Featured on "Home Gadget Geeks" Episode #451 "Paul Braren with Tech Challenges and Successes"

Posted by Paul Braren on Jul 9 2020 (updated on Jul 13 2020) in
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    This new podcast episode 451 is available at the averageguy.tv at Paul Braren with Tech Challenges and Successes – HGG451 where you can also view, listen, and/or subscribe. Here's an excerpt:

    Paul Braren joins us this week as we get an update on several of home projects. From a discussion on Cox internet to Rheem Hybrid Water heaters, we cover a few. Paul also gives us an update on his Teslas and how he fixed his video storage issue. I think you will enjoy the show.

    Jul 09 2020 - The Average Guy TV - Paul Braren with Tech Challenges and Successes - HGG451


    The time codes link to just the right spot in the video, thanks to the auto-generated audio transcript below Jim's article!

    Tech Challenges:

    1. I have an AC return duct above me and my triple monitors, with no computers or fans in my office. I use a manual standing desk/sitting desk attachmened to my office furniture. All my servers and a laptop stay on my basement's 4' x 8' TinkerTry workbench. Turning this into my workplace and my studio wasn't without difficulties including strong backlighting, but at least I managed to get some supplemental lighting onto my face using this simple mount with ring light for my Brio 4K USB C webcam that allows lossless zooming for Zoom and Microsoft Teams calls.

    2. We discussed that I needed some UPS battery replacements, with some discussion about Amazon's shipment slowdown due to COVID-19, and a mention of Amazon's plan to get to 100% renewable energy by 2025 with 100,000 Rivian EVs for delivery vehicles, see more about these EVs here.

    3. B076DL1K8M

      Available on Amazon, more details below. We both have had some challenges adapting this to each of our unique front steps/front porch situations, but overall it's worked out pretty well in the end. I plan to pressure wash mine soon.

    4. Gigablast

      More at Cox Gigablast. Jim and I swapped stories about some work-from-home pains when our Cox connections became an issue. In the thick of the pandemic, I had lost Cox Internet/VOIP and Verizon and AT&T cellular, all on one day. Jim shared a story about blowing through 6TB of data one month going past his caps on the more affordable plans, and how Cox thankfully had some mercy on him for that accidental transgression.

    5. dual-sim
      My iPhone 11 Pro Max has both Verizon and AT&T, simultaneously.

      The Dual SIM functionality is awesome, but wasn't without its pains as I migrated off of years of Google Voice.

    6. power-usage-rheem-1-year-tinkertry-700x756
      Sense Home Energy finding difficulty with 240V devices such as EVs and Hybrid Water Heaters, so I used EcoNet instead.

      Available on Amazon, we discussed my experiences, but only after I went into a long side-trip about my overall efforts to go more green at home, moving from natural gas to electricity for the highest energy consuming devices. This left me with a desire to measure my heavy-hitters, two EVs and a hybrid electric water heater, and I've struggled to get these to be reliably monitored by the Sense Energy Monitor, but gladly I've found workarounds in the TeslaFi that monitors exact energy use for each of the cars individually via API, and EcoNet cloud service which measures exact energy use for the WiFi-connected water heater. I mentioned I need to watch the new video about Sense by Undecided with Matt Ferrell, and will continue to keep an eye on this, and will continue to post to the relevant Sense forums about EVs here and Water Heaters here.

    7. Tesla's have a Sentry Mode and Dashcam functionality, featuring recording of 4 of the 8 cameras when the owner inserts flash media into one of the USB ports in the center console. For me, I've been rebuilding my Linux by re-imaging the micro SD, without success so far. This Pi is sold with a case and preloaded with highly-customizes software in commercial form called Roadie for Tesla, by a new Connecticut company. Jim then told a story that included recovering from what initially seemed like a hack. We also dove into ways to segregate IoT (Internet of Trojans), using guest WiFi or maybe even VLANs. Jim also went to a trust nothing network at his home, with all devices challenging login attempts with username/password security enabled. He also talked about Plex as well.

    8. B07WSRXMS8

      Sigh, woes with occasional overheating persist, with less frequency on the HERO8 than on the HERO7. I have a library of TinkerTry's 4K videos here, with many featuring smooth 60fps. Removing the battery helps some, and here's one of many discussions out there at GoPro here. All that aside, it does take some exceptional footage, and is overall worth the trouble.

    9. Available Windows 10 2004, the slowness of the staged rollout has been odd. After a good 4 year run with my daily-driver Windows 10 VM, it's now rebuild time due to some trusted root certificate issues that aren't dangerous, but are self-inflicted. That will be quite a time-sink, but it will be a clean build of Win 10 Build 2004.

    10. Getting my 10G networking squared has run into some cabling issues with my longer runs might require some more trips into my attic.

    11. I like Patrick Kennedy's handling of the SMR issue over at STH (Serve The Home), see also HGG450 where this serious issue was also discussed.

    12. It doesn't look great in July or August, but I've stopped worrying about that. I still admit I own a 27 hp gas powered riding mower, and I'm not a fan of the maintenance. The 38 in. 100 Ah Battery Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower sure looks promising, but it's no longer on $300 off sale at Home Depot.

    13. My testing of VMware vSphere 7 began on release day, April 2 2020. I'm pleased with the end result, with my entire home lab cluster now updated. The part that took more work than it should was the rough edges around the more-consumerish-features that this enterprise product tends to do less well with, things like GPU passthrough and audio device mapping to my Windows 10 VMs.

    14. It's been a long wait for Intel to get below 14nm for innovation in CPU, for more cores and less heat. Both AMD EPYC and ARM are looking a lot more innovative lately, making inroads in the datacenter and in the Apple ecosystem, these are both big stories in 2020. See also AMD EPYC goes mainstream, Dell EMC VxRail on ZDNet.

    Tech Successes:

    1. B078PGCGN2

      Available on Amazon, moving up from my EdgeRouter Lite to the EdgeRouter 4 was as simple as updating to the same firmware as the Lite, then restoring the config file. Done!

    2. ring-lights

      Available on Amazon, see also product page at Ring where Ring Protect subscribers get a 10% discount on orders. This was a big project for my parents, installing easily, but needed a bit of manual tuning after the install, in the end, a very successful deployment. We also discussed Jim's use of exterior security cameras, along with mention of his addition of a hinge to the lid of his Step2 package delivery box. We noted that these boxes are available in different colors, but are barely big enough for Hello Fresh, Home Chef, and Freshly food service boxes. I mentioned that I'm thinking of screwing one of these metal labels onto the lid.

    3. Ultimately, despite my challenges, it's been a success, with many vSphere 7 articles already, and many more to come!

    4. -

      Shown in action at TinkerTry on the road here. I have also found that the parallax for close-up imagery makes things look a bit strange, such as when measuring temperatures of M.2 NVMe SSDs under assault with extensive reads and writes. Jim then fantasized about subterranean hunting with a FLIR, but that notion was quickly shot down by the chat participants.

    5. The Leviton Whole Home Surge Protector has served my home automation and expensive electrical equipment well, especially things that cannot be surge protected at the outlet such as the electric vehicles on NEMA 14-50 outlets, or the Hybrid Electric Water Heaters. I haven't had power off long enough to need to test my more recently installed Manual Transfer Switch intended to be used with my generator.

    6. first-v3-supercharger-in-the-northeastern-us-in-fairfield-connecticut

      While Nebraska has many Superchargers there is still no Tesla service centers there, sadly. See also at TinkerTry Things I noticed charging my Tesla Model 3 LR AWD at the very first V3 Superchargers in the Northeastern United States.

    7. tesla-stats-for-nerds
      A look under the engine-less hood.

      A bluetooth dongle called OBDLink MX+ gets me visibility into my Model 3's OnBoard D**iagnostics, see also my article detailing this "nerd stats for cars" here, and my all-EV 2 car garage's affordable charging solution.

    8. one-year-and-25k-miles-of-tesla-model-3-is-going-incredibly-well

      We talked about the EV market expanding, the upcoming Mustang Mach-E, and our experience with our Long Range and Standard Range Model 3s. I meant to talk more about my recent Model 3's successful brain transplant surgery, but strangely, the new WiFi chip swap meant I could no longer join my Eero WiFi guest network, only the main network. See also articles about AI and Dojo at CleanTechnica here, and see also my detailed TeslaFi driving and charging statistics.

    9. 1275234678740586496

      Rheem/Richmond/Ruud Hybrid Water Heater with Heat Pump, with my $159.78 electric bill for first year of use (2 member household, daily showers, sometimes handling 3 additional guests fine too, but in High Demand mode. Right behind AC, water heating is a huge contributor to your carbon footprint.

    10. apple-magic

      This pricy accessory has been a complete success for my mom's iPad Pro, details of her experience here. I also mentioned the new Lenovo ThinkPad TrackPoint Keyboard II keyboard that recently came out, but I haven't had a chance to edit my unboxing/testing video. It's wireless only and still has no Fn/Ctrl swapping, but otherwise pretty happy with it.

    11. B07ZQSDQDB
      4TB and 8TB sizes of double-sides M.2 NVMe drives are now available!

      I have a lot of video to edit and an article to write, stay tuned. Meanwhile, details on Amazon at Sabrent 4TB Rocket NVMe PCIe M.2 2280 Internal High Performance Solid State Drive [SB-ROCKET-4TB] and Sabrent M.2 Heatsink

    12. 2020-07-11_20-14-33
      Networks fits right into your Windows system tray.

      I've been using Networx for years for my real-time, whole-home bandwidth monitoring.



    Not recalling exactly what I mentioned about microphones on the podcast, but I've been experimenting with avoiding the use of my (Cox Business VOIP) "landline" and Jabra Engage 65 headset for the better quality a USB mic for the many web meetings I'm on these days for my day job. I'm still using my AT2005USB here, see also audio-technica product line, see also timely testing by my colleague John Nicholson, discussion on twitter too.

    "Home Gadget Geeks" T available in 5 colors & 3 sizes.

    Oh, and that t-shirt you see me styling? It's available on Amazon in many colors!

    As I did years ago, you too can be a supporter of Jim's at "the average guy" Patreon Page.


    Things I thought about after the podcast was recorded, but is also related. In the HGG after-show discussion Jim and I enjoyed with some chat participants, we had a discussion about the challenges of remaining an independent content creator, see MKBHD's latest video below, rather timely. His talent is incredible, and this detailed discussion about disclosure is really helpful, at least for me.

    Marques Brownlee - Jul 09 2020 - Can You Trust MKBHD?
    Amazon News - Feb 04 2020 - Inventing Amazon’s electric delivery vehicle
    Undecided with Matt Ferrell - Jun 30 2020 - Tracking your EV, solar, and energy use with machine learning - Sense smart home interview
    Engineering Explained - Jun 3 2020 - Tesla Model Y - The Only Tesla With A Heat Pump

    Express Parcel Delivery Box


    Receiving shipments more securely at home
    Step 2 583199 Express Parcel Delivery Box (in Black, Mocha, or White), available at:


    If you get a lot of wind, you may want to put this pair of these 5 lb. rust-proof weights in the bottom of your delivery box:


    To keep tabs on those deliveries, you may want to consider mounting one of these near your delivery box:


    Having one of these mounted near you delivery box is very handy, see more details at:

    Thank you again Jim, for you being you, and for inviting me again!

    See also at TinkerTry

    All Home Gadget Geeks appearances, in reverse-chronological order: