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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Up early, thinking about how to commercialize LiLAX. After running this group for half a decade, maybe it is time to turn it into a commercial venture to better bring out value to the members. I think for a start I will compensate speakers, and charge it to the members. People want to make money, that is a given, we have been meeting for a while and know each other, most are retired, so they can be advisers, investors or just step to the sidelines and make snide comments. But some of those that left, may come back of there is a financial incentive, if they can make a living at this group. For me there is a motivation to continue if there could be a house down in the future for me. We have been talking about leaving the area, finding a house somewhere, we can just pay cash for it, but what if we can find a way to make the money to stay put in this area?

So some of the things I have been thinking about are building out a community network, something that will involve money at some point, but also requires lots of people to cooperate with the network, once the network is up we can put all kinds of services on it. I think last month's meeting about Honduras and what Eng. w/o bourders did there was a great intro to what we can do right here if we all get together in a cooperative maner like the internet when it was initially started, it was all about comunicating with each other. We can get some pretty cheap bandwidth to connect to the rest of the world.

Monday, August 24, 2009

After 3 weeks of playing with this Media Center I have to report that it isn't a keeper. I tried to get it working, and it does mostly, but there are still many little details that aren't right and I will wait to the next release to try it again. I do dig the idea of recording off ATSC HDTV on to a HD and watching it all when I have time, however it isn't a great implementation yet. I tried installing MythBuntu as well, but haven't gotten it working yet, seems it does recognize the tuner, cool, but still couldn't easily resize the NTFS partition to make space and ended up installing it on top of the NTFS partition, was fairly easy, but some of the MythTV stuff isn't yet setup, it takes about 2 hours to install/configure MythTV, plus probably another 2 hours of reading before you start. Myth is pretty neat, but it would be nice if it was HP preinstalled and supported. I think they do support it to a certain extent. I will report again when Windows 7 is on this Media Centers.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I have been trying to install Ubuntu on the new Vista machine for a while and MS makes it hard as they put some files at the end of the filesystem that you have to remove, but they are to do with some recovery features you have to turn off, it is much easier to simply install Ubuntu in the Windows partition these days, not as good performance, but there you have it, now it is in the NTFS file system and all the partition hassles go away. I just did it this way to try out.
I have been thinking about what computer to use next, which OS is another interesting question. I have a Mac Book Pro as my main machine right now and love it, but I don't travel much and want media so I got an HP Media Center, which has one big problem, Vista. I haven't warmed up to it after 3 weeks, it works, kind of but so many UI problems and just plain crashes at times make me wonder about the economy of some really great features with a pretty low price. I paid $699+tax for the machine, and can return it, I just may, just like Windows ME, Vista has its shortcomings. I don't think it is as bad as ME was, however I want to try the same hardware on Ubuntu and see what happens. Maybe MS should become a supporter of Linux and port Office to it and just forget about the kernel. OS X is certainly a great contender too as is now Open Solaris for the desktop, but Windows has it too loose. HP sells this computer with the promise of Windows 7 as a free upgrade. Should I wait? Probably not, why go through the pain of upgrading, where I have to deal with driver issues? Seems like just buying a computer later is easier, let HP deal with the driver issues.

Chrome OS may be a big contender next year as well. I am writing this in Chrome into a Google blog, so if I am using all these Google properties, perhaps getting the layer on top of the Linux Kernel from Google seems a pretty compeling choice too. MS clearly has to reinvent itself. The old Windows Office monopoly is destined to get competition, what the antitrust hasn't achived in so many years has been done by MS saving Apple when it was in dire streights by investing in them, and what a great investment it was For MS, it sure paid back, Linux and OpenOffice by creating a really good alternative that runs on the same hardware. I should probably reinstall the Mac clean now that I have a working Windows system to tide me over. Who knows what crap the Mac has accumulated over the years, not that it doesn't work great, it does.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Been watching Netflix movies and playing with the friend features as well as sub-accounts. Netflix keeps getting better. The website got me to the conference call, interesting one. I also heard about RedBox there, which is an interesting compeditor, boxes of DVDs without a shopkeeper. Free rentals available, there is one at 100w Imperial, will have to try it. Seems like Netflix is a great value too. They say that 10% of Netflix customers are on BluRay, I am. I also heard from Eric that it costs 5 cents to stream a movie, cool, shipping round trip is over 80 cents. They aren't affected by the recession, 25% growth during this period is great. I can totally see it since I canceled cable for the high costs.

In a related story ThePirateBay is being sold. However there are alternatives. Was watching the OctoMom special on Fox and give the link to the Hulu video to the WikiPedia. It is an interesting case, no wonder she gets so many paparazi. The banter between her and her monther is intersting, her mother being the voice of reason and she being the eternal optimist. Given the media attention, I have no doubt the kids will be able to be take care of themselves, by giving up privacy.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Conan blow up my clunker

So our cars don't qualify for the CARS program, wonder if I could make a good enough video to get one of them blown up by Conan? There are already some very deserving entrants with their crappy cars on the website. I might not haven a bad enough car to get that hybrid Lexus.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


I started using MS Vista and it is OK, but not a great system. I keep finding little quircks with the multi monitor setup that I can't solve.


I watched Yes Man this weekend, and I am far more open to opportunites now! I also discovered 30 sec bunny films, great find on NetFlix, but they are free and they have more of them. I then talked to a friend in the DR, reserved a flight and am thinking of going Windsurfing in September there. That should be really fun, wonder where I would stay? Seems like today is going to be good wind in Salinas, wonder if I can reserve and fly today standby, hmmm, tempting. But schedules being what they are, even if I found seats, wouldn't make it there until Monday.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Hyper Local Blogger

I heard in TWIG that hyper local bloggers put thier own ads in the blog and can make 200k a year, wow, I am sure doing something way wrong as I have Google Ads and am working hard at getting to the first $100 on this blog, together with the other one, they haven't gotten there in over a year, $77.07 doesn't really sound like 200k/year, so I must be not putting enough work into this. I might try covering the city, being a reporter for real local news. I wonder if this would be of interest to someone out there. I certainly read, and he does do that. However I can't imagine that he makes that kind of money. WestLA, pretty sure he doesn't either, but then given that his Skype has gone underground, maybe he is. So I have a great camera here and a town that has pretty good internet, wonder if it is worthwhile to try this. I also have a bit of time learning how to use some of the tools. But then there are so many companies in this new/ad space, it is so crowded, yet it must be lucrative.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Free Money

Free Money 1-800-917-7319 says you can ge all kinds of money from the government just for claiming it. There are no reviews on Amazon for this book, I guess they don't really sell it. Given that I see this on late night TV, I am skeptical, the Lesco books on Amazon get bad reviews, would Kevin Troudou do any better? The disclaimer says that "Individual results may vary", hmmm, disclaimers are very informative. But it sounds tempting so tempting.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

HP Media Center

I wonder if this will turn into the Media Center rant blog? There are just so many things wrong with the usability of this Microsoft product on HP that I am inclined not to use it anymore. I can't seem to change channels by simply typing in the say 4.1 as 41, like I do on the $11,*after $40 coupon, converter box, I got for the old SDTV. It seem like I should be able to switch channels, the guide is nice, but why limit this option?

I am running his machine with 2 monitors, but can't run the TV while also using the web browser on the other monitor without having all kinds of misses in video and audio and doing a pretty annoying alt-tab, and then having to jump through all kinds of hoops, why does the media center hog my mouse? MS needs to talk to some UI people, Apple seems to make things easy to use and very natural to operate, but MS doesn't get that. The reception on this $699 box is also inferior to the cheaper converter box. However it does do HDTV, and that is why I got it. Not having 2 tuners is a limitation that is bugging me, originally I was looking at an ATI dual tuner card $80, but there were many things blacked out on the package, very strange, all the boxes were the same, someone took a black Sharpie and blocked out some of the features. But it was USB and dual tuners, seemed interesting, yet I didn't get it, maybe I will try it next. Should have enough machines around here to test that too, no desktops, but should work on a laptop, wish it was Mac and Ubuntu compatible. That is how I ultimatly tried out the HP, Haupage tends to be Linux compatible. If I could install OS X on that HP, that would be sweet. After about a year on the Mac, I am addicted to OS X, Ubuntu is also great, and Windows seems to be an annoying OS, Vists is so paranoid it bugs me. But is it really paranoid when they are out to pown it?

Every so often for no good reason I get a "Video Error, Files need to display video are not installed or working correctly, please restart Windows Media Center or restart the computer."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


We give in more and more to the conveniences that the net offers us, and yet some things are so dangerous, yet ultimately useful that it is always a battle. Mint is "the best ^free way to manage your money," awards from Kiplinger, Webby, PCmag, and Money make me think it must be great, Gina Trapani mentioned it on a podcast as something great, seems like a great application for abuse, hacking and getting all your most important data compromised.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Windows Media Center

Is broken on this HP, I can't get the darn thing out of a place it gets stuck half of the time, the remote definitly doesn't work right. Having used a DVR from TWC, the HD8000, it was definitly a more mature product. Although I definitly see promise in this hardware combination, currently the software is still not very usable. It needs a better UI and more stability.


I have an antenna tunned to 824-896MHz, PC826N which seems like it could get me some distance. Was looking on the FCC site to find out what is on there, WikiPedia shows
AMPS, GSM, IS-95 (CDMA), IS-136 (D-AMPS), 3G Cellular 824-849, 869-894, wonder what is on 849-869? Having a spectrum analyzer would help answer that question.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Chinese Video

I was showing my daughter some kids cartoons like 789 when I stumbled on a pretty funny Sponge Bob parody on China.

HP Pavilion Elite m9715f Desktop PC

I went to Frys and looked at some TV tuners, but I don't really have a great desktop to put it in, I had priced making one on NewEgg and decided to buy a HP Pavilion Elite m9715f Desktop PC to see how it works, since you can't really get a demo at Frys, they don't even have an antenna connected to the display unit, no internet, no way to test anything. But since the return policy gets me 100% refund if I don't get it to work, I have not downside in trying it out at home and so I did.

It is a pretty compelling system, fast prcessor 8 Gigs and 750 GB HD, ATSC Haupage card and some cool looking USB bays for drives, that are no doubt really expensive, Vista Home Premium, uck, but I can get Windows 7 later, seems like a cool system. So I connect an Akai 42" HDTV monitor to it through HDMI get the sound to go out the HDTV speakers, Skype uses the headphone jack in the front, so far so good, I can run a TV feed and talk on Skype at the same time, no problem. Now I connect a AMW VGA screen next to the HDMI connector, a very tight space, barly fits. I got 2 monitors, one on the desktop and one for video, because the 1024x1024 HDTV is sure no good for a computer monitor. Windows Media Center basically works, although it did take a bit of tweeking and bew up once. However it has problems with the mouse, I can't watch a TV program and move the mouse out of it to the desktop monitor. I don't know if others do this, but I usually run the TV in the background. It is not an Apple product and iTunes has problems, full screen goes blank. I always have some issues with figuring out where the audio goes, I would like to be able to control what audio goes where. What video goes to which screen, is also a guessing game, which I would like to be able to control.

Fast, and cool, but rough around the edges, it isn't Apple quality, however the price is much better $699+tax.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Used Autos See a Rise in Demand

WSJ says cars are rising in price due to CARS. I am considering selling my '97 Geo Prizm with 61000 miles on it, great car, but parking here is a problem. Haven't listed it yet, however would be interested in seeing what it is worth. Consumer guide gives it a 50/100 which I guess is OK, but never heard of them. Haven't used the car in 3 months very much, have to move it for street cleaning, maybe I don't need it. IAG prices it $1,752 - N/A which isn't attractive to sell, mine is in better shape them most. Maybe I just need to wax and clean it, keep on driving. Been a great car so far. Dealer is selling one for $3,995 169,295 miles, wow, it is even the same color as mine. I guess 4500 would be a great deal if it was a clunker, but it doesn't qualify. What a wasteful program that destroys value by breaking windows. People could have spent that car money on something they really wanted, instead we are taxed and the money gets used to distroy cars, we all pay for that. Yes the car companies will get to live longer, but do then need too? Maybe this is counter productive, maybe if they car companies go away, we would have progress making Tesla's.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Amazon Listing Created - NEC 1530V 15" LCD Monitor (White)

This is kind of fun, all these things sit here gathering dust. Now will someone be crazy enough to pay that? I am the only one listing this item.

Begin forwarded message:
Product Name: NEC 1530V 15" LCD Monitor (White)

Quantity remaining: 1
Total quantity sold: 0
Buyer's price: $99.00
Amazon commission (if sold): (Standard Shipping) $10.11
Standard Shipping credit (if sold): $11.99
Amazon commission (if sold): (Expedited Shipping) $11.04
Expedited Shipping credit (if sold): $21.34
Condition: Used - Very Good
Listing ID: 0802ENRCAOM

When your listing appears, you will see it linked from the page where sells the same item:

Amazon Listing Created - Sharp 20NS100 20" MTS Stereo Color TV with Front A/V Inputs

Trying to make space for cool new stuff, and mom. Maybe not in that
order, may take me to next summer to get the space back :(

> Quantity remaining: 1
> Total quantity sold: 0
> Buyer's price: $199.00
> Amazon commission (if sold): (Standard Shipping) $20.36
> Standard Shipping credit (if sold): $34.49
> Amazon commission (if sold): (Expedited Shipping) $23.50
> Expedited Shipping credit (if sold): $65.89
> Condition: Used - Very Good
> Comments:
> Listing ID: 0801ENNZ4IA
> When your listing appears, you will see it linked from the page
> where sells the same item:


Today the family is gone and I have some time :) Can finally listen to some old TWIT episodes I downloaded ages ago. Tried out FredFliks.

AT&T 2701HG-B 2Wire Wireless Gateway DSL Router Modem

Product Name: AT&T 2701HG-B 2Wire Wireless Gateway DSL Router Modem

Quantity remaining: 1
Total quantity sold: 0
Buyer's price: $98.00
Amazon commission (if sold): (Standard Shipping) $9.38
Standard Shipping credit (if sold): $5.49
Amazon commission (if sold): (Expedited Shipping) $9.68
Expedited Shipping credit (if sold): $8.47
Condition: Used - Like New
Comments: Will come in original shipping carton with all bits.

Sony Cybershot DSCM1 5MP Digital Camera with 3x Optical Zoom & MPEG4 Video

Buyer's price: $998.00
Amazon commission (if sold): (Standard Shipping) $81.43
Standard Shipping credit (if sold): $5.99
Amazon commission (if sold): (Expedited Shipping) $81.78
Expedited Shipping credit (if sold): $9.46
Condition: Used - Very Good
Comments: Have most parts, including all I used, don't recall if I have the manual, however all that you need to use, including a spare battery and memory stick Due PRO 256MB, charger base, USB, cables...
Listing ID: 0801ENM269G

TA-117 Casio PhoneMate Digital Answering Machine w/ Speakerphone Amazon for sales

It is pretty easy to find my product on Amazon and then give the price and condition and I am done, they charge more then eBay, but listing things is free:

Dear ralferix,

Thank you for listing your product at Your listing will be available for purchase on our site within minutes. However, it may take up to 15 minutes for the listing to appear in your open listings area within Your Seller Account. Please do not re-list the product if you do not see the open listing immediately. Your listing will remain listed until it is purchased or for 60 days, whichever comes first.

Here are the details of your listing:

Product Name: TA-117 Casio PhoneMate Digital Answering Machine w/ Speakerphone

Quantity remaining: 1
Total quantity sold: 0
Buyer's price: $78.00
Amazon commission (if sold): (Standard Shipping) $7.68
Standard Shipping credit (if sold): $4.49
Amazon commission (if sold): (Expedited Shipping) $7.88
Expedited Shipping credit (if sold): $6.49
Condition: Used - Like New
Comments: has all parts, but no box
Listing ID: 0801ENLYPVY

When your listing appears, you will see it linked from the page where sells the same item: will contact you by e-mail as soon as someone buys and pays for your item(s) successfully. This e-mail, commonly referred to as the "Sold - Ship Now!" e-mail, is your indication that we have processed payment from the buyer so you can get your shipment under way. You are expected to ship within two business days. You should also always check for new orders by logging into your seller account at