28 November, 2010

PS3 Media Server - A Fantastic Free App to Serve your Media Files to your PS3

I was looking for a means by which to share my network PC's media files with my PC, and I found PS3 Media Server, a great little free app for multiple operating systems.  It will serve video, photos, and audio (even serve your iTunes library).

Note to Avoid a Rookie Mistake:

You will see the media server, via your PS3's XMB (Cross Media Bar) menu, in the Videos, Photos, and Audio sections.  MAKE SURE YOU ARE IN THE PROPER MENU WHEN YOU GO BROWSING THROUGH THE FOLDERS.  If not, you will see a "There are no titles" message, and you'll likely think that the server is malfunctioning, when in actuality, you are probably in the Photos section, of your PS3, looking for movie files.  Reason I know this?  I wasted 10 minutes repeatedly restarting my media server software before I figured it out.

As is usual for media servers, make sure your PC is basically doing nothing other than serving up media while you are running the server software.  Most often, this means:

; Restrict your PC from kicking off a virus scan or automatic download during the streaming, as it will likely impact your streaming performance.

; Close all open apps other than the media server.

; Make sure your automatic processes, that you have running in your system tray, are closed, such as any RSS feed downloaders, weather apps, etc.

; Exempt your shared media folders from being virus-scanned, as that often slows down the streaming.

Download the PS3 Media Server version, for your OS (Windows, LINUX, Mac) here: http://ps3mediaserver.blogspot.com/

Support:  Read the support forums here: http://ps3mediaserver.org/forum/index.php

25 November, 2010

Search Black Friday Ads

See the ads here and don't forget to search for specific items in the upper right search field:


Quick link to the online deals happening now:


16 November, 2010

Emailing Text Messages to Cell Phones - The Email Domains

If one is sitting at one's computer, it is often convenient to send a text message, from that device, versus tapping it into your phone. Simply add such email addresses, as additional email addresses for your contacts, and let the messaging begin!

To send a text message to any phone, use the phone_number@email_domain syntax, where phone_number is the 10-digit phone number. Below are the major carriers' addresses.

AT&T MMS: phonenumber@MMS.att.net
AT&T: phonenumber@txt.att.net
Alltel: phonenumber@message.alltel.com
Cingular: phonenumber@cingularme.com
Metro PCS: phonenumber@MyMetroPcs.com
Nextel: phonenumber@messaging.nextel.com
Powertel: phonenumber@ptel.net
Sprint: phonenumber@messaging.sprintpcs.com
SunCom: phonenumber@tms.suncom.com
T-Mobile: phonenumber@tmomail.net
US Cellular: phonenumber@email.uscc.net
Verizon: phonenumber@vtext.com
Virgin Mobile: phonenumber@vmobl.com

As noted at http://www.cheapcellphones.com/onlinemessaging.htm, you can also send text messages via AOL Instant Messenger (AIM):

Send Text Messages for Free via Instant Messenger:
You can send text messages to many cell phones via AOL Instant Messenger.
To send a text message via AIM, simply message the telephone number. Include a plus sign and the country code. For example, to text message your friend at (303)555-1212, send an IM to +13035551212.

Many more codes can be found here: http://www.cheapcellphones.com/onlinemessaging.htm

14 November, 2010

Advice to my niece on a successful marriage in celebration of her engagement

Very cool, Melissa! Congratulations to him, and best wishes to you! As you
proceed down this path, remember the Dan Reams rules for successful marriage:

1) Always close the bathroom door. The excitement never ends.

2) He shall not be held responsible for anything you tell him during sporting
events or PS3 games. He may produce audible indicators that he is acknowledging
what you say, but believe me, they are simply autonomic survival responses and
have not been produced by his conscious mind.

3) Agree that you each can have a night out, away from each other, once a week.
You may not elect to take it. In fact, you may go weeks or months without doing
so, but you need to agree that it is fine, and you need to take it, now and
then, to remind the other it is ok. You will thus remember yourselves, as being
separate entities, and bring more to the relationship when you are together.

4) You shall not be held responsible for multiple pairs of unopened shoes or
clothes in your trunk; these shall not cause him heart attacks, and he must be
made aware that you purchased them to "think about them" or "see them in the
light of day" and that you intend to return "95-98% of them". He shall dismiss
the logic that you could have made such decisions in the store and saved
yourself the return trip. Further, when you do return them, and bring home OTHER
items, he shall try not to think about "net spending" when you say "This new
thing cost me nothing, because I used the exchange to pay for it."

5) Babies are like puppies. No, not with regard to how they are maintained, but
rather, how they act as chick magnets for dads out with them while their wives
are out having their "me" nights. This will often be his only chance to flirt
with other women and maintain his self identity as an attractive mate. Allow him
this indulgence and your babies will become brilliant social animals, able to be
around other "mommies" or "mommy-like" people with ease. This will prepare them
for playgroups in their toddler years.

6) Babies are generally useless beings. Yes, they're cute, but they serve no
function that a warm water bottle or {again with the } puppy could not better
and more efficiently provide. However, they are incubators for the personaes and
intellects that shall become CHILDREN, entities far more interesting. So,
grudgingly, as you care for them, make sure to follow my 2004 rules
love the heck out of them, and put up with all the nonsense through the process
of them developing cognizance. You will be irritated with them because they make
no sense, whatsoever. Their ability to produce ejecta, in the form of white or
green stains, that never come out, can be off-set by one of those bags of spare
clothing in your trunk. Be creative.

27 August, 2010

2004-2010; Bad Poetry examples and non-technical bloggerings

A friend's talk of writing lyrics reminded me of my "mock poetry" postings, so I hunted some of them down.

For a while, I was into the whole Suburban Anti-Hero thing:

Then I got to browsing, and thought it a good idea to provide you with a scythe with which to cut through the long grasses of my blog, so I continued on:

25 August, 2010

Android (DROID) Game Trials Not Available in the Android Market; GAMELOFT

    These games are not in the Android market.  Navigate to them, via your phone, and make sure your 'Unknown sources' is checked on, to allow you to install non-Market apps.  [For you HTC Incredible users, go to Settings|Applications to turn that on.]

    Link: http://www.gameloft.com/android-hd-games/

    Article about it: http://drippler.com/htc-droid-incredible/gameloft-offers-a-try-before-you-buy-on-android-hd-games/

24 August, 2010

u-Verse;New upgrades for U-verse Total Home DVR

    This morning I went through and changed most shows to save only three items.  A few, like the wife's Oprah and Dr. Phil, I set to save five items.  This new functionality allowed me to add the NBC Nightly News (save 1 copy), Jimmy Fallon (1), Letterman (2), etc.  I dumbed The Soup and Attack of the Show down to 1 or 2 copies, etc.

    This will allow us to re-add shows, that my kids like, but rarely watched, which I deleted because they ended up with 12 or 13 copies a piece.

    Good times.

Dan wrote:
    We finally have the ability to perform the functions that we  had on our ReplayTV DVR back in 2004.

    I checked them out and they work as advertised.

    Unfortunately, the online interface is still rudimentary and does not let one edit existing recordings so nicely.  Some day... .

    Anyway, we can now keep a "scrolling" number of 'Clifford The Big Red Dog' without having to continually add and remove it from the line-up, as episodes build up.  I've set it to keep 5 of the most recent, and be done with it.

    Also, just like in the old days, we can set which series will "win" in a scheduling conflict fight.

    It's about time.

    - Dan

      New upgrades for U-verse Total Home DVR (from a message from U-verse received in my inbox):

AT&T is rolling out automated upgrades to the Total Home DVR <https://www.att.com/esupport/sharedSegments/glossaryDisplay.jsp?word=DVR> experience for all U-verse TV subscribers on a market-by-market basis.  With this rollout, U-verse subscribers will have new and more robust DVR capabilities, including the ability to do the following:

    * Rank the priority of scheduled programs (Series Priority).
    * Determine how many episodes of a series to keep stored on disk
      (Keep at Most).
    * Delete all recordings of a series with a single click (Bucket
    * Add channels to the Favorites listing while tuned to TV
      (Favorites Panel), and more.


U-verse TV subscribers will automatically get the upgrades by the end of July.  Each of the new enhancements are described below.


   1. *Series Priority* - Subscribers can now manage the priority of
      their household's scheduled series recordings using the Series
      Priority feature. When subscribers access this feature they are
      presented with a listing of all the series recordings which are
      scheduled in the home, and subscribers can rank the series
      priority to more effectively manage recording conflicts when
      they occur. Previously, the last subscriber-scheduled recording
      was considered the highest priority in case of recording conflict.

   2. *Keep at Most* - When subscribers set up a series recording,
      they will have additional record setting options to dictate how
      many episodes of the series are kept on disk. In addition,
      subscribers can also have the option of setting the "Series Keep
      Until" option for the recording while setting up the recording.
      Series recordings recycle based upon this setting. The older
      episodes are deleted to make room for new episodes.

   3. *Bucket Delete* - Subscribers will have the ability to delete
      all recordings of a series with one button click from the
      Recorded TV: Series menu, instead of deleting individual
      episodes. Previously, subscribers had to delete individual
      episodes one at a time.

   4. *Favorites Panel* - Favorites is a sub-panel to the options
      panel that allows subscribers to easily add channels to their
      favorite listing while tuned to full-screen TV.


*Additional Total Home DVR improvements:*


Easier ways to access and use the DVR features from your Remote Control, including the following:

    * The ability to delete letters using the Remote control Back button.
    * More prominent Clock display.
    * New order of presentation for recorded programs, by date
      Recorded, date Scheduled, and Settings.


Ability to playback recordings even after you lose rights to a channel.  For example:

    * If you record a program on HBO during a "free HBO weekend," you
      will still be able to view the recording after the free weekend
    * Or, if you record a program on a channel that is later removed
      from your channel lineup, you will still able to view the recording.

06 August, 2010

My answers to Roku's Customer Survey; Select Questions

What would you tell your friend or colleague about Roku?

That, although it is not 1080p, the 720p is more than acceptable for quality. [Edit: Roku now offers a 1080p version for the same price as I bought the 720p version back in the day. d.r., 2011]. If one has a decent Internet connection (6m or better), one can stream flawless video. Unlike the PS3, which only offers Netflix, the Roku offers a variety of channels. Last night I was really in the mood for a just-released film, so I rented one from Amazon, via the Roku, and saved a couple of bucks from what it would have cost me to rent it via U-Verse.

Although a recent firmware update bricked my Roku's WiFi, the service folks were quick to respond and had a new unit to me within just a few days.

The service itself, plus the customer service, have made this an indispensable piece of hardware in my home.

Why do you prefer to use your Roku for streaming video? Please be as specific as possible.

Although I own multiple devices capable of the task (PS3, Wii, DROID phone, PC's), the Roku a) offers multiple, easily accessible channels -- the differentiator, as the others offer multiple channels too, but they are easier to find on the Roku by my family members -- and b) the device is dedicated to streaming video, making the remote control simple, and my family less likely to call me in to help them. My 10 year old is the house expert, as she should be.

Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

I try to get the word out, to my friends, via the usual social methods (even in-person), but they seem apathetic...until they see me demo the device. Having an online movie, of someone demonstrating the interface, that I could point them to, would likely sell more of your product. The new Netflix movie is great; it shows off the interface well. There should be one for the main home screen too, to remind people it is not just a Netflix box. I believe this to be key for you, at a time when the PS3, various Blu-Ray players, the Wii, etc., all offer Netflix streaming too. Roku is more than just a Netflix box. Oh, and if you were to add a server feature, that would allow one to play media files, stored on a network device (such as Windows media player or a drive hanging off the network somewhere), you'd be unbeatable.

I'm a fan.

29 July, 2010

Syncing Thunderbird Contacts with Gmail, via Zindus; When a contact won't sync from T to G

    I had a problem where a contact would not sync, to the online Gmail, from Thunderbird.  Turns out I had recently added that contact to a distribution list, within Thunderbird.  Removing the contact from the mailing list then allowed the contact to sync to the online.

    This is a known issue with the Zindus add-on.  I found it easier to simply delete the distribution lists and go from there, as I very much enjoy the synchronization aspect more than the existence of distribution lists.

    However, in my opinion the real solution is to create Google Groups, assign contacts to them, and then let Zindus sync those to your Thunderbird.  This is effectively the same thing.  The flow is simply different.  In this scenario, you create the groups, in your Gmail online account, and let them sync TO Thunderbird, wheres with distribution lists, you create them within Thunderbird.  Having the store (or main store, if you will) reside within the online appeals to me more anyway, as one is then able to access/maintain them from any capable device.

    For more information, see the Zindus-Thunderbird FAQ here: http://www.zindus.com/faq-thunderbird/ , or specifically here: http://www.zindus.com/faq-thunderbird/#toc-one-of-my-contacts-wont-sync .

24 June, 2010

Why Men's Hair House Is Improving The Human Condition

Two visits and counting, and the best cuts I've had in years.

After the trimming is done, one is turned around, and lowered for the wash. The removal of the hot face towel, after the scalp massage, is a rebirth, an emergence from baptism into a fluorescent world where Sports Center HD and Indian motorcycle wall art are one's spiritual guides. Blinking, one is lead to the gates of the cash register, willingly parting with one's earthly treasures, for they no longer matter, other than to contribute the continuance of the local environment, a worthy cause.  Exiting, one almost feels guilty feeling so good.  'Can I drive, or do I need to settle down with a trip to GameStop, to collect myself and ensure my feet are actually on the ground?', one wonders, observing passers-by and lamenting their unfortunate non-Hair Housed states of non-grace.  The drive home is ultimately performed by an upgraded human, with heightened senses and quicker reaction times.  One wonders if, while the towel was on, one's nervous system was enhanced, as a bonus service thrown in, like the jars of peanuts in the waiting area.

It just may be that The Men's Hair House is improving the human animal AND preventing car accidents.  No doubt, there are likely positive implications for a reduction in global warming.

I recommend you all get there immediately and do your part for your species and planet.  Add their number to your contact list, schedule an appointment, or simply walk-in.  All are welcome in the light.  Go toward the light, Children....

And thanks, Courtney, for another fine haircut.

See: http://www.menshairhouse.com/

14 May, 2010

Wiping a hard drive or restoring a PC to its original condition

I sent the below message to a family member who wants to donate an old PC, to Goodwill, but wants to ensure that his personal information is off the device prior to doing so.  To protect the innocent I have changed his name to "Skipper".

-------- Original Message --------

    There are two approaches you can take, Skipper.

    Around the time you bought that Toshiba, or a bit before, companies started supplying CD's, with the computers, to allow one to restore them to exactly the same condition, as when it was purchased, in case of a need to do so (such as hard drive failure, or like in your case, a sale).  If you can find it, you can run it, on the Toshiba, and it should a) wipe the hard drive, and b) reinstall whatever version of Windows was on it when you bought it.

    If you cannot find that disc, the next best thing would be to run a wipe tool, such as we discussed during your visit.  There are two flavors of usefulness -- sometimes available from the same tool -- as follows:

  • Completely wipe the drive -- This option is the most secure, yet also the most frustrating for whomever buys the laptop.  There will be nothing on it, not even Windows.  Whoever buys the device will have to be savvy enough to be able to install an operating system (Windows or LINUX) onto the PC via their own means.
  • Partial Wipe of Unused Areas (I call this the "surgical cleaning") -- This will place Department of Defense level wiping on the unused portions of the drive, ensuring that no utilities will be able to be run that would sweep in and recover deleted files.  This is the most useful, to the buyer, because they can get a WORKING PC when they buy it versus a paperweight that they have to fiddle with (see above bullet).
    It all comes down to what your mission is.  If you want to feel good about donating the PC, but really deep down do not care about the usefulness of it, once it leaves your hands, then the method in the above first bullet is the easiest way to go.  If you want someone to buy a PC that they can use, then using the original recovery disc, that came with your PC, or doing a surgical cleaning is your best bet.

    If you want to perform a surgical clean, bring it along, and I will gladly run the appropriate cleaning tools to wipe all traces of Skipper off that old workhorse, including removing contents of Documents folders, cached (stored) passwords and logins, etc.  Even if you find the recovery disc, you might want to run it at my house, where you can plug into the wall to access the Internet.  In that way it can run all its updates, to the modern age, from the net without having to fiddle with WiFi.

    If you choose to do it all yourself, I recommend any of the following tools:

  • Active@ Kill Disk - Hard Drive Eraser - http://download.cnet.com/Active-Kill-Disk-Hard-Drive-Eraser/3000-2092_4-10073508.html/ - Not for the weak of heart, this puppy will get the job done.  It should function for both the full-wipe and the "surgical cleaning", although I've not tested the latter.
  •  Easeus Partition Master Home Edition - http://download.cnet.com/Easeus-Partition-Master-Home-Edition/3000-2248_4-10863346.html/ - This tool is over the top for your needs, but I include it here just in case you engage someone like me (IT nerd) to help you, as it is a free way of allowing one to have multiple partitions, which in English means a way to deal with recovery discs that foolishly separate the hard drive space into inappropriately sized C and D drives.  Don't download it, but if I help you out, I might, so I am storing the link to this, in this email, as a contingency for possibly using later.
Skipper wrote:
Hello Dan-Hope you are doing well. We talked about a web site that would allow us to clean out the hard drive on the old lap top before I give  it to Goodwill. Could you please send the information to me,
The Best

30 April, 2010

Droid Incredible

    I ended up turning my phone off last night so I would stop playing with the damn thing. 

    I set it to use our WiFi, while at home, and it uses the 3G network while out and about.  I expected the WiFi to be blazingly fast -- and it is -- but was surprised at how quick the 3G network is.  Had I not been watching for it, I'd not have noticed the difference. 

    The user interface is virtually instantaneously responsive, utilizing the HTC Sense interface (a skin for Droid).  [The interface is so useful that I've read a few reviews where the authors, after having played with it, have hacked their existing Droid devices to utilize it.]  The 8 mega pixel camera responds quickly, although I would have liked a dedicated camera button in the "top" (spine) position.  It took a bit of practice to come up with a way to hold the device to get a shake-free squeeze.

    Verizon threw in a 2GB MicroSD card, which was a pleasant surprise that I didn't expect.  My guess is they did that because downloaded apps do not notice the internal 8GB memory, as storage, per one of the reviews I read.  I have a 4GB card, from my old phone, that I'll move in when I get the chance to copy the data from the 2GB card to it, via my PC.  The phone supports MicroSD cards up to 32GB.

    According to sites this morning, it sold out yesterday (day #1) and may not be back in stores for a week or two.  It's even sold out on Verizon's site.  My wife was at the Verizon store when they opened yesterday and bought our two.  When I picked mine up, over lunch, the sales clerk said their remaining 8 were being picked up by a business man.  Thus, I think it was more a matter of stores having a small stock than having a major run.  When I was there, for about a half hour, no customers were there other than one who was leaving when I arrived.

    My first tasks were to download a variety of free apps, such as bar code reader-shoppers (which had me running around scanning my cupboards and gear), Google Sky Map (which gave me a sore neck and wind-blown hair, standing on my deck), and configuring my various social site apps.  Afterward I moved into becoming more familiar with the interface, and after an hour or two, I felt comfortable.  It's my first Droid device, so I gave myself a little slack.

    So far I am impressed with the phone and am glad I opted for a data package.  The browser is top-notch, and the ability to pinch the display to zoom in and out -- a feature that applies to many applications -- is totally cool.

Its site at Verizon:  http://phones.verizonwireless.com/htc/incredible/

A review: http://www.engadget.com/2010/04/19/droid-incredible-review/

Another review: http://reviews.cnet.com/cell-phones/htc-droid-incredible-verizon/4505-6454_7-34064029.html

12 April, 2010

A friend of mine asked if I still like U-verse, one year in

I like U-verse.  We hit our one year anniversary last month, and I had marked the date so I would be reminded to shop around and compare prices.  It turned out that, for our viewing habits, it made sense to remain with them.

We had DISH, prior to U-verse, and Time-Warner prior to DISH.  The up-sides, with U-verse, are

Upside- no signal pixelation, which was something DISH gave us, during storms.

Upside - ability to record four shows simultaneously.  Minor Downside - However, only one HD signal can be in the house at once.  Thus, one could be recording one HD show, and three SD shows, or recording one HD show, recording two SD shows, and watching one SD show, etc.  They have a beta program, somewhere in the country, where they are trying out two HD signals, simultaneously.  We get around this by recording the main show, that we want to record, in HD, and recording the other show(s) in SD that day.  Doesn't come up often, but it is occasionally annoying.  Me likey my HD, so it matters more to me than to Kristie and the kids.

Upside - DVR is accessible from any other unit in the house.  One can schedule shows, and delete them, from any TV.  One can resume playing where one left off, from any TV.  Minor Downside - One cannot pause live TV on any TV other than the one that has the DVR connected.  The work-around is to make sure to RECORD what one is watching, then simply play the recording.  Even a couple seconds delay then grants one the ability to pause it.  Simple.  Minor Downside - The DVR functionality set is such that it is not smart enough to have "Record x number of episodes" function.  This means the DVR will record episodes, in perpetuity, and one must either monitor that or let them auto-delete.  My 2003 ReplayTV was better at handling that.  However, since the recent upgrade, I have not had issues with older shows refusing to scroll off the system. I.e., the unit self-maintains well.

Upside - DVR has a large capacity.  We record a lot of shows and have not run out of room in a long time.

Upside - The online DVR access, via the included AT&T Yahoo! account, is sufficient to allow PC-based DVR show maintenance/scheduling/deleting.  It is simple to go in and delete 15 Backyardigans, via the web, rather than deleting them one at a time via the TV's remote.

Upside - The free OnDemand actually has some fun stuff on it, and it's organized fairly well.  Minor Downside - The OnDemand prices are pricey, charging $4 for a lot of movies or $6 for HD (and I won't get non-HD, for movies, because why have an HD TV if I ain't gonna FEED it).  Workaround - I stream Netflix, to the HDTV's via a Roku box.  Much cheaper.  If we want a current release, I use Amazon, via the Roku, and save a couple of bucks off what U-verse charges.

Upside - The phone service is great.  Never had a problem with it.  I have it set to text my wife and me, at our Verizon email-to-text accounts, when we get a message.  Very handy, while we're out, and thus we don't need AT&T cell phones.  However, if one does have AT&T cell service, one can have one's vmail boxes combined, with the home box.  [I wouldn't do that anyway, as I prefer to have my cell box separate from the home account].  On-screen caller-ID, to the TV, was just activated, so one can see who is calling, on the home phone, while watching a show, and then whether they leave a vmail.

After the first converter, one is charged $7/extra unit.

Hope this helps.