Sunday, May 17, 2020

iPhone 11 Max Screen Black or Frozen. Problem Solved!

When we are not traveling or depending on mobile data plans, we try to keep our Apple devices on our local WiFi network with automatic updates selected to make certain the latest version of iOS is always installed. This choice has served us well for many years for many different models of the Apple iPod, iPad, and iPhone.

Well, our luck ran out. During a recent overnight update to iOS on an iPhone 11 Pro, we had what appeared to be a "bricked" device. The iPhone screen was black and no combination of button presses, cable connections, or wireless chargers seemed to be able to wake the phone.

A search through the Apple online support resources surprisingly did not provide much help, so we called Apple Support and received this assistance; information that we were not able to find online.

If your screen is black or frozen, you need to force restart your device. A force restart won't erase the content on your device. You can force restart your device even if the screen is black or the buttons aren't responding.

For iPhone models with Face ID, press and quickly release the Volume Up button. Press and quickly release the Volume Down button. Then press and hold the Side button until the device restarts.

We had to repeat this force reset process several times before the iPhone 11 actually "woke up."

Once awake, the phone needs to complete the failed iOS update process. Plug the phone into a computer with iTunes installed. When you get the option to restore or update, choose Update. Your computer will try to reinstall iOS without erasing your data.

These steps successfully recovered our iPhone 11 Max from the failed iOS update and restored the phone with no data loss. Crisis adverted and problem solved!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Google Admin Console Access Without A Google G Suite Account

Over the years we have created several special-purpose blogs using the convenient Blogger host service from Google. Instead of using the default domain for the blogs' URL, we opted to use Google's domain service to register a unique domain name. Google makes that option incredibly easy, and we greatly appreciated using the feature that is built-in to Blogger instead of having to use a stand-alone domain registration service and then having to edit the various MX records to point back to the Blogger site.

These blogs were only needed for a limited amount of time and we had no desire to keep them active forever. It is easy enough to delete the blog on Blogger. In fact, Google even allows you to download the blog content for posterity before you delete the blog. However, the domain registration lives on and will continue to renew each year if you have provided Google with a valid credit card account.

In Google's domain renewal notices, they instruct you to "sign in to your Google Admin console" to manage your domain registration renewals. This is necessary to either update your payment information or to cancel your domain registration. It would seem that signing on to your Google Admin console would be simple enough. The trouble is, Google requires a G Suite admin account to access the Google Admin console. If you try to use your Gmail account information, you receive the following error message, " is used for G Suite accounts only. Regular Gmail accounts cannot be used to sign in to"

Having created our domain registration within Blogger, we did not have a G Suite admin account, so what were we supposed to do? We scoured the G Suite support pages and made dozens of Google searches and found no clues. Finally, in the G Suite Administrator Community, we found an obscure mention of a special admin account that allows Blogger users to access the Google Admin console to manage their domain registration.

You can use (where is your domain name) to log into your Google Admin console, even if you don't have a G Suite admin account.


This information allowed us to cancel our domain registration services that had been automatically renewing despite our best efforts. We hope it helps you too.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Drobo 5N NAS Keeps Losing Network Connection - Problem Solved!

A few months back, I decided to upgrade our home network's disk storage solution from several SATA drives housed in a network-connected, vintage Apple Mac Pro to a brand spanking new Drobo 5N network-attached storage ("NAS") device. The Drobo 5N is a 5-bay disk array with a gigabit wired ethernet connection. This solution is a great way to provide massive amounts of upgradeable disk storage to every computer on your local area network.

After an easy set-up and uneventful data migration, we were ready to experience high-performance data access across all of the devices on the home LAN. Unfortunately, I was perplexed and somewhat dismayed at the initial poor quality of the Drobo performance... or at least what I thought was the fault of the Drobo 5N.

Data transfer speeds were very mediocre and the connection to the NAS would drop intermittently for what seemed to be no apparent reason. This would happen for computers accessing the NAS device through either a hard-wired ethernet or wi-fi connection, both being provided via a Verizon FiOS Quantum Gateway.

The AC1750 Quantum Gateway is advertised to feature gigabit wired ethernet, and 802-11 bfg / nfac, 2.4 and 5.0 GHz wi-fi speeds up to 800 Mbps. However, the data transfer rates I was observing were painfully slower than this.

Was the problem the Drobo 5N, the FiOS Quantum Gateway, or maybe something else? 

We decided to start with troubleshooting the network and the easiest components to test were the ethernet cables that interconnect the various network devices. Test the cables? Yes. We've discovered that ethernet cables can be a not-so-obvious weak point in any network. Don't be fooled that more expensive cables are better quality. Bad connectors. Stretched and kinked cables. Cheap materials. All of these factors are contributors to poor data communications and slow speeds and all problems that can be discovered in both cheap and expensive ethernet cables.

A cable tester does not need to be costly to be effective. We found a very inexpensive, generic RJ45 / RJ11 / Cat 5 / Cat 6 cable tester available online years ago, and it has proven to be one of the best tools in the shop drawer. Simply plug your subject cable into the two ports of the tester and observe if there are any short or open circuits.

Wouldn't you know it? The ethernet cable connecting the Drobo 5N to the router had an open circuit and was only working at 10 Mbps; that's only one percent of the gigabit speed we expected and an obvious bottleneck in the connection to the NAS. We also found faults in cables that connected a network printer and our AT&T MicroCell Wireless Network Extender. All-in-all, testing the ethernet cables proved to be a worthwhile exercise!

With new cables in place, we were pleased to experience a meaningful improvement in network performance. However, data speeds were still a bit lackluster and the connection to the NAS would still drop intermittently. With all of the ethernet ports on the Verizon FiOS Quantum Gateway in use, we suspected that the device was possibly being taxed beyond its capability. 

While the FiOS Quantum Gateway has proven to be a speedy and worthy Internet access point, we believe that it's not an ethernet routing workhorse. Our experience is that all in-one devices typically do not perform all tasks equally well. We decided to place the responsibility of the network's ethernet routing on a device designed to do just that. While it may not have been normal practice to use a stand-alone network switch in a home network in the past, the introduction of more and more network devices makes it a more much more common practice. We selected the NETGEAR ProSAFE Gigabit Model GS108 Unmanaged Switch to do the heavy lifting on our LAN. 

With a dedicated network switch and good ethernet cables all around, the home network suddenly came alive, and both wired and wireless connections to the Drobo 5N proved to be fast and reliable. No more lost connections. No more slow data transfer speeds.

This experience proved to me that it's important to consider all of the system's components when troubleshooting poor performance. Please consider using the same kind of scrutiny when looking for your own local area network bottleneck.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Ford Escape Hybrid - Electric Motor Cooling Pump Safety Recall

It was four years ago that I published a blog post with do it yourself repair instructions or a failed electric motor cooling pump on a 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid. You can read that popular article in its entirety by browsing to Ford Escape Hybrid - Electric Motor Cooling Pump, Do It Yourself Repair.

The article was popular in-part because the problem was so common. It seems that many who owned a 2005-2008 FEH or 2006-2008 Mecury Mariner Hybrid had experienced a failed coolant pump. Mine had failed twice during the seven years that I owned the vehicle.

It may have happened to you... receiving a "High Motor Temperature" message and the warning to "Stop Vehicle Safely." If you had ignored those messages, your vehicle would literally shut down in the middle of the road.

The problem is with the faulty Motor Electronics Cooling System ("MECS") and is resolved by replacing the Motor Electronics Cooling Pump (Part Number: 5M6Z-8C419-A). Ford even issued a Technical Service Bulletin for this problem (TSB 08-24-5) only a few months after the vehicle had started production!

Well, imagine my surprise to have recently received a letter from Ford Motor Company with a message about an IMPORTANT SAFETY RECALL. Safety Recall Notice 14S19 / NHTSA Recall 14V-526 was issued in accordance with the requirements of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, and provides for the repair of the Motor Electronics Coolant Pump. A repair that many of us have already had to pay for out of our own pocket.

If you have not completed this repair on your Escape / Mariner Hybrid, you should contact a Ford dealership's Service Advisor.

If you have already completed this repair and have kept all of your original receipts for the repair work, you may request a refund from Ford. Original receipts only. No photocopies. For more information, contact the Ford Customer Relationship Center at 1-866-436-7332.

While almost ten years too late to help me (my first MECS failure occurred when the vehicle was only a few months old and at 17,000 miles), maybe this information will help you.

It will be interesting to see if the NHTSA every comes to their senses and requires Ford to address the much more important issue of Ford Escape Hybrid brake failure. This problem has cost Escape / Mariner owners much more time and money to resolve, and in some cases has resulted in accidents putting the vehicle occupants in grave danger.

I've since sold my 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid, and the poor manner in which several Ford dealerships treated this important safety and reliability issue has committed me to never purchase another Ford product. I chuckle that the NHTSA tag line is "People saving people." A safety recall issued ten years after the vehicle is documented to have first had the problem is crazy, and both Ford and the NHTSA should be embarrassed by their inaction.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Ken's Chili

Everyone likes their chili differently, and I am no exception. Here is a recipe that I have fine-tuned over many years for an easy-to-prepare, delicious chili. I seldom hear any complaints from my guests. 

I use a slow-cooker. It's easy and the slow cooking makes certain that you don't impart a burnt flavor. I also like how the slow cooking breaks down the ground beef into very fine, tender pieces. My favorite model has a low setting for 8-10 hours. I will often start the process in the late evening and allow it to cook over night. 

The recipe easily scales-up for the amount of chili that you want. Each pound of ground beef makes about four servings. The exact amount of each of these ingredients is approximate. Don't get hung-up on being precise. It's cooking for goodness sake, have some fun in the kitchen! 


For EACH pound of ground beef you will need... 

1 Tsp garlic seasoning, or diced garlic. 

1 Tsp onion seasoning, or diced onion. 

1 - 12 oz bottle of beer. I prefer Sam Adams Boston Lager for cooking. Your choice. However, the darker the beer, the more of the yeast and hops flavor you will enjoy in the chili. 

2 - 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes. Your choice on type: plain or with peppers, onions, etc. Feel free to dice your own; I'm too lazy. 

1 - 10 oz can of tomato soup. Plain old Campbell's Tomato Soup.

Chili seasoning. Your choice here. I am not too proud to simply use a pre-packaged chili mix most of the time. Brand is not important. I do not like my chili spicy hot... only spicy flavorful. If you have a concoction of pepper and spices that works for you, use it. It's the other things I use in this recipe that give this chili its special flavor.

4 Tbsp flour. Corn flour is best (masa, NOT corn meal), but regular white flour is fine too. 

4 Tbsp brown sugar. 

Milk chocolate (to taste). Not semi-sweet or dark chocolate, but MILK chocolate. I use about 2 Tbsp. 

- or - 

Grape jelly (to taste). I use about 2 Tbsp. 

Salt (to taste) 

Black pepper (to taste) 


- Turn the slow cooker on low. 
- Place the fresh / thawed ground beef in the slow cooker and use a wooden spoon to break up and loosen the meat. 
- Add the garlic and onion (seasoning or fresh), beer, diced tomatoes, tomato soup, and chili seasoning of choice. 
- Stir completely and thoroughly. 
- Cover and allow to cook. It does not hurt to uncover and stir occasionally, but it is not necessary if your slow cooker is on a low setting. 

- After 6 to 8 hours 

- Turn off the slow cooker. 
- Uncover and BEFORE stirring, ladle-off any surface oil. This step may not be necessary depending upon the ground beef. Some has less fat than others. 
- Stir thoroughly. 
- Lightly spread the flour on top, and stir into the chili. The flour adds both taste and texture. You may use more or less to your taste. 
- Lightly spread the brown sugar on top, and stir into the chili. You may use more or less to your taste.
- Add the milk chocolate - or - grape jelly, and stir into the chili. Do not use both. Each one provides a unique flavor, but I do not think that they go well together in the chili. Experiment and choose the one that you like best. 
- Do not add the brown sugar and milk chocolate / grape jelly until the long slow cooking process is complete. If you add it at the beginning, the sugar is likely to burn on the bottom of the slow cooker and leave you with a bitter flavor. 
- Salt and pepper to taste. I wait for this step to the very end as the need for salt will depend upon your other ingredients. Extra salt may not be needed for your taste. Don't over-salt early, as it's very hard to undo later. 


Notice there are NO BEANS. Sorry, but chili was not meant to have beans. Since some people like beans with their chili, I will prepare them separately so that they can be added by choice. Everyone in the family likes to be creative when eating their chili. I like mine on a bed of corn chips, topped with shredded cheese and sour cream. The kids like a bed of pasta (your choice) or saltines. Diced onion or jalapeƱos are good on top as well. There is no right or wrong way to serve chili at our house.