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September 2009

Written By: Gary on September 26, 2009 One Comment

I originally purchased my condo almost ten years ago. I purchased it with a five-year ARM (Adjustable Rate Mortgage) which means that after the five years my interest rate changes once a year. Since I never thought I’d live here five years, let alone ten it seemed like a good option for me. I’m still living here and due to a variety of circumstances my rate never started fluctuating until last year (see my ARM story from last year).

I was pretty happy when my mortgage rate only jumped up a little last year, but with the economy even worse this year my rate actually dropped 1.625% to a new total of only 3.25%! I know this shows the economy isn’t very good right now, but (while I don’t really talk about it) my personal economy isn’t so great right now either, so this is really a good thing for me.

I believe my mortgage rate is is based on a margin of 2.875% plus an index (1 year treasury-bills) which is currently 0.40% so that makes that a 3.25%. So unless the index can go less than 0.0.% (and I don’t think it can) I’m pretty much as low as it can go.

FYI, My mortgage was bought up by HSBC as soon as I got it (within hours) and they’ve been a pleasure to work with. And to get my mortgage, my first mortgage, my bible was Mortgages for Dummies. Also, Here’s a place to get the current and past rates from the U.S. Treasury.

Written By: Gary on September 25, 2009 2 Comments

Playing around with the new MMS on your iPhone? You can use text4free.net to send yourself a MMS text to test it out. Actually, it’s not just for texting to yourself, it will let you send texts around the world for free!

textforfree.net.jpgIt’ll send a picture or audio file. I sent a few, some went quick, some took a few minutes. It says it’ll send video too, but I haven’t tried video yet.

There is a maximum file size of 1 MB and allowed file types are .jpg, .png, .jpeg, .wbmp, .mid, .midi, .mp3, .mp4, .wav, .wma, .3gp, .mp4

This will work with phones other than an iPhone, I just brought up the IPhone since MMS got turned on for all the US AT&T users today.

Written By: Gary on September 24, 2009 One Comment

What I don’t like about my Bluetooth earpiece for my iPhone is that it only streams audio from the phone calls. Why Apple (all cell makers) don’t let you use BT audio from other parts of your phone, I don’t understand. I have a pair of semi-bulky BlueTooth stereo headphones that and they stream the iPod music, podcasts, sound effects from games, and everything (but they’re bulky). My normal bluetooth earpiece just fits in my shirt pocket for when I’m not using it so I rather use that. The trick is to find an earpiece that supports A2DP.

Plantronics Voyager 855 Bluetooth Headset (Black) PlantronicsI decided on the Plantronics Voyager 855 Bluetooth Headset for three reasons: they were inexpensive, I’ve had good experience with Plantronics in the past and they came with a second earbud (earplug?) for your other ear if you want stereo sound.

So now I can listen to podcasts or news (or whatever) while waiting for something (doctor appointment, a movie to start, anything) without having to cover both ears (and not have to carry anything big around to do it). The same goes for videos or watching YouTube. Or if I’m playing a game I’ll still get sound, it’s nice to have audio feedback even for simple puzzle games, but especially for puzzle games. Your device must support A2DP for audio other than phone calls.

I think my main uses for this will be phone calls, listening to audio (books, The Economist and podcasts, streaming some radio) and some games. I can walk pretty far from the phone when listening, when I head upstairs (most amount of wall/stairs interference) it cuts out a little, but once I’m upstairs it still sounds great.

I think I’ll rarely plug in the second earpiece but I’ll keep it in my computer bag just in case. It’d be great if I knew I was going to be somewhere loud, but it might be too loud for them to hear me. Obviously I can use these for music, but I rarely listen to music via headphones, I generally listen to music at home or in the car, but I guess I now have the option (sort of).

The packaging was very nice, I couldn’t believe these were a $35 from from the box. In the box was a nice manual, not some teeny tiny thing that you’ll never find again. The BT headset, a nice carrying bag, two ear loops, 3 different pairs of ear gels (plus a weird pair foam ear pieces), a wall plug charger and some weird strap (unidentified in the manual) to dangle it from your neck (like a neckless, I guess).

So this BT headset gets a two thumbs up from me. No real minuses on the headset at all, but this is my first few hours of use and I really enjoy them so far.

I’ll probably do a follow-up in a few days, so if you have any questions, leave them in the comments.

Written By: Gary on September 23, 2009 No Comment

Will Farrell and friends speak out to help insurance companies.

Found at Feministing.

I like Will Ferrell when he’s not running around with his hair on fire (or other stupid stuff).

And yes, I know I’ve been posting too many videos lately :(

Written By: Gary on September 21, 2009 4 Comments

Replace my laptop? Not a chance! But the more I use it…

Previously I took my laptop everywhere. The iPhone has easily cut out 20%-25% of my dragging around a laptop; my rule is generally don’t leave home without it.

With my iPhone, I’m still connected to the world. I can read, I can forward and I can bookmark things and type (if I have to), it’s more than the basics. Of course I can watch and listen to all the “stuff” that’s on the iPod portion of the iPhone too. If I could get a bluetooth keyboard (or even a wired keyboard the plugs into the dock) I think I could drop carrying the computer around to 50% of what I used to do. I don’t really want to JailBreak my phone to do this. (FYI, this feature is now is iOS 4 for several iPhone models)

apple-bt-iphone-keyboard.jpg
This keyboad looks huge, but it’s really the tiny wireless one from Apple.

I don’t even need the keyboard to work in all the applications (although I’d like it), I can just type in a special keyboard application then copy and paste into the program where I need the information.

I’d need an external battery pack for the iPhone though. I thought I’d already need to, but I generally leave it in the charger at home and I charge it in the car. It’s pretty rare that I notice that I’m running really low.

It’s been a while now that I’ve had the iPhone, but it’s still a new toy so I use it a lot but it’s pretty rare when I “need” to bring laptop along. The laptop is mostly just for typing these days.

Photo from Geeky-Gadgets and the linked page has a video of this working on the JailBroken iPhone…

Written By: Gary on September 21, 2009 No Comment

The OpenInternet.gov site is kind of boring so far, but the here’s the intro video (the first 60 seconds of the below intro probably says all you need).

Here’s the direct link.

The speech given this morning is different (video not available yet) and has some actual content and the speech is pretty good, so be sure to read it, it’s an interesting mini-history of the Internet. They talk of their six principals of transparency but they don’t mention Net Neutrality.

openinternet.gov.pngI think some people think OpenInternet.gov opening as the governments response to support Net Neutrality. Search Google for Net Neutrality OpenInternet.gov or Net Neutrality (at least results as of this moment) and it’s practically treating the OpenInternet.gov and Net Neutrality as the same thing.

The point that I’m bringing up is that they specifically don’t say the phrase on the site. And not in the speech, if anything they seem to be avoiding the phrase “Net Neutrality”. As a matter of fact they I can only find the word “neutral” once, in the last line of this mornings speech:

Our work now is to preserve the brilliance of what they contributed to our country and the world. It’s to make sure that, in the 21st century, the garage, the basement, and the dorm room remain places where innovators can not only dream but bring their dreams to life. And no one should be neutral about that.

I even had Google search OpenInternet.gov for “neutral” and it only found the same phrase (no hits for “net neutrality”).

I’m not saying they’re not going to support Net Neutrality concepts, I just think it’s interesting they went out of their way not to say Net Neutrality or even to say that they’re support concepts of it. And that so many places are reporting the phrase Net Neutrality in the headlines in regards to the this site and speech.

I’d like to read more, but they don’t have an RSS feed to use. They mislead you with some Twitter, Facebook and RSS icons, but those are just for the FCC site.

Written By: Gary on September 21, 2009 No Comment

I love WordPress. I think I’ve expressed that many many times. The plug-ins that people supply are amazing too. But what I’m surprised about are some basics that some plug-ins don’t have. When going to the configuration page from a plug-in they neglect some basic information:

  • the name of the plug-in
  • the version number of the plug in
  • the name of the programmer
  • a related web site
  • a link to where the plug-in is located on WordPress.org
  • A few sentences with some very basic instructions would be nice too :)

How can I recommend your product to anyone else without a link? Or how can I donate to the author if I don’t know where (or who) they are? Or how to use it without any instructions?

Some of the plug-ins have great instructions, but if you can’t find the site with the information it’s not very helpful. Some of the plug-ins have the information in a read me file in the plug-in folder, but some of the folders don’t have names that match up with the name of the plug-in very clearly. And really, if you’re going to create a read me file with important information, just paste it into the plug-in page.

Some plug-ins are great and include all the above, but many leave out a thing or three.  Some go above and beyond: including a list of people who donated and a list of information to include when reporting bugs (WP, PHP, MySQL and more); please note in this example, that they don’t tell you collect the information, they actually have the list with all the version numbers (all you have to do is copy and paste).

I might be sounding fussy, but I’m not talking about user interface and minor confusing instructions, I’m talking relatively big things here. Things that could get the author recognition or donations. Things that could prevent people from using the plug-in that they bothered to create (they do want people to use them, don’t they?).

Written By: Gary on September 20, 2009 No Comment

This new free add-on to AT&T Cell phones that starts today for sign-up. You’ll get to choose 5 numbers with unlimited to and from calling for individual plans $59.99 a month or higher. Family plans $89.99 a month or higher get to choose 10 numbers (shared between all users). It looks like this is Unity or Nation plans; see http://att.com/alist for more info (this link still gives you info, but the login seems to generate an error, so just login normally and click on manage your A-List).

That’s calling to any other company cell phones or land-lines!  It’s a free upgrade to those who qualify so it’s kind of a no-brainer to sign up.

alist-att.png

Five numbers for an individual plan. That’s huge! I’d guess 95% of my minutes go to the same five numbers; 75% percent probably go to just three numbers.

Only standard domestic landline or wireless numbers may be added. Directory assistance, 900 numbers, customer’s own wireless or Voice Mail access numbers, and machine to machine numbers are not eligible. Only voice calling is eligible.

– From the AT&T A-List “Feature Terms & Conditions”

Even if you have enough minutes, it’s silly to not sign up and get the free leftover minutes put into your rollover account. It might even be worth it to lower your plan if you have a much higher plan.

Here’s the thing though, if you have more than enough minutes, this really isn’t going to help much, you’re probably already on an appropriate plan. It’s really most helpful if you were already considering raising your minutes. If you were considering adding another phone (or two) to your plan, you might get away with doing it and not having to add more minutes. Or if you’ve considered ditching your land-line and just going cellular. Remember AT&T is doing this to be competitive and probably did the math for everyone’s most called numbers; it was probably this or lower prices and who wants to give up money these days…?

Please let me know in the comments how this plan might benefit you most. And remember to come back in a few months and let me know how this affects your bill, especially if you change your plan and save money because of it.

Written By: Gary on September 19, 2009 No Comment

200Px-Talk Like A Pirate DayToday is International Talk Like a Pirate Day!!!!

If you’re not sure how, here’s how to talk like a pirate.

Here’s the direct link.

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Written By: Gary on September 18, 2009 No Comment

HowimetIs there still one slap left?

This won’t be funny at all if you don’t watch the show.

Here’s the direct link in case the embedded video doesn’t show.

They took the countdown site down that they show in the clip. It was up and looked just like that. Here’s a cached copy at the internet archive. (but it’s at 0)

Written By: Gary on September 13, 2009 No Comment

This looks pretty awesome. Until I saw the target. Video looks pretty good though.


Direct link to the huge water slide launch.

It’s gotta be fake, a few feet short and you’d hit the platform. When I first saw it, I thought the pool was in a lake (so if you missed no big deal) but the wooden platform is just too much of a way to kill yourself if you missed (and it’s not a very big pool). So I vote “fake”…

Found at -273.

Written By: Gary on September 11, 2009 No Comment

image650862516.jpgI can be anywhere in the country and watch the space shuttle land live on my phone. It amazes me every day.

I can’t imagine what the next few years will bring :)

PS – I’m writing and posting this from my phone after capturing the image while watching it live!!!

Written By: Gary on September 11, 2009 One Comment

This weeks Friday Question is: What’s your reaction when you receive a compliment?

If it’s something about me being nice or smart or something like that, I’m never so sure how to respond. A mumbled thanks or something is most likely.

But if it’s a compliment about my cool shoes or something like that. Then I appropriately say thank you and probably tell you more than you ever wanted to know about them.

So it’s a mixed response depending on the kind of compliment.

Written By: Gary on September 10, 2009 No Comment

So if you have any older iPod or iPhone accessories or chargers many of they don’t charge properly. I’m not sure what they changed but it’s a pain when it’s a nice speaker dock or your car stereo won’t charge our battery (and instead drains the battery).

Enter the Scosche Charging Adapter for iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPod touch 2G and iPod nano 4G! This device plugs in between the cable and you iPod of iPhone. I plug my iPhone into the adaptor and then into the cable in the car and now I can listen and charge my iPhone. So I can actually stream audio over the air (network) and pipe it straight into my stereo in my car, it’s awesome!

I’ve picked up the adaptor for $24.99 at Amazon. They also make an adaptor that plugs into some docks/stands that does the same type of thing (available in black or white).

It was well worth it for me, I think my car stereo is less than 18 months old so I didn’t need a new one and they’d probably have charged me at least $50 labor just to run a new cable (assuming Alpine even makes one for my stereo, which I couldn’t find). So this was a no-brainer.

If it’s a short ride and I’m just listening to the iPhone via the iPod application then I don’t use the adaptor so that I’m not just charging for only few minutes. I try not to charge my phone (or any device) if I’m really not going to need it, the iPhone is probably only good for a certain amount of charges so I try not to waste the number of charges.

FYI – In my experience plugging the Scosche adaptor into the iPhone first before the other device works better; otherwise (at least my car stereo) sees it as 1/2 an iPhone and gets confused.

Written By: Gary on September 9, 2009 One Comment

Speaking of A Fine Frenzy, here’s an 18 minute video/concert with four songs. Also, it’s available in 480p!

A Fine Frenzy performs songs from their new album in the renowned John Drew Theater at Guild Hall in East Hampton, New York.

The few times I’ve seen her has been in a really small venue, so it really evokes memories of the few times of when I’ve seen her in concert. I think the one place I saw her might have been only a little bigger than the stage.

The video has a few (very) small bits of her talking too…


affcloseuphulu.png

Here’s the Hulu direct link to A Fine Frenzy – Live from the Artists Den.

UPDATE: Speaking of video. There is a video podcast calledBomb in a Birdcage – Track by Track that’s got a little behind the scenes video for all 11 tracks (30-90 seconds each) and it’s free.

Written By: Gary on September 8, 2009 One Comment

The new A Fine Frenzy album Bomb In A Birdcage has been released today. I’ve mentioned A Fine Frenzy many times and seen Alison in concert several times.

Here’s the great thing the MP3 album from Amazon is only $3.99, that might only be a today only offer (but sometimes these deals last for days). That’s 12 tracks if you get it from Amazon (I think one is a bonus track but it’s a different bonus track than the $9.99 iTunes version). I actually don’t know how long this offer will last, but I picked it up a copy. FYI, the Amazon songs are 256 kbps and will play on your iPod/iPhone and the Amazon downloader will put them right into your iTunes for you!

UPDATE: You can can purchase just the iTunes bonus track of Coming Around for 99 cents. That gets you a deluxe (nonexistent) version of the album!

Personally, I like buying the actual CD verses the digital media, but I figure there’s a good chance I’ll see here in concert and get the CD autographed so I’ll pick it up from her then. Here’s a link to the actual 11-track Bomb in a Birdcage CD at Amazon.

FYI – These are affiliate links above. I get a small kickback if you follow these links and buy anything.

Written By: Gary on September 4, 2009 No Comment

The City of Dearborn was supposed to have fireworks earlier this summer but it got rained out (I think that’s why it was delayed) and tonight was the make up day.

Wow! It was amazing, it was a constant barrage of fireworks for about 25 minutes. Very cool.

fireworks-tall-red-IMG_0546.JPG

I love how red this image came out!


This is a few short clips combined.
Even though the preview is small the video isn’t


This clip is short, but the video came out more focused than the other.

It was an impressive show. I won’t miss another one at Dearborn’s Ford Field if I have a choice about it.

Written By: Gary on September 3, 2009 No Comment

A commercial from the 1950s for the Remington Rand UNIVAC System!

Direct link to the Univac video

It’s got “Memory Tanks with 12,000 additional units of information”, assuming a “unit” is byte that’s 12 kB of information. That’s about one-tenth of a floppy disk, a floppy disk from twenty-fie years. Based on the other video (below) they might only be 3/4 of a byte :)

I’m really surprised the printer could do 600 lines per minute, that’s pretty fast for that time (I would think!) although it didn’t look much different from some large printers I’ve seen years later.

Univac I

There’s a 17 minute infomercial too.

And I found this video from Dean’s World too! I didn’t steal his text :)

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

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