Archive for June, 2008

AlfaClock

 | June 30, 2008 9:26 PM

I always wanted to see more than just the time in the taskbar. With AlfaClock you can see the whole date or whatever you like and when you click on it you see a calendar with the month.

AlfaClock

It’s configuration menu is a little bit on the nerdy side and not completely user friendly but otherwise I recommend this free tool.

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iCallI was enticed to try out iCall because it is coming out with an application for making free VoIP phone calls using your iPhone. However I could not even configure the iCall client, it was so buggy. I could not uninstall the program fast enough. I will stick with Skype Pro.

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Solid RoamI always forget how to do this and customer service said it is not documented anywhere on Verizon’s site though I did find a page about it, How to… Roaming Indicator.

If you dial *228 from your Verizon cell phone and then press 2 it will update your cell phone’s preferred roaming list. They recommend doing this every one to two months.

After my move I was getting terrible reception but after dialing *228, 2 the reception is better.

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Monitoring that electrical bill

 | June 26, 2008 10:29 AM

I have kind of always wanted to do what was done in this article, Computer stuff and power requirements ,i.e. buy something like a Kill A Watt and measure my household electrical usage.

This is my last electrical bill which came out to over $40. As you can see Pacific Gas and Electric’s rates go up the more electricity you use.

Baseline Usage 242.00000 kWh @ $0.11559
101-130% of Baseline 72.60000 kWh@ $0.13142
131-200% of Baseline 14.40000 kWh @ $0.22580

Some numbers to think about. A router uses 8 watts or 0.008 kW and it is always on. Since there are approximately 720 hours in a month, therefore a router uses approximately 6 kWh. That would cost $1.35, obviously not breaking the bank.

An LCD monitor uses typically 30 watts for about 12 hours a day. That is approximately 10 kWh. That would cost about $2.26 per month.

I think the laptops use less power as this article, How Much Power Does My Laptop Really Use?, seems to imply. But if we assume that is it the same as the monitor then that works out to about $2 for each. I usually have two laptops on at the same time, one personal, one for work.

I think I can estimate that my computer usage is costing in total about $10 per month or 25% of my electrical bill.

I am starting to wonder if maybe the fridge is using up another 25% or $10 per month. Here is an article about Refrigerator Power Consumption. The author claims that by replacing the old fridge with a more energy efficient new fridge that the fridge will pay itself off in energy savings in eight years. Of course the author is not counting the environmental cost of filling up a land fill with another perfectly usable refrigerator.

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Where is a mailbox?

 | June 24, 2008 12:50 PM

mailboxI have been wondering for awhile where the nearest mailbox is. I don’t know why I didn’t try before but I just did a Google search for “locate mailboxes” and found this wonderful site, Mailbox Map – A google mashup to locate blue USPS mailboxes, Post Offices and UPS Stores. Now I just put in my address and I know where all the nearest mailboxes are. :-)

For your amusement here’s a picture of an R2D2 USPS mailbox.

R2DS USPS mailbox

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Freecycle

 | June 23, 2008 12:59 PM

The Freecycle Network

I have been freecycling for about 6 months. My reasons for doing it are:

  1. cut down on consumption
  2. be greener by using items that other people do not want
  3. save money

After six months these are the things I have received from freecycle users.

  • two welcome mats
  • various toys including Toy Story, Leapfrog Learn-Along Lily, etc.
  • VHS player (doesn’t record)
  • 2 indoor ceiling light fixtures (not installed yet)
  • 1 jogging stroller
  • 2 strollers
  • desktop computer
  • computer speakers, keyboard
  • Linksys wireless router (replaced my flaky one)
  • glass patio table
  • IKEA $25 off coupon
  • 19″ CRT monitor
  • 12 Christian framed landscape photos with Bible verses (not hung up yet)
  • disposable diapers
  • Melissa and Doug table top easel
  • electric lawnmower
  • plastic turtle sandbox
  • cloth napkins and kitchen towels
  • super soaker guns

These are the things I have given away to freecycle users.

  • multimeter, needed new batteries
  • Linksys wireless router, flaky
  • valances
  • moving boxes
  • various toys
  • 1 jogging stroller (got on freecycle)
  • 1 stroller (got on freecycle)
  • Consumer Reports 2008 buying guide
  • wrist watch, broken strap
  • broken halogen desk lamp

After six months of freecycling here are my conclusions.

  1. I have received a few items of value (glass patio table, electric lawnmower, PC, strollers, disposable diapers) but nothing of necessity.
  2. I appreciate being able to give away things that would have ended up in the trash.
  3. I think I am going to stop acquiring things via freecycle. :-)
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Boston Sports Scene

 | June 21, 2008 6:29 AM

In the past seven years Boston has witnessed six victory parades.

  1. February 2002 – New England Patriots
  2. February 2004 – New England Patriots
  3. October 2004 – Boston Red Sox
  4. February 2005 – New England Patriots
  5. October 2007 – Boston Red Sox
  6. June 2008 – Boston Celtics

As my friend Alan says, this is the “golden age of sports” for Boston.

Having lived in Boston for almost twenty years and being a sports fan I feel like I have gotten a pretty good read of the Boston sports scene. And honestly, though I am happy for the fans I would say that in general the Boston sports scene is a bit too “fantastic”.

Boston sports fan take their sports incredibly seriously.

Benefits:

  • raucous, sometimes entertaining sports radio
  • excellent local sports journalism
  • loud and enthusiastic sports crowds

Handicaps

  • fans are rarely satisfied
  • emotions run incredibly high
  • demands create an almost poisonous atmosphere

I have seen all the major sports teams in Boston and I think the Red Sox fans are the worst  I remember being shocked at my first game at Fenway Park with how fans acted. They were literally angry if the Red Sox were losing. I must admit I have not gone since their 2004 championship, maybe they have lightened up.

In contrast here in Silicon Valley, California people enjoy their sports but they don’t really care.  The sports scene really is the opposite of Boston’s but I prefer it.  I think it’s healthier, sports is just a game.  Unfortunately sports radio here is so boring. :-)

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From the New York Times, Comparing Gas Prices on the Road.

GasBuddy.com has been a handy site for finding the cheapest gasoline prices, but more than likely you’ll need the information while on the road, not at your desk. It has instructions for getting current prices with its mobile Web site (GasBuddyToGo.com) or by text message at www.gasbuddy.com/GB_Mobile_Instructions.aspx.

Another reason to get the iPhone. :-)

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Cito GastonThe Blue Jays fired John Gibbons, who will probably be best remembered for challenging Shea Hillenbrand to a fight and then getting into a shoving match with Ted Lilly, and hired Cito Gaston.

Gaston is the manager responsible for four of the five AL East championships in team history, as well as its two AL pennants and World Series wins.
Toronto Blue Jays Fire John Gibbons: Is J.P. Ricciardi Still in One Piece?

I think John Gibbons is a bad manager simply because I don’t like managers that are so confrontational with their players. I prefer the “player’s manager.” Cito Gaston is more of a player’s manager but I don’t think he’s a great manager either. He makes curious strategic decisions (hitting Joe Carter third, benching John Olerud against lefties when he was batting over .300 against them, etc.), is not good with rookies and has also had confrontations with players (e.g. David Wells, Derek Bell, etc.) I think this hiring is more about nostalgia and not about reality.

In the Toronto Star there was an interesting article saying Surely Ricciardi will be the next to go. I have been saying for quite awhile that Ricciardi is a horrible GM and that he is the reason for the Blue Jays’ problems, not Gibbons.

  1. Ricciardi is arrogant. He demeans his own players and now he demeans players from other teams such as his recent remarks about Adam Dunn. The Toronto Star article states that MLB players no longer want to come to Toronto because of Ricciardi.
  2. His draft record is terrible. The Jays have one of the weakest farm systems and have had almost no prospects succeed at the major league level. Compare that to their contenders the Rays, the Red Sox, and the Yankees, all who have been developing quality players.
  3. The payroll is no longer an excuse. The Blue Jays payroll is in the top 15, maybe even the top 10. It’s competitive now but spending a large percentage of it on questionable contracts like Vernon Well’s and A.J. Burnett’s has made the Blue Jays uncompetitive.

You know whom the Blue Jays should hire from their past? Pat Gillick! The man uses an old school approach and sometimes I did not agree with it but his record is amazing. Every franchise he has managed has won, the Blue Jays, the Orioles, the Mariners, the Phillies.

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Best Buy Final Resolution

 | June 20, 2008 4:54 PM

In my Never Again Best Buy post I wrote about how I felt I had been wronged by Best Buy.  Best Buy’s response was not surprisingly dismissive.  So I took the matter to the Better Business Bureau.  I am grateful for the Better Business Bureau (BBB) because without it consumers would have very little power.  In this case though Best Buy did not relent they at least sent me a $50 gift card which I think they did because the BBB was involved.

I am still committed to never shopping at Best Buy again, just after I use up my $50 gift card. :-)

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