Silent Archimedes

Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Netflix Watch Instantly Silverlight workaround for Windows XP

Posted by silentarchimedes on March 29, 2009

Netflix Watch Instantly Silverlight 2.0 workaround for Windows XP

I might have a pseudo-workaround for this problem… At least it worked for me.

Like many people, I have been having choppy streaming video using Silverlight on Netflix’s Watch Instantly on my Windows XP computer. The problem appears to be that Silverlight does not buffer ahead enough. The next problem is that Silverlight dynamically determines the play speed (500, 1000, 1500 Kbs) and the accompanying buffer rate (500, 1000, 1500 Kbs) so the user has very little control over it. This is the sequence I noticed every time:

1. Start Netflix player

2. Video is smooth for the first 10 sec or so.

3. Video begins to become choppy (frame dropping) and unwatchable.

And it never recovers.

DIAGNOSTICS

So SIlverlight comes with a hidden diagnostic menu. On my XP, press Shift-Alt at the same time and click on the video with the left mouse button. A Diagnostic menu shows up under the mouse pointer (Figure 1).

Press Shift-Alt and click on video

Figure 1: Press Shift-Alt and click on video

Click on the A/V menu item. What I noticed was this:

1. Start Netflix player.

2. Press Shift-Alt and click on the video with mouse (Figure 1).

3. Bring up A/V menu item. I noticed the Playing video bitrate was 500, and the Buffering video bitrate was 1500 (Figure 2). Sounds good right? Well…

Figure 2: Initial play/buffer rates when player starts

Figure 2: Initial play rate is 500 and buffer rate is 1500 when player starts

3. After about 10 sec, the play rate started to dynamically increase from 500 to 1000 to 1500. I noticed that the instant the play rate went up to 1000 and then 1500, the video became choppy. I also noticed the buffering bitrate dropped to 1000. Now the play rate was faster than the buffer bitrate! At the bottom of the A/V Stats, the Dropped Frames (/sec) had also increased to 15-20+ (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Video becomes choppy. Play rate:1500, buffer rate:1000

Figure 3: Video becomes choppy. Play rate:1500, buffer rate:1000

SOLUTION

So the key here is how to decrease the play rate or increase the buffer rate. This worked for me:

1. Press Shift-Alt and click on the video with mouse.

2. Click on Stream Manager and check the Manual Selection box. Then check the 500 bitrate box (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Open up the Stream Manager Menu

Figure 4: Open up the Stream Manager Menu

3. Now bring up the A/V menu item again. You will notice that the playrate is still 1500, but the buffering rate is now 500.

4. The video will remain choppy until Silverlight recognizes this major discrepancy. For me, the playing bitrate eventually dropped to 500 to coincide with the buffer rate. This could take a few minutes. What worked really well for me was moving the playbar back to the beginning. When they are both even at 500, the video was no longer choppy and was watchable for the rest of the video. When it works, the Dropped Frames (/sec) never goes above 2.

Figure 5: Smooth video. Rates both at 500.

Figure 5: Smooth video. Rates both at 500.

If this didn’t work, look at the important notes below:

Important note 1: I noticed that clicking on the Manual Selection box and 500  doesn’t always update the rates right away. The A/V Stats still showed play rate at 1500 and buffer rate at 500. I would go to the Stream Manager, and although the Manual box is still checked, the bitrate had reverted back to 1500. Try moving the play bar around… maybe to the beginning of the video. For me, this would instantly switch both rates to 500.

Important note 2: If it still doesn’t work, try clicking again on the 500 box. Get out of the menu. Check the A/V Stats, and the play rate should eventually drop to 1000. When it happens go back to the Stream Manager, and the 500 bitrate box should now be checked and set. When it works, the Current at the top should say 500, and the play rate and buffer rate in A/V Stats should both say 500.

If the playrate is not automatically dropping to 500 after a while, try moving the play bar to the beginning of the video. Or restart your browser and try again.

Important note 3: If both rates say 500, but the video remains choppy and then the play rate goes back up to 1000, it is because the video is so far behind, it it is having a hard time catching up. So what I do is either move the play bar ahead or to the beginning.  I usually do that anyways,so I can watch the video from the beginning!

Important note 4: You will have to redo the whole syncing process if you watch another video, so it’s a crude workaround. Also, sometimes I noticed if I watched another video in a sequence (like a sitcom) by clicking on the arrows at the bottom; although both rates were at 500, the dropped frames/sec was still somewhat high (~10). One work around for this is to close and open your browser again. When it works, the Dropped Frames (/sec) should never go above 2 or 3.

This method seems to work for me every time and playing at the 500 bitrate was very watchable. It gets faster too once you get the process down.

The computer I tried this on is a pretty old computer:

Dell Precision Workstation 420 MT, 512RAM, Pentium IIIE, 1000Mhz
Microsoft Windows XP Professional with SP3
Matrox Graphics Millennium G400 MAX AGP
Dell 17″ monitor at 1280×1024

My Internet connection is Fast Ethernet. And it worked with both IE6 and Firefox 3.0.8. It did seem that this method was more reliable for IE than Firefox though.

Let me know if this method worked for you or if it didn’t. If you also have other experiences regarding this method or suggestions, please post a comment so others can learn from it.

Good luck!

Posted in Computers, Technology, Windows | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 60 Comments »

Problem: Maximum number of files in NTFS in Ubuntu

Posted by silentarchimedes on March 12, 2009

So I do a lot of image processing in my work, and I ran into a problem today that I still haven’t found a logical answer to:

On my Ubuntu 8.10 computer, I have a 1TB internal harddrive /dev/sdc1 mounted in NTFS format. After the initial format, My max volume size is stated as 931.51GiB. On this drive, I have lots of folders, and many of them have thousands (1K to 6K) of small images, in formats of jpg, png, ppm. Today, one of my scripts crapped out when it tried to create a new image and returned “Operation not supported.”

Even when I used touch or a simple vi created file, I could not create any more files. The current disk usage on the harddrive is:

Contents: 704,324 items, totalling 826.3 GB

And Ubuntu tells me I still have 102.5 GiB of space left. So I started thinking if I’ve reached my inodes limit because of the number of files. However, when I do a ‘df -i‘, I am no where near the limit:

Filesystem           1K-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/sdc1            108159004  706236 107452768    1% /media/sdc1

When I look online, all the documentation and search says that the maximum number of files in NTFS is 2^32-1. The only other thing is the master file table (MFT) and how it might increase it’s size if more files get created beyond those specified in MFT. However, I haven’t been able to confirm this.

Anybody have an explanation for this? It’s really bugging me that it’s happening and I can’t figure it out.

Posted in Computers, Linux, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

DBP, mogrify, convert – How to batch crop, resize, rename, format convert images in Ubuntu

Posted by silentarchimedes on March 11, 2009

DBP – David’s Batch Processor for GIMP

If you want to do this in the context of GIMP, download and install DBP (David’s Batch Processor). It will show up as an option under the Filters menu list. Just click ‘Batch Process’ and a GUI will pop up. You simple add files to the input list and you can do various basic image processing operations on it. They include any combinations of rotate, blur, colorize, resize, crop, sharpen, rename and image format conversion.

One drawback to DBP is that it does not allow you to add a directory or directories instead of a list of individual images. For some people that need to batch process directories of images, you will have to either manually do a directory one at a time or temporarily put all your images into one directory. This is a bit of a pain.

mogrify or convert – ImageMagick tools for Linux

If you are more of a command line guy or if you do need to batch process directories of images, mogrify or convert is the way to go. The man page of mogrify states, ‘mogrify – resize an image, blur, crop, despeckle, dither, draw on, flip, join, re-sample, and much more. Mogrify overwrites the original image file, whereas, convert(1) writes to  a  different image file.’

You can simply put a bunch of mogrify commands into a script file and let it run in the background. An example mogrify command to resize all your jpegs to 256×256 looks like:

  mogrify -resize 256x256 *.jpg

An example convert command to resize all your jpegs to 256x256 gifs with a prefix of images looks like:

  convert -size 256x256 *.jpg images%0d.gif

Look  at the ImageMagick’s mogrify page or convert page for more info. Speaking of, if you don’t have ImageMagick installed on your Ubuntu system, you should. 🙂

What if you want to command line convert images and put them in another directory, but keep the same names as the original images?

So at first it seemed like convert was the way to go since mogrify is supposedly only for modifying the original images in place. However, convert‘s way of doing it requires a bit of linux scripting. There is a easier in mogrify. It  has an option -path that allows you to specify an output image path.

In the following command, I want to crop out a 320×480 subimage beginning at location (160,0) in all the ppms in the tempim directory. I want the processed images to have the same names as the originals but to put them in the tempim2 directory:

mogrify -path tempim2 -format png -size 640×480 -extract 320×480+160+0 tempim/*.ppm

Posted in Computers, Linux, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

The need for greed. And they all fall. What Arod, recession and global warming have in common.

Posted by silentarchimedes on February 7, 2009

Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez

What is going on with the world today? Many of the institutions and systems we grew up with and believed in have crumbled faster than a crumb cake in front of Santa Claus. This morning sports fans were shockingly (or not) met with news that one of the few remaining baseball superstars to not be tainted by the steroids scandal, Alex Rodriguez, failed an MLB steroids test in 2003. Considering that this news was corroborated by four independent sources, and based on past evidence of such news, this story likely has meat behind it. As the Barry Bonds’, baseball’s all-time home run king, steroids perjury trial heads to court, we wonder if there is anything sacred anymore in sportsmanship and fair play. The list now includes Bonds, Arod, Marc McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens and Raphael Palmeiro. All were heroes and idols to millions and millions of kids and sports fans.

Bear Stearns

Bear Stearns

Sports is nothing, however, compared to the deepening economic crisis affecting the country. But, then again we need to ask ourselves how did this country fall into such a dire situation in the first place? With news of unemployment reaching 7.6%, worst since 1982, most Americans are sensing a pessimism in the country and its leadership they have never felt before. Corporations that have long been stalwarts have wilted after years of trustworthy service. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and AIG, just to name a few. Even General Electric has fallen on tough times due to untrustworthy leadership expectations and financial exposure. Then there are the frauds of individuals, such Bernie Madoff, and corporations, such as Enron and Global Crossing.

Polar bear cub

Polar bear cub

Then there is the global warming and energy crises. Due to the  irresponsible and rampant use of oil and other natural resources, and the irresponsible output of chemicals into the air, river and ground, the natural balance of Earth has come under question. Dire predictions of sea levels, global temperatures, forestation, glacial coverage, droughts and diseases have left us wondering is there any hope left? Will there exist a viable Earth in 100 to 200 years?

It is truly amazing that all three of these problems have one major thing in common. Greed. Greed. Greed. What is most disturbing is that the situations did not become problems until the ultimate greed kicked in. Arod was already a once in a generation baseball player back in high school. It is fair to say that he did not do steroids as a teenager as his body structure was simply too small. Bonds was a skinny player with the Pirates but was already a five tool player on the path to the Hall of Fame. McGwire  was an amazingly talented rookie with the Oakland Athletics. Why did they feel the need to use steroids and become even better than they already were? Why risk already amazing career trajectories with such greed?

Similarly, the financial companies that have gone bankrupt or bought up were very viable and successful companies (some for over a hundred years) before the ARMs and hedge funds became en vogue. Why the greed to do such risky investments in order to raise the bottom line and stock price?  Was it all due to increasing stock compensation packages of executives? Was it all worth it? To dupe millions of unknowing citizens just for more personal money? What about Madoff? An already well-respected and wealthy investor; what caused him to risk everyone’s money (including hundreds of other wealthy individuals and companies), just to make more money for his firm?

Finally, the earth has remained relatively stable ever since the existence of man. However, since the Industrial Revolution and especially since the widespread use of combustible engines, there has been this disregard for the side effects of using such resources. Coupled with research in biochemistry and synthetic compounds, the effects of pesticides, mercury, lead and carbons have led to a precarious global balance. Millions of animal species extinct or on the brink of survival.

Progress?

Progress?

Are humans, the supposedly most “intelligent” species with opposable thumbs, in fact, the dumbest species ever? Just imagine outsiders writing about the history of man and what they would write about, especially the past 150 years. Just imagine what they would write about western civilization. Just imagine what they would say about the population numbers. Or about technology and medical research? Is this the final goal of evolution? We have reached the ultimate in special survival… our only enemy is ourselves? The whole purpose of natural selection is the survival of the strong. However, part of natural selection is natural balance. A species never wants to become too powerful because then their food sources and natural enemies would disappear. Humans have, in essence, overcome both these natural laws. Through natural selection (our brains and opposable thumbs) we are far and beyond the most powerful species. In a relatively short time, our population and power increased beyond control. Humans have no more natural enemies. The machines we have created are unmatched and only destructible amongst ourselves. So what does this all mean?

The human world does not have a checks and balance system. Nature and other species have always acted as the equalizers. The closest thing that comes to that is the United Nations, and everyone knows how ineffective it is. Additionally, idealistic political systems such as communism and socialism have proven futile. Even checks and balance systems, such as the one in the United States, has a limited efficacy, as witnessed by the politics, lobbyism and other issues. Nature is having a difficult time balancing the effects of human greed and power. Diseases and natural disasters are becoming minimal in damage due to medical research and better disaster predictions. Without any natural enemies, we are left to govern ourselves and our future. As exciting of a possibility that is, the track record of that has been phenomenally pathetic.

Posted in Economics, Ethics, Health and Fitness, Opinion, Politics, Science and Math, Sports, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

When is poker gambling? Analogies to investing in stocks.

Posted by silentarchimedes on December 24, 2008

Screenshot of Texas Hold'em Poker 3D

Screenshot of Texas Hold'em Poker 3D

To those people that play poker for its competitive atmosphere or its mathematical excitement, it is not gambling. However, to the outsider or the concerned family member or friend, poker is gambling and any attempts to justify it are simply excuses. I am more in the former camp, but I also know that there are varying degrees of how one plays poker that determines how much poker is a game of skill versus luck. Playing poker is very similar to investing in stocks or mutual funds. A person can play it such that luck is the overriding factor in whether he or she wins (like playing the lottery) or the person can become informed and knowledgeable in all the aspects of the game (like the game of life). Educated poker is about rules, probabilities, psychology, and strategy. Educated investing is about laws, microeconomics, macroeconomics, markets, company details, management details, buying strategy, and selling strategy.

Poker and investing is gambling when…

1a. You pick random hands to play even when the odds are against you.
1b. You pick a random company to invest in.

2a. Even when you know you have a losing hand you keep raising and hope to bluff or scare your opponent into leaving the hand. In other words, you risk going down with the ship. You don’t know when to cut your losses.
2b. The company you invested in keeps missing its target numbers. Instead of cutting your losses, you hope for a turnaround that seems further and further out of reach. You don’t know when to cut your losses.

3a. You don’t even know the probabilities well enough and what the odds are of the next community card being in your favor. You are playing blind, so to speak.
3b. You know what the company basically does, but you don’t read its quarterly reports or anything about P/E ratios, operational cash flow, debt levels, etc. You will be blind to micro-economic problems that can drop the stock like a rock.

4a. You misjudge your opponents’ hands. Being too optimistic in your chances, you turn blind to the fact that your opponent might be holding a pair of Kings because you are hoping that two diamonds come down on the turn and river.
4b. You become attached to the company you invested in and are blind to emerging companies with better technologies or other competitors whose pipeline is looking better than your company.

5a. You keep losing hands. Your track record of winning in poker is below 50%. However, you have a hard time stopping and your losses eat inside you even when it’s over.
5b. You keep losing money in your investments. Your track record of picking sound investments is below 50%. However, you have a hard time letting go and you keep pouring in money into the same losing investments.

6a. You have no long-term poker-playing strategy or your strategy is not working. However, you ignore this or you have blind faith that it will eventually turn in your favor. Gambling is about false hope, blind attachment and ignorance of your true abilities.
6b. You have no long-term investment strategy or your strategy is not working. You know when to buy but have a hard time determining when to sell.

7a. You are too emotional. You take losing hands very hard. They eat inside you hours or days afterwards.
7b. You are too emotional. You take losing investments very hard. They eat inside you for days and even months afterwards.

8a. You are too risky. You regret bets that don’t pan out. You wish you didn’t plop down $20 on a hand that you knew you’d probably lose anyways.
8b. You are too risky. You regret investments that don’t pan out. You wish you didn’t plop all that money on a technology that had only a tiny chance of succeeding.

.

I like the saying that poker is short-term luck and long-term skill. The goal for the player is to decrease the length of that short-term luck to as short as possible. By maximizing skill, you minimize luck, and the game becomes less about gambling and put you more in control of the outcomes. The problem with playing the lottery or slot machines is that no matter how much you learn or the type of intricate strategy you use, the big chunk of luck can never be reduced. However, poker and investing can be done such that the luck or gambling aspects of the game is greatly reduced.

Why do you think the same poker players are at the final table in poker tournaments all the time? Doyle Brunson? Why do you think investors like Warren Buffet are consistent winners in their investments? The homework those guys do can be loosely equated to Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods’ attention to detail.

Good luck! Well, good skill!

Related link:

The Mirage of the Martingale

Posted in Economics, Ethics, List, Other, Reviews, Science and Math, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

The media’s lack of regard for strength of verbs is bad journalism

Posted by silentarchimedes on November 16, 2008

Shares tumble 1.1%!!

Shares tumble 1.1%!!

Don’t you hate it when you read a financial headline, “GE shares tumble…” only to find that the “tumble” refers to a 1.1% or $0.60 drop. Today I read a headline, “Retail sales plunge record xxxx% in October.” Well, the xxxx refers to 2.8%. Now in terms of a pure drop in sales, 2.8% does translate to millions and millions of dollars. However, plunge used in the sentence refers to the percentage, and 2.8% is hardly a plunge. That’s equivalent to getting a 97.2% on an exam after getting 100% the last time. Hardly a plunge in my book. A better verb should have been fall or drop. The media needs to save those strong verbs for when they actually do happen. What happens if retail sales drop 5%? What verb is slightly stronger than plunge? What about 15%? Or 25% Plunge appears more appropriate for those higher percentages than 2.8%.

The media plays too influential of a role in society. They are very biased and definitely use strongly emotional words to draw undue fear and anxiety to readers. They shape the views we have of the present and future. Journalism, especially in this internet digital age is no longer checked and balanced like the past.  It used to be a craft and even an art.  An honor to report injustice in the world and document history. Just over ten years ago, the main sources of news were either newspapers/magazines or the three nightly news programs and CNN on cable television. Now, media is always there on the computer and even more on cable channels. The rush to be the first to report the news and the pressure to grab the reader’s attention have definitely made the media more biased than ever.

The public needs to hold the media accountable and responsible for unjustifiablely emotional news.

Posted in Economics, Observations, Opinion, Technology | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Letter to America

Posted by silentarchimedes on November 3, 2008

Dear Fellow Americans,

The land of the free and the home of the brave...

The land of the free and the home of the brave...

Tomorrow is one of the most important days in recent American history. It is a day that will affect the short term prospects of America and the standing of America in the world for the next century. The events and actions of the past eight years have accelerated the damaging path the country has embarked on for the past thirty years. The irresponsible actions have left America crippled economically, politically, morally and psychologically. Both parties have been hijacked by the special interests of corporations, ideological groups and personal interests. The values in which America was founded on have been distorted. The decision made by America tomorrow will go a long way in determining if we continue this egregious path of self-destruction.

The debt at the national, local and consumer levels are not only due to the actions of the past eight years. The decision by the Supreme Court in 1978 (Marquette National Bank of Minneapolis vs. First of Omaha Service Corp.) to deregulate interest rate caps at the state level was the precursor to the inundation of credit cards and the mortgaging of personal futures for the present. Although Reaganomics has been credited with bringing the country out of the vitriolic stagflation of the late 1970s, it has had a long term effect that has eaten away at the fiscal responsibility of the federal government. At the core of Reaganomics was reducing tax rates by reducing government spending which in turn was achieved by reducing costs associated with regulation and social programs. However,  unexpected costs from the burgeoning Cold War resulted in large trade and federal budget deficits. In order to cover such deficits, the government began borrowing heavily both domestically and abroad. This decision to mortgage the future of the country for the present instilled a belief that debt is good, even to other countries, such as China, Japan and India. America became a borrower nation instead of a loaner nation, which it had been for decades during its prominence.

The deregulation of these two critical issues are the main causes of the current economic problems. It instilled bad habits at all levels of society. Although quality of life continued to increase the past thirty years, it was mostly at the cost of the future. Both politicians and individuals began feeling entitled to such luxuries and expected it to last forever. However, as analyzed by Pulitzer Prize winner Jared Diamond (Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed), it is this infectious mindset that causes great societies to fail. This country is at that critical juncture. Do we reinstate the values, sacrifices and hard work that made this country great or do we continue down this destructive path?

In addition to the present economic and ideological problems that endanger the quality of life of America, there are many massive elephants in the near future that can derail any sense of comfort in the nation. A fundamental restructuring of social programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is required in the next one or two presidencies before the effects of the baby boomer population cripple the flow of aid from the system. The high quality of life has left Americans lazy, fat and indifferent, and the medical costs associated with treating related diseases and health issues threaten to destroy the already broken health-care system. The super-highway system that supported the rise of American power is also the bane of the country’s dependence on foreign oil and its lavish automobile lifestyle. Furthermore, the infrastructure of America is crumbling and poses a danger to the lifeblood of a large country like America. A massive government infrastructure initiative is required within the next twenty years. The only question will be where does all the money come from? As globalization continues to redistribute the wealth and power of the world, the education system and America’s ability to compete are also being tested. American children  continue to fall behind other countries at all levels of education, from middle school to college to graduate school. This country has been able to sustain its technological competitiveness partly through the immigration of top-level students from countries such as China and India. However, the current backlash on immigration coupled with the increasing prestige of other countries’ higher education systems, begs the question of how America will sustain its technological edge? Corporations and special interest groups as super-humans continue to eat away at the fabric of America. Their selfish narrow-minded view of profit and ideology permeate all levels of society, from individuals to the government. Ideology has especially polarized the country into two hardened stances, secularity versus ideology. The effects of this has left the country fearful and suspicious of each other. Finally, the effects of the internet and other entertainment-related technologies cannot be understated. Although they have created luxuries beyond anyone’s belief and increased the free flow of information, they have also created a schizophrenic society of 24 hour media frenzy and questionable freedoms of morality. The neutrality of journalism and the mental well-being  of society are at stake. Coupled with the constraints of global warming and moral responsibility, the above problems must be faced responsibly.

These problems will definitely be difficult to face and resolve. Most of these have been simmering for years, but have been effectively ignored. However, what has always made America great has been its ability to come together as a country and sacrifice for the greater good of the country and the world. The sacrifices by this country during the Civil War and World War II for the greater good cannot be forgotten. Although society was simpler and less polarized then, the country must come together once again to face the unprecedented wave of issues that threaten to send America down the road of self-destruction.

Tomorrow begins that choice. Tomorrow the country decides which path to take, one of sacrifice for the greater good or one of continued wantonness. Tomorrow begins the day where America can begin reinstating the values that made this country so great. A country of uniqueness not found anywhere else in the world. A melting pot that protects individual rights and helps others at times of need. A constitution so strong that the thought of a revolution is unfathomable. The land of opportunity and openness. A land of thousands of parks and natural resources. The separation of church and state and the freedom of religion. The land of the best medical care and higher education system. A land of tolerance and hope. And the land of the free and the home of the brave…

Whomever you vote for tomorrow, please think openly and clearly. Without any bias of age, race, religion, and fear, think who will be better for America. Who will lead America towards a path of redemption and strength. A path that requires sacrifice but cherishes American freedoms. A candidate that realizes that what America needs now is a problem solver with pragmatism and humility, and not one fixated on idealism, intolerance and fear mongering. Look closely at your choice, and know that when you go home afterwards, there will be a better America tomorrow. A better America for yourself and your family, and also for its great citizens of today and tomorrow.

America’s tomorrow begins now…

Thank you.

Silent Archimedes

Posted in Economics, Ethics, Observations, Opinion, Politics, Science and Math, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Ativa DQ83Mn Paper Shredder – Green light won’t turn on

Posted by silentarchimedes on October 20, 2008

Ativa DQ83Mn Shredder

Ativa DQ83Mn Shredder

I bought an Ativa DQ83Mn Shredder from OfficeDepot back in February of 2008.  I believe Ativa is OfficeDepot’s own tech brand. It worked perfectly for atleast four months. Then one day it just wouldn’t turn on. Normally all I do is push the button to Auto mode and the green light goes on. Now nothing happens in any mode. In disgust, I left the shredder to die for a few months before I finally looked for the receipt today. I went online to check the warranty info on the product and see what was the best path to go, deal with the hassle of getting it fixed or replaced or just buy a new one. After all I had bought it on sale for $29.99, and it seemed more of a hassle to go through warranty.

Luckily for me, I found a problem post on this shredder online:

Fixya – Shredder won’t turn on

A poster carlosquinto said he had the same problem, and after talking to tech support, it was determined that the electrical contact between the shredder and basket was not touching each other! Huh? There needs to be electrical contact between a mesh basket and shredder? Interesting… I guess it makes sense. Sort of a safety feature that won’t allow the shredder to go on unless it is safely over the basket. I decided to look at my shredder one last time. It seemed to be placed perfectly over the basket… But then I lifted the shredder about 1 mm above the cord cutout on the basket. I heard a click and the green light went on! I let the shredder drop back into it’s normal position and the green light went off! Hmmm, it is due to the electrical contact! After a little maneuvering, the green light now stays on for good.

Yayeee! A fixed technical product issue. So few of those…

Posted in Products, Reviews, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Time to step back at times of bad to look at the good…

Posted by silentarchimedes on October 9, 2008

With everything so depressing in this country and the world right now, it’s time to step back in our lives and look for the good that is happening.

IF YOU ARE…

1. If you are a football fan, it’s football season! Especially if you are a Giants fan!

2. If you just started a loving relationship, cherish these moments where everything just seems right.

3. If you have good physical and mental health, cherish the genes and hard work you’ve put in.

4. If you just got married or engaged, enjoy the comfort that you two will face the future together.

5. If you love movies, music, and photography, enjoy the technological revolution going on now.

6. If you love the free flow of information, enjoy the internet revolution.

7. If you love autumn, enjoy the next few weeks of cooler weather, falling colorful leaves, and comfy clothes.

8. If you are a college student, enjoy your only years of irresponsible independence.

9. If you consistently play sports or exercise, enjoy its stress relief, health benefits and competition.

REALIZE…

10. Realize that at the worst times are when heroes and financial opportunities are made.

11. Realize that the eight years of this presidency is finally almost over, and things can only get better.

12. Realize that many economists have been saying for several years that a REAL recession is good for this country in order to purge all the greed and evil that has permeated the economic system, from government to corporations to consumers.

13. Realize that this is a great opportunity for America to return to its true democratic and founding values. (Hint, hint… vote for you know who…)

14. Realize that there is still 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. Everything bad happening are just local minimums in history.

15. Realize that you are only one of over 100 billion humans that have ever graced this Earth. Does it really matter?

16. Realize that your life here on Earth (avg 70 years) is nothing compared to the age of Earth (4.5 billion years). That’s only 0.0000016%! Enjoy your time on Earth!

17. Realize that life has been so good for this country for two decades, it’s okay to retreat a bit in order to fix the system.

18. Realize that the majority of people on Earth are still worse off than you. They have more extreme short-term worries like food, shelter, clothing and diseases.

19. Realize that everything in existence is cyclical. Nature, history, emotions, economic times, etc etc…

20. Realize that you have the power to do something about it! You are not helpless and thus it’s not hopeless! Vote!

AND FINALLY

If you are reading this, cherish that you have freedom of speech and your vision.

Bless you…

Silent Archimedes 🙂

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Five can’t miss PBS programs – Frontline, NOVA, Nature, POV and Independent Lens

Posted by silentarchimedes on October 9, 2008

Even with all the hundreds of cable channels pushed upon us…not to mention Netflix and YouTube, some of the best programs are still on your local public broadcasting service (PBS). Here I list my top five favorite ongoing shows on PBS. What makes it great is that PBS also makes them accessible online if you missed them.

1. Frontline
Frontline

Frontline

is a public affairs television program of varying length produced at WGBH in Boston, Massachusetts. Marking its 25th anniversary season, FRONTLINE has built a reputation for powerful reporting that tackles the tough, controversial, and complex stories that shape our times. From Martin Smith’s probe into the decisions leading to the tragic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, to Michael Kirk’s investigation of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib; from Ofra Bikel’s examination of America’s racial divide over the O.J. Simpson verdict, to special reports like The Age of AIDS and provocative journeys like Hedrick Smith’s search for the answer to the question, Is Wal-Mart Good for America? FRONTLINE gives its award-winning journalists and filmmakers the time needed to thoroughly research a story and the time on-air to tell the story in a compelling way.

2. NOVA
NOVA

NOVA

is a popular science television series from the U.S. produced by WGBH Boston. It can be seen on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the United States, and in more than 100 other countries. It has also won a variety of major television awards, most of them many times over. Nova often includes interviews with scientists directly involved in the subject, and occasionally footage from the actual moment of a particular discovery. Some episodes have focused on historical aspects of science. Examples of topics include Colditz Castle, Drake equation, elementary particles, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, Fermat’s last theorem, global warming, moissanite, Project Jennifer, storm chasing, Unterseeboot 869, Vinland, and the Tarim mummies.

3. Nature
Nature

Nature

is a long-running wildlife television program produced by Thirteen/WNET New York. It has been distributed to United States public television stations by the PBS television service since its debut on October 10, 1982. Nature is one of the most watched documentary series in the world. It is a weekly one-hour program that consists of documentaries about various animals and ecosystems. The series has won more than 400 honors from the television industry, the international wildlife film community, parent groups, and environmental organizations – including 10 Emmy Awards, two Peabody Awards, and the first honor ever given to a program by the Sierra Club.

4. P.O.V.
P.O.V.

P.O.V.

is a PBS television series which features independent nonfiction films. P.O.V.’s films have a strong first-person, social-issue focus. Since 1988, P.O.V. has presented over 225 films to public television audiences across the country. P.O.V. films are known for their intimacy, their unforgettable storytelling and their timeliness, putting a human face on contemporary social issues. The series has garnered both critical and industry acclaim over its 20-plus years on television. P.O.V. programs have also won major industry awards including three Oscars, 19 Emmys, 36 Cine Golden Eagles and 11 Peabody Awards.

5. Independent Lens
Independent Lens

Independent Lens

introduces new drama and documentary films made by independent filmmakers. Each episode introduces new documentaries and dramas made by independent thinkers: filmmakers who are taking creative risks, calling their own shots and finding untold stories in unexpected places. From a Texas drug sting, to a plane crash in the Andes, to a research lab where beleaguered physicists search for the “God particle,” Independent Lens takes viewers behind the scenes to discover untold stories. Step inside a boisterous courtroom with 1960s revolutionaries Abbie Hoffman and Bobby Seale, or sit down to an intimate dinner with Pakistan’s Pervez Musharraf—let this season’s line-up take you across the span of history and around the globe. Learn more about the U.S. deficit, and dive into hot-button issues like gays in the military, Islamic extremism and gang strife in South Central L.A. Meet a trained kamikaze pilot and an inspirational Kenyan activist who is protecting human rights through the simple act of planting trees.

Watch them…

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