just one more geek in a sea of austin techies

December 29, 2020

MPOW BH079A driver for Win10 #BluetoothGeek

If you need to add Bluetooth to a Windows 10 PC it's harder to find a cheaper or easier solution than this well-reviewed $7 USB dongle from MPOW.  There are, however, questions about the safety of trusting included hardware driver CDs or even downloading drivers direct from lesser-known manufacturers.  Even the most honest of vendors is not guaranteed to have clean, virus-free driver installation software.  
If you purchase a device that is not automatically recognized by Windows then you face the quandary of trusting unknown third-party driver installation software or changing to a different hardware solution.

Such was the case with my own MPOW BH079A USB adapter purchase.  The adapter boasts a large number of great reviews and is compatible with many versions of Windows back to XP. Windows 10 did not, however, automatically detect and set up the device and I have a healthy distrust of driver CDs from lesser-known manufacturers.  To be fair, no MPOW reviewers cited any cases of malware but I still prefer to avoid software from lesser-known sources when possible.

Fortunately the adapter is basically just MPOW's casing wrapped around the trusty Broadcom BCM20702 Bluetooth single-chip solution which has been around for a decade.  Any official Broadcom BCM20702 Windows 10 driver should be all that is needed (e.g., the driver doesn't have to be from MPOW).

Although my MPOW USB dongle is being used on a home-built PC, I went with a Hewlett Packard (HP)-supplied Broadcom BCM20702 Win10 driver (circa 2017):

Install the driver then insert the USB dongle and it should be activated automatically -- no need to turn it on in Windows settings.  If you already had the USB adapter plugged in when installing the driver you may need to remove and then reinsert the adapter.


December 8, 2020

Save, then save, then save again #ShoppingGeek

We're well into the holiday shopping season as I write this but it's never too late for tips on saving money.  This year I've been doubling, tripling and even quadrupling my online shopping savings opportunities.  How?  With some new virtual takes on a few old payment standbys.

When everything is clicking, my best online shopping savings scenario is:
  1. Fill up my online cart with items
  2. Get a discount applied automatically
  3. Get part of the remaining balance paid for via saved credits (bonus gift cards)
  4. Get part of the remaining balance paid for via discounted virtual gift card
  5. Earn cash back on whatever balance is left that I actually have to pay
  6. Earn credit towards future bonus gift cards (see #3)
That is, quite literally, savings on top of savings on top of savings (on top of savings on top of savings).  I *do* have to jump through a couple of hoops to get things set up, but I'm frugal enough that I don't mind doing so when I consider some of the larger payments and purchases we make.  Read on to see how I stack up these savings...

September 25, 2020

eero 6: Will it work with original eero? #NetworkGeek

Will eero 6 work with
first-generation eeros?

The new eero 6 (link) and eero 6 Pro (link) lines of mesh routers and access points are now available bringing improved connectivity, faster wireless speeds and integrated Zigbee smart hubs.  

There are plenty of articles and reviews covering the improved features but I've yet to see anyone answering one burning question:  

What about existing eero owners?  Specifically, can existing (first-generation) eero mesh networks incorporate new eero 6 devices?  Or do existing owners have to replace their old eero units in order to upgrade to eero 6?

Read on for the answer...