My SimpliSafe doorbell lit its own fire this winter

...I'm just glad it was on the outside of the building, attached to non-flammable material :)

As part of my new studio/office buildout, I needed a 'smart' doorbell, so I could accept deliveries or see who rang, even if I was far from the door or recording.

I bought a SimpliSafe system for my location, and tied it into Home Assistant. It was easy to set up, the monthly cost was a fraction of what ADT wanted to charge, and yes, I know it's wireless-only communication can be tampered with. It's like a lock—it helps keep people honest, and is only one small part of a balanced security diet.

SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro

But I installed their Video Doorbell Pro a couple weeks ago, and setup was a breeze. Just get 24v doorbell wire to it, and bingo! You have a smart doorbell.

"You have inserted a Blank DVD" – Opening discs from Windows on a Mac

A few times in my life, I've received DVD-Rs or CD-Rs that a Windows user burned and gave to me, and popped them in my Mac, only to receive a message, "You inserted a blank DVD [or CD]. Choose an action from the pop-up menu or click Ignore."

The problem is, there's no way to read the data from the disc on the Mac; you can try burning stuff onto it or simply ignoring it, but you can't read the pictures off the disk. I checked the data side of the disc, and, sure enough, there's a different color band where data was written. But it's a no-go on the Mac.

The problem here is that Microsoft/Windows decided to implement it's 'Drag to Disc' file copying feature in a somewhat annoying way; people with Windows computers can copy individual files to a burnable disc, eject the disc, and put it back in and copy more files to it. But they can't delete files from the disc, and this kinda breaks the way write-once media is supposed to work. (To Windows users: Make sure that you finalize/burn the disc completely before you hand it off to someone. Otherwise only Windows users can read the files).

Installing Windows XP from a Microsoft-downloaded .exe file

I recently received a downloaded copy of Windows XP SP3 from Microsoft (I ordered the downloadable file, rather than a mailed CD, for installing on one of my Macs), and noticed that, unlike usual disk images, this file had the extension .exe rather than .iso or .img...

To get it to work with VMWare, I needed to either turn the file into an image, or burn it to a physical CD or DVD. After searching fruitlessly for hours, I finally found a great little app, nlite, that helped me burn the files that came out of the .exe archive to a disc (the app is also a great help for slipstreaming an XP install).

To burn the .exe to a disk image or disc:

  1. Expand the .exe image by double-clicking on it, and choosing a folder into which to expand the files.
  2. Download nlite, and run it.
  3. Follow the steps to create a bootable ISO, and select the folder into which you expanded your install files in step 1.
  4. Burn the disc, or copy the ISO where you need it, and enjoy!