Christmas Tauntauns (reprise)

I really can’t say *why* I like this so much but I like to resurrect it each Christmas:

This song is just so infectious that once I hear it I just can’t get it out of my head. I’m also a sucker for the virtual camera angles and the overall quality of the production. This is a really great piece of work.

Posted under Amusing, Very Cool

This post was written by Marc
on December 14, 2009 at 9:09 pm

The Wedding Cake

All I can say is that I’m *so* glad I got married before we moved down here.

Unless you’ve been living in your parent’s basement your whole life I don’t know of any guy who hasn’t gone through this.

Posted under Amusing

This post was written by Marc
on December 8, 2009 at 8:32 pm

Putting together our *36* year-old artificial Christmas Tree

Yep, the tree is old enough that you can still see some damage where those ancient 7-Watt Christmas bulbs had melted the fake pine needles.

Michelle would much prefer to have a “real” tree.  The center pole is pretty warped and nobody would ever mistake this for the real thing but I’m pretty attached to this one and it really looks fine once it’s together.



Posted under Photos

This post was written by Marc
on December 5, 2009 at 8:36 pm

“Hint of Lime” scoops

Who else is waiting for this perfection of a Tortilla Chip concept to come to fruition?

We have “Hint of Lime” chips,

We have “Scoops”

What’s the hold up?

While I’m making the case for cool tortilla chips, why can’t we get “Salsa and Sour Cream” flavored chips like they have (had?) in Canada a couple of years ago. A friend brought these to a party once and I’ve been looking for them here in the beautiful South ever since.

Call your congressperson! Doing something about Mexican Appetizers is likely the most useful thing they’re ever likely to accomplish.

Posted under Gastronomy

This post was written by Marc
on November 18, 2009 at 9:56 pm

Vonage (2nd time around) is a charm

Even though I’d be perfectly happy just using our cell phones. Michelle is still not super comfortable with not having a landline (or at least something that approximates one). So, when AT&T was no longer able to support decent broadband to my house, I moved to Comcast’s broadband offering and then signed up with Vonage.

I’ve always liked Vonage (router fun notwithstanding), I only stopped using it before because I was obligated at the time to take AT&T’s POTS (Plain Ol’ Telephone System) line along with my DSL connection and it didn’t make sense to keep both landline options.

The current Vonage offering is much friendlier for non-tech users and, with greater broadband speeds available, QOS doesn’t seem to be an issue. Basically, you get a little appliance with a friendly orange screen that tells you the current date and alerts you to any issues and prompts you with instructions for those issues should they occur. i.e. your Internet connection is not available, check your modem, etc.

The recommended way (from Vonage) to set up your system is to put the Vonage router between your modem and your internal router (if you have one). I don’t like the idea of Vonage being a potential choke-point for my system (although it would probably be fine) so I ended up plugging it into my router and then assigning priority QOS to the Vonage router/appliance’s MAC address. Again, you probably don’t need to do this, but since I can, and it’s easy, why not?

You can also set things up so that your entire house is wired for Vonage. Just disconnect Ma Bell entirely. I have one of the more modern interface boxes outside so all I need to do is disconnect a the incoming telephone plug (RJ11 I believe is what it’s called) and I can completely isolate my home from the telco. Then, using a male-to-male connector such as you get with any modem, plug your Vonage router/appliance into one of your phone jacks and every wired phone in your house is hooked up to Vonage.

We don’t need anything fancy for our home setup so I just picked up an AT&T (I know, I know… the irony) cordless phone set to replace the aging ones we already had and just plugged those into the Vonage router/appliance.

Now we have caller id, local, free long distance throughout Canada and the U.S. and a raft of other features that we may or may not ever use. We could have ported our phone number as well, but with Google voice that’s not really necessary.

BTW, ping me if you want a Google Voice invite. I’ve still got two left as of this posting.

Posted under Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on October 30, 2009 at 6:09 am

Now *that’s* a big spider

Big SpiderMichelle opened our patio door to let out the cats and this guy came bounding in.

The body alone is over an inch long, include the legs and this sucker’s just a smidge over two inches!

I think she needs to change her underwear.

Posted under Very Cool

This post was written by Marc
on October 13, 2009 at 10:03 pm

Bose CineMate Digital Home Theater Speaker System

I was in Sams Club a couple of weeks ago and saw this home theater system was on sale so I noted it down and came home to check it out. While reading about it on Amazon I saw that it was pretty highly rated and nearly $100 less expensive. So I went ahead and ordered one.

I already have a Samsung LN52A650 TV through which I want to view my Samsung BD-P2500 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player, my DirecTV HR-23 DVR my legacy DirecTV TIVO player and my ancient VHS tape player (yeah, still have some stuff that I haven’t replaced on VHS tape).

When I first purchased my TV I had also picked up a Sony HTCT100 Sound Bar with which I was  unimpressed. But, on its own, the Samsung TV sound turned out to be less satisfactory than I had originally thought. There have been times I even needed to resort to turning on subtitles for ENGLISH movies because the vocal output was simply unable to overcome the other sounds and effects being offered.

Also, complexity is a big deal. Where the Sony soundbar had me hooking up all of my media sources to it and then using IT to control what played through the TV set, the Bose CineMate takes the results of whatever I elect to pump through the TV and then enhances the output.  So I don’t have to worry about compatibility with the sound system (HDMI in or whatever), nor do I have to tweak the home theater system for particular inputs.

The improvement in sound quality is absolute and immediate. There are no adjustments to make, it’s either going to work or it isn’t. In my case it worked magnificently. I used the remake of “The Day the Earth Stood Still” for my testing and I am astonished how well the Bose system enhanced and separated out the sounds. The bass is deep and booming and the voices are crystal clear.

Also, any specialized mating (the Samsung TV and Blu-Ray player talk with each other and negotiate the video input settings) are retained because the Blu-Ray still gets to talk directly to the TV.

The widely touted universal remote control is both the icing on the cake and the one item I will ding Bose for on this offering. First, the remote is of a reasonable size, very clear how to operate and well thought out. My wife finally has a clear view of what she’s supposed to press in order to get the Satellite receiver, TV and sound all functioning so she can watch her shows.

The universal controls all of my devices with one, very weird, exception: The pause button doesn’t work for the Samsung BD-P2500 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player. There is only one code available to program Samsung Blu-Ray players into the remote, so it’s not like I got it wrong. Contacting Bose’s customer support yielded the lame response:

*****To reply to this message, please select the reply button. To help us expedite your inquiry, please be sure to include our original response.******

Mr Bourassa,

The remote does not control all functions of all systems. A universal learning remote such as the Phillips Pronto would be able to learn all functions of any component, but these remotes are significantly more expensive.

Thank you for contacting Bose Corporation.
Richard Card
Product and Technical Support Team
————————————————-
Bose Corporation
US Telephone: (800)367-4008
International Tel: (508)766-1900
Email: http://www.bose.com/ContactUs
Fax: (508)766-1919
Telephone Hours: Mon-Fri 8:30AM-9:00PM, Sat 9:00AM-5:00PM (EST)
————————————————-
[massive footer pushing 3.2.1 system removed]——————————
Technical Support Information:

[Email Id:blah]
[Email Agent Id:blah]
[Queue Id:blah]

—–Original Message—–

Thank you for your response.

Do you know if this flaw has been corrected in the universal remotes offered
with the later Cinemate systems.

I can understand some of the more specialized features not being represented
in a universal remote, but “Pause” is a pretty basic DVD function to be
lacking.

Thanks,

Marc

On Sat, Oct 3, 2009 at 4:29 PM, <support@bose.com> wrote:

> *****To reply to this message, please select the reply button. To help us
> expedite your inquiry, please be sure to include our original
> response.******
>
> Mr Bourassa,
>
> Thank you for your inquiry. The remote code 21099 is the correct code for
> te Sausung BD-P2500.  We are aware that this does not allow control of all
> remote functions, but there is no alternative code or workaround (other than
> to use the remote that came with the Samsung). Sorry we could not assist you
> with this.
>
> Thank you for contacting Bose Corporation.
> Richard Card
> Product and Technical Support Team
> ——————————

——————-
> Bose Corporation
> US Telephone: (800)367-4008
> International Tel: (508)766-1900
> Email: http://www.bose.com/ContactUs
> Fax: (508)766-1919
> Telephone Hours: Mon-Fri 8:30AM-9:00PM, Sat 9:00AM-5:00PM (EST)
> ————————————————-
[massive footer pushing 3.2.1 system removed]
> ——————————
> Technical Support Information:
> [Email Id:blah]
> [Email Agent Id:blah]
> [Queue Id:blah]
>
>
>
> —–Original Message—–
>
> Request Type: Setup and System Install
>
>
> Request Message: I have a Samsung Blu-Ray DVD player (model BD-P2500) for
> which the only code available (20199) for the Cinemate remote control does
> not allow pause to work.
>
> My TV and DirecTV Satellite/DVR player work properly(pause works for the
> DVR just fine). So I am confident that it is not a hardware problem with the
> pause button. Do you have an alternate code suggestion or a workaround that
> can be used so the Universal remote can fully control my system?
>
> Thanks,
>
> Marc

Apparently it was unclear to the rep that there are only 5 things that most of us want our DVD remote controls to do: Play, Stop, Fast Forward, Rewind and Pause. Anybody who watches TV with a spouse or kid knows that pause is essential.

This wasn’t a deal breaker for *me* but I wanted to mention it in case it was for others.

Some of the other Amazon.com reviews for this device whined about it being inferior because it does not accept digital input. But I think, for the average Joe who just wants really nice sound for a reasonable price AND an uncomplicated setup, this is definitely the system to get. It is absolutely simple to set up, there are NO adjustments or tweaks that are even possible to make and the sound is wonderful.

Posted under Opinions, Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on October 11, 2009 at 11:37 am