Daily Archives: December 6, 2017

To Serve Man . . .

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I spent most of the day at work helping the Spectrum VOIP tech get our phone system working again. The problem started early this morning when apparently Spectrum tried update the firmware in their router and our phones. And it did not go well.

Not at all.

When the office manager came in this morning, we had no phones whatsoever, not even a dial tone. And maybe even worse, when someone called in, it would ring once, and then give the caller what sounded like a Bronx cheer, you know, Brrrrraaaatttt.

The first thing we found was that the Spectrum router had been ‘bricked’, i.e. dead. It would not even turn on. This is what can happen when a firmware update goes wrong.

Once we found that, we were dead in the water because the tech guy didn’t have a spare on his truck, and it was a couple of hours before he came back with one. Then with a new router in place, we took a look at the four phones. And they weren’t much better off.

Like the router, one of the phones was also ‘bricked’, but luckily he did have a spare one with him, and the other three were fine after we rebooted them.

When in doubt, reboot.

So, after almost 4 hours, we finally had a working phone system again.

One thing did come out of going in to work today, my new toy came in. A TP-Link Smart Switch

TP-Link Switch

Using it, you can control AC devices from either your phone, or link it to your Alexa Echo, Echo Dot, or Google Home and control them by just asking Alexa to turn them on and off for you.

And if you don’t have an Echo or a Dot, you can also get an Echo Dot with TP-Link Switch for only $5 more that the cost of the Dot alone.

Echo Dot and TP-Link Switch

Setup turned out to be pretty easy.

1. First up, download the ‘Kasa for Mobile’ app on your phone.

2. Connect your phone to a ‘2.4 GHz’ WiFi network. This is the one that gets a lot of people messed up. Most RV’ers use some kind of MiFi in their rigs and everyone I’ve seen defaults to the 5 GHz setting. not the 2.4 GHz one. So the Smart Switch will not see it when the time comes.

And again, most MiFi’s also have a 2nd WiFi account called a Guest account, which is normally not turned on, and it can be set for either 2.4 or 5 GHz. So turn the Guest account on and set it for 2.4 GHz. When you now look at your WiFi signals, you will now see a new signal to connect to, using a new password that your MiFi will give you.

Then it’s just a matter of following the instructions on the Kasa app, and in just a few minutes you will be able to control your device from your phone.

And it only takes a few minutes more to link it to your Alexa/Dot, and then you can just ask Alexa to turn on your device(s).

A neat toy.

Voyager I, launched in 1977, is now over 13 billion miles from Earth, the farthest any manmade object has ever traveled. And it’s still ticking, sending back data on a regular schedule. Of course as far away as it is, it takes that data over 19 HOURS to get back to Earth.

But to keep this data flowing, Voyager needs to keep its parabolic antenna pointed toward the Earth, And to do this it’s periodicly using its Attitude Control Thrusters to aim it in our direction. But after over 40 years of use, they’re starting to get a little flakey.

So NASA engineers decided to try using the craft’s trajectory correction maneuver thrusters, last used in 1980 for a course correction. And in a great example of NASA craftsmanship, the thrusters fired up and worked perfectly. After 37years!

Of course it took over 38 hours, 19 hours out and 19 hours back, before they knew the thrusters had worked.

Now that’s a long distance call.

You may remember that Voyager was one of the spacecraft that was carrying The Golden Record, containing photos and audio greeting as well as music.

The_Sounds_of_Earth Record

One of the photos illustrated a galactic map locating the Earth in relation to known pulsars, essentially 14 interstellar beacons to guide aliens to the Earth. At the time, a number of scientist said it wasn’t really a good idea to give the aliens a guidebook back to us.

In fact a famous cartoon at the time (a cartoon I couldn’t find a copy of) showed a group of aliens using the Record as a takeout menu.

“To Serve Man”

“It’s A Cookbook!”

The Word of the Day is:

Thought for the Day:

“There are known knowns; these are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And these are the ones that scare the hell out of me.”  –  Donald Rumsfeld 


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