08 December, 2004

If you've got to be sick, be Dayquil sick

I've got a sore throat that feels like someone rammed a steel pipe down it. And no, I'm not into that. My tonsils look like those pictures of beached whales that have been picked at by the gulls for about three weeks.

Dayquil -- or at least the Walgreen's equivalent -- Daytime, has been my savior. Taking it, the symptoms go away. So do I. I float above my body, seeing myself go through the motions, yet simultaneously detached from all emotional impact. [Also known as "The Jason State"]. I assume it's like what must happen when one gets a large HD TV and cannot turn it off. Staring at my life in full HD color, without properly adjusted sound. Must have an under-powered speaker arrangement. Gotta have more quil.

04 December, 2004

Proper Coffee Making

  • Grind, don't buy ground.
  • Make sure the filters are tall enough. Short, mutant filters over-flow (as well I know).
  • 1 Tbls of beans per cup o'joe desired = the happiest brew.
  • Make the coffee, then clean up the grinder and put away the beans, and wipe up the spilled water. Don't clean up ahead of time, or you'll have no reward mud to consume!
  • Whoever said it is necessary to freeze the beans was wrong. Seal them up, in a cannister or whatever, but don't freeze them. Anyone who needs to store their beans like Walt's head (yeah, I know that's a myth, but I like the imagry) doesn't drink enough java. It shouldn't be around long enough to see established space colonies.
  • Drink it, then drink some more.

Upgraded the home wireless LAN

I upgraded the home LAN. My wife was having problems maintaining her wireless connection, so I thought I'd be cool and bring the router up, from under the basement stairs, and put it atop the entertainment center (putting a new switch in it's place, at the nexus of the home wiring). Turned out it wasn't so cool, and she had the same problems. Every four minutes or so it would lose its connection, and she would have to right-click and 'repair' to get back on.

So, I downloaded the latest flash firmware for the router. I downloaded the latest driver for the wireless NIC. I downloaded the updated encryption protocol for the NIC. I installed it all.

Oddly enough, it all works. Super G, blah blah blah. I'm out of the dog house.

03 December, 2004

Knowledgebase Item - Baby is driving you nuts with incessant crying

Baby is driving you nuts with incessant crying


Never shake a baby.


Contrary to popular idiotic belief, babies do not cry to make you mad. They do it only for the following reasons:


  • Hunger (Feed them)
  • Tired (Put them to bed)
  • Dirty Diaper (Change them)
  • Pain, such as teeting, ear infection, etc. (Help them! Call the doctor)
  • Needs comforting from its care-giver (Comfort them)
  • Other physical irritation, such as Nuk under the back, wrinkled sheet, they're too cold, they're too warm, missing comfort item (Fix it)


  • Fighting with your significant other (Stop it and remember who comes first; hint: it ain't you or your spouse)
  • Thinks care-giver will not fulfill their responsibilities (Comfort them) .
  • Care-giver is yelling at them (Who's the adult here, anyway? Buck up and remain calm.)

02 December, 2004

Kids' Bed-Time

Put your kids to bed at a reasonable time. They need more sleep than you do, and they need to perform, in school or pre-school, better than you probably do at work. Letting them stay up late, while it might help you the next day, hinders them; they need a consistent schedule.

My guess is, you might want to keep them up at night, so they sleep late the next day. Wrong answer. It is your responsibility to give them a consistent, health-giving environment. So, you've got to buck up. You then have a choice: a) you get less "along time" after they go to bed, or b) you have to drink more coffee when they drag your lazy selfish asses out of bed earlier than you want to get up on a Saturday or Sunday morning. Deal with it. Buy a coffee pot with a timer.

The patterns you set for these kids will be with them for a long time.

01 December, 2004

Ability to create PDF files - For Free

Have you ever needed to produce PDF files, of your documents, but you didn't want to shell out the $200+ bucks for Adobe Acrobat? I have, and I found just the beastie for it. At http://www.pdf995.com/, you can download free applications that let you:

- "print" to PDF files (looks like a printer to Windows, but it produces a PDF file)
- combine PDF files together
- convert various files from one type to another
- secure PDF's through encryption

The catch? You have to look at an advertisement if you do not pay the $9.99 for the license. Big whoop.

I am going to send these folks their $10, but until I do, I still have PDF creation ability.

Disclaimer: I am not in any way associated with the pdf995 people; I just found it to be a useful tool and thought I would share.

30 November, 2004

Microsoft Outlook - Free Indexer - Lookout

We all know how crappy Outlook's search engine is; it sucks. It does not index.

For a while now I have been using the Google Desktop Search (beta) to give me indexing across Outlook email, Office documents, and WEB (internet and extranet) pages. However, I was curious is there were something inexpensive or free that might help me with just Outlook, with a lower overhead than the Google Desktop. Google Desktop does not index Exchange Public files, or Outlook Journal, Notes, or Calendar items, and I wanted that. So I went to CNet . . .

. . . and found that they have a series of Outlook articles running this week, and one of the articles (http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-10168_7-5511118-1.html?tag=nav) is on this very subject. CNet recommends the totally free Lookout 1.2 (http://www.download.com/Lookout/3000-2368-10309185.html?tag=txt). Note that it needs the 1.1 dot net framework installed on the PC.

My latest incarnation of my OS did not have 1.1 dot net, so I allowed Lookout to install it. Just prior to dot net's installation completing, Lookout stated it was complete. The dot net installation then wanted to restart my PC. I let it do so. Upon restart, I went into Outlook, and Lookout's toolbar was not present. I re-ran the installation, via double-clicking the installer EXE, and chose the repair option. I was then instructed that Lookout would be there when I next launched Outlook. I launched Outlook, and soon the Lookout indexer configuration module appeared. The thing then went on its merry way indexing my email.

For fun, I gave the tool a few minutes to index and then went in and tried a search. It nicely told me that it was not yet done building the index, and asked, "...but would you like to observe its progress?", to which I replied in the affirmative, and got a fun window showing me all the folders thus far indexed, and how many messages in each, etc.

Bottom Line: If you are looking for an Outlook indexer with low overheard, I heartily recommend Lookout 1.2. Note that Microsoft just bought these folks, so we can guess that the product, as is, will either go away, or no longer be free, or otherwise get absorbed into a future version of Outlook. So download it while you can.

For CNet's official review (which I read after typing the above), go to http://reviews.cnet.com/Lookout_1_2/4505-3684_7-31077413-2.html?tag=glance.

24 November, 2004

Some Favorite DVD's

TV Series

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Seasons 1 - 7)

Angel (Seasons 1 - 4 {and 5 coming out soon, I hear)

Highlander (I'm up through season 5, with 6 on watch at CD Max)

Smallville (I've only got 1 & 2, but 3 is out, I think, and it is currently on-air in season 4)


Iron Monkey - Made in 1993 (and released here with a Quentin Tarantino introduction in 2002), this story is of Wong Fei-Hung (a real historical figure, though his eploits are exaggerated and downright just made up in many films), a boy who grows up to be a hero. This story is more about his father, and a local hero vigilante (the Iron Monkey), and their defeat of the local corrupt government officials. The character of Wong Fei-Hung is also played by Jet Li (in the 'Once Upon a Time in China' series), Jackie Chan (the two 'Drunken Master' films). The action is directed by Yuen Wo Ping, of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the Matrix films. Donnie Yen also does a great job, as usual.

The Matrix trilogy, plus The Animatrix

Lord of the Rings trilogy (I only saw them in the theatre; I've never taken the 1,000 hours to actually watch the DVD's, but I own them, just in case I ever do. I did spin them up to make sure they work, and the sound is great).

The Evil Dead trilogy (see related article regarding the remake at http://filmforce.ign.com/articles/568/568241p1.html). It kicks Ashe. Note there are several version of each film, available on DVD. I don't own, but need to buy, the rubber Necronomicon human flesh bound edition of II.(picture to be seen at http://www.toldyouso.net/search/details.cfm/hurl/tblDVDReview.RMovieName=Evil%20Dead,%20The,%20Book%20Of%20The%20Dead%20(IV)/details.cfm)

The Butterfly Effect. Yeah, Ashton Kutcher really can act.

C.H.U.D. Okay, it's not really a "favorite", but I would not part with it, for sentimental reasons.

PIXAR films: Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story II, Finding Nemo, etc.

ANTZ - Woody Allen, the nebbish insect.

Kill Bill Volumes I & II. Uma? Oprah? UMA.

Wish Master I & II, and III - The first two movies on one DVD (flip it over). Fantastic trash.

Drunken Master and The Legend of Drunken Master (#2 in the series) - Jackie Chan

Several trashy Jackie Chan 1970's poorly mastered flicks to DVD, from various cheapo bins. Good stuff.

Spider-Man (2001) - of course. Note: Spidey 2 will be released this month, but wait for the Limited Edition, due out in January, containing 8 more minutes of effects, shot for the DVD, at a cost of 14 million more bucks or something like that. Includes a new water battle.


Walking with Dinosaurs - The PBS Series

One of my kids' first soccer game, my other kid's 4th birthday party - My first DV video to DVD transfer, complete with a soundtrack including Pink and Nine Days.

Ben Bova's "Planets" novels -- "Venus", "Saturn", etc.

Stephen Baxter - Pretty much read all of his stuff, but there are a couple left to go. If you have to start with one of them, pick 'Timelike Infinity" or one of the "Manifold" books, like "Manifold Time". Bugger those. Instead, read "Ring" first. Why have dark-matter based giant space birds been smashing galaxies together for billions of years?

Oh, wait. Try "The Light of Other Days" - Imagine a WEBcam that could not only open a tiny (undetectable) wormhole to anywhere, it could open one up in any time. Privacy? Schmivacy.

Robert Jordan - The Wheel of Time series - What, me read fantasy? What up, Dawg? Careful, there are 10 books in the can and perhaps the 11'th being published as I type this. I've read four, but I bought 10 of them at Half Price Books.

Greg Bear - EON

21 January, 2004

Added ReplayTV (DVR) to Entertainment Center

Sure, we moved into our new house. Yeah, it's cool. But let's talk TOYS.

For about four months I compared TiVo and ReplayTV digital video recorders (DVR's), wanting to know which was considered "better", by those in the know. As expected, each unit has its religious followers, each proclaiming the superiority if their own units. There are other brands of DVR's, but these two are broadly considered to be the best.

I chose the ReplayTV, model 5040, because it has features not available on TiVo, such as:

General Features of ReplayTV
- Can pause live TV up to the capacity of the hard drive (TiVo only pauses for a 1/2 hour). Want to go potty during the news? Go ahead and pause it, and continue when you get back. With commercial skip (see below), you'll probably catch up to "live" TV in the course of the broadcast. If you don't, so what.

- Has commercial skip during playback. This is fantastic! It jumps right over the commercials, like watching a DVD go from scene to scene. [This feature disabled in the newer models, due to lawsuits. However, the new models still have '30 second skip-ahead', which allows one to effectively skip commercials with just a click or three on the remote.

- Ability to define one's own 'Channels'. For example, I created a channel called 'Peter Sellers', and I set it up to record anything with 'Peter Sellers' in it as an actor, director, in the title, or in the description. I also have a channel called 'Don Henley'. If Don is on Austin City Limits, or Letterman, or the Today Show...whatever, I'll get the recording. Further, I can define how many hours (in half-hour increments) of 'Don Henley' I want to keep, before the newer stuff scrolls the old stuff off the system, and at what quality (standard, medium, or high) they will record. I am planning a 'Gregory Peck' channel in the near future. These channels take only moments to configure; but the shows still take real-time to watch, so I don't want to go overboard.

- Pre-defined Channels - I can browse numerous categories, from Action Movies to sitcoms, from horror flicks -- classic, modern, cult, crap (so bad it's good) -- to SciFi, and many, many more.

- Instant Replay - I haven't read how many seconds back it goes, but I suppose it's five or seven or so. Works with both live and recorded shows.

- Organize recorded shows -- When I record a show, I set it up to file into a specific category. Pre-defined categories are 'TV Shows', 'News', 'Kids', 'Movies', 'Sports', 'Family', etc. Categories I defined are 'Kristie', 'Sci-Fi', 'Danly' (items only Dan would watch), 'Talk' (Letterman, Conan, Ellen, I put here), and 'Media' (Entertainment Tonight, Inside the Actor's Studio).

- Photo Gallery -- Free software, downloaded from http://www.replaytv.com/, allowed me to copy pictures, from my PC, to the ReplayTV (via my network). We can now play slide-shows of our digital pictures on our TV, organized by folder.

- Export to Video Tape -- Were I to connect my VCR to it, I could export a recorded show, to tape. And of course, it would be commercial free.

- Export to DVD or SVCD -- I could do this, using freeware I downloaded from geeky sites. I have no interest in doing this, though, but I could.

Internet Features of ReplayTV
- Has Internet Show Transfer. This also is cool! For example, when we moved, the last thing on my mind were our two favorite shows, 'Angel' and 'Smallville'. Jan. 14 was the return of new episodes, of each, after the Christmas break. Tonight are two more new episodes. When I learned I missed the two episodes, I requested, in the Yahoo! group 'ReplayTVSharing', that someone send me each of the shows. I got immediate responses for each. Last week's 'Angel' came down last night, and last week's 'Smallville' is coming down right now. Kristie and I are not going to watch either of them at this moment, but we could, even though this week's NEW shows are recording as I type this.

Features of DVR's in General
- Record a show while simultaneously watching another recorded show.
- Download channel guide information from the internet via broadband, or via modem to a special phone number.

Basically, there is now SOMETHING good on all the time, and with the settings for scrolling stuff off, I don't worry about running out of hard drive space. If I ever need a bigger drive, I'll just buy one off the shelf and install it using guides I've found out on the net.

Life in TV Land is good. I did not connect my old 1983 VCR, when we moved here, and I do not anticipate that I will. I'm sure I've forgotten something, but that's it for now.