Random observations, teachings and musings of a well trained cubicle superhero.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

David Blaine Street Magic web edition

David Blaine brings his famous street magic to YouTube. Watch as the famous magician blows the minds of two Los Angeles idiots. WARNING: This magic is amazing.

Watch them in order. Totally worth the 5 min each




Friday, December 28, 2007

December 28, 2007

How to hook up all your new gadgets

Tech Mate
Don't let your mess get like this.
techyJay, a.k.a. “The Cubicle Superhero”, is a self-professed tech junkie with a passion for music and culture Email Jay

Now that I've survived the tryptophan-hazed lunacy of Boxing Day, the only thing looming larger than the waistline filling out my "big-boy" pants is the bittersweet chore of hooking up my newly acquired electronics.

HDMI, DVI, SVideo, Blu-ray, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Firewire; this is the language of the home electronics enthusiast! But while I'm enthused as the next nerd to use new gadgets, I'd rather stick with my top-loading VHS than face rewiring the IKEA monolith that stores my tech.

Here are a few golden nuggets of nerdiness to get you started on your quest to become the New Year's Eve Party legend.

Avoiding a case of the Mondays
Save yourself some frustration. Before attempting to hook up, plug in, or install anything, take a moment to know thy enemy. I'm not insisting that you read the manual, but if you're unable to mind-meld with your new DVD Recorder, you may consider it.

The manual will also have product registration info. To avoid any warranty hassles, I highly recommend signing up at your manufacturer's website to register the device. If and when you declare defeat, you can call tech support. It's always a good idea to write your device's serial and model numbers on the bill before stapling it to the manual. It'll be much easier to find when you need it.

Lay out the cables that came in the box and identify what cords, power cells or adaptors you may need. Think about how you want to connect your device, along with what remotes will be involved. It helps immensely if you have a layout of your receiver and TV's inputs and outputs before you begin.

A picture paints 1,000 swear words
A word of caution: those of you who scored a Wii this Christmas, although you may be significantly more loved than the rest of us, know that your unit DOES NOT PLAY DVDs...yet.

You've probably done nothing wrong in the wiring if you can see and hear the menu screen; it's just not an option until a firmware upgrade enables the feature. The "logic" there is to include this feature each device would be subject to a DVD licensing fee, raising the price. With DVD player prices nearing the same cost as a large bag of Doritos, I don't think anyone's too miffed unless they've been rechecking wires for a few hours before discovering this.

Video will probably be your nemesis when dealing with new equipment. Many times you have more than one possible wiring option. Here are a few key terms to know:

  • Coaxial Cable - The granddaddy of analog wiring that carries both video and sound. This is typically used to bring a cable TV signal into your home and into the back of your Rogers Digital TV Terminal. If this is the only input on the back of your TV you'll need an RF Modulator to connect more complex devices.

  • Composite Video - Resembles a traditional audio cable only fatter (more shielding). If your device only has three plugs coming out the back, one being yellow, and the other two red and white this is what you're using. YELLOW is video. If you notice "ghosting" or interference in your picture, try moving your video cable into a figure8 or just buy a better and SHORTER one.

  • SVideo - The circular end of this wire has a small plastic rectangular post and four pins surrounding the top half.

  • Component (YPbPr) - The source of many a call to support. This wire, much like SVideo, breaks the video into three constituent wires to avoid interference. Where Svideo accomplishes this with one cable, Component requires the user to plug in three separate RCA jacks, one of which is red, often confused with the right channel of audio. HDTV can be carried over these wires.

  • DVI - This looks more like a computer's printer cable, and oftentimes it is. This carries the unaltered digital video signal from the video source, without compression of any kind. This and HDMI are quickly becoming the preferred choice for connecting HDTV sources.

  • HDMI - This cable is the new standard in Digital interfaces a smaller flat plug provides HDTV quality connections. This cable is also capable of Digital Audio connections, but at this point is not often utilized.

Putting Sound to your Mosaic
Audio is a considerably easier foe to slay. Your options here are one of three: 1) Optical Digital; 2) Digital RCA; or 3) traditional L/R RCA. The first two are often referred to as S/PDIF and carry precisely the same information, and mainly depends on what inputs you have available. With optical, digital information is transmitted through a fiber optic channel, and is arguably less susceptible to interference.

Round hole and square peg
The final hurdle is simply strapping on that miner's lamp and getting to work. The easiest method may be to connect the device directly to the TV, and use it's remote to switch from TV to Video inputs.

If you have most of your devices running through an AV Stereo Receiver, check to see if it has the ability to carry video signals as well. Although a little more confusing, this may allow you to use a single remote to control the whole unit.

If you're short on inputs, you may need to get a bit creative. An input marked DVD or LD can also handle input from a game console, if it's still available, while you pipe the video into the TV directly or through a splitter.

If you're facing a serious lack of connection options, picking up an Audio Video Switcher is a good investment. A switcher will let you pipe all that spaghetti to one point, and send a single set of cables to your TV or receiver. You may need to get up to change the video source, but it will greatly reduce the chances of your head exploding.

The return line is easier than Craigslist
Save the box and keep all the little plastic bags and their twist ties. Depending on the technology that you're working with, some devices just don't play well. If you're trying to connect a Blu-ray DVD player to a TV using a set of rabbit ears, it might be time to tap out.

I know the frenzy unboxing a new gadget can throw you into, but with a little deep breathing and planning you'll be fine. Remember, the coolest guy at the New Years Eve Party is the one slaying at Guitar Hero, not the one tinkering with their S/PDIFs.

Party on Tech Mates, party on.

See you next year! If you have ideas you'd like to see covered on TechMates let us know.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Fwd: surprise tv show

http://www.cbc.ca/jpod/ Based on Douglas Coupland's cult bestseller of the same name, jPod is a one-hour drama series with amusing and evil twists. Ethan Jarlewski (DAVID W. KOPP) and four coworker pals are bureaucratically marooned in the bowels of a massive video game company, Neotronic Arts.

The series chronicles the amoral, lighthearted and often shocking lives of these five "Podsters." In Season One alone, they routinely deal with Chinese gangs, boneheaded bosses, sexual swinging, power lesbians, British royalty, gore-laced game designs and …it's a very long list.
jPod also follows the lives of Ethan's seemingly ultra normal parents, Jim (ALAN THICKE) and Carol Jarlewski (SHERRY MILLER). Jim and Carol are the new post-middle class, now enmeshed in marijuana grow-ops, biker gangs and ballroom dancing.

jPod is ultimately about the new relationships and modes of being that we, as citizens of this strange new century, are creating as we move forward. There is no map into the unknown, but we do have these five kids and a lot of heart and dark humor.

jPod stars David W. Kopp, Emilie Ullerup, Steph Song, Ben Ayres, Torrance Coombs, Sherry Miller and Alan Thicke.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Promise DJs@Cavalcade of Lights Dec 15

From: promise
Date: Dec 13, 2007 1:35 AM
Subject: promise at cavalcade of lights this saturday
To: j1.ca

saturday December 15th
Promise at the Cavalcade of Lights
Nathan Philips Square, 6 to 10pm

We're really happy to be invited by the City to contribute to their Cavalcade of Lights event by arranging djs to bookend live bands they're bringing in. It's a great idea - mixed with fireworks, lighting, and skating outdoors in the heart of our city.

The rink at Nathan Phillips Square is absolutely huge and the weather's been nice and cold for making ice, so conditions should be great. Bundle up, bring a thermos of hot chocolate and someone's hand to hold - it'll be a nice start to a romantic evening.

The djs are interspersed in with 2 live bands - the Golden Dogs are punky and ska infused electro rock, and In Flight Safety have a sweet moodiness to their guitars and come from Halifax.

6.00 Ted Dancin' (deep disco)
7.00 In Flight Safety
7.45 Rollin' Cash (break beats and scratch)
8.15 Golden Dogs
9.00 Fireworks
9.10 Nick and Pierre (deep funk)

The night coincides with Toronto's Burning Man group's annual Santarchy, where a jolly group dress up as Santa Clauses and go from Dundas Square through to Nathan Philips Square and on along Queen Street for a pub crawl. We'll have fun with all the Santas on their way through.

Some history of Cavalcade of Lights:
This event has an impressive 40 year history. It was created in 1967 to showcase Toronto's newly constructed City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square.

Cavalcade of Lights traditionally falls on the final weekend of November to kick off the holiday season with the official illumination of the square and giant christmas tree. Since 2002 it has transformed from a one night format to a month long holiday celebration with the addition of saturday night skating parties to live music at the outdoor rink.

This year is under the direction of Canadian designer Brian Gluckstein, and the theme is 'Enchanted Holiday'. The architecture of City Hall, Toronto's Official Christmas Tree, and the surrounding structures will be lit with 300,000 LED lights in the colours of red, green and white along with the trees throughout the landscape illuminated as if in bloom.

At 9pm catch the highlight of the night - a fireworks display in the sky above the square.


See you round the rink on saturday.

David and Irving

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Flip Clock Screensaver

Mac and Windows only: Spruce up the functionality and aesthetics of your screeensaver with Fliqlo. Fliqlo mimics an old school clock with flipping digits. The time can be customized to display in 12-hour or 24-hour formats. Additionally, you can customize the zoom using the up and down arrow keys. Fliqlo is a free screensaver that has been around for ages but never made an appearance on Lifehacker. Not into the clock? We've posted a few other screensavers you might like. Fliqlo is a free download for Mac and Windows only.

From: Lifehacker.com (see also: monitor bezel calendar)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Android uses violin to kill (softly, with his song)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Bassbin Twins Dec 8 2007

Alarm clock code


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Theatre Discovered in Unmapped Portion of Paris Catacomb

Police in Paris have discovered a fully equipped cinema-cum-restaurant in a large and previously uncharted cavern underneath the capital's chic 16th arrondissement.
Officers admit they are at a loss to know who built or used one of Paris's most intriguing recent discoveries.
"We have no idea whatsoever," a police spokesman said

NPR Report: http://www.npr.org/templates/dmg/dmg.php?prgCode=WESAT&showDate=18-Sep-2004&segNum=10&NPRMediaPref=WM
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