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The Neighbor's Party

Today I was casually listening to a neighbor's party from a distance. After a while, I heard a child start yelling, "Look at me Dad, I'm Superman! Dad! Dad! Look at me Dad, I'm Superman! Dad!" There was no response from the parent. The yelling stopped. 5 seconds later... FUHWHUMP! [I counted t... read more →

Favorite iOS Photo Apps

I love taking RAW photos with my Olympus PEN and processing them with Capture One Pro. Like many people, however, my ever present pocket camera is my iPhone, and there are countless photo processing and editing apps available. I've settled on a handful of apps that I use, with the goal of being to g... read more →

Checking iTunes Remote

I have an Apple Airport Express unit attached my stereo system, and I use the iTunes Remote app on my iPad to play music that is stored in iTunes on a Mac mini. This usually works great, but I noticed a problem after cleaning up my music library: some albums would not play all of their tracks in seq... read more →

Polishing Frets on a Howard Roberts

I hit upon a lucky eBay find, and managed to acquire a mid-1990's Korean-made Epiphone Howard Roberts for a great price.  It's a terrific jazz box, and is really fun to play.  As with many older guitars, the frets were tarnished and dull, so I decided to polish them using the Dremel tech... read more →

Pseudo Tansu

I built a custom Tansu-style TV stand for my Pioneer Kuro plasma and PMC LB1 center channel speaker.  The speaker is so large I had almost no choice but to make a custom stand.  I also used this as an opportunity to teach myself some woodworking skills. This is not a real Tansu, and I'... read more →

De-rattling an Intelli Guitar Tuner

Soon after buying my Breedlove acoustic guitar, I decided to buy a clip-on tuner.  There are many clip-on tuners available at all price ranges, and they all basically work the same way.  They pick up the vibration of the strings through the guitar body and neck, and display the current pit... read more →

Dust Control in the Garage Workshop

After years of sweeping and dusting and dozens of disposable air filter masks, I’m finally taking dust control seriously in my garage workshop. Dust control starts at the tool with a vacuum system, but it ends in the air.  No matter how well I gathered chips and dust while working on a piece... read more →

Etymotic Isolated Listening

For the past five years I’ve been using Etymotic ER6i Isolator earphones.  I’ve used them with my original 2nd gen iPod, my iPod nano, and now my iPhone 3G.  Unlike the standard Apple earbuds, the Etys are in-ear earphones, which means that they also act as earplugs, isolating outside ... read more →

Raising the Aeron

Almost every high-tech startup in the Bay Area outfits their office with Herman Miller Aeron chairs.  And as some of the startups inevitably go out of business, the Aeron chairs hit the surplus office supply market, where people like me pick them up at a big discount. After bringing home my ... read more →

Unchaining the EVH Flanger Pedal

I used a Boss BF-2 flanger pedal for years.  It’s a great pedal, especially if you can find one of the older Japanese-made models.  But it could never really do that over-the-top sound from Van Halen’s Unchained.  Eddie used an older MXR flanger pedal on that classic riff, and Dun... read more →

From Linux to Mac

I have a server at home that handles a variety of tasks, such as DNS hosting/caching, media serving, home automation, printer/scanner sharing, and security camera control.  I’ve been running everything on an old P3-733 Linux Box for over 8 years.  This summer, in the interest of making a... read more →

Streaming WMA Lossless from a Mac to a PlayStation 3

While the PS3 has native support for playing standard WMA music files, it does not support the WMA Lossless format. My music library is ripped to WMA Lossless, so I wanted to find a way to stream the collection to my new PS3 Slim.  Fortunately, the open source PS3 Media Server project makes thi... read more →

Keeping it Cheap and Steady

I’ve always wanted to get a proper SteadyCam or a Manfrotto Fig Rig to help stabilize non-tripod shots with my video camera, but both options can be a bit expensive.  While a SteadyCam tries to isolate vibrations from the cameraman through gimbals and counterweights, the Fig Rig uses two-hand... read more →

Patching PACPL for Album Art and WMA Lossless Support

PACPL, the Perl Audio Converter, is a great Perl script that will batch transcode audio files from one format to another.  For a variety of reasons, my music library is in the WMA Lossless format, and I wanted to use PACPL to transcode the WMA files to MP3.  By default, PACPL does not supp... read more →

Great CD Sleeves from Slappa

I still buy CDs.  And until Amazon.com or iTunes starts selling music in a lossless format, I’ll likely continue to do so.  However, I rip CDs to my PC immediately after purchase, leaving me with the problem of where to store the CD.  Dumping the CD jewel case and storing just the C... read more →

Suntory Yamazaki Whisky | Uncrate

The Uncrate “buyers guide for men” has discovered one of my favorite beverages. Suntory Yamazaki Whisky | Uncrate Here’s what Uncrate has to say: Born from the pure waters of the Vale of Yamazaki and handcrafted at Japan's oldest distillery, Suntory Yamazaki Whisky is a great way to ... read more →

A Cheap Grind

Most coffee aficionados (like me) insist that whole bean coffee should be ground in a conical burr grinder. Never use a blade grinder. The typical reason is that a burr grinder creates a more even grind at a lower speed, as opposed to a blade grinder’s uneven grind at a high speed.  An uneven gri... read more →

Mounting an iPhone 3G in an Audi A4

There are a lot of solutions for using an iPod or iPhone in a car, but if you want the ideal combination of safety, good sound quality, and in-car charging, the options narrow quickly.  The options narrow even more if you want the final results to look clean and neat. For my iPhone 3G, I ended up ... read more →

Pioneering HD

Here’s a list of recent events: My Samsung DLP has been acting flakey.  Every so often when I turn it on, the picture doesn’t come up.  It fixes itself when I manually unplug the set, then plug it back in after a few seconds.  Does it need a new bulb?  Is the color wheel sticking? Pi... read more →

Komo Store Kona Coffee

Every time I visit the Big Island of Hawaii, I buy fresh Kona coffee.  I love driving through Holualoa and Captain Cook, where you can buy freshly roasted coffee right from the coffee groves and roasting companies.  There is a lot of good coffee to choose from in the Kona region, but my fa... read more →

Evolution

One device to rule them all… The timeline reads from left to right (obviously), and spans about 10-12 years. I couldn’t find my original Palm Pilot Personal. It would have sat to the left of the Visor.  I also don’t show any of my original Windows CE devices, like the Philips Velo.  And I... read more →

John Pearse Guitar Strings

When I got my new Breedlove guitar last year, I ordered my usual set of Thomastik-Infeld strings from JustStrings.com (my favorite place to buy strings). Unfortunately, the brand that works so well on my electrics and older acoustics didn’t sound right at all on the Breedlove. The normally soft an... read more →

iPhone Suck-O-Meter Update

I posted an update to the (amazing!) Suck-O-Meter [suckometer, suckometeriphone] app for the iPhone.  Just head to http://www.suckometer.com using Safari, or visit Apple’s Web Apps site.  It will auto-detect your iPhone or iPod Touch, and you’ll soon have a greater awareness of the number of... read more →

9100A IP Video Server

I have a DIY video security system at the house. It uses a Linux box with two video capture cards connected to two security cameras. The Linux box runs an app called motion [motion, motionrpm] that will capture images and videos when motion is detected in a video frame. It works extremely well, exce... read more →

Loving Linux: Reason #384

The 7 year old boot drive in my Linux box crapped out, so I decided to remove it and boot from the secondary (better) drive. If you're clever, you can reassign mounts in /etc/fstab, update /etc/lilo.conf, run lilo -r /dev/sdxxx, and boot without problems from the new drive. I'm not that clever, so ... read more →

Tucano WorkOut Laptop Bag

With the iPhone replacing my iPod, cel phone, PDA, and camera (for casual use), and with my switch from older, clunky laptops to the svelt MacBook Air, I decided to downsize my laptop bag / briefcase. My previous bag was pretty small to begin with, but it couldn't beat the slim and lightweight 1... read more →

Suck-O-Meter for the iPhone

Due to overwhelming lack of demand, the Suck-O-Meter is now available for the iPhone! Just head to www.suckometer.com with your iPhone or iPod Touch, and the Suck-O-Meter will launch automatically. Using a proprietary algorithm that takes advantage of the unique capabilities of the iPhone, the Suck... read more →

Guitar Rig Circa 2001

My Guitar Rigs [guitarrig2001, guitarrig1987, guitarrig1992] I put this rig together over several years, culminating around 2001. I was considering a new half-stack or combo amp, but couldn't find the right combo of preamp, reverb, and speakers, so I cobbled together some racks to suit my taste... read more →

Miter Saw Laser Guide

I love my old Delta Compound Miter saw. I have a fairly basic model, but it does what it is designed to do: make straight cuts at measured angles. But with basic saws you do miss out on some cool features of more expensive models. Like laser guides, for instance. I usually make a pretty accurate ... read more →

A PC Guy and MacBook Air

I've been using the MacBook Air for about a month now. I haven't used a Mac since they ran System 7, and I've been an avid ThinkPad X-series user for the past 5 or 6 years. Before then, I was a fan of Sony Vaio laptops. I'm a PC guy. I've been using PCs since MS-DOS 3, Window... read more →

I Hate InstallShield

I can't tell you how many times I've seen InstallShield crash or hang when I try to install or uninstall a program on Windows XP. In many cases, I'll open Process Explorer, kill the hung process, and take a peek at the TEMP directory (in Windows\Temp). I usually find a dozen "temp... read more →

Use Crtl-T to Tag Files in MC on Mac

I've been using MC (Midnight Commander) for years on *nix systems, and was happy to get it running in the Terminal on the Mac. But where the heck is the Insert key on a Macbook Air? You need the Insert key to select files in MC! Thankfully, a helpful blogger pointed out that MC also uses the co... read more →

FuseSMB, Localhost, and You

FuseSMB is a handy network automounting tool for Linux. It basically works like the Network Neighborhood in Windows, allowing you to browse directories shared by other computers on the network. It uses the Samba (CIFS/SMB) protocol, so it picks up shares from Windows, Mac, or Linux machines…... read more →

A New Axe to Grind

For the past few months, I've been looking for a nice-sounding concert-sized acoustic guitar. I have a fine Takamine Dreadnought, but the size is uncomfortably large for me to have in my lap while I practice on the sofa. I played a lot of guitars, but was stunned to discover the value and quali... read more →

Setting XP Net Connection Priorities

Like most laptops, my ThinkPad X40 has an ethernet port and built-in WiFi. My office at work supports both connection types, so theoretically, when I plug into the ethernet network, the laptop connects via ethernet, and when unplugged, it uses WiFi. However, this was not the case for me. Instead, ... read more →

SimCity Source Code

My friend Don has updated the source code for his version of SimCity and made it available as an open source project named Micropolis. Electronic Arts generously made the source available as part of the One Laptop per Child project. I am quite familiar with SimCity source code, and I'm sure Don... read more →

A Man and his Martini

As I prepared to settle in for a Saturday evening, I embarked on the creation of a cold beverage. But alas! The source bottle had a new, confounding screw-top design not seen on previous bottles. When I attempted to turn the screw to break it free from its base, the base turned with it. That wil... read more →

Roland CUBE 30 Speaker Upgrade

I decided to shop around for a lightweight guitar amp, and the Roland CUBE 30X hit the sweet spot perfectly. Very affordable at under $250, the amp has a 10" speaker, the usual BOSS/Roland COSM amp modeling system, and weighs just under 20 lbs. The only downside to the amp is an issue common t... read more →

Shiny Frets

After neglecting my Takamine acoustic guitar for a few years, the frets became tarnished and dull. Many guitarists would recommend rubbing steel wool against the frets to polish them up, but that's a fairly barbaric way to treat an axe. Not only will it booger up a nicely finished fretboard, b... read more →

Putting PowerPoint on a Web Page

I've seen a lot of creative and sometimes hair-brained schemes for publishing PowerPoint files to a web site. But if a timed sequence of static slides works for your presentation, a simple animated GIF is a cheap and easy way to go. The free ImageMagick command line tools make it straightforwa... read more →

Fat Ibanez TS7

If you're in to the Tube Screamer sound for your guitar playing, the bargain pedal from Ibanez is the Tone Lok TS7. At around 40 bucks, it has the same circuit and IC as the more expensive $100 TS9 Tube Screamer and the ridiculous $170 TS808 "Tube Screamer Reissue." (I'm personal... read more →

EVH 90 Phase Shifter

I received a much-coveted MXR EVH 90 Phase Shifter pedal as a birthday gift. Wow, this pedal really rocks! You can totally get the Van Halen Atomic Punk sound, as well as crank up more modern "spacey" phase shifting. And more, the phasing is so clean that I've decided I can use thi... read more →

Yahoo Mail Filter

Here's the new filter I set up on my yahoo.com email address: If... From contains "@" Then... Move message to Trash folder There. That should be a nice and effective improvement to Yahoo's spam filter. ... read more →

The Non-Designers Design Book

I have no formal training in typography or page layout design, but as someone who needs to constantly communicate and pitch ideas, page layout design is really important to me. A couple of months ago, the Coding Horror blog recommended The Non-Designers Design Book , and I ordered it. The Non-Desig... read more →

Founders at Work

I saw the book Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days as a recommendation on Guy Kawasaki's blog. This is a big book containing dozens of interviews with people who started successful tech companies. While there are several interviews with people who more or less "got luck... read more →

Migrating XP with gparted

A few years ago, changing out hardware from underneath a Windows install was a sure way to ruin your OS. So when I received the parts for my new machine this week, I decided to try using various migration tools to get my data from the old machine to the new one. Specifically, I used Microsoft's... read more →

New Droid Arrived

This week, the large brown lumbering vehicle made its customary journey to my homestead. Upon arrival, the humanoid occupant emerged, also clad in brown (yet with the odd insignia "U.P.S." emblazoned on his cloak). After the usual paperwork negotiations and a shout of "Utini!",... read more →

Calculate Commuting Costs

The always useful 511.org web site has a new feature: A web page where you can calculate your average out-of-pocket commuting costs. I just did these calculations myself a few weeks ago, and reached the same conclusions as the 511.org calculator. My commute costs me about $22 a day. Sheesh. ... read more →

Flat Cat

Imagine my surprise when I opened the box for my new Buffalo WiFi bridge and found this: That's a flat cat5 cable. I wonder if they are trying to coin the term "untwisted pairs"? Actually, as I look closely and skim my fingers over the cable, I think the pairs are still twisted. Bu... read more →

Improving Debian/Ubuntu Fonts

I shouldn't say "improving", as font settings are very subjective. However, compared to Windows and OS X, the default font settings in most recent Debian-based Linux distros (such as Ubuntu) just look wrong to me. I've found two main reasons for this: Most Debian Xorg configurat... read more →

Tunneling VNC Over MyEntunnel

MyEntunnel is a cool app for tunneling SSH via Windows. I use it primarily to proxy IM connections from work to my Linux server at home. Today, with some help from StickyC, I set it up to tunnel VNC . Here are the settings. My VNC server is running on the same Linux box as the SSH server. So in... read more →

Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea

Over the past year or two, I've rediscovered a love for comics and graphic novels. But I can't stand most super hero comics, so I usually gravitate toward the independent and underground stuff (the "weirdo section" as it is labeled at my favorite shop, Dr. Comics and Mr. Games). I... read more →

Custom E-Mail to Deflect Spam

I own a few domain names, which means that I have the ability to create an unlimited number of email addresses. This is a cheap and effective way to reduce email spam in your inbox. Whenever I purchase something from a web retailer that I've never used before, I create a custom email address th... read more →

Solid Anti-Virus with NOD32

So long McAfee, I'm done with your constant "Upgrade Now!" nag windows, bloated processes, and slow performance. I just bought NOD32 from eset. I did a lot of research on Anti-Virus software, and was surprised to see NOD32 appear at the top of many comparisons. I had never heard of N... read more →

Downloads from Linn Records

If you're an audiophile , then you know of Linn, the Scottish maker of superb hi-fi equipment and loudspeakers. They also have a record label called Linn Records that produces high-quality classical and jazz recordings. Linn Records just announced that they are offering online downloadable purc... read more →

Wii Controls Video

A cool video is out that shows off the custom Wii controls in the game I'm working on. Check it out here: http://media.wii.ign.com/media/842/842201/vids_1.html Update: Wow, it is now in the Top 20 on YouTube . ... read more →

Extending Wii Sensor Bar Cable

I'm seeing a bunch of wild and crazy solutions on the net for dealing with the short Wii Sensor Bar cable. I wonder why people are going so crazy with this thing when it is a simple two-conductor wire? If you have even the most basic of soldering skills (or not!), you can pretty easily extend ... read more →

A Galactic Ripoff

I guess this makes me a Star Wars sucker, but I bought all three updates of the classic Star Wars DVDs [badstarwarspq, starwarsdvdep1] so I could watch the "bonus" inclusion of the original, unaltered films. But I was shocked to see the picture quality to be as bad as it is. I've owne... read more →

Single Reg Key Sinks Office Updates

For the past 8 months or so, all of the Microsoft Office Security Updates that have come through the Windows Update system have failed to install on my home WinXP machine. I couldn't find any solution to the problem in the Microsoft Knowledge Base, so I've been checking the "don't ... read more →

The Godfather for Xbox 360

The Godfather: The Game [godfatherwiivideo, godfather360, godfather, godfatherlegacy] is out for the Xbox 360 . If you've played it on the PS2, you'll find a bunch of new features in the 360 version, including some new missions, a new ability to hire crew members, and my personal favorite, ... read more →

Treo Takes a Vacation

I brought my Treo with me to Hawaii last week, as it has been rock solid for me over the past several months. I figured that I might use it like I do normally on a daily basis, taking notes about things, checking the stock market, ignoring emails, etc. But the trip for the Treo began ominously, when... read more →

Remembering GEOS

One of the coolest things I ever saw on my Commodore 64 was a Mac-like graphical OS environment called GEOS . OSNews is running a really nice article about the history of GEOS, and if you're are old C64 hack like me, it is a must read. ... read more →

Rediscovering SimCity Classic Live

Every year or two, someone rediscovers that you can play the full original SimCity Classic over on simcity.com. Today, a writer at 1UP discovered this. SimCity Classic Live was launched back in 1998, and supported Internet Explorer 3, IE4, and Netscape Navigator 4 (!). It runs as an ActiveX contro... read more →

Afforable Pressure Washer

With a house on the northern slope of a hill, I need to pressure wash my siding and decks annually. Of course, I haven't actually done this in five years, so I have plenty of pressure washing to do. Rather than rent a washer for several days, I decided to buy one. It only took a little researc... read more →

Scanning to PDF

For some reason, it never occurred to me that the perfect way to store a set of scanned documents is in a PDF file. As a card-carrying nerd, bitmaps (TIFFs) of scanned pages always worked well enough. But when my non-technical attorney stuffed a bunch of papers in a machine scanner and emailed me... read more →

The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaption

If you never got a chance to read the official 9/11 Commission Report, this week you'll have a chance to read it from a whole new viewpoint. Illustrators Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon have published a graphical adaptation of the 9/11 Report . Slate is publishing a chapter a day on their web sit... read more →

Replace Explorer with Servant Salamander

I hate Windows Explorer. Back on Windows 3.1, Microsoft included a serviceable GUI clone of the legendary DOS file manager, Norton Commander. But with the advent of Windows 95, the simple, customizable, two-column File Manager was ditched in favor of Mac-style folder windows. This sucks for a myr... read more →

Keeping or Tossing Old Magazines

In my office closet, I have about 6-8 years worth of Stereo Review / Sound & Vision and Guitar Player magazines. I've kept them because the stereo mags contain reviews of now-vintage hi-fi equipment (which I consider buying now and then), and the guitar magazines have equipment reviews as w... read more →

How to Ship a Boat: On a Ship

My friend Joe may have sailed solo across the pacific from Mexico to Tahiti, but he's taking a commercial airplane home. According to his latest email update, he's actually shipping his sailboat back. On a ship. I don't know anything about yachts or sailboats, but apparently, you can h... read more →

Word With No Distractions

There is some pretty innovative software showing up on the Mac these days. An app that caught my eye today is WriteRoom from Hog Bay Software. WriteRoom is a full-screen text editor with… nothing else. Just a blank screen and your text, no OS distractions. Excellent! Alas, I use Windows an... read more →

Takahashi Meijin

Oh wow, my old pal Takahashi Meijin has a web site and a blog which he seems to update regularly: http://www.hudson.co.jp/16shot/. I wish I wasn't so illiterate in Japanese so I could read it. And I have got to order one of his T-Shirts. If you don't know who Takahashi Meijin is, he's... read more →

Peopleware

The always interesting blog Cool Tools recommended a book called Peopleware . The book describes just how screwed up managers and management processes tend to be at software companies. The book basically states that most software companies focus so much on the product, process, and bottom line tha... read more →

The Godfather Legacy

If you are a fan of The Godfather film , book , or game [godfatherwiivideo, godfather360, godfather, godfatherlegacy], you'll enjoy The Godfather Legacy by Harlen Lebo . Lebo's book is a fascinating account of the making of the classic films. The writing style is captivating and easy to re... read more →

The Back-Logged Life

Getting the sense that you are completely overwhelmed with data, from emails, newsfeeds, DVR, etc.? This dude totally nails it: …these days, my feed reader pulls down megabytes of data – a large portion of it, of course, cat pictures… A must read rant. Found on furrygoat ... read more →

Work to Live

Jason Della Rocca recommended the book Work to Live as required reading for everyone in the game industry. As frequent particpants in ritual crunch modes, Work to Live isn't an eye-opening forehead-slapping revolution. Rather, it is a nice reminder that there is indeed life outside of the cub... read more →

Replacing a Sony Vaio Hard Drive

I replaced a failing hard drive in Sony Vaio Z1VA . In retrospect, it was pretty straightforward, but here are some tips that tripped me up: Opening the Z1VA: There are about 13 screws on the bottom of the laptop that need to be removed. 3 are covered by stickers. Before you can remove the plasti... read more →

Bravo to Apple for iPod Volume Patch

Apple just released an iPod firmware update that allows users to personally set the iPod's maximum volume output. Incredibly, many tech blogs and news sites are actually criticizing Apple for "caving in" to people who are "too dumb to turn it down." Well, have you ever accide... read more →

Guitar Rig Circa 1987

My Guitar Rigs [guitarrig2001, guitarrig1987, guitarrig1992] Here is my first guitar rig. I put together this collection of guitar stuff when I first started playing guitar, around 1986, and had the complete set in 1987. I still have the original amp and guitar, though all of the pedals were stole... read more →

The Godfather: The Game

Leave the gun, take the cannolli. The Godfather ships today for PS2, Xbox, and Windows XP. I think gamers are going to be very surprised to see a game like this come from EA. The PS2 and Xbox games are well worth playing on current gen consoles. No need to wait for XBOX360… play it now. Th... read more →

Guitar Rig Circa 1992

My Guitar Rigs [guitarrig2001, guitarrig1987, guitarrig1992] I've had three main guitar rigs since I started playing guitar as a teenager. Here is my rig circa 1991-1992, when I was the rhythm guitarist in the seminal Hayward band, Mystic Rage. I no longer have any of this rig - I sold the lot... read more →

Installing libupnp on Linux

Most Linux UPnP media servers require the libupnp library. However, the install script for libupnp is incomplete and not well documented, so here are some more complete install steps. Although libupnp-1.3.1 was just released, I couldn't get it to compile, so I use the older libupnp-1.2.1a vers... read more →

Fireside Rum for a Cold Night

It is cold and hailing tonight, with a forecast of possible snow. Sounds like time for a cocktail! Here's my take on a drink called Fireside Rum: Brew 1 cup of Tazo Chai tea While hot, stir in ½ teaspoon of sugar After the tea is infused, pour into a thick glass wine goblet Add 1 ½ s... read more →

Comcast DVR Codes

Here are some instructions for checking the signal strength on the Comcast DVR [newcomcastdvr, comcastdvrcodes] and how to reset it. I can't remember where I found these instructions, so I apologize to the original author. If you know the source (avsforum? HDTV-SFBay-Users?), please let me kn... read more →

Budget Behringer Desktop Mixer

To relieve myself of the ambient noise at my work desk, I've started wearing closed-back isolation headphones. Since I need to listen to at least two different audio sources at the same time, a decent desktop audio mixer was in order. The last time I looked at mixers several years ago, there w... read more →

Replacing a Norelco Beard Trimmer

I've been using a Norelco Maverick T-1000 beard trimmer for several years. It is a durable, battery-powered trimmer that has an easy-to-clean trimmer head. You just press a button and the trimmer head swings open to allow for trimmings to be brushed out. I use the trimmer once a week to keep ... read more →

Virgil's Micro Brewed Root Beer

When I was a kid, A&W was the pinnacle of root beers with "that frosty mug taste." But today you can find dozens of specialty root beers and other sodas at places like Beverages and More. The best root beer of the bunch by a mile is Virgil's. Instead of the syrupy thermonuclear ... read more →

A DOS Box for Classic Gaming

I have tons of old games for a variety of systems that I never got around to playing. In search of something I could play while waiting for data builds at work, I reached in to my pile of old games and pulled out Ascendancy, an epic space strategy game circa 1995. Unfortunately, my laptop isn'... read more →

Strange Adventures in Infinite Space

I'm really hooked on the game Strange Adventures in Infinite Space by Digital Eel. The best way to describe it is to say that it's a cross between Spaceward Ho! and the classic Super Star Trek, but… enhanced... so that the entire play experience takes only 15 minutes. This is a great... read more →

Comparing Audio Attenuators

After installing an OmniFi DMP-1 in my Audi A4, I noticed that that it was overdriving the CD changer input, giving me a slightly noisy sound floor and some noticeable overdrive (distortion) on loud audio tracks. I decided to try a couple of line-level audio attenuators to see if they would help. I... read more →

SSH Hacker Attacks

If you run SSH to allow secure remote logins to your server, you've probably noticed a big increase in unauthorized attempted logins. My main Linux box at home has been "under attack" nearly every day for the past 9 or 10 months. There is an article over on whitedust.net describing ... read more →

Shadows of a New Ballpark

The Oakland A's are trying to build a new ballpark in Oakland. While I'm pretty excited about the possibility, something really bothers me about the proposed new design. Check it out below: Notice anything missing? I do: sunshine. Compare the rendering above with the picture from my las... read more →

A Primer on Budget SciFi

Primer is one heckuva cool movie. Two engineers who dabble with physics experiments in their garage make a mind-bending discovery after finding fungus growth on a weeble. Seriously. As many critics have pointed out, Primer is the most reality-grounded SciFi film since Kubrick's 2001: A Space... read more →

Looking for an Everyday Acoustic

I have two acoustic guitars, a Martin Backpacker and a Takamine G330 dreadnought. I like both guitars a lot, but I'm looking for something a little easier to play, and more versatile and durable as an "everyday guitar." The Martin Backpacker is a cool little guitar. It even sounds l... read more →

Crunch Mode Life Stats

In the past 8 weeks or so of crunch mode, I've managed to: Read ¾ of one book Play 12 hours of one video game Go to one movie However, during the same period of time, I've somehow managed to buy: One HDTV Five DVDs Four books Four CDs A Nintendo DS Five video games One DVD drive One ... read more →

Sunday Baseball in Oakland

There aren't many better ways to spend a Sunday in July than to sit in the stands and watch Barry Zito pitch eight innings for an Oakland Athletics win. To increase revenues, the A's are planning to build a new baseball-only stadium in the next couple of years. While no one yet knows the l... read more →

Choosing the Right Light Bag

I like to travel light, so I try to carry the smallest, lightest bags possible. However, I tend to carry a lot of gadgets, which can include any number of the following: Cel Phone PDA Laptop iPod GameBoy (or DS / PSP) Digital Camera Assorted Cables Various Power Converters When I need to carry al... read more →

Just Another Saturday at Best Buy

I stopped by Best Buy after work on Saturday to buy a new DVD player and ask about calibrating my new DLP set. Here's how the experience went with Best Buy's Blue Shirt crew: MikeyP: Hi, what's the return policy on this DVD player?Blue Shirt Guy #1: 14 days, no restock fee.MikeyP: Thank... read more →

Star Wars EP1 and EP2 DVD Quality

Regardless of your opinion about Star Wars Episode 1, The Phantom Menace , one thing thing about the film is without debate: the picture quality of the EP1 DVD is absolutely awful. The disk is chock full of everything you can do wrong with production of a DVD. Edge enhancement is apparent everywhe... read more →

Touring a Retired Lightship

We were strolling around Jack London Square in Oakland last weekend, when we stumbled upon a docked ship with an "Open for Tours" sign posted nearby. The ship turned out to be the decommissioned US Coast Guard Lightship RELIEF – WLV 605, and the tour was fascinating. The Lightsh... read more →

New, Quieter Comcast DVR

I now have a replacement for my dead Comcast DVR, and I've noticed two interesting things: 1. The hard drive doesn't chatter loudly like the previous Comcast DVR [newcomcastdvr, comcastdvrcodes] . The drive does have a slightly noticeable hum (a bit louder than the drive in my PC), but it i... read more →

A Peltier Cooler for Wine

I've been thinking of a solution for cellaring wine at home. I do have room under the house to build a proper cellar, but I won't have time to do a big project like that for many years to come. So in the mean time, I've kept my eye on those 'Wine Cooler Fridge' things that are ... read more →

Unwind and Dine at the Albion River Inn

If you are looking for a nice overnight escape from the SF Bay Area, head up the coast to the Albion River Inn. Located about 15 minutes south of Mendocino , the Albion River Inn has a set of charming cottages perched atop of a cliff overlooking the mouth of the Albion River. Most rooms have firep... read more →

High-end Headphones, Low-end Price

Those courtesy earbuds that Apple included with your iPod are acceptable, but if you want to hear some real bass and a warmer and more accurate high-end, you'll want to step up to a pair of headphones. I was looking for a solid pair of portable headphones that were priced where I wouldn't cr... read more →

Every Web Browser Ever Made

Wow, these guys have a huge archive of web browsers. I'd swear I tested against a 3rd of these when we launched our first corporate web site… via an FTP share on Netcom. (That was the era when I emailed Yahoo our new URL, and Jerry Yang replied with a 'thanks!') Caught on digg ... read more →

MPlayer silent/stdout Patch

As the kitchen sink of media players (along with Xine and VLC), MPlayer could be the ultimate audio helper app on Linux, as it can convert from nearly any media format to any other format. But unfortunately, because it has no true "silent" output option and can't stream to stdout, it ... read more →

Troubles with Tulip

As I was experimenting with music server software, I noticed something odd with the network config on my Linux box. syslog was constantly reporting this error: eth0: PNIC2 transmit timed out, status e4660000, CSR6/7 e0406002 / effffbff CSR12 000000c8, resetting… Uh, hmm. Rebooted the Linux b... read more →

Motor Oil in Plain English

The manual for my Audi A4 says that I should use 0w30 oil, and when that isn't available, use 5w30. Naturally, I can never find 0w30 anywhere. In an effort to understand the advantages and disadvantage of both oils, I did some googling. Along the way, I found a nice, plain-english site descri... read more →

Too Old to be Carded

This evening I stopped by my local liquor store to purchase a sophisticated adult beverage. When I placed my bottle on the counter to pay, the cashier looked at me and said, Alright, finally! Somebody I don't need to ask for an ID! Uh, thanks, I guess. Apparently he'd been getting a bunch ... read more →

Micronauts Evolution

As a kid, I had the entire collection of Star Wars action figures (and still do), but I think my favorite action figure toys were actually Micronauts. These things were so cool - you could take them apart and snap pieces from different figures together. And they had a super-cool pneumatic tube tra... read more →

Del^?^?^? Backspace in XTerm VIM

Having trouble with the Backspace or Delete key when using vi or vim in XTerm? Does pressing the Backspace key echo the characters ^? instead of deleting the charater in front of the cursor? Just edit your .Xdefaults file and change or add these lines to make the keys work as you would expect them... read more →

Night Vision from Lorex

If you have an outdoor security camera, like a Lorex, the Lorex VQ2120 Night Vision module is a must-have add-on. It has a whopping 68 infrared LEDs that enable a night vision range of nearly 35 feet. The Night Vision includes a Y-adapter to share the power supply with a Lorex Camera such as the L... read more →

Mandrake RPM for Motion

For some reason, the latest Mandrake RPM available for Motion [motion, motionrpm] is version 3.0.7. There are a lot of nice improvements in the most recent version, so I used the .spec file included in the latest motion build and made a Mandrake RPM. You can download it here: motion-3.1.17-1mdk.i58... read more →

Motion Capture with... Motion!

If you are considering a video security system, don't bother buying a special security video tape recorder. Instead, install Linux on an old PC, and set up a great piece of software called Motion. I installed Motion on an old K6-233 running Linux Mandrake 10.1, and configured it to capture fram... read more →

Affordable Security Cameras from Lorex

Avoid buying cheap-o security cameras, such as ones from Swann, Q-See, etc. at all costs. If you are lucky enough to find printed specs on the package, you'll notice that they have high noise levels, high lux levels, and low resolutions, all of which translates to a garbage picture and endless ... read more →

Excellent Teas at Far Leaves

After craving a top quality Japanese Green Tea, I tried a variety of teas at my local coffee places (Peets, Starbucks, etc). While they have good coffee, I was less than impressed with their tea, as well as their annoying habit of serving tea in lip-burning, tea-blanching, boiling hot water. Luckil... read more →

A Consistent Formula

StickyC discovered this years ago, but lo and behold, this consistent formula worked its magic on me last night. Company Party + Gin Martini + Karaoke Machine = SINATRA! Sing along with me:South of the BorderDown Mexico Way… ... read more →

Solving Kryptos with Elonka

My friend and GDC speaking partner Elonka is in Wired today, discussing a cool crytographic sculpture at CIA headquarters. In case you're wondering, Elonka was the first person to crack PhreakNIC. And of course, she has a blog. ... read more →

Winter + Polyurethane = Bad

Applying a polyurethane top coat to a wood finish in a cold winter garage turns out to be a bad idea. In my case, each '2 hour fast-dry' coat took over 10 hours to dry in 45'F weather. And worse, the stuff won't flow smoothly or disolve itself properly, leaving lot's of little p... read more →

Winter Sports Sunscreen Tip

Tip: When carrying a tube of suncreen during winter sport activities, put it inside of a sealed ziplock bag before slipping it in to your pocket. That way, you can prevent a mess and some permanent stains when, oh… hypothetically speaking, you're snowboarding on a lovely Thursday afternoon... read more →

Anchor Steam Gin

The Anchor Brewing Company in San Francisco makes the well known and loved Anchor Steam Beer. Recently, I discovered that Anchor also has a distillery called, appropriately enough, the Anchor Distilling Company. If you like gin , try Anchor's Junipero. Unlike Bombay Sapphire's silky yet r... read more →

Helpful Japan Travel from JTB

This winter, we spent a couple of weeks in Japan exploring and enjoying the country. Even though I had been to Japan before, I was on business and I never had a chance to really see the country. We initially asked our local travel agents for Japan travel info, and they all pointed us to packages f... read more →

Saved by the RIP Linux Rescue System (again)

If you've ever built your own Linux kernel, or installed a hard drive controller card in a Linux box, you know how easy it is to have an "accident" that will prevent the OS from booting completely. Thankfully, Kent Robotti has created an excellent recovery distro called RIP ('R... read more →

Burn ISOs with the Windows Resource Kit

I was looking all over the place for a simple command-line ISO burning utility for WinXP. XP's built-in CD burning tools are great, but they can't burn ISOs. I considered using cdrecord, but as versatile as it is, it's also damned complicated. As it turns out, the perfect little ISO-bu... read more →

LinkStash Bookmark Manager

Recently, I noticed that it was taking forever for a new Internet Explorer window to open on WinXP. For convenience, I always left the Favorites sidebar open, and I realized that having the sidebar open was dramatically slowing IE's launch time. I suppose that for each new window, IE was itera... read more →

A Perfect Margarita

I can't for the life of me understand why people use store-bought margarita mix, especially since a perfect margarita is so simple to make without it. You only need three ingredients: Reposado or Anejo Tequila (my favorite is Cabo Wabo Reposado) Triple Sec (use 60 proof Hiram Walker instead of... read more →

iPod Auto Adapters

In my quest to find the ultimate in-car MP3 player, I ended up making adapters for my iPod. I made one for a Honda del Sol, and one for an Audi A4. The iPod adapter for the del Sol was easy, as the after-market stereo had a line-in. I just made a pretty input jack. Check it out at http://www.mike... read more →

The Amazing Suck-O-Meter

Ever wonder what I do in my spare time? (What spare time?) A creation of mine, the Suck-O-Meter, has become a popular software necessity for the sophisticated PalmOS user. You can download it at http://www.suckometer.com. I wrote the Suck-O-Meter a few years ago for the PalmPilot Personal, and it... read more →