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September 2006

Written By: Gary on September 30, 2006 3 Comments

Antennabooster700PSo I’ve got my Treo 700p hooked up to my PowerBook and I use it as a wireless modem. It works great when I get good reception, this leads to the questions how do I get a faster (stronger) signal. Someone recommended this “Freedom Antenna” external antenna . Which works great!!! It snaps into an antenna connectior on the back of the phone and it’s ready to go! It’s got suction cups to stick it to a window and a little pedestal to set it on a table (so far I haven’t gotten any better reception when sticking it to a window). It probably increases my plain old phone signal too…

Download speed is generally excellent! Somethings it’s only great, but it’s never crappy (if it’s slow I just turn the antenna a little and it generally gets way better). It was pricey, $69.99, but I see it’s $10 lower now. It only took a few days to ship, I wish I had purchased it before my trip up north…

Th only thing this thing needs is some kind of carrying case, I’m afraid of screwing up the wired connections for it. FYI, they make it for the other Treos and other kinds of wireless phone devices (see below).

Geeky Info – I’m generally getting 450-580 kbps on the download speed tests. Sometimes more (up to 700 kbps, but I got low 800s once), sometimes less but still greater than 300 kbps. It helps upload a little but not much.

Heres the thing: It helps best in low signal situations. If you’ve got a great signal, it doesn’t help much. But if you’ve got a great signal, why would you buy it?

Originally I tried using the phone as a modem via bluetooth (intermittent connections at best) but I decided running with it wired was the best solution. So I tried a program called USBmodem which supports USB connections (and bluetooth, but still not as well as wired). I think the 700p is still pretty buggy with the bluetooth.

They have separate models for the Treo 700w, 650, 600, and 700wx (but I’m guessing they’re all the same adaptor cable). I see they also have it for sale with: Merlin S620 and S720; Novaltel v620 and v640; Audiovox PPC6700 and PPC6600; Samsung SCH-i730; Verizon XV6700; Sprint PPC-6601.

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Written By: Gary on September 30, 2006 One Comment

So have you seen the guy do the Magic Quarter Trick?
I don’t post many YouTube type things but this one needed to be shared…

From Don’t Forward.

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Written By: Gary on September 26, 2006 One Comment

So it was a great day outside today. I’m up visiting relatives in Lake Leelanau and the weather has been mediocre but today it was just great! I went bike riding with my uncle on some path and then I ran around and went to a winery (Leelanau Cellars) I like.

Then I drove around a bit and got some lunch and ice cream. And then I just drove around and enjoyed the scenery with the top down. It’s been semi-rainy and mostly cloudy since Friday. So it’s been a pleasure today!

Actually, I don’t know any thing about wine (or wineries) and never go but when I find a wine I like I write it down. On my last visit here we stopped by a Leelanau Cellars winery and when we got there I looked at my list it turns out oen of the few names I had written down was actually from that winery. So I liked the bottles from last year so I went back. Unfortunately the one I liked I forgot to write the name down :(

Written By: Gary on September 26, 2006 3 Comments

So I had some of the best Coca-Cola* yesterday at Pangea’s Pizza in Traverse City. It was just extra tasty, I’m not sure why. And not only was it served in fancy old Coca-Cola glasses it was served by the charming Rachel** who attended to all my cuisine related needs. That, a slice of pepperoni pizza, some on-line access and I was all set. I was hoping for more dead animals on my pizza but I would have had to order a whole pizza.

I mentioned WiFi availability earlier today: I could see a few local access points from inside the restaurant (none of which I think were Pangea’s) but eventually I’d lose the signal, the same if I hooked up with my cell phone. Not sure why. Probably something with all the pleasantness radiating from Rachel was interfering with my digital*** reception.

* – In case you were wondering the best Coca-Cola I ever had was at the Chicago Aquarium in February of 2002. This is fountain Coca-Cola, in the bottles it’s generally the same, unless it’s in the glass bottles where it’s extra delicious.

** – I’m thinking Rachel was spelled slightly differently (sorry).

*** – Pleasantness is a full spectrum analog signal in case you didn’t know. It’s supposed to overwhelm everything.

Written By: Gary on September 26, 2006 No Comment

So I’m up north in Michigan at Lake Leelanau / Sutton’s Bay (top left of the Lower Peninsula). I’ve been around here and Traverse city the past few days. I’ve noticed the smaller towns are more often than not to have WiFi you pay for. Lot of free places in Traverse City but I can connect my cell phone to my PowerBook and get pretty good speed (EVDO), but it the rest of the area I’m roaming. I noticed a few were inexpensive to pay for, but I think they’d be better if you were in that town for a week (or the summer) and it’d be great deal. I did notice one of the networks gave me five free minutes, which was enough to sync my mail and check a few web pages.

The big bonus is my Aunt’s brother lives less than a mile away and I can stop by his driveway to sync my mail (getting new mail and sending mail that I composed off-line) and post any blog entries I’ve written off-line with my blog client (Ecto). It’s definitely not hi-tech but I’m surviving….

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Written By: Gary on September 25, 2006 One Comment

I’ve noticed those digital locks on car doors only have five buttons but are numbered from one to ten (two numbers per key). So of course someone has done the math on this. There are 3125 combinations (5 key choices to the power of number of key presses which is generally 5 [5 to the 5th]). So they’ve calculated the 3129 digit sequence to open any car. You should only have to type in the whole sequence if the very last 5 digits are the combination. You could get lucky in the first hundred or two…

I read this here but I think I found it at Don’t Forward.

Written By: Gary on September 24, 2006 No Comment

Usbcell AAPowerbook Charging Usbcell-72DpiA UK company called USBcell is selling AA batteries that can be recharged via your computer’s USB port. How cool is that? For me it’s perfect. For one, I never go anywhere without my laptop so if some of my devices (sound machine, speakers, flashlight, PDA keyboard, sound canceling headphones) need a recharge I’d be all set!
The problem is they are only for sale in the UK and at 12.99 pounds for a pair ($24.70) they are still a little pricey. But I need a pair! They aren’t even on e-bay yet…

Moixa MXAA02 USBCell AA Rechargeable USB Cell Batteries 4 Pack Kit MoixaIn the future they plan to have cell phones, cameras, 9v and AAA USB rechargeable devices.

UPDATE: The sell these USBcell batterieson Amazon now.

Written By: Gary on September 24, 2006 No Comment

AtlantisissHere’s a very cool photo of the ISS and Atlantis passing each other last week. In this picture they’re about 200 meters about (that’s about 650 feet). Be sure to click the link and scroll down to the larger very impressive picture (that’s the sun in the background).

Found at Don’t Forward.

Written By: Gary on September 23, 2006 No Comment

So on October 17th Sarah McLachlan is releasing a Wintersong, a Christmas Album. Looking forward to this a lot! I always liked her “Song for a Winter’s Night” (which is on this) which is kind of a holiday song if I remember correctly.

It’s a new album but the downside of this begs the question “where is some new original music?!?”…

FYI – She’s also releasing Mirrorball: The Complete Concert newly re-mastered and on 2 CDs to be released on October 3rd. I really like her live, I’m generally pretty fussy about live recordings. But again, where’s the new music…

Written By: Gary on September 23, 2006 One Comment

So we’re trying to set up a domain name for Melissa so she can start blogging. I went looking for a domain name for her to buy and of course Melissa.com was taken (but I had to check) and they offered suggestions for us. Suggestions like BestMelissa.com and SuperMelissa.com (my first choice) and then I noticed an odd one, so I’m “Hey, Melissa, They’ve got RayLovesMelissa.com, it’s the only one I see with ”love“ in it, how weird is that?!?” Harry was Melissa’s husband that died last year and Ray was what everyone his family called him. So that was pretty bizarre (but wait!), “Oh Melissa, I was wrong here’s another one DannyLovesMelissa.com so it’s not so strange”. But it turns out that was the name of her first husband! We looked harder and that was the only one with “love” in it, how strange is that?

I always like the idea of having your own domain name. Then you can switch hosts and take your name with you. We’re hosting her at BlogSpot and just frame the page in it (or maybe we’ll redirect). I can’t believe that they’re not set up to use your own name and charge you for it (or make you buy it from them).

So we didn’t pick SuperMelissa so it’s still available if you want it. I’ll tell you her address once she gets settled in.

Written By: Gary on September 18, 2006 2 Comments

200Px-Talk Like A Pirate DayDon’t forget on Tuesday it’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day!!!!

What, did you think I was kidding about Pirates?!?!

If you’re not sure how, watch this introductory video.

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Written By: Gary on September 18, 2006 2 Comments

So three weeks ago I started making sure I was drinking at least a half-gallon (2 liters) of water a day. I hear I don’t drink “enough” (whatever that is) and I drink lots of soda and juice (mostly Coca-Cola and OJ). I do drink more water now than in other points of my life (which used to be never). It was one of the items on my 101 in 1001 things list. After 3 weeks I’ve got some results/conclusions:

  • When I drink that much water, I drink less soda (which is probably good).
  • It makes me need to go to the bathroom more (duh!).
  • I think generally got to sleep earlier (maybe to to lack of caffeine or at least it being washed out of my system).
  • I think I slept better (although I attribute this to the lack of other caffeinated drinks more).
  • My neck/shoulders probably bothered me just as much as normal (I think OMT and Chiropractors recommend lots of water).
  • I have very mild psoriasis (dry flaky skin) which comes and goes and thought the extra water might help, but if anything during that period it’s gotten a little dryer.
  • My stomach seemed more (slightly)sensitive to spicy and junk foods than normal.
  • I think slightly overall, I did feel a little better.

    Once again it was only 3 weeks and I didn’t expect any miracle in terms of changes. And this wasn’t a double-blind experiment or anything, it was just me drinking lots more water. I didn’t intentionally cut out other drinks but as a result I probably drank less (but I know of some days I drank lots of soda and then I had to force the water down later). Some of the above could be attributed to being tired or stressed from work (it was the start of the school year). So no big results other than the sleeping I’ll be keeping an eye on that.

    I will continue to drink more out of habit (I already am today), but I won’t be forcing myself to catch up in the evening.

    I need to cut out caffeine (soda and candy) for one of my items but when I’ve tried in that past it didn’t help much. I still had some sleeping issues and everyone said I was still just as hyper. I’ll try not to look at what I just wrote here until I’m done with the caffeine experiment and see how they match up (although less soda means more water). If I see anything significant I’ll try a no soda with 1/2 gallon (or more?) for 3 or 4 weeks and see how I feel. I do enjoy soda so maybe I can limit it to no more than 32 ounces of soda a day and none after 2 pm or something like that (currently, I try not to have any Coca-Cola after 4 PM or so).

    My drink of choice is generally Captain (Morgan) and Coke but if I had a few cokes with lunch, I generally get something different (stronger) like a Long Island Iced Tea (I’m not sure if that’s better for me…)

  • Written By: Gary on September 16, 2006 One Comment

    So Amazon always makes suggestions when you buy something or even just look at something. For example, if you look at the Roswell Season 1 DVD set it says “Customers who bought items like this also bought” Roswell Season 2, Roswell Season 3, Angel Season 1 and 24 Season 1 (and stuff like that). I always like this feature, sometimes it points out other movies or musicians I might like.

    TripodtapesSo on one of the sale boards I read (SlickDeals.net) someone pointed when you look at a particular item you get a suggestion for a tripod and video tapes. Pretty simple, it’s probably a suggestion for a video camera or spare camera battery or something, right?

    Wrong! It’s for a Condom Lover’s Variety Pack (with Condoms, Lubes, Lotions, Potions, Naughty Novelties, and MORE! 100 Count)!! Because let’s face it, if you need 100 condoms, there’s a pretty good chance you need some extra videotape and you’re gonna get tired of holding the camera.

    So now that degraded to this level of humor, I’ll point out at Amazon in the ‘Health and Personal’ category they have 3,529 results when you search for condom.

    UsedcondomAnd if you’re a little low on cash instead of picking up a package for $12.49 you can possibly pick it up <i>used</i> for a better value of only $7.99!

    Sorry, we now return to out regularly scheduled no-so-juvenile programming….

    Written By: Gary on September 13, 2006 2 Comments

    On my never eneding posts about MySpace (I’ll wind down soon). I got a MySpace message from my local bar today:

    Today Kraft Mac and Cheese is celebrating it’s 69th Birthday!

    So….come on up to Bamboozles tonight and have some Mac and Cheese Bites (on the house) or just come up and celebrate the fact that it is 69!

    MySpace is an interesting way to communicate…

    FYI – These are weird little deep fried snacks that have Mac & Cheese inside, it’s a ritual that we make people try when we get new friends to happy hour.

    I can’t verify that the above information about the M&C birthday is true…

    Written By: Gary on September 12, 2006 3 Comments

    The new iPods have brighter screens and up to 80 GB hard drives (with a 60% brighter screen). It’s also set to play more games these days too (I’d like a nice Scrabble).

    The new redesigned Nano now goes up to 8 GB!!! I think the nano looks more like the old minis but smaller.

    I’m really thinking I might need me one of these. Mine doesn’t have the video and I’ve been thinking that might be a nice feature. At $349 for 80 GB that’s a nice price (I think I paid $599 for the 60 GB when they first came out). Usually these are about 5% cheaper for education employees but I’m not seeing the discount :(

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    Written By: Gary on September 10, 2006 One Comment

    So I have another birthday coming up this week (Monday actually). Last year was a milestone and didn’t bug me much at all, for some reason this one is. Maybe because it was a milestone I forced myself to ignore it or maybe it’s just ’cause I’m another year older, still single, still no kids, still still still…

    I’ll be fine, I’ve just been annoyed about it the last few days weeks, but good times with friends and family have stopped me from dwelling (and blogging) about it…

    I’m down at the Buzz Bar about to watch Blair (currently doing a mic check) and Audra and everything is great(!) but I’ve been trying to get this stuff down…

    Written By: Gary on September 10, 2006 No Comment

    So it’s a weird web world in MySpace. I’ve been playing around a bit these past few days (and created an account for me) for a few reasons. The original reason was because a few local bands and bars have “space” but not much else in the way of a presence on-line. Then (of course) I found some people I know and linked to them as friends and so on and it consumes a bit of time pretty quickly.

    One of the reasons it consumes time is that most of the pages are awful: they don’t load properly, millions of photos and flash slideshows all on one page and the MySpace servers just don’t seem to keep up. Part of this is a million sites with bad layouts that fall off the side of the page, sparkle too much or have transparent text/body and conflict with the background. But like the psychedelic LSD trip that some of these pages resemble, I keep coming back for more. Maybe that’s the appealing part? I’m not really sure. Maybe it should be called MyLSD…

    It’s just amazing how awful so many of the pages are. They don’t even render properly in IE on a Windows machine. It’s very bizarre. Please let me clarify, the original layouts load fine, it’s layouts people change (and comments people add). And while you can disable HTML comments, it still shows the HTML code instead of just ignoring it (you can’t edit other’s comments).

    But as I’ve said I’ve managed to get sucked in a few times. Adding more people and bands to my friends list (blogroll) and getting exciting when I see another person has added me (you can’t add someone without their permission and vice-versa). Is it worth the time to add myself to the friend roll of some non-local band like the Indigo Girls or Anna Nalick?

    All these people have blogs, but most of them don’t blog (or if they tried it gave up ages ago) so it’s just a weird commenting system. A few neat features: Friend’s can blast out a message to everyone who has them as a friend and it shows up in a window at the bottom of your home page (where you can go to edit your pages and be bombarded with advertisements of bands, TV shows and the hot women advertising true.com) where you can choose to read it or not (it’s kinda like a junk mail box from friends but if the title is inviting you may read it). So for example my local bar sent out a message that said something like “Come up tonight because Daniella, Pam and Jane are working tonight” which is interesting since if I was considering going (or actually hadn’t just come home) and knew three of my favorite staff were working I might have gone up.

    Some downsides from a Microsoft technical standpoint: The servers appear to get overloaded often, you can’t always login (“technical difficulties”), they seem to force you to have a blog, whether you post or not, the block HTML but still show the code thing I mentioned earlier, can’t edit comments. Every page has just a generic comment place at the bottom of your page (profile comments) but you can’t comment since you are not a friend of yourself nor can you add yourself (just a little odd).

    Written By: Gary on September 7, 2006 2 Comments

    After I did that earlier mobile post, I saw a price of $2.37 and on the way home I saw $2.34! But that’s not why I’m posting. Here’s why:

    At Chili’s we were discussing gasoline prices and I thought they were getting to pre-9/11 pricing (but I was alone in that thought). So as I was driving home I was trying to remember what the price gougers jumped the prices up to on that day. I know it was up to the next dollar range but was it up to $3 or was it just $2. Could it really have been that low just 5 years ago? Have we gotten that complacent in paying outrageous prices for our gasoline? (or is it just me?)

    Please note: I had a much more detailed post but I screwed it up, so you get the shortened post (with less references).

    The first thing I noticed is the average price in Detroit a month ago was $3.07 and today it’s $2.48, that’s a huge drop! I’ve noticed it, but I didn’t realize it was almost sixty cents in the last thirty days. Three years ago they list it about a $1.50 a gallon (just before a dip to $1.40), I guess I’ve gotten used to these outrageous prices, I don’t remember it that low that recently.

    Other sources list it as being in the $1.50 range the week of 9/11/2001. So five years ago, we paid half the price! That’s huge! What else (non-fuel) has doubled in price since then?

    All of these historical numbers are adjusted for inflation so I don’t know what it actually read on the pumps when you bought it. But still…

    Can anyone direct me to some non-adjusted for inflation prices? I want to know what it said on the pump 5 years ago. I hate when things get adjusted but don’t point to the non-adjusted prices. When I ask “Grandpa, how much was a candy bar when you were a kid?”, he doesn’t say “fifty-five cents (adjusted for inflation)”, he says “a nickel”…

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    Written By: Gary on September 7, 2006 One Comment

    Wow! $2.39 A Gallon

    Originally uploaded by garylapointe.

    This was awesome! I got this deal on gasoline while taking mom out to dinner today. Twelve Mile road and Coolidge in Berkley (Michigaan).

    Written By: Gary on September 7, 2006 One Comment

    So I picked up The Rough Guide to Blogging by Jonathan Yang at borders this weekend. This is from the folks who do the “The Rough Guide to _____” different places to travel. It seemed to be a decent book, pretty cheap $10-ish. It had the basic ides, rss, hosting, audio, video, podcasting, increasing traffic and making money and (very) short reviews of 250 of the “best” blogs.

    It’s a nice intro if you have someone who’s been asking about it or if you’re a beginner and want to learn some more. It’s about 100 pages and then about 50 pages of types of blogs (politics, education, etc.) while mentioned some specific blogs and then a bunch of 1 line reviews. I haven’t read it yet, but all the pages I’ve flipped to look pretty good so far.

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    Written By: Gary on September 6, 2006 No Comment

    So there is a show on television right now exploring connections between people who were at Ground Zero during the disaster and are now showing signs of cancer. Why do terrible things just have to get more terrible…?

    It’s years later it’s time for things to get better. So speaking of years later, I have a questions (don’t peek ahead) for you to think about. What year did the towers fall on September 11th?

    The answer is 2001. Which may seem obvious (if you know it) but they just did a survey and a large number of people got the wrong answer. (I’ll look it up and post it later.)

    Written By: Gary on September 4, 2006 One Comment

    For a while my local Burger King had WiFi. Then it only worked if I tweaked with the TCP/IP settings. Then it was intermittent. Eventually it died and I had to use the wired port (or my Airport Express adaptor) and that pretty much died. I can honestly say I’ve eaten here less since then. I mean if I gotta be WiFi-less or mess with my phone as a modem I can go anywhere, right?

    Today I popped in for a quick snack. Wasn’t 100% sure if I was going to hook up the modem but I knew I wanted to type a few things. I opened my laptop and got the wonderful message “Do you want to join the network ‘Burger King’?”. I love WiFi….

    (I think it’s gone again)

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    Written By: Gary on September 3, 2006 2 Comments

    So I set up a profile at MySpace. I wanted to see what it’s like. So far it’s messy. But I set up a profile and now I don’t have any friends :(

    So if any of the readers here are from MySpace (or have set up an account to “see what it’s like”) please pop on by and add me as a friend! This weird Tom guy is the only one I know! I’m at http://www.myspace.com/garyjlapointe

    Anyone know how to disable the blogging part, since I’m here I don’t really need to be there too.

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    Written By: Gary on September 3, 2006 One Comment

    Is anyone getting popups when they come to my (this) site? I just got a warning from FireFox (I normally use Safari) and it says it blocked something. Looks like the offender was something at Link2Blogs (a link sharing place). Please let me know if you do get them, I’ll be glad to remove anything that launches evil unintentional popups.

    Any geeky / additional information you can give me on this would be helpful. Thanks!

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    Written By: Gary on September 2, 2006 No Comment

    Karen was talking about her lucky underwear on her blog and it made me think about mine. Unlike her, I will describe mine. And unlike her, I know where mine are!

    If you know me at all, you know I’m not much of a sports fan. BUT I have this pair of green boxers with footballs all over them which somewhere along the lines I started wearing on Saturdays since that’s when everyone seems most excited about football. I probably even wear them on Saturdays in the summer, but it’s not like I keep track or anything. How did I get these if I don’t care so much about sports? They were in the middle of a 3-pack!

    Yes, of course I’m wearing them right now, it’s Saturday!

    Written By: Gary on September 2, 2006 No Comment

    So Friday night is a big night for me in terms of television shows. I don’t necessarily watch them then (occasionally I have a social life) but Friday is when they get recorded. This time of year it’s Psych, Monk, Kyle XY in HD (if I missed it earlier in the week), StarGate SG-1 and StarGate Atlantis (at other times of the year this includes Numb3rs and Battlestar Galactica).

    Here’s the problem: Not a single one was on last night! And I don’t think Psych is back until January 2007…

    Written By: Gary on September 1, 2006 No Comment

    So I was watching a re-run of Grey’s Anatomy last night. It’s the one where the wife has the fork stuck in her neck; her and the husband were being adventurous since she has an aneurism and only has weeks/months to live. So they are traveling and doing all the things they’ve always said they’ll do some day.

    This ties back in with the meme from a few weeks ago about what would you do this six months to live. This also ties in with the new show Three Moons Over Milford where the moon gets hit with an asteroid and everyone knows it’s only a shot amount of time before the pieces fall back to earth. Several of the people and episodes are all about living life to the fullest.

    So back to my question: “Why wait?”

    If there is all sorts of stuff I want to do, what am I waiting for? What are you waiting for? Now I know some of us have responsibilities so that has all sorts of implications. But many of us are single with no responsibilities. Why not quit the job and just travel to those places that I’ve thought about? Go volunteer. Go move somewhere interesting and get a job for a while? I could probably figure something out so I could do some reasonable consulting via the net regardless of where I might live.

    I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. My best friend just keeps waiting for the day I call and say see ya, I’ve off to move to Costa Rica…

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