Yellow jacket trapping

We use these rescue traps and there are two flavors of traps for the Rescue:

  1. A water trap that uses an attractant and then a vial that you put into water.
  2. Then below another vial where you can buy a 10 week supply that is $5 from Amazon. Or a 2 week supply where you soak a cotton ball.

It’s pretty confusing, but just using the bottom one seems to work pretty well.

Adding custom resolutions, TV remote application and Netflix and Amazon to Samsung MU6300

We have seven Samsung televisions masquerading as computer monitors in the office, so getting them to work is a challenge. Here are some cool things to do:

  1. The remote does not like having lots of televisions in the same room. Something as simple as scrolling doesn’t seem to work. You can power it on and off, but for some reason the remotes are disabled. I wonder if this has to do with two way communications and having lots of TVs send IR. The solution is to download the Samsung mobile application and then connect it. This is a little tricky, but download the Samsung application and the TV will allow it (it’s really a computer after all!)
  2. The MacBook Pro (2016 or later) does not correctly recognize the HDMI connection is 60 hertz capable. Debian seems to work fine. The workaround is a little painful, but works. You basically have to install a custom resolution into the screen. Then you can delete the application.

So here is how to do it:

  1. First you need to disable System Integrity Protection which keeps you from doing things like this. First shutoff your Mac and then when booting hold the Command-R key down and enter the Restore utility. Choose Utility/Terminal and then type csrutil disable
  2. Now go back and download ScreenResX and install it. It is a ten day demo version.
  3. Make sure you have an HDMI 2.0 cable and an HDMI 2.0 to USB C adapter that supports the full 60 hertz (aka 18Gbps). And reboot the machine.
  4. Now you should boot your Samsung screen into 30 hertz mode (boo!). Start System Preferences/ScreenResX and go to to the Custom Resolutions tab and entire 3840 x 2160 x 60 for the frequency and choose apply. That’s it, it should now appear in your display selection as the 60 option.
  5. Now you can remove the ScreenResX by going to System Preferences and right clicking on ScreenResX and uninstalling it.
  6. Now shutdown your computer and the power on while holding the Command-R and go back to terminal and type csrutil enable to get back this important security precaution and you are done.

You can check it by power cycling the Samsung TV and it will tell you what resolution it thinks it sees.

Finally to get Netflix and Amazon, here are some of the tips:

  1. You need a Samsung account to enable the Smart Hub. For some reason, the passwords that you create on do not work with the television. First is that TVs force a 15 character limit and even if you type it, it doesn’t work. Best workaround is to use a secondary email account just for Samsung TVs and register from there.
  2. Now you have to laboriously type in the user name and passwords for Netflix and Amazon. It is almost worth it to connect a Bluetooth keyboard to the television just for this.
  3. Next up is getting UHD content on the two other televisions that I’ve tried it has just worked, you suddenly see UHD logos or 4K logos, but this doesn’t seem to happen on this model.

Managing Windows on a huge monitor

If you are lucky enough to spend $500 for a 43″ (?!!) 4K monitor, you will find that managing the windows is just terrible, fortunately, Alex has studied this and there are a few solutions:

  • Divvy ( which let’s you split the screen into a “grid” so that you don’t have to deal with overlapping windows anymore :slightly_smiling_face: (Back to Windows 1.0, that’s a joke for the oldsters here). It takes a little customization to create a set of shortcuts but the Shiftit key combinations are pretty good. This costs $15 with a free trial.
  • Shiftit ( is a good goto, if you have a smaller display. Works with four sub windows only, but with Divvy, you can get six or even eight subwindows on the display.
  • And yes for Ubuntu, there are tools like this as well Compiz Grid ( works well), but you need a full-sized 101 keyboard to use.
  • Quicktiles is the utility for XFCE on Debian, this is a cool tool with the main issue being collisions in the defaults with XFCE workspace management. You have to use a different shift key set to make it work (Ctrl-Shift and then a letter). But it is nice because the upper left command if hit twice give you first the top quarter, then the top third. Top thirds are perfect for 40 inch monitors and above. I ended up using a s z or the left keyboard keys instead of the number pad for instance. (so a is the up key for instance, if you’ve ever used the wasdfor moving around a character based game, it will be super natural. In this case w is up, d is right, a is left and s is center. I then use x for down.

Here are some additional tips on using Divvy and

  1. It doesn’t come with any shortcuts, so you need to create them yourself. I used the Control-Option-Command (e.g. all three left buttons for this purpose), but if you map 1, 2, 3 and 4 to upper left, right, bottom left, right, then it is easy to have 5, 6,,, 9, 0 map to the upper left third, etc.
  2. To save these is tricky, you need to type divvy://export into Safari or Chrome, this means call divvy from the browser. Then it will paste into a clipboard a long url that starts as divvy/import while strange this is pretty convention, on a new machine, install divvy, add your license keys and then paste the above url into the browser, restart divvy and you get new shortcuts.

argh Samsung MU6300 and monitor stands

Well, it is so confusing monitors. it took some digging, but it looks like the Samsung MU6300 has a pretty special screw requirement. For a different model of Samsung, they need a M8x45mm course threading (1.25mm/thread). The 45mm is an estimate, but it is definitely deep.

The mounting doesn’t have any of these screws so off to the hardware to store to get a set.

M8Also to mount a consumer TV to a monitor arm, you need a 100mm Vesa to 400mm Vesa plate adapter and of course the screws are wrong again. We use the AmazonBasics (a steal at $99 IMHO), but you need something that attaches properly.

Here is exactly what you need to tie in:

  1. Samsung MU6300 43″ monitor. A steal at $550 or so 🙂
  2. Vesa 400mm to 100mm adapter plate. About $20 on Amazon, this is because TVs have a standard 400mm x 400mm set of screws for mounting, but PC monitor arms use the smaller 100mm x 100mm size.
  3. AmazonBasics Monitor Arm. You can ignore  the warnings about it only working on monitors 27″ or less, it works fine on this 43″ mainly because panels are so light these days. This is a terrific arm and looks like an OEM version of something costs 2x as much.

Then you will be short hardware to mount it, you need comes in a Long Monitor Wall Bracket to TV Bolt package for about $11.

  1. M8 x 1.25mm/thread (the so called course threading) in the 30mm length. Four of them.
  2. A spacer or bushing as the adapter plate cannot be flush agains the monitor. The perfect dimensions are 5/16″ Inner Diameter, 1/4″ long, 5/8″ outer diameter.

T-mobile be careful when you add a new line and other tips

I love the insider hookup and the service (particularly in big cities like Seattle),  but be careful when you add a new line, we just did and there are some peculiarities with doing this:

  1. Even if you have Autopay enabled, it will not give you the Autopay discount unless you call. This is apparently because their computer system is that it doesn’t notice your Autopay discount (it’s significant!) for a few months.
  2. Your bill will appear to spike. The reason for this is that say, you in the worst case, buy a new line one second after the start of the month. It will not pick up the new line until the month after the next. The reason is that apparently, the billing system uses the number of lines open at the start of the month for it’s count. It then bill at the end of the month. In some sense, you get a “free” month with your line, but then it catches up the month after that. And yes, I had to talk with the T-mobile rep for a while before I got this.

Final tips,

  1. Wait for sales, they are pretty frequent, for instance, we got 4 lines for $160 with Autopay.
  2. And it sure helps to have a friend at T-Mobile as well as they have a nice program that provide an additional discount that you can stack.
  3. They also have promotions for the T-mobile SIM card as they charge $25 for activation. You can also typically get a prepaid T-mobile SIM and if it is less than $25, then you can use that instead. Also many times during the year, they don’t charge for activation.
  4. If you are a frequent Alaska Airlines flyer, they give you one hour free access on the plane. And if you are lucky, they will even throw in T-Mobile One Plus which gives you unlimited access. Note that if you are on a family plan, you get one hour per line so with five lines.
  5. Last note is their Canada and Mexico roaming works well and the 2G access internationally works well in Europe for sure, it is slower for images, but perfect for iMessage, texting and email.

When your Valentine One doesn’t power on

Ok this must truly be the dumbest thing I’ve ever done. We have a brand new radar detector and it mysteriously stopped working. Turns out that the lighter adapter has a mini-blade 2 amp fuse in it. There is a easy to push button which releases it.

So next time your Valentine doesn’t work, look in your glove compartment for a fuse down at the bottom. You insert it in and give it a firm push. Oops!

Building an AMD Ryzen Compile Machine

OK, a few folks have asked me what the best machine is for compiling things like the Linux kernel. Turns out the answer isn’t super intuitive, but the new AMD Ryzen has just been a monster at doing this. They have more cores and more threads, ECC for big memory and overclocking. All things that Intel charges buckets for. So what if you want to build a machine like this, what do you have to know:

  1. Processors. The Ryzen 8 core is one of the fastest linux compiles known at $800. And the Rizen 5 1700x is a real value leader at $200 for six cores. All of these overclock by the way, so you can expect perhaps 20% more performance. The machines also support ECC, so just make sure you have this support in the motherboard. With even 32GB of memory, you will get soft failures.
  2. Motherboard. Since you do not need SLI, the B350 is a fine board. Moreover, they support ECC if you look closely such as the ASUS Prime B350-A/CSM (although this has reliability and firmware issues according to Newegg) and B350-PLUS both supported unbuffered ECC. The ASRock AB350M Pro also supports ECC and has good reviews. It also has a native USB C/USB 3.1 connector and a single M.2 NVMe socket. The only thing missing is onboard Wifi (there are no mATX or mITX boards with wifi yet for Rizen)
  3. Memory. The Ryzen boards like fast memory, DDR4-2666 typically works and you can overclock to DDR4-3200. Note that with Ryzen, memory works in multiples of 233MHz. ECC usually is a little slower but more robust. On the qualification list for the ASRock AB350M Pro QVL they have a DDR4-2400 but only 4GB RAM sticks. It only supports unbuffered (non-registered) ECC, so density will be lower. Most unregistered memory is 1x4GB so you get a maximum of 16GB. If you try to get the 8GB sticks then you are limited to DDR4-2166, so that’s the tradeoff. Right now, if you only need 16GB, then you fully populate with 4x4GB and get to DDR4-2400. If you think you need more like 32GB then you use 4x8GB and are running slower at DDR4-2166. But there seem to ASRock support on Reddit but also  problems with 16GB ECC. Rymem is a great resource too, but most people don’t use ECC. There is some thoughts that you need to use single sided (single rank)ram to make it all work. In fact, single rank memory is faster so, the fastest 8GB dual rank is DDR4-240 vs DDR4-2666 for single rank. The system also slows again with four memory cars, where the maximums are 1866 for dual rank x 4 memory cards and 2133 for 4 single rank memory cards. In the end since 16GB is the most you can get with ECC memory, it’s not clear it is worth it compared with 16GB of DDR4-2600 memory. It’s simple with 32 or 64GB of RAM. For overclockers the suite spots use Samsung B-die like the G.Skill Trident RGB or the Corsair Vengance LPK 16GB C16 which overclock well to 2933 to 3200 or even 3500.
  4. Cases. This is a compile machine and it won’t have lots of disk, a simple mATX desktop should be enough. A Rosewill $24 can is enough.
  5. Video. Since Ryzen doesn’t have onboard video, you need a simple video card, There is a $28 dollar Radeon card that should suffice. But the case is big enough to support a big graphics card if you want to put one in. SLI isn’t supported, but there is room for dual graphics cards with one used for machine learning if you want. If you want a decent card for display the GTX 1060 is a good value at $250 vs the premium priced $780 GTX 1080Ti
  6. Wifi. Since this is mATX, then you can put a card directly into the box.
  7. SSDs. For a compilation machine, just having some fast SSDs is the trick. Ideall two one for m.2 and then another for the SATA m.2 socket.


How not to lose money with your NY MetroCard

OK, I don’t know how many New York Subway cards I have that have expired, so here are two solutions:

  1. If you have an expired MetroCard with money in it, take it to the subway station and they will give you a new card for free.
  2. EasyPay. If you don’t get there often enough, use EasyPay so that you have a subway MetroCard tied to automatic credit card replenishment. As an aside, use a card like Chase Sapphire Reserve with 3x bonuses for transportation.