the same picture quality on a TV as on a studio evaluation master. With Netflix Calibrated Mode, the creator's vision and intent is faithfully preserved."

AMAZON PRIME VIDEO
Amazon Prime. We enjoy these shows: Modern Love, Late Night, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Jack Ryan, The Big Sick, Hanna, and Humans.

ANDROID TV
Connecting to streaming providers is easy. Gives me a taste of the freedom of cutting the cord, although I'm also experiencing the stuttering videos of high latency, which is a problem that you don't have with cable tv.

Stuttering
I've seen stuttering with Star Trek Picard on CBS All Access. When I talked to customer support they told me that it was a latency problem that they sometimes have. The support rep said that Netflix and Amazon Prime Video don't have the same problem because they connect directly to your tv with an enhanced technology that CBS All Access has yet to invest in. I don't understand what he was referring to. He told me, "That's why CBS All Access is cheaper." LOL. I'm not sure what's going on here but would love to learn exactly what he was referring to.

Note: On Friday morning, the day after the Star Trek Picard release, the show was fine. No streaming issues. I am upgrading my internet modem and will keep an eye on this.

Upgrade: Xfinity xFi Gateway 3rd Generation

I upgraded the modem to the newest Xfinity xFi Gateway 3rd Generation XB7-T.

Specs:
Model Numbers: CGM4331COM
Friendly Model Name: XB7
Gigabit Ethernet Ports: 4
Dual-Band WiFi Option: Yes
Maximum Data Throughput: 2.5 Gbps
WPS (WiFi Protected Setup): Yes
Gateway/ Network Management Tool (http://10.0.0.1): Yes
Xfinity xFi Eligible: Yes
Two Total Telephone Ports: Yes (separate Alarm Port)
Link Cordless Phones (CAT-iq 2.0*): Yes
Home Hotspot Capable: Yes
Compatible with Xfinity Home: Yes

I also turned on the new modem's Wi-Fi. At the same time I removed the Orbi Mesh WiFi network, and turned off Bridge Mode, which I was using to allow my Orbi Mesh Network to run the Wi-Fi in the house. I wanted to rule out any variables when trying to trouble shoot my issues.

After a call to SONY support, I fixed both the Hulu no sound issue, and the CBS All Access and Disney+ stuttering video issues. For the audio issue, I went into the SONY audio settings and turned OFF Bravia Sync, and turned ON PCM.

SONY SONOS AUDIO SETTINGS FOR HULU
Image: Audio System Prioritization = OFF

SONY SONOS AUDIO SETTINGS FOR HULU
Image: Digital Audio Out = PCM

NETWORKING
I took the MAC address of the SONY TV and put it into the Xfinity Router as a fixed address instead of allowing DCHP to assign an address.

REBOOT
I also did a SOFT REBOOT of the SONY TV by holding down the power button on the SONY remote for 10 seconds.

I also used the Xfinity XFi app to reboot the Xfinity modem.

UPDATE
I had the 'no sound' and 'stuttering' happen again, even after adding in orbi mesh wifi to increse the wifi speed in the room.

I rebooted the orbi, and then unplugged and re-plugged in the tv. That fixed everything. So, the SOFT REBOOT above might have actually been the final fix the last time this happened.

SONY and SONOS
I've got a Sonos sound system, PlayBar and Sub. It supports all the latest technology including Dolby sound. It sounds great, until it doesn't sound at all. Hulu and Disney+ have gone silent at times. Hulu support had me turn off Dolby sound, and nothing happened, until I tried it again the next morning and it worked. It's a mystery. Solved for now. If I had to guess, I'd say that Amazon Prime Video and Netflix have superior apps.

AMAZON ECHO
You can control the tv with your Amazon Echo device. You can also, add the Amazon Echo app to allow you access to your ring devices and say things like, "Alexa, Show me my front door on the Den TV." FAQ - Control your Android TV with Amazon Alexa-enabled Devices.



XFINITY
Comcast Xfinity provides both cable tv and internet service used by this tv. In an environment of cord cutting, where this tv supports sampling streaming TV shows, I can see the appeal of steaming via the smart tv, but what you lose is one central place to get help for anything that doesn't work. Also, Comcast Xfinity has been broadcasting live tv and cable for years and years, and you never have issues with connectivity or stuttering. Some reasons to think twice before cutting the cord.

SPEED TESTS
Here are updated speed tests for different locations around the house. Prior testing was done with eero and orbi mesh WiFi devices. This test uses just the Xfinity xFi 3rd Generation Gateway, with one ring WiFi extender on the front porch.

SPEED TESTS:

OFFICE
BEFORE(Wired Base eero) 230 Mbps
AFTER (Wired Base orbi) 230 Mbps

UPDATE (Xfinity xFi Gateway 3rd Generation) WiFi 120/130/310 Mbps
UPDATE (Xfinity xFi Gateway 3rd Generation) Wired 1 GB Port 950 Mbps


Image: Fast.com Internet Speed Test 1.8 Gbps

LIVINGROOM
AFTER (Wired Satellite eero) 220 Mbps
AFTER (WiFi Satellite orbi) 210 Mbps

UPDATE (Xfinity xFi Gateway 3rd Generation) 120 Mbps

KITCHEN
BEFORE (WiFi Satellite eero) 110 Mbps
AFTER (WiFi Satellite orbi) 210 Mbps

UPDATE (Xfinity xFi Gateway 3rd Generation) 100/110 Mbps

DEN
BEFORE (WiFi Satellite eero) 59 Mbps
AFTER (WiFi Satellite orbi) 210 Mbps

UPDATE (Xfinity xFi Gateway 3rd Generation) 100 Mbps

Note: You need a minimum of 25 mbps to stream Ultra HD on Netflix.

FRONT DOOR
BEFORE 45 Mbps
AFTER 220 Mbps

UPDATE (Xfinity xFi Gateway 3rd Generation) 23 Mbps

SALES AND HOME INSTALLATION
My nephew, Independent Security Systems, Inc, installed this tv along with a Sonos sound system. He can do the same for you, if you are in the greater Boston area.

Thursday, February 06, 2020

How To: Set default email client in Chrome

I'm using a Beta version of Airmail, and want it to be my default email client in Chrome. When I click to send a web page via email, the standard version of Airmail opens.

Here's how to set the preferred Chrome browser mail client. You do it in Apple Mail!

1. Open Mail.app
2. Go to Preferences->General->Default Email Reader

Monday, January 13, 2020

The Sonos Playbar and Amazon Echo devices cannot be grouped for music playback with Amazon Alexa

The Sonos Playbar and Amazon Echo devices cannot be grouped for music playback with Amazon Alexa. Hopefully a software update will allow this in the future.


How grouping works with Sonos.

“This applies to grouping Sonos with other Sonos devices within the Sonos app and is the only supported way to do multiroom playback.”

This article shows how to play music from multiple Amazon Echo devices:

How to set up multiroom music playback with Amazon Echo:
To set up multiroom audio, open the Alexa app and select “Devices” from the bottom right corner. Tap the + icon in the top right, and select “Set Up Multi-Room Music.” The app will then prompt you to create a group, making it easier to control music playback by saying things like “Alexa, play music upstairs” instead of calling out individual speakers. Once you’ve created your group(s), add your desired devices, and the setup is complete.


Sunday, January 12, 2020

How To: Adding Disney+ to a TV with Android TV OS

Adding Disney+ to a TV with Android TV OS is easy if you’ve already got the Disney+ App on a smartphone. One click does it.


Image: Use Mobile Device


Image: Use Mobile Device Close Up


Image: Allow


Image: Disney+

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

CardStore.com Shut Down and Suggested Replacement American Greetings.com Doesn't Print Paper Cards



I’ve used CardStore.com for years, and their online address book, to send customized Christmas cards. They handled everything including addressing stamping and mailing out the cards.

They suggest joining their parent company site. Americangreetings.com, but after going over there, I don’t see any way for them to mail cards for you.

After reviewing the backs of this year's Christmas cards, I've decided to replace CardStore.com with Minted.com.


Image: Nailed it by Jackie Crawford, Durham, NC

Minted had some very artistic designs that carry over to addressing your envelope, and can include coordinated stamps. The only thing that's different is that they will pre-stamp all of your cards, and then bulk mail them, in a box, to you. You then mail them. I'm not sure why this extra step is there, but it's no big deal. ;-)

Here's a deal for you:

$25 off $100 at Minted

“Your friends get $25 OFF their first order of $100 or more. You get a $25 reward to be spent on orders of $100 or more.”

Join: https://refer.minted.com/steve350

#AD

Other options, that also address envelopes for you, include Shutterfly and SimplyToImpress.

Note on EXPORTING CardStore.com ADDRESS BOOK: CardStore Exports a .csv file with your addresses, BUT does not maintain the LEADING ZERO in ZIP CODES. #FAIL

Note on how to cancel your American Greetings.com 7 Day Trial Membership:

How do I cancel my subscription?
American Greetings memberships renew automatically. If you do not wish to have your membership renew, please visit the Manage Membership page in the My Account section of the site. You will select the “Do not renew membership” option, and your membership will expire at the end of your term. Please note, charges already incurred may be non-refundable under the terms of your membership. You may continue to use your membership until it expires.

To cancel your trial membership, please contact us within your 7 day trial period. Our Customer Support Representatives are happy to assist you. You can call us at 1-800-711-4474 between the hours of 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. EST (Monday through Friday) or if you prefer not to call, you can email us at help@americangreetings.com

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

How To Upgrade Netflix from HD to UHD when subscribed through Comcast Xfinity

Comcast Xfinity has a fairly new package that includes a Netflix subscription. This means that instead of paying Netflix for a monthly subscription, the cost is included in your Comcast Xfinity package, and billed through Comcast Xfinity.

If you want to upgrade your subscription from HD to UHD (4K), you'll get a message on the Comcast Xfinity page to give them a call to change your package.



Don't do that.

Instead, sign into your Netflix account on the Netflix website, and upgrade there. You'll be charged through your Comcast Xfinity billing process.