Jeff's Guide to Cable Cutting

We were at a family gathering this weekend and I mentioned that we had cut our cable.  My cousin Larry asked for some details about how we get TV and I mentioned "Netflix", "Hulu" and Internet TV.  I later realized I had told him almost nothing at all about the details involved in cutting cable.  First of all you need high speed internet.  Secondly you need some kind of smart tv or internet tv set top box or computer at each TV.  Lastly you need some kind of antenna for decent reception as losing signal with DTV means long periods of silence and gigantic pixels and you miss something.

Step 0: Sick of Comcast

Thunderbolt and Lightning, the beginning of the end for Apple? Perhaps the beginning of the end of Apple being the 800 pound gorilla.

Once upon a time, I was a happy Palm user.  It seemed like the little company could simply do no wrong.  They decided at one point to change connection systems for all of their PDAs and that happened around the same time as a downward slide from which they never recovered. In hindsight, that slide was more due to better products from competitors like Blackberry and later Apple.  Still, giving a user an "excuse" to try something else is never a good business practice and the added expense of Thunderbolt and Lightning to some users are all the excuse they need to look elsewhere.

A Brother Printer Hassle

I routinely recommend Brother printers to my friends.  I have been delighted with the way they work. In the past few months, I decided to rename our wireless SSID.  This meant that any of our Brother printers would need to be set up again.  No big deal.  Or so I thought.  It turns out that even if you connect a very long ethernet cable to that wifi printer at the opposite end of the house, the Brother 2170 ignores it.  It wants to keep speaking to a wifi SSID that has gone bye bye.  At this point, Brother engineers should have decided that if wifi is down, the printer should just connect to wired. But no.  I had to reset the printer.  This meant holding "Go" while turning on power.  Wait for all 4 LEDs to come on then release "Go".  Now hit "Go" 7 more times.  Is this world war 2?  Am I setting up an Enigma machine for God's sake?  Then I have to waste 3 sheets of paper printing out printer status that could have easily fit on one page.  I printed printer status about 20 times tonight.  Brother owes me almost a half ream of paper.  Then I have to scan the network to figure out what IP address the printer got for itself.  Ok no problem. I log in. I enter my wifi settings.  But wait.  There are so many wifi settings to enter. I haven't seen this much wifi minutia since Windows XP.  Do I really need to provide 4 WEP keys AND a passphrase when I'm running WPA?  The printer can't figure out whether it's AES or TKIP?  I have to go dig up that little tidbit?  All my iThings merily figure this sort of stuff out on their own.  As did my recently purchased Honeywell thermostat.

Top 50 Navigation Innovations of All Time (A little more iPad love)

Flight Magazine has published a list of the top 50 navigation inventions of all time.  Number one is GPS. Duh. But I was surprised to see my favorite computer so high on the list.  iPad came in at number 13, beating out dozens of other navigation inventions on Flight Magazine's list.

Here is an excerpt...


One of the greatest story lines of the march of navigation progress has been the democratization of safety technology with increasingly cheaper, more powerful and more widely available safety utilities. Nowhere has this progress been as visible as with the Apple iPad...
The list is pretty complete and includes radio navigation aids like VOR and ILS along with visual methods like pilotage, landing lights and even bonfires.  Still, I'm impressed that the iPad showed up so high on the list.

One of the things I like best about my iPad mini is the ability to carry around a whole library worth of books (in either iBooks or Kindle) and I'm sure this is a big part of why the iPad is so useful to a pilot as it is capable of carrying around dozens of binders' worth of aeronautical charts.

My Shiny New iPad mini

Santa stopped by and dropped off a shiny new iPad mini for me on Christmas morning.  I turned it on and proceeded to log in with my Apple ID.  Oops. I used the wrong email and it created a new iCloud account for me.  This was very distracting and I wound up simply factory resetting the thing and starting over, focusing on entering the id that has all my stuff.  From there it was totally painless.  My stuff came over in less than an hour and I wiped my iPad 1 and gave it to its new owner, who by the way is loving it.

I noticed my wife's Kindle sitting on her purse so I walked over and placed my iPad mini on top of it.  With the smart cover, my iPad mini is exacltly the same width and height as the old wifi Kindle but it's a lot thinner.  And it's an iPad.  So yes I loaded iBooks and Kindle software and brought over my books but I also brought over my games.  There are times I hesitate to take my iPad along because of its weight.  While the iPad mini isn't in the same "go along all the time" category as an iPhone, it's definitely the right device to take to a meeting to take notes.  I found myself increasing the default font in my favorite ebook readers but it's like reading a paperbook while my iPad 1 was like reading a hardcover dictionary.  

Black Marble

In the following NASA video, enjoy a new view of Earth at night...

Further Up Yonder

Any frequent visitor knows how much I like all things space.  Well this is one of the best (sorry that it's flash based)...

Further Up Yonder from Giacomo Sardelli on Vimeo.

Africans collecting heaters for poor freezing people in Norway

A humorous video has popped up asking for heaters for Norway. 

More at

I found this through a nice article over at NPR about how the video challenges the way stereotypes are often used in aid videos for Africa.  

Up Goer Five

Rocket Science described in the 1,000 most commonly used words...


iPad mini is Good News for Apple and for Users

I'm excited about today's iPad announcements.  In fact, I'm excited about all of Apple's announcements today.  My iPad 1 is "showing its age" mainly because Apple doesn't offer an upgrade to iOS6 for the device.  But I don't need an iPad. Mine is working well enough.  But a smaller iPad?  That's something I might just consider.  Especially when the price is as low as $329.  I think $329 will prove to be a "tipping point" where people considering Kindle Fires and Google Nexus 7 tablets will walk right by and pick iPad which while more expensive is also considerably bigger.  

Holding my iPad 1 for reading is a bit like holding a heavy hardcover book.  Not comfortable but infinitely more comfortable than reading on a tiny iPhone display or reading on a cumbersome notebook type device.  I expect holding the iPad mini to be like a paperback book.  Lighter, smaller, easier to hold and still very readable. In fact, it turns out the screen isn't all that much smaller than the full sized iPad 2 and iPad 4.  So interacting with apps should still be finger friendly.  When will I get one?  I'm not sure.  But it's a given that I'll be getting my hands on one some time soon.

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