Getting a PVR


Slow to catch up with television technology, we just rented our first PVR. I drove the old basic non-HD converter to Rogers at Clarkson Crossing and after very long wait in line while customers either worried about or argued over their cellphone charges, my converter was swapped out for a Cisco Explorer 8642HD that can record up to 20 hours of TV.

I drove home and hooked it up. HDMI, good. Goes to Input 5 on the Sharp LCD TV. Power cord into outlet, yes, power cord, power cord. I wasn’t given a power cord. Nice.

I drive back to Clarkson Landing and have another wait while a customer worries about her cell-phone plan then mention to the lad serving me that he forgot to give me a power cord. “Oh, my fault,” he says with no remorse at all reflected in his face and he goes into the storeroom and brings me a cable, ending with the inevitable “Have a nice day.”

Back home. Power cord into outlet. Bingo.

The HD channels come in crisp and clear making me glad already that I moved up to HD from Standard. Enough for one day. We try out the recording part by setting the unit to record the movie True Grit, the John Wayne classic, showing on one of the movie channels.

The next day I tried hooking the unit to play through my VCR/DVD-RW unit to see if I could record a recorded show in case I wanted to see it again after removing it from the PVR’s hard disk. I cabled it correctly, but all I got on Line 1 and 2 was a blue screen, no image. The only way I could get the image to play through was on the co-ax, which degrades the image. Not a big deal, but irritating in a technology kind of way.

Last night we watched True Grit, fast forwarding through the commercials. It showed remarkably well for a movie made in 1969. Everything seemed to work fine. We set up a Poirot and a movie called Red: Werewolf Hunter with Felicia Day for recording and we’ll likely watch them this evening.

I don’t know why I resisted getting a PVR, but I’m glad I finally decided to give it a go. It’s quickly going to become one of those technologies that you can’t live without.

Recreational Writing

Recreational Writing

Last week I self-published a little ebook called Recreational Writing — a coaching guide to writing for fun and insight. It’s currently available in various formats including EPUB and MOBI at

It will soon be distributed to the major ebookstores such as Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Sony, and eventually Amazon. It’s priced at $1.99 US.

Recreational Writing was a project I started last summer when I was casting around for something new to do. I had originally thought I’d be working on my Credit River project, but the summer’s intense heat kept me out of the field so I needed something else to work on.

Much of the drafting of Recreational Writing was done on an iPad, using Apple’s Bluetooth keyboard and Doc2 HD as a word processor. As the project went into its final editing, my Macbook Air had arrived and I finished the book on the Air.

It’s a small work that can be read in one or two sittings. The concept behind it was the same as what Amazon is calling a “Single.” An extended argument or article on some topic. It’s not comprehensive by any means and is certainly not a textbook.

Yet I think, and hope, readers will find it encouraging and useful. Above all I hope it inspires others to take up writing for fun.

For, bottom line, fun is what this is mostly about, whether in the form of a journal, memoir, or a blog posting like this one.

Next I’m turning to a set of personal essays and if the weather cooperates this summer, I’ll restart the Credit River project. More on those topics later.

In the meantime, it was fun to join the “Indie” publishing phenomenon and to learn how to create an ebook.

MacBook Air

MacBook Air

Having sold my fine Dell Mini 10v Hackintosh and given my iPad to my wife, I was ready and primed to order an 11-inch MacBook Air computer. It’s the one I’ve been waiting for: a Mac netbook. I ordered one from the Apple Store.

It arrived late afternoon, New Year’s Eve, and I spent the evening customizing the setup and adding programs. I loaded OpenOffice, MacTeX, LyX, X Code, TextWrangler, and WriteRoom. As on all my systems, I loaded Firefox and used Xmarks to sync all my bookmarks and logins.

On a whim I downloaded Google Chrome to try. It ended up staying on the system. It’s so quick and perky I find I’m enjoying it after the decidedly pedestrian speeds of Firefox. Why not use Safari? I just can’t work up any love for Safari. I don’t know why, but I never get a good vibe from it when I’m using it. Probably something in my genes.

So, how do I like the Air? All I can say is, WOW!!

Well, that’s not really all I could say or I wouldn’t still be writing. I like the size and weight, the screen is excellent, and my fingers love the keyboard. It’s a writer’s machine if there ever was one.

The past week I’ve put it through its paces doing some heavy editing on the minibook I’m nearly ready to self publish. For this project I had to add Office 2008 for Mac so I could have access to Word. It’s a requirement at Smashwords. My fingers were flying over the keyboard all week, busy with this project, writing in my journal, and sending emails to friends.

The more I use the MacBook Air, the better I like it, and I liked it right out of the box. So far I can’t find anything to fault. Other than when using finger gestures on the touchpad there’s a slight lag between when I push it to increase the size of fonts and when the fonts show up resized. Other computers should have this problem.

I’ve been using laptop writing devices since picking up my first Tandy Radio Shack Model 100 in 1983 (and which cost more, at the time, than my MacBook Air) and this is easily the best one I’ve yet acquired.

Salut, Apple!