Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Hello friends, drag this to your bookmarks, name it whatever you want, contribute to the nerdy and awesome foundation.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Last of the Kitchen Gadgets Part 1

We pretty much have every kitchen gadget possible. I'm serious about cooking, and these represent my investment in eating. If you ask, I would tell you that you'd be well off to do the same.

There are a couple of gadgets we don't have yet though, and this is the story about one of them.

If I had a post about all the kitchen utensils I think everyone needs, I'd put a link to it here. When I do write that post, I'll update this one.

The two items I don't have but still need are very related. Sous-vide cooker and a vacuum sealer.

The sous-vide is for slow cooking things at very specific temperatures. It can make you cooking easier and eating amazing. More on that gadget later. This post is all about the vacuum.

I've used a vacuum sealer for some time now, and I have developed a dislike for FoodSaver. They're probably alright for a few people, and they're fairly inexpensive, but I just don't trust them to last. I have the older version of this one, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. The seal is fine, just the suction that lacks.

My mother in law gave it to me when she bought this one. Works a lot better than mine, all the time in fact. I still think its a bit lacking in umph, and worse, it wastes a lot of the bags. 

Which leads me to the other problem with food saver, the bags are fairly expensive, and you can't substitute with other bags. With mine, I can barely get it to work with the FoodSaver brand bags.

I've done a bunch of research, and it took a while but I've convinced myself that the Weston 65-0201 Pro-2300 Vacuum Sealer, Silver is the way to go. Yes its 4 times the price, but its worth it and here's why:

  • Its at the level of what I believe is called prosumer.
  • I will be able to seal a whole tuna, one steak at a time, please, please let it happen this year.
  • The bags are slightly cheaper than the FoodSaver bags
  • I think mi kid will inherit this one
  • It works with the sweet food saver attachments like this, this, this and this
  • Just look at this thing, its a metal power tool, not a plastic toy

Feel free to drop a comment if you have a question, or if you just think I'm crazy.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Peer Pressure, of the Apple Persuasion.

No, not alcohol, or other illicit substances. This peer pressure comes in the form of electronics.

In another time, when I had more marginal income, and interest in the little guy I might have been an Apple early adopter, and fanboy as much as the rest of my peers. Alas, I wasn't and have been a PC my whole life/career.

I'm not even getting it for me, its for my wife, and yet I still feel like I've sold a part of myself. Yes, I'm buying a Mac. A mac mini to be exact because its the most affordable overpriced option.

Here's what bugs me about Mac, you purchase the thing from Apple and its $600, but from amazon, its the same thing, but for $570.

If you get the upgrade to 4gb of ram, it'll cost you $100 from apple, or you can put it in yourself for $42, and that's retail cost for memory. If you were buying the quantity that apple is, it likely cost $10 for that hardware, and $1 to install it. I'm all for profit, but seriously?

I talked to apple, and their basic mac mini comes with 2gb, in 2 modules, which means if you upgrade your memory, you might as well throw away those two modules. If apple were environmentally friendly, they would let me order my mac mini without the memory for a $50 discount. That will never happen.

By the way, anyone can install the memory into a mac mini, you don't even need tools.

Here's how, straight from the mothership.

Here is what is necessary, sans monitor.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

GT5 SIM Racing Setup for under $400

I received GT5 as a gift, a couple seasons ago, and truth be told, most of what you're about to see is also a gift. Thanks Ron and Jo. It was then that I set out to build a racing cockpit for a reasonable amount of dough. With a little ingenuity, and some manual labor, and a few power tools, I'm ready to practice. Practice for what you might ask? You're going to have to continue reading to find out.

Here's where it starts:

Gran Turismo 5 - PS3, a driving simulator which has been getting better and better each version. This for a while was the only game I owned for a long time, as I don't really have time for other games.

Along with receiving that for a Christmas gift, I also got the Thrustmaster Ferrari F430 Force Feedback Racing Wheel.

Its in my opinion the best value of racing wheels out there. Yes there are better ones like this, and this, and maybe they're a lot better, but I'm not going to blow my whole budget on just the wheel and pedals. The Thrustmaster works well with GT5, has decent force feedback, comes with pedals, and a Ferrari logo. Its not designed specifically for the PS3, but you plug it in and it works, no configuration necessary. All the cars I want to drive in GT5 have paddles in real life, and no clutch, so I have no need to row my own, and the third pedal. If you do, I'm sorry to tell you that once all cars go electric, you won't find a shifter.

To test it out, I put the pedals on the floor and strapped it to a table, and I was off, and it was awful. Pedals were all over the floor and the table wasn't nearly the correct height. Off to the depot!

I'm not going to get into many details about the first attempt at a cockpit/chassis, as it was eventually scrapped. Here's what the final product looked like:

Plywood, 2x3, about $20 worth of hardware, and ~2.5 hours, mostly sizing. It worked great, weighed a ton, looked terrible, and only cost me about $75. The seat cost me $30 from a local boneyard, and came from a late 80's Acura. Unfortunately the seat got moldy from hanging in a basement so I had to toss it, and too much moving around and this thing would eventually be destroyed.

Fast forward a year, another christmas, and another gift, this time in the form of a Bob Earl MKII Virtual Racing Chassis. Sweet.

The chassis itself, sans seat, and shifter holder, is a very reasonable $175. The seat is pricey, but I knew that I was going to get my own and modify it to fit the chassis. Time to go get a seat. Another trip to the bone yard, and I've got a drivers seat out of something, not sure what, but it looks cool, and only cost me $75. Odd, its a very sporty seat, but has no power movement, which means it was from a cheap version of a sporty car.

First step was to remove some of the unnecessary parts from the seat, like the adjustment mechanism, and the seat belt clip. This was a fair amount of work, required drilling out a couple of rivets on the sliders, and drilling out three rivets on each side of the frame of the seat base to remove all the parts that get in the way of the bolts. It took one of these:

...a metal bit, and some elbow grease.

Once all that was complete I matched the chair up to the chassis, and found I would need to get some extra hardware to mount it. If you do this yourself, you're going to need to wing this step, and its likely your seat is going to match up differently.

I had to buy a couple of M8x1.25 bolts that were 40mm in length because my bolt holes were further away from the chassis holes in the back. In the front of the seat, I had to get a couple of self tapping bolts because the holes in the seat were no where near the holes in the chassis. A trip to the depot, and $4 later, seat is now attached to the chassis.

Make a few adjustments, and mark where the pedals should go..

Make a template for drilling holes..

Line up the template and drill. Unfortounately the only place I could put the pedals causes the bolt hole to be off the edge of the chassis a little. I thought it would still work, and it probably would have, but the pedal holes for the bolts didn't seem to be tapped correctly, and I don't have a tap set, so I forced one in on one side, and velcro-ed the other with the volcro that came with the chassis.

Using the hardware that came with the chassis:

Pedals attached..

Here is the velcro jobbie..

Next, create a template for the wheel, drill the holes, and mount using the same hardware.

I also used the clamp that came with the wheel for good measure.

Now that everything was starting to come together, I started the process of loading GT5 onto the PS3 for faster game play. That took the better part of 45 minutes.

For the foot rest, I trimmed out part of the foam so it fit better with the pedals in place.

Ta da! Finished product!

..and from the back..still loading.

The best thing I can say about having to download all the updates and wait for the game to install is that it gave me plenty of time to clean up.

The wrapup:

Total Cost: $399


Full Setup


  • Would have been nice if thrustmaster had provided the bolts with their product. Bob Earl provided bolts, but I think they were meant for the seat, lucky for me they fit anyway.
  • Also would have been nice if thrustmaster had provided what size bolt, then I wouldn't have had to bring it to the hardware store the first time.
  • Bob Earl makes a great product for a great price. Though I wish there was a less expensive option versus the $200 seat. I'm not actually racing, I don't need an actual racing seat.
  • Would be nice if there were more bolt patterns on the chassis and if it extended a bit more to the right.

Finally what am I practicing for....THIS.

The Exotic Driving Experience at Walt Disney World Speedway where I've already booked a trip in June to drive the 458 Italia, 6 laps around a road track. Paddle shifters, 562 hp, pure automotive artwork.

Here is a videos of the driving action. Enjoy.

Saturday, January 7, 2012 just don't get it.

Taxes, no body likes them, unless you're on the receiving end, but there are certain expectations when it comes to taxes that I believe should be followed. Nordstrom's, the high end department store on the other hand thinks they're exempt from such things as "accurate tax calculation".

Read on to hear my story...

I want to purchase something, I research it, determine how much it costs and make the decision to buy it or not. Shopping, I'm pretty sure that's the definition of it.

While shopping online at Nordstrom, was purchasing a NorthFace jacket and shipping it to MA. Simple enough, no tax on clothing in MA, right? Wrong, according to Nordstrom.

I live in NH, changed my shipping preference, and blam, no tax. Placed my order and sent Nordstrom customer service an email, asking why they wanted to charge me tax to ship to is thier response:

"I am sorry for any confusion regarding our online tax. Our website quotes an estimated tax based on the shipping address. The actual tax charged to your credit card will reflect the applicable state and local sales taxes, and will be calculated when your order is shipped. Once your order is processed for shipping, the tax will be adjusted to the correct amount. If no sales tax is applicable for your merchandise, the tax will be removed from your order."

I am confused, apparently.

This violates one of my basic principles of shopping, how much is it going to cost. Apparently, Nordstrom doesn't feel the need to tell you that. I asked them, fairly nicely, please fix your tax calculator so I can make my decision at the time of purchase, and not be required to "check up" on you later to make sure you got it right. Response number 2:

"Currently, our systems work to fulfill your order from any Nordstrom location which may include any Nordstrom store, or any one of our warehouses. This allows us to provide a better selection to you online. Our systems also search to send you the merchandise that is also closest to you, to reduce the time you would wait to receive your item in the mail. At this time not only does each state have it's own tax regulations but there are also interstate regulations. Since we don't know where your order will be shipping from at the time your order is placed, we cannot guarantee your tax percentage at that time."

Taxes are hard. Waaaaaaaa. What do you think I am, a major retailer, with an accounting department? Oh wait.

Ever run into this with any other online retailer? I haven't. We all know that buying things online takes time to ship, if we want it faster we'll pay for the faster shipping, calculating tax and determining your inventory is your problem, not the customers.

Not everyone is going to be as up in arms about this as I am, obviously. A better response, like we're sorry, we'll fix it would have at least made me think they cared. Alas, they don't, and now I'm just going to shop at Bluefly.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sharepoint Development Training

I'm back at CED Solutions in Atlanta to finish up what I began back in March. After looking around for other places to attend the same course, due to the relationship CED has with hotels, the location in atlanta, and the included test, the best value for education was still CED Solutions.

Sharepoint Installation and Administration Training

Back in March 2010 my company decided to begin down the path of sharepoint. In my hunt for training locations, I found CED solutions. Their timing was right, and their price included travel and the exams (not for all courses). It turned out to be a great training center, and I really liked the instructor.