Category: Gadgetry

Troy-Bilt’s Revenge

For about the time it takes to mow the entire lawn, I worked on my weedtrimmer on a recent afternoon.

The last of the original line had spooled out, except for about a foot long piece. I looked forward to replacing the line with child-like anticipation. Because my new weed trimmer had a Speed Spool(TM), which eliminates the tedium of taking the weed trimmer head apart by allowing the user to simply insert one ten foot line through the two openings, even up the two ends so that about five feet are sticking out on each side, then start winding the line back into the spool.

This sounded easy enough, so I pulled out ten feet of off-brand weed trimmer line (same gauge as the line used by this weed trimmer), and went to insert it. Not so fast. The afore-mentioned foot long remnant was hiding inside the spool, requiring it to be disassembled after all. Read more

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Computer upgrade

Okay, I know this is just narcissistic, but my work PC now has 2 GBs more RAM and when I got to talking to my computer tech (Fred Limmer, On-Site Computers) about how I’d like to get one of those new wide monitors, he mentioned that he had one in his truck that a previous customer turned out to not want. This is my desktop now – about 12 x 20″ physical size, 1680 x 1050 res. FTW!


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USB TV Tuner

My USB  tuner, as seen in the previous post, arrived. Works okay, one surprise (because I didn’t read the product description carefully): it is an ATSC tuner ONLY, which means it won’t pick up NTSC. This will be irrelevant after 2009 anyway. I was impressed with how good the images were with a little tiny antenna. It’s UHF frequencies, which means the antennas are going to be small for the equivalent wavelength, but which also means the signal is very directional. The TV stations (at least 2 of them) are putting a strong signal into Prattville. The adapter uses a standard 75 ohm antenna connector, so I could put a better antenna outside or in my attic and get better results. Should serve the purpose of allowing us to see some TV (especially the weather and news) if cable and/or power go out (at least for an hour or so on the laptop).

Here’s a screenshot I captured with it – of Dan Atkins with WSFA (from their 12.2 weather sub-channel) – click on the picture for a larger image.

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Because I need another gadget – a USB TV tuner

 In addition to my being banged up and currently bed-ridden, a tornado went through my fair city this Sunday. Some guys have all the luck (I know, at least it didn’t hit my house). The power was out for over an hour, and cable was out for about 24 hours.

At some point in the festivities, I got out my old Radio Shack 1″ screen LCD TV, and it occured to me as we were watching the news on it that after February 2009 (as of this writing), this thing will be useful only as a paperweight. So I got to looking for portable TVs with an ATSC tuner.

While there are a few models out there, my searching led me to this USB tuner. Using my laptop (or any other computer, provided I have power), I’ll be able to pull in HDTV signals off the air. It even provides for some other goodies, like recording programs.

And best of all, my laptop screen, while not a true 1080, beats the heck out of the old Radio Shack 1″ screen.

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