Category: *.*

October 2nd, 2019 by Chief

If you have experienced problems with Google Home playing content from Spotify, you may find this article very useful.

The problem may manifest itself like your Google Home device not playing anything when you ask it to play music from Spotify, or even worse start and stop playing without any explainable reason. Maybe it is not even a problem and you just need to change its account linked to your Google Home. It may look impossible to find all the options and therefore we wrote you a guide to help.

In most normal cases for adding or removing Spotify as a music service on your Google Home ap you would do the following:

  1. Open the Google Home app on your phone and select the account icon.
Google Home

2. Open the Settings menu.

Google Home – Settings

3. Open the Music menu.

Now you have a list of music services in your Google Home.

Google Home – Music services

It is now clearly visible that there is no Spotify service available

This can happen because you live in or travel to countries where Spotify is not available. For example, a lucky relative that lives in a civilized country ( πŸ™‚ ) shares a family account with you. Of course, you would want to enjoy Spotify no matter what, therefore we go to the other steps needed to achieve that goal.

Google assistant account on a computer. You do this by logging on to any Google service like Gmail or whatever and then in the same browser window just paste this URL: Or just open URL and login, whatever works. It should look like this:

Find Spotify in Google Assistant
Google Assitant

Then you enter Spotify in a search, and you will get its options. It should look something like the picture below.

Spotify in Google Home
Spotify on Google Home

Click on its icon and there it is. Option to unlink an account.

Spotify in Google Home
Spotify linked to Google home

So, this part is for you if you want to change/unlink the Spotify account to your Google Home. Another part involves enabling it to actually work like it should on your Google Home device. So when you finished all the steps above, here is another round.

Disabling Google services to access Spotify

Do this by going to


Then again open your Google Home app on your phone and chose no default provider under music settings if it is not already selected.

VPN to a Spotify available country

The next step is to reboot your phone. Most importantly, do not skip it, because the next step is not gonna work. If you do not have any VPN service installed, get one before the reboot. After the reboot, use a VPN service to connect to one of the countries where Spotify is available. I used FreeVPN and connected to the USA. If you for some reason want to VPN to country other than the USA, you need to check two things:

  1. List of countries where S. is available. You can check it on this URL:
  2. List of countries that your VPN provider supports.

The country of your choosing has to bee on both lists.

Free VPN

Choose default music provider

After connecting to VPN service open Google Home again, and go again to the settings, music. As a result, you get an option to select it or Pandora, or Deezer as a default music provider. It will ask for credentials for your account and permission to link it.

Google Home and Spotify
Add Spotify to Google Home

Besides the fact that the beer is in order, the final step is to reboot your Google Home device. Just unplug it from the power and wait a few seconds before plugging it again. That should do the job, and as a result, your Google Home will now play music from the desired music provider without problems or interruptions. And in the end, thank dr Kosh for great contribution to solving this problem.

Thank you for reading,


Posted in *.*

December 31st, 2017 by Chief

What is web hosting?

It is a service in which hosting provider offers IT infrastructure and on top of its web services for rent.
Usually, it is some sort of web server that provides services needed so that web documents can be accessed, viewed and in some cases edited by web browsers. Simplified, when you enter the web address in your browser or click a search result in your favorite search engine, it is a link to the website. Service called DNS than translates that name to IP address and that is how your device (computer, smartphone or any other web-capable machine) knows where to go. What waits at the end is a web server.

How much does it cost?

It cost anywhere from 0 to hundreds of $, or even more, depending on what kind of service do you want. Don’t get scared, if you need just a regular website for a project, small company or personal blog it is just a few bucks per month. There are even “free” options, but you will get commercials on it since there is no such a thing as a free lunch.

What to look for, and how to avoid being cheated.

This is very important,

so pay close attention to the following. There are many traps that hosting providers use to catch new customers. When you purchase web hosting and build your site or even worse,  sites, it can be a real pain in the ass to change hosting provider. They all make it sound so easy, and even offer so-called “migrating” tools designed for migrations from other providers to your new shiny and best, most reliable and cheapest provider.

There is no such thing as unlimited hosting!

They made it sound so great – Unlimited. No limitations for traffic, databases, websites, domains……… no boundaries at all. When you think of it that way, you could host service like Facebook on that kind of hosting, right? Wrong. The thing is that they moved limitations from the main description of service to the “terms of use”. There you will find some shady info about what “unlimited” really means. Here is the example fro iPage hosting.

Hosting unlimited
Unlimited hosting

Let`s dig a little deeper, and see what do they mean by unlimited.

Hosting capacity

Of course, more details are on next link.

Unlimited files and sql

So, the real question is why do they sell it as unlimited if in fact there are so many limitations. It`s simple, it is a marketing trick. It`s stated that files must be used for websites and not for storage. So if we install an app like Own Cloud on our hosting and use it for uploading our pictures and videos on our hosting, those files are part of a website, yes? Correct, but the hosting provider will not allow you to do that. Yes you have an unlimited hosting plan, and all your files are part of a website, but if you go to tens of Gigabytes, you will be asked to reduce the number of files. If you do not comply very fast, they will shut you down. That is the fact. As I mentioned before, it is a marketing trick. It doesn`t mean that it is a bad product that should be avoided. On the contrary, few regular websites or blogs will fit and work like a charm. You just need to know what to expect.

Beware of the renewal!

Hosting and renewal

Many hosting providers are “fishing” their customers by price. It is often to see that you could get the great hosting plan for few bucks.Or even for a 1 $ price. Comparing to other products on the market it is much better and cheaper. You are so happy that you found that deal and you take it. You build your websites, set up your email accounts, and everything is just perfect. Then comes time to renew. Price now is doubled or even tripled. You start looking around and found plenty of cheaper products. But you already did set up everything and don’t know how to migrate everything to another provider. So you decide to pay your old hosting only this time.It will get you enough time to plan and migrate everything. Another year passes. Again it is a time to renew. Now price went even more up. You pay again swearing to yourself that this is the last time. Been there, know how it feels.

Here is an example. At least they stated that on renewal it will be a different price. Sometimes it is not stated at all, and you do not know until renewal time when you get the invoice.

Hosting @ HostGator

Look at this next example. You can figure out that something fishy here only by this little * after the price. On next page if you have a magnifying glass you can find this:

Hosting @ HostGator

So you can start with 6 $ per month but you will end up with around 15 $. Great service!

Coupons for everyone.

There are also coupons for many providers, and usually, they are baits on providers hook. They just wait for you to take them. Again if you plan to keep the product that you purchase for more than a year, renewal is gonna get you. Usually, coupons work only for a new product and they are worthless at the renewal time, so keep that in mind. They are great for short-term projects that last less than a year.

Customer comes first!

There are also some honest hosting providers that do the marketing the old way. For example, after more than ten years of struggle with different companies, I found one that sad that they will do their best to keep the same price of the product for as long as I use it. It is the fourth year now, and price did not go up. If you compare the price with others, it was not the cheapest, but when you take out that marketing tricks and calculate what you actually pay in let’s say three years period, it would be among the cheapest. I still pay the same price like I paid for the first time. I did not write this article to be an advertising for anyone, so I will not mention any names ar the addresses, but the Internet is huge, and it is a wise thing to do some research before purchasing a service.

Few pieces of advice at the end…

  • Think about what you actually need, don`t take the biggest package just because price looks great and the discount is unbelievable. Companies do not have fools in the Marketing department, they will take what is their one way or the other.
  • Do some researching, compare the prices, while watching out for the details about renewal price and things like that. If you do not understand something, feel free to contact the company and ask them about it. Believe me, they will answer.
  • Most hosting providers have multiple data centers worldwide, and when purchasing service you can choose the geographical location. Choose the location closest to the place where you expect that most of your customers/visitors will be.
  • I will say the same thing one more time, start with the smallest package that will do you a job, it is easy to upgrade/expand. Shrinking is the problem. Every company will allow you and even assist you to switch to a more expensive service. Usually, for a hosting, it is just a few clicks, and a payment, and you get, more space, databases, traffic, etc.
  • Figure out do you need Windows or Linux based web hosting. These days the difference in price and supported features is getting smaller and smaller, but there is generally an easy way to know which one do you need. If you are going to build or use something that requires .asp and .net use the windows hosting. For .php related stuff , use Linux.

You may also found interesting the article about Cloud computing.

Thank you for reading,


Posted in *.*, Internet

October 20th, 2017 by Chief

If the answer is yes look at this short guide that could save you some dimes or bucks in each Paypal transaction.
First of all, when you start Paypal transaction process it will offer you to chose funding options. It should look something like this picture.

Paypal conversion option

It is possible to see that conversion is already suggested, and by default, Paypal would do it.
The fact is that this is the worst option for you since their charges for conversion are sky-high. To change this setting you need to do some clicking. It is nicely complicated since Paypal does not want you to change it and yet must allow you the freedom to do it.

How to stop wasting money to Paypal

Like marked on the picture above, there is a tiny link that says “change” when you start the payment process. That is your starting point. After clicking that link you will get another confusing option like on the picture below. Actually, there is no option marked for the change of conversion provider. You need to click on the link that actually shows the exchange rate.

Paypal conversion options

After that, the magic option will appear and you will have the chance to change how will you do the conversion.

Paypal currency conversion

It is obvious that by default “Convert with Paypal” is selected. And please take a note that it would cost 5,19 BAM this way.

Paypal currency conversion

Now we are going to select “Convert with card issuer” option. At final something like this will appear showing your final step. It will not show you converted amount since conversion is not done by the Paypal.

Paypal currency conversion

Here is an SMS statement from the bank that says that transaction was made and it was 4.94 BAM.

Paypal currency exchange

Final result

It means that in this example it is  0.25 BAM less than it would be by default. It is roughly 5 % and Paypal would take it just because it is the default option and many people don’t know how to change it. I spoke with people that use the Paypal daily and even they did not figure it out. So next time when you make payment thru this service and your country currency is different than the one you are paying in to, take few seconds to change currency converter in order to avoid wasting money.

Another thing to avoid

If you have any pre-approved payments in Paypal, know the same thing applies to them also. In this case, there is no option to avoid currency conversion fees. For example,  I removed pre-approved payment for Netflix in my account, and now I`m paying for it by credit card directly. On 10 Euro transaction fee was around 30-40 Cents. It`s not a big deal, but I don`t like being robbed, even for few cents. They are processing millions of transactions daily, so do the math.
There are some interesting statistics on this link.

At the end don`t get me wrong, Paypal is a great service, and I`m not saying that you should avoid using it. This is just a tip to use it wisely.

Just a short update, not a two weeks after publishing this article, Paypal changed its default policy, and from now you are able to set conversion provider other than Paypal as a default. There are some more good changes, but this is the most important one. Thank you for listening Paypal!

Once again, thank you for reading.


Smartphone money saving upgrade.

Posted in *.* Tagged with:

distributed switch
October 7th, 2017 by Chief

Distributed vs Standard Switch

The best feature of vDS is that its configuration is centralized to vCenter Server. In practice, it means that you create vDS and as you configure it, its changes are applicable to all connected hosts. You add a new host, just connect it to vDS, all port groups are already there. In just a few clicks, complete hosts networking is configured. You need a new network and VLAN, you just add a new port group and configure VLAN id. All hosts connected to vDS are gonna see it and all virtual machines can use it.
Distributed switch support private VLANs and standard switch do not.

Some info regarding Vmware networking

vNetwork Standard Switch is available from VMware Infrastructure 3. It can be used without the vCenter server. vDS is supported by  ESXi/ESX 4.x and higher. Hosts that belong to a dvSwitch do not need further configuration to be compliant.

Distributed switch or vDS provide similar functionality to standard switch or vSwitch. dvPortgroups is a set of dvPorts. The vDS equivalent of portgroups is a set of ports in a vSwitch. Configuration is inherited from dvSwitch to dvPortgroup, just as from vSwitch to Portgroup.

Virtual machines, Service Console interfaces (vswif), and VMKernel interfaces can be connected to dvPortgroups just as they could be connected to port groups in vSwitches.

There is a nice article regarding networking in Vmware at this link.


You have x hosts in your cluster managed by the vCenter server. If you are using standard switches, then you need to create a new switch for every new host joined to a cluster. If intended to add new VLAN you will need to create it on the every virtual switch at every host, using exactly the same name and VLAN number. It means x times doing the same job. It is time-consuming, and it offers space for a mistake. If the name is not exactly the same, live migration and high availability will not work. You can mitigate some of those problems by using the host profiles, but using distributed switches or vDS is the better option for many more reasons.


But what if you already have an infrastructure, with hundreds of virtual machines on standard switches? How would you change all VMs networking from standard to vDS? Let’s consider live migration as an option. Not to risk usurping your production network, maybe it would be logical to prepare one host separate from the production environment, and configure it to use vDS. Then, when having everything up and running and tested, start transferring VMs to a new host. You will face the first problem if you try live migration. Here is what you will get.

It means that vCenter will not allow you to do the live migration. You now have two options.

  1. Turn off VM, migrate it to a server with vDS, edit its settings and chose a new port group on vDS in networking options. Then you can turn on VM.
  2. Configure the host to use the standard virtual switch and vDS at the same time, live migrate machine, and then change VM networking to a port group on a distributed switch.

Option 2 is mandatory if you want to migrate your complete Vmware environment to vDS, and that includes the vCenter server. You can`t shut down vCenter server since without it you can not access vDS. It does not mean that all VMs will lose networking if vCenter gets unavailable, it just means that you can not switch between networks, or portgroups, without Vcenter Server. You will not be able to see or select ports available on vDS if you access host directly and try to do change networking of a VM that way. So if you have vCenter as a VM, here is the simple way to mitigate the problem.

Migration procedure

This is the example with the standard virtual switch. On the left sides are port groups, and on the right side, we can see two physical adapters connected to switch. Just to mention, two adapters are there for redundancy.

In the next step, we remove one physical adapter from the standard switch. Due to fact that switch has one remaining adapter, networking works like a charm.

We have our new distributed switch prepared, with same portgroups (same VLANs).

In the next step physical adapter  removed from standard switch should be assigned to the distributed switch. That way we create a host that can serve as a bridge for migrating VMs.
If there are unused physical ports on the server we can skip this removing and adding procedure, and use them for the distributed switch directly. So open distributed switch from networking selection chose to add a host to it and select the free physical adapter.

Then, it will give you the option to migrate some host virtual adapters, for the moment let it be, just click next without selecting any.

That`s it. Host  now uses both  standard and distributed switches.

Now that we have the host prepared, so we can try live migration.


What to consider after migration

After migration just remember to edit networking of a VM and change interface or interfaces to adequate port groups on the distributed switch. Doing that you will lose few pings, and that is it. You can use this way for all VMs including vCenter server, and even Database server if you have it on different VM.

When migrating second physical adapter from standard to distributed switch, you will probably have to migrate some of the host’s virtual network adapters. If that is the case, take a great care and doublecheck destination port group to be the same function as the source network. It may be the management network and you may lose connectivity to host.

Plenty work, lower risk

If you have enough resources, the best way is to have one server configured as a so-called bridge, with both types of switches, and one with just a distributed switch as a final solution. So you live migrate VM to a bridge server than change its adapters to vDS portgroups, and then move the VM again to the host with only vDS. That way you are almost eliminating any possibility for a failure to happen. You repeat the process until one more host is without any VMs. Then you connect that host to a distributed switch and remove it from standard switch completely. Repeat the process until all VMs are on the hosts with a distributed switch as the networking device.

Some more explaining.

In most cases, you will not get in this kind of situation because distributed switch or switches are already in use on your Vmware environment. If you are setting up new vCenter and cluster from scratch, I strongly advise you to use vDS. By my humble experience, it is far better and easier to use and manage vDS than standard virtual switches, especially in bigger environments. The need for migration can emerge from older Vmware surroundings. Those kind of systems were typically many times upgraded and scaled from few to many hosts. If that is the case, working and managing standard switches can be a great deal of trouble, and this is the way that I figured to be the best solution for changing networking type.

Once again thank you for reading,


Cloud computing – mist or a technology twist?

Posted in *.*

September 28th, 2017 by Chief

Introduction to DNS

or domain name system. I`m quite sure that you would be delighted to type something like in your browser’s address bar to open Well, without DNS you would need to. DNS is a service that translates names to IP addresses and vice versa. So, in fact, when you type a website address (for example in your browser and hit Enter, your computer goes to another computer on the Internet, called DNS server and asks a question like: do you know what is the IP address of the DNS server then searches its internal record list and if it finds the record it answers. If the record is not found internally the same question will be passed to another DNS server on a higher level. Having an answer DNS server passes it to your computer. The answer can be either the IP address of the domain or statement that the domain does not exist. In the first case, your browser will try to open the website, and in a second you will get a message like “This site can’t be reached” from your browser. This is a simplified explanation of DNS. Now to the subject of this article, ME TLD or Top Level Domain.

Some legislative facts about .ME

  • Montenegro was assigned the ISO 3166-1 two-letter code “ME”, which was allocated by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in September 2006[1] (most other possible abbreviations of Montenegro (MO, MN, MT, MG and MR) and its Montenegrin name Crna Gora (CG) having already been taken). Source: Wikipedia article.
  • In September 2007, ICANN delegated the .me domain to the Government of Montenegro,[2] with the former .yu domain to be operated temporarily by the .rs domain registry (Serbian National Register of Internet Domain Names) until its eventual abolition on or before 30 September 2009.
  • The delegation of root name servers was approved by IANA,[3] establishing .me. The .me domain extension became active on 24 September 2007 and a “Public Invitation for selection of the Agent for domain registration under the national Internet domain of Montenegro” was posted on 14 November. doMEn d.o.o.β€”a Montenegro-based joint venture whose partners are Afilias,, and ME-net d.o.o.β€”was selected as the new registry operator.

Conclusion no.1

.me is the Internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Montenegro.

Flag of Montenegro

Some reality facts

  • The .me country-code top-level domain name (ccTLD) is an extension that represents both Montenegro and you. (Godaddy definition that can be seen here.)
  • .ME is about YOU. You are one step away from owning the domain name of your dreams. Personalize your blog, business or website. The possibilities are endless. Get creative! (, (local language) definition that can be seen here.)
  • In March 2016, .me surpassed one million domain name registrations.
  • Most registered domain names have nothing to do with Montenegro as a country. Registrations have been done mostly due to the meaning of “me” in English.
  • More than 99% registrations of .me domains happened thru registrars outside of Montenegro.
  • Most people don’t even know that .me stands for Montenegro.
  • Big brands like  WordPress, Facebook, and PayPal adopted the extension.
  • Montenegro gained well recognized digital product with global demand and monetized it greatly. In 2015. revenue from .me domain reached around 2 % of total export of Montenegro.

Conclusion no.2

Money always finds the way. The .me domain is definitely being advertised as a personalized domain. Montenegro may be selling its digital heritage but in its own unique way, this actually turned into the win-win situation for everyone. New, short and fun domain extension is out there, registrars are making money. Montenegro is making money. Just keep in mind that this is not the only case of using the language coincidence to monetize domain extensions. The Pacific Ocen island of Tuvalu is another example. Their .tv extension is advertised as domain names for broadcast media. There is also the island kingdom of Tonga with a .to extension used like or

Flag of Tuvalu
Flag of Tonga

Some interesting information regarding domain names and extensions

  • IANA is the organization that takes care of the domain names. List of the top level domain names (those are the extensions with only one . before the name . like .com, .net, .org ) can be found at this link.
  • is the domain name and in that name .com is the domain extension
  • Around 100.000 domain names are registered every day.
  • Domain name registration was free before. In 1995 Network Solutions got the permit to start charging for domain names.
  • There are no more free three character domains.
  • The most expensive domain name publicly reported was, it went for 35.6 million US$.
  • is the first domain ever registered. Date of registration was March 15. 1985.

Fun with domain names πŸ™‚

At the end as Shaldon would say: “Fun with flags.”
Here is the list of the most stupid domains ever:

  • The name of the company is Swissbit, but tld is a bitCH here πŸ™‚ it is turned off now, and the company changed the domain name to
  • It’s not a Ku Klux Klan manifest, it is a Black Hat eBook. People did not want to read it. The new domain is
  • It has to something with bedspreads but the name is definitely not encouraging.
  • Judging by the name, the festival is terminated. Shit happens.
  • Site changed, but still, exists. Follow the link if you want someone to present you…
  • In need of TheRapist? Use this site to find one.
  • Again, the problem with a different meaning in different languages. It looks like even owner managed to figure it out.
  • Budget car rentals on the Cook Islands. The company was getting weird contact messages over the website for unknown reasons. The owner closed it and after reported mental problems disappeared in central Bosnia.
  • This time it is a smelly example.
  •, In fact, it is a Pen Island, but you never know…
  • Institute of Technology & Sciences (also great experts on the subject of TITS)
  •  Want to have something on your data? Try Dickson Data.
  • Use your imagination or simply find about Power Generators in Italia. For now, it waits some better times. Parked it is as Yoda would say.

I hope that this article was interesting and that it provided some fun and useful information. At least next time when you see some of the mentioned domains, you will know what they really stand for and even how do the flags of the originating countries look like.

Thank you for reading.


Posted in *.*, Internet, Tech Tavern Tagged with: , , ,

July 31st, 2017 by Chief

Wartime – how the darkness came.

I was ten years old when I noticed that people around me started talking about us and them. I remember clearly a few situations when some older men asked me: “Kid, what are you?” It was at that time confusing and creepy question for me since I did not understand it. In most cases, I would ignore the question or just answer: “Human being”. When it happened a few times, I asked my parents to explain to me what is the trick with older people asking that weird question. (Later I figured out it was a question about religion). They said that people always try to find reasons to divide among each other and that both my answers were correct. Very soon people became divided by other ways. For example, there were those with electricity and those without it. It was wartime.

Life in a city without  electricity and heating

I lived in a city that had at the time around a quarter of a million people. Infrastructure was ok, for example, there was a big heating plant providing everyone with heating and warm water. I lived on the eighth floor of the building with around 50 apartments. Just try to imagine how it looks to walk to the eighth floor by the staircase without any light! Yes, the building was designed that way, and it was not meant for living in the stone age and without electricity. It had an elevator, but then again it also needs electricity to work. At first, we had some flashlights, but soon we were in a situation that there were no batteries in stores to purchase. Very soon there was no money for them anyway so the first problem could be ignored….. It was wartime.

 First of many problems – heating

The building had very bad insulation. It was hell during summer, and it was a fridge in winter. Without electricity, the fire was the only way of heating. Now that I`m thinking about it, it was the only way of cooking and heating water. So, in time when most of mankind progressed at warp 9, we were solving problems from the like stone age. The parents bought us a wood cooker.

wood cooker

It looked just like this and even had an oven. Our greatest and only home appliance that actually worked. It provided us with heat, enabled us to cook and to heat up some water for bathing. We were almost ready to survive.

Of course, the building did not have a chimney so we drilled a hole in an outside wall and put smoke pipe outside at the building facade. It was the only way, and everyone did it. Soon building with white facade became almost brown, black and gray. It would actually look great in a cheap post-apocalyptic movie. The whole city looked that way…. gray smoke and dark everywhere. But as I said before, now we got ourselves means of heating, cooking, baking bread and producing some hot water. If you would put big enough pot of water on a cooker and heat it near the boiling point, and then empty it in a bathtub and add some cold water, you could almost get a decent bath. In a great necessity, human ingenuity can be limitless.

Acquire firewood in the middle of the city

So the next problem was providing firewood, and stockpiling it somewhere. Well, we had a small storage room in the basement of the building and a decent balcony, so some of the problems were solved. The next one was to buy firewood. It was very expensive, and there was little or no money at all. Anyway, very soon a new type of job and market arises from this trouble. There were horse wagons patrolling the city and selling firewood. Yes, I`m talking about 1993. year, it was not some western movie :). My parents would buy a wagon of wood and we would unload it in front of the building. Then, the fun would start, since it would need to be carried up to the eighth floor. We would start packing woods in a bags and carry some in the basement and some up the stairs. Great recreation huh?

Off and On ratio

At 1993. we were at the point where we would get electricity from the power grid for a few hours every….. 45 days. Yes, that was the on and off ratio. At least for us unlucky enough not to live in the same building with a politician or military officer. Those with that kind of neighbor did not have any power restrictions. Most of the people used candles, and candle market was expanding one. Imagine the whole city in the complete dark, and few scattered buildings shining like a Las Vegas in the dark. It was already possible to conclude that this situation will not end up well. People were leaving their homes and going somewhere. I think it is the first time that I heard word refugees.

How did technology help in a wartime

The first and most common solution that did not involve light sources based on fire was a car battery (if you were lucky enough to have one) and a 12V light bulb. With a bulb from the car main light you would get very good light, but not for a long time, since it was 50 W lamp and that would give 2-3 evenings of light with a standard car battery. It was ok for the beginning of power restrictions when there was no power for a few days. If you had a good charger you could recharge the battery in a few hours and it would do the job. But as it was getting worse and there was no power for a week, the main light bulb was not an option anymore, so the tail light bulb was more appropriate. It was 10 W, and it could last on a single charge for a week or more. It was a time of saving, and energy was the currency.

The neon tube as a life/light saver

Then came the best, most practical and greatest piece of technology of the ’90s – 12 V Neon tube driver, or 12 V CCFL inverter. It would make a standard neon tube shine on a 12 V with acceptable power consumption. Usually, it would drive 10 – 20 W tube, and it would produce much more light for the same amount of current than an ordinary filament bulb. Another great thing was that the neon tube did not need to be in normal working condition. The ones that did not work on normal 220 V surrounding due to the broken filament, would work like a charm on this type of device. It was because of the different way of electrical gas discharge. Now you could create a decent amount of light for a current consumption around 1 A. There were many variations and sizes of these CCFL inverters, The smallest I made worked on 6 V and took 200 mA to drive a small 10 cm neon tube. It was great for the bathroom! I also made some big ones that drove 1,7-meter tubes at their full intensity. Big ones consumed up to 1.5 A but could produce enough light for a very big room or even a cafe bar.

How it was made

Most of the necessary parts could be salvaged from the old BW TVs. Remember, it was wartime and it was not possible to go to Radio Shack and by components. Transistor and ferrite were the most crucial parts and both could be found inside a TV, and suddenly it was a great thing to have one that you did not throw away. Regarding ferrite, I experimented with stick shape, U shape, even pot shape. All worked, but the best was the U shape.

CFFL Inverter schematic

“U” shaped ferrite

Two of the U shapes were in high voltage cascade of the BW TV. I remember that we stripped CuL wire by unwinding old transformers. Capacitors and resistors could be scavenged by disassembling all sorts of electronic waste. Of course, there was improvisation also, the right values were often created by combining multiple elements in series and parallel. You had to put all your ingenuity to work :). The casings could be made out of anything, from food cans to a wooden box.
Device creation could be a piece of cake. Only the transformer took time due to the big amount of windings in the secondary coil. And like always there is a “but” at the end. Soldering iron did not work without electricity either. There were some that could work at 12 V but there was not even enough power for the light so soldering iron had to consume something else to get hot. My father is ingenious as he is used one big old soldering iron in a very specific way. He would put its tip in a fire (we all ready had a wood cooker in our living room) to get it hot enough for soldering, then clean tip a little bit and use it to solder a few wires or joints. Then back to fire again for heating up. That way he was able to create, repair and fix many devices even without electricity.


I wanted to create one for the means of this article, but I made or helped in the creation of so many of them as a kid that I almost puked even on the idea of winding a transformer again.
There is a great passion for electronics in my heart and joy of creating things, but that “survival mode” was a little too much. I think that we created more battery chargers, and CFF drivers than the small factory would do in a year. We traded them for food, wood, money, whatever possible. There is no such misery as the one in a city in times of crisis. When you live in the countryside and have some land, you can at least produce some food. Grow some vegetables and have some animals. On the asphalt and concrete in your 50 square meters, you can`t do anything but starve.

Radio over faucet πŸ™‚

In a time like that even listening to radio would help, and I was trying to find a way to power it.
I tried to create a little generator that would use water flowing from the faucet, but my great idea turned up not to be so great when finally it came to me that someone has to pay for that water also. I was so occupied with that project that I overlooked that fact. So, it was back to the drawing board again.

Radio over phone line

The next “great” idea came to me one time when the phone ringed in the dark. Yes, we had a phone, and it worked most of the time. I still wonder why, but phones worked. They let us use the phones, although you could call only the territory controlled by “ours”. Anyway, I asked my father, how the phone works, when there is no power almost anywhere, and he explained to me that in telecom, they had very big batteries, and generators, so their equipment is always powered up. I measured the voltage on the phone line and it was 9 Volts. The situation was promising! I figured out that I could drain up to 15 mA and the telephone would still work. Great, I had a little radio that worked on 4,5 volts, found 3 AA NiCd accus, connected them in series and idea was to charge them from the phone line, and to let radio work taking power from them. That little radio could work with 10 mA current if it was on very low volume. 25 mA if it was decent volume. And I got to charge accus 24/7 so it would give me buffer to listen to the radio for let`s say 14 hours. Great, it would do the job. One time I was holding phone line wires in my hand and something very unpleasant happened. Somebody called us! It means that some 90 Volts or something like that ended up between my fingers. It was really a nasty feeling, and I threw everything away for a day or so, pissed off for what happened. Those days, the phone would ring once a week or something like that, and it had to happen while I had stripped wires in my hands! Murphy’s law! That is when I learned how telephone works, and rings πŸ™‚ . Anyway, I ended up with that high voltage problem, and I think I used some Zener diodes and resistors to overcome it, but I can`t remember the details anymore. I used my great achievement for a while and enjoyed the radio until parents started wondering why no one is calling us ever. The phone worked, and you could call, but it just did not ring. I knew it was my “genius” device and immediately went to guerilla mode. I would connect a device during the night to recharge my batteries for a little bit, and disconnect it in the morning. This worked, and although I had to make some compromise, I actually had a few hours of music every day. A little bit of happiness in dark times. You know that special feeling when something is taken away from you by force and you finally get a piece of it back. That was it.

Washing machine bath trick

One more tech trick for wartime. If you live in a building without warm water, and without a water heater, you can use the washing machine to heat up some water for you. Here is my father`s genius solution:

Do not put any laundry in the machine.
Do not put any detergent or softener in the machine.
Take the drain hose and put it in your tub.
Set machine for the highest possible temperature program.
When it spins up and gets the water out, you will get much hot and clean water, just add some cold, and there is your bath, great huh?

Once every 45 days we would get those 3 hours of power, so it was a hurry to do what can be done, recharge some batteries, and of course, enjoy almost a real bath πŸ™‚ .

No battery can last for 45 days

It was obvious that you can`t have a battery big enough to provide you with enough Amps to last you 45 days even just for a light.

This battery pack was a lifesaver and I must dedicate a few sentences about it.
This was 10 NiCd cells pack for the RT-20 military mobile radio unit. There is a great site about them at this link. So this battery pack was 12 V, 7 Ah and it was small enough to carry. Father worked at the local radio station as a broadcast equipment specialist and since they had a diesel generator working 24/7 he would take the battery to work with him, recharge it there and then bring it back home again. Sounds crazy from today`s point of view right? Well, this worked, and we had a light problem solved. This was 4-5 Kg, 15 x 35 cm package, so it was not so hard to carry it around. I must say that these were the most durable, rechargeable batteries I ever encountered. They were made for the military by factory “Krusik” in Valjevo, Serbia. Indeed they were a military-grade technology.

Other handy things

There were a few more helpful things in the DIY department.
Alcohol stove made of a can was great for cooking coffee and tea, and even boiling some eggs. Soon there was no coffee and no alcohol for the stove. So it did not last much πŸ™‚ .
The DIY candle was another useful thing to create. You put some oil in a glass and use a piece of cotton as a wick. Wick would go through a bung and piece of metal over it so bung does not burn. Great DIY candle, but it smells bad as it burns.

Eggs of war

I don`t know precisely why, but there is some special connection between wartime and chicken eggs. Sounds crazy? Well as soon as the city was without electricity egg market expanded rapidly. Why? I suppose it was because they are cheap and easy to transport, and do not require much energy to prepare. You could boil an egg even over a candle. It means you would not starve. Eggs were being sold in front of the already closed stores, on the sidewalks, on improvised market places, literally anywhere. I ate so many eggs in those years that I can not look a chicken in the eyes anymore :). So if you ever notice that eggs are selling rapidly around you, it`s time to run away. Try to leave your country and do not look back. War is coming, or it already came. And if you want to be a normal person ever again, then it is not a surrounding for you to be in, or you may end up writing articles like this πŸ™‚ .

Money for nothing

We also had our own currency, and it was something to tell about. What better way to enslave citizens than to take control of the money. How to do it? Invent your own currency and print it yourself. That way you control how much money is out there, and how much does it actually worth. That is also a great way to exchange worthless paper for stable foreign currencies that you will need when you take everything you can and leave the country for some far-away place without an extradition treaty. All that you can do if you are a government or in our case a few man show. Another great thing was inflation. If by any case you would get some money you would need to run to buy something for it or change it to foreign currency asap. Why? Literally, overnight, you would need one more zero for it to be as worth as yesterday.

5000 to 500 millions

Our Monopoly money from 5000 to 500 million.

For example today 1 DM (Deutsche Mark, most popular currency of the time) would be exchanged for 5000 Dinars (Our new patriotic money was called “Dinar”), but tomorrow one Mark would be 50000 dinars. I remember that one time my mother got her monthly salary in those dinars and she could buy a box of matches for it. At that time she at least still had a job. It was real-life Monopoly money, or as Dire Straits would say Money for nothing. Unfortunately, the technology could not help here, but at least we used it to stay in a connection with the rest of the normal world.


I started writing this article in the hope to evoke some old memories regarding my early electronic projects. I also shared some stone-age ideas and memories. Necessity created them, nothing big, great or revolutionary. They made life a little bit easier. Now I`m thinking what would I give at that time for one of today’s led`s? Well, time was different and darkens did not come from the lack of technology but the lack of sanity and humanity. And if you notice that eggs are being sold everywhere, and whenever you see a bill, you begin thinking about Dire Straits, it may be a time to found yourself a new country, because yours may be coming into a war.

Once again thank you for reading.


Posted in *.*, DIY, Tech Tavern

April 26th, 2017 by Chief

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