Goodbye Chicago, Hello Tampa!

Tomorrow our cable modem is disconnected, so I’m posting this tonight.  On Friday we’re moving to the Tampa Bay area in Florida.  We have decided to hurry up and get down there so we don’t miss another hurricane season!
 
I’m excited about our new venture (HSI Technologies), and looking forward to getting down there and getting settled.  The only problem is that I will have to suffer without a high speed Internet connection for at least five whole days!  Oh the tragedy!
 
I remember many years ago when Bill Gates talked about the digital lifestyle.  People would be dependant on the Internet to do everything from getting the weather to planning their days.  I know that I definitely live that "lifestyle" and many of my friends do as well.  Not having Internet access for five days (three of which will be spent on the road anyway) may not sit high on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but in my case, the others are covered, so Internet access is the big crisis. That and trying to move a small reef tank aquarium across the country in the back of my Honda Element.
 
It reminds me of a time, about 7 years ago, when I was bitching to a friend that my private airplane wasn’t available to me because it was in the shop getting an annual inspection.  About mid-way through my rant I stopped msyelf and said something like "if the biggest problem in my life is that my personal airplane isn’t available on demand, I really need to just stop bitching…". 
 
Remains true to this day.  Now if only I still owned the airplane, then I’d have something to bitch about – it wouild probably still be in the shop.
 
See you in Brandon! – Eric.
 

Beware cheap Xbox 360 faceplates

Some background: As we prepare to move to Florida, we are looking to simplify our home theater a bit.  Given how well the Xbox 360 works as a media center extender, we have decided to use it as our main media device in our living room. 
 
Just for fun, we bought some el-cheapo faceplates for the 360, two faceplates in one package for $19.  The faceplates went on just fine, and the tropical one looked nifty.
 
Now begins the interesting part. We also purchased a Harmony remote for the 360.  We use several Harmony remotes in our house, have recommended them to others, and installed them for clients.
 
When messing around with the remote, it worked quite well controlling our HP x5400 Media Center Extender in the home office.  However, when I brought it into the living room to see how well it worked on the 360, I found that it didn’t function well at all unless it was roughly 3 feet away from the 360 and directly in front of the infrared pickup window!  Not an ideal situation.
 
After much troubleshooting, I discovered that the cheap 360 faceplate was to blame for the problem.  I swapped it out and put the factory faceplate back on, and the remote began working appropriately. 
 
One thing that is quite interesting is the design of the infrared pickup in the 360.  Normally, you can see the IR pickup in the red window on a piece of home theater equipment by shining a flashlight on it.  With the 360, that won’t work.  The vast majority of the IR pickup window isn’t actually see through.  If you take the faceplate off of the 360 and look at the back of it, there is a plastic "stick" that projects from the IR window, which is what channels the IR beam down to the pickup about 1/4 an inch behind the faceplate.  I wonder why MS didn’t simply make the IR pickup window be just a 1/8" hole in the faceplate.  I’m sure it’s a global consipiracy to drive up the sales of red translucent plastic.

What the hell is wrong with our (American) government?

 
You have got to be kidding me.  They are trying to collect records of every phone call made in the United States, just in the hope of maybe data mining it into finding a terrorist?
 
I’m not sure that innocent until proven guilty is applicable anymore.
 
This is almost as scary as the proposed legislation that would require ISP’s to track every email you send, and every web site you visit, except that it is apparently already happening.
 
A lot of these things are done in the guise of helping "the children".  Well what good will it be doing if "the children" end up growing up in a police state?
 
Perhaps we’re all terrorists now… Your papers please…