Technology


6
May 10

Yay For Free Wi-Fi!

So here I am again at the car dealership getting my oil changed. Something amazing has happened since my last visit. They’ve added free wi-fi! As some of you may recall, I wrote a blog entry during my last oil change and had to wait until I got home to post it. Remember how I wished they had wi-fi here? Well now they do! It makes me wonder if the people who run this place somehow found my blog and read it. I suppose it could also just be a coincidence. Heh.

I’ve been coming here ever since I bought my car in March 2007, and every time I’ve brought my laptop. Normally I’d just pass the time by playing computer games. Well now I can check Facebook instead. Woohoo!


3
May 10

Sometimes I Feel Nostalgic… About Phones

This may come as a shock to some people, but I’m old enough to remember rotary phones. My family had one that was very similar to the one pictured above. It was a different colour, but aside from that it looked very much the same. I remember it had a very long cord that would get wound all over the dining room and kitchen as my family members would walk around whilst conversing on it.

From there we went to touch tone phones, and then cordless phones. Now we’re living in a time when many households are ditching their landline phones altogether in favor of mobile phones.

It makes a lot of sense, since a mobile phone will likely always be nearby and people can call you on it anywhere your provider has coverage. If you happen to have unlimited calling, it makes the home phone even less appealing.

Now even mobile phones are undergoing changes as they become more and more computer like. In fact, the iPhone and the Android phones out there are basically already little computers that happen to be capable of making phone calls. They have more storage, ram and a faster processor than the PC my family owned in 1997.

It’s amazing how much the world has changed in just the 26 short years I’ve been alive.  Phones are one small aspect of that. It makes me wonder what our phones will be like in another 20 years. Perhaps we’ll all be making video phone calls.


30
Apr 10

Cool Gadget Of The Week

hddtoaster

Meet the Thermaltake BlackX eSATA USB hard drive docking station. (AKA Hard Drive Toaster.) Do you ever find yourself running out of hard drive space? Do you wish there was a better alternative to a stack of external hard drives? Do you ever wish you could easily access your old hard drives from any computer? Well now you can. Simply slide any SATA hard drive into the slot on the hard drive toaster, plug in the power adapter and the USB or eSATA cable, and voila, instant access to your drive on any Windows 7, Vista, or XP computer.

hddtoaster1

The device is incredibly easy to use, and can be purchased at Amazon.com for less than $40. It’s an incredibly value for what it does.


29
Apr 10

My Cell Phone Dilemma

cellphone

This is my cell phone. It’s a Kyocera Strobe that I acquired from Alltel in June 2007. I use a prepaid package that costs 75 cents a day and 10 cents a minute for talk time, and features unlimited texting.

I rarely talk on the phone, so this package works out great. However, I do send anywhere from 100 to 300 texts on any given day, so being able to send that many texts for a mere 75 cents is a great deal. Unfortunately that package is no longer available.

Verizon Wireless acquired Alltel last year so I became a de facto Verizon customer. They were kind enough to grandfather my plan in for as long as I own that phone. So as of right now, I’m still paying 75 cents a day.

However, if I want a new phone, Verizon’s prepaid options aren’t nearly as affordable. Their cheapest prepaid plan is 99 cents a day. While that doesn’t sound so bad, they also charge 10 cents per text.  They have another plan that’s $3.99 per day, but even that one still charges a penny per text.

Sadly, my phone is falling apart. Many of the buttons no longer work and the battery isn’t holding a full charge. While I could replace the battery, that wouldn’t solve the button problem.

I need to find a good texting phone with an affordable wireless package. Unfortunately, it seems like most cell phone contracts require the purchase of at least 450 minutes a month and then another fee on top of that for unlimited texting. That’s really not a good fit for me.

Eh, maybe I should just take the plunge and get a smartphone. Sure, I’d end up paying a lot more but at least I’d have mobile web and access to Facebook everywhere I go.


20
Apr 10

Enhance Your Browser With Toolbars!

It seems like every other website is offering a free toolbar these days. I think that’s fantastic. In fact, even Zynga recently released a toolbar for Farmville.  Toolbars can really enhance your browsing experience. To demonstrate, I’ve taken a screenshot.

toobars

See! Doesn’t that look like an enhanced web browsing experience?


9
Apr 10

Car Mount Video Test

So last year I bought a Panavise 809 car mount for my camera. I managed to shoot a bunch of video last year but I didn’t really have enough time to get everything right.

I ran more video tests this morning because I’m hoping to record some video on the road the next time I drive to South Carolina. I think getting video of some of the mountainous regions would be especially fun.

Anyway, I’m still having a few issues. The video seems pretty stable for the most part, but there’s some glare on the windshield and I’m not sure if there’s anything I can actually do to correct that.

Here’s a quick sample if anyone is curious.

The video quality isn’t bad considering how small my little point-and-shoot camera is. The diminutive size of the camera definitely makes it easier to set up and doesn’t put much strain on the mount. The camera is a Canon 780IS.

canon-power-shot-sd780-is

It’s a long drive to South Carolina. Unfortunately, a 16gb memory card only holds about 85 minutes of hi-def video. I’ll definitely need to get more cards and probably a couple extra battery packs. But I’m looking forward to it. It should be a lot of fun.


22
Mar 10

Facebook’s Top News

Facebook recently changed their layout. Among the changes was the addition of a “Top News” feed. So here’s what I learned from today’s Top News on Facebook.

Victoria and Becky commented on Renee’s status.

Becky has moved up to level 39 in Farmville.

Amber commented on her own status.

Sonny commented on Anna G’s status.

Heather commented on Kevin’s status.

Anna M is craving Girl Scout cookies.

Anna G and Sonny commented on Hannah’s status.

Tyler commented on his own status.

Julie commented on her own photo.

Sarah thinks Dr Seuss rocks.

Kevin posted a photo mocking the Obama White House.

Nathaniel has decided that the Farmville stallions are gay.

Kevin and 5 other friends commented on Tonita’s status.

Anna G is excited about the sun shining.

Laura is giving away gold in Farmville to celebrate St Patrick’s Day.

Matt has loaded the majority of his CDs into his iTunes library.

Heather wishes she had the week off.

As I’m sure you all can see, the Top News on Facebook is very very exciting. I for one, wish to thank Facebook from the top of my heart.


21
Mar 10

“RENTAL” DVDs

rentaldvd

If you should encounter a DVD with the word “RENTAL” imprinted on the bottom from either Redbox or Netflix, beware. These special discs have had all the special features gutted. They also contain ten to fifteen minutes of movie trailers which cannot be skipped. So far this only affects titles from Warner Bros.

Now I don’t really care about the special features being removed. I never watch them anyway. I do resent being forced to sit through over ten minutes of previews, however.

So why is Warner Bros. doing this you ask? Because they’re being petty and vindictive. Because of low-cost DVD rental sources like Netflix and Redbox, they’re making less and less money.

Warner Bros recently made deals with both Redbox and Netflix to delay new releases for 28 days. After 28 days Warner Bros. provides Redbox and Netflix with crappy rental copies. This is done in an effort to get more people to actually buy the movie instead of renting it. But in this day and age, it simply isn’t worth buying movies unless you intend to watch them over and over again.

By the way, according to a video on CNET, you can skip the “unskippable” movie trailers on most DVD players by pressing STOP, STOP and then PLAY. Unfortunately, that trick doesn’t work on my PS3.


17
Mar 10

Midweek Thoughts – Part 11

midweekthoughts

In a recent news article circulating on the net, it was revealed that cops and law enforcement personnel are creating fake Facebook and MySpace profiles and “friending” suspects. It seems like we’re hearing more and more stories about criminals who get caught because they put too much info on Facebook. I think they should create a new social network just for criminals. Maybe they could call it ThugSpace and it could be advertised as “100% cop free.” It would, of course, be covertly run by cops.

I had some cheesy tater tots yesterday. They were pretty good. I must confess though, I cannot eat tater tots without thinking of Napoleon Dynamite. That movie is inspiring. Perhaps I should build my girlfriend a cake.

For all you out there who preordered the iPad, I’ve got one word for you. SUCKERS. You know, I was thinking about it and I think the iPad may eventually be a cool product. (Unfortunately, it will still probably be called the “iPad.”) The first generation iPad lacks so many features though, you’d pretty much have to be a chump to buy it. Heck, you can’t even browse 85 of the top 100 websites on the Internet properly because the iPad doesn’t support Flash. But Apple always intentionally holds back features so they can get their fanboys to buy each new model of each new product. What a scam.

Buying an iPad becomes even sillier when we consider that HP is set to release a tablet later this year. It’s called the HP Slate and will feature the full Windows 7 operating system. (In comparison, the iPad runs the iPhone OS. *chortle*) It will have a USB port too. (The iPad won’t have a USB port though, ‘cause if it did people wouldn’t have to buy special camera connectors and such. )

Check out this teaser video for the Slate. It’s just as pretty as the iPad but you can actually do normal Internet stuff on it like watch videos on Hulu. *gasp*


12
Feb 10

A Post For Farmville Haters

It’s come to my attention that a lot of people who do not play Farmville on Facebook really really hate all the Farmville notifications in the Facebook stream. What non-players may not realize is that these notifications play a crucial part in the game.

Through those notifications we collect bonuses, rare animals, and special objects. There is no other way to obtain some of these items. Therefore, when a person posts such notifications, they’re doing all the other Farmville players a favor.

Now I can empathize with non-players and understand that this constant stream of irrelevant notifications may be cumbersome and annoying. Luckily you can hide such postings and prevent them from appearing in your stream.

Simply find a Farmville notification such as this one.

farmville

When you hover over the right corner of the notification with your mouse, you will see a hide button. Click on it, and you will see a dialog box like this one.

farmville1

Click on Hide Farmville. Now you’ll never have to worry about another Farmville post in your Facebook stream and you don’t have to whine and complain about Farmville players anymore. Yay! (By the way, since I didn’t want to hide Monica or Farmville, I clicked cancel.)

This tip also works on Cafe World, Mafia Wars and any other application you deem annoying.