Assorted News 17 :)

Assorted News 17 🙂

In this edition:

Just a short one…

Generic News
Resting Kingswood
More Sticky Stuff.

Tips
Web Of Trust
TV Magic.

Trivia:
The Mechanic’s Dilemma.

Resting Kingswood.

Last week, the Kingswood started to generate another new sound – a squeaky scratchy sound when accelerating or decelerating whilst in gear; which usually means a universal joint is about to retire. Since their sudden retirement can cause some spectacular driving problems, such as a car trying to take up pole vaulting, I’ve taken it off the road for now. In it’s place I am using the metallic gold ’86 Bluebird which has had it’s own small set of issues, but is less likely to try to wrap me around a tree in the near future.

Other issues that also exist with the Kingswood are a tight wheel bearing and maybe a broken spring; so once I’m over the January income slump I’ll get all those issues sorted 🙂

More Sticky Stuff.

Wireless Internet Sticks, that is. I’ve now installed a few more in problem sites. One site near Armidale had no mobile coverage at all, but adding a $160 Dish antenna to the roof solved that problem and now she has three bars. It’s a weird one since it’s only 4 ks out of Armidale but in a valley, and for years Telstra has refused to fix the phone lines so they could get ordinary broadband.

I will be doing another similar installation hopefully later this week, about 20km NE of Armidale, so will let you know how that goes, along with one in a valley out near Old Armidale Road. The more people I can get off slow dialup and satellite, and onto wireless broadband the better! I am still offering trial sticks for people who want to try it out, with about three in the queue now and 5 still out on trial.

As a reminder, the pricing is $5 a month, $1.50 per 100MB (up to 1GB), or for heavy users $37.50 for 5GB. I can now get the sticks for $150.

The Web Of Trust.

This is a handy tip for any of you that do a fair amount of searching for information on the Internet. Quite often the sites that you find when searching turn out to be advertising pages and link farms – pages that don’t really have any useful content but instead exist merely to get the author money from Google for linking to sites that might have information of use. This can be quite frustrating.

Say for example you are thinking of buying a new ‘thing’ and want to find reviews about that thing on the Internet. You might google ‘thing review’ and get a few pages that have what you want, along with a heap of pages that don’t make any sense. Here’s where “Web Of Trust” comes in.

It’s basically an add-on which you can add to Firefox and whenever there’s a link shown on a webpage (such as a Google search result, etc) there is also a small coloured circle next to it which indicates how trustworthy and safe other visitors have deemed that page to be. Green is good, Orange is ‘meh’ and Red is “Danger Will Robinson.” Grey means they don’t know – so you can tell them if you want to.

It’s free to get from http://www.mywot.com/en/download/ff

And just in case you don’t have Firefox, you can get that too from http://www.getfirefox.com/

TV Magic

Last newsletter I commented on how useless this “Freeview” scheme was since it hasn’t resulted in the promised 15 channels – that is unless you count having three channels showing the same thing at once… However, on a happier note this week I’ll introduce you to something else.

For a long time it has been possible to buy a little gadget to plug into your laptop or desktop computer which turns it in to a nice TV set. Computer screens are much higher detail than standard TV sets, so by getting one of these gadgets you automatically have a nice High Definition TV.

One of the challenges with TV is being around at the right time to watch the shows you want to watch, and quite often if you miss the show then too bad, it’s not available online legally or otherwise. This then might entice you to try to tape stuff, but what a nightmare that can be too having to work out how to program the video machine. Very few people do that.

What it is now possible to do is to connect one of these small gadgets to your computer (typically starting from $70) and then use a program to view the week’s TV guide either by time or by program name, and simply click record next to each show you want, choosing only whether to record just the one or to record them each time they come up. You can then just forget about it and let the computer do it’s job for you.

The reason for bringing this up now is that I recently revisited a program I checked out years ago called GB-PVR. It’s a free program that works with most of these gadgets (even the cheapest ones I can find) and will do all this for you. It’s designed so you can operate all the features from recording, playing back, watching live TV, viewing the guide, listening to music and radio, all from the lounge chair. (Admittedly you might need to shell out around $50 for a compatible remote control if you don’t want to use the keyboard!) It’s free to download from http://www.gbpvr.com/

(Note that some people have WIndows Media Centre on their computers already which can do the same thing – but it’s not common.)

One of the biggest challenges for most people then is ‘how do I connect the computer to the TV’ and fortunately with most new flat screen TVs the connection is already right there waiting. (And if it’s not I can help you get it there one way or another.)

The Mechanic’s Dilemma

OK and now to end off with another bit of trivia. One question I can never quite answer is ‘how do you pick a mechanic’. Pretty much all mechanics are flat out. This means that approaching them often feels like an imposition – they have too much work so why would they want any more? This is especially true if you think it’s going to be a big job, and also begs the question how do you know they’ll do a good job if they’re always rushed. I guess I’m lucky in that I can do most of the basics myself, but when it comes to more significant problems like those above it’s a question I can’t decisively answer. Fortunately now that the Bluebird’s registered and most of it’s bugs from being idle for 8 years have been ironed out, I do have the luxury of time – that is I’m not relying on the one car 24/7.

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