Monday, February 28, 2011

Cancelled directv

Pulled the satellite and serial cables so DTV couldn't send anyone down the line. Then called up and Precious walked me through the process with little fanfare. She did try to do the Retention Schtick: $50/mo instead of my current $72-something.

Nope. I did note, while I was online, that my service hasn't changed but the cost went up 12.5% (from $64 to $72) in the last 12mons alone. Nice.

To keep the DTivo from recording blankness and confusing the Now Playing screen, I cleared all the Wishlist and Season Pass entries. Turned off Suggestions and it clobbered all recorded Suggestions. Note to onlookers: if you want to keep your Suggestions, don't turn them off until you are done with them. No big loss, but interesting.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

directv out, netflix back in

DirecTV is $75/mo, so they go BYE-BYE after this weekend. It was a pleasant coincidence that one of the premium channels is having a free preview* this weekend. So I added those channels and kept the dual-tuner DirecTivo humming snagging movies. Tomorrow I'll disconnect the dish and quasi-landline** and call up to cancel.

We had Netflix before but wasn't using it much so we cancelled a few years back. They kept begging us to come back (free month), so I eyeballed how to stream 'flix to the Wii. Worked fine, as you can see in the inset pic.***

We were happy with the setup, so re-subbed with the the streaming+1dvd plan ($9.99/mo). Our approach is:

1. to pull down streaming content
2. check RPL for DVDs
3. use the Netflix mailed DVDs to fill in gaps from #1 and #2.

Bottom line: $65/mo savings over our current situation, with access to things like Mad Men on DVD.****

The mythbox is still cranking away recording broadcast tv. I set up His, Hers, and Both recording groups so we easily see what it's recorded for what audience.

Edited to add: we basically stopped going to the movies a few years ago. People are idiots in public. I have no desire to pay $20 to listen to cellphones ring and the unsocialized yell at each other. So we pop our own popcorn and watch movies on the wall. The projector was about $500 used off eBay 8 yrs ago and the bulb is still holding out. Does double duty for xbox/wii action. Awwww yeahhhhhh buddeeeeeeee...

* we don't have any pay channels, just basic stuff + locals.

** No landline, but I'm running the DirecTivo daily call through the mythtv box via serial cable. Werd.

*** LCD projector shooting on the wall. Didn't even move stuff out of the way because it was a test run. Still daylight outside, and windows open. The image as you see it is about 8' X 6'. Shot was from a season three ep of Drawn Together. Drawn is like South Park, only funny. If you have a high tolerance for offensive humor you'd probably like Archer. And why isn't Aisha Tyler a superstar? She's 12 kinds of awesome.

**** this makes the Dear Wife very happy

Thursday, February 24, 2011

soft shoe

Sorry for the long time away. Been handling stuff on the home front.

After months of "no thanks" letters (and a kerbillion applications that went into the Great Beyond with no response at all) I have four job interviews within a 7-day period.

I don't know if this a fluke or businesses forecasting an increase in demand. Either way, I'll take the interviews. If nothing else it's an opportunity to put on the song-and-dance in front of an employer. Gotta be grateful for small things.

None of these jobs are in education (in any normal sense); even before the recent ISD Budget Apocalypse the writing was on the wall for me. The planned massive layoffs made me face the fact there is almost zero chance for an new alt-cert social studies teacher to gain a foothold. Could I still get a teaching position? Yeah. And I might win the lottery, and monkeys might fly out my butt. It's time to plan for a future outside the classroom.

In the Real World my family has to eat and we have to pay to live somewhere. I have been applying to positions all along, but I took each of the ISD snow days and spent 8hrs/day applying to non-teaching positions. Thus the non-teaching interviews.

Life goes on.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

2nd impression, LG 509 Optimus T

The bluetooth is incredibly solid. If I leave the phone centrally located I can listen to BT audio all across my house. Strongest BT I've experienced.

VNC Server works great on android. :-) The blurred widget is Pure Calendar. Cheap, and interfaces nicely with the free Dato GTasks app.

Battery life is vastly improved by underclocking with SetCPU. Performance unaffected. The phone spends about 85% of ticks at 122mHz, and 10% at (max) 600mHz. Before at the 12hr mark the phone would be about 60%; now it's 90%.

Lurv. This is a great platform on great hardware.

Friday, February 11, 2011

First impressions: LG 509 (Optimus T)

As I mentioned before, my G1 is getting very stressed out with all I'm asking it to do. Not angry birds or anything like that, just some practical multitasking.

The Optimus reports 205MB completely free RAM and another 95MB accessible if needed (non-critical app memory). This is huge, huge, HUGE for me. No stuttering, no hangs, just multitasking goodness. I am a happy boy.

Although I do not really care about cosmetics, it is definitely a better-looking handset than the G1.

Better battery life so far, although this may just be my imagination.
{Update: not my imagination. Optimus lost less than 10% overnight; the G1 lost 25-40% in the same time period.}

Will post more as my familiarity increases.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

More thoughts on Diamondcard SIP/VOIP, and phone service in general

I logged in to check my balance on Diamondcard today. Haven't looked at it in a while since I've been using Google Voice for my VOIP needs, since that solution is (currently) free rather than 1.6 cents/minute. So my balance sits on Diamondcard awaiting the moment Google pulls the free rug out from under us.

I was wandering through the Diamondcard site and re-read something I had seen before:

Diamondcard contributes, promotes and supports the following open source projects: Ekiga, Twinkle, Asterisk, FreeSWITCH, OpenSIPS, WikiPBX, Podwiki, FreeRADIUS, Linux, FreeBSD, Apache, Perl, Python, GNU arch. Our entire platform is built using these great tools.

Diamondcard funds Twinkle and Ekiga projects. The more calls you make with Ekiga and Twinkle softphones using Diamondcard, the more money donated to these projects. 10% of every recharge or online shop purchase is donated to these open source developers.

Diamondcard handles this kind of thing well. They put up detailed instructions how to use FOSS (like Ekiga and Twinkle) with their service, and donate back to the kinds of projects that they use or who send customers their way.

My current setup is that Voice rings both my TMO line (Android phone) and Ekiga on the desktop, set up to listen for Gizmo calls. Works fine.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Hitting the wall with the G1

I think I could continue to use the G1 for a long while if it had more RAM.[0] The CPU is fine at 528mHz, the screen size is fine. The formfactor is dated but fine. The battery life is adequate if I exercise good charging discipline.

I've shoehorned froyo 2.2.1 onto it in the form of Cyanogenmod, and also used the 14MB of newly-freed RAM hack, which, IIRC, freed up some memory previously consumed by non-optimized radio code. I stuffed a Class 6 microSD in there and devoted some of it to a Linux swap partition which is mounted from the terminal. It works, but the poor phone is creaking.

What I need:
  1. 512MB RAM
  2. more battery life (one of the newer, larger lithium batts like in the G2)
  3. either vanilla Android, a tastefully vendor-modified Android (yeah, right) or the ability to slam in a custom ROM of my choosing.

What I would like:
  1. A bit more flash memory space for custom ROMS, in case I want them.
  2. A bit more flash memory space for apps; currently running 15 apps in my maxxed-out G1, and that is including things like update Gmail, Google Voice, Google Sky.
  3. Comes stock with a modern Android like Froyo, or will get it OTA without hackery.
  4. dock
  5. miniUSB connector, quite out of style these days. I don't like those tight-fitting microUSB connectors. Ick.
  6. Lose the trackball. I keep hitting it accidentally.
  7. Physically kb, maybe. Up in the air on this one.
  8. LED flash for phonepics.

Things I don't care about:
  1. faster CPU
  2. bigger, better screen
  3. pretty / fancy
  4. HD video or 92-kerbillion pixel photos. I usually crank down phonepics to 640x480 in the config anyhow.
My options
My first instinct was to try to secure a used Nexus One, which was at the time the One True Google phone. Specs are what I want (except the faster-than-I-need 1gHz CPU) but it has such cult status that used ones are going for $300+.

So I started googling android 512MB RAM and started stumbling across some promising hardware. The one I settled on was the LG Optimus T, an unlockable GSM phone. It's been getting good press (including a top 5 best phone list from Cnet), and several reviewers point out that while it competes in the android low end market (on price), it is no slouch. They are going for ~$150 on eBay.
  1. 512MB RAM. Yay! Over 2x what's on the G1, and same as the Nexus One.
  2. 512MB flash storage, ~170MB accessible by user. Again, over 2x what's on the G1 and very close to the 512MB, ~190MB on the Nexus One.
  3. lost that trackball. Yay!
  4. Stock with 2.2, OTA to 2.2.1 and allegedly to 2.3 Gingerbread.
  5. downside: no physical kb; guess I'll have to learn swype. No LED flash. Volume buttons are supposed to be hard to find without looking.

[0] not the internal space for system or apps, but the actual memory in which apps run.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

chickens made it through the night

All present, and combs and feet looked good this A.M.

Went out to give them some fresh/warm water (hanging feeder finally froze last night) and some extra scratch for caloric boost. No one wanted to come out of the tractor and I don't blame them. Brrrrr....