Belkin Energy-Saving Outlet


Very cool. I have so many things charging in my home it’s ridiculous and, unfortunately, I haven’t been a good boy with doing better with conserving energy. My house is high-tech and needs a lot of juice. I now have a bunch of these around the house and I don’t have to worry as much about the constant pull of electricity to an already-charged item.

You set the timer on it and after the time you choose (choices are: 1/2 hour, 3 hours, and 6 hours) it completely shuts off the flow of electricity.

Click the above graphic and see better pics of it and see it in action and you’ll agree that it’s worth it to have at least one or two of them around. My only complaint/suggestion is they make the plug swivel so I can put another under the top one. I’m sure when I write Belkin to suggest this, they’ll get right on it 🙂

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Getting Rid Of Cable TV Project

Like everyone I’ve talked to, I’m sick of the horribly high cable tv bills. In my area, there’s only one cable option so they have the monopoly (they do for those like me who don’t want a satellite dish). I’m keeping my cable internet, but the plan here is to have the cable guy come out and take all their crap back, which will drastically lower my bill and save me money.

After much research (Google TV, Roku, Boxee, etc.), I decided on the simplicity, yet powerful features, of the Roku XDS Streaming Player 1080p, which is their $99.99 top of the line model. As of the date I write this, they also offer a $79.99 model and a $69.99 model (of course after the 30-day return time has passed all the prices will drop…or a new, better model will appear…so please don’t rub it in 🙂 You can see the differences between Roku models here.

Although I already stream Netflix videos from my xbox and PS3, that feature doesn’t matter. What does matter, however, is the ability to use Hulu Plus and Amazon streaming videos. I won’t be able to watch the tv shows I like at the time they show (I bet that will change with time!), but my shows will appear shortly after. Currently Hulu Plus is $7.99 for one of their subscriptions and my Netflix subscription is about $14.99 (I might downgrade my Netflix account), which are both exponentially cheaper than my cable bill. After all, I usually just record them on the rented DVR (more money to the cable company) and watch them a day or more later anyway…so no love lost there either. Not sure if I’ll get or need local news. I don’t have enough info yet, mostly just questions.

We already have a strong wireless N router, so streaming HD has never been an issue on our Xbox or PS3 (I also stream videos off my my pc onto my Xbox using their Windows Media Center feature). If you don’t have a wireless N network in your home, then the “weaker” model is probably best for you (but I strongly recommend it’s time to upgrade from your a/b/g to N, because it’s noticeably better and stronger).

Also, I’m ordering it from Amazon.com and not from Roku’s site. If something goes wrong, Amazon will make the return and refund quick and painless. Roku, from what I could see, requires stringent hoop-jumping, an RMA process, lots of time and waiting, etc.

It should arrive on Wednesday and I hope to get to it quickly to test everything out. Please come back for follow-up posts on this project. I’ll be letting you know my honest opinion and cost-savings after I (hopefully) get rid of my cable company.

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500 GB USB Encrypted Portable External Hard Drive With Number Pad

A 500 GB USB external hard-drive that offers a pin number pad to get access to its contents.

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I love this thing. A 500 GB USB external hard-drive that offers a pin number pad to get access to its contents. It can also encrypt the data on the drive as a secondary security measure. Also love that it’s bus-powered (it’s powered from your computer, so it doesn’t require yet another power cord for your collection.)

One wish for this is that they come out with a USB 3.0 version (for those who don’t know, that’s a faster version than the ubiquitous 2.0 that 99.99% of people have right now. computers with usb 3.0 capability are slowly hitting the market and will be the new standard soon, so all 2.0 external harddrives you have now will be uber slow by comparison.).

Another wish would be that the owner has options to check for what to do after x amount of failed attempts. Currently, it just locks you out after a set number of attempts and makes you wait a while before trying again. As the drive owner, I’d like the option of heavy-hitting penalties for failed attempts. One pin number flash drive I saw, after 10 failed attempts, will lock the drive and erase all data on it. May seem extreme, but at least it would be MY choice.

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Awesome New Router!

Awesome new router! Our old wireless router died and we decided on this one. Install was super quick and easy. We used our same name/password and everything in our house connected automatically. It’s blazing fast, too! Highly recommended.

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Attn: All Geeks – CNET’s 2010 Tech Preview


Spring 2010 Tech Preview!

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Please Don’t Buy Sony Products!

I"ve had one Sony product after another crap out on me (way before their time) over the past few years.  Sony is not the quality product it was when I was growing up.  Samsung and LG are the new Sony.

I bought a Sony Playstation3 and it has worked flawlessly until around a month ago. After their system update, 3.01, none of our game discs would play anymore (they would freeze after a few minutes of play). I emailed Sony about this and they said I need to send in my system and pay them $150.00 to fix it because my system is over a year old (ie, warranty expired). After checking their forums and other gaming forums for a cheaper fix, I discovered that hundreds (thousands?) of others were having the exact same problem after the 3.01 update.

After a month of waiting/hoping on a fix in a new system update from Sony, a week ago it arrived and we downloaded it (3.10 was the update number). Well…that made things even worse. None of our game discs would load so we could play them at all (at least before they'd play for a few minutes). Their forums began filling with countless people who now had completely broken PS3 consoles, so I knew I wasn't alone. I called Sony's customer service number and "John" had me do a system restore to try and fix it. That didn't fix the issue(s) and he said there was nothing else they could do and that I'd have to send in my console and pay them $150.00 to fix it. I told him that I should not have to pay anything since it was clearly their update(s) that caused the console to break, regardless of my warranty expiring. Sony broke my working console (and thousands of others) and are now trying to get a whopping $150 from me? I don't think so.

This isn't the first time I've had a bogus Sony product, but the other time it happened I wrote it off as…sometimes a company that mass-produces products will have some come off the assembly line as bunk. I was forgiving and gave them more of my money….but the buck stops here. I will never give them a fucking cent of my money again and I strongly encourage you to not buy Sony products. I realize that I'm some guy you don't know, but all I can say is that I'm a nice guy who is being honest with you about my experience. I have a $300 paperweight and they don't give a flying fuck. That's not to say that Samsung, LG, or one of the myriad of other companies who will be getting my money from now on won't screw me over….but apparently this is all I can do and just hope that you read this and decide to give your money to anyone other than Sony.

I know there are bigger problems in the world, so thanks for listening 🙂

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spam

this link kills spam

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Look At The Post Dates First

Always look at the date of the blog post on any post I (or anyone, for that matter) make about technology. Technology changes so fast that opinions, guesses, observations can’t always keep up. Also…casual blog posters don’t have time to bring old posts up-to-date. For example…my post about Blu-Ray stopped being the case when the prices dropped exponentially.

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don’t buy a blu-ray player (buy a ps3 instead)

using bestbuy.com as a reference, i searched for blu-ray players and the cheapest ones are 399.99. the sony playstation 3 video game system, however, also has a blu-ray player included and its cost is also 399.99.

although i don’t play many playstation games, buying a blu-ray player with a gaming system for the same price seemed only logical. the quality is superb (yes, it goes up to 1080p and 1080i) and, in case you didn’t already know this, it also plays non-bluray dvd’s.

Sony PlayStation 3 40GB System

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I Can’t Wait To Buy One

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How To Launch Your Own Domain Name and Blog

people ask me how to get their own domain name and start their own blog and here’s what i tell them:

1. to get your own blog, there are tons of free blog sites out there. you can google them easily. the problem with the free blogs is the advertising and censorship (if they don’t like what you posted then they can delete you without warning). so…i recommend setting up your own domain and blog.

2. it’s actually very easy. not just because i know how to do it but because others have told me they figured it out quickly and painlessly. personally, i prefer Dotster

Don’t let all the different options confuse you. Just get the cheapest Linux plan and a wordpress blog (like this one) is included. the learning curve you’ll have to go through is learning about bandwidth (everytime someone visits your site it uses bandwidth and subtracts from your allowed bandwidth useage for the account plan you’ve chosen. i suggest getting the cheapest plan and then upgrading if you see that your site is very popular and using more bandwidth than you first thought would be utilized.

after setting up your account and blog, just explore through your blog’s admin section. there are lots of functions that you can use (or not) and posting your first blog entry is as easy as typing it and hitting “publish”.

note: when you buy a domain name you have to renew the domain name each year. if you choose not to renew (and they give you several reminders months in advance of expiration), then you don’t have to. it’s a great investment, however, as you can then get your emails at you@yourdomainname.com and just have it forwarded to your isp. this is a good thing because if you move or change isp’s you don’t have to tell everyone to change your email address…you just go in and change your forwarding address to your new isp and nobody knows any different.

some more details on domain names at wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domain_name

Dotster has some great help files as well.

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People Always Ask Me About Geek Stuff…

…And here are my answers (with an important preface)…

My answers can change and I’ll do my darndest to update with any changes. The reasons my answers can change is because technology changes, needs change, companies go bad, software becomes unethical, and many more. These recommendations are only of things I own (or have owned) and although I’ve had great results your results may vary. Probably the most important difference between what I review and pro sites review, is that I don’t include the cost of the item in my consideration. Not that price shouldn’t be a concern, but if you spent 25% less on a piece of crap, you have more money in your pocket but you now lost money on a piece of crap. Save your money, google for coupons, wait for sales and then buy something quality. If I think a less expensive item works as well as (or better than) a more expensive version, then I’ll list the cheaper one. That said, here you go:

Q. What anti-virus software should I get? A. Kaspersky Anti-Virus. A cool feature for this is that you’re licensed to install on 3 different computers! Updates automatically, doesn’t hog your computer, and continually gets top ratings in all the PC Magazines I read every month.

Q. What wireless router is best? A. Linksys Wireless-N Router. This thing goes through levels of floors in a home, allows simultaneous gaming and downloading of videos on different computers at the same time without any slow-down. Even goes through my concrete walls with an outstanding ping for gaming.

Q. I’d like to make a backup copy of my music CD onto my computer, in case the CD ever gets damaged, I’d like to convert my CD’s to MP3, etc. What CD-ripping software should I use? A. Free Rip. It’s free. I’ve used it for so many years that I forked out the $20.00 for the Pro version as a “thank you” (and for the upgraded features 🙂

Q. What mouse should I buy? A. Logitech G5 Laser Mouse. It’s not cordless (I hate cordless … having to constantly charge it or replace batteries … what a nightmare that became!). I’m not real fond of the graphic design on the top but that doesn’t matter since I found the mouse is awesome and I never really look at the thing anyway.

Q. What Nintendo Wii game should we buy next? A. Wario Smooth Moves. This game is fun, unique, easy to figure out, clever, cute, and has some very challenging levels that are very funny.

Q. What Xbox 360 game should we buy next? A. Overlord. To date, this is my favorite game of all time on any video game system. You choose to be a good or evil Overlord, then gather and control minions to do your bidding and fighting. I haven’t played the online section of it, so I can’t comment on online play.

Q. What PlayStation 3 game should I get? A. Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction. Unfortunately, their game selection sucks right now (as did Xbox when they debuted), but this game has the most awesome and unique weapons I’ve ever seen.

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something geek

one of my pet projects (yet another thing i have no time for) is my geek-ish blog, called groovy or not.

my intent was to do a video blog (vlog) of stuff i use, own, or test out…but it’s just way too much time to do right, so i devote a bit of time to it when i can.

[UPDATE:] Not enough time for this, so I’m selling the site (if you’re interested).

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