The current generation Volvo XC90 has a USB jack in the center console bin that you can connect your phone to.  And then your phone could charge and participate in the infotainment system through either Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.  While that is pretty cool that your phone can be connected to the car, it is clunky to use every time you get in a car.  And to think that your phone can be tucked out of sight while you are driving is naive – at least given the current state of CarPlay and Android Auto.  In the future, maybe the car’s main screen can do everything that the phone can but in a smart and safe way.  But for now, there’s too much that the phone does that isn’t part of the car’s screen so having the phone out is important.  No I’m not texting and driving and no, I’m not playing Candy Crush while driving.  But an occasional look down to see that a text has arrived or the second screen for the map application, etc. are things that make having the phone out useful and less dangerous than having it tucked away.  And that makes the USB jack in the center console inconvenient at best.  It’s also frequently damned annoying when the wire that comes out of the center console and snakes along the cup holders to in front of the shifter gets tangled up in whatever beverage I’ve placed there.  Last week the wire broke and rather than just replace the wire, I figured it was time for me to do something better.  It was (past) time to figure out how to dock the phone in the car.

In the end, I did get a dock successfully installed in the car which is a definite improvement over the aforementioned wire-in-the-cupholders situation.  However, I’m not completely thrilled with the result.  I now have a Lightning connector sticking out of the storage bin in front of the shifter (the optional ashtray) and the phone does connect to it.  But despite my best efforts to simulate what it was going to look like there before I started, it didn’t end up the best of placements.  It is behind the shifter knob when the car is in Park – I can take the phone out of the dock when it is in Park but that defeats the purpose.  It is too low to really access the phone’s home button at the bottom.  And it is lower than I wanted considering where my eyes are – i.e. too far to look down from the road.  That means I’m going to need to work on an alternate location at some point.  But for now, since it does work and it is an improvement, I figured I would document at least that for now.

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Volvo XC90 Center Console Removal

| by Ken | in Automotive No Comments »

As detailed in another post, I wanted to add an iPhone dock to my Volvo XC90.  Ordinarily, I’d post all the info in one post but as it turned out, maybe 80% of the challenge was in disassembling the center console.  And since there may be other reasons to disassemble the center console in the future, I’ve broken out the center console assembly here.  It was a considerable challenge and it is worthy of its own post anyway.

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Updating MythTV Channel Lineup

| by Ken | in Admin No Comments »

Updating the MythTV channel lineup shouldn’t need to be so confusing but based on some misinformation on the Internet, I wasted a lot of time heading down wrong paths.  The upshot is mythfilldatabase does do the right thing but it may not be clear initially.  And if you don’t care about channel numbers at all, and you have only one source, then just run “mythfilldatabase –do-channel-updates” and you are done.  If you do care about channel numbers (which can be useful when watching live TV switching between sports programs on neighboring channels, for example) or you have more than one source, read on.

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Removing Alarm from 2001 Camry

| by Ken | in Automotive No Comments »

In 2001, an alarm may have seemed like a useful feature for a Toyota Camry.  But now 17 years later, the car is a pretty low theft target.  And more importantly, the alarm always behaved strangely.  And as of today, it shorted out due to water getting inside the car so the alarm was constantly sounding – at 5:30am in a crowded neighborhood.  So it was now time for the alarm system to leave the car.

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I chose the Stealth Hitch for my 2nd generation XC90 because I liked the functionality of being able to remove the hitch and because I could do the installation myself.  (See the prior post for more about how I chose it.)  That is, at the time I ordered it, it appeared that I would be able to do the install myself, and as it turns out, it was even easier than expected.  All told, it took me just about two hours (including needing to redo a step).  Below are the steps I took to do the install including some additional tips.

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Rack Hitch on XC90

| by Ken | in Automotive No Comments »

The current generation XC90 doesn’t come with a trailer hitch but you can have one added by Volvo.  If you do, not only does it cost a lot, but it also puts a hole in the middle of your bumper.  Strange choice, Volvo.  And as it turns out, many other car companies too.  I shopped around for alternatives and eventually settled on one and did the install myself.  Below I’ll describe what I looked into and what I decided on.  I’ll detail the install in another post.

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Lexus RX 350L Failure

| by Ken | in Automotive 1 Comment »

I had a chance to check out the new Lexus RX 350L at the recent local car show.  This is the new stretched variant of the very popular Lexus RX that will fit 3 rows of seats.  Since my parents have a regular length RX, I’m familiar with the interior and how relatively small it is so I’ve been really curious to see how Lexus would go about stretching it and making it fit three rows.  The reason for Lexus to do this is pretty clear: the 3-row non-truck-SUV or CUV (for crossover utility vehicle) segment is wildly popular with cars like the Audi Q7 and the Volvo XC90 and Acura MDX.  In fact, looking around the car show, Lexus and Subaru appear to be the last two major car brands to produce a vehicle to fit this slot.  (Subaru’s Ascent is arriving imminently.)  The Lexus RX 350 (without the “L”) is too small for three rows.  The next largest Lexus is the GX which is undeniably a truck (shares a platform with the 4Runner and is built body-on-frame) which excludes it from this category.  Therefore, Lexus has a hole and stretching their most popular model to fill the hole makes perfect sense.  How did they do?

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Restore a Prior Firefox Session

| by Ken | in Technology No Comments »

I had a set of Firefox windows and tabs open on my Windows 7 laptop.  I was in the middle of one thing when I started an unrelated effort to rebuilt a secondary disk to allow the laptop to boot MacOs and Ubuntu.  I knew I wanted to preserve the session of Firefox windows for my other effort so I was using Chrome to keep the two projects separate.  Somewhere in there, I installed new software which automatically opened Firefox and then I rebooted effectively killing off my ability to use Restore Previous Session from the Firefox menu.  But I wasn’t ready to be done with those tabs!  So I dug around in the Firefox folders and figured out how to restore the session I wanted.  Here’s what to do if it happens to you in the latest version of Firefox.

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I successfully installed MacOS on my Dell Latitude E6430.  With that complete, I wanted to make an DVD archive of the USB drive I used as the installer.  I have DVD archives of my past hacintosh installations and to keep up the library and to keep the permanent backup, I wanted one for this install too.  This task proved to be impossible and impractical and good golly I wasted a lot of time on it.  But since I learned a lot on the way, I needed to write it up.  I’ll forget it if I don’t and some of the lessons learned can be useful for the future.  Primarily for me, but perhaps for somebody else too.

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Triple Boot E6430, Sort Of

| by Ken | in Technology No Comments »

I’ve got my Dell Latitude E6430 booting Windows 7, Ubuntu 14, and MacOS 10.11. I’ve done this before with this computer but it wasn’t ever really stable and I didn’t document it because I hadn’t gotten it the way I wanted. I’ve also done it before with earlier versions of these OSes on my previous computer, the Dell Latitude E6410. But it wasn’t until today that I got a set up with the E6430 working the way I wanted. And although it cheats a little by using two disks, I do get all three OS on a GPT disk booting using UEFI. Sort of.

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