Category Archives: Life

Batmobile Logic – A New Podcast

So I wanted to make everyone aware that I have started a podcast with a friend of mine. If you are interested checking out our podcast about technology and random tech stuff feel free to checkout Batmobile Logic. I hope it is interesting, funny and informative.


And I’m back on WordPress

Well as some might have noticed I tried to move my blog over to It has been living there for the last 3 months or so. While I love the user interface and the simplicity of I missed the built-in comments and stats. At the same time I also missed the fact that WordPress allows you to upload images to WordPress. Instead for Ghost you have to upload your files to another site and link to it. That means a lot of extra work for something like just adding a photo. In any case while Ghost may some day be an alternative it is not ready at least from an ease of use perspective so I’m back.

On Lawn Mowers aka (Who is GreenWorks?)

You can skip to the last two paragraphs if you just want the answer.

For the past year and a half I have been mowing my lawn with a reel mower. No, I did not spell that wrong it is one of those old push mowers that is all manual power. There is something wonderful about mowing with a reel mower, though it might just be the good workout it gives you.

Well this summer the weather insists on making this lawn mowing decision to be the worst decision ever. A reel mower works great on a small lawn as long as it sticks to the 70’s and mid 80’s. Oh, wind helps out as well. This year though it seems to insist on being muggy and 80s every day. So I broke down and decided it’s time to buy a actual lawn mower. You know the one with a spinning blade powered by a motor.

Now one of the other reasons I never wanted to have a lawn more is I hate gas. I hate anything that is explosive really and that is volitile. I also hate the noise. If I can just listen to podcasts while mowing a lawn that makes the whole experience better. So here I have two requirements.

  1. It must be a electric mower. (These are quite and don’t need to deal with gas)
  2. Must be cordless and must use lithium ion batteries. (I don’t want a cord to run over and I don’t want a 50 lbs battery)

I also had a third requirement which I wanted which is impossible. That was I wanted an made in America lawn mower. When I was growing up I rememeber someone saying “At least you can always have an American made lawn mower” or something along those lines and it has always stuck with me. My reel mower had been american made by the American Lawn Mower Company. So I thought hey I can do this.

Nope there is no way to meet all of these requirements. Somehow all of the American lawn mower companies never got the memo that lead acid batteries are no longer a good idea. Also they weigh way to much. A 70lbs lawn mower is just not acceptable after using a reel mower for a year and a half (the shipping weight of the reel mower was 32lbs). So I ventured into the land of the “modern” brands. The  most common and seeming best deal was from this brand I have been seeing for a few years now. You probably have seen it too!

It’s called GreenWorks. Now when I found the mower I liked, which happened to be their 16 inch lithum ion cordless mower, I noticed something interesting. There website lacked any form of corporate information. Hmm, this seems odd. Normally a “green” company such as this is showing off all of their corporate people and how great they are. Now I decided I had to know who it was that was building this mower. I have no grudges around what companies I buy from normally. I didn’t care where it was made I just wanted to know the name of the company making it. Something we never get to see anymore. About the only “modern” brand we know the maker of is Apple who we know uses Hon Hai Precision Industry (Foxconn) to produce much of it’s goods. So I started my adventure on Wikipedia. This proved fruitless and so I had to try more. At this point I figured this company must be Chinese and decided to try the search “greenworks china” this didn’t get me directly to the destination I wanted but it got me close. What I eventually got to is a company called Changzhou Globe Tools Co., Ltd. (short for Globe). This is a manufacture who on their corporate site seems very proud of their GreenWorks and PowerWorks brands.

So now you know who is behind GreenWorks. I don’t share this to say to avoid them. I actually think the mower is great (its quieter then my vacuum cleaner) and would recommend it for people who want a cordless lawn mower that is light weight. (It even has a handle to lift it!) I merely think everyone deserves to know who is behind GreenWorks.

Old MP3 Player Fun!

IMG_0461So writing that article about he Dell reminded me I have two of my old MP3  players still here sitting around. To the right are the two players this article is about. Both are rather uncommon MP3 players.

I actually started with a Creative Labs NOMAD Jukebox Zen Xtra which was a horribly long name for a box with a LCD screen a few buttons a switch impersonating a wheel. Isn’t it pretty?



 IMG_0450IMG_0446  IMG_0447

This thing in its day was one the best alternatives you could get the iPod. I loved it. As you can see it has a 30gig hard drive in it! Which at the time was really nice and larger then some of the iPods (Actually at the time only the top of the line iPods matched it). Some oddities were it had a separate DC out? Why? And the really odd thing was if you removed the cover then the cover would be really had to get back on do to the springs in the bottom latching mechanism. Oh and unlike the iPod the Zen Xtra came with a very nice leather carrying case that you could use to recognize other Zen Xtra users (it looked like you had a PDA) and unlike most alternative players I actually met another person that hat a Zen Xtra they loved theirs too. As for media formats I cannot remember or really care it handled MP3 and I believe it also did wma. If I remember right I synced it using WMP and a really crappy app by Creative but still it was far superior to the iPod in both the fact it wasn’t Apple and it was cheaper. Another advantage it had was that it had a removable battery! Though I never needed to use it people always found it cool for a MP3 player to have a removable battery. To change it all you had to do was pull the level thingy on the bottom of it an the metal cover would pop off showing its innards like below:


Overall it was a wonderful MP3 player and served well with its usefulness lasting a few years.

After using the Zen Xtra for awhile I had switched to Linux and found that it was just getting too large to carry around with me all day in my pocket. So it got replaced by an iPod Shuffle which I used with Amarok to basically store the single playlist I used at the time. It worked well enough but the fact that if anything strange happened I would have to boot into Windows to get iTunes did not help and so it did not last as long as the NOMAD.

The next MP3 player I got was the Cowon iAudio X5 which seems like an odd choice as it has 10gigs less of hard drive space then the Zen Xtra and is far more obscure. I has some important reasons though at the time. First, it had to not be Apple. The Shuffle was crappy when it messed up you couldn’t rework it in Amarok you had to boot into windows on a computer and format it using iTunes. Second, it needed to work in Linux. At the time I used Linux on all of my computers and so I needed a solution that would allow this without me having to go into iTunes or something stupid like that. Finally, I wanted ogg support. For those who don’t know ogg is a open audio format. It is getting rather common among those in the open source community and also game designers who want to avoid paying royalties to companies to use their audio codec. The best value for this was the iAudio x5 which though larger was able to at least fit my whole music library (at the time probably around 5 gigs). The iAudio x5 was actually not bad looking and had a good ui. Here are some pics of my iAudio x5.

IMG_0455 IMG_0452 IMG_0454

The iAudio had color as pointed out by the words on the front “COLOR SOUND” Which I have no idea as to why it is written on the player at all. This player was smaller then the Zen Xtra in more then just storage size and is really only about the size of a wallet in the pocket making it much more easy to carry with to classes. The only problem with the iAudio x5 was that its firmware was unsupported by the company rather quickly. The last firmware they released for it was actually a beta and I don’t believe the final version of it ever came out. Though the fact that you could install the firmware without Windows was a nice change for a MP3 player. It had a few little bugs in it that would do odd things like not read id3 tags but it was still a nice MP3 player. It had probably the best sound quality I have heard on a MP3 player and I recommend Cowon players to anyone who wants a cheap, good quality (the firmware in their newer players is better my brother has a Cowon D2 and loves it), and amazing audio. The iAudio x5 lasted until I moved back to Windows at which point it still was used but eventually it was just too big.

For awhile I actually used a Creative Labs Zen Stone that I bought at Wal-Mart for $20. A good deal really as it can be used just fine like a shuffle though it has folder support which you can switch between folders on it.

The current MP3 player I use is actually a Zune 8gig model. I love it as is small and has a great battery life. I would recommend getting the Zune to anyone who wants a MP3 player and doesn’t venture outside Windows.

I hope everyone enjoyed my trek down memory lane when it comes to my old MP3 players I just wanted to share with people the obscure players that many missed with iPods being so popular. I personally have never cared much for iPods… to white and shiny all they can do after you open the box is get dirty.

Windows Live the Good and the Bad

So Windows Live I have found to be very much a good toolset. The only problem so far is that sadly it is not a complete as its competitors in a few areas. For me there are to spots where I find Windows Live far to lacking.

First, is there is NO blog reader. I am sorry Microsoft but I have been trying to move away from Google’s tools (I really have never needed much of the Google stuff other then the reader) but Google Reader is by far a best killer app Google has. Personally I HATE web email! So much I PAY for an good email service with nice IMAP4 support. So gmail… I don’t really need it but a rss reader! I am sorry but that is the best idea ever since I read blogs on 3 different computers throughout the day. This means that if I have a rss reader on say my Desktop I get back to my desktop at night and go “Ok now what blogs did I already read?” and have to spend time figuring this out and in the past I have done this and it is not very fun in my opinion.

Second, why is the photo site missing some really basic but important features. Google’s Pacasa sadly feels much better in this situation which disappoints me. The two major features that Microsoft needs to add is geotagging and Copyright options. I find it bothering that you cannot geotag anything on live or select a copyright. I personally use Creative Commons for many of my photos if I post them sadly Microsoft doesn’t give me nice option for that which is disappointing. Geotagging is not a big feature for me but I know that many photographers like it or sites like Flickr and Pacasa would not have have it. Oh and another thing about Live’s photo gallery is that surfing folders looks very industrial something that seems a bit out of place for a photo site but most likely is caused by the fact its just an extension of SkyDrive but still it needs better looking folders then the default SkyDrive folder pictures.

Overall Microsoft’s Windows Live is not lacking in features. It has many and could easily be all someone would need. I actually may in the future make my own web based rss reader just so that I don’t have to keep using Google’s don’t get me wrong I don’t hate Google its just that it doesn’t tie into everything the way I want it. There is one area that Microsoft has hugely pulled ahead of Google in recent years.

Microsoft has a clear advantage over Google when it comes to Office-like applications. First, Microsoft with Office Live Workspace decided that instead of forcing users to use an incomplete UI on the web they should be able to just tie in the web-syncing feature with Microsoft Office on the desktop. Sure Microsoft is working on a web editor but it is supposed to be a more full featured version of the the Office applications then Google’s. I’m sorry Google but there is NO reason that I should be forced to use CSS to format my documents! Microsoft on the other hand lets the user use either Office on their computer or with a full UI on the web (in the future at least). Microsoft I feel here is going more in the right direction and I actually find myself using it a lot for storing my schoolwork. Google on the other hand I have in the past tried to use but the biggest problem is the lack of real usability in Google Docs if you are using it for a paper or any task that needs even minor formatting. The biggest problem with Google is that they force you to use the web. There is no add in (that I know of) that allows you to use Google Docs to store from say Open Office. I don’t get why this is since if it existed it would be nearly as killer as Office Live Workspace.

As I pointed out Office Live Workspace is awesome and I think one of Microsoft’s most killer apps when it comes to their Live Platform. I still have hope for Games for Windows Live since I have used it with Fallout 3 and it seems nice. I am hoping in the future for even better Windows Live stuff and I have a feeling Microsoft will be bringing out even better stuff for Live as it seems to be playing a big support role for Windows. Oh and lastly for those out there that use only Google for search try out Live search I find it to be just as good if not better. I like the interface a bit more especially for Pictures which I think Live does a very good job of proving that JavaScript can improve a search engine if utilized correctly. Overall Windows Live is pretty damn good with only a few small flaws there is a lot I didn’t talk about like Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Photo Gallery cause there are reviews about them all over the net and I really don’t think i could say anything more then they are awesome and I utilize them everyday. If you don’t use Windows Live I say give it a try people!

Bill Gates unleashes Mosquitoes

Now that I have your attention I have some nice things to say about the man that unleashed Mosquitoes on an audience at a conference yesterday! First off I love the fact that he when frees them he states “Malaria is spread by mosquitoes. I brought some. Here I’ll let them roam around. There is no reason only poor people should be infected.” Which I am sure startled a bunch of the people there but Bill Gates was using it to drive home a very good point. The idea that the things that affect the rich are the ones that get priority. Now I don’t think we need to drop what we are doing in everything but seriously do we really need to spend as much money as we do in things like solving baldness? I think many of those things could see a minor cutback to help fight real problems. I was happy to read about the fact that Bill Gates is helping fight malaria because that is a real problem unlike baldness which last i check tends to not be fatal.

Source: PC Magazine

Restarting the fun “The Odd Question Blog”!

So me and a friend of mine have finally got around to starting up “The Odd Question Blog” again. Basically its the result of carpooling to work this summer and our crazy ideas we came up with. Basically he was very good at coming up with funny and entertaining questions so we decided we would post them to the webs a question a day. It died after it started do to me not having time to post (he came up with a lot of the questions and i handled the website) but now I feel i should start it up again! So visit the site and enjoy we are posting both Funny and sometimes semi-serious questions but we can guarantee you (ok not officially) that they will at least be odd!

Link: The Odd Question Blog

Internet Radio!

So for the last few years I have been a big Internet Radio fan. My favorite radio station is a Anime/Video Game/J-Pop station called EX². I love it. There are few interruptions and its just a nice continuous stream of nice relaxing J-Pop (most anime music qualifies as this) and Video Game music (mostly Final Fantasy type stuff) so I generally just throw it on whenever I am not watching TV it feels like good old radio from the airwaves but the sound quality is better! Overall the reason for this post is to share with everyone my favorite Internet Radio station.

Predictions for 2009

Since everyone else is doing predictions right now I figure I should jump on the band wagon before the year is out.

First. The beginning of the end of Apple. Apple is currently hitting its apex. Job’s looks like he may not be in charge much longer and Apple is abandoning Mac World. Also with the new “I’m A PC” ads by Microsoft much of Apple’s old ads now are just looking bad.

Second. Microsoft begins making gains again. This will mostly be from the fact that Windows 7 is going to be coming out in 2009. This will be everything that people have waiting for in Window Vista. Also Windows 7 will not have the negative attention that Windows Vista has been fighting which has led to a lot of Microsoft’s losses.

Third. FLOSS will stagnate. With both Compiz and losing developers both projects are not looking so healthy anymore. Gnome is looking at finally working on a Gnome 3 since they are falling behind when compared to KDE, OSX and Windows. Sun’s new supposed support for FLOSS doesn’t seem to be saving the dying company. And the only people that look like they are gaining ground is KDE with KDE 4 and Amarok of course that is all coming out on Windows now so that will probably breath even more life into the project.

Fourth. Google will no longer be the good guy. This has already started with people coming to the realization of how much data Google actually keeps on them. Also a lot of Firefox supporters fear Google Chrome and the ammount of losses that it could sustain. Things wont likely be bad for Google but it will most likely need to finally start some PR work.

I’m going to leave it a these tech prodictions. I could make political ones as well but I don’t think those matter as much since its pretty clear what is going on politically and where it is leading us.