Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Home Network. For Dum Dums.

Home networking. Most of us depend on our cable/phone company to send us a little gizmo in the mail that we feel good about setting up a password on. But setting up a home network can be more satisfying that relying on WiFi alone from a two-rate modem/router/wireless access point combo you WAY overpay for on a monthly basis. With just a little knowledge, you can double your speed and enhance your entertainment and web surfing experience. All this without a tech degree from an IBM school.

Here are the basics.

First, you need a modem. That converts either your cable service or your phone service into internet and brings it into your home. That's the demarcation point -- or the point where its on you and not your internet service provider (ISP). But don't be afraid, you can do better than Comcast! In early 2014, for the home-owner, I would call this the best modem on the market:
If you buy an modem like this you will need to, sadly, call your ISP to get it activated by them. Once that happens, you can hook up a router. You may need to change the default IP of the router as they can be the same as the modem at times. Its easy though and usually in the same area you would set up your passwords. Just change the third set of numbers...for example, your modem will be so make your router No problem. If you want to understand what an IP is, look to YouTube. I recommend my favorite tech how-to channel later on.

Many modems have a built in router. A router translates information between different devices in your network. I recommend buying a one that is independent of your modem. Routers come in many "flavors." If you want Apple gear, they make some pretty nice routers -- even with built in back up capacity or with the ability to hook up external hard drives. A quick amazon search will give you some good suggestions.

Next, a switch. Wait, aren't there switch ports on the back of my router and why would I look into anything but wireless? Well, yes your router likely has a switch built into it (the Ethernet ports on the back), but you can EXPAND your capacity with additional switches that are fed from those ports. Why would you do that -- because you can get up to 1 gigabit of connection speed, per port, which you cannot get with wireless. Its true, some wireless is faster than wired, but not once multiple devices connect to it and certainly not within the home owner's budget. If you want to know how to run cable and hook up wall jacks throughout your home, I suggest you look to Eli the Computer Guy on YouTube for some wonderful tutorials on the subject. Not to mention that wired connections are more dependable than wireless. I put together a home network running wired connections to each room in my house and now enjoy tremendous streaming speeds between devices like my Mac and Apple TV. Watching a movie is now even simpler than popping in a DVD!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Eleven things you didn't know about coffee for 2011!

  1. The darker the roast the more dehydrating it can be, also the less caffeine it has. This is mostly because roasting coffee beans causes them to increase in volume, but decrease in mass. Most of us use a volume measure to gauge our coffee (Tablespoon for example). If we were to use a scale to weigh the coffee, dark roast would actually result in a higher concentration of caffeine.
  2. It seems like a lot, but coffee should be brewed with a ratio of 2 Tablespoons of ground coffee used for every 6 oz of water.
  3. Coffee is best brewed in 4 ½ - 5 minutes, using water that is between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Coffee is the second most used product in the world, following only oil.
  5. A mixture of coffee and sugar water will revive yellowing house plants during the winter months.
  6. Both Lloyd's of London and the New York Stock Exchange started their lives as coffee houses.
  7. In Ireland, coffee has it’s own celebration day on September 19th.
  8. The term “cup of joe” came from WWII when American soldiers were issued Maxwell Instant Coffee in their daily rations. Soldiers were referred to as “G.I. Joes,” so it followed that their daily cup of coffee would be a cup of joe.
  9. There is no calories in straight or black, coffee.
  10. Coffee beans are really berries. In Arabic, it is called a “bunnu.”
  11. Although opinions differ greatly, the best way to brew coffee is arguably in a French press. Many options exist including vacuum brewing, cold press, drip brewing, espresso, Italian press, percolator and Norwegian egg coffee. The later involves boiling 10 cups of water, adding a well stirred mixture of ¼ cup of water - 1 egg - and ½ cup of coffee grounds, simmering for 2 - 3 minutes, removing from heat and adding 1 cup of cold water. The egg coagulates, collecting with it the coffee grounds. The additional cold cup of water causes the grounds to fall to the bottom of the pot, leaving a rich, very clean coffee that can be decanted into a thermos.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cash: American IV Album Review

I know I am a little behind the times in reviewing this album, since it has been out since November of 2002. So I thought I would bring some of my thoughts (having just purchased the album) along with some other thoughts retrieved from reviews.

I personally love the CD. I won't listen to it very often though. It does not have songs on it that you listen to over and over again. Frankly, it is a depressing album. There are a number of covers in it, that arguably Cash makes his own. Hurt, originally done by Nine Inch Nails becomes another song entirely when Cash does it. Yet, like I said there are no feel-good songs here. Listener beware, you need to be in the right mood for this album. When you are though, its fantastic in an "end me now" kind of way.

Here are what some other reviewers said:

(retrieved from on 9/5/09)
By A Customer
First of all, I'm a Johnny Cash nut. So, I tend to be a little more critical than most people when it comes to reviewing his albums. His fourth album in the American series is by far the weakest. Although the title track is by easily one of the best Cash songs ever, the remainder of the album is evidence that Cash needs to ditch Rick Rubin and start writing his own songs. Has anyone noticed how every American album Cash puts out seems to have more covers than the previous one? Sure, some like "Rusty Cage" and "Personal Jesus" (which is featured on this album) work beautifully, but it seems that Rubin has gotten a litte too cover-happy these days. Cash's own tunes are always the best. This album is, however worth every cent, if only for the wonderful title track. For casual Cash fans, its best to buy one of the earlier American albums, or just buy one of the live prison albums.

(retrieved from on 9/5/09)
By Bram Janssen
I am the least capable person to review this album. This man had been writing and singing songs for forty years and all I'd heard of him was "Ring Of Fire". I knew the song. I did not know who sang it. It was all but another one of these inevitable songs on every compilation, and one of these songs every channel my parents loved so much would play. I never noticed. Today, I still know hardly more.

One late-summer evening as I was zapping through the music channels here in The Netherlands, my thumb froze over the remote. On the screen singing was, not the usual parade of lewd, crafted, playbacking little mouths seemingly right of production lines, not good capable singers only better than the rest because of management and advertisement skills; it was a man dressed in black, looking old as death, with a voice raw as a crow's. I did not know it was he, if it had mattered. It was Cash, singing "Hurt". I looked, listened but then more. It was so unspeakably sad, so unfathomably melancholic. How can I describe the emotions hearing that song? Haunted and moved don't seem adequate.

Enchantment. I was a youth with a passion for music: metal, symphonic, classic, techno. Give it to me, give it to me every day, all day long. I'll be satisfied. I was a youth, looking at an old man, singing for me, singing of his life and emotions. Music moves me always, but it was this music, barely more than a voice and an acoustic guitar, that drew a tear, dropped into my heart - then another and another. Silent, invisible tears filling hollows, and all that showed on the outside, were a sniff of the nose and a blink of the eyes. I was a youth.

Many of the songs on this final album, including "Hurt", are covers, even though some are his own. Cash here also covers Paul Simon, Hank Williams and John Lennon. Not all of his arrangements are better than the originals. Technically. But Cash performs with such feeling, such sway, such voice, that this is the most cherished music I've bought in a lifetime.

Then, as I sat there oblivious, and wishing I had seen the whole thing, the clip ended and I saw Cash's name. I turned off the set, stood, and hoped I would hear it again. Weeks later, Cash was dead. Today, I still know hardly more.

Now back to me.

I would recommend purchasing this album or any of the four other American Recordings albums. They show a good view of Johnny Cash in the last days of his long and difficult life.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Rocky Patel

Recently I read a mass email from my favorite cigar shop, Stogies on Grand, about a Rocky Patel event. I hadn't heard much of Rocky Patel cigars, but the man himself was going to be at Stogies promoting his line of cigars. Time and motivation kept me away from the event, but I found myself at the shop yesterday and decided to give a post-celebration salute to the cigars and try one.

I found myself of on the other end of a Renaissance. This cigar line has a dark wrapper leaf. I picked up a Coronas (typical sized cigar, round end, usually a little over 5" long and 40-50 ring size diameter).

This was a very smooth cigar. It had a cool smoke throughout and burned evenly. It was a bit difficult to get lit, but once it had a good burn it kept it up. My only disappointment was that it died out while I still had a good inch of "smokable" cigar left. I found that I had to smoke this cigar quicker than most to keep it going.

It was a strong cigar. Luckily I had eaten at Dixies just before and had about 50 pounds of BBQ meat sitting in my stomach to absorb everything. I would rate this cigar similarly to a Punch cigar, having more of the characteristics of a true Cuban.

On a side note, looks like we might be even closer to removing the tight restrictions of the trade embargo with Cuba. That would revitalize the cigar industry in America as we know it!

Happy Smoking!

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Wearing of Hats

Hats have gone in and out of fashion. In Greek and Roman times, the hat indicated freedom. In more modern times, the hat indicated your desire to stay out of the harsh frontier sun. What do hats mean now? I would like to think they still indicate a little about the person, even though we are in a "dressed-down" fashion trend these days.

The hat of all hats in my opinion is the fedora. Interestingly enough, the fedora was originally worn by women and soon adopted by men. Although, the fedora was not instantly iconic. It is rather a reaction of another hat, but more on that later. The fedora is a (typically) pinched front (tear drop usually) hat with a full brim that is usually pulled down over the eyes.

There are many variations hats (besides the baseball cap):

Porkpies (what Frank Sinatra wore and what you can stylishly get away with today without any undo pressure)

Standard Fedora (think Casablanca and a step up in class - if possible)

Hombergs (a favorite of Winston Churchill)

Bowler (left side)/Derby (right side and practically identical - just a rounder crown). One thing to note about the derby. It was originally the hat of a gentleman. With the coming of the frontier days and the introduction of a western hat, hat makers began to branch out and made a hybrid western derby, which was the birth of the fedora.

Panama - the classic from Ecuador. In fact, good panamas only come from Ecuador. Is there a better hat to smoke a cigar in? I think not.

Indiana Jone's Fedora (notice there is no "flip" to the back part of the brim)

Of course there is also the Western Hat and its many variations. I might get into that for a different post. Then there is the hooligan hat or driving cap or flat cap depending on where you are from. The fact of the matter is, wearing a hat is a style signature. You have to wear it with confidence. I think a lot of guys don't know how to wear anything but a baseball cap anymore (which should only be worn while playing or going to a baseball game in my opinion). Better yet remember when this was in style? LOL!

The sad thing is that visors persist in golf. Oh sad, sad days.

I digress; Here are some hat wearing guidelines to help you wear that stylish hat with confidence (hat etiquette):
  1. Go to a haberdashery that will help you find a hat to fit not only your head, but your face.
  2. Remove your hat when you enter a house, business, an elevator, or restaurant. Unless you really are a gangster or a cowboy, never wear your hat while having dinner.
  3. Touch the brim of your hat when you meet a friend and raise the front of the hat when you meet a lady friend.
That's about it. Otherwise make sure to dust your hat off with a medium stiff bristle brush, store it on a hat block if you can or a hat hook otherwise and don't set the hat on a flat surface or you will ruin the blocking of the brim. Otherwise enjoy your new status in the world with a fine hat.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Freewill vs. Predestination: Foundation's Edge

Did I choose the person I married or was I always meant to be with her? If there is a higher power, do we choose our relationship with It or does It choose? If either of those are the case, did It choose to create evil or was that destiny?

These are the metaphysical questions you grapple with at a theological university. It seems too that Isaac Asimov grappled with these questions too, although without the explicit introduction of a god.

In Foundation's Edge, Isaac Asimov continues his philosophy of the "Three Laws of Robotics" in which robots, that humans have created for their benefit, continue to delicately look after their inferior masters.

Asimov takes the reader through three unique plot twists in what turns out to be a correctly paranoid book. Very well written and lacking the usual ambling style of Asimov, Foundation's Edge is a story about the man, behind the man, behind the man. He layers on the complexity of social psychology as only he seemingly can. The end result, a good story about an intergalactic escapade that could almost be considered a science fiction western. Well it turns out that not only is it an enjoyable read, but Asimov continues to examine the interplay between free will and predestination. If nothing else, this novel will have you question the workings of the universe and leave you feeling like you are a tiny spot on a tiny spot (which is good, because realistically we all are even smaller than that). Now that I say that, it makes we think of Horton Hears a Who, by Dr. Seuss.

I hope you pick this one up soon and enjoy it as much as I did.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A New Type of Golf

I've decided that after this weekend, when I took my father-in-law out golfing for his birthday, that I was going to invent a new type of golfing. My primary desire is to bring joy to millions. However, a secondary and believe me it's way lower on the list, is because I think if the inventor of golf was still alive I might kill him. If not me, then I would definitely send a pack of rabbits on him... the kind with "sharp, pointy teeth."

No, my new game of golf will combine elements of golf. You will have a regulation golf ball, a fairway and a green. The primary difference will be in driving. Rather than having a fancy-dancy driver, you will use a modified potato gun. It will shoot the golf ball out, exactly where you want it. However, the trick will be in setting the gun correctly and judging you windage and elevation. Also, we will be prepared for WWIII while on the golf course; bet they won't see that coming!

Yes, you will see my golfing guns (patent pending) on sale in your local supermarket soon. I forecast they will be an immediate success, shooting me (pun intended) into the billionaire club by early next quarter.