Wednesday, January 6, 2016

How to Defrost a Samsung Ice Maker

[UPDATE 8-29-16]: The solution, sent out to all Samsung service Techs in a bulletin, is in the new post on this subject here.

If you have a Samsung refrigerator with the SZAB001TA1 ice maker, you have a problem.

RF263BEAEWWWe recently purchased a French door refrigerator by Samsung (RF263BEAEWW) from Best Buy (heavily discounted as scratch and dent, $1,200 instead of $2,300… plus all the extra money for the extended warranty, etc.).  As usual, I researched this major purchase for weeks, and drove around to just about every major appliance store and outlet in Denver to see what I could find on scratch-and-dent-deep-discount.

While this fridge was the best rated fridge available (currently there seems to be a dearth of decent refrigerators on the market), it’s still had it’s issues, especially in regard to the compressor being astoundingly loud for a new refrigerator.  The biggest problem we’ve encountered so far is that it started making a “churning” or “chugging” noise and I quickly realized it was the fill pump for the ice maker.  The defrost was not working correctly and an ice dam was blocking the fill flow, thus the pump just kept trying to pump in water without ever quitting.  Not only was the noise extremely annoying, but it was going to destroy the pump if left to continue.

Samsung Ice MakerEvidently the ice makers in these units are HORRIBLE, and the circuit board that controls them is also awful (and fails if you look at it wrong).

Calling Best Buy gets you nowhere, as they will only direct you to the manufacturer if the appliance is still under manufacturer’s warranty.  Trying to get someone to come check out an appliance via Samsung will make you feel like you live in cold war Russia (trying to talk to the right person, trying to get someone to come to your house, getting scheduled for a visit more than a month out, etc.).

Rather than wait for someone to come fix it while putting up with the awful noise and having the pump fail completely while we waited, I ended up doing it myself, and that started with figuring out how to defrost the ice maker without having to turn off the fridge (and thus empty all the contents).

Here are the steps:

  1. On the front panel display, press the Energy Saver and Refrigerator buttons at the same time for 8 seconds.  The display will switch to the Test Mode and the display (all buttons, etc.) will go dark.
  2. Press any button within 15 seconds after the display goes dark to scroll through the Test Modes as follows:
    • Manual operation 1 (FF)
    • Manual operation 2 (0F-r)
    • Manual defrost of fresh food compartments (rd)
    • Manual defrost of fresh food and freezer compartments (fd)
    • Cancel (display goes completely dark)

“fd” is the one you want.  The defrost mode will beep while in effect (pretty annoying) and will shut off after five minutes (I had to do it quite a few times to thaw everything out).

Once the majority of the stuck-to-the-unit ice was thawed, I used a screw driver to carefully dislodge all the ice, then completed melted any chunks I couldn’t remove by hand with a hair dryer.  Finally I blew out the ice maker with an air compressor to remove any remaining droplets/moisture so it wouldn’t build up ice crystals once the unit was back on.

I’m not happy about this issue, and I really hope it doesn’t continue to happen, as returning a refrigerator is going to be a major pain (all the doors and drawers had to be removed to fit through the front door and kitchen door, not to mention the hassle of scheduling the process and storing food in the interim).

UPDATE 1-11-16: The ice maker is more of a problem than I had originally anticipated –more specifically, the way the ice maker is unable to defrost/thaw in an efficient manner).  There is a fairly permanent puddle in the bottom of the refrigerator, and often there is so much water it pours out of the front and onto the floor (and also into the bottom freezer, creating giant chunks of ice and icicles).  In fact, the water coming from the ice maker has ruined our floor (woke up one morning with a giant puddle on the floor that warped the floating cork, and I’m sure there is now mold under the flooring).

Here are some photos of the madness:

Samsung Ice Maker Issues 20151206_193432 20151207_152032

UPDATE 1-17-16: The Samsung Ice Maker has failed again.  The genius who designed it decided that the defrost cycle, which happens on a regular basis, should drain directly into… the bottom of the ice maker housing.  Thus, this next time our ice maker failed (again, pouring water all over the floor and further damaging the cork flooring), the ice tray also froze completely shut, meaning I couldn’t get the ice maker drawer out without first thawing the ice maker (which meant the thawing ice had nowhere to go except all over the place).  There was nearly a full 1/2” solid sheet of ice holding the ice drawer to the bottom of the ice maker housing.  I spent around 2 hours fixing the problem tonight, and I have a feeling this is only going to get worse.  I really don’t want this refrigerator anymore.

Monday, January 4, 2016

I Hate Plex So Much

I have been hobbling along with Plex for nearly two years now.


I have re-named all my files by their facist naming system (since Plex ignores the title information and anything else from file details) and placed each and every file in directories exactly as Plex has instructed.

As an early adopter, I paid hard-earned money for their Roku app (which should provide an elevated level of functionality… it does not).

I have spent hours looking through forums and trying to find information on their official website.

Still my files are constantly renamed (almost always incorrectly) and almost NO FILE has a thumbnail that corresponds to the actual film or television program it represents.  Even when I manually add names and poster files via the computer desktop interface, Plex will inevetiably switch the name back to whatever it wants, even when I use Plex’s “lock” funtion (this is particularly frustrating with episodic television).  Not only does Plex rename the titles, but it also removes the artwork I have assigned to replace the thumbnail with an image of Kevin Spacey from House of Cards.  I love Kevin Spacey, but I am so sick of seeing his #*&$% face on EVERY THUMBNAIL IN MY LIBRARY.

Furthermore, when I search (FF/RW) the “preview” always shows scenes from The Long Goodbye.  No matter the show I am watching, FF/RW will only show Elliot Gould, never the characters from the program I am searching through.  Thus, I have to guess how far forward or back I have gone.

I have dumped caches, refreshed databases, optimized databases, on and on and on… all to no avail.

The Plex interface in Roku is abysmal, especially since all the thumbnails are wrong.  I can’t search visually (since every thumbnail is the same still from House of Cards), so I have to highlight each and every file to see what the program actually is.  Not only that, but whoever created the Plex navigation for the Roku interface should be dragged into the street and beaten.  It is the most convoluted and unuseable maze of nonsense I have ever encountered.  I have no idea what they were thinking when they were creating the “quick access” sections, as each offering is completely useless when I’m trying to find the content I want to watch.

I am at witt’s end. I absolutely HATE Plex, but there seems to be NO OTHER choice for viewing my NAS stored media via Roku (which is what all the tv’s in our house use to access streaming media).

I could switch to XBMC and mirror to Roku, but I don’t want to have to access media via a computer (I want to use just Roku and NAS).

Why in the world is Plex the only game in town?!

Goodbye Windows Live Writer, Hello Open Live Writer

I use Windows Live Writer to compose my posts (it’s a much more robust desktop blog composition interface than anything else I’ve been able to find).  A couple of days ago I tried to post here, and I got a log in error from Google (The Invisible Blog is hosted on Blogger).  This has happened (a lot) in the past (basically everytime Google changes any log in protocol), and I didn’t really have time to troubleshoot at that moment, so I revisited the issue today.  Turns out the problem is going to be permanenet.

Microsoft hasn’t really updated Live Writer since August of 2012.  Since Google updated their API at the end of 2015, Windows Live Writer will never work with Blogger again.  Luckily, Microsoft turned Live Writer over to .NET Foundation (which includes a bunch of Microsoft employees working as volunteers) and they are working with Google/Blogger to make Blogger and Live Writer play nice.


There are some things that they’ve done away with (spellcheck –won’t work on Win7 but will hopefully work on Win8 using the OS’s built-in spell check, albums –which I’ll miss because it was an easy way to upload a group of photos), and there are some things that just aren’t supported yet (categories –hopefully they are able to get this back up and runnning, plug-ins –I don’t use any, so this doesn’t really affect me).

A current annoyance (but minor, in comparison to the possibilty of not being able to use Live Writer at all) is that Open Live Writer doesn’t seem to be able to open any Drafts that are online (it only has the option to open local drafts).

I am happy to know that there are people keeping Live Writer alive, especially since no one seems to be interested in creating decent blog composition software (which seems REALLY weird, since the internet has become basically one giant blog).

Kudos, people of .NET Foundation.

Autopopulate Fields With KeePass

keepass_512x512I have been happily using KeePass to safegaurd my passwords for years.

My one gripe has always been that to use my username and pass, I have to open the database, find the entry I want to use, then either right-click “perform auto type” or copy and paste the username and password.

Today I found out I’ve been doing it wrong. :-\

There is actually a keyboard shortcut/hotkey that will allow you to simply click on the username field and then KeePass will recognize the site’s address and autopopulate the necessary fields.

Once you’ve clicked inside the username field, simply click ctrl-alt-a.

It doesn’t always work, but it’s worked every time I’ve tried it so far.  This is a MAJOR time saver (you don’t have to open KeePass, find the entry, and populate the fields).

You can also alter the hotkey combo by going to Tools>Options>Advanced, and then in the lower right corner there is a button marked “Auto-Type” where you can change various settings for this hotkey combo.


Format Large SD Card for Android

I’ve got several older devices laying around that I use for various things (media players, cameras, etc.).  Recently I tried to upgrade the Micro SD card in my HTC Droid Incredible (ADR6300) running Android 2.3.4 from 8GB to 128GB and I had a heck of a time getting it to recognize the 128GB card.

Formatting via Windows for anything over 32GB can’t be done using Disk Tools (you can only format as exFat and NTFS).  Thus, if you’re going to format with what you’ve got in Windows, you have to use a command line.  Using the “quick” format command in the command line ( format <drive letter>: /FS:FAT32 /Q) almost always causes failure for disks over 32GB, and when you don’t do a quick format, it almost always pretends like it’s formatting for a couple of hours, then fails.

I actually got the Droid to recognize and format the card using its own utility at one point, but then the phone just went into boot loop and finally hung on the HTC screen.

I am loathe to download and install programs from weird locations around the web, but after about an hour and a half of trying all the routes that DIDN’T involve installing software, I finally broke down and installed FAT32Format from Ridgecrop Consultants, LTD (a guy in the UK).

Here is their fancy logo.

While their graphic design may leave something to be desired, their code rocks.

Lemme tell you… I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out “other ways” when I could have just done this in the first place.  The executable is tiny (76KB), and the disk was formatted and working in my droid in less than 60 seconds.

Kudos, Ridgeway.