Category: Geek Alert!


TiVo Upgrade part 2

I know that probably no one who normally reads my blog has any interest in these posts, but I like to document certain things for my own sake, and the sake of anyone Googling for info.
When we moved into the condo, a new problem presented itself. The TiVo, which needs to make a daily call to update its information, had no phone jacks anywhere near it. Not even any that were in a location that could have been used with our 50′ phone cable which was used in the apartment to run across one doorway and around the edge of the room to the phone jack. It would have had to run across our main entryway and kitchen doorway into the kitchen where the nearest jack was. No way. It was time for the great TiVo Upgrade, part two.
I had always intended to this upgrade at some point, but could never be bothered to unhook the TiVo and take it apart, buy the parts I needed, etc., since everything was fine as it was in the old place. Since I knew we needed to do it now, I just left the TiVo unhooked after the move. The first upgrade I had done was adding a second hard drive to increase its capacity to 40 hours of recording at the best quality setting. I love TiVo but I think their naming conventions are deceptive. A “30-hour TiVo” is only 30 hours at the crappiest quality setting, which was unbearable to me. At best quality, it was more like a 6 hour TiVo.
For round 2, I decided to install a CacheCard. I had also other options, but this seemed to be the best. I could put a 512 MB stick of RAM on the card to cache the TiVo’s database, thus speeding up the access to menus and certain operations, plus the card also had an ethernet connection on it. Since there are also no ethernet jacks in the living room, I also bought a Linksys wireless bridge to connect to the TiVo and give it access to our wireless network to make its daily “call”. I followed all the instructions for backing up my TiVo and installing the CacheCard and drivers, and that part all went flawlessly. I had various fiascoes in the wireless bridge department, but that’s another story not worth the telling. Eventually I got it all working, and now my TiVo makes its “call” via wireless networking, which has the added advantage of being a LOT faster than the phone call, too.
I figured as long as I was tweaking, I might as well also install Tivoweb Plus. Now I can also access my TiVo via the web to do anything I can do on the TiVo itself, plus far more. Mine is an old school Series 1 TiVo (the modern ones are Series 2 at the time of this writing), and sadly a lot of the cool new features (such as TiVo’s own multimedia network functions) will never be available on Series 1 units, but since I’ve done all this upgrading, and since I bought the lifetime subscription (which has long since paid for itself) I’ll be sticking with unit. To be honest it does everything I need it to do, and while I love bells and whistles, I certainly don’t feel like I’m really missing out.


Coolest keyboard ever

Once again it is time to spread my geeky joy and evangelize!
I recently started using the Logitech G15 keyboard at work. Awesome. First off, I love the feel of the keys. They are just a pleasure to press. A lot of people might dismiss this keyboard because one of the big features is the LCD screen on it, which in my opinion, is just the icing on the cake. The LCD is cool, but it’s not the biggest selling point to me. It normally displays time and date, and can also display CPU and RAM usage if you like. For games that build in support for it, it can also show game relevant information like your characters health, or a mission objective.
Aside from the feel, the coolest thing to me were the “G” keys. 18 keys in 3 groups of 6 on the left side of the keyboard Which can be totally customized to do just about anything you want. you can set them up to open your favorite programs, or even execute macros, which can be very helpful in games or other programs to easily execute pretty much anything that can be done with keystrokes. For example you could program the keys to open various game menus or execute certain powers. Maybe you normally have to type “//godmode on” to enable god mode, but now you could just set up a macro so that if you hit the G1 key it automatically does that. One key press and god mode is on!
While it is touted as a gaming keyboard, these functions could easily be as useful in any of your everyday programs. If 18 keys isn’t enough, there’s actually three different sets of 18 which are selectable with the M1-M3 keys above them for a total of 54. As if that weren’t enough you can also set up profiles which you can switch manually or which will load up automatically with a certain program. For example I have a “City of Heroes” profile which automatically loads up when I’m playing that game and has all the keys and macros I want within that game, but if I switch back to my email program then it either uses the profile for that program or else the default profile if I don’t have a program specific profile.
The keys are all lit from underneath with a blue glow, and it has the usual media dedicated buttons such as play/pause, stop, next/previous track and a volume wheel. Even though there is no ergonomic version of this yet, I will be ditching my ergonomic keyboard at home in favor of this one. It is far too cool. Now that I use it at work, I could never go back.


And I thought I was just kidding!

As I’ve made several posts lately expressing my joy for all things Google, I’ve made passing and joking comments about the “Cult of Google” and Google taking over the world and such.
Per haps I was closer to the truth than I knew!
How did I find this article? Through the news links on my Google home page.


Google overload!

I quit using the Google Toolbar when I switched to Firefox since it had a little search box in the browser. After checking out the most recent version, which is now compatible with the Firefox 1.5 Beta that I’m running, I once again have added the Google Toolbar to my browser. In addition to being able to do any kind of Google search (web page, images, etc.) it has built in spell checking for any web forms such as posting a message or creating a blog entry, it has an auto-fill function which can automatically fill in personal info for you so you don’t have to type your name and address every time, and some other pretty nifty features. Head over to the link above and check it out for yourself!


More fun with Google!

As I’m sure you all know by now, when I find some cool thing I feel the need to share it. I already knew about Google news and how you could totally customize it to show what you wanted, but today I found the customized Google home page. Just go to Google and click on “personalize this page” then go to town. It’s now my home page and every new tab I open loads it up showing me the news of my choice, miscellaneous daily tidbits, movie times, weather, my Gmail inbox and more. Geeky joy!


Music lovers check out Very cool. You can make your own music station by putting in an artist or song and pandora then uses the Music Genome Project to “program” the station with stuff you might like. You can give songs a thumbs up or thimbs down to help train it. You can try it for free for 10 hours, and if you decide you dig it, it’s only $36 a year!
It’s quite in depth in it’s methodology. Let’s take a call from a listener! Hello, you’re on the air!

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Gmail is my master now

While I still heartily recommend Mozilla Thunderbird for anyone who feels the need to have a mail client on their computer, or for those security freaks who think Google has some evil secret conspiracy going, I myself have become a full Gmail convert. I tried this once before but one thing sent me back to Thunderbird, and that was the fact that any mail I sent would show up as coming from my Gmail address instead of my address. This has now been remedied. You can now set your address to show as coming from any address you actually own. There is a verification process involved so that not just anyone can enter you email as the “from” address, and now any mail I sen via Gmail shows up as coming from my address, and all replies are sent to my address (which in actuality just forwards to my Gmail address anyway. Basically this allows you to use Gmail as an email client for you current address, just as you would Thunderbird, Outlook or any other client.
I totally dig Gmail’s interface and their completely different philosophy on mail handling (using “Labels” instead of “Folders”, and much more). This way, I don’t have to worry about whether or not a certain email I’m looking for is on my home or work computer, as it’s all in my online Gmail account. I can easily use the search function to find any mail I’m looking for or sort by labels. I can set up filters to automatically apply labels to incoming mail.
As I’ve watched Gmail it has just kept getting better. One of the few downsides to be aware of is that there is no official way to set up an email distribution list in Gmail (as in you type in one name, and it sends to multiple people), but there is an unofficial work around to do so and they very well may add this in the future. You can also download Gmail Notifier to check every 2 minutes and notify you of new mail.
There are a ton of other features which I find innovative and generally cool, but if you think you might be interested the best place to get all the info is from the source.
There is also an excellent site full of Gmail tips. Join us in the Gmail cult! I have a ton of invites if anyone needs one.
One of us!


Bloglines are clogged!

Things seem to be coming through now so maybe it ahd to do with the maintenance they were doing yesterday. I am now once again endorsing bloglines with a watchful eye…

So I’m going to have to hold my full recommendation Bloglines for the moment. It seems totally awesome if I can get it to work right. At the moment very few of the blogs are showing any new entries since I added them to Bloglines. If I get it sorted out I’ll let you know…



I’ve been meaning to learn more about all this “syndication”, “feed” and “RSS” stuff for a while now and I think I’ve finally got a start. I also think I’m digging it. Many sites produce a “feed” or a summary of your web content in a generic form that can be read by feed readers. Movable Type, Word Press, Blurty, and Live Journal seem to be doing this automatically, since I had no problem adding feeds from any of my friends on those services even though I’m pretty sure many of them have no idea what a feed is. Blogger and Blogspot can produce feeds but only if you turn them on and set them up in the settings>Site Feed section. By default they’re turned off. You can choose RSS or Atom ( the two major formats).
I discovered all this after trying Bloglines. It’s a web based feed reader. I just typed in the URLs of the blogs I read and if there was a feed (or several formats of feed) to be found Bloglines found them and let me subscribe. The immediate appeal of this is being able to go to one web page and see all the blogs I read, much like a “friends” page on LJ or Blurty. At first I thought I wasn’t really going to like Bloglines for several reasons. First, I like to see people’s individual styles and personalities on their websites, and second, unless you know what you’re doing and customize your own feed, comments are usually not included. Then I realized that Bloglines was still an awesome tool.
Normally I open all the blogs I read (using Firefox I right click my blogs folder and choose “open in tabs” which opens every blog in the folder in its own tab). I then have to look at each one and see if there are any new entries to be read. Now with bloglines, I just go to that one page and if anyone has updated since the last time I looked, the entry will appear on my list (as well as the number of new entries appearing in parentheses next to the feed name on the left). Any entries I’ve already seen will not. I can, if I choose however, view all content from the last hour, day, week, etc. I basically use it as a notification tool. If there are any new entries I will click the link and go to that person’s blog to be greeted by their personal style and see all the comments on the entry. I think syndication is probably going to become more and more popular and widespread.
For my site, MT produces three different formats of feed by default. I go a step further and use Feedburner for my feed. This is a website which allows you to put in the URL of your feed (any of the formats) and it provides you one link to put on your page so that no matter what format people want, they can all use that same single URL and feedburner will provide whatever format they need.
I’m still very new to this myself so I can’t really say if Feedburner always works, and I’m really just beginning to comprehend all of this, but I would highly encourage any bloggers to try and learn more about it. If nothing else, try to provide a feed of your blog for those who do prefer to use feed readers to keep track of their content. It seems most blogs are pretty much providing some feed capabilities without any user knowledge being needed, but as previously mentioned, in the case of Blogger or Blogspot you will have to do st least some minimal setup. I know you’ll need to turn feeds on, but I’m not sure what you would put in the required fields. I’d be happy to help any of you who want to try and enable it but don’t know what to do.


The Cult of Prius

Anyone who spends $30,000 on a car which is not a Toyota Prius is a making a huge mistake. This car is the coolest thing I have ever owned. More importantly, the “bang for the buck” on this car is off the scale in my opinion. If I just had to guess the price based on seeing and driving it, I would put it much higher.

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