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The Great HDMI Cable Conspiracy
Posted - Jan 22nd, 2008 5:02pm
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Monster Cable is evil.  Not evil in a corporate malevolence kind of way but in evil in the truest sense of the word, stabbing puppies and opening portals to forbidden depths.

My case for this is simple.  They and their kind have managed to sell something that only costs a single dollar for over a hundred and have the masses thank them for it.  There are those who see them for the pit of despair that they are but most worship them as a source of wired clarity and I see no end in sight.

My latest run-in with the occult came when I needed to purchase an HDMI cable to connect my XBox to my HDTV.  It seemed simple enough, 1 wire to pipe sound and video from my game to my tube.  I happily ran down to my local "Worst Buy" justifying that the few pennies my cable would cost couldn't feed their war-machine for long, but the cheapest thing they had in the store was $40.00 for a 4 foot cable and the Monster ones started at $70! Caught in my own dissolution I wondered around the store aimlessly for a while trying to figure out what would posses someone to pay for such madness, and may or may not have bought a new cd.. I'm still not sure.

Circuit City was no better, and Target would have still been $20 had they actually had any cables in stock.  Even Rat Shack let me down as they cheapest they had was $30.00 and though I almost caved giving in to my need for instant gratification in the ozone ridden isles of Radio Shit - I held strong.  I headed home and turned to that superhero of the new millenia: The internet.  I had remembered reading about an outpost of sanity monoprice.com.  I knew I had found salvation when the 6 footer I needed was $0.95.

Needless to say I bought 2 and I suggest you do the same.  I got the package right on time and have the picture below to prove it.  The cable works just as well as one would suspect a piece of wire to work, leaving me with the horrible conclusion that Monster Cable is almost certainly controlling the world with its demonic auras.  For even if they bought off all of the major retailers to prevent them from selling cheap-as-dirt cables to the masses their ability to promote such goodwill in doing so is an unholy act for certain.
monoprice.com = resistance
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Frostbite Creamery
Posted - Jul 11th, 2007 10:50am
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I headed out last night to grab a quick ice cream at the shop that just opened around the corner from my house.  It looked like your average mix-it-in style creamery that was all the rage just couple of years ago only there was no ice cream anywhere.

It was almost closing time so I asked politely if they were still open and they said yes.  Still wondering where they were keeping my desert I asked if they were like your average cold-stone type of place. "Nope" he said with a sort of smugness.  "We are different.  We don't have any ice-cream." I realize now that this is a bit that he has had plenty of practice with but since I was still half convinced we caught them closing I dragged out an "ooookayyy".  "We make it when you order it" he says and I finally get it.

Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream!
I'd seen videos of this on the net so of course had to start geeking out on their equipment and asking the kind of questions that tend to make people question my sanity/motives.

Frost Bite Creamery is family owned and operated by Steve More and his two sons.  I spoke with Steve but one of his sons must have designed the equipment as he seemed a bit incapacitated when hit with any technical questions about his setup.  They apparently opened in February of this year but from what I could see still haven't had a lot of traffic.

All things geek aside, the ice cream was fantastic.  First you pick from either light, normal, or heavy cream.  Choose a flavor if you like then pick a mix-in ((I went with coconut flavor and pineapple chunks, the wife went with chocolate and Andes Mints).  They add the sweetened cream, flavor and mix-in into a steel bowl, pour in some liquid nitrogen and stir like mad.  About 45 seconds later when the cloud of fog disapates from the counter, the mess in the bowl becomes velvety smooth ice-cream.

I can't recommend the place enough.  Great ice cream, a great show, and a one of a kind family run business.  I should warn you that the normal cream is plenty rich though - I can't imagine what the heavy cream base would be like.  If you happen to go add a comment and let me know what you thought.

Frost Bite Creamery
53 N Val Vista, Suite 102
Gilbert, AZ 85234
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LCD TV Mounting Tips
Posted - Jun 18th, 2007 7:25pm
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So you, like me, have broken down and purchased one of these new-fangled LCD TVs and you want to hang it on the wall.  If you are me then it will take you 2 weeks and you'll have to buy and return at least a half dozen mounts before you finally get one that will work right.  With any luck though you are not me and these tips will help you avoid some of the pitfalls I ran into.

1) Buy a mount that fits TVs at least 2 inches smaller and 2 inches larger than your TV. If you look hard enough, the packaging on most mounts will say what sizes it supports.  Doing this will ensure that the edges of the mount won't stick out from the sides of your TV and that it can definitely handle the weight of your tv.

2) Do not mount your tv on drywall. These things are heavy and even if you manage to get it mounted without any studs your likely to sag the drywall or worse yet have it crash down in the middle of the night ruining your TV and your well deserved nights rest.

4) Find the studs in your wall and measure the distance between studs BEFORE you buy a mount. After you find the studs you'll want to decide if you want to center mount it on a single beam or brace it across 2.  Also read the fine print when center mounting on a single stud - the supported weight is often 1/2 of the max weight in this case.

5) If mounting on 2 studs then measure the maximum gap the mount can bridge..  If the studs where your mounting are 16" or less apart your probably fine as every mount I saw supported this.  However, if you are like me and the studs on your wall are 24" apart or greater then your going to have to be really picky about which mount you buy.

6) Spend the extra cash and get an extending and tilting mount if you can aford it. These suckers can easily run you $500 bucks but it makes rewiring the back a breeze.  At the very least make sure you get one that tilts as you loose contrast at even a little off center.

In my case, I needed to mount a 32" TV, using 2 studs, on a wall with studs 24" apart.  This was a real nightmare as the few mounts I found that would bridge a 24" gap were almost always for TVs 42" and up.  Luckily I finally found this mount at Wally World that fit the bill.  I'm bummed that it doesn't extend, but beggers can't be choosers :)

A picture of all the failures I paid good money for.
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HDTV Shopping Tips
Posted - Jun 18th, 2007 11:31am
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I recently purchased a new LCD HDTV.  Actually I purchased several of them and then subsequently returned the ones that were either too small or lacked the picture/sound quality I desired.  In the end I settled for a 32" Sharp Aquos that was $650 after a $150 coupon at Costco.  For those of you in the market for such a device here are a few things I learned from the experience:

1) If you have standard cable (non digital) such as myself, make sure you learn the wonders of a QAM tuner before shopping. It allows you to receive any non-encrypted digital signals through standard cable.  Your mileage may vary, but I get half a dozen perfectly clear HDTV channels and pay nothing for them.

2) If you want a TV that sounds good don't buy a Samsung. For reasons of appearance, Samsung mounts their speakers on their LCD TVs behind the screen and the sound escapes through 2 plastic holes at the bottom of the TV.  This has the wonderful affect of making everyone on tv sound like they are talking into a coffee can.  I found this same problem on both their 26" and 32" premium models.

3) Vizio TVs have great sound, incredible features, and dreadful picture quality. The 32" Vizio I bought and set up was my favorite of the bunch from a feature and interface standpoint (I love how it shows the resolution of the incoming signal) but everything looked muddy.  Whites were brown, blacks were brown and the colors really didn't have much punch.  They are however cheap as dirt so if your bottom line is your #1 issue then it might be worth getting.  If you do buy a Vizio make sure you get it at Costco though and not Wal-Mart or some other store.  Vizio apparently makes several quality levels of LCD TVs and I noticed while shopping around that the ones at Costco were the same price but had a different paint job, twice the contrast specs, and a few other niceties.

4) If price is no object, then just buy a Sony. No matter which store I went to or how badly the floor staff had misconfigured them, the Bravia TVs were always the best looking of the bunch and are reported to have good sound to boot (can't tell about sound until you get the TV home).  Unfortunately they were usually twice as expensive as the next closest model.

Getting the right TV was a little more work than I expected and there were a few things like the QAM tuner that I didn't know about, but what was really a nightmare was getting the right wall mount for my tv.  I'll put up a separate post with some photos of all the mounts I tried and what finally worked for me.
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