My wife and I had an opportunity to experience the amazing services that the Ronald McDonald House provides to families with children under hospital care. Their mission is to create, find, and support programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children and their families, and they don’t fall short when it comes to following through. Continue reading
It’s been almost 8 months since I dropped Sprint’s service, and I still couldn’t be happier with Verizon. Usually I post about negative experiences, but tonight’s call to the big red phone company has left me in a good mood.
This week, Kelly and I received our trial shipment from Blue Apron. Blue Apron is a mail-order gourmet food service that delivers recipes and pre-portioned ingredents for three meals for two people for $60 each week. (That’s $10 per person, per meal). Check out the unboxing video and some more of my opinion on the service below.
So for Valentines day, I was invited out by Vince and Gina to see My Bloody Valentine in 3D! I have been to 3D movies before, and was expecting something dumb such as, “when the killer raises his axe, put on your 3D glasses!” and then we’d get some cheesy 30 seconds of 3D video. I was mistaken.
The entire film was shown in 3D. The theater used polarized lenses to separate the images which is far superior to the Red and Blue lenses, and allows for accurate color representation.
Further research on this style of 3d imagery showed that this style of 3D imagery is created by two projectors each one fitted with a polarizing filter set at a 90 degree angle from the opposing filter. In addition, the screen must be made of materials that reduce the reflected light from altering it’s polarization. All this would explain why it could be very difficult to have a home theater set up the same way, although, I have a feeling that this is the principal being used by cutting edge “3D Televisions”. I’d have to look into that a bit farther though.
A week ago or so, I had announced to friends that i had ordered a pair of Anaglyph 3D glasses. These are the Red/Blue glasses. This was prompted by my receiving the Amber/Cyan Anaglyph glasses at Wal-Greens for the Super-bowl/Chuck 3D TV events on Super-Bowl Sunday. They were kind of cool but because of the amber tint, they weren’t good for the numerous Anaglyph You Tube videos I found, so I hopped online and spent $15 (including shipping) for a pair of GOOD 3D glasses.
So today I decided to try to make my own 3D image. I actually took 3 pairs of photos in my living room of various areas/objects. This one is my first (and ironically, came out the best.) If you have a pair of Anaglyph glasses (even the cheap cardboard ones) click on the image and take a look. It’s not bad and you can see the depth in the couch and on the animal’s body. Not bad for a first try!
My family has always been very handy. My father and uncle both skilled craftsmen. My father did a lot of home repairs, and my uncle, being an engineer, handled a lot of the electrical work. Perhaps this is where I got my interest in DIY projects.
I remember working with my father and uncle years ago, putting together electronics projects. I was young and didn’t know what was going on, but learned at a very early age what electrical components were called, how to read resistors, and even picked up some general theory about electronics. It was back then that I learned to solder electronics, a skill I apparently still have today.
After what must be 10 or so years of not touching a soldering iron, I decided to assemble the TV-B-Gone kit I picked up at The Last Hope conference. I’d say it took me about 30 minutes to an hour to assemble, kinda pathetic considering it’s just 19 components. Then again, I had to re-acquaint myself to the equipment, and try to deal with my tremors, which were actually no problem at all. My hand was rather steady.
I took my time, and the TV-B-Gone is assembled and works. I was able to shut off my TV (Funny thing is, it turns it off, then on, then off again. I guess my TV uses the same code for on and off. Makes sense since there’s only 1 power button on the remote). The next trial will have to be somewhere where there’s a lot of TVs. Maybe Wal-Mart/Best Buy/etc…Maybe a bar. Who knows. I’m still impressed that it works!
I’ll have to look for some other electronics projects to pick up so I can get used to this sort of thing. Then, maybe next time my stereo breaks, instead of spending $600 on a new one, I’ll try to fix it myself.
Okay, from the title you can probably guess that I’m not happy with the Microsoft cam. I hooked it up on my Laptop first, my main PC (Pentium 4/3.06Ghz/1GB Ram) and it worked okay. Yes, only okay. I immediately noticed the quality was a bit sharper than the original QuickCam that I was using, but it still looked pretty grainy. I loved the fact that it was a wide-angle lens. but the grainyness disturbed me a bit. Raising the quality of the cam did not improve the graininess. It only made the picture larger, with the same graininess. I then tried to run the cam on the camera server in my livingroom and after a half hour (or more) trying to get it to start up, i pretty much gave up. It runs SUPER-SLOW because all video processing is done by the software. I would rather spend $100 on good optics than software that makes the camera zoom and pan into your face (which worked moderately well on my laptop, I didn’t even try it on the camera server)
Webcam makers should work on making better cameras and not software to enhance a poor/noisy image. I may try one more cam, or maybe just get a video capture card and a good quality CCTV camera which I can pick up for under $100 easy.. MUCH less if I go for a used one.
I’ve watched a few people who also lifecast and asked them what they were using. One girl who had a super-sharp image was using a QuickCam Fusion.. I’ll have to check it out. The fusion is also less than the one I got, or if it doesn’t have a wide-angle option I may spend the extra $30 ($130) for the Super Vision which has been getting rave reviews, better than the fusion.
I was in the shower this morning when I heard a knock at the door. I was expecting her to arrive, but didn’t think she’d be there this morning. I got out of the shower and answered the door. To my relief she was right there. Leaning against the wall just waiting for me to come let her in. She was beautiful, more so than I could have ever imagined. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to spend with her because I had to go to work. I got acquainted with Rosie for a bit and then I left.
After work, I met up with Casey for dinner but then came back to my place. When I got home I found Rosie sitting in the living room. She had cleaned the room up, much better than I could have done. I don’t think this place has ever been as clean as it is now.
Rosie is so cute, and we get along great! I think she’s here to stay! I’ll need to make some room for her. She’ll need a permanent spot in my apartment. I’ll have to do some rearranging, but it’ll be worth it.
I love Rosie.
It hasn’t been 25 hours yet since I got back from Maryland’s Shore-Leave sci-fi convention, but I already miss the fun shared between my friends and I this weekend.
After slight delays due to my phone taking about an hour to repair at the Sprint Store, I headed into NYC to pick up Carmine, Vince and Laura. We left NYC about 4:00 so aside from some traffic getting in to the Lincoln Tunnel, we sailed down to Maryland. The trip was a lot more pleasurable with the companionship of my friends, their crazy antics, social engineering better hotel accommodations, and stories of a male-stripper neighbor. It was great to catch up with everyone.
We checked into our hotel and decided to spend the first evening as wandering undead minions. Vince had his fangs in as well as a set of blood-red contacts while I merely painted my face and arms in complete “Zombie” motif.. After rising back from the dead, we headed to the con-hotel across the street and hung out at the bar, drinking and meeting up with old friends from con’s past.
On Saturday morning we headed downstairs to the breakfast buffet. Embassy suites offer a great buffet and it’s free to guests. Complete with Omelete stations, cereal, bagels, eggs, juice, coffee, etc.. It really was a good start to the day!
This year I only bought a 1-day pass. 2 years ago I bought a 3-day pass, and went to only 1 panel and a few of the parties Saturday night. I attended a few panels on Costuming, Karaoke, The Masquerade/costume & performance contest, which was won by the most elaborate setups. A Beauty and the Beast act, and a complete “FAME” ripoff performed by the Super-friends (and other super-heroes).. They were really good. There were lots of other great costumes and acts also, but those two deserved the prize.
Browsing the dealer’s room is getting to be pretty typical. If there’s nothing you want, there’s not much that you haven’t seen (or can’t get cheaper on the Internet). I picked up a Darma Initiative patch for my messenger bag and an airsoft BB gun, which me and Vince were constantly sniping and threatening and shooting each other with for most of the weekend.
I skipped Ten-Foward (the dance club/party) in lieu of hanging in the bar. Carmine and Vince brought instruments and amps and we met up with musician Julie Moffitt and played covers and some originals from around 9PM until the bar closed (2ish I guess). Having beginner skills at the Doumbek (Middle-eastern drum), I was able to play a bit myself. Perhaps one day, I’ll get this guitar thing down and be able to play along in a much higher capacity.
Saturday night, we stayed in a room at the hotel convention. The room is not as big or fancy as the Embassy Suites, then again, it was also $50 less for the night. Splitting the room 4-ways a bit rough and I assured my bedmate that if I started cuddling I wasn’t getting fresh but trying not to fall off the bed. lol. Considering the night before, we were upgraded to the wedding suite so we had a king sized bed and 2 pull out couches, the dual full-size beds (bigger than twins, but smaller than queens) were a bit small for 4 people, but the price was right and it was located in the same hotel as the convention.
Breakfast at the Marriot is very similar to that at the Embassy, but despite the same number of people, there was a longer wait for omeletes, and it wasn’t free, but it was still just as good. Sunday was spent browsing dealer’s room one last time then we headed out about 2PM. We stopped for lunch and headed back to NYC. With dropping my friends off in the city and helping bring up all the instruments/equipment/bags I got home around 7:30 PM or so.
Unpacked and hit the IMAX to see Harry Potter with Matt and Casey! The movie was great, though sitting front row in the IMAX is a bit rough 🙂 Will definitely try to get there more than 30 minutes early, especially so close to opening day. The movie was great though!
I had a blast! It was an awesome weekend.
If you’re looking for a Blue-tooth headset for your phone, STOP! I have recently tried out a bunch of them and have found the best ones NOT to be the expensive ones.
My first headset was a Cardo Scala 700. The reviews for it were great except that it was a bit uncomfortable. The performance on it was outstanding but I agree, it wasn’t the most ergonomically pleasing. It did have an adjustable earpiece which was not bad once adjusted right, but it took a while to get it right and the in-ear portion pressed against the bones in your ear which was fine unless pressure was applied to it (i.e. hitting the buttons). The size is small and it comes with a great belt pouch for carrying it around. I didn’t have it in the pouch and I lost it.
My second headset was a Motorola H700. Cute headset. Small. Very comfortable. People complained about my voice and I couldn’t hear anyone if there was any background noise. My hearing isn’t the best, and it just didn’t get that loud. I traded it in the next day.
It’s replacement was, believe it or not, the lower model, Motorola H500. It was a bit bigger, but certainly not as sexy as the H700. Performed a lot better though. My biggest complaint is that it sat on your ear and didn’t have a very good grip. It would occasionally wiggle and pivot away from my ear. The audio was louder than the H700 but still nowhere near as loud and clear as the Cardo Scala. Also, like the H700, it did not protrude into your ear at all, so at times I had to press it against my ear to hear in noisier situations.
After a game of DDR at Dave & Busters, I managed to lose this headset. I was a bit disappointed at the time, but one thing I always stood behind was the fact that things happen for a reason. It wasn’t the end of the world. The day before, I had gotten a great offer for a different Cardo Scala model for only $20. Now I had the chance to take advantage of it.
I received my Cardo Scala 500 the other day, and it’s been an absolute pleasure! It’s a bit bigger than the Cardo Scala 700 but much MUCH more comfortable. So far I have not had any trouble hearing anybody on it. I was able to listen to Opie and Anthony at work during my lunch break with background noise and the television on. Nobody has complained about how I sounded, and so far I was told It was clear. The earpiece extends slightly into your ear, but not as much as to be uncomfortable. It’s an absolute pleasure, and it is the cheapest headset of all the ones I tried. The only downside I found so far is that it doesn’t come with the nifty (There’s that word again) belt pouch, but I may just order one for $5 from Cardo direct.
Check Froogle for good prices.
The thought of contacting DELL’s technical support usually causes my stomache to wretch, and with good reason. Every time I have to deal with DELL, someone convinces me that it’s time to start all over as the human race has hit an all time low. Today was the exception.
My laptop sound died, It’s probably the amp on the sound card, but to get it fixed, I need to let a tech monkey at Dell India East make that determination. Another issue is that I renewed my Next-Day-On-Site service with DELL and they applied it to the wrong laptop! It’s been over 3 months since I initially advised DELL of this issue. The first agent took my credit card and threw it away, as nothing was done and DELL had no record of it. The second call, 2 months (and a new credit card) later the issue was supposedly “escalated to operations” but after another months, even that agent seems to have stopped replying to my bi-weekly emails asking why it wasn’t done yet.
So I have 1 Laptop, I paid for 2 years of service on it. Those 2 years of service have been applied to a defective laptop I returned to DELL back in 2003. and somehow, very basic Mail-In service is active on this one.
But there’s a light at the end of this dark tunnel. As I said, today was an exception.
After telling a rep via the online chat that I “had been dealing with their Warranty Support Services” and having the response to that being, “Did you talk to DELL about this issue yet?” I called up ready for a fight with a sub-par, fake-americanized, peice of crap, Dell-Drone, but was pleasantly surprised by Brian. Okay that may not be his real name, but if more support technicians were like him, thet could be named “Squooshy” and I wouldn’t give a shit.
He was honest and straight-foward with me. He advised me what he could and couldn’t do for me, and actually listened to what I said. I did not have to repeat major points related to my issue as I have in the past. He actually showed intelligence and comprehension of what was going on. He truly knew what he was doing and demonstrated that on the phone with me by not making me walk through 6 hours of bullshit to tell him “There’s no sound on my laptop”. (DELL once told me to reinstall Windows XP as a fix for the dpi, Dots per Inch, setting being too high. The correct solution was right click on the desktop, and fix the setting!)
This post is a toast to Brian, and all the other technicians like him, not just at Dell, but any company that deals with the public.