31 October, 2008

Bought a GE reverse osmosis water filtration system

On my way home from work I went to Home Depot, as part of my "journey of due diligence," prior to planning on going to Menard's to pick up the aforementioned (prior post) water filter system.  I ended up buying a GE model, $8 more than the other one I looked at, because I liked the faucet better (the handle can be made to stay on, versus having to hold it in the on position) and the tank is two gallons larger (10, versus 8).

My friend J.R. recommends this one:  http://www.wattspremier.com/watts/showdetl.cfm?&DID=15&User_ID=1674513&st=3089&st2=88742876&st3=-45564152&Product_ID=25&CATID=1

Next up: Installing it this weekend.

I also bought a single-stage filter for the refrigerator's ice machine, for $32.  I bought GE since it was right there and had a easy-on/easy-off filter, which seems like I might be able to place it in a location where I won't have to roll the fridge in and out to change it every six months.  Dunno.

29 October, 2008

Clean Water at Home - Soon....

Somewhat bothered by the amount of Radium, in my community's water supply, and generally digging the whole "clean" water thang -- buying the cheapie bottled water cases whenever they're on sale -- I started looking around at under-the-sink units.  After much reading I found a reverse osmosis unit (RO2000 Series B), made by Omnifilter (http://www.omnifilter.com/).  On sale for $157.98 locally at Menard's (home supply store), it looks relatively easy to install, per the manual (http://www.omnifilter.com/Owners%20Manuals/ROSystemManual2006.pdf) I downloaded from the site.  It has a separate faucet that I'll need to install, next to our standard faucet.  I'm actually looking forward to doing it.

I'll let you know how it turns out.

SyncBack - Free Synchronization Tool

For quite a while I have been using GoodSync (made by the fine folks at RoboForm) to sync my RoboForm files between my USB flash drive and my primary desktop PC at home.  I would then manually copy files between my flash and my home laptop.  Tired of that, and understanding that I could easily make a mistake, I decided to look for a free sync tool that functioned like GoodSync but wasn't as pricey.

I found SyncBack (http://www.2brightsparks.com/).  It works basically the same, allowing one to exempt files and folders that one doesn't wish to sync; in my case, I exclude *.rfo files (which means any files that end in .rfo), due to them being RoboForm license files that must stay on the PC to which they belong.  To ensure SyncBack's file exclusion filter actually works, I first copied both folders -- one from the flash and the other from my PC -- to two temporary folders, then synced them up.  Sure enough, the *.rfo files did not move...did not over-write each other in the other folders, and all was well.  I then repointed SyncBack, to the real folders, synched them, and I was happy.

Give it a shot if you need to sync files between two folders.  It works great between a local PC and a network folder too.

23 October, 2008

The Fermi Paradox

When reading SF over the past couple of decades, The Fermi Paradox has often been referenced.  For a brief overview, check out its related Wiki article.

This is philosophy I like, meaning, like with laser beams and sh_t.


Financial Turmoil in Years Past

With the current economic situation what it is, more and more of us are getting a better idea of not only how our own money works, but also how money markets and governments work with respect to money.

Now that we are equipped with such knowledge, tales of yesteryear are just plain more interesting.

The Panic of 1907 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panic_of_1907

At the bottom of the page linked above, see 'Banking panics in the United States: 1797  · 1819  · 1825  · 1837  · 1847  · 1857  · 1866  · 1873  · 1884  · 1890  · 1893  · 1896  · 1907  · 1910-1911  · 1929-1939  · 2008'

Also see 'Stock market crashes:

1819 panic1869 black FridayGrunderkrachParis 18821884 panic1893 panic1896 panic1901 panic1907 panic1929 Wall Street crash1973–1974 stock market crash1982 Souk Al-Manakh stock market crash1987 Black Monday1989 Friday the 13th mini-crash1997 Asian financial crisis1997 mini-crash1998 Russian financial crisisDot-com bubble crash of 20002002 stock market downturn2007 Chinese correctionGlobal financial crisis of September–October 2008'

Other Links:


18 October, 2008

Favorite Thunderbird Emailer Add-Ons

...in alphabetical order:
  • Duplicate Contact Manager - Shows side-by-side duplicates and allows one to save whichever of them one likes, with an opportunity to edit information first, including copying and pasted from the soon-to-be-deleted item to the item-to-be-saved.  Sure, you could do it yourself, but this is easier.  Kind of slow search, though, so do other things and come back to it, as it works, and you'll be fine.
  • EagleEye (beta as of this writing) -- A neat way to keep an eye on your contact list.  Allows you to set filters to keep track of folks you have not contacted in a while, or ever, along with enormous other filtering opportunities.  Check it out and have fun with it.
  • Enigmail - Free OpenPGP encryption for your Thunderbird.
  • Lightning - A Calendar in your Thunderbird
  • Provider for Google Calendar -- Integrate your Google Calendar with your Thunderbird Lightning calendar (see above).
  • Quote Colors - Add colored quote text to your emails.  This adds functionality similar to Outlook's own.
  • Zindus - Synch contacts with Google and Zimbra.

Have some of your own?  Post a comment to this blog entry.

04 October, 2008

U3 Applications on USB Flash Drives - Indispensable Tool


Since December, 2007, I've been addicted to using the U3 concept from my secure, encrypted, USB flash drive.  I have found it an indispensable addition to my technology arsenal.

The idea is simple (yet brilliant).  A U3 capable flash drive differs from an ordinary flash drive in that it contains two volumes (drives), one of which being a read-only ISO 9660 volume, emulating a CD-ROM drive, and the other being a standard FAT volume.  The ISO volume contains the 'U3 LaunchPad', which, if Autorun is enabled on the PC, will launch and allow the user to launch applications (from a hidden folder on the FAT volume), and will also allow the user to encrypt (password protect) all the data on the drive.

Several companies produce U3 compatible versions of their software, and other folks modify applications to run from U3 compatible drives.  SanDisk created it but now licenses it to other vendors.

U3 is currently only compatible with Windows-based PC's (Macs and LINUX-based PC's cannot utilize them).

A real world example

I have both Firefox (web browser) and Thunderbird (email client) installed on my U3 drive.  When I insert my U3 flash drive into any Windows-based PC, the U3 LaunchPad starts (if it doesn't, due to local Windows settings, I simply navigate to the 'CD' partition and launch it manually).  I can then launch Firefox, Thunderbird, or any of my other U3 applications, from the LaunchPad, and use them.  Any settings changes I make, such as adding new bookmarks, or adding new email accounts, downloading email messages, deleting email messages, etc., all get saved to the flash drive, and not to the local PC.  Thus, when I move to another PC, all those changes come along for the ride.

Very slick.

Encrypted Files and Synchronization

Although many flash drives offer file encryption, both at the 'entire drive' or 'individual file' levels, it is worthwhile to note that, on a U3 drive, the security is all handled via the 'U3 LaunchPad' application.  Thus, with just one password, one can quickly enable access to both the U3 applications and the file system.

Again, a real example of this could be as follows:

  1. Insert U3 drive and enter the password when prompted.
  2. Use Firefox and add a new bookmark.
  3. Run a third-party sync tool to sync my U3 Firefox bookmarks with my local Firefox bookmarks.
  4. All done.
I use the above philosophy to synchronize my RoboForm files (search for 'roboform' at this blog's search window for more information).  This allows me to ensure that any password file changes, that I make in RoboForm, are reflected on both my U3 drive and my local PC.

My SanDisk Cruzer drive's 'U3 LaunchPad' came equipped with a native email SYNCING client (at least on SanDisk drives) called 'CruzerSync' (which updated itself in Sep, 2008).  It allows one to synchronize email content, from a PC-based email application, with its own on-board (USB) email application, and it also allows one to define which files, on a local PC, should auto-sync (or manually sync) between PC and flash.  However, although CruzerSync recently upgraded, I have not returned to it, instead preferring my methods described elsewhere in this section.  I find that utilizing an on board version of Thunderbird to be more consistent with my standard user experience than switching between applications.  Also, CruzerSync's 'DMailer' application is only compatible with Outlook and Outlook Express, which means it will not sync my PC-based Thunderbird email.

Related Links

For more information, see the following sites:

Official U3 Site at SanDisk:  http://u3.sandisk.com/home_en.asp

Wikipedia Entry:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U3