Archive for Geekery

Netgear WNHDE111-100NAR 5 GHz Wireless-N HD Access Point/Bridge (Recertified) for $20 and $3 shipping

Newegg has Netgear WNHDE111-100NAR 5 GHz Wireless-N HD Access Point/Bridge (Recertified) for $20 and $3 shipping after applying coupon code EMCYXYV58 at checkout.

via Slickdeals.net: The best coupons, deals and bargains to save you money!.

Cheap Power Adapter for Eee PC

I caught on the ASUS Eee PC bug a few months ago and bought one for myself but it was annoying to have to carry the power adapter to work everyday because it reduced the portability of the device. However, I looked everywhere for a decent power adapter that would work on the Eee PC. It uses a very weird 9.5V 2.5A draw which is uncommon and not found in most universal adapters. Car adapters work and they are cheap but the amperage is hard to get in 12 v cigarette adapters for the home. Then one of the co-workers found AllElectronics.com and we found an adapter that works. It was $17 shipped and it works just fine on my EeePC. The model number is  PS-930 and you can buy it here. It is a 9V adapter wth a 3A draw and it performs wonderfully. Hope this helps someone.

LifePoster with Photoshop

Since the original site is gone and I would like to save the instructions for the future, here they are from the Wayback Machine.

The very cool Mike Matas posted instructions on how to make a ‘Life Poster’ but sadly some of us are still using PCs and can’t use his iPhoto wizardry. Well for those like me here are the instructions for creating a life poster using Photoshop…

Step one
Create a new folder on your drive and copy 98 images that you want to include in your life poster to that folder. Make sure that you are copying the images and not moving the images.

Step two
You are going to want all your photos in a 4:3 ratio so cropping will be necessary for any landscape photos before you put your poster together. This is simple to do in photoshop, simple open the file, select the cropping tool icon, enter the ration in the boxes provided under the tool bar then simple select the area of the photo that you want – the election box with hold the correct ratio for you.

Step three
Use the “Contact Sheet II” tool (File> Automation> Contact Sheet II) to apply the following properties:
Use: Folder
Browse: The folder you’ve created
Units: inches
Width: 19.5
Height: 30
Resolution: 200 pixels/inch
Mode: RGB
Flatten All Layers: Check
Place: eitherway, whatever feels lucky to you
Columns: 7
Rows: 14
Use Auto-Spacing: Check
Click OK.

Step four
Sit back and watch photoshop do it’s magic. This is an automated process so the action is going to be taking place on the screen and not in the background – each image will open, resize, copy into the poster document and be places. No doubt this will take up a lot of your computer’s mojo so best to just let it sit.

Step five
Now it is time to add the side margins… Image> Canvass Size
Change Width from 19.5 to 20 and hit ok – this will add a quarter of an inch margin to each side of the image.

Step six
All set to save (TIFF is always good) and either upload to the photo processing site or take it into Kinkos or such to be printed.

Sprint Mobile Email on a Treo 755p

Sprint Mobile Email was launched sometime back in November 2006 with a lot of pomp and show but is barely advertised on their website today. It seems to have lost some favor to the VersaMail application that comes bundled with the Treo 755p. However, I find Sprint Mobile Email is better for my purposes. Here is a smallish review of sorts and the strengths and weaknesses that I have found. I would also like to document tips and tricks and hacks for Sprint Mobile Email for posterity. So if you have any good tips for Sprint Mobile Email, please leave a comment here.

You can download Sprint Mobile Email (referred to henceforth as SME) from Sprint’s website under the “Digital Lounge” menu item on http://my.sprint.com after you have logged onto your Sprint account. This is only available if your phone is capable of running Sprint Mobile Email. It is a quick and dirty download and setting up of email accounts is swift. The default setup enables push for the accounts but not scheduled checking of emails. This was supposed to be, I assume, the BlackBerry killer application but the push setup is hit or miss. Frankly, I have yet to get it to work. So though it is a good idea, execution leaves more to be desired. I have GMail setup along with a work account and they both work under SME as expected.

PS: You need unlimited data and/or unlimited text messaging for SME to work. I would be afraid of the data charges if you did not.

Pros:

  • Setting up of emails is a breeze.
  • The application is stable. Large icons for finger clicking helps a lot.
  • Lots of key mappings, including side button mapping for email.
  • On demand checking of email is very simple from keyboard.
  • Navigation within the app is intuitive and fast. Lots of features to purge attachments and such to reduce space usage.
  • Separate emails for separate accounts. I hate mixing of emails.

Cons:

  • Push does not work for me. Some people have said that it takes a while to sync. Mine did not sync, ever.
  • No timed deletion of messages. I wish I could make the emails delete automatically after x days. I missed this in VersaMail as well.

Tips and tricks:

  • Hold down the mail button on your Treo to receive mail or sync with the mail account being viewed.
  • Once you are viewing email for an account, click on the option button to get detailed preferences etc for the account including push setup and scheduled email checking. It took me a while to find this.
  • Go back to the mail listing by clicking on the mail button anywhere in the app.
  • The mail button, clicked once while in mail listing, allows you to switch between mail accounts.

I have gotten so used to SME that I actually use my phone to check email every morning without having to get on my computer. That is perfect for me. I am sure I am missing some quick tips and some cool feature or irritation but I will be sure to post them here. Do you like SME? Have you used it yet?

GMail app on a Treo 755p

Google does not officially support the GMail app on the Treo 755p and once you visit http://gmail.com/app with your phone on Blazer, you will receive and error message saying “not compatible with Palm OS 5 devices”. That is all true but there is a quick way to get around the problem.

There are two simple steps.

  1. Download JVM for Palm OS 5 from the following link (download to your desktop computer, install through HotSync) and install it on your Treo http://www.palm.com/us/support/jvm/
  2. Once that is done, visit the following URI with Blazer on your Treo, download the jar file to your phone and it will ask to install it. You should to be all set. http://gmail.com/app/v1.0.0/en/gmail-g.jar

Caveats: BUGS! The touch screen does not work very well at all on the Treo 755p with the GMail app. I am hoping that will be solved soon but the application is very navigable with the keypad on the Treo and all functions are much easier than the web version.

Enjoy!

Thanks to a Google Groups post and the helpful people on there. If you know of any other methods of tweaks, please leave a comment.

New version 1.5 now available.

Car Buying and Negotiation Tips

We recently purchased an 07 Honda Odyssey and the transaction was smooth and mostly to my satisfaction. However, I saw this post on Slickdeals.net with information on how to negotiate a better deal on a car and I had to steal it for my own information and save the numbers and the ideas. Original was here.

How to negotiate a great DEAL on a new car purchase


 What I am telling you is based on 7 years in the business and personal purchases.
——————————–Formula——————————————-
MSRP = Sticker(includes Dest. Charge)
Invoice = Can be found on Edmunds.com(include options) or kbb.com
Rebates = Vary by local dealership
Holdback (dealer’s profit) = see below portion to calculate holdback
Estimate True invoice = Invoice – Rebates – Holdback
tax = ?% x True Invoice
Tags = whatever your states charges (typically $100 – $400)
Low ball offer = True Invoice + tax + tags – $2,000
Target Price = [ (MSRP – Rebate – Low ball offer) ] / 2 + low ball offer (this is basically the formula I use)
TRY TO GET YOUR PRICE AS CLOSE TO THE TARGET PRICE AS POSSIBLE!
—————————————————————————————–
The car business is hurting right now. Dealers are happy with their “holdback”. Its the salesman that are starving. STOP NEGOTIATING WITH THE SALESMAN! Its a fact that the average car salesman only sales 8-10 cars per month. Its also a fact that a “flat”, the money a salesman is going to make on a new car sales with no profit(invoice) is $50-$100. So do the math thats only $800-$1000 in commission per month. Thats why dealer are always hiring salesman. Its also why salesman are constantly getting fired.
GET THE SALESMAN ON YOUR SIDE! Tell him up front he’s not gonna make any money on you, this will be an invoice deal. Tell him you’ll slip him a $100 after the deal if you get your price. So when he goes up to the “salesdesk”, he’s fighting for you. When the salesman comes back to you with numbers on the paper, they call it an “A” sheet. Cross it out with a big “X”, flip it over right your number on the back, next to it write “T/T out the door”, then underline it. The first number you write should be at least $2000k below invoice. His manager will either send someone over or come his self. This is a good sign it shows that you werent talking to a “closer”. He might even write a note, asking where r you getting your numbers. If this happends, write “I was thinking the same thing about you numbers”.
Typically his second number will be $2000 above invoice. If it is, you write,” Split the difference, with T/T, out the door” They usually will jump at it.

Tips:

DONT BE SCARED TO WALK AWAY.
CONFIDENCE IS KEY.
DONT DRIVE THE VEHICLE FROM THE DEALER YOU ARE BUYING FROM.
DONT DISCUSS CREDIT, FINANCE, INTEREST RATE, ETC BEFORE YOU GET INVOICE PRICING.
(THESE ARE BUYING SIGNALS, THEY WILL SMELL IT LIKE BLOOD TO A SHARK)

DONT LISTEN TO YOUR FRIENDS. EVERYBODY CLAIMS THE GOT A GOOD PRICE. MOST DONT KNOW WHAT INVOICE IS.
DONT ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS DURING NEGOTIATING FOR INVOICE.
(YOU MAY GIVE AWAY A BUYING SIGNAL WITHOUT KNOWING)

SHOPPING DURING THE LATTER PART OF THE MONTH CAN WORK TO YOUR ADAVNTAGE.
(DEALERS HAVE A PROJECTED SALES IN UNITS THEY NEED TO MEET, SO DO BANKS. THEY TYPICALLY WILL WORK BETTER DEALS AT THIS TIME TO MAKE THEIR MONTH)

IF YOU SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO A DEALERS WEBSITE LET THEM KNOW “NOT TO CALL YOU, NOT TO NEGOTIATE, YOU WILL ONLY ACCEPT INVOICE W/TAX&TAGS, IF THEY DO CALL YOU, YOU WILL NOT DEAL WITH THEIR DEALERSHIP, IF THE EMAIL YOU ANYTHING OTHER THAN INVOICE, YOU WILL NOT DEAL WITH THEIR DEALERSHIP” THIS IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY TO NEGOTIATE, AS OPPOSE TO IN PERSON.

THEY KNOW IF YOU NEGOTIATING THIS WAY YOU ARE A SERIOUS BUYER.

THEY WANT YOU IN THE DEALERSHIP SO THEY PLAY THE “GAME” WITH YOU. ITS SET UP TO WORK AGAINST YOU. LIKE A CASINO THE HOUSE ALWAYS WINS.

MOST DEALERS HAVE THE “NEGOTIATING” TABLES IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DEALERSHIP OR OPEN OFFICES.
(THIS CREATES A “BUYING FRENZY”)

IT HELPS TO HAVE YOUR FINANCING ALREADY DONE BEFORE YOU SHOP FOR THE CAR.
————————————————————————————————–
Calculate Holdback

If a holdback is calculated from the:

Total MSRP: consumers must include the MSRP price of all options before figuring the holdback.
Base MSRP: consumers must figure the holdback before adding desired options.
Total Invoice: consumers must include the invoice price of all options before figuring the holdback.
Base Invoice: consumers must figure the holdback before adding desired options.

Acura 3% of the Base MSRP
Audi No holdback
BMW No holdback
Buick 3% of the Total MSRP
Cadillac 3% of the Total MSRP
Chevrolet 3% of the Total MSRP
Chrysler 3% of the Total MSRP
Dodge 3% of the Total MSRP
Ford 3% of the Total MSRP
GMC 3% of the Total MSRP
Honda 3% of the Base MSRP
HUMMER 3% of the Total MSRP
Hyundai 2% of the Total Invoice
Infiniti 1% of the Base MSRP
Isuzu 3% of the Total MSRP
Jaguar No Holdback
Jeep 3% of the Total MSRP
Kia 3% of the Base Invoice
Land Rover No Holdback
Lexus 2% of the Base MSRP
Lincoln 2% of the Total MSRP
Mazda 2% of the Base MSRP
Mercedes-Benz 3% of the Total MSRP
Mercury 3% of the Total MSRP
MINI No Holdback
Mitsubishi 2% of the Base MSRP
Nissan 2% of the Total Invoice
Pontiac 3% of the Total MSRP
Porsche No Holdback
Saab 2.2% of the Base MSRP
Saturn 3% of the Total MSRP
Scion No Holdback
Subaru 3% of the Total MSRP (Amount may differ in Northeastern U.S.)
Suzuki 3% of the Base MSRP
Toyota 2% of the Base MSRP (Amount may differ in Southern U.S.)
Volkswagen 2% of the Base MSRP
Volvo 1% of the Base MSRP
——————————————————————————————————-
EXAMPLE:
2007 Toyota Camry LE auto w/ minimum option needed (from edmunds.com)
MSRP: $20975
Invoice: $18771
Rebate: $0
Holdback: $420 (2% of MSRP)
Tru Inv: $18352
Tax in CA :$1514
Tag: 200 (est.)
Low ball: $18066
Target: [ ( 20975 – 0 – 18066 ) / 2 ] + 18066 = $19520 (out the door price, all fees included)

 


Never pay full price on a new car again!

Also see:

Rhapsody 4 and Sandisk Sansa e200 series

I recently upgraded to Rhapsody 4 from Rhapsody 3 since I was having trouble transferring playlists to my Sandisk Sansa e260 and created a large mess. Rhapsody would not start after upgrading to 4.0 and everything would lock up or freeze. This was after trying to uninstall Rhapsody and install it again from scratch. Rhapsody online help was poor to say the least and did not help at all. However, after reading some forum posts and trying to use my programmers’ thinking cap, I made it all work and work much better. I now can transfer playlists directly to my device without any rigmaroll and everything seems to work smoothly and seamlessly. I do like the new interface a lot better than the old one. It is cleaner, more intuitive and is simpler to navigate. No more “mixer”.

Before I go into this, this advice comes with no warranty or promise. If this completely breaks your computer and everything else, I am not responsible. please proceed at your own risk, especially if you have purchased songs on your system from Rhapsody. If you have purchased songs from Rhapsody and have them stored on your system, I am not sure how cleaning the DRM will affect your music. Please contact Rhapsody tech support for a better answer. This method only works well if you JUST use Rhapsody to go.


Here is what I did (this is considering you had a previous version of Rhapsody installed and nothing seems to work, program will not start):

  • Install Rhapsody 4 from the installation file but uncheck the box that says start Rhapsody after install
  • Unplug your device and close rhapsody (and WMP or any other DRM program) if it is running
  • Open up a command prompt (start->Run->type “cmd”->Enter key)
  • CD to the Rhapsody program files directory
  • Use the RhapDrmClean.exe program to clean the DRM files
    • type in RhapDrmClean -hx -hxstore -clean_phd_keys
    • Type yes a whole bunch of times as Rhapsody asks you if you are sure
    • Close the command prompt
  • Now that all of your DRM components are clean, open Rhapsody, log in and set it up again
  • You will have to re-license your device to get it to transfer music
  • Now you can drag and drop playlists onto the device and the lists themselves are transferred
  • If the device is not found, follow the same procedure you used before (when installed for the first time) to find and install the device.

I believe that there are a whole bunch of DRM updates in Rhapsody 4 and it conflicts with everything that Rhapsody had setup on your machine prior. The installation program does not seem to take care of this for you and it needs to be done manually. I am transferring all my music to my Sansa e260 as I type this. I love the fact that I can transfer playlists using Rhapsody now, it was a source of major frustration in the past.

Google to Put a Research Center in Michigan

Google to Put a Research Center in Michigan Nice. Finally some nice work environments in the close vicinity.

Blog it, Toledo

Blog it, Toledo Exclusive online article(s) from the Toledo Free Press on blogging, bloggers and blogs from the Toledo area.

The complex dynamics of babies and pets

The complex dynamics of babies and pets We have dogs and we are going to have babies soon. I also know that Jennifer and I want to continue to have dogs in the house throughout our lives, so this might be a good article for future reading.

PHP APC and Gallery Issues

PHP offers a PECL package called APC or Alternative PHP Cache that can significantly increase performance on your LAMP server with high loads. I have seen significant decreases in performance issues over the time that I have tested it. However, once I had turned it on, I noticed some serious problems with PHP Gallery and since I was short on time, I figured I would turn it off till I could find a good solution to the problem.

Gallery will return an “undefined method” or an obscure security error with APC turned on. This is mostly evident on Gallery 2. Restarting the apache webserver normally solves this problem temporarily. I had tried to turn off the performance peice inside Gallery to see if the caching was crossing hairs with APC. That did not solve the problem. (WordPress cache might also have problems with APC, that needs addressed as well).

To make a long story short, I found the answer by trial and error. Turning off APC for Gallery classes normally fixes the problem. I built a filter for APC in php.ini that kept the Gallery files from being cached by APC. After searching some more, I found a more complete solution on the Gallery forums.

Just add the following line to the APC config inside php.ini, right above the apc.mmap_file_mask line:
apc.filters="-Gallery.*\\.class"

Your gallery should work without any further trouble.

Wireless Extension Cords

Wireless Extension Cords Yup, you read right. Extend power up to 300 feet, wirelessly. From what I understand, this is done via microwaves and CAN be harmful for everything from living things upto electronics, but it can be done. I would not want kids and/or animals around this contraption but it sure is bizarre.

Ten Reasons Why You Should Date a Geek

Ten Reasons Why You Should Date a Geek: From Maryam Scoble (of Robert Scoble, of Microsoft fame). “He is not a bum.” I love it!

Athlon X2 Dual Core

Athlon X2 Dual Core: Just so that everyone is aware and buys the correct CPU, the Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core has a “Toledo” core. The core is called Toledo, get it….?!?! Oh, never mind!!

Viking Supreme Hot Tub

We bought and installed a Viking Supreme Hot Tub in our new house today. I wanted to get it into the house before my parents left for India to make sure that they could use it for some time. However, like everything else in my life, this was not without its trials.

We had tried to get estimates from various electricians to add a new 220 Volt connection to our backyard so we could connect our Hot Tub (along with the GFCI and everything else). Their prices are ATROCIOUS! John had graciously offered to have his brother help us out (John’s brother is an electrician). Without getting into the bad details, it is suffice to say that before the job could even be started, there was a tragedy in their family with John’s brother. We were not only dumbstruck, we were also very, very sorry at their loss.

So my father and I decided to put the connection together ourselves. That was quite a challenge since neither of us had done any kind of wiring ourselves. However, after a couple of trips to the local Home Depot, we finally managed to get everything in place and not burn the house down.

The Viking Hot Tub (or Spa) is great so far. It is small and compact. Yet it is a lot of fun. We had spent some time looking at various hot tubs and comparing the various dealers in our area. We came to the conclusion that no matter who we went with, they would provide us with about the same level of service and products. We chose Lite House for our dealer and purchased a Viking Supreme 300 Gallon model with two year unlimited and three year limited warranty.

We plan to keep using the hot tub over the winter (though in much lesser frequency) and thus opted for the best insulation that we could get. I plan to add more insulation foam to the system come closer to winter. We will see how it goes.

One last thought. The old addage is true when it says that the fruits of labor are sweeter if it comes after a long time and a lot of trouble. :-)

Feel free to ask questions about Viking Hot tubs, Lite House Pools and Spas in Toledo and electrical wiring if you like. We will try to reply to all those interested.