Samsung 4TB SSD drive is a monster of a storage

Samsung has just announced the launch of Samsung 850 EVO – 4TB – 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD drive that will start shipping on July 31st.

It was only a couple of years ago that the conventional HDD 4TB drives were almost pushed to the limit to accommodate the large storage. There has always been reliability issues as well with spinning drives, not to mention noise and heat. I personally had several 1TB and up drives fail both at places I worked and home.

In contrast, my SSD drives (albeit smaller in capacity), have proven to be reliable and I am yet to have one fail.

Speed of the SSD drives is amazing – it can really revitalize your personal computer, whether it is a laptop or a PC.  However up until now, SSD drives were primarily used as OS drives with installed applications on it to speed up the overall performance while keeping the storage requirements low, since OS and programs don’t take as much space as data. The data on the other hand has been delegated to those noisy and large capacity HDD drives. With the new SSD drives becoming almost similar to size of the HDDs, it is a promising development and hopefully bring the current hefty price of $1500 to the price point of a home user as the adoption, volumes, and competition ramps-up.

[SOLVED] Fixing the Ugly Gray Vertical Line When Printing eBay Invoice / Packing Slip in Chrome

If you sell on eBay, you may have noticed a very annoying eBay / Chrome bug that started to appear in the past few months when trying to print an invoice or packing slip. This is due to a spacer image that eBay uses that is not supposed to be visible in browsers but it is for some reason in Chrome.


If you contact eBay seller support about this issue, they will almost certainly recommend that you switch to a different browser (hardly a perfect solution, since other browsers have different problems with eBay).

After digging into a code a bit, I found the culprit image and wrote a bookmarklet that lets you, with a single click, get rid of the dreaded gray vertical line, so that you can print the packing slip / invoice the way you intended.

To use the bookmarklet,  simply drag and drop the blue button below to your Chrome bookmark bar, go to the eBay invoice preview you are about to print (the one with a line), and click on the bookmarklet. The line should disappear allowing you to print clean looking eBay invoices.

EDIT: It seems that eBay has added an Onload Print function. Before you are able to click the bookmarklet, dismiss the print window, either with Cancel button or by hitting Esc on your keyboard. When you are back to the invoice page, click the bookmarklet in the bookmarks bar to apply the fix, and Ctrl+P or Menu > Print to print the invoices.

Drag and drop this into your Chrome bookmark bar:

Fix Ebay Invoice

Feel free to post suggestions or comments if this is not working or stops working for you (if eBay updates) and I will try to revise the code.

EDIT (May 5th 2016): Thanks to many of my readers who commented with instances where this bookmarklet did not work. Latest change now includes a fix to remove line on “Address labels and invoice/packing slip” page as well. Please delete your old bookmarklet and use the updated one above (blue button).

DIY Solar Filters for Binoculars

Did you know that you can do star-gazing during the day? Our own star, sun, in-fact provides the most spectacular star-gazing experience you can ever do with its full glory, color and true spherical appearance.  You need the right equipment though to do it safely.

solar disk

Your options are to get a telescope with a special solar filter or just use regular binoculars fitted with DIY solar filters. The more powerful the binoculars, the better. This article will demonstrate how to build a Do It Yourself solar filter that perfectly fits your binoculars. For this project I will use Bushnell 10×50 binoculars and will provide cut-out templates for its size, but any pair of binoculars should work – just make your own template and print it out. (You can use something like to create vector drawings free without software download).

Materials & tools required:

Bushnell 10×50 binoculars (or any binoculars you already have)
Black Polymer Solar filter sheet
Thin cardboard sheet
Scissors or Utility/Razor knife
Clear, gift wrapping tape
Printer (to print out template)
Filter cut out template (pdf)
PVC coupling or pipe 2.5 inch diameter (or diameter that is larger than your binoculars large input lenses)

Step 1.
Print out the Filter cut out template at 100% size (un-check any options to scale, fit-to-page, etc. in your printer dialog window).

template preview

Step 2.
Cut out the templates and use template A to draw two circles on the polymer sheet with pencil. Use template B to draw doughnut shapes on thin cardboard sheet.
IMG_4763 IMG_4778

Step 3.
Carefully cut-out the drawings you have made with sharp scissors (Tip: keep protective cards on polymer sheet while cutting).

Polymer sheet cut-out
Cardboard cut-out

Step 4.
Prepare the cylinders. I happened to have a couple of wide media core ends available that were a just a perfect (loose) fit to my binoculars, but you can also use a 2.5in or size that fits your binocular lens PVC pipe or coupling (your local hardware store should have many different ones you can choose from) .

I sawed the core ends to form two pipes with tapered ends.


Step 5.
Drop he polymer circle sheets into the pipes. Then slide the cardboard “doughnuts” on top for them to hold the polymer filters circles. If your pipes do not narrow on the inside, simply glue or tape the cardboard “doughnuts” that we cut out earlier to one side of the pipe. Then cut out two more cardboard “doughnuts”. Slide the polymer filters and finally slide the cardboard “doughnuts” on top  to hold the polymer filters. Tape the cardboard “doughnuts” from the inside as shown below.


Step 6.
Add some friction grips. For this I used foam packing peanuts. Cut three thin pieces of packing peanuts for each lens (6 total), to the thickness that can pack the gap between the binocular and the solar filter just tightly enough to hold them securely. Tape the foam pieces in 120 degree interval as shown below.


Step 7.
Now carefully slide both lenses onto the binoculars and make sure they are snug and won’t fall off. If the lenses are too loose, replace the foams with thicker ones. Be sure that the lenses are securely sitting and won’t fall out during use – you don’t want to look at the sun with unprotected binoculars!!!! It will most certainly blind you instantly.


Step 8.
You are done. Please use extreme caution when looking at the sun with filters.  The way I do is I put binoculars with solar filters on closely to my eyes first, fully lowered and away from the sun. Then raise the binoculars toward the sun. When I am done observing, I keep the binoculars close to my eyes, lower the binoculars pointing well-away or opposite from the sun and only then take the binoculars off. This way I avoid accidentally looking at the sun without the eye protection.

solar image

DISCLAIMER: You assume all risks for any solar filter build. Extreme caution is required when observing the sun. Do not allow children to use binoculars as they may not be aware of safety issues. Read all instructions and safety information by the polymer sheet manufacturer and fully educate yourself on solar observation safety before proceeding with making your own solar filter or performing a solar observation. The above instructions are for my own record only and I disclaim any responsibility of any harm, permanent blindness or any type of injury any solar observation may cause you.

Installation of Mounting Bracket for Mini Split Ductless Air Conditioner Condensing Unit

So, I am in the process of installing a new ductless mini split Pioneer air conditioner, similar to this one. One of the steps involved was to set-up these mounting brackets to the exterior of concrete foundation wall, where the condenser will be secured. Unfortunately the mounting brackets came without any installation instructions so it took a bit of figuring out. Took about an hour and it was a pretty easy job.

Tools I needed:

hammer drill
Masonry drill bit 1/2 inch size
Socket wrench with deep 17mm socket (or possibly 11/16in would have also worked)
Socket wrench 9/16 inch
Wrench 9/16 inch

1. I unpacked the brackets and laid them out. The kit included the mounting brackets, masonry/concrete expansion anchors, rubber pads, bolts nuts and washers.

Mounting Bracket for Mini Split Ductless Air Conditioner Condensing Unit 2P
Mounting Bracket for Mini Split Ductless Air Conditioner Condensing Unit 2P (For 9000 and 12000 BTU Condensers)

2. I measured the required distances from the side walls and any other objects as per condenser manufacturer’s instructions (mine was at least 12 inches away from the walls or obstructions). Then I put first bracket against the wall and mark the hole openings on the concrete.  Measured the distance between the mounting “feet” of my condenser (mine was 18 inches across).  Using a level, I drew two horizontal lines from markings I just made on the wall and marked the holes for the second bracket (18 inches away). Finally I drilled the holes using hammer drill and 1/2 masonry bit.

3. After holes were drilled, I Inserted concrete anchors in them, put up the brackets against it and tightened with provided washers and bolts using 17mm deep socket wrench (11/16 inch should have also worked but I only had metric with deep sockets).  I tightened all bolts gradually before finally tightening them firmly. Level placed across the two brackets helped to ensure  they were both plumb and level.

4. Next I secured the brackets in open position using provided bolts, plastic and metal washers (to prevent rusting bolts against metal washers) and nuts. I needed a 9/16 inch wrench for that

5. Next, using included longer bolts and washers I put rubber paddings – for now held by friction only.

6. While aligning properly, I carefully placed the condenser on the rubber pads with bolts protruding through the holes, placed metal washers, then plastic washers and finally tightened with bolts using 9/16 inch wrench, while holding the bolts with 9/16 inch socket wrench .

This part of the installation was complete and I was ready for next phase.

Office Chair Pneumatic Gas Lift Cylinder Repair

If you have an office chair that won’t stay up anymore you have a few options for a fix. You can replace it with a new cylinder  for around $20 or so, or if you always maintain your chair at the same height level (like I do), you can permanently fix your cylinder at next to no cost and relatively low DIY difficulty level.

Here is the material and tools list to get the job done in about 15 minutes:

  • 4″ long 1-1/2″ diameter PVC pipe – (look in your basement, garage, ask a friend, or get from a local hardware store for pennies)
  • A flat-head screwdriver
  • Either a hacksaw or a PVC pipe cutter

Step 1.

Remove the retaining clip by pushing it from the side with a screwdriver tip and slide out the chair base with wheels.



Step 2. Measure and cut the PVC pipe to a desired length with a hacksaw or a pipe cutter and slide it onto the cylinder.



Step 3. Put the smaller diameter plastic cylinder skirt (if included with your chair) in a reverse direction so that it covers up the PVC pipe. Slide the larger diameter plastic skirt in a normal direction to cover up the base of the cylinder.

0172241e6948b080528eda9ae835ccfc3157d29adfStep 4.  Slide the wheel base back onto the cylinder and fasten it with the retaining clip.


017a4d9b4d31ea920fe461400fd2c49939aa4f542bDone! Your office chair will no longer adjust in height, but you will have a working chair with fixed height, as a permanent, or as a temporary fix, until your new cylinder arrives.

Windows Task Manager Pronto!

Since [finally] switching to Windows 7 from Windows XP I had been annoyed by the multi-step process to reach Windows Task Manager. In Windows XP you would just type Ctrl + Alrt + Del and the Task Manager would pop-up. In Windows 7 (as well as Vista), however opening the Task Manager with the same shortcut requires a couple of more steps: Ctrl + Alt + Del, wait for screen to go blank and for blue screen to come up and click on “Start Task Manager” button.

Easier approach to open Task Manager directly in Windows Vista or Windows 7 is to just type Ctrl + Shift + Esc, and the Task manager will pop right up just like it used to in Windows XP with Ctrl – Alt – Del.

How To Get Gmail Old Compose Functionality Back

Since Google has finally decommissioned the old compose and switched all users, including business users to the New Compose, many users have expressed frustration about how cumbersome it has become to use Gmail as Email. I was personally affected by this “upgrade” as it diminished my workflow of my business ( that uses Google Enterprise Solutions for hosting email.

New Compose is supposed to resemble an IM (Instant Messaging) experience. Problem is, trying to use it as email (the service I thought I was paying for), especially for business purpose, has become unbelievably frustrating. I won’t list all the problems here as the Google Groups are full of these reports. I would just sum-up that in order for me to access To: (Cc: Bcc), From, Subject fields, I need to perform several clicks. To: field is no longer a plain text field and if you try to paste and edit email strings within it, Gmail pre-formats your text and often misinterprets a person’s name as address. Fields also jump-around and re-size as you compose, making a composition of a business email extremely frustrating as you try to get the work done.

I have actively started looking for an alternative hosted email solution to Gmail. I came very close to switching to Office 365 which looks surprisingly powerful and can accomplish pretty much everything Gmail does and with bigger storage and other more powerful features. The switch however comes at a cost of migrating the entire email, lengthy set-up and learning curve. My frustration with Gmail’s New Compose came to the point, however, that I was willing to invest time in order to obtain an email service that acted like an email and not IM.

Today I was able to find a solution that at least temporarily helps me put my switching from Gmail on hold.

How to get Old Gmail Compose back:

If you are using Chrome browser, you can install an extension called Fix Compose For Gmail that will instantly give you back the old compose features.

I have also tried Classic Gmail Compose, which had a minor bug that Compact view was not really compact. A workaround for this was to re-apply a current theme (Settings > Themes) without further reloading the Gmail webpage.

Both extensions retailed the ability to use Gmail shortcuts and my old workflow is back! My email is email again and not a chat. I just hope Google’s Gmail team will swallow their pride and walk back their “Old compose is never coming back” stance.


Screen capture tips

Sometimes you want to capture your screen and share it with someone. Screen capture part is easy. (Print Screen or Shift-Print screen in Windows, or  Cmd-Ctrl-Shift-4 on Mac) but how about sharing or saving? There are some great Chrome plug-ins out there such as Awesome Screenshot but my Chrome plug-ins have tendency to go out of sync from my Chrome version and I end-up deleting the extension.

Easiest and most convenient way I found so far for quick screenshot sharing is Gmail. Simply capture your screen using one of the above methods.

1. Compose new message in Gmail
2. Switch to Rich Formatting and Paste the screenshot
3. Put some meaningful keyphrases to find it easily and send it to yourself or someone you are sharing it with.