La Crosse Technology BC-9009 Battery Charger


I’m surprised I hadn’t posted anything about this device but it appears to have been neglected. A couple of years ago my wife purchased a La Crosse Technology BC-9009 Battery Charger from my Amazon wish list. This certainly qualifies as a geek gift. I think she thought I was crazy for being happy about receiving it as a gift.

I’ve used Energizer rechargeable batteries for several years. Until my wife bought that charger I was still using an older Energizer charger.  Some time ago I had became curious about the different types of chargers available and the La Crosse brand had caught my attention.

Continue reading

I’m Over the iPad


I enjoyed using an iPad for over a year. I had the first version and later acquired an iPad 2. However, I think I’m finally done with it. It’s not a bad device, and may even be the best tablet on the market. It’s great for browsing the Web, playing games, and works fine for watching videos and listening to podcasts and music.

I never found myself using it much for video – I prefer a larger screen (laptop or TV). It was OK for listening to music but the speakers aren’t very good. I never used it to listen to music as much as I have my iPhone and iPod.

The iPad’s capabilities overlap those of the iPhone and a laptop.

And that’s also the problem with the iPad. It lacks the portability of a smartphone and the capabilities of a laptop.

Continue reading

Using a Foscam Wireless/Wired IP Camera (FI8918W) with Vitamin D Video


Occasionally, in the process of setting up a new piece of equipment, I’ll tinker with configuration options if I can’t get something to work right. Later on I may forget the extra steps I made, which can be a problem when I write in a post that I have a piece of software working with a certain piece of hardware but completely forget that it didn’t work out-of-the-box.

This post has some information about setting up Vitamin D Video to work with a Foscam FI8918W. Currently, Vitamin D Video does not officially support this Foscam model. That may change – I submitted some information to Vitamin D Video this evening which might help them add official support.

Continue reading

Reducing Streaming Video Quality (Netflix and Hulu)


A few weeks ago I adjusted our Netflix Instant Watch streaming quality to the medium setting. My ISP doesn’t have a data cap, at least not yet, but I figured it might not hurt to conserve bandwidth.

Today I logged in and changed it to the lowest quality setting. It’s possible that the Apple TV is ignoring the setting, but as far as I can tell the quality is actually still good. I’m going to try leaving this setting in place and wait to see how it works out. Going from the medium setting estimated to use about .7 GB/hour down to the low setting of .3 GB/hour may help keep our video streaming under our ISP’s radar, which is a greater concern now that we use video streaming in place of cable/satellite TV.

Last week I reduced the quality of video from Hulu, though it had less to do with conserving bandwidth and more to do with the fact that our Tivo seems to have trouble maintaining the Hulu stream from time-to-time.

Updated 10/09/2011: I’ve been using these settings for several months and have hardly even noticed a difference.

An Error Occurred Loading This Content (Apple TV – Second Generation)


The Short Version: The most effective work-around I’ve found is to simply unplug the device and then plug it back in (to reboot it).  After that it works.

I hate this error. It’s a sign that the Apple TV (Second Generation) has failed in its most basic task – to play content. Where this message will appear may vary but typically I’ll get it when attempting to use Netflix Instant Watch. It’s not constant, but it happens enough to be annoying.

The only way to clear this error is to restart the Apple TV. Since Apple seems to have deemed a power button unnecessary this requires that I yank the power cord out of the back. Then, I have to pray that the device will retain its network settings and my iTunes store login. I stopped using it via WiFi simply because I got tired of having to re-enter my wireless key every other time I had to restart the device.

The other message, which I didn’t manage to get a photo of, is the one that shows the system is setting the date and time when it reboots. I honestly don’t know what’s so complicated about hitting a time server and getting the date and time. Why should this task require several minutes?

Apple needs to slow down product cycles and work on refining some of its existing products. The Apple TV is one of them.

Waking Wireless Speakers from Standby for Audio Output (Windows 7)


I recently purchased a set of wireless speakers, which I’ve connected to my ASUS EeeBox PC. They work well but I have encountered a problem that is common to wireless speakers – they go into a standby mode and require a few seconds to initialize. For playing music this isn’t a problem. However, using the speakers for text-to-speech can be a problem as the speakers may not initialize before the computer has finished speaking. In addition, Windows text-to-speech output doesn’t seem to have a signal strong enough to wake up the speakers anyway.

Continue reading