Adventures in Smarshland

November 30, 2007

HD DVD Player

Filed under: Computer,Life — Tags: , , — smarsh @ 7:44 pm

My new HD DVD player which I wrote about earlier here arrive yesterday and just let me say, total worth the money.  The HD DVD player came with 300 and The Bourne Identity and the A/V quality is stunning.

November 28, 2007

Interesting Experiment (Living the Bible Literally)

Filed under: Worth Sharing — Tags: , , , — smarsh @ 2:11 am

I came across a review for the following book “The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible” by A. J. Jacobs, who is also the person who was made famous for reading the whole encyclopedia Britannica.  Just reading the blurbs makes me excited to give this book a read.

November 27, 2007

Taking Sides on the HD Format War

Filed under: Computer — Tags: , , — smarsh @ 12:57 am

My dvd player recently died or was at least severely crippled.  The player insisted on opening the disk tray every ten seconds or so if there wasn’t a disc inserted, then retracted itself, powered off, turned back on and then repeated the process.  Oh, and it also failed to play discs which is the quintessential part of a player.  So I went shopping for a new player and low an behold I found an HD DVD player that was just about as cheap ($180) as most standard upconverting DVD players.  This certainly blows the entry point for a Blueray player out of the water.  The player I went with was a Toshiba HD A3 which has an HDMI connection which should improve the picture quality since it is a digital signal compared to the analog signal that is currently being passed to my HDTV using component inputs.  I’ve placed the new Transformers movie on my Netflix queue to try it out.  I’ve heard the visuals in this movie are a true test of a home theater system and make for a great reference scene.  I’m a consumer whore.

November 20, 2007

Useful WordPress Plugins

Filed under: Computer — Tags: , , — smarsh @ 7:18 pm

The only thing I really felt was lacking with WordPress was the lack of a fullscreen editor for writing posts. Well, as it turns out, there are two plugins for WordPress which enable fullscreen editing capability and many other useful features. The first is Super Edit and the second piggybacks on Super Edit and is called Fullscreen for WP Super Edit.  These two plugins get the smarsh stamp of approval.  I think the install instructions are pretty well written and the way I know they are well written is because even Luddite such as myself can understand them.

November 18, 2007

Fresh Mud on New Mountain Bike

Filed under: Athletics,Life — Tags: , — smarsh @ 10:13 pm

I took my bike out for its first spin at West Branch, which is a State Park near Ravenna Ohio. Now the bike is official broken in with fresh mud. Unfortunately, the park is closing for snowmobiling and hunting season, so I guess I’m going to have to bite the bullet and go buy my season pass at Ray’s Indoor Mountain Bike park. Anyway check out the new bike:

November 14, 2007

In the News

Filed under: Economics — Tags: , — smarsh @ 7:52 pm

Check out the following significant news stories:

AFLAC Shareholders to vote on Executive Compensation

Why is this significant, never before has a publicly traded company voted on whether to allow shareholders to approve or disapprove executive compensation packages. Furthermore, executive compensation packages are often never fully disclosed. Some economists might argue that executive compensation has been implicitly voted upon because if it was a serious shareholder issue the market for corporate control would act a means to reign in an out of control company. However, the market for corporate control requires the use of large amounts of capital to affect changes in company and there is an associated cost of that capital which is the opportunity cost, the next best investment option. I would also argue that the Board of Directors of major publicly traded companies are an inbred group that has an incentive to overpay executives in a tit for tat game theory fashion.

The Federal Reserve to become more transparent with predictions of inflation, unemployment, and growth

The article stands on it own, but I’ll just say that Bernanke has been much more willing to be candid about exactly how he thinks the economy is performing and will perform than Greenspan. Greenspan admits that he purposely made his comments multidimensional rather than giving succinct answers because he felt the markets overreacted them.

Gas prices forecast to increase 20 cents in a month

Why I think this article is a bunch of crap. According to the article, the best forecasts of gas prices is an increase of about 20 cents by December. This defies logic and may suggest an arbitrage opportunity if you believe the forecast. If you believe this prediction you should take out as much credit as you can at less than 111% APR to buy as much gas a current prices and then resell it one month from now at a huge profit. I actually believe that the Chicago Board of Trade may now be trading retail gasoline futures, so you may not have to even buy and resell the gas, you might just be able to do it through futures contracts. Now, I’m not an efficient markets person per se, but if this story even held a small amount of water you wouldn’t be able to fill up your car at the pump because the smart money on Wall Street would have mortgaged themselves to the hilt and rented gasoline tankers and bleed every gas station in America dry and then would resell it to you next month at a huge profit. So the fact that I can still drive down the street and fill up my car leads me to believe that either I will miss out on a hugely profitable opportunity or the head of the US Dept. of Energy is on shrooms.

Disclaimer: I am not a financial professional and nothing in my post should be construed as advice.

November 10, 2007

New Mountain Bike

Filed under: Athletics,Life — Tags: — smarsh @ 1:13 pm

I ordered a new hardtail mountain bike from bikesdirect, which as it sounds is a direct mail order internet bike store. I ordered a 20″ Motobecane.

It has a lockout on the fork which means that if you are riding it on the street or other surfaces free of bumpy terrain you can use the lockout to prevent the shock from moving and therefore from zapping the energy that you are putting into pedaling. You might ask why I would buy a bike just before winter hits. Because Cleveland has this cool indoor mountain bike park called Ray’s which you can ride all winter long.

November 8, 2007

Comic Genius

Filed under: Worth Sharing — Tags: , — smarsh @ 8:48 pm

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while:

Courtesy of xkcd.com.

November 5, 2007

Specs for new HTPC

Filed under: Computer,Life — Tags: , — smarsh @ 12:50 am

I have been trying to compile the different pieces of my new HTPC (Home Theater PC). The biggest challenge I have encountered is trying to find a case that matches my wants and needs. The following are the criteria I have for the case:

  • Clean black front
  • Front access for USB (at least two ports) and Firewire
  • Front access for media card reader
  • Larger case fans (preferably 80mm) so that sound from the case is minimal (remember used in a Home Theater so less ambient noise is important)
  • Accomodate full ATX motherboard
  • Accomodate full length graphics card (Nvidia 8800 GT)
  • Preferably reasonably priced ~$160 USD

I have created a wishlist at Newegg, to view it go here. I have looked high and low for a case and they all seem to have compromises. The cases from Lian Li seem to be the best of the lot. My brother has suggested buying the new Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT because it will be able to handle upconverting and scaling of video well, which is a primary goal of my system.

Pricing out the system:
Case ~160.00
Power supply 80.00
Motherboard 135.00
Memory 95.00
DVD-Burner 40.00
Hard Drive 80.00
Processor 230.00
Graphics Card 200.00-250.00
TV Tuner ~80.00?

Total Cost ~1125.00

My reaction to the total cost is…crap that’s a lot. Any suggestions as to where I can shave some money without sacrificing a lot of performance. I’m ok with starting off smaller and expanding my system down the road. My other reaction is that some of the money that is going into the system is longer term expenditure which will remain largely undepreciated regardless of technological improvements which might make me want to upgrade. The case, power supply, DVD burner, and hard drive will probably stay with the system for the next round of upgrades whenever that happens to be. So about 350 dollars of the system is more of an initial outlay. Nonetheless, sticker shock.

Comments, suggestions, Bueller?

November 3, 2007

Fall Colors

Filed under: Life,Photography — Tags: , , — smarsh @ 6:07 pm

All of the trees are spectacular colors as the season turns:

For more pictures go to my gallery.

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