Monthly Archives: November 2008

DSL Woes

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I am getting increasingly frustrated with my Earthlink DSL service.  At our old house it was very reliable but since we moved it has been up and down on a regular basis.  It usually isn’t too bad, it comes up and the performance is usually pretty good.  But for the last week or so, something is wrong and my patience for Earthlink is waning.

Look at this results from DSLReports.com’s Speed Test.  Bleh.  I need to call the cable company.

Brisingr

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A number of years ago one of my children received Eragon as a gift and we ended up reading together.  I am not a big fan of Fantasy (e.g. I couldn’t get going with Lord of the Rings) but I enjoyed reading Eragon.  When Eldest (the second book) came out my family gave it to me for my birthday.  I didn’t think Eldest was as good as Eragon but it was still a good story.

Brisingr came out a few months ago and I added my name to the waiting list at the library.  I got an email a couple weeks ago that a copy was available for me so I stopped by and picked it up.

I haven’t had much time to read it yet – lots of other stuff going on but I am now about 100 pages into it and the story is keeping me engaged.  Since I am invested in the series, I will finish the book for sure.  It has been a while since I read Eldest so I had to get reacquainted with the story and this book does a nice job of providing a summary of the first two books before the story picks up.

RockBand Update

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I have posted much about RockBand lately.  Not playing as much as I was.  At this point I have finished the original RockBand game on Guitar at both the Easy and Medium levels and started the Hard level.

I am now to the point where I can usually make it through a song on Hard as long as it doesn’t get ridiculously complex.

We’ve been playing some RockBand 2 at home lately.  For the most part I like the game better but I do miss the Solo Tour which really walks you through the game in a logical progression.  In RB2 I find myself without the time to play the 3-6 song sets required to finish many of the tour stops.

Last night my son and nephew were playing Guitar and Bass so I played some Drums with them.  I haven’t played the drums in a while and was pleased to see I wasn’t totally incompetent with them like I had been previously.  I guess just playing the game has helped somewhat.  I was able to finish the first City on the RB2 tour playing Easy Drums and got 4-5 stars on all songs but one.

The Drums are much harder in my opinion.  I find myself getting out of sync from time to time and really struggling to get back on track to hit the notes.  When I do that I really need to pause, skip a note or two and then get back at it but often I will bang through a whole phrase slightly out of sync and miss all the notes.

Dell E4300 two week review

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I have had my Dell E4300 for two weeks now.  At this point I think I can offer an opinion which is based on fact and real usage and opposed to first impressions and emotion.

What I like

  1. I really like the size and weight, it is thin and weighs less than four pounds.
  2. It is fast and it hasn’t crashed on me during normal use.
  3. The mechanics.  It feels solid – nothing flimsy about it at all.
  4. Real docking station.  I really like not having to plug anything when when I get to work or go home. 
  5. Built-in BroadBand card.  I really like this – it is nice to not have to worry about an external card.
  6. The color – I picked the bright blue and while it make no difference to how the machine works, it is nice to have something a little different.
  7. The neoprene sleeve that comes with it.  Sometimes I don’t want to carry my computer bag so having the sleeve is a nice compromise.

What I don’t like

  1. Dell Control Point Connection Manager – this is the one thing I really don’t like about the machine.  The DCP CM is a nuisance.  For whatever reason it wants to create “Profiles” for each different configuration, why I don’t know.  Each time I use the BroadBand card the screen flashes and a DCP window “informs” me about a profile change when all I want to do is make a connection.
  2. The “clicking” sound of the 7200 RPM SATA HDD.  It sounds like there is something wrong with it but I guess that is just the way it works.  Odd.  It is loud enough to be noticeable.
  3. Windows XP.  I may be one of the few who happens to like Vista but at this point, XP is old and running it on a brand new machine is a bummer.  Unfortunately, my employer is reluctant to deploy Vista.  I could probably push it but for now, I am living with XP.
  4. Undock:  The way the release button on the docking station works it sounds like something is breaking.  Each time I undock it I cringe a bit.
  5. Stand-By:  I am seeing some flakiness coming out of Stand-By when using the docking station.  I would guess about half the time the machine doesn’t come out of Stand-By correctly.  I have a dock at work and a dock at home – my normal (and preferred) usage is to go into Stand-By when I leave the office, remove it from the dock, go home, put it in the other dock, and come out of Stand-By.  It should work but doesn’t always.

I guess everything really is on the Internet

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This evening I was flipping through the channels and came across a Bruce Springsteen concert on VH1 Classic.  I have always liked Bruce Springsteen – I have seen him in concert three times, twice on the River Tour and once on the Born in the USA tour.

In particular, I remember the first time I saw him which was at the Capital Center in Largo, Maryland (outside of Washington, DC).  I had only been to one or two concerts before that concert so I was ill prepared for a Springsteen show.  I had gone with a group of people I had worked with at Hardee’s.  The show was unbelievable – the energy, the sound, the crowd, the noise, everything.  It just went on and on, I coudn’t believe it.  I got home really late and I remember my mom being up and not believing me that all I had done was go to the concert (which was actually true).  There was a write up in the Washington Post the next day about how it didn’t end until 1AM or something like that so I was ultimately redeemed!

I am not sure what possessed me to look Bruce Springsteen up on Wikipedia but I did and near the bottom is a link to old concert tours and sets lists.  I start poking around it and sure enough, I find the two shows I saw at the Capital Center.  I was at the November 24, 1980 show and the August 7, 2001 show.  I cannot believe the detailed information available for concerts that happened almost 30 years ago.  For what its worth, I also saw him at the Spectrum in Philadelphia when I was at Villanova which would have been in September of 1984.  There were six shows at the Spectrum, I don’t recall which one I went to.

First thoughts on the AT&T Fuze

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Last night we were out running some errands and were near the AT&T store.  Since we’re looking at getting phones for Christmas for some of our family members we went inside to do some research on phones and family plans.  While there, I asked the guy helping us if he had a Fuze in yet and he pulled one out from under his desk.

I have really wanted to play with one before committing to it.  The Fuze will replace the Tilt (which I didn’t care for) in the AT&T line up and has the TouchFlo interface which has received good reviews.  TouchFlo is supposed to make the Windows Mobile Pro UI easier to use.

The Fuze is slightly smaller than the Tilt and a quite a bit lighter.  That said, it is still fairly heavy and fairly thick.  It would be easier to carry than the Tilt was I am still not sure I’d want it in my pocket.

Before I make a final verdict, I want to go back and play with it again.  I had three of my children with me so I couldn’t give it my full attention but I found the TouchFlo interface interesting but not real intuitive and surprisingly, not real easy to use.  I couldn’t make it work consistently.  However, the Sales Rep could so it must require some practice to get used to it.

Got my new laptop

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I received my new Dell E4300 last Friday and over the weekend I got all of my applications installed.  Tuesday night I copied over my 125GB of data (I really need to delete some stuff) and I have been using it ever since.  I even sent the M1210 I had been using back to our IT guy so I am committed.

For the most part I like it.  Mine has 4GB RAM, 250GB HDD, internal AT&T BroadBand card, the bright blue case.  About the only thing I am not thrilled with is the Dell Connection Manager.  It takes over the function previously supplied by AT&T’s BroadBand Connect software.  The Dell application is clunky and it is constantly asking me to create a profile.  I don’t want a profile, I just want a connection!

I definitely like the size and weight.  There should be no problem working with it on an airplane.  I really like the ambient light keyboard too.  At first I thought it only had one USB port which would have been a real bummer but it turns out it has a dual function eSATA/USB port on the left hand side so it has two USB ports.  I typically use a BlueTooth mouse with it so I don’t think only having two ports will be an issue.  I may pick up a USB ExpressCard anyway for the odd time I need more.