Saturday, February 13, 2010

Visio SV472XVT Review.

We lost almost all our stuff with hurricane Ike,, and its taken some time to replace our livingroom/familyroom TV. We decided we wanted an LED/LCD TV. These sets promise to longer lasting with contrast comparable to the Plasma sets. We wanted big, and we wanted network capable.

We decided on the Visio SV472XVT Its 47 inch size was a trade off for us between availability and budget. and getting all the features we wanted. It turns out that the 47 inch size is plenty big enough for the room it is in These flat screens always seem smaller in the stores than they do at home. The Visio had Internet apps that included Netflix. They also claimed to have Facebook and Pandora apps.

When the set was initially turned on we were taken through a setup wizard. The process was easy and while it took a while for the set to scan and find all the channels on our cable system it was done all automatically.

We set the TV against a wall directly opposed to the our large glass double doors. We haven't replaced the blinds yet on it so there is a lot daylight shinning directly on the the TV. The TV holds up pretty well under all that reflective glare although noticible it is still quite watchable. The sound typically on Visio sets is quite good right out the box, this box is no exception, however,like most HDTVs this one will benefit with the addition of an external home theater sound system.

The picture on this thing is incredible. Blackest blacks bright and ever so sharp. The set does an very good job of standard 480sd analog stations too. We don't have a blue-ray for this yet, but Broadcast quality HD is oustanding and where the Visio really shines.
the "N" wireless Netflix streams in flawlessly even though the set is pretty far away from our router. We were disappointed though that Pandora wasn't included in the apps selection.

This set has it all, Network capable, zoned LED backlighting and Great picture, and Visio value.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Consumer Tip HDMI Cable

Black Friday is coming up and the economy isn't so hot, so the retail big box stores are expected to have lots of sales on the big ticket items. I've noticed that some unscrupulous stores such as Best Buy and Radio Shack, attempt an up charge by pushing the need for their HDMI cables at $100.00 and more.

You don't need a $100 piece of wire. While HDMI connections are the way to go the cables can be bought at a reasonable cost. I've seen them under $20.00 at Sams, Fryes, Walmart and any where on line. There is no reason to let them sucker you in at at Fryes or at Radio Shack. Charging those prices is deceptive and price gouging. If you see the prices let them know you are offended at their gouging practices.

Remember its only a wire.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Catching the Wave

I got an invite to google wave, was pretty excited about it, You can only tell so much about a program by reading about it. I swallowed my pride and begged an invite. I think I swore off Beta testing years ago, in fact I swore off them several times. The beauty of Wave though is that none of it has to reside on my my computer.

I played with it and discovered the mapping function. It didn't really work to well on my machine Ubunto Jaunty 9.04 . with Firefox 3.0 Oh well Google wave is intended for use in browsers using HTML 5.0 whatever that is. It was pretty clear that I needed to upgrade my Firefox. I have been getting impatient with my current build any way. I like the snapyness of the newer Firefox and really missed the sticky notes feature that OpenOffice 3.1 has. Only problem is that I had never tried t0 upgrade Ubuntu before. Yes, The Karmic Koala is also in Beta. Well the upgrade went flawlessly and I was now able to start playing with Google Wave.

The Wave has come a long way since the unveiling in May. The demo consisted of a few crashes in the sand box. While it sometimes moves a little slow I haven't seen any lockups or crashes. I still haven't run it through all its paces, and I am not sure if the upload/download documents works yet there is a lot of potential here. This might be considered a social site for grownups. We can chat on line, but all the time we are creating a document. It takes the strength of on line chatting, social web sites and email and combines it all into one. It works just as well in real time as email like off line communications and like email every wave is a document.

Wave still needs a little polishing and a lot more users, it doesn't become practical until it gets universal availability. While Google seems to be claiming that Wave is the beginning of the end for email may be overstated it very well could change the way we communicate.
Those with wave access go ahead and look me up. I'm Liberty on google wave also

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Netflix Notes

We lost most of our videos, ans DVDs in Hurricane Ike. Before we moved back home, Michelle was  looking for bargains to replace our lost goods, She did find a $25.00 DVD player at Walgreens. The Coby DVD 224, We figured it would do the job. We figure we will be getting a blue ray and a nice TV for the living room at set some point. We moved back home in June, got basic cable and of course Hi speed internet. We are watching our money pretty close these days, rebuilding/ refitting our house and the market crashes have really cut deeply into our disposable income. So we didn't get all the extra movie channels we were used to getting.

Our niece Vanessa and her hubby tobe came to visit last month and she presented me a gift. A quart sized ziplock with cables small wall wart and an electronic box called a Roku. She told me how nice Netflix is and we really need to get it. I was apreciative of the gift, but I didn't really understand what this kewl little box was.

I have heard about Netflix, and everyone who subscribes really seems to like it. The price is reasonable enough, less than $10 a month for movie rentals. Delivery is next day and we don't even have to front a stamp. Cheaper than Showtime or HBO. I started looking at this Roku thing a little closer.

Its a rather  unimpressive looking box. it is about the size of 4 of 5 CD cases stacked on top of each other. No buttons or switches. The only indicator is a small LED that flickers when the unit seems to be doing something. The back has assorted connections 5V @ 1.5 amps very lower power. Optical audio out. Component, and Composite video. HDMI and Ethernet I began to wonder what is behind this little box. I've seen garage door openers more complicated looking than this remote.

We signed up for NetFlix it was a fairly easy process and our 1st month is free. I selected some movies to instant view and a list for them to send DVDs as we viewed them. It all went pretty smoothly.

I then went to setup and configure the Ruku. My television has a free HDMI port, so it was just a single connection real easy. Powered it up. We configured it for my wireless WEP connection.  My TV resolution and It was ready to go.  Wow I already 278 films and series already loaded into the queue.But none of my own. We had Vanessa's old list! It was pretty simple to unsubscribe and resubscribe to our Netfix account.  We now can watch watch movies.  It all works by picking out what we to watch from the Netflix site from our PC it gets queued to our Netflix box and ready to select from a list. This is supposed to be just the extra service thrown in by Netflix to supplement their DVD service. 

We got our DVD the next day, and we set up the player, the very inexpensive Coby DVD-224. By comparison the DVD player was a lot more complex looking. It had 4 buttons and a drawer in the front, but the little  remote has 40 buttons, The Roku only has 9. While the DVD doesn't have either an RF output Jack or HDMI The Progressive scan output over the componant outputs provides a beautiful image over out HD TV.   The remote is a little confusing, but once the movie is started all is good.  and for $25.00  how can we go wrong.

All in all we are thrilled with Netflix, and it is a bargain for what we get. I am enjoying old TV series like Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Kolchak, The Night Stalker as well as all more movies than we will ever have time to to watch. Every couple of days we get a new new hard copy of a DVD to watch. I think this Netflix thing with Roku is a keeper.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Did You Know?

I found this pretty interesting

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Friday, March 13, 2009

A Drop Box in the Clouds

Sharing our stuff is sometimes one of he more difficult of the things we do. Email works well for small amounts of stuff, some times the stuff we want to share is simply with ourselves but across several computers. My address book needs to be in common with 2 home computers and 2 work computers. A fileserver, network drive, or even a Plug Computer work well under the same roof. A Drop Box works well whether one wants to publish their files out for public consumption, to share only with computers under ones own control, or to share files only with collaberators. There areother methods for syncing and sharing files but DropBox seems to have got it right. It performs 3 functions of sharing, publishing and syncing files between computers, it does so seamlessly. All that is required is to drop the files in a folder. within the folder There are folders for photos folders, for privacy and folders for sharing. Intuitive and simple. Best of all a 2 gig box is free.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Less is More

There seems to be a trend going on, folks are looking out close at their computing costs. We all understand that high speed and huge screens have their place in modern laptops. But do we all really need it. What are our real computing requirements? For most of us its surfing the web, running an email client and typing a document or maybe running a spreadsheet. We just don't need a $2000.00 machine running a Microsoft's latest excuse for an operating system, at a couple hundred dollars a machine. There is a great convergence, of economic recession, user sophistication on recognizing their needs. Newer cooler processors such as the atom, and the maturity of Linux in such distrobutions such as Ubunto, and the realization that programs such as Thunderbird and really do work as claimed.

Microsoft presented us with Vista an OS that that was writen to protect content providers rather than give the consumer something that was actually better than what they were used. The icing on the cake was when users discovered that so many of their old programs refused to run any more. Many users decided to continue using the less power hungry XP or bail out of the Microsoft borg and check out Linux systems. Ubunto provided a plethora of commonly needed apps, all in an easy to install CD and its all free.

The demand for large screens and higher speeds in portable laptops has taken away their portablility they have goten heavier and hotter. The traveller started finding them unwieldy and heavy. Today netbooks can provide what most folks really need. Net access and the abilty to run office software. Most net books run either XP or some flavor of Linux. and can be bought for under $400.oo This blog entry is being typed one an Acer Aspire One . It has a 9 inch screen 1 gig of RAM, 120 gig hard drive, and runs at 1.8 GHz . It is no power house, but it is suitable foor the job.

A New York Times article describes the market as such:

Meanwhile, more experimental but lower-cost technologies like netbooks, Internet-based software services (called cloud computing) and virtualization, which lets companies run more software on each physical server, are on the rise.

Penny-pinching shoppers like Mr. Title could have the most immediate effect on the tech industry, particularly if more people consider canceling their cable subscriptions to watch video online, or drop their landline telephones to depend on their cellphones or on Internet calling services like Skype.

Many consumers appear ready to abandon the costly desktop computer altogether. Analysts expect PC sales to fall in 2009 for just the second time in the last two decades, with desktops falling even faster than they did in 2007 or 2008.

The only bright spot in the PC industry is netbooks. Analysts at the Gartner research company said shipments rose to 4.4 million devices in the third quarter of 2008, from 500,000 units in the first quarter of last year. Analysts say sales could double this year despite a deep worldwide recession.

One of the criticisms of the little netbooks is that they don't have a lot of peripherals. My little machine does have a camera, 1 extended SDHC port, one multi card port (Mem stick SD XD, Flash ) but there is no CD DVD reader writer. At first the limitation might sem overwelming, but reality is that all the apps one really needs can be downloaded off the net. Music and movies ripped off the DVDs and store it on either SD drives or flash drives I find coppying to 8 gig SD media or or to flash drives is easier and faster and best of all reusable. They even fit into a pocket or on a keychain. Yeah I still use my desktop, and I will buy them again, I will be looking closely atLinux and will be looking closer at price than performance

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Chrome makes its Mark

Google released their new web browser Tuesday and it shows promise. Google has a reputation for releasing Betas that are pretty solid and Chrome is no exception, although it is a beta, it is rock solid and their have been very few reports unstability.

The first thing that one might notice is the clean interface. There is no menu bar, no tool bar. There is a history bar and a navigation bar thats it. Options and functions are accessed from two tiny icons in upper right hand corner. There are lots of keyboard shortcuts. Navigating the way around the program pretty easy. One enters a search or a web site all in the same textbox. Chrome figures out what it's suppose to do.

There is some concern that Chrome is just another method for Google to gather more information about us so that it can aim targeted advertising at us. While Google promises extension and add-on capability it just isn't their yet. One has wonder whether ad blocking will be allowed to work in further versions. Chrome does have a "porn" mode though where site information isn't logged onto ones PC to ensure privacy.

The most important feature of Chrome may be it robustness. Each tab runs within its own process. a super fast Javascript virtual machine called V8 that uses compiled code technology. Active threading helps prevent ant one action from slowing the whole browser down. Google also promises a much improved memory management than either Internet Explorer or FireFox.

Both Microsoft and Firefox are due to release new versions before the end of the year. Firefox is promising enhanced performance with Version 3.1. Microsoft is still prommising not to support Linux or older versions of Windows.

Chrome shows promise, but right now the lack of extensibility to allow ad blocking and not being ready to run on Linux or Mac machines is going to limit it acceptabilty.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

In the town of Marlboro Massachusetts Victor Deeb has has his home raided.
Victor Deeb, a retired chemist who lives in Marlboro, has finally been allowed to return to his Fremont Street home, after Massachusetts authorities spent three days ransacking his basement lab and making off with its contents.

Deeb is not accused of making methamphetamine or other illegal drugs. He's not accused of aiding terrorists, synthesizing explosives, nor even of making illegal fireworks. Deeb fell afoul of the Massachusetts authorities for ... doing experiments.

Authorities concede that the chemicals found in Deeb's basement lab were no more hazardous than typical household cleaning products. Despite that, authorities confiscated "all potentially hazardous chemicals" (which is to say the chemicals in Deeb's lab) from his home, and called in a hazardous waste cleanup company to test the chemicals and clean up the lab.

Are there any property rights left any more? Where does ones right to privacy start and the neighborhood nannyness end. From the Worcestor Telegram reports:

Pamela A. Wilderman, Marlboro’s code enforcement officer, said Mr. Deeb was doing scientific research and development in a residential area, which is a violation of zoning laws.

“It is a residential home in a residential neighborhood,” she said. “This is Mr. Deeb’s hobby. He’s still got bunches of ideas. I think Mr. Deeb has crossed a line somewhere. This is not what we would consider to be a customary home occupation. … There are regulations about how much you’re supposed to have, how it’s detained, how it’s disposed of.

Mr. Deeb’s home lab likely violated the regulations of many state and local departments, although officials have not yet announced any penalties.
Emphasis of the money quote is mine. Apparently they aren't quit sure about rules or laws Mr. Deeb broke, but their must be some. I wonder what the zoning cops would have thought about Thomas Edison, and Alexander Graham Bell? I wonder where we would be today if these zone cops had been around in the days of Dr. Goddard.

While all this happened in the Peoples Republic of Massachusetts. Heavy handed code enforcement thugs isn't unique to the liberal leftest states. Here in Galveston, Texas I've had my own run in with the Galvestons backyard Gestapo.

I have a backyard with a pool. I hate my pool and it requires a lot of work and money to keep it up. I had been pretty busy and had been on the road a lot. So I backslid on the maintainance on the pool and my mowing dutys. The pump was circulating and we were tossing in massive loads of Chlorine every other day. I had a busy body neighbor take ofeence when he stepped up and peeked over the 6 ft stockade fence. A visit and nasty letter followed. Yeah, I compied like the good sheep, and chpped down the weeds got the pool into shape, but I wonder what right does the the City of Galveston have over what goes on in my fenced in Backyard. There was circulation and chlorine so it wasn't a mosquito issue.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

New Phones

We got some new phones. Three of them all Motorola's: The Krzr K1, RAZR2 V8 and the W490. We replaced 2 Razr V3's and a a basic Samsung.

We sent the W490 to my sister-in-law, ruok. I never got to play with it much, but it seems to be a very nice phone and simular in operation to the KRZR. It has a 1.3 Mhz Camera, records video. and has a slot for a micro SD card.

Equality, my wife, got the Razr2 V8. It is a sleek fine looking phone. It's even thinner than our old RAZR's. Such a thin yet it seems ruggedly built. The T-mobile site clams it uses a micro SD card but I couldn't find the slot I don't think it exist, the manual doesn't mention it. It doesn't matter, because there are 2 gigs of storage available anyway. The RAZR comes with a charger, a USB cable, and a CD. It won't connect to my Windows 2000 machine. It won't connect as another disk drive or install the CD. The CD installed just fine on Equality's XP computer and uses the Windows Media program for a front end to load and sync music. Ironic that Motorola would use the open source Linux OS to run their phone, but be so limited in what software is used to connect the the phone. Once the drivers and software is installed on an XP machine though you can then access the files through Windows Explorer. This is not the phone for Apple or Linux users.

The KRZR K1 is my phone, It is a slick silvery case that attract fingerprints, about as long as the RAZR but thicker and more narrow. It uses a more traditional user interface. My Windows 2000 computer found it and adding music files is done simply by using Windows Explorer. I don't really intend on using it to listen to much music though. The KRZR doesn't seem to support much of a playlist. Both the KRZR and the RAZR have 2.0 MP cameras While I've seen some reviews that pan the cameras, I'm impressed with the quality and convenience of the cameras on these phones. The KRZR came with a 256 Meg micro SD card which will store a bunch of pictures. It can suport a 2 gig card, but I haven't decided yet whether I'll ever need that much.

I wanted a unique ring for my phone, and I thought the that the opening bars of the theme from the movie, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. I had an MP3 of the whole thing and used the free program Audacity to cut out the part that I wanted and copied it on to the the phone. There is no need to pay for ring tones.

Calls on all the are very sharp and clear in fact moble to moble is typically clearer than what we can get on our ATT landlines.

The real test of any cellular phone though is how well they hold up over time. We shall see!


Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Phoenix

Built from the remains of 2 missions gone bad. The Phoenix will make an attempt to land inthe Northern region of Mars. The BBC has a great animation on the complex landing sequence with a nice summation of the mission

Update: 19:00
A successful landing!

The Mars Phoenix lander touched down late on Sunday GMT in the far north of the Red Planet, after a 680-million-km (423-million-mile) journey from Earth.

The probe is equipped with a robotic arm to dig for water ice thought to be buried beneath the surface.

Scientists say the mission should give the clearest indication yet of whether the planet could once have harboured primitive life.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Progress Continues with OpenOffice.Org

It looks like Version 2.4 will be released next week around March 28th. 2.4 will have some of the enhancements we are looking at for 3.0 Which should be out around September. The Ninja has a preview of 3.0 I have been using almost exclusively these days. One of the main reasons is because oft he ability to create PDF files. The ability of 3.0 to edit and perhaps import them is a real reason to look forward to it. another new feature that I find pretty exciting is notes. Attaching notes to a document furthers the potential of collaboration.

Although it was mentioned last year that OpenOffice 3.0 will contain a an Outlook Substitute. Rumor has it that this will be Thunderbird and Lightning, I although I use Thunderbird, I cant see any real benifit to merging the 3 programs they are available seperatly, and unless there is some real tight intigration adding them to the package is simply bloat.

OpenOffice isn't just good Free Software. It is a good Office suite. A good suite that has cababilities beyond what Microsoft has to offer.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A petition to Save XP

I just set up a new computer this weekend, It was the dinosaur XP Pro. I have no use for Microsoft Vista. My favorite applications womn't work on it and I don't care for the idea of getting Microsoft's permission to run my favorite hardware and drivers that have worked faithfully for years. Its not only me, most IT professionals that aren't actually in Microsofts pocket will admit that its crap. While pretty and with some nice features its basically crap.

Infoworld is begging Microsoft to spare taking it away from us, with a petition drive.

"Over the past year, CIOs and CTOs have consistently told me they see no significant benefits to Vista, and really don't want to spend the time and money to update all their computers, retrain their users, and deal with application incompatibilities for a cosmetic upgrade," said Galen Gruman, executive editor at InfoWorld.

Already, due to customer resistance to Vista, Microsoft has granted XP a stay of execution, delaying its scheduled demise from December 31, 2007, to June 30, 2008. But that's not enough. InfoWorld's editors believe Microsoft should make XP available indefinitely. Therefore, InfoWorld has launched a petition drive aimed at convincing Microsoft to not only stay XP's execution but to take it off Death Row.

Please try to extend the life of XP by signing the petition here.


Friday, January 11, 2008

Building a Vacuum Tube at Home

Fabrication d'une lampe triode

French amatuer Radio Operator, Builds a Triode Vacuum tube. In this fascinating video, Claude Paillard takes us step by step in the process of hand fabricating a vacuum tube.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Glow in the Dark Cats

Glow in the dark cats, I guess that somethings shouldn't be done just because they can be.
Laurence Simon isn't impressed much either


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Not So Quite Hushmail

Maybe we just can't trust anyone anymore. Hushmail has long been considered one the most secure ways of communicating., They even advertise their service as a protection against government surveillance.

In some countries, government sponsored projects have been set up to collect massive amounts of data from the Internet, including emails, and store them away for future analysis. This data collection is done without any search warrant, court order, or subpoena. One example of such a program was the FBI's Carnivore project. By using Hushmail, you can be assured that your data will be protected from that kind of broad government surveillance.

There were some emails the U.S government wanted to look at and it looks like the Hushmail just turned it right over to them. Well, they turned it over to the Canadiens who then turned it over to the American DEA.

Hushmail claims to offer unreadable email as it uses PGP encryption technology and a company specific key management system that it says will ensure only the sender and recipient can read the emails. However it seems the Canadian company has been divulging keys to the American authorities.

The document describes the tracking of an anabolic steroid manufacturer who was being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The document alleges that the majority of those engaged in the trade in anabolic steroids use Hushmail to communicate.

The DEA agents received three CDs of decrypted emails which contained decrypted emails for the targets of the investigation that had been decrypted as part of a mutual legal assistance treaty between the United States and Canada.

Thats right, it wasn't about terrorist, or narcotics. It was about steroids. I got to wonder if there is any privacy over the net any more. My real concern though is if whether we've tipped off any Islamic Terrorist that might be using Hushmail. The government showing its hand over something petty like seems silly. It does confirm our belief that the government is more concerned about the war on drugs than they are about the war on folks who are trying to blow us up.

You can't trust anyone anymore.

Update: More details on how they did it can be found on Wired

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Monday, August 20, 2007

A Parting Shot

I must admit from the beginning I never liked the view. I always thought Microsoft Vista sucked, and so far the only folks that I've found that are impressed with it is some IT type folks who like the way it keeps the user away from knowing what is going on. Job security I guess.

PC Mag has long been known for being a Microsoft apologist. For several years they have spewed out the Bill Gates company line. In the early beta days and post Release days they kept us informed on how Vista was going to make all of our lives so much better.

Jim Louderback is turning in the keys to PC Mag, and as a parting shot he finally admits that Vista ain't so great.

Rest assured, you haven't heard the last of me. I will continue to write a column in PC Magazine. I still have too many issues to discuss with you. For example, my latest beef is with Vista.

Maybe it was something in the water? I've been a big proponent of the new OS over the past few months, even going so far as loading it onto most of my computers and spending hours tweaking and optimizing it. So why, nine months after launch, am I so frustrated? The litany of what doesn't work and what still frustrates me stretches on endlessly.


I could go on and on about the lack of drivers, the bizarre wake-up rituals, the strange and nonreproducible system quirks, and more. But I won't bore you with the details. The upshot is that even after nine months, Vista just ain't cutting it. I definitely gave Microsoft too much of a free pass on this operating system: I expected it to get the kinks worked out more quickly. Boy, was I fooled! If Microsoft can't get Vista working, I might just do the unthinkable: I might move to Linux.
I bought a new PC a few weeks ago and I went out of the way to avoid the nightmare known as Vista. Apparently I'm not the only one. I suspect this is happening a lot. Unfortunately, whether its XP or Vista, MSoft is still making a fortune off each system it sells.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Review Garmen Nuvi 360

I tend to travel quite a bit, in last 6 months I've been to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Austin a couple of times, Jay Florida, Biloxi and all over Texas. Sometimes I fly but even then there is usually driving involved to get to the final destination. There have been a couple of incidents that convinced me I should get a new fangled GPS navigation system. The last straw was circling around in Austin trying to get to my Hotel at midnight.
I decided on the Garmen Nüvi 360 It has a larger screen at 2.8"W x 2.1"H; 3.5" diagonal and it has Bluetooth. This would allow me to retire the Bluetooth earpiece that I've been using.

The screen is bright and easy to see in the brightest daylight. I had intended to mount it on a center platform on my dash. But mounting the suction cup holder proved to be impractical. Fortunately it mounts quite well on both my Dodge Nitro and Equality's Accord. Ive noticed that people tend to mount these things in the middle of the windshield. I mount it on both cars low and on drivers side so that it in effect becomes part of my dashboard instrumentation. The mount for the Nuvi is somewhat ingenious. Navigator pops out pretty easily to remove the temptation for potential thieves. The power from the Cigarette lighter adapter is routed through mount although it could be charged directly into the Nuvi.

I was a bit concerned whether the navigator would be more of a distraction than it would be of help. Once i got used to it being there it was just another console instrument much like the tachometer or speedometer. In fact I often use its speedometer/odometer function because it can be a little more useful. While traveling unfamiliar roads it the 3D maps serve as a look ahead and provides one with that extra bit of useful information. The audible warning to turn off a semi familiar road serves as a nice reminder. And knowing how long until the nest turnoff is only helps ones concentration on driving.

I guess all GPS navigation systems will tell you how to get to where you are going. I paid $450 for my Nuvi 360 because it had some extra features. It works well with my Motorola Razr cell phone. The phone book is downloaded to the Nuvi. I can call up and dial through the Nuvi, talk hands free though bluetooth and never touch the phone. I don't believe I can make voice commands through the phone but its still easier and less distracting to dial out using the bluetooth wireless functions of the Nuvi than it is to use the phones dial-up. The Bluetooth functions are excellent and have allowed me to retire the bluetooth earpiece I was previously using. The Bluetooth functions alone make the 360 worth the extra money.

The Big screen. The screen is a little bigger than most of the units I've seen. It detaches from the mount and slides into a shirt pocket nicely.

I think most new units today come with WAAS accuracy up to 10 feet. The WAAS was disabled by default, to preserve the battery I presume. I turned it on. What surprised me is that the unit had no problem locking on to satellites even inside my home. I don't think I'm gonna have a lot of problems with trees blocking the way.

MP3 player with SD disk is nice concidering the tiny speakers the Nuvi sounds remakably good. I want to get a patch cord though so I can wire it directly into car radio.

As they used to say, "Don't leave home without it!"

Update: June 6, 2008
My Nuvi started acting up on me a few weeks ago. I contacted Garmen through the phone number provided on ther web site. I reached a customer rep. rather quickly they gave me an RMA and sent me a new unit all in about a week. i couldn't ask for better customer service. I didn't like being without my Nuvi though. Even though I didn't go anywhere new, I like the warning I missed the reminders of when to turn off, and the I also missed not having the Bluetooth speakerphone. At any rate 1 year later the Nuvi still goes with me wherever I go. Even if I have to fly.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

iPhone Woes

Apple hasn't shown much concern over the consumers maintaining their computers or Ipods. they have been notoriously expensive to repair when their stuff goes bad. The iPhones are expensive to manufacture and they will be expencive to maintain. Unlike every other manufacturer the new Apple iPhone does not have a consumer replaceable battery. The hapless consumer will have to send the phone in and pay Apple $85.95. If they can't do without a phone for a few days Apple will gladly rent a phone for $29. Consumer groups find this unfair.

A consumer group has warned that Apple's battery-replacement policy for the iPhone is inadequate, as sales for the new gadget introduced during the weekend were estimated at topping 500,000 units.

Before the iPhone went on sale Friday evening, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights sent a letter to Apple chief executive Steve Jobs and AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, whose company is the exclusive wireless carrier for the iPhone in the U.S. The letters asked the CEOs to implement consumer safeguards for the iPhone batteries, arguing that most buyers would have to pay to have them replaced after the iPhone's one-year warranty, unless users buy an extended warranty. The battery does not appear to be user replaceable, and Apple advises buyers to take the iPhone back to Apple or AT&T for support.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Review HP Officejet 6310 All-in-One

In January last year I bought a Brother MFC-640CW Fax Scanner printer. I liked it, although it did have some things I didn't like about it to much. It used up ink like a drunken sailer, and it was a bit of a pain in the ass to configure. I was able to read faxes from my computer, and store them permanently as a TIF or Gif file. Last May it died on me. I could still manually send and receive Faxes there was no either wireless or hardwired Ethernet. It probably would have worked if connected to my USB hub but that wasn't practical .

I needed to replace it quickly and to be honest I didn't shop to hard. I went to Sams Club and picked out an HP Officejet 6310 All-in-One. I paid about $190 out the door including taxes. It is not wireless. While I thought it was important when I bought the Brother It turned out that I ended up using about 4 feet away from my router. I still have plenty of ports available and even if I didn't a switch is pretty cheap.

Installation was a piece of cake real simple and straight forward. It probably took 1 hour from out of the box, hooking up, and installing software. The software install took forever. its pretty slow although straight forward. I installed it into my desktop and Equality's laptop.

I did have problems. While I was attempting to send a Fax Equality attempted to send out a print job from my computer. Every light on the Fax machine started flashing. Any further attempts to resend the fax caused the flashing light-lock up problem at at page 6. I pulled up the web site and went into chat with the support guy after about 2 hours he had me reset the system by using a magical combination of keys that I wish i had written down. All in all I rate the support as pretty good even though he took me down a garden path. Eventually he did get to the solution and he was persistent. Thats worth points.

My overall impression so far isn't so impressive. With the Brother I was able to view faxes on my computer. This seems to me should be a standard feature and essential to viewing Legal sized documents properly. It's just to bad that HP doesn't understand that faxing is a 2 way communications process. I still have problems sending multiple pages and have experienced the flashing lights when attempting to send pages. When this happens I'm not sure about how many pages did get sent so I send them all over again .. A source of annoyance for the recipients also.

Print quality is pretty good and seems so far to be more economical than the Brother. The scanner is good and convienient. The document feeder seems to handle just about anything. quality, the software/driver software is simple straightforward. The ability to read various camera media and print directly might be a useful feature for some. I prefer to directly view them on the PC , edit and print from the PC. The HP All-in-One does handle most camera media.

There are things I like about the HP. I can read the display. I sometimes had to use a flashlight to read the Brother. The print quality is outstanding, as are the scans. There is a spam blocking feature, I'm sure it would work great if the fax spammers didn't block their caller ID number. Hopefully it will last a little longer than the brother.


Sunday, June 03, 2007

The RoadRunner Comcast Shaft.

No one ever claimed that the the Roadrunner-Comcast switch over in this the Houston area was for the benefit of the customer. Apparently the switchover is going real smooth over at Time Warner. They simply pulled the plug on the accounts. Real painless... at least for them they aren't even taking phone calls over it. Dwight Silverman explains all.

At the bottom of a May 21 post about the Road Runner/Comcast e-mail changes, I mentioned that several RR customers had e-mailed me to complain that their e-mail service was down. They said they were told by tech support personnel that the outage was the result of the switch from Road Runner to Comcast.

Both Comcast public relations Vice President Ray Purser and regional Senior Vice President Tony Speller said that wasn't true. Someone was giving out bad information, they said.

But today's Computing column about the change has generated more of those e-mails. They have a similar thread, in which customers are told that 7,000 to 14,000 e-mail accounts were affected as a result of the Comcast switch. Purser and Speller say that's not possible, because the changeover won't happen until July.

Another customer who e-mailed said he was told that sub-accounts -- secondary accounts created by the holders of primary e-mail accounts -- were removed by accident as part of system maintenance. In many cases, the accounts and the mail they contained were wiped out. But at least one person followed up to say he had his e-mail restored by Comcast's tech support.

Changing ones email address can be traumatic, notifying everyone is just about impossible. Preventive measures is not a bad idea. I use an email forwarding service from and use the email address Its just a mail forwarding address. I have had this email for 10 years or 2 ISP changes and been pointed to at least 3 different Mail boxes. It's also my oldest email address. It cost me about $25 a year.

There is always a web based email client, these things are pretty good. I use gmail (, but hot mail or yahoo are just fine also. They are free and most can be read with with a regular email reader.

The other option is to buy a domain. Its not that expensive or difficult. host this blog, and much of my email these days.

The point is not to give anyone your ISPs provided email box. Other than spam, and communications from my ISP all my real email is forwarded into the box. Don't give anyone your ISP provided email address. That way if your forced to switch ISPs you won't lose your incoming email.

Dwight also has some suggestions. If you have a account the time to start moving accounts is now.