Huge Flash Drive

DataTraveler 300Well, someone said my posts are too long to bother reading, I’ll try and make them shorter and more to the point from now on. Yesterday I was thinking about how wicked it would be to have a huge flash drive. Today I read that Kingston is going to produce the DataTraveler 300 touting a 256 GB capacity. This excites me. It’s only a matter of time before this kind of high capacity flash memory makes it’s way to mp3 players and cell phones. *drools*                                                               Source:

Fixing My Mouse

I’ve owned the Microsoft|Razer Habu gaming mouse for about two years now. When I first received it, I discovered the firmware that shipped on the mouse was semi-corrupt and the Habu configurator would not recognize it. I had to flash it with a firmware from a different mouse with different software before I could change any of the DPI settings. It was a huge pain to say the least. Then, last year the USB cable frayed at the end that connects to the mouse and it would randomly disconnect when I moved. I fixed that. Soon after that the mouse began to double click when I would only be doing single clicks. After a quick Google search it seemed as though a lot of people had this issue. I took the mouse apart and cleaned the button mechanism with a contact cleaner. That did the trick. About five months ago the USB cable began to fray again, this time at the other end with the USB plug. About a month ago the ‘back’ button also began to double click when I would single click. Tonight I decided to fix these last few problems.

I ‘jimmied’ the cable like that with a tie-wrap back in university because I didn’t have time to properly fix it. Wrapping it like that basically prevented the frayed part from breaking any further.

This is the end that is inside the Habu. This is the part I fixed last year. I just cut the frayed part off and soldered it back together. That piece of rubber to the left was the trickiest part. It was molded onto the old broken part of the cable, so I carefully cut it off with a razor blade and then slid it back onto the fresh cable.

I took a USB cable from an old mp3 player with some proprietary end and cut it off. I soldered it back onto the Habu’s internal plug as you can see in the picture above. That clear plastic covering on the wires is heat-shrink. It works just as it sounds; slide it over exposed cable, heat it up, and it shrinks.

The new USB cable is slightly thicker than the old one, so that plastic rubber doesn’t fit completely around it but oh well.

I also fixed the ‘back’ button afterwords. I’ve invested so much time into this mouse I am rather attached to it. I’m looking for a new mouse but nothing seems worthy. I wouldn’t mind if someone gave me a Razer Mamba though.

The sad thing is, it took me far longer to make this post than it did to fix the mouse.

Mom’s Kitchen Renovation

About a month ago my mom flew to Vancouver to visit her terminally ill sister who has since passed away.  During this time, it was an opportunity for me to add a new face to her kitchen. It was quite a bit of work, probably about 40-50hours, but I am so glad I did it. I have to give a HUGE thanks to Benson, who on the day before my mom came home, helped me from 9AM to 3:30AM the next day. It was crazy. Here are some pictures before I started.


That receptacle with the yellow cord hanging out was pretty sketchy. Actually, it was very sketchy. The bottom plastic outlet was completely torn off from the refrigerator which has no wiggle room in that corner. It was the bare metal with live power running. I hate going to the basement, so [idiotically] I replaced the plug with the power still on (doin’ it live!).  I managed to avoid a shock.

This tall cupboard was added a few years ago. I filled in that big space so it doesn’t look disjointed from the wall.

I scraped the stippling stuff off the ceiling. In this picture I am about 3/4 done. It was a pain in the bum, by the time I was done I was covered with a solid layer of dust and the entire kitchen was covered with little stipple rocks.

There was mac-tac/wallpaper all over these cupboards. The previous owners were too lazy to take the old stuff off when they put new on, so there was at least 3-4 layers in all the cupboards and drawers. When I finally got it all off, it revealed poor carpentry and some hella bad water damage.

I eventually filled all these little cracks in and sanded off the booger looking glue.

One morning when I went to her house around 7AM I seen these flowers in her yard and thought they were picture worthy.

More water damage in the cupboards.

To cover it up, and seal it off forever, I decided tiling this area would be the easiest and best looking way to fix the issue.

The area below the cupboard (above the counter top) was already tiled. I tiled the area inside the cupboard.

Here is Benson working on the floor after we painted the primer and final coat on the kitchen. The flooring underneath the old linoleum was in very poor condition, so I decided it would be best to leave the lino on and use a belt sander to rough it up before we stuck down the new tiles. In the end it worked out very well.

Here is me working on the final piece of the floor. It was about 3AM at this point. A few days after this I was in severe pain with a sore back. Now I see why.

Here is the kitchen in its completed form. I took all the cupboard doors and drawers home so I could router a new edge on them. The old edge was was a bumpy and square, so I rounded it off with a table router. I also put new handles on. I used all the old hinges, but I painted them black to match the handles.

I thought it would look nice if I used black receptacles and light switches to match the black and white theme, you can see one of them here. It’s crooked in this picture but I fixed that.

I painted the heat register black. It used to be a rusted brown register with some calcium on it for some weird reason. To get the calcium off I let it sit in a container of diluted hydrochloric acid.

This has nothing to do with the renovation but it’s a table I made for my mom last year and I want to show it off =P. Also, she really needs to get some new chairs.

I put new taps on and re-did some of the plumbing under the sink. The old taps were leaky.

I still haven’t put the quarter-round baseboard on to cover the edge of the flooring but I’ll do that some time.

The kitchen doesn’t look like complete garbage anymore so I am happy.

2009 Computer Build

A few weeks ago I finally ordered the parts to build a new desktop computer. Here is the specs:
Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 Quad Core 2.83GHZ 1333FSB 12MB
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 280 Superclocked 621MHZ 1024MB 2.268GHZ GDDR3
Power Supply: Corsair TX750W 750W ATX 12V 60A Active PFC 140MM Fan
Memory: OCZ Gold 6GB DDR3 3X2GB DDR3-1600 PC3-12800 CL 8-8-8-24 Triple Channel
Hard Drive: Western Digital WD1001FALS Caviar Black 1TB SATA2 7200RPM 4.2MS 32MB 3.5IN
Motherboard: ASUS P5Q3 P45 DDR3 3XPCI-E1 SATA RAID eSATA GBLAN Audio 1394A
Case: Antec 300 ATX 3X5.25 6X3.5INT Front USB & Audio
Monitor x2: Samsung SyncMaster 2343BWX 23IN 2048X1152 5ms 20000:1DC
Fans: Arctic Cooling Arctic Fan PWM 120MM 400-1500RPM 56.3CFM FDB 3/4PIN Speed Controller
TV Tuner: Hauppauge WinTV HVR-1600 MPEG NTSC ATSC QAM W/ Remote & IR Receiver

So far it has been running perfectly on Windows 7 Beta build 7264. Startup and shutdown speeds are around 20-30 seconds. I haven’t done any heavy “processing” yet, but I’ll just say the q9550 can extract a WinRAR archive much faster than my old desktop’s AMD 3500+. The “Windows Experience Index” rates my computer a 5.9 (not very good),  which is determined by the lowest subscore; in this case the Western Digital 1TB HDD. This makes me slightly sad, I bought the drive because it was touted as “the fastest 7200 rpm drive” a couple months ago.  All other major components were rated 7.3.

The Hauppauge TV tuner is pretty good. I spent about 3 hours making new cable wires all over my house (we have kind of a crazy setup with amplifiers and splitters and signal combiners) so that I could finally get a crisp image on the tuner. It’s not perfect though, my actual TV can pick up a much cleaner picture and sound, but this is adequate. The packaged WinTV feels like out dated piece of junk software, but luckily Windows Media Center does the trick for me. Now if only there was something good to watch on TV.

I have had some fun gaming thanks to the gtx280. I am about halfway through the Call of Duty 4 campaign. I can run the game on maximum settings at 2048×1150 resolution, and I get around 140fps on average. I gave FEAR 2 a try, and I can run this game on maximum settings also. I’m not sure of the fps rate but it’s darn smooth. I was expecting the game to flat out suck, but it’s actually pretty fun. Somehow, they still manage to scare the hell out of me every single time the creepy Grudge girl pops out. I also tried out Crysis Warhead. I’m not sure what to think of this game. I can run it on *almost* max settings and I get around 30 fps. The game looks pretty good, but nothing special. The single player game play is pretty intense but I’ve only just started playing. My favorite game right now is actually GRID, the racing game by CodeMasters. The game looks very good, and it runs smooth on maximum settings. I use an Xbox 360 controller to drive, it works well.

Enough with writing, I don’t feel like talking too much about it. It’s a computer. It does things computers do. We all know what new computers are like.

Here is a picture of my friend Benson playing on my old setup with my laptop. At this point I had given my old main computer to my dad, all I had was my laptop and a monitor for the PS3 (poor me..).

And here is my new comp all set up with my cleaner than usual room.

The pictures are kind of blurry because I took most of them without flash, I wanted to capture the color of my room.

I still have to post about:

-A kitchen renovation I did for my mom
-Minor reviews for some of these comp parts
-Another hiking trip in Waterton
-A project I am working on in the garage.

Hopefully they wont be as poorly done as this post. I’m just not motivated right now.

Happy Birthday Mr. Tesla

Well, I planned to make a post on the Uncharted 2 Multi-Player Beta, but that came and went June 28th. Then I planned on making a post about my mom’s kitchen renovation. I still plan on doing that, sometime. Then I planned on making a post about my new computer I received last week, and I still haven’t done that obviously.

Within the next few days, I should have something posted. In the meantime, here is a video of a musical Tesla coil, since it was Nikolai Tesla’s birthday yesterday. If you’re thinking, “What was it that Tesla did again?”, I suggest you watch this video. The musical Tesla coil works by modulating the output sparks into an audible frequency. For the past couple of years, I have really wanted to build a coil. Hopefully, one day, I fulfill this desire.

Nothing like a good crash.

Last night was a pretty dang fun night. My friends Boris, Benson, and I went to play with my two nitro-powered remote controlled cars.

This post is pretty long-winded, but it gets more interesting towards the end. Also note I put up another new post (photolog 2)  last night on Waterton park.

If you’re wondering what the “nitro” is in these little beasts; it’s not NOS (nitrous oxide) and my name isn’t Paul Walker. The mixtures can vary between engines and environments, but my fuel consists of approximately 20% nitro-methane, 14% castor/synthetic oil, and the rest is methanol. For the oils, castor oil breaks down into a nice lubricant at high temperatures, while synthetic oil works well at lower temperatures but burns at higher temperatures providing little lubrication. This stuff doesn’t come cheap, it’s about $40/gallon, but it lasts for quite a while. Maybe I’ll do a more detailed post about the ins and outs of a nitro RC later. The engine is pretty interesting.

Back to the fun. The first hour and a half was pretty lack luster.  I won’t bother with boring details, but basically I was having problems getting the engines started because the batteries in the electric rotational starter were dead (it kicks the engine over exactly like a car starter). Eventually though, I managed to get them both going at once, and then the fun started.

I was driving the Savage X SS for most of the time, while they were taking turns with the much smaller MT2. Both trucks are extremely fun for different reasons. The Savage is big enough that it can take easily tackle most curbs and traverse over some pretty intense terrain. It also has a very snappy acceleration due to the 3-speed transmission in it. The MT2 on the other hand, is much smaller, and has a higher top end speed (about 105km/h if I have it leaned out). It handles infinitely better than the Savage due to its narrower tires and overall smaller dimensions. The Savage is a 1/8th scale monster truck, the MT2 is a 1/10th scale stadium truck.

Even though these weren’t cheap, for some reason I LOVE to see an epic crash (and it’s a bonus when nothing expensive breaks). We were ripping around the parking lot, and I was getting slightly bored. I full throttled head on with the Savage right into the MT2. It was pretty awesome. The Savage launched right off the MT2 since it’s so much larger. That was enough near-destroying-something for me.

Here’s where it gets pretty awesome. Boris was getting tipsy from his medication, on a sugar high from the root beer, and maybe distracted from some Asian women walking by. He lost focus on what he was doing, and he accelerated right into a curb and over some large rocks which were cemented into the ground. Everything looked fine as it trampled over the big rocks, and I quickly responded, “Okay never do that again!”. Somewhere between smoking the curb and raging through the rocks though, the radio switch on the car was knocked “off”. Since I don’t have a fail-safe on the MT2, the car quickly accelerated on full throttle with absolutely no control. It flew off the curb, and then cut back into it, hitting even harder than the first time. Then it roared across the street right in front of a moving vehicle. The vehicle swerved and took out a light post before slamming into a house and exploding. Wait, no that part didn’t happen; after hitting the curb a second time, I didn’t really see it but I am pretty sure it did some extreme flips before it crashed into the bottom of Boris’ real truck and landed upside down with the throttle still wide open. The muffler on the MT2 flew off at some point, and the engine was absolutely SCREAMING. It was ridiculously wicked. I grabbed one of the spinning tires which were going extremely fast. That worked fine and I flipped the car back over and pressed my thumb against the exhaust header (since the actual muffler flew off), swiftly stopping the engine.  That’s the proper way to turn it off, just not with my thumb. Needless to say, I have a big blister on my thumb now. It was past 9PM at this point, so the locals probably weren’t too impressed, I sure was though. Benson noticed some of them eyeing us out of their windows.

I continued driving the Savage for around fifteen more minutes in the nearby field until it was too dark to see the thing. Then I inspected the damage on the MT2. Overall, there wasn’t really any damage at all. There might be some damage to the engine since the air filter flew off when it landed upside down, but other than that not much. One of the rear tires flew off at some point in the accident, and the muffler was ripped off, but it’s not even close to some of the tortures I’ve put that car through over the last few years.

Here is a shot of the damage, as you can see nothing actually broke, things just flew off, which is pretty remarkable.

Click the image to see all it’s greasy 10MP high-res glory.

PhotoLog 2 – Waterton

This Saturday my Aunt LeAnn and Uncle Ron took me on a 14km hike around Waterton National Park. At first I was a little skeptical about the whole idea, but looking back on it I am so grateful they invited me and glad I went.

The weather was absolutely perfect. There was never more than a gentle breeze which conveniently occurred when we were out of the trees and exposed to the sun. The hike itself wasn’t extremely difficult, but it was long enough that my legs were quite fatigued by the time it was over. I found it fairly impressive that my Aunt and Uncle did the whole thing without really taking a break, except for lunch, which was delicious by the way.

I do not remember the names of the places we visited, but I’ll very briefly poorly summarize where we went. We started out in the town of Waterton, and hiked around the right side of the lake. The beginning was the most difficult part as it was quite steep. We then descended down to a bay. I believe it was about 7km into the hike when we reached the Canada-US border. Interestingly, there is about a 30ft wide path cut the all the way up and over the mountain indicating the divide (to the right of this image). As a Canadian, it was nice to see our side of the hike was maintained much nicer. That’s not to say the Montana side wasn’t nice, it was indeed very beautiful. The hike was finished off with a boat ride on the “International” back to Waterton, where we had some ice cream. I had peaches and cream flavored. It was good. Then it was back to Lethbridge where I took a look at the 240+ photo’s I had taken.

Here are some photos of us on the hike:

I think I was doing my “geek” stance here… That bridge was pretty wobbly!

Below is about 40 of my favorite pictures from the trip. I am trying out a new way to display them. If you liked how my last photolog loaded images instead, and you use Firefox, you can get a very similar result by middle-clicking the photos instead of left clicking.

All the images are 1920×1200 with the exception of a few which are 1200×1920. If you’re wondering, I take the photos off of my camera at a 10MP resolution and then resize them and retouch the color levels if need be.

Continue reading PhotoLog 2 — Waterton

PhotoLog 1 – Nature

Here is a bunch of naturistic photo’s I’ve taken over the past couple of years. I’m not going to delve into any details for most photo’s, except a few I feel worthy of a description.   They are in absolutely no specific order. Please click on the image to view a much nicer resolution; most of them are 1920×1200, 3 of them are 2880×900 (dual screen wallpaper size),  and 1 of them is 1280×720. I hope you enjoy at least a few of them.











Oops, I don’t know how this got here…







This one doesn’t really fit with the rest, and it’s pretty blurry… I have no excuses for why it’s here.


This picture is better if you think about how stupid I looked while I was trying to take it.



You may ask, “Neil, why two duck photos?”…’Cause DUCKS ARE AWESOME. Also because I couldn’t decide which one was better.



26 This is rubble from Frank’s Slide in the Crowsnest Pass, Alberta. Wow, this is actually a very boring picture. I guess it’s more interesting if you think about the entire town that is buried under there. When I first heard that, all I could think about was how much money must still be in the bank. As far as I know, it received the name Frank’s Slide because an infant boy was found atop the rock after the mountain-side had fallen. He was given the name Frank.







Cue inspirational music…




This was taken with a very cheap 2MP compact camera 3 or so years ago. Most of the pictures taken with this camera compare to the average cellphone shot.


I walked outside and seen Shadow in this tree-bushy thing. I thought, ‘that might make a cool picture’. I ran and grabbed my camera, but when I came back, she was already off and about doing something else. That didn’t stop me from getting her back in there.




These three wide photos were taken at Popson Park in Lethbridge, which received it’s name from my great grandparents who owned the land at one time.

I took these pictures with my Sony DSC-N2 compact camera. One day I will buy a DSLR… one day.

E3! I love being a gamer.

After watching the Nintendo and Sony E3 presentations today live on G4TV, I have to say I am completely overwhelmed, by one of them anyway ;).

Nintendo: Their conference was first. It started off quite boring I thought, and when EA came on and talked about their present and future garbage games that they’re pumping out on the Wii, I was ready to change the channel. Ninty obviously saved their big guns for the end. What they announced that I am excited for:

  • New Super Mario Bros. Wii – I loved the DS version, and this one is touting a multiplayer component of some sort. Hopefully (but doubtfully judging by the name) it will not be a direct port of the DS version.
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2 – The first one easily the best 3d platformer I’ve ever played. This definitely has me excited.
  • Metroid: Project M – Okay so this is one series I’ve never really played (embarrassed), but the news on this one is just too exciting. Nintendo is co-developing the game with Team Ninja, the guys behind the fantastic Ninja Gaiden franchise. The trailer is pretty cool, so here is the video:

Overall, their conference was pretty “meh”. The extreme enthusiasm of the on-stage presenters (mainly Cammie Dunaway, I very much dislike her) for the lack-luster material they were presenting for the first 95% of the show was frustrating.

Sony: Totally caught me off guard. This presentation was good, very good in my opinion. It did start off slow, but they played their cards right. Why I liked it:


  • The PSP Go was officially announced. Kaz Hirai humorously said it’s alternate name is “The Worst Kept Secret of E3“. Not many new details compared to my last post. It’s 50% smaller than original PSP. I must emphasize it’s not meant to be a PSP 2 nor replace the PSP-3000. In my last post about this, I was extremely upset with the PSP Go. After seeing it on video, I must change my opinion. This thing is very small and very slick. I want one.
  • Gran Turismo PSP – This is the game I’ve been wanting on my PSP since day one. It’s going to have 35 tracks, and get this OVER 800 cars!
  • Metal Gear Solid: Peacewalker – The trailer wasn’t very good, but it’s Metal Gear Solid. Looks like there is going to be multiple Snakes. YES.
  • Resident Evil Portable – PSP exclusive. 2010. No other details.
  • Assassins Creed: Bloodline – I don’t know any details besides that it will be out this fall, hopefully it doesn’t stink.

I am very surprised overall with the games coming to PSP. I thought the PSP was down for the count. I am very pleased with what Sony showed.


  • Rockstar North (creators of Grand Theft Auto Series) are making an exclusive PS3 title called Agent. That’s all Sony said in the conference, but what I can gather is that it’s an espionage game based in the 1970’s. I am hoping this game will be a AAA title like Rockstar always seems to put out.
  • Final Fanatasy 13 trailer was shown and it kicked ass, but here is the big news. Final Fantasy 14 is coming exclusively to the PS3. It will be an online game similar to FF11.
  • Another PS3 exclusive, The Last Guardian was shown. It’s from Team ICO (the creators ICO and Shadow of the Collosus). I have to be honest, I’ve never played any of their games. But is “I want to” good enough? Both ICO and SotC are regarded as masterpieces and this game looks absolutely beautiful.
  • Metal Gear Solid: Rising for the PS3 was announced. Looks like 360 and PC owners are getting it too! I just hope that doesnt mean they have to cripple the game somehow to accomadate all 3 platforms.
  • A trailer for Gran Turismo 5 was shown. For some reason it got me super excited. I want this game so bad.
  • A big surprise for me, a new game called Modnation Racers was announced exclusively for the PS3 and previewed. It’s a kart racer, but it has creation abilities similar to Little Big Planet. You should watch the video to do this game justice. It looks very polished already.
  • Several minutes of in-game footage of God of War 3 was shown. The video finished off with Kratos slamming a monsters horn through its eye. Saying it was epic is a definite understatement.
  • New singleplayer footage of Uncharted 2 was shown. This is my most anticipated game of 2009! A few hours after the conference I received an email from Sony, “oh.. boring..” I thought. I read the email; I was invited to the Uncharted 2 multiplayer beta! And it starts tomorrow!! I am so stoked for this I can’t describe it.
  • And saving the best for last (well Sony didn’t, I am), Sony unveiled  a new product for the PS3. Two engineers came out; you could tell they were not the normal overly enthusiastic presenter type. Somehow you could just tell whatever Sony was going to show, it was going to be amazing. Then an engineer brought out an oblong funny looking controller, and the video incrementally got more amazing. Here is the video:

Obviously Sony took some ideas from Nintendo, but this motion controller appears to be incredible. I love the fact that they were showing a working prototype in it’s early stages right on stage by none other than two engineers. Call me a fanboy, those tech demos look better than most Wii games I’ve played.

I must bring up Microsoft’s “Natal” which they unveiled yesterday. It’s very similar in concept to the PlayStation Eye Toy.  Maybe I’m biased, it looks too good to be true. WAY too good to be true. To be honest, it reminds me of what Sony used to do. Showcase a product that hasn’t even been made yet. This just looks far to advanced to be possible. If this works as good in real life as it does in this video, I will buy a 360, so chances are I won’t be buying a 360.

So far E3 has been a joy ride. I can’t wait to play these upcoming games, so so many games *drools*.