How to reset the Meross MSS120 Dual Outlet Smart Plug

This HomeKit-compatible smart outlet is well-priced and works great. But if you have to reset to factory defaults (in order to move it to a different home, for example) it can be challenging to figure out how to reset it.

The Meross website only has generic resetting instructions, and the way they are written it seems like they don’t apply to this device. Here, they say to hold down the power button. (The device has two power buttons.) Elsewhere on their site, the answer is illustrated by showing a non-existent button on the back of the device.

The correct answer, specifically for the Meross MSS120 Outlet, is to hold down the top power button for five seconds (while the outlet is plugged in). You’ll hear a click, and then the two power buttons will being to flash (one green, one yellow). You can then add the device to HomeKit.


Change Eve Home to Fahrenheit

Thanks to Ronald Reagan, I only have an intuitive understanding of temperature when it’s expressed in Fahrenheit. Unfortunately, but understandably, the Eve Room environmental monitor defaults to Celsius. (I almost wrote “centigrade” there, which should also tell you something about me.)

Finding how you to change the units from Celsius to Fahrenheit is surpassingly difficult. It’s challenging to Google, and it’s not part of the device’s “Frequently Asked Questions” (WTF?).

Here’s the answer: You have to use the Eve app, which is sort of bullshit, but there you go. As a HomeKit user, I didn’t have the app installed, and I had to download it just to change this one setting. (I only figured this out accidentally, by the way.)

On the whole, I’m happy with the Even Room environmental monitor. The build quality is great. But the battery life is poor. And it doesn’t alert you when the power is getting low, it just silently dies and stops working. Sort of like Reagan.


macOS tip: You can pause printer jobs

As I’ve mentioned before, my printer is not located in my office, which is inconvenient when I’m doing a lot of printing, such as producing my series of Bizarre Fact Files.

An additional time-saving technique that I use is to pause the printer, run several jobs, then go put the appropriate paper tray in place before resuming the jobs. Not having to go back and forth between my computer and printer saves me about 70 stair steps. Here’s how it works:

Before printing, open System Preferences > Printer & Scanners, then double-click the printer in the Printers list. In the window that appears, click the Pause button. Important: Do not close the window where the Pause button appears.

screen shot of printer window

Next, print the file as you normally would. When the warning message about the printer being paused appears, click “Add to Printer.” Repeat for each document that you want to add to the printer’s queue.

screen shot of paused printer window

To take this even further, I created a Keyboard Maestro macro, triggered via Alfred Remote, to unpause the queue when I’m on the other floor. You’d need both of these pieces of software — which I recommend — to do this, so I won’t dwell on the details. But, briefly, you need to trigger the macro via Keyboard Maestro’s web server. The macro source is available at this gist.


Descaling the KitchenAid Nespresso machine

I have written about my beloved KitchenAid Nespresso Espresso machine. Here are a few more tips, but this time related to cleaning and descaling the unit.

  • The descaling information provided by Nespresso’s website isn’t very helpful. I refer to this eight-year old YouTube video every time. (I hope it stays published!)
  • However, the video has a horrible instructional flaw. Namely, you must close the pod chamber before starting the descaling process. The video does not mention this, and you’re likely to have the chamber open as you’ve naturally ejected the last pod before cleaning. Do not forget to close the chamber or you will have a considerable mess on your hands! (Yes, I speak from experience.)
  • A related discovery, thanks to the above situation, once the descaling process is started it cannot be stopped. Even if you unplug the machine, it will resume until both cycles are complete.
  • No, I can’t fathom why the video instructs you to clean and dry the water chamber before filling it with water again. Seems like busy work. This sort of thing is typical of amateur technical writing, though this is an official video, so it should be better.
  • KitchenAid recommends descaling the unit monthly! This seems excessive to me, especially given the amount of time it requires, but I guess it depends on how hard your water is.
  • Unscientifically, making a cuppa seems to go a lot quicker after the machine has been descaled. If your machine’s coffee stream reminds you of an old man during the middle of the night, consider that it might need to be descaled.

And yes, thank you, I would like another cup. Black.


Reset the Govee H5054 Water Sensor

This leak detector works well, but once triggered, there’s no apparent way to stop it from beeping. Even removing the batteries doesn’t reset it.

In some ways, a persistent alarm makes sense, as you would want to know if it was triggered in your absence, even if the water and sensor are now completely dry. But I do wonder how many customers assume it’s a single-use item and discard the unit after it has been triggered. (I considered it.)

The reset procedure is unnecessarily obscure. Here’s how to do it:

  • Hold down the button for at least 5 seconds.

There’s no good reason to hide this function — a single press of the unit’s only button should, intuitively, turn it off. In fact, the company’s marketing material says to press the button to mute the alarm. Apparently, the copywriters have never used the product, as that is decidedly not how it functions.

Fortunately, the tech writers have used the device. According to the user manual, there are other arcane button presses to change the volume of the alarm. Who knew? (And, frankly, why? Being loud is a good thing. The aforementioned copywriters tout its 100db alert as a key feature.)

The Govee support website doesn’t have a copy of the user manual and their FAQ search returns nothing for words like “reset,” “water” or “leak.” I didn’t try “annoying” or “STFU.”

Despite all this, if you’re looking for a very inexpensive water leak sensor that works (and, in particular, won’t be easy to ignore), I recommend these! The best deal is from the Amazon.


Fix for a clanking Kohler toilet

If you have a Kohler toilet in your home, it’s likely that it makes a “clank” sound when you flush it.

According to two professional plumbers and Kohler tech support, this is normal. (Unbelievably.)

Kohler's toilets have a proprietary flush mechanism that uses a cylindrical riser, instead of a lever, to actuate the valve that controls the flow of water.

The clank is caused by the cylinder hitting the underside of the tank cover. (You can confirm this by removing the tank cover and flushing. If the noise is gone, you found the problem.)

The fix is to put a couple of very thin rubber feet under the tank lid to raise it. The tolerances are very tight — it won’t take much to move the lid out of the way. Try something like this.

To be more specific and to help the findability of this tip, the toilet I have is a Kohler San Raphael 1.28 GPF Elongated One-Piece Toilet. Part number 1126374. Model 3722

You’re welcome.


Synology’s broken Download Station app

I don’t think too much about my Synology NAS device. Its “DSM” operating system is chock-full of apps and options, most of which I ignore, apart from dutifully keeping them up to date.

However, there is one Synology app with which I have a love/hate relationship: Download Station. The main feature of Download Station is downloading torrent files. But I don’t use for that. The feature that I (attempt to) use extensively is automatically downloading files distributed via RSS enclosures, such as podcasts.

Sadly, however, Download Station has a fatal flaw and I can’t rely on it. It is unable to follow server-side redirects for attachments. (The biggest offender using redirects in RSS feeds are the bastards at anchor.fm)

Synology knows that Download Station won’t follow redirects. I reported this bug and their tech support has acknowledged that they can reproduce it. They say that it is in their queue and will be addressed in a future release.

They’ve been saying this for three years.

Clearly, Synology doesn’t care that Download Station is broken.

Oh, it gets worse. When Download Station encounters a redirect, it keeps the download task in its queue, even though it will never be able to complete it. Eventually, the queue fills up, and Download Station completely stops working until the queue is manually cleared.

I have not been able to find a replacement for Download Station that runs on the Synology, so instead I use the butt-ugly gpodder (on my Mac) to download the podcasts that Download Station can’t handle. Then, I dig through the gpodder underbelly, find the files, and manually copy them to the Synology drive for later use.

At some point, my Synology device will die. (I’m already on my second one.) When it does, I probably won’t replace it with another. Their lack of response to this issue has soured me on any future business.


Tile trackers are a waste of money

If you read my overview of AirTag cases, you might be wondering why I don’t use Tile products, as their thin, notched design doesn’t yearn for a case.

Well, I did use Tile, until the arrival of the AirTag. I took a half-dozen Tile Pro tags on a long trip to Europe, and they were nearly worthless. It was common to go a week or more without the tags ever being seen on the network, even by my device.

The issue, as far as I was able to determine, is that the tags are only seen by devices that have the Tile app installed. And there simply aren’t enough of those to make for a robust and useful location network. (Although this doesn’t explain why my phone, positioned mere feet from the tag, sometimes still couldn’t see it.)

When I switched to using AirTags, I thought I might be able to sell my Tiles on eBay. But seeing that they are going for pennies on the dollar, clearly other folks have figured out their underperformance too. (I ended up recycling mine.)

Trust me, if you want something that can actually locate your items, your answer is AirTag. It’s remarkable how well they work.


Aldi’s AirTag Keychain

I have tried several AirTag cases and keychains. They’re universally overpriced, and each one has flaws that make me feel vaguely dissatisfied with having purchased them. Here are some of the ones that I have tried, followed by a surprising discovery that ends up being nearly perfect.

First up is Apple’s Leather Loop. It is chic, pricey, and impracticable for any application where it could be subject to rough handling. But the quality is excellent, and it turns your AirTag into a fashion accessory.

Belkin’s version of the Leather Loop, which is made from plastic and paracord, is better priced but still expensive for what you get. If dangling your AirTag is your jam, though, it’s a less pretentious and more secure alternative.

Bellkin does better with their AirTag Secure Holder and Keychain, which was one of the first third-party cases on the market and, at the time, amusingly omitted the word AirTag in any of their labeling or marketing. (Go figure.) Its plastic construction is sturdy but doesn’t add any appreciable bulk, so that’s nice.

Elevation Lab’s TagVault is, by far, the most rugged and secure holder that I have tried. My issue with it is the Torx screws used on the enclosure, which makes changing batteries in the AirTag a pain in the butt. They’re a silly addition that only adds inconvenience, not security.

Pelican Protector AirTag Sticker is a holder that I’m very pleased with, but it’s very much for niche applications. If you want to hide an AirTag in your car, this is a fine choice.

Finally, we come to the most unexpected, inexpensive, and practical AirTag case that I have found. The Aldi Quarter Keychain. If you’re not hip to Aldi grocery stores — a cousin of Trader Joe’s — they rent you a shopping cart for 25¢. I guess it’s charming, and has given rise to various quarter-holder keychains so that shoppers can keep a coin close at hand. Aldi occasionally sells these keychains at the checkout counter for less than two bucks. And they’re nearly the perfect size for holding an AirTag. Just enlarge the opening for the coin slightly, using a sharp knife, and Bob’s your uncle. Seriously, if you don’t mind the Aldi aesthetic, you won’t find a less expensive and more useful AirTag keychain. (If you miss them at your local Aldi, you’ll find plenty of higher priced alternatives at the Amazon.)

AldiKeychain.4972b19401914d418e1fb9cf8e581ea1

STFU ScanSnap Update annoyances

A while back, there was a big controversy when Fujitsu updated their software to be 64-bit clean and stopped supporting older ScanSnap models.

Eventually, Fujitsu relented and added support for the older units. Thank you very much.

Now, they’ve done it again. The latest ScanSnap software no longer supports my perfectly functional scanner. But the last version that does support the unit seems to function just fine on the latest macOS.

So, just keep using the old version, right? Sure, except that Fujitsu’s auto-update mechanism is a royal pain in the ass. Every few days, it will tell me that a new version is available. Additionally, the user interface for declining the update is (intentionally?) deceptive with a double-negative, making it easy to accidentally apply the update and screw myself.

Worse yet, the update notification not only steals focus, it prevents the computer from shutting down until you answer its inhumane prompts!

The solution to this annoyance is to turn off the ScanSnap’s auto-update function(s). This is accomplished using a separate app that you might not have noticed among all the detritus that Fujitsu installs. See the screenshot below for all the details.

AOUpdater screen shot