Wednesday, December 12, 2007

(HDTV Primer Part 2) HDTV's Demystified

Frank's 2000 Inch TV

Ahhhh... Non one can write songs like that wordsmith, Weird Al!

As the advent of HD television, I am finding greater and greater semi-information coming from the cable companies, the TV companies, and the big box electronic stores.

This post's theme is going to explain exactly what the heck all the TV terms mean. 720i? What the heck is that?

Have no fear friends, I am here to help. If you are a regular reader here, then you know that I am constantly waging an information war against those who would spread lies about new TV technology.

First off, what is High Definition (HD) TV? It is, quite literally, pictures and video that are highly defined. When describing pictures, one uses the term "pixel" a clumsy contraction of the words "picture element". A pixel is, in reality, simply a dot on your screen. This dot has three colour components, red, blue and green. Depending how these colours are brightened or dimmed, gives the pixel an overall colour. Combine a whole bunch of pixels, and you get a picture. Change the colour of the pixels in a controlled manner, and you brain interprets it as movement.

A screen's picture quality is defined by its "resolution" or quite literally, how many pixels it has on its surface. The more pixels, the better the picture.

This is where HD comes in. TV's sold in North America throughout the 70's, 80's, 90's, and early 2000's were what was known as Standard Definiton (SD), 640x480 and multiples there of, also called NTSC (National Television System Committee). This meant that they had pictures that were 640 pixels wide by 480 pixels high.

Larger SD TV's used larger dimensions, but always in the ratio of 3 pixels wide, to two pixels high.

HD content uses a much higher number of pixels to define pictures, so it does indeed look better when displaying high definition content.

HD resolutions use a ratio of 16 pixels wide by 9 pixels high. Official HD resolutions are: HD 720 (1280x720), and HD 1080 (1920x1080). Technically, EDTV 480 (854x480), is not high enough to actually call it High Definition (and is not part of the HD Standard), so it is referred to as Enhanced Definition.

Here is a comparison of various resolutions in scale:

While many TV's rightly claim that they are HD displays, they are not all HD 1080. Make sure you read ALL the numbers, not just the price. There is a reason that giant *HDTV* is so cheap!

Another thing you have to know about is the "scan".

Dear God, more TV lingo? Yes, the "scan" was a term from the days when all TV's were Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT) in which a beam of electrons "painted" the picture on the screen, one line at a time from the top, 60 times per second.

Progressive Scan (PS) means that every line is painted on every scan. This gives the best picture as every line is utilized on the screen in every pass. However the delivery method of the media requires a high bandwidth since more information needs to be delivered. This is indicated as a p such as 720p or 1080p.

Interlaced Scan (IS) means that on the first scan, lines 1, 3, 5... etc. of a frame are painted, then on the next scan lines 2, 4, 6... etc. of the next frame are painted. The benefit is that half the bandwidth is needed at the sacrifice of picture quality, known as "combing". Additionally, IS has a "flickering" effect. Even though you may not be able to see the flicker with your eyes, it is known to cause eye strain and headaches after continuous use. This is indicated as an i such as 720i or 1080i.

If a TV can display progressive scan, it can display interlaced, but not the other way around.

Here is an example comparison between PS and IS. The fourth picture is how non-scanning TV's such as DLP, LCD, and Plasma display interlaced video.

Please note that the flicker shown for IS is exaggerated for demonstration purposes. It really is not that obvious.

This is an example of "combing". This is caused because the odd and even lines are displaying two different frames, so the picture does not line up properly. You can see that the source video was being transmitted by satellite, where bandwidth is a premium, hence the use of interlaced broadcast.

Current TV's use "comb filters" to try clean up the picture, but no filter can replace progressive scanning.

Now finally there is the display technology. While CRT is really the king of picture quality, they are very heavy, very thick, use alot of lead in the construction, and are limited to a one meter (diagonal) screen sizes. Newer TV's are thinner and lighter, saving money on shipping, and saving your back.

The first is Digital Light Processing (DLP) this uses a grid of tiny mirrors to project coloured light onto the screen. Each mirror represents one pixel. Cheaper models use a single DLP chip and a rapidly spinning colour wheel (red/blue/green) to project the picture. Higher quality images are obtained using three DLP chips, each with its own dedicated light beam (again red/blue/green).

While not as thin as LCD or plasma, DLP's are cheaper and more easily repaired when the light source burns out. They are also lighter and immune to "burn in".

DLP may also create eyestrain, are susceptible to the silk screen (ie. the screen surface is noticeable) effect and the screen door effect (ie. the pixels are spaced too far apart, showing a black, grid-like pattern). They may also be vulnerable to vibration, so if you have kids jumping around by the TV alot, the mirrors may be affected.

A Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) creates a picture by using liquid-crystal gels that react to electricity. The back of the display is evenly lit by the backlight and brightens the coloured liquid crystal cells. The cells can then be darkened by applying various voltages to the individual cells. Each gel cell only produces one colour (blue/green/red) so three cells, one of each colour, are grouped together in a pixel.

LCD displays are very thin, but don't produce true black, since they can never be truly opaque. LCD's are also vulnerable to dead pixels, where cells no longer respond to the voltages applied, thus becoming "stuck" on one colour. While negligible around the edge, it is very noticeable in the center area. Cheap models are also susceptible to screen door effect, blurring, and ghosting.

Finally Plasma displays work like millions of neon lights to produce colours in a grid pattern to produce a picture. Each cell contains a gas that is excited by electricity. The cell is coated by a special coating called a phosphor. The excited gas causes the phosphor to display its colour. Each phosphor can only display one colour, (blue/green/red), so three different phosphors are grouped together in each pixel. Plasma displays also have a backlight, to help brighten the image.

While giving a better picture than LCD, Plasma displays are way more expensive than either LCD or DLP and consume much more power. They do produce black better than LCD, but they are vulnerable to screen burn. Screen burn occurs when a single picture is displayed on the screen for a long period of time (such as pausing a movie while the TV is on and forgetting about it for a few hours. This damages the screen, causing that image to lightly be displayed permanently.

Also, LCD and Plasma TV's are not easily repairable. Hence, when it dies, you need to buy a new one. DLP's can be repaired depending on which component dies.

Do here is the big question, which would I choose?

My preference is the DLP, 1080p display. Failing that, I would go with an LCD, 1080p. I just can't justify spending tonnes of money on a plasma screen. I mean, its only television.

Now if they ever come out with SED screens... well, that's another story altogether.

I hope this little article has helped you sort out the quagmire that the big box stores have hoped to drown you in. Now you can go out and make an informed choice as an educated consumer.

Until next time, this is Soundwave saying, keep on having fun!

"bah weep graaagnah wheep ni ni bong"

Monday, December 3, 2007

Expose your Folder Sizes!

Ever try to clean out a hard drive or USB drive to make more room, but you couldn't find out which folders were taking up all of the space? That always used to frustrate me during my clean-out efforts, but no longer.

I found a new piece of freeware called "Folder Size" that lets you add an extra column to the Details View of Windows Explorer so that you can see not only the size of the files, but the size of the folders as well.

Just surf on over to this page, Folder Size, to download it. Instructions on installation and use are here.

Unfortunately, according to the author, Folder Size does not yet support Microsoft Vista because of some of the internals are screwed up... um, I mean "improved".

I have personally installed it on every Windows XP computer that I have administrator access to since it is such a useful feature!

Until next time everyone, keep on cleaning out those hard drives, and keep on having fun!

"bah weep graaagnah wheep ni ni bong"

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Oh my God! That's Cla-a-a-a-sic!

Promotional fee paid by the folks mentioned at above. Follow a link and help out "Don't Cross the Streams".

Greetings everyone,

For the longest time, I had been mulling over creating a collection of relatively popular classical music. Not "classical music" in the strictest definition. This refers to music composed between 1730 – 1820.

But I was looking for all instrumental pieces, for orchestra, preferably written before 1950. Yes, quite broad (it includes some opera pieces as well).

My search was really slow, since I rarely know the actual name of the piece that I was thinking of.

Then I stumbled across Kick Ass Classical, and the searching blasted off! The site has streaming audio clips of almost one hundred familiar "classical" tunes. This site is sweet and a highly recommended site for springboard from in search of completing your own collections. You'd be surprised at how many you will recognize.

Suddenly I was armed with titles and composers with which to search. The following sites were extremely fruitful: A very good site for finding music file links. This site is in an Asian font, but it handles English titles.
Classic Cat: Another site that links you to audio files of classical performances.

Now, Classical music may not be as hip or as cool as some of the stuff played on the internet radio show CLIMAX RADIO, but it is excellent background music when you want to relax or are doing chores.

Note to Mr. Magnum and RadioFreeG, don't worry, I won't be submitting any Classical pieces to the show.

Another great resource that goes without saying, is bittorrent. Through this I found "The Classic Experience", "Classic Experience II", and "Classic Experience III". I'm still looking for "Classic Experience IV", so if anyone locates the file, post a link in the comments section of this post.

I've pretty much completed my collection, I've downloaded pretty much every piece recommended by Kick Ass Classical, and I must admit, its a pretty well-rounded collection.

So until next time, keep those Classical ears open, and keep on having fun!

To whet you appetite, I've posted the following YouTube video entitled "Cannon Rock".


"bah weep graaagnah wheep ni ni bong"

Monday, November 5, 2007

♫ New Radio Show Promos! ♬

And now I present, new audio spots by Climax Radio, and T & M's Voices!

Play Promo

Play Promo

When you're listening to these guys, you can't help but keep on having fun!

"bah weep graaagnah wheep ni ni bong"

Sunday, October 28, 2007

CDs, Introduce Yourselves!!!

Hello everyone,

Its been some time since my last computer factoid was posted.

Today we are going to discuss "CD Text".

Since September 1996, it has been part of the Audio CD Standard to add the CD artist, CD title, Track Title, and Track Artist data to audio CDs so that more accurate information can be displayed than "Track 01".

Some of you with car audio systems with advanced displays may have noticed this. Many of you probably have several music CDs with this capability, but don't know. CD burning software has had the option to add CD Text to the CD burning project for years, though it is usually an unchecked option.

Now you may be asking yourself "Shenanigans Soundwave! How can such cool features be walking among us, without anyone realizing they exist?"

I give you but one answer "Windows Media Player (including WMP 11) does not support the feature, regardless of the fact that it has been part of the standard for over 10 years!"

For this very reason, the majority of the people out there do not know of this very cool feature. But no longer! Stream Crossers, I give you the fruits of my latest internet search, a plugin that adds CD Text capability to Windows Media Player: WMPCDText.

The only little glitch that I ran into is that the first time you play a given CD with CD Text, the title won't be displayed until the second time you play it. Other than than, it worked flawlessly for me.

Download it here:

Official Announcement

If you want to test it out, I know for a fact that Our Lady Peace, Happiness is Not a Fish That You Can Catch, has the feature. There are others, I just don't know of a list of all discs that feature CD Text support.

More reading on CD Text:

So until next time, keep on having fun!

"bah weep graaagnah wheep ni ni bong"

Monday, August 20, 2007

Edge's "Ongoing History of New Music" in Your Pocket

If you're from Toronto, you know 102.1 the Edge as a famous local radio station dedicated to new music.

You'll also know that the station manager has a weekly show called The Ongoing History of New Music. A great show, but at almost an hour long, you usually can't listen to it in one sitting. They offer a stream off of their website (above) and a random podcast, but no real way download the shows you want to listen to to your mp3 player.

Or is there?

Well Stream Crossers, I, Soundwave, have cracked the code! Their internet site actually streams mp3's, which means that somewhere out there in www-land is a pile of Edge radio shows, just waiting to be listened to. But how?

1) Go to
The Ongoing History of New Music and find the show you want to hear.

2) Click on it and a new window will open and the show will soon start playing. Right click on the page, and click on "Show Source". If you didn't get that option, you clicked on a flash portion, try again somewhere else.

3) A window with the source code will pop up. Somewhere on the site you will see a code like this: OHNM0559_01

4) That code represents the episode and segment (ie show0559, segment 1). Every episode has 4 segments.

5) Now in your browser, type in (replace the code with that of the episode you want). Hit enter and save the segment to disk.

6) Now do this three more times, changing the _01 to _02,_03, and _04. Repeat with each episode you want.

Update (2008-11-18): If you are following steps 5 & 6 and Quicktime is playing the mp3 in the browser and won't let you download the file, here are some options:

1) Disable Quicktime from playing mp3's. If you are using Firefox 3, go to Tools > Options, then click on Applications. Here you can specify what happens with particular file types. Look for mp3 under content type and change the Action to Save or Always ask. If part of the Content Type is hidden because the column is too narrow, just hover the mouse over it and a small pop up will appear with the full text.

This option can be reversed afterwards.

2) Install the "Down them all" extension. Then after restarting Firefox, go to Tools > Manager. Then click on Add URL's and paste the mp3 link into the pop-up box. Don't forget to add the target folder as well.

The extension can also be uninstalled when you are finished if you want.

3) If the above doesn't work, open Quicktime, then go to Edit > Preferences > Quicktime Preferences. Go to the Browser tab, and uncheck "Play movies automatically". This works in Firefox and IE.

4) Also, you can stop Quicktime from loading in the background at boot time (in Windows) by going to Start > Run. Then type msconfig and click OK. The System Configuration Utility will pop up. Go to the Startup tab and uncheck the entry for QTTask. Then click OK. You may need to reboot for this to work.

If you have Firefox, you can use DownThemAll, and the Make Numbered List bookmarklet to download them all at the same time.

1) Install DownThemAll and set up the "Make Numbered List" bookmarklet.

2) Now follow the steps above up to and including step 5. Don't save the file, cancel the save prompt.

3) Now click on the
"Make Numbered List" bookmarklet. This will bring up a new page. Set the 01 to cycle from 1 to 4 (check the Pad with Zeros checkbox). This will generate a series of unique links for each segment. You can even cycle the show number if you wish so it will generate a series of shows with all four segments linked.

4) Use DownThemAll to download all the files at once without having to click and save each one individually.

Enjoying history was never so entertaining!

Until next time, keep listening and keep on having fun!

"bah weep graaagnah wheep ni ni bong"

Monday, August 6, 2007

Truly a disappointment to behold

Well everyone, the time has come to follow up my pre-review of Transformers with my actual one, having seen it two days ago.

Please be warned that I will be speaking freely of my criticisms and the following review contains major spoilers.

I have never been so disappointed in seeing a film in my entire life. Everyone I know really loved it, and thought I of all people should go see it. Being the huge Transformers fan that I am, I had to see it, despite my reservations. So I did. And I hated it. Really, I was on the verge of tears. Everything was wrong, it was so far removed from what made them popular, it was a crime.

My number one complaint about this film is the same thing that sandbagged most of the G1 episodes, TOO MANY HUMANS. Anyone that knows me, knows that the humans ruined every episode that they were in. They got in the way, had to be protected, and basically crippled the Autobots from being able to fight properly. Truly, the best fight sequences in the cartoons had no humans in them at all.

So it was in this movie. I don't understand why the military would think it was a good idea to locate the final confrontation in the middle of the city, but I know it was a stupid one. The Autobots spent so much time trying not to step on the humans that they looked like ballerinas, and spent much of their battle time losing their balance. In fact, ten minutes into the final battle sequence, I'm wondering why the fuck anyone is still out in the middle of the street? Did it not occur to anyone to get the hell out of the way of the giant killer robots?

A consequence of the transformers low screen time was the fact that they had no lines, and thus no personality. The Decepticons suffered much more from this than the Autobots. While Optimus hogged the lion's share of the lines while he waxed poetic, the balance of the lines were simply trash talking during the fight sequence. Megatron came in second but he couldn't put three words together without adding in a growl. In fact, only two of the Decepticons actually say anything at all (Frenzy doesn't count as he only sounded like a gremlin, and wasn't speaking English at all).

Personality-wise, the Autobots were identical to their G1 cartoon counterparts. At least in theory. Without any real dialogue, they were just big bots. I would have liked Ironhide to at least have a southern accent.

Really, the Decepticons were always the more popular group in the 80's, even though they wanted all humans dead. Why? The absence of moral hinderance frees the character to develop very memorable personality traits such as Starscream's desire for leadership, Soundwave's teamwork amongst his cassettes, and the Insecticons' constant treachery. The Autobots were always going on and on about "blah blah blah honour, blah blah blah protect the humans, blah blah blah ..." Boooooooring!

The only thing that was done right in this film was getting Peter Cullen back to voice Optimus Prime. For the ten lines of dialogue that Megatron had, there was no reason to replace Frank Welker with Hugo Weaving. The original G1 voice would have easily fit with Megatron's new form. I've heard clips of Megatron from the video game (voiced by Welker) and they sound fine.

While we're on the subject of talking, Prime's mouth looked horrible. He looked like a talking ape. All the promotional footage showed Prime with his faceplate, but there was not a single frame of footage in the film with Optimus using his faceplate. He really looked bad.

Also, would it have hurt anyone to actually have the Autobots kill a Decepticon? Isn't that what they're there for? After Prime decapitates Bonecrusher (who is in the movie, literally, less than 60 seconds before he dies) all the other Decepticons are killed by humans. I thought THEY were supposed to be defending US! Shit if it weren't for the humans, Megatron would have shredded all of those pussy Autobots, single handedly! Why did the Autobots even bother showing up? We seemed to have the situation under control.

Overall, this film was a failure despite its financial success. I place all of the blame on Michael Bay as he is a failure as a director and as a human being. It was sloppy.

If my hands weren't tied by the unalterable fetters of the law, then I would invoke the tradition of our illustrious forebears, reach back to a purer, sterner justice, and have you BURNED AT THE STAKE! Michael Bay, you fucking suck!

Let's begin with the fact that the tank calls himself Devestator (as do the credits) while the toy is called Brawl. It seems that Bay lost control of the film and forgot the names of his characters. The character's real name is Brawl, Devestator was only a working name. What self respecting director does that? And what kind of director lets that error into the theatres?

Then the action. Things don't start to heat up until there are 30 minutes left in the movie. Then Decepticons start appearing from everywhere. Hell do I know what was happening. There wasn't a single wide shot anywhere to be found in that entire sequence. Nor did it occur to actually keep the camera still, or even move it in the same direction as the action. So everything is whipping all over the place and millions of dollars of supposedly fantastic CGI effects are flushed down the toilet as you can't make out what the fuck is going on. Robots are dying, but since the Decepticons are all the same colour (black) you can't make out who anyone is.

Also, Bay was so focused on keeping mass and volume constant, that certain popular characters were left out, and the ones left in look like they were assembled on Junkyard Wars. Meanwhile at the climax of the film, Bay has a 30 metre tall, metal cube condense into a smaller cube the size of a basketball, and just as light. Where the mass went to, I don't know, but Sam was able to run all over the city and up forty flights of stairs with it. Michael Bay, you are a total hypocrite.

Finally, Optimus Prime fights like a total PUSSY! He gets totally manhandled by Megatron. Remember his fight scene in the 1986 movie? Well forget it. If it wasn't for the humans' airstrike, Megatron would have ripped apart Prime like he did Jazz (interestingly enough, however, Jazz, the only Autobot to actually die in the movie, was the one voiced by an African American actor) and eventually every other Autobot in the movie.

Finally, I have one piece of advice to Mr. Bay. When making a movie, you only use a joke once and that's it. Transformers has two urination jokes (both times calling it "lubricating"), and twice uses the phrase "more than meets the eye" the old catchphrase of the original G1 series. The jokes were stupid to begin with, the second time around they aren't even worth hearing. Go back to director's school.

From what I understand, two sequels are greenlit, the next one will feature Soundwave, the Constructicons, and the Dinobots. I shudder to think how shitty they'll look. Apparently they wanted to save Soundwave for the sequel when they had more money, so they could "do Soundwave right". After seeing this movie, that doesn't hold any meaning to me anymore.

I hate you Michael Bay, I wish I could hate you to death.

Until next time, keep on having fun!

"bah weep graaagnah wheep ni ni bong"

Sunday, July 8, 2007

E-mail Text Messaging!

Did you know that you can e-mail a cellphone that has text messaging capability? Its true.

Most, if not all cell phone companies don't charge for incoming messages. So as long as your recipient does not reply, then he/she will not see any charges.

Simply use the following format as the e-mail address:


The phone number is the 10 digit number with no spaces or dashes.

For a list of domain names look here,

That's it for now, until next time, keep on having fun!

"bah weep graaagnah wheep ni ni bong"

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Wii would like to kick Sony's ass

Well, excuse me if I can't wipe this smile off of my face today, but it seems that SONY will finally be lowering prices on its PS3.

Why? Well, in a word... NINTENDO. While SONY was standing on the shoulders of giants, namely the Playstation and Playstation 2, Nintendo went back to the drawing board, designed a new slingshot, and fired its killing blow.

They decided that they would focus on non-gamers, and young children. Two demographics that don't focus on graphics and processing horsepower. It seems now, however, they are pulling in everyone in between.

Now it is no surprise that I loath SONY. But it hasn't always been that way. Back when they were *just* and electronics company, SONY was focused on making the best products possible, with features that their consumers wanted and demanded. And they thrived.

Unfortunately SONY's turn to the Dark Side™, once they got into the music and movie business. Talk about selling your soul to two devils! You see, unfortunately, the features desired most by consumers are not in the best interests of the music and movie industry. Portability of the content is what we want, Digital Rights Management (rights of the movie companies, not yours) are what we get. Blu-ray is SONY's master plan incarnate, or "inplastic" as the case would be. I'm surprised Blu-ray disk players don't count how many people are in the room, and start shooting people if there are too many.

Anyhow, back to Nintendo. The following are my reasons why the Nintendo Wii has made the PS3 its bitch, ordered from most important to least.

  1. Wireless, motion sensing controllers

    By now you know that the Wii's controllers can detect where you're pointing it and where you move it, and how fast you move it. The curiosity on how this functions is enough to drive sales.

    People, this is not simply "thinking outside the box", this is thinking outside of Euclidean geometry.

    Now normally, I am against wireless remotes because I hate dealing with batteries in things that don't need them. Normal controllers don't need batteries because you're not usually going to play them more than 10 feet away from the console. In this situation, wireless it the only way to go, otherwise you'd be yanking the console onto the floor every 5 seconds.

  2. Low price

    The PS3 costs $600 US, the Xbox 360 is $400 US, the Wii is $250 US. Which one are parents going to buy for young children? Which one will entice non-gamers to try something new?

    It seems that SONY is now realizing that "This generation has shown that consumers are far more price sensitive than previously thought". Noooooo... I was so looking forward to selling my car to buy one of these. Maybe if I stop eating meat I can afford a game.

    Now SONY is contemplating a $100 price cut.

  3. Real-life, yet comical, mayhem and destruction

    SONY has to deal with "My kid beat up a hooker after playing Grand Theft Auto". Nintendo has to deal with "I smashed a window on that home run when the controller slipped out of my hand". You can't even read that without smirking. There's a whole website dedicated to Wii Controller Mishaps. You can actually buy a shield to protect your TV now.

  4. Only one version, at one price, for everyone

    There is only one Wii. Not the expensive Wii with all the features, and the cheap Wii, with minimal features. This isn't Goldilocks and the three bears here. No one wants to be burdened with the stigma of having to own the crappy version. The Wii was designed for inclusiveness and team play, not dividing people between rich/poor boundary lines.

    I think SONY just launched the 20 GiB PS3 just to convince themselves that everyone WANTS to give them all their money and justify the expensive price. They conveniently leave out the fact that the 20 GiB PS3 has almost none of the features of the expensive one.

  5. Never take a hit on anything

    It is well known that Nintendo does not have other divisions to allow it to lose money on its hardware. Despite the $600 price tag, SONY loses money on each PS3 that it sells. The Wii was designed to profit from every sale, despite its low price, from the beginning. You gotta respect that.

Just to end on a high note, here's a video with a song ridiculing the PS3. I like it, despite the fact that it seems to be pro-XBox. The music is really great.

So, until next time, buy a Wii, and keep on having fun!

"bah weep graaagnah wheep ni ni bong"

Monday, June 11, 2007

US Mint 50 State Quarters Checklist

Although I am based in Canada, I travel frequently to the United States. One of the things that has fascinated me here is their 50 State Quarters program by the US Mint. Yes, I know the Canadian mint did the same thing years before. I already have all of those provincial quarters, so I was looking for a new coin to collect.

Anyhow, I have looked high and low for an official checklist of quarters, but I could not find one. So I made one up myself. It is available here. Click on the checklist icon to download it. You'll need Adobe Acrobat Reader. It checks in at about 4 MiB.

I would have linked to the original Word Document, but at 16.5 MiB, it is just too big.

Version 1.4
Updated on 2009-03-14
  • updated the 2009 U.S. Territories coin images with new, hi-resolution images.
  • added release date for the first 2009 coin
Version 1.3
Updated on 2008-08-16
  • fixed year typo on the 2007 coin page (it read 2006, thanks Anonymous)
  • added new coin images for 2008 coins
  • added release dates for additional 2008 coins
  • added coin images for 2009 coins
  • added statehood dates
Version 1.2
Updated on 2008-01-06
  • added new coin images for 2007 & 2008 coins
Version 1.1
Updated on 2007-06-12
  • added new coin images for released coins
  • added 2008 coin images
  • added table for possible 2009 program extension
  • added version control and title page
  • cleaned-up layout
Version 1.0
  • Initial Release

This list is current as of the date of release, and will be updated regularly (at least every time a new quarter is released). The list is aligned to the right so that you can hole punch the page.

I don't know why some of the images don't look good, they were fine before the PDF conversion. Hopefully I can remedy that in future updates.

One more thing, the two columns marked D and P indicate the Denver and Philadelphia mints, respectively, where the quarters are minted. The D or P appears on the lower right of the heads side, behind Washington's ponytail. Every quarter has a D and P version.

Should be useful for all you coin collectors actively collecting these coins.

Until next time, keep on having fun.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Coolest Shuttle Picture You'll See Today

In keeping with RadioFreeG's space themed radio show, I present to you the coolest shuttle picture you'll see today.

See that little speck on the left along the centreline? Clicking on the picture will open up a super-size version of the photograph, scroll to the middle left and you will see a silhouette of the space shuttle undocking from the International Space Station, with the sun in the background.

This photo was taken in a cow pasture in France, after tracking the paths of the two objects for weeks.

Look up, and keep on having fun!

"bah weep graaagnah wheep ni ni bong"

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Lock-Down Your Wireless Network

Well everyone, its been sometime since my last post here at DCTS. I've been racking my brains trying to come up with an interesting and useful post for everyone. Finally my girlfriend suggested writing about wireless network security.

Now the first thing to know is that no wireless router is impenetrable. Our main goal is to apply enough layers of challenge to logging on to your network that any potential attacker will move on to other targets.

Now make you get a router, not a hub or a switch. Routers have more advanced data flow control, giving everyone on the network faster access. Routers also have better security features.

Once you've purchased your router of choice, it is normally configured through your web browser. You type the IP address of the router where the web page would go and you surf to your router. Your router's manual will show you how to do this.

1) Change Your Default Router Password

One of the first things an intruder will do once on your network is to lock you out of your own router. All routers have known default passwords, the first thing you must do is change it to something that is not easy to guess and is at least 8 characters long or longer if possible.

2) Enable WPA or WPA2 Encryption

Always enable WPA or WPA2 encryption. WPA stands for Wi-Fi Protected Access, and it is an encryption mechanism so that if someone tries to snoop in on your data flow, they won't be able to tell what is going through. WPA2 is an advanced, more secure form of WPA at the expense of compatibility with older wireless devices. Enable WPA2 initially then downgrade to WPA if you can't connect. Never use WEP, an old encryption method that is no longer considered secure. Windows XP SP2, Vista, Mac OS X, and most current Linux distributions all support WPA and WPA2.

If the router does not support WPA encryption, don't buy it (or return it).

These options will usually appear as WPA-PSK or WPA2-PSK. PSK stands for Pre-Shared Key. Essentially you need a password to be given to you before you can log on to a WPA/WPA2 protected network. You can select passwords up to 64 characters. It is advisable to use all 64 characters.

I use this site for my passwords. The second set of characters entitled "63 random printable ASCII characters" is the most secure. Copy this to a text file and save it in a secure location. You may want to edit the password and remove any question marks, spaces, and O's and zeros, and L's and capital I's (
O's and zeros tend to look the same, as do lower case L's and capital I's).

Only wireless devices need the password to connect, computers using network cables do not.

3) Change and Hide Your SSID

Your SSID (Service Set Identifier) is essentially the name you want to call your network. Make it something unique, but nothing that can identify you directly, otherwise an intruder will be able to move closer to your house to get a stronger signal. "Frank's Pad" is a poor choice, while "Sticks and Stones" is a better choice.

You can also "Disable SSID Broadcast" so that if a wireless device is scanning for available networks, yours won't show up on the list. Note however, that there are devices that can see your network even if you turn off the SSID Broadcast, so this option alone will not help you.

I have found in the past that I have to turn on SSID Broadcast when connecting a wireless device for the first time. Afterwards, that same device will still be able to connect after the broadcasting has been disabled again.

4) Enable MAC Address Filtering

All network
devices have a MAC address, essentially this is the device's unique name, desktops only have one unless they have more than one Ethernet port. Laptops that have an ethernet and wireless connectivity will have two MAC addresses. To find out what yours is got to Start > All Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt
A black window will appear, type ipconfig /all and hit enter. The item listed as you Physical Address is your MAC address (I don't know why they changed the name).

Your router can be setup to only allow specific MAC addresses to connect to the network. This option will affect all devices connecting to your network, not just the wireless ones, but it is highly recommended.

5) Limit the IP Range

Every computer on your network is given and IP address, that is how the router directs data flowing to different devices. Most routers will let you limit how many IP addresses can be assigned at once. Determine how many computers need to be connected to your network at one time and set it at that. In my house it is not unusual for all 5 computers to connect to the network, so my system only has a range of 5.

This has two-fold benefits. First, an intruder won't be able to get on if all the IP addresses are in use. Secondly, if someone in your house can't connect to the network while everyone else can, it's a warning sign that someone is on your network who shouldn't be.

6) Static IP Addresses

In what may be considered overkill, I assigned each MAC address its own unique IP address, so that even if all other security layers worked around, they system won't assign it an IP address preventing it from communicating with the network. Not all routers offer this feature.

After all this work, remember to export your settings to a file. Save this file with the password from before. This way if your router gets reset by a power out or something, you won't have to spend the tedious time getting everything back to its iron-clad state. Believe me, nothing makes you question security like entering 10 MAC addresses in by hand 20 times! All you have to do is get the router to import the file you saved and BOOM, your router is back to secure.

Now yes, this will make it difficult to add new devices to your network, but that is the point. You don't want to make it easy for *ANYONE* to connect to the network. Convenience is sacrificed for security.

UPDATE (2007-06-11) - Regarding Magnum's question in the comments area in regards to whether the multiple layers of security will affect connection speeds. Excellent question. I do not believe that the security here will affect your connection speed. You see, the security is only invoked once you attempt to connect to the network. After evaluating your computer against all the security requirements, then you will be assigned an IP address. Once you get an IP address, your hand has been stamped, so to speak. Until you disconnect your connection should not be re-evaluated.

Remember, a secure network is like an onion, they both have layers. Now parfaits also have layers. Have you ever met a person, you say, "Let's get some parfait," they say, "Hell no, I don't like no parfait"? Parfaits are delicious. Sorry... slipped into the wrong movie.

So surf safe, and keep on having fun.

"bah weep graaagnah wheep ni ni bong"

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

When Directors Shit on Our Childhood Dreams

SOUNDWAVE's NOTE (2007-08-06) : Read my full review for the film here.

When George Lucas keeps revising Star Wars to continually keep up with his ever changing Original VisionTM, fans complained that he was ruining a film they enjoyed from childhood. They should count themselves lucky that they had almost 20 good years before he decided to make Greedo shoot first.

Countless childhood television shows and video games wound up in the crapper when making the transition to the big screen. Remember the He-man movie? Sadly, I do.

Unfortunately this travesty is going to be repeated with the most sacred of institutions, Transformers. The perpetrator? Michael Bay (and to a lesser extent, Steven Spielberg).

To be honest, no one that I knew was more in love with the idea of a CGI/live action movie of the Transformers than myself. Unfortunately, the more I read about this project, the more I became concerned that another wonderful idea was going in the wrong direction.

First off, here is a quote from Wikipedia regarding Michael Bay's involvement:

Michael Bay was negotiated with to direct, but turned it down as a "stupid toy movie". Realising he had been wrong as a teenager at Lucasfilm regarding Raiders of the Lost Ark' box office potential, he was put through "Transformers school", and in April 2005 he confirmed he was directing the film.

What the FUCK! Any director who has to be educated about the Transformers should not be a choice to direct! Look at Superman Returns, Spider-man, and X-men (1 and 2). These directors were HUGE fans of the original series and characters. Their movies are highly faithful to the original concepts and were well received (Spidey's organic web shooters caused issues, but I really blame Stan Lee for coming up with a stupid idea to begin with). Ghostrider's star Nicolas Cage is himself a big fan of the character and even helped write the film. This is what we need.

How about this one for Mr. Spielberg:

Spielberg himself had come to know the franchise via the toys and cartoons that his children loved.

Everyone, go call your dad and ask him who the leader of the Autobots was. Enough said.

Above all here is a fan-fucking-tastic (emphasis on fan-fucking, because that's all they're doing with this movie) expanation why the Arc was removed from the film (the Autobots space shuttle that crashed into the volcano):

In another design development Roberto Orci cut the Autobot's Ark spaceship which John Rogers originally included, saying "Why would aliens who moonlight as vehicles need other vehicles to travel inside?"

Orci, you dumb fuck, the Arc is a space vehicle, not an airplane. Everyone understands that for travel around earth, they move under their own power. How the hell is a robot the size of a car supposed to travel between solar systems?!?!?!?!? My brain is beginning to hurt.

Now lets really bring on the hurt. No one looks anything like their '80's counterpart. Prime, Bumblebee, Jazz, Ironhide, and Ratchet are all new vehicles (marketing tie-ins) and their robot states look like... well I think you need to see the horror for yourself. Get a tissue, or a box.

The Decepticons are even worse, Megatron looks like crap, so does Starscream. Soundwave is nowhere to be found, and the other Decepticons are all but made up.

As an additional kick in the balls regarding Megatron, Peter Cullen is reprising his role as Prime, but Frank Welker was turned down to reprise his role as Megatron in favour of Hugo Weaving. For those who don't know, Frank Welker is a voice acting god, having played thousands of cartoon voices. It would have been awesome to have the original voices AT LEAST. Monkeys at the controls I tell you, monkeys at the controls.

What is Bay's response to this criticism? 1) He wanted to make it realistic, 2) It's a reboot of the series. He looooooves to hide behind those stupid excuses.

Michael's addiction to realism is why characters like Soundwave are not in the movie and Prime's vehicle mode has changed, because he is trying to be mass constant. Great. I'm glad he's trying to be realistic about sentient, shape-shifting robots from a fictional planet. Mr. Bay, please watch Mario Bros. That is a lesson on making things "realistic". (Nintendo really should have stepped in on the scriptwriting on that one)

Secondly, reboots refer to existing franchises like James Bond and Batman that seem to be going downhill. Transformers had one cartoon movie, 20 years ago. That is not a franchise, it doesn't get REBOOTED.

There are glaring other changes, such as the whole point of the trek to earth is not for energy to fuel their war, but for the ALLSPARK? What the hell is that?

Mr. Bay please let me inform you of something, regardless of what Steven tells you, these characters exist and do not need to be created or "updated". As if he knows what the fuck he's doing nowadays anyhow. Haley Joel Osment as Harry Potter? Give me a break. At least Harry Potter has JK Rowling to defend it. Transformers has no one. Only millions of fans screaming in disgust, but no one is listening.

Michael Bay, please take your seat next to Joel Schumacher in the line of "Directors whos should be banned from filming". Psst! Hollywood... I think Michael Bay is a communist! Pass it on!

Despite this harsh criticism, I am at odds as to whether or not I will see this film in theatres. One side says to protest, but the other is dying of curiosity. Its like a train wreck, you don't want to look, but you can't turn away.

I'm hoping that I didn't bring you all down too much. To make it up to you and to cheer you up, here's a gallery of Lil' Formers, really funny single-frame Transformers comics, as kids!

Actually here's the homepage for Lil' Formers:

Also, check out this one:

Look closely at Wreck-Gar's gift. First one to explain the joke as a comment to this article gets a shout out on the next blog entry!

Well that's all for now. If I do watch the movie, I'll post a review. Until next time, keep having fun.

"bah weep graaagnah wheep ni ni bong"

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Stop CD's Auto-Launching (P.S. Fuck You SONY)

Some of you may remember back in 2005 the big hoopla regarding the Sony Root Kit. In an effort to fight piracy, some Sony CD's included software that intercepted all interaction with the CD drive.

It all starts like this, you put your music CD into the CD drive of your computer, a prompt to install audio software will appear. However, by this point, the hidden software has already been installed without your permission. The software is normally undetectable because of various cloaking patches that it installs in Windows. Currently there is no know way to remove it without messing up your system. Antivirus programs are only able to remove the cloaking ability. Deleting the executable itself will disable your CD ROM drives.

As a result of this, I have come to the decision that SONY has no respect for the boundaries of your property. They invade your computer, putting your data and security at risk.

I will never buy another SONY product as long as I live. Fuck SONY. They don't care about their customers anymore, just their bottom line.

Your first line of defense is to stop CD's from launching everytime you put a CD in the drive. Some of you may recall my USB Stick post that U3 devices do the same thing by pretending to be CD's. This is originally thought of to be a convenience, but in light of the SONY fiasco, I will teach you how to turn it off.

First, download and install Tweak UI from Microsoft, here is the link to the XP version.

Run the program from START > Powertoys for Windows XP > Tweak UI

In the window that pops up, click on the + sign next to "My Computer". You will see AutoPlay in the list that appears. Click the + next to AutoPlay and select "Drives".

On the right hand side, you will be presented with a list of drives. A red question mark indicates that a drive does not exist.

Un-check the box next to your CD or DVD drive(s). Don't worry, this will not disable them, nor will it prevent you from installing software off of a CD. This just prevents Windows from arbitrarily installing software from a CD before you even know what's going on.

Now just click OK and close the window. A reboot of the system may be in order to get the new settings to kick in.

In the future if you really want the software to run, just right-click on the icon and select AUTOPLAY.

Now go out there, and keep on having fun (and stay away from SONY).

"bah weep graaagnah wheep ni ni bong"

Here Comes the Sun

Summertime is fast approaching, and this year I was really interested in purchasing a solar power supply for use with various portable electronic gadgets. Between Magnum's annual Canada Day picnic, and Tito's annual Luau, there does seem to be a need for portable, clean electrical power. Big V usually has a battery powered assembly for musical entertainment, so I felt perhaps I could augment his setup with a little AC/DC from the sky!

The only problem being that I know squat about electricity other than "don't stick metal things in the electrical outlet". So the research was rather slow going.

Many of the items seemed to be distributed by Asian companies, which did not bode well for their reliability. Slogging through many poorly translated manuals only helped reinforce this perception (honestly, couldn't they hire someone to check the grammar?).

Finally I found the device I was looking for, the Brunton SolarPort 4.4. It is made in the US, but there is a Canadian distributor in BC. Boy was I happy. I read the product specs and found that it had some handy features:

  1. Clam Shell design - The unit unfolds like a book to expose its solar panels

  2. Built in Cigarette-lighter Socket - If you have a car charger, just plug it directly into the device.

  3. Built in USB Outlet - use your device's USB cord to charge your iPod, PalmPilot, mp3 Player, or anything else that charges via USB.

  4. Standard Power Adapter Plugs - the device includes standard power adapter plugs to charge or power other devices like CD players as if they were using AC power.

  5. AA and AAA Battery charger included - The package also includes a second unit that attaches to the panel portion that charges AA and AAA NiCad and NiMH batteries.

  6. 12V and 6V switchable - what this means, I don't know. It sounded good, but I'm a Chem, not an Elec, so what do I know.

  7. Multi-Unit Co-operation - link multiple units together to add additional power. Not sure how useful that is, since I'm only planning on buying one. I guess if one of my buddies likes it so much that they buy one for themselves, then we can take advantage of this feature.
The main product page is at and the Canadian distributor is Modern Outpost. I really am looking forward to buying this baby, but I'll probably wait until closer to summer time when I can give it a good run-through with full sunshine.

When this happens, I will definitely post a follow-up review to fully describe this product.

Until next time, keep on having fun!

"bah weep graaagnah wheep ni ni bong"

Monday, March 12, 2007

Everything Old is New Again

Hello everyone, time to lay out on the internet what is on my mind.

Today's topic, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. What once was the rightful successor to the NES Legacy, the SNES went head to head with the other 16 bit system, the Sega Genesis.

Recently, I have rediscovered the joys of SNES gaming with the use of a USB controller, and a nice emulation software called ZSNES. I find this software easy to use and works well with the Logitech Rumblepad 2 controller that I bought. Although the Rumblpad 2 is a clone of a Playstation controller, the button positioning is similar enough to offer no trouble.

Installation is a non-issue, just unzip and run and play.

Another great feature is that it can run games full throttle on a Pentium II, so older computer owners out there can rejoice.

"Play what?" you might ask, well Game ROMs, which are copies of game cartriges. It is however illegal to download ROMs that you do not own, and that 24-hour use idea that is floating around the net is poppycock.

However, if the idea of breaking international copyright law amuses you, then head on over to and get your fill of games that you always wanted, but your parents wouldn't buy for you. Just unzip the roms to the same directory, and relive the good ol' days.

Until next time, keep on having fun.

"bah weep graaagnah wheep ni ni bong"

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

(HDTV Primer Part 1) HDTV's - The true picture

I keep reading/hearing/seeing stories regarding hi-def TV's and how great they are, and by and large they are quite worthy pieces of technology, however, I am here to break down the hype surrounding them.

Now just to get this out of the way, I do not own a high def TV, nor is this article supposed to discourage you from buying one. I am a huge TV junkie and I do love watching television. I just don't want you to be suckered into paying too much for something you may not need or finding out later that a great picture needs more than just and expensive screen.

My first issue: DIGITAL. This seems to be the new buzzword of media presentation, digital. What does it mean? As far as I can tell, it means that the data is broken down into 1's and 0's in an electronic format. This is not synonymous with high quality. Digital signals CAN be high quality, but that is because the content is of high quality not because digital is inherently good quality. Old movies are not going to become super crisp and sharp just because they are digital.

The next detail, picture quality, is my most divisive issue. Is it worth the extra money? As RadioFreeG stated in his latest podcast, if you think you can just plug in your existing cable feeds and get hi-def picture, you are sorely mistaken.

Yes, existing feeds will look better since the screen is a higher quality, but its not hi-def. No, my friend, hi-def needs a hi-def signal to take advantage of your new screen. The only way to get that signal is with a digital receiver box, which you have to rent from your television provider. On top of that the free content is minuscule. To get HD content, you have to pay extra for that too.

Additionally, movies on disk will suffer from much the same problem. DVD's will look better, but they are not HD content, so you won't get super sharp whatever. To get HD content, first you need a Blue-Ray disk or HD-DVD disks. Then you need a Blue-Ray disk or HD-DVD disk player. Then you need the digital cables to transfer the protected content to the TV, lest you syphon the signal and make illegal copies of it.

In fact every path to get HD content requires an unbroken chain of content, HD compliant equipment, and finally the TV set. The TV is the last step in the chain, so why is that the first thing they try to sell you?

In a word, money.

You see, my objection isn't the selling of the TV's, its the ridiculous investment that they don't tell you about when you're buying the TV's. If you know that there's strings attached to your purchase ahead of time, you can do one of three things, 1) put off the purchase and live with what you have until it dies, 2) Mortgage the house and buy everything in one fell swoop and enjoy a super picture with surround sound in your own home theatre, or 3) realize you just want a huge screen TV or that you want to watch widescreen movies without letter-boxing and make a purchase without disappointment.

I prefer Option 3, but really any of these solutions is acceptable, provided they are made by an informed mind.

I know several people who went with option 2, maybe not the extreme as I described it, but they have their HD signal and TV and the picture is so amazing that they swear they will never go back. Again, never having experienced full HD quality, I cannot fault their logic.

However I will offer this. Standard definition to Hi-Def is not comparable to the shift from black and white to colour, or from silent films to "talkies". Those were major paradigm shifts. HD-TV is not. Wider screen and an improvement in picture quality? Not a major "revolution" in my books.

Personally, I'll hold off on an HDTV for as long as humanly possible. Why? Because in the not too distant future all stations will be broadcasting in HD for free, not just the premium channels. When that happens, the HD tuners will be built into the TV's much like cable TV tuners are now, so I won't have to rent one.

I work hard for my money, like most of your out there, I'm sure. While I do want to get some entertainment and enjoyment from my hard work, there comes a line that we have to draw to tell the media and content providers that "enough is enough, I don't want to give you any more of my money". Again, this message is reiterated in RadioFreeG's latest podcast. How much content are you willing to pay for? It is one thing if it was free, then give me all you've got. But, if I have to pay and pay and pay for entertainment, then I have to sit down and decide how much do I need, how much do I want to spend, and how much do I want to save for a rainy day?

Just a small thing to think about.

Until next time, keep on having fun.

"bah weep graaagnah wheep ni ni bong"

Monday, March 5, 2007

Studio Tax Announcement!

Some of you may remember my earlier posting about free Canadian tax software.

Well, for those of you still interested, StudioTax 2006 is now NETFile Certified!

That's right, you can now electronically file you Canadian Income Tax for free. In addition, they have removed the limit to how many returns you can file for your family.

Till next time, keep on having fun.

"bah weep graaagnah wheep ni ni bong"

Sunday, February 18, 2007

☭ Kiss my ASCII...

I'd be lying if I told everyone that I wasn't expecting a huge commotion over my little musical notes. As I've always said, "Its the little things that count, you can sit on top of a mountain, but you can't sit on top of a pin"

What does that mean? Nevermind... let's get back to the point ➽ funky characters.

Just cut along the dotted line and keep for quick reference ✄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄┄
This is real easy, whenever you want to insert a funky symbol into text, click on

START > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Character Map

Now, at the top of the new window, you can select any font that is installed on your system.

For maximum compatibility, stick with Arial, Courier, Times New Roman, and Arial Unicode MS.

The first three all share the same font set, the glyphs are just customized for the particular font style. However they are just a fraction of the many thousands of glyphs specified in the ASCII standard.

Arial Unicode MS, however, has ⒶⓁⓁ of them. Scroll down the list and pick a glyph that suits your fancy. There are also Zodiac, Middle-Eastern glyphs, and Asian glyphs as well.

It also has a full compliment of musical glyphs: ♩♪♫♬♭♮♯

Just click on the glyph you want and press select. Then press copy.

Now paste it anywhere in the text that you want! Easy!

Now get out there and start publishing with PIZAZZ!

Keep on having fun!

"bah weep graaagnah wheep ni ni bong"

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

♫Will the real "Slim SD" Please Stand Up?♫

Hello everyone, yes it's time for another posting.

I have noticed that in my zeal for multimedia entertainment, I have been straying from useful Howto posts. No more. Here is another useful (hopefully) tip.

Ever notice when using a multi-purpose card reader that it always takes several tries to actually find it in the swarm of drives that appears in "My Computer"?

♫One of These Things is Not Like the Other...♫

There are two ways to ID your memory card.

1) Name It

Once you have found your card, right click on its icon in "My Computer" and select "Rename". Enter a new name and press ENTER. That's it, from now on, when you put your media device in any computer, the drive's name will appear.

2) Photo ID

There is more work to this step, but it's worth it.

First surf the net for the icon you want to have appear on your drive. If you can't find one, use icon sofware (such as Easy Icon or Microangelo) to create it. When saving it, give it a simple name, with no spaces, and the extension .ico . Save this icon to the root (not in a subfolder) on your media device. For this example we will call it

Now double click on your drive in "My Computer". Right click in a white area and go to
New > Text Document.

Double click on the file. Enter the following text:


Change myicon.ico to whatever you named your icon. Now save and close the text file.

Rename the text file (as before) to autorun.inf

Disconnect your drive safely, and remove it. Now go into "My Computer" and re-connect your media device.

You will find that the icon you saved to the device will now appear as its icon.

This technique can be used on ANY storage media, not just memory cards.

Go on and try it out, and remember to keep on having fun.

"bah weep graaagnah wheep ni ni bong"

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Get Down Mr. Mini-Wheats!

As my multi-media addiction continues to worsen, I provide you with more gifts of multi-media, now with video.

Many of you may not have seen the first video before, but if you listen to 102.2 the Edge in Toronto, you may have heard it on the radio.

Before you press play, I must warn you... you'll probably be playing this at least 10 times before you can tear yourself away.

Now that that is out of the way, turn up the volume, clear some floorspace for dancing, and press PLAY!

While we're on the subject of great jingles, below is the famous "I'd like to buy the world a Coke" commercial. The story of this jingle is interesting, and the commercial itself is regarded as the single most popular advertising campaign of all time. Read more about it here. Some of you younger people may not have seen the commercial, but you may recognize the jingle, which was later written into a full length song. Enjoy!

P.S. If you look up, look waaaaaay up, you'll notice that the quote at the top of this page has a little blue arrow. This blue arrow will play the quote, along with the supporting dialog from the movie Ghostbusters. This, my friends, was the inspiration for this page (at least its namesake, anyway).

Until next time, keep on having fun!

"bah weep graaagnah wheep ni ni bong"

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Of Tags and Chipmunks

Wow! Now that was incredible! My first multimedia post on DCTS and my inbox was deluged with a flood, nay, TORRENT of people asking how I was able to integrate such a tiny, effective little mp3 player into my site.

I was being jostled! JOSTLED, I tell you!

Well my friends, you asked so I shall tell you. Its very simple, the player is PLAYTAGGER by

All you have to do is paste the following code once, anywhere, into your blog's HTML:

<script type="text/javascript" src="">

and that's all. Remove the </script> if you're getting HTML errors. Now, any hyperlinks that point to mp3 files will automatically be prepended with a blue arrow. Click on the arrow to play, and it changes to a red square and the word "playing". Click on the square to stop, click on the word "playing" to pause.

It does have one limitation, the mp3 must be encoded at 11025 Hz, 22050 Hz, or 44100 Hz. Anything else will sound like the chipmunks.

Here are some more music samples, old TVOntario themesongs, graciously provided by TVO Kids' Shows.

and OTHERS...

Enjoy everyone. As always, keep having fun.

"bah weep graaagnah wheep ni ni bong"

Monday, February 5, 2007

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes... (all appologies to Mr. Bowie)

Hello Stream Crossers!

Some of you may have noticed some slight formatting changes on this BLOG. First of all, the page uses the full width of the window, so you don't have to scroll as much in a full-size window.

Secondly, if you are in Internet Explorer, the boxes have square corners. The rounded corners are now generated vis CSS3, so if you're browsing with Firefox, you should see beautifully rounded corners.

Also, today we will be throwing some shout-outs to other sites of the CREW Family of Blogs. Along with this, we will be beta testing our new integrated MP3 playing software. Please leave feedback about it in the comments section.

First off is "T & M's Voices". A well-rounded radio show, hosted by Tito and Magnum. When they aren't interviewing the elusive celebrity, they invite us into their inner sanctums and share with us the goings-on in their lives. Very funny, very well produced, and extremely well performed. They are a founding member of the CREW Family! Oh, and they have a pod-cast for you to subscribe to. Full instructions are on their site.

Just to whet your appetite for their show, I have linked to their interview with George Bush, Sr. from episode 12 I am not in the business of pirating their transmission, only the first one's free, for the latest episode (#15 as of the date of this posting), please follow the link above to their website.

(Note 2007-02-06: Due to a limitation, this clip sounds like the chipmunks. Don't worry, I've fed back to Magnum, hopefully he will rectify the situation

Second, another founding member of the CREW Family, RadioFreeG and his self-titled radio show. Side-kicked by Super Producer Mummbles, together they serve up a heaping helping of introspectives on every day life and the forces that influence our perception of the world.

As well, RadioFreeG has a pod cast on his site. Here is but a taste of the smorgas-board of contemplation offered by RadioFreeG on his infamous "One Shots" broadcast:

Last, but never, ever least is Leaky Brainpan, a blog run by another founding member of the CREW Family. Insights and behind-the-scenes looks at snapshots of life in the Canadian Armed Forces. Truly a modern classic if I've ever read one.

And that's it. Wow, two postings in a week. I hope that will satisfy some of my CRITICS... hope to be able to keep this up.

I will be back soon with some more computer improvement tips, as well I will be sending out methods for you yourself to add a funky music player to your blog as well.

Until next time, this is Soundwave saying, Keep having fun.

"bah weep graaagnah wheep ni ni bong"

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Long and the Short of USB Storage

Key Drives, Memory Sticks, Flash Drives, whatever you want to call them, are the new floppy. Quick, simple to use they are by far the superior portable medium.

However, which one should you buy? Here is a short list of things you should look for when purchasing USB Flash Memory drives (in no particular order):

  1. Physical Shape -> Grab the plug of a USB device. That plug is a standard size. Try to buy a drive that has the same width and thickness as that plug. This will ensure that the drive plays nice in tightly packed areas. Larger drives may crowd other plugs or you may have to unplug stuff just to plug in your drive.

  2. Storage Capacity -> If you can afford it, get a minimum of 1 GB. 4 GB is a bit much, if you're moving lots of files or really big ones, get an external hard drive.

  3. Get High Speed USB (also called USB 2.0) -> Make sure the drive supports high speed transfer. Simply saying "compatible" doesn't mean much. USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 work together by design, the only issue is that you only get the high speed transfer rates when a high speed drive is plugged into a high speed socket. The speed difference is like night and day!

  4. Brand and Quality -> Stay away from no-name brand flash memory, especially if what you are storing on them is important. SanDisk and Verbatim are two good companies that I have used, but there are others. Since flash memory can only be written/erased 1 meeellion times (pinky to mouth) higher quality drives will distribute writing over the entire flash "area" so the drive ages equally. Higher quality drives last longer due to higher quality components and manufacturing.

  5. Moving Parts -> If you plan to be using the drive quite a bit, use a solid drive that utilizes a removable cap. New drives feature an extendable USB plug, but after a few hundred extensions/retractions the locking mechanism may wear out.

  6. U3 preinstalled software -> I bought a drive that has U3 installed on it. U3 is a system of installing software right on the drive so that you can run the software right off the drive no matter which computer you are using it on (only software from the U3 site can be installed). It has its own version of the "Start Menu" that launches when you insert the drive. I does this by exploiting the fact that all Windows computers automatically launch software on CDs upon insertion (horribly insecure, I will tackle this issue in a later post). The drive is actually two drives, part of it pretends to be a CD, the rest is the actual storage drive. I would avoid U3 if you can, otherwise the drive manufacturer may provide software to remove the U3 installation (I know SanDisk does).
While we are on the subject of storage, I had to get this little tidbit of information off of my chest. Ever notice that the storage capacity reported by the Operating system is less that what is on the box?

This is because the box is dividing by powers of 10 but should be dividing by powers of 2. Confused? Let me explain.

Computers do math with 1's and 0's, therefore everything is a power of 2. Thus a kilobyte is not 1000 bytes, it is 1024 bytes. Dividing by 1000 gives a bigger number than dividing by 1024 (about 8% when comparing gigabytes).

This brings me to my next issue kilo-, mega-, and giga- are SI (metric) prefixes and should not be used with computer units. The following table shows the proper terms compared with convensional terms:

Quantities of bytes
SI prefixesBinary prefixes




kilobyte (kB)103210kibibyte (KiB)210
megabyte (MB)106220mebibyte (MiB)220
gigabyte (GB)109230gibibyte (GiB)230
terabyte (TB)1012240tebibyte (TiB)240
petabyte (PB)1015250pebibyte (PiB)250
exabyte (EB)1018260exbibyte (EiB)260
zettabyte (ZB)1021270zebibyte (ZiB)270
yottabyte (YB)1024280yobibyte (YiB)280

Here is a table comparing reported vs actual size:

NameBin ÷ DecDec ÷ BinExamplePercentage difference
kilobyte : kibibyte1.0240.976100 kB ≅ 97.6 KiB+2.4% or −2.3%
megabyte : mebibyte1.0490.954100 MB ≅ 95.4 MiB+4.9% or −4.6%
gigabyte : gibibyte1.0740.931100 GB ≅ 93.1 GiB+7.4% or −6.9%
terabyte : tebibyte1.1000.909100 TB ≅ 90.9 TiB+10% or −9.1%
petabyte : pebibyte1.1260.888100 PB ≅ 88.8 PiB+12.6% or −11.2%
exabyte : exbibyte1.1530.867100 EB ≅ 86.7 EiB+15.3% or −13.3%
zettabyte : zebibyte1.1810.847100 ZB ≅ 84.7 ZiB+18.1% or −15.3%
yottabyte : yobibyte1.2090.827100 YB ≅ 82.7 YiB+20.9% or −17.3%

Now I know that is quite a bit to absorb, you may want to ponder it for a few days. Until next time, keep having fun.

"bah weep graaagnah wheep ni ni bong"