Google Drive – Find large files

I was trying to figure out why my Google Drive was claiming I had used 11GB of 15GB. I searched all my folders and only found small files, 7MB size mostly, and not that many of them. I quickly saw that there was no obvious way to search for large files on the drive. I assume this is in line with Google’s desire that you not delete anything ever but simply request more drive size.

But for now there is a link you can use to find out and sort which files are taking up your space:

I found some very large video files that a co-worker had removed but not flushed out of her trash. I couldn’t see them in my trash, so they were effectively invisible to me, but still counting against my quota.

This will list all of your files from largest to smallest and allow you to remove them. Remember, after removing you still have to go to Trash and tell it to empty the trash to finally get the space back in your drive. Then go back to the quota link and it should show the new size of your drive.


HVAC Geekery

Today we are having record-breaking heat in the Portland/Vancouver area, and so my A/C unit decided now would be a good time to stop working. I checked various things like:
1. Is the thermostat set correctly?
2. Are there batteries in the thermostat that need to be changed
3. Are any breakers tripped?
4. Is the heat pump fan spinning?

The answer to that last one was No. The air-handler/furnace was blowing all of the time, but the heat pump outside was just sitting there idle. Every now and then I could hear a high voltage hum from it. The fan motor was hot, like it was trying to spin, but wasn’t.

I described the symptoms to my electrician and HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) techs at work and they asked “Will the fan spin up if you stick a dowel in and spin it?” I went back and found that yes, it would! I called them and they said in unison “Bad capacitor.” They each had this very same issue last month. In the heat pump is a large metal can capacitor and a big relay called a “connector”. If the capacitor goes bad, the fan will still be able to spin, but the compressor that makes cold won’t work.

They gave me the address of a local vendor and I bought a replacement capacitor for $8. The numbers to match are the microfarads and voltage. It can be rated higher, but not lower. Best just to shoot for a match. Also you need to know if it is a dual capacitor with 3 terminals or not. Mine was.

NOTE: The next steps involve high-voltage (240VAC) and should not be performed unless you are comfortable and knowledgeable about handling such energy, have a volt meter, and the right tools for the job . When in doubt, hire an expert. Mine was a 45uf+5uf, 370VAC. I found this information by looking inside the back cover of the heat pump. I turned off the breaker that said it went to the A/C unit. I also removed the large fuse set on the wall right next to the heat pump. This ensures that no electricity will be going to the parts I’ll be working around. I removed the back cover of the heat pump and there was the large, hand-sized capacitor and a large relay.

I took photos of the old capacitor to show clearly where the colored wires connected. replaced the capacitor, but had to make the previous bracket fit since the new capacitor was larger diameter. Somehow during the whole process I managed to cause a spark on the “connector” relay. I didn’t think much of it until everything was installed, but not working. The thermostat was blank, meaning no power to it. It turns out that I blew a fuse on the furnace circuit board that is controlled by the thermostat and which controls the “connector”. I spoke with my work techs and they said to look for a small fuse, which turned out to be an automotive blade-type fuse rated for 3 amps. I went down to an auto parts store and bought a few.

Once that was installed, I replaced the main fuse to the heat pump and powered on the breaker. The air-handler fan turned on and the thermostat turned on, and then the heat pump began working! I learned quite a bit from this project, and likely saved hundreds in a service call. Keep in mind, I did have experts right there (well, over the phone) to guide me. Don’t try this unless you have such guidance. It is really easy to throw the wrong breaker and think things are powered down and get a bad shock or worse.



Firefox 54 Where’s my checkboxes?

I am on Firefox 54 on Ubuntu and just noticed that any implementation of the HTML checkbox shows up as a tiny dot instead of a checkbox. Chromium browser is normal.

I first noticed when I went to check my settings in FBP (Facebook Purity add-in for Firefox). But I confirmed it on an HTML test site:

Firefox looks like this:


Chromium looks like this:


I tried searching for a solution, but only got a zillion unrelated results.

UPDATE: I found that starting Firefox in safe-mode (Help, restart with addons disabled) turned checkboxes back to normal, but disabling them one-by-one did not have the same effect. So something in a setting somewhere in FF is doing this, I just have to narrow it down.

UDATE AND FIX: Shawn made a comment that pointed me to the fix. I went into /home/jw/.mozilla/firefox/xs0s2w1w.default-1385691302373/chrome/ and edited the file “userContent.css”.  I put a “/*” at the very beginning and a “*/” at the very end to make it all into a comment. Saved it. Restarted Firefox and the checkboxes have returned. Note that your exact path will be different. Look for the hidden folder .mozilla in your home user folder (CTRL+H to toggle seeing or hiding hidden folders).

Ubuntu 17.04 with Gnome

I spent the day Saturday upgrading from Ubuntu 14.04.02 to 17.04. I always know that there will be hours spent tweaking things, reinstalling programs, cussing a lot, and wondering WHY DID THEY DO THAT?!  Once I had it installed, I installed the gnome-session-fallback to get out of the restrictive Unity shell. I just don’t like it.

Gnome has been a nice environment for me for years. Except this time they have moved some of the button locations. I don’t mean the Minimize, Maximize, Close buttons for which everyone and their uncle have fixes. I mean buttons like the final SAVE button when saving a picture from a browser. It used to be on the bottom right, now it is on the top right and the bottom right has a dropdown list of image types that used to be in the lower left. Grumble, murmur, @#$*%&!

When users become used to using windows a particular way, it becomes a royal pain in the ass when developers move things around because THEY think it is better and fuck you users for thinking differently. At least give us a straightforward way to move things around where we want them so our productivity doesn’t suffer for your whims of design fancy.

Another thing is that any time I copy a file from one disk to another, BOTH disks have a popup telling me the progress of the transfer instead of the old “progress” window that was an unconnected popup. And get this – the popups both STAY ON THE SCREEN UNTIL I MANUALLY CLOSE THEM!!!

I tried the gnome tweak tool, gsettings many keys and values, and haven’t yet found a way. I figured if there is a setting for those three buttons in the upper right, then perhaps there are settings for the rest of the window layout. Not so much, it seems. I even installed Gnome 3.24 and no change.

Oh, and you can’t just resize windows by dragging the edge like we’ve been doing for the past 27 years. Now you have to press a key combination to enable that first. Alt+F8 for me. Who thought that was a good idea?! Stupid shit like that… I did find that I can do Alt Middle-click and drag.

So, if any of you knows how to tweak this, please let me know.

Other gripes:
Themes that look decent are apparently hard to find. The default icon theme Adwaita makes folders and documents look the same in this shell. The default orange icons used in Humanity are gross. Orange? I am settling for “Tango” icons now that are blue, which is at least tolerable.

Atomic Tanks 6.5 sucks shit compared to the previous versions. The fun has been sucked out of it and there is little chance of winning when they kill you with 1 or 2 perfectly accurate shots every time. I uninstalled it. I tried installing older versions from the Ubuntu software repository, but they choked on 17.04 and the lack of dependencies. I tried installing the dependencies, but no go. Boo hoo!

UPDATE: I installed XFCE4 as an alternate shell at login, and I love it so far. The save button is back on the bottom right, the appearance is nice, and things are mostly running smoothly. The thing that prompted me to install it was when a 1994 graphics program I was running under Wine locked up the Xwindow so that the mouse clicks and keyboard inputs were ignored. But this also happened in XFCE, so it looks like Wine 1.8.7 may have an issue with Ubuntu 17.04. (I know, I should get with the times, but PSP 4.12 works so damn well and has no bells or whistles.) I’m installing Wine 2.0.1 tonight, so I’ll see if that fixes things.

Audio hiss/noise on PC

Once again I’m having horrible sound quality on my PC and spent hours on forums searching for possible resolutions. I checked several software solutions and am convinced now that it is a motherboard or electrical issue. I tried a different outlet across the room, but heard the same noise. I tested the outlets wiring and they seem to be wired correctly.

The noise started very suddenly today after being quiet for a month or so. Even during the boot process, before any drivers can load, there is an odd hissing back and forth in the headphones with odd bloops and beeps now and then. This gets worse after the OS loads (Linux or Windows). Even when sound is muted on the OS, I still hear the hissing and blooping. I did test the headphones on a different device (battery powered) and they work fine. I also tried a much older PC on the same outlet and it only had a very faint rustling sound in the background, leading me to think it is a motherboard issue.

I may try the EB Tech HumX device, but it is around $70, so is an expensive experiment. Even a ground-loop isolator doesn’t change anything (I didn’t really expect it to on headphones).

I also want to get a UPS for the PC to further isolate the power source, but when I went to Amazon to get the one I wanted, the reviews for the last month say that the latest batch of CyberPower units have a terrible strong odor that doesn’t go away. So looks like I get to wait until CyberPower takes charge, forces some quality control on their China factories, and purges these bad units from the market.

In the meantime, I have to record onto a handheld digital recorder and listen to files the same way.

UPDATE: It did turn out to be the motherboard having a problem. I bought an inexpensive PCI-e audio card (ASUS Xonar DSX) and the sound is perfectly clear now. It took a bit of looking at settings to make it work in Linux, but it was recognized right away and was mostly a matter of adjusting settings in alsamixer and pulse-audio. Mobo is a 10yr-old “ASUS P6X58D Premium”. Still works fine for what I need, but probably time to look at building a new box. I disabled audio in BIOS so that nothing would interfere with the add-in card.

However, in Windows 7 64-bit, the card installed fine but has no sound at all. The only other sound device is the video card which has HDMI audio available, but which I’m not usning. Tried reinstalling the driver and enabling the HSMGR.EXE file and another similar 64-bit one that kept popping up asking for permission. Still nothing. I’ll have to work with it another day.

UPDATE: For whatever reason, after removing the drivers again and reinstalling, rebooting, the ASUS Xonar DSX now works in Windows 7 64-bit. This time it didn’t prompt me to allow any exe files. (I did notice how damn slow Windows boots. Maybe that’s a sign of the age of the motherboard. Linux boots fine.)

Uber – We don’t want to hear from you

A couple of days ago, I began receiving Uber (the private taxi service) emails for a guy named “Troy” to my gmail account that clearly has my own name, not his. I tried to find some kind of link in the email for “Hey, if this isn’t the right email, please let us know”, but there was no such link. If I reply to the email, Uber replies “Hi there. We’re sorry. You’ve contacted an address that does not accept incoming email.” Then they direct me to their FAQ. Oh, and I can sign up if I want to contact their tech support.

Hey Uber, since you didn’t bother to use email verification when people sign up, I could put anyone’s name in and have them receive annoying useless emails from you. Whee.

Same goes for Lyft. I started getting emails from them also, with no verification that they had the right address.

Then I got an email for a Jon White who purchased an Uber gift card, and he has an email address that bears no resemblance to mine at all. Yet I received it.

Uber, your technical abilities suck publicly. Start using email verification when people sign up like everyone else has been doing for 20 years. And make it easier for people to contact your tech support with issues without signing up for your service. I’m not only not a customer, now I never want to be one.

So for now, I will just block them and their gift card service.

Update: I stopped receiving Uber and Lyft messages, but someone named Ron White (probably not the comedian) is still trying to use my email to sign up for things. Or he’s stupid and isn’t checking his auto-correct.

Honeywell NetAXS security card panels

I work at a facility that uses a LOT of Honeywell card-access panels, mostly the N1000-4x type, and for several years we’ve been happy with those (though seriously, only 4 doors per $2000 panel?!). When they came out with a new panel with built-in Ethernet, we started purchasing those instead. The NetAXS 4 panels saved us from having to buy a separate Ethernet to RS-232 and RS-485 devices, and we loved how quickly they would initialize compared to the old panels.

However, we ran into a pretty major brick wall recently. Our campus has several buildings, with several floors, and several departments. One building houses a number of different tenant organizations. This means that we have a lot of different access levels, 108 to be exact. The software we use to manage the panels is called Winpak SE 4.4, and it began complaining immediately after we updated from version 3.3 that some of our NetAXS panels may not function properly, and that they are limited to 128 access levels. WTF?! None of us recalled seeing anything in the adverts about a limitation on how many access levels could be used. And why in the world would a newly designed panel have such a tiny limitation when its older version had virtually no limit?

Now 128 may sound like a lot until you find out that every card given a custom access to a particular door counts as an access level, we tend to run out very quickly on a popular door. This seems to be the primary way that levels are used up. A single card can only have a single assigned access level, so we have to do custom levels quite often.

We could replace the new panels with the old panels. But at $2000 a piece, that is a chunk of change.

ANOTHER HUGE ISSUE: We recently had a lot of difficulty getting the panels to download access levels. Through several calls to tech support and trying new firmware and OS files, and several emails sent, we found that our database (which started back around 2003, I think, and has gone through several upgrades) probably has a bit of corruption. How it manifests is that we see cards repeatedly being given “Host Grant” on the Event View. Host Grant is designed to check with the server and download a card to the panel if it is authorized, but not yet downloaded. The cards were being downloaded, but because no access levels are ever downloaded to the panel, the panel is continually using Host Grant. That is, the cards are downloaded, but because they have no permissions, they can’t do anything. So the panel checks with the server and it says, “Sure, let that card through that door” or “No, it isn’t authorized”. This creates about a 2 second pause between the card being read and the lock opening.

Tech Support had us create a new access level with appropriate permissions for each of our existing levels, isolate the cards in each level and assign them to each new matching level. This creates new fresh access levels that the panels can read just fine. They immediately were downloaded to the panels and everything began working as designed. That solved some big issues when people couldn’t get through doors when the network was down. Now the panels store the information and can work independently of the server most of the time. I also had to go through each custom access level that touched a new panel, remove the custom setting, then add it again. 5 hours later everything is working normally.

ANOTHER ISSUE: If we have an “active shooter” situation, we’d like to be able to shut down access to a site, or lock all the doors. That isn’t an option in the Winpak software without doing some major cartwheels. The software has been out for at least 15 years, so they’ve had ample time to work on it. All Honeywell ever seems to do is release a new version without new benefits other than support.

ANOTHER ISSUE: The Winpak database isn’t a pivot table. If you want to search for specific things that Honeywell doesn’t offer as a prefab search, you are out of luck. It runs off of a SQL Server Express database, but the forms they offer for searching often leave out things we’d like. If it is in the database, we should be able to search for it, and create custom searches.

So, we did get some good help eventually from Tech Support that resolved a big issue. But we still would like to see some major improvements in the software soon.