Maximum Image Size - WordPress Plugin

September 24th, 2015 No comments

Sometimes, it's not necessary to keep copies of full resolution images on your web server.  But, when you solicit images from many sources, you may not be able to rely on users to size images to your specifications.  Here's a very simple plugin that removes the full resolution image and replaces it with an image resized to your preference.

The plugin makes no changes to your database and is written with just 17 lines of code.


1) Download the plugin: Maximum Image Size
2) From with in the WordPress Admin Panel, Navigate to Plugins >> Add New >> Upload Plugin.  Upload the file you just downloaded in step 1).
3) Activate the plugin.


This plugin has no configuration.  It works based on the Large image size, a configuration option which already exists in the WordPress core.  You may configure this by navigating to Settings >> Media.

Tip: If you do not wish to retain a Medium image, set both Max Width and Max Height to 0.

I have a new hobby, and it's making ice cream

July 28th, 2015 No comments

...because that seems like a reasonable thing for a 30-year-old man to do for his hobby.

Mangosteen bought a Cuisinart ice cream maker off Kijiji some time ago, but I only tried it for the first time this week.  The verdict: heaven in a dessert cup.  I made up the recipe by myself and the result is without question the finest ice cream I've ever tasted.  It even scoops just like hard ice cream from a store.

Keep reading for the recipe used to make the ice cream shown in the picture above.


Review: 2015 Philips 60W Replacement LED

June 11th, 2015 No comments

On a recent trip to the United States, we made a special trip to Home Depot to pick up some of Philips' new 60W Replacement LED bulbs.  These bulbs don't have a special brand name like the SlimStyle does, and Philips has several 60W Replacement LEDs.  The ones we bought were the ones just released this spring, at the time on sale (USA only) for an astonishing $4.97 for a pack of two.

This bulb is incredibly affordable.  We've calculated that at its current sale price and with our use, we'll only need to use it for five weeks before it becomes cheaper than an incandescent bulb.  While we've no complaints about new technology being affordable, we hope that Philips will maintain its reputation for quality, and that cheap bulbs that last for a decade or more will be profitable.

Here's our review of the 2015 Philips 60W Replacement LED.

Light quality: Good.  We could tell the difference between this and an incandescent bulb, however, the light produced by this bulb was still pleasing.

Light quality when dimmed: Not supported.

Buzz/hum: Barely perceptible.  It is unlikely you would hear the buzz in a quiet room.

Buzz/hum when dimmed: Not supported.

RF interference: No problems detected with equipment on frequencies from 500 Mhz - 2.4Ghz.

Price: $9.97 for a pack of two at Home Depot in Canada.  Note: The per-bulb cost in some bulk packs of this product is higher than small packs.  Shop carefully.

Other notes:
- The bulb's low cost comes from its estimated 10,950 hour life and lack of support for dimmers.
- The bulbs are manufactured in China.

DIY Windshield Stone Chip Repair

March 27th, 2015 No comments

Did you know that DIYing a windshield stone chip repair is cheap and relatively easy, with results just as good as or better than the professionals?  Why spend $50 or more when you can do it yourself for 1/5 of the price?

If you can read and follow instructions, (and if you can't - look for Permatex's YouTube channel) you can repair a stone chip in your windshield - both to improve the appearance, and prevent the chip from turning into a crack.  The kit we use is the Permatex Bullseye Windshield Repair Kit.  Not only do the results look great, our oldest repair is over a year old and shows no signs of cracking.  Take a look:

On the left is the chip before repair.  In the middle is the repaired chip.  On the right is a professionally-repaired chip for comparison.  As you can see, the repair that we did reduced the appearance of the chip by two thirds or more.  With smaller chips, the repair is completely invisible.

While the product's performance is excellent, our only complaint is that there is just 0.025 fl. oz of resin included in each kit.  The included tools are all reusable (clean while still wet with acetone or rubbing alcohol) and thick and wide double-sided tape is easy to find.  If anyone knows where to buy more resin, let us know.

Convert audio files to ulaw for use with a VoIP PBX

January 21st, 2015 2 comments

Converting high quality audio files to ulaw is easy, but making them sound good takes some effort.  Keep reading for the technique we use.


Vegan perfect flat-top Pumpkin Pie

January 2nd, 2015 No comments

For years we've wanted to know how to make a pumpkin pie with a perfectly flat top.  One answer: have a kid who doesn't eat eggs or milk.

Blend 8 oz (227 g) soft tofu in a blender until very smooth, adding up to 15 oz (425 g) canned pumpkin if necessary so that the blender works properly.  Transfer to a mixing bowl along with any remaining canned pumpkin, 1/3 cup fructose, 1/3 cup maple sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves.  Use a stand or hand mixer to mix very well.  Add 2 tablespoons corn starch and mix one final time.  Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake at 350F for 45 minutes.  Cool to room temperature, then chill for at least two hours.

Variation: instead of the fructose and maple sugar, use 2/3 cup white and/or brown cane sugar.  We found the flavour of beet sugar strong enough to overpower the taste of the pumpkin.

Wired remote control for a BenQ SP831 Projector

October 31st, 2014 No comments

Recently we needed to control a digital projector outside of the IR range of its remote.  The projector and remote were both capable of connecting via a cable, but no documentation was provided on how to do so.  This is what we discovered in testing:

- The plug required is 2.5mm TRS (stereo).  TS did not work.
- Though TRS is required, only two conductors (RS) are used.
- The jack on the remote is recessed far enough that the housing of most 2.5mm plugs we tried prevented them from being plugged in.  We eventually found a mobile phone headset cable that fit.  Its hairlike wires required soldering with painstaking precision.

Due to using pre-installed and unused cable, our finished product was as follows:

Custom-built 2.5mm TRS to RCA adapter -> 50' of RCA cable -> RCA to XLR adapter -> 200' of XLR cable -> custom-built XLR to 2.5mm TRS adapter.

This project would have been significantly simpler if the remote (a) did not have a recessed jack and (b) accepted a TS cable (which would be compatible with TRS).  Since only two conductors are used, it's pointless to design a jack that demands a three-conductor plug.

Update: We discovered that the remote inexplicably stops working if it is plugged in for an indeterminate amount of time.  So, we unplug the remote when it is not in use.

Dairy-free Lemon Tapioca Pudding

October 20th, 2014 No comments

This excellent recipe is just as phenomenal as the original.

2 400 mL cans coconut milk
⅓-½ cup sugar
¼ cup quick cooking (Minute brand or similar) tapioca
1 large egg
Finely-grated rind of ½ lemon
Juice of one lemon

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan.  Beat very well, and then allow to stand for 15 minutes.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring every minute or two to prevent the pudding from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Allow to cool for 30 minutes.  Beat well before serving warm or cold.

Review: Philips SlimStyle LED Bulb

October 19th, 2014 No comments

Canada has already phased out 75- and 100-watt incandescent bulbs, with 40- and 60-watt to follow at the end of the year.  But according to a public opinion poll published on the Toronto Sun's website, 86% of respondents stated they still used incandescent light bulbs.  If this were a political blog, we would explore the topic of why the government is making a product that is used by 86% of voters difficult to buy, instead of encouraging industry to make the alternatives significantly better.  But it isn't, so we won't.

Instead, we'll talk about the new Philips SlimStyle LED bulb.  This bulb was released just this year - none too soon for those who don't care for CFLs, and who have found the performance of every other LED bulb on the market mediocre.

Light quality: Very good.  We could not tell the difference between this and an incandescent bulb.  However, the bulb looked odd in some fixtures when turned to certain angles.

Light quality when dimmed: Noticeable flicker, even though both of the dimmers we used were on the bulb's compatibility list.

Buzz/hum: None observed.

Buzz/hum when dimmed: Moderate.  The bulb could be heard in a quiet room.

RF interference: It was difficult to detect electromagnetic interference, even with a meter.

Price: $6.97 at Home Depot Canada.

More commentary follows.


Lenny, the bot that tricks telemarketers

September 15th, 2014 19 comments

Not all telemarketers are evil.  It's the 99% give the 1% a bad name.

The 99% are the telemarketers who don't respect the Do Not Call List.  Or they purchase a copy of it, and market specifically to it.  Perhaps they're exempt from respecting the DNCL, and they call people who are listed just because they can.  They run credit card or vacation scams.  They spoof their Caller ID so you think it's your neighbour calling you.  They call at 9PM and wake your kids up.

For those telemarketers, there is Lenny.  Lenny is a hilarious set of very convincing recordings designed to fool telemarketers into thinking they've called a real person.  Have a listen:

Want to talk to Lenny, or transfer/conference a telemarketer in with him?  If you use VoIP and can call a SIP URI, he can be reached at  Or you can call him at 1-347-514-7296.  (Prank calls to this number are not allowed.  Lenny is for incoming, telemarketing calls only - not for annoying innocent people.)

For plenty more recordings, visit Lenny's YouTube channel.

Download music from via the Brightcove player

September 15th, 2014 1 comment

This is our procedure for downloading music in MP3 format from CBC's Brightcove player.


Can't work with large files via WebDAV or cPanel Web Disk?  Here's the fix.

September 10th, 2014 No comments

cPanel's Web Disk uses the WebDAV protocol to allow you to manipulate files on your hosting account via Windows Explorer, just as if it were a drive letter.  The best part is that support for this is already built in to Windows.  You needn't even install any software.

By default, Windows prevents you from working with files greater than 50MB, and for longer than 30 minutes, but that can be fixed with a simple registry change.  You can make the change with Registry Editor, or copy the text below, save it as a file with the extension .reg, and run it.
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

WinCalcHelper improves the Windows Calculator

September 10th, 2014 No comments

We use the Windows Calculator a great deal, but wanted to make it more efficient.  AutoHotkey was happy to oblige.  This script adds the following features:

  • Pressing your keyboard's Calculator key turns Num Lock on if it is off.
  • Pressing your keyboard's Calculator key recalls the most recently used Calculator, or opens a new one if a Calculator is currently active.
  • Holding your keyboard's Calculator key closes the active Calculator.
  • Using the Windows + Arrow keys allows you to position the calculator.
  • The Num Lock key can be used to clear the calculator.

AutoHotkey allows you to use your mouse buttons to move between browser tabs

September 10th, 2014 2 comments

Here's an AutoHotkey script we wrote that allows you to use the buttons on a mouse to switch between browser tabs.  To use it, hold down the left mouse button while clicking the browser back or forward buttons.
#SingleInstance force
~LButton & XButton1::Send {Blind}{LButton Up}^+{Tab}
~LButton & XButton2::Send {Blind}{LButton Up}^{Tab}
To run or compile this script, here's a free download of AutoHotkey.

Has your router set up secret port forwards without your knowledge?

February 18th, 2014 No comments

I admit the title may be a little bit sensational.  Please forgive me and read this anyway.  For the tl;dr, scroll down to the link to the STUN Test Utility.

It's a common misconception that placing a network device behind a router provides impenetrable security.  This might be true, but if you have a full cone NAT router, your VoIP equipment (and possibly other internet-connected devices) are likely be open to anyone, as if you had forwarded ports or used DMZ.  Instead, you should use a restricted cone NAT router.  Keep reading to find out what these terms mean how to test your router.


Pumpkin Pie

February 15th, 2014 No comments

Pumpkin pie in February?  What Mangosteen wants for Valentine's day, Mangosteen gets!

1 398 mL (15 oz by weight) can pumpkin
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 300 mL (14 oz by weight) can sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs
1 9" deep dish pie shell

Thoroughly mix pumpkin and spices.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Pour into prepared pie shell.  Bake at 425F for 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350F and bake for another 45 minutes.  Turn off oven and allow pie to cool.  When the pie plate is cool enough to be safely touched with your hands, remove the pie from the oven and enjoy!

Mango's Guide to Configuring an OBi100, OBi110, OBi202, OBi200, OBi302, and OBi300 ATA

August 16th, 2013 6 comments

OBi100We used Linksys ATAs for many years but upgraded to Obihai when we needed a device with an FXO port.  Obihai has outdone themselves and created some devices that are even more configurable than their older PAP2T, SPA2102, and SPA3102.  OBi ATAs are deficient in only a few ways - for example a mediocre jitter buffer, and no way of routing calls based on Caller ID Name or customizing Caller ID Name.  Perhaps most disappointingly, the FXS/FXO relay has been removed in hardware version 3.4 of the OBi110, meaning that during a power outage, your POTS line will not function.  Fortunately, OBi ATAs' good qualities - particularly their excellent audio quality and powerful call routing - far exceed their shortcomings and they are what we believe to be the finest ATAs available today.

Before you pay $10 to Obihai for annual support, read this link for a workaround.


Improving SpamAssassin accuracy on cPanel (or any other) mail servers - with statistics

July 25th, 2013 4 comments

For some time we've been frustrated by the amount of spam not caught by our spam filter.  We're delighted to say we've developed a simple configuration that results in extremely high accuracy.  Though some of the techniques in this article are related to cPanel servers, the most important points should work with any mail server running SpamAssassin.

Keep reading to see the rules we use and why we use them, as well as statistics for actual mail addressed to Mango's personal email address.


Mango's User Configurable Scheduled cPanel Full Backup

March 12th, 2013 5 comments

Mango has always wanted to make it as easy as possible for users to make backups.  If you're a cPanel administrator, consider this script as part of your disaster recovery plan.  It will rsync a full backup anywhere the user likes, and allows the user to configure the location of the backup and how many backups will be retained.  Since its authorization is by RSA key, it does not require passwords to be stored in the configuration file.

Suggested use for users: By default, full backups are large and take a lot of server resources to create.  Why not exclude your home directory by placing a single * in cpbackup-exclude.conf, and rsync the full backup to your home directory?  Then rsync your home directory to your NAS device a few times per week.  Using rsync requires much less resources because it only copies files that have changed since the last rsync.

Here's the script:

Map a directory on a MyBook Live NAS to a Windows drive letter over the internet with SSHFS and Samba

February 3rd, 2013 No comments

We needed to be able to access a directory on a MyBook Live via a Windows drive letter and evaluated a few options.  Samba works well if the file server and client are on the same LAN, but we discovered it painfully slow when used via an SSH tunnel over the internet.  WebDAV is typically a good solution, but we found it unstable when used with the MyBook Live.  We settled on two techniques that we use in different situations.  The first technique is SSHFS and Samba - SSHFS for the internet portion and Samba for the LAN portion.  This works relatively well with only a moderate performance decrease.

This article describes our technique for setting up SSHFS and Samba on a Western Digital My Book Live NAS device.


SSH Tunneling - also known as "Port Forwarding on Steroids"

February 2nd, 2013 No comments

If you need to access network resources behind a firewall, you could set up lots of port forwards.  But it can be cumbersome to manage a large volume of these, and depending on the protocol, this practice may be insecure.  Instead, why not use an SSH tunnel?  An SSH tunnel is an excellent method for handling encryption and authentication.


Mango's Opinion of Sage 50

January 1st, 2013 No comments

Mango evaluated Sage 50 accounting software and was underwhelmed.


Free Tools for Windows

December 29th, 2012 No comments

Everyone seems to have their list of free Windows applications they can't do without, and here's ours.  All of these are free for the download and their authors deserve a serious hat tip for all of their excellent work.  We list them in alphabetical order:

AutoHotkey is the quintessential automator that you really must try to see just how powerful it is.  You can automate almost any program by sending it keystrokes and mouse clicks.  You can remap keys on your keyboard or mouse.  One of our favourite features is that you may compile your finished script into a single EXE that may be run on any Windows computer.


How to Download Previously Downloaded Music from iTunes

December 29th, 2012 No comments

Mango accidentally deleted some music he'd downloaded from iTunes.  Fortunately, iTunes will allow you to download previously downloaded music, though it required some hoop jumping.

1) From the Store menu in iTunes, be sure your computer is authorized.
2) Navigate to the iTunes store and click the link for Purchased.  You may be able to download the files by clicking the Cloud icon.  If not,
3) Shut down iTunes, rename your iTunes Library folder, and restart iTunes.  Only after doing this, we were permitted to download the files.
4) If you had to follow Step 3, shut down iTunes again, restore the original iTunes Library folder, restart iTunes, locate the songs you just downloaded, and add them to your library.

On a slightly related note, in doing this we discovered that iTunes now sells DRM-free music in *.m4a format, not *.m4p.  Though this is old news, we were glad to read it.

Should you use Conventional or Synthetic oil in your vehicle?

September 30th, 2012 Comments off

I recently took my car to an oil change shop that really wanted to upsell me on expensive oil for my car.  I told them to put in whatever the dealer would use and they put in semi-synthetic.  This was a somewhat unfortunate illustration that working with a professional is no substitute for knowing what you're doing.  Though the semi-synthetic won't harm my car, the extra $20 won't offer any benefits, based on the car I drive, what I use it for, and the time of year.  Should you use conventional or synthetic oil in your vehicle?  Keep reading.