Archive for the ‘ stuff ’ Category

Cool Instructables find

Saw TheKingOfRandom’s video on making an emergency generator on Neat stuff! I’ll be adding his YouTube channel to my links.

Happy weekend!



Beat-up by Beats

Warning: long rant ahead.

A little background: Tommy, my oldest son, wanted “Beats HD” headphones for his Birthday back in October. We being the nice parents decided to get them. My first mistake was getting them at WalMart instead of my usual B&M choice of BestBuy for that type of thing. I would have ordered them online, but I put it off too long.

The “Beats HD”s are the over-the-ear type, and one step down from the most expensive models at only $200. I purchased the extended service plan for $9 since they were certainly going to see some abuse.

After about 5 weeks, one of the drivers went out. We took them back to Walmart, and read the return terms posted on the wall behind the customer service counter and found that we could just exchange them since it was within the specified time frame (60 or 90 days, can’t remember). He decided that he wanted to go with the in-ear model instead, and got the “iBeats”, which were half the price ($100) – fine, whatever.

Shortly into owning the “iBeats”, the newest model came out – the “urbeats”. Not sure what the difference is aside from the fact that they are no longer made by Monster apparently. Back we go with receipts in hand and are able to do another exchange, along with a service plan. This time we were told by the customer service person at the big W, that since we’d already done one exchange, and had the exchange receipt with us, not the original, we’d need to find the original if we needed to exchange them again. This didn’t worry me since I’d purchased the 2 year service plans from the start.

A few weeks into owning the “urbeats”, the wire going from the mic/volume pod to the right headphone popped out. Back we go. This time, the big yellow smiley face wasn’t smiling upon us. The customer service person explained to use that there was only a 15-day exchange period (while standing in front of the giant sign that contradicted what she was saying). I also explained that I had the service plan, to which she replied that that doesn’t start until the manufacturer’s warranty stops, which made no sense whatsoever. The little folder you get with the service plan boldly and brightly says “Coverage from Day 1”.
From the website:

I registered the latest ear buds and will have to file a claim of some sort, we’ll see how that works out. I’m sure that will be the subject for a future post.

To summarize:

  • Don’t buy anything from WalMart that you would normally get from BestBuy or Amazon (still can’t remember why I went there)
  • Beats headphones (and probably probably most other “Celebrity” headphones), in my opinion, are over-priced, over-hyped pieces of electronic poo. I know most of the Beats were made by Monster, so you end up paying probably an 80% mark-up for lower-end Monsters. I know it’s hard to talk a kid out of what’s cool, but if they really are into it for the sound quality, they could do so much better for the money. I have a pair of in-ear Altecs with cloth-covered cords that are still going strong after about 4 years of daily use, and they sound better (to me) that the in-ear Beats that we’ve had in the house. For over-the-ear, you can drop a pretty penny, but for my budget, my Skull Candy Hesh models sound better than the Beats HDs did.
  • If I see another device with “Audio by Beats” listed as a selling point, I’m going to go find a dolphin and punch it in the face.
  • Well played Dr. Dre, well played.

Beats suck.


Weekend projects

Thanks to the extra-long weekend, I was able to get several projects completed, and/or started.

  • Replaced a toilet flush valve
  • Cleaned off my “workbench”
  • Repaired a guitar amp for a neighbor (bad solder joint on the treble pot)
  • Converted an unused PC power supply to a bench supply with +/-12 and +5 volt (pics below)
  • Made a really good pot of turkey and sausage white chili 🙂

Here’s a few pics of my “new” lab bench power supply:


That blue LED (from the same PC as the PSU) is really bright, might need to put a bigger resistor on it

The blue LED indicates AC/mains status, and the red one indicates front panel voltage power, controlled by the small toggle switch

Nice wiring job (by my standards anyway)

Main power switch

Here’s some references I used to do the conversion:
JumperOne’s tutorial (excellent video as well)
More technical description from Murray State

Next on the list: taking my old home-brew 0-18v variable supply and putting it a new case, roughly the same size as the new one, and adding a digital voltage display.
Happy geeking!


MacBook Pictures

Here, as promised, are some pics showing the condition of the MacBook I am selling.








MacBook for sale

In order to make room for an iMac, I’m selling my 13″ MacBook (white).

Click here for the original specs

Here’s the specifics:

  • RAM upgraded to 4GB
  • HDD upgraded to 350GB/7200 rpm
  • Includes InCase neoprene zippered sleeve
  • Includes MiniDVI-to-VGA adapter
  • All original packaging and media
  • Retail copy of Snow Leopard
  • Was just serviced by Apple to replace the keyboard, screen bezel, and keyboard tray (under warranty)
  • Still has original battery which still holds strong charge
  • It does have some light scuffs on the outer surfaces from normal use, which has always primarily been my home laptop, so not a lot of travel wear

I haven’t installed Lion yet, so that’s up to you. It’s never had any issues, and it’s been a great computer. I will completely wipe the drive and reinstall SnowLeopard back to factory-fresh.

I’m asking $600, and I will cover shipping and insurance (unless you’re local). If you think that’s too high, tell me why and make an offer 🙂

Pictures coming soon.

Update: I have not been able to locate the original media (Leopard), and, I forgot to add that the AC adapter is included.

Crack the Gathering™

I just discovered Magic 2013 for the iPad. It’s one of the best MTG dueling games I’ve seen since I stopped playing the real version and sold all my cards 10 years ago. I’m trying to decide whether my productivity can handle the full version. Anyone want to duel?

Cheap cymbals are cheap

So I got a drum kit. I had a very specific budget, did a ton of research, watched video reviews, etc. I chose the kit due to the excellent reviews, the smaller size (good for jazz), and of course because it looked cool.
The kit I chose, the Sonor Safari, is what’s called a “shell kit”. That means the price you pay only includes the four drums, and you have to shell out more money to get all the other parts. This include buying cymbals.
Now, being a musician and having worked in a music store (r.i.p. String Shoppe) I’ve learned that pretty much any musical instrument, no matter how cheap, usually has some redeeming quality that a little work and effort can bring out.
Cymbal “starter packs” are the exception to this rule. There’s nothing you can do for a crappy-sounding cymbal: you can’t rebuild it, you can’t set it up properly. I knew going in that I was going to have to cut corners on my cymbals.
When I was making my purchase at the Home Depot of music stores, the guy working in the drum department suggested a cymbal set from Meinl. The only time I’ve ever seen Meinl cymbals was on Lamb of God’s drummer Chris Adler’s kit. My sales guy, who was very cool and helpful, said they’d sound better than the Zildjian set I was originally looking at. Since I’ve been out of the music scene for so long and really had no idea, I decided to take his word on it.
I could have assembled a better sounding set of cymbals from my kitchen and garage. To my ears, these things sounded like random round pieces of metal. The 10″ splash actually sounded like a pie tin.
The next day I boxed them up and took them back to the store to exchange them. I grabbed the original Zildjian set I wanted and actually took them out and tried them, they actually sounded like cymbals! I even played the pie tin next to the Zildjian splash, which sounds like a splash, and the guy actually said “you think that sounds better?!”.
The lesson learned here is that even if you’re buying a cheap cymbal package that costs as much as one “good” cymbal, make sure you play them before shelling out the cash.
Now to figure out how to tune these drums…

It’s a bit blurry, but here’s the happy new cymbals:


Update: I think I’m going to write a WordPress plugin that automatically replaces the word “actually” with a synonym.

Note to self: look up synonyms for “actually”