Computers Family How To Technology

Late Night Repair

Light-O-Rama CTB16PC 16 Channel Lighting Controller

In helping my son prepare and set up his Christmas light show this year we discovered half the channels on this controller stopped working. This is our second Light-O-Rama CTB16PC controller, both were purchased as a kit.

Just in case another Light-O-Rama ower runs into this page here’s the troubleshooting we performed and the ultimate solution that fixed our issue. (Spoiler: Assembly Mistake!)

Symptom: Channels 1-8 Not Working. The controller connects to the network fine, 9-16 working 100%.

Troubleshooting: First thought, blown fuse. We were setting things up in the rain and assumed it was related to a short.

Fuse tested fine with a multimeter, swapped the two fuses in the unit, again fuses working fine.

Used the multimeter to confirm 120v making it through fuse hold and tested each “hot” channel output. Things normal, although no voltage on channel 1-8 hots, as expected.

After reviewing the Light-O-Rama forums I decided to take the controller completely apart and check for any bad solder joints. Of course, I made this decision at 11 PM. I was really trying to avoid this, such a time-consuming process.

Success! After a few minutes of careful inspection, I found two pins on an IC that I plain missed completely during assembly, no solder! I carefully applied solder, checked a few other spots and reassembled.

BINGO! Problem solved.

U4 IC 20 PIN (74ACT273)

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LastPass Unlocked Event

Last Thursday, October 3, 2019 I had an opportunity to attend LastPass’s UnlockedCybersecurity & Identity Trends event in Boston, MA.

The panel of security experts included:

  • Bill Cheswick, Computer Security and Networking Researcher
  • Gerald Beuchelt, Chief Information Security Officer/Vice President for LogMeIn
  • Steve Gibson, Software Engineer, Security Researcher, and Host of the Security Now Podcast.

I’m a big fan of, Leo Laporte, Steve Gibson and I use LastPass every day. So I was really excited to attend the event knowing I’d be participating in an engaging and fun conversation around security, passwords, and learn more about Steve’s solution for passwords, the SQRL project.

The full-length video of the discussion is available on YouTube, which I’ve embedded below.

Twit’tv Coverage of the Cybersecurity & Identity Trends Unlocked Event
October 3, 2019 – Boston, MA’s Leo Laporte at the LastPass Unlocked event in Boston, October 2019
Steve Gibson –
Community Television Computers New Hampshire Reviews Vacation

Hilton Hhonors Wifi vs. Verizon Hotspot

Our family is on a short two-day ski trip in New Hampshire, staying at Hampton Inn & Suites North Conway. The hotel is great, extremely family friendly, and the staff are nice. There’s an amazing mini-water park  inside the hotel, bingo night, movie night complete with popcorn. Just a wonderful place.

Unfortunately, I needed to sneak in a quick Skype TV interview for work Monday morning and was hoping the hotel wifi would be strong enough. In running some speed tests the night before and I was frightened by the results. I’m not a big business traveler, but I’ve heard the hotel wifi can vary significantly and often performs rather poorly.

I’m barely getting 1MB download and upload speeds and about half that:

Hilton Hhonors Wifi Speed Test Results
Hilton Hhonors Wifi Speed Test Results

To be fair, I was testing the wifi at the worst possible time, 9pm on school vacation week. I believe the hotel is nearly full, it will be curious to see if there’s any improvement in the morning.

Computers How To

Upgrade MediaWiki, 5 Easy Steps Using FTP and Web Browser

MediaWiki Easy UpgradeI run a relatively small wiki using MediaWiki hosted on a Dreamhost server. Generally, I like to stay on top of upgrades for the security patches, new features, and bug fixes but the manual upgrade process makes me nervous.

I’ve been burned from nightmare Drupal CMS upgrades in the past. Losing hours of my life to troubleshooting and rebuilding is not something I ever want to repeat.

Anyway, I’ve procrastinated for a while now on this MediaWiki upgrade. I finally decided to jump in this week and get it done. I thought I would share the process I used, which is not exactly the recommended process on the MediaWiki website, but I found it easy and straight forward.  I successfully avoided the command line, which makes me somewhat nervous and certainly not in my comfort zone.

Community Television Computers Fun Stuff Television

FreeNAS, Exposes Me to Anouther Great Tool

Not sure why I’ve not heard about FreeNAS before, but this looks great! I’m definitely going to spend some time learning more.

Wonder if this could be a good, low-cost solution for storing archived video files, raw footage, and other large production files.

Computers Technology

How to Speed Up the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD

Here are two tips for speeding up a Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD smartphone. If you’re like me and want the quick solution, scroll down to Tip #1 and get started.

Little background, I purchased my Razr Maxx HD about two years now and I’ve become increasingly frustrated with it’s responsiveness. Everything about the phone became sluggish and for a long time I just dealt with it. I’m also a runner and use the phone to track my progress using the GPS tracking app RunKeeper. Last week the GPS accuracy was way off, the phone would struggle to find a GPS signal and once found, it would fade in and out. The whole situation finally drove me crazy enough that I spent some time looking for ways to speed up the phone, preferably WITHOUT performing a factory reset.

Everyone uses their phones differently, for me I’m less concerned about the “fancy” stuff, such as widgets and live wallpaper. I also don’t play games with my phone, although my kids have been known to install them on occasion. I just want a phone that runs my apps efficiently.

After searching the interwebs for some time I found two solutions which dramatically improved the phone speed. While you could certainly do the same search and likely find the same solutions, I thought I would share what worked for me and hopefully save you time.

These tips assume you have already tried the “easy stuff”:

  • Remove Unused Applications
  • Avoid Using Widgets & Live Wallpaper
  • Cleanup & Delete Photos/Videos from Gallery

I would also suggest you stay away from task killer apps and other management apps in an attempt to speed up your phone. It’s just not necessary and becomes just one more app running in the background. Generally, I think these apps are a bad idea.


This process significantly increased the speed of my phone. If you only do one thing, try this!

Step by step instructions are available on the Verizon Support website, which I’ve included below.

Warning Performing a wipe cache partition removes any temporary files that may be causing an issue with the device. All personal files and settings are not affected by this option.

1. Power the device off.
Note Press the Power button then select Power off.

  • Note If the device doesn’t respond to input, press and hold the Volume Up/Down then press and hold Power button. When the device screen goes blank, release the Power button while continuing to hold Volume Up/Down then proceed with step 3.

2. Press and hold the Volume Up/Down then press the Power button.
3. When presented with the Boot Mode Selection Menu, release all buttons.
4. Press Volume Down to select Recovery then press Volume Up.
5. From the Droid triage screen:

  • Press and hold Volume down.
  • Press and release Volume up.
  • Release Volume down.

6. Select wipe cache partition then press the Power button.

  • Note Use Volume keys to navigate options.

7. Select reboot system now then press the Power button.

  • Note Use Volume keys to navigate options.


This action will remove the fades and animations that ease the transition between apps and screens. While it makes your phone experience “look” better, it comes at the expense of speed and processor time. I found turning the animation features off helped.

Go to Settings -> Developer Options -> Animation Scale

You’ll want to turn on Developer Options with the toggle at the top of the screen. Once enabled, scroll down and turn off the following:

Animator Duration Scale
Animator Duration Scale Menu

Transition Animation Scale
Transition Animation Scale

Window Animation Scale

If you have any other suggestions, please share in the comment section below. Hope this helps!

Computers Reviews

FIX: Neatgear WNDR4500 Firmware Source of Internet Connection Dropping

Netgear WNDR4500 Internet Connection Keeps Dropping
Netgear WNDR4500

5/7/15 UPDATE: The solution described in this blog post (from September 2013) may no longer be necessary.  I recently (April 2015) performed a firmware update and “reset the router to factory defaults” and life is good, no performance issues.

The key “Revert to factory default settings.” step may have been the issue all along, something I don’t think I tired back in 2013.

Thanks to Phil for sharing this solution in the comment section along with links.

From Netgear’s Website:

Note: Please remember to do factory default after firmware upgrade. Enter “Backup Settings” in the web GUI and click “Erase” button of “Revert to factory default settings”.


Below is the original blog posted, which is an alternative solution if still have issues.

For the past few weeks I’ve been troubleshooting a problem with my internet connection. I finally found the solution and want to share the solution, just in case others are having the same issue.

My WAN or internet connection was dropping at least once a day, sometimes 3-4 times per day. Power cycling (unplug/plug back in) the cable modem OR the router would temporarily restore the connection, but this never resolved the problem.

Neatgear Firmware V1.0.1.20_1.0.40 StableSolution
Firmware version for the Netgear WNDR4500 was the source of my problem. I rolled back to the previous version V1.0.1.20_1.0.40 and BINGO, my internet connection was stable once again!

You can download V1.0.1.20_1.0.40 from the Netgear Support Website for the WNDR4500, click on “Get More Downloads” for the list of previous firmware.

Once you download the firmware, access the router’s admin panel through a web browser.  By default the address is:  Once logged in, go to the advanced tab and select “Router Update” under the administration section.

Here is a screenshot of the router update:

Netgear WNDR4500 Firmware Update Screen
Netgear WNDR4500 Firmware Update Screen

From here it’s straight forward, click browse, find your V1.0.1.20_1.0.40 file and upload to the router.  After rebooting the system, you should be FIXED!

Hopefully Netgear is able to fix whatever issue they are having with V1.0.1.36, which was released in May 2013.  Running the latest firmware is normally a good idea, USUALLY fixes bugs and strengthens security of the hardware.

Hope this helps, what frustration! My broadband provider offered to come out and check the lines, with the usual warning…if it’s determined the problem is with your equipment, we will need to charge for the service call. Love that… I’m glad I said “no thanks”.


ReadyNAS Duo Problems with Apple Lion OS

Ready NAS Duo with Apple Lion OSI just installed Apple’s new Lion OS on my laptop and discovered that I was no longer able to access my ReadyNAS Duo.

After some research I was able to restore access to my ReadyNAS and thought I would pass along the temporary fix.

First, if you have not already discovered, you should check it out!  This is an amazing ReadyNAS web community loaded with information, updates, FAQs, and forums.

According to, Lion is NOT compatible with ReadyNAS Duo/NV+ or past sparc-based systems (600, X6, 1000S, 1100).

Connect to ReadyNAS Duo via SMB

The workaround is to connect via SMB (Server Message Block) to the ReadyNAS.  You just need the IP address of the unit.  From the Apple Desktop: Go -> Connect to Server

A Firmware upgrade is already available in beta release that will fix the compatibility issues.

I have not tried the beta firmware, with all the stuff I have on my ReadyNAS I don’t want to take any chances.  I’m sure it works great, but SMB access is good enough for me…at least for now.

If you can’t wait for the update, you can download the latest beta firmware beta release here.