Monday, May 26, 2014

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DIY Clean a Clothes Dryer Vent with Linteater Kit

I try and clean my dryer vent at the house once a year in the springtime. Our gas dryer vent is over 24 feet long and has several elbows in it. I have always been concerned about it's long length potentially creating a fire hazard, if the metal duct ever became clogged with lint from our gas clothes dryer. A few years ago I invested in a Linteater from Amazon and a 12 foot extension to clean out the dryer vent. It works well.

This year I shot a video of the cleaning process. It only took about fifteen minutes to clean the whole run of aluminum rigid duct. Just make sure you always keep the drill spinning in the same direction, so you don't unscrew the brush in the middle of the run.



I hope the video helps you understand how you can easily clean your dryer duct with a shop-vac, cordless drill, and the Linteater kit.

UPDATE 2016-04-09:
Several people have asked about the Shop Vac that I used. It was a 5 HP 16 gallon model by craftsman. Here is a link to a similar Wet/Dry Vac model from Amazon, but any vacuum with similar suction should work.

It also appears that Amazon has a dryer vent cleaning service that in my area is $73. I'm assuming pricing and availability varies across the United States, but it's option if you don't want to do it yourself.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

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Eliminate Lockups and Freezes for Motorola Droid Razr XT912 on Verizon

My Motorola XT912 after
Cyanogen 10.2 Upgrade
I loved my Motorola Droid Razr Maxx XT912. I bought it almost two years ago. The phone featured good performance, ability to use as a internet hotspot, and was part of my unlimited wireless plan with Verizon. I really wanted to keep those features, but performance and reliability started to suffer.

Performance Was Horrible

After a few recent updates in the fall the phone started to become unreliable and would freeze up when doing the most mundane tasks. It would sometimes take my favorite navigation app Waze (http://blog.trebacz.com/2012/08/android-apps-for-your-road-trip.html) 15 minutes to acquire a GPS lock. Foursquare checkins would also take 5 minutes.The battery would drain in a couple hours when traveling -or just out of the blue on some days at work.

I tried rooting the phone. Eliminating Verizon bloat apps that I really didn't use and shutting off some location services. All of this would work for a week, but come back in the form of freezes, lockups and bad performance after a couple days.

Permanently Improving XT912 Stability and Battery Performance

At this point I decided I was going for broke with the phone I liked or buy a new Samsung Galaxy 5S. I didn't need Kit Kat functionality and preferred stability and performance in my Android OS. Closer to stock android - was probably better for me. I looked into alternate ROMS and decided to install latest stable Cyanogen 10.2.1 and Google Apps. It met my criteria and seemed to have good support and stability.

Here are the instructions that outline the upgrade process best:
  1. Download 10.2 stable version to my PC - http://download.cyanogenmod.org/?device=spyder&type=stable
  2. Download Google Apps (GApps) for version 10.2 to my PC - http://wiki.cyanogenmod.org/w/Google_Apps
  3. Installation instructions using my PC and a USB cable - http://wiki.cyanogenmod.org/w/Install_CM_for_spyder
Definitely follow the installation instructions on Cyanogen's site. Everything went smoothly, but there are quite a few steps. I found that I couldn't get network access without installing GApps - so do it right away. For me the step 10 "Optional: Install any additional packages you wish using the same method" was not optional.

It's been 2 weeks since the change and here are my observations:

The Good

This upgraded the OS to Android 4.3. I found that Cyanogen 10.2 was amazingly fast on my phone and battery life was more than 48 hours with my normal usage. I did have to reinstall many applications and found Google Play kept track of previous apps. That made the process pretty easy.

I thought I'd miss a few of the custom Motorola apps (SmartActions, parking spot finder, car mode, corporate email, etc).  I suspected that some of these apps were not playing well with Android updates and Motorola had abandoned development on them. I found Cyanogen had profiles (simple SmartActions), great Microsoft Outlook integration, and there were lots of choices in the play store for other things.

I did install LauncherPro to get a home screen that works in landscape mode in my car dock. Other than that I found that 10.2 gave a great user experience right out of the box.

The Bad

I did have one day where my GPS stopped working. I ended up doing a cache wipe using SafeStrap and all my GPS functionality has been fine since. I even used SafeStrap to load the original configuration to verify it wasn't a hardware issue. Nice to know if something went really bad there was a path back to the original ROM.

My Conclusion

I'm real happy with the change and should have done it six months ago. I can continue to use my older hardware and docking stations with great performance. I may get adventurous and install Kit Kat on the phone, but for right now I have a blazingly fast stable phone, great battery life, and a bloat free experience that I'm in control of.

Update 06-07-2014

Once again the GPS on my Motorola XT912 stopped responding to any application. I use the GPS daily (Waze and FourSquare), so this is a big deal for me. This time I used saved Safestrap to wipe only the dalvik cache. You just reboot into Safestrap, go to the advanced menu, and select dalvik cache wipe. Then reboot. It takes a few minutes to reinitialize all the applications, but my GPS worked immediately again. I'll keep monitoring for the same problem.

References:

Applications safe to remove from Jelly Bean tried this before changing ROM's - http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2018889&page=2


Forum post with others experience on Cyanogen 10.2 on the Motorola XT912 - http://forum.cyanogenmod.com/topic/87467-1021-reviews/