I've gotten over $200 in cash back from them at places I would have shopped anyway! Ebay, Staples, more! I put it at the top because they ROCK. Basically, you get a kickback from Ebates when buy.com or whoever pays them. Win-win. If you like throwing money away, don't use them!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Really?

The sticker on this says to 'check as baggage'. Has the broad opinion
of airport security sunk so low?

Now I know what Obi Wan meant by "Imperial Entanglements" when he
chartered the Millenium Falcon.

Monday, December 28, 2009

There are •snails• on her plate!

You'd think in a restaurant this nice, they could keep the dust off
the desserts!!

And the other one must be old, it has a light crust on the outside.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Fix for Sansa C140 Slow Sync with Windows Media Player 11

This one's easy. My daughters player would not sync in MTP mode.

On the C140, look under Settings, USB, then change it to MSC.

It then syncs fine and completely.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Fairy Dust by Paris Hilton


In some mytholologies, fairies are good. In others, bad.

In this one, just kinda skanky.

Paris, the skanky witch of the west (coast).

See a previous attempt here. This time you get some tubes of something in addition to the main bottle of whatever.

A Christmas gift for that certain whoever.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Because I find it Amusing

Iron Man 2 Official Trailer on Apple.com

Yep, it's there.

I'll be seeing it next December most likely, when it's out on Blu Ray. If you can believe it, I also waited for Terminator 4 and Star Trek on DVD. With the addition of a used PS3 in lieu of a Blu Ray player, I now await the BD-DVD.

It's just something about watching it on my 53" TV, eating the snacks for cheap, and controlling pretty much all aspects of the viewing experience.

Home Theatre FTW.

Croonchy Stars and other Childhood Cereals

Man, are kids breakfast cereals this much fun these days? Ok, granted, I was older when these came out but still.



Here's one I recall, and would probably buy again. Wow! 7 cents off! Cue the Moby Dick references.


I guess I could always pick out the vanilla half of the Cocoa Puffs Combos (which I have a box of right now.)


You can find pics of old cereal boxes and stuff here. The coolest part is looking at those old prizes you will actually remember. I wonder what happened to my Flintstone coin holder. Remember when it was IN the box and you didn't have to mail away for it?



Want! I currently don't own any Rhodium coated jewelry.


Now that you're hungry, look over on the right side of the page for the coupons.com banner and print the ones you want. I recently used the Raisin Bran and the one for the Cocoa Puffs Combos. It ended up being about $3 for both boxes ($1.50 average.) I like the Combos because they are slightly lower sugar and aren't as thirst-generating-ly chocolate.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gamestop: Up your trade-in amount 'trick'

I had a ton of the AT/ATX power cables (three prong to three hole) that also work with the PS3 (Playstation 3).

I traded in 15 at Gamestop in one batch. I don't think they are supposed to, but I had already talked to the clerk about it.

At worst, just throw 1-3 in with your next trade in. If you're like me you have them laying around. It's an extra dollar or two.

I also had two of the Burger King games for the original Xbox from YEARS ago, they were worth 15 cents each. So like the Atari 2600 version of Kool Aid Man, they'll probably be a collector's item some day.


Cooking Tips for Countertop Convection Ovens

A couple of little tricks we've learned:

1. You can cook a whole full size pizza in the countertop convection oven. Just slice it in half before you cook, and put each half on a separate shelf. Faster, crispier, lower power/gas bill, and you don't heat up the kitchen in the summer. In Houston, that's a big consideration. I can't wait for summer, these temps in high 50's are just too cold.

2. The kids can have hot fresh cinnamon rolls for breakfast, just do a couple at a time and store the rest in the fridge in Tupperware. These are of course quicker too.

3. Pop Tarts are a waste of time. Use the heat gun for this. 2 minutes per tart at most.
(Yes, really. Chefs use blowtorches for creme brulee. Plus you get the tart as crispy as you like. Perfect every time.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holiday Gift Idea or Not


Gah, how do they sell this stuff? Is there anyone reading this that DOESN'T think this is schlock?

Not only is it a shoe charger, they bedazzled it.

Then they had the nerve to print 'Great Gifts' on the bottom of the page.

Ladies, no offense, but no straight man is going to buy this for you. I can't imagine a gay man would buy it OR want it either.

Ergo, this is a gift for women, most likely purchased by women.

Ooh, perhaps purchased by a teenage girl for a teen girl or Mom?

Still, that's right there with the Brüt gift box.

The most interesting part of this post: How to get all those weird characters like the ü in 'Brüt'.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

How I Lost Weight and Gained Muscle! The Secret

Toby Maguire also mentioned this secret on Conan when discussing his weight loss for 'Brothers'.

Are you ready? Answer: Diet and Exercise!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Comic

Click for big version.

How to Destroy the American Criminal System

I was looking at an article about jury nullification, which is an interesting read. I was not reading the Wiki article, but related.

The article was in reference to someone who was pleading guilty because their public defender was advising them so. Take the 3.5 years vs risking 20 in a trial by jury. I hear public defenders are overworked and underpaid.

It seemed from my reading that there was some reasonable doubt over the charges.

You hear of this sort of thing at intervals. So, how to go about the ultimate destruction of overcrowded prisons and the dismantling of an overworked system that allows this to take place?

Simple. Stop committing crimes worthy of jail time.

I know, sounds silly, but what if the convicts in prison now viewed it as a MISSION to stop doing things that would put them back in jail or keep them there longer, and preaching to others to stop crime not out of a sense of right and wrong, but as a sure fire way to destroy the system?

In short, you can turn anyone who's angry at the penal/justice system into a law abiding citizen and allow them to get revenge on that system by starving it of crimes, defendants, and prisoners, and therefor revenue and a reason for existence.

Stick it to the man, by doing what he wants, but for your reasons, not his. Thereby destroying him in the process.

Seems very Sun Tzu, doesn't it?

Yeah, I know it'll never happen, but it was an interesting thought.

Convicts, falsely and rightly accused, you've got your mission.

High protein, Low Fat Shake.

Revised 2 Feb 2012

(Heck, just order some Shakeology. Dump that in a blender and be done.)

~ 1/2 -3/4 cup Fat free cottage cheese

~ 10 oz ice
8 oz unsweetened coconut milk (50 calories)
1 tbsp Hershey's Dark Chocolate Cocoa
2 tsp artificial cherry flavor
1 banana
1 pineapple ring
1 coconut covered mini donut (which is only 50 calories :)
1 tsp artificial vanilla flavor
Sweeten to taste. Raw sugar, agave, Splenda if you dare, etc.

This makes a quite tasty, low calorie by comparison and nearly fat free banana split shake. Usually, I leave out the pineapple and the donut, but I was feeling a bit sporty, OK?!

This makes about a half a pitcher, two reasonable servings. Do the math but I think we're looking at a little over 600 calories, for two servings.

Normally, I don't put in the pineapple ring, donut, banana, or chocolate, so then you just end up with a shake with over 200 less calories.

In this case, substitute your choice of flavoring.

If you drink the whole thing as a meal replacement, it's still not horrible high calorie and you'll be very full. You got very little fat, a lot of calcium and protein, a whole banana and it's benefits.

* I am not a dietician, but I do math reasonably well.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Ah, what passes for Journalism

http://blogs.zdnet.com/Bott/?p=1575&tag=nl.e539 has the goods on the 'Microsoft Black Screen of Death' debacle. This sounds about right to me.

What happened is that some company yelled 'FIRE!' in a movie theatre (I like the British spelling) and everyone panicked.

Microsoft was blamed for a faulty patch that caused the computer screen to have nothing on the screen and therefore be unusable.

What apparently really happened was that it didn't happen.

I love this type of 'journalism'.

Let me try my hand at it:

Is Exxon KNOWINGLY selling impure gasoline to the elderly?

The answer that may shock you, at 5.

So, yes, every gas probably has SOME teeny tiny amount of impurity in it. And the elderly buy gas.

Or, you can ask some crazy question and leave it unanswered: Is Tiger Woods cheating on his wife during a baby seal clubbing vacation? Tiger Woods was unavailable for comment.

Yep, I looked around my office and Tiger Woods was not available. I didn't accuse him, I just proposed the question.

Cue 'Dirty Laundry' <=- Click to play on last.fm

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A Fitness Idea

I want an ice cream high in protein, low in fat/carbs. Do they make such a thing? If they can make fat free cottage cheese surely they can make some sort of high protein frozen dairy treat with Splenda and protein.

I even came up with a name and some packaging.


Push Up pops, get it? At least getting sued will provide me with some much needed publicity.

Cellphones: What Choice do you have?

I was reading a bit re: people griping about the poor service of AT&T. Some lamented the long contract, while others said if you bought your own phone, then the contract would not be necessary as the contract won't subsidize the cost of your cheap(er)/free phone.

To me, the cheapest has always been T-Mobile's prepaid $100 card. 1000 minutes, and it's good for a year.

The downside is no data plan, but if you just want to make calls, it's the way to go. It's great for penny pinchers, students, elderly, etc.

Now if they just had a cheap data plan add-on...



You can usually find the refills cheaper than list price. For example:



Of course, you can always try it out with less airtime purchased up front too.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Dude, Where's My Car?

Hey, where's my car?

It's the purple Hyundai by the cart return.

Which one?

The Elantra.

I know, which one?

The one by the cart return.

Which cart return?

THE ONE WITH THE PURPLE HYUNDAI BESIDE IT!!!

...aaaaaand 'SCENE'.

My son claims it proves Transformers are real.

On our exit from Tarzhay today, this:

Even more confusing, they were parked in the same relative position.

Fortunately, mine did not have scuffed hubcaps and was not covered in old leaves.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

QOTD

A character on TV gets zapped by an electrical panel in humorous fashion.

My son's quote: "Heh, he got staticuted."

You heard it here first.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Awesome Legoness

I knew seconds into this that it was blogworthy. A scene from 'The Matrix' made with Legos that took 440 hours to (re)create.

This should be part of Bullet Time's Greatest Hits.

That'd make a great band name.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

theroblog's eBook Store

My Ebook store, if you're interested. I wrote a couple of small guides I'm putting up cheap. A guide to repairing the first generation PSP and how to embed HTML in BBcode for phpbb.net forums. Exciting stuff! But, the info is kind of hard to find, and they're only 99 cents each.

Clicky here.

I have one book at lulu.com that's in an earlier post also. That one has actually sold about 9 copies. I'm rich!

Hit the button below if you have one of those Microcenter ATX cases with little to no good documentation. It covers the TX366, B644, B643, B642, B616, B615, B301, B300 cases and systems.


Support independent publishing: buy this e-book on Lulu.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

How to use a Mac Keyboard with Windows with remapping

Update 14 Nov 2010: I only remapped the left command key so when I'm using my Vista machine to VNC to the Mac server, the right key still works as the Command key. Handy! So you can use it where applicable as well.

Update 19 Nov 2009: Mac Keyboard also works with Xbox 360. No big surprise there, but it does.

Update 17 Feb 2009: the Mac Pro keyboard Volume Up, Down, and Mute all work in Vista as is. Cool. The Mac Pro mouse works of course too.

----

Ok, I know most of the keys work. But mainly, if you have a KVM switch hooked to a Mac and a PC or plug a keyboard back and forth between the two, you have certain annoyances.

What bugged me was going from Command-C to copy on the Mac and Ctrl-C to copy on the PC. Ditto that for closing browser tabs, etc etc.

They keyboard's the same but having to remember Ctrl or Command based on what computer the keyboard is hooked to was a pain.

Enter a fine program called KeyTweak that lets you remap your keys on Windows. I remapped my left Command key to be a Ctrl key, so now the combinations I used most are the same on both computers.

The right Command key is equivalent to the Windows key still, so that's available, and the Ctrl key is unchanged.

Hope it helps. Now buy something from Amazon over on the right side. :)

7 Kinds of Awesome Chili



I made this, but then performed the following magic:

I cooked it basically as the recipe on the box, but I used 1.3 lbs of ground chuck in a coarse chili meat size grind, and I took the meat out of 1lb of Beer Brats from Target. I used one 8 oz can of HEB whole tomatoes with chilis and 1 can of HEB diced tomatoes with chilis and blended them in a blender instead of tomato sauce. You could substitute the Ro*Tel brand but the HEB is cheaper. Both cans were 'mild'. I also added about 1/8 cup of honey and 1/8th cup of raw sugar (You can find it on the coffee aisle.) Why honey and raw sugar? The honey makes it richer, and you get a bit of a sweet taste (not much) at first, then the spice gives you that 'Ahem'-clear your throat-feel when you swallow it. A bit more complex. You'll get that on every bite. A bit sweet, then spice. I also added 1 tbsp of black bean garlic sauce, which is an oriental item so look on that aisle. And a half cube of chicken bouillon. I'm lazy, so I just dumped the masa flour straight in. Didn't mix it first with water.

I added 1 cup of dry pinto beans that were prepped by simmering until tender, and drained. Continue cooking for a few hours.

Of course, you can use spicier Ro*Tel versions or less sugar, less black bean garlic sauce, etc to season to taste.

I ate some at about 930PM and I had started cooking it about 4-5pm. I had to make myself stop and put the bowl away, it's that good. The sweet-spicy taste cycle really makes you want to keep shoveling it.

If you can really wait, eat it the next day as with most chili and stews so the flavors come together.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Netflix Rating System: New option

I saw that Netflix has a new rating system. Instead of one star up to 5 stars, it is now one collapsed star up to 5 stars.

(click me)

Photoshop contest anyone?

Free Beastie Boys Tracks

http://www.doublecheckyourhead.com/ has a free copy of Doublecheck your head you can download. MP3 format, so it works everywhere.

So whatcha want?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mystery Jelly or: Granny, is that you?


Actually, it's a cinnamon apple butter. I think.

I opened it yesterday, because it was a rather opaque brown, and curiosity just got the better of me.

It was contained in a glass jar like the middle jar, only with the old fashioned two part lid consisting of a center piece and outer ring in a brass colored metal.

That style of jar is a 'Ball Quilted Crystal Jelly Jar'. That has a certain southern genteel ring to it.

It was oversweet, but with a good flavor. I'm enjoying it as I write this with crunchy peanut butter on wheat bread. (Yes, I'm typing by pressing keys with the sandwich.)

My only remorse, is that I don't know if my dear departed grandmother made it. She passed away in 2003. Which means this 'jelly' might be old, for jelly.

I mean, I'm not remorseful about eating old preserved goods, but I mean I wish I knew.

At worst, it's a lovely reminder because it's the sort of thing she might have made. If it were figs in a strawberry jello concoction, or just straight up figs then I could be more sure.

And if you know for a fact that you gave me some homemade apple butter, please keep it to yourself and leave me my illusions.

Anyone got biscuits made in a cast iron pan?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

2009: The Last Thanksgiving

I was putting a pencil to some facts and figures and I've discovered that according to my calculations (which let's admit, are invariably infallible) that 2009 should be the last year for Thanksgiving. As you can see, this relatively non-commercial holiday (and therefore irrelevant) will be overshadowed completely by next year.



I can't wait until it's time for Christmas Two!

Happy Love Day everyone.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What roblog readers are Reading


The top 4 over the past 30 days and the hit counts according to Google Analytics:

148 15.15%
116 11.87%
105 10.75%
86 8.80%
75 7.68%

According to my new study, twice as many people have trouble with their iPod and iTunes 9 as with their toilet.

Which says something about iPods and toilets, but sometimes I just inform.

I'll let you make the call on that one.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

QOTD

This will surely be my QOTD:

"Oh, and if you haven't visited regretsy, don't. It's a lot of NSFW and a lot of 'Wow, more people should be on anti-psychotics and under the care of a mental healthcare professional.' " -rob at theroblog.com

Monday, November 09, 2009

Myvu PMV-1003i: Some Brief Notes

This isn't a review, just some observations on this nice for the price little device. (Wasn't that a 'They Might Be Giants' lyric?

For those of you googling a bit about it, I did not see mentioned that the USB port on the iPod connector is passthrough for sync and charge, and works with a standard mini USB cable.

This means with the myvu glasses connected to your iPhone, and a standard USB to mini USB cable, you can sync and charge your iPhone or other device that uses the iPod connector. I sort of guard my iPhone cable, I'd rather lose a mini USB that you can get anywhere for a thruppence. Of course, the PMV-1003i does not work with the iPhone for viewing videos. Less cables to carry.

This means you can also supply power to your iPod and the myvu with almost any sort of device or battery pack. Handy, as the myvu is powered by the iPod, and the iPod battery gets used a lot quicker from playing video anyway.

Some complain about the contrast and brightness. On mine, the left eye's LCD display is more washed out than the right.

To help contrast and brightness, you could cover the front of the glasses with a cut to fit piece of low tack tape. It's a feature supposed to let you sort of see through the glasses at the same time but it washes out the display a bit. They are so thin, you can just look over the top or under the bottom if you need to.

I picked up a nearly unused one for $45 and for that price it's a nice piece of tech to have. If only it didn't work just with the iPod 5th generation...but then again I couldn't have picked it up for $45.

Oh, you Star Wars Nuts!

Pretty funny: A TaunTaun sleeping bag. For the half-frozen young Jedi in training at your house.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

'Community' Clip: Chevy Chase trades barbs with Joel McHale

This is an awesome sandwich. Chevy Chase and Joel McHale trading slamming yet dry insults at each other. Insults so barbed, they may cause you internal hemorrhaging.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Smoothie And Margarita Machine Bargain

I got one like this a few years back for $30.



What got me to make this post is the fact I had a friend who got one of these:



Now, I'm envious, but the Back to Basics falls within my budget. It has three things that make it a great deal in my book: a stirring stick that goes down through the center that you stir around while it's blending (nothing gets stuck in the pitcher) , a power spout at the bottom that turns on when you want to drink your creation, and a great warranty.

I had to get a replacement for my motor, and something else minor had broken, so they just sent me a whole new one after asking a few questions on the phone! So now I've got spare parts from the old one. Haven't had any problems with the replacement. IIRC, the warranty is 3 years. (!)

Oh, and Cheri, feel free to invite me for margaritas so you can show me yours. As a gadget dood, I'd like to get to play with one. I've seen them in the department stores, but they never give demonstrations.

If HEB can give wine samples, why can't they give margarita machine demos?

Stomache Ulcers: The Big Kids' Disease

My daughter who's 10 is a pain to get up in the morning. I know, right?

So I got her an alarm clock.

I hear it, I wait a little while (mine's set for the same time), and go to check on her. She's up and dressed for school and watching TV upstairs!

Later I hug her and her hair is wet.

'Did you have a shower this morning too?' I had told her last night she should have one but I myself had forgotten.

"Yes."

'Wow, you got up that quick and did all that?' (I'm so impressed!)

"I woke up before my alarm clock."

'What!? Why did you do that?!' (You don't know my daughter. This is unusual.)

"I woke up and then couldn't go back to sleep because I was worried about sleeping through my alarm clock."

They grow up so fast! That's a big people worry. Next, she'll start making her own black coffee in the morning and going through her Power Point presentation before work.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A Story

I was enjoying a guilty pleasure (People of WalMart.com) and saw:

I'm sure this is either Kid Rock or Jay from 'Jay and Silent Bob fame'.

It reminded me of a story (doodley doo, doodley doo <=-distant memory sound effects)...

We were looking at houses in Oklahoma City back in 1998 when we were moving there. We looked at this one house just because it said it had a secret room. You know you want one too.

Well, the house wasn't what we wanted but we did come away with a gem of a story: The room was concealed by having a door that was covered in faux cheap paneling (yeah I know, right?) so that the seams met just so.

We pushed it open to reveal a room filled with skulls.

Yes, skulls.

Evidently this person collected skulls of all sorts. I don't remember all the varieties but here's the FTW part: on a table by the door was a CATALOGUE to a company that SELLS skulls.

Bonus to the FTW, it was also located in Oklahoma City.

Here, I believe, is that company's website.

(Dang, shoulda got this one in before Halloween.)

Santa! I love Santa!


I found it when I was digging out the Dia de Los Muertos decorations. I had moved it out of the way and not put it back. It's a childhood thing, and that's going back to at least the 70's. An ode to made in America plastics (it's so old it doesn't even say where it was made!). I love all the little details, like the lumpy sack and the present on top. (Don't say it). If you smell it closely, you can smell memories of Christmases past and what used to be a legal plastics additive no doubt. And notice Santa has a whip? You'd never get that past PETA these days. Don't want the kids to think it's OK to spur the reindeer on.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Quick and cheap last minute Halloween Costumes

I found this link today. Good stuff. A few examples:

  • Dress normally. Pin some socks, dryer sheets, hand towels to your shirt. Static cling.
  • Carry around some paper. If someone asks what you are tear one up. What are you? A paper shredder.
  • Wear a t-shirt with a large ? (question mark) on it. Tape popcorn to it. What are you? A pop quiz.

Monday, October 26, 2009

World of Warcraft Tip: Can't see 'Consecration' effect for Paladin spell?

Can't see the ground glowing under your Paladin when you cast 'Consecration' while playing World of Warcraft? Hit 'ESC' then go through the menus: Video-=>Effects-=> enable 'Projected Textures' by checking the box.

Kinda makes it hard to see when the spell effect is up without that huh?

Chris Farley and David Spade's DirecTV ad



Some say it's exploitative. Well, what in Hollywood isn't? As a fan of 'Tommy Boy' and the Farley/Spade duo, I don't mind.

To me, the line at the end of 'It never gets old.' sort of honors his memory. And the movie 'Tommy Boy' was the duo at it's best, or close to it. A modern comedy classic.

Tupac's still releasing ablums, why can't Farley and Spade do a reminiscent commercial?

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Feel Good TV Show

(Click pic for large size.)

'Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?' making you feel less than adequate? Let's take it down a notch.

PETA collides with NOW: Thousands injured

"Playboy Playmate of the Year Jayde Nicole (L) and Playmate Joe Garcia (C) serve veggie hot dogs as part of an event put on by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)"

Where is NOW now?

Oh, the humanity. I guess it's ok to exploit the poor Playmates, but not the stuff that goes into hotdogs.

Can't they grow them in a vat by now?

The hotdogs I mean, not the Playmates.

Which brings me to my next comic...

theroblog Original Comic

(Click for larger.)

Sometimes I have (what I think) is a comic-worthy idea...I kinda wish I had a drawing tablet. Lord knows I have every other peripheral. Penny Arcade watch out!

Microsoft Opens First Retail Store in Scottsdale, AZ

My first thought was: "Snobsdale, Arizona?!". To wit: I have some experience in the area. At the end of 2005, I was at a Christmas party in Snobsdale for Mesa Airlines. That's another article entirely.

Let's see: no parking to be found, $5 for a BOTTLED beer that wasn't even cold, and THE TAP WAS BROKEN. Ok, aren't you supposed to be a high end glitzy club in Scottsdale? The finger food was extremely 'meh' as well, but that could have been 3rd party.

A town for sizzle, not for steak.

Plus I know a few Scottsdalers...and I will take the high road on that.

Keep it.

So, what I'm thinking is, wouldn't Scottsdale be more the province of the Apple elite?

(And I hate that about the Apple brand, they make darn good stuff and I'm a fan, but get off your high horse. It's a real turn off.)

All I'm sayin' is, to me Microsoft / PC is something of the province of the build your own PC to the level you want crowd. Be it $2000 worth of graphics cards in SLI with a quad core CPU and 16 gigs of RAM, or a little crapbox with 2 gigs of RAM, leftover hard and optical drives with onboard video.

Hack it, change it, do what you want. Windows will work on it.

Apple is more for the buy it, it works, I'll keep it for 7 years until I'm forced to upgrade or my cat pees in it. Or, 'look at how much money I've spent on less actual hardware with a cooler design'. (Another peeve of mine.)

I'm not doggin' on either concept, I have both 'brands'. Two iPhones, iPod Video, Macbook, HP Laptop, Dell PC, and a couple of homebuilt PCs.

All I'm saying is, Microsoft, you don't have to be Apple. There's a place for you. Get your own thing. You're not going to find it in Scottsdale.

Somewhere in independent-minded Texas perhaps. Want cool and independent? Austin. Plus I hear there's a major PC manufacturer headquartered there.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Barnes and Noble Nook eReader: I wish I had a hands on review, so somebody send me one!

I've recently sold a few of the Sony PRs-505's on Amazon, I've used various PDAs and software (Palm, Microsoft, iPhone) for reading books over the years, and I actually owned and used a dedicate device: the REB-1100. Google that stuff if you want and I'll wait here. Remember Smartmedia cards? 128MB max capacity children. I had a voluminous 64 meg card...ah, memories. No pun intended.

With such things, my fancy has returned to eReader devices. (iTablet, Apple?)

Anyhoo, the new shiny to my eye is the Nook, from Barnes and Noble.

In years to come, we'll laugh at its black and white only paperlike screen, and wonder why they didn't make the whole thing color, like the touchscreen at the bottom.

Well, enough future and past tense wistfulness. In short, this thing looks to have the goods. It's all over the Kindle, from all directions. 3G? Course. WiFi? Check. Design? Dittoes. Memory slot, cool color browsing on the bottom, and the list goes on.

Since I don't have a Kindle or a Nook (someone send me review units please) I'll just have to say that it appears from what I've seen, my vast experience as a Gadget guru, and some tea leaves I just read, the Nook *IS* the Kindle killer, as long as Johnny 'Corporate Suit' Lawyerpants doesn't burden it with DRM, and resultant restrictions and rear end pain.

Here's a chart of features: (click for fullscreen)


What I hope to see change is the text to speech feature added (for accessibility), and Word doc compatibility. Although you can just use CutePDF to print PDFs anyway, it would be nice to be able to email a Word doc to someone's Nook.

What really could set it apart would be the ability to load Android apps and have them display on the screen at the bottom! Weather, headlines, stock, sports scores, games, you name it. Click a link at the bottom to say, a NY Times article, and read it at the top on the high res epaper.

Not only would that extend readability and features, but you might get some crossover purchases from the smartphone/laptop crowd.

In summary, it looks like a thoroughly thought out and and richly featured device.

Now someone send me a review copy. Mine to keep? Why, that's so nice of you B&N!

The official site: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/nook/

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How to burn a DVD from a DVD Media Player Document

This is a simple one. Just right click on the DVD Media Player document file and select 'Show Package Contents'. Then you will see the VIDEO_TS folder. Now you can burn it in Toast or other DVD burning software.

I recommend dragging it out of the package onto the desktop, and then from there to your burning software. You can put it back in the package after you are done. Anecdotal evidence from me, YMMV.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

iTunes 9 not Recognizing iPod Video, Classic, and others?

This is the most popular article on theroblog.com as of November 18, 2009.

This blog is my part time job I do for mostly free, so please consider a donation if you find this information valuable.








Update 11 Nov 2009

I downgraded to iTunes 8.2.1 (6) on Mac OS 10.5.8 and have had no issues to speak of. I have not tried iTunes 9.0.2. Can you blame me? The only bright side is I did clean up my library a bit. Dupes, missing song or two, and the like.

My iPod 5th Generation model MA002LL/A is not recognized by iTunes 9 (fix it Apple!) and it would only show up as a drive on Macs and on Windows Vista.

I restored it a few times on both the Mac and the PC, changed the assigned driver letter in Vista, waved a live chicken around, etc.

I've tried Intel and Power PC computers OS X, both running iTunes 9.0.1 (9) builds and Vista on a PC runing 9.0.1.8 (so some curious naming conventions for updates) and nothing.

Also the Power PC is OS X 10.4.11 Server. The Intel Mac is 10.5.8. The PC is Vista Ultimate.

The only version that works is iTunes 8.2.1.6 on XP Home SP3. It connects and syncs fine.

So, guess what, I think we can safely say iTunes 9 is broken with older iPods! There's no way it works fine with 8, and does not work on iTunes 9 across all that hardware and software.

Fortunately, here's the link to the older versions of the software.

For Mac, you can downgrade as follows. WARNING: Back stuff up. I have not tried this yet but see not reason why it won't work.


1) Quit iTunes.

2) Delete iTunes from your Applications folder.

3) Go to your ~/Music/iTunes folder. Delete or rename the "iTunes Library" file.

4) Open the "Previous iTunes Libraries" folder and look for the backup of your old pre-9 library; it should be dated at about the time you first ran iTunes 9. Copy it back out to the ~/Music/iTunes folder, and rename it to "iTunes Library".

iPod Video Repair 5th Generation. Some notes.

The thing that threw me off on this repair is that this iPod is not recognized by iTunes 9. (Separate post on that HERE.) I replaced the drive with an 8 gig Kingston Elite Pro Compact Flash card. 133x speed. It was on sale for about $20 at Fry's.

Like this one:


They also make a 16GB and 32GB like these.





Note that the price per gigabyte gets cheaper as you go to a larger capacity. The 32gig is only 3 times as expensive as the 8 gig. I got my iPod in a broken state so I didn't want to spend too much to find out it's very broken instead of slightly broken.

Plus, if you get a 32, then you've got an extra 2Gb over your old Video. It's expensive, but now it's shockproof and easily upgradeable. Just plug in a new card.

What you will need is an adapter like the one I got to adapt a Cf card in place of a 1.8" hard drive.

The one I bought is slightly different. PA-CF18Z is what mine is labeled and I've seen them around the internettube. It's probably not important, there isn't much in the way of electronics, it's mainly a physical interface.

I won't bore you with the details of this conversion any more, as you can find that all over. But in summary:

1. Kingston 8 gig Kingston Elite Pro Compact Flash card 133x. $20ish
2. PA-CF18Z CF to ZIF 1.8" adapter. $2.28 shipped from China. (I do not think a Microdrive is a good fit for this adapter, too thick. But who's going to use that?)

And if you get it showing up as a drive but not in iTunes, I'm sure Apple will fix it sooner or later. C'mon, we're on iTunes 9.0.1 and the minor stuff (that works in the OLD VERSION) should be fixed. That's a Microsoft move!

Why did I do the conversion? Simple. The hard drive in it died. Now I can take it jogging without that fear, enjoy longer battery life, and enjoy easy upgrades down the road.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Quick Review: Sun Crystals vs. Ideal sweeteners

Sun Crystals: Bitter. Blech. Do not want. Why did you do this?

Ideal: Yessss. Cool on the tongue, tastes great right out of the packet. Better aftertaste than sugar, if you can believe it. FTW.

"It is as sweet as sugar, but has 40% less calories. While a gram of sugar has 4 calories, a gram of granular xylitol has just 2.4 calories. Chemically speaking, xylitol is a 5-carbon sugar alcohol. Six-carbon sugars like fructose and glucose are absorbed quickly and stimulate insulin. Xylitol is absorbed more slowly, without stimulating insulin or increasing blood sugar. This makes it an ideal sweetener for diabetics, who need to keep blood sugar under control. And good news for teeth: The sugar-alcohol structure cannot be used by cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth. Finnish studies comparing use of xylitol-sweetened vs. sugar-sweetened chewing gum and tooth decay show dramatic reductions in cavities with xylitol gums. Even more interesting, xylitol appears to inhibit growth of bacteria that cause ear infections."

Neither of these is calorie free, they just use such a small serving size that they can say it has no calories. But, xylitol/Ideal = 40% less calories and tastes better than sugar, with the other benefits? Win.

3D Computer Games: Why don't we have this already?

This is from last year. This guy has invented cheap head tracking for the PC using a WiiMote and some infrared LED's.

Basically, what that means is the computer can track your head movement and make it appear as if your monitor is a window into a 3D world by adjusting what it displays based on how you move your head.

Just as if the view out of a window would change for you based on how close you were to it, how you moved your head, etc.

Just watch:



Now imagine combining this with some 3D glasses that made it appear that what you saw through the window were 'real' 3D objects?

Why don't I have this already?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

People of Wal Mart: All your mullet are belong to us







Click to zoom in on this kids legendary mullet. This was in a casino arcade room. A class above Wal Mart. It looks like that kid from 'Home Improvement'.


Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, October 10, 2009

How many progress indicators do you need?



I got this on my iPhone. Count 'em, THREE progress indicators on the
screen at the same time. Sorry for the landscape mode.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

OS X Server 10.4.11: Can no longer login to ftp

http://lists.apple.com/archives/macos-x-server/2006/Jun/msg00308.html has the answer. 

I spent some time chasing this one. I couldn't login anonymously or with a user login. AARG. 

Turns out, you shouldn't leave Server Admin running, as it can corrupt the ftpaccess and ftpaccess~

I'm also wondering if running the 10.4 admin tools on OS X 10.5 caused it. Running Server monitor 1.5f6 on OS X Client 10.5 crashes instantly. Both versions of Server Admin (the one on my server running OS X Server 10.4.11 and my laptop running 10.5.8) are the same though.

After deleting those files a couple times and restarting the ftp service, it works again. I also wiped the log file at /Library/Logs/FTP.transfer.log






Monday, October 05, 2009

How to Return A Netflix DVD if you lost the Mailer

I found someone thought of the same thing I did, and scanned in a pic of the return mailer. What I've done is just printed that out and changed the address to my closest distribution center, which is Houston. That address, which Netflix gave me, is

PO Box 4465
Houston, TX 77210

I also wrote a note to the postmaster assuring them that this was the correct address for the nearest Netflix facility.

This is confirmed to work; Netflix received my disk in the normal time.

I've got an idea: Netflix should make it so that you can go to their website, put in your zip, and it will automatically generate a mailer envelope with the closest center on it.

You print it out, tape it up, and return it that way. I was just on the phone with Netflix and made this suggestion, so where's my cost savings check?

If you call 1-866-716-0414 they will give you the particular address you are looking for.

Of course, if you lost the white sleeve the disc goes in, you'll need to follow the instructions on Netflix's site.


Beginning iPhone Development Books

I programmed a bit in college. Assembly, C, PLCs at least. BASIC in Jr. High and High School. So I'm not a total newbie, I just need to learn syntax, the programming environment, etc.

The books I have are 'Learn Objective-C on the Mac' and 'Beginning iPhone Development: Exploring the iPhone SDK'.

So far, I've done the first couple of projects in each. I'm going to drop the iPhone portion and concentrate on the Objective-C side of the house first.

The Objective-C is not for the absolute C newbie. It explains about 90% of the code, but a few of the items I have to research to find out if it's a variable, some sort of built in C function or command or what. Not insurmountable, just be aware that this is not quite what I would call a beginners book.

If you've programmed before, and definitely in C of some flavor, you should be ok. My experience isn't exhaustive by any stretch, but I've worked with computers a long time and used 3 or 4 different languages in the past, so it's not totally alien territory either.

'Beginning iPhone Development: Exploring the iPhone SDK' assumes you know a bit more, but so far, seems to actually explain the code and what you are doing with the SDK even better.

A word about this book: there are 2 or 3 editions. None cover the new OS 3.0 features. The earlier editions are a few bucks cheaper, but don't bother unless $7-$10 is a make or break for you. If that were true, you wouldn't be working on a Mac would you?

I am using a 1.83Ghz C2D Macbook with 3 gigs of RAM and a 500 gig hard drive for development. My OS is 10.5. This is a perfectly fine environment so far.

Now, all I need is to finish my app idea and get the $99 application fee to put stuff in the iTunes store.

Buy the books here and help me reach my goal!






Fish Place #3 in Sugarland, TX: A Review

This is a nice little hole in the wall type restaurant, with good prices and very good food. We went on a Saturday night and it was fairly busy.

My wife had the all you can eat catfish for $7.99 and I have the seafood platter for $10.99. Mine came with 2 sides. I think that it came with: 3 pieces catfish, 3 chicken breast strips, 2 shrimp, crab ball, boudin ball, stuffed fried jalapeno. I chose (IIRC) the onion rings and jambalaya rice as sides out of a fairly large selection. My wife had the red beans and rice as one of her choices. The kids had chicken and popcorn shrimp dinners. The popcorn shrimp were about an inch across, and I would not have classed them as popcorn shrimp, just small shrimp.

Overall, it was fresh and hot. I think it hit my table within a 1-2 minutes of being cooked. It was still too hot to eat, so that's soon enough.

Individual reviews:

1. Catfish: piping hot, great thin crispy batter. One piece was a bit thick for my tastes. Flavor was excellent. Not a 'muddy' bit in the byte. (Har.) Even the thick piece. Has to be farm raised grain fed.
2. Chicken: a different thin crispy batter. Very nice.
3. Shrimp: butterfly fillet, pretty standard. Good.
4. Onion Rings: gotta be Vidalia onions. Sweet. Egg type batter.
5. Boudin ball. I don't like boudin balls, so I won't comment. Very thin batter.
6. Crab ball. Excellent. Sweet. Could be some fake crab in there, but I also found a bit of shell. Fine with me if they mix it as it was much better than many if not most of the crab balls/stuffed crab I've had.
7. Remoulade Sauce: Excellent. (Came with dinner.)

I had a piece of chicken, the boudin ball, some rice, onion rings, and one piece of catfish left over. Good value for the money. Pretty much another small meal in leftovers.

Wonder where the other two are, if this is #3?


View Larger Map

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Rube Goldberg: Free time? What Free Time?

Someone HAD to get paid for this. Nevertheless, I salute you.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dr. Horrible's (I will not) Sing Along Blog


Paging Dr. Bullock. I sense that he's actually serious this time. I wonder if my son will specialize or work in family medicine?

If the way he treats his sister sometimes is any indication, it will be a secretive practice in which he extracts information from foreign spies via 'unconventional' techniques.

Note to his doctor: One man's medical supplies is another man's comedy props. Keep out of reach of 'children'. (I have two, my wife has three.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

That's a real TV show?

Perhaps we'll make this a new segment. This sounds more like a Lonely Island or SNL TV skit: Courtney Cox is in a new ABC series called 'Cougar Town'.

Really?

I think I like the idea better AS a Saturday Night Live thing.

Here are some TV shows. Some are made up, some are real. You choose!

1. Prison Fake (Get it? Like 'Prison Break'): Real people are agree to do a reality show but are made victims of a fake crime/trial and sent to a fake prison. The inmates are all actors. Jailarity ensues!
2. Dance Your A$% Off: A contest exploiting overweight people.
3. More to Love: 'The Bachelor' but the guy is overweight. (Seeing a trend here?)
4. That's not Fake: a TV show debunking fake web video
5: Speed Builders: 2 amateur couples compete each week to remodel, construct, etc. a house or room to specifications. The winner gets a home and/or room makeover.
6: My Monkey Baby: Couples Treat Adopted Monkeys as Children‎.

Answers to be given in the forums. (Heck the ones I made up might be real. Some of them sound pretty good!) What sad, is I will tell you at least half of them are real.

What I found on my Bike Ride


Bagel? Fungus? Bagelfungus? A viral ad for the Fungus Bagel association? I assure you, the product placement was not done by me. The stories that bagel could tell...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

TiVo Series 3 HD Hard drive upgrade report

This is a report from a 'friend' who had a TiVo Series 3 HD with a failing drive.

Fortunately with WinMFS, this is a super easy replacement. Keep your old drive for any future exchanges with TiVo. Copying all your data to the new drive takes less than 2 hours.

It appears WD made these to last about three years, as mine had a 22 Sep 2006 manufacture date.

I bet TiVo gets suspicious if your unit hasn't failed after three years. :P

At any rate, he replaced it with a Hitachi 1 terabyte drive. This gives 1244 hrs of standard def and 140hrs of HD.

It's also faster but not as quiet. I don't think you'll hear it over the TV but it might be a factor for audiophiles.

There is probably a way to turn acoustic mode on as with many drives.

Overall ranking: Easy. If you've done this for a computer, you can do it on a TiVo.

Thunderstorm

This would be the mature stage. Dissipating as it were. We grow them big in Texas.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Nvidia 610i Ethernet controller and 100% CPU usage

3/11/2010: I never had any more issues after not using the Nvidia tool to overclock the GPU. The issue was that when returned to normal clock speeds, somehow the CPU usage and audio problems were still there. If you have these problems, stop using the tool or just reboot to reset everything.

Aarg. 10/20/2009. I REALLY think this is fixed. I think it was the Nvidia performance tool that you can get from Nvidia to allow overclocking your GPU. Why it affected networking and/or sound, I don't know. I was only changing the GPU and video card RAM settings. Perhaps that was corrupting either something in software or in hardware in the board. I just transferred a test file at 20Mbps over my internet connection with no pops in audio. Comcast if you're wondering. My PC has been on for days, so it's not something that creeps in apparently.

(I'm marking this fixed! Read on for the troubleshooting log.)

Barring this issue which appeared to be driver related anyway, I still think this is a good cheap solid board. I have the AMD version of this board running XP home and it's nearly 100% rock solid. I've had a bit of goofiness the past few days but I think that was due to just a game app and the fact I hadn't cleaned it out (dust=heat) in a while. So I did that. No lockups, just a weird issue once or twice.



I have the BE-2300 and a 9600GSO in the AMD based board. A very cheap World of Warcraft setup. The 9600GSO cost me less than $40 after rebate.

Update 10/8/2009: I guess it wasn't fixed, but I got the IDT Audio drivers from ECS here.

I downloaded those because my mic didn't work. Those are pretty nice drivers and seemed to have solved my high cpu usage. I think there was some sort of conflict going on here, even though Device Manager says there wasn't. Formerly, I just had the stock Vista (32 bit Ultimate) drivers.

I think I'm getting slightly higher framerates in WoW with the sound hardware acceleration.

Update 9/18/2009: Updated again. Ok I think I Really REALLY finally fixed this. I simply downloaded and installed the latest drivers for the 610i/Geforce 7050 chipset drivers from Nvidia. Then I downloaded the latest video drivers. Now I can play an HQ youtube video in one window and a normal quality in another window without overloading the CPU. No audio popping either.

This is a Celeron 430 single core CPU overclocked from 1.8Ghz to 2.4Ghz. Fairly low end. But it runs Vista Ultimate pretty well with a Geforce 7200GS in the PCI-E slot.

With the two videos playing, and the GPU overclocked at 525 core / 710 RAM frequencies, I show maybe 80% cpu usage, usually 65% or so.

Overclocking the 7200GS is easy with Nvidia's utility; with no fan on it runs hot but stable.

This is a decent World of Warcraft rig. I have 4 gigs or RAM in it. Obviously I skimped on the rest.

Update 9/2/09: I found a junk location in the indexing options that appeared to be related to a program I installed. I removed it from being 'indexed' and it appears to have fixed the problem. (It was something like \\~/2_ò). In other words, Vista was trying to index a non-existent gibberish network share. Strange. Yes, I have anti-virus software installed.

The clue is that explorer.exe will use a lot of CPU while it is indexing your files for the search feature. I think the network traffic that also caused the cpu spikes may have been caused by the indexer looking for the non-existent share on the network. That's my theory for now.


Old Things I tried that did not work completely.
------------------------------------
Update: Not solved. Partially improved by lowering the top of memory under 4Gig to 3Gig in the BIOS. Before it was 3.25 and my video card is turbocaching 1.3 megs. I'm not sure if that is a problem or not, as it's shared memory and I've got to research how that's addressed. Stupid 32 bit addressing limit!


Older:
-----
I've preliminarily solved this. I have this chipset on an ECS 7050VT-M motherboard with Vista Service Pack 2 (SP2) .

It's a Celeron 430 overclocked to 2.4ghz, an Nvidia 7200GS sometimes overclocked, sometimes not. Corsair memory.

To sum, SP2 didn't help, tweaking various settings didn't help, etc.

In the end I just replaced it with an old Realtek 8139 chipset PCI card I had lying around. Now I have a very low 20something % CPU usage while streaming high quality Internet radio, and at worst a spike to 75% CPU while using speedtest.net to check overhead.

A worst case of about 80% CPU usage for HQ youtube streaming video in fullscreen AND the internet radio.

It does a pretty good job with Netflix streaming too. A little jerky, but it's not a CPU issue.

Good luck!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tee Hee

We have a neighborhood website people place want ads on. I saw someone wishing for a specific color of brick that they wondered if anyone was giving away. I thought that was a bit much to hope for but then hey, you never know.

So for kicks, I posted this:


Wanted: Spare Change

Since people post on here wishing for stuff, if you have any spare change I will come by and get it. If you're like me, you've got a big container of it just sitting there. I do not charge for large loads.

Hopefully I'll get some funny responses if it makes it past the 'censor'. Shades o' craigslist!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

QOTD

My son had asked how you get on TV. (Oh brother, if ever a child was a character...)

My daughter said something like "Oh yeah, right like you're going to be on television!"

His response: "I have dreams too, ya know!"

He is 8 and a half almost, so we gotta get going on that career.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Poor Planning

Out of all the places to put a paper towel dispenser, 3 inches above a
sink isn't smart placement. Maybe right above the toilet bowl would be
the worst.

Friday, August 21, 2009

TSIOTD

I got this while attempting to download a show via the webserver built in to my Tivo.

Unable to initialize videomgr pipeline: err 0x21004

Also, TiVo transfer failed on my Mac. Just stopped.

The problem was that I had left the TiVo paused on that show while it was playing. Voila. Just exit the viewing and transfer your show.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Space Center Houston on the cheap

1. $5 off admission coupon from McDonald's
2. Picnic lunch

The picnic works for any long park type visit. Same for Six Flags etc.
You can almost save enough for another admission.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Macbook Hard Drive Upgrade:

Western Digital Scorpio Blue model WD5000BEVT 500 gig vs the Toshiba MK6034GSX in my Macbook Core 2 Duo 1.83 ghz, GMA 950 graphics.

On paper, these drives look similar. 5400 RPM, 8 Gig cache, 12ms seek times. So, you think they'd perform pretty much the same eh? Well, what you and I forget dear reader is the data density.

WD 500: I'm your density!


The WD has 2 platters, the Toshiba has one. Still, that's 250gigs per platter vs 60, so over 4 times the data density. How does that translate to performance? We got the benchmarks.

Sustained read: Peaked at 73 megs / sec. That's an Intel Mac Pro by comparison. That's right, according to Drive Genius 2.2, it's for the most part exceeding a Mac Pro desktop. (!)



Random Write. 106MB/sec peak. Granted, this is probably into the cache but once again, we're beating a Mac Pro overall.


Sustained Write


Random Read. This is the only test where the laptoppiness of the drive shows, and this is an older Mac Pro model, but still.


In short, for around $80 street price, it's a worthwhile upgrade. I got mine for $72ish shipped from Dell.

Toshiba benchmarks below, if you're curious. Keep in mind the graph scale of these is different, so look at the magnitude of the data, not the relative bar length. Note it lags far behind the same Mac Pro.


Conclusion: Mainly, I did this upgrade for lack of storage space. What I got was a nice boost in speed. I have 3 gigs of RAM also, which makes a big difference. Remember folks, as it's proved over and over again, RAM and throughput make the system. I personally skimp a little on processor and graphics, and spend on the RAM and video card. With enough RAM, even a slower disk won't hurt as bad. But when you can get a much faster drive for cheap, go for it.
 
Google Find us on Google+ Website: www.circlephone.com