Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

Get the BEST price for your used DVD’s and Blu-Ray’s online with this free tool I created!

I sold my DVD collection a little while back and was intensely frustrated by the WIDELY varying prices offered by various purchasers.

So, I wrote a tool to do all the hard work for me by heading out to each of the popular sites, poll their price, find the best, and report back.

I just customized it into something I can share on the web that does one disc at a time, based on the UPC code.  The form submits are all custom injected with curl, sourced from RAW capture between my testing browser and the purchasing sites.  Enjoy the fruits of my labor :)

If you have a ton of discs you want a report on, contact me and I’ll see what we can work out.

The site for the tool is:

and the sites it checks at the time of writing are:

EagleSaver, DVDPawn, SellDVDSOnline, SecondSpin, MightyBuyBack, and Abundatrade

HP TouchPad 16GB $99.99 – if you can find one!

HP is ‘getting out’ of the tablet business and is clearing out their TouchPad’s for $99.99 for the 16GB version, and $149.99 for the 32GB version.  Even with no continued support, this is a great price.  It’s tough to get a digital photo frame at this price point in this resolution.  Even if ALL you use it for is a media player or mobile web browser, $100 is well worth it.

They actually dropped the price Saturday, and I thought I missed out, but Barnes and Noble now shows in stock for the magical $99.99 price.  I ordered one last night, but now it shows:

Unable to process order. Please

call 1-877-379-0036, or

212-414-6024, if outside U.S.

I called in, and apparently they have 2,000 in stock and they’re trying to sort it out.  They could not tell me if I’d be receiving one or not.

Try your luck and order here:


A bunch of the larger online retailers are still showing the old price and presumably do still have them in stock., for example, shows “in stock”, but has it priced at $399.99.  It’s the same story at, CDW, etc.

I guess if you’re daring you could buy one, and hope they honor the new price with a partial refund :P


Now show’s out of stock on B&N. .  @9:45am (eastern)


Tried to get another (since I highly doubt B&N will really be shipping mine), and ordered through CDW when they dropped their price.  I waited on hold for over an hour to confirm the order I made online (thank-you cordless speakerphone) to find out they sold out within a MINUTE of the price drop.  HA!

So, if you thought you were getting one from CDW, think again.  Someone else posted on a deal site saying one company accepted nearly 65,000 orders for the 10, ten, yes TEN they had in stock.

As usual, I wish I hadn’t wasted time on this.

3M-50 Wi-FI Thermostat: UPDATE

Original post here:

Click HERE for the CT50, and HERE for the CT80.

This arrived last week, and it’s everything I hoped for, plus more.  VERY programmable via back-end JSON interface.  Of course, I’m old-skool and stubborn so I wrote a whole web-app in bash to control it :)

Here’s what my interface looks like:

Click it for a full size version.

The outside temp/humidity is polled via weather underground (XML feed), and the graph is gen’d by cacti.  I already use cacti for tons of other stuff, so it was only natural to use it for data collection here.   The red vertical on the graph represents the periods my furnace runs.  The rest of the legend it pretty obvious if you look at the full size snap.

If you’re even remotely THINKING of getting an ip-enabled thermostat, get one of these, they rock.

For those that don’t want to write their own app to control it, it can communicate directly to radio thermostat’s website and you can control it from there.  I just don’t like the idea of my thermostat taking orders from someplace else, so I wrote my own :)

There’s good documentation of the API here:

MIT Researcher Unlocks New Method for Collecting/Storing Solar Energy

I read it here: , but their understanding of the science is a little “off”.  The author seems to think they’re generating power from water, but in reality they’re using  a process similar to what plants do to separate water, and the power is generated when the Hydrogen and Oxygen are re-combined (like in a fuel cell).

This is big news since unlike current solar sources of energy, where energy must be stored in batteries (with varying levels of efficiency), you can simply store the gases separately and re-combine them as you need the energy.

The researcher has teamed up with Tata group, which is good news since it lends some credibility to actually commercializing it.  It’s rediculous we’re still “drinking” oil out of the ground.  C’mon, it’s 2011.  You think it’s a coincidence that sunlight and water are two of the most abundant things on earth.  I don’t

Holy IP Thermostat! – RADIO THERMOSTAT CT50/3M-50

Just by chance, last night our thermostat was “adjusted” by our youngest creature (Cameron), and when we woke up this morning the temp felt a little cooler and nicer.  It was holding at 68 instead of the usual 70 we maintain during the day. I thought, that’s it, I’m getting a programmable thermostat today.  It’ll pay for itself in less than 1 season if we actually like it 2 degrees cooler at night.

Before I headed out to Lowe’s to pickup a 75ish dollar programmable thermostat, I figured I’d check online one more time to see if any new price-competitive IP-enabled thermostats had hit the market.  WOW AM I SURE GLAD I DID.

Internet or IP-enabled thermostats have long been on my wish list of geek goodies for a while.  I’ve previously looked at units from Proliphix, Ecobee, BAYweb, and others.  They all either *require* utilization of their over-the-internet web interface (some for free, some for a monthly fee), and/or are prohibitively expensive.  The BAYweb isnt too bad at ~$200.00, and looks like rock-solid hardware, but it claims to have zero support for direct query to the device, and only communicates via an outgoing encrypted connection to the BAYweb web site.  To a home automation hacker, this is about as attractive as using AOL for email.


This little gem is only $100, features full local programmability, *and* access to the back-end IP interface via Wi-FI.  I’d actually prefer wired ethernet, but for $100, I’ll shut the fuck up and deal.  They sell these direct for ~$140, but they’ve partnered with 3M/Filtrete, and are selling them through Home Depot for $99.98.

The 3M/Filtrete Part # is: 3M-50. Search for “radio thermostat” at

EDIT: Home Depot  no longer sells these, but you can get them HERE.

I haven’t gotten it yet, but I ordered based on the following features:

*Local Programmability


*API Available (free)

*Direct query to the device for variables like temp/humidity (say for ex. using curl to grab variables from a script)

*iPhone App for controlling directly (free)

*PC App for controlling directly (free)

*Remote Access via their website (only if you want to use it this way)

*CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP – Somehow this thing is more full-featured than all the competition for 1/5th the price!!!!  It’s in the same price category as non-IP enabled programmable thermostats.

GO order one now before they wise up and price this more appropriately ~$250!

UPDATE – I received it, and further review is here:

Slackers Unite! – KCFinder & jQuery

Happened upon two GREAT off-the-shelf free tools today:

KCFinder: Web File Manger

Ajax engine driven and controlled with CSS.  Super-easy to integrate into your own pile of code for web file mgmt, or just run it stand-alone.

jQuery: JavaScript Library

Credit goes to my good friend Mike for pointing me in the direction of this one.  KICK-ASS libraries, including UI tools that let you look pro, even if you can barely cobble together a simple one-page info site.

Verizon iPhone 4 exhibits same antenna issues as the AT&T model

Awwwwwww c’mon seriously Apple??????


COD4 Winter Crash, Crash

For the over 2 years I’ve played Call of Duty 4, I’ve never once successfully been able to load/play the map “Winter Crash”.  Every single time iw3mp.exe crashes to the desktop about 1/3 of the way through loading the map.

Well, tonight I’d finally had enough (no idea why it took over 2 years for that to happen)  and I went on a Google rampage.  Apparently while this issue isn’t entirely unknown, it’s not common enough that anyone has posted a clear reason why it occurs, or a fix.  I tried re-extracting the original .ff files from the patch where they originated from, but they’re “touched” by later patches, and I’m guessing this is where the corruption occurs.  Restoring the original versions merely makes cod4 cry about them not matching the ones on the server, and deleting them altogether has the same result.  I thought maybe the game client would try to dl them from the server, but no dice.

After digging about some more, I found a random location online that had a copy of all the usermaps from the zone directory.  I dl’d the two files relevant to “Winter Crash”, which are:




and replaced my copies under:

C:\Program Files\Activision\Call of Duty 4 – Modern Warfare\zone\english

It worked!  For the first time ever I managed to successfully join a server running this map.

I’ve zipped up the two required files and placed them here for download:

Unzip the files and overwrite your copies under the directory above.  Happy gaming!!!

3 reasons why it’s finally starting to sound like the 21st century

We’re on our way to invisibility:

Prototype cloaking device removes you from spacetime

There’s bacteria that can fill cracks in concrete (yes, intentionally):

BacillaFilla: Fixing Cracks in Concrete

We figured out to make graphene out of cheap materials, cheaply:

Sweet way to make graphene – just add table sugar

Engadget posts video review of iOS 4.2 on iPad

Engadget has a video review of iOS 4.2 running on an iPad over at their site:

It looks pretty sweet, and most importantly of all, performance doesn’t seem to suffer.  I’ll admit, I’ve been using my iPad less lately since it can be frustrating not to be able to pull off a chat and simple browsing session at the same time without wasting half your time logging in and out of AIM and waiting for Safari to re-initialize.

iOS 4.2 for iPad is slated for a November release according to Apple.