Deoxit cleans dirty pots like new!

Dirty Kitchen IV
Creative Commons License photo credit: kbcanon

I aint talkin’ about doin’ the dishes. Caig’s Deoxit is a miracle worker for old electronics that start to glitch out. Older audio equipment like electric guitars, amplifiers, receivers and the like will inevitably start to exhibit some problems sooner or later. If you hear scratchy noises, channel imbalance or other distortions when you adjust the switches and knobs (potentiometers, AKA “pots”) it’s often just because the contact points have gotten dirty and/or oxidized. This may even cause the sound to cut out completely which is what happened to the tweeter an old Acoustic Research speaker I picked up off eBay.

implementation
Creative Commons License photo credit: conskeptical

Amazingly, there’s a quick fix for that. Just pop the top off, toggle the knob or switch in order to identify the metal contact point. Spray some deoxit in there making sure to target the contact point. Pots are often enclosed with small vents that you can spray in to get at the metal contact surface. Apply a short burst of Deoxit, then work it in for 30 seconds by operating the control across its full range of motion. This helps to break up oxides and contamination. Apply another short burst of Deoxit. Finally wait at least 2 minutes before turning the equipment back on and you’re good to go!  I fixed a vintage amplifier and a pair of AR-4x speakers from the late 60’s / early 70’s just like that.  At ~$25 a can, deoxit isn’t cheap but it will last most people a lifetime.

Radioshack brand Tuner Cleaner used to work but they recently changed the formula. Steer clear, big tuna. There, I fixed it.

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No Coffee and TV, it’s fine by me

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Grel A

Watch the music video for Coffee & TV

About a month ago I gave up coffee and TV. For years I had been drinking 1 large coffee every morning M-F and it was delicious but I didn’t like feeling jittery and crashing in the afternoon. So I quit cold turkey, got some extra sleep the first week and started feeling better pretty quickly. Not waking up with caffeine withdrawal symptoms means not wanting to kill the world every morning and that’s a win for everybody.

The other prong in my purification plan was to replace Time Warner Cable TV with free Over-The-Air network TV via an antenna. I got a small indoor antenna which, according to Antennaweb.org, would allow me to pick up all the networks. But when I hooked it up I only got 1 channel… Continue reading

Trifecta of awesome discovered in NYC Lower East Side

Doughnut Plant

Humongous delicious awesome doughnuts and not just your typical flavors!  For something different try the peanut butter and jelly or the intensely sweet creme brulee.  The coconut doughnut tastes like fresh coconut and is the very best doughnut I’ve ever tasted, hands down.  This game changer is not to be missed!  End of story.

Kosar’s Bialys

I’m told my great grandparents lived in Białystok, Poland.  Here lies the oldest Bialy bakery in the US. You want a baguette? English muffin? Loaf of anything? Sorry.  Want a Bialy?   Continue reading

Revelations! Part 1

Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city
Creative Commons License photo credit: Desmond Kavanagh

Boardgames!  Tens of thousands of boardgames you’ve never even heard of!

There’s a sub culture of board game lovers who aren’t playing Monopoly or Scrabble.  Check out the top rated board games at boardgamegeek.  I just found out about this from my coworker, Phil.  He and his friends have a new board game to play pretty much every week.  w0000000000000! Continue reading

The best thing about Time Warner Cable is that it’s close to Shake Shack!

squirrel_shake_shack

When I cancelled my Time Warner Cable TV service last month I dropped off my cable box at the Time Warner Center on 23rd street.  Since that’s just up the block from Shake Shake, I had the opportunity to snag a delicious burger for lunch!  In the winter there’s almost no line whereas waiting 45 minutes is standard in the summertime.  They have outdoor space heaters so it’s not even that cold.

In addition, Madison Square park is home to some of the most fearless urban wildlife in the city.  All the little squirrels, rats and pigeons are so cracked out on shake shack leftovers, fear of humans is the last thing on their little critter minds.  I took this picture with my cell phone, no zoom, just got right up next to the furry French fry eater.

Now I’m just waiting for my Tuner Box to come in the mail so I can get Network TV over the air for free with an antenna.  That, along with Netflix should do the trick.

AVG Free is not the best AntiVirus program. McAfee and Norton are worse.

AntiVirus

A couple of weeks ago my PC got a virus.   AVG Free didn’t detect anything suspicious but my web browsers were redirecting me to spammy sites.   MBAM (a free malware scanner) found something and removed it but my web experience was still funky so I reinstalled windows for peace of mind.

Since AVG let me down I decided to search for alternatives.  A lot of people in forums like Alwil Avast and Avira AntiVir.  A respected site for ratings of AV programs is http://www.av-comparatives.org/.  According to their reports the big brand guys like McAfee and Symantec (Norton) do not have very good detection rates. Apparently those companies are more skilled at marketing than they are at virus detection.   Continue reading

Secret GChat Emoticons

Emoticon Tale (219 / 365)
Creative Commons License photo credit: somegeekintn

Ever wonder why Google’s GChat only has 12 kinds of emoticon buttons while Gmail has many more? Well, taking a page out of Skype’s playbook, GChat actually has a lot of hidden emoticons that you can employ by typing in certain combinations of characters.  Here’s the list of secret / hidden emoticons for GChat.

Here are the secret emoticons for Skype.  And here are hidden emoticons for Yahoo Messenger.

Nikon D5000, DSLR Buyers Guide

I’m an amateur photographer buying my first DSLR. I don’t claim to be an expert but I have spent many hours researching and I’ve decided to share all the useful information that I’ve turned up in the process.  This post is centered around the Nikon D5000 which ultimately was my first choice.

Top Entry Level DSLRs

a small history of cameras
Creative Commons License photo credit: heliosphan

Comparing entry level DSLRs can be a daunting task. Here are some of the best choices on the market right now. Most if not all of these cameras are highly recommended by dpreview.com and other reviewers. Prices based on current street prices for new camera with kit lens (as of Dec 3, 2009).

  • $440.00 – Nikon D40 (which is being discontinued and replaced by the D3000)
  • $469.00 – Nikon D3000
  • $569.95 – Canon Digital Rebel XSi (650D)
  • $642.46 – Nikon D5000
  • $719.00 – Canon EOS Rebel T1i (500D) *
  • $1,032.99 – Nikon D90 *

Continue reading

Is Google Wave Just a Glorified Chat Room?

Waves crashing on the rocks
Creative Commons License photo credit: donjd2

I overheard this hypothetical conversation at Google HQ:

Developer: I have a new product idea. Imagine an online tool for real-time communication between groups of people!

Colleague: You mean a CHAT ROOM, a technology that’s been in use for over 20 years?

Developer: Yes but now imagine mashing in more features like embedable Youtube videos!

Colleague: So it’s a bloated chat room?

Developer: That’s right. Except that we won’t call it a chat room. We’ll call it a WAVE_-_-__ and pass it off as an entirely new concept that’s going to revolutionize the world!

Colleague: A bloated and glorified chat room.  Brilliant!

Google Maps NYC Subway Map could be better

Google Maps has had a “Transit” layer for some time and it used to be empty for New York City.  Not surprisingly, they’ve recently added the NYC subway map illustrating where the different lines run.  It works on maps.google.com as well as Google Maps Mobile on your phone (read about it here).

I’ve been using the subway map from onnyturf.com/subway for years and while that is basically the same thing, a NYC subway map layered over Google Maps, there are some differences. Below I’ve included a comparison of each map showing an identical area around times square. Continue reading