How to make the Oregon DEQ Lane Cams Work

So, it’s that time again. You’re off to see the Oregon DEQ to have your emissions test done and renew your registration tags. And, hey, look at that! They have webcams (which they call “Lane Cams) that show you how busy the station is. Great! Or, they would be, if not for that pesky problem with their Java certificate that prevents the webcam from loading on your computer. It reads :

Oregon DEQ Java Application Blocked by Security SettingsApplication Blocked
Application Blocked by Security Settings
Name : viewer
Location :

Your security settings have blocked an application from running with an out-of-date or expired version of Java.

5 Minute Solution

All is not lost, though. There is a way you can still see the Oregon DEQ lane cams. It will take about 5 minutes. Here’s what you do.


Add Exceptions fo the Java Security Tab

  1. Open the Control Panel
  2. Search for the Java Control Panel
  3. Open the Security Tab
  4. Click “Edit Site List”

You will need to add two sites to the Exception Site List for each station you intend to look at. These are the sites to choose from :

Station Sites to Add
Northeast Portland

Click OK.

Oregon DEQ Lane Cam Run Unsigned ApplicationReturn to the DEQ Website’s Stations List Page and click the Webcam of your choice.

Click “Run” when the Security Warning Appears


And, voila! You can now see the Oregon DEQ webcam, and find out if there’s a long line, or if this is the moment, which you’ve probably been putting off, to go get that test done.

Have a Safe, and Courteous, drive.

Is my Internet Service Provider’s modem or router slowing me down?

One of the most frequent issues I run into when people call me to their homes to talk about their internet performance is that they are using the equipment provided by the internet service provider to access the internet AND run their home networks. Now, at face value, it seems as though having the equipment from the Internet Service Provider should be a good thing. But take a moment and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is technology changing rapidly?
  2. How old is the modem/router that you are leasing/purchasing from your Internet Service Provider?
    1. When did that model of modem/router first appear on the shelves?
  3. Is your modem/router older than your smartphone, computer, tablet, blu-ray player, and/or television?

Why are Internet Service Provider’s Modems so far behind?

Once you realize that your smartphone, computer, tablet, blu-ray player, and/or television and even your television are all newer than the router that is connecting all these devices to the internet, you probably ask yourself “how can my Internet Service Provider (ISP) be so far behind?”

The answer, of course, is : economics. Consider how much it would cost internet service providers to keep every modem/router up to date, with all the newest processors, wireless radios, RAM, firewall and security software. With thousands of customers in an ever changing technological landscape it is, of course, impossible.

The Coffee Cup Analogy

My favorite explanation of Internet Service Provider modems/routers is the coffee cup from your favorite coffee shop. Ideally, the cup you get from the coffee shop would be highly insulated, re-usable, and would come with interchangable lids depending on the drink you were using. Hot drinks would stay hot and still wouldn’t scold your hand or require an extra sleeve. Cold drinks would stay colder longer, and both hot and cold drinks would be largely contained in the event of a spill. When you finished with your drink, the cup could simply be used upon your next visit, or turned back in for a credit towards your next drink.

In reality, of course, coffee shops use thin, disposable, largely non-reusable coffee cups. Why? First and foremost, they’re cheaper. Second, they know that most of those coffee cups will never return to the store.

So, coffee cups are much like modems/routers. ISPs like to re-use the modems/routers from one customer to the next, but they know that odds are high your modem/router will fail long before it can be returned, so they’ll probably never see it again. Second, they’re buying thousands of these routers, many of which sit on a shelf somewhere, sometimes for years on end, waiting for a customer to need them. There wouldn’t be much point in recycling all the modems/routers they have in stock simply because newer, better options are available.

But my ISP just came out and replaced my modem or router!

Again, because ISPs like Frontier, Comcast and CenturyLink purchase thousands of units at a time, they keep these units on a shelf. When one customer moves or changes providers, the equipment gets returned and is used when an ISP technician comes out to install new service, or to troubleshoot a problem with your existing service. So, the modem or router you are getting from the ISP typically isn’t new.

Okay, my modem/router is old, so what?

Modems and routers, some of which are combination devices, are essentially computers, and they are doing a lot of work. For example, when you ask your tablet to print a web page to your wireless printer, the router has to decide which information to send to the internet, and which to keep on your home or work network, with you, where it belongs. At the same time, it has to announce itself to the internet world, relay instructions between your devices and the internet, and attempt to stop the outside world from getting in, except when you want to.

If your smartphone tried to do all that work, it probably wouldn’t be so busy it wouldn’t be able to make and receive phone calls. Why? Well, modems and (especially) routers, require a processor, just like your other devices, in order to handle the instructions given to it. They have to store information, which requires memory. And they require software that contains the instructions go give to the processor. Then they relay those instructions to the correct piece of physical hardware. The faster it handles those instructions, the better your experience on the internet. As you can imagine, with technology changing at such a rapid rate, the older your modem or router, the longer it takes to do what you want it to do, especially when compared with a newer modem or router with a faster processor, more RAM, and better software.

Uh oh! My ISP modem or router is a problem. What can I do?

Fortunately, there are alternatives to the modem/router provided by your Internet Service Provider. In many cases, these alternatives are made by the very same companies who provided the equipment to your ISP in the first case. My recommendations, then, are these :

  • Use the modem provider from your Internet Service Provider ONLY if you have no other choice.
  • DON’T use the router provided by your Internet Service Provider.
  • DO get a faster, better router : many are available for purchase from online stores, local computer stores, and your local Technology Ally.
  • DO talk with a Technology Consultant. Not only are we not (usually) tied to a particular internet service provider, but we often spend our time solving problems that the ISPs can’t, or won’t.

If you’re ready to start improving the quality of your home/business internet experience, call 503-629-9214 today!

How to Print a Selected Range of Envelopes from Microsoft Word 2010

If you’ve ever had a multiple page document, you know that sometimes you just want to print just a selected range of pages, say, page 5-10. But what if you have a document full of envelopes that you need to print and send, but you can’t tie up the printer for the whole duration, or otherwise only need to print one envelope, or just a selected group of envelopes? Seems simple, right? Microsoft even has a how to document on the whole thing. But what if their steps don’t work?

The Symptoms

There are two basic symptoms that crop up over and over when printing envelopes, often produced by using a mail merge.

  1. Nothing comes out of the printer. The document seems to have been generated, and there’s nothing in the print queue, and there are no error messages, it’s just as though nothing actually happened.
  2. The printer spits out one or more blank pages .

The Solution

Picture of Microsoft Word with Answer to How To Print Selected Envelopes From WordIF one of the two symptoms above is your problem, then this is very likely the solution you are looking for

  1. Begin to print your document like you normally would (i.e. Ctrl-P or File-Print)
  2. In the Space labeled “Pages:” type s and the page number you want to begin with, followed by a dash (-) another s and the last page number you want to print.
    1. s2
    2. s2-s3
  3. Click Print

Everything should now work as you had anticipated, with only the desired envelopes spitting out of your printer.


An Evening for Autism 2014

Join us for an evening of Music, Wine and Hors d’ouevres, Silent Auction and Wine Raffle.

An Evening for Autism with performer Tyrone Wells

Autism, Fine Motor Skills, Art, and the Power of Undo

The power of Technology as an aide for Art

If you’ve ever had anything to do with art, you know the frustration of making a mistake. Those talented few whom we call artists, can take a mistake, and make something of us. The rest of us gnash our teeth in frustration.

A Picture made in Windows Paint with a WACOM IntuosFor some with Autism, however, art and fine motor skill challenges go head to head in mortal combat, like Mas Oyama fighting a bull with his bare hands. Add in a stroke of perfectionism, mix in some added stress by imposing a time restriction to complete the project and you have yourself a recipe for disaster.

But, what if there was a way to practice fine motor skills, and still have an undo button? Believe it or not, such an option exists, and it’s called a Graphic Tablet.

A Brief History of Graphic Tablet Technology

Surprisingly, you’ve actually seen similar technology around for quite some time. In popular media, the original Star Trek series frequently featured someone approaching Captain James T. Kirk with a digital device and a pen with which to sign. You’ve since seen similar devices from UPS and Fedex to sign for deliveries, then in the grocery stores to sign your credit card receipts, then with Personal Digital Assistants from companies like Palm Computing. Then we moved onto laptop computers that had large screens with a stylus pen with which you could write, and then the number of uses went crazy, from touchpads on laptops to smartphones to ipads and android tablets and so on. But, unless you were a graphic artist, you probably never knew about a quietly developing piece of technology called a graphic tablet. Today, however, these devices have reached the level of affordability, and technical function, that I can comfortably recommend them to just about everyone.

Rest your hand

Perhaps the most significant development in graphic tablets is the ability to rest your hand on the tablet as you’re drawing. For most of us, this is a more typical style of writing and drawing. Since the tablet responds to the stylus itself, it’s very much like using a mouse. For someone with fine motor skills problems, this can be a critical factor because the only place the image appears is where the stylus is touching the tablet, much like the only place a pen writes, is where it touches the paper. And, did I mention, no inky hands! 🙂

Sizes, shapes and Options

ECLATT Wacom Intuos Connected to Windows 7 LaptopA wide variety of sizes, shapes, connection styles are available for graphic tablets. If you’re just using it to sign electronic documents, then a small tablet is probably fine. If, however, you are planning on doing any drawing, look to something that is about half the size of a regular piece of paper or larger. This will be even more important when considering fine motor skill issues, but anyone who has used a mouse and run out of space on a mouse pad, or has run out of room on a piece of paper, is familiar with the need for a larger surface area.

There’s also an option to have an embedded screen on the tablet, allowing you to see what you’re writing or drawing where you’re writing or drawing, just like you would on a piece of paper. In fact, with some Android and Apple Tablets you can purchase a stylus to work with your device for the purpose of signing documents and working with graphic arts programs.

No special graphic art software

While programs like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator and CAD have some spectactular capabilites, graphic tablets are not restricted to these high end products. Because the graphic tablet acts like a mouse, as long as you have matched the tablet with the correct driver for your computer, you can use any built in graphic software, like Microsoft Paint on a Windows computer, or Paintbrush for Mac OSX. What’s more, many tablets are sold with software you can install, some even gearing themselves for anime and cartoon production.

Electronic Signatures

Signing electronic documents is a topic worthy of its own post, and I will write one. Suffice it to say, however, that if you can put pen to paper, you can put stylus to tablet and produce the same result.

That’s about it. If you have more questions about tablets, technology or Autism, feel free to get in touch.


Yes – Gmail was Down – including Google Apps for Education and Business

If you are a Gmail, or Google Apps for Business or Education user, you likely noticed a problems accessing your email accounts starting at around 11:00 AM Pacific time. It should be back up by the time you find yourself reading this.

During the downtime, access to Gmail from mobile devices, via the web, and Google Apps Sync would have been down. This also would have affected access to contacts, Google Voice and Google Talk, and features of the Google Apps Dashboard.

Fortunately, Google’s response to this was swift, and everything was restored quickly – just a 30-40 minute downtime for most people.

If you’re still having problems, they are likely unrelated to the downtime itself, and you should seek technical support.

Click here to see Google Apps Status

Look Ma – no Gmail Inbox Tabs!

For the most part, I really do like Gmail. True, the interface takes a lot of getting used to, and whether any of it is truly intuitive is up for debate, but it’s fast, readily available across multiple platforms (mac, pc, phone, tablet etc), has lots of space, and is pretty configurable. So, once you learn how to do things in Gmail, it really does do a pretty good job. That said, this Inbox tab thing really had me rankled. I mean, why on earth would I go through all the effort of creating filters that allow me to organize email my own way, for someone else to come along and throw them up on the screen in some arbitrary way?

Gmail has introduced inbox tabs

Well, if you’re like me, and one whole day of those tabs was more than enough, then you probably want them gone. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to make that happen, and I’ll show you how.

Step 1 – Click the Gmail Settings Cog. Gmail Settings Cog
Step 2 – Click “Configure Inbox.” Gmail Configure Inbox
Step 3 – Uncheck social and promotions, and anything else that is checked except primary. Gmail Uncheck Tabs to disable them
Step 4 – With the boxes unchecked, it should look like this. Then just click Save. Gmail tabs deselected then click save
You’ve done it! There are no longer any Gmail Inbox Tabs. You can now resume your normal inbox browsing! Gmail Inbox back to normal - no tabs


Keyboard and Command Line Shortcuts for Windows

Here you can find a list of commands that can be run in Windows via the run line. If you cannot see the run line already, use the windows key keyboard plus the letter r to bring up the run line.

Over time I will be updating this list, so check back often for more handy tips :

CommandWindows 8Windows 7 and VistaWindows XPUsed For
dcomcnfg.exenot yet testedYesYesBrings up the Microsoft Management Console Window for Component Services
msinfo32YesYesYesOpens the System Information Window with details about the computer including Operating System Version, computer name, BIOS info, hardware and installed applications.
msconfigYesYesYesUsed when troubleshooting to enable and disable services and programs that run when the computer first boots.
controlYesYesYesOpens the Control Panel
services.mscYesYesYesOpens the Microsoft Management Console Services Snap-In for enabling, disabling and restarting services.
conf.exeYesYesOpens Microsoft Netmeeting
WindowsKey+LYesLocks the computer. Keeps user logged in, but returns to the login screen.

I love my car – and all of its 200 thousand original miles

1996_Infiniti_I30There shouldn’t be anything emotional about it. It’s a horseless carriage, an automobile, a vehicle, and, finally, a car. It is a bunch of aluminum, steel, plastic and rubber all arranged into a complicated piece of technology whose sole purpose is transport me, and up to 4 other people, safely from place to place. Why, then, should I have an emotional attachment to this tool?

Well, for one thing, it’s mine. I own it. It’s one of a handful of things I do own. I saved up, sold my Harley, and finally paid for it in cash. It has seen me through good times and bad. It saw me through a job, the birth of my son, a layoff, the entire life span of three businesses, and the beginning of a 4th. It has helped me through a whole lot of projects, and helped me advocate for Autism.  When everything else is going wrong, when I had to sell my house in a short sale, and file for bankruptcy, I could, at least, go and sit in my car.

And it has personality. Oh, yes; surprising as that sounds, it does have personality. The ignition doesn’t quite work, so you have to know HOW to turn the key to get it started. The trunk is bent from being hit from behind, and there is a sea-sickening like vibration from a mis-fire on one of the cylinders. The CD Player had already stopped changing CDs by the time I bought it, and now it doesn’t even play CDs. The tape drive, well, it’s a tape drive. And the stereo display only works when the car is about to die; which it has done from time to time. Still, the radio plays, and I can use the bluetooth via the stereo, after an arduous process of manually scanning channels, and suburban life does offer a wide range of stations without needing to replace the antenna, which was broken by low lying bushes at the Zoo’s annex parking lot. I won’t even talk about the transmission, but as soon as I get past first gear, it keeps going in the direction I want it to go.

So, okay, I understand that there are lots of stories in this car, and that it is those stories that make me sentimental about this car. And, sure, it would be really, really, really nice not to stop the car and see smoke whisping out from under the hood. But I do love my car, so  I guess it’s okay to celebrate its recent milestone. It has earned it. After all, I’ve been behind the wheel for more than 104,000 of its now more than 200,000 miles.  I guess you could say, we’ve earned it, together.

Odometer from Infiniti I30 Shows 200K Miles

Humanoid Robot Helps Train Children with Autism | News | Scientific Computing

Read about NAO Robot on Wikipedia

NAO Robots

You may find it surprising that something as complicated as a robot could be an asset for helping children to develop Social Interaction Skills. And yet, as reported in this Scientific Computing article “Humanoid Robot Helps Train Children with Autism | News | Scientific Computing,” that is exactly what is being developed by a team of researchers from Vanderbilt University. Their goal – to test whether intelligent adaptive systems can make an impact on ASD.

 Simple Shapes

As I’ve worked with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs), one of the principle lessons I’ve learned is to seek ever more simple solutions. In practice, this paradigm shift has turned out to be more difficult than I had anticipated, especially when there is such a stark contract between chronological age and developmental stages. Ultimately, my inspiration for simplicity came from the 2008 movie “Wall-E,” which broke down human interactions into physical movements and either eliminated, or dramatically simplified language. As this concept sunk in, perfectly obvious images, like the TeleTubbies came flooding to mind, and I realize I’ve seen this before.

People Complicate Learning

If you really think about it, we’ve long recognized that people complicate learning – all the way back to ancient Greece, in fact. Over the years we’ve come up with sock puppets, hand puppets, string puppets,  and people dressed like puppets. A robot, then, is simply one more technological extension of a trend that started eons ago. NAO even has a simply shaped face and body, much like its puppet counterparts. So, the NAO robots being used in this project seem a perfect fit. After all, if you’re trying to focus on learning something as complex as human social interactions, the fewer complications and distractions the better. In a room, that can mean turning off televisions and radios, and removing clutter. In the case of removing humans, we’ve long used puppets. Think of a robot, then, as simple puppet with no visible strings.


Rules and Predictability

That said, robots do offer one significant advantage over the traditional puppet – simple sets of rules. When a human puppeteer handles a puppet, they may be inclined to move or act quickly, or to introduce concepts or language. A robot, on the other hand, is limited to a particular set of programming. That makes a robot very, very predictable, which eliminates a lot of fear and confusion on behalf of a person interacting with it. A robot won’t suddenly stand up and leave the room, even to use the bathroom. It won’t have bad days, or be inexplicably very happy. Its voice, if used, has a finite amount of modulation, and there are specific word choices available to it. Almost everything about a robot is predictability – a state well known to reduce anxiety in children. Less anxiety, more learning.

Robot Teachers

Robots as puppets, then, are great tools for helping to reduce anxiety in children and helping them to learn. Of course, a robot’s ability to interact and learn a person’s skill, and advance through stages of mastery are minimal at best. Thus, human monitoring and guidance are a must. So, while I don’t expect that you’ll see robots replacing your a 5th grade classroom teacher, they are certainly a great example of how we can continue an age old tradition of using puppets in a contemporary manner to advance education. The possibilities here are endless, but the implications for facilitating the process of learning social skills amongst children with Autism Spectrum Disorders is a concept with considerable potential, and merit.