Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic
howeird

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Little Things

I'm writing this while Ulead Video Studio is exporting some videos in MPEG-1 CBR format for a class I'm teaching next week. Took the printout of the powerpoint slides home after work, went to Starbucks and reviewed them over an iced hazelnut mocha, in between glances at the copious amounts of eye candy.

This particular Starbucks is next to a Blockbuster, so it is open late. It's in a decent part of town, part of a small shopping center with a huge parking lot, so it's a major hangout for the slightly pierced, minimally tattooed, low-slung jeans/belly shirt wearing, and (unfortunately) nicotine-addicted 16-21 set. Tonight was particularly distracting, lots of traffic going through the place, and quite a crowd of second-hand smoke producers outside.

Peeve. Gripe. I would like to sit outdoors, but the smokers pollute the area so thoroughly...

Okay. On to little things.

Got my MIDI up and running
for the first time since having to downsize my computer setup.
  • Installed the game port for my motherboard, which also adds 2 USB ports
  • Attached the MIDI cable
  • Hooked it up to the MIDI keyboard
  • Re-installed SmartScore Songbook
  • Fired up the keyboard and Songbook and played MIDI from the keyboard out the computer speakers.


Bad news - the keyboard sucks. It's a cheap output-only model with only 4 octaves of keys. At max volume it is too low to hear on the computer until I crank the speakers. Maybe tomorrow's field trip will be to Starving Musician to get a full-sized keyboard.

Programmed my light switches
I have used X10 controllers for years and years. The original X10 spec allowed signals to be passed along the AC power lines for controlling modules which could turn on/off and dim lamps, and turn on/off pretty much anything which plugs into AC. Next they added a protocol for sending the signal over wireless. Very low power/short range. I had been using a wired controller (looks like an alarm clock) to turn my lights on and off automatically.

The new apartment has two separate AC circuits, so the single wired box could only control half the lights.

So I bought a wireless controller which programs through USB cable from a PC application. Once the box is programmed, plug it into any outlet in the apartment, and it sends the control signals both on the wire and through the air. So all my lights now work from the one controller.

Bad news - while replacing my too-dim 75-watt-equivalent fluoresent light bulbs with 150-watt-equivalent 3-ways, I discovered that two out of three of my floor lamps have defective 3-way switches. Field trip tomorrow - hunt for a better quality floor lamp and buy 4 of them.

Set up a second indoor/outdoor thermometer.

I have had one for years, it's a 2-piece set with a wireless remote temperature sensor that sits in a shaded/sheltered place outside, and a big readout with a sensor built in which sits on top of my piano, and shows the indoor and outdoor temps. In the new place I wanted to have one for the bedroom as well- for two reasons. One was to know what to wear by looking at the outdoor temp, and the other was to calibrate the bedroom heater. It's an electric heater built into the wall, and the rocket scientist who designed the place put the thermostat next to the door, directly facing the heater across the room. If the door is open (which it is most of the time) the cold air from the hall tells the thermostat the room is cooler than it really is. If the door is closed, it registers as a lot warmer when the heater is on.

Anyhow, the oddity here is Fry's was selling the same set as what I have for $50, but they had a newer/better model which also has an atomic clock, humidity and barometric pressure sensor for $40. So I got the new one.


Got new checks, paid DMV Registration

It took me a long time and a couple of go-rounds to get Quicken-compatible personal checks with my new address. A couple of weeks before I moved, but after I'd sent my upcoming change of address to the bank, I ordered checks from Checks Unlimited. They were among the few makers of non-generic inkjet-compatible checks. But they emailed me and said my bank would not confirm my address for them. They wanted me to go down to the bank and have them sign a form and fax it to them confirming my new address. They called this a "security" measure. I told them to wait 2 weeks for the new address to be official and try again. Well, they waited 2 weeks, but then told me what they should have said the first time - my bank does not confirm customer addresses for third parties.

So I scouted around the Internet and found CheckCrafters, which had lovely aquarium theme checks for Quicken, and placed an order. They arrived Monday, but I didn't have a chance to pick them up until today. They look great, everything was done right, though I did have to adjust the Quicken print alignment a tad because these checks have lines (the old generic ones did not).

I was waiting for the new address on the checks to pay my DMV registration, since they did not get the message that I had moved, despite the fact that I sent them a change of address in mid-September, and they put it on my new driver's license. Included in the envelope was a notice saying I could renew online, but online it said you had to renew by mail if your address was different from the one on the bill. Foo.
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