Polar ProTrainer on Windows 10 with IrDA Adapter
I have a Polar RS800CX sports heart rate monitor and love it. It uses an IrDA infrared connection to unload data to the Polar Pro Trainer 5 software that logs all of your workouts. It works great but Apple pulled the IrDA drivers from OS X several releases ago, and so did Microsoft in Windows. Fortunately, enough people complained, and Microsoft added the drivers back in during one of the recent service releases. The Polar tech support web site does not have any articles on making this work, and Google does not appear to find any, so I’m writing up my experience here.
Installing the IrDA Drivers
The new Microsoft IrDA drivers don’t work by just plugging the USB adapter in–you have to install the IrDA Infrared optional feature and then plug in the USB adapter. If you did not install the feature first, you will have to use Device Manager to delete the drivers before installing the feature.
Thanks to ScubaPro for the great instructions.
Setting up Polar ProTrainer 5
In Polar ProTrainer 5, you will need to select Options->Preferences->Hardware and then choose “IrDA” instead of the more obvious USB choice.
Why I Still Use a 10 Year Old Device
It still works, and because it does not have built-in GPS, it will run for several months on a user replaceable watch battery. I never have to worry about recharging it, or going for a ride only to realize that I forgot to charge it. It also records the R-R interval, which current generation watches do not, or at least do not advertise that they do. Replacing the batteries in the speed and cadence sensors will be a challenge, but I have seen enough YouTube videos to know that this is not a major problem.
Other Polar Devices
To help people find this article, here are some other Polar devices that may use IrDA:
- Polar CS400
- Polar CS600
- Polar CS600X
- Polar RS800
- Polar RS800CX
- Polar AXN500
- Polar AXN700
- Polar RS400
- Polar S410
- Polar S510 / S520
- Polar S610 / S610i
- Polar S710 / S710i / S720i
- Polar S625X
- Polar S725 / S725X
- Polar S810 / S810i
- Written by Bruce Moore
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Crash Course in Virtual Meetings for the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing numerous community, religious, governmental and business organizations to go virtual literally overnight. Virtual meetings have been common in business for 20 years, but not for community, religious and governmental organizations. Within religious and community groups, there are many people who left the workforce before virtual meetings became popular and who don't have any experience using these tools.
In preparing for virtual meetings, go ahead and install the most popular conferencing tools:
- Install the Zoom.com client on your desktop and phone. This service is one of the few to offer a Linux client./li>
- Install the Freeconferencecall.com client on your desktop and phone. This service is one of the few to offer a Linux client.
- Install the WebEx.com client on your desktop and phone. The web interface works fine on Linux, but there is no client so hosting is a problem for Linux users.
- Install the Google Hangouts app and Chrome extension. This is widely installed, but doesn't work well for larger groups, and is harder (if not impossible) for sharing presentations..
- Install the Microsoft Skype app and desktop client.
Messaging and Collaboration Apps
For one-on-one or very small group collaboration, consider installing the following apps that are phone, tablet and desktop based:
Get a Good Microphone and Camera
Having a good microphone and camera can make video conferencing much more pleasant. Most laptop and phone cameras will work fine. Older computer cameras may be lower resolution or have autofocus problems. Unfortunately, as of March 20, 2020, most vendors are sold out of good mid-range webcams. Some dedicated cameras and camcorders can be connected to a computer but the procedures vary greatly depending upon device.
Set up Your Conferencing Space
Think about where you will do your conferences, and set up a place to do video conferences.
- Make sure that you are in a quiet area; microphones do not tune out noise in the same way that our ears do, and this will drive the other participants nuts.
- Pay attention to the background so that it is not distracting and does not cause problems for the autofocus on your laptop/computer camera. If there are lots of strong vertical and horizontal lines behind you, the camera autofocus may focus on them, and leave you blurry.
- Make sure that you face is well lit...avoid putting a window or light in the background as this will turn you in to a silhouette.
- Test your microphones and speakers to make sure that they don't cause feedback. If you will be doing a lot more video conferences, consider investing in a headset
- Log in early, and resolve all of your technical problems well before the start of the meeting.
- Use the mute button when you will be listening a lot. Noise in the background will cause video focus to shift to you.
- For small groups, keep the video on...and pay attention.
- Use chat to ask questions, so that audio lag doesn't turn it to a free-for-all
Notes for Specific Software
Here are some notes on using specific conferencing software.
You can do a virtual background in Zoom without any special software. See https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/210707503-Virtual-Background
You can do some virtual background changes in the WebEx iOS client, which may make your iPhone or iPad the preferred device for using WebEx. See https://help.webex.com/en-us/80jduab/Change-Your-Video-Background-on-Your-iOS-Device.
- Written by Bruce Moore
- Hits: 2163
Inmate Phone Scams
We recently received several email messages with phone messages from (931) 223-0532 on our VOIP “land line” phone number. The messages were an automated recording to accept collect charges from an inmate at an unidentified prison. The phone never rang, so either NoMoRoBo blocked the call before it rang our home line or it was spoofed into the VOIP voicemail system. The calls were from the same number at approximately the same time a few days apart. When I called the jail nearest the area code and exchange of the phone number listed, the deputy pointed me to Inmate Sales at 1-877-998-5678, a firm that provides phone services for inmates in jails.
The customer service rep at Inmate Sales could find no calls to our number, and offered to block it from all prisons that they served. The customer service rep made no effort to look up the phone number and call time to figure out who tried to do the jail house call scam on us. After the number block, we got another set of similar messages, all from different phone numbers, so it either takes a while to propagate the changes or they do not have control over their network.
Inmate Call Forwarding Scam
When I Googled “prison phone scam,” I found several articles that discussed inmate phone scams where inmates and outside accomplices try to talk you into forwarding the phone call; you then get all of the expensive collect charges from subsequent calls that the inmate makes. How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Jailhouse Jingles Phone Scam is the best summary of the scams that I found.
- Written by Bruce Moore
- Hits: 2284
Cleaning up Storage on a Joomla WebSite
If you find that Cpanel is constantly sending you messages that you are short on storage, it is time to go on a server diet. If your domain is several years old, you will probably need to do some cleaning in several different areas. The article that follows gives some places to look for old files that can be deleted or offloaded, and easy ways to do so.
Old Akeeba Backups
If you use Akeeba Backup, you probably have it configured to keep the three most recent backups. If you are keeping more than three, you probably can and should download all of you backups and delete the older ones from the server. Many administrators download and delete all backups from the server for security purposes. To download easily on Linux, OS X, or Windows with Cygwin installed, use
This may take a few minutes. When the downloads are finished, delete the old backups through the Akeeba Backup web interface.
Delete Failed and Old System Backups and Reconfigure to Store Backups on Cloud Services
If you are really tight on space, CPanel system backups can fail, and leave incomplete backups around. Look in the
/backup directory to see if there are old things lying around that need to be deleted. This is especially the case if you have an old installation and have backups from previous versions of Cpanel backup software. Look at offloading your backups to a cloud service like Amazon Web Services or one of the other services that CPanel supports.
Export and Delete Entries from Akeeba File Scan Tables
If you have Akeeba Admin Tools and use the PHP file scanning security feature, you can get a lot of entries in the file scan tables. You should clean these up using MySQL utilities. You should also look to make sure that your other MySQL tables are reasonable sizes.
Clean Up Email
If you have an account that has a lot of old emails that don't need to be retained, delete them. If you have emails that need to be retained, but don't need to be available on all devices, download them to local storage or export a file to get them off of the server. For small numbers of emails, copying to local storage using a client like Thunderbird is fine, but for large numbers of emails, it is easier to use the Horde webmail interface.
Convert Full Resolution Images to Web Resolution
If you have a lot of photographs that are full resolution and you have been resizing them for composition in HTML rather than resizing the files physically, you should go ahead and convert them to the web resolution. This will save space and make your pages load faster, but recognize that this may take some revisions to your HTML.
Get Rid of Old Install Images and Zip Files
The Joomla install process deletes the install zip files when it completes, but you should make sure that you do not have any failed install versions or plugin zip files in your root directory.
Backup and Delete Unused Extensions
If you have any disabled extensions on your web site, consider backing them up and deleting them. If the extension vendor has dropped the extension and you cannot download the version that is installed on your website, look at the Folcomedia Packager, and extension that creates a zip file of a package installed on your system. If the original packages manifest has errors, this may not work and you should test the
.zip files before you delete the extension from your system.
Delete Unused Versions of PHP
If you have a Virtual Private Server and access to Web Hosting Manager, check EasyApache4 on your system to see if you have old versions of PHP installed on your system. At this writing, PHP versions prior to 7.2 are no longer getting security updates and should not be used, so go ahead and remove them and free up space.
- Written by Bruce Moore
- Hits: 2186
Upgrading to Joomla 3.9.13 and sh404SEF 188.8.131.5232
I upgraded to Joomla 3.9.13 and had problems with four of six sites giving the white screen of death. At the time of the upgrade, I also upgraded several plugins, including Akeeba Admin Tools, Akeeba Backup, OSMap and sh404SEF. The two sites that did not have problems did not have sh404SEF. I turned on Joomla and PHP debugging, and quickly learned that a fatal memory error was occurring, so I increased the maximum PHP memory allocation from 32M to 128M and all problems went away.
If you have problems with the white screen of death in upgrading to Joomla 3.9.13 or sh404SEF 184.108.40.20632, check your memory allocation first to see if this fixes the problem.
- Written by Bruce Moore
- Hits: 1626