Rik's Ramblings

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Cingular Voice Prompts are a Safety Hazzard

Another thing that makes me sick of cingular;

Today I tried to make a call.

I was driving, I was wearing a bluetooth headset, my
phone has voice

So I press my voice dial button and say "Call ... Joe
Blow ... at

The next thing I hear is;
"Your balance is running low,
you have $4.20 remaining.

To recharge your account with
a pre-paid card press 1, to
recharge with a credit card
press 2. To skip this menu
press the # key".

I have a pre-paid account you see and when the balance
gets low they
very nicely remind you to buy some more minutes.
That's fine, but the
problems are:

a) I MUST make a choice from this menu.

b) i can't press # until it's told me all three

To me it would be logical that if I don't press any
buttons they
should just place the call. I have $4.20 remaining,
that's 42 minutes
of talk time on my plan if I call another Cingular
customer. It's a
simple deduction; I was trying to make a call, I
dialed a number, I
didn't do anything to indicate I don't want to make
the call
any longer, I have enough money to make the call.

Instead I have to lean over to the back seat of my
car, dig out the
phone from my backpack, find the # key while I'm
driving down the
freeway. Do you see that this kind of makes the
wireless headset and
voice dial somewhat irrelevant from a safety point of

And why do you FORCE me to listen to the stupid
message all the way
through. I know I have to press #. Tomorrow, when I
try make a call
and I have $3.90 balance left (ergo, 39 minutes talk
time to another
cingular subscriber), I will STILL know that I need to
press #, but
you will again force me to listen to the whole
message. You will
force me to listen to the message 4 times before you
drop my call
because I can't reach the phone to press the damned #

And this is why I consider Cingular Voice Prompts a
safety hazzard.

Friday, September 23, 2005

HiTi Dazzle S400 photo printer | Digital Camera Review

Hmmm, dye sublimation.


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Online Fruit Sharing Network

I've decided that I no longer wish to pay for fruit.

I did the math:
Fruit, such as apples, grow on trees in fields:
  • Cost of seeds - free (they drop off trees)

  • Cost of land - free (it's just sat there doing nothing, like it has been for billions of years)

  • Cost of trees - free (they grow in the ground)

So why the fuck am I being charged a dollar for every apple that I buy from Safeway?

For long enough now the big labels (Del Monte, Dole, etc.) have set artifically high prices for their content. It occured to me that they rake in dollar after dollar for apples and oranges, keeping most of the profits while the real content providers - the trees - are not sufficiently rewarded.

Why should I go to the store and buy fruit? I'm just going to sneak down to the farmer's field and pull free fruit it straight off the tree. I know where the trees are. Then, I'm going to set-up an online fruit sharing network to tell everyone else where the fruit is.

I'll call it FruTella. When I have some fruit I'll advertise it on my FruTella client and if anyone else wants the fruit they can get it off me for free. We'll show them money grabbing scum at the labels!

FruTella should be a huge success on college campuses, where the kids don't have enough money to pay for fruit. By using FruTella they'll have all the free fruit they can stomach and that'll free-up their money to buy more important stuff, like music and beer.

Of course, the centralized approach of my FruTella network has some drawbacks, but it'll do for the time being. I'm working on a new system actually, but keep it under your hat. I'm planning a protocol by which fruit can be diced into small chunks so if you want an apple, you can get a bit from me and a bit from somewhere else and still end up with the whole apple. Not a fruit cocktail, which wouldn't be good.

I will call my new protocol PipTorrent. With just a few PipTorrent seeds out there it will be much faster to distribute the illegally downloaded fruit.

Then when I've Set the music fruit free I will start on meat. Just you wait till you hear how my GmooTella protocol works.


Wet Ramblings of the Dive Boy: Why Passwords suck - Lesson 2

Wet Ramblings of the Dive Boy: Why Passwords suck - Lesson 2

Speaking of pronto remote controls and block sales ... which I wasn't ... At this weekend's block sale I had my old first gen Pronto out on the grass for sale. I was prepared to accept $20. Not ONE taker. A $400 remote for $20 and nobody even knew what it was. Even the shady arab who was buying up as much used computer equipment as he could lay is hands on didn't give it a second look.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Using Palm's LifeDrive Mobile Manager with iTunes

Download the PDF version of this page - where the images show-up correctly!

It is a manual set-up process, but it was only a few steps. Here are the instructions assuming that you have LifeDrive manager installed plus iTunes installed and set-up with some podcasts subscribed already.

1/ Find the folder where iTunes stores your podcasts.

In my case C:\Documents and Settings\rik\My Documents\My Music\iTunes\iTunes Music\

To find out for sure, run iTunes and go to the Edit menu. Select preferences, then select the Advanced tab.

If you go to that directory in explorer you should see a subdirectory called Podcasts

2/ Drag the Podcasts folder onto LifeDrive Manager

Open LifeDrive Manager. Ensure your LifeDrive is plugged into the PC and switched on.

Drag and drop the Podcasts folder show above on top of the LifeDrive Manager window. Drop the item directly onto the LifeDrive icon.

You should see the following

Click Keep Synchronized. The folder will be copied to your LifeDrive and you should then see a report:

3/ Folder settings

I’ve only just learned this step, but the following should ensure that if you delete a podcast episode from your device it will be deleted from the PC next time you synchronize your podcasts folder.

In LifeDrive Manager, right click the Podcasts folder and select properties

On the dialog that comes up select the Synchronize tab and choose the Delete files on your PC… option

If you don’t do this then you must manually delete the listened to podcasts both from your LifeDrive and from your PC. If you don’t delete them from the PC they keep getting re-copied back to the lifedrive. This is a big pain.

Again, not verified that this step is working, but I assume it does, a guy from Palm, Inc told me to do this and he wrote LifeDrive Manager.

4/ Run Synchronization

This is the step that you must do every day (or week depending on your podcast subscriptions and how often those files change!)

i) Sync your iTunes podcasts: Click the Update button in the top right

ii) Wait a while as Apple downloads the updated feeds

iii) Sync your LifeDrive contents: click the Sync All Now button in the top right

iv) Wait a while as the podcasts are transferred to the lifedrive.

5/ Go walk your dog

Now you have a LifeDrive full of fresh content you can go do something useful, like walk your dog, and listen to your content!

Podcasting, it’s the future of entertainment J

Also, there’s a site out there that goes through the process with iPodder. I must confess, I didn’t read the site, but did bookmark it.


Saturday, September 17, 2005

Live from the Block Sale

This weekend is the Neighbourhood block sale.

The streets around our 'hood have all their junk out in their front gardens - Sagar's included.

So far we've raised over $250 by selling our old stuff. Mainly Ben's toys, but I've managed to shift some old furniture and electronics stuff.

Surprisingly no takers for my '97 vintage 802.11 access point or 12" Dell monitor.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Why Passwords suck - Lesson 2

Can Spies Decipher Keyboard Clicks?

    Researchers 'eavesdrop' and transcribe, warning of security risks.

    Robert McMillan, IDG News Service
    Wednesday, September 14, 2005

    Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have found a way to turn the clicks and clacks of typing on a computer keyboard into a startlingly accurate transcript of what exactly is being typed.

    In a paper released last week, the researchers explained how they developed software that could analyze the sound of someone typing on a keyboard for just ten minutes and then piece together as much as 96 percent of what had been typed.

So, I'm thinking, I should get an IR keyboard, then type my password once, capture the IR with my pronto learning remote control and in future never type my password, just blast it to my PC with the handy remote that I will carry everywhere with me.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Gillette Introduces Five-Bladed Razor.

Gillette Chain Saw

Two blades, I was down with. I bought the line The first blade shaves you close, the second closer still.

Three blades, I was a little skeptical, if the second blade didn't catch it, it's probably not worth the bother to attempt a third pass.

But five, Five you've got be be kidding. What's next? Gillette Facial Chain Saw?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Reasons to build a MythTV box number 1000001

From PVRblog : TiVo 7.2 OS adds content protection, blocks transfers, and auto-deletes some shows


People getting all pissy with TiVo for implementing copy protection/broadcast flag/MacroVision/DRM. 

In reality the people should be getting pissy with the networks and Hollywood.  TiVo are only doing what they have to do to stay out of court and in business!

But still, a MythTV box is looking like the smart option.  As Leo Laporte said on Last weeks TWiT-cast, the content owners are forcing people to turn to piracy because their Fair Use rights are being encroached on.

I’ll go start a KnoppMyth CD burning.



You've Got Pictures - AOL, you're so f*&^ing offensive!

I got an email with pictures from someone on AOL. When i opened the email I tried to save the picture to my hard-disk and what it tried to do is download some executable to my PC.

Do AOL really think I'm going to trust them enough to open an arbitrary EXE file they send me.

Oh, I'm sure it's not got a virus in it or anything like that. That's not what I'm worried about. My past experience with AIM is that, regardless of what boxes I uncheck during install, I always get 3 or 4 AOL icons littering my desktop following install "Sign-up to AOL", "Launch AOL this" "Buy AOL that".

I clicked on a "Download photos" link for gods sake, give me a ZIP file, or show me a list of real HREFs that i can right-click on.

All I wanted to do was save the pix to my LifeDrive so Ben could look at at breakfast in the morning. Now I've had to print them out at work.

< /rant >

It's too early for this crap...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Save the IEE - IEE Members Sign Robert Holland's Petition.

To colleagues in the IEE, You will no doubt be aware that on the 21st September a vote will take place to create the proposed Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), which will replace both The IEE and IIE.

Vote NO! That's the position of the IEE Northern California Branch on the grounds that the matter has not been sufficiently discussed in council.

Why the link here? just for the benefit of Google page rank :)

Slashdot | How About a Nice Game of Global Thermonuclear War?

    Slashdot | How About a Nice Game of Global Thermonuclear War?: "According to the Washington Post, the Pentagon has a revised doctrine to be signed in the next few weeks would give the president the authority for a preemptive nuclear strike."

    Oh, I can't wait. You just know that the fuqwit in the white house would use it too. Afterall, what's he got to loose, his terms up in a couple of years.

Toys for the Boys - Robosapien Robot

Ben has started to compile a Santa List on the sagar.org Boys Toys page.

Needless to say, all his items are available for purchase online and links are provided to Amazon.com.

I've also started compiling a list of the gadgets that I want for the back bedroom project. Check-out the aptly named Back Bedroom category (no obligation!).

Monday, September 12, 2005

Postcard from New Orleans

I love this picture, it so sums up how much of a clue this guy has about reality.

Fiddling While Rome Burns

On the radio this morning the journalist kept referring to him as mr Bush. My understanding was that, as a mark of respect, he should be referred to as president Bush. Maybe it was a slip of the tongue on the part of the CBS reporter (7 times!), or maybe it was editorial.

Big Sur Camping Weekend

Had a fun weekend down in Pfeiffer Big Sur state park.

Took Lucky-dog with us for the first time in over a year. When we last took him camping he was a nightmare, but we had only had him a few weeks at the time. He was really good this time, hardly any barking, not much chasing of forest critters.

Best part obout this campsite is the big river that runs through it that has a nice deep pool you can swim/paddle/boat in. I expected the river to be pretty warm as it's had all summer to warm-up, but it was damn cold. Ben tried swiming in it once and that was enough for him, lucky contemplated a swim for about two seconds, but so dumb as to swim across the river. Infact there was only one person stupid enough in the family to dive in and swim across the 60degree river and that was me. Man it was brain-numbingly cold. Don't recall it being so cold last year when we were their.

Glad we had the dingy to play in.

Called in at Carmel on the way home, just to let Lucky have a run on the beach to tire himself out.

Blessed are the geeks, for they shall inherit the earth...

Every Silicon Valley tech giant has to have his jet. Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page have settled on a Boeing 767 as their personal jet, and it's currently down in Dallas getting interior work done

Friday, September 09, 2005

Cost of War

Cost of War: "The War in Iraq Costs"

They have an interesting running total on their page. So far it's cost the city of Santa Clara over $100 million. Hmmm, maybe that's why they can't afford to open the library on Sundays.

Mattel's Vidster is For Kids - Gizmodo

Mattel's Vidster is For Kids - Gizmodo: "Mattel’s Vidster is For Kids"

One for my Ben's shopping list for ChristmaHanaQuanza.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005



Damn, I want to work for this innovative PDA company next time around...
Mole Skin PDA

Pitty a mole has to be murdered for each 'device'.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

An open letter from Michael Moore to George W. Bush

Friday, September 2nd, 2005
Dear Mr. Bush:

Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted. Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Do you need help finding them? I once lost my car in a Sears parking lot. Man, was that a drag.

Also, any idea where all our national guard soldiers are? We could really use them right now for the type of thing they signed up to do like helping with national disasters. How come they weren't there to begin with? ...

Friday, September 02, 2005

Pillows at Philips

Curtains more like if you ask me!

Philips Pillow

Thursday, September 01, 2005

UncommonGoods: final touches

Kewl household accessories.