Neutral Axis

Archive for August, 2009

Reboot Your Kitchen Oven

by on Aug.25, 2009, under Uncategorized

bsodWho knew?  Ovens can be rebooted.  Yesterday the oven part of my 15 year old GE electric range refused to turn on and the timer/clock went blank.  The stovetop burners still worked though.  The circuit breaker was OK too.  Grasping at a straw before calling for service, I turned off the breaker and left it off for about 30 seconds and then back on.  Problem fixed.

Weird.

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Avocado Ice Cream

by on Aug.25, 2009, under Uncategorized

IMG_1495I’ve never been one to shy away from unusual foods. I tried escargot (snails) as a 13 year old while on vacation with my family in Paris. So when a recent episode of Good Eats featured Alton Brown making avocado ice cream, I decided I needed to try it.  I also remembered it being done on an episode of Top Chef.  It couldn’t have been easier and was tasty too.

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XBMC Skin – Surface

by on Aug.24, 2009, under Uncategorized

Here’s a really cool looking interface for XBMC media player.  Its amazing what people are able to do with that program.

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Cash For Kitchen Clunkers

by on Aug.24, 2009, under Uncategorized

eco_footprint_refrigeratorBusinessWeek.com is reporting that this fall as part of the federal stimulus package, there will be a rebate program for home appliances similar to the Cash For Clunkers automobile program.  Certain appliances will be eligible for rebates of $50 to $200 and the old appliance will not be required to be turned in.  This sounds like a great thing for the manufacturer’s but I can’t help thinking its going to prompt a whole lot of people from spending money needlessly on new equipment thinking they’re getting a good deal.

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Internet Outage Repaired

by on Aug.15, 2009, under Uncategorized

Buried CableA week long internet outage at my home was repaired this afternoon.  For the last month or so, I’d been having intermittent outages that lasted a few hours, or until some other creative hack fixed it.  I posted earlier about moving cables away from power lines.  But apparently the problem was simply that I was losing signal strength between the cable box at the rear of my property and where it enters the house.  Once that loss was bad enough, none of my tricks were enough to get me back online.

In 15 years at my current location, Mediacom has replaced that buried cable 5 times now.  Something about my soil apparently damages their cables.  I suggested they install it in conduit this time, but they said I’d have to pay somebody else to do that, or I can continue to have them replace it every 3 years for free.  Its a pain to get this fixed each time because they won’t check for that problem first.  They require me to let them in the house to check the inside signal strength before they’ll go outside and check it there.

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Post-Ubuntu Install To-Do List

by on Aug.06, 2009, under Uncategorized

ubuntu-logo-transparent-shineJust installing Ubuntu doesn’t really get you where you need to be for a good user experience.  The linked article below has some good tips and instructions for making sure you can play video and mp3, tweak the system, configure a firewall, etc.  The instructions are keyed to Ubuntu 9.04 “Jaunty” but most should work in the 8 series also. See below for some thoughts on their recommendations and additional notes to help get things done perhaps a little easier and answer a few questions that might arise.

9 Things You Need To Do/Install After Installing Ubuntu

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Step 3: Check the Cables

by on Aug.05, 2009, under Uncategorized

Most everyone knows that when your internet connection goes out, for the sake of your blood pressure you at all cost want to avoid calling for service.  So when mine went out, I did everything I could think of except one before calling.  After calling and setting up an appointment 7 days from now, I remembered one last tip that has also helped me in the past.

  • Step 1:  Unplug modem and then repower and see if it comes back.
  • Step 2:  Unplug the coax cable (in my case, because I’m on cable) and reconnect.
  • Step 3:  Check the rats nest of cables on the floor and move the coax cable leading to the modem away from any power cables, wall warts (AC adapters) and power strips.  If they must cross, try to cross at right angles, but definitely avoid parallel runs.

Voila … internet is restored.

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Use Sed to Edit iTunes Library

by on Aug.03, 2009, under Uncategorized

itunes sedWhen I rip music, I do it twice.  Once in mp3 format for playback on an iPod and once in flac for playback on my local network via Roku Soundbridge players and the Firefly media server.  iTunes doesn’t support flac, so I can’t make iTunes playlists for those files.  I can, however, make them for the mp3 files which are named identically.  And with a little Linux program called “sed”, I can edit the iTunes library to make Firefly read it to work with the flac files. (continue reading…)

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