Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Review of D-Link DSM-320 Wireless Media Player

Recent purchase of this Digital Media Player from eXpansys has prompted this review by me.....

I wanted a system that would enable me to play my iTunes collection and maybe some video in another room in the house, my PC has an amplifier & Bose speakers in my study & I have the Bose Sounddock in another room, so the idea of buying another Sounddock for another room didn't appeal - however, see my suggestion later....

Not the most expensive on the market, but not cheap either coming in at £155.95, other choices are the Elgato EyeHome Wireless Edition (£209.00 from AppleStore UK) or the Roku Soundbridge M2000 Network Music Player (£330 from Roku Direct) or the wonderful, but truely amazingly priced Sonos (£949 from Sonos Direct - it does make music available in 2 rooms for this price, but one room is where your PC is located) see links in July 15th post.

The D-Link was easy to install & setup, the signal range isn't brilliant, but you can buy a high gain aerial that helps, I hope that my new D-Link DSL-G604T with additional antenna helps as well - I will review the D-Link DSL-G604T next week.

The menu systems are easy to navigate, they are however not very quick.

My biggest problem is having to nominate every single folder on your PC that you want to make available to the Media Player. You should be able to identify just the folder - such as iTunes Music & every sub folder should (in my opinion) be read & made available automatically, but it doesn't. If you have as many folder as I do in my iTunes directory you will give up very quickly - I did.

My suggestion - if you're only after a means to play your iTunes collection in a number of rooms - buy a Bose Sounddock for every room & take your iPod with you from room to room. They are small, neat and have brilliant sound built in with no need for additional speakers. It might sound like an expensive solution, but compare prices with the Elgato, Roku or Sonos & it isn't.

If you have a specialist Hi-Fi setup & want to use that, then on their own review alone go buy the Roku. I might yet still go & get a Roku M2000 & hook it up to my Cinema Surround Sound on the TV & use my D-Link somewhere else, if the range is OK, maybe the Summer House TV could be hooked up.....

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Some recipes for you.....

I have for a while now been researching (honest!) recipes for the best Margarita. Having recently taken to cooking Mexican food, this is the perfect liquid accompaniment....

Juice of 2 Limes
3 Measures Tequila (White, not that Gold shit that addles your brain faster than anything!)
1 Measure Cointreau or Triple Sec
2 Teaspoons castor sugar
Pint of ice cubes

Place everything into a blender & blitz for about a minute. Pour into suitable Margarita glasses (yes, plural as it does serve 2!!!) I don't bother with the salt round the rim of the glass crap.

Update : Whilst chatting the other day to my good friend & fellow alcohol connoisseur Aled Roberts, he commented that you can also add a shot of Midori Melon Liqueur to this recipe to make it a "Midori Margarita" - well done Aled, have a banana & make it a taste of a different fruit.

I have also taken the glut of cheap English strawberries & made several of these wonderful Strawberry Daiquiri's....

1 Punnet of Strawberries (I put mine through a juicer to get rid of the seeds, but if you don't have one pass them through a fine sieve)
Juice of 1/2 Lime
2 teaspoons Castor Sugar
3 Measures Bacardi White Rum
Dash of Strawberry Liqueur (if you have some, if not use Cointreau)
Pint of Ice Cubes

Yet again, place everything into a blender & blitz for about a minute. It serves 2 again.

Enjoy (in moderation is best, as one too many can hurt later!)

Sunday, July 24, 2005

A truely amazing human feat....

To win the Tour de France once requires supreme commitment, physical capacity, mental strength & a little bit of luck.

To be a multiple winner makes history, to win the event 7 times in a row is history that I think will never be repeated.

Lance Armstrong has overcome all the normal things that would get in the way of the dedication required to win this race, he has also overcome an illness that most people sadly succumb to.

I rarely (in fact never before) have used the term "inspirational" about anyone - but this man is a true inspiration. Whenever I have seen him being interviewed he is always respectful, thoughtful & comes across as genuine & humble guy.

Read more here if you want to make a donation to his charity, have a look here

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Just when you recommend someone...

They let you down.

I may have to re-do my Hall of Fame\Hall of Shame, just when I had held the bright light of Fame to eXpansys, they fail to deliver.

I ordered a truck load of techno-goodies last week, nearly all the items were in stock, only 2 were out of stock with an estimated delivery to them of 2 days. I opted that they wait for all items to be in stock before shipping. So, I thought they would reserve my items & ship when all were ready & available, probably 2 or so days later.

No! They wait & wait, now only 2 items are in stock & the iPod I ordered is expected in 8 days time!!!!! A phone beating awaits them Monday AM.

Update : Monday AM phone beating resulted in them suddenly finding stock of 7 of my 9 ordered items, a part shipment for free (they waived the £2 surcharge).

Update Update : Part shipment arrived yesterday (Tuesday), now the TechFest of installing everything can commence! Should I read the manuals or not?????

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Slight modification to template...

I have added a counter to the main page so that I can see how many people visit here. What I thought would be a painful process, is actually very easy. See for details.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Do you get speed that you pay for?

I have had several issues with my ISP (ntl:) over the years, from billing to outage to dodgy modems.

When things got a bit too much (I was seriously pissed off that they had lost a payment & tried to charge me interest!) I threatened to cancel all of my services with ntl: & go buy Sky for my TV & get BT to provide me with broadband.

In the end I accepted their apologies & a free upgrade to the 2Mbps Broadband service for a year.

Since then I have been wondering whether they had ever remembered, they hadn't changed my billing, so had they reverted my service back down a notch?

I went in search of means to test the speed of my connection & came up with this. A simple, yet useful way of measuring your service level against what you pay for from, I know that there are other such tools out there that do the same thing & has written his own app. But, I like the fact that this one will also feed your results & responses back to your ISP.

The results are in - Downstream 1816Kbps, well within the 10% expectation of 1920Kbps (2Mbps). Upstream a lousy 186Kbps, again, as expected.

ntl: now offer a 3Mbps service, but it's a bit more expensive. Another argument with them I think about competitive providers may be on the cards as a means to get another free upgrade?

Friday, July 15, 2005

Upgrade for ADSL Modem\Router

ntl: supply me with a broadband connection, at the outset they supplied a Terayon ADSL Modem to which I added a Belkin Wireless Router. Of late one or both have been playing up, meaning a quick unplug & re-connection to reset is required, not a great hardship, but still very annoying.

I have been thinking of upgrading to a one unit solution, the D-Link DSL-G604T Wireless ADSL Router. I think from reading the blurb that this will do the job of both my current pieces of kit (any comments\knowledge or instruction gratefully received).

I know that some of you out there have recently gone for the D-Link DGL-4300, but that doesn't do the modem stuff(?), I'm not a gamer & don't host anything here.

I've also just seen the D-Link DSM-320 Wireless Media Player. It looks interesting, but doesn't claim native iTunes support as the Roku SoundBridge M2000 Network Music Player does. Anyone know about these things? Might this be a cheaper alternative to the Sonos mentioned in earlier posts.

Update : Looks like Apple are reselling the Elgato EyeHome Wireless Edition, which will work with the iMac I have, but if the iMac has shared access to my PC with all the iTunes on that it might be worth a look as well? I have contacted Elgato Technical Support to find out what it will & won't do. Mini Update : Elgato Technical Support say "yes". A sub-directory of iTunes shared from my PC to my iMac will be available to their device - cool! Have just ordered the D-Link DSM-320, might go for the Roku & the Elgato as well as they all look pretty nice & I will use them in different rooms in the house.

Update Update : with no comment from anyone here (thanks!). Today I have ordered the D-Link DSL-G604T Wireless ADSL Router from eXpansys along with a few other goodies, including a D-Link ANT24-0700 7dBi High Gain Omni-Directional external antenna that will hopefully boost signal to all areas of my abode, the Rice estate.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Two responses to the terrorists....

Two other blogs have pointed me in the direction of these responses to the terrorists that attacked London last week.

Choddo found this on the Mayor of London website.

Tony Cocks found this on the The London News Review website.

I have to say I think the London News Review is better, but I'm sure that given free reign Ken Livingstone would have been equally direct.

Mr Livingstone has come a long way in my eyes. As I have said before, I am a Conservative middle Englishman - I vote Tory, always have, always will. [Bring back Mrs Thatcher or her incarnate is my view - everyone is entitled to a view!] Even with differing viewpoints, I agree with the Congestion charge Mr Livingstone introduced, he has clearly worked very hard to get the 2012 Olympics in London, his transport plan for London including extension of the Underground to support the East End & South East parts of London are designed to re-energise these areas.

He does have a chequered past from his spats with the Labour Party, but he is doing a good job now, his enthusiasm & passion in trying to make London the greatest capital city in the world deserves praise - even from a Tory!

Friday, July 08, 2005

Don't let the bastards get you down....

I have spoken on this blog on a few occasions about my trips to London. I have in the past thought for a long time about the jobs I have turned down in the USA & how it might have been me in the Twin Towers, or me in Central London on the tube or in a cab. I have seen first hand the havoc that terrorism can have as I have been in a couple of bomb alerts in Belfast, clearly my experience is tame compared to those who suffered yesterday.

The resiliance of the British is strong. For me, a conservative middle Englishman to have to the feelings I have now about the animals that have done what they have done in my capital city should speak volumes to anyone. I would tear the head from another so called human being for what they have done.

Extremism breeds extremism.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

News from down under...

My brother left who lives in Manchester left on Saturday night on a trip to Australia to validate his residency visa, he will only be there for a week. He will then return home & sort out what he wants to do & maybe move to Sydney on a permanent basis. With this is mind I have been watching the press in Australia for a while now to get up to speed on Australia news, I found this that sort of links with a previous post....

"Rolex and crime seem to go together like Red Bull and vodka. This evening, via the Courier Mail, we learn of two Australian teenage boys who inadvertently aroused suspicion by casually counting out 6,000 $5 bills at a Denver jewelry store to pay for a $30,000 Rolex. Sensing that something might be amiss, the sales assistant asked the boys to leave, and told them she was calling the police. After later confessing to robbing a nearby bank with air pistols and photographing themselves in a McDonald's with the $170,000 they stole, the boys explained that they were attempting to convert the cash into jewelry in order to avoid suspicion."

Another Homer moment - Doh!

Monday, July 04, 2005

Sorry Mr Ports, a story of a smoker getting away with it.....

It seems hard to believe, but Italians are taking the new no-smoking law seriously, so seriously that a jeweller is down £23,000 on a Rolex watch.

A man strolled into a store in Milan's famous shopping street, Via Montenapoleone, and asked to see a few Rolexes. As he perused the glittering merchandise, he told the shop owner he only had foreign currency, but he was definitely interested.

Then, according to La Repubblica newspaper, he reached for his lighter. If it was a calculated hit, it was an exercise in minimalism.

The shop owner, conscious of the Jan. 10 smoking ban in public places, invited him to go out of the shop."Please, enjoy your cigarette outside," the newspaper reported the 53-year-old owner saying.

It was a bad call: the jeweller, at worst, could have been fined a maximum of 2,000 euro. That is, if the five police officers in Milan assigned to the anti-cigarette patrol had happened by the shop at lunchtime. The owner preferred not to take his chances with the fine and as he phoned the bank to ask about the foreign currency, the would-be customer went outside to have his smoke -- making a clean get away with the precious watch.

As Homer says "Doh!, Doh!, Doh!, Doh!, Doh!, Doh!, Doh!, Doh!"

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Live 8...

My idea for the Album title - "Probably the best concert... ever!"

I really can't wait for iTunes to have all the tracks available.

Opener from McCartney & Bono was excellent, Madonna was good, Annie Lennox alone on piano was moving, The Killers were exciting, Robbie Williams was about the best, The Who were great (I really like watching Pete Townshend, bit like seeing Oliver Reed with a guitar - you just don't know what the man will do!), and as Jonathan Ross said on air, it was a privilege to see Pink Floyd playing live after so long.

Just one thing missing - Queen. It brought back memories of Live Aid 20 years ago when Freddie Mercury just stole the show. No show stealers this time round, but if Freddie were still around - I'd put my money on him.

I just hope that it helps to achieve what Geldof is trying to make happen, making poverty history is one thing. Making Africa a self sustaining continent is another. Good luck to him - I hope it works.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

I've had an idea....

Some clever little bastard is probably being paid to dream this shit up, but I've had a couple of what I think are brilliant ideas.

What about a Bluetooth enabled iPod (built in rather than the bolt on from NaviPlay) & a Bluetooth enabled car head unit? (Stereo radio to the plebs of the world)

You could enable the head unit to act as your hands free unit for mobile phone & the iPod could hook up to the head unit as a player?

Sony, get your arse into gear & get talking to those nice people at Apple, you would take the world by storm!

You might have already noticed....

With the advent of the advanced Blogger with Blogger Images, its really easy to put pictures into your (sometimes) daily Blog. It wasn't actually that difficult in the past as I just hosted my images on pBase, but Blogger Images does make it very, very easy & they host for you.

Having done years of presenting to Corporate customers & Business Partners, I agree 100% that "a picture tells a thousand words" & as I'm not brilliant at typing, pictures it is.

I shall endeavour to put a picture into every post I make to enable clearer understanding of what the hell I am ranting about. Clearly my Blog is read all over the world (having been slagged off by a Persian in previous posts!), so as not all viewers are native English speakers, maybe pictures would help.

Now comes the sticky problem of what picture I could put into this comment.....

I shall make this my comment on F1 - it is clearly full of not very nice tits, mostly those who run the sport!

Friday, July 01, 2005

iMac Memory Upgrade....

It pays to read the small print doesn't it!

Having merrily followed the logic on the Apple Store pages, I purchased 2 x 512Mb SO-DIMM upgrades for my iMac G4. Why? Because the website says it has two memory expansion slots, & the total memory configurable in this model is 1Gb.

However, tucked away on the Apple Support website I found the following.....

"There are two RAM slots in the iMac (Flat Panel) computers. They are:

A user-accessible 144-pin SO-DIMM slot.
An internal (factory-installed) 168-pin DIMM slot

Warning: While you may add or change memory in the SO-DIMM slot, do not attempt to access the factory-only memory slot. Special seals and tooling are required to access and reseal the computer successfully. If the computer is incorrectly resealed, damage to the computer will result and this damage would not be covered under warranty. "

So they're not even the same bloody spec! And, you can't upgrade the 168-pin DIMM yourself!

Luckily Apple managed to cock up & only packed 1 of the modules, so have advised them to credit me for the one I dont need as it wasn't shipped.

The memory upgrade to 640Mb (128Mb + new 512Mb) allows for the OS X v10.4 Tiger update (when it arrives in post), that will allow for iTunes 4.9 update, which in turn will allow music sharing with PC's & other devices, then a D-Link DBT-120 USB Bluetooth Adapter to be added which in turn will allow for wireless keyboard & mouse (also requires OS X v10.3+. Keep up, it's quite easy really!)

Then I will go down the path of either Sonos (see previous posts) or Apple AirTunes to pipe music around house & maybe even garden - Bose do some neat outdoor weatherproof speakers!

Update : Apple have admitted to a picking\packing error & agreed that they didn't ship me both SO-DIMM's, so are refunding me for one of them. Unfortunately, my iMac (early model) only has a CD drive, not a DVD drive, so the OS X Tiger upgrade will have to wait until they send me the CD media! Then at last I can install the OS X software that will allow the wireless keyboard & mouse & iTunes sharing etc etc that started this whole episode.