Night Currency in the Warrior II

Last night was absolutely perfect to be out flying. I am planning to head to Alabama soon with some friends so I decided to ensure that I was current in the Warrior II which I will be using for that trip.

Cool temperatures (for here in the Southeast), calm winds and clear skies all work together to create some truly wonderful flying weather.

In filling out my log book I note that nearly 10% of my total flying time, and over 20% of my pilot in command time is now night flying. At about 220 total hours I find my proficiency is such that I now want to seriously work on achieving my IFR rating.

Night flying is smoother, performance is better and there is much less traffic out there. And what traffic *is* out there is easier to see. Of course, sightseeing while night flying is a wholly different experience. So I like to fly *to* my travel destinations during the day, and then return in the late evening. This lets me suss out the destination from the air and enjoy that unique perspective while also letting me have the relaxing and practical efficiency of the night experience on most of my longer trips.

The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe

I currently have 17 active podcasts in my podcatcher. But easily the one I look forward to the most is “The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe“. It is produced by the New England skeptical society (NESS).

This is a weekly discussion highlighting and critiquing the thinking that goes into the reporting of, and claims made about, current events. Plus there are some very interesting interviews with other great skeptical thinkers as well as with folks with less-than-plausible claims.
Steven Novella is the host of this show with a great panel of interesting folks (OK, OK I have to explicitly mention Skepchick or she’ll be disappointed…) whose insight and wit makes this a great podcast.

I should mention that, apparently much to his horror, Steven’s voice comes across as sounding like Ray Romano. But don’t let that fool you. Steven’s clear thinking and breadth of experience and expertise are a refreshing departure from his voice-sake’s sitcom offerings.

WELL into its second year at this writing, I enjoy it so much that I’m working my way back through the first year’s episodes – it’s that good.

Vonage Router Fun

A couple of days ago I contacted Vonage due to an inoperative router. I was 50/50 on whether I’d continue using the service or not, having in the past waded through the mire that is their Indian tech support folks and their written-in-stone scripts I was ready to just cancel my account if there was going to be a lot of hassle.

Realizing this, they offered to just send me a replacement router and I agreed. Problem solved. Or so I thought…
Last night, I got home from work a little late and saw something large on my front porch. I was expecting Vonage’s router and possibly a DVD from Amazon so I took a peek and this is what I saw:

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Yep, 28 routers were waiting for me. Here’s another shot:

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All of them were addressed to me.

I opened one of the boxes up and found there were two welcome packages, one inside and one outside the Motorola VT2442 box that was within the Orange DHL / Vonage branded shipping box. I suppose that means I received 56 of those CDs.
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This morning, for fun, I decided to photograph the routers and make an animated GIF of them. While I was in the middle of this, I heard a truck on my driveway. You guessed it. They delivered another Vonage router for a total of 29!

I’m not sure if I have any more routers en route. I checked the DHL shipping notification that Vonage initially sent to me and it only indicates shipment of a single router and that it was delivered to me this morning. I suppose that’s the one I’m supposed to use as the one I randomly chose to open and set up is associated with a number that is completely unknown to me (yep, it works just fine). Good thing I’m honest.

For your entertainment and amusement I present my animated GIF below (Click it to see a larger moving image):

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I’ll be contacting Vonage later today to see what needs to be done. Ironically, the Vonage CSR I originally dealt with only hesitently asked if I’d be willing to return my original non-functioning router (I was). There was supposed to be packaging for me to do so included, but so far that is not the case.

I just took a closer look at the packing sheet from inside the shipping box I opened last night and there I see the person to whom the router was originally destined. That one was headed for a fellow in Wichita Falls, Texas.

I just opened the one I received this morning hoping that it really was mine but it’s supposed to go to a guy in Terre Haute, Indiana.

This could be a long search. I’m not sure I want to open all of these boxes. Mind you, from the tape on some of them (including the one I received today) some of them have already been opened before. I’m wondering if they went to the wrong locations originally too..

Lenovo X41 Tablet doing *much* better now

In my quest to improve my tablet’s performance I ended up reformatting it and installing Windows XP professional instead of Windows XP Tablet Edition (twice).

So I was going to try to create my own boot disk the kicker is there is a very small file on the CD which dictates whether the install will be a corporate or an OEM one. In order to do that I was going to need a LOT of files from my original install and the best way to get those was to… you guessed it, restore my entire system to its original config.

Well I did this – takes about 3-5 hours – good thing I had a couple of other computers to keep me occupied while it did its hundred and one reboots. Then I used the Thinkvantage updates app to absolutely and completely bring everything as up to date as possible.

Guess what? The system hums now. Still not quite as peppy as my T42, but it *is* a slightly slower processor and I have to admit that the Pen support really must come at a price. But overall there has been a significant improvement in performance. I’m now a LOT happier with the machine and am consequently using it much more often than before.

Hybrid Mini-Cooper – I’ve finally found my dream car!

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When I saw this posted in boingboing I knew that my future would hold something like this.

I have no idea if the production hybrids of the next 5 or so years will be anywhere near as slick as this mini-cooper but everything about it appeals to me, no mechanical brakes (just torque up those wheel integrated electric motors to maximum), phenomenal gas mileage and a stylish bent.

Here is a link to the actual treehugger article if you have problems with the boingboing link above.

Apple iTunes 7 will break your ability to share libraries (for now)

If you share your iTunes libraries across your network (there are some good reasons to do this, being able to play your songs on another computer without having to copy everything over there for one) you’ll find that the recent update to iTunes that brings it up to release 7 will break this sharing.

If you share between computers the solution is to simply bring all the computers up to R7 and you’re fine.

However, I use an appliance called a Roku Soundbridge that allows me to stream my music to our living room stereo. They have to come up with a patch to allow the soundbridge to interact with the new iTunes version. From the company’s support page:

Attention iTunes Users!
With the release of iTunes 7.0 today (9/12/2006), Apple has changed some of the underlying technology that allows the SoundBridge to communicate  directly with iTunes.  We hope to have an iTunes 7.0- compatible release of the SoundBridge software soon; however, at this time  all SoundBridges are incompatible with the music sharing feature of  iTunes 7.0.  We recommend that SoundBridge owners wait for a SoundBridge update before upgrade to iTunes 7.0. Users wishing to upgrade to iTunes 7.0 (or who have already upgraded)  can install the free Firefly media server to share their libraries  with the SoundBridge. Firefly is available here.