We haven’t had cable for a while, and I get a lot of questions about how we still have so much TV to watch. The answer is a high-def antenna and Hulu Plus.  Previously, it was invitation only for testing purposes, but I was able to nab one and we’ve been using it for a few months now.  Basically, it’s the same thing as Hulu, but by paying a subscription fee you get access to more episodes (like all 8 seasons of a show instead of the current season or just the last few episodes) and you can watch most of the content in HD…which is a must when you’re using it on your living room TV as your main source of content.

As of today, it’s now available to the public and they dropped the price to $7.99 a month!   I encourage everyone to try it because it’s a heckuva lot better than paying $60+ a month for cable or satellite and we really never run out of content.  Lisa even gets her HGTV shows!

If you’d like to try, you can use this link here to get 2 free weeks (and I get 2 free weeks as well, in the interest of full disclosure).  But I totally think it’s worth every penny!

http://hulu.com/r/npV5Sg

UPDATE 1/22/11: Link was broken but should work now.  Sorry!

While it would be kind of weird to call a heart rate app my “favorite” app, I will admit I think it’s the most creative app I’ve ever downloaded.  First were the racing games that you steered by just moving the phone.  Then the dice games where you rolled dice by shaking the phone.  Now, a heart rate monitor that uses the camera to measure heart rate.  That’s right!

Free app “Instant Heart Rate” is available on the Android market (and app market for you Apple fanboys) for FREE.  Yes.  And you can even turn off the ads.  You then open the app and, using the LED flash to light your finger while placed over the camera, measures your pulse pretty darn accurately if you ask me.  Lisa and I tried it and it effectively jumped way up for her pulse, as would be expected based on her medicine, then back down for mine.  Also matched her manual measurements.  Nice.

I think my favorite thing about this is that it uses the technology to do something USEFUL.  It’s this kind of ingenuity that I like donating money toward.  And yes, I will be making a donation because 1) the developer doesn’t blatently ask for it or plaster the app and his website with download links, 2) because it works, and 3) this kind of forward thinking deserves reward.

Nicely done.  Very nicely done.

image

I believe I first got the idea from Lifehacker.com, which was probably a repost from instructables or DIY…nevertheless, I was able to use an old credit card, heated with a torch lighter and cut just right, to make a remarkably sturdy stand for my Droid.  Makes it very nice for using as a desk clock.  No mote need for a clock radio!

Well, you wouldn’t know it by the site but I’ve been busy on my Star Trek project.  A few airplane trips and a wedding on the East coast provided the much needed time to catch up on TNG.

I just completed Season 5 of Star Trek: TNG last night and it literally kept me up last night thinking about it.  Time travel always has a way of getting my brain turning…what happens if you change 1 little thing back in time, effects decisions make, etc.  But the season finale certainly grabbed my attention.  Now on to Season 6 to see how part II resolves everything!

Throughout seasons 3, 4 and 5 the acting and story lines continue to improve.  Complex plots, deeper character bio’s, and just great stories.  It’s easy to see why this was such a cult phenomenon.  Who’d of thought the Borg *might* have a personality???  Deep stuff.  Nerdy, but deep.  Let’s see what happens in the last two seasons.

labyrinthine circuit board lines

Sometimes the most useful tools are not the most elaborate tools.  So it is with one of my favorite little software programs ever.

I do a lot of remote work on our computers…our file server, HTPC, and kitchen pc all do not have a normal keyboard and mouse, and the file server doesn’t even have a monitor.  This means I spend a lot of time remotely controlling these computers when it’s time for updates or whatnot.

One of my biggest frustrations is not being able to see what the hard drive light is doing.  Did the button I just clicked do anything?  Why’s the computer so slow?  Is something running in the background?  Enter one of my favorite tools, DiskLED.

DiskLED is a simple little program that puts a flashing icon down in the system tray.  You can set it to use any number of system variables, but I just like the basic on/off of the hard drive light:

Incredibly useful and I have it on all of my pcs I use remotely.  I even put it on PC’s I’m troubleshooting so I don’t have to strain to see the case.  Highly recommended.  Best part?  It’s FREE!

http://www.sepago.de/e/research-development/downloads/diskled

Yes, I have a new favorite Star Trek: TNG Episode.  And would you believe that it involves “The Q”?  Formerly one of my least favorite characters and the one person who would ruin an episode for me flew to the other end of the spectrum and became my favorite.  Basically, Q becomes human as a punishment and is forced to experience being human for the first time.  However, the acting is so fantastic that I found myself laughing the whole episode.  So ironic that a dislike from season 1 and 2 is now one of my top episodes.  Well done, TNG.  Well done.

I haven’t written much throughout watching Season 2 of Star Trek: TNG but that’s mainly because there were no specific earth shattering ideas to discuss.  However, Season 2 stood head and shoulders above Season 1…plots started to thicken, character dynamics improved, and the stories got better and better.  They also touched on some deep philosophies, like determining whether Data had a soul (“Measure of a Man”) and emphasizing the value of life, no matter how different.  Here’s some summary points.

Likes:

  • Geordi is still my favorite, and it’s nice to see him have a defined role, a niche.  He’s perfect for the part of engineer.
  • Worf is the perfect security officer.  Nuff said.
  • Ensign Crusher is much less annoying.
  • I was a huge fan of Dr. Pulaski (and I discovered the actress who played her, Diana Muldaur, also played key roles in a couple episodes of the original series…too cool).  Though with her only playing one season, let me tell you how hard it was to find a picture of the season 2 cast…
  • New set…10 Forward bar with Whoopi added a very valuable dynamic

Dislikes:

  • The Q still creeps me out
  • The Borg REALLY creeps me out
  • The last episode of the season was an epic fail.  The entire thing was made up from scenes of previous episodes, which just looks lazy.

To be fair, I did some research on the wiki to determine why the last episode was such a cop out and turns out it was due to a writers strike.  Ah, well.  Would have been nice to see them finish strong.

As a side note, I’ve watched one episode of Season 3 and it’s definitely very good and another step up…but Dr. Crusher is back and acting as a mom to Wesley.  It’s annoying.  I sure hope she gets better…

Let me start out by saying this post is in no way influenced by Carbonite itself.  I’m not getting anything for writing this, and chances are they’ll never see it.  Nevertheless, I feel the need to write it.

My mother needed a new laptop and who else would she enlist to help but her geek son.  Like most tech savy sons, I’ve been acting as her IT guy since about the 6th grade and continue to provide her support as needed (though the calls have dropped as she admittadly is getting a little techy herself…I’m so proud!).  She’s coming to visit this weekend and decided it’d be a great time for me to be able to set up a new laptop for her and transfer her files.

We landed a deal at Costco on Tuesday night on a Dell laptop with a Core-i3…better price than I’d seen and she approved the purchase.  I wanted to have it all set up for her when she got here but there was one problem: she’s in Indiana, I’m in Arizona.  That’s where Carbonite steps in.

She purchased a subscription to Carbonite a while back all on her own…she heard the commercials and decided she needed all her pictures (among other things) backed up.  She even set it up on her own and it’s been backing up ever since.  So when it came time to set up her laptop I decided to check it out and see if it could shorten the distance between machines.

With her permission, I logged into her online account, told it I was switching computers, picked the files I wanted to restore (some of them were specific to her old laptop) and clicked “Restore”.  Software installed, account switched over, and the files started downloading to the new locations I’d set up.  It was that easy!  Better yet, Carbonite freezes the backup when you start restoring, which means I didn’t have to worry about my mom’s old laptop starting to backup files while I was in the middle of it.

In summary, I was blown away at how easy it was to use while still providing access to advanced features like file versioning and individual file selection.  At $54.95 a year for unlimited space, it really is a bargain…after all, isn’t your data worth $5 a month? 🙂

Not my droid...I cheated and used a Flickr pic

One of my big frustrations with my Droid Incredible is figuring out how the auto-focus worked.  I tried touching the optical joystick to trigger focus (like on a point and shoot digital), or holding the phone with my focal point in the middle then moving it.  After having the phone for 3 months I finally figured it out: touch the screen where you want it to focus and it focuses.  I’m an idiot.

Just wanted to post a follow-up on the new server.  It just hit 11 days of uptime without a reboot and I’ve had no issues…temps are all good, all the other computers can access it, backups are running on schedule, and CPU never really breaks 50%…which is pretty good for a 600 mhz Celeron.  I had my doubts as it seemed like dated technology (even if it WAS a brand new chip) but it seems perfect for a file server.  Wish I could do an estimate on power savings, but I imagine they’re pretty big.  My office now gets pretty warm with the A/C off, but I just turn it on about 30 minutes before I have to start working and it cools it off nicely.  All in all, it appears to be a very sturdy pc.  Woo hoo!

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