Thursday, October 10, 2013

ODB-2 Port

Well, I finally decided to buy my own ODB-2 port reader, and decided to go "on the cheap" ... so I went on eBay and bought this for under $11 (free shipping from China).

After the customary 2 weeks of waiting (can't complain ... free from China), I inspected the CD and found two directories:
- USB Driver
- scantool_net113win

My machine is a Windows-7, 64-bit machine ... and I'm used to having "issues" with new software.

So first, I installed the USB driver, then the ScanTool.  Note that ScanTool is an open sourced product here:


This version is 1.13, but there are new ones that I'll talk about shortly.  So, n
ext, I installed the ScanNet software and got an error:

I tried everything to configure the port, and the seller in China had no idea how to fix it ... wanting me to send it back so they could ship another.  Knowing that it's a software configuration issue, I decided to troubleshoot it myself when I could be methodical.

First, when you install the USB driver, you need to wait awhile until the device manager clearly shows which of the COM ports the USB driver takes (don't just accept the notice of "your device is ready" ... look at the device manager.  For me, it took number 8 (the Prolific USB to Serial Comm Port).  Of course, you can click to the Advanced section of the COM driver and change it ... but 8 is available in the ScanNet software.  Also, note the baud rate from the driver menu because you'll need that.

Now that you know the port number, baud rate, and know that the drivers are completely installed and registered, you need to re-boot ONE MORE TIME so the drivers are all setup and in place.  Now, install and/or run the software and if it does not find the device, it will prompt you to which port to use.  I selected 8 and the correct baud rate ... and it worked fine.

Now, if your like me, you wonder "is there newer software available?" ... and yes there is (at the link above) but when you install it and run it, you'll get an error of:

        "Your device does not appear to be a genuine ElmScan5" ... and

        "ELM327 clones are no longer supported".

Well, in the file "main.c" of version 1.14 and beyond, there is a line of code 

   is_not_genuine_scan_tool = FALSE;

that looks for the ODB readers make by others.  If you want to download the source code, change the line to:

   is_not_genuine_scan_tool = TRUE;

and re-compile, I'm sure it will work ... but I don't know how so I'll stick with 1.13 for now.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Secret to good Appliance Paint Touch up

First, buying epoxy paint in the little bottles is easy ... and color matching is pretty good.  The problem I've always had was applying it without a big "glop" over the chipped area.  My approach is (after you've done your preliminary cleaning and shaking the bottle really well) is to put a large piece of painters tape NEAR the chip ... that's your "paint board".  Using a second brush, smear some lacquer thinner on the paint board, then using the brush that is in your bottle, move a small amount of epoxy paint to the paint board and mix it up ... you want to thin the mixture out a bit.  Then use the thinned paint and apply a thin coat on the chipped area.

Now, shield your paint board (I keep a can of vegetables nearby to set over it) and blow lightly on the chip to dry the epoxy paint (takes about 30 seconds).  Then, go back to your paint board and pick up a little more thin paint and apply a second coat.

Naturally, you might have to repeat the lacquer thinner step a few times if the solution dries out, but applying several thin coats works much better than applying it straight from the bottle.

Proximity Search

First ... definition.

In text processing, a proximity search looks for documents where two or more separately matching term occurrences are within a specified distance, where distance is the number of intermediate words or characters. In addition to proximity, some implementations may also impose a constraint on the word order, in that the order in the searched text must be identical to the order of the search query. Proximity searching goes beyond the simple matching of words by adding the constraint of proximity and is generally regarded as a form of advanced search.
For example, a search could be used to find "red brick bed and breakfast", and over 2.3 million hits ... and I'm no closer to finding what I really want.  By limiting the proximity, these phrases can be matched while avoiding documents where the words are scattered or spread across a page or in unrelated articles in an anthology.

Back in the day, AltaVista was THE search engine for the uber-geek ... and the main feature it had was a "proximity search" call ... NEAR ... and man does that help a lot.  

Google has a very much unadvertised search term ... AROUND(n) ... and it's a proximity detector (and I'm oscillating as I write this because it will make my search easily TEN TIMES more accurate).  AROUND has several features I need to document.   First, the (n) is the number of words to look NEAR the terms.  Also, if you put QUOTES around the whole search term, you're telling Google that the first term has to come before the second term.

From "", the Google proximity connector AROUND(n) must be placed in upper case as illustrated in this explanation. By replacing the “n” with a number, you determine how many words you want your keywords to be from each other. For example, when we searched for:
     carol levitt
we got 844,000 hits.
When we search for:
     carole AROUND(2) levitt,
we retrieved 281,000 results where carole was within 2 words of levitt. While better, the results consisted of results like this:
  • Carole A. Levitt
  • Carole Ann Levitt
  • Carole Levitt
  • Nancy Jo Levitt
  • Carol Suzanne Levitt (notice the name carol was retrieved)
  • Alain Levitt, Carol Lim
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt inexplicably performing Carole King's classic “You Make ...
To conduct an even more targeted search, try enclosing your proximity search within quotation marks. Our search for     “carole AROUND(2) levitt”
retrieved 22,600 results. This search only retrieved results where the exact name carole preceded the exact name levitt (with up to two words in between carole and levitt). It disregarded any documents that included various spellings of carole and levitt while the earlier search, without quotation marks, retrieved results with spelling variations for carole and levitt.

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