Friday, December 23, 2022

Fjorden Camera Grip Solution for MagSafe iPhone Case

We were very excited about our purchase and receipt of the innovative Fjorden Camera Grip for our iPhone. The grip is a fantastic accessory for the iPhone, helping to create an authentic SLR camera experience with the convenience of using the phone in your pocket! 

Our purchase included the Fjorden MagSafe case for iPhone. The case worked perfectly. However, we really like our Pad & Quill leather iPhone wallet, and it was rather inconvenient to have to remove the phone from the wallet and install it in the Fjorden MagSafe case every time we wanted to use the FJorden grip. 

This led us to make a few simple modifications to the Fjorden MagSafe case to allow us to use the Fjorden grip with our Pad & Quill leather iPhone wallet. It was a very simple adaption that works well for our purposes. 

Here are the steps to our solution. 

1) Cut the back from the Fjorden MagSafe case to provide the foundation for connecting the Fjorden grip to the leather wallet. We used a sharp utility knife and metal straightedge to trim the flat portion away from the edge of the Fjorden MagSafe case. We'll refer to the resulting piece as the "Fjorden foundation" for the rest of these instructions. 

2) Obtain a magnetic mounting plate to attach to the Fjoden foundation. We found a good option on Amazon with the brand name, Encased. It's a thin magnetic mount designed to match the MagSafe diameter. It fits perfectly in the MagSafe space provided on the Pad & Quill leather case. 

3) Epoxy the magnetic mounting plate to the Fjorden foundation. After removing the thin felt covering from the Fjorden foundation and cleaning the surface for good adhesion, the MagSafe mounting plate was epoxied in the correct location. Be certain that the Fjorden foundation does not interfere with the iPhone camera lenses and that it places the Fjorden grip in the optimal location for ease of use. 

4) After the epoxy has dried and the magnetic mounting plate is secure, attach the Fjoden grip to the modified Fjoden foundation and place it on the iPhone leather wallet. 

That's it! If your magnetic mounting plate has adequate magnetic strength, the Fjorden grip should now be securely in place on the leather wallet and ready for use. 

This was a great way for us to adapt the Fjorden grip for use with our iPhone leather wallet and avoids the need to exchange the iPhone case when we want to take photos using the camera grip. Maybe this will give you some ideas on how you can use the Fjorden grip with your phone.

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.