Site Status

The Site Status widget created by Tom LeBlanc is a good program that monitors specific URLs, instead of simply pinging the hosts as many other site monitors do. However, if you have the widget installed on a computer that is hooked up to your surround sound system I highly suggest that you do not leave it running during the night as you may find yourself woken at 2:30 AM by the warning siren, which goes off about once a minute when a site is unreachable. Apparently my Internet service went down for a while around that time…

Sound Card

I’m searching for an inexpensive, high-quality PCI sound card with 7.1 channels and SPDIF output. So far I’ve found some good candidates at Newegg.com but I’m still shopping around. To my chagrin I could not find a similar card at Best Buy, Circuit City, or Office Max. Office Max did not have any sound cards in stock. Best Buy and Circuit City only had about four or five different cards to choose from and they were either too fancy and expensive or they didn’t have the features I was looking for. I was rather surprised by the lack of selection at either store.

Dynex USB/Firewire iPod Dock Adapter

I passed through Best Buy and noticed a Dynex High-Speed USB 2.0/Firewire Dock Cable for Apple iPod (otherwise known as a sync cable in the Palm/PocketPC world) for $20. I’ve been wanting to buy a spare cable so I could always leave the original at home and not have to worry about running it behind the desk and into the G4 each time I need to take it with me. My primary motivation for purchasing the cable was to be able to charge the iPod when I’m away from home. Though the box only stated it was compatible with “iPod” and “iPod Mini” I figured it would work with the Nano. The connector looked the same. A sales representative said it would work, but I rarely take their word for such things.

I went ahead and purchased it. I haven’t tried it with the Nano yet, but at least it does fit. According to the Dynex website it does work with the Nano. However, I have noticed that neither the Dynex page nor the Best Buy page mention whether or not the cable will also charge the Nano. It should…

Wireless Keyboard/Mouse Combo

As mentioned in a previous post I have been using UltraNVC to control my Multi-Media Server (MMS). While this is convenient if I’m in another room it is not very convenient if I’m watching a podcast, show, or movie and someone calls because then I have to log into the system and pause whatever is playing. Using a remote connection was a temporary solution until I could purchase a wireless keyboard and mouse, which I finally did over the weekend.

I bought a Logitech Cordless Desktop S 510 wireless keyboard and mouse combo. It’s a nice, compact set. The keyboard is has a built-in wrist wrest but it less bulky than most keyboards and the extra keys are well placed. I’ve had one problem with the mouse clicks not always being sent, but I think that’s a problem caused by the elevation of the receiver relative to the mouse and not actually a range problem.

There’s a matching remote that I’m tempted to purchase to make tasks such as watching a DVD or listening to an album more like doing so with a DVD player. A new DVD R/W burner and hard drive will probably not be purchased this month as the current ones appear to be function well enough.

UltraVNC

My “media center” PC is hooked to my television. I don’t want to dedicate a monitor to the system since the video output is going to primarily be sent to the television, but sometimes I need to view the screen as if I was working with a standard computer display. Remote Desktop worked well enough but it only works from other Windows machines and have an OS X based G4 Mac that I often work from.

I installed the UltraVNC server on the media center computer and the client on a couple of other computers. This version of VNC is very fast. When I start an iTunes bought episode of Battlestar Galactica the VNC server manages to push several frames across without slowing down the standard window display and mouse movement. The only little quirk is that Yahoo! Widgets aren’t visible when using UltraVNC.

>>UltraVNC

EzPop – POP3 Mail Notification Tool

EzPop is a very nice, compact POP3 e-mail notification tool. In addition to checking for new e-mail and displaying headers it also provides the ability to read and delete e-mails currently on the server. The interface is very simple and it supports custom skins. The developer website does not appear to be actively maintained but you can find many download sites that have it. EzPop is free. The screenshot above shows EzPop using the GT3 Reloaded skin, which I downloaded from a skins site.

I have not had any problems with the program so far and the ability to skin the program helps it blend in well with running widgets.

press any key

Welcome to my "other" blog. I decided to seperate the computer related posts so visitors looking for such information won’t have to wade through the other stuff. I moved most of my technical posts from the other blog and into this one. Some of those posts have 23:59 as the time they were posted, which is not correct but I don’t feel like updating the time for all of them (and can’t since I’ve already deleted some of the ones that moved).