dreamshark: (Default)
Leaving on our first road trip of the year TOMORROW (driving to Oregon!). The van is all cleaned out, the oil changed, the magic van seats reconfigured, and I'm well on the way to being packed. But I am inconsolable because I can't find my National Parks Passport Book! Last year I traversed South Dakota (twice!) and got stamps for everything from the Badlands to Devil's Tower. This time we're going through North Dakota for a change, and I won't be able to get my book stamped for the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  Waaahhh!  

What really makes me a poster child for First World Problems is the astonishing number of places that passport might have been, but wasn't. Is it in this box labeled Travel? This bag of Laura Ingalls Wilder souvenir booklets? This file drawer full of maps? This pile with the Roadside America books? This other pile on the little table by the stairs? One of the pockets of my bike luggage?  Maybe it's with that favorite scarf I haven't seen since Minicon. I did unpack after we came home from Minicon, didn't I?
dreamshark: (Default)
Thanks so much to [personal profile] quility and Terry (not on DW/LJ?) for their help with my degenerating phone charging cases. Terry kindly brought along an impressive box of soldering equipment to last Friday's game party and swapped the new battery from the defective case into the old case with the dead or dying battery. When I slipped my phone into the rehabilitated case the phone took a charge. Yay!  That's the first step.

The next question - would the case recharge when plugged into a USB cable? Early attempts were not successful - the light on the charging button just kept blinking red for hours. Having nothing else to lose, I got aggressive -- grinding my finger down on the charging button, bending the case in various ways. My hope was that I was somehow improving the connection between internal components.

Unlikely as it may seem, this seemed to work. After a brief interval of steady red light, the LED went back to blinking red. But the next morning it was green! Unexpectedly, the poor old case had started charging again. Still remains to be seen if it will take a charge a second time, but right now it is charging up my phone. Thanks, Terry!
dreamshark: (Default)
I have a broken iPhone charging case with a good battery in it, and an identical (but not broken) case with a worn out battery. I took both cases apart, hoping I could swap the practically new battery into the old case. Unfortunately, the battery doesn't just plug in: it needs two itsy-bitsy little wires to be soldered. It looks like something that would take about 5 minutes for someone who has a soldering iron handy and knows how to do it properly, but that's not me. Any volunteers?
dreamshark: (sharon tire)
Working on cleaning the attic (which I still think I'm going to renovate before the end of the year). Started by getting rid of my lifetime supply of vintage computers, which Thorin kindly hauled downstairs for me and stashed in the van. I then drove them over to FreeGeek Twin Cities, over in the industrial end of Seward Neighborhood. I strongly recommend this option if you have old electronics, cameras, cables, chargers, and even small appliances to get rid of. I think I gave them 6 computers, and put the 7th (an iMac with embedded CRT) out in the alley for the City of Minneapolis to take care of. FreeGeek charges $5 for CRTs, but the city takes them for free.

While I was over there I also made a purchase - a sturdy old Hitachi receiver/amplifier/tuner, which I connected to my computer to drive the speakers that have been hanging on my walls since the last old amp died. I think it sounds better than the mid-range powered computer speakers I was using.
Hitachi_amp
dreamshark: (sharon tire)
Even without the rest of the features, it really is a hell of a watch. It works fine right out of the box, but it is definitely worth taking the time to customize the available watch faces. Besides the time, widgets include date, calendar, moon phase, sunrise/sunset, weather, fitness summary, alarm, timer, stopwatch, battery life, world clock and stocks. You can also customize colors and in some cases the graphics. So I managed to spend at least 3 hours yesterday customizing the 10 watch faces currently available (you can switch between them fairly easily).

MOST USEFUL:  Modular, Simple, Utility.  With these 3 I have every "complexity" (a technical watch term) I am likely to want.
Modular Simple Utility

CUTEST. That has to be one of the animated faces. Mickey is not only cute, but usable. The Motion faces are visually impressive, giving you a choice of wobbling jellyfish, blooming flowers, or flapping butterflies, but thoroughly impractical. Not only are there no extra widgets available here, too many of the animations are basically white, making it hard to read the time (which often overlaps the animations). Mickey is pretty cool, though. In lieu of a second hand, he taps his foot once per second.
  Mickey AppleWatchMotion

MOST PERPLEXING. The Astronomy face is lovely, and you can play with it. But I'm not sure what the point of it is. The lower left corner shows an animation of the moon changing phases. It does not, however, show you what the current phase is. If you click on the icon in the lower right corner you get a top down view of current planetary positions in the solar system. This might be useful to some people, but not to very many. Oh, I see. Once you select the moon or planet view you can turn the watch stem to see the phases change or the planets move, with a popup telling you how many days you have progressed. Okay, that's pretty cool. But not something I'll need very often. The second face below is called "Solar" and is even weirder. It shows the sun's current position in the sky. Turning the stem moves the sun backwards towards dawn or forwards towards sunset, with a popup telling you how many hours you have moved. Oooookay. The 3rd one, "Chronograph" is so impossibly complex that I have yet to figure out what all the little dials are for. It kind of makes my head hurt just to look at it. I may just delete that one from the progression.
  Astronomy Solar Chronograph
dreamshark: (sharon tire)
AppleWatch AppleWatchMotion AppleWatchMickey
Reasons are complicated, involving Apple Pay and credit cards. Nobody needs an Apple Watch, and at this stage of the game it's really not much more than an expensive toy. But, oh what an intriguing and stylish toy it is. I've kind of wanted one for a while, but could not justify the $350 cost. But I have convinced myself that the astonishing new promo offer on my Discover card will easily pay for the watch with surprisingly little effort. We'll see how that goes.

If anyone was wondering, Apple has not lost its design edge. Opening the packaging (so often a tedious and frustrating part of modern life) was 10 minutes of pure pleasure. You slit the shrink wrap and lift the lid off the first elegant white cardboard box, and inside (like a Russian nesting doll) is an even more elegant white box made of heavy plastic. Inside that are various mysterious objects and oblong packages lightly sealed with little plastic protective strips stenciled with instructional icons that even I could understand. Those peel off easily, leaving small gleaming white and black and silver objects in various geometric forms. You pick up the watch and it turns itself on, silently pleading for an electric charge. The USB charging cable ends in a heavy white disk about the size of a quarter. When you bring the disk close to the similar-sized circle on the back of the watch they clamp together magnetically and the happy green charging symbol appears on the watch face. In just a few minutes the watch charges up enough to move on to the next step. Syncing watch with iPhone is no more complicated than scanning a QR code. It was the easiest electronic setup I have ever experienced.

I got the smaller watch with the Sport trim and a white sport band, which is made of a silky, rubbery material. The package came with 2 bands of different lengths. I suspect they think that the shorter band is for women and the longer one for men, but with my dinosaur bones I had to use the longer one. I see a slight miscalculation here. The long band fits me perfectly on the 3rd-to-last hole, so I'm happy. But surely there are burly men with much larger wrists than mine - I think this band would not fit all of them.

I've spent the last 2 days figuring out how this thing works. There are several levels of functionality, and some of them have a definite learning curve. But the first level takes no setup at all. If all you want is a smart watch, it's done. You don't even have to tap it to turn it on. Once it's on your wrist, it knows when you are looking at it and comes on by itself. The default watch face shows time, date, temperature, the next item on your calendar, and a couple of other items that weren't immediately obvious. One is the cryptic "Activity" icon that lets you access the built in step counter. The other is the World Clock - an odd choice, since by default it redundantly shows the local time. I think the idea is that you can customize it to show the time in one other locale. Having no need for that, I changed that widget to show battery life instead. So, okay, it wasn't a perfect display out of the box, but a perfectly usable one. I just made it a little better. There are a few other watch faces available, but none of the others display as much information, so I'll stick with this one. The one with the animated butterfly is cool, but it just shows the time. And the butterfly. Which gets old after a while.

There's a whole cluster of functionality that I can't explore because I don't know think I know anybody else who has an Apple Watch. If you DO have an Apple Watch and want to experiment with any of these odd features, let me know. 
dreamshark: (sharon tire)
I'm cleaning off shelves again. Just spent the day vacuuming the dust off of about 15 shelf-feet of old SF magazines (mostly 1960s-1980s, but some outliers from the 50's and some newer). About 3/4 of them are Analog SF, but there's a whole Cub box full of miscellaneous titles. Condition varies, but mostly in the Fair/Good/Very Good range.

If anybody would like some of these, please speak up. If there is interest I could bring them to a Minnstf meeting, but I'm not going to lug them around if nobody wants them.

Any suggestions where to donate them? 
dreamshark: (sharon tire)

Delivered 4 boxes and two bags of books to the Women's Prison Book Project (thanx to magenta for the tip). I estimate about 300 books, all in the non-fsf category. The huge tippy pile of books at the top of the stairs is gone and there are even 2 or 3 half empty shelves! Vast amounts of dust was vacuumed up, and at least 3 bookcases in this house now have no double stacked books.

Not only that, I found three books I have been trying to find for years! And two books belonging to other people, one of which I have returned.

I'm not sure why this was such exhausting work. I guess a lot of bending and reaching, getting up and getting down, and running up and down stairs looking for vacuum cleaner attachments and empty boxes.

Any way, a good weekend's work.

dreamshark: (sharon tire)
I have a box of books that don't fit anywhere and I certainly don't care to keep them, but Id rather not toss them in the garbage. Some are F&SF, but most are not. They range from random paperbacks to old dictionaries to 80's pop culture books to How to Repair a Refrigerator.

What should I do with them?
dreamshark: (sharon tire)
After we had to construct a makeshift bed in the attic for [livejournal.com profile] vgqn and [livejournal.com profile] magscanner when they honored us with a visit last month I've been thinking that it's time to give Amber's old room a makeover. It is now used primarily for sorting laundry, occasional sewing, reading or napping, and occasionally as a guest room. It's not functioning especially well for any of those uses.  It's a small room (10' x 12') with windows, doors and radiator in awkward places. But I have an idea how to rearrange it to make it more usable. This requires the dreaded Sorting and Winnowing activity. I've been working on it sporadically for several weeks and just last night got to the point where I could vacuum the closet floor. As anybody who has done this sort of thing before understands, this is a major turning point. Although the room is now a complete mess, I am nearly to the point where I can start restowing the stuff I've decided to keep. Yay!

So it's time to start getting rid of stuff that doesn't make the cut. I'm starting with this darling little Zen Garden that has been sitting sadly on top of Amber's radiator since she went off to college. I put on some New Age music and spent a happy hour raking and arranging it for pictures, so I can attest that it is rather soothing to play with. Wouldn't it make a lovely gift?

I've posted it on Freecycle, but if anybody on LJ would like it, you can have first dibs.
ZenGarden
dreamshark: (sharon tire)
Richard picked up coffee beans for me last week and came home with espresso beans. I just ground them as usual and used them in my regular little coffee-maker, and boy did that make some good coffee!! Just what are "espresso beans" anyway? Just a super dark roast?

Got lots of stuff done (possibly thanks to those espresso beans) but most of it so transient that I forgot it as soon as I deleted it from my to-do list. Things like cleaning the sink underneath the dishdrainer, vacuuming stairs, send the Doodlebug over the downstairs floors, balancing checkbook, etc. etc.

Got up early enough for a lovely bike ride around the lake before the weather got nasty. On the way to the bike shed I met the young mom and her adorable 5-year-old son that had just moved into the house across the alley. The little boy (Pete-O, if you ask him, "Peter" if you ask his mom) immediately volunteered to show me the secret mourning dove nest between 2 garages a little ways up the alley. So I invited them in to meet our turtles. It was really fun. When I came back from my bike ride Pete-O waved and called hello to me from his front steps. Nice.

Speaking of turtles, the new painted turtle is finally starting to relax. He's a little older than the ones I usually find, and the most timid painted turtle I've ever seen. Usually they lose their fear almost immediately upon discovering that humans deliver food, but "Tiny Tim" has been hiding at the bottom of the tank for the last week. Oddly enough, ever since I picked him up to show to Pete-O he's been coming out and looking around and finally climbing up on the basking station with Skippy. He still isn't eating much, but seems perfectly healthy so I think he'll be alright. We're going to turn the Tobias and Skippy back into the wild sometime soon, as they are outgrowing their tanks. I'll miss Skippy - he's so enthusiastic about everything.

After a week of no activity on my Recycle.org postings I started getting some responses - disposed of the old vacuum cleaner, another 2 bags of magazines, and a box of discarded purses and wallets. I finally gave up and junked the old electric typewriter. I hoped that a metal scavenger would find it in the alley, but it was still sitting there when the trash pickup came and they just picked it up and heaved it into the regular trash collection. *sigh*  Maybe I should have tried hard to recycle the metal.

It's finally nice out today, so Richard and I planned to hit a bike trail somewhere. It's windier than predicted, however, so we decided to head for Cannon Falls trail since it has fairly good tree cover. 
dreamshark: (sharon tire)
Since April 30, when I signed up for freecycle.org, I have gotten rid of 3 good-sized boxes of random electronic detritus, 2 boxes of magazines, a 15-year-old cell phone, a small bag of mixed inkjet cartridges, a box of computer game demo disks, and a 1998 version of Partition Magic (disk-management software).

However, I have discovered one thing that absolutely nobody will take: a 50-year-old, 50-pound, electric typewriter.

And I have to say that things aren't looking too good for the box of brand-new unused floppy disks.
dreamshark: (Default)
Somehow this took all day, but on the plus side, patches of office and attic are cleaner than they were before. I've actually had that sound system for 4 years, so it's a little hazy what I was using before it.  I hauled an old Sanyo stereo set out of the attic, since it had speaker connectors that matched the 2 unused speakers that were still hanging on the office wall (suggesting that I have used this setup before, eh?).  It took me a while to find a cable that could be used to connect my relatively new computer to the old Red/White CD ports on the back of the stereo, but I finally did.  The correct cable seems to be a Y-splitter with one of those long gold plugs on the computer end splitting out to 2 R/W cables.  I was a little surprised to discover that the single cable somehow manages to carry both stereo channels.  It sounds surprisingly good. 

So this will do for now. But if anybody has an old subwoofer with 5 speaker connections to get rid of, I might be interested.
dreamshark: (Default)
I had this speaker system I bought from a guy at work maybe 3 years ago - a big old subwoofer that sits under the desk and 5 little speakers scattered around the room. Last week the subwoofer went dead (possibly following a short power outage. Or maybe it just gave up the ghost on its own).  I turn it on, but nothing happens - no lights, no sound, nothing.

I didn't really need such a fancy system, but I do listen to music on the 'puter, so I'd like something better than the tinny little speakers that come with computers.  I used to just put an old stereo amp on my desk, plug the computer into the aux port (I think) and plug in a pair of old stereo speakers. But all my old amps have gotten crackly and been thrown out. 

1) Does anybody have an old stereo amplifier lying around that they want to get rid of?  I still have a pair of stereo speakers hanging on the wall, so that would be the easiest (and cheapest) fix.

2) What can I do with the 5 little 5.1 speakers?  Are they just normal speakers that can be plugged into anything?  Or do they need a replacement subwoofer system like the old ones?
dreamshark: (Default)
Is the built-in Photo app on the iPhone/iPad/iTouch as stupid as it seems, or am I doing something wrong?

All I'm trying to do is manage the photos on my device in the most primitive way. I'm not trying to retouch them, share them, or photoshop them. All I want to do is manage albums or folders, including photos taken with the iPhone and photos downloaded from my computer. Here's all I'm trying to do:

1) Rotate pictures that were taken with a camera held in a sideways position (pictures downloaded from my computer, not taken on the iPhone).
2) Reorder the pictures in an "album"
3) Delete pictures (other than the ones I took with the iPhone).
4) Create new folders or albums and move or copy pictures from one to another.


All the pictures I take with the iPhone camera go into a default album called Camera Roll. I can delete these, but cannot reorder them or move them into a different album.
Pictures downloaded from my computer are totally unmanageable. They cannot be deleted, moved, reordered or even rotated!

Am I missing something here? My last two phones, which weren't even considered smart phones, offered the ability to do all of the things I listed above.

If this is really all there is in the iPhone Photo app - is there an app that I can download that will let me do these things?
dreamshark: (Default)
My iPhone arrived, despite the fact that it was being delivered by UPS. The truck came by in the afternoon when Richard was not only awake but in the house, and the delivery guy actually found his way to the doorbell. But in the time-honored fashion of UPS drivers everywhere, he punched the doorbell once and then scooted for his truck without bothering to wait for anybody to answer. But he was foiled - Richard was only two rooms away and managed to make it to the door before the driver escaped. 

Like all Apple devices, the iPhone is a brick until it is connected to iTunes and registered. In this case, it continued to be a brick until I got a SIM card into it. This was a little scary, since it involved several kinds of phone surgery. It was my intention to remove my AT&T GoPhone SIM from my old Razr, trim it to micro-SIM size with the special cutter I had purchased from Amazon, and insert it into the iPhone. It took a strong pair of thumbs (Richard's) but we got the SIM out of the Razr. The cutter worked pretty well, although the edges needed a little trimming with a utility knife.

Here's where the Apple hate started. The damn iPhone came with instructions that conveyed practically zero information in multiple languages. There were absolutely no instructions on how to remove the SIM card: we had to look it up online. It's a user-serviceable part, so there is no excuse for this, IMHO. Anyway, once we located the itsy-bitsy little hole in the side and inserted the teeny-weeny little wire tool that was hidden in the iPhone packaging, the SIM tray popped right out. We popped in the cut-down SIM and I tried again to sync with iTunes. This time it worked. 

I then followed the welcome wizard, updated my firmware to 4.3.3, and told it to "restore" my new iPhone from my stored iPod data. It churned away for a really long time, restoring all my apps. I used the newish App Manager screen in iTunes to rearrange the app screens, create sub-folders and delete the dopey game demos I didn't really want . It all looked great, and I was breathing a sigh of relief at how easy that was *Love Love*.  Until I tried to use one of the apps and discovered that NONE OF MY DATA WAS THERE!!  Even the built-in apps like Contacts, Notes and Calendar were completely empty! 

HATE HATE HATE.  I know that all that data is on my computer in a huge directory of cryptically named files - why can't I restore from it?  Did I miss some sync setting in iTunes?

I started looking around online and discovered that no, this is just the way Apple does things. WTF???  When I replaced an old Palm Pilot all I had to do was sync it with the Palm Desktop and all my data was there. Why on earth wouldn't Apple provide that same service?  Apparently I will have to restore the database for each application individually using a different technique for each one.  I was able to restore my Contacts by passing them through the Windows Address Book.  My favorite app, Daily Tracker, provides a way to backup and restore data through Google Docs. Same with Awesome Notes. HanDbase lets me email all my databases to myself and then fetch them back to the iPhone through the Apple email tool. I had to sign up on a proprietary website to sync the data in my diet logging program. I still don't know how to get my Notes files back (although I mostly use that app for quick notes that have little value over time). 

On the plus side - the phone is now working perfectly on my existing prepaid AT&T GoPhone account. I was not at all confident that this would work. 
dreamshark: (Default)
I said all along that I'd get an iPhone when I could use it with a prepaid phone plan. Well, looks like they've called my bluff. You can now buy factory unlocked iPhones on Amazon. Still hella expensive - in fact it takes just about a year to come out even with the AT&T contract plan. But with the unlocked phone you have flexibility. Once I realized that I was going to do it sometime this year, it seemed like the obvious time to do it was before my trip to Europe. With a prepaid GSM phone, you can pop in the appropriate SIM in whatever country you're in and take advantage of any number of prepaid phone plans. I'm leaning towards O2.

It also seems like a good time to finally converge all my devices into one: phone, PDA, music player and camera. I'm currently carrying 4 different devices for those 4 functions. All the devices are small, but every one has a separate charger, making for a packing hassle and a lot of chargers to keep track of in a hotel room.

Still, it's a lot of money, and a lot of eggs to put in one basket (esp. given my history of losing cell phones!). Dither dither dither. I kept packing and unpacking my shopping cart, fiddling around with this or that cheap accessory, trying to figure out where the shipping costs were coming from, etc. Finally I hit the wrong button and submitted the order. Oops. Oh well, that was what I intended to do eventually. *gulp* What have I done???
dreamshark: (Default)
... was my new computer monitor. The Viewsonic lasted 4 years, despite a loose connection somewhere inside that required periodic whacks on the back to get all the pixels firing. But it finally reached the point where I had to whack it every couple of minutes, and even that didn't work every time. So I ordered a nice new Samsung from Amazon. It got great user reviews, so I was hoping for best.

THE LOW POINT
Oh. My. God. I have never in my LIFE had so much trouble installing a monitor! Usually you just plug it in, connect the RGB cable and maybe fiddle with the buttons on the front to center the picture perfectly. This one took over two hours of constant frustration. It came right on when I connected it, but it looked like crap. The picture was washed out and text was almost too blurry to read. The setup instructions were useless and the menu buttons unusually difficult to use. Worst of all, the menu was full of grayed out items, stupid cutesy entries with "Magic" in the title, and Auto settings at multiple menu levels with little indication what they would do. The install disk supposedly had the driver on it, but gave errors when I tried to install the driver. If the promised user manual was on the disk I couldn't find it. I downloaded the driver from the Samsung site, installed, rebooted. No improvement.

I downloaded a little desktop widget called "Magic Tune Premium." (Are you tired of the "Magic" terminology yet? You will be.) Magic Tune does the same thing as the buttons on the monitor, but is way easier to use. The main thing I have set on monitors in the past is Brightness, but that setting was "not available." Instead, I had to make a choice from a menu labeled "Magic Angle" with settings like "Lean Back Mode 1" and "Standing Mode." I went with Standing Mode - just about the brightness and contrast level I like.

But the fuzzy text was intolerable. I tried setting after setting with no improvement. There's an Auto button on the monitor, but all it did was center the picture (something that could not be done using the position controls!) Finally, hidden on a tab called "Option," I found something called MagicWizard. Bingo! I launched that and the screen went crazy for a while - shrinking and expanding, going black and popping back on, and when it was done the picture was PERFECT. So... why didn't the Auto button on the monitor just do that in the first place??!!

THE HIGH POINT
Wow! The picture is perfect! I liked my old Viewsonic, but this is slightly better. Text is the sharpest I have ever seen on a monitor, and my photos look wonderful. I just want to sit and look at the screen.
dreamshark: (Default)
Sometimes life becomes focused on simply trying to understand all the stuff we own. I seem to be in the midst of one of those times.

The coffee pot has finally recovered from the trauma of being cleaned and is now behaving normally again. It has given up trying to be an espresso pot and is back to brewing about a cup of coffee for every cup of water I pour into it.

The toaster was really and truly toast, but has now been replaced with a much more glamorous toaster that is a great improvement. I like the fact that despite having odd and glitzy features like "bagel mode," this toaster does NOT try to use exotic sensors to determine when the toast is done. I've had toasters that attempted to do that before, and have never seen it work well. This one has the old fashioned Light->Dark slider. Its best feature is pair of wire grabbers that fold out and stabilize the bread inside the oversized slots so the don't tip over and get wedged into the sidewalls. Perfectly simple 19th-century technology, but I've never had a toaster that did this before. Sweet.

The new Michelin tires do seem to work better than either of the old brands. Knowing what I do now, I wish I had not bought a car that required low-profile tires. But now that I know that all of the many shortcomings of this type of tire are supposedly worth it for the better handling - I guess it DOES corner well.

___________________
And then there's the Home Theater. Oh my. I now understand why people will pay to have someone else set this stuff up for them, even if all the components are the same brand and intended to work together. If your Home Theater is like mine, and has simply evolved unplanned out of the necessity to replace the old TV set - the possible interactions among the components will probably never be fully understood by anybody. Over the past 2 or 3 years I have acquired a Panasonic Plasma TV, a Phillips DVD/VCR combo and a Playstation3 (slim). This was all just a collection of mismatched electronics until the last purchase (Sony CT150-Soundbar), which accidentally turned it into a Home Theater. Among the 4 devices I now have the following sets of sub-components from which to choose: 2 tuners, 1 VCR player/recorder, 2 DVD players (one of which also plays BluRay), 1 DVD recorder, 2 sets of speakers, a gaming system, a music player, and an Internet connection that offers several options for streaming video. There are 5 unique remote controllers associated with all of this. Although there is some overlap in functionality among the controllers, it usually requires a minimum of two of them to do anything.

Adding to the excitement is this cool new protocol that runs over HDMI cables and lets the components of the system talk among themselves. Setting this up is unbelievably complicated because: 1) Every device needs to be set up individually to interact with every other device. 2) Setup can only be done using the remote control that came with the device to traverse wildly different and always confusing menu systems, 3) Each manufacturer uses a different terminology, 4) The user manuals are universally terrible, at least once you get past the default setup. Typically these manuals spend 3 pages telling you how to determine if you have correctly plugged the power cord into the receptacle and then skip blithely past questions like "What's the difference between LPCM audio output and bitstream?" and "What the heck is ARC? And does my TV have it?"

After several days of fiddling around with various settings, I have got it to the point where DVDs, streaming Netflix, PS3 games and broadcast TV can be played through the booming new speaker system without doing anything to the TV settings except turning on the TV. For the first week you had to manually change the "Viera Link" setting from "TV" to "Home Theater" every time you powered up, but I finally stumbled on the setting in the TV setup menu where I could change the default. So now through the magic of Viera Link (or, as Sony likes to call it, "Bravia") when I turn on the TV, the CT150 sound system automatically powers up too!

However, annoyingly, it comes up seemingly at random in any of 3 input modes: BD, DVD or TV. If you're planning to watch a DVD, BluRay or streaming video you want it in "BD" mode. If you're planning to watch broadcast TV, you want it in "DVD" mode. You don't ever want it in TV mode, because you won't get any sound through the speakers (because as it turns out, my TV does NOT have ARC). Sometimes you do have to change the input setting, but I would like it to either figure out from the state of the other components what I'm actually trying to do or, failing that, come up in a reliable default mode every time.

Then there's the VCR component, which is hopelessly 20th-century and can only be used with the crappy built-in TV speakers. At least so far. I have an idea that may solve that problem, assuming that the extra little black cable that came with the CT150 is the "optical audio cable" referred to obliquely in the TV user manual.
dreamshark: (Default)
You would probably assume that is sarcasm, and mostly it is. But there is a small part of me that wanted a chance to test my expensive new Michelin tires on snow before I forgot what the old ones felt like. Yay!  They DO have better traction than either of the crappy brands I had before.  Noticeably better, especially compared to the Kumho Ecstas (hands down the worst tire I have ever owned. And I bought them TWICE because I just wasn't paying attention and it was all they had at the Goodyear place. Boo, Goodyear.)

Okay, Mother Nature, that's enough now.  Can we get back to "spring," please?
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