I must protest, Captain. I am not a handyman.

My #1 requirement in a vehicle is an auxiliary audio input.  (I don’t care if the vehicle actually runs.)  We got a used Nissan Quest a while back and it has a ridiculous shaped center console that the stereo is in.  The stereo is a custom size and shape and besides, the stereo buttons are built-in on the top.

So, replacing the stereo is out.  Next best option, an adapter from GROM Audio that plugs into the satellite input on the back and lets you do Bluetooth and aux input and even charges USB.  Thus began last night’s 6 hour nightmare in broken console tabs, broken shifter tab, etc.  How do you pull tabs out of slots in a car?  You break them, that’s what you do.  It’s like Nissan intentionally made the stereo the most difficult thing possible to access.  They made sure that unrelated panels on the sides of the car cover the center console and have to be removed to get at the middle panel.  And the beauty of it is that the CD player seems to have come unplugged in the process, so I may get to do it all again at some point.  Noooooooo!!!!!!!

PC build, Googly things.

A new game was lagging, so I was able to do a new PC build.  The sweet spot in price/performance at the moment seems to be Intel i5/Nvidia 560 Ti.  It was held by AMD for quite a while…they’re not really that far apart, whatever the case.  It runs BF3 in 1920×1200 with pretty good detail.  The load times for Windows booting up and games loading from the SSD are pretty amazing.  Unfortunately, putting it right under the house thermostat means the house gets kinda cold…whether in winter or summer.  I probably need to move it.

One interesting thing I’ve been seeing is Google Cloud print…print your google docs on your home printer from anywhere…as long as you leave a PC on at home or your printer is one of a few that supports it natively.  Of course, I hate paper, so I don’t plan to use it, but it’s a neat idea.

I like the way Google Chrome syncs bookmarks to your account…but I guess I want different bookmarks at work than at home.  Had to disable syncing of bookmarks at work.

cattails, Blockbuster, low end videocard

A few miscellaneous things…

We went walking along the Rio Grande near Tingley Beach the other day and I had forgotten how cattails can be explosive when they’re ripe.  Sean was having fun with the fuzzy ‘splosions.  In case you’re unfamiliar with Albuquerque, “Tingley Beach” is just some ponds near the river.  The model yacht club sails their boats there on Saturdays and the geese are all over the place.  Between the main ponds and the river are a couple of secret ponds with lots of neat plants and a little swampy mud pass area for the kids to fall into.

We tried Blockbuster instead of Netflix.  It seemed nice because they offered games for the same price.  Unfortunately, they’re so incredibly slow that it’s not even worth it.  There are no Blockbusters in Albuquerque to do the “manual trade-in” anyway.

There is nothing sadder for a PC gamer than to have to buy a low-end video card.  In our media PC, the PCIe x1 slot for the TV card and PCIe x 16 slot for the video card are right next to each other.  So, the cards are right up against each other…giving little ventilation to the video card and a very short life.  Thus, I ran out to Best Buy the other night to buy a low-end video card to replace it.  How many polygons per second?  Who cares?  It’s just a video card that does the minimum…wasting away there.

 

RealFlight

We happened to be near an R/C hobby shop yesterday so we went in.  They had a PC with RealFlight R/C flight simulator set up.  It was really neat to be able to fly an R/C plane, crash it,  reset, and try again.  It had a real R/C controller.  I assume it can simulate harsh New Mexico desert winds.  Unfortunately, the price is $100 for the most basic version.  I think you can get a cheap battery-powered plane for that much.  As long as you don’t crash it, it’s more cost effective.  I wonder if those trick R/C helicopter pilots practice with this software.

Comcast bundling no longer worth it.

We had the basic limited cable package from Comcast, which gives us a $15 discount on our internet.  Unfortunately, after taxes and fees, the cable TV package costs $16.01.  So, they’ve lost any incentive to even buy the minimal cable.  (We only bought it for the discount anyway.)  I called up to cancel, and they offered a discount that they claim will be temporarily cheaper.  They’re hoping I forget to call back after the discount goes away to cancel, but I won’t.

sponsored by Android

Vanessa and I got into the $25 a month Virgin mobile no-contract plan with 300 minutes of talk and unlimited internet.  We scurried to get Android phones as this deal is going up to $35.  (I see that people are still getting the hidden $25 plan as of today.)  I don’t think phone companies that force you to continue as a customer with a contract can compete anymore.  You can get 400 minutes of voice for $20 a month without a contract.  Yeah, you have to buy the phones, but it’s still cheaper in the long run.

We are also using Google Voice.  It’s a free service where Google assigns you a phone number and it becomes your “one phone number to rule them all”.  It can forward to any other phone number or several at once.  You can do free text messaging and it even attempts to turn voicemail into text.

Anyway, we’ve had a blast playing with Android.  Now I understand why some people post pictures to facebook and other places so much…it’s very easy if your camera can just upload it after you take the picture.

There are phone apps (programs)  for just about anything: home automation, social, navigation, flashlight, streaming music, games, and wi-fi analyzer.

Another fun part of Android is voice commands.  Tap the little microphone on the home screen and speak any of these commands:

  • send text to [contact] [message]
  • listen to [artist/song/album]
  • call [business]
  • call [contact]
  • send email to [contact] [message]
  • go to [website]
  • note to self [note]
  • navigate to [location/business name]
  • directions to [location/business name]
  • map of [location]