Resolving the HomeKit can’t find accessory error

I’m adding a new camera system to my automated home. I chose the EufyCam 2C Pro system, partially because it’s made by Anker, but mostly because it supports HomeKit Secure Video.

However, it was a major headache getting the system configured to use HomeKit. The issue is that the process of adding the HomeBase2 as a HomeKit accessory would fail. I tried doing it in HomeKit directly, and I tried doing it through the Eufy Security app. Adding the HomeBase2 would always fail.

Making it even more frustrating, each attempt took several minutes, and seemed to work until the final step. HomeKit found the HomeBase, it asked for its location and camera names, and so on. It wasn’t until the final step when it would eventually timeout with a frustrating “Accessory not found” error. Well, FU HomeKit, you found it just fine five minutes ago when I started this process!

How did I finally resolve it? By (inconveniently) connecting the HomeBase directly to the router. (I previously had it, like everything else in my home, connected to a switch. A professional-grade switch, I might add, not some cheap Amazon Basics crap.) Once I moved the connection, adding the accessory was fast and smooth. Apparently, the HomeBase (or maybe HomeKit) doesn’t like being behind a switch. Word to the wise.


How to lose a customer the CenturyLink way

If a company can’t provide at least minimally competent customer service before delivering the product, take that as a sign that you should bail on the deal. I did.

Here are the highlights of how CenturyLink makes it hard to be their customer:

  1. Require a long lead-time to install residential fiber Internet service. Your competitor, Cox, says they offer next day installation. But screw that, make people wait nearly a week.
  2. During that week of waiting, pester the customer with multiple email and text messages, insisting they need to come to a website for the latest installation updates.
  3. When the customer comes to the website, give them a garbled summary, so they won’t know what time to expect the installer.
  4. centurlink buggy scheduling
  5. On the day of install, have your tech entirely ignore the instructions they were given by the community’s security guard so that the tech will be unable to access the customer’s neighborhood.
  6. Have the tech call the customer, seemingly to obtain the instructions already given, but when the call drops before either party can utter a word, turn around and leave the area. IMPORTANT: When the customer calls you back, don’t answer. And never, ever respond to the voice mail left by the customer.
  7. Mark the installation order as ‘location unavailable,’ and reschedule it for more than 40 days in the future. But do not tell the customer you’ve done so. Let them call dispatch and ask WTF is going on.

Book Review: Who in Hell

Sean Kelly and Rosemary Rogers are the authors of “A Guide to the Whole Damned Bunch,” which is probably the most unique book on my reference shelf. (Where it stands between the Oxford dictionaries of Superstitions and Euphemisms.)

gordon meyer holding book

The best way to describe this book is that it’s a “Who’s Who in Hell,” but I’m guessing the publishers couldn’t use that analogy for trademark reasons. Not only does the book list countless known and identified demons, but it also lists people infamous for their mortal sins, all of whom surely now reside in the fiery pits. Politicians, popes, actors, murderers, and all walks of life are represented. Each with a discussion of the actions that damned their souls.

Interspersed throughout are pithy and memorable quotes, such as “Hell is a pocket edition of Chicago” — a quip from antisemite, prohibitionist, and Englishman, John Burns.

Like all good reference books, every time I look up something, I experience serendipitous delight. For example:

  • As of 1996, 85% of Americans believe Hell exists
  • According to Papal decree, unbaptized babies and Protestants go to Limbo, not Hell. This implies that hell is populated with Catholics.
  • Iya is a Sioux malevolent spirit whose foul breath spreads illness
  • Divel was the common spelling of devil in the 1600s.
  • Adrian IV, the first and only English-born Pope, ceded Ireland to the English, causing no end of trouble.
  • While looking up John Dee (whose mortal sin was sorcery) I noticed the listing for Pierre David. David was a mid-1600s priest who committed blasphemy by issuing dildos to the nuns of his parish and insisting that they attend mass in the nude, à la the Garden of Eden.
  • The demon Hael causes gossip, and is known for teaching the art of writing letters.

Another interesting discovery was Belphagor. He’s an Old Testament devil, known for sloth and carnality, who was worshiped by the Moabites. This entry caught my eye because, while I knew the name of the imp guarding my book cabinet, I knew nothing of his story.

statue in gordon meyer book shelf

I bought my copy of “Who in Hell…” second-hand at a local Half Price Books (a great place to find reference books), but if you would rather not depend on happenstance, you can find it via the Amazon too.


Another reason why Dropbox sucks

There are many reasons why Dropbox sucks. (Go ahead, Google it, the results are shameful) But here is the latest from me. About 98% of the time when I boot my computer, this error message appears. Dismissing the error and restarting Dropbox makes it go away, and the status that the app reports is that everything is just fine.

Screen Shot 2022 04 17 at 9 07 11 AM

Here's what's wrong with the error message:
- It does not tell you how to contact support, only that you should.
- The Help button it refers to does not exist.
- The text implies that the user did something wrong.
- The text implies a specific problem that is vague and not actionable. (And incorrect, based on the error log it references)
- The file it references is a Python crash log. (Completely unhelpful to anyone but Dropbox programmers.)

I tweeted Dropbox Support about this error, and they said to reply with a DM and attach the error log. Twitter does not allow text attachments, and the error log exceeds the maximum tweet length. It also exposes information that I consider to be private.

Remind me again why I'm paying for a premium Dropbox account?


Book Review: The Library of the Dead

This is one of the most fun and entertaining novels that I’ve ever read! (Well, technically, I listened to the unabridged Audible audiobook.) The setting is one of my favorite places in the world — Edinburgh — and the many geographical references stirred warm memories and a true sense of place. Never mind that the setting for the story is after some unspecified future worldwide turmoil, and that Scotland is seemingly once again independent and ruled by a King. (That’s all gleamed from the by-and-by, the story is not at all about politics.)

The author, TL Huchu, is a male Zimbabwean, but he has convincingly written the narrator as a teenage girl. She’s smart, funny, and due to the excellent voice acting, sometimes as much of a puzzle as listening to an actual Scot. This definitely increases the fun and intrigue of the story, at least for Americans. (Who knew that a “float” is a small truck, for example?)

In very brief terms, the protagonist can see and speak with the dead, and she hustles a meager income by conveying messages between the departed and the living. There are some other supernatural elements at play too, but the story remains grounded in gritty, familiar realism in nearly every other way. There’s a definite cyberpunk feel to it, too, which I really enjoyed.

This is the first volume in the “Edinburgh Nights” series, and I’ll certainly be continuing with the second. Check them out at Amazon.


Book Review: Secret Route 66

Earlier this year, my wife and I decided to take advantage of an apparent lull in the plague by hitting the road. Specifically, “the mother road.”

Route 66 begins in Chicago, just a few blocks away from our home, and ends somewhere in California. (Where, exactly? Figure it out. Have you confused my blog with Wikipedia?) Our plan was to drive it through Arizona, then diverge into fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada.

I should note that one does not actually drive Route 66. It doesn’t exist anymore, except as various non-contiguous historic snippets of varying length. Most of them are business loops through small, forgotten towns that desperately suckle from the teat of having once been a vibrant part of the route.

We’ve driven portions of the route before, I knew there was no shortage of roadside kitsch to explore, so I thought a travel book would be helpful in this regard. (Alas, online resources like Atlas Obscura were unimpressive.) However, I was surprised to find that my local Barnes & Noble had exactly zero books on the subject. What the hell? It’s literally a Chicago landmark.

So, I turned to the Amazon, making heaving use of their “Look Inside” feature to preview the contents of each book that caught my eye. Thank heavens I did, as it revealed how boring and filler-packed each book was. I began to fear that I would never find the mother lode about the Mother Road. (Forgive me.)

Then I came across Secret Route 66 by Jim Ross and Shelly Graham. The book’s subtitle, “A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure,” was right up my alley. Look Inside revealed the location of road tar footprints improbably left by a very heavy bird crossing the road. I couldn’t click “Buy Now” fast enough.

gordon meyer holding book

I’m glad that I did. The book added a lot of flavor to our road trip. If you’re going to buy into the nostalgia of taking such a drive, you should embrace all the quirky and cheesy things that come with it, and this book will help you do so.

My initial concern about the book was its age. Published in 2017, I feared that the ravages of Trumpism and COVID-19 would render much of the information obsolete. Some information the book includes was probably out of date before the book rolled off the printing presses. However, many of the roadside attractions have weathered other storms and are still in operation (although barely so, in some cases). Furthermore, like the aforementioned chicken footprints, many of the features that Ross and Graham have included are not dependent upon visitors to keep them afloat. (The authors do love pointing out old bridges, for some reason.) As with any book, use the web to sanity-check any information that would throw your plans out of whack if it’s no longer correct.

If you get the book, I recommend paying attention to the small towns that the authors highlight. We pulled off to visit several of them, and they were almost all worthwhile, charming stops. One that we intended to visit is Galena, Kansas. But I accidentally programmed the navigation system for Galena, Missouri instead. We discovered that Galena, MO is a town of less than 500 people with a surprisingly large “downtown” for its size. However, we felt like we were in a Twilight Zone episode. Every business (even City Hall) was locked up tight in the middle of the afternoon. We didn’t see a single person, but there were at least a dozen cars parked on the streets. Was there a mandatory town meeting in progress? Were they watching us? It was an eerie and interesting visit!

The book does have one glaring flaw: a complete lack of any discernible organization. For example, the first item in the book is from the middle of the route. Did it not occur to the authors or publishers that a linear progression, East or West, would make perfect sense? Its random presentation of locations makes the book very difficult to use as a planner, and worse, worthless as a reference during the drive itself. Even a simple map of the route, with locations indicated, would make the book much more useful. Truly, what were they thinking?

To work around the problems of aged info and perplexing organization, I recommend creating a Guide in the Apple Maps app. Moreover, while you’re at it, take a look at the curated Route 66 guides that are available in Maps, they’re perfect for the mainstream attractions.

Happy trails!


The Case of the Counterfeit Nivea

Don’t be confused by the title of this piece, it is not another review of a teenage mystery novel. It’s a cautionary tale of the cesspool that Amazon has become.

A couple of years ago, in Europe, I tried a men’s deodorant made by Nivea. I liked it, but it’s not widely distributed (if at all) in the USA, so I have ordered it several times since, always in bulk, from Amazon.

When the last set that I ordered arrived, I quickly noticed that something was wrong. One of the bottles was broken open. Then, I noticed that the bottles were made from plastic, not their usual heavy glass. ‘OK, an unfortunate change in packaging,’ I thought to myself.

Next, I found that the bottles had a label that was haphazardly stuck over another label. Under the first one, the labeling was entirely in Spanish and declared that the contents were made in Mexico. The glass bottles from my previous order were labeled differently, and the country of origin was Germany. ‘OK, an unfortunate consequence of globalization,’ I thought to myself.

But things were starting to stink. Literally. The gooey liquid leaking from the “unscented” deodorant had an overpowering scent. ‘OK, something is not right,’ I thought to myself.

Either Nivea has lost their mind and made some radical changes to an established product, or Amazon just sold me a box of counterfeits. The latter seems most likely. I’ve heard that Amazon has a huge problem on their hands with regard to fakes, but fake deodorant? I suppose it’s possible.

I’m returning the broken, leaky, fake bottles to Amazon for a refund. Also enclosed in the package will be the last vestige of trust in the retailer.

Why do I blame Amazon for an insidious and difficult to police issue? I used their “Buy It Again” button to order these, an expedited checkout process that, I have since deduced, took me to an Amazon-approved vendor that was different from whom I had placed my previous orders.

Additionally, Amazon has no process for reporting a vendor who is supplying questionable merchandise. The only option is to return the order and select the reason for doing so as “merchandise not as described” — which is technically true for a counterfeit, but doesn’t help the company identify the actual problem.

Finally, I attempted to post a review of the product to alert other buyers. Amazon rejected my review saying their “community standards” don’t allow reviews that mention the vendor. This prevents me from alerting others that Kyli Commerce sold my poorly packaged and possibly fake products. My previous orders were sold by Wiki Deals and those were genuine. However, having been burned, I’ll just go back to buying lesser American deodorant from the corner pharmacy conglomerate and not risk more Amazon nonsense and hassles.


Book Review: Horrorstor

I haven’t read a horror novel in decades, but the design and premise of this one was irresistible, so I dove right in. The book, written by Grady Hendrix and properly punctuated “Horrorstör,” is about the haunting of a low-rent IKEA knockoff store called “Orsk.” The book’s design resembles an IKEA catalog and even features (increasingly creepy) products with appropriately Swedish-y names. It’s a perfect execution of the concept.

gordon meyer holding book

Here is a spoiler-safe example of how nicely the story and setting are interwoven:

(REDACTED) was completely immobilized in a wooden box roughly six feet long, twenty inches wide, so shallow that (PRONOUN) face touched the lid. It had the dimensions of a coffin, but (PRONOUN) knew right away that it was a Liripip, one of the most popular sellers in Wardrobes.

Up to about half-way through the book, the story is a fun, clever, satiric take on what it’s like working in a store like IKEA. There are ghostly vibes present very early, but for me, it was akin to an episode of Scooby-Doo.

After the halfway point, the book takes a dramatic turn towards the dark (literally) and disturbed (also literally). No spoilers, but I ended up regretting my decision to make this my “just before bedtime” nightly read. The book never loses its sense of humor or thematic cleverness, but holy hell, there are some frightening things happening in Orsk after closing!

Several years ago, I spent a summer as the sole occupant of a residence hall at Northern Illinois University. Being the only living person in a large building designed to house hundreds was sometimes quite unsettling. This description from the story really hit home for me:

Orsk was so big it needed a certain number of people on the premises to keep it under control. (NUMBER) of them weren't enough. The store was stirring, restless, growing slowly. Emptied of people, Orsk felt dangerous.

I also enjoyed this perspective about ghosts:

I believe a ghost is a subjective experience. It doesn't have an objective reality. It exists solely in the perceptions of the people who see it.

And finally, I’ve read accounts of 18th century séances and wondered how ectoplasm was perceived, this made me view the phenomenon in a new way:

(REDACTED) throat gave a final heave and what (REDACTED) saw next was impossible: it looked like she was vomiting underwater. A thick, milky liquid hung in front of (REDACTED) face, an impossible cloud suspended in midair, soft white tendrils unfurling in slow motion.

The book’s back-flap author bio indicates that Hendrix is a screenwriter, and even though I’m not a movie kinda guy, it’s easy to imagine this as a film. I hope he’s optioned it for a big pile of cash — it’s a remarkable and memorable work. (Although, I’m hoping to shake some of those memories myself.)

I found my copy on the Fiction table in a suburban Barnes & Noble, but you can get one at the Amazon, of course.


The secret to manually updating Volvo XC-60 nav maps

If the Sensus in your Volvo displays a message about updates being available, but then refuses to list any app updates, it’s probably referring to a map update. Don’t bother contacting Volvo OnCall about not seeing any updates, they will just refer you to your dealer. Then, as happened to me, your dealer will tell you that you need a map update. You can have your dealer install it (for a fee), or you can do it yourself. Kudos to Howard Orloff Volvo for pointing this out to me.

Having previously owned a Nissan Murano, I was pleased to learn that Volvo provides free map updates via their website, but not pleased to discover that Volvo’s instructions for installing the updates are poor and incomplete. After several false starts, here’s the information necessary for success, which I discovered by trial and error:

  • The flash drive must be exFAT formatted, or it won’t be recognized by the Sensus nav system. Some Volvo documentation incorrectly states that FAT32 is supported.
  • The Volvo downloader verifies the data on your flash drive, but does not verify that Sensus will recognize the drive. It could easily do so, but it doesn’t.
  • Volvo implies that you might need to buy their flash drive. I used one that I had in a junk drawer.
  • Don’t be confused that the XC-60 owners manual links to a page describing how to update the XC-90. This is just sloppy work by Volvo’s technical writers.
  • The manual says you can only update a map that you’ve previously downloaded over-the-air. This wasn’t true for me, I installed all of North America but had only regional maps already installed.
  • Final tip: Installing took about 40 minutes, followed by a long “Loading…” pause on the Sensus screen. Have patience.

Good luck!