Honeywell MPA2 Card Access Panel

I install a lot of card access panels and card readers, and up until now have mostly used the Honeywell NetAXS panels. But they have an outdated method of initial configuration via a built-in web page that uses TLS 1.0. Modern browsers are going to discontinue support for this since it is considered a security risk. When I contacted Honeywell about fixing this with a firmware update they said that they are discontinuing support for these panels… Great.

So I purchased their newer (2019) MPA2 panel for a new project. It only supports 2 doors instead of 4, but is $1000 cheaper than the NetAXS panel. The actual circuit board is 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the NetAXS panel but comes with an enclosure that could possibly fit two circuit boards.

The MPA2 panel is peculiar in how they designed the connections for both readers and latches (and REX and other gizmos). Instead of screw terminals, they have RJ45 jacks and custom plugs with built-in screw terminals. I had to spend hours going over the installation manual to figure out how to even begin wiring a reader. I had to compare the previous NetAXS panel that had color coded terminals along with text description of each wire, and then decipher what Honeywell intended with the new connectors.

The same process applied to the door latch cabling. They couldn’t just make it obvious, I had to spend hours digging and comparing their CAT6 images with the 18/2 cabling I will be using for the latch. Below are pictures of what I found along with brief descriptions of the wiring. First the reader wiring and then the strike/latch wiring.

The image on the top left is from the NetAXS panel screw terminal for card readers. I took their image from the manual and added colors to the Wiegand section. The lower left shows the new connector with an RJ45 plug. But all the colors are for Ethernet cable. I suppose some readers probably have CAT6 connections, but the ones we use are still 18/6 cable. So I made the chart below to help guide me in the field. I also added a blurb about the latch/strike wiring in the upper right. But I include a picture of what I mean down below.

Below is a picture of the latch/strike wiring for door 1.1 (they label the two doors 1.1 and 1.2). They provide two ways of wiring the strike cable, a green push terminal and the 2nd RJ45 jack from the left. Use one or the other. If you use the RJ45 you may need to also use their odd RJ45 connector. Both work at the same time, but you will probably use one or the other.

Barely visible on the green circuit board are the labels for the holes. I’m an old fart, so it took me a while to see those. But they seem to have got the NC on the left of the green connector incorrect. Or perhaps the jumpers to the right of the connector change that, I haven’t read that far. But the default from the factory is Normally Open on the bottom (I tested continuity). The black wire is in NC1 and the red in GND. I’d probably reverse those in real life, I just wanted a picture.

The odd RJ45 connector (shown above lower left) uses pins 4 and 8 for the relay. Using T568B color coding, those are the solid blue and solid brown wires in a CAT6 cable. There may be other choices but these were the ones I chose.

So there is my first foray into the Honeywell MPA2 panel and how to wire it. They abandoned the odd wall-wart power supply and include a new design inside of the metal enclosure. They also say that the board can be run via POE, but I have not yet tried that since the location for my panel is remote with no network switch.

Handbrake won’t open (Linux)

I installed Handbrake on Xubuntu with “sudo apt install handbrake” and it installed the latest version, as compiled by Ubuntu. But when I clicked it to open, nothing happened. I opened terminal and typed handbrake, and got this error:
undefined symbol: av_calloc, version libavutil_56

I eventually decided to try compiling it from source code, and followed the directions on this site: https://handbrake.fr/docs/en/latest/developer/build-linux.html

It took a while to run the configure portion, but once it was all done it worked fine.

TalkTalk and Yodel, Bad Service (Emails…)

Recently I began receiving multiple emails congratulating me on purchasing Internet service through TalkTalk, a company based in England. Except I live in the United States. I was going to reply and tell them that they contacted the wrong person, but every email from them says “Please do not reply to this email, emails are not monitored.” (info@consumer.talktalkplc.com). I wasn’t so cruel as to actually sign in and change the password for the new account their actual customer created.

Today I received a related email from Yodel, another British company, telling me that I can track my parcels from TalkTalk with their app. The email came from “donotreply@e.myyodel.co.uk”.

As I wrote previously about Uber and Lyft doing the same kinds of emails, the FIRST email from any company to a new customer should verify that the email address is correct prior to creating the account. If there is no verification, no account should be created. Simple, and most companies and websites do exactly that. Sadly, TalkTalk and Yodel failed utterly on these emails, and their real customer somewhere in Britain is likely wondering why they aren’t communicating.

(Yes, I checked my own financial records and nothing was charged. No, I didn’t try contacting them in any other way. Monolithic approaches to communication are stupid and maybe they will learn something from this.)

UPDATE May 11, 2021: I received yet another email about a FINAL DEMAND for payment, with threats of a collection agency, and of course the email gives telephone numbers in the UK to call and then summarizes with “Please do not reply to this email, emails are not monitored.” I’m boggled by the stupidity of some businesses that
1. Didn’t bother to VERIFY an email account actually belongs to their customer BEFORE CREATING THE ACCOUNT.
2. Didn’t bother to get payment up front for equipment and services.
3. Shield themselves from contact via email. At the very least provide a web-form to send a message because I’m never calling the UK to clarify the many ways you messed up and that I’m not the one to whom you sent equipment and services.

UPDATE June 12, 2021: They had a collections company “Debt & Revenue Services” (DRS) contact me, again via email which said “DO NOT REPLY TO THIS EMAIL ADDRESS, OUR CONTACT DETAILS ARE ABOVE“. They did however have a contact form on their website, so I explained that I live in the USA and don’t have an account with TalkTalk, etc. I received no reply, but did eventually get another email from TalkTalk saying they’d really like to keep me as a customer! Today I started getting a bunch of attempted subscription notifications in email to all kinds of nasty things, but at least they bothered to send confirmation emails before signing me up, unlike TalkTalk and Yodel.

HP, make drivers available for manual download and install

HP has adopted a new approach to download drivers. They want you to download software that will install the driver for you based on what it detects. Only it doesn’t. HP Smart is what they call it. It isn’t. It’s like their old logo HP Invent, when they really meant HP Acquire. They stopped inventing a long time ago, and began copying what others were doing to make quick money. But I digress, sort of.

HP Envy Pro 6458 printer. A friend has one and wanted to print to it via USB cable as a local printer. HP really doesn’t want to do that. They keep suggesting that it be hooked up via wireless. In a pinch, they’d begrudgingly will let it connect via Ethernet. I expected it to be recognized instantly when I plugged in the USB cable. Nope. Device manager sees it, but with an exclamation point, meaning the driver is futzed. If I install it via Ethernet, it expects that it will STAY a network printer. If I connect the USB cable again, the driver it installed over the network doesn’t work. Running HP Smart with just a USB cable… printer? What printer?

When a computer is connected to a VPN, and the VPN software is locked-down to prevent local network resources from being available (to protect the company network from things like ransomware), then it becomes important for a printer to be used locally, that is, connected directly to the computer via USB. But if the printer’s manufacturer doesn’t see the point of an all inclusive print driver, that makes life difficult for the user, not smoother and more efficient.

Manual downloads and installs have worked for the past 20 years. They would still work today, if HP would let them. But nah. They made it better. They made it easier. They made it work for most of their customers, and that’s good enough for them.

Firefox started saving JPG as JPEG

I’m not sure why it changed, but Firefox began saving all JPG files as JPEG files. I prefer the 3 letter extension. I use Xubuntu with XFCE as the user interface.

After much digging I found multiple references to a Firefox MimeTypes.rdf file, but that didn’t seem to exist on my system. Not sure if they still use it or not, but it was not a file even in hidden folders.

I opened the about:config page and searched for mime. One of the entries was /etc/mime.types

I viewed it and saw:
image/jpeg jpeg jpg jpe

I edited the file as sudo, and changed the order of the extensions to be:
image/jpeg jpg jpeg jpe

That fixed it instantly! W00t!

Netgear GS110TP physical mounting specs

Screws are head type Pan or Button for best fit, maybe dome or round, 3/16in (5mm) head diameter, apx 1/16in (2mm) max head height (thickness).

Machine screw: #6-32, Head Dia. 0.250 – 0.262″, Head Height 0.063 – 0.073″

Wood screws, #6 pan head https://www.amazon.com/SNUG-Fasteners-SNG603-Stainless-Phillips/dp/B089PVZ1YX/

Distance between mounting screws is 4 5/16in or 109.5mm (thanks for the round number Netgear!)

TIP: Make template with sheet of paper held in place on back of unit and rub the mounting holes to emboss the paper.

Alternatively, photocopy the back of the unit. But it is darkly colored, so may not show up well. Make sure that it is not resized during photocopying.

Back of unit could be painted and dried before photocopying.

Linux: Thunar not grouping folders when saving files from browser

After installing the latest Xubuntu (Ubuntu with Xfce as the user interface), the file manager Thunar normally lists folders grouped together at the top when a drive or folder is opened. However, when saving a file from a browser, it would mix the folder and file names alphabetically.

There is an option when saving that only needs to be specified once to fix this behavior (which some consider “correct”). When saving the file and the list of folders and files appears, right-click and check the option “Sort Folders Before Files”. Thereafter the folders will appear first in alphabetical order, then files in alphabetical order.

Xubuntu 20.10, fresh install, some gotchas

After experiencing some weird issues after upgrading from Xubuntu 18.06, I saved my data (desktop files, music, exported bookmarks and Ublock custom filters) and I did a wipe and reload because I was using a system with over a decade of old libraries and upgrades.

The new system is mostly stable, though I’ve seen a few times where windows will disappear as I’m working on them. Facebook hung once after posting a picture, and Chrome said that it closed, but the browser didn’t close.

I did a fresh install of FFMPEG and am still having odd issues with it. After building from git sources and a make and install, the system has no idea that it is installed. If I go to ~/bin, I can run it with ./ffmpeg, but it then complains:

./ffmpeg: symbol lookup error: /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libswresample.so.3: undefined symbol: av_calloc, version LIBAVUTIL_56

I was getting this on my system before rebuilding. So, some issues to work through. I may be doing something in the configuration of the libraries that is causing it to choke. So I did

sudo apt build-dep ffmpeg
sudo apt install ffmpeg

That didn’t fix it either. Same damn error every time
ffmpeg: symbol lookup error: /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libswresample.so.3: undefined symbol: av_calloc, version LIBAVUTIL_56

UPDATE: I did get ffmpeg working finally. I think I was including a switch that it didn’t like, maybe –enable-shared.

UPDATE: I did get VLC working finally. I downloaded the source via FTP, compiled it, installed, then installed a missing library and it worked.
I followed https://wiki.videolan.org/UnixCompile/

$ wget ftp://ftp.videolan.org/pub/videolan/vlc/3.0.10/vlc-3.0.10.tar.xz
$ tar xvJf vlc-3.0.10.tar.xz
$ cd vlc-3.0.10
$ ./configure
$ sudo make -j4
$ sudo make -j4 install
$ sudo apt install libvlc5

I was having a ton of trouble getting VLC to play MP4 files. VLC error trying to play MP4 files:

VLC could not decode the format "h264" (H264 - MPEG-4 AVC (part 10))

I did install ubuntu-restricted-extras, like so many places recommend. No joy with VLC. I’ve tried purging VLC and reinstalling, but it will not play MP4 or MKV files or anything else really. Parole player will play some of them, but others says it needs to download a codec, but then says it can’t. I was about fed up with this. Hours are spent trying to fix something that should work out of the box. But using the above method of installing from source, I was able to get it working.

By the way, if you install the ubuntu-restricted-extras and get stuck at the ttf-mscorefonts screen, press the TAB key to highlight <Ok> and then press the Enter key to continue.

Audio was oddly not present at first, but I had to tell it to use my actual add-on Xonar DSX card instead of HDMI audio. And it was also muted by default for some reason.

DisplayCAL color calibration can’t be installed because it is currently dependent on Python 2, and this system has Python 3. The program dependencies have to be updated and the program redesigned to work with Python 3, so in the meantime I have a somewhat greenish hue that I had previously been able to correct with a Spyder 5 and DisplayCAL.

I turned off the popup “tooltips” when the mouse hovers over a file or folder (Desktop, Icons, un-check Show icon tooltips)

So a few issues, but mostly stable and useful after about 12 hours of tweaking it.