Happy Halloween!

And now for your viewing pleasure, Gourds! Why gourds? Well, because they are much more fun to carve than pumpkins! And they have more character. Enjoy these pictures:

Picture of Gourds 2005

Picture of Gourds 2007

Posted on October 31, 2007, 8:12 pm


Bog Alert

*** BOG ALERT *** BEWARE OF SINKING HOMES ***

For the past three months, something unusual has been happening next door... a bog has formed!

I tried not to pay attention to this... but try as I might, this just utterly fascinates me (and sometimes causes the occasional chuckle). Birds, squirrels, and insects gather around the bog and drink from the fresh water. Honestly, I have pondered throwing some cattails in and perhaps releasing a few frogs so we could have a pond in our backyard!

But how did this happen? July was a killer month here. For many days, temperatures reached triple digits until finally the neighbors decided to put up their old swamp cooler before they cooked to death. They were having trouble with the old support they built to support the monster swamp cooler, so I lend them a hand to build a temporary structure. Part of the process of hooking up the cooler meant tapping into their main water line with a small water line tap. However, the cheap line tap had problems and when they installed it, the thing was leaking like crazy. This resulted in a continuous hiss (which we can still hear today) and water spraying out everywhere from the connection point.

On this water tap, a small tube was connected which feeds up to the cooler. The cooler continually feeds off this line, and then discards the water... straight down into the ground. This water flow is constant whether the cooler is on or off.

The picture below shows the swap cooler, the bog, and other leakages.
picture of neighbors bog
So why am I not taking any actions to stop this? Well there are three reasons.

  1. I don't want to be responsible for creating a bigger mess. As my luck would have it, as soon as I went to stop the leak, the waterline would probably explode or severely crack... then I may be held responsible.
  2. I, as well as the park manager, have told them multiple times that they need to have a plumber come in and fix the situation. Instead, the neighbors solution was to wrap tape around the leak and tap valve... and as we all know, that does not stop the flow of water under pressure.
  3. It is hilarious! I suppose in a not-so-funny way, trailer homes are susceptible to water rot which usually happens from the inside out. It is very crucial to make sure that the home is dry underneath and around the immediate premise.

Examining the picture, the magnified view on the left side shows the main water line and small water tap attached. As illustrated (since it doesn't show up in the picture) water is spraying like crazy to the left and also dribbling down the main water line and straight under the home on the right.

The right magnified view shows the small water line that was originally hooked up to the swap cooler after it blew out after a wind storm. It is now running with full force (squint hard at the magnified view so you can see the arcing stream) into a new section of bordering grass. This is where I believe a new bog will form!

Now that freezing temperatures are near, this will start to get interesting. We philosophize that the home will either sink in the middle a few inches or that the home will begin (if it isn't already) to rot in that section. Stay tuned for future Bog Alerts for more info!

*** THIS HAS BEEN A BOG ALERT ** STAY TUNED FOR MORE INFO *** END BROADCAST ******

Posted on October 21, 2007, 1:14 pm


Voyager on the H(V)orizon

Ode to my Razr Phone

Oh, how I love you my Razr Phone
I love the way your battery lasts just shy of 24 hours
I love the way people sound muffled through your receiver
Why is the menu selection for VM and missed calls backwards?
Why can you not vibrate and ring at the same time?
Oh, how I love your little quirks
I love your inefficiency, poor menu navigation, and slow processor
I love the way your belt clip holster breaks over and over again
I hacked you, I edited your seem's, and now you repay me with your raze-a-tude
But now we must part - replaced with an old Nokia brick
We will never forget you Razr phone
I will purchase a Motorola Nevermore, Nevermore, Nevermore
...And 3 liters of high-octane petrol

You may notice parts of this adapted from the movies Tank Girl and Meet The Parents.

So now I am using my old Nokia 6015i phone which doesn't have a camera, cannot view photos, nor have customized ring tones for each caller -- this is somewhat depressing.

So my search continued: What should I replace my Razr and Nokia phones with? I do like the LG VX9800 and VX9900 phone very well. The problem is that when not eligible for the upgrades (only had the Razr for 6 months), Verizon charges your right arm to replace the phone. Nonetheless, we were just about ready to pony up the cash when all of the sudden I saw the light!

While reading a review of the VX9900, I came across a passage which told of the successor: the VX10000 or otherwise known as the Voyager.

This article from GIZMODO does a good job illustrating the phone.

Need I say more? This will be the phone I will wait for! It should be available mid November although there is no word so far in the pricing.



Posted on October 10, 2007, 4:59 pm


That Was Easy!

Ever see those Easy Buttons from Staples? Kind of useless. Yet it possess so much potential! I thought, "If only I could put my own recording into one, it would be 50,000 times more fun as an office toy!". So… I did! I found this website where this guy shows you how to build one. picture of disassembled Easy Button with Integrated Radio Shack components

He says that he is going to give detailed instructions, but that is not the case as you have to guess at some things like how to wire the recording jack (I may fill this in later since I cannot recall how I did it and I am not going to take the fragile button back apart right now to find out how).

Here is a picture after the button is complete. I has is elevated by 4 Ball Magnates I found at WalMart - a perfect height and look that also helps clear the little recording button on the bottom.

picture of completed Easy Button, V2.0

Here is my recording for my easy button... It reflects the situation with more accuracy I believe.



Posted on September 11, 2007, 9:49 pm


Vista and Me

I have taken the Vista challenge and have installed it on my home computer. Although my computer is about 3 years old, it still ranks considerably well for its age in terms of the Vista computer rating system. It actually out-performs my work computer (Intel) that is a year newer and is equipped with PCI Express (it only has a rating of 2..0).

The new interface can be frustrating to learn, but hang in there and before long, you will be navigating through the system like you did in XP. I enjoy the new interface, sidebar, live preview of windows from the Start menu, and added stability of the operating system.

Picture of Vista Rating Window

I do have to admit that there are some annoying problems when modifying programs to work on Vista without requiring administrator privileges.

Tips:

  • To reduce the overgrown size of the desktop icons, select an icon, hold down the CTRL button, and scroll the mouse wheel.

  • To find your standard toolbar menu in Windows Explorer windows, press the ALT key. I don't know how to make it stay up though because as soon as it looses focus, the menu will hide itself again.

  • The Run... command is still available. You can press the Windows Key on the keyboard + R and it should come up. Or you can unhide it by going to your Start menu properties -> Customize.



Posted on April 9, 2007, 11:01 am


XM on Factory Radio

They said it couldn’t be done. We took our 04 Colorado LS into the dealership requesting a quote to have the integrated XM Radio installed (using the factory deck). They told us that our “vehicle was just not compatible with XM” – whatever that is supposed to mean. Previously we owned one of those XM Roady2’s and were quite happy with it, but it was always a pain having it slide under the seat every time we were looking to change the channel (there was no convenient way to mount the unit on the dash eliminating or at least minimizing the wires).

However, I pulled the factory radio and looked up the part number 15104155 on the net. And to my surprise, everything I found on the radio said that it is XM ready. I even posted on ColoradoFans.com and they confirmed my suspicion that it should just “work”. After more research from XMFanStore.com and their application chart, I concluded that indeed I had a class II RDS radio and it should be compatible.

Keep in mind that the vehicle owners’ manual did not mention anything about XM nor did the radio say anything about XM on the panel or display (you can see the display options faintly if you shine a light onto the LCD).

We ordered the kit from XMFanStore.com (click for direct link to GM kit) and when we got it, I plugged everything in spread out the seat of the truck and it fired up right away. However, later we had to get a new factory radio (unrelated to the XM quest) and the dealership installed it, then had to pull it because it didn’t have the correct software for the XM, programmed it, installed it again and everything worked fine.
picture of FHU radio
Conclusion: GM 15104155 Class II RDS radio works with XM as long as you buy the correct conversion kit. However, you may need to take your radio in to have new software installed on it if it doesn’t work initially.

Tips:
  • Hit the Band button and it should cycle from FM1, FM2, AM1, AM2, XM1, XM2.

  • To keep a default display for the channel you are on (say the name of the song instead of the radio displaying the station name), switch to the desired display (using the Disp button), then hold the Disp button in until the radio beeps.



Posted on March 3, 2007, 10:21 pm


Welcome to the newly improved MyDigitalPortal.net site! Please take a look around while I continue to make improvements.

Posted on August 27, 2006, 8:36 pm


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