The Entertainment Shack

Oct 20 '11


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Nov 4 '07


Oct 28 '07

Dear Legacy Electronics:

Daylight savings is NEXT week. Please return back to the normal time so I'm not late for all my classes and exams this week. Thank you.

listed in: technology |


Jul 13 '07

Got My Wii Back

Wii BrokeSo. My Wii broke. Well, not broke, but I was seeing more and more green artifacts on the screen to the point that it got quite annoying. A quick Google search found that many people were having this problem. Apparently (not confirmed by Nintendo) it was because in standby mode, with wireless setup, my Wii was "phoning home", but not turning the cooling fan on resulting in a baked graphics card. Since I had my Wii for less than 90 days I sent it in for a free warranty repair. It took about 2 weeks, but I finally got my Wii back. With the console I got a note: "After thoroughly testing your Nintendo component, we could not duplicate the problem you were experiencing... [but] we have replaced the component that may have caused the problem you experienced". Which was the whole console. And luckily "Your user information has been loaded into your new/repaired unit". Which was nice of them. Although I'm pretty sure this isn't a brand new Wii, because the serial number is smaller than my original. They're probably playing some Wii swapping game. But no more green artifacts. So I'm happy. And from now on, I'm turning my Wii ALL the way off at night.

listed in: life, technology, video games | Comments (1)


Dec 11 '06


Nintendo WiiI'm probably the last person to give the Wii a try and write about it, but if you haven't had the opportunity feel free to read on.

I went over to a friend's house who recently purchased a Wii and we popped in the game Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz because it has several mini-games you can play with multiple people in a tournament fashion.

As everyone knows by now, the Wii has a unique controller that is motion sensing. It knows if you roll the controller left/right, tip it up/down, move it toward/away from the screen, left/right, or you can use it like a laser-pointer and point on the screen what you want.

Some games required a "nunchuck", which was a second controller you plug into the first and hold in your other hand. It had similar motion sensing.

It had a steep learning curve. Not that I don't know how to move a controller up and down, but almost every one of these mini-games had a different way to move. Some were natural movements, others were not so intuitive.


listed in: life, technology, video games | Comments (1)


Dec 10 '06

Well this is sad...

Printing is not supported on this printer
An error message I encountered while trying to print a PDF I scanned on our Engineering Lab's Sun Workstations.

It seemed to think the printers are not capable of printing.

I'm pretty sure I laughed for a full 5 minutes.

listed in: humor, school, technology | Comments (4)


Jul 24 '06

New Canon Digital Camera

Side-by-side Comparisons
I got a new digital camera today, the Canon PowerShot SD600 6MP Digital Elph (right). I bought it to replace my 3-year old Olympus 4MP Camedia C-4000 (left). The reason for buying this camera was different than the reasons for buying my old one. I bought my Olympus because of the image quality. At the time, it took top-of-the-line photos with great quality, especially in the dark... and the pictures are still great compared to cameras today. I bought the Canon because the Olympus was way too big to carry around in my pocket, and the startup time was 12 seconds... by the time it turned on, whatever I wanted to take a picture of was gone. The Canon starts up in less than a second.


listed in: life, photography, technology |


Jul 7 '06

I love my IBM Thinkpad x40

IBM Thinkpad X40I love my IBM Thinkpad x40. Weighing at just under 3lbs with the battery life of 5 hours and being the size of a spiral notebook, this ultra-portable laptop has been a breeze to carry around campus.

I am going on my second year of having it. Unlike my friends with Dells, I haven't had to call tech support every other week with a hardware problem. In fact, I never contacted tech support until this past weekend. Last week Friday I noticed weird black splotches on the bottom of my screen. They were not on the surface, as I could not rub them off. They were not bad pixels either, but rather something between the pixels and the outer glass.

I have a 3 year parts warranty, so on Saturday I decided to contact support. I pressed the little blue help button right near the top of my keyboard, and after a couple of clicks I was redirected to a simple online form where I typed in my model number, explained my situation, and hit submit. Within the next hour I was called by IBM to confirm my ticket was received, and was told I would be contacted by a technician within the week (On the form I said my issue was not urgent, but I'm guessing if it was, I would have had a technician contact me the next day).

I received a phone call on Tuesday, and was asked what time I would like the technician to come to my house (house call? how cool is that). I scheduled it for this morning at 10am. Assuming IBM support was just like cable/plumbing/heating, I woke up late assuming the technician would be late as well. However at 10am on the dot she called explaining she was here... but looking for a parking spot. Fair enough. There is nowhere to park by my apartment at all. She arrived just minutes later. I explained my problem and she said it doesn't matter, she is just going to replace my entire laptop monitor. (That's like a $600 part!) So she took my laptop apart and installed the new monitor. However... she couldn't quite get it back together and started to get a bit frustrated, trying to force things to snap together that obvisouly didn't. It took quite a bit of assistance on my part to get it together, but when it was finally done, we turned on the laptop and it worked beautifully!

About an hour and a half later, she left, and when I went to close my laptop I noticed a wire was pinched in the monitor frame. It wasn't that big of a big deal... just a couple screws and the frame pops off, I tucked in the wire, and put it back together. Although the repair woman had quite the struggle putting my laptop back together, and in the end didn't do it properly anyway, I was quite impressed with the service IBM had provided me. I was afraid I would have to send my laptop in, which wouldn't have worked out since I need that laptop for school and work. The house call was the coolest thing ever. I checked the monitor, wireless internet, and the keyboard light (anything that was touched by the repair) and it all appears to be in working order. There are a couple bad pixels in the upper-right of the monitor, but that is to be expected with any LCD screen. Those bad pixels aren't that big of a deal.

I'm not sure if I'm going to be billed for the service (warranty only covers parts), but despite the montir replacement, I'm still extremely happy with my IBM Laptop purchase, and for those who don't want an Apple, an IBM/Lenovo Thinkpad is the next best thing (assuming Lenovo doesn't screw a good thing up).

listed in: computers, customer service, life, technology | Comments (1)


Jun 22 '06


Apr 24 '06

Why I Switched my Life to Google

I recently switched over my email from Thunderbird to Gmail and my calendar from Sunbird to Google Calendar.

One of the biggest reasons for this was portability. Almost every hour of the day I'm by a computer-- but a different one. Work, home, computer lab, other job, student organization computer.

The email system our school provides doesn't provide us with much room to store our email, and I don't like to delete email because I'm always referencing an old one. With my other email addresses, IMAP is slow because of the large amount of emails I keep. Gmail is fast, stores everything, and no setup time is required. What I really like? 1) The tagging system instead of folders 2) Significantly more powerful search 3) Great spam filter 4) How it groups emails from the same conversation together -- I frequently have large conversations (8+ people) with several messages each and this keeps track of everything very nicely. Check out the tour. I have invites if anyone wants one.

I was satisfied with Sunbird for quite some time. I shared my calendar between installations of Sunbird on other computers using WebDAV. This worked well except when I wasn't at a computer with Sunbird (and was at a computer lab where I was unable to install it). I installed PHP iCal on my server which provided a very well laid out read-only version of my calendar, but I was unable to add anything to it. Google Calendar allows me to read and write using a great interface, and still has the open format and portability of iCal. Some bonus features? 1) PDF Printable Calendars created on-the-fly 2) Powerful calendar sharing settings 3) Ability to drag and drop calendar entries and resize them without going through any pages. Check out the tour.

One of the best things with using Gmail and Google Calendar? They work together. Gmail searches your message for natural language concerning an upcoming event, and offers a link to add it right to your calendar. Cool huh.

Google Calendar + Mail

listed in: google, life, technology |


Jun 26 '05

Chicago Trip

Rebel Robots

Wired NextFest

On Saturday, I went to NextFest on Chicago's Navy Pier.

Some of the cool things I saw:


listed in: chicago, life, technology, travel |


Mar 28 '04

Robotics Competition

I just got back late last night from the FIRST Robotics Competition at Northwestern University, with not enough energy to write this entry till today.

We came in third place (from last) but I had a great time!

When we got there, my jaw just dropped. The setup for this competition was AMAZING. Below is a picture of the setup, one side being the playing field, the other being the pits. We were called about 15 minutes before we went to compete, and were in a constantly moving line from that point on, having an hour between events. The second an event was done, the teams were taking their robots off as the new teams put theirs on, at the same time about 20 people who were running the event were resetting the playing field. It took just a matter of minutes between events! This had to be the most organized thing I've ever seen. They also had live video feeds with flat screens throughout the stadium with score updates and standings and a quite sophisticated setup for the computer systems running the whole event.



listed in: chicago, life, robotics, school, technology |