Solved Mystery – Check Engine Light

checkengineToday on the way to work, I noticed that the ‘Check Engine’ light was lit on my 2002 Toyota Highlander.   It was a harsh reminder of a similar situation just over a year ago when my serpentine belt shredded leaving my son and I stranded several miles from home.    I immediately looked at the engine temperature gauge and the reading was normal (half-way).   I listened for any strange noise from the engine but didn’t hear anything.

When I parked the car, I shut off the engine and restarted it.  I was going to be late for a meeting, so I called and made an appointment for the car.  The mechanic said it was going to cost $78 to perform the diagnostics on the car which I wasn’t happy about. Continue reading

Converting a Parallels Desktop Image to run on VirtualBox

imageIf you’ve seen my other post on running VirtualBox, you know that I’ve been running Parallels desktop for some time.   I converted off BootCamp to VirtualBox a few months ago so I could update my older iMac to Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks).  Over this past weekend, I decided to try and convert my main Windows/XP image (under Parallels Desktop) on my newer iMac to VirtualBox to prepare for Mavericks on that machine.    There were a number of things I learned that I wanted to share.

For me, this was a must work scenario because of the almost daily updates being made to the Windows XP image by my kids as they navigate classes on SOS (Switched On Schoolhouse).   Because of this, I did some pre-conversion research, documented those steps and then performed the full conversion on a Friday evening of a 3 day weekend.   That way I had plenty of time test and back out (if necessary) before classes resumed on Tuesday. Continue reading

Losing Your Bearings Can Be Costly

bearingI’m sure you’re wondering what this is a picture of.   Let me give you some clues.   New, it’s around $7-10.   Used it could cost me as much as $150.   It doesn’t make noise but what it touches makes enough noise to stop using it.

Ready to give up?   It’s an axle bearing from our recumbent exercise bicycle that causes it to rattle when I ride it — enough to make me think I was tearing up the bike.   If you look closely at the photo (you can click on it for a larger version), you’ll see a pretty good scratch that starts at about 1 o’clock and goes all the way around until just shy of 3 o’clock.   Either this baby was hammered in wrong at the factory or something got caught in in later to cause the damage.   Just that little scratch/dent causes the ball bearings to stick during the rotation and that causes the flywheel assembly to rattle as it picks up speed. Continue reading

What To Do With A Failing iMac Display

imageEarlier this year, the four year old 24″ iMac in my office starting getting horizontal lines on the display.  It started with one line near the bottom of the screen, worsened with another line appearing and then expanded to the entire screen having problems with wide horizontal bands.

Google searches led me to believe it was the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) overheating due to the internal fans not running fast enough.   Apparently Apple had chosen to set the fans speeds lower to make the unit run quieter at the risk of damaging hardware due to overheating. Continue reading

Extending the Life of Your Bose SoundDock


A couple of weeks ago, my wife mentioned that her Bose SoundDock wasn’t working.   Of course I thought it was probably something minor.   The SoundDock is a high quality unit that you dock your iPod or iPhone to get great stereo sound.  I had purchased it for my wife 6-7 years ago and it had always been a strong performer.

I first tried my iPhone (because we’ve been having problems with her phone) and it didn’t work.   I noticed the connector was a little loose, but it didn’t seem loose enough to cause a problem.   So I google’d for information on the unit and found out that my situation isn’t uncommon.    I found a UK based company called Invebo that had information on how to determine the failing component and three replacement options. Continue reading

What To Do When Your Dog’s Groomer Quits


Our dog Snickers is an integral part of our home.   He gets unconditional love and lots of interaction from the entire family.   A few months ago, the groomer we take him to announced that the dog had become pretty difficult to work with and that we’d have to sedate him before any future appointments.   That was hard to accept because she did a fantastic job bathing and cutting him.

I tried to convince myself that if I had done a better job combing the dog out between visits, this wouldn’t have happened.   But since there was nothing I could really do about it now, I decided that I would start combing him out more and learn to groom him myself. Continue reading