Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dodge Dart Registry - Help Sponsor Me

I just created a registry for a new Dodge Dart. See the parts that are available to sponsor at http://dodgedartregistry.com/campaign/detail/7573.  I know the likely hood of getting enough money for this is slim to non, but I thought I'd give it a try anyways and see how far we make it. The max allotted time is 90 days.

I was checking out the registry and I haven't seen one that has a complete funding. So click on the link and help out. Just in case anyone doesn't know any of my back story,  I use to have 3 cars (borrowing 1 from my dad, a 1990 Ford Probe that got great gas mileage and had working A/C) and my ex totaled 2 of the cars. One accident was her fought and the other wasn't. I now drive the same truck that I bought brand new in 1998 (Chevrolet S10). It's been a pretty good truck, but it's not that practical or safe for hauling my son around (single cab.)

It would be neat to raise enough money to get a car like this, but I'm not going to get my hopes up. Thanks in advance for any contributions.

For anyone that hasn't seen it, Dodge has started a sponsor program to help people get cars. You assemble the car how you'd like it and people sponsor parts. It's a neat program. Click on the link below or above, then click on the part you want to sponsor and then pledge a minimum of $1 or more.

http://dodgedartregistry.com/campaign/detail/7573

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hand Guns - Self Defense / Home Defense

Guns

I'm in the market for a home defense gun (I know this is a touchy subject for some). I've wanted one for several years but decided not to due to the fact that my ex didn't like guns, even though I was in the Air Force for 4 years and carried one every day. Back in 2008 I held a Ruger for the 1st time and have liked them ever since.


I'm also going to get my CCW (carrying a concealed weapon) permit. I've seen prices range everywhere from $60 to $150 to take the class, then it's around another $75 for the actual permit. Most locations are back logged so you'll have to signup on a waiting list to even get in. I've read several stories recently that makes me want to have a home defense weapon even more. All these have happened pretty recently. It's kind of scary to even think about.


Story 1 - Miami 'super dad' dies protecting daughter, 11, during home invasion



Police say two heavily armed men fatally shot a homeowner as he tried to protect his daughter during a home invasion.

The incident happened late Tuesday night in Miami. The father, identified as Maurice Harris, 36, got into a struggle with the suspects when they tried to gain entry into his 11-year-old daughter's bedroom, police told FoxNews.com. The father was fatally shot in the struggle.

There were no other reports of injuries. The suspects were described as black males. 

Miami police spokeswoman Kenia Reyes said it appears the men were trying to rob the home.

"We call these two men beasts. These men are beasts," Reyes told the Miami Herald. "They storm inside the house. A little girl was asleep when she was surprised by the gunfire. The father was just trying to protect her."

Annie Streeter, the victim's mother-in-law, said the men held Harris' wife at gunpoint during the invasion. Relatives said that's when Harris fought back and kept the intruders from entering the room of his 11-year-old daughter. 

"One of the guys tried to get to his daughter's room, he jumped up and they were fighting back and forth," Streeter told WSVN.com. "I guess that's when the gun went off."

Neighbors are hailing Harris a hero. "Unfortunately, he died but he's super dad," Terry Jones told the station. "I hope I have that much courage if something like that would've happened to me."


Story 2 - Deadly Home Invasion

A manhunt is underway for a suspect in a deadly home invasion in Prince Edward County.
Police say three men forced their way into a home on Route 460 early Sunday morning. Investigators say the homeowner shot and killed two of the suspects.
The third escaped and is on the run.
State police are involved in the search for that suspect.
The homeowner and a two-year-old child were not harmed.
Source

Story 3 - Texas man, 21, fatally shoots intruder during home invasion



A 21-year-old Texas man is being credited with protecting his family when he retreated into his family’s bedroom, retrieved a gun and fatally shot one of three intruders who forcefully entered his home, KHOU.com reported.

The family was reportedly baking a cake Thursday night in their home near Houston when the men knocked on the front door and pushed the father to the ground. KHOU reported that the man thought that the men were friends of his son.
The men lunged for the mother, the report said. At that point the 21-year-old, who was not identified, got his father’s gun and opened fire, killing one of the intruders.

"I just heard a couple of times: boom, boom, boom," the father, told the station. "One young life is lost."
Police later spotted a vehicle with two men who matched the suspects' descriptions and took them in for questioning, the station reported. No charges are expected to be filed against the son.

Source 


Story 4 - 1 Dead After Alleged Home Invasion in North Carolina: 'He kept beating me so i finally got out my .38...'


An alleged robber is dead after breaking in to a house in Hickory, North Carolina.

Police received a call Saturday morning from a homeowner who said he’d shot an intruder, and arrived to find both men still at the house.  The homeowner is alive and lightly injured; the intruder was pronounced dead at the scene.
The survivor, identified as Paul Ohla, explained his side of the story to WBTV3: “Guy kicked in the door, he came in and, ah, grabbed me and threw me down…He kept beating me and I finally got a hold of my .38, and I shot him.”
52-year-old Carl Perry, a neighbor, said he heard two or three shots, according to the Hickory Record.


The Guns

Ruger SR40c

SR40c

The SR40 was the 1st one I checked out when looking for a self defense pistol. It's a 40 caliber compact gun that's only  .60" wider than it's 9mm brother. Several years ago I shot my stepfather's 40 caliber (can't remember the brand) and really liked it.



Ruger SR9c
SR9c
The SR9c is what I've decided to go with for my home defense and personal carry. Some people say to get a 40 caliber because it's more likely to stop someone, but if you look in the news you'll see that 22s kill people just as easily as 40 calibers do. It's more about shot placement and accuracy than anything. When I was in the Air Force, we were trained 2 in the chest, 1 in the head.  If you have a shot, shoot at center mass, trust me, they'll stop coming after you. Of course you'll need to keep your skills honed in at the gun range if you want to stay consistent with your shot placements.  Two more reasons I went with the 9 is because it holds more ammo and the ammo is cheaper for firing range practice.


Ruger LCR .38 Special
LCR
If I was going to purchase a revolver, this would be the one I'd go with. It's a 5 shot, hammer-less, .38 special that can shoot +P ammo (more punch). You can carry this one in your pocket and not worry about accidentally hitting the hammer and having it shoot off.


My purchase may come down to what places have it in stock, due to the high gun prices and lack of inventory. Thanks Obama and news outlets.  I'll be sure to shop around and try to find the best deal. I'll create a review once I purchase my new gun.

My plan is to purchase a gun, lock box, defense ammo, practice ammo, holster, cleaning kit and CCW class.

Weapons I've Shot
  • Mussel Loader (not sure on the caliber, it was a long time ago.)
  • 22 Rifle
  • M9 (military issue)
  • M16
  • M4
  • 240B Machine Gun
  • 249 Machine Gun
  • M203 Grenade Launcher (only the paint rounds at the range)
I'm not sure what the big deal is about owning a gun. Gun or no gun crazy people will still be crazy. I'd like to be able to protect myself and son against them. There are still more people killed from drunk driving than guns. Guns don't kill people, idiots kill people.


What do you carry or use for home defense? Let me know in the comments.

And I leave you with the following quote from a great president.



As long as there are guns, the individual that wants a gun for a crime is going to have one and going to get it. The only person who’s going to be penalized and have difficulty is the law-abiding citizen, who then cannot have [it] if he wants protection -- the protection of a weapon in his home.
RONALD REAGAN, interview, Mar. 22, 1986

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Tim McMorris - Overwhelmed (Great Song, Gives me the Chills)

Every once in a while I come across a song that gives me cold chills when I listen to it (or watch the video).  I was watching television one day, imagine that, and ran across a Samual Adams commercial. The song Overwhelmed, by Tim McMorris, was playing in the background of the commercial. It instantly gave me cold chills. As soon as the commercial was over I went to my PC to find the song. I thought I'd share it with everyone else.


Link to Video - If you don't have an embedded player.

What's interesting and cool about the video is that the girl is actually the singers wife. At the end you see the singer.

Here is a list of past songs I can think of at the moment that gave me cold chills in no particular order:
Goo Goo Dolls - Iris (Link)
Counting Crows - Around Here (Link)
The Fray - You Found Me (Link)
Mumford and Sons - I Will Wait (Link)
Theory of a Deadman - Wait For Me (Link)
Story of the Year - Holding on to You (Link)
Boxcar Racer - There Is (Link)
Three Days Grace - Lost in You (Link)
Greenwheel - I Don't Believe (Link)
Thousand Foot Krutch - Lift It (Link)
Thousand Foot Krutch - Breathe You In (Link)
Thousand Foot Krutch - Moment of the Day (Link)
Johny Cash - Hurt (Link)
Matchbox 20 - 3am (Link)
Candlebox - You (Link)

Do you have any songs that give you the chills?

Update:
Black Stone Cherry - Things My Father Said (Link) - Added 3/3/13


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Smartphones Rule Them All


What in the world would you do without your smartphone? In today's world the fanny-pack would have never been invented. Don't know where you are, somewhere and need to take a picture, want to listen to music, need to tune your guitar? The list goes on and on.

I remember in my childhood when the only phone we even had in the house was the one in the kitchen. It had the longest phone chord and you could basically carry it all over the house. Call waiting, what was that, we didn't even have that back in the day. If there was an emergency you could call the operator and they could cut in and tell you that you needed to hang up to take an important phone call.

I had my first pager around the time I was 12. My parents were separated and my dad bought me one so I could call him when he paged me. It was also great if someone wanted to get a hold of you for an emergency. At the time we thought that it was the best thing ever.

I bought my first cell phone when I was 18. It was the old thick Motorola similar to the one to the left. You could only call locally, not nationwide and the signal was sub-par. You would constantly drop calls. We thought my dad was cool when he had a bag-phone in the car back then.

Then in the 90's there was also the cordless phone. It was kind of sketchy because people could listen in on your conversation with a home scanner. I know this because my grandpa had a scanner and caught one of the neighbors that lived up the road bad mouthing about me. He never was friends with her again after that.

Later on everyone had the Nokia cell phone, the one that you could change face-plates on. Next was the Razor, the thinnest phone yet (hence the name). Then everything changed in 2007 thanks to Steve Jobs, the iPhone was born. A year later the Android was released and the competition really began. My first Smartphone was the Android operated HTC Eris. 

It's hard to believe smartphones have came so far in a short period of time. Now everyone is buying them for their teenagers. I don't know what I'd do without mine now. Do you remember your 1st Smartphone? If so tell your story in the comments section.

Smartphone Uses
-Guitar Tuner
-Alarm Clock
-Personal Planner
-GPS
-Camera
-MP3 Player
-Radio
-Internet
-Camcorder
-Notepad
-PC
-eReader
-Banking
-GPS
And I leave you with this.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Hulu Plus Streaming Review


Products:
  • Roku XD - Streams great in HD over wireless.
  • Nintendo Wii (Not Pictured) - Great for standard or 480P streaming.
  • LG Venice
  • HP Touchpad Tablet running Android - Downloaded and installed APK. Not officially supported.
  • Kindle Fire 1st Edition
  • Nintendo 3DS - Coming Soon.

Hulu Plus has to be my new favorite and most used services. I use it on my Android Smartphone, HP Tablet running ICS, Kindle Fire, and Roku. You can watch many programs free using the Hulu website on a laptop or desktop as well. The downfall with the free service is that you can only watch the last 5 episodes. Due to licensing issues by the studios, you need Hulu Plus to view the service on smartphones and other devices including the Roku. The good news is that Hulu Plus is only $7.99 a month and you can cancel at any time. The other advantage of Hulu Plus is that you get to watch more than just the last 5 episodes of many programs.
I use Hulu Plus the most on my Roku XD streaming box.  The menu is easy to navigate and use and found that it’s easier to add and search TV shows using the website.  You can add your favorite TV shows and it will show the latest episode in your queue on your devices.
The only major network that isn't on Hulu is CBS. So you’ll miss out on Two and a Half Men, Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother and others. You also won’t find some major cable channels including Discovery Channel, History Channel, A&E, and some others. Go ahead and give it a try, you can cancel if you don’t like it.

My son loves to scan the animations section and watch Yu-Gi-Oh! and other cartoons.

Favorite Shows:
  • The Finder (Cancelled)
  • Whitney
  • New Girl
  • Raising Hope
  • Last Man Standing
  • Touch
  • Alcatrez  (Cancelled)
  • Awake  (Cancelled)
  • Tosh.O
  • Who Do You Think You Are
  • Prison Break (finished the final season)
  • Outsourced (1 season)  (Cancelled)

Website: www.hulu.com
What do you watch on Hulu?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Nest Thermostat - My Thoughts After a Year


I've had my Nest thermostat for a year and I'm still very happy with it. You can't beat being able to set your temperature to away on your smartphone if you leave the house and forget to set it before then. As well as the auto-away feature (which has already saved me money.) Upstairs and you want to change the temperature? No problem, whip your your smartphone out and change it now.

The best part is you can check your temperature any time, any where. You can also check your energy usage. You'll also get an email once a month from Nest explaining how well your doing compared to others. This is a product I highly recommend to save you money.


Nest on the Kindle Fire
Features:

  • Nest Smartphone App
    This is the original Nest Learning Thermostat: it learns your schedule to keep you comfortable, it can be controlled over Wi-Fi by a smartphone or laptop and works with 75% of low voltage systems
  • Auto-ScheduleTM learns what temperatures you like and programs itself, you can also adjust Nest's schedule at any time
  • Auto-AwayTM saves energy by turning Nest down when you're not home
  • Remote control Nest over Wi-Fi from your smartphone, tablet or laptop
  • Energy history shows you how much energy you've used and what affects your energy use most, you'll also get an energy report every month with info about how much energy you've saved month-to-month
  • The Nest Leaf guides you to energy efficient temperatures
  • System MatchTM automatically activates different energy-saving and comfort-focused features for your home depending on the heating and cooling system you have
  • Nest is compatible with about 75% of 24 volt heating and cooling systems, to find out if Nest will work in your home, visit Lowes.com/nestworks
  • Installation takes most people 30 minutes or less, if you're comfortable installing a light fixture, you can install Nest, a Nest certified professional in your area can install Nest for you: to learn more, call 855-4MY-NEST


Update 4/20/13, Video added:

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Current TV Stream Setup - Roku / Server

I thought I'd give an update on my current setup.   I no longer have a HTPC connected to the TV.  I now have a Roku at the TV streaming from a media server.

image

image

ROKU SPECS
  • Roku 2 HD

Channels I Use the Most
  • Plex - Streams from media server.
  • Hulu Plus - Streaming Hulu.
  • Twonky Beam - Beam things from Smartphone to TV.
  • Slacker Radio - Music streaming.

MEDIA SERVER
Specs:
  • Motherboard - Foxconn M61PMV AM2+/AM2 NVIDIA GeForce 6100 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
  • Case -  Rosewill R6426-P BK ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
  • Power Supply -  Antec earthwatts EA380 380W Continuous Power ATX12V v2.0 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply
  • Processor - AMD Athlon X2 BE-2300 Brisbane 1.9GHz Socket AM2 45W Dual-Core Processor ADH2300DOBOX
  • Memory - 2 Gigs
  • Hard Drives - 2 500GB WD Green Drives and 2 500GB old drives - Total of 2TB. I plan on expanding.

Software:
  • OS - Windows Server 2008
  • Emit - Stream to smartphone and tablet. If I can get it to work. 
  • Plex Server - Stream TV shows and movies to Roku, smartphone and tablet.
  • Couchpotato
  • Sickbeard
  • uTorrent
  • Google Music Uploader
  • PC Monitor - Can monitor my server from any browsers or Android app. Has push notifications for updates to the server.
  • Goodsync - Used to backup pictures and music to a different hard drive
  • Growler for Windows - Sends notifications to smartphone via Squealer Android app and sends notification to other desktop.

image

image

DVR
  • Dish Network 722K - Still going strong.

TV AND SOUND SPECS
  • 42" RCA 1080P LCD HDTV
  • Pioneer Receiver and surround speakers
  • Sony Powered Subwoofer - just used for movies.
  • Phillips learning remote control - Best $12 I ever spent.
  • Harmony 550 remote control - USB port stopped working so I just use this for the HTPC now.

ROUTER
  • WNDR3400V2

OTHER WIRELESS DEVICES
  • Kodak Frame
  • Next Thermostat

OTHER ANDROID APPS USED
  • uTorrent Remote
  • PC Monitor - View media server stats 
  • Couch Fowarder - Used to browser Sickbeard and Couchpotato
  • Beam - Used in conjunction with Twonky Beam
  • Squealer - Used in conjunction with Growler for Windows
  • Emit Free - Testing. Right now only local network works.
  • Plex - Steams from media server to smartphone and tablet.

HTPC SOFTWARE I'VE USED IN THE PAST
  1. Yahoo Go! TV
  2.  Meedio
  3. XBMC
  4. Boxee


OLD SETUP

Plex PC Streaming


Plex is a piece of software that allows you to stream media from your PC to your TV, tablet or smartphone device. I’ve been waiting for any software that would do this every since I bought my Roku. It was the one thing the Roku was lacking. I’ll break this review down into 3 sections.
Plex Media Server
As the name applies, the Plex server will serve your files from a computer or server to your other devices. First you will need to install the free Plex server software from http://www.plexapp.com/download/win-download-new.php on a PC. Chose download Plex media server from the right side. Once you’ve downloaded and installed the server, you’ll need to add items to the server. For anyone that hasn’t used similar software this may be a bit tedious  You can figure it out after clicking around a bit. I’ve notice sometimes the wrong DVD cover is displayed, which can be corrected in the server software. 
Screenshot of my Plex media server.
Plex Roku
The Roku allows you to view your media on your TV. Just browse your channels within Roku and add Plex to your list. Within the app you have the ability to add other channels as well. I’ve watched several movies on my Roku and playback is smooth. I even have it installed on a desktop connected to my wireless network. If you have a Roku, this channel is definitely worth adding.
Plex Android
The Android app allows you to view you media on your smartphone or tablet. The app cost $4.99 from the Google Play store or Amazon app store (if your using a Kindle Fire). Just like on the Roku, you can add channels from the app.  The app is pretty simple and easy to use, pick a movie and enjoy.
Plex on my HP Touchpad running Android ICS

My Nook 1st Edition Review



I was skeptical about e-ink readers before having one.  I received the Nook 1st edition for my birthday form my mother. She had upgraded from the 1st edition to the newest Nook e-ink display. I had never really been an avid reader but had just recently wanted to start reading more.
I have a tablet that I was currently using to read.  The problem with a tablet and reading is the back-lit display. I could only read about 4 to 5 pages at a time before I had really bad eye strain and would have to stop reading.
Let me tell you, reading with an e-ink display is awesome. It is so much better than reading on a tablet or even a regular book. You don’t have to carry heavy books around  with you or even worry about bookmarking. Not only that, but you don’t have to charge the device but every so often.
If you’re into reading or even thinking about to read, a e-ink reader is the way to go. It doesn’t matter what brand you get.

Update: I've made the switch to a Kindle Fire HD. There's just so much more you can do with a 7" tablet. More to come about that later.

Welcome to My New Blog



I'm deciding to switch back to Blogspot after checking Tumblr out for a while. It just seems like Tumblr doesn't have enough options for my posting needs. Blogspot has improved the mobile app and I'll be checking that out as well. I may also transfer some post from my Tumblr blog to here.

So what is this blog about? This blog is about my adventures being a single dad (for now), home project, and technology. I'll be posting different things that I think others may enjoy and things I experience around the house..

Enjoy!
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