Aug 16th, 2018
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Like everyone else with too much free time on their hands, I too have a web log (or blog for short).  Entries are listed newest to oldest but only the latest 10 are displayed initially.  If you want to view more entries, modify the ordering or sorting, etc, just use the sub-navigation or table pagination links to get your desired result.  Just note that the older the blog entry, the higher the chances are that the links contained within it are no longer working.
 
 Records 1...196 / 196 - Page 1 / 1 
 
1
1.  
Oh, hey! Didn't see you there (Part 1)
  
Posted Tuesday, March 16th 2010 @ 10:20 pm

~ a few years old / 3074 days ago

 
 

Egad, where to begin?

A few months ago my trusty Asus P5W DH Deluxe died...just didn't want to power up any more. It would start to power up but then abruptly shut down.  I figured the power supply was dying (after all, I'm powering 9 hard drives as well as all the mobo stuff and video card).  A trip to Frys and a small teardown later, I confirmed the problem was NOT the power supply.  Next, I figured the problem might be a bad add-on so I uninstalled all my cards+memory and still...no power.  The LED on the mobo was on indicating that power to the board was there...it just would never turn on.  I performed a system CMOS reset (unplug, remove battery, short the pins for 10 seconds)...still nothing.  I took the CPU heat sink off and applied a new, fresh coat of Arctic Silver thinking that the problem might be the CPU overheating...still nothing.  Here's where it gets a bit weird.  I actually have 2 of the Asus P5W DH Deluxe mobos, mine and my daughter's PC.  When I tried to turn her PC on (completely different box), I got the exact same result...the power supply would kick on, but then shut off 3 seconds later.  At this point the only common element between the 2 computers was the motherboard.  I decided to test the theory.  I bought another mobo (pickings are slim these days for socket 775 boards; ended up with a MSI G41TM-E43; a HTPC mobo for ~$70) and placed all my parts onto that and everything worked fine.  I can see no physical problems with my old board (cracked solder points, bulging caps, no burnt smell) so I'm inclined to think something foul is a-foot.  So, now that I figured out that the problem was the mobo, my question is: "How do 2 P5W DH Deluxe mobos, in two different machines with completely different hardware, die on the same day with the same symptoms?"

I picked up the 775 mobo, I also decided to pick up a new mobo+cpu+mem:

  • EVGA X58 3X SLI
  • Intel 3.06 GHz Core i7
  • 4 gigs Kingston HyperX DDR3 7-7-7

The family Thanksgiving and Christmas were at my house this year.  Lots of food.  I started a new tradition (I hope); before Thanksgiving, I picked up some white glass ornament balls at Wal-Mart and a package of colored Sharpies.  Now, when friends or family visited between Thanksgiving and Christmas, they get to decorate a ornament with the colored Sharpies and put it on our tree.  This worked out great and everyone loved the idea.  I think we got just about everyone to do one (or two). 

I finished up the tool shed I designed and started building back in December (due to weather issues like rain and really cold days it took longer then I wanted).  It completely covers the 8'x11' slab, has a 6'5"h x 5'9"w entrance with dbl-sliding doors.  One end of the A-frame siding is hinged to allow for access for rafter storage.  All in all, a good design me thinks.  My bro-in-law helped me out with the tear down, framing and siding while I tackled the A-frame, roofing, and sliding doors on my own. My nephew's Dennis and Eric helped me stain the thing (Behr semi-transparent oil-based stain-Cedar Naturaltone) once it was together. Next, I need to work up a plan for some custom shelving in there so I can start moving all the gardening, landscaping, piping, and irrigation stuff on the back porch and garage in there. Some pictures of the finished shed.

Once the garage is cleared I can start playing with my 2007 Shopsmith. I picked it up used (hardly any wear + manuals) with a bunch of accessories at the Santa Ana Re-Store for $750 (originally marked at $1200) which included:

While the Shopsmith is great, the prices on new parts and accessories are major-steep.  I'd like to get a hold of the beltsander (retail: $429), jointer (retail: $490), planer (retail: $1200), and scroll saw (retail: $699) if I can find them used, in great condition, and cheap.  I'll just need to keep checkingCraigslist once or twice a month.  I'd also like to get the Mark V 510 to 520 Pro fence system (retail: $425.69) but chances are I'm not going to be able to find that used.  I may just need to buy another used Mark V with this on it and and hopefully the other add-ons that I want. The Lift-Assist (retail: $189.99) would be nice too.  There is a pretty good site called Shopsmith Hands Online that has videos on how to use the Shopsmith and all the parts and accessories which is quite good.

Picked up the Sprint HTC Hero (back on a 2 year contract; Sprint's Any Mobile, Any Time plan is nice)...the HTC Mogul I had was starting to come apart at the slide-out keyboard.  The Hero is running the Android OS and lacks the camera flash and slide-out keyboard that my Mogul had.  I'm still playing around with Eclipse (IDE) and Java as I try to start programming for Android.

One of my FB friends was talking about a trip he took, indulging in a bacon-wrapped hot dog (I love to get these on my trips down to TJ). I figured I do a search:

Other links that caught my eye (it's a long list...it's been over 6 months since my last post):

 
 

8 yrs, 5 mons, 4 days, 12 hrs, 47 mins and 28 secs ago

2
2.  
Oh, hey! Didn't see you there (Part 2)
  
Posted Tuesday, March 16th 2010 @ 10:20 pm

~ a few years old / 3074 days ago

 
 

Other links that caught my eye (it's a long list...it's been over 6 months since my last post) (continued):

I really need to make it a point to at least update this more often.

 
 

8 yrs, 5 mons, 4 days, 12 hrs, 47 mins and 29 secs ago

3
3.  
My European vacation (abridged version)
  
Posted Thursday, September 10th 2009 @ 07:36 pm

~ a few years old / 3261 days ago

 
 

I'm back from my 18 days in Europe (London, Paris, Vatican, Rome, Florence, Pisa, Venice).  Needed a few days to burn off the jet lag.  Unfortunately, I had to drop Amsterdam and Brussels from the trip as I spent extra days in Rome, Florence, and Venice.  I still need to hypertext my diary from the trip so I'll post those later.  I've uploaded all the photos and they can be reviewed in 1 large chunk or by day below (highlights are listed):

  • Day 1 - Chicago; Traveling
  • Day 2 - London; Millennium Eye, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey (outside), Trafalgar Square, Tower of London (night), Thames Bridge (night)
  • Day 3 - Paris; Eiffel Tower, Avenue des Champs-lyses,Arc de Triomphe
  • Day 4 - Paris; the Louvre (Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, Aphrodite of Milos aka Venus de Milo, Rembrandt's self portrait, Ruben's Room, etc.)
  • Day 5 - Paris; Point zero, Notre Dame Cathedral, Crypte Archeological
  • Day 6 - Vatican / Rome; St. Peter's Papal Basilica (Michelangelo's first 'Pieta'), Colosseum, Piazza Venezia, Trevi Fountain (night), Spanish Steps (night)
  • Day 7 - Rome; Monte Palatino, Roman Forums, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain (day), National Roman museum
  • Day 8 - Rome; Santa Maria della Vittoria (Bernini's 'Ecstasy of St. Teresa'), Santa Maria in Cosmedin (La Bocca della Verita), San Nicola in Carcere, Vatican Museum (Raphael Rooms, Sistine Chapel (Michelangelo's ceiling and 'The Last Judgment' wall)) , Santa Mario della Popolo (Caravaggio's 'The Conversion of St. Paul'), Santa Maria Maggiore (resting place of Bernini)
  • Day 9 - Florence; Santa Maria Novelle (Masaccio's 'Trinitia'), Duomo, Baptistery (Gates of Paradise), campanile
  • Day 10 - Florence / Pisa; Mercado Centrale, Galleria dell'Accademia (Michelanglo's 'David'), Field of Miracles, Leaning Tower, Baptistery
  • Day 11 - Florence; Santa Croce (resting place of Michelangelo, Galileo, Rossini, Marconi, Machiavelli, Foscolo, Gentile), Ponte Vecchio (the 'jewelry district'), Piazza della Signoia, Museo dell'Opera del Duomo (Michelangelo's last unfinished 'Pieta', Donatello's 'Magadelene')
  • Day 12 - Venice; St. Mark's Piazza, St. Mark's, campanile, Vivaldi Tribute concert
  • Day 13 - Venice; Grand canal, ships/docks named 'Marta', Vivaldi Four Seasons concert, bought a painting
  • Day 14 - London; Buckingham Palace, changing of the guard, Wicked musical
  • Day 15 - London; Windsor Castle, We Will Rock You musical
  • Day 16 - London; Tower of London Beefeater tour, the Crown Jewels, White Tower (King Henry VIII 'Dressed to kill' exhibit), Billy Elliot musical
  • Day 17 - London; Harrods's, Westminster Abbey (resting place of Newton, Darwin, and Florence Nightingale), British Museum (Rosetta Stone), Cartoon Museum, St. Paul's Cathedral, Gaucho's Grill, The 39 steps 4-man comedic movie reenactment
  • Day 18 - Traveling

There are a couple of things that totally stick out in my mind from the trip:

  • No lines; 10-15 minutes for everything; exceptions = Eiffel tower ~an hour
  • The exchange rate sort of sucks (~1.6 pound / ~1.5 euro) but may be why tourism is so low
  • Europeans do bathe (and smell quite nice)
  • Europeans do not eat crepes for breakfast; it's more of a lunch/dinner thing for them
  • Parisian breakfast = baguette of bread + coffee
  • Nutella (hazelnuts/chocolate) is Europe's version (imho) of peanut butter.
  • Stairs...get used to them!
  • The 'Smoking French' stereotype is totally true; if they're not underage or pregnant, they smoke (*cough*).
  • London ranks #2 in my book for the highest percentage of smokers (*cough*)
  • Parisians are not rude
  • Paris tourists are rude
  • Tourists (especially me after a 100 degree, high humidity day battling other tourist for line positioning), do smell
  • Never ask a Parisian 'Do you speak English'; they will always say no...this line seems to be the standard gypsy scam hook.
  • 1 meat, 1 cheese on a sandwich; never 2 (nor lettuce or any seasonings)
  • Farmer markets and street faires are your best friends
  • The subways in London and Paris are great
  • The sheer concentration of McDonald's resturants here is lewd....even within 100 feet of each other
  • No sit down tables in fast food joints; more like a 'community bar' if you will
  • No one drinks tap water....if you ask for water, they'll ask 'gas (carbonated) or no gas (natural)'; it's always bottled.
  • Rome has running water spigots all over town (free water!)
  • Europe is dominated by Coke, Diet Coke, Sprint, Fanta Orange, and Power-Aid
  • No Dr. Pepper or Pepsi products (except London and even there it's hard to find at times).
  • No soda fountains = no refills; everything is cans or bottles.
  • No 7-Eleven's (or anything like it) :-(
  • You have to pay extra to eat at a table anywhere (hence the reason they consistently ask "for here or to go?")
  • Food portions are 1/3 of what we get in the states yet costs twice as much
  • American Italian food kicks Italian Italian food hands down (I had various plates from various shops...what's with the 'mac-n-cheese' colored sauce on everything?).
  • European Minestrone soup does not contain beans or pasta like good old Americanized Minestrone
  • Venice is really not that big nor is it really that quaint (maybe I should of taken a $150 gondola ride for the narrow paths).
  • Wi-Fi is available everywhere....just never for free.
  • San Diegians summer in Europe (I ran into 8 groups of Americans; 6 from San Diego, 1 from San Jose, 1 from New Jersey)
  • The Colosseum isn't as big as I thought it would be
  • Cobbled stone roads are hard to walk on for long distances
  • Italy is the ice cream (gelato) capitol of the world; almost every shop has a ice cream freezer set up

There were still a number of things that I want to see so I'll definitively will go back but next time I really want to bring the family along with me (I suck at buying jewelry for my wife).

 
 

8 yrs, 11 mons, 1 wk, 4 days, 15 hrs, 31 mins and 43 secs ago

4
4.  
T-minus 16 days
  
Posted Sunday, August 2nd 2009 @ 11:08 am

~ a few years old / 3300 days ago

 
 

On July 21 at 7:50 pm, my mother lost her battle to metastatic carcinoma and died peacefully in her bed with me by her side (picture of me and my mom at Diana's 'Concert on the Green', most likely the last photo I have of her out and about with me).  She had been dealing with reoccurring colon issues (5 hospitalizations, 3 of which required surgery) following a bowel resection to remove a cancerous polyp found during a routine exam.  The last 4 months were the hardest for her (and me), as she was in a lot of pain.  She wanted to fight but only had one chemo session; she was unable to eat or drink anything (chemo requires at least 8 glasses of water a day...I was lucky to get her to do 3).

We had our differences, we argued more then we hugged but toward the end, we knew we loved each other and we tried to show it.

I miss you mom. :-(

At her request, she was cremated.  Internment will be at Bellevue Memorial Park in Ontario, CA where she will be laid to rest with her brother Bill and parents Julius and Helen Hollis.  There currently is no set date for the memorial mass or the internment.  I'll send out notifications at least a month before so everyone that would like to attend can make plans in advance.

In a cruel twist of fate, my best bud also lost his mom this year.  We had planned a road trip to Texas to visit a mutual friend of ours (and a pilgrimage to Dublin Texas, home of Dr. Pepper) but was called off last minute when I needed to take my mother to the emergency room (that pesky colon).

In 16 days, as a "do-(up-and)-over" of sorts, my buddy and I will be hopping the pond to Europe for a 18 day trip.  Visiting cities list is:

  • Chicago
  • London
  • Paris
  • Rome
  • Florence
  • Pisa
  • Venice
  • Amsterdam
  • Brussels

Everything after Rome is up in the air with no definite plans so this may change.  The plan is to pack for 4-5 days and just do or pay someone to do the laundry.  I've picked up my international power adapters at Orvac Electronics for ~$8.  I just ordered my carry-on bag: High Sierra ATQ Carry-on drop-bottom wheeled duffel  thru Sunnysports.com (in order to meet American Airlines carry-on baggage guidelines).  I also picked up a GPS data recorder for the trip (and future trips): i-Gotu 200 as it seems to be the only recorder that can do multiday recording (reportedly it can run for 160 hours doing 30-sec snaps plus has user definable on-off timers).

In the meantime, I started rebuilding the south side gate.  Finished the north side one last month (before, during, after).  The gate on the south side is a double but I was able to get all the mats for <$300...the north fence I think cost at least that much.  Hmmm.

On the medical front of things I found these two articles via slashdot: Being slightly overweight may lead to longer life (yea...that's me) and Swearing provides pain relief (F$%#ing S%&#!...I feel better already)

Other links of my interest:

Addendum: Appearently, you can only have liquids in 3 oz and smaller containers that fit into ONE 1-quart sized plastic bag for carry-on (TSA pdf here). Target has ziploc-like bags with clear plastic containers for 99 cents that are in accord with this TSA rule.

 
 

9 yrs, 2 wks, 1 day, 23 hrs, 59 mins and 19 secs ago

5
5.  
Am I about to do a 180 on the iPhone? Nah.
  
Posted Sunday, June 28th 2009 @ 01:52 am

~ a few years old / 3336 days ago

 
 

Did a few lookups on YouTube for new Digital Dog and Bimbo Jones works...the new Jordin Sparks 'Battlefield' mixes are great.

So, I got a little hands on time with the new iPhone 3gs (damn you Rick) and I gotta say I'm ALMOST a convert.  I'm still not liking the lack of a memory card slot and the lack of a Windows-based SDK (there is no way I'm buying a Mac just to develop apps for the iPhone).  The new digital compass at first seems like a joke but then you realize that they tied this in with the maps so that the map rotates based on the direction your facing.  Nice.  The maps even support a breadcrumb feature too.  The lack of a flash (as a flashlight) is kinda moot as there is a free flashlight app that turns the screen white and sets the brightness to 100%.  As for the lack of a sliding k/b I'm sorta impressed with the landscape k/b that the iPhone has now. I also dig on the 'Play more like this' voice command. I'm able to sorta pull this off in my Player app by creating a playlist that is based on the currently playing genre+year.  Another feature I like is the auto geotagging.

This got me thinking...why doesn't my WinMo phone support geotagging.  Well, it's just not built in but it can be added.  I've found a free geotag app from Locr that will tag photos with GPS coordinate data in the EXIF data.  How it works is you run Locr first and tell it to take a photo.  It then launches the photo camera app and once the photo is taken, it adds the geotag info to the file.

I just started playing with Boxee and I must say I'm very impressed with the way it handles video menuing and my large video library.  It downloads the coverart, gets the movie description, and (if available) will display a option to view the movie trailer.  Its sorting of my audio library was a bit off though :-S.  This is a free open-source media center app akin to Microsoft's Media Center.  It's scriptable via addons written in python (one of the many scripting languages I have yet to sit down and learn).  I like that it creates a content history that gets uploaded to their site (if you create an account) that you can then share with others that you allow to view (think of it like friends in facebook).  The online history shows what you watched/listened to as well as what files you rated/hated.  I currently have no friends in Boxee so I can't expunge too much on this yet.  I do love the 'CanIHasCheeseburger.com' app (lolcats-a-plenty).

Caught a bit of Virtuality...gag.  Seems like a collection of greatest moments in Sci-Fi bundled into a package that only newly joined followers of sci-fi will enjoy.  There are countless pulls from 2001 and Star Trek that it's sickening (this reminds me of the South park episode "The Simpsons already did it"...btw, Tweak kicks Kenny's ass in my book).  Watching this is making me beg for Caprica and SG-U to come out.

Links of my (and maybe your) interest:

 
 

9 yrs, 1 mon, 3 wks, 9 hrs, 15 mins and 22 secs ago

6
6.  
Pry it (my HTC Mogul) from my cold, dead hands
  
Posted Thursday, June 18th 2009 @ 03:17 am

~ a few years old / 3346 days ago

 
 

The next line of new phones are (or are already) coming out and not a single one of them is on my wish list.

The guys over at Gizmodo put together a quick comparison chart of the iPhone 3g, iPhone 3gs, Palm Pre, the Android G2, and the Blackberry Storm. Not a single one has all 3 conditions that is satisfied by my current HTC Mogul:

  • Hardware keyboard: I found that I like to use it when doing SMS and email responses vs. the on-screen keyboard for inputting contact info and scheduling notes
  • Storage expansion: this is a must. I've 16 gig MicroSDs in all my gear now (and they are all full)
  • Camera w/ flash: I use the flash to double as a flashlight at night more than using it for taking pictures :-)

Features I can live without:

  • WiFi: that's what cellular broadband service is for (I pay $15 a month for unlimited data)
  • Multitouch: how many fingers do you think you can get on a mobile screen before you can't see what your doing, honestly
  • Headphone jacks: they have stereo bluetooth headsets nowadays (although, I'll concede that I like the OPTION of either or)
  • Gaming acceleration: this is why I've a 24-inch monitor at home.

I mainly use my phone for listening to music, Google maps for directions and real time traffic, watching my pre-recorded TV shows like Eureka, Fringe, House, Mental, Dollhouse as well as my standby favorites (South Park, The Simpsons, Family Guy, the original Twilight Zone, Pink Panther cartoons, Tom & Jerry, etc), getting my messages from my multiple email addresses, appointment reminders, and using the internet to get movie start times (you really can't 'browse' the internet on a mobile screen).

Oh yea, and to make calls every now and then.

...and now for something completely indifferent:

  • JamLegend + Xpadder: turn your PC into a rock band console (I picked up a wireless guitar controller for $15 and the rockband drum kit for $25 at Frys)
  • Dub FX: another really good vocal loop music artist
  • GoogleSatTrack: cuz they actually track that lost toolkit!
  • TPB: FarNorth: since MaguMagu seems to be on vacation (or federally detained)
  • Text to binary: cuz you want to see your name translated into binary
  • Giz's dirtiest desks: so I can feel good that I'm not at this point yet
  • Eyesight+gaming=good: study shows that playing games can be good for the peepers
  • Seatbelt keychain: now I've something to do with all the extra seatbelt locks other then making pant belts outta them
  • X-ray funnies: all your fav gaming consoles...under the gamma ray
  • The Red Green Show: for all those DIY-ers out there (me included); duck tape is your friend!
  • seanshrumart.com: hmmmm, seems I'm a decent impressionistic artist now (this isn't really me)
  • We didn't start the flame war: cuz I DID!
  • Moon: cuz the Stanley Kubrick in me likes the 2001 taste (plus the homepage pix almost made me have a seizure)
  • Heatmapper: know where all your neighborhood open WiFi spots are (an which ones are WiFi noobs with default router settings)
  • Ars on Father's Day gifts: hehe...Build this bong!
 
 

9 yrs, 2 mons, 1 day, 7 hrs, 50 mins and 11 secs ago

7
7.  
DIY, memory, movies, music, and other kewl stuff
  
Posted Monday, March 23rd 2009 @ 12:38 am

~ a few years old / 3433 days ago

 
 

So, my bro-in-law has had the DIY bug for some time and has fashioned some SNES carts with external laptop hard drives (along with his continual quest to shove a MP3 player into a NES controller).  I just saw the post on Hack-a-day of a guy that modded a toaster with a SNES system and I got an idea: a 2-slot toaster SNES cart drive dock!  Most of the external drive case internals are small and easy to re-locate for modding purposes.  The base of the toaster will hold the male USB connectors and the slots will handle aligning the cartridges.  To extract the drives, use the toaster plunger to pop them up.  Oh my gawd this is too kewl...I might make one.

On another DIY note, he also gave me a new flash card holder: a Zippo lighter.  This thing is great.  Basically, he emptied out a lighter.  That's it!  (pix here).  This is great because the latch on the clear plastic carrying cases that the flash memory comes in usually breaks off or doesn't securely latch and you have memory all over your pocket.  Not to mention that they are not really designed to hold multiple cars.  This thing stays closed and holds quite a bit of flash cards including the full size SD cards perfectly.

Just picked up two 16 gig MicroSD cards at Fry's for $50/each (not bad seeing as they are currently going for about $75).  The bro-in-law got me the Sony memory stick to MicroSD converter so my PSP is sportin' more space.  The other replaces my day-to-day 8 gig MicroSD that was getting full.  I have a couple of the Kingston USB to MicroSD adapters and I thought that was small.  I was wrong.  The Japanese have the market cornered on small:  Elecom MicroSD reader (nice!).

As far as memory/storage space goes, the new extended storage spec (SDXC using MS exFAT; FAT 64) is being developed with a theoretical maximum of 2 terabytes (still not enuff for me).  But then again SDHC cards (which we all use now)  has a 32 gig maximum and the 16s are just hitting the streets (unfortunately, at class 2 speeds; 8 gig SDHCs are at least class 4).

While I love my current computer case (and future final resting place), I love seeing new mods like these: The pyramid case mod, eBaum's More computer case mods gallery (the R2D2 case pwns!)

I'm still waiting on the Mimo UM-740 7" USB monitor (800x480, webcam, microphone, audio pass through, and touch screen) to get more exposure in the states as this would make a great add to a in-car project I'm working on.  This might be getting released under the D-Link brand name as the SideStage (seeing how they demo'd the thing at CES this year).

I talked in a earlier post about that great on-line game Auditorium (and they've finally released the full version for $11) and now have found another physics-based game that is just as awesome: Crayon Physics.  This works great on my tablet and my 9 year old daughter loved it.  It's a series of 1 screen puzzles where you have to draw in the various elements to get a ball to a certain point on the screen; gravity, pivot points, wedges, levers, etc.  I played the thing until the demo ran out (full version is $20).  Definitively worth a look.

Got a chance to go see Fanboys when it premiered...the Block was one of the 2 locations in California that was showing it for 2 days so I went...funny as hell for anyone old enough to know the actors.  Lots of great cameos.  I went in my 'Star Wars' t-shirt which was totally appropriate.

Found a new remix group going under the name "Digital Dog". I can't get enuff of their mixes (mostly dance pop style...a bit off my trance path) of Rihanna, Britney Spears, The Saturdays, Pink, The Pussycat Dolls, and others.

Other great stuff I came across in the last few months:

In memorandum: Hellgate: London, I played you for hours and luv'd your graphics.  You will be missed.

 
 

9 yrs, 4 mons, 4 wks, 10 hrs, 29 mins and 50 secs ago

8
8.  
Windows 7, you thieving bastard (I love you)
  
Posted Friday, January 9th 2009 @ 01:59 am

~ a few years old / 3506 days ago

 
 

I just got around to playing with the beta of Windows 7 and thinking that I had installed my Relocate app I hit [Win]+[left arrow] which of course moved the current window to the left half of the screen.  When I hit [Win]+[right arrow] the window went back to it's normal position...  Huh?  My code sez go to the right half of the screen.  Imagine my surprise when I found out that Relocate wasn't even loaded. :-o  Seems that someone over at MS took my Relocate idea and finally put it into the OS natively (not sure about multiple monitor support thou as I only have it installed on my laptop).

  • [Win]+[left arrow] = move to left half of current screen
  • [Win]+[right arrow] = move to right half of current screen
  • [Win]+[up arrow] = maximize
  • [Win]+[down arrow] = minimize

I wonder if they fixed the fact that you can't have multiple wallpapers on multiple screens like my Vistas project allows for.  One can only hope.

Oh, found this totally awesome game online...Auditorium.  Very simple but tons of fun.  Uses music and gravity.  Try it...you'll get hooked like me (damn it...I'm playing it again!).  They've added a new level!  They are trying to come out with a full version of it too!

Just picked up a 500 gig Buffalo Ministation TurboUSB external hard drive on sale at Fry's for $114; that's $0.23 a gig (why did I bold that...you'll see later).  My intent was to rip the case apart, extract its innards, and transplant them into my HP TX1000 (replacing the 320 gig drive I have in there now from a previous swap).  However, Buffalo made the case a bit difficult to open and I convinced myself that I needed to have a 500 gig external drive as well (to replace my 320 gig external).  I went back to Fry's and got a 500 gig Seagate drive for my laptop for $149 (the sale on the Buffalo drives ended the day before).

I'm still awaiting the day I can ditch the platter for SSD.  Seems that Sandisk has announced at CES a SSD drives in the 240 gig variety for $499; however that's $2.08 a gig...think I'll stick with platters for now.  The price difference between platter and SSD is 9 times PER GIG.  This means for every 1 gig of SSD storage you buy, you can buy 9 gigs of platter storage.  Here's another way to look at it: 240 gigs SSD drive (cost)  =  2.16 terabytes of platter drive (cost).  SSD may be 7 times faster then platters, but it costs 9 times more.

Other links of interest to me:

 
 

9 yrs, 7 mons, 1 wk, 4 days, 8 hrs, 8 mins and 36 secs ago

9
9.  
Coding, music, woodworking, DIY, and handhelds
  
Posted Sunday, November 23rd 2008 @ 02:50 pm

~ a few years old / 3552 days ago

 
 

Work continues on my Player project.  Added a number of new add-ons that is really making me like what I'm coming up with.  I also found a great app for my PPC phone that allows me to use the flashcard in the phone as another drive (which in turn allows me to use my Sync add-ons to copy music over to my phone directly: Card Export II.  It allows me to set the connection mode to either USB or ActiveSync and as such allows the memory in the phone to display as a flash drive. WooWho (I don't have to learn abut namespaces)!  Before I found Card Export II, I was actively searching for a replacement MP3 player (I fried my new 'reject' iPod shuffle).  I found this: a 2 gig version of the 1st gen iPod Shuffle called rePlay.  I sent the company an email about small orders but have not gotten a reply back (oh well...car Export II is a better solution for me anyways).  I also found this;  it's a USB rechargeable MP3 player that uses SD cards for storage.  Only downside that I can see is that it looks like the max storage size is 2 gigs...but it uses external memory so just buy a few 2 gig micro cards!  Nice feature.  Also includes a LCD screen and 2 headphone jacks (nice).

In the process of playing with Player and my YouTube add-on, I found a new music artist I like: Ronald Jenkees (YouTube, home).  I first caught this guys YouTube video: messing with a guitar sound (on a keyboard)!  The guy even has people doing voice overs and mixing other songs on top of his (I like this version of his 'Remix to a Remix' layered with Snopp Dog's "Drop it like it's Hot")

Started looking at DIY sites (being self-employed gives me this kinda time):

  1. Adjustable laptop arm
  2. RubiTone (Rubik + Pantone)
  3. The USB hard drive
  4. The coat hanger laptop stand

Argh!  I just threw out an old CRT arm and my 10-year old Pantone color guide (definitely expired and in need of replacement but that thing costs like $125 bucks!)

Oh, here's a kewl scripter's tidbit...ever want to be able to add printers to computers via a batch script? Ta-Da!

On a desk builders note, I found this neat idea for setting up a modular desk for things like pen trays, file folder organizers, etc.  Just cut some square same-sized holes and then you can make 'drop-ins' that can be moved or removed.  Excellent idea.

On the remote-desktop side of things, the technology teacher at my daughter's school showed me a tool he uses to monitor all the kids in his complab called Vision.  He told me it ran for about $600 and I cringed.  Most of the time I user RealVNC and figured if I looked I should be able to find something like Vision that would use VNC conncetions for free....and I did: VNC Thumbnail Viewer.  Written in Java, it has some qwerks that I don't like but overall it does work.  I also found VNCed and VNCX .

In handheld news, we all know about the DSi release however as I am finding out, the Slot 2 media reader cards will not work in the new unit (Boo!) yet (Yea!).  Here is a list of tested carts that were tried in the new DSi (expect this list to change as developers work around the issue).  As for PSPs, I found a UMD dumper app I really like put out by PhonicUK.  The thing allows you to set the image type and will do multiple UMDs without having to reboot or restart the app.  Simply drop in the UMD and the software does the rest.

On a side note, I created a PSP holder outta Technic LEGOs and put 2 USB flex lights behind it.  Behold 'PSP-vo' (like the 'Tivo' guy but with a PSP...eh...just look at the pic as soon as I post it, you'll see).  I'm mainly using it to listen to internet radio (I'm too busy playing with my DS, hehe).

Picked up WOW's World of the Lich King and am already level 73...still no desire to convert to a DK thou. (WOW is 4 years old today..I got a Blizzard Bear pet in the mail)

Other links of interest:

 
 

9 yrs, 8 mons, 3 wks, 6 days, 19 hrs, 17 mins and 21 secs ago

10
10.  
Where did all the bridges go?
  
Posted Sunday, October 12th 2008 @ 05:43 pm

~ a few years old / 3594 days ago

 
 

Recently, I had a client that wanted to move a wired network printer to a different location sans net wires.

"You're gunna need a wireless bridge.", I quickly spurted out.

Off I merrily went looking for a router that supports a bridge mode.  Guess what...they're no longer easy to find.  I remember buying a pair of LinkSys AP's that supported bridging together a few years back.  Bridging was a sales point back then...but not anymore. After calling a couple of router companies with my "Can your <enter model number> router be used as a bridge" and getting a slew of tech support retards (honestly, do these companies put anyone behind a support phone?) tell me "Yes" just to buy/setup/find out it didn't/return it, I decided to do a little research on my own.

Found a ton of write-ups on the DD-WRT firmware that works with a large number of routers but more importantly with the 'still-available-at-Frys-for-$70" LinkSys WRT54GL (mine turned out to be model version 1.1).  Initially, I attempted to load the DD-WRT standard generic firmware just to later find out that won't work followed closely by a  lesson on how to unbrick the unit ("Upgrade are fail" <- literally that's the LinkSys firmware failure error.  Where do these programmers learning their English? "All your base are belong to us").

After that, all my LinkSys did was flash the power light. Crap. :-(  I figured out that the DHCP server on the router wasn't working (I was getting back some weird DNS server values when I checked my IP settings).  I proceeded to set my laptop static and prayed that the router at least assigned itself 192.168.1.1.  I pinged it and it worked!  I then followed the instructions here on using tftp to put the latest Linksys router firmware back to the unit, rebooted the router, reset my laptop to dynamic, and was able to login via the 192.168.1.1 address and use the Linksys Firmware Upgrade page to load the DD-WRT mini generic firmware successfully.  With the DD-WRT firmware in place, I followed the tutorial here to configure it as a client bridge. This part took me like 10 minutes the first time through before I felt comfortable enough to reset the router and do it again to make sure I had it down.  Now I can set it up in like a minute.

Too bad I can't get the bridging working at the client location...D'oh (they have a D-Link with WEP on and it seems like the link never fully functions correctly even though the DD-WRT sez I have successfully connected...but then it sez that even without me inputting WEP credentials too).

Time to eat crow and hard wire this bad boy.

Links of interest (to me, maybe you. Then again, I probably don't know you):

 
 

9 yrs, 10 mons, 1 wk, 2 days, 17 hrs, 24 mins and 25 secs ago

11
11.  
Hacking EPP and data
  
Posted Friday, August 8th 2008 @ 10:53 pm

~ a few years old / 3659 days ago

 
 

My buddy Rick's b-day past and his wife asked me to build him a R/C wing like we used to fly a few years back.  As a result, I had to get back into the hobby to the tune of  ~$800.  Yup, ~$800.

  • [7] Replace receiver battery packs: $100
  • [1] Replace transmitter battery: $25
  • [1] Delta wing kit: $65
  • [1] 5-channel receiver: $40
  • [1] Channel 60 dual-conversion crystal: $10
  • [1] Brushless motor: $50
  • [1] ESC for brushless motor: $40
  • [2] 3-cell 2100 LiPo batteries: $130
  • [1] charger for doing LiPo and everything else: $115
  • [1] Gel-cell field battery: $15
  • [14] rolls of different color packing tape: $75
  • [1] JR 8103 transmitter via eBay cuz mine is 'glitching': $135
  • + other incidentals...$?

Speaking of spending scads of money:  Picked up a 1 terabyte SATA II Seagate hard drive for $169 and tried to put it in my Klegg MediaShare Mega....no go.  I also picked up a 320 gig Western Digital hard drive and a external case for about $140 as I was getting antsy about not having a way to do a "off-site" backup of my own data.  Plus the fact that I was running out of room on my laptop and most of my project work won't fit on my 4 gig Sony MicroVault any more sorta pushed the situation to this point.

Handheld-wise:  Got my PSP hacked (finally).  Then I tried to update the firmware and I un-hacked it (opps..M33's prior to 4.00 will still pull the Sony offical rom; post 4.xx wil pul from the M33 repository).  Waiting to get it back now.  My bro-in-law pointed me to dark_alex's site for this nifty tool: UMD DAX Dumper for DAX/ISO/GZIP backups of PSP games.  Going to install it an see about backing up the UMD's I have in my possession.

Here's something worth noting:  Nintendo is suing the media cart manufacturers.  For the last week, the Cyclopsds.com, Teamcyclops.com, and R4ds.com sites have been down (bandwidth exceeded / account suspended / 404 respectively) although the Cyclops sites are back up now as of yesterday (as far as I can tell). Supercard, M3, and EZ Flash sites are still up right now.

But not [all] retailers have increased the price of the R4 by 98% as they were originally $28 in most places but are now sitting at $55 and still selling well. - myds.com.au

...AND I'm still waiting for my EZ-Flash V 3-in-1 expansion DS LITE SIZE packs from GameYeeeah.com (3 months I've been waiting)...argh.

As for anime, I'm currently watching Hell Girl, Ergo Proxy, and Blood+.

Link stuff:

Update: Got the PSP back rehacked with 3.80 M33 installed; just successfully updated to 4.01 M33-2.  Also updated my NDS Cyclops Evo to the newly released 1.41.

 
 

10 yrs, 1 wk, 2 days, 12 hrs, 14 mins and 4 secs ago

12
12.  
Acronym-o-palosa
  
Posted Monday, June 30th 2008 @ 12:47 am

~ a few years old / 3699 days ago

 
 

Well, there's something I learned today...

Playing around with SQL statements with a SQLite (open source RDBMS) database I'm creating for my MMMM (My Modular Media Manager) project with AutoITScript. When you have a database and define a numeric field, a empty (NULL filled) cell is considered to be greater then numbers so say you have:

Rec1 :: <NULL>
Rec2 :: 1
Rec3 :: 30
Rec4 :: 100

...then you do a SQL statement where you want values that are > 50, you'd expect just Rec4 (100) to come back, right?  WRONG!  You'd get the <NULL> and the 100.  Apparently you need to set numeric fields to some sort of value (dah...like 0) before you get valid returns.  Not sure if this is just a SQLite issue or a general SQL-ism.

I picked up my 'deep red' slim God of War (GoW) Limited Edition PSP (PSP-2000) (wiki page here) a few days ago and subsequently finished the game in 7 hours (in easy mode...I tried normal but after I couldn't beat the first boss 5 times, the game asked me if I wanted to try a lower level...that's a kewl feature).  One of those hours was trying to figure out how to take down the last boss, Persephone.  I could get her to the ground but I didn't figure out the last move....thanks to the Internet for that bit of wisdom.

I had my bro-in-law bring over his plain-Jane original PSP (PSP-1000) to do some comparisons.  Here are my thoughts/findings:

The new unit uses a 1200mah battery (as opposed to the 1800mah pack in the original unit) but according to online specs still runs for the same amount of time (woo-hoo).  While this is a slimmer version of the original, it feels much more lighter than you'd expect and is a bit more flimsy (trigger buttons wiggle a lot back to front), the UMD slot clicks open and closed ergo no spring lock, the back on the slim version isn't contoured like the original...it's just flat (I like the contoured feel).  However, the speaker holes are on the front whereas the original has these on the bottom.  Another thing I did notice is that the original has a IR port on the top...my slimmer version doesn't (Sony's own PSP tech spec page doesn't list IR so I guess not).  Here are some photos of the two units side-by-side (site in hap-o-nese). 

Want to get this thing hacked ASAP so I can start putting custom firmware on it and using homebrews and such.  However to get to this point you need a jigkick battery and custom firmware (such as the Dark Alex FW releases).

Now, if only Sony can just wise up and ditch their non-universal universal media format and start using SD memory.

In other handheld news, I'm still waiting on my EZ-Flash 3-in-1 rumble packs for my NDSL from GameYeeeah.com.  Errrrrrrrr.  It's been over a month with 2 incorrect shipments but their customer support has been adequate.

Other links of (my) interest:

 
 

10 yrs, 1 mon, 2 wks, 5 days, 10 hrs, 20 mins and 21 secs ago

13
13.  
Eww! Eww! I saw that on the Internet!
  
Posted Thursday, June 5th 2008 @ 01:32 am

~ a few years old / 3724 days ago

 
 

Was pulling into Fry's the other day and saw a Can-Am Spyder in the parking lot (it's a 3-wheeler bike but with 2 wheels up front).  It's owner was putting on his helmet so I rushed over to talk to him as I've seen the bike online back when it was making its rounds at the auto shows a year or so ago.  After speaking with the guy for about 3 minutes, he indicated that you don't need a motorcycle license to ride one; the state of California considers a 3 wheeler as a class C vehicle, the same class as a regular automobile.  He also indicated that it's allowed in the carpool lane.  Damn!  He indicated that they sell them mostly at Sea-Doo/jetski stores and indicated that there were a couple of places in Riverside that had them starting around $16k.  The bike, he pointed out, does not lean in turns as the bike has powered front steering and he indicated that you get used to it and that he feels quite comfortable on it.

Now that the state of Cali is enacting it's 'hands-free' law next month, I've been looking over stereo BT headsets.  I picked up the wiREVO HSH200 (again...initially this thing cost $99 but I saw it on sale for $39 so I picked it up).  I still hate the fact that I have to use their proprietary jack but I'm hoping they sell a 3.5mm adapter.  It's a bit of a pain on the controls as volume and playback controls are on opposite sides of the thing so its easy to press Next/Play/Previous when all your trying to do is turn up the volume.  I like the clip able BT headsets like the Com One Micro clip (stereo/mic; there is a good YouTube review of it here) and at $16 it's a great deal.  It even has a mini USB recharger.  The other one I like (which doesn't have a USB recharger) is the HTC BH S100 (stereo/mic; YouTube review here but in Polish) but at $57, I might hold off until I get the COM One a try.  I like these as the mic is in the unit; these do not use in-line mics so you can use whatever headphones/aux jack you like. Found this '2nd-gen iPod Shuffle-looking clip for $30...(usb charging and a 3.5 mm jack so I guess the mic is in the unit); can't tell who makes it though. TDK makes a clip-on model as well called the TDK BT-100 (usb/mic) for ~$55

On the topic of HTC...they just announced their next smartphone: the Touch Pro (with slide-out QWERTY keypad!).  You can peep the dets-n-pics over at Engadget's site here or the plaguristic recap over on Gizmodo here.  Droooooool.

I recently setup a computer PC lab for a local elementary school with 29 Dell Vostro 200 PCs.  On the network, I placed a AirLink101 Home NAS (ANAS250) ($45) just to find out once we started connecting to it that it has a 20-user concurrent connection limit (hey...where in the docs did it say that...oh yeah...it didn't).  I called their technical support to confirm and they indicated that not only does the Home NAS model have this limit, it also extends to their AirLink101 Office NAS (ANAS350) ($65) product as well.  A quick trip to Fry's to return the box and I picked up my fav NAS box: the D-Link DNS-323 ($170) and a Seagate 500 gig SATA 2 3.5-inch drive ($130).  I started 29 concurrent imaging connections with the D-Link so everything is hunky-dorie.

In line with imaging, come to find out Norton Ghost 8.2 (one of my 'good-ol' apps) does not like making Vista images (damn it).  After a bit of research on this issue, I came across a reference to IFD (Image For DOS) by TerebyteUnlimited.  I downloaded their trial, imaged my Vista tablet, and then cloned it back.  Result: it works!  The $30 price tag is decent so I'm gunna grab a license and add it to my stable of handy-dandy apps.

Links of interest (to me, maybe not you):

 
 

10 yrs, 2 mons, 2 wks, 9 hrs, 35 mins and 16 secs ago

14
14.  
DS Lites and back to 3 (monitors)
  
Posted Tuesday, May 6th 2008 @ 09:22 pm

~ a few years old / 3753 days ago

 
 

My daughter decided to spend her Xmas gift from her Nino on a Nintendo DS Lite.  As the gift card she got was from Best Buy, a quick trip to the nearby outlet get her the DS Lite...just not in pink (crimson/black was the closest the store had).  $130 + tax.

One day at work a fellow employee was asking about the differences between the DS and the DS Lite.  As I had this info (after researching it for my daughter), I dispensed with the specs.  Next day, he had a DS Lite.  A few days later, he had a CycloDS Evolution (slot 1) card.  This card acts as a flash card reader and allows you to place game rom files (.NDS) onto it.  As it takes a MicroSD card, the current sizes are up to 8 gigs but max out at 32 gigs (not that anyone is currently making them this big yet).  The CycloDS supports a homebrew media player called MoonShell that allows for media playback (music/video).  Music can be mp3 format but videos need to be converted to the DS via a free converter called Super.  Additionally, I found out about a slot 2 cartridge that allows for a number of other features called the EZ-Flash V 3-in-1 expansion cart.  This cart acts as a rumble pack, web browser, and allows for GBA gameplay.

While I was at Fry's with my daughter, we were walking down the aisle with all the DS games and spotted pink DS Lites.  I asked her if she would give me her crimson/black DS if I got her a pink one and she agreed. Another $130 + tax.  After getting my DS Lite, I ordered a few things:

Total cost of everything: $569 (+ shipping costs + tax)

While trying to do the case mod following this well laid out pictorial to the SHOCK! clear case, something went wrong (not sure what).  Every time I turned on the DS afterwards, the screen would begin to white out over about 15-20 minutes.  Luckily, my wife got the 2 year replacement plan on the DS so I was able to take the unit back and have it swapped out for a fresh one.  I haven't grown the huevos back to try doing it again.

Links to visit if you are considering or have the DS Lite:

Finally got my ATI Radeon X1900XTX back from RMA-ville.  Damn I missed having 3 monitors...2 was getting me by but now that I have 3 again, yea!

Stopped off at the post office today to get my passport (filled out the DS-11 form online)...seems my birth certificate was the wrong one; they need the 'long certificate' (I had the short one they gave out years ago).  A quick trip to the County Records building and $17 later, I had my long cert.  Ran back to the post office and $137 more dollars later, I had my pictures ($15), and passport book and card forms completed.  Now I sit and wait the 3-6 weeks until they arrive so I can go south of the border to see the bull fights in Tijuana come July.  All-in-all, it was pretty painless (so far).

Was surprised to find out that a new Appleseed movie was released: Appleseed: Ex Machina.  I love it!  This version doesn't use the 'toon-shading' that the first Appleseed movie used (I have the limited collector's edition DVD) but they stuck to using the motion capture which makes everything flow nicely. I ran out and bought the 2-disc special edition of the movie at a local anime store.  I did a number of screen caps of both movies that can be found here (raw dir listing): Appleseed and Appleseed: Ex-machina.  Granted, for the second Appleseed movie, they released it in DVD, HD, and Blu-Ray disc formats.  I have the DVD version and it shows in the screen caps I have at large res.  This movie just might make me get a Blu-Ray player just so I can watch it at higher res.  The graphics are excellent but still not up to par with Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (still #1 in my book). 

I later found out that another movie using the same CG tech was also getting released called Vexille.  The US DVD  release date is set for May 20, 2008 although I found a copy of it online and in English.  Another great CG anime!  As soon as the DVD hits US shores, I'm buying it.  Also, I just finished watching Ghost In The Shell: Solid State Society...I gotta say I like all the GITS stuff...and this movie is no different.  Thank God the Major is back (even if it is just for a few scenes).

While I was browsing around Amazon.com, looking up disc release dates on the next installment of Stargate: Atlantis (season 4 to be released July 4th), I noticed that there is a new straight-to-DVD Stargate movie called Stargate: Continuum set for release on July 29th...Oh joy!

Links of interest that I've come across:

 
 

10 yrs, 3 mons, 1 wk, 6 days, 13 hrs, 45 mins and 44 secs ago

15
15.  
Room to grow (at least for a couple more months)
  
Posted Tuesday, February 26th 2008 @ 09:38 am

~ a few years old / 3824 days ago

 
 

Yea!

I sold off my 2 D-Link DNS-323's (each with two 500 gig Maxtor drives) and picked up four Seagate 1TB Serial ATA/300 32MB Buffer ST1000340AS-RK w/ 5 year warranties at Fry's one sale for $235 a pop. I also got a Highpoint 2320 8-port RAID controller card for just under $300. This doubles my storage capacity to 4 TB.

Seems I forgot to mail in my Time-Warner cable bill (silly me, had the thing stamped and everything) and as a result (as far as I can tell) my bandwidth speed for last month hit an all time low. I never got anything higher than 100 all last month; my norm for the last *year* has been maxed at 600. Seems a bit strange that TWC would throttle my bandwidth due to a late payment but oh well. I sent in the payment with this months bill and all is good with the world again since as of last night, I'm back to pulling ~400-500+.

Good thing I got those terabyte drives when I did. :p Now I can sit back and wait about a year until SSD drives out-size and out-price their platter-based brothern.

I'm in the process of rewritting my Wan2Web utility as a EXE using AutoITScript as my prior version of the same util was written in PHP. The new version will only support FTP uploads of the updated wanip file. I needed to do this as I have been unplugging my cable modem a lot recently due to playing around with a number of various VPN routers and my WAN IP address got changed everytime I plugged the cable modem back in.

Since I changed from DSL to cable, my IP address doesn't change unless I unplug my cable modem. As a result of this I had to change my DynDNS account from dynamic to static which means no automatic updating. Now whenever my WAN IP changes I have to manually edit the account settings (screw that).

This sucks for me as DynDNS is really cutting down on inactive accounts (I just got an email from them indicating I hadn't *logged in* in the last 30 days and they were going to delete my account...sheesh)

I've set up Wan2Web to post a file on my website that I can check any time for my latest WAN IP address. Granted, there are freeware clients that will update DynDNS but the problem here is that unless you are unplugging your cable modem at least once a month, your IP address never changes and therefore no updates get sent to DynDNS. This prompts DynDNS to assume that your account is inactive and they begin the process to delete your account.

So much for free services. Still can't complain.

Need to remember to go get my passport before the July bullfights as trips down to Mexico will now require one.

 
 

10 yrs, 5 mons, 3 wks, 3 days, 29 mins and 4 secs ago

16
16.  
126 days in the life
  
Posted Tuesday, February 5th 2008 @ 10:40 pm

~ a few years old / 3844 days ago

 
 

Man, I've totally neglected my blog the last few months (126 days to be exact). Things have been busy and I just haven't had the time to write. Working full-time at CCI has burned my desire to do much home computer work (and the fact my co-workers got me playing World of Warcraft) and my consulting has slowed down a bit as a result of the 40-hour work week limiting my availability to my clients.

Really thinking of going back to consulting full time. But nuff about me.

My bro-in-law brought to my attention and I subsequently picked up a Klegg MediaShare Mega from Frys for $128. Been looking at getting one of these networked/hard drive media playback boxes for awhile and seen them at the last couple of computer shows in Pomona. The reasons I've been holding off is because the ones at the show use a small connector that consolidates all the RCA cables which looks like it would break if enough stress was put on it. Also, you couldn't see the drive on the network (like a NAS box) and the wireless version cost a bit more. The Klegg Mediashare covers all these bases and since the box was on sale from $189 down to $129, it sorta sealed the deal. Another nice feature is the 2 USB ports on the back that allow you to hook up flash disks to the unit. I posted some product pics of the unit in my moblog area here. Found this AVS forum thread that discusses the Klegg unit specifically.

Now that I have a media player, my media collection is going to explode. As I'm already running out of space on my two 1-terabyte NAS boxes (2x500gig), I'm looking to sell off both of my Dlink NAS-323 and moving up to eight 1TB drives; they're retailing for ~$280 but have been seen at Fry's on sale for $200 in limited quantities. While I would love to RAID all these together in my CoolerMaster CM Stacker 830 (gawd I love this case), the 8-drive SATA II RAID controller cards are going for around $400 (ouchie).

Note to self: need to get another 4-in-3 device module when I get the drives.

In mobile hardware news, I had my HTC PPC-6700 upgraded to the HTC PPC-6800 and sprung for some new accessories to go with it. I gave my buddy all my 6700 cradles, batteries and stylii as the 6800 uses a different set for all these. The 6800 has a 2.0 megapixel camera (over the 1.3 megapixel one on the 6700) and uses MicroSD cards (versus the collection of MiniSD cards I already have for the 6700). On the plus side, the 6800 can use a 8 gig MicroSDHC cards (currently running around $75) plus there is a nifty USB MicroSD reader available. Personally, I like the metal one that comes in the Kingston mobility kit (so I got the 2 g package). I ditch the little plastic cover and the thing is small enough to fit in the plastic case the SD memory comes in nowadays.

On a mobile software note, I found a great free mobile Home app called PointUI. Nice interface, uses finger swiping for menu navigation (ala the iPhone). Still in development but looks like a great home replacement (hell, anything would look like a better replacement then the default MS Home; see HTC's Home as this is also a good interface).

Finally picked up a tablet PC: the HP tx1320us. 2 GHz AMD Turion 64 X2, 250 gig hard drive (I actually filled the drive the same day I got it), 2 gig memory, BT, 802.11 a/b/g/n, gigabit Ethernet, DVD-burner, on sale and with a $100 rebate = ~$1100 out the door.  The touch screen is pressure-sensitive and you need to put a bit of pressure on the screen for it to register (finger presses won't register but tapping/writing with your fingernail will).  This is actually a good thing as if you are writing you don't want the screen picking up your hand as you lay it on it to write something.

Audio-wise, one of my 10-inch Cerwin-Vega foam-rim/paper cone speakers died (pics here).  Had the things for years and even had them re-coned once.  Replaced them with a pair of 10-inch rubber-rim/polypropylene cone Polk MM2104's (Fry's had them in a 'buy-1-get-1-free' sorta deal).  Man, I'm gunna go deaf soon. :-D

Other links of (my) interest:

 
 

10 yrs, 6 mons, 2 wks, 11 hrs, 27 mins and 49 secs ago

17
17.  
What have I been doing?
  
Posted Tuesday, October 2nd 2007 @ 08:48 pm

~ a few years old / 3970 days ago

 
 

Man, it's been a while...lots going on. I started a new perm job last month, flashed the firmware on my Sprint PPC-6700 and took it apart, and reviewed 2 new pieces of h/w that I had/have.

The Job: Started working for Corinthian Colleges, Inc back around the beginning of Sept doing support analyst work (mainly over the phone): resetting passwords, troubleshooting general issues, installing software, etc. A pretty laid back gig.

The Flash: Saw a post on Engadget talking about someone that had put together a installer to upgrade the firmware on my HTC Apache (aka Sprint PPC-6700) from Windows Mobile 5 to 6. I downloaded the file and followed the instructions, installed it (what the heck, I've got insurance on the thing...if I brick it, I could get another one for $50) but it worked!

The Teardown: One of the reasons I was fine with doing the firmware flash was because the solder joints on my audio jack is messed up and I was already entertaining the idea of filing a claim so when it didn't brick, I decided to take the thing apart following the instructions here to see if it was something that I could fix (unfortunately, I don't have that level of soldering kung foo)

The Reviews: I recently picked up the Microsoft Ultimate desktop and the Logitech MX Air. Figured I'd chime in on what I thought about them.

1. The Microsoft Entertainment Desktop 8000 (aka 'MSWED8k'):

I went out and got the MS Ultimate Desktop...it's been a year of waiting for me since I first read about it coming out. I forked out the $324 ($299.99 + tax) for this k/b + laser mouse combo, got it home, unboxed it, charged it, and started pawing it. A week later and 100+ hours of using it (yes I put ~100 hours on it in 7 days), I took it back. :-( It was a hard decision to make but I felt I had to. Care to know why?

What I loved...

  • I absolutely love the backlighting which doesn't bleed through the sides of the keys due to the use of LEDs under each key instead of a giant cold cathode approach
  • Wireless ability to 30-feet...drooool
  • Slim design; damn, just look at the side portrait
  • Proximity/photo sensitivity sensor for auto-adjusting the amount of backlighting to conserve battery life
  • Thumb touchpad and the ability to toggle its operational mode to directional, arrow-key mode
  • Media Center-centric buttons

However, in all this bliss I found that there were a number of things that made it hard to work with:

  • - The F-keys are not keys...they're touch sensitive bumps; as is the ESC, HOME, and END keys. I found it hard to gauge how hard or soft to press these as there was no real tactile point that would allow me to tell when I had successfully pressed the key.
  • The Esc, Home, End, and all the function 'bumps' are not backlit. WhAT!?!?! I write code and these keys (I mean 'bumps') are used all the time. I found myself constantly having to hunch over the keyboard to located the F5 key (Run) when I was coding in the dark (yes, I sit in the dark and write code). :-S In addition to these keys all the FN+ keys don't have backlighting (case in point: the NumLock key is on the '6' key but it's only *printed* on the front of the '6' key.). It would of been nice if they used a transparent blue plastic to let the LED shine through.
  • Battery life = 4-5 hours. I was getting about 4-5 hours before the battery low indicator would start blinking but then again I had the backlighting on the keyboard set to high all the time and was using it in the dark. Maybe if I used it during the day when the backlighting was off, it would have gone the reported 10 hours.
  • The lack of a dedicated number pad. Don't get me wrong...I really don't use it that much. However I found that when I sat down to do my monthly finances that I really hated to do the FN combo to get numbers. Granted, all the small laptops out there don't have numpads and work in the same fashion. I'm just not ready for that yet.
  • The placement of the delete key and its proximity to the touchpad. Argh! I use Shift+Delete to cut text (old skool Windows hotkey combo). The problem I ran into is that while I held down the shift key, my pinky on my hand that I was using to hit the delete key was hitting the touch pad before the delete key kicked in, thus adjusting my highlighted selection. Ack!
  • Arrow/home/end/page up/page down key arrrangement. Every Microsoft keyboard that I've owned in the past has had a different layout of these keys. This wasn't a show-stopper persay but it added another (small) issue to the growing pile of things I would need to contend/learn to live with.
  • Arrow key size. The size of the arrow keys can only be described as 'half-wide'. I use these keys a lot and found myslef constantly pressing 2 arrow keys at once (left+down, down+right) far too often.
  • Notebook style keyboard. Microsoft has done a nice job of merging the desktop k/b with a notebook format-style. Unfortunately, when you shrink, things get doubled-up. If you have laptop, you most likely ran into this when you first got you laptop but decided that the mobuility of a laptop far out-weighed the discomfort of a cramped k/b. I'd agree. But not for a desktop k/b.

In short, I could have lived with the k/b but the +'s and -'s were equal...I could not in my own mind vouch for spending $324 on this (trust me, I tried).

2. Logitech MX Air

Drooollll. This thing is kewl. On the desk it works as a laser mouse. Off the desk it works as a gyroscopic pointing device! The kewl thing is that it uses a combination of gesture+buttons combinations to do things like volume control, track skipping (forward/backward), play/pause button. The only thing I don't like is that the back button is located on the top of the mouse (which works great when in gyro mode) but sucks when on desk mode (all my MS mice have had the back button on the left side of the mouse).

On that note, I'll wrap up here (this thing is long enough). :-P

 
 

10 yrs, 10 mons, 2 wks, 6 days, 14 hrs, 19 mins and 39 secs ago

18
18.  
Touchscreen tablets...droooool
  
Posted Friday, August 3rd 2007 @ 06:58 pm

~ a few years old / 4030 days ago

 
 

Just got back from a quick trip to Fry's to buy a client a new PC and I got to play with the HP TX1220US (specs here, ~$1300). Nice size, good feel, DVD burner, biometric reader, easy to use screen rotator button,and TOUCHSCREEN! However, the touchscreen isn't very sensitive as I had to use my fingernail with a firm amount of pressure to get a response out of the thing. Dell is supposed to be releasing their pen/touch tablet soon called the Latitude XT (per Engadget) so I gotta hold off and try this one out too before I commit. :-) Oh, goodie!

In recent events, I picked up another Dlink DNS-323 at Fry's for $129 (seems there was a rebate deal going on and I could have gotten it for $89 but I missed it by a day); but still...$129 for a dual-bay SATA II NAS box! I paid $230 for my first one like 4 months ago. :-(

Also while I was there, I got Corel's Paint Shop Pro XI for $20 (after $60 mail-in rebate; sweet). Seems I've purchased PSP 9, 10, and 11 for less then $20 each this way.

In router news (and because I've been looking for a gigabit router) Belkin is releasing their N1 Vision. This thing is continuously updating the LED on the front of it to tell you who, where, and how much. And for 2 bills, it might find it's way onto my desk in the future (seeing as how most other gigabit routers are going for ~$150 anyways).

Found this the other day...for the digital musician in you life, the bass-drum PC case (although the makers state that these are NOT bass drums...they just play one on TV). This is a kewl looking setup...just don't get the family jewels too close. I don't see any shielding in there. :-p

Here are some other links of interest (well, for my...maybe you)

 
 

11 yrs, 2 wks, 1 day, 16 hrs, 9 mins and 31 secs ago

19
19.  
2 new members join the family
  
Posted Wednesday, June 20th 2007 @ 08:32 pm

~ a few years old / 4074 days ago

 
 

Girdie and Ollie...

Diana has been wanting a pet for a while but due to living in an apartment, loud pets are discouraged. She got it into her head that a fish would be a good quiet pet. We went out and looked at fish, tanks, food, etc to get a gauge on prices and went home. Later, I went back to Petco and picked up the 3 gal SpongeBob SquarePants Bikini Bottom Aquarium (clearance for $30, normally $50). I got two goldfish ($.24/each) and some food ($2) and surprised her with them when I asked her to come out and help me get the groceries out of the car (she didn't want to help, little did she know...).

We followed the instructions and rinsed everything and let the water cycle for about a day and a half. We put the pair in the water and gave them some food. About a day later, the larger of the two goldfish started showing signs of black spots on his sides and later the black appeared on the tips of the fins. After doing a bit of on-line research, Diana and I found out that our (opps, her) fish had Melanophore Migration and that the black patches are actually signs of healing after being removed from a irritating environment. We'll keep an eye on him for the next few weeks.

On another note, YouTube has the one commercial that almost made me pee my pants laughing when I saw it for the very first time when it originally aired (hint: "Splat").

The iPhone comes out shortly and there is a flood of PPC iPhone-rip off apps that are popping up on the net. I'm starting to play around with some of them but I have yet to find any 'flick' apps (it's just a matter of time as we have all seen the guy that created the original iPhone-on-a-PPC video with the pocket programming language (PPL)). In line with the iPhone and PPCs (via Engadget), HTC is coming out with the 'Touch' which is as close to an iPhone as you can get. Doing a search will find a few videos of the interface...looks nice but no slide out keyboard.

In regards to my DLink DNS-323 NAS box, fs-driver.org has a free EXT2 format reader so in case my NAS box dies, I can USB->SATA the drives to my Windows based PC and retrieve the content. Nice.

In mini mobo news...check this thing out: the Via px 10000 pico-itx, a full computer on 10cm x 7.2cm! Gawd...what should I make with that? Looks like it has a NIC and VGA D-SUB connector on board and all the other stuff is via headers.

Anywho, My stint at UCI Medical center ended about a month ago after which I had a 2 week reprieve (yea, unemployment insurance) and now I've been working for the last 2 weeks (boo, actual employment) at the BrightNow Dental corporate office in Santa Ana helping them out after their Exchange server died.

T-minus 3 days until the Police Reunion concert at Dodger Stadium this weekend!

 
 

11 yrs, 1 mon, 4 wks, 1 day, 14 hrs, 35 mins and 59 secs ago

20
20.  
Catching up with an old friend, television
  
Posted Thursday, May 10th 2007 @ 08:31 pm

~ a few years old / 4115 days ago

 
 

I love watching movies on my phone. I'm using Microsoft Media Center to record the new shows that I like to watch (Stargate:SG-1, Stargate:Atlantis, The Simpsons, House, Heros, Scrubs, King of the Hill, Family Guy, American Dad, Mind of Mencia, etc) and I'm using Slysoft's AnyDVD and CloneDVD mobile to transcode (fancy word for converting from one format to another) my series-based DVD collection so I can fit them on my 2 gig mini-SD cards and play them on my phone (I still use AVS Media Video Converter to do media *file* conversions as SlySoft's apps don't seem to support this functionality). So far, I've watched complete series of TV solely off my phone: Firefly, Farscape, Stargate:SG-1, Stargate:Atlantis, M.A.S.H., Ghost in the Shell, all of the original Twilight Zone episodes, numerous anime series, and a couple others. I'm currently watching Rome, Ergo Proxy, the new Battlestar Galactica series, and finishing up with Alien Nation. Since I just finished (today, actually) season 2 of Stargate:Atlantis, I'm Jones'ing big time for seasons 10 and 3 DVD releases of SG1 and Atlantis (respectively). Inthe meantime, I'm ramping up on converting the complete Andromeda series that I picked up at Frys for $100.

I got to say, I'm amazed at how well I can identify computer products in these sci-fi shows: Dell monitors and laptops, Saitek joysticks, hell, Moya's manual flight control in Farscape is a gold-painted Logitech Marble FX.

Speaking of which, I did a search and was a bit surprised to find that my Logitech Marble FX (now deemed obsolete and paid $100 for when it first came out 10 years ago) is going for $300-$400 ($300 at least...looks like it got sold)! I'd take half that for mine :-) I picked up a Logitech Marble Mouse at Fry's for $17 in hopes that it would aid me in faster turret spins in Battlefield 2142; I've yet to try it out.

My weekdays have been quite busy working as a Programmer/Analyst II for UCI Medical Center for the last, going on, 3 months. I'm mainly doing break/fix and new PC roll outs of XP'ed Dell and HP machines. I get to see a couple of the various robotic-assist surgery machines (not in use, of course...yet) sitting in the OR hallways so that's kinda neat. It seems like the only time I get to watch my shows is during lunch since my schedule is so full once I get home.

Saw reports (via Engadget) that HTC and Sprint are teaming up again and putting out a new PPC phone...slightly better then my PPC-6700, the PPC-6800. The only thing that is peaking my interest is the inclusion of a GPS receiver and hopefully the inclusion of Windows Mobile 6.

Here are a couple other items of (my) interest:

 
 

11 yrs, 3 mons, 1 wk, 3 days, 14 hrs, 36 mins and 30 secs ago

21
21.  
I'm a human guinea pig hamster
  
Posted Saturday, April 14th 2007 @ 12:38 am

~ a few years old / 4142 days ago

 
 

Went to the LA computer show a few weeks back and found myself a 15-inch Dell E153FPT, a flat panel *USB TOUCHSCREEN* for $90 (it has a small scratch in the upper left of the screen...noticeable, but $90!). Let the carputer project begin!

In this vein, I caught an article over at TweakTown about Shuttle coming out with a car PC. Looks like it has everything I want (7.1 audio, wire/wireless, core Duo). I still like my idea of using a laptop with a dock under the seat but most docking stations are kinda wide and won't fit well in spots like that. Also of interest in the carputer realm, Ubergizmo reported on the Addonics dual CF->IDE adapter for plugging in 2 Compact Flash cards as a IDE hard drive. This would make a great system drive for a carputer as power and heat would be minimized and load times would be faster. Not bad for a $30 dual CF adapter (the single CF adapter is $25)!

Transitioning smoothly into the area of flash-based drives, Reuters reported that Fujitsu is going completely NaND-based for their 1.8 inch drives due to demand. This marks a highpoint for flash-based drives. It won't be much longer before we are all running NaND drives in laptops and eventually our workstations. Yea!

*Finally* saw the D-link DNS-323 2 SATA drive NAS box in Fry's (I blogged about ordering it and then canceling my order when I was told that it was 10 weeks backordered!). Yeah, I caved in and bought it and dropped two 500-gig drives in it. At just over $200, it's a nice box:

  • Supports 2 SATA drives in RAID 0, 1, and JBOD setups
  • Heat reactive fan (stays off until it's needed and will throttle up if the temp gets too hot)
  • Email notifications of various events
  • Auto shutdown when temp hits a user definable value.
  • User account and FTP support

While I'm a big fan of NAS boxes in general, I'm a bit tweaked that while I can define accounts for users to log into the box, I can't tell who is currently logged in. I can tell that *someone* is on by looking at the flashing activity light on the front of the unit. Miguel, stop bogart'in all my bandwidth (seriously, I kid). Since I have about 600 gigs of data, I picked up a 5-port D-Link DGS-2205 10/100/1000 switch to handle high speed transfers from my main box to the NAS unit.

I much more like this NAS box over the Netgear SC101 box (aka the Netgear dual-drive toaster) as the D-Link model handles SATA drives and *at least* has an exhust fan.

Now that I have the D-Link NAS, I see this article over at Engadget talking about Data Robotics Drobo a scant week later (dissection pics here). I'd much prefer this (my gawd, look at the features list!) but at $700 and only USB for communications, I'll stick with my D-Link NAS (if only they had network support).

Since I'm trying out new products on myself, I also picked up (and took back) the Saitek backlit Eclipse keyboard and the Visiontek XG6 3-D laser mouse. I really wanted to like these but just couldn't do it. I found the ambient light around the Saitek keys brighter then the backlighting through the keys themselves. This was a bit of an issue after playing in the dark for about 30 minutes after my eyes had adjusted a bit. The Visiontek mouse was just too difficult to handle. I realize now that I actually pick up my mouse from time to time and you really can't do this with this mouse without pressing one of the 8 buttons on this thing. Bummer.

Looks like Engadget caught sight of the powered USB grommet hubs from Belkin I spotted like, over a YEAR AGO in a demo computer desk at the local Fry's. I love these but can't buy them yet (Belkin's own site lists them as coming soon with a pricetag of $45). Another kewl thing about these is that they are powered. Man, waiting sucks.

While I was at my second home (Fry's), I spotted some Gerber tools (I've owned a Gerber multi-function tool for about 5 years now and it still astounds me that I haven't lost the thing). Anywho, I liked my Gerber so much, coupled with the fear of loosing it, I've wanted to buy a spare but Fry's didn't have any more. 5 years later, I spotted this: the Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier (for $25 too! I paid $80 for my original Gerber and this one has the same weight and tool count). The Suspension has the same spring loaded plier as my $80 model and is a bit smaller, coming with a belt holster that can be looped horizontally or vertically. Nice!

Found this recently, the Sunbeamtech USB-interfaced Theta TP 101 8-fan/8-thermal sensor controller that fits into a PCI slot...and only $25.

Some other links of (my) interest:

 
 

11 yrs, 4 mons, 1 wk, 10 hrs, 29 mins and 48 secs ago

22
22.  
Bi-weekly tidbits
  
Posted Wednesday, March 21st 2007 @ 10:14 pm

~ a few years old / 4165 days ago

 
 

On the PocketPC front, seems that a company named ArianeSoft has a VB-like devleopment tool for creating PocketPC applications...but it doesn't work in Vista which is what I'm running on my main PC :-( (my other PCs are running XP thou).

In vid card news, OverClock.net posted a (slightly outdated) video card rankings list for about 80 video cards (Woot! I'm at #6)

I found (via a comparison review of torrent clients) uTorrent. I like this one more than BitTorrent as it seems to play nicer with Vista (so far).

While I was playing around with various Linux NAS apps, I found out that I couldn't blow away the Linux partition that got created and everytime I tried to install XP, it wouldn't boot the next time around. While at work, I asked a co-worker of mine about it and he suggested Darik's Boot and Nuke which is a hard disk wip util that blows everything away on a drive (more of a security wipe tool). This however did the trick for me so that I could put XP back on the drive.

While I'me on the topic of Vista, I found a MAC-like taskbar util that I like a bit. It's called RocketDock and it works just like the MAC OS X taskbar (if that's what they call it). Plus it's free. :-)

I found this little gem: a open-source mobile phone called OpenMoko. The phone itself is about $400 (if I remember correctly) and is trying to do what Neuros did with its line of products by releasing all the hardware info for hackers legitimate coders to write the apps for the device. Should be interesting to see what comes of it as the phone itself support multi-band, GPS, touchscreen, Bluetooth, MicroSD, and others. Visit the site for a peek at the hardware list.

In NaND news, seems that the bars been raised again: a 160 gig flash based 2.5 inch NaND drive is now the capacity leader (company: Adtron; no pricing details yet). Seems like just a few weeks ago the 16 gig NaND drivs were announced. I totally feel that NaND drives are the next drives....I just don't know when the common geek man will get his hands on them. I seem to have read somewhere that a PC manufacturer was starting to ship with these (from Samsung) but I can't remember who it was.

Oh...get this...The Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000 (or WED8K as I call it) that was supposed to come out in Feburary now has a new release date as posted on the Microsoft page for the device: September 2007! Crap! (But I wanna beat people up right now...I've got the pajamas!) Guess I have to wait some more. Probably a good thing as it gives me some more time to save up the $ needed to procure the thing at over $200.

In gadget news, there is a company out of Israel that has created a internet firewall device that connects between your internet device and your network call a Yoggie ($220, $40 updates per year). The device acts as a anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-spam device that automatically gets updates via the web. Seems like a kewl tool for keeping the baddies out without having to choke all your PCs on your network with client apps that do the same thing (although, thinking about it, it's probably best to run clients as usres tent to bring the stuff in on flash drives and floppies).

In modding, I was looking a case mod sites and thought this was a great idea...paint your keyboard keys with UV reactive paints. I have a couple UV cold cathode lamps and could easily mount these under my monitor mount. I might just do this!

Don't forget, Shutdown day is March 24th (on my birthday). :-D

 
 

11 yrs, 5 mons, 12 hrs, 53 mins and 44 secs ago

23
23.  
Changing of the (geek) guard
  
Posted Friday, March 2nd 2007 @ 09:00 pm

~ a few years old / 4184 days ago

 
 

I thought my setup was pretty sweet...

All hail the new king! This dewd is running SEVEN monitors. Personally I think 3 is good enough (until of course I acquire some more to test that philosophy against) :-p He does a good job of explaining what he has but is light on the 'what I do with it' category stating that he does code development with various VM's. Oh well...

In other monitor related news, that whole 'Minority Report' interface thing is coming closer to reality. Check out this video with a demo of touch-based computing...sweet!

In the realm of kewl gadgets, the WaveBox is an over-sized lunch box/microwave for people on the go with the need for hot food where ever they are. Nice idea, plugs into wall outlets, cigarette lighters, and even comes with jumper cables to hook directly to the car battery. At around $199 and with a waiting list until late March/early April, I think I'll just leave my lunch in the car for 20 minutes.

Now that it's officialy March (2nd), I'm hopping mad that I still don't have a Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000 (WED8K for short) with all it's Vista integration on...well...my desktop. Seems that Jason Chen over at Gizmodo got a early RTM version to look at and posted some hardware porn of the meeting.

Speaking of Microsoft and Vista, here are four more tidbits to chew on:

  1. Someone authored up a doc on how to install Vista from a thumbdrive. Thinking here is that it's faster then a DVD and faster still then over the ol' network (granted using a USB 2.0 compliant connection).
  2. Seems most of my CD-burning s/w has Vista issues. Sites like Roxio and Nero offer compliant upgrades for a price. I found a free utility for dumping .ISO images without the need for any burning s/w called ISO Recorder (also works on XP)
  3. (this one tweaked me big time) Seems that Vista's implementation of SAMBA is not XP (and earlier) compliant. WHAT! you (should) say. No more serving shares off my main PC (as it now runs Vista). I found out the hard way when I tried to use my network boot disk to connect to my main system so I could ghost off a system: Access Denied (literally). Here's the writeup I found that discusses the changes. Makes me think that the US Dept of Transportation might have the right idea with banning Vista upgrades for a while, not to mention the recent findings regarding brute force attacking Vista for activation keys (this is going to get messy).
  4. Lastly, Microsoft has a knowledgebase notice that lists out the applications that are 'Certified for' and 'Works with' Windows Vista. Seems they update this page daily.

Found this nice writeup on how to visually identify memory chips. Covers 30 pin SIMMs (damn, I have a butt-load of these in my storage bin) to 200 pin SODIMMs.

 
 

11 yrs, 5 mons, 2 wks, 5 days, 13 hrs, 7 mins and 27 secs ago

24
24.  
Just another one of those days
  
Posted Thursday, February 15th 2007 @ 04:14 pm

~ a few years old / 4199 days ago

 
 

One of my RAID 0 drives (a 500 gig SATA-II Maxtor) died yesterday (yeah, all my data on the RAID is toast). Luckily, I have *my* data backed up on a stand-alone 500 gig drive (that I did before installing Vista). After going to maxtor.com to check on my warranty, I was redirected to a page that said that Seagate has acquired Maxtor...ah man...no more Maxtor-bashing. :-(

Let the Seagate bashing begin!

Luckily for me (again), the drive is still under warranty (sweet) until June.

In other news, it seems that everyone is coming out with a 4 gig Mini SD card. Prices look to be around $33 (that has to be a typo).

I've been eye'ing Dell's site for their 2407WFP...now back up to $749. What I found surprising is that their 22-inch version is half the price; $296. I could get two of these things for the price of another 24-inch. Another strange thing I just saw on Dell's site...a 30-inch WFP is LESS THEN their 27 inch by just over a $100?!?! So far the reviews on the 27 haven't been great, usually ending with a comment "just get two 2407WFPs".

 
 

11 yrs, 6 mons, 4 days, 17 hrs, 53 mins and 20 secs ago

25
25.  
Programmers and their 'other' children (projects)
  
Posted Monday, February 12th 2007 @ 08:27 pm

~ a few years old / 4202 days ago

 
 

Some people can get really bent out of shape if you go your seperate way...

Case in point: Relocate. Relocate is a code project of mine I started after reading a forum post on AutoITscript.com that discussed another project called SplitMon that was founded around the idea of repositioning windows using hotkeys.

I feel in love with the idea and tried SplitMon on my machine. It worked great except it just didn't move a window from one monitor to a neighboring monitor. As I have a 3 screen setup, I am constantly moving and resizing by hand windows into my flanking 15-inch screens. Having a utility that would resize them for me and be a hotkey was something I totally needed..now!

I posted a message in the SplitMon forum to note this issue. The author was very accepting of my suggestions.

Being ever resourceful and seeing an oppurtunity to get some experience, I created Relocate. As time went by and I discovered things working on my project, I posted my findings to the SplitMon project forum. At one point a user tried SplitMon and found that it wasn't working for him in Vista.

As I was monitoring the SplitMon forum, I posted a reply indicating that he could try Relocate if what he wanted was simple repositioning functionality.

This is when the claws came out.

Here was my response... (man that was one a long post)

Long story short, we're grown ups, we vented and moved on. But it goes to show how tempermental we programmers are about our babies.

 
 

11 yrs, 6 mons, 1 wk, 13 hrs, 40 mins and 10 secs ago

26
26.  
My bi-annual PC checkup (plus some other stuff)
  
Posted Sunday, January 7th 2007 @ 10:51 pm

~ a few years old / 4238 days ago

 
 

It's that time of year again. Only one problem; the connector on the JMicron SATA connector pulled right off the pins on the motherboard and now my system won't boot so I took the board out and replaced it with another P5W DH. Seems that Asus is not putting version stickers on the BIOS chips (as they did in the past) as you need to get rev 1100 or higher if you plan on running a Core 2 chip in it (all prior revisions didn't have Core 2 microcodes...likely, the board I picked up had 13xx).

Anywho, since I have the new mobo out, I decided to follow the directions I found after I installed the first mobo on XtremeSystems.org and removed the heatsinks, cleaned off the factory thermal paste with Goo Gone, and applied a better paste (Arctic Silver 5; damn this stuff is expensive but then again it is 99.9% silver). With my freshly applied paste starting to bond between the chips and re-applied heatsinks, I decided to play with the core frequency. I bumped my E6700 CPU frequency from the default 266 to 320 and my temps were 44 Celcius (idle), 65 Celcius (taxed); stable. Then I up'ed it a bit to 333 and my temps were 45 Celcius (idle), 65 Celcius (taxed); stable. All my tests higher then 333 seemed to produce an unstable system. Effectively, I'm getting 25% more out of my chip then if I wasn't overclocked. :-)

On another note, I ranted earlier about how the whole USB on-the-go spec was a bit overdue because of the fact that a lot of devices are using wireless methods to transfer data (WiFi, IR, Bluetooth). Seems that those same guys have a *wireless* USB specification (WUSB) as well. Go figure. I hope that WUSB does for Wireless that USB did for I/O connections.

In hard drive news, seems Hitachi has come out with their SATA II 1 terabyte drives sporting a 32 meg buffer using their perpendicular storage technique. Pricing looks to be in the $400 range (seems about right; I forked out $360 for two 500 gig Maxtor drives with 16 meg buffers about 5 months ago). While the size is nice, I run a RAID 0 so I run faster with more drives. :-p

 
 

11 yrs, 7 mons, 1 wk, 6 days, 11 hrs, 16 mins and 59 secs ago

27
27.  
More tech then you can shake a IntelliStick at
  
Posted Thursday, January 4th 2007 @ 10:05 pm

~ a few years old / 4241 days ago

 
 

Seems the USB Implementers Forum has 'adopted' a new USB standard for portable devices that uses a micro-USB connection for what is being call "USB On-The-Go" (Caught this one over at mobileburn.com). This new spec is supposed to allow for data transfer between devices without the need for a computer (think transferring music files from your phone to MP3 player directly). While I think this is a idea long overdue, it is just that....overdue. Most devices that are hitting the market are making use of WiFi, IR, and bluetooth to deal with wireless transfers.

If you new here, you need to know about my never-ending desire for a fully loaded tablet. While I've been eyeing Dialogue's v33i Flybook, the small size and LARGE pricetag has been at issue for me. This Engadget article seems to state that Toshiba and HP are going to be releasing some widescreen tablets (R400 and tx1000 respectively) around the same time as the Windows Vista release. Oh joy, Ren!

Also, in my pursuit to create a carputer, I'm looking into NAND state drives (since this will be in a mobile car; vibration kills moving parts). Right now, the best option is to get a IDE to CF adapter (~$15) and buy a 8 gig CF card (~$140; $17.50 per gig) but this is about to change. Sandisk has announced a 1.8 inch 32 gig flash drive that is 100x faster (62MB-per-second) and uses 1/2 the power of current laptop drives (~$600; $18.75 per gig) and is going out to OEMs currently. (BTW, Samsung's 32 gig flash drive announced back in March is a 2.5 inch version).

In my quest to buy another Dell 2407WFP monitor, I've now seen it hit the lowest price to date, going for $674 (as of today). Seems that Dell is going to be releasing a 27-inch monitor with all the goodness that is in the 24-inch and 30-inch versions.

It's also around that time for me to get a new PocketPC phone (I've had mine for almost 2.5 years) and my timing couldn't be better. This HPC.RU report indicates that HTC (the makers of those snazzy slider PPCs like my PPC-6700) has announced their 2007 line-up. The newer models use micro-SD cards though (as opposed to the mini-SD that I currently use in the PPC-6700). Some of these new PPCs come with GPS built in (Yea!).

If I'm still unemployed next week and can scrounge up a tix (damn, it's $200 bucks now; was free if registered before Dec 29...oh well), I'll see if I can crash at my sister-in-law's place in Vegas for International CES which is going down Jan 8-11.

Hopefully, my next posting will be done from a Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000 (releases next month with Vista for $250).

Shrum.net totals for 2007:

+ 184,343 unique visitors
+ 809,827 pages
+ 5,137,455 hits
+ 261.46 GB transfered

Note to self: buy the I-CY (~$20) for Martha when it releases in March of 07 (penguin love!).

This blog deemed male-rendered (53.9%) via GenderGenie. :-p

 
 

11 yrs, 7 mons, 2 wks, 2 days, 12 hrs, 2 mins and 14 secs ago

28
28.  
Random Findings
  
Posted Sunday, December 17th 2006 @ 01:22 pm

~ a few years old / 4259 days ago

 
 

Just a random collection of things I collected over the last 2 weeks to post today

1: The Wii (and the damage it has done). So much of it has been posted on the Net that someone made a website to sorta track it (I've seen more on various other tech sites but at least here it's centralized). Go see the carnage a hunk of plastic can cause at wiidamage.com.

2: Flash devices. Seems A-Data has made a combination MicroSD reader that doubles as a full size SD card but also includes a USB plug to boot called the microSD Trio! Sweet. I finally found USB flash drives that are a bit smaller then my PQI IntelliSticks (which I would of thought impossible): the Sony Micro Vaults (which go up to 2 gigs; FYI: PQI's IntelliSticks now have a 2 gig model).

3: The Dah! factor. I wish I saw this before I drilled holes in my mothers ceiling to mount new smoke detectors. The DuPont Screw-In Self-Charging Smoke Alarm; recharges every time the light is turned on and holds a charge for 30 days. To test the device, simply flip the light switch twice! No more climbing on chairs to reach and push the test button! Sweet. Target has these things on sale for about $30.

4: WiFi radiation - Those people in the EU are nutty paranoid to the point of taking WiFi out of some schools. To summarize the findings: A years exposure to nearby WiFi is equivalent to 20 minutes of cell phone use.. Don't get me wrong...I'm all for less emissions but come on... :-p

5: The mouse phone! Didn't see that coming but the Genius Navigator 380 has come out with a combination mouse that doubles as a clam-shell VOIP phone. Cool idea.

6: Time to replace my digital camcorder: JVC GR-8750 uses miniDV tapes and even shoots wide screen format and 34x OPTICAL zoom (200x digital) for a proported price south of $450 just in Japan. :-(

7: Stargate: SG-1! Frys had all seasons 1-9 on sale for $20 each! I'm currently into season 2 and working my way through all 9 seasons before season 10 drops in July.

8: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society (movie #3). Just visited my 'anime guy' at the LA computer show and he handed me this (released 2006.11.24); english subs only (dammit!). Someone posted a trailer on YouTube here. I'll watch it tonight and screen cap it into my wallpapers area later.

End transmission...

 
 

11 yrs, 8 mons, 4 days, 20 hrs, 45 mins and 56 secs ago

29
29.  
On-line DVD rentals showing their age
  
Posted Tuesday, November 28th 2006 @ 07:33 pm

~ a few years old / 4278 days ago

 
 

Before I begin, it's been another banner month here at Shrum.net. Over 22,000 unique visitors pulling down over 35 gigs worth of data.

Now on to my rant...

Being a long time subscriber to one of those on-line DVD rental services, I can say that I was quite happy with the service...until recently. Most of the discs I get now are heavily scratched and more often then not are cracked and unplayable. Usually the replacement disc is no better in terms of the condition the disc is in.

This is getting to be a pain in the ass.

I have the 8-out-at-a-time plan and at least 1 of the discs is always cracked and 2 more are ususally in such a bad condition, my players can't read them which begs the question: "Do on-line DVD rental companies quality control their stock or do they expect customers to do the work for them.?"

Personally, I'm paying too much to be a freaking disc QA rep.

In hardware news...I'm still Jones'ing hard for that new Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000 from Microsoft...drooool.

I'm keeping an eye on Dell's site as they had my 2407FPW monitor (sweetness) on sale at one point for $680. Today it's back up to $799. :-( I'd love to get another one of these.

I'm thinking more about laptops and tablets nowadays as I want to do a dock-able car-puter....but with a laptop (more options) so I can use the thing in the house as well. This would dock to a permanently installed 7 or 10-inch touch panel monitor and USB GPS receiver. I could even go as far as to hook up an external laptop drive for media storage (music, movies, etc) that would power directly off the USB. The thing to do now is find:

  1. a laptop with a good price to features ratio that
  2. has VGA and USB ports on the back of the unit that can
  3. power up while the lid is closed (although this is not a big deal as most monitors use dimple switches which can be filed down) and can
  4. sit in-between (preferably) or underneath the car seats.

I'd go as far as to fabricate some sort of center console dock rig that would allow me to 'drop' the laptop into place.

On the other han, there are a number of pre-fab DIN-sized car-puters out there for about $250 (barebones) that would work perfectly but would be permanently installed in the car. Extra bonus: my PPC-6700 sports a USB modem capability so I'd have mobile broadband on the go :-) I need to think this up some more and figure out a budget.

As for s/w, I know there are a couple open-source, in-car "navi-tainment" (my word for it) apps out there but I think I'd rather roll my own with AutoIT.

More later as I progress.

 
 

11 yrs, 8 mons, 3 wks, 2 days, 14 hrs, 34 mins and 51 secs ago

30
30.  
Damn, that was the busiest month for Shrum.net
  
Posted Wednesday, November 1st 2006 @ 03:08 pm

~ a few years old / 4305 days ago

 
 

My little site is getting more and more popular every month. Last month again topped my previous record high by almost 2,500 unique visitors. Here are the Oct '06 stats:

  • 17,364 unique visitors hitting 52,147 pages
  • 420,379 data hits totalling 30.18 gigs of data transfer.
Sweet

I've been toying with 2 Linux distributions: Red Hat's Fedora Core 6 and Ubuntu's Edgy Eft (6.10) (both of these distros just posted updates recently) on a older P-III box I have to experiment with; ultimately to use as a NAS/FTP box. Not sure if I want to limit the box to using a specialized version of Linux like the FreeNas or OpenFiler but I'm not totally against the idea...yet.

In furniture news, I've abandoned the idea of placing my PC thru the desk...this proved to be a pain in the a$$ when trying to plug things in like USB cables and add-on cards. I've opted to leave the case on the ground, sideways (to show off the rig inards) and hooked up two 4 port USB hubs under the desk for expandibility. My original thought of easier accessibility by poking the chassis thru the desk was just a dud...I never used the ports on the case cuz I had USB extender cables routed to the front of the desk. Another benefit is that this way I can move the rig out to work on it. this frees up the space on the desk for my Epson printer.

In regards to my desk, working with 3 monitors is sweet but at the same time a pain. Case in point: sometimes I turn off the flanking 15-inch monitors to concentrate on work on the center 24-inch screen. Since Windows/apps sometimes remembers where they were left at, when I launch other applications sometimes nothing happens on-screen...at least not on the center screen...because the window opened in one of the flanking screens which I turned off. Guess I just have to leave those screens on all the time...which can add too much ambient light when I'm kickin' it watching the newly installed cable through my PVR card on the 24. :-)

Oh...saw this over at gizmodo: the Wenge, a $2,500 free standing swivelling flat panel TV stand. Hell, for that price I'll make my own for half that (easy). Nice design idea thou.

 
 

11 yrs, 9 mons, 2 wks, 6 days, 18 hrs, 59 mins and 42 secs ago

31
31.  
I'm impatient
  
Posted Monday, October 16th 2006 @ 04:18 pm

~ a few years old / 4321 days ago

 
 

Screw the wait. The DNS-323 is still backordered for another 10 weeks. I've decided that I can build a NAS box myself.

A barebones Shuttle PC from Fry's with PCI-Express, integrated video, SATA 1 w/ RAID 0/1/5 and JBOD support, and a 10/100 NIC runs about $210. I'd need to add memory and a CPU but that should be under $100. I'll connect my remaining two 500 gig Maxtor drives to this.

There are 2 free NAS software packages out there that I know of, FreeNAS (FreeBSD) and OpenFiler (CentOS).

FreeNAS is only 30 megs and OpenFiler is 300 megs. I'll test both of them out to find out which one I like best.

More later as I start this new project.

 
 

11 yrs, 10 mons, 6 days, 18 hrs, 50 mins ago

32
32.  
My keyboard lift has arrived
  
Posted Wednesday, October 11th 2006 @ 11:09 pm

~ a few years old / 4326 days ago

 
 

Freakin' bout time! My keyboard lift from Ergomart has arrived. Pixs of the unpacking can be found here. I'll post more pixs later of the install.

Been awhile since I last blogged anything but then again there hasn't been much to blog about.

I'm still waiting for the D-Link 2 bay NAS drive (DNS-323) to get off of backorder (t-minus 11 weeks and waiting)...

I'm still waiting for my cruifix cap for my iPod Shuffle (seems devoted1.com is no longer going to be making these as the new iPod Shuffle doesn't sport a cap...this from the designer, Scott Wilson)

ION, I'll be making the move from DSL to to cable access (cable TV and Internet) this month and will be dropping our phone service in favor of a cheap, more feature rich, VoIP solution. Time Warner Cable is our cable provider for this area but I can go with any of the VoIP service providers that I want. I'll need to do some research...

In anime news, I just finished watching the first episode of R.O.D. OVA and I liked it. Liked it enuff to go ahead and queue-up the TV series in NetFlix. I also just finished watching the last 3 episodes of Ghost in the Shell: 2nd Gig. I need to watch the whole series again as the lag between disc releases made watching this one incredibly hard to keep up with so I had a hard time grasping the ending (come to think of it, the ending of the first season of GITS seemed rushed too).

In music news, one of my all time favorite artists, Sting just released a album of Lute music by John Dowland titled Songs from the Labyrinth...gag! I usually buy everything that Sting puts out cuz I like it but this purchase is just not what I'm used to and would have been better off not ever getting it. I should have realized the err of my purchase when I noted that the album was being released via Deutsche Grammophon. This is more of a classical music listener kind-of album. This distaste is built upon yet another sour apple I bit into when I got the new BT album, Binary Universe (Crap! DeviantArt is sponsering the Binary Universe movie in LA tomorrow at CineSpace for $5. Bummer. I have a previous engagement to attend). Why are my favorite artists changing musical direction? Damnit! Stick to what works! Luckily, the new Engima album that just came out followed the formula.

In the "Dammit, I shoulda patented that when I thought about it 10 years ago" section, the Chrysler Sebring's now have heated and cooled cup holders! About time this feature came to the public! There's nothing grosser than a hot can of Coke.

In interesting sites I've come across, there was this one on Standford's site: Revolutionary Tides: The Art of the Political Poster 1914-1989. A must-see for all those FPS gamers that are playing any of those period games like 'Day of Defeat' or 'Battlefield 1942'. In "not worth linking to but worth mentioning cuz it's funny" section , there is appearently a death metal band using my last name for their band name :-D Check it out here.

 
 

11 yrs, 10 mons, 1 wk, 4 days, 11 hrs, 58 mins and 3 secs ago

33
33.  
Naming the three-headed monster (and other stuff)
  
Posted Saturday, September 23rd 2006 @ 08:05 pm

~ a few years old / 4344 days ago

 
 

I'm still putting my custom desk together, ordering the last part the other day (a $250 sit-to-stand keyboard lift) that is custom built and won't arrive for another month. In the meantime, I've got the perfect name for my new 3-monitor system that will reside on the desk: 'Cerberus'

From Wikipedia:

In Greek mythology, Cerberus or Kerberos (Greek Κέρβερος, Kerberos, "demon of the pit"), was the hound of Hades—a monstrous three-headed dog (sometimes said to have 50 or 100 heads) with a snake for a tail and serpentine mane. He guarded the gate to Hades (the Greek underworld) and ensured that the dead could not leave and the living could not enter. His sister was the Chimera and his brother was Orthrus. He is the offspring of Echidna and Typhon.
[After thought: I wonder if the individual heads had names?]

In hardware news, Microsoft sent out press release info on their 'ultimate keyboard' system, official naming it 'Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000'. Initial pricing is set at ~$250 (ouchie).

Also, something wierd is going on in the world of memory. I ordered some Corsair matched pair DDR2 6400C4PRO mem chips about a month ago and had to send them back as one of the sticks was bad. I was going to do a return/reorder but noticed the price went up like $60 in one week (for 2 year old memory?)! I called Newegg back and told them to do it as a replacement instead. Why the price jump? I have no idea. Comment if anyone knows what is going on.

In software news, seems Corel is off-ing the PSP name (Paint Shop Pro; one of my favorite pieces of s/w) and rebranding it as Paint Shop Pro PHOTO XI. Seems logical as they already have their flagship CorelDraw product for graphic editing. PSP is the poor man alternate to Adobe's Photoshop (I got my copy of PSP for $10 after rebates). PSP supports all the features I use in Photoshop while being easy enough for anyone that doesn't do photo editing for a living to use.

As for P2P, looks like eDonkee had to 'pony' up $30 million in their lawsuit with the RIAA. Seems the court decided that s/w client companies are partly liable for copyright infringements that the users of thier product commit.

File in with interesting: the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA.

 
 

11 yrs, 10 mons, 4 wks, 1 day, 15 hrs, 2 mins and 6 secs ago

34
34.  
14 week backorder on the DNS-323!? Argh!
  
Posted Tuesday, September 19th 2006 @ 08:02 am

~ a few years old / 4349 days ago

 
 

Seems my order on the D-Link DNS-323 2-bay NAS box won't get filled anytime soon. There's a 14 freakin week backorder on it. This detail comes straight from the D-Link customer support department.

A little background history: I placed my order at a number of on-line retailers that *indicated* they had the D-Link NAS in stock just to get back emails indicating that they didn't. So I cancelled those and ordered directly from D-Link's online store just to get back another *backorder* email from them. :-( I waited about 2 weeks and decided to call them to see what was up (seeing as how their main building is about a mile from where I work in Fountain Valley, CA). I figured if they had ANY, I'd stop by their office and purchase it there (hey, no shipping!).

A call into their customer support department got me the info: 14 weeks. Their resasoning for the backlog: 'consumer demand'.

Seems odd that a company that just releases a product (they even had it frontpaged on their website) would run out *that* quickly. I've never even seen the thing physically which begs the question of whether or not it is actually on the market or still in production. It's not like there are a ton of reviews (actually, I can't find ANY true reviews that aren't PR writeups as of this writing) of the thing to warrant ANY demand for it. I only found out about the DNS-323 because I wanted a gigabit NAS box that would support 2 drives in RAID 0/1 and a net search popped them up.

14 freakin weeks...scheesh! But at ~$220, it'll be worth it if it delievers the goods.

God, I hate waiting. :-p

ADDENDUM: Just got a call from D-Link and the NAS box is being shipped today (6 days after my call...someone at D-Link musta had their wires crossed when they told me 14 weeks). Yea! :-)

ADDENDUM 2: ARGH! They haven't shipped it and it's backordered again! Why'd they even call me at all. :-/

 
 

11 yrs, 11 mons, 4 days, 3 hrs, 5 mins and 39 secs ago

35
35.  
Dell still shipping defective batteries
  
Posted Thursday, September 7th 2006 @ 09:01 pm

~ a few years old / 4360 days ago

 
 

Had a client today call me to check out his newly ordered and received Dell Inspiron E1505 before he left on his trip to Uganda. As I was finished cleaning and installing various things, we started talking about the recent issues with batteries exploding and how some airlines won't allow carry on laptops for fear of them bursting into flames during the flight. I figured since this was a newly ordered PC (ordered online on 9/1; 2 weeks after Dell started their battery recall) that the battery in it would have been one that was not on the defect list...I was wrong.

The battery in the newly received Inspiron laptop was on Dell's recall list.

Word to the wise: Regardless of whether you've had your laptop for 1 year or 1 day, check Dell's Battery Recall page and see if your battery is on the recall list. Instructions on how to tell if your battery needs to be recalled is on Dell's site.

On a different topic, my video card and memory arrived today completing my list of parts for my new uber-PC. Only problem is the mobo can't handle the new E6700 proceessor; the BIOS needs to be updated. A call into Asus got me to thier BIOS division where they're shipping me a new BIOS *chip* with the updated 1101 version (I have 0705). Man, I love/hate the bleeding edge. ;-p

On the furniture-front: I've started purchasing the tools and parts for my custom computer desk and will be picking up the oak plywood tomorrow and doing the cuts and primering then. I've pickup 2 sets of sawhorses to help me with cutting but I think I'll use them to act as table legs afterwards as well. They support 500 lbs each and come up about 30 inches, a bit taller then I want my desk at (26 is what I want...might need to saw the legs down a bit) but not bad for $30 a pair. Should have some pixs posted to the moblog of the project tomorrow.

 
 

11 yrs, 11 mons, 2 wks, 1 day, 14 hrs, 6 mins and 59 secs ago

36
36.  
One PC to rule them all (aka: the 'God Box')
  
Posted Friday, September 1st 2006 @ 11:30 pm

~ a few years old / 4366 days ago

 
 

Me and a couple of my friends have this deal where we like to notify everyone in our group whenever someone gets the fastest PC (to restablish the geek pecking order). For some time now, that honor has eluded me. Not anymore.

Read it and weep, boys...

A couple of things above I want to upgrade soon are:

  1. Keyboard
    ...to the Microsoft Ultimate Keyboard once it comes out (wireless 30-foot range, rechargable, adaptive backlighting for those late night BF2 games).
  2. Router
    ...to something like the NETGEAR WNR854T RangeMax NEXT Wireless Router Gigabit Edition that has gigabit/draft 802.11n support.
  3. CPU cooling
    ...to a water-based cooling system (not sure which one right now; still looking around). Right now I'm using the stock heatsink and fan setup that came with the Intel chip. I'll need this before I can do any serious overclocking.

ION, Samsung just came out with a iPod Shuffle killer (IMO): the YP-U2Z going for about $160. It looks like a iPod Shuffle a bit (dimensions-wise) and comes in a 1 gig mem size, has a LCD, mic, radio, OGG support, 13 hour battery life, and still sports the USB connector too! If your looking for a flash based player like the iPod Shuffle, get this instead otherwise I'll sell you my iPod Shuffle cheap :-p

Speaking of MP3 players, check out the grand prize winner of the human-powered contest over at Core777. It's a Yo-Yo, it's a MP3 player, it's ReGEN! Dets indicate that 10-12 throws will power the thing for an hour, that it will transmit to BlueTooth headsets (so you can yo-yo to the music flow), and has LCD readouts/controls on the sides! This is just freaking geek-kewl! I must have it! Can't control urges to order online. Oh wait, it's just a concept item. Crap!

Since I've been in a DIY mood lately, this article over at Hackaday motivated me to do something with some of my old CDs and DVDs...make a lamp out of them or as I call it: a clamp (get it? CD lamp = c-lamp = clamp) I've finished it but still need to do some pictures that I'll post here when I get a chance.

 
 

11 yrs, 11 mons, 3 wks, 11 hrs, 37 mins and 47 secs ago

37
37.  
Gleened goodies from around the Net
  
Posted Friday, August 25th 2006 @ 11:28 am

~ a few years old / 4373 days ago

 
 

Been crusin' the 'ol Net and found a few things of interest.

Firstly, the Griffith Park Observatory is reopenning in late October and will be showing a new Laserium show called CyberDome (from the writeup it looks like they've constructed a tent-like dome...I wonder if this means they won't be showing the laser shows in the planetarium?)

Secondly....BURNING MAN kicks off this week (8 days til the man burns)! Need I say more?

Thirdly, (cuz I was in a DIY making mode last week and was looking for project ideas), I found this post on Hackaday.com (aka: HaD): a AOL CD lamp. There are a couple of varients of this like this one as well. I have thousands of old CDs in a bin that I was planning to cover the walls with like wallpaper (use the gold/purple backed discs to make images/patterns/words against all the silver backed ones). Gotta make a run to Lowes for some all-thread, washers, and some acorn nuts!

Fourth, some kewl gadgets to gawk at: check out this 85-item $1,200 Swiss Army knife! DAMN! I also like the Egokast PMP (personal media player). If I didn't already have my PPC-6700, I'd want one of these. Kewl thing about this is that it also comes with a belt buckle case! Nice specs: 320x240 @ 260K color, uses SD cards for storage, has a RCA video in/out, microphone, plays audio/video/photo slideshow support. Going for $289 with a 512m SD inculded. "Stop staring at my crotch. Oh, sorry, I was watching 'The Simpsons'".

Lastly, I've come across three sites worth mentioning:

  1. Programming Language Inventor OR Serial Killer
    Test your knowledge and see if you can tell the difference between code hackers and body hackers (I scored 8/10)
  2. Autoimmune
    Proof that even the Internet isn't safe from mimes
  3. Spell with flickr
    Convert your text into photo-based letters (neat)

Oh, not that it's worth mentioning (since the show sucks eggs since season 7) but season 8 of South Park hits shelves on the 29th.

That's all for now. :-)

 
 

11 yrs, 11 mons, 4 wks, 23 hrs, 39 mins and 38 secs ago

38
38.  
A case of the 'gots-ta-hav-it'
  
Posted Monday, August 14th 2006 @ 12:55 am

~ a few years old / 4385 days ago

 
 

Funny. It was just the other day I found MP3car.com and was thinking about making a in-car PC. Then today I went to Fry's (it was an odd numbered day) and played with the Samsung Q1 ultra portable. Nice specs. It has a built-in CF card reader but luckily (in my case) there are CF->SD convertors out there. :) However, as someone over in the MP3car forums pointed out: no docking capability. Damn!

Also stopped in the California Outlet and picked up a copy of MS Streets & Trips 2006 w/ the GPS receiver for $45 (retail is about $109-$129; sweet). Seems the drivers are a bit quarky but I figured it out. Also picked up a Flex 10-foot bendable monorail track light system from LightWaves for ~$50 (retails for ~$300). Bam!

OAN, was talking to a friend of a freind of mine about NAS boxes and he brought up that he wished there was a NAS box that could double as an external USB drive. I thought I saw one and I know I did: ione en-35 (product box pics here)

For those ATI vid card owners out there like myself: you have to download the ATI Tray Tool. This free gem allows you to (among other things) assign keyboard shortcuts to most of the ATI functions like screen rotations! I've defined keyboard shortcuts and then written a few one-liner programs (links below) to allow me to rotate my screen by dbl-clicking the app shortcuts (my kung-foo at work). My k/b shortcuts for screen rotations in the ATI Tray Tool and my app to call are:

  • Ctrl+Alt+Up=0 degrees (app)
  • Ctrl+Alt+Down=180 degrees (app)
  • Ctrl+Alt+Left=270 degrees (app)
  • Ctrl+Alt+Right=90 degrees (app)

Other than that, I've been real busy with my consulting so I haven't had a chance to hit the movies lately but maybe next week.

The Simpsons - Season 8 comes out in 2 days. (Woo Who!)

OYAN: TrueNuff.com did a series of Mac Ad spoofs including one called 'Security' which goes on to say that Mac's don't get viruses. I typed up a rant in my blog on this very issue 3 months ago. :-D Could I be their muse? Most likely not.

Ciao4now

 
 

12 yrs, 5 days, 10 hrs, 12 mins and 42 secs ago

39
39.  
Technoworship
  
Posted Wednesday, August 9th 2006 @ 10:24 am

~ a few years old / 4390 days ago

 
 

Drooooool

Caught sight of this on Gearlog: Microsoft's upcoming ultimate keyboard.

Call me Ishmel, but I always shell out the $100 for MS keyboards when they come out (just to buy more later when they are at the computer show for $15). This new keyboard has my wishlist covered: rechargable k/b and mouse, backlit keys, wireless, 30-foot range. The lighting technique used on this keyboard is not the typical backlighting that most keyboards seem to use...the kind that shines between the keys but rather just illuminates the key characters. The other kewl thing is that it's adaptive backlighting (freakin' sweet).

I've been looking round the Net' and one of the guys I track posted a photo of his monitor setup. Nice. Figure the next time I go to the computer show I'll pick up a couple of the PC mod light kits and mount them to my multi-monitor stand.

Hameed does great spacescape work and since he's running widescreen, most of his latest work is formatted in 1920x1200 (which is great for me since I run that res as well). Check out his deviantart.com profile here to see his gallery. Another artist I like doing widescreen work can be found here (specifically some of his 'A Dreamy World' stuff is nice).

In anime news, the final Ghost in the Shell - 2nd Gig DVD is coming out on Sept 23. (Oh, joy!)

 
 

12 yrs, 1 wk, 3 days, 43 mins and 52 secs ago

40
40.  
Media, schmedia...
  
Posted Monday, July 31st 2006 @ 01:13 am

~ a few years old / 4399 days ago

 
 

New stuff coming out in terms of music.

Enigma and BT, two of my favorites are coming out with new albums within a month or so. However, this may seem strange, but Paris Hilton has a self titled music album.

Yeah, yeah, she's not worth the time to type about but here's the thing: on her first release single, Stars are Blind, she totally sounds like Gwen Stefani...no shiet! (check out the link and tell me that doesn't sound like Gwen - props to the sound engineer).

All of a sudden I feel all dirty...and not in a good way.

In other news, some one in Japan (?) is making a square iPod Shuffle-esk music player that uses SD cards. Not bad but I really like my Shuffle's USB connector. The size of this thing is about half that of the iPod Shuffle and the option to use SD cards lets you use up to 2 gigs (as is the current largest size). I believe I saw the US price of this going for about $25 bucks so it would totally be worth it if you had SD cards lying around (like I do). :-p

Looks like the Mode decided to market themselves a bit like U2 did with the iPod, pairing up with TrekStor to create a Mode'd i.Beat MP3 player. These guys also tout the most expensive MP3 player as well; if you have 20,000 euros (that's $25,327.99US) burning a hole in your pocket, you might feel like dropping that on this gold and diamond-encrusted MP3 player with a proported 100 manhours invested into each one.

In yet other news, seems that Sling Media is going to support Windows-based mobile (aka: .WMV I guess). Might be a nice toy to get for myself since I watch video on my PPC cellphone more than I watch TV at home AND use my cellphone as a phone combined.

Looks like the price on the 24-inch wide aspect Dell flat panel dropped $40 more bucks to $704 (how low can it go?). Damn...I might have to buy another one. :-)

 
 

12 yrs, 2 wks, 5 days, 9 hrs, 54 mins and 58 secs ago

41
41.  
The enigma of leet-speak PSP encoding geeks
  
Posted Wednesday, July 12th 2006 @ 11:26 am

~ a few years old / 4417 days ago

 
 

Seems to be a bit of news on the 'Net.

Was doing something (was I looking for pron? No, it wasn't that...it's too early for that) when I got over to the Wiki about 'leet' speak. In short, it's a transliterations of symbols or characters for other characters: 4=a, 1=L or I, 3=E, and so on. Anywho, the Wiki on 'leet' speak has a nice translation table of the various transitions. While I was there, I read the Wiki definition of 'Geek' (yes, I am one).

ION, seems that Microsoft just released the next version of their media encoder a few days back: Windows Media Encoder Studio Edition (associated newsgroup for this is here). Appearently, this beta does not support WMV export (which I need for my PPC) but it seems that will be added back in at a later date.

On the music scene, one of my favorite projects, Engima, has a new single out (released back in March) called 'Hello and Welcome' with 3 versions(Radio Edit, Thunderstorm Mix, and After The Storm Mix) and will be releasing their 6th album, 'A Posterior' around the end of September. More news on this at EnigmaMusic.com.

On the PSP front (for my bro-in-law, Miguel): Seems that the market for UMP movies is getting thinner. Seems that Sony may be pulling their UMP movies from Target stores. :-(

 
 

12 yrs, 1 mon, 1 wk, 23 hrs, 41 mins and 56 secs ago

42
42.  
Holy flaming 24-inch flat panels and memory, Batman
  
Posted Friday, June 30th 2006 @ 10:40 pm

~ a few years old / 4429 days ago

 
 

Damn!

Seems the price on the 24-inch wide aspect Dell monitor dropped again (now posted at $747).

ION, I've been busy writing 2 new utilities: Shuffler LE, a command line version of my Shuffler app, and Autorun, a MSC monitoring tool that *automatically runs* a user defined file when it detects it on a newly connected drive.

I finally found someone that has one of the microSD cards and man those things are small (about a third the size of a miniSD and almost half as thick. Click here for a visual comparison between the SD, miniSD, and microSD). Seems that the next line of PPC phones are starting to use the microSD as the secondary storage medium of choice. My only hope is that those phones will have 2 microSD input slots so you can transfer data between the two quickly (although you can already do this over the IR or Bluetooth but directly would be much quicker, right?). Plus this would allow people to double-up on secondary storage (that would be sweet: one for music, one for movies).

On an off topic, non-technology related issue: I saw silicon bakeware at Target...no freaking way (oven safe to temps up to 500 degrees). Time to get rid of those rusting metal bake pans I guess.

Oh, Superman Returns was pretty darn good. Go see it already (you know you want to). :-)

 
 

12 yrs, 1 mon, 2 wks, 5 days, 12 hrs, 27 mins and 40 secs ago

43
43.  
Movies, cryptography and BIG monitors
  
Posted Sunday, June 4th 2006 @ 11:48 pm

~ a few years old / 4455 days ago

 
 

Went and saw 'The Da Vinci Code' and was not that all impressed with the movie adaptation of the book (see as how I listened to the 'book on mp3' version. It's a good story...but that's it...it's a story.

As a result (?) of this, I started looking into Cryptology and found a website by Simon Singh on the subject along with a bunch of interactive tools; not bad. I picked up his work called 'The Code Book'; a primer of sorts that discusses the beginnings of cryptography throughout history and the results that the creation and breaking had. Think of it as a history book of secrets.

Addendum: (via Slashdot) Seems that U of Washington is offering their Cryptography course free online along with the text in PDF format.

Other movies I saw recently include 'Over the Hedge' (I nearly pee'ed myself laughing at 3 points in the show - the ending was great), and 'X-Men 3' (dare I say it: 'too *much* action, not enuff story'; I think everyone feels this way)

On the horizon is 'Ghost Rider' starring Nicholas Cage as the burning man himself. I like Cage...I like Ghost Rider...hmmm. I know where I'll be around noon come Feb 16, 2007. :-D

In other news: my Dell 24-inch monitor went back on sale for it's sub-1G price ($949; I got mine a little cheaper than that but once I up'ed the warrenty to 5 years it's about the same - I love mine!). Take a look here to strike while the iron's hot

P.S.: The next computer show in Pomona is only on the 17th. I can't go as I have to attend traffic school that day :-(

 
 

12 yrs, 2 mons, 2 wks, 1 day, 11 hrs, 19 mins and 54 secs ago

44
44.  
Why are there so many viruses on Windows
  
Posted Thursday, May 18th 2006 @ 12:58 am

~ a few years old / 4473 days ago

 
 

I get asked this question all the time by clients but this takes the cake. I just sat through one of Apple's 'Get a Mac' TV ads (this one specifically) where two guys stand there, one is supposed to represent Windows and the other, Apple. The Windows guy is sneezing and coughing while the Apple guy helps out with a hanky. They then go into this dialog about the Windows guy catching the latest "it's a doosy" virus.

ARGH!!!! I know that most people are going to buy into the ad but the reality is this:

If you were writing a virus (not that *you* would...or would you?), would you write one that would effect 20% of the computer market (being occupied by Apple) or 80% (being held by Windows)?

[insert Jeopardy tune here]

What is 'WINDOWS'.

CORRECT!

You go for the greatest effect by targeting the greatest market saturation, it is really just that simple. It's not a bunch of Apple purists trying to overthrow Windows (although I am not saying they don't exist either).

The ad calls on what I refer to as 'the lemming effect' by dangling a carrot in front of the *uninformed*. I don't blame the ad makers, they're just doing their job, looking for new converts like the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed teenage runaways the Scientology people scooped off the streets of Hollywood's Walk of Fame to help them get you into the Scientology Center to take 'the free personality test'.

Note: Man, I love that analogy. If you've ever walked that street at night, you totally know what I mean but I digress.

Alternatively, if Macs held the majority market share, they would have the most viruses and Microsoft would have run the same ad campaign against Apple ('all's fair in love and market share').

It's not like Macs are invunerable to such attacks (as is supported by the supply of anti-virus software written specifically for Macs). It's just that virus writers typically operate with a bit more than half a brain (cell).

I'll go out on a limb and approach this a diffent way. Yes, Apple has 80% less virus activity than Windows, but Apple also has 80% less applications written for it compared to the number of software packages available to Windows users. This can be proven by going into any computer store: 80% Windows, 20% Mac (most of which is iPod related). Maybe some day that will change but right now, Windows is king (and the prime target for virus writers).

I rest my case.

P.S. My market share percentages above are based on my own collective experience with the large numbers of computers I deal with on a daily basis so they may be off from what the latest tabloid or website is reporting so don't feel obligated to send me links to sites that are reporting otherwise.

Addendum: Sources indicate that Macs have 3% marketshare so I was being WAAAY too generous with my numbers.

 
 

12 yrs, 3 mons, 3 days, 10 hrs, 9 mins and 44 secs ago

45
45.  
Computer chairs and antique cars
  
Posted Sunday, May 7th 2006 @ 01:20 am

~ a few years old / 4484 days ago

 
 

Busy weekend...

Saturday I picked up a Herman Miller Aeron chair (sans tilt limiter but I can just adjust the tension spring for that) for about $500 (after tax) along with a copy of Sierra's F.E.A.R for $5 at the California Outlet store (seems the Aeron chairs are being sold through Costco).

Sunday was the Pomona Antique auto show. I'm in love with mid-30's 4-door sedans from Buick, Plymouth, Chevy, Ford (they all tend to look a like; big bulbous fenders, lots of chrome). Seems the price range on some of these older beauties is around $15K. Not a bad price. What I'm looking for now is something like this or this or, oh yeah, something like this and this where the body and interior are restored, has full size tires and, hopefully, a sunroof and a newer engine for more power and to simplify finding parts in case I need to replace them. Droooool. I really need to save my pennies for this. Hopefully my Volvo will last a little longer (fingers crossed, knock on wood, all that mumbo-jumbo).

 
 

12 yrs, 3 mons, 2 wks, 9 hrs, 47 mins and 58 secs ago

46
46.  
Anime-o-plenty, caps to follow
  
Posted Sunday, May 7th 2006 @ 12:57 am

~ a few years old / 4484 days ago

 
 

Just picked up a couple of DVDs at the computer show yesterday: Samurai Champloo, Trigun, and a half-CG, half-live action flick called 'Immortel' (2004) ala 'Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow' (2004) which is debated to be the first movie done with all blue-screen or green-screen.

Movie is a bit 'Blade Runner' meets 'Fifth Element' from the few minutes that I've watched so far. The CG in parts are good but this is definately a pioneering attempt. There are a number of scenes with full CG (even the actors) that looks a bit hokey and the story seems to drift here and there so not a movie I'd recommend unless your a die hard CG person.

Now that I have the complete series of Samurai Champloo, I'm going to redo the screen caps for this series in my wallpapers area (currently only has the first half of the series). I'll also do the Trigun series and will *finally* sit and re-watch to cap the 'Cowboy Bebop' series (I've already cap'ed 'Cowboy Bebop: The Movie'). Monitor my updates page for when these get posted.

P.S. - Happy birthday to my bro-in-law, Miguel.

 
 

12 yrs, 3 mons, 2 wks, 10 hrs, 10 mins and 12 secs ago

47
47.  
Multi monitor madness
  
Posted Saturday, April 29th 2006 @ 08:33 am

~ a few years old / 4492 days ago

 
 

Well, I did it. I've mounted all three flat panels (15p+24l+15p) to the extruded frame, installed RealVNC to all the PC's and Win2VNC to the center PC to allow me instant access to the side PCs by simply moving my mouse cursor into them. Preliminary pixs here (bad lighting); I'll post some more later when I get better light.

Here is a rough guide of materials (so far) and my costs:

  • 147-inches of 1.5-inch x 1.5-inch extruded aluminium [~$0.75/inch; free for me]
    (2) Vertical supports = 18-inches
    (1) Top bar = 31.5-inches
    (1) Monitor bar = 51-inches
    (1) Cross bar = 28.5-inches
  • (34) M8 x 1.25 T-nut; [free]
  • (7) cable guides [free]
  • (4) 6-inch x 1.5-inch angle bracket [~$2.50/ea @ orchard]
  • (2) 8-inch x 1.5-inch angle bracket [~$4.50/ea @ orchard]
  • (2) 3 hole inside corner bracket [~$3.95/ea @ 8020.net]
  • (26) M8 x 16 x 1.25 bolt [~$0.50/ea @ orchard]
  • (1) Pkg large adhesive vinyl pads [~$2.00 @ orchard]
  • (3) LA-17 Articulating VESA-compliant flat panel mounts [~$36.00/ea @ CyberGuys.com]

The mounts are pretty heavy duty (u-joint looks like forged steel) and can support the weight of my 24-inch monitor just fine. I was a bit sceptical before I bought them as there were no specs on the weight the bracket could support.

So for ~$160 (2/3rds of this was the the mounts alone), I've built a completely adjustable 3 monitor desk stand that can support any monitor configuration and is easily 10 times stronger than what I would have got if I paid the $275 to get the prefab-ed stand.

Now that I've the three PC's working as one desktop, it's time to look into speeding up the network pipeline that connects all of them together. Currently, I'm running 100 as the router I have maxs at that. There are 1000 (gigabit) routers out there but as of this writting there are only 2 companies producing wireless gigabit routers for home use: D-Link's DGL-4300 and Netgear RangeMax Next. Prices aren't that bad, ranging around $120. Why is it they still only put 4 ports on these things...I need at least 6 :-)

Now comes the hardest part...coming up with individual names for the triad of workstations: they should be trendy, associated in some way, and uber-geeky. Any ideas? I'm looking for suggestions; email me.

Addendum: 1.5 inch 80/20 seems to go for about $0.75 an inch. If I had to buy all the extruded myself (as opposed to using the scrap I got for free), it would've added $110.25 to the total cost. Granted, the pre-fab'ed stand is $120, so I saved ~$10 plus mine is stronger and more modular. ;-) [patting self on back]

 
 

12 yrs, 3 mons, 3 wks, 1 day, 2 hrs, 34 mins and 10 secs ago

48
48.  
PPC ROMS and adjusting power profiles
  
Posted Wednesday, April 19th 2006 @ 05:54 am

~ a few years old / 4502 days ago

 
 

I just upgraded the ROM on my PPC-6700 using the tools discussed in this thread on PDAPhoneHome.com. Just a few notes of my own:

  1. No more 'can't find file' messages in the Media Player when watching a movie, pausing it, having your phone turn offdue to inactivity, and losing you place when you go to start playing again (YES!!!)
  2. No more connection breaks when you're EVDO'ing and start to run out of battery just to plug in your USB and have ActiveSync drop your EVDO connection (THANK GOD!!!)
  3. Push mail option added (although mine is disabled for some reason in the Connection Manager)
  4. New (?) option in messaging that allows for time-elapsed pulling of messages from POP/IMAP sources (SWEET!)

I'm bummed that the new ROM doesn't support stereo BlueTooth cause I just broke my crappy *in-the-ear* headphones and I'm looking at the Motorola HT820 (about $100) so my daughter can use them too (her ears are too small for the in-the-ear phones).

On another topic, I just found out about a great MS utility for managing power settings in Windows XP: POWERCFG (seems my network guys at work didn't know about it either). Damned if I wasn't trying to use AutoIT to GUI script this sh*t to disable hibernation and disable standby just to have it not work 100% of the time. Screw that. Command line tools kick ass! Just note that this tool is not part of the original or SP1 Win XP (my guess is that it's included in SP2).

 
 

12 yrs, 4 mons, 2 days, 5 hrs, 13 mins and 44 secs ago

49
49.  
Falling behind the memory curve
  
Posted Thursday, April 13th 2006 @ 07:45 am

~ a few years old / 4508 days ago

 
 

Damn.

I finally got my 2 gig mini SD for my PPC-6700 when I see news on Gizmodo of a company called OCZ making a 2 gig flash drive *very similar* to the 1 gig PQI I-Stick I've had for some time. Checking out PQI's site shows they now make a 2 gig version as well. No heavy-duty use adapter (which doubles as a great clip-on for polo shirts) or dual wallet carrier with the OCZ version but it does come with a keychain lanyard and a blue LED (Ooooooo!) :-p

Hmmmm....links of import:

I think I'll stick with the PQI version.

Odd...can't seem to find the 2 gig versions of either for sale any where (and I'm checking the retailer sites that they link to). Looks like another case of 'We had it first'-itis. No matter...maybe the competition will drive prices down a bit (not that they were that bad now).

 
 

12 yrs, 4 mons, 1 wk, 1 day, 3 hrs, 22 mins and 14 secs ago

50
50.  
If you build it, nerds will come
  
Posted Monday, April 10th 2006 @ 02:59 pm

~ a few years old / 4510 days ago

 
 

No, I'm not talking about The Benchwarmers movie.

I'm finally starting the nerd's nerd computer desk. One of the things that has held me back is the most of the flat panel monitor arms have low weight tolerances (~20 lbs). While 20 lbs is a bit much for most flat panel monitors, it's not unseen in monitors over 24-inches like mine.

While at a ma'n'pa computer store, I came across this multi-monitor stand on one of the employee desks. I did a few searches on-line and found that the shelf (PA-01:~$100 via Cyberguys) and the monitor mounts (LA-17:~$36 via CyberGuys) were sold seperately. I was a bit crestfallen to find that the bar length fell 6 inches short of my minimum 45-inch requirement. After looking at the LA-17p mounts and talking to my bro-in-law, we figured I could use 80/20 extruded aluminum for a custom frame and attach the mounts to that. This way, I can make my own stronger stand (the PA-01 has a 60-lb limitation) at any length I desired for considerably less than $100. I've already ordered three of the LA-17p mounts and started looking through the 80/20 site for fastener and joiner parts to create the stand.

Once complete, I'll initially run 3 PCs to the 3 monitors. However, all the monitors will react like one continous desktop as I'll use RealVNC and Win2VNC to allow me to switch computers by simply moving the mouse into its monitor.

I'll document the process and take pixs along the way and include details on part numbers and costs as I make it in order to help anyone else out.

 
 

12 yrs, 4 mons, 1 wk, 3 days, 20 hrs, 9 mins ago

51
51.  
(Security and) Life as we know it...
  
Posted Thursday, March 30th 2006 @ 10:45 am

~ a few years old / 4521 days ago

 
 

It has been over a month since I blogged anything, figured I'd post something. I've been quite busy (thankfully) with my consulting and my work at the Orange County Sanitation District

I've been writing install scripts in AutoIt to help me speed up baseloading and had to write up a script to do security modifications via the Windows GUI...what a pain in the @$&! I just found out about CACLS, a utility included in Windows to deal with file/folder permissions editting via the command line. I also found out about SETACL (via this thread I started over at AutoItScript.com) that deals with file/folder/registry/printer permissions.

On a different note, my birthday passed with a quiet dinner out with family at a Japanese Sushi house (finally). Got the wife to go (although she didn't have any raw fish), she did like the other foods. My bro-in-law got me another DM2 and my nephews got me a Star Wars shirt (thanx guyz).

Been spending a bit of time playing (and getting better at) Battlefield 2: Special Forces and have logged over 200 hours playing it until the wee small hours of the night (My favorite map flavor of the month is 'Ghost Town'). When I'm not playing this, I'm usually transcoding video for my PPC-6700 so I can watch movies between client visits or when I'm picking up Diana from school. A nifty app I found (notfree, ~$30) that so far has dealt with all my video and converts to just about anything: AVS Video Tools.

Nuff for now...

 
 

12 yrs, 4 mons, 3 wks, 23 hrs, 22 mins and 20 secs ago

52
52.  
New access points in Anaheim
  
Posted Thursday, February 23rd 2006 @ 10:12 am

~ a few years old / 4556 days ago

 
 

I just read about how EarthLink is going to be setting up a Municiple WiFi network in my city of Anaheim. I've been seeing a access point come up with the name 'Anaheim' from time to time whenever a sporting event is happening at the city football stadium located near my apartment; I just didn't know that was it. :-)

Kewlness.

The priliminary report is that the Earthlink WiFi access will be about $20 a month but the question now is: "what speed?". I currently have SBC DSL PRO (3Mbps). I know that SBC *had* 6Mbps DSL (via my own observation and via a SBC technician) but that they took it off the market (I tried to order it and was told they no longer marketed it...6Mbps subscribers who had it originally and still have it in service are still supported). I'm wondering if SBC is holding back to use the 6Mbps speed as a selling point against the Earthlink WiFi.

Now I have to start looking for the WiFi routers on the tops of lampposts and signals...

Time to keep a pair of pliers in the car. :-D

 
 

12 yrs, 5 mons, 3 wks, 5 days, 23 hrs, 55 mins and 48 secs ago

53
53.  
Lose your PPC-6700 stylus, don't call Sprint
  
Posted Wednesday, February 8th 2006 @ 01:59 pm

~ a few years old / 4571 days ago

 
 

Seems that my local Sprint stores (yes I checked a number of them) don't carry any extra stylii (is that right?) for the PPC-6700 pocket PC phones that they carry. This info stems from me losing both of the stylii that came with my PPC-6700. According to the last Sprint store I checked, they indicated they do not carry these in-store and referred me "to the manufacturer".

"Which one?", I asked seeing as how it's a HTC Apache, rebranded under Audiovox and later sold off to UTStarcom.

I ended up going to yourwirelesssource.com and picked up two of the 3 packs for $14.50 each (before tax / shipping) which was $5 cheaper then the authorized reseller that UTStar is going through.

It's uncharted territory out here on the bleeding edge...

 
 

12 yrs, 6 mons, 1 wk, 4 days, 20 hrs, 8 mins and 28 secs ago

54
54.  
Christmas in February
  
Posted Thursday, February 2nd 2006 @ 08:25 am

~ a few years old / 4578 days ago

 
 

Since my Sony HMD-A440 CRT monitor seems to turn itself off after an hour of use, I decided to start looking for a new, larger, flat-panel to replace it.

Yeah, I know that the color representation on CRTs is better but have you tried rotate a CRT recently? For a growing segment of my consulting work, I seem to be doing a bit more web-related work. Being able to rotate the screen is a big plus in this field. Only problem was that flat-panels are usually ~$1200+.

Then just the other day, when I went to the Dell.com site to download some drivers for some PC's at work, they were promoting their new dual-DVI 30-inch flat-panel (drrooooollll).

No...I didn't get the 30-inch (besides, no swivel...and it cost like $2300). Dell was however having a sale on their 24-inch wide-aspect flat-panel: $820 ($860 for the 5yr warrenty) and free shipping.

Sweeeeet!

Now I just have to wait the 5 days before they ship and then the 3-5 days for it to get here.

Addendum 1: Was skimming thru some old trade mags from Nov 2005 and it seems that the Dell 2405 got PC Magazine Editors Choice...but then I already knew it was a good monitor. :-)

Addendum 2: I got the monitor *2* days after I ordered it (woot!).

The antcipated arrival of my new monitor has however stirred up old emotions that I need to make a new computer desk seeing as how I will now have 3 monitors (15-24-15). Since I get around from company to company when doing contract work, I see a lot of desks with some really kewl features. I started to design my ultimate computer geek desk but then the feeling past when I started to calculate hardware expenses (pneumatic keyboard lifts, fittings, raw materials, etc). Now it's back so I whipped out my old notes and I'm at it again.

More later... Links of interest: here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

 
 

12 yrs, 6 mons, 2 wks, 4 days, 1 hr, 42 mins and 42 secs ago

55
55.  
Crashes solved and movies reviews
  
Posted Sunday, January 22nd 2006 @ 03:01 am

~ a few years old / 4589 days ago

 
 

For the last 3 months I haven't been able to play 'Battlefield 2' (my current time-drain) for more than 10 minutes without my system crashing. I had a ATI Radeon 9800 Pro in a ASUS A8V Deluxe running AGP 8x. I say had as I'm now running at 4X.

I had some downtime today to research it and found another user with the same sort of issues with the same sort of hardware (different game tho). I set this value down to 4x (via the ATI Catalyst Control Panel) and 'ta-da'. I was able to play BF2 for 6 hours straight; no crashes. Sucks that I have to go 4x; I'll look into that later.

On a different note, I saw Underworld: Evolution last Friday and was pleased only slightly (kung-fu-ish Goth-esk movies intrigue me). I was perked up by the preview for UltraViolet; I'd call it a I, Robot-meets-The Matrix-meets-Aeon Flux kinda flix. The lead actress, Milla Jovovich, sports a 'Betty Page' exterior with a kick-butt 'tude. When I saw the trailer originally, I thought she was Pauley Perrette; a pretty close match to her character from NCSI. Anywho; this one is scheduled to release February 24th.

I also saw the trailor for The DaVinci Code. I didn't read the book (rather I went the audio version route). Looks good; scheduled to release May 19th.

I saw Hoodwinked last week; I've seen animation in PC games look better; the whole movie has a 'console-game' sorta look that goes down like a hot glass of turnip juice. :-S

Saw the movie poster for one of my favorite comic strips: Over The Hedge coming out May 19th. :-]

 
 

12 yrs, 6 mons, 4 wks, 1 day, 7 hrs, 6 mins and 8 secs ago

56
56.  
Why I like the show 'House, M.D.' so much
  
Posted Saturday, January 7th 2006 @ 02:35 am

~ a few years old / 4604 days ago

 
 

Being a computer consultant sorta makes me a computer *doctor* of sorts if you think about it long and hard enough (heavy drug use also helps to come to this conclusion) but I digress.

I figured out why I like watching 'House, M.D.' so much (besides it being just a great show along with NCSI): I can relate to the main character, Dr. House.

No, I don't help sick people and I've never experienced muscle death in my thigh, rather I diagnose and treat 'sick' (for lack of a better term) computers primarily based on 'symptoms' (granted, my demeanor is way better than his).

I'm growing into a firm believer of Dr. House's every-episode-mantra: "Everybody lies" and that the best way to cure/fix something is to not muddle the diagnosis with conversational tar from the person with the problem. No one wants to admit they may have done something wrong or worse, something stupid.

Case in point:

I get called out to look at a computer that I roughly 3 days earlier cleaned of various browser hooks, ad-ware / grey-ware / mal-ware / spy-ware, rouge apps in the Startup and registry just to find that the same things were back on the PC. When I asked the user if they installed anything that might be related to the items in question, they looked me straight in the face and said 'No'.

Okay.

I fix the PC again, cleaning it up in just the same fashion as before, give the user the standard 'Don't press buttons on dialogs without reading/understanding them + don't install anything without clearing it' speech, I get the expected nod from the user and I go off my merry way to handle other tasks for a couple of minutes. As I go walking by the same user and PC shortly thereafter, I see him doing exactly what I just told him not to do.

Oh well, I can really use the extra money :-P

What sucks though is that in 3 more days from now, when the PC is again crawling to a halt, I'll get called back and grilled for "doing nothing". :-(

Moral of the story: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll get the hook stuck in some part of his body." - Sean Shrum

 
 

12 yrs, 7 mons, 2 wks, 7 hrs, 32 mins and 16 secs ago

57
57.  
The free DVD .VOB to .WMV (Pocket PC widescreen) guide
  
Posted Friday, December 23rd 2005 @ 02:42 pm

~ a few years old / 4618 days ago

 
 

I looked for a week for a guide like this. I finally broke down and made one after I figured the process out as I felt it was warrented.

This guide outlines how to batch convert DVD .VOB files to .WMV Pocket PC formatted files using only free tools. It's a little complex, but once it's setup and you know what to do, it works great. There are a ton of encoding options that you can use (that are not used here) but at least this should get anybody new to the process of encoding started:

Prerequistes:

  1. Download and install DVD Shrink
  2. Download and install Windows Media Encoder 9
  3. Download my encode.bat to any location on your PC (then create a shortcut to it on your desktop if desired)
  4. Edit the -input/-output folder parameters in the encode.bat file to your needs.
  5. Copy the c:\Program Files\Windows Media Components\Encoder\wmcmd.vbs to the same location you saved the encode.bat file to.

Details:

The ENCODE.BAT file is what drives the batch process from the command line. The content of this file is (as of this writting):

cscript.exe wmcmd.vbs -input "v:\dvds\todo" -output "v:\dvds\ppc" -v_mode 1 -v_keydist 5 -v_preproc 5 -v_width 320 -v_height 240 -v_framerate 20 -a_setting 160_44_2

With these settings, Windows Media Encoder creates Windows Media Video files (.WMV) formatted for Pocket PC widescreen display (320x240/20fps/2-pass) with CD-quality audio (2-ch stereo/160kbps). The default audio output from WME for PPC playback is 64kbps, but I like my audio at 160kbps (-a_setting 160_44_2)

Feel free to edit the arugments in the batch file to suit your own needs and taste. The above settings will convert ~21 minutes of video from 1 gig down to 65 megs (or ~3 meg/min = 333 min/gig = 5.5 hours of playback on 1 gig). For a listing of all the encoding options, you can type "cscript.exe wmcmd.vbs /?" from the same directory where the WMCMD.VBS file is located in

Process:

Launch DVD Shrink and make sure to uncheck the "Split into 1 gig .VOB files" option prior to shrinking to make 1 large .VOB file of your movie (most movies are spread out over four or five 1 gig files). Use the Reauthor option to get just the movie (main title) and the Compression Options to strip out all the audio tracks you don't want. I usually DVD Shrink a bunch of discs to different folders. The process takes about 10 minutes per disc. For a comprehensive guide to using DVD Shrink (plus a guide to 'main movie only' decrypting), look here.

Once you've done a few discs, rename the resulting .VOB file in the folders to their respective names, replacing the '.VOB' extension with '.MPG' ("VTS_01_1.VOB" becomes "The Simpsons - S07.E01.MPG"). You need to do this as the Windows Media Encoder script checks the file extension and skips any format it's not specifically looking for (.VOBs are MPEG files anyways). Move the renamed file(s) to your \todo folder (-input "v:\dvds\input") and feel free to delete the source folders afterwards. After you have a nice collection of files in your \todo, run the ENCODE.BAT file (via the shortcut created on your desktop).

Two-pass encoding takes about one min per minute on a P-4 3.2 Ghz PC w/ 1 gig of memory. I usually run the script just before I go to bed.

Conclusion:

If you find my files and centralized information helpful, please donate a couple bucks (Snail-mail or PayPal) to help me offset my hosting costs and development time.

Happy encoding!

 
 

12 yrs, 7 mons, 4 wks, 19 hrs, 25 mins and 36 secs ago

58
58.  
Needed - a 2.5mm stereo+mic to 3.5mm stereo adapter
  
Posted Wednesday, December 21st 2005 @ 12:40 am

~ a few years old / 4621 days ago

 
 

I'm looking for an adapter cable that I can use to play audio from my PPC-6700's 2.5mm output port to my Roadmaster USB car radio headunit's 3.5mm aux port. The 2.5mm plug must have stereo+mic (3-bands) while the 3.5mm must be stereo (2-bands) with the mic somewhere inline.

Since the mic is inline, I can listen to my conversations through my car spekers while on a call and listen to my media (movies, mp3s, streaming radio) when not on a call. The beauty thing here is that the media player cuts out when on the phone so switching between phone calls and media is automatic.

This doesn't seem like a odd part (albeit a new one) but I can't find one.

If anyone knows where I can get one of these adapters (if it exists), please drop me a line/URL. I'm this close to buying another headset cable for my phone and chopping the earbuds off and solding the 3.5mm plug on myself.

It literally would be that simple but I'm lazy :-)

 
 

12 yrs, 8 mons, 1 day, 9 hrs, 27 mins and 52 secs ago

59
59.  
Blogging from my (PPC) phone
  
Posted Tuesday, December 13th 2005 @ 11:48 pm

~ a few years old / 4628 days ago

 
 

Too kewl. I'm blogging from my phone...technically, I'm creating text files and posting them via FTP. The EVDO works nice:

  • D/L: 50 kb/s sustained, 90 kb/s burst
  • U/L: 10 kb/s sustained, 18 kb/s burst

The PPC lacks a few elementary apps, specifically a FTP utility. I've downloaded a file explorer called Resco File Explorer that has built-in FTP functionality. Since my slideout keyboard doesn't have the HTML brackets easily accessible, I'm going to update my CATS CDS blog plug-in to do two things:

  1. Convert CR and LF into paragraph tags
  2. Convert URLs and mail addresses into hyperlinks.

On a related note, I've created a new subdomain: http://uploads.shrum.net to house my PPC-to-website file transfers.

Congrats going out to my buddy Rick & his wife, Any on the birth of their daughter @ 9.1 lbs, 21 inches.

 
 

12 yrs, 8 mons, 1 wk, 1 day, 10 hrs, 19 mins and 54 secs ago

60
60.  
I can remote control my PC with my PPC
  
Posted Sunday, December 11th 2005 @ 02:36 am

~ a few years old / 4631 days ago

 
 

No freakin way!

Now that I got EVDO working, I figured out how to use the Terminal Service from my PPC-6700 phone to remote into my PC at home. I did have one bit of a problem that seemed odd. The port was open, forwarded properly, the service was responding, but I couldn't log in.

"Unable to log you on because of an account restriction"

Seems user accounts MUST have passwords to access remotely (mine WAS blank...not anymore). :-P

This phone just kicks ass; everyday I find something new to do with it. More later.

 
 

12 yrs, 8 mons, 1 wk, 4 days, 7 hrs, 31 mins and 2 secs ago

61
61.  
I'm watching DVDs on my (PPC) phone
  
Posted Friday, December 9th 2005 @ 12:49 am

~ a few years old / 4633 days ago

 
 

I've had my PPC-6700 for 4 days now and I've sprung for two 1 gig mini-SDs (one for media, one for data) and I've already figured out how to encode DVD videos down to a format that I can play back on it!

I'm using 2 free (yes, free) applications to do it. They are:

I'm currently converting some recently acquired anime and found I can convert a 3 gig VOB (1h:13m in length) into a freakin' 113 meg WMV (PPC widescreen format @ 240x320/cd stereo).

That equates out to be just shy of ~9 hours of video on one 1 gig mini SD!

Granted, these results are from encoding anime film (big blocks of solid colors, lots on little movement) so the real test will be to do a live action flick. The Windows Media Encoder is fairly straight-forward and DVD Shrink is very easy to use. :-P

On another topic, I've found the 6700 OEM carrying case is useless for my day-to-day operations. I need to find an aftermarket holster and a case with a faceplace cover that can be openned and closed as needed. It anyone finds some, send me a link please.

Just found this link that explains how to stream music over my home wireless network to my PPC-6700 using the Media Encoder. Freakin' sweet

 
 

12 yrs, 8 mons, 1 wk, 6 days, 9 hrs, 18 mins and 34 secs ago

62
62.  
Nuts...2 weeks AFTER I get my first electric guitar
  
Posted Thursday, December 8th 2005 @ 08:41 am

~ a few years old / 4634 days ago

 
 

This really chaps my mousepad. ;-)

[Gleened this info off Engadget again] 2 weeks and 2 days AFTER I go out and buy my (cheap $200) starter guitar kit, these yahoos at ESI in Korea are coming out with the 'JamMate UG-1' next month; a freakin USB electric guitar kit.

It comes packaged with (a lite version of) a amp modeling software called Amplitube (Eek, the full blown s/w package is like $300 bucks). I paid $161 for my Korg PD4X that does this, granted I can take mine with me on trips but then again if I had a laptop with me...hmmmm; but I digress.

Been playing with my PPC-6700 more as a media player than a phone. Haven't gotten EVDO to work yet but networking works fine via the wireless at the house so I've at least been able to do some net time with it. I love the fact that I can pull up other SAMBA file shares (like \\server\music) so I can get data directly off my workstations and NAS boxes although I haven't tried connecting to shared printers.

I'm in the process now of figuring out what tools I need to convert DVD video into a format playable on the unit as well as how tight I can compress without too much quality loss (DVD Shrink + VOBMerge + Flask @ 320x240/layer 2 44100x128kbs stereo currently being investigated).

More later as I figure it out.

 
 

12 yrs, 8 mons, 2 wks, 1 hr, 26 mins and 32 secs ago

63
63.  
Goodbye Cingular, Hello Sprint (PPC-6700)
  
Posted Sunday, December 4th 2005 @ 11:16 pm

~ a few years old / 4637 days ago

 
 

Well, I did it. Still need to shell out the $200+ to terminate what's left of my 2 year contract to switch over to Sprint in addition to the already shelled out $485 ($450+tax) for the PPC-6700 Pocket PC phone (I blogged my opinion of this device earlier).

Man was I Jones'ing for this thing. I've already went out and bought two 1 gig mini SD cards and filled one with tunes and the other with data files (mainly the same programs in my files area).

This means that I can pawn off my Motorola V551, my iPod Shuffle 1 gig, my PQI Intellistick drives (ok, maybe not those) and consolidate everything to my new phone.

Don't get me wrong, I love all the stuff I have. Considering that I needed a PDA (for scheduling, my wife complains I forget things and I double-booked clients once) and the one I was looking at (Tungsten E2) is like $200, I think my purchase was a good choice for consolidation.

I've had the thing for about a day, I've input all my contacts, connected the WiFi thru my home network (as well as found out that there are a ton of unsecured wireless networks out in the world), paired up with my Logitech Mobile Pro BlueTooth headset and successfully sync'ed with Outlook via ActiveSync.

I'm hoping to get my moblog active again with a lot of photos, now that I have a better camera with the Pocket PC (1.3 megapixel/1024x768).

Now I need to find a open source SDK for Windows Mobile so I can start writting apps for the thing. :-P

Keep watching for updates.

 
 

12 yrs, 8 mons, 2 wks, 3 days, 10 hrs, 51 mins and 4 secs ago

64
64.  
Upgrade a Iomega NAS 100d from 160 to whatever
  
Posted Wednesday, November 30th 2005 @ 08:13 am

~ a few years old / 4642 days ago

 
 

This goes without saying but: DO AT YOUR OWN RISK!

I bought a Iomega NAS-100d with the 160 gig drive for $161 at a local Fry's store today (not a bad price for a 160 gig NAS; seems the price dropped from $220 a month ago when I bought one for a client of mine). Granted, 160 gigs barely holds my music and photo collections so for my own use, I'd need more space. At the same time, I also had a brand spankin' new Seagate 300 gig drive in my possession from a coworker of mine.

"Hmmmm", I thought, as I peeled back the "Warranty void if sticker removed" sticker and unscrewed the 100d case. Low-and-behold, a Hitachi Ultra ATA IDE drive lay inside. Taking the 160 gig Hitachi drive out, I studied the jumpers and noted "MASTER" mode. I adjusted the jumpers on the Seagate 300 gig from CABLE SELECT to MASTER and installed it in the unit.

TA-DA! Instant 280 gig NAS (guess I loose some space, no biggie). The unit seemed to take longer to initally boot up (drive prepping?) but after a minute or two, it was up and running. I confirmed both operation and drive size by accessing the units web-based interface and noted the new, larger drive size.

I like the Iomega NAS-100d for a bunch of reasons:

  1. Cheap price (even cheaper after I sell the 160 gig Hitachi drive off for ~$100),
  2. Fan to keep the drive cool,
  3. 2 USB ports on back for additional attached storage,
  4. SAMBA sharing for maximum system accessibility (Windows, Macs, *nix) without having to install additional s/w on systems (very important if you're doing system imaging or have mixed operating systems),
  5. Web-based interface to define shares and access rights,
  6. Can be used as a time server via the 'net time' command (internal clock; can use internet time sources),
  7. Wireless 802.11g AND wired 100-base T network connections,
  8. The ability to name the device any way you want (\\seans_data_hold, \\nas, \\media_lib, \\core, etc.)
  9. Can act as a wireless access point,
  10. Large number of concurrent users (I've had up to 15 at one point, not sure what the max is), and
  11. The ability to handle larger ultra ATA drives.

Sweeeeet!

The only downside is that access rights are global, meaning they affect all users. After all, this is a NAS, not a server. However, even without enhanced access control, the 100d is the cheapest, best featured, easiest to implement NAS solution out there, IMO.

Why Iomega isn't marketing this unit without drives is beyond me. I personally believe that if Iomega sold this unit without a drive (ala the Netgear SC101 box), they'd own a much bigger piece of the NAS market.

A nice addition would have been a print server, but that feature currently only comes on their much more expensive NAS boxes.

I'm off to get a 500 gig IDE drive to see if that will work! :-p

Addendum: 500 gig drives are too expensive (~$280). I opted for a 300 gig Maxtor with the 16 meg cache for $84 and that worked fine too.

Addendum 2: Figured out why the price drop...seems Iomega has added the NAS 100D series to their LEGACY PRODUCTS page yesterday (means no longer manufactured). :-(

 
 

12 yrs, 8 mons, 3 wks, 1 day, 1 hr, 54 mins and 54 secs ago

65
65.  
12-inch tablet with disc player for 800 bucks
  
Posted Monday, November 21st 2005 @ 04:29 pm

~ a few years old / 4650 days ago

 
 

Seems that Averatec has come out with a sub $1k 12-inch notebook tablet conversion that includes a AMD-M +2200 (1.6 gHz) 512 meg (max 1 gig) 60 gig with a DVD/CD-Writer combo for $799 (via Tigerdirect; specs here too). No bluetooth :-( but it does have 4 USB ports so I can always get another Bluetooth dongle. It also has a S-Video output. I saw this for sale at the Pomona computer show last weekend (for $900) and was intrigued.

Hmmmm, I've been a good boy this year so Santa should be good to me. ;-P

 
 

12 yrs, 9 mons, 17 hrs, 38 mins and 48 secs ago

66
66.  
Look Ma, I'm a musician
  
Posted Monday, November 21st 2005 @ 11:19 am

~ a few years old / 4650 days ago

 
 

Went to San Diego for the Depeche Mode Touring the Angel concert. Personally, I'd say this was their worst album ever and I probably wouldn't have gone but I had the chance to get 12th row center seats so, for the record, I went to listen to them do their older stuff intermixed with the new album content. Overall a good time had.

In other news, I bought a SilverTone electric guitar starter kit (guitar/bag/little electric amp/tuner). A few days later I bought some beginner lesson books and started learning my fingering and chords. About a week later, my brother-in-law brought over a Korg AmpWorks B (for Bass) he picked up at a local Guitar Center in Brea for $50 and we hooked that up to my electric guitar just to see what the result would be; pretty kewl. Looked around but couldn't find the guitar version (AmpWorks G). Come to find out, Korg is no longer making the AmpWorks line. They now make a newer version called the ToneWorks PX4D that works for both bass and guitar (a 2-in-one) for $170. I picked this up and realized that my little starter guitar case was starting to stress with all the gear I was stuffing in it (not to mention I didn't like the fact that I had no place to fit my lesson books). I picked up a Road Runner padded guitar case for ~$40 to replace the one that came with my starter kit.

Once I get better at playing the thing, I'll reward myself and trade up to something nicer. :-P

 
 

12 yrs, 9 mons, 22 hrs, 48 mins and 58 secs ago

67
67.  
Crud...now I have to join Sprint
  
Posted Thursday, November 17th 2005 @ 05:47 pm

~ a few years old / 4654 days ago

 
 

Seems that Sprint got their hands on the PDA smartphone that I want so badly: the PPC-6700 for ~$420 after rebates and specials (it's actually the HTC Apache running Windows Mobile 2005)

This thing does everything I want:

  1. Camera with flash
  2. WiFi
  3. Bluetooth
  4. SD slot
  5. QWERTY slide out KB
  6. phone modem capable
  7. POP/SMTP compatible

This means that I can use the thing as an all-in-one solution to ditch 3 of my own current devices and get the 1 additional device I need:

  1. An MP3 player (lose my Shuffle + options for more memory > 1 gig)
  2. A phone (dah...lose my current Motorola cell)
  3. A Wifi locator / device (no need to buy a laptop to test WiFi routers at client locations or get email)
  4. A PDA (which I need, my memory sucks when it comes to scheduling; syncing with Outlook to maintain my calendar would be sweet)

Since the thing supports Bluetooth, I can use my existing Logitech headset with it (so I don't look like a total geek with a PDA on my ear) and transfer pics via the Belkin Bluetooth USB adapter I have on the home PC. I just need to find a way of weaseling out of the remaining 13 months of my Cingular contract. ;-P I'll need to create a pda subdomain just for PDA viewer access if I figure that out.

 
 

12 yrs, 9 mons, 4 days, 16 hrs, 20 mins and 4 secs ago

68
68.  
In the name of the Father, Son, and holy iPod
  
Posted Tuesday, October 25th 2005 @ 07:21 am

~ a few years old / 4678 days ago

 
 

Hehehe.

Caught this over at Engadget today; a crucifix cap topper for the iPod Shuffle. The Agnostic/post-Roman Catholic in me sez BUY! BUY! BUY!

I've been looking around again at flash based DAPs (since the Nano came out) but have focused more on the smaller flash based, FM radio, voice recording, display enabled models. Even with all these fancy addons, the two things that keep the Shuffle ahead of all these models is(in my opinion):Recharges off the USB.

Let's face it, I listen to my Shuffle all day (12 hours - 10 hours at work + the 2 hours to and from work). If I had to replace the batery in the thing everyday, I'd be broke. Yeah, I could use rechargable batteries but then I have to:

  1. Remember to take out the spent ones,
  2. put them in the charger,
  3. take them out the next day,
  4. put them back in the DAP,
  5. repeat EVERYDAY!

You must understand, I LIVE on this thing. I've even written my own file shuffling software for my iPod Shuffle as well as a Windows Media Player integration tool for it. When I plug my Shuffle into my computer when I get home at night, I know 2 things are going to happen:

  1. I get a fresh set of tunes, and
  2. the thing will be fully juiced to go another 12 hours when I wake up

If I could find another player that would recharge off the USB with a built in USB connector...Here's to dreaming (oh, and bigger than 1 gig). :-p

 
 

12 yrs, 9 mons, 4 wks, 3 hrs, 46 mins and 18 secs ago

69
69.  
Tada - WMP Playlist Exporter
  
Posted Monday, October 10th 2005 @ 09:20 am

~ a few years old / 4693 days ago

 
 

I just finished my latest AutoIT project called Windows Media Player Playlist Exporter or WMPPLEXP for short.

The idea: find a way to export any WMP playlist to a playlist *file* without having to manually go into WMP to do it.

The logic: Since playlists change dynamically (moreso in the case of *auto generated playlists*) as new content and ratings are collected, the playlist files need to be recreated each time in order to keep up with the changes.

The usage: Envoked before running a playlist parsing program (such as Shuffler) to make sure that each time the most current playlist content is listed.

Another neat thing is it requires no user intervention; it will run last used values as defaults and will timeout/run after 15 seconds if no user input is detected! This way, you can envoke this app via Shuffler with the 'Command before' option and use the generated playlist file as a source! I'm in the process of doing a formal writeup on the app and will have everything posted later. Stay tuned.

 
 

12 yrs, 10 mons, 1 wk, 6 days, 1 hr, 47 mins and 26 secs ago

70
70.  
Hacking Windows Media Player via COM
  
Posted Wednesday, October 5th 2005 @ 11:45 am

~ a few years old / 4697 days ago

 
 

I just wrote a small program in AutoIT (again, man I love this tool) that ties into Microsoft's Windows Media Player via COM to pull dynamic media information like user ratings, times played, etc. and writes out a playlist according to my liking. I can then use the generated playlist with Shuffler to import the media to MSC devices directly (such as my iPod Shuffle). I can call the app with Shuffler's 'Command before...' menu item to generate the playlist prior to shuffling!

Freakin' sweet!

I'll name the file WMPPLGEN.EXE which will stand for 'Windows Media Player Playlist Generator'. Still need to make it more user friendly but so fair it kicks ass! More later.

 
 

12 yrs, 10 mons, 2 wks, 3 days, 23 hrs, 22 mins and 44 secs ago

71
71.  
Why did it have to be pink
  
Posted Friday, September 30th 2005 @ 07:29 am

~ a few years old / 4703 days ago

 
 

Disney got it right. They're marketing (shortly) a iPod Shuffle-esk MP3 player that allows for SD cards! Sporting 128 megs of on-board memory, this gem is upgradable to 1 gig. From the photos, it looks like it even has the USB connector like the iPod Shuffle. I like the option SD cards as this means you can load them up and take them with you.

Sweeeeet!

In other news, I've acquired/installed Windows XP x64 edition and I'VE LOST ACTIVE DESKTOP!!!! (so much for my wallpapers). I'm still looking around but it seems that this version of XP doesn't have it / support it. Also, I've come to find that WebDrive services are 'blocked' and I'm having issues with some of the scripted MSI installations.

 
 

12 yrs, 10 mons, 3 wks, 2 days, 3 hrs, 39 mins ago

72
72.  
WinMX , eDonkee gone the way of the Dodo_
  
Posted Friday, September 23rd 2005 @ 07:12 pm

~ a few years old / 4709 days ago

 
 

I have been trying to connect to the WinMX and eDonkey networks for the past 2 days and decided to search the net to see if the impossible possibly happened:

WinMX is down and it seems eDonkey is the same.

There seems to be some legal shufflings going on with various P2P developers but the concensus seems to be that those developers are hunkering down for a legal fight or positioning to avoid one. 'Country of operation' changes are being posted and websites such as WinMX.com and FrontCode.com are no longer functional. Even the registrar information for those domains have been updated.

In the meantime, I'm looking into on-line download services (the ones that are unlimited for $5/mo) but I need to make sure that

  1. the files are MP3 formatted (DRM-free preferably, I could always re-encode) so I can deal with them on my DAP
  2. doesn't require a special player
  3. has a good selection of what I want

This might take some time but until a viable P2P network resurfaces, this looks what I am going to have to do. :-|

 
 

12 yrs, 10 mons, 4 wks, 1 day, 15 hrs, 55 mins and 48 secs ago

73
73.  
My shirts are done...finally
  
Posted Wednesday, September 21st 2005 @ 10:00 pm

~ a few years old / 4711 days ago

 
 

Just got my polo shirts back from the embroidery shop. I must say they look good...JUST LIKE THE ORIGINAL IMAGES I SENT THEM. You have no idea how many variations I saw coming back from the vendor...eck!.

Ok, so the lady they hired to take my order didn't work out. So they lost my order and missed thier original projected timeline of 2 weeks by 3 AND A HALF WEEKS (5.5 total). So I had to do the color selections again. All in all, the end result is worth it

I'll post photos later of Diana in her shirt I had embroidered to match me when I take her with me on client visits.

In tech related news, I'm starting to study Windows Scripting as I came to find out from a co-worker who attended the Microsoft PDC in Los Angeles last week that Vista GUI shell is going to be command line script/scriptlet-able.

My machine is still crashing so it's getting a a full blown OS lobotomy this weekend so I can play with Vista beta (until it times out) and later install the 64-bit version of WinXP.

Dual-monitor freaks like myself should enjoy this: UltraMon, a taskbar extender for multiple monitor setups. I just started playing with it so I have no real opinion yet; still looking around for a open-source solution.

 
 

12 yrs, 11 mons, 1 day, 13 hrs, 7 mins and 36 secs ago

74
74.  
Why didn't someone think of this
  
Posted Wednesday, August 31st 2005 @ 10:51 pm

~ a few years old / 4732 days ago

 
 

Ever want to batch something with a command line program just to find out that you can't without running the command on each filename? I did. I wanted to use Imagemagick to create info files on graphic files for my CATS content distribution system to query on. I found out that while it would generate the information I wanted, it would only write the data to 1 file. I wanted individual info files for each picture. Granted, Imagemagick could do it...if I typed in the command line for every file!

I currently have over fifteen hundred files!

This got me to thinking:

"Why not create a middleman app that would allow me to define a command line with filename tokens that would execute the same command line for each file."

I thought that someone would've thought of this already but my searches proved fruitless. My first thought for a name is already taken. :-( Seems there already is a program called batchit.exe (a graphics conversion app) so I guess I'll call mine batchcmd.exe.

I don't know if I'll do it in AutoIT or PHP though. More later but this should only take me like an hour or 2 to build.

 
 

12 yrs, 11 mons, 3 wks, 1 day, 12 hrs, 16 mins and 44 secs ago

75
75.  
The pitfalls of new system ownership
  
Posted Thursday, August 25th 2005 @ 01:26 pm

~ a few years old / 4738 days ago

 
 

Well, I've had my new system for over 2 weeks and it's constantly crashing; mainly when I'm playing Battlefield 2 which is 90% of my computer time now (I've made Lance Corporal again...don't ask, it makes the angels cry). :-) Most likely a video driver issue but I can't be sure. Other then living with this headache (as I have been for a week too long), it's time to figure out what's causing my dilemia.

On a visit to one of my favorites sites, I found out that they made a crash log analysis tool. 'Great', I thought, until I found out it's part of a package that retails for over a grand!

Ouch!

Undaunted, I did a quick search and found that Microsoft also provides a log analysis tool as part of the debugging package. It's about 13 megs and newly updated (August 10th is the date I'm seeing) and now mirrored in my files area as well.

I'll post my findings later. :-|

 
 

12 yrs, 11 mons, 4 wks, 21 hrs, 41 mins and 2 secs ago

76
76.  
The perfect companion app for CATS
  
Posted Wednesday, August 17th 2005 @ 11:12 pm

~ a few years old / 4746 days ago

 
 

This so totally rocks it hurts!

I (finally) installed a web-folder-to-drive-mapping application on my WinXP box called WebDrive from South River Technologies. Basically, it allows you to define a logical drive letter to a website via FTP and it deals with all the file transfers making loading and saving files as easy as using to a local drive.

The reason I say this rocks is that I redirected IE's Favorites folder to my Links area which uses the IE .url format files (via my favorites plug-in). What this means is that my online links and the links in IE are the same files! Whenever I add or delete a favorite from IE, it gets *automagically* updated on my website as well where CATS serves them out to visitors (and me when I'm away from my home PC).

Freakin' sweet!

I've a ton of integration ideas that I need to test out but ultimately I think everything will work!

 
 

13 yrs, 1 day, 11 hrs, 55 mins and 2 secs ago

77
77.  
Guns don't kill people...
  
Posted Monday, August 15th 2005 @ 11:31 am

~ a few years old / 4748 days ago

 
 

...video games with guns in them kill people!

As soon as I heard about the 28 year old South Korean *id10t* who croaked of heart failure after playing Starcraft at a cyber-cafe for nearly 50 hours, I thought to myself:

Damn, I wish I had a 24-7 cyber-cafe near me

I played BF2 for 10 hours over the weekend, I'm exhausted right now (granted, going to bed at 1:00 in the morning ON Monday and gettting 4 hours of sleep is probably the biggest contributor there).

I've read back a few years ago after Starcraft released that the game had an almost cult-like following in the Asian rim but this boarders on totally insane: 50 HOURS! Com'on! Startcraft isn't *that* good.

Some people just take their virtual realty tooooo seriously. In my neck of the woods, back in Dec 2001, some dewd actually stabbed and killed another dewd with a screwdriver for screwing (no pun intented) up his online game at a cyber cafe.

 
 

13 yrs, 3 days, 23 hrs, 36 mins and 46 secs ago

78
78.  
My current PC rig - August 05
  
Posted Wednesday, August 10th 2005 @ 04:01 pm

~ a few years old / 4753 days ago

 
 

I just upgraded my home workstation. Here are the specs:

Now I can play BF2 online and Half-life 2 without getting fragged so much :-)

Oh, and do work and stuff...yeah...work. ;-p

 
 

13 yrs, 1 wk, 1 day, 19 hrs, 6 mins and 2 secs ago

79
79.  
Diana back home from the hospital
  
Posted Wednesday, August 10th 2005 @ 03:17 pm

~ a few years old / 4753 days ago

 
 

According to the doctors at CHOC, this is what she had - Endovirus:

  • Pinkeye
  • vomiting
  • mid to high grade fever (104)
  • diarriha
  • tonsilitis
  • chills

That's what Diana went through for ~7 days. She got to come home Monday from CHOC after staying there for about 3 days. She's doing much better (just a little Pinkeye left over) but we're not sending her back to daycare until next week so this virus thing blows over (since the Pinkeye is still contagious).

 
 

13 yrs, 1 wk, 1 day, 19 hrs, 50 mins and 28 secs ago

80
80.  
My poor little princess
  
Posted Wednesday, August 3rd 2005 @ 02:49 pm

~ a few years old / 4760 days ago

 
 

It's a virus. Egad and thank God it's not a result of her fall.

Diana's teacher called us late last night to let us know that half of Diana's class is out with the same thing. Diana has had a 100+ fever for the last 2 days and has been a bit grouchy.

In other news, I've created a photog and rss (Really Simple Syndication) plugin for the next version of CATS which I still have yet to make public (need to do a bunch of documentation changes). I'm really liking the plugin feature as the plugins are taking no time to write (less than half an hour) with the tightest plugin being ~15 lines of code and allowing me more flexibility to do customization. :-)

 
 

13 yrs, 2 wks, 1 day, 20 hrs, 18 mins and 52 secs ago

81
81.  
A major parental scare - concussions
  
Posted Tuesday, August 2nd 2005 @ 11:07 am

~ a few years old / 4762 days ago

 
 

During a hot summer day, while waiting in a air-conditioned room to buy clothes for Diana's parochial school, Diana bundled her whole body into a small sweater that we had brought for her, legs and arms. As we sat on the bench with Diana between us, our legs acting as gates to keep Diana from falling, my wife got up to check something and while I thought Diana was simply shifting positions, she took a face forward fall to the tiled floor.

My stomach still cringes when I remember the sound.

We rushed her to the ER and everything appeared OK. Yesterday, she was in good spirits; we went out to see Herbie: Fully Loaded and had lunch at the Rainforest Cafe over at Downtown Disney.

Today she has a fever of +102 and has clear discharge from her eyes. I'm freaking out. Martha has gone to pick her up from daycare to see the doctor. Signs are that she has a cold but the father in me is freaking hard.

I read this and it's basically the same information that we were given at the ER to watch for over the 36-hour period after the fall. Nothing except the fever is present and it's rather probable that Diana just has a cold (she kicks her blanket off and we have the windows open during the night).

God, I hope it's just a cold. :-(

 
 

13 yrs, 2 wks, 3 days and 4 secs ago

82
82.  
Progress is a heady beast
  
Posted Thursday, July 28th 2005 @ 07:16 am

~ a few years old / 4767 days ago

 
 

Work continuing on the next version of CATS, v.4 About 50-50 on coding and template work. Although I'm toying with a new name for this version as I'm coding without *direct* database support (I'll write a plugin for that later) and the documentation will be different in that regard. I'd hate to lose the documentation I've now for CATS.

In anime news, today I get Steamboy and the final installment of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex :-D

Consulting seems to be picking up for me...lots of leads and people asking me about my services so that's good. Should have my new polo designed within the next day to drop off at the embroidery store. Doing about 20 shirts this pass.

 
 

13 yrs, 3 wks, 1 day, 3 hrs, 51 mins and 56 secs ago

83
83.  
PHP ISSET function is a time burglar
  
Posted Saturday, July 23rd 2005 @ 03:01 pm

~ a few years old / 4771 days ago

 
 

...if used in a loop, at least.

I found out why my CATS script was taking longer on large sets of data: ISSET().

I use this function a bit to determine if a value is set. Appearantly it takes a chunk of time to figure it out. I use this function in loops so the more times it loops, the more times ISSET is called ergo the longer it takes to finish. On short sets of data the wait is negiligable. On large data sets (> 100 or so), this begins to add up....a LOT!

I may recode the old CATS script to deal with the ISSET values *outside* of the loop but the next version is way better (plug-able!) and I'm totally cranking it out. I hope to have full compilance with the old v.3 template tokens as well!

 
 

13 yrs, 3 wks, 5 days, 20 hrs, 6 mins and 8 secs ago

84
84.  
Reliving my childhood
  
Posted Saturday, July 23rd 2005 @ 03:00 pm

~ a few years old / 4771 days ago

 
 

Was cleaning out the office and I came across my old Marx western action figures.

They're not dolls! :-}

Anyways, Diana and I cleaned them up and played a little cowboys and indians as I have 1 Johnny West, 1 Chief Cherokee, 1 General Custer, and 2 buckskin horses (and a crud load of accessories). I remember playing with them quite a bit in my childhood. They've really kept their shape and they're in great condition (that's high density plastic for ya).

Man these things are still fun. Bang! Bang! You're dead. ;-p

 
 

13 yrs, 3 wks, 5 days, 20 hrs, 7 mins and 6 secs ago

85
85.  
I'm all goose-pimpley
  
Posted Friday, July 22nd 2005 @ 03:00 am

~ a few years old / 4773 days ago

 
 

I just made the first version of my content distribution script (CATS) that's plug-able! I'm calling it dogs.php for now. Get it: cats and dogs..whatever. Nothing public yet but totally customizable data sets can be generated on anything that can be coded for. I've just created a links plugin (for reporting back favorites) and a dir plugin (for file listings).

I still need to do the results table coding but so far everything is like waaaaaaay faster! :-D

My current files area takes ~30 seconds, under the new code: 0.04 seconds!

That's 750 times faster!

The plugins take like 15 minutes to code (mine've been pretty basic so far which was what I wanted all along). I'll make a blog and moblog/photog plugin fairly soon to round things out. I still have no real idea why CATS got so slow so quickly but I'm not looking back.

I am so going after a piece of MovableType customer-base. :-P

More later (evil menecing laughter and hand wringing).

 
 

13 yrs, 4 wks, 8 hrs, 7 mins and 26 secs ago

86
86.  
I'm baaaaaaaacccccck
  
Posted Wednesday, July 20th 2005 @ 07:39 pm

~ a few years old / 4774 days ago

 
 

$160 later ($100 for the modem replacement and $60 for the tech visit; ouch) I'm back online. Well, technically I've never gone as I was hopping on the Net here and there in my daily grind.

I did happen to get a bit of info that I didn't know about though; SBC has 6mbit transfer speeds available and I'm in range for it :-D. Need to call SBC to see how much more they will charge for it thou.

Tons of work to catchup on. More later.

 
 

13 yrs, 4 wks, 1 day, 15 hrs, 28 mins and 4 secs ago

87
87.  
Battle Royale - IT vs. IS
  
Posted Monday, July 18th 2005 @ 12:58 pm

~ a few years old / 4776 days ago

 
 

DSL has been on the fritz at home for the last 2 weeks so updates here are spartan at best; sorry.

I've wondered about this from some time but was never truely bored enough to actually look it up.

Until now...

This article discusses the differences between IT (Information Technology) and IS (Information Systems). Seems I'm firmly positioned in the IT field, lacking the business requirments to be IS (or MIS as the article also calls it).

On another note, I saw that Futurama, the movie is currently in production. Looks more like a straight to DVD production but it would be fun to see it on the big screen. Saw the big screen trailer for Serenity, so it looks like I may have to breakout my Firefly DVD collection and bone back up.

In anime news, I still can't find 'Wonderful Days' (aka 'Sky Blue') (a Korean effort) on DVD here in the states...yet. :-S

 
 

13 yrs, 1 mon, 1 day, 22 hrs, 10 mins ago

88
88.  
DHCP, routers, and domain controllers, oh my
  
Posted Tuesday, July 12th 2005 @ 07:27 am

~ a few years old / 4783 days ago

 
 

To quote Charlie Brown: Arrrgghhhh

I was trying to put a PC back on the domain (Active Directory) and I know I was doing it right, but everytime I went to do the join I get multiple errors back, usually "Can't find domain" which I knew was balonie.

I noticed that each time I attempted to join the domain, I was losing my network connection for a split second after which the error was being generated. After little investigation, I found that the router DHCP and the server DCHP services were both on.

When I connected (unjoined) I got the router DHCP.

When I just joined, AD forces (I guess) a release renew, which of course disconnects the PC in the middle of joining the domain (which I knew was going through since the PC name was appearing in AD on the server).

Ergo, disabling the DHCP server on the router fixed that problem.

On a similar note, I discovered that Norton Firewall causes problems with domain joining and user logins about a month back when attempting to add a laptop to one of my clients network. Others have also encountered the Norton Brickwall of no join but I had to figure this out myself (took me about 15 minutes to completely troubleshoot to make sure everything was in place and working properly). Since this affects both joining and logging in, the only way to get around this is to log in locally with the administrator account and disable the Norton Firewall. In my case, I had to use the NT password reset tool to get in (my client forgot what they made the administrator password). FYI: if you startup in safe mode, Norton disables your ablity to make any changes to the settings.

Sigh...The pains of network security, but that's how I get paid. :-)

 
 

13 yrs, 1 mon, 1 wk, 1 day, 3 hrs, 40 mins and 18 secs ago

89
89.  
They are all liars
  
Posted Monday, July 11th 2005 @ 04:56 pm

~ a few years old / 4783 days ago

 
 

Search engine referral stats are soooooo messed up. Here's shrum.net's from last month (July 2005):

  1. Google: 1817
  2. MSN: 159

Whaaaat?

I need to really start looking at the referals to see if they're legit or just marketing ploys for Google and MSN. Either that or MSN search was a flash in the (6-month) pan.

 
 

13 yrs, 1 mon, 1 wk, 1 day, 18 hrs, 11 mins and 2 secs ago

90
90.  
Ack, what happened to the radio
  
Posted Monday, July 11th 2005 @ 04:47 pm

~ a few years old / 4783 days ago

 
 

Well, I've had my Roadmaster USB headunit for about 3 weeks and I lost radio functionality (dead air on all stations and freqs). Not that I lost it but rather it no longer works. Email to Roadmaster's support sent back the usual "cycle modes" advice (that was the first thing I tried when I found the problem :-p). No luck there, dead air. Sent an email back to them and await their response. Although a majority of my listening is via the aux in with my iPod Shuffle, it's a little disheartening to find that I too (like others) are running into faulty issues with the unit with under a month of ownership. :-(

I'm hoping for a happy ending, I'll post more as I get it.

Seems I'm getting a lot of search hits on 'VRCD300' as the Roadmaster site doesn't seem to like search engines or the otherway around :-)

Addendum: Well, Roadmaster sez the unit is defective. I've already ripped it out and exchanged it for the same unit. Need to make a stop at Orvacs for more quick connects. Hopefully the replacement unit will last longer then the first

Another addendum: While I was putting in the new replacement in (with the radio on) I was screwing in the left (driver side) mounting screw when I noticed that the radio went dead while I was screwing in. I released the mounting bolt a little and the radio came back on. If you look through the mounting screwhole on the unit, you can see silicon board and solder. Since the mount point is plastic, I doubt that I grounded it, put who knows; without taking the thing apart, I'll never know. :-S More likely to jump two solder points on the board with the screw, I guess :-p

 
 

13 yrs, 1 mon, 1 wk, 1 day, 18 hrs, 20 mins and 24 secs ago

91
91.  
A RC boat, plane, and car all rolled into 1
  
Posted Friday, July 1st 2005 @ 01:07 am

~ a few years old / 4794 days ago

 
 

Too freakin' kewl...this remote control model actually flies and cruises over water like a bat out of hell It even runs over dry land! I must get one.

Check this out. There was a video demo of this thing on jokaaro and I nearly plotzed! No prices, plans or kits yet but they 're working on it.

I'm assuming the controller is airplane type so my JR 8103 will work nicely with this. :-D

 
 

13 yrs, 1 mon, 2 wks, 5 days, 10 hrs and 20 secs ago

92
92.  
God, I missed loud music
  
Posted Thursday, June 30th 2005 @ 10:58 pm

~ a few years old / 4794 days ago

 
 

Well, the new headunit is in place and I'm happy as a clam. All the features work and I have only 2 gripes:

  1. the unit takes like 5-10 seconds between song loads when dealing with USB file playback, and
  2. there is no shuffle mode, not even for CD playback

I heard from one of my site visitors that within a week, his unit had the CD player go out on him. He also indicated that his talks with Roadmaster indicated that random playback was being researched (fingers crossed).

For me, I'm just using the Aux input for now and letting my iPod Shuffle do all the shuffling

Heading down to San Diego to bunk at my friend Rick's pad for our annual trip to the bullfights in Mexico this weekend (and prime rib buffets at the indian casinos) to get back Monday to take my mate and offspring to Knott's Soak City. ;-)

Have a great fourth everyone!

 
 

13 yrs, 1 mon, 2 wks, 5 days, 12 hrs, 9 mins and 12 secs ago

93
93.  
No freakin way - headunit with USB MSC reader
  
Posted Wednesday, June 22nd 2005 @ 11:57 pm

~ a few years old / 4802 days ago

 
 

I remember sitting around about a year ago, shootin the shit, talking about how kewl it would be if car headunits had USB ports on them to read MP3 files directly off flash drives as well has having the AUX input on the front for non-MSC compliant DAPs.

Ahhh....those were the days.

Boom! Believing is seeing (click here)! I just picked up one (Roadmaster VRCD300-USB) from Kragen Auto parts for $107 (after tax; thinking about going back for another for the wifes car after I test out this one). My old Kenwood headunit was dying (10+ years old; amp was going out) and the 10 CD changer hasn't worked right in at least 2 years so I was in the market for a new one anyways. Thanks to my bro-in-law for finding this gem and bringing it to my attention *TWO FREAKIN WEEKS* after he first saw it.

Anyhow, I just ripped the old headunit and CD changer out of the vintage Volvo so right now it looks like my car was vandalized (wires everywhere).

 
 

13 yrs, 1 mon, 3 wks, 6 days, 11 hrs, 10 mins and 22 secs ago

94
94.  
Something to look forward to
  
Posted Sunday, June 5th 2005 @ 06:40 pm

~ a few years old / 4819 days ago

 
 

Tim Burton is doing another goth-esk stop-animation movie in the style of 'Nightmare Before Christmas' called Corpse Bride. I could have sworn I saw a preview for this but forgot about it completely. I just happened across it when I was looking for the newest Spawn cover image at Macfarland's site. The trailer is on-line and the music is being done by (no surprise) Danny Elfman (MYSTIC KNIGHTS OF THE OINGO BOINGO FOREVER). Movie releases in September 2005.

On a different note, it seems that most of my new music influences are limited to soundtrack and commerical ad music starting back with The Wiseguys 'Start the Commotion' (the Mitsubishi Eclipse commerical that really started it all). I recently started listening to Overseer ('Slayed' from the Victoria Secret 'What is sexy' ad) and Boom Boom Satellites ('Dive for you' from the Appleseed movie). Lucky, I'm watching a ton of movies so I'm (currently) satisfied with the flow of new tunes.

In anime news (for me), Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is in it's 2nd 26 episode run (YEAH!) named '2nd gig'. I've yet to get the final disc of the first season so I don't want to know any more than that as it may give away the ending of the first season. Also, Production I.G. is doing the next Blood moive, 'Blood+', not scheduled to air until October, 2005.

Shifting gears, last month was quite good for me consulting-wise and I'm really starting to think that I need to transition to doing that more full-time. Without doing any advertising (besides the usual business cards) my current clients have word-of-mouthed me to every client I have. I'm to the point where I've turned away work because I'm still active contracting with Tek Systems. Contract pay isn't the greatest but the work is steady.

With some of this months income, I think I'll finally start pushing on the advertising more; get the embroidered polos, get some magnetic advertising signs to put on the cars, maybe even a custom window sticker for the Volvo from one of those mall kiosks or on-line. ;-p

 
 

13 yrs, 2 mons, 2 wks, 16 hrs, 27 mins and 24 secs ago

95
95.  
MS Word and the text watermark quark
  
Posted Thursday, June 2nd 2005 @ 11:39 am

~ a few years old / 4822 days ago

 
 

For lack of a place to put this tidbit of info, I decided to just blog it here.

In Microsoft Word (2003 tested, may apply to older versions), there's an option under the Format menu called 'Background' which allows users to define text watermarks like 'DRAFT', 'ASAP', etc. Problem was that on-screen the watermark looked fine, ditto in Print Preview. However, sending the document to the printer produced things like 'D A T' and ' R F '...effectively skipping letters on opposing pages. One fix I found (old-school hack from my Design Science days of tech support) was to turn on the option in the printer driver to 'Print TrueType as Bitmap'. However there were cases where I'm currently contracted at the moment where this fix failed. Upon further research, a clerical worker ("...from the mouths of babes...") pointed out that if the 'Semitransparent' option was enabled, text would alternate in different shades of the assigned color. Ah! Turning the semitransparent option off did the trick...granted the text was a bit darker but a simple color adjustment to a lighter one fixes that.

The more you know... ;-)

 
 

13 yrs, 2 mons, 2 wks, 3 days, 23 hrs, 28 mins and 34 secs ago

96
96.  
Yin and Yang - Google trounces MSN
  
Posted Wednesday, June 1st 2005 @ 04:56 pm

~ a few years old / 4823 days ago

 
 

HUH?

June search engine referral tally:

  • Google = 1,571
  • MSN = 346
  • Yahoo = 68

What the *&!$? Google kicked butt last month on the referrals which leads me to believe that these companies are 'visiting' to boost numbers...they're just so far off from one month to the next. Overall, I had 4,260 unique visitors pulling down a total of 4.63 MILLION pages this month through my CATS content distribution script. I also caught a hacker trying to read higher level files by using my script's PAGE param (script updated to no longer allow for page calls above the DOCUMENT_ROOT). Overall a productive month. :-)

 
 

13 yrs, 2 mons, 2 wks, 4 days, 18 hrs, 11 mins and 20 secs ago

97
97.  
Oh my god, a _Lego_ PC case (I must create)
  
Posted Wednesday, June 1st 2005 @ 03:06 pm

~ a few years old / 4823 days ago

 
 

I am *so* going to do this for my next PC; a completely Lego PC chassis!

I've talked about the wonders of these incredible building blocks in the past but this takes the cake and I'm kicking myself for not thinking of it sooner (I have a crate of these things from when I was a kid including the *Technic* sets) - MuHahahahaha!

Never mind the radiation leakage, this is too kewl to pass up. Take a look at these users how have probably killed off 9/10ths of their reproductive systems.

In other news, Diana passed her enterance test to St. Justins. You go, Princess!

 
 

13 yrs, 2 mons, 2 wks, 4 days, 20 hrs, 1 min and 52 secs ago

98
98.  
St. Justin entrance testing tomorrow
  
Posted Tuesday, May 24th 2005 @ 11:40 am

~ a few years old / 4831 days ago

 
 

Diana takes her enterance exam tomorrow. She knows her stuff but she freezes on math on paper. She can do it in her head but for some reason (frustrating the heck out of me), she looks at the numbers on paper and gets totally confused. I'm trying not to pressure her, she is after all going a year earlier then she technically should. On the chance that she fails the test, we'll enroll her into St. Justin's kindergarden class.

On another note, things have been really busy work-wise. I haven't had a free day between my contract work and my consulting in the last 23 days; sometimes doing 15 hour work days.

Hopefully the $1500 that I dropped on my 1980 Volvo 240GL for struts, ball joints, and an alignment will keep it running until I have enough for a new cou*sports*gh car. ;-) The car is running fine and may last longer then a year. If I have to drive it for at least another year, I'll have to take some of the new car money and put it toward an amp for the Volvo (can't live without my *loud* tunes). My 15 year old Kenwood headunit is dying and the 10 disc CD changer died 2 years ago. I figure I'll just use DAPs for headunits from now on so I just need an amp to drive the front speakers since my Rockford amp is driving the 10-inch Vega's in the back. :-)

 
 

13 yrs, 2 mons, 3 wks, 5 days, 23 hrs, 27 mins and 22 secs ago

99
99.  
Just another day...old Trojan identified
  
Posted Thursday, May 19th 2005 @ 09:10 am

~ a few years old / 4837 days ago

 
 

Not much to report...working at OCSD still and doing touch-ups on Shuffler. A few people have taken a liking to my Shuffler development and posted donations ('Thank you' - you know who you are). Martha is gone this week on a business trip so Diana and I have been fairing for ourselves.

On another note: A varient (?) of the Sober worm has now been properly identified and is now part of most antivirus defs: Trojan.Acedic; one of my clients had Norton AntiVirus constantly reporting this as 'Worm.Sober' for the last 4 months and we tried everything to remove it...no wonder everything we tried wasn't working. :-S

 
 

13 yrs, 3 mons, 2 days, 1 hr, 57 mins and 36 secs ago

100
100.  
Engadget and the slashdot effect
  
Posted Saturday, April 30th 2005 @ 01:28 am

~ a few years old / 4856 days ago

 
 

My site got 1300 hits in roughly 4 hours when Engadget posted a article about my AutoIT program: Shuffler. Sweet! I haven't checked the performance logs yet but I'm sure the server pulled some overtime.

On another topic, it seems that the search engines have finally made a wider sweep of the Net and I'm back to normal hit-wise; sitting pretty with just over 1 mil. Google edged out MSN in the referrals by ~140 (487 total). My unique visitor count is about 600 off norm (cuz of that article) but at least my bandwidth useage has halved (thank God...it's $2/gig over 10/mo).

Phillip, my ever-vigilent host provider just moved the site to a new system running Fedora Core 3. Anyone interested in site specs can check out my SysInfo page.

 
 

13 yrs, 3 mons, 3 wks, 9 hrs, 39 mins and 38 secs ago

101
101.  
I am the godfather of soul
  
Posted Friday, April 22nd 2005 @ 08:55 pm

~ a few years old / 4863 days ago

 
 

HUH! Touch myself. Jump back. Heeeey!

OK, maybe not. But my best friend asked me to be his future son or daughter's godfather. I had already planned a trip down his way for April 14th (he's in San Diego and I'm in the heart of Orange County). Took the Amtrak down just to have some nut commit suicide by parking his car in front of the train near Carlsbad (we were doing about 70mph). Got a picture of the car while the EMTs tried to *cough* revive the guy. I pretty much knew things were bad...there was no more drivers seat in the car. No one one the SurfRider train felt us hit and I just saw the car go by yet everyone asked "Did you feel it". "No, I *saw* it go by". Two minutes later: "Did you feel it?". Argh! They kept us on the bus for 2 hours while they investigated the scene. My friend even drove to the scene and they wouldn't let me off the train! So we continued on to Solana Beach and he met me there.

Anyways, the past week has proved fruitful for software (from me). Created 'Shuffler', a automated file shuffling utility for MSC-compliant DAP's (like my iPod Shuffle).

 
 

13 yrs, 3 mons, 4 wks, 14 hrs, 12 mins and 28 secs ago

102
102.  
From mobos to mods for the Xbox
  
Posted Tuesday, April 19th 2005 @ 12:03 am

~ a few years old / 4867 days ago

 
 

Looking to update my aging P-III 733 setup, I'm currently looking at mobo's that support: Firewire, optical audio output, USB 2, RAID, dual-channel RAM...so far not too many have all this. Abit's Abit's IC7 Max3 for Intel processors and it's Athlon equivilant, the the KV7-Max3 are the only ones that look to fit the bill...and a big bill it is at $160 for the KV7-Max3 and $200 for the IC7-Max3 (Fry's pricing). Of note is that the IC7 supports dual channel memory while the KV7 does not. Asus offers the A8V Deluxe which supports SATA and EIDE with dual RAID. Couple these mobos with a screaming video card like a ATI or NVIDIA with 128 meg plus 8x AGP and life is sweet (but expensive seeing how most of these cards are $300+). On another note, I found this article talking about using a modded Xbox as a multimedia PC.

 
 

13 yrs, 4 mons, 2 days, 11 hrs, 4 mins and 28 secs ago

103
103.  
Finally fell off the fence and got myself a Karma
  
Posted Tuesday, April 19th 2005 @ 12:03 am

~ a few years old / 4867 days ago

 
 

No, I haven't converted to Hinduism; I'm talking hard drive-based MP3 players. In the case of a $300 4th gen 20 gig Apple iPod versus a $200 20 gig Rio Karma, the Karma wins. I'd been researching the pros and cons of both units now for some weeks and was still a bit away money-wise to purchase either. On a trip into a Good Guys store last week on my way back to work from lunch to see if they had the new iPods in, I noticed the unboxed Karma in a plexiglass endcap with all it's components in a Ziplock. The Karma was the demo model and they had knocked $100 off the price (making it $199). To quote Emeril...BAM!. Since then, 3 other family members and co-workers have hit up other Good Guys stores and found the open-box unit for the same price. I've already scratched my screen and therefore have ordered my (as I call them) Karma Kondoms (6-pack for $6). I've also placed my order for an additional dock that will eventually go in the car on top of the steering column (using this little baby for power). In the meantime, I'm busy converting my WMAs > MP3s with dBpowerAMP, volume normalizing with MP3gain, and MP3s > OGGs with dBpowerAMP. I'll post my results later in the week as it's gunna take time to re-encode 4000+ songs on my antique equipment. Sidenote: Development of CATS 3.0 is proceeding at a fair clip. Expect to see a distribution posted in a week or two.

 
 

13 yrs, 4 mons, 2 days, 11 hrs, 4 mins and 30 secs ago

104
104.  
Creating the Media Pool_ Step 1 - Dig a hole
  
Posted Tuesday, April 19th 2005 @ 12:03 am

~ a few years old / 4867 days ago

 
 

Figured I'd look around at the current state of *consumer-level* hard drive storage (remember, I'm on a budget...this is coming out of my pocket). Found a great white paper on SATA / (E)IDE diferrences over at Dell's website. I need to research controllers too as most older systems (mine included) do not have SATA controllers. So far, my searches have found that controllers cost around $100. Might be cheaper to just get a mobo with integrated SATA, networking, and a fiber-optic 6.1 sound output. EIDE drives would work fine (133 max rate) but I want a system for the long run such as SATA 1 (150 max rate). Most drives now are both format and max out around 300 gigs at $150.

 
 

13 yrs, 4 mons, 2 days, 11 hrs, 4 mins and 32 secs ago

105
105.  
Awww crap, I did it again
  
Posted Tuesday, April 19th 2005 @ 12:03 am

~ a few years old / 4867 days ago

 
 

Well, after getting nowhere with Nokia's technical support department on why the Nokia PC Suite software was terminating before setting up, I decided it was time to re-image my Win XP box, update the images and so forth. Wouldn't you know it, I corrupted my 2 Western Digital 200-gig hard drives AGAIN! (I'm kicking myself in the ass this time. For those who are unfamiliar with my on-again, off-again Microsoft pains, read this. Looks like it's formatting time again. Crap :-(

 
 

13 yrs, 4 mons, 2 days, 11 hrs, 4 mins and 34 secs ago

106
106.  
Adware - already on a PC near you
  
Posted Tuesday, April 19th 2005 @ 12:03 am

~ a few years old / 4867 days ago

 
 

Wired came out with this article that discusses the impact and origin of adware and the load that it's placing on tech support centers like Dell, Microsoft, and AOL. Fairly interesting read. I list this cuz' all my clients keep asking me "Where did I get the adware from?". On anothre related note, Utah has already inacted an anti-spyware law. Pack up your wagon, young e-pioneer...time to head north (for me, at least) to Utah.

 
 

13 yrs, 4 mons, 2 days, 11 hrs, 4 mins and 36 secs ago

107
107.  
2003.12.01 @ 21.56.29
  
Posted Tuesday, April 19th 2005 @ 12:03 am

~ a few years old / 4867 days ago

 
 

Now I've seen it all...I was cruising round the Net' and I ran across this lady's blog site. Nothing new there. What caught my eye was the fact that she had a BUY link on her site for HER BLOG!?!?! WTF! I'm open to the fact that blogs (or what I termed the bastardization of 'Doogie Hoosier' diaries) can be a great souce of venting value or even (on rare occurances) technical morsels. But since when did personal blogs become MARKETABLE?

 
 

13 yrs, 4 mons, 2 days, 11 hrs, 4 mins and 38 secs ago

108
108.  
2003.11.27 @ 01.31.53
  
Posted Tuesday, April 19th 2005 @ 12:03 am

~ a few years old / 4867 days ago

 
 

Trying to get my local and remote sites to sync up automatically...I stumbed upon Rhinosoft's FTP Voyager. Downside is that it's not GNU.

 
 

13 yrs, 4 mons, 2 days, 11 hrs, 4 mins and 40 secs ago

109
109.  
2003.11.23 @ 23.59.16
  
Posted Tuesday, April 19th 2005 @ 12:03 am

~ a few years old / 4867 days ago

 
 

The nice people at Nettwerk Productions have posted Delerium's 'After All' off the 'Chimera' album.

 
 

13 yrs, 4 mons, 2 days, 11 hrs, 4 mins and 42 secs ago

110
110.  
2 hours down, 20 more to go
  
Posted Tuesday, April 19th 2005 @ 12:03 am

~ a few years old / 4867 days ago

 
 

Well, the conversion from MP3 > OGG is underway. On my antique P-III 733, the speed index in dBpowerAMP is at 3x; meaning that it's taking about 1 minute to compress the typical 3-minute song. dBpowerAMP seems to have problems if you queue up more than 200 songs for conversion so I'm going to have to do this in chunks of 200 or less. Having ~4000 songs in *just my DAP sync folder alone*, I calculate that it will be an additional 20+ hours to finish. I think I'll fire up another machine to work on the main library of my songs and use SoX (a command line tool) to deal with the ~25,000 songs there (~6 days of straight processing). In other news, our family annual passes to the Aquarium of the Pacific came in today. :-)

 
 

13 yrs, 4 mons, 2 days, 11 hrs, 4 mins and 44 secs ago

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ipodftp - my command line FTE vision
  
Posted Monday, April 11th 2005 @ 12:33 pm

~ a few years old / 4874 days ago

 
 

fte: acronym; file transfer engine.

iTunes blows under Windows. The current version has a memory leak problem that nearly chokes my 1 gig PC.

As I tend to write my own apps I started researching the technical side of the iPod Shuffle but I'm having a uber-hard time finding specific technical documentation in direct regards to the iPod Shuffle (Apple structures are not something that I deal with on an everyday basis). In the meantime and hopefully in roads to a faster outcome, I'm in e-talks with various existing Windows-based iPod management programmers (ie: EphPod, Sync2Pod, vPod, etc.) to see about having someone write or assiting me with the construction of a command line file transfer engine that I will call ipodftp. Hopefully this can then be ported to other OS's such as Linux and Mac. Then, anyone (myself included) can write front-ends that can transfer music to the iPod.

My first project after its creation will be a automatic AutoFill app (since I want to get away from iPuke (iTunes I mean) and later will tie this into pulling playlists from files and WMP (yes, I know about XPlay but it blows...I've already talked to them and most of my initial "issues" with their app are being addressed "later" = most likely never).

Found a great little writeup on the Shuffle file structure from a Windows-based point of view but no real data that I didn't already have. Check it out here.

Addendum: found this dissection of a iPod Shuffle piece over at applematters.com.

Addendum: SWEET! One of my sources found a command-line based and Python scripted Shuffle DB updater

 
 

13 yrs, 4 mons, 1 wk, 2 days, 22 hrs, 34 mins and 36 secs ago

112
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Yet another CATS template layer - NAV
  
Posted Sunday, April 10th 2005 @ 11:57 pm

~ a few years old / 4875 days ago

 
 

Yep, it's gunna happen. I'm getting tired of making multiple table templates that use different pagination references that I'm going to create a new layer: nav (this is just off the top of my head and may change).

This layer will act as a in-between for the body and table layers. The new layer will deal with containing just the navigational elements of a recordset page, allowing for customized table templates without having the include the pagination elements in them.

More later but keep an eye on the CATS code area.

Addendum: That was quick; total of 5 minutes to implement. New build posted. Associated documentation also updated.

 
 

13 yrs, 4 mons, 1 wk, 3 days, 11 hrs, 10 mins and 54 secs ago

113
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Trying to get my shuffle on
  
Posted Saturday, April 9th 2005 @ 03:16 pm

~ a few years old / 4876 days ago

 
 

Just ordered a case for my iPod Shuffle from Marware.com. Besides liking the look, it was the cheapest ($9) of all the cases I had found while puroosing the 'Net. I also liked the fact that if I decide to skin my Pod, the case won't block the look. I almost got a iVault but it has 3 things going against it:

  1. price ($30),
  2. no way to tether/keyring the thing
  3. can't show off skins

In my on-going efforts to rid myself of any dependance of iPuke (I mean, iTunes), I found XPlay by Mediafour.com. For $30, it syncs iPods (including the Shuffle) with WMP (Windows Media Player). Great idea, but so far with only an hour of use under my belt, I realized that I lost the Shuffle ability to...well...shuffle! Even in random mode, it plays in order. Also, it appears that XPlay doesn't deal with randomizing songs on fill-up and relies solely on the playlist(s) selected to be UNDER the iPod Shuffle's size capacity. This means that my 5-star rated playlist which current sits around 4 gigs freaks XPlay out during sync'ing, causing it to report back I need 3 more gig to fit the content. :-(

In light of this, I've begun research into the WMP media player SDK and at this very moment am installing .NET to begin my quest to build a open-source bond between the Apple's iPod Shuffle and Microsoft's WMP. (Can't we all just get along?) :-S

In other news, I'm once again employed (long-term contract); this time for the Orange County Sanitation District doing Win2K / XP cloning and some helpdesk work. A far cry, some might think, from working hospitals but then again, some of those conditions weren't all that clean ( 1 2 ). :-x <-- gag, not kiss

 
 

13 yrs, 4 mons, 1 wk, 4 days, 19 hrs, 51 mins and 26 secs ago

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