The photo gallery and ecards sections are toast

I know the e-cards section of the website had some script errors for a while (sadly the developer never updated their code), and … the same is now true for the photo gallery section of my site with travel albums, windsurf photos, etcetera. It just does not want to work (for now). I am considering some options.  Maybe just a photo centric website elsewhere? All the info here is long obsolete. Time flies. Lots has happened. Photos are where the quick visual memories are, so blogging on wordpress may or may not be the long term ticket. FB? Yeah, no.  Instagram is too limited … I want something with folders & categories. Right, Tux?    

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Hello 2021

The web hosting company’s mandatory server update broke a few websites the other day. Those are fixed. And, now I’m here, looking at my website again :)  It looks like my old custom theme has a few glitches that I will need to decipher, a few of the plug-ins are obsolete, lots of errors, … This will be an interesting rescue operation – or – maybe I will just start over?  I do not like whatever WP’s default stuff is, and I don’t like some the changes they instituted. An old dog may be forced to learn a couple new design tricks? :D  How is everybody? Stay warm and stay safe! Happy 2021!  We’ll catch up soon.

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TWC staff: You need a Digital Cable Adapter for everything.

To expand a bit more on my interaction with TWC staff yesterday: Late yesterday afternoon, while running errands, I stopped at the Time Warner Cable office in Augusta to inquire and (if they had them) pick up two Digital Cable Adapter boxes. There were some banners on display about the digital conversion and they had a temporary table setup to right hand side as you come in, with two computer stations and two staff members dedicated to customers coming in about the Digital Cable Conversion. Behind the table were a stack of boxes with the adapters. They asked me how many TVs I had and I said I was just going to pick up two adapters for my analog DVR & DVDR. Both staff members said that everybody needs a Digital Cable Adapter per TV set. I replied asking: Even if I have modern HDTVs with a digital tuner and I already get some digital channels, I will really need on of those boxes? For every TV? They said: Yes, you need an adapter per TV, no matter which tuner it has. They insisted that unless you have one of their big (higher tier) Digital Cable Boxes (pointing to one mounted on the wall behind them) you will no longer get any cable service. Everything that is attached directly to the cable / wall needs an adapter or box. No adapter or box, no cable TV. The guy said Cable TV is going password protected. Etc. Boxes can already be authorized on the network. I was told to call the number in the box from my home phone and follow the automated prompts. There was some positive spin of course, that customers have reported they get better service and a clearer picture, etc. I will try to put that to the test shortly. Stay tuned.

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Digital Cable Adapter – First look

I picked up a couple of Time Warner Digital Cable Adapters this afternoon, so here are a few quick snapshots. I will share more photos at a higher resolution and additional details tomorrow, as I got home late and it is nearly midnight. I think the photos are pretty self explanatory with a few shots of the box cover, content, manual, wall wart, cables. The cables are a coax cable and an IR cable to control your TV. The device is a bit bigger than a credit card and quite small actually. The casing is metal. It feels weighted and robust. The remote is small, basic, cheap … common with inexpensive TVs & the Over The Air antenna boxes. It is capable of being programmed for your TV set. The wall wart is quite big and will take up a considerable spot on your power strip. Depending on your strip it may need three slots. Off note: when I picked up these adapter boxes, I was told, more than once, that anybody without a digital cable box will need one of these adapters per tv. More on that in my next post. To be continued …

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Digital Cable Conversion – The end of analog cable is near

We are one of the ‘lucky’ 90000 people in the central Maine area where Time Warner Cable is launching its pilot program Digital Cable Conversion plan on Oct 18th. It will go statewide and then nationwide later. Through the AVS forum, I learned this is going to be true for Comcast subscribers as well and that apparently they are starting this conversion in Maine as well. I think Brighthouse and other providers probably will follow suit as well. If two major players in the industry do it, more will follow. I learned about this after catching part of little Time Warner Cable ad Tuesday morning, featuring a small cable box that transformed into a flying bot, etc. The TV was muted, so I didn’t catch the audio and I haven’t seen the ad again, to describe in full details. Summary Starting Oct 18th, Cable TV as we know it, is going all-digital, starting with central Maine. Basically, anything with only an analog tuner – older TV, VCR, DVR, DVDR, computer tuner card … – will no longer receive any stations, unless you get the digital cable converter box (( or upgrade to the higher tier digital cable boxes //// or cut cable and go over the air with an antenna and digital antenna box )) and then you still face the hurdle of controlling the channels and programming the devices for recording. Most existing equipment will not know the remote code to transmit a channel change via an IR blaster, if they have one at all. So it is not good for people with lots of money invested in analog recording equipment. You will set your TV or device to channel 3 or 4 and receive cable via the converter box. Consumer opinion / consensus * The consensus so far between a few local affected consumers, based on what we have read & learned, seems to be that: A) Channels 2-24 considered basic cable will be transmitted digitally clear and unencrypted and be receivable with a modern TV with digital tuner, or other device. No digital cable converter box needed, if you have a recent TV with digital tuner. If on the other hand you have an older analog TV, you will need the digital cable converter box. This box is similar to the OTA / Over The Air digital adapter box we learned about a few years ago, but smaller. It needs to be authorized and activated by the cable company and you have to use its remote for your channel functions. The converter box is offered for free, for us, through 2013. Then they will charge 99c/mo rent thereafter, per converter. B) Channels 25-70 considered expanded cable are most likely to be transmitted encrypted and will require the converter box, per device that you wish to view those channels on. So, if you have a QAM HDTV and expanded cable 2-70, you presumably (no confirmation from the cable company here yet) will get basic channels 2-24 unencrypted in…

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iPad, the morning after – what you should know before you buy or order

(it seems there is a technical problem where line and paragraph breaks are removed) The iPad, the morning after. It has been an interesting experience so far, with some growing pains. Please don’t view the following paragraphs as an absolute tear against the iPad. I know they are growing pains because of  limitations in the current iPad OS – actually I should say iPhone OS used on the iPad – but I think they are reasonable and common enough problems, that you may like to read about them. The main questions about the iPad are of the “do I need an ipad?” and “can/will this replace my laptop?” kind. My short answer is: you probably don’t need an iPad and it won’t replace your laptop. Certainly not in and by itself. Plus, you probably want to wait for the operating system to be fleshed out a little if you would like your iPad to work more a little bit more like a computer, rather than an iPod Touch. I see the iPad mostly as a coffee table machine, where you can tap your way to some information (pull up some local information about a location in a travel show), show pictures to other people, without having to pull out a notebook; or – if you don’t have an iPhone – as something for light browsing and reading on the road and some quick messaging. If you are an avid reader, Apple certainly wants to sell you the iPad as an ebook reader capable of a whole lot more. Or, if you have specific apps for your profession or education, like reference material, then the iPad does give you the ability to have a go anywhere portable library of books with a good size color screen and lots of storage. Copying data to the iPad The biggest hurdle I have experienced so far is getting data into into the iPad and accessing network data using the iPad. Take for instance PDFs. I spent a large part of my Sunday afternoon trying to figure out how I could put some instructional and educational PDFs onto the 60+ GB of space (we have the 64GB iPad) There is no card slot or USB port, so it is either WiFi or syncing. Via WiFi I can browse to PDFs I host on the network in Safari, but one can’t save anything in iPad Safari. Syncing then? I can hook the iPad up to the notebook and sync with iTunes, but I can’t transfer anything. Not a PDF, not a txt note, nothing other than iTunes & iPod compatible music & video. Via online third party instructions it turns out that data transfer is document type dependent and only enabled when you have a compatible application on the iPad. Since there is none by default, you have to purchase one.  While it makes sense that you don’t want customers to copy a plethora of data files over that they will never be able to view on the iPad…

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Two hours with the iPad, first impressions

The Apple iPad, Apple’s latest brain child is touted as their most revolutionary product, and we pre-ordered one. Not because of the hype, but because we like the iPhone, which does seem undersized for use at home. With the announcment of the iPad it also became obvious why Apple never produced an ultra-mobile PC / netbook class machine, and likely never will, so one might as well get an iPad then. If you are familiar with the iPhone or iPod Touch, the iPad will be most familiar, if not, it is very intuitive. Unboxing. There is not much in the box: iPad, cable, charger and a tiny pamflet. No headphones, stand, dock, … which was known at the time of ordering but I think a basic dock should have been included. It is very glossy: iMac glossy, but now in a portable version that will be angled towards the ceiling and user. Even with the brightness all the way up you get reflections abound. Part of me wants to call this the iMirror. (photo below is with screen off) Fit and finish is not 100% and I dare to say that Apple rushed these out the door. Our iPad screen and case are not entirely flush all the way around the device. See the black line appear and disappear outside of the aluminum frame. The first start is a let down because you have to activate it with iTunes and need to get the latest iTunes update as well, so you’re just sitting around twiddling your thumbs for 20 minutes till iTunes is updated before you can really turn the thing on. Then it wants so sync apps, music etc. Another delay in gratification. Finally you get to the home screen. The iPad is bigger than you think and heavier than I thought. In size it compares directly to a 10″ netbook screen and the weight is probably the same as a netbook without battery. It has a curved back, meaning that it doesn’t lay flat in a stable way. It wobbles a bit when you type on it. Typing is very doable. Easier than I thought. You will need a dock or some kind of stand. You can hold it in your left hand and tap around with your right hand, but you’re not going to do that for anything but brief periods of time. If you put  a lower edge on the table, so you’re not lifting it anymore, it still wants to scoot around. Propped up against the MSI Wind for a stand, since the dock and other accessories are still days and weeks away. The machine is fast. The user interface is very responsive. Connecting to WiFi was no issue. It detected our home WiFi network and upon selection it requested the password. Done. Safari is fast. I have managed to crash iPad Safari three times trying to log in to MacWorld. Otherwise it has been stable. Most sites work and load fast. The elephant in…

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