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March 2010

Written By: Gary on March 31, 2010 No Comment

It’s a beautiful day out. So instead of sitting in the house on this great day, I went for a bike ride and I’m sitting outside the library. They’ve got WiFi and it actually reaches outside pretty good.

The problem is the sun is really making it hard to see my screen. I could sit in the shade but then I’m not in the sun (I might as well as be at home). My XO laptop had this great LCD display that actually worked better in direct sunlight than it did in indirect sunlight. It has a color display but in the direct sunlight it washed out all the color leaving a very clear greyscale image. (I think it might have two different types of LCD displays sandwiched together.)

I’d like some kind of a high contrast display for my laptop that worked like that one (that wouldn’t get washed out in the sun). It’s just to get information typed in, it doesn’t need to be pretty ,have a fast refresh or anything. It’s got a clip at the top theat just rests on my current laptop display (the top edge of it could be a spall solar panel to help with power) and it’d plug into the video port on my laptop and the USB for some power.

Here’s a quick video to show you the quality of the display of the XO Laptop. It’s a little out of focus at times because I’ve got macro on and I keep moving the camera.

Watch a larger version of this video in YouTube.

If the XO didn’t have such a crappy keyboard, I’d be tempted to use it outside and use VNC to remotely access the display on my MacBook. But then I’d have to haul to computers around with me.

Anyone have any suggestions for something like this?

Written By: Gary on March 30, 2010 No Comment

This is one of the best deals for games at Target that I’ve seen in ages:
Hasbro Games Monopoly Deal Card Game Hasbro Games
Monopoly Deal (card game) and Bop It for $1.00; that’s Bop It for $14 ($5 manufacturers coupon and a $3 Target coupon) with the free (Hasbro purchases over $10) Monopoly card game (and also using a $5 off Monopoly manufacturers coupon). Need 3 coupons total.
Connect 4 and Monopoly Deal (card game) for $2.00! That’s Connect 4 for $14 ($4 manufacturers coupon and a $3 Target coupon) with the free (Hasbro purchases over $10) Monopoly card game (using a $5 off Monopoly manufacturers coupon). Need 3 coupons total.

So in essence, they’re paying you $5 to take the free Monopoly Deal card game (which is rated 5 stars at Amazon).

Here’s a link to the coupons over at SlickDeals.net. Just so you know, you actually print these coupons come from Coupons.com and Target.com so they are legit and if you’ve never used either coupon site, they will want to install some kind of coupon printer application (for your Macintosh or Windows PC).

Written By: Gary on March 25, 2010 No Comment

This is just a test of MacJournal. I’ve tried it in the past, but I thought I’d give it another try since it just came in a bundle I purchased and they’re coming out with an iPhone app that you can sync your entries with it.

I had a few problems getting it to configure. I ended up manually doing the settings and using the MovableType protocol with a blog ID of “1”. Couldn’t get the atom protocol for posting to work (I’ve never gotten it to work with any blogging client). Actually, it just alerted me to version 5.2 with allowed me to use the WordPress protocol, but I still needed to use a blog ID of “1”. And when it pulls down my old entries, it pulls down my tags, but doesn’t seem to grab my categories.

As I write this, I see a way to set the tags, but I don’t see any way to set my categories. I see it pulled the categories down from the web site but I just don’t see how to choose them. When you submit the post (“Send to Blog”) is when it asks you to pick the category! That was not in the help section at all. Also, it’s kind of inconvenient, if you write an article off-line and wait until you are connected to the internet to post it you can’t just hit send, you need to pick the categories which might not seem like a big deal, but when you’ve got a 1/2 dozen posts you wrote off-line and you’ve only got a few minutes to post (and they might be charging you by the minute) it’d be nice to have done that part in advance.

wpid-wpid-MJicon5.rPcVM2jzA0Wh.KjwjelAnqYBn.jpgHmm… Trying to figure out how to wrap the text around this image. Can’t figure out how to edit the HTML (my preferred choice) to change it. Not so happy with this at this point, but maybe someone will offer some tips.

Later: It also auto capitalized my tags after I specifically typed them in lowercase, not happy with that. I’ve got a few other WordPress things: Not being able to edit custom fields and set the slug for the blog post name, but those are pretty specific things, but I wanted to mention them for those loooking for a client.

I’ll play with it a little more, but I think I’ll be sticking with Ecto which integrates with WordPress quite nicely. I’m not saying it’s bad, but it doesn’t let me do some of the things I want to do. Ecto handles the categories, tags, custom fields and the web URL (slug) for WordPress very well; plus it allows me to create some macros, makes it pretty to create Amazon links, has a nice preview and can switch between WYSIWYG and HTML quite easily.

FYI, this is MacJournal version 5.1.4 5.2 and a self-hosted WordPress 2.9.2 blog.

Written By: Gary on March 21, 2010 One Comment

My condo is about 10 years old and (in Michigan at least) they’re allowed to use plastic PVC pipe in some instances. At least it passed inspection, so I assume it’s allowed. It’s never really bothered me except where the fresh water goes into the tank of the toilet, there is this flexible hose that goes into a metal clamp and it’s just cheap looking. I can’t think of anything else that I’d really complain about the construction of my condo (other than a few missed spots when they painted). Also, the hose seems like it’s bent with a bit too much tension, which might be part of the problem, but I really don’t know about these kinds of things, I’m not really the handy-man type.

In the bathroom the hose got bumped during normal cleaning and leaked a little as a result. I touched the hose and it stopped, so I jammed it back in there and put a little bucket underneath it. It seemed fine after a few months so I pulled the bucket and noticed it dripped a little later so I put it back (tried this twice). So I’ve left the bucket there for ages and it’s been there for years. I’ve never seen any moisture whenever I’ve looked, but it’s really not in the way, so I’ve left it.

This past week, cleaning the other bathroom, I barely bumped the same toilet hose and it started dripping. I tried to shove it back in but it’d start again, the more I fussed the more it dripped. It even started dripping out of the other end a little, so I turned the water off to that toilet and used the other one for the last few days.

multi-turn-valve.jpgI went to get the parts to fix it today. The guy at Home Depot (Larry) seemed to know what he was talking about so I asked him. I described it to him and he said it didn’t make sense, the hose should come off. So I showed him the pictures I took on my phone, and he agreed it really didn’t look like the hose would come off the one end; he specifically said he’d never seen anything like it. So he sold me a new valve, a new hose and some Oatey PVC primer/glue. If it was more normal, I’d only have needed the hose ($5) but as it was, I spent less than $20 on everything; but if it works, I’ll replace the other one and never need the bucket again…oatey-30248.jpg

I Googled for a few different types of directions, my biggest concern was 2 things: One, if I screwed up I’d have to cut the pipe near the wall (to remove the old connector) and if the pipe gets too short, it’s time to start removing dry wall. The other being that there was a little water dripping out, so I was afraid it would impact the process. I found absolutely nothing on if I should worry about the dripping water and the pipe length turned out not to be a problem.

I found two good references: Gluing PVC Pipe and Fittings and the FAQ at the Oatey site (the “glue”) and the eHow on using purple primer and PVC glue.

I thought I’d have to saw off the old connector (this was going to be my least favorite part) but it was just pushed on with some kind of a pressurized sealed fitting (or else it took no effort to break the glue seal) and I’d seen something similar in metal before (I’m guessing). So no sawing off the pipe, I just cleaned up what was there. By the time I was ready, the dripping had stopped.

braided-hose.jpgSo I cleaned off the pipe, made sure it was dry, and applied the purple primer to both pieces (the applicator is built into the can). Waited a few seconds (less than 10) and applied the “glue” (technically I “solvent welded the PVC pipe”, not “glued”) to both parts (two times). Pushed the connector on, while giving a quarter-twist, and held it for two minutes.

Now I just wait two hours and it should be ready to go. I wish I’d taken a few pictures before I started the process…

I actually think it’ll be ready sooner than that (I’m well below the water pressure PSI it’ll handle and it’s much warmer than needed), but better safe than sorry.

The purple primer can was really really full and it spilled easily, I’m glad I had newspaper down. The only other thing that could have made this easier would have been to have someone else here, the water shut-off is three floors down and when I turn it on when IF it starts leaking I won’t know until I come all the way up here and then have run all the way back down to turn it off (and then run back up here to clean it up).

I’ve still got an hour to wait until the unveiling (or maybe the flood)…

Later: So I hooked up the hose and turned on the water and everything seems to be fine. The water seemed a little discolored at first, I didn’t expect that with the PVC pipes, but I ran all the faucets for a while and all seems great now!

FYI, the pictures of the parts (valve, hose and “glue”) are similar to what I used. Finding the exact one was kinda hard, the glue is the same (Oatey PVC Cement w/ Purple Primer #30248).

Written By: Gary on March 18, 2010 No Comment

I’ve really been cleaning and getting rid of things lately. Last week I easily had double the average, but this week I’ve outdone myself. How much? Enough to where I thought I should take a picture of it!!!


The stuff on the left is recycling, the stuff on the right is trash. The box in the very middle is some book-type stuff that I’m not sure if it’s recyclable so I’ll let them figure it out. I’ve also got some boxes of books and stuff to take to the Salvation Army or somewhere too.

My neighbors are probably wondering why I’m doing flash photography outside at midnight..?

The inside it still a bit of a disaster, I’ve got to get that picked up since my mother is stopping by tomorrow today…

Written By: Gary on March 7, 2010 No Comment

How could you not want one of these? The ad makes it feels like it’s something out of Star Trek and that’s before they run the Star Trek movie promo clip!!

Direct link to the Apple iPad commercial. hands_pad.jpg

Actually, I think I’ll pass this time around. I’d ditch my iPhone if it were a phone, but really don’t need another device to carry around and I have a laptop. To get the GPS it sounds like you need the 3G card (otherwise it just uses the WiFi for an estimate). And it doesn’t have a camera of any sort. Yet…

Written By: Gary on March 6, 2010 No Comment

So people used to say something like “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?”, for most of my life I think the closest I could come to that was “Where was I during the attempted Reagan assignation?”, it’s not the same thing, but it’s a President being shot so it’s what came to mind for me in those situations.

sts-51l-challenger-2.jpgTwo other things that stick in my head were the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster and Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. The Challenger sticks more in my head mostly due to the imagery of it’s explosion 73 seconds after the launch.

Clearly for many people, “Where were you on September 11th, 2001?” will be that type of question. Personally, that one sticks in my head mostly because I saw much of it live. But then I assume the attacks was designed that way, one crash so that everyone was watching and then additional crashes while so many were already watching. And then so many watched the towers fall so even if you missed the earlier part of the disaster there still parts for you to catch live.

It’s generally disasters or death that people remember: The Oklahoma City bombing (1995), the London Bombing (2005), when John Lennon was shot, when Princess Diana died and things along those lines (FYI, I don’t remember when all these happened). That’s sad that these are the parts of life that people remember and talk about. Keep in mind, it’s not when the event happened it’s really about when you heard about it.

Maybe because disasters are always disasters to most people but great things to one person aren’t always a great thing to another person…

If you can think of some “Where were you?” events, please add them to the comments!

Written By: Gary on March 5, 2010 No Comment

I don’t even know how to describe the Everyday Looper application for the iPhone. It lets you makes loops live and you sing along with them. I can’t sing along, but maybe you can.everydaylooerapp.png

Hmmm… Here’s a better description: Remember in elementary school when you sang “Row, Row, Row your boat” and someone else would chime in so they were singing the previous sentence at the same time? This seems like it would let you do that, but with yourself (and do it live). If you still don’t get it, just watch the video.

Direct link to the video.

Looks like a complicated interface to learn but a very impressive video! I do not have this app but I thought it the video was very cool

Written By: Gary on March 3, 2010 No Comment

This is a time lapse of the roll out from the VAB (Vertical Assembly Building) to the launch page, I’d guess it’s about an hour of moving per minute. I’ll admit it’s not the most exciting time lapse video but it’s a lot faster than the live video was last night (it was about seven hours until attached).

STS-131_patch.pngJust before midnight last night, space shuttle Discovery began its slow roll from the Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Pad 39A. Riding aboard the crawler-transporter, the shuttle completed the 3.4-mile trip and was secured to the pad by 7 a.m. EST.

— NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Here’s the direct link to the roll out video.

So I’m pretty excited about this, not the roll out itself, but once it’s been on the launch pad a few more days and the figure out if there are any issues it’ll help firm up the launch date. I figure once the GOES-P mission goes off this week that’ll help too, I don’t think there is anything else big in the meantime.

Written By: Gary on March 1, 2010 No Comment

I’m not one for much fan fiction but this is a pretty good Torchwood story. It’s titled “Countdown” and I’d estimate that it takes place shortly before Children of Earth (season 3).


It’s listed as Torchwood Virtual Series (Season) three, episode two so I guess I should look around for more.

If you read the story, but you’re not a huge Doctor Who or Torchwood fan, I’ll explain one detail that might not be clear in the story. UNIT stands for UNified Intelligence Taskforce (formerly United Nations Intelligence Taskforce) and is an Earth-based alien and paranormal task force; think of them as a more formal/military version of Torchwood. UNIT made a few appearances in the 2005+ Doctor Who series (recently and intergral to the plot of 2009’s Planet of the Dead special) and an occasional mention on Torchwood. UNIT is where Martha Jones has been working since she’s stopped traveling with The Doctor. I believe it was much more prominently featured in some of the older Doctor Who series (and might be make more appearances in the new 2010 Doctor Who).

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