Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Because it's my birthday, my love, and I wants it!

Ok, I've found a new toy to lust after with near as much desire as Gollum for the one ring. Its also yet to be released.
This is the Canon Powershot A620. DPReview has got some information on that and its little brother the A610. Other than Canon's website for Powershots and Amazon's preorder page, I really haven't seen too much about it. It is 7.1MP, has a 4X Optical Zoom, and is going to retail for about $400. I've got a Canon Powershot A70 that is about 2 years old now and I'm really itching to upgrade.

For me - downsides are this takes SD instead of Compact Flash so I'll have to purchase some new memory cards and typically Compact Flash cards cost less for most space and can get bigger. I downloaded an sample image from canon's site and it was over 5MB for a single image. Looks like i'll be getting 100 shots at best on a 512mb SD Card. Maybe i'll get a couple.

And it looks like my lenses are not going to work with the new camera as it can take the lenses the G3, G5, and G6 camera can take. Anyone in the market for a Canon Powershot A70 with a wide angle and telephoto lens? I can throw in some Compact Flash cards to make it worth your while. Of course, this isn't on sale until I get my Powershot A620 and that doesn't come out until October 10th.

But I am seriously drooling. I think I'd get an ipod but this too me is just too cool.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

CVS Must Hate Me by Now

CVS is a drug store that is primarily on the east coast, but ironically there was one back in Rantoul, IL when we lived there (last month). I had read on Slashdot that there was a disposable camcorder that CVS was going to start offering, and that people were interested in hacking it since the disposable cameras they were selling had been hacked. I was surprised to find out that they also had disposable digital cameras as well!

Ok, what does disposable really mean. What it comes down to is normally you would pay $30 for the digital camcorder and another $12 to get that developed onto dvd. Max 20 minutes of footage. So basically $42 to get 20 minutes of footage. Its kind of pricey if you ask me and the quality as I found out is not great (definitely not dvd) but certainly passable to watch as a download clip on the internet. The digital cameras were $10 with no LCD and $20 with LCD. Keep in mind once you develop the cameras/camcorders you don't get them back and have to purchase again.

I was in the middle of moving so I didn't pay much regard to any of this since money was tight and I couldn't find it in any CVS. Then after I was in a CVS for other reason - I found a CVS that carried all of these different items. One week later I read the camcorder is hacked! http://www.makezine.com/blog/archive/2005/08/cvs_camcorder_u.html

So I rush out and buy one of these things, not thinking anything other than "Cool" and "Fun". Its smaller than I expected (i'll post pictures when it isn't 3 in the morning) and seems pretty cool. It even came with a $5 off coupon for the digital camera with lcd! I end up making a cable following these instructions (its the same cable as the digital camera - bonus!) and spending a good part of a Saturday afternoon buying a soldering iron and learning how to solder. The cable is made by destroying the end of a parallel (printer cable for non geeks) and a usb cable (can't help you there if you don't know that is) and doing some bending and soldering. When all was said and done it was a recognized device.

Saturn2 is a program that was made to download the files right off of the camcorder and voila - a $30 digital camcorder. The quality is honestly so so, but my digital camera can't take 20 minutes of footage and this can. If I get some web space to upload to (nudge nudge Rich - hook me up) I'll put some videos up to show the quality.

Next post - my experience with the disposable digital camera with LCD. Good news - its hacked! But not nearly as easy as I thought it would be.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

You're Not Chinese??? and Insurance Games People Play

These are the words that prospective neighbors of ours said to my wife when she answered the door. Not "hello", not "Hi, We're looking at buying the house next door", just "You're Not Chinese!" The ladies apparently looked at the owner's name and just assumed.

My wife and I went out tonight with a friend she has made at her work and her boyfriend. The couple was very nice and we went to Carrabba's for dinner (this is heartily recommended if you have one in the area). Other than going to boss's house one night, this was our second social visit we've had since we've been down here.

So, information about insurance, not that anyone cares about this but me. I've had a certain company all my life. Lets just say their name rhymes with "Hate Farm". Its been a good run since I've had their insurance since I started driving. Well, we move here and they tell us due to speeding tickets we've had we're going to increase your premiums by 50%. We need insurance though, so looked at the tickets at I had one on there that was dated 3/2000, which is like 5 and half years ago! They are only supposed to take tickets 3 years or newer and all the older ones are not looked at. I was in freaking college in 2000 and not even dating my wife, whom we are celebrating our 3 year anniversary next month.

What were you doing in March of 2000? I mean, c'mon! The reason it showed up was the conviction date was 7/2003, so it still barely was on the record and will continue to be there until 7/2006. This is because it was an out of state ticket that I could not find information on where to pay it since I had lost it and finally tracked it down after 3 years. So, I called the Illinois DMV. No help of course. Called the state of Missouri (where the ticket was from) - they can't change anything, but suggested calling the court where I got the ticket. Of course, I have no idea what court it was and asked for the number.

They give me a wrong number.

So after doing a long internet search I eventually found a number that I knew would be wrong but could direct me to the right place. After explaining my situation to 3 people, I eventually got to someone that could talk with me. Their answer was - we can't change sealed files without an attorney - and that probably wouldn't help anyways since you didn't really plead guilty until you paid it in 7/03. GREAT

So I call back the insurance company and get the real scoop. Apparently the state of North Carolina changes taxes on insurance and you get penalized and have to pay additional taxes for insurance if you have any points on your license EVEN FOR TICKETS IN OTHER STATES. So basically, if you get pulled over anywhere and get a ticket for any reason, North Carolina is getting a cut. And it makes me want to hold out on getting our plates registered for our cars to give them as little money as possible.

It makes you think twice about how much that fine is really and makes me willing to hire a lawyer to dispute any ticket and go to court for all of them.

End up, I ask how much different I'm paying for having this ticket and the insurance company said about $80 every six months. Its not that big of a deal but it will happen 3 times total when it really shouldn't.

The good news is at least this insurance period their paperwork is all out of whack and they don't appear to be charging us for having any tickets.

Haha. I wasn't about to correct them.

"Hate Farm" - I'll see you again for another face off in 6 months.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Posted Using IE 7

Ok folks.

here my quick review of Mac OS X 10.4 for x86: You need SSE3 and the hardware support to really do this. Most articles I've read said you should just get a Celeron D and supported motherboard in order to do this, but since I'm a cheapskate, this just isn't going to happen. However - if you do go do it - go get Deerpark, which is a beta version of Firefox for x86 -Safari definitely has issues if you aren't running SSE3, and I'd read similar things.

On to Vista - so far definitely more stable than the Alpha version I tried earlier from WinHEC, but the driver support seems limited - during my install it asked to put in legacy "translation - probably 2003 or xp drivers) for an Intel Pro/100+. I'm thinking, yeah, Intel Pro/100 - what a crazy piece of hardware. Also, on an Athlon 1000, it's definitely not the fastest thing in the world.

Overall, prettier UI. Greatly expanded event log? I'm suprised I've heard no one else report this. It appears to also have categorized events based on things like Microsoft Parental Control (wha??) and Task Scheduler and what not. Other interesting features are a somewhat improved Remote Desktop Connection (I don't know about connecting to it yet).

I even saw Shadow Copies - which might even run on the Workstation OS. That would be interesting for people that delete documents or make bad changes - and want to use up most of the hard disk in backups. Might help the parents though. Note: I know this is useful but I don't do anything actually useful on my computer.

Is it bad that I instantly take a new M$ OS and put it right back on Classic View? Classic view is just so much faster on all hardware and I haven't gotten additional functionality from the other views. But thats me.

I was severly disappointed to find the the mention of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign which was always referenced in the about Internet Explorer is now gone. Of course this is a reference to Mosiac, which apparently going from version 6 to version 7 is no longer true. YEAH RIGHT.

The more I think of it, the more I think Vista server and Pro in beta form at least are the same product with just some registry keys changed. Maybe the shadow copy service will be gone, but I'd really be surprised if RRAS shows up in Pro. If I were a developer sharing the same codebase between 2 products, I'd imagine it would make the most sense just to develop them both at the same time and cripple the non server products more and more, with Vista Home Edition being the most crippled of them all.

UPDATE: I'm logged in via RDP in the post. Its what you'd expect from Remote Desktop Except it support weird redirection for other things like smart cards. The login screen is also prettier.

Which is my word for Vista - Prettier so far but no added functionality that I can really tell. Well, tabbed browsing in IE but we've had that in Opera and Firefox forever.

Next Post - all about Podcasts - why you should listen to them and why they are making me want to buy an ipod. Doesn't anyone have any other software that makes it really easy to update on other mp3 players?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger (that sounds redundant) on x86!

Well, I managed to make it work. I'd like to tell you I'm making this post from Safari, but it just isn't the case. I was able to get Safari to come up and most devices on my computer were recongized, but Safari wasn't stable. My best guess is some of the addins for it were being emulated for ppc and it just crashed because of it. I'm not expecting 100% functionality anyhow since my processor doesn't have SSE3 anyways.

The trick was to get a different copy of dd.exe and follow the intructions on the previously mentioned website. The hard drive I put it all on myseriously stopped being detected in the BIOS, but I'll try more later - maybe i'll even post some screenshots of that and Vista if that ever gets done being downloaded.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

CVS Digital Camera, Tiger on x86, and My Stupid Server

Today - while stopping to get Benadryl to stop the itching from the bee stings, I decided to pick up the CVS disposable digital camera with LCD because I had a coupon for it. Its normally $20, but it was on sale for $15. My coupon was not supposed to work with another offer but the cashier scanned it anyway making it $10. What a slickdeal! I had to sign up for a CVS card, but thats not terrible to do anyways.

Now the ugly cable I made that works with the Camcorder also works with the Camera, and it was detected as a Digital Camera inside of Windows but I didn't get the software that allows the pictures to be taken off work, as of yet. I'll try some crazy hacks on my $10 digital camera. I wonder what the specs are on this thing(i've read appox 1.3MP)

And despite valiant efforts to get my computer to run Mac OS X 10.4, it just wouldn't boot off of the hard drive. See instructions on what I am trying to do here: http://www.uneasysilence.com/os-x-proven-hacked-and-running-on-an-ordinary-pc

Since the torrent took well over a day to download, I'll keep trying doing this. Its really kind of exciting because supposedly with the right hardware everything runs, including ppc designed software.

Also, if anyone decids to try to get a Promise Supertrak 100 to work in Windows Server 2003, don't bother. It may appear to work over time but eventually somethere goes wrong. At one point today I thought I had zero data from my mirror set even though I didn't change anything in the array. I took a Promise Ultra66 card from another old server and just doing software mirroring now. Of course I probably shouldn't trust the IBM hard drives in there anyways.

Wendy and I found the underground hive today, or I guess more like the hole for it. There were bees going into and coming out of it. Good times!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Just Moved to North Carolina and BEES

My wife Wendy and I just moved to North Carolina from Illinois about 3 weeks ago. We went from renting a pretty large duplex to a somewhat smaller home, but with a nearly 5 acre yard. Suddenly, I'm responsible for mowing a big yard.

No big deal, with all the costs of moving we can't afford to get a riding mower, but I still got a self propelled that works pretty well. Well, now that I figured out how to make the propelling part work on its on. Last time I mowed, well - I got stung by a bee for the first time in my life. I've had a huge fear of bees for as long as I can remember. Not that I have any good reason - just I figured I could be allergic or something. It wasn't all in all that big of a deal.

So this time I'm mowing approximately the same area and I get stung AGAIN. Hmmm....now i'm thinking i'm either:

A. I'm really unlucky
B. I'm mowing low flying bees - and the ones that survive are really angry
C. There's an underground beehive

I go back inside, relax for a second, and then go back out there. This time I'm really, really careful looking closely for any bees that appear to be in the area. I see none, and relax for a little bit. As I approach the area where I was stung earlier I think that the coast is clear because well, I don't see any bees. I can finally focus on the task of finishing mowing for another3 or 4 hours without having to worry.

Suddenly and without warning I'm being stung by somewhere between 9 and 10 bees. Some of them repeatedly. I didn't this was possible but as I was swatting them off, then were coming back! I ran off and screamed like a little girl and got back into the house - where I found there was still a bee in between my sandal and ankle still stinging me. I threw him outside and I figured it was probably time to stop mowing.

So I guess my answer has to be C. After I mustered enough courage to go back out there and put the mower away so it wouldn't get rained on, I found a small, but possible entrance to an underground behive. Does anyone know the right way to get rid of these? I mean, I don't mind getting stung once by one bee each time I mow - but getting a dozen stings on my legs pretty much incapacitates me for the day.

I wouldn't say I did anything important today but I did figure out how to add wallpapers and ringtones to my LG VX4650 phone. I didn't want to pay Verizon's $3 or $4 for a ringtone that I'd have to rebuy if I lose, so $43 later for a data cable and a couple of hours of tinkering with the software and drivers and I'm there. QPST and BitPIM seemed to both be needed to make this happen, but ultimately I only need QPST to keep doing it. I'm post step by step instruction at a moment when I've got more time.

Also to be posted soon - the CVS digital camcorder hack that has been posted in many other locations - http://www.gideontech.com/content/articles/285/1 gives a good step by step process of one way to do it. I made a cable out of the centronics end of a parallel cable and a usb cable, both of which I had lying around. The video quality isn't that great, but hey, for $30.

I'll check in later on.