Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Twitter, evil Twitter (update)

I have caved, I feel, and I have joined twitter.com. I have attached it to this blog (look to the right) and to my Facebook profile. Now, you can get mini updates on my goings on in between the semi-regular blog posts (that's what this is).

This allows me to be even more “connected” with friends and loved ones without actually talking to them. That's what blogs are for after all, connecting with people without actually having them connect with you.


www.twitter.com/jeremyblanchard

Is anyone else on Twitter? Let me know.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Frankenbook G4

I have a 2002 vintage Powerbook G4 Titanium 1 Ghz. It is still going strong and works well but the battery has a life of about 8 minutes which means it is no longer very mobile. Another thing that keeps this computer from being mobile is that it came with a 60 gig hard drive and when my music is on the internal hard drive I have roughly 3 gigs of available space, which isn't enough to operate on. That being the case I keep my music on an external hard drive. So, the lack of battery life and the need to be tethered to a drive in order to sync my iPod really limits mobility.
My first thought was to upgrade to a new laptop but the laptop that is more realistically affordable is the new MacBook. I have tested these out in stores and I know several people who have them and while they are neat and new and have some features that I want, the overall performance didn't seem all that much faster than my current Powerbook. My unscientific tests were done by timing how long applications took to open on both machines and there was a marginal increase in the MacBook.
For those of you not familiar with Apple computers, it would be similar to owning a 2002 Toyota Camry and trading it in for a 2008 Toyota Corolla. While it will be newer and have new features it feels more like a lateral move rather than a straight upgrade.
To make a long story shorter, I decided to upgrade my internal hard drive, replace the battery, and purchase a USB 2 pcimca card bus. In other words, I would give my old Camry a suspension upgrade, and a major tune up.
First I took the back off:

Tip: when using the star wrenches and screws try one size smaller than you think is needed and it may turn out to be a better fit.
I then took out the hard drive and didn't take any pictures because I didn't want to cause any static charge.
Once I had the drive in I attempted to format the drive:


It took several attempts and I also needed to put my old hard drive in and create a new duplicate back up copy of that disc because the SilverKeeper program that came with my Lacie hard drive bites big donkey nads (that's bad).
Tip: Don't ever use SilverKeeper as a back up program. Sure it will copy your data so that you won't lose it, but it doesn't restore your data properly even though it states that it does. I suggest using either SmartBackup (shareware) or Personal Backup by Intego which is a company that I happen to like for some of their other software offerings. I used SmartBackup because it allowed me to use it a few times before purchase and it is also cheaper than Personal Backup.
With SmartBackup the transfer of data was smooth and relatively painless.
See, smiles all around:

As an added bonus, my laptop now runs a bit faster. Probably because of the clean OS install and also the hard drive is a faster RPM than the previous drive. I am now mobile, for the most part. I found out that the USB 2 card buses do not generate sufficient voltage to power iPods, so I need to have the card plugged into an AC outlet. That is okay though because the file transfers are significantly faster than before.
Now, my Powerbook G4 should last me another year or more, which also happens to be when Apple will most likely do a major redesign of the MacBook Pro laptops.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Awesome Aerodynamics Batman! (updated)

As many of you know, I ride a Harley. But a fact that you perhaps don't know is that I use a windshield. It is not a Harley brand windshield, which some may consider blaspheme, but for the time being I consider it frugal. The point of this post is to talk about how a little change I made in the angle of my windshield made the world of difference. Two nights ago I had a very, very small epiphany. I had a picture come into my head of the stock OEM Harley windshield and I noticed that the windshield was at a more laid back angle than my windshield currently is. I decided to experiment the very next morning. So I did. I leaned my windshield back to be more in line with the front forks and what a surprising and amazing difference it made. To drive my point home I have used Microsoft's wonderfully powerful Paint.exe program.
Before:

This caused the wind to be redirected right onto my head:

After:

This created a comfortable riding envelope and redirected the wind over my head:


Now I have a much smoother ride, with no wind buffeting, even at high(er) speeds. I can also lean back a bit in my seat and feel where the envelope ends by how my head gets buffeted around again. I was amazed at how much of a difference it made. Physics is awesome.


Update: V-Twin Power!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Growing by the minute

Yesterday, the baby hit 23 weeks and said "let the games begin." Rachel's belly grew by about an inch or more in one day. Up until two weeks ago, Rachel was barely showing, but now that we are 23 weeks into this adventure, her belly has popped. I will try to talk her into posting a belly photo, maybe if it doesn't include her face or something.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The "ZEN" of Scrabble

Last night we were playing a game we have come to like with some friends. The game is Quiddler. It is not unlike scrabble but you play with cards instead of tiles and a board. It is sort of a cross between scrabble and gin. One of our friends played the word "Zen". Since Rachel and I know that this is considered a proper noun, we raised our eyebrows. Our "Zen" playing friend adamantly defended her word saying that it has come into common use at this point and is now a state of mind and no longer solely a proper noun. She and I went back and forth a bit about this and I decided to let it go since I would rather have a pleasant time than prove somebody wrong in a game.

All that being said, the following photos go out to our friend A-Rob:




Do you see a ZEN listed? I don't either.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Cubby Update #5 (long awaited)

I finally secured a plasterer to come and plaster up the place. It looks great. Take a look:



I didn't walk all the way up to get better pictures because of what was covering the floor.

Now, I need to get some kind of trim or molding to bridge the walls with the ceiling.
Then, the next big step is to paint. I will be leaving the wood paneling alone for now.
If any of you need a good plasterer, I will definitely recommend this guy. If you want his digits, you know how to get a hold of me.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Rolling Stones @ the IMAX


We are going to the Martin Scorsese documentary film about The Rolling Stones called "Shine a Light" and wanted to invite you along. This film was made by one of the more famous directors using many of the higher priced and high talent camera operators, so it should prove to be a good show. After about 20 minutes of build up there is an hour and a half "live" Rolling Stones concert. We are going to see it in the IMAX theatre, which means it will be big and on a premium sound system. It will be as close to the real thing as I will ever get to going to an actual Stones concert (unlike Rachel). See the links below for more information.

We are going this Saturday night at 7:15, we already have our tickets, and we would love to have any or all of you show up to party with us and the Rolling Stones...Perhaps grab some pizza after. Get your tickets, bring your friends! We would love to see you there!

trailer

website

tickets

Saturday 4/19/2008 7:15 PM @ Jordan's Reading
Jordans Furniture 50 Walkers Brook Drive Reading, MA 01867

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Feeling my age

Age has never been a big issue for me. I never really cared about how old I was in relation to other people. But yesterday for the first time I feel I have officially crossed over into the "grown up" side of the age scale.
Two weeks ago I received a new responsibility at church, we refer to them as callings. I am second councilor in the young men's presidency. For some reason that was not the shot that made me feel old. It was all because of last night. As part of my calling, I chaperoned a youth dance.
--insert dance photo--

I used to go to these dances as a kid and I would see older people in bad sport coats walking around chit chatting with other grownups. Now, I am one of those people. To the youth at that dance, I am the old grownup in the bad sport coat, but don't worry I didn't wear a sport coat. So, if the youth are the kids in the above photo, that must mean that I am this guy:



Ps. Happy Birthday to my mother. We love you, mom.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Hog Season is Fast Approaching

I took the bike to work everyday since last Thursday. The temperatures were generally around 35 degrees in the morning and 42 in the evening. I didn't see any other bikers on the road, surprised?, and I haven't really seen any other bikers on the road on any of my rides in March or April.

Yesterday, we had a wonderfully nice day where the temperature soared up to 70 degrees. It was really a perfect day for riding. Wouldn't you know it that on my ride home from work I see many, many other bikers on their bikes.

It is customary to wave when passing a fellow biker on the road, a fun little tradition, but I couldn't help grumbling "fare weather fan" from inside my helmet with each passing wave. I have no right to, but inside I feel that I have somehow earned the privilege to take my bike out on the first "nice" day of the season. All those other bikers should have to wait until the second nice day if they haven't already taken their bike out earlier in the season.

Since the state government will never pass that into law, I will say "Ride On" to all my fellow motorcycle brothers and sisters.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I felt it, I felt it!

Last night I felt the baby kick for the first time... it was awesome. She, the baby, did a double scissor kick and then a jab. At least that's what it felt like. It was really cool, because I got to be part of the party.


(As a side note: I rode the motorcycle today without ski pants for the first time this season. Let's hear it for 50 degree weather!)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Websites, Podcasts, and Dictatorship

Recently, I have fallen into a comfortable rut of checking the same group of websites every day if not several times a day. Listed in order of relative visit frequency, those websites are as follows:
4. Digg.com (recent addition)

If you would like explanations for why I visit one or more of them, feel free to ask in the comments section and I will let you know.

Also recently, I purchased an iRiver FM transmitter designed for use with the car stereo for a whopping $5. I had heard good and bad things about FM transmitters and I decided $5 was a worthwhile gamble. Since having this transmitter I have taken to listening to Podcasts via iTunes and my iPod. Though I am relatively new to the world of podcasts I have likewise settled into a comfortable set of podcasts.

1. This American Life
2. Wall Street Journal This Morning
3. The News from Lake Wobegon
4. The Journal Report / Diggnation / NYT Tech Talk / David Pogue's Tech Video - when they come around.

This American Life had a very interesting cast from 3/31/08. Episode #353 The Audacity of Government. The info states: "We've noticed a trend in actions taken lately by the U.S. government. Tiny things you probably haven't heard of, but with big implications. So we've decided to spend an hour talking about the unrelenting, combative style of this Administration." I found it to be quite interesting and definitely worth a listen if you have a spare 65 minutes.
Rather than segue into a political rant, I will simply say this.
Do you have a set of websites you frequent? (besides this blog)
Do you listen to podcasts?
If you do, and you would like to share, please post them in the comments section. I am interested in finding other interesting things to experience.