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June 27, 2005

Fixing my Powerbook Battery

My Powerbook's battery slowly lost capacity and began shutting down suddenly. Wasn't quite sure if it was the battery or something else breaking down, but decided to try fixing the battery. A fellow documented the procedure at Replace Powerbook G3 Battery Cells. I found a slightly cheaper source of the cells at E-lectronics.net and went to work. Flux works wonders at making things easy to solder. Even still it took lots of tweaking to get the cells to fit back in. Eventually with some resoldering and plastic trimming I got it all back in and glued it shut. Capacity is now above the shipping capacity. Turns out just one of the nine cells was bad in the original.

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June 23, 2005

TiVo and my PVR experience

I got sick of the lack of good content on TV and the "nothing to watch" problem. I also got frustrated that I kept missing the few good shows that actually aired. I'd been aware of PVRs for quite some time, but none of the commercial ones worked in Canada. But MythTV and Freevo popped up and actually looked usable. Just about when I started to build a box, TiVoCanada showed up. I figured the TiVo was a much better route. It's a small appliance that is self maintaining, it's cheaper and there is a much larger user base for support. I was sold. That was more than a year and a half ago and I'll never look back. TiVo uses the slogan "TV your way." and that fits my experience. I watch what I want, when I want and no commercials (at least I fast forward through them). I don't need to get home at 6pm to watch the news, or stay up till 4am to catch that B movie, its just there sitting on the TiVo to watch whenever. I don't even watch live TV anymore. I've got 2 units now, since all the networks tend to pile up the shows all at the same time, 2 units plus the time shifts on digital cable (which the TiVo also works with) gives me more than enough coverage to capture everything I might want to watch.

What you need to become TiVo enabled in Canada: a TiVo unit, all the information and a piece of software from TiVoCanada and an internet connected computer. It is actually pretty simple. My units just sit there and run, while the software hasn't needed any attention for ages.

I still think TiVo is a better choice than the alternatives. MythTV has certainly improved, especially by supporting the PVR cards, system requirements are greatly reduced. Shaw Cable's PVR offerings are usable, even MTS TV's control your VCR PVR hack is somewhat helpful. It is a step in the right direction, but they are still many steps behind TiVo despite TiVo's stagnation.

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June 12, 2005

Geocaching

This is my third summer of geocaching and its still an enjoyable hobby to get out and do something while exploring in summer time, even winter time for the die hards. Geocaching is an adventure sport that requires you to find caches hidden by other geocachers. You find them tracking GPS coordinates reported by the hider. Caches usually contain trinkets to trade, but can be just a unique location with something interesting to look at, or they can be complex multi-stage puzzles.

Last fall we had an explosion of new geocachers and hidden caches in the province, nearly doubling the number hidden. In spring time the Manitoba Geocaching Association was created. GPSr units have become quite inexpensive, starting ~$150cdn, so its a great time to get out and start exploring.

I just hid my second one, Tardis, and have found 100 others throughout 4 provinces so far.

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June 01, 2005

New Blog

Welp, I thought I needed a different structure for reporting little tidbits of information and knowledge so I'm trying a blog and here it is.

This tends to replace my Rants, Raves and Reviews page which covered some retail experiences and my News page which covered more personal events.

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Free iPods

Recently FreeiPods.com became available to Canadians. Its scammy but it works. So I'm giving it a go. So far of the 25 offers I've been shown, only 4 are available to Canadians and none are free. The cheapest I've found is eFax at $13us. You don't need to finish the offer till the referrals are done, so I'm waiting for something better. Even still $13us for an iPod isn't bad. For more info http://www.ertyu.org/steven_nikkel/freestuff.html.

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Princess Auto Comes Through Again

On the weekend I headed over to Princess Auto to pick up an ammo can ($13) to create a new geocache. While there I remembered I was looking for a better way to mount my GPSr in the car. The new Accord seems much more resistant to letting GPS signals in, so the unit gets much better reception sitting up on the dash instead of in a cup holder. Anyway, so I started looking through the cellphone accessories and found a really nice arm ($5). It was extendible, had a large suction cup, a universal mount bracket and both ends tilted. I found a belt clip for an LG phone ($10) that clipped onto the bracket perfectly and locked in place, plus the phone side of the belt clip was screwed in. So it just took a trip to Rona (Home Depot didn't have anything) to get some washers and screws to make the belt clip hook onto the GPSr and voila, an inexpensive mount. And just to top it off, I found a nice patio set at Rona.

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