I’m pretty sure that I now have the modern equivalent of TXL…

2 minute read

June 1, 2018, 3:50 PM

Over the last month or so, Elyse and I created a network of smart speakers in the house. Elyse has had a Google Home Mini since early January, and I expanded it, first to three, and then to seven speakers when I realized the capabilities of the devices. With speakers throughout the house, we can use the “broadcast” feature as something of a home intercom system, and we’ve also created speaker groups in order to play music on multiple speakers in various sections of the house, or throughout the entire house. I love these things, because I can, for instance, just ask the system what the weather is, or what time it is, and it will tell me. I can even make phone calls on them and control the lights, though I don’t typically use the phone feature because of audio quality issues, and I’m not willing to spend money on the lights at this point in time (but maybe in the future). Right now, I use them most often for music, and for the home intercom function. And then if I ever get various Nest products, I will be able to connect them to the system as well. Pretty neat.

All in all, I can do a lot of things that TXL could do on Today’s Special. I can talk to it and it gives me information back, I can place phone calls through it, and I can make it control various building systems. I still don’t know how to get it to play “Yo He Ho” at the most inopportune times, though one day I might figure out a way to make it do that. Only thing about this system that I’m not a fan of is that you have to activate it by saying, “Okay, Google,” or “Hey, Google.” If I could customize the phrases that it responds to, I would make it respond to “TXL”, to make it complete. Considering that it does a lot of things that TXL could do on Today’s Special, it seems rather fitting.

Those of you who have used the various smart speakers also know that Google has built some Easter eggs in them, like if you ask what the answer is to life, the universe, and everything, it will tell you that the answer is 42. Using custom routines, I built in a couple of Easter eggs of my own, related to Today’s Special. I wanted it to respond to “How many size 9 shoes are for sale in the store?” with “There are ten pairs of size 9 shoes for sale,” (from “Boxes and Boxes“) but for some reason, it couldn’t comprehend that one, try as I might.

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And this is why I should never be allowed to go to Micro Center unsupervised…

5 minute read

August 14, 2014, 1:27 AM

First of all, I apologize for my silence as of late.  I’ve been busy working on various things plus having some computer issues, and that’s caused me to neglect the website somewhat, save for changing the photo features and splash photos.

However, the good news is that I’ve received job offers from a few different area transit agencies (that I’m not naming) for the position of bus operator.  I should be starting training with one of them soon, once all of the various onboarding processes are completed.  From what I’ve seen, these are not quick processes, but they’re done correctly the first time, and I’m fine with that.  In deciding to become a bus driver, I realized over the course of the job hunt that my heart just wasn’t in it for more nonprofit work.  I also realized that I wanted a career, and not just another job, and I didn’t really have a passion for the issues that the organizations that I was applying to were about.  In looking at my interests, I came to realize that I had a real interest in starting a career in public transportation.  And a job as a bus driver is a foot in that door.  In pursuing that, I took a commercial driving course at Montgomery College over the winter, and I now hold a Class B commercial driver’s license with passenger and school endorsements, plus no air brake restrictions.  So life is good on that front.

I also had a big day on July 26, checking out the new Silver Line stations.  I received an invitation to ride the VIP train before revenue service began, and I brought my friend Matthew as my guest.  I’m going to do a full-on photo set for Life and Times for this day (along with a few other subjects in the photo set queue), so I’m not going to say much about it now, but we had fun.  I got to see a number of congressmen and other various elected officials, I got to talk to former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore, and then Matthew and I rode the first revenue train from Wiehle Avenue to Largo.  Then after lunch, we toured the new stations on the way back from Largo.

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Could my next laptop be a tablet? Perhaps!

3 minute read

April 30, 2013, 5:30 PM

First of all, hello from the Microsoft Store at Pentagon City Mall:


And I am writing this on a Microsoft Surface tablet with one of those flat keyboards.  Take a look:

Surface tablet at the Microsoft Store

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Categories: Computer, Retail

Another new keyboard, and I believe that I need to take it out for a spin…

6 minute read

November 6, 2011, 12:40 AM

So I went back to Target and returned the cheapie GE keyboard, and then I went to Micro Center and returned the keyboard that was causing me hand pain. You couldn’t tell from the downward-looking photo I took in the previous Journal entry, but the whole keyboard felt like it was slightly canted back, as well as a touch too high, and that made the reach just a tad too far, and I think that’s what caused the pain. And I don’t like hand pain, because if I can’t type anymore, I couldn’t do the Web site like I’m used to, and all I’d be able to do for ages would be Video Journals. And those are nice only in small quantities.

So I spent a while at Micro Center in Rockville. After returning the keyboard, I got the other memory stick, which snapped right in when I got home and works just fine. So my Dell now has 4 GB of memory in it. Good. I also fiddled around on the demo machines, and came up with a few silly pictures of me:

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Categories: Computer

Oh, have I found a store that I really need to avoid if I know what’s good for me…

7 minute read

November 4, 2011, 11:41 PM

So after I got home from work this evening, I went down to Micro Center in Rockville to get a new keyboard. I had been to this store one time before, about a month ago on September 27. But that was for work, and I was all surgical-strike about it, and was in and out in ten minutes. This visit was for me, and so I got to spend a little more time peeking around at stuff.

The reason I went to Micro Center in the first place is because my existing keyboard finally called it quits after a little less than five years – specifically, four years, ten months, and 19 days according to the Journal entry I wrote when I got the old keyboard, the date that the keyboard finally quit working (November 1, 2011, i.e. this past Tuesday), plus this date calculator to do the math. I said to a few folks about it, “It finally crapped out on me.” On Tuesday night, you see, I was working on whatever on the computer, and then keys started to type things that they shouldn’t have. Specifically, striking one key would cause a number of keys around it to fire. My reaction, via the Twitter (from my phone):

So I think my keyboard just freaked out on me. Seriously. #computerproblems
November 1 10:46 PM

Let me demonstrate what it was doing. I tweeted a statement from the computer to demonstrate what the keyboard was doing. Here it is:

Muy7 l=Lo-gei8ftrkeichu kekeiuy7bo-atr5d ei8s skeitr5ei8o-huysluy7 mkeisskeid huyp.
November 1 10:49 PM

I then picked up my cell phone again and translated:

That was how my keyboard said, “My Logitech keyboard is seriously messed up.”
November 1 10:50 PM

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Categories: Computer, Retail

My hand is now forced on a little bit of computer rehab…

< 1 minute read

January 16, 2011, 10:23 AM

And it’s off to Best Buy for me today. I’m doing a clean install of Windows 7 on my regular computer (the Netbook already has 7 on it), and so I’m taking this as an opportunity to archive stuff. However, when I went to start burning stuff to disc, my DVD-RW drive was so far gone that it won’t burn anymore.

I’d been having issues with both of the optical drives on this computer for a while, and now that I really need them, they won’t work. One drive doesn’t like to stay closed, and so you have to hold it closed to make it stay closed. And sometimes it doesn’t want to open, either. The other drive doesn’t want to open, meaning that in order to open it, you have to use the pinhole override. Then in opening, it makes some really strange noises before finally deciding to open. And it won’t burn anything. So both of them are a waste of time if they won’t do what I need them to do.

Thankfully, though, this isn’t something I hadn’t planned for. I was planning to replace the drives anyway for exactly this reason, and so this just forces the timeline.

Now, though, is when I wish Best Buy in Wheaton was already open. They do not open until 11:00 on Sundays…

Categories: Computer

Greetings from CAF 5109…

3 minute read

November 17, 2010, 7:29 PM

First of all, hello from CAF 5109. I am riding the Red Line home from the Tenleytown area, having just had a wonderful time enjoying a cup of coffee with a friend. Always good to see friends, and nothing beats a hot cup of coffee on a cool fall evening.

Meanwhile, this is my first time actually writing a Journal entry on my netbook while on the Metro. The train is not crowded by any means, so I’m sitting sideways in a row and typing with the computer on one leg. And it seems to work. I’m listening to Randi Rhodes on podcast, and just tapping away on the keyboard. For those wondering, I don’t have Internet on here right now, but instead, I will post this when I get home. I’m too late for the 51, so I figure, I’m either going to take the Y9 bus or walk. Follow me on the Twitter and find out, I suppose. Meanwhile, this train did not service Farragut North, strangely enough. When we went through (without stopping), there was caution tape on the platform and a bunch of people in safety vests at the outbound end, but a lot of regular people on the inbound end. Go fig. I know that the L Street entrance was closed, but who knows if that’s related.

Then this weekend is raid weekend. It’s always fun to troll Scientology, and this ought to be good, though I’m concerned that our numbers will be down due to its being so close to Thanksgiving. This is, after all, the weekend before Thanksgiving, and I’m sure that many people will be taking off early for the holiday. However, Scientology is not above scamming people out of large sums of their money on the weekend before Thanksgiving, and thus we will be outside to troll. It’s this Saturday from 1-5 PM. Hope to see you there. Should be fun. Hopefully I’ll be proven wrong on the numbers, and we’ll have a good number of (masked) faces out there trolling Scientology.

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And for the first time, meet my netbook…

2 minute read

October 25, 2010, 9:54 PM

Another video Journal entry for you:

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A number of things to discuss today…

6 minute read

October 14, 2010, 9:48 PM

So I have a few things that I’d like to discuss with you today. First of all, I got a new netbook! I got the HP Mini 210, in black. Looks like it ought to be a pretty solid netbook computer, and for how I do computing on the go, it ought to work pretty well. My biggest complaint about the Lappy is that typing would give me fits, because the keyboard didn’t hold up too well. The left control key broke off, and typing would cause nearby keys to fire as well. This new computer has a “chiclet” style keyboard, which actually kind of reminds me of a Mac keyboard. And this thing weighs about three pounds. And this is what the Mini 210 looks like:

HP Mini 210 netbook

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Now we have a baseline to improve upon…

2 minute read

August 17, 2010, 6:05 AM

So I bought a new Web cam last night – a Microsoft LifeCam HD-5001. Seems to work well enough, as I sat and video blogged for a bit. Check it out:

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So should I buy another Web cam?

2 minute read

May 6, 2010, 11:25 PM

I’ve been tossing around the idea for a while of buying another Web cam. One may recall that from 2000 to 2003, I had a feature on this site where I had a Web cam that transmitted a still picture to the site every two minutes. So Web cams and Schumin Web are definitely not unfamiliar concepts.

However, before you start thinking I’m going to resurrect the old Web cam feature, forget it. I am so over that. That feature is dead, and is staying dead.

Actually, I’m thinking about the possibility of doing some Journal entries in video format. I think it would be fun, and I could convey some things that I can’t do in written form, like tone of voice, and hand movements and such.

Of course, that requires actually having a Web cam of some sort. The Web cams that I had in the days of the old Web cam feature are long gone. I either threw them away, gave them away, or they’re buried somewhere in my parents’ house. However, you slice it, I don’t have them. Besides, those old cameras were a pain to deal with anyway, and modern cameras are far superior to and cheaper than the old ones, which by now would be eight and ten years old. Right now, the only access I have to a Web cam is the iSight camera on my office Mac, and there are a whole host of reasons why I will never “video blog” for Schumin Web from the office.

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Categories: Computer, Schumin Web meta

Computer rehab time already?

4 minute read

January 6, 2010, 9:14 PM

Next month marks three years since I got my Dell. And that means it’s almost time for my computer’s mid-life rehabilitation. Why get a new computer when you can make your current one last another few years with a little TLC, eh?

Yes, I do my computer like transit systems do rolling stock. Go for such an amount of time and then rehab the thing. It’s just like Metro recently did with the Breda cars. Rail cars generally last 40 years. So at roughly the 20-year mark, they do a mid-life rehabilitation on them. That brings them up to more modern standards, and gets them ready to go another 20 before retirement. Computers have about a three-year life span in my experience, and so a mid-life overhaul makes it go another three. Which means that I won’t need to replace my current box until 2013 or so. Now my last computer lasted nearly nine years. It went three years, had its mid-life rehabilitation, and then went almost six years before it finally was put out to pasture. That was for financial reasons, though – I couldn’t afford a new computer, since I wasn’t doing as well money-wise.

On my last computer’s rehab back in 2001, I upgraded from 128 MB to 384 MB of RAM, upgraded both optical drives, went from a 10 GB hard drive to an 80 GB hard drive, upgraded the video card, and upgraded the TV tuner card. I deliberately didn’t replace the motherboard and upgrade the processor, because that’s about where I reach my level of incompetence. Everything went quite well in the rehab, and it got me to 2007. I was pleased. I had contemplated a second rehab around that time, but I ultimately determined that a second rehab was more than I wanted to do for an eight-year old computer, and so I replaced it.

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A computer fix-up turned into more adventure than expected…

5 minute read

November 22, 2009, 4:52 PM

So on Saturday, I went down to Reston to visit my friend Matthew Tilley. The DVD drive on his computer was acting up, and so our goal was to confirm that it was actually a bad drive as HP tech support had indicated over the phone, and then if that turned out to be the case, to get a new drive.

So after dealing with traffic getting over there (heavier than usual due to the upcoming holiday), I made it to Matthew’s apartment complex. We hung the visitor’s pass on my car and parked in the designated visitor spots. We tested the drive, and it wouldn’t recognize anything short of one music CD, even after ensuring that the discs were clean of fingerprints. So that confirmed HP’s diagnosis – the drive was busted.

Not to worry, though – I came prepared. I brought tools, and so I popped the cover off his computer. Matthew’s computer is an HP Pavilion “Slimline” computer (like this). One thing about those miniature computers is, they don’t waste a lot of space. I’m used to tower computers with a lot of airspace in them, and this one was jammed with equipment just about everywhere. It certainly makes for a more delicate operation, as you could accidentally slip and take out an unrelated component. On the other hand, computers I’ve had, especially my old Gateway, have a lot of room to get in there with your hands and move stuff around.

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So I’m getting a 22″ LG monitor…

2 minute read

April 17, 2009, 12:05 AM

So I found a new monitor. After eleven years of the 19″ CRT, that new screen is on its way, and I’m $179 poorer for it. I ordered a 22″ widescreen monitor by LG, and ordered it through PC Connection.

I previously had ordered them once before for work, and while the transaction itself was fairly painless, the aftermath was hell, as it took the better part of a month to finally chase off an overzealous account manager, especially after this person sent a promotion to everyone and didn’t conceal the list. Oh, that was awesome, as people Emailed back to the entire list about how much of a jackass this account manager was. I was inclined to agree with them.

So now I went back to them for the monitor since they had the best deal on a brand that I believe I can trust. I’ve had LG phones before, and there’s an LG microwave at work, and I’ve never had a problem with any of them. So we’ll see, I suppose. But today at work, I got a call on my cell phone. It’s PC Connection, trying to establish a relationship with me. Arrrrgh. I told the woman pretty plainly – I am familiar with their company, and I am placing this order for myself and not representing any organization, and not to assign me an account manager since, “I’ve already chased off one account manager and don’t want to have to chase off another one.” Think she got the point? With my experience with this company before, though, they seem pretty dense, but hopefully I won’t hear from them again, especially since I was pretty straightforward about not wanting to hear from them again.

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Categories: Computer

Eleven years is pretty good for a computer monitor…

2 minute read

April 12, 2009, 12:08 AM

And eleven years apparently is where it’s going to stand, because my old 19″ VX900 monitor apparently has become too old to continue working properly. Everything now has a nice yellow tint across it. Still, considering that thing has had eleven years of continuous use, I think that’s pretty darn good. Now, of course, I have to get a new monitor, and that’s going to set me back a pretty penny. But having lasted that long, it’s pointless to repair it. For the cost of repairing a monitor that old, I could just get a new monitor, after all.

But yeah, eleven years is pretty good. That monitor came with my old Gateway, which I got back in 1998 when I was a junior in high school, and it has served me well all these years, so I can recycle it with no regrets. Let me tell you, though, one thing I won’t miss about it is how much that thing weighed. That thing was a real b—- to move back and forth between college and Stuarts Draft, and was equally rough carrying it up the stairs at my place in Silver Spring. But its being heavy was only about half the story. That monitor was also pretty big, since after all, this was a 19″ CRT monitor. Not a flat-screen by any means. That thing was very much a two-hander when carrying. Not like those nice flat-screen monitors they have nowadays, which are light enough that you can carry two of them at once. This was one of the OLD styles.

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Categories: Computer