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Posts Tagged ‘computers’

  1. Spinning My Wheels

    April 15, 2011 by Ryan

    Remember cassette tapes?

    They were an invention that was made of two wheels (or spindles). Around one spindle was wrapped a metallic film. It fed through a plastic shell, and came around a track to connect to the other spindle.

    You’d put this clever cassette into a “cassette desk” and press play. The spindle that didn’t have the film wrapped around it would start to turn. This would cause the magnetic film to become taut, and would begin to pull the film. In turn, that would cause the other spindle to turn as the film rolled off of it, worked through the device, and back onto the first spindle. In the meantime, somewhere in the middle, a magic magnetic reader would watch the film as it passed, interpret the magnetic information, and would send music to connected speakers. It was remarkable, really.

    With these tapes, you could choose what order your song played by pressing a button labeled “Fast Forward.” The spindles would go faster. Some players would let you listen to the audio, which now sounded like a talking chipmunk.

    The whole idea of a talking chipmunk is kind of silly, if you think about it. Chipmunks can only talk in Disney cartoons.

    You’d forward to the next song, and listen to that. Or, if I didn’t like that one, I’d forward to the next, listening at high speed.

    If you wanted to hear the same song again, you’d press the “rewind” button. This would reverse the process, putting the one spindle in “neutral” and causing the other spindle to spin.

    Being technologically advanced, I used to own a duel-cassette deck. I’d use it to make my own “mix tapes”. In one deck, I’d put a blank, recordable cassette tape. In the other deck, I’d put a music tape in and fast forward to the beginning of the song that I liked. Then I’d simultaneously press “record” and “play” on the other deck’s controls. I think I had to press “Play” because it drove the motor to move the spindle, and of course “Record” because I wanted it to capture what it could “hear” in the other tape deck.

    Because the songs on the tapes were always in the same order, I developed a “memory” side effect. After I’d hear the tape in sequence several times, my brain would start to associate the order of the songs. If I heard the song in another situation (such as over the radio), when the song ended my brain would expect to hear the next song from the tape, and I would even start to “play” the tune in my mind.

    Soon compact discs appeared in the mainstream. They didn’t wear out with use, and they had scientific laser beams to read digitally recorded information. I got me a new player that could play CDs and record them to tapes (so that I could still listen in my car).

    The feature that won many people over was the “Random” button. It would decide what song to play, and in what order to play it.

    Which worked well unless you were listening to an audio book, where going out of order was not such a good feature.

    CD players grew and soon let you load multiple CDs into one machine. Then the random feature could span multiple albums.

    Those got replaced by MP3s and MP3 players. Now, the digital information on the CDs could be turned into a computer file, and many CDs could be loaded onto one device. Since my car still has a cassette tape deck in it, I’ve purchased an adapter. It is something in shape of the cassette tape. it has a wire that leads to a CD or MP3 player’s headphone port. It still has two spindles, although they don’t do anything expect spin with the tape deck motor. Instead, the audio signal was fed directly into the tape deck’s magnetic reader.

    So even with my new and modern technology, even after all these years I’m still spinning my wheels.

  2. Action and Adventure: Trying to play a movie on the COBY MP600-4G

    September 27, 2010 by Ryan

    I’ve enjoyed the COBY MP600-4G MP3 player (that I received as a reward for collecting bottle caps from My Coke Rewards). It has been a very good little MP3 player for me, but the time had come to figure out how to transfer a movie onto it.

    The Project

    My specific goal was to convert Disney’s The Princess and the Frog from DVD to the COBY player. To quote Lewis from the movie, “Oh, I tried once. It didn’t end well.” Also, whether or not this is legal per copyright laws, I’ll save for a discussion on another day. For now, I’ll just say that I did purchase the DVD, I intend only to use the copy for my own personal use, and my conscience doesn’t bother me.

    The Equipment

    My computer is running Windows XP Service Pack 3, with 2 Gig RAM, and an Intel 2.66 Ghz Core 2 Duo processor. I’m also using the Sony DRU-500A DVD rewriteable drive. All “older” equipment, but still very functional.

    For playback of videos on the computer, I have installed K-Lite Mega Codec Pack (current version is 6.40). You may or may not need this, but I thought I’d mention it because I do have it installed and it is possible that the codecs it provides (software that decodes and plays back various audio and video formats) may have unknowingly helped the process behind-the-scenes. If you do not have this free program already, I highly recommend it anyway.

    My COBY player is the model COBY MP600-4G. My instructions and testing will probably be the same for the MP600-2G model (which is identical except for the amount of memory). Your mileage with other models may vary.

    Get Ripped-Off

    My first task was to “rip” the movie from the disc and into a file on the hard drive. Music CDs are very easy to rip, but DVDs can be a lot trickier due to copy protection mechanisms that the studios place on the discs.

    The Anatomy of a DVD: If you place a DVD into a computer drive and browse the contents, you will find that there are two folders (AUDIO_TS and VIDEO_TS). Typically, the AUDIO_TS is empty and unneeded (at least, I have never found a use for it). The VIDEO_TS then is the main folder to deal with. In this folder you will find files that end in .INO, .BUP, and (most importantly) .VOB. The files are encoded in a way that, if you attempt to simply copy the files from this folder onto your drive, the copied movie will usually not play correctly.

    In order to make a copy, you must use a decoder program. The decoder will essentially simulate the playback the movie, interpret the video and audio data, create a new version of the files. This idea is not really much different than actually playing a DVD. When you play a movie, your DVD drive reads the information, decodes it, and sends the picture and audio signal to the television. In this case, that picture and audio data are instead being saved in another file on the hard drive, along the way removing any special commands that the DVD disc has established.

    Another problem with commercial DVDs is that they may contain up to 9 GB (gigabytes) of data, while DVDs burned at home are typically 4.3 GB. Often, the structure of the DVD has the movie as the largest portion, then the individual scenes are duplicated again; plus menus, bonus features, previews, FBI warning, etc. that I don’t need. In the process of ripping the movie, I’m interested in only ripping the movie and stripping the rest out.

    My long-time program of choice for DVD ripping / copying has been DVD Shrink (version 3.4). Although it has not been updated for many years, it is still a very good program – so long as your DVD does not come with newer copy-protection methods. In the case of The Princess and the Frog, I received the error “Cyclic Redundancy Check” which brought a halt to the process. As far as I can tell, copy protection on this DVD is designed to create an intentional mathematical calculation overflow problem when you attempt to straight copy, or also when DVD Shrink tried to read the file structure.

    To get around this problem, my online searching lead to a program called DVDFab. I loaded it on with its 30-day trial, and found it was able to rip my DVD effortlessly. In fact, I found it much easier to use than DVD Shrink, and more versatile. I’m still trying to decide if it is worth $50 to me, but I do still have a few more days left to make that decision. Supposedly the “HD Decrypter” feature of the program can be used for free without expiration, but I have not yet figured out how to work that in conjunction with DVD Shrink.

    40 minutes later and DVDFab ripped the main movie to my hard drive (sans menus, bonus features, language tracks, subtitles, etc.). I now moved to my next challenge – converting it to the right format for the COBY player.

    Resolution: Can You Picture That?

    I glanced over the spec sheet ( and learned two things that might come in handy: My Coby player has a display resolution of 128 x 128 pixels, and likes a video format called “MTV.”

    Resolved: let’s talk about resolution: Pixels are dots wide and tall on your screen. In the United States, a traditional “square” standard definition television is 720-pixels-wide by 480-pixels-tall. That is, from top-to-bottom there are 480 rows of dots, and from left-to-right are 720 dots that, when individually changed to different colors, make up the picture (HDTV is obviously bigger, but since I’m dealing with DVD and not BluRay I won’t go into that discussion today). The proportional relationship of the DVD movie (720×480) compared to the size of the portable player screen (128×128) sets up a complication. The best news here is that the size of the file for the portable movie will be considerably smaller than the DVD file size (in this case, my ripped DVD movie comprised five .vob files totaling 4.3 gig, which would be bigger than the total 4 gig memory of the portable player). On the width measurement, dropping 720 pixels down to 128 pixels is a reduction of 563%. The file size should also reduce about as much, because it can drop much of the picture information. The downside to this: because a TV is not square (slightly wider than it is taller), and the screen on the COBY player is truly square, the height will have to be reduced to less than the player is capable of displaying, or else the picture will look tall and out of proportion. In this case, to keep the ratio correct, the height will be 96 pixels and those famous letter-box black bars will appear on the top and bottom of the already small movie window.

    My next issue is that I’ve never heard of an MTV format (a cable television network, yes; a video file format, no). I installed the Coby Media Manager and looked at the User’s Guide documentation (June 2009 edition). I found it lacking any real useful information. About all I got out of it was that it supports “movies and other video files.”

    So, it was back to Google for help. led me to a download the converter software for COBY players. They had two versions available (1.12 and 2.9), so I tried the newer version (2.9) and installed it (actually, in this case, there was no install – just uncompressed the files and ran the executable program). For the video source, I browsed to my ripped files on the hard drive, and selected the first alphabetical .VOB file there. Unfortunately, I was greeted by an error message (Load Video Failed). That their program would not read .VOB files directly did not really surprise me – I’ve found that very few programs will read DVD Format .VOB files directly.

    Somewhere in all of my Interet searching, someone suggested that the MTV format was just an offshoot of an AVI format, and if I could convert my video into an AVI format, I could then sync it to the player using the Coby Media Manager. It was worth a shot, so I downloaded the latest version of Any Video Converter (AVC) Free. I clicked Add Video, and added all 5 of my VOB files from the ripped hard drive copy.

    For my first experiment, I chose the following settings in Any Video Converter:

    – In the Profile menu (top-right corner,) I chose “Customized MP4 Movie”

    – I selected all five .vob files and from the Edit menu, choose “Merge Output”

    – For the Framesize options (bottom-right), I chose 15 (as I’d seen numerous recommendations to do so in my browsing)- For the Video Framerate, I manually typed in 128×96

    – From the File menu, I selected the output folder where I’d like my final file to be saved.

    – Then I clicked Convert, crossed my fingers, and waited.

    The result of experiment number 1: It produced a nice 234 megabyte file. I played it on my computer, and it looked like a very tiny little movie – but played well and sounded good on the computer speakers.

    Next, I made my attempt to get this movie onto my player. Again, in all of my Internet research, people suggested that you cannot drag and drop movies into the “Movie” folder on the device (as you can with Music or Photo). So I opened the Coby Media Manager (version 2009b0703). I chose Video, and found my movie. I right-clicked the file, and chose Synchronize. It began counting down various percentages and progress meters until it appeared to be finished. That honestly made me a little nervous – I hoped that the Coby program would not need to convert anything. I’d already ran a conversion, and if that format was acceptable, there should have been no need to convert it again.

    Now came the test… I played it on the Coby device. The video was now upside-down and mirror imaged, and the sound was decent but had a bit of a “tinny echo” especially on the high registers – though it did play. This was far better than the results I’d seen a lot of online forum posters have, and it might be good enough for my daughter to watch on her next airplane ride. But being this close to success, I was determined to try again and see if I could find a better format.

    Experiment Number 2

    Back to Any Video Converter, I tried these settings:

    – In the Profile menu I chose “Customized AVI file”

    – From the Edit menu, I kept the “Merge Output” setting

    – For the Framesize options (bottom-right), I chose 15

    – For the Video Framerate, I manually typed in 128×96

    This file was smaller (193 MB) and again played back very nicely on the computer.

    As Colby Media Manager performed its sync, those bad-omen progress meters appeared again (transforming percent and copying percent) appeared, and I discovered that when it was done, the file on my player had a different file ending (.AMV) and a different file size (171 MB). Most importantly, again the video was upside down and mirrored, and the sound tinny and popping.

    Experiment Number 3

    Just for fun, using Windows Explorer I dragged-and-dropped (copied) the AVI file directly into the movie folder. I pressed play on the player and read “Format Error” centered nicely on my screen. End of Experiment 3; the online people were right.

    Experiment Number 4

    I took that AVI file, and opened the MTV Video Converter 1.12. I selected the settings, and clicked convert. It ran through its percentage meter, and produced a file that ended in .MTV. I opened the COBY Media Manager, but that program could not see (or did not recognize) an .MTV file. I attempted a direct copy of the file to the COBY device, but it also could not see any valid files.

    At this point, I’m running out of ideas and my confidence is beginning to tank.

    Experiment Number 5

    I took a step back and went to DVDFab again. In the DVD Ripper section, it has an option to convert directly from DVD to AVI. I selected the source as the already-ripped movie on the hard disc. Then I got lost in output settings.

    I started off with the “Generic.AVI.dvix.audiocopy” setting, and edited the options. I chose a framerate of 15 fps (frames per second) and a frame resolution of 128×72. Then I noticed the Video Effect Settings button and clicked inside. I created a customized size of 128×128, and was impressed with the instant preview showing me how this would look in letterbox format. Further, I clicked the Crop tab and saw that I could change the selection from letter-box to pan-and-scan, which would eliminate the black bars but would chop off the extreme left and right sides of the picture. I decided to go with this option and see what I could do.

    After this conversion, Coby Media Manager also wanted to transform it and then sync it. And the result… same audio issues, and this time the video switched the black bars to the left and right sides, elongating the picture tall.

    So far then, my first experiment was still the best one, and still left lacking.

    Experiment 6

    I went back to DVDFab, and switched up the settings this way: I chose avi.h264.mp3, again at 15 fps and a custom size of 128×128, but no cropping this time. This conversion took about 10 minutes, and created 3 files (.avi, .idx, and .sub) totaling 66 mb. I especially like the small file size, if this works. Playback on the computer looked great. I synced it with Coby Media Manager, which took about 2 minutes of “transforming” and another 2 minutes for copying. Playback on the COBY was again mirror imaged and decent but tinny sound.

    I Surrender

    I started to wonder if my diy project was worth the trouble?

    No matter if I do eventually find the right format, I know this: I will still end up with a very tiny picture on a 1 inch screen, and imperfect sound quality. I would certainly not try to watch a movie I’ve never seen before – this screen is just too small to enjoy it. I’d have to be in it for a listening experience rather than a visual one.

    At this point, I’ve invested several hours of time. 40 minutes to rip the movie. A couple hours worth of time trying to convert file formats here and there. And still not the results I’d hoped for.

    I’m very disappointed with the COBY company for not providing clear instructions. In fact, the only instructions they provided lead me to a file format that the player didn’t recognize. A good rule of business is that consumer products should not frustrate the consumer. In my situation, I didn’t actually pay any money for my device, and I don’t have any serious need to play video on it. This device still works great for Music and FM radio, but I can’t justify much more of my time trying to get the video work.

    If you have stumbled on this article hoping to do the same thing, I hope this helps to put you closer to your goal. If any of my research can help you, I’d be curious to hear it. And if anyone can figure out the magic formula to making the videos work, I’d especially be grateful to know the missing piece to the puzzle. My email address is:
    Email me with questions, thoughts, comments, or suggestions

  3. Writing at work

    August 16, 2010 by Ryan

    At work, I routinely answer questions from customers. I can usually handle most questions thrown at me. I’m pretty good at crafting a thoughtful response. But this one had me stumped. Removing the identifying information, the customer complaint was as follows:

    “We have recently been adding some new computers to our [office]. One has Vista Ultimate and 3 more have Windows 7 (pro). These are new systems with 3+ gigs of ram. We have a dedicated Win Server 2003 server machine… . These newer machines are all slower [running the same program] than our older 1 gig of ram XP machines. I am stumped.”

    This particular question baffled me. Let me see, you are using the familiar computer program on a different computer with a different operating system, and yet you are “stumped” as to why you are getting a different performance? My process is usually to first let out the creative, flippant, and/or sarcastic thoughts, and see what sticks…

    “I used to eat apples, but now I eat oranges, and they taste different. I am stumped.”

    “I used to swim at an indoor public swimming pool. But recently I tried swimming in the open ocean. Even though I was doing the same thing, it was slower and more difficult in the rougher, colder waters.”

    “Remember how you used to be able to go through the airport quickly and easily. And then they tightened up security checkpoints? Yeah, welcome to Microsoft Windows Vista and 7”

    Those out of my system, I next try to compose something a little more professional. After several rewrites, here is what I came up with.

    Microsoft Windows Vista and 7 represent significant upgrades to the operating system, and as such, present new challenges. New boasted features include increased security. Network activity is scrutinized more closely by Windows, in an attempt to prevent unwanted files or access to your system. Unfortunately, the tradeoff for this sort of protection is a slower performing system. Your software is continuing to do the same job as before, but it is hindered by the additional security checks that the operating system is undertaking.

    Also consider that, because you are running a different operating system, you are most likely running different antivirus or firewall software than your Windows XP machines, which may also be contributing to the perceived slowdown in performance.

    You would be best advised to consult with a good hardware technician who can tweak some of the security settings and/or services being ran by the operating system, antivirus, or other services installed on these new machines, so that network traffic is still secure – but not impeded in performance.

    Yes, that is sounding pretty good. I like it.

  4. Setting Up “Out of My Mind” Auto e-mail Notifications

    April 13, 2010 by Ryan

    Outlook allows automatic “Out of Office” responses to email, but I would like to send automatic “Out of My Mind” replies to all email messages I receive. How can I do that?

    Instructions for Microsoft Office Outlook 2007

    Outlook | Tools | Rules and Alerts

    Select “Check messages when they arrive”

    On the Step 1: Select Conditions page, do not choose any option. Click Next.

    You will be prompted with a question “This rule will be applied to every message you receive. Is this correct?” Answer “Yes”

    On the Step 1: Select Action(s) page, check “have server reply using a specific message

    Under Step 2: Edit the rule description (click an underlined value), click on the underlined wording “a specific message”

    A new email message will open.

    You may leave the To field blank.

    In the Subject line, type the automatic phrase that you want to send to all users (such as “Out of My Mind Notification”).

    Optionally, you may include a message also.

    Close the message.

    You will notice that the underlined wording which used to read “a specific message” has now changed to be the subject of the email you just typed.

    Click Next.

    Under the “Are there any exceptions?” page, you may leave all options blank, or you may choose to refine the settings (such as checking “Except if from people or distribution list” and specifying the boss, perhaps?)

    Click Next.

    On the last page, Finish Rule Setup, be sure that the check box “Turn on this rule” is checked. If you want to send the reply to all email currently sitting in your inbox, check the “Run this rule now” option.

    Click Finish.

  5. No Comment

    December 5, 2009 by Ryan

    I apologize for not having time to write more often. It is hard to do so when I spend most of my time deleting spam comments.

    If you have never been an administrator for a web site – even as small as this one is – you’d be amazed at the volume and wide range of comments being offered to my articles.

    Some just go for the sell. They offer their products, plain and simple. I like those honest and direct approaches. I see them for what they are, and can delete them without a second thought.

    Others go for flattery. They tell me how much they admire my work, and want to know if I write professionally (Really? You liked “Would you like to take a survey?” that much?!). They hope that I will continue expounding on the topic (especially popular is “Dear Senator (hic) yew r stup ud sissy… (hic)”), asking me to continue writing additional articles about it, and they promise to bookmark my page. I can usually spot when they are fake, but occasionally they seem pretty sincere. A few times, I have actually went to check them out to see if they are really linking to me. One tax attorney said he would blogroll me on his site, but I could not find the link when I went there. However, an automotive website linked to a new post of mine within a couple minutes after it appeared, and they did indeed have a link back to my site. Our topics were completely unrelated, and as I looked further, I found that they linked to just about every other WordPress powered site in the world-wide-web too. Then my ego was deflated again. Sure that they were just looking for a “ping-back” I deleted their comments too.

    The latest effort though is to tell me jokes. So far, the jokes have been clean and funny.

    Where does a one-armed man shop? At a second hand store.

    What do you call a bunch of dancing pebbles? The “Rock”ettes.

    Who is Dracula’s favorite person on the baseball team? The bat boy!

    What do you call a bee born in May? A Maybe.

    What did Adam say on the day before Christmas? It’s Christmas, Eve!

    What do you get if you cross a setter and a pointer? A pointsetter.

    When a girl slips on the ice, why can’t her brother help her up? Because he can’t be a brother and assist her too.

    Why do Vampire have to brush their teeth? Because they have Bat-Breath.

    There – now I suspect that the spam bots are looking for those jokes to be posted, and when they see them, they will send more spam. (So I hope you enjoyed them, because I just created more work for me)

    Anyway, that is just one interesting aspect from behind the scenes of a web site.

  6. Exploring new features on facebook

    April 13, 2009 by Ryan

    Ryan… has just activated the new feature “facebook esp”
    About an hour ago

    Ryan… wonders how cool is that? Just think it and it goes on facebook! Whoa! What will they come up with next?
    About 59 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… can’t find his USB drive. I know I put it here on my nightstand.
    About 57 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… would be thinking bad words now (if he knew any), because he still can’t find his USB drive. Why does everything I’m looking for always seem to wander off around here?
    About 56 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… found his usb drive. It was in his pocket with his keys and cell phone. Opps.
    About 55 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan…is thinking about eating toast made out of multi-grain wide-loaf bread.
    About 53 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.
    One friend likes this

    Ryan… put the bread in the toaster. This wide-loaf bread doesn’t fit very well.
    About 52 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan…adjusted the toaster to medium and pressed down the lever.
    About 52 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan…thinks, yum, that will be good with butter.
    About 50 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.
    Two friends like this

    Ryan…noticed that he is out of butter. Margarine will have to do.
    About 51 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… decided that while he has the bread out, he will make a sandwich for his lunch today.
    About 50 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… thinks that he will cut the cheese for his sandwich.
    About 49 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… just realized that he put “cut the cheese” on his facebook status.
    About 48 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.
    Three friends like this!

    Ryan… wonders if he should consider getting different friends.
    About 48 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… wonders if any of the famous Osmond family have to make their own sandwiches for lunch.
    About 47 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… can’t find a sharp knife to “slice” the cheese with.
    About 46 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… thought he would try using a butter knife that was handy.
    About 46 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… noted that the butter knife didn’t work so well.
    About 46 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… placed the chunks of cheese on his sandwich.
    About 45 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… picks out the “lite mayo” – but we already had this discussion, didn’t we?
    About 45 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… fishes some pickles out of the jar.
    About 44 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… realized that the toast popped up some time ago.
    About 43 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… saw that the toast came completely out of the toaster and landed to the side. It must have got some good air when it came out of the toaster! Nice spring action!
    About 42 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… is ready to put the sandwich together. But the uneven cheese chunks are making this sandwich look lopsided.
    About 41 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan…  is trying to fit the sandwich, made with uneven sliced cheese and wide-loaf multi-grain bread, into a standard size sandwich baggy.
    About 40 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… smashed the sandwich into the baggy, but the pickles fell out and are laying separately in the bag.
    About 39 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… will just deal with those at lunchtime, as he now puts the sandwich into his cooler.
    About 38 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… adds some easter candy to his lunch cooler.
    About 37 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.
    1 friend likes this.

    Ryan… has the toast “buttered” with margarine.
    About 36 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… is thinking about what to eat for breakfast now. How about frosted mini-wheats to go with the toast?
    About 34 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… poured the cereal. He emptied the box.
    About 33 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… almost put the empty box into the recycling, but remember that it has a token on the back to cut out. Send in 8 tokens and $8.99 shipping and handling and you get a free disposable camera, in one of two designs based on Disney characters.
    About 32 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… poured the milk and offered a prayer of thanks.
    About 31 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… is eating his cereal and toast.
    About 30 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… wonders if it would be possible to crack open the “disposable” camera, to replace the film and reuse the camera?
    About 28 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… is thinking that the camera might not be a great deal. The film will need developing and that will cost additional money.
    About 28 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… thinks how spoiled we are with digital cameras.
    About 27 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… wonders if using a disposable camera is wasteful to the environment?
    About 26 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… remembered reading a promise by Disney that in a few years, they will go completely “zero waste” in their theme parks. Can they really do that?
    About 25 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… wonders if he thinks it, will facebook esp find the news release on that and post it automatically?
    About 25 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… noticed that it is time to leave for work.
    About  24 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan…  went upstairs to kiss his wife goodbye. She is awesome!
    About  23 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan…  can’t find his shoes now.
    About  22 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan…  is still hunting for his shoes. Why does everything I am looking for seem to wander off around here!
    About 21 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan…  found his shoes, in the kitchen where he took them off and placed them to dry after coming in from the rain the other night.
    About  20 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… is outside, searching for his newspaper now.
    About  19 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… found his newspaper underneath the car.
    About  18 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan…  got up from the driveway after nearly climbing under the car to retrieve the newspaper.
    About  17 minutes ago  * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… is driving away, but thinking that it might be easier if the newspaper delivery guy would just put it on or near the porch.
    About  17 minutes ago  * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan…  is wondering what my facebook page must look like by now?
    About  16 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.
    8 Friends commented on this.

    Ryan…  is waiting at a dumb traffic light that is red for a bunch of cars, but green for a small residential cross street that has no traffic at all in sight.
    About  15 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan…  is getting tired of waiting, because the traffic light just turned green for the other side, but is still red for my direction. It gave a turn signal to the other direction, but there are no cars in the turn lane.
    About 14 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… might use bad words right now, if he knew any.
    About 14 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan…  saw that the traffic light finally turned green, and he is on his way.
    About  13 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan…  just passed a housing development and wonders if the rumor is true that one of the famous Osmond family members live in there?
    About  12 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan…  had to swerve to miss somebody’s bag that was laying in the middle of the right lane, before the freeway onramp.
    About  11 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan…  thinks there are too many commercials on the radio.
    About  9 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan…  is almost at work now.
    About  5 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan…  thinks the talk-show host guy on the radio had a good point.
    About  4 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan… arrived at work, and decided to go look at his facebook page.
    About  1 minutes ago * Updated via facebook esp.

    Ryan…  wonders why his friends list is much shorter than when he checked it an hour ago?
    A few seconds ago

  7. Email Delivered – Message Altered

    November 26, 2008 by Ryan

    As the clerk of my local Church congregation, one of the leaders emailed me a draft document outlining the 2009 missionary plan, which I was to forward to the other leaders. Before hitting send, I noticed that his Internet service provider had added its own idea to our Church’s written plans for fellowshipping our neighbors and spreading the Good Word.

    After several thoughtful ideas and goals, the final line of his email now read “Can’t pay your bills? Click here to learn about filing for bankruptcy.”

    Gotta be careful with those free email addresses.

  8. Low on Memory

    May 15, 2008 by Ryan

    Here’s an analogy I’ve used often to describe to people what happens when a computer is low on memory. I cannot fully claim it for myself – I heard the concept somewhere, and perfected the story to make it my own.

    If your computer where a kitchen, the chef is the processor. No work happens until the chef can get it done, at whatever speed the chef can operate.

    The Random Access Memory (RAM, or often called the memory) is the counter space. The chef will lay out all the ingredients here and work with them, and put them away when finished. When the kitchen in closed (computer is shut down for the night) the counter top is cleared off. If the kitchen is properly shut down, the chef will put away all the ingredients and wash up the dishes before leaving. If something were left on the counter, the cleaning crew will just throw it away rather than put it back (that is like what happens when you simply power-off a computer without properly shutting it down first)

    The hard drive is the longer term storage area – like the cupboards, pantry, and refrigerator. You keep the ingredients, pots, pans, etc – all of the things you use, stored in there overnight or longer.

    When you don’t have enough counter-top space (think RAM), you then need to “swap” items (think information, files, programs, documents, etc) back and forth. The chef can grab a couple of ingredients to make a meal, put them on the counter, work with them, and put them back and grab two more, running back and forth until the job is done. This is less efficient, but possible. If the chef has all the ingredients, bowl, spoons, mixer, and whatever else he needs to prepare the dish, he can stay in one place and get it all done at one time, getting it all out and putting it all back in one trip.

    So when you are low on memory, you might be low on one of two things. The more common thing that I see is that you are low on counter space (or working room for Windows and the programs you want to run to operate together at the same time). Your processor is having to run back and forth to the hard drive to put one thing away and retrieve another, because there is not room to spread it all out and work with it at once. If you are low on Hard Drive space (your storage places in the kitchen) then you run into entirely different problems, which are not nearly as common to encounter (at least in my experience)

    So my analogy is not entirely perfect. Recently, Dual-Core and Quad-Core processors have come about and that means that it is like having multiple chefs running around. Windows VISTA has introduced the option to plug in a USB drive and treat it like additional RAM (I guess setting up a card-table in the kitchen and using it temporarily). But there it is so far.

    Any ways to improve the analogy?. Email me, or leave them in the comments. I’d love to see this story perfected some more.

  9. A P.C. Tale (eat an Apple and enjoy)

    March 27, 2008 by Ryan

    I own both a pencil and a pen. Both of them can be used to write on paper. In some situations, I have used a pencil. When need arises, the pencil does the job for me. But more often, I find the pen suits my needs better. It feels more comfortable to me, and produces darker lines on the paper. And quite simply, I prefer it.

    There are many people who so passionately advocate using one or the other. There are some very good, solid reasons on both sides of the argument. Some people tell me I should switch to a pencil because the ink from a pen can smear on the page if it gets wet (though if I upgrade to a smear-resistant model, I can eliminate that problem). And sometimes, without warning, a pen could just explode in my pocket (though I can buy a pocket-protecting accessory for that, if I like). If the ink dries up a little, it might not want to write – at least until I scribble for a moment on a scratch paper to get the ink started. But I understand my pen’s quirks and risks, and I work through its limitations, and it serves me well. Besides, most everyone else I work with also use a pen, and so I feel like I am in good company with the rest of my associates.

    So I will happily keep using my pen, despite the mocking I receive from the pencil-loving advocates out there. I am impressed with their devotion. I am amused at their humorous advertisements asking me to switch. I even cringe a little bit on the inside, when they make a point that is undeniably correct about their pencils and against my pen. But ultimately, when it comes down to it, they are both just tools, and I can use them to complete very similar tasks, with similar results.

  10. Fun Fact # 235

    January 19, 2008 by Ryan

    Fun Fact # 235: Why you might want to proof-read the message before you let your office’s computer tech use YOUR email address to to send out a message to the rest of the company (because they might think you wrote it yourself)…

    From: Glorajean Beardall
    Sent: Thursday, January 17, 2008 9:07 AM
    To: Everybody
    Subject: Please dont unplug Glorajeans network cable from her computer.

    Glorajean was trying to work from home last night and EARLY this morning and couldn’t log in to her computer here.  It seems that someone disconnected her computer (possibly to plug in a laptop ????) and didn’t plug it back in to her computer when they were done.

    Please don’t use Glorajeans network cable for laptops. Just because shes not in the office doesn’t mean shes not on the computer. We have other empty spots in the office that can be used for that sort of thing and if you don’t have a network cable ask Rodney, he’ll give you one to use.

    Fun Fact # 234! Glorajean does YOUR paychecks! If she cant work, YOU don’t get paid!