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Just ordered a new phone!

Yeah, I love my Optimus V, but there have been several things about it that I’ve not been too fond of. Namely that it’s not all that fast, the minimal onboard storage capacity (it’s sitting there with a “low storage” warning in my status bar as we speak), the fact that it won’t play flash, so I can’t even play back the videos on my own website, and the screen is pretty damn small, even when I wear my readers. Even using ThickButtons, typing on that thing is really tricky, my fingers hit the wrong keys on a fairly regular basis. Plus there have been a few apps that I’ve run into out there that I’ve REALLY wanted to put on the phone, but while they’re compatible with my version of the android OS, they’re just not compatible with just that phone. 

(And yes, I noticed that out of everything I’ve mentioned about the phone, in this and previous posts, about how it operates, one thing that never comes up is how it handles phone calls. LOL. But I almost never use it for that, which is why that Virgin Mobile $25/month unlimited text/data plan with just the 300 minutes is so perfect for me. Essentially, I treat it as a PDA, that just happens to be able to make calls when I need to, which is rarely – don’t think I’ve ever gone over 30 minutes in any given month since I’ve had it. So as long as it can make them when I need them to, it doesn’t need to do much else so far as its phone abilities go.)

So as a rule, it’s been acceptable phone. Gets the job done. And it was the best one that Virgin Mobile offered when I bought it earlier this year. 

Motorola Triumph Phone from Virgin Mobile

But THEN, I made the mistake of going to my Virgin Mobile account to update my credit card info last week, then peeking into their “phones and plans” area. Whoops! The Optimus V is not their best offering any more. Now they’ve got a Motorola Triumph. With a faster processor. And a much bigger storage capacity. And a bigger screen. AND it will play flash video. PLUS it’s got two cameras compared to just the one on the OV. AND a flash for the still camera, which OV doesn’t have. AND HD video that you can play back via an HDMI cable directly into your TV set. In short, it’s like the OV, on steroids.*insert Tim Allen Tool Time grunt here: ARGH ARGH ARGH!*

Reviews on it have been mixed, but it seems like if you get a good phone right out of the box (which seems to be a problem on occasion, some folks have gotten real lemons right from the manufacturer), people have been happy with it.

So after hemming and hawing for a week (and missing Best Buy’s sale on that very phone in the process), and doing my usual comparison shopping, helped by the handy dandy plug in for FireFox called Invisible Hand which pops up when you’re shopping for something to let you know if there’s a cheaper price online anywhere, I found myself at Amazon. Invisible Hand told me it was cheaper on eBay, but I tend to like the return policies better from a known company vs someone on ebay where you’re not sure who you’re buying from. Plus if I put it on my Amazon store card, I’ve got something like 4 months same as cash to pay it off. THOUGHT I could use the nearly $50 in reward points from my Visa card towards it, but since I wasn’t using the Visa to pay for it, apparently that’s not an option. So did the next best thing. Used the $30 gift card that my sister got me for my birthday in July, put THAT towards the phone instead, saving my rewards points for my birthday purchase when I make it. Amazon seemed happy with that. So I got $30 off, free shipping, and 4 months same as cash. Nice deal. Ordered it this afternoon.

And one other thing I like about Virgin Mobile… If you’ve got a phone plan with them, and they change their rates, as long as you keep your same phone plan, you get to keep it at the same rates. So apparently even though VM raised their $25/mo plan to $35/mo recently, even if I swap out my OV for the Triumph, I still get to keep my $25/month plan. Sweet. :)

Can’t wait for it to come in so I can play. Fortunately it’s still an Android phone, so the learning curve on it won’t be to steep. AND all the apps that I already have via Amazon’s app store and the Android App Market should work with it as well (including, hopefully, the ones that were supposed to work but just didn’t like the Optimus V. So we’ll see.

Guppies and Other Technical blah blah blah…

This WAS going to be a tweet, but I realized that I kept typing and couldn’t shut up, so decided to make it a blog post instead. :)

Brought back the Tivo box back to Best Buy tonight, and made a pitstop at PetSmart on the way, to pick up the new 10 gallon aquarium that we’re buying to put in the living room this weekend. Or as I like to refer to it, “The Guppy Birth Control Device”. Once it’s set up, I’m fishing out all the male guppies from my 20 gallon tank downstairs and putting them in the 10 gallon upstairs, leaving just the Fertile Myrtles in the tank downstairs. Guppies really should come with a warning label, that when you buy two you’re really buying 30+ of them. In any case, separating the males from the females should put a stop to the population explosion my aquarium has been experiencing since the first batch of babies was born during the opening ceremonies of the winter olympics. Of course the fun really begins when I actually try to fish out JUST the males from the tank. YeeHAW! Fish rodeo! 😀

Then finished hooking up the rest of the video stuff tonight. Stole the HDMI cable from the Roku box to put on the DVR, bought new component (the red/green/blue ones, one step down from HDMI, but better than s-video or RCA) cables when I took the Tivo box back to Best Buy, for the Roku box, but then had to pull the Wii’s component cables from the back of the TV to give the Roku a place to plug in (the other component jacks are being used by the Panasonic VCR/DVD burner combo, and the other HDMI cable is hooked to the Toshiba HD dvd player), so switched out the components on the Wii back to the RCA composites (the red, white, yellow ones). I didn’t notice a whole lot of difference on the Wii when I upgraded from composite to component before, so no great loss there, really.

Whew! Confused yet? LOL Lucky I do this for a living, among other things. Didn’t have time to test either the Wii or the Roku out yet, by then “The Middle” and the rest of the Wednesday night shows were coming on, but things LOOK like they should work now, nothing is left hanging out in the room anymore, and even the cables that were hanging along side the TV while we were testing things out have been run down the back of the entertainment unit and out of sight. So HOPEFULLY everything works, I’d hate to have to try and move anything now.

Of Bluebirds, Tivo, & John Barrowman

Noticed that I wasn’t getting a whole lot of hits on the blog recently, and it occurred to me that maybe it was because I hadn’t posted anything new since April 28th or so. 😀 So a few updates to some prior posts to remedy that. You can do a search on some of the main terms to see the original posts on each one.

THE BLUEBIRD EGGS:

Bluebird Eggs And then there WEREN’T five. Apparently those five bluebird eggs were defective. Last weekend we checked the nest, which was supposed to have hatched by then, and there were only four eggs left in the nest, and none had hatched yet. We were told to wait another week or so, and then if they hadn’t hatched by then, to get rid of them and the nest, clean out the box, and let the bluebirds start over. Took a peek today. ALL the eggs were gone, and Ma and Pa bluebird had already started building a NEW nest over the top of the old one. So apparently they figured out that the eggs weren’t going to hatch, cleaned house all by themselves, and are starting over again. So we may still have baby birdies to watch yet. Yay.

THE WHOLE TIVO SITUATION:

Aaaaand, it’s OUT OF HERE! The wireless N adapter that I bought at Amazon arrived Friday afternoon, so I figured I’d take a couple of hours on Sunday to get the Tivo up and running. HAH! After banging my head against a wall with the thing for FIVE hours on Sunday, 3 of which involved another online chat on the laptop with their tech support folks (you know you’re in a bad spot when even the guy at Tivo technical support is at a loss as to why the adapter – which connected to the network just fine, but refused to connect to the Tivo box – refused to connect), I said enough of this crappydoodle stuff, and we decided to ditch the Tivo and just call Time Warner to have them set us up with digital cable and one of their cable box/DVR combos.

As much as I hate getting beaten by anything electronic, which almost never happens, I’m not all that heartbroken about getting beaten by a dinky little Tivo adapter. Didn’t want Tivo in the first place, and between coughing up $300 for the box, another $100 for the adapter, and $100+ for a years worth of service, I’m more than happy to send everything back, get my $500 back, and let Time Warner, who we’ve been happy with 99% of the time handle our DVR needs for a while.

So packaged up the wireless adapter and printed out the postage paid return label from Amazon, that will go back out in the mail tomorrow. Boxed up all the Tivo cables and connectors and will be bringing THAT back to Best Buy tomorrow. And called Tivo proper last night, and got the $120+ credited back and the account canceled (Had to laugh, when he pulled up my account to see my tech support info, he’s all “You’ve got 12 PAGES of chat here from yesterday!” And I’m all “Tell me about it!”). DID find out something of interest though, assuming the customer support guy wasn’t just feeding me a line. Apparently Best Buy was selling first generation Tivo boxes, and with most first generation things, there are bugs. And the wireless N adapters are pretty new (the only two local sellers selling Tivo wireless adapters were Best Buy and CompUSA, and both were still only selling G, not N). And apparently, one of the bugs in the first gen boxes is that they don’t tend to like those newfangled wireless N adapters. So had I bought a Tivo box from someone else, I probably wouldn’t have had a problem. And for my trouble, since I was taking the Tivo box back to Best Buy anyway, Tivo would sell me a box direct, for $100 off the price. I told them thank you but no thanks, I already had the appointment for Tuesday with the cable company.

Which I did. When I called THEM Monday at lunch, they were actually able to schedule an installation for between 5-7pm tonight. The guy came before 5:30, and was done in less than an hour. And now we’ve got a DVR that will record two different channels at once, and more channels than we know what to do with (I’ve FINALLY got BBC America! Yay! And while I’m not ready to jump into watching the new Doctor Who quite yet – never seen a Dr. Who ep in my LIFE – they actually had a Doctor Who Primer episode on at 10am tonight, which will hopefully give me an idea of whether I want to waste time trying to get up to speed on the show or not.) Alas, we’ve already had a scheduling conflict with having the new channels now. Already had both DVR tuners and my RAM disc recorder programmed for the main three networks tonight at 10pm, what’s a girl to DO? Why, pull up Doctor Who in the onscreen programming guide and see if the episode is going to be airing again at a later time. Why yes, yes it is! 1am tonight. Selected it from the list, hit record, and whambam, it’s programmed. Just that easy. Tivo WHO? 😀

I will say though, in comparison to the customer “support” that I received from Philips when I contacted THEM for help, despite the fact that the whole Tivo thing didn’t work out, the Tivo customer support was actually pretty impressive, IMHO. So they get some points for that.

JOHN BARROWMAN:

Just a webpage update, if you Barrowfans haven’t found it yet without a blogpost to point the way. 😉 After not being included in the Desperate Housewives episode LAST week (which was a good thing, since locally, the whole first half of the show was pre-empted due to tornado activity in our viewing area), JB’s 3rd episode aired Sunday night, so I finally added his 2nd and 3rd DH episode clips to the site.

The clips can be found here, as usual. Enjoy, all you Johnettes and Barrowboys! 😉

Danny: “Heeey, double cappuccino, extra hot. Need anything else?”
Patrick: “Inspiration.”
Danny: “Sorry, we just have muffins…” 😀

Patrick: “…I’ve had an exhausting couple of days, what with searching your house looking for firearms, and running over Dudley Douche-bag…”

A smidge perturbed at the TV networks…

What IS it with some of these networks? Well, I know what they’re trying to do, stop the piracy of their TV shows so they don’t lose syndication and/or DVD revenues later, I’m sure.

But we were trying to get caught up on some earlier programming that we recorded this week on the DVR (Castle, Justified, & Parenthood), and figured we’d go ahead and record tonight’s shows (Flash Forward and Supernatural) on the RAM disc on our other recorder, a VCR/DVD burner combo.

So set the RAM disc to record ABC on digital 11.1, hit record, nothing happened. Tried again. Nothing. Got right up to the unit, and hit the record button on the front of the machine. STILL nada. So switched the TV over to the recorder channel so I could see any onscreen messages, and hit it again. Onscreen message? “Cannot Record”. ABC is apparently playing their “anti-piracy” game again, when they somehow flag the signal that they send out that while it can be recorded once on a DVR, you can’t burn that resulting recording to DVD. Nor, apparently, can you record it to a RAM disc – which is what we use instead of the VHS tapes on the other recorder, since we get a much better picture with the digital channels vs the analog channels on VHS tape. We just record, delete, and reuse, just like a tape, only better quality. Unless the networks flag it, then the disc just will not record. >:( *grrr* So to get Flash Forward recorded, I had to switch over to analog channel 9 and record it that way. Not my first choice, but since analog ABC isn’t too bad to watch, I ran with it.

Would you believe I ran into the same thing with the CW at 9, when I tried to record Supernatural on digital 22.1? Ugh! So I switched over to analog channel 2, prepared to record from that channel instead, but the picture on analog CW has been just borked since the digital transition, awful reception. So rather than record it at that quality, we ditched Justified, which we were about 10 minutes into, and switched over to 22.1 on the DVR and watched Supernatural live (relatively speaking, the show was all about zombies and the not quite live tonight. LOL).

But that whole thing about the networks setting up signals to just plain NOT record like that really irks me. Usually it’s a non-issue, we record to DVR usually anyway which works fine, and just watch then delete the show. But to be forced to record and watch a show in crappy analog, when we’ve got equipment perfectly capable of recording it in digital (which looks even worse played back on our hd set), just because the network is afraid that we’ll put it on disc and sell it or something just bugs the hell out of me. And it’s not just ABC and the CW either, CBS does it too – the night the local CBS affiliate aired all of its Thursday and Friday night programming back to back in the wee hours of Saturday morning due to local basketball games they aired during prime time *ptthhtt*, every single one of those was set to “record once” as well. Worked on the DVR, but had I tried to record them to RAM disc, we would have lost the whole lot of them. And forget about duping any to DVD-R disc, not that I’d planned to anyway.

Grrr. Hate trying to second guess what the networks are going to do to make sure it’s something we’re able to record to the RAM disc. And if it IS something I’m thinking I’m going to want transfer over to DVD and hang onto, I’ll usually record it analog to backup VHS tape, JUST in case they switch that “no duping” flag onto their broadcast, I can at least burn it from VHS to DVD and save it that way. The picture isn’t as good, but it gets the job done.

Grumble. Stupid networks.

First attempt at embedding a YouTube video…

This was an awesome show. Star Wars in Concert, down in Charlotte. Shot a few clips, this is one of the better ones, showing lots of early scenes, ending with the beginning of Darth Vader. The HD wide screen version is available directly from the You Tube page, and not here, apparently. That’s okay, this works. :)