Changes, Changes

You may have noticed that I’ve made a few changes around here.

I’ve upgraded to the latest and greatest version of WordPress (this blogging software) and I’ve also upgraded to the newest version of the Gallery photo software.

These two can now talk to each other now and you’ll find the photos are integrated much more nicely into the overall web site.

WordPress now manages accounts for both of these platforms. So if you already have an account on this system you now need to login from the side panel next to the blog rather than in the photo gallery. See “Login” under “Housekeeping” to the right. If you don’t have an account, please go ahead and register and you can see all of the pictures rather than just the ones open to the public.

If you have any problems, please let me know.

The pictures showing up at the top of the sidebar (to the right) are, in order, a random picture from any of the albums and the highlight picture for the most recently created album.

Broca’s Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science

Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science “Broca’s Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science” is a series of essays by Carl Sagan. I’m rather a fan of Carl Sagan’s works and got this book expecting that it would be more of a focused book rather than the variously directed chapters that it turned out to be. I absolutely loved “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark” and was a little disappointed by this work. Not some of Sagan’s best work but still worth a read if you really enjoy his writing and can overlook when he starts to wander into the realm of overly zealous green supporter.

SpitFire Deli

Located at Winder airport, the Spitfire Deli sports good food and pretty reasonable hours.

Mich and I had a chance to chat with the owners for a while today and found them engaging and hospitable. The establishment is clean and bright and, most importantly, serves excellent french fries!

The menu, posted on their website, is more of a general guideline than a hard and fast listing of all available foods.

A hop, skip and a jump away from my home base of Gwinnett airport (KLZU) I know I’ll be adding the SpitFire deli as a cool stop on the way home.

Still haven’t picked up a Tablet PC

I still have not ordered my tablet. Every time I go out onto IBM’s website with the intent of purchasing the unit I come away frustrated. I want the built-in biometric fingerprint reader of the lower end machine AND the much better battery and larger HD of the higher end machine. Plus I want to get a few other upgrades (memory and maybe that Dragon Dictate software) but every time I look I either cannot figure out how to do it or am hopelessly confused by the terrible way the options are laid out. I’m pretty sure that office comes with the unit but when you get down to the software options there is Office available for order for full price. I’m 100% sure that if I mess it up (double order), they won’t tell me and simply ship me what’s on the manifest.

Add to that the ongoing delay and the fact that, being mail-order every problem will take several days of mailing pieces back and forth, well… I’m not super confident that I’ll get what I want.

I’d be MUCH happier if they had a local distributor with the tablet in stock so that I can simply walk in, discuss it with the person, open it up, make sure all my pieces are there and then walk out again.

Getting DirecTV Tivo to update over Vonage

It turns out that the lightning strike I encountered back in August toasted my DirectTV unit. Not totally, mind you, but enough that it was acting really wonky. Couldn’t get some channels any longer, sometimes it would reboot for no reason and the 30 second skip simply takes you to either the end or the beginning of your recorded show no matter what adjustments you try to make to it.

So I ended up with a very similar unit, a Phillips DSR708 Series 2 DirecTivo. I’m not sure if its modem chipset is more robust than my original one but I haven’t had NEARLY the issues connecting that I had before.
I did have to take it over to a friend’s house to do initial programming – just plugged the unit into their TV and Phone line (Thanks Keith and Zena!) and allowed the programming to proceed. I also gave it a “212” area code as, from what I’ve read in various newsgroups and web articles, that seems to be an area code that folks are having the most luck with in connecting DirecTivo over VOIP.

I haven’t bothered to tabulate the success rate of my manually initiated calls but it was pretty low when I first installed the unit at the end of August, 2005. However I’ve noticed that the scheduled updates seem to be hitting about a 50% success rate.

Either Vonage changed something or, as I said, the new unit’s modem is better, but here are my settings in case they can help anybody else:

Unit: Phillips DSR708
Series2
Dial-in 1-212-271-7103 (even though I live in a 770 area code)
Dial Prefix ,#096
Call Waiting Prefix *99,
Phone Avail Detection Off
Dial Tone Detection On