Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Movie Comments

From the trailers, the movie Men Who Stare at Goats looked great. Shelly and I went to see it last night, and while there were some funny moments, overall it was pretty pointless. I would say that they didn't really pick an angle and go with it hard. Was it a comedy, a comment on U.S. policy, or a tour of mental illness? If it had picked any of those and run with it, then it could have succeeded. As it was, the movie seemed to just play around at our expense. The acting was ok, but could not save the movie.

The movie Sublime was great. It is a frightening look at the fear of hospitals and the fear of getting old. Tom Cavanaugh is really good in this, and shows he has a lot of depth above and beyond his role in the TV show Ed. The movie is scary, twisted, graphically stimulating, and has something to say---all qualities I like in a movie.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Frustrating VLC Repeat Icons

I get what "no repeat" looks like:

Which one of these is "repeat one" and which one is "repeat all?"

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

BlueAnt Z9i Not So Good

My Plantronics Explorer 220 has no noise reduction and people cannot hear me in my car. I got a BlueAnt Z9i to try and solve this problem. It seems to solve it, but I have some major gripes with the Z9i:
  1. It does not sit reliably in my ear.
  2. It has an annoying high-pitched whine all the time.
  3. It does not put out sufficient volume with my Blackberry Curve.
Back it goes. Wish I knew which Bluetooth headset would work.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Update on Current Projects

Google Voice / Gizmo / ATA

Well, I finally got a VOIP phone line working at home! It's a wired phone connected to an ATA connected to my home LAN and routed through the Linux firewall.

The trick was doing port forwarding both on the SIP and RTP ports. I had the SIP port forwarded to my ATA, but not the RTP port. This resulted in not hearing the audio from the other person for outgoing calls. If you enable port forwarding on both ports, you do NOT need NAT traversal using a STUN server.

So more details are:

1. A Google Voice phone number that has my Gizmo SIP number as one of the phones configured.
2. Incoming calls to my Google Voice number go to my Gizmo SIP number.
3. At home, I have an ATA that registers with the Gizmo SIP server.
4. Outgoing calls go through Gizmo and are 1.9 cents per minute.

This all allows other non-technical people to use this phone without extra weirdness. If calls are initiated through Google Voice online, they're free.

Right now I am holding back on using this as our main phone. I want to get more time on it before I declare it ready for prime time.

Contact Us Page for

Finally got this page done for Shelly. It's working great now. This is another add-on for the monolithic PHP script that is her web site.

Slide Scanning

I want to get back this project. I have some bad scans I want to redo. Turns out on the Canon Canoscan 5600, you want the slides to be oriented so they read properly from INSIDE the scanner (the "this side to screen", date, or logo goes UP) and the tall dimension should go parallel to the scanner's tall dimension. If the orientation is wrong, you get a lot of the image cut off. Also, if the slide is wider left to right, the top of the image goes to the left to make the resulting scan have the top up. I want to figure out how to get the scanner to prevent washed-out scans even if the slide is a little light.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The application failed to initialize properly (0xc0000034)

Well, the terrible Adobe Acrobat Reader partial install issue reared its ugly head for me again recently. Not sure how this happens, but during an automated upgrade, Acrobat Reader got into a state where every time I'd try to start it I would get "The application failed to initialize properly (0xc0000034)". Uninstall/Reinstall and the same issue occurs. At the recommendation of some web forum somewhere on another topic, I checked into Filemon, part of Sysinternals. I started this up, then tried to start Acrobat Reader. After it failed to start, I checked the log in Filemon and found that I was missing MSVCP80.DLL. Weird. Maybe it was that Visual Studio 2005 uninstall I had recently done... Anyhow, looking for this DLL brought me to Normally I avoid non-MS sites to get files such as this one, but I downloaded it anyway and did a virus check on it. Seemed clean, so I was able to doubleclick on the event in Filemon to get to the location Acrobat Reader wanted the DLL and place it in there. This fixed the problem, thereby allowing Acrobat Reader to start. It immediately wanted to do another upgrade and even a repair I think. Now all seems well.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Here's a haiku I thought of after I saw a man who had climbed up a tree to read:

Reading in an oak
He asks much of ancient limbs;
The tree shares gladly

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Searching Source Code

The search built into Windows XP (see screenshot) was hopeless at finding stuff in source code files it doesn't know about (.vhd for example). For example, I look in a source code folder for all files containing text I know is in multiple files and it comes back with nothing.

Reading online tells me that it tries to weed out meaningless results by not looking in file types it doesn't know about. Then there was some help online about how you could go in the registry and change information about each of the filetypes you want to be able to search in, and then maybe this search would find stuff. That sucks.

Also, there's a chance of using the command line "FIND" utility, but the output from that is horrible. Why can't I have something useful like grep? Anyhow, this prompted me to try Windows Search 4 and then Google Desktop. Both suffer the same issue as the built-in Windows search, they don't search in unknown file types. *@$!@$()!$&!

I just want a utility like grep for Windows. I guess I'll have to go hunting some more.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Icom IC-4AT PL Mod Photos

I took some photos of how someone very cleverly put a PL tone encoder board controlled by a DIP switch into an Icom IC-4AT handheld transceiver. It's a really nice install. I purchased this radio from a Ham at the Rochester Hamfest a few years back, but I don't know who did the mod.

The DIP switch is mounted to the front panel, with wires going back to a Comspec PL encoder board sandwiched inside the metal hinged plates inside the radio.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

LittleDiode offers RF Power Transistors for IC-4AT

One of my Icom IC-4AT handheld transceivers has a blown final transistor (2SC3101), and I found that an outfit called LittleDiode sells them. Nice! I'll let you know if the ones I ordered show up.

Sunny Weather

Well, it sure is nice to see the sunshine out today!

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Well, the previous information on setting up Godaddy as the mail host for a domain worked fine, BUT it doesn't seem that Godaddy supports IMAP. That basically means you'd have to use their webmail interface or POP if you want your e-mail hosted there. Not good. If you use their webmail, now you have to do e-mail for the domain they host with their interface, then use a completely different interface for other e-mail. That makes it annoying because you can't get into an e-mail rhythm. I do not like POP because with that you pull e-mail off the server and onto ONE PC. Now you can't get at your messages from anywhere. Not good. IMAP is perfect because every instance you use to access the mail provides a window onto the same data and leaves it alone on the server. If you want an archive to save space, just make an archive account (or host it yourself) to free up room on your incoming account. So, I went to e-mail hosting with Google Apps.

Now I want to say a couple of words about an MTA (e-mail application, like Outlook Express or Thunderbird, etc.). I have been ok with the GMail web interface for a while, but that doesn't give me access to multiple accounts from one spot. So, I decided to look at Thunderbird to handle e-mail. It's great. I can set up multiple accounts (all using IMAP) so I can get my e-mail that way. Most all of my non-Google accounts filter through one GMail address (for spam filtering and storage) and then I get at e-mail through Thunderbird (or the web interface if I'm away). One other comment... For a while my Google-hosted domain e-mail would not open in Thunderbird! I kept getting a "Web login required (failed)" message. Turns out this happens if you login to the IMAP server too frequently. To fix this, I went to That was hard to find because the error message was so obscure, but after I did that everything worked just fine. I think I just have to make sure Thunderbird doesn't access the IMAP server too often.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Godaddy/DynDNS E-Mail

So you get a free e-mail address with domain registration with Great! But, what if you use DynDNS for your DNS server like I do?

Godaddy recommends you use and for your MX records. DynDNS chokes on because it is a CNAME, not an A record.

Digging into the documentation on DynDNS, it looks like you have to do a host lookup and supply the REAL A name for, which turns out to be

I supplied and (already an A name) and DynDNS is now happy.

I am waiting to see if Godaddy gets happy. So far it still says "Pending Setup: validating MX record". Hope that's not a bad sign...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Guilty Listening Pleasure of the Day

I'm embarrassed to say, I enjoyed this guilty pleasure:

Actually, the whole Classic Hip Hop genre is kickin' overall. Can I still say that in 2009?

Disclaimer: I take no responsibility for your spouse frowning at you sternly when you begin jamming to this.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

AC Power Usage Telemetry via Radio

I've been wanting a way to monitor when different things around the house are on (sump pump, furnace, etc.). I've been thinking about a little box you plug into an outlet and then plug the device into the box. Inside the box is a radio transmitter that reports when things are in use. Then I found this: Awesome! Just about exactly what I was thinking about.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hot Tub Update

I was able to confirm with the hot tub dealer that the relay control board can blow up without some other external root cause. Also, 10 Ohms is within tolerance (8-12 Ohms) for the heating element. A new board is on the way, the better style they said, so we'll see if this fixes things.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Our Hot Tub Broke

Well, I went to jump in the hot tub last night and I got one leg in up to my knee before I noticed the water was cold. I looked at things a bunch last night and noodled over it, then opened up the controller box tonight and found the above issue inside. The spa is a 2001 Hot Spring Vanguard, and the burnt board is the Relay Control Board. I am hoping the heater is ok. It measured 10 Ohms, which seems reasonable. I = V/R = 120/10 = 12 Amps. I am going to call the local spa service outfit and see if I can get an idea if something else might be wrong before I order the board.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Basement Shelves

I posted my basement shelves design on the 2ub Labs page: These are pretty rugged and basic.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Vatican Commissions First Tank For Its Ground Force

In a surprise move today, the Vatican has revealed plans to field a mechanized armor division of its protectorate. An advance look at the tanks that have been commissioned can be found via this link:

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pandora's User Interface is Ingenious

I noticed something very subtle but ingenious on Pandora ( They only present you with a very simple UI at first. Certainly this is so it doesn't scare you away. As you begin to use it, they add elements to the UI and explain what they are for. This is the first time I've seen something like this. It's amazing.

Another Place to Get Music

A friend at work uses, and it seems very good at first glance. It's commercial/mainstream music unlike thesixtyone, and Pandora offers links to Amazon to buy MP3s.

By the way, I am really only interested in free music or in officially licensed but DRM-free music. I would prefer to deal directly with the artists like thesixtyone does, but that site doesn't have everything I want...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Thinking of Buying a Motorcycle

I'm seriously thinking about buying this motorcycle. It sounds perfect:

"If you think you can email me and ask me to sell if for less you could just as well save me the effort and punch yourself in the balls because that is what I might do and you are most likely a sissy and not worthy of this motorcycle."

Monday, January 5, 2009

Found Magazine

Here's an interesting one!

Open Letter to Driver of Pickup Truck

This is an open letter to the driver of the pickup truck I saw after work today on East Henrietta Rd. In the back of the pickup truck, there was a small child about 6 years old sitting there in the freezing cold. It was about 24 degrees out. He did have a hat on, but I imagine he was freezing cold. Not to mention he was in the back of a pickup truck, for Pete's sake!

Shame on you!