All Geek to Me

August 30, 2006

Car Audio

Filed under: Geek Stuff — britinla @ 3:43 pm

I first had a CD auto-changer fitted to a car about eight years ago. At the time, I thought this was the perfect way of ensuring a wide choice of music while driving. It was certainly better than having cassette tapes stuffed into every available nook and cranny of the car; especially as they tend to suffer from the cold and heat when left in a vehicle. Now, though, I have purchased an upgrade for my wife’s car that offers a far wider choice of music and scores a better geek rating.

We have an iPod unit wired into the back of the car stereo, with a lead into the glove compartment. You put the iPod into the glove compartment and then control the unit through the controls on the stereo and/or those on the steering wheel. You thus have access to several thousand songs.

If I am alone in the car, I can use my iPod with its “weird” music or downloaded UK Radio podcasts.

It is also an end to the problem of swapping out a CD in the auto-changer and putting the removed CD into the case of the new one; after a few months you have a CD collection in which the cases are organized alphabetically, but the contents are a random surprise.

Geek Score = 7/10


August 29, 2006

I’ll turn the couch down

Filed under: Geek Stuff — britinla @ 6:11 pm

I experienced a very cool AV system at the house of my wife’s maid of honour. Home Theatre systems are not new, although I had not previously seen one in which the rear speakers were built into the room. If you have a large collection of DVD and CD having them loaded into a 400 disc auto-changer seems like a good idea. Having a remote control which is programmed with the disc names, sorted by genre and shows you pictures of the covers is helpful in managing such a number of discs. So far, we are on the geeky side of normal, but not reached the height of uber-cool geekiness.

It was the couch, that was beyond anything I had ever heard of, let alone seen. The couch, known as a “Butt-kicker” was wired into the sub-woofer and internal pistons caused the frame to shudder with the bass notes. This works great for action movies, but the effect is over the top for music, so our host turned down the intensity for Dark Side of the Moon. This was not an ordinary CD, but an SACD; a CD remastered for surround system systems. The cash registers and clocks rung and ticked from all sides; very impressive.

Geek score : 8/10

August 17, 2006

Cool Blue

Filed under: Geek Stuff — britinla @ 8:56 pm

Once it became apparent that we would be spending substantial time away from our base in West Covina, I realized that sharing a laptop with my wife was going to be more than just an inconvenience. I am spending a large amount of each day looking for permanent employment and doing work for my former employer in the UK. In the evenings, I enjoy playing computer games, and my wife’s laptop lacks sufficient graphics capability.

The solution was found in Circuit City, in the form of an HP dv5000 Multimedia laptop. It came with a decent processor, 1024Mb of Ram a graphics card with 128Mb dedicated memory (Rare on a laptop, but pretty much essential to play games), and a good 15.4” widescreen display. Not essential for my needs, but good to have it also included a Dual Layer DVD recorder and integrated multi-format card reader; although it does not support the compact-flash used by my Pentax. The clincher was that the laptop retailed for $850, with a $50 mail in rebate. I would usually turn to Dell to purchase PC equipment, but they had no equivalent laptop without spending twice that amount.

The laptop runs Windows XP Media Center Edition, which allows you to watch DVD or play CD without booting all the way into Windows. The DVR functionality that the OS supports requires the purchase of an additional TV tuner; so I think it unlikely that I be using it. There is an included remote control, which conveniently slots into the Express Card slot; although this would cease to be convenient if I had a card that needed the slot.

The laptop came with more unnecessary software preinstalled that I had ever seen before. The utility to create restore discs needed two Dual Layer DVD, or over twenty CD-R; I went for the DVD-DL solution. Most of the software has now been stripped away, although I kept the Netscape browser as an alternative to my first choice; Opera.

The performance playing Everquest 2 is more than acceptable (At least on a par with my desktop), although using it without a mouse with scroll wheel is proving somewhat tricky. Although, most of its use is likely to be while plugged into the mains, I have been impressed with the battery life which runs comfortably into several hours. I worked on batteries from a coffee shop, looking for employment opportunities and posting a blog entry.

One feature of the case, which I have not seen previously, is that the various ports and slots, all of which are on the side, have icons above them on the surface of the open laptop. This makes it a lot easier to know where the power, the headphones, TV out, etc should be slotted. Having a button to toggle wireless mode on and off seems like a good idea, once airlines allow you to carry hand-luggage again.

The only downsides are:
The1Gb of RAM is achieved using 2 x 512Mb chips, so it will not be possible to raise the memory to its 2Gb limit without buying two new chips.
As previously mentioned, the multi-format card reader does not support the compact flash in my camera.
I think that it would be helpful to have more than two USB ports.

Best feature? Undoubtedly the cool blue lights used to indicate power and the status of the multi-media buttons.

Welcome to All Geek To Me

Filed under: Geek Stuff — britinla @ 7:44 pm

I have started a second blog, because there were things about which I wished to write that had nothing to do with my move to the USA; the subject of my primary blog. I know from reading other blogs that frequent off-topic posts are an annoyance, so I have this second place to muse on all things geek.

If you are not a geek, then I doubt you will find much of interest here. If you don’t know whether or not you qualify as a geek, take the Geek Test.
i am a super geek

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