This Data Transfer Issue is a Head Scratcher

I’ve been facing a very unusual issue when transferring data to and from external hard drive docks and enclosures. It’s been happening for months now, with no plausible reason, or solution.

Regardless of computer or hard drive in each external enclosure, Windows 10 will only transfer data in “spurts”, For example: 130 Mbps for 1 minute at a time or longer, then falls to 0kbps, then randomly seconds or minutes later, back up to 130Mbps or higher, then down to 0kbps, and that pattern continues repeatedly. Sometimes I even need to turn off the enclosure, wait 10 seconds, and turn it back on, and resume the transfer, which continues to occur in the same rhythm. Very odd, but I’m not really in a rush to transfer the data, so it’s fine, and I’m happy it’s at least transferring.

When I use an external hard drive dock (have tried a few), I’m able to transfer data from any of my regular hard drives, regardless of hard drive dock used, to either of my desktop computers, or laptop, with no problem. But when I try to transfer data from any of my computers to any hard drive I put in my docks, every time it works for a few seconds, then the transfer rate drops to 0.0kbps, and the Windows dialog box just says it’s “calculating”, but when using a hard drive dock, the transfer rate does NOT increase and decrease in the pattern described above. After several minutes of clearly doing nothing, and I have to stop the transfer or end the task in Task Manager.

The issue doesn’t seem to be isolated to any particular hard drives, docks, or Windows 10, though to be fair, I don’t use any other operating system, so I can’t test others.

I contacted Memory Express, who I’ve known and trusted for years, and bought all 3 of my computers from, and they’re as baffled as I am about this issue, and claim it’s the first time they’ve heard of it.

So, I guess I’ll live with it for the foreseeable future until future online research miraculously provides some sort of solution.

Do you have any thoughts or possible solutions I can try? Please contact me. 🙂

Why I Love My Pebble Time Watch

I love my Pebble Time Watch! have used a Pebble Time smart watch for a couple of years now. I’ve been tempted at times to get a more expensive smart watch, but the majority of the ones I looked at have many more features (often with a heavy focus on fitness apps), along with other “bells and whistles”, that I simply don’t need or want.

I honestly only want my smart watch to act as a watch, give me the date and time, current weather is a nice bonus, and give me quick at-a-glance notifications for phone calls, texts, and Facebook Messenger (you can choose other apps). It doesn’t make sounds, it just vibrates. That’s it, and it’s all I need. To be fair, the Pebble app does offer fitness-related features for the Time, but they’re known to be poor quality, and I disable them anyway.

Pebble itself went out of business, but you can still find the Pebble app in the iOS app store. It is no longer available on Google Play because the app hasn’t been updated for a couple of years, so it was removed.

You can also download it from websites like APKPure. Android will ask your permission to install it, but it’s perfectly safe and will work just fine.

Thankfully FitBit has allowed to work independently of their servers. They no longer update the app, but it does work. It still asks you to create a Pebble account (which you can no longer do, but that step can be easily skipped and isn’t required to use the app) when you first start the app.

The app communicates with your Pebble just fine via Bluetooth, where you can configure settings and choose a watch face you like. The app doesn’t come with many options, but you can easily (at this point) download a free app (Pebble App Store backup) that contains a store of sorts, but links to third party downloads of user-created watch faces, which can be imported easily into the Pebble app. Pretty straight forward for the most part.

My favorite watch face app is called Aspire. It’s free to use for 24 hours, then requires $0.99USD (via Paypal) to use it forever, which I was happy to pay. It’s a great watch face!

Besides loving the Aspire watch face itself, the extensive settings for the watch face definitely make it worth the dollar spent. Other free watch faces I tried are seriously lacking in comparison.

So, despite the fact that the Pebble company itself went out of business (bought by FitBit, who then basically killed it), I noticed there are many on eBay (at this point) who are selling “new” (unopened, never used) Pebble watches, including the Time, so I bought two of them, which roughly equals the cost of buying one of the more expensive smart watches, depending on the watch. That said, both the original Pebble watch that I no longer use, and the Time, do exactly what I need and nothing more, so I feel it’s a sound investment. In the years to come, I may need buy another kind of smart watch, but for now, I’m a happy Pebble user.

How to Create Your Own Weather Station Website

IMPORTANT NOTE: This post series is currently a work in progress.

An Introduction

I have been fascinated with weather for many years. A few years ago, I was gifted an Acurite 3-in-1 weather station by a Secret Santa months before I was laid off. A couple of years later, after a particularly harsh winter, I noticed it was showing signs of wear, and decided to replace it. I noticed a good deal on the 5-in-1 unit, and had saw that some others were publishing their weather station data online, and decided I wanted to do that as well. For a while, I was happy with Weather Underground, but realized I wanted my own dedicated site I have control over as well, in addition to publishing current conditions to a Twitter account and Facebook page, and this project was fully realized.

Given the amount of time and effort that went into research and completing this project, I discovered a lot of information that really helped me, so I feel I have an obligation to share the experience with others, in hopes it will help them.

What’s Involved

This project involves several steps, but in a nutshell, it includes:

  • Setting up the Raspberry Pi
  • Web space to host the website
  • Setting Up Meteotemplate (which grabs data and current conditions from the Weewx software on the Raspberry Pi,
  • Setting up Weewx on your Raspberry Pi
  • and Setting up an IFTTT or dlvr.it account to automatically publish updates to Twitter.

For the sake of convenience and easier navigation, here are the 8 parts of this blog post series:

You can find my weather stations websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter accounts here.

Side note: please do NOT reach out to me for any kind of technical support or help regarding this guide. Any such messages will be ignored, as I simply don’t have the time. Though you’re welcome to connect with me in general via email or on Twitter via my Contact page. I will not be held responsible for any actions you take during your own weather station website project setup. My only advice is to backup any files before you make changes, and be very careful and deliberate when making those changes. Best of luck to you!

My Experience So Far with the Amazon Fire HD 10

I have had a Galaxy Tab A for 2 years, but keep running out of storage space for apps on the internal memory of 16GB (it supports a MicroSD card. I’ll cover the issue regarding that a bit later in this post). Beyond the Samsung and Android system files and built-in apps, it doesn’t leave much left for my apps and their data, never mind photos or videos.

During the holidays, I noticed that the Amazon Fire HD 10 was on sale for $199 for the 64GB model. After doing some research, I discovered that aside from the camera, the Fire HD is very similar to the Tab A. So I bought one. It arrived, and I am so far very happy with it.

The Amazon Fire HD 10 is made by, well, Amazon, so obviously they want you to use Amazon apps and services. However, they based Fire OS on Android. And it was surprisingly easy to install the Google Play Store and apps. A HUGE thank you to TechJunkie.com’s incredibly helpful step by step article (I’ll go a little more in depth on that in a moment) on how to do that! Now Amazon and Google Play peacefully co-exist on my tablet!

As you can see above, the Tab A only comes with 16GB of internal storage. Android OS files, Samsung files and apps, and just a few commonly used apps and their data take up a whopping 10.4GB of that! You’ll also notice that the MicroSD card is hardly being used, because most apps, and/or the Tab A itself, don’t allow for apps to be moved to the MicroSD card. So unless you want to put photos, videos, and other files on it, it sits mostly unused.

Case in point: Facebook. It’s one of a handful of apps that actually allow you to move it’s files to the MicroSD card.

As you can see, Google Play can certainly be installed on the Fire HD 10. It’s a pretty straightforward process, too. Just follow the step by step instructions here. They recommend downloading and using File Commander (free, ad supported) to navigate to the 4 files (should be in the ‘Downloads’ folder) you need to download and install. I recommend that as well.

You can find File Commander in the Amazon app store.

Next, you’ll need to allow “installation of apps from unknown sources”. Don’t let that scare you. You’ll be prompted every in the future to approve (or not) any apps that you (hopefully) want to install. In this case, we’re installing trusted services and apps from Google, so you’ll be fine. You can also disable this after you install Google Play on the Fire HD 10, along with any Google Play apps you want. I would just leave it alone, though.

Once you have downloaded the 4 Google Play-related APK files to your Fire HD 10, simple tap them *in order*, as indicated above and below (Manager, Framework, Services, Store). The Fire HD 10 will indicate what you are about to install before you do it, so don’t worry too much.

After you install those 4 items, restart your Fire HD for good measure. Turn it off (hold down the power/sleep button on the top). Wait ten seconds, then press and hol the button again for a few seconds to turn it back on.

You will now see the Google Play Store icon on your Home Screen. If you don’t, swipe up on the screen to see all apps.

When you open the Google Play Store for the first time, you’ll be prompted to login to your Google account. After that, it will send you to the Play Store, and you’re done. You can start installing apps.

I’m a heavy user of Firefox, so that was one the Google Play apps I installed.

Another thing worth mentioning is that I found out you can’t add web page “shortcuts” to the Fire HD Home Screen, like you can on many other Android devices. No idea why, but you can’t. So the quickest workaround is to create Firefox Bookmarks. Tap the Address Bar and tap ‘Bookmarks’, or tap the three dots in the upper right hand corner and tap ‘Bookmarks’. So, a couple of extra taps, but it gets the job done.

I strongly recommend setting up a Lock Screen Passcode as well, just for the sake of general security.

That’s my experience and thoughts regarding the Amazon Fire HD 10 up to this point. I’ll update this post as I think of more. Thanks for reading. 🙂