Friday, September 30, 2005

Upgrading my Macintosh G5 - It originally came with an 8x DVD burner, a Pioneer DVR-107; I have upgraded it by using a Pioneer DVR-110D 16x burner obtained cheap from Shop4Tech

Apple has instructions here.

Followup The Drive came with version 1.08 of firmware installed, which I immediately
updated to 1.17, only to have version 1.22 released on Sept. 30, so I got to update again. If I recall correctly version 1.22 allows me to read DVDs created on Rigel 4.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

More HD stations for me from DirecTv, XM too: Thanks to Congress and FCC rules, you need a waiver from your local station to receive a National Network feed if you live in an area that has local channels. Independent locals usually deny them for fear of losing local ad revenue. Network owned stations usually grant them for HD channels.

Such was the case for me in Houston, TX. ABC and Fox, both owned by their respective Network granted a Waiver, and so I now receive channels 86 and 88. CBS and NBC denied waivers, so I do not receive channels 80 or 82.

It took 5 weeks from first requesting (through DirecTv) waivers, and final word from the 4 networks.

No added cost as long as you're paying for either local channels or the HD package.

XM Satellite radio will be on DirecTv for no extra cost starting November 15. Woo Hoo.
More information at or their channel 800. For a standard "Total Choice" package that means 50 of the 150 XM stations, instead of the current 30 Music Choice stations.
POWER OUTAGES FROM RITA in Houston Area: Centerpoint Energy seems to be reducing by half the number of folks without power each day. One can appreciate the task seeing their map of outages.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Unloaded my Xbox on eBay today.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Post Rita : MONDAY: Almost back to normal now (on the West side of Houston), except most businesses and schools closed till Wednesday. Gasoline is now readily available, and supermarkets are open, just lacking beans, bread, milk and eggs.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

If it ain't Boeing, I'm not going : Airbus Industries proves it can't keep its' planes safe.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Rita went East : Our west side of Houston got about 2" of rain (zero flooding) and wind gusts to 50 mph, and by 6:30 AM the rain which started 11 hours earlier was over although it is still windy, with gusts to maybe 30 mph. We still have power, telephone and water, so all in all the effect was far less than Alicia for our corner of the world. Only two minor issues. One, we will apparently have to wait a day or three for gasoline (although we don't need any at the moment), and a slight reallignment of the HDTV OTA antenna is in order.
Guaranteed later today and tomorrow the highways will be a mess as folks try to return home. It seems like the exodus was in stages. 900 folks in buses on Wednesday, 2,000,000 in their own cars on Thursday. Hundreds (or thousands) ran out of gas in the 2 mph traffic jam. In a last ditch effort to prevent potential tragedy, late Friday the Houston Mayor had the Transit Authority send buses out the highways to pick up motorists and get them to safety, and 90% + refused to leave their cars, as the cars were laden with valuables. Haven't heard yet if anyone stuck on the side of highway 59 NE of town suffered as a result of being stranded on the side of the road. The area around Lufkin, TX is still getting pounded by wind and rain.

FOLLOWUP: 2:45 PM, the sun is out, I've been encouraged to shelter in place and there is no gasoline in Houston. Walked 5 blocks to the local Quickey Mart and was told it would be Monday before they got Newspaper deliveries. How many tens of thousands of people will go to the web, and discover they dont need the newsprint hardcopy version, I wonder.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Hurricane Rita - Report from Houston: Not living by the coast (50 miles inland) or in a low lying area (I'm at 62' elevation) it was not suggested I evacuate by public officials, and I didn't. Nearly 2 million others have, and major interstates, now literally have a 100 mile backup/gridlock. Meanwhile back in Houston, all major roads out of town are moving at 2 mph, 95 % of gas stations are out of gas and/or are closed, and if one can get to the airport, it takes hours to get through security as TSA personnel either evacuated or couldn't get to the airport.
Heres what happened when regular people tried to evacuate. This prediction of RITAs path was spot on 36 hours before NOAA figured out the storm would land East of Galveston Bay.
How to BLOG: The definitive textbook on blogging has now been published. Read about it here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Yellow journalism in Hurricane warnings : The local media in Houston loves to scare it listeners about potential Hurricane strikes; anything so you watch the 10:00 news, or buy tomorrows paper. Me, I just go to the National Hurricane Center web site. They've done an excellent job of predicting 3 days out, and do better than they know for 5 days out. I just extrapolate the direction of migration of the 5 day out prediction which is updated every 6 hours, and do quite well.

Monday, September 19, 2005

It's against their rules, so they let people die: At the New Orleans airport FEMA refused to allow an out-of-state doctor attend to sick (and dying) Katrina victims, as he had not done all the paperwork to be in their database, and later when he had, they never used him. Read about it here.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

No more Fords for me: I am very happy with my new Pontiac Vibe, good gas mileage, plenty of interior space, and a great price. It's made at a joint GM-Toyota factory in California, and as such statistically has far better reliability than anything Ford makes. Anyway on Sept 17, I receive a mailing trying to lure me to a Ford dealer 50 miles from where I live. Absurd!! Ford marketing must not cross check their files for all the complaints I filed with their HQ about being unable to get warranty satisfaction on a defective Ford Escape Tire.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Why keep it a secret? I was pleased to figure out that apparently Fox TV Network has approved my request for Waiver from the FCC rules, and I now received Fox 5 (NYC channel) in HD via a DirecTv satellite on my DirecTv HD TiVo unit on channel 88. Why I have to discern this on my own, and DirecTv would not want to call or email me with the good news, is beyond my comprehension. Apparently company owned local stations grant waivers, and independent members of the network do not, not wanting to potentially lose local advertising revenue. In Houston that's Fox and ABC I've read elsewhere.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Doesn't sound like accidental mixup to me: Would be low-paid humanitarian workers get shanghaied into cleaning up Casino in Mississippi and treated like slaves. Only called a mixup because they went public? Read about it here in their hometown newspaper.

Monday, September 12, 2005

New Orleans 2 weeks later: 20 years ago I lived in New Orleans, so I have been following events with interest. By now there is a vast difference in what is happening to those who were well-to-do (usually translates to Caucasian), and those that were poor (usually translates as Black). A telling store is here. Get a password here if you choose not to register, and you are asked to.
Microsoft Windows monthly patch pulled: So many bugs in Windows are reported to Microsoft, that they have gotten in a cycle of writing monthly patches. This month, they discovered the September patch would do more harm than good, and didn't release it despite having announced they would. Story here.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Expanding a HD DirecTv TiVo: Using a Weaknees bracket, and a PTVUpgrade Install CD, and newly purchased Seagate 300 Gig Hard Drives, my HR10-250 now has a recording capacity of 77 hours HD or 515 hours SD. I lucked out, Friday Frys started a sale I was waiting for. 300 Gigabyte, 5 year warranty Hard Drives for $99.99 after Rebate. I might have preferred 400 Gigabyte Hard Drives, but they were "on sale" for $299.99.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

DirecTv billing error As part of the deal I negotiated with DirecTv I was to get some parts of my programming free for 6 months. Comes the first bill and it wasn't free, and reps didn't know how to scroll back to find the notes of August 23 on my account, and when they did Supervisors refused to honor those promises. After 3 calls in, I found a representative that exhibited some common sense and adjusted things.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Antenna guaranteed to fail ?: Try and buy the Zenith GEMDTV1 antenna from, and be presented with this return policy, in the event the antenna fails to be fit for purpose:

"Due to manufacturers' policies, cannot accept returns on this item for any reason. The manufacturer will handle all exchanges and replacements. Please contact the manufacturer directly and they will assist you with repair or replacements. NO REFUNDS ARE AVAILABLE FOR THIS PRODUCT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. THIS PRODUCT CAN ONLY BE RETURNED FOR REPAIR OR EXCHANGE."

I think in some states/cities, such limitations are not allowed.

For some strange reason Zenith has convinced me not to buy their antenna.

Friday, September 02, 2005

HDTV impressions: 8 months ago I got an HDTV to replace a 10 year old geriatric big screen. With the DirecTv HD receiver with TiVo I can now really get a full suite of HD reception.

Showtime HD - Mostly a waste of time. Half their movies aren't in HD. One that was and is in Dolby 5.1 even though the DirecTv guide failed to indicate it was "Ground Hog Day". I TiVoed it last night and in HD and surround it's awesome.

Local HD - The local amateurs at CBS decided to join David Letterman in progress for his
HD broadcast last night, even though they figured out how to delay it SD TV. Many other
local broadcasts seem like they're merely upconverted for HD, and are in SD.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

DirecTech games continue: I just got a phone call from an installer on his way
over for my DirecTv install. "We brought the wrong antenna last time, I have the correct Winegard"; Strange they had been insisting the indoor antenna they previously brought
was the right one. Meanwhile I have my RadioShack antenna, so this could get
interesting. Stay tuned.

Followup: Took just over an hour, the Winegard antenna (Model GS-1100) does barely better than an indoor antenna, and without a rotator won't get all channels. The installer had to be shamed into grounding the OTA Antenna. I'm now negotiating with DirecTv about getting my Radio Shack antenna installed. The tech did a good job of running another phone line drop for the HR10-250. So far the HR10-250 works wonderfully. I also finally found out why DirecTv won't say boo about the poor job this installer company does. The tech let slip that DirecTv recently bought DirecTech.