Packard Sonic’s Blog
From the mind of Packard Sonic. Buckle up for this ride!

Mar
01

Ok, maybe not commandments but some good suggestions at any rate. A while back I said I was going to come up with my own religion, which I have dubbed “Sonictology”*  I thought a good way to start out would be a my own version of the “Ten Commandments” that make sense. Well, at least to me they do anyway. Also it will pay taxes. No leaching off everyone else.

Enjoy!

 

The Ten Commandments of Sonictology

1. Follow @Packard_Sonic on Twitter. Or not. It’s up to you. It’s your Twitter account follow who ever you want to.

2. Any other account that might claim to be me on twitter might be me or not.  These are the other ones that really are me, so if you want to follow them as well they are as follows: @PackardSonic, @Packard_Music, & @PackardPokesAt

3. If you Message me on Twitter be sure to at least type something after you type my name. I can’t read your mind!

4. Message me any time. Even on Sunday. It’s just another day of the week.

5. If you like what I have to say on Twitter, feel free to message me. That makes my day!

6. I ask that you don’t randomly delete your account if we have started a dialog.  It makes talking to you that much harder. However if you want to, who am I to stop you?

7. If you are going to talk dirty in the open on Twitter, I’m grabbing the popcorn!

8. Don’t use my twitter icon. Then again why would you even want to? It’s a picture of me after all. I wouldn’t wish this face on anyone else.

9. Please don’t make stuff up when you talk to me. I has “The Google” and can check your “facts”.

10. If you like a Tweet I did and want others to see it, please retweet them and add RT @Packard_Sonic . Well… You don’t HAVE to, but its good form and don’t say I didn’t ask nicely.

 

*Note This is just for fun and no actual religion has actually been established.

Advertisements
Jan
15

Over the past weekend I recently visited one of our local fast food places, and while that is generally nothing special to write about, however on this particular visit I wasn’t looking for something to write about but while I was there, I took notice of something that many people would overlook. I have this interest, I wouldn’t cal it a hobby as hobbies cost money and this is free and sometimes rather entertaining.  I am a bit of what some might call a “people watcher” and will take notice of the things that people do in public. Their habits and idiosyncrasies are interesting. Well to me anyway. On this particular visit, I went to one of the many BK restaurants that are across the nation, however this one happened to be in my own town, but generally they have a similar set up. If you have ever been to one you notice that when you first walk in to these places they have special rails in which to control and  move their customers in and out quickly.  Now many of these places also have a spot which is usually left open so that their customers can come in quickly when the foot traffic is light so they don’t have to inconvenience their customers by having to walk around this path they they use.  At this point you may be saying “Yea, so what?” and if you look at it like that though the eyes of the mundane, then yes it will seem to be quite ordinary and uninteresting. On this particular day, I noticed something that many may have overlooked as a typical daily event of a family of four, two parents and two smaller children came in. Now the fast service end near the registers when you first walk in was wide open on this particular day when this family had walked in. That in it’s self isn’t that big of a deal. But what happened next and there after caught my attention.

Now as they entered the BK, as it had been the slow part of the day they had no one in front of them waiting to be served at that exact time. Instead of using this very obvious opening, they went all the way around and through the what I call the “cow maze” they give us to go though for the crowd control area.  The children who were in the ages of about six or maybe seven years of age, went along with the parents following them with blind obedience as they didn’t know that they could have just as easily taken the other option to the counter as they came in.

Shortly there after a older man and his two grandchildren ages about four or five came in and had started to do the same thing, take the “cow maze”, however they didn’t get to far in to it when I’m guessing the older one noticed that the chain which blocks this path was obviously missing, and not only proceeded to take that way instead but told his sibling that it was open. Not the exact words they used, but the message behind it was quite clear.

Why I found this interesting is that, in our society today there are a lot of different areas of our lives, there is always someone that wants to control us to some extent. As a culture we are finding this more and more ingrained  in us to just follow where someone else wants us to go especially when it comes to religion.

If people will blindly follow something as simple as rail in a restaurant thinking that they HAD to use this method for entry, and they never even questioned it or do it without thinking for themselves, how can people say that religion is more of a choice anymore when it’s more and more often being forced upon us at every turn? People get in to situations, which become habits, then before to long it has become the societal norm, and if you question it you are stepping out their established bounds on someone and they won’t like it.

Take the family of four that walked in for example. They were not told when they walked in that they HAD to use the long way around, they “just took it” and why, because in the past thats what they had done before and either they never knew they could do anything different. Am I blaming the BK here? No, they like every other busness have rules and procedures they follow and these rules are always changing to fit the needs of their business and their customers. However, are we as a culture so easily brainwashed by someplace which really has no power over us and is as benign as a BK?

However when it comes to religion, there are many people that think that it’s not about control when it clearly is. If you think about it, you go in where they want you to, they say what you HAVE to follow their rules. Here isn’t not much of a choice, you do it “their way”.  At least that the BK you get to have it “Your way”.

People in fancy clothes tell the masses that they HAVE to do something a particular way or they won’t get their burgers… Wait.. I mean they will go to hell.. Which the two are kinda interchangeable in that respect. Ok, the restaurant people have less fancy looking clothing then people that are religious do, but but the common ground here is that while one “moooving” you along to sell you a flamed broiled hamburger, the other is telling you that YOU will be flame broiled if you don’t follow THEIR instructions. For a long time BK has had the motto, “Have it your way!” which is in a way similar to Atheism, while religion says “Do it our way!”

The point here is, that you have to decide, do you want to be the one saying I want it flame broiled and walk away knowing that there really is no real “Burger King” or someone telling you YOU will be flame broiled because you don’t want to believe in their “burger king”?

Dec
28

Here is another very simple recipe that I thought everyone would enjoy. I only make this once or twice a year as a special occasion as once I start eating it I don’t want to stop!

I have added some pictures how I put it all together so yours will turn out just as well.

This should take about 10 mins or so for the preparation time.

  • 1 Small bag of tater tots (Orida is best or your favorite brand)
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can french style green beans
  • 1 lb hamburger or turkey ground
  • 2 cans cream of mushroom soup (Cambels I have found is the best for this)
  • Enough cheese slices to cover mixture (I use Crystal Farms Cheese as it melts best)

To help the flavor you should season your frying pan as I have here. I put in a little salt, pepper and garlic salt in first before adding the meat.

 

Make sure you drain your hamburger before putting this mixture together otherwise it will be very greasy.

In a standard cake pan mix together hamburger, corn, green beans and cream of mushroom soup.

Once mixed together, spread evenly across the bottom of the pan.

Next put a single layer of cheese across the top of the mixture. You will have a small area to
cover then the rest of the pan just overlap the cheese in this area it will still turn out just fine.

Next lay down a row of tater tots uniformly across the top of the cheese until the it looks like rows.
This part takes the most time and makes it look as good as it tastes.

Next put in to preheated over at 350 degrees for one hour or until cheese and mixture
below are seen bubbling up slightly to and between the tater tots.

Pre cooked shown here.

After done cooking shown above.
Notice how it has bubbled up over the edge of the tater tots. This is a good indication of when it’s done.

For best results let sit for 10 minuets then serve. (This is optional)

Oct
16

This is a recipe my mother passed down to my family some time ago long before she passed away in 2006. My mother know how to really cook very well and she made sure when she had kids that all of us would know how to cook and take care of our selves. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did growing up being able to have this wonderful dish. Now I will mention here that potatoes are generally quite bland and will suck up salt and pepper quite easily so be sure to salt and pepper to taste.

Ingredients:

Aproximatly 10 -15 white potatoes peeled & quartered (Like making mashed)

1 Large Onion Chopped Use half

1 stick butter

Bisquick Dumplings ( Follow recipe on box)

(If you can not eat dumplings, just boil the potatoes longer until they are very soft)

Enough water to cover the potatoes

Directions:

Wash & peel potatoes. Cut up in to 1 inch pieces. Let soak in salted water till ready to cook. Be sure you rinse the potatoes before putting them in this bowl to “rest”. In large soup pot melt stick of butter and saute half chopped onion. Cook till onion is almost “transparent”. Add potatoes, and add water to cover the potatoes. Cook until potatoes are tender when poked with a fork. While soup is bubbling drop dumplings by teaspoon. Stir & cook about 5 – 10 mins.

The ingredients are simple. The pealing of the potatoes and making the dumplings are the most time consuming part of it.

Be sure not to over cook the onions otherwise the soup will look brown and when its done it should look white like a cloud.

If soup is too thick, add about a cup of water to thin.
Eat and enjoy!

Should look like this when done.

Sep
16

Part 1 Day One

I have been dealing with the courts in some way many times over the years, but this was the first time behind the “curtain of the jury wall” as it were.

As this was a 3-day trial I will break down things day by day.

Day 1. The Selection begins!

I arrived at the courthouse, I thought I was going to be late and parked in the near by ramp, so I had booked it over to the court house across the street, to find out that I wasn’t going to be late.  Well I am not one that likes to be late for anything, especially when it deals with the courts. You know that whole hurry up and wait thing they do.  They ask for mileage and gave me an estimate; I never really measured it out so I took what they said it was. (This will come in to play much later on)   I get shuffled down to the basement area along with several others. One thing I should mention here that on the website, it said “No electronic devices” Like cell phones and such allowed. Ok that’s fine, until as I was waiting down there with roughly about 27 other people. At taking a head count it was 7 women and 20 men. The odds were not that great as far as a women getting on the panel. Then I noticed that while I actually “Followed the rules” and left my cell phone locked up in my car, the women and one guy had pulled out their cell phones and were actively using them!  Well I felt like a total dolt for doing what I was told to do at that point! But I know I did the right thing. So I was ok with that. About 20 -30 minutes went by and not having my cell phone I became a little antsy at not having much to do, so I along with everyone else was watching the news on CNN. By then one of the bailiffs walked in and started telling us what was going to be happening and that we would all be watching a short video of what we were to expect to happen.  Some one asked how we got to be the lucky ones, and we were told that in the state of WI, they only use our ID’s from our drivers licenses and not by if we voted or not.

She then started the video and left the room. A judge came on the TV explaining how it was an honor to be on a jury trial and how they choose how you get picked and how she was chosen to be on a jury, but was dismissed due to the fact that she was a judge and really wanted to be on the panel. (I was thinking yea right)  Then the judge starts explaining that we are chosen by our driver’s licenses and voter registration! Now…. Wait… A… Minute! I was just told that they DON’T use voter registration information because it’s not as accurate as the Driver’s licenses. Ok I’m not even in the courtroom yet and already getting lied to??? So after this rather dull video, they said that all our names would be picked at random to line up out in the short hallway under the stairs! Before we were to head upstairs I asked one of the bailiffs if the jury had to take an oath. To which she replied yes they do. And I asked POINT blank, was it a “secular” oath, she replied I think so yes, so at this point I didn’t think to hard about it at that point.  They start calling off the names, and I end up being the second person in line! I told the lady behind me that when I was growing up, that number one or number two was nothing you really wanted to be! Trying to make light of the very strange situation we were all placed in at that moment. Now this area, was very small, to say the least.  But frankly I thought that we all had been tricked in to coming in were going to be arrested or worse SHOT! LOL Just kidding about that last two parts, but it did feel like that. The last time I remember lining up for anything like that was when I was in grade school!  So we start up stairs to the third floor. Now, I have asthma so climbing all those stairs was a little bit of a challenge for me but not impossible at least! So we go in to this tiny room and out to the courtroom and sit in some of the most uncomfortable chairs (bolted to the floor in one spot) I had been in, in quite some time! As the rest follow in, the juror box has enough room to fit 14 people init. Now I already know your next thought here… Aren’t there supposed to be just twelve of them? Well that turned out to be another interesting thing, but I will get back to that in a little while and you will get that answer.  Just before we got underway, we all had to take “the oath”! As it turned out it was NOT a secular oath! When everyone else said “I’ DO” I said” I don’t!” but only one person heard me that was the woman sitting just to my left. So things started to get on the way, by now we had been in there for over an hour.  As we all sat there the attorneys started asking a bunch of random (or seemingly random) questions about us. Now this was one of the things we were told was going to happen and we were not to be embarrassed over any of the questions in anyway, and over all they weren’t.  Some of the possible panel was down in front of the jury box and the rest were told to listen to the questions as they may have to get asked that if some one gets taken off the jury. (I wished it had been me!)  As the questions kept coming, one of the people in the front of the jury box said they knew the guy and he would not be impartial to deliberations on it and was excused. (I wish I had at that point too!)  So after a very lengthy process of questions we had to stand up when our names were called to see if we were going to be one of the “lucky ones” to stay. The first persons name to be called off… Would you like to take a guess?  If you said “You Packard!” You would be right! Oh joy! I guess this was payback for having a way out of the last two I got called up for! They kept telling us what an honor it was. I didn’t feel that way. But that was just me at that point.  The judge at that point, after weeding out the rest and dismissed them, we had to take a second oath!  Again it was NOT a secular oath! Again I objected, yet I was not heard by anyone.

Then we were dismissed back to the jury room for the moment, I then explained to the woman bailiff that up until that point was actually being nice to me, and treating me like anyone else. That was until; I told her that I wanted to take a more secular oath. She inquired, “Oh agnostic”?  I said no I am an Atheist. At that point the whole game changed!  She said she would ask the judge if I could take a different oath, and she would take care of it. The older guy I don’t remember his name, who was sitting across from the table from me exclaims, “You know, I case of emergency I could baptize you right now.” Ha, ha, ha.. To which I turned away and calmly said “No thank you!” Shortly there after we re entered the courtroom, and before the opening statement, the judge announced, “Someone on the jury requested an alternate oath.” Then called out my name and I then took the more secular oath! Me! I got a judge to listen to something I had to say about what happened in the courtroom for the first time EVER!

I have to say at that point I felt pretty good!  Then the guy who had said he could do an “emergency baptism” on me, who was now sitting directly on my right, said “I kind of felt uncomfortable about the whole mention of god too” Which I replied then why didn’t you stand up and take the oath too?”  He replied that he didn’t know I was going to do that other wise he might have. I have serious doubts that he would have, but I am not afraid to speak my mind or what I don’t believe in for that matter!

Then again called back in to the courtroom for opening statements and some testimony. Its never like it is on TV where things are always moving, and something is happening all the time. We had been shuffled many times during the day back and forth in and out of the courtroom; I was beginning to think we were fish on display for the people to see as we walked back and forth behind the glass!  At one point, the only woman juror, in which I will say, was nice looking, but as they say, beauty is only skin deep. She was very bossy on the inside and she wasn’t afraid to show it.  I think right there when she started demanding something, that I thought was unreasonable, and I called her on it I was already on her bad side.  Oh great, another woman that’s mad at me for being a guy, well isn’t that just dandy!

There were at this point 13 people on the jury. Yes, I did say 13! Not a typo! Now as I said before that there is supposed to be only 12 people on a jury, this is a known fact. So why was there 13 people on the jury at that point? Well as it was explained in open court, that if a juror got sick or something happened they would still at least have the 12 and could call up one of the alternates. However at the end of the trial, a name would be selected at random from a box with the name of someone to be excused just before deliberations would begin.

After the opening statements and just after the lunch hour finally the trial started, I had not been able to get enough sleep the night before as I was a bit wound up about possibly being on the jury and all that so at several points during the boring parts I think I blanked out a second or two here and there. So I would move around in my chair or do what ever I had to do to stay awake during this first part.   By the time the end of day arrived I was just glad to be out of there!

Part 2

Day 2 The Trial Continues!

This part will be kind of short…

After hearing the instructions from the judge the night before about being back at just after 8 am, I made sure I had plenty of time to get out the door so I could casually walk in the courthouse without feeling winded from climbing the stairs. I walked in and sat down, No one would sit next to the Atheist, nor wanted to converse with me except in only the smallest of talk her and there. On my way there I recalculated the mileage and let them know that I needed to give them a correction, well the lady bailiff there was again rather rude with me about it. When I gave her the updated information.  Then the guy that I had mentioned before came in almost too late and with his fly down! Oh this was NOT going to be a good day.  Before we went in to the courtroom again, the bailiff again had more instructions for us, and I very politely tried to tell that guy that his was zipper down, at some point he mentioned out loud again to everyone there, something about me being an Atheist, then commented how he was doing that to deflect that how he was almost to late for the jury. Already getting attacked and picked on for being different.  However, I have been the outcast many times… This was really no different to me as in the past, so it didn’t matter all that much now.

So court continued.. Now we start getting video testimony from a few doctors, and a few “expert” witnesses. One of which was a cop.  It turned out that this cop, was new to the job, and when I say “new” I mean he had NEVER EVER done an accident scene before and so he didn’t take pictures, didn’t take measurements, didn’t talk to all the witnesses, of which at least 2 other witnesses in the incident were left out that we never heard from! Only one person who saw it the collision only because the car that was hit was coming directly in to her lane! Oh if I forgot to mention it, this whole things was a twofer… One part of it was an accident case the typical who is at fault type thing; the other half of it was an insurance case in connection with it due to the accident.

Now we got shown over blown photos of what they saw and all that, and I had made some thoughts up of what I had gotten from what I had so far of the trial, but I wanted to take in as much information as I could before rendering a fair assessment of what I thought had happened. (Boy was I in for a shock! More on this later!)

Well as the day continued, and we entered the lunch hour, we were severed from a nearby restaurant. Now when it comes to food, I am NOT shy about what I like and don’t like.  I have to say that the meal was good, however we were allowed to leave for a short time after that and go for a walk or what ever after that. Which I did,. I talked briefly to one of the jurors outside about the weather and then he went his way and I went mine. Again I it was just small talk nothing to try to connect to someone else in any way, but turned out to be a totally fruitless conversation.

So back again to the court, and more deliberations and heard from the rest of the plaintiff.  That didn’t last very long and the defendant (whom was backed by an insurance company) started his testimony. A lot of what he said didn’t make any sense, at least not to me, but then again, I see past the BS that people say as I had seen it so many times before. But after that we saw one or two more videos then it was time to depart for the day.

Day 3

Part 3 The Trial Concludes!

Now before we were to go back to the courthouse we had some extra time that morning instead of being in right away we had an extra half hour to kill before we arrived. Now that woman bailiff was there and there was again the chatter between the bailiffs and the rest of the jurors was like it was that morning and other times, and I glanced up from the year old magazine I was looking at to ask, if the corrected mileage had been given to whom ever they were supposed to. Just trying to make or possibly start some small talk, again she was rude to me! At different points of the trial, we would shuffle in and we were told that we didn’t have to sit the exact same place as before if we didn’t want to, however I was on the end of the juror box and I could stretch out, so I opted for that same spot every time! LOL!  During the trial several different people set to my right and once or twice someone sat directly in front of me, but it didn’t matter after all, I got to relax a little.  The last portion was short at least and lasted just up until about 1 OPM so all in all about 5 hours of sitting in the same spot watching people blather on about how much they make $900 an hour or more! How these people get away with charging so much should be a crime! But that’s not what I was there for. The want to charge that much for their services, then who am I to say if someone is stupid enough to pay them. Something else that was weird they not only went to the far corners of the stare to obtain “expert witnesses” they even went down to the state below me of Illinois! So this is it appears why lawyers charge so much! So they get to travel on our money! Ok, sure it’s for whatever cause they are working for at that time, but still, did they not find someone in the area that can did the same job for less money?

Finally we get the closing arguments, Ohh at last! We will get some quick instructions and then off to eat lunch and start working this out… Oh… Yea that was NOT going to happen!  The closing arguments again, never like it is on TV short and resounding! Not one little bit! I can tell you now, the way the plaintiff’s lawyer handled himself, I would never hire him.  Every time the defense objected he never got to finish!  Most of the times, with I think an exception of possibly once, when the defendant objected he wasn’t allowed to continue. And every time and I do mean EVERY time he objected to the something the defendant said, the judge over ruled him and let the defendant continue! Even in closing remarks he cam back for a second time after the defendant said his closing remarks, he got overruled in that too! Not a very good lawyer!

Next came the closing words and instructions from the judge. He than began to read us the instructions of what we should follow, when we started our deliberations.  The “instructions” went on and on and on! I do mean for almost an hour!  This was again not the short stuff that you see on TV, If TV court cases were like that; they would NEVER make it past the pilot!

Before the deliberations are about to begin, the name 13th juror name was pulled out of a container.  I can’t say or speak for the others, but I had mixed emotions if I was the one to get picked out. If I had, I would have been wondering would they do the right thing? As the name was read, there just happened to be another juror that had the same first name as myself. I was thinking to myself for that split second, yep I knew it!  Then the last name was read and I was kind of relieved and yet upset I still had to be there! I guess deep down I wanted to see this to the end as I had come so far already. And really wanted to see it through and get to say what was on my mind!

Before we are ready to leave the courtroom the judge gives one last order, the bailiffs have to also take an oath! I mean I can understand the witnesses and all that but the bailiffs!?

At last we can get the deliberations started….

As I walk in and we are given yet more instructions, and the bailiffs aren’t even out the door yet to the outer room and the first words out of the mouth of the woman is  “Yep I know who is guilty! No need to even discuss it so this is going to be short!”

I have been biting my tongue for the last three days to get out what I want to say and “She has it all figured out!” The nerve! I start to say I don’t agree with her assessment and then is also laughs at me like yea so what do you have to say, then says “Besides it doesn’t matter anyway, you’re the only one that objects” After I got done eating my poorly excuse for a lunch (And chipping yet another front tooth!)  I began explaining why I thought the defendant was also at fault and my reasons why, and at one part of it she started getting nasty and when I got back at her about it, I get yelled at! I see… So I’m the only one of that group that gets dismissed? Oh yea that’s not right! I made my objections and they didn’t want to hear it. One guy was like whatever, just didn’t care about the whole thing and it was anarchy almost!  They appointed her foreperson and I didn’t even get to vote on it as I was in the bathroom at the time! They voted without me! I didn’t matter in there, and nothing I said made a difference what so ever!

The whole process was a total joke! I was outcast for being an Atheist, even though my arguments were sound and my objections were set aside because of a “pretty face” That’s not justice that’s a travesty of justice! The plaintiff was awarded some compensation, but if it had just been up to these few people that apparently thought that they will live forever and nothing bad happens to them, and They best hope that they are not in the plaintiffs position anytime soon, and have to await for a jury to decide their fait and cold and callous as they were o him!

Afterwards the judge came in to se us that stuck around and we got to ask a few questions, again the “Smart question” as the lady bailiff said about someone’s question which wasn’t really all that smart, again because she knew I was the Atheist and she already cast her opinions down on me.

If I ever get called again for something like this, maybe I will have the horse sense to pick up and “move to another county” the two weeks before hand then after the trial, “move back” LOL   Actually the trial itself was some what interesting, but the manipulation of a jury from a “pretty face “ is what brought the whole system down and I feel that there was a miscarriage of justice, and despite the fact I could have been the dissenter, I knew it wouldn’t make a difference anyway.

Justice was already lost…

Aug
18

Here is a tip I had to do some digging to find the right one on and after doing some trial and error of getting it to work, I thought I would pass it along.  As a lot of us on the Mac OS X have been apparently left out on turning off the feature in Skype to stop this auto adjustment of Skype on the microphone. This is a fairly easy hack to do, and only requites a good text editor. For this I would suggest the program called TextWrangler. It’s free and you can find it at http://www.barebones.com/products/textwrangler/

If you have a better or preferred application that can handle .xml files then feel free to use that instead.  I should note that this hack is for the Mac OS X version of Skype only. I’m not sure of the way to do it for windows or if it is even necessary.

The reason I like this particular text editor, as it leaves the file type in tact. Which for this “hack” you don’t want to mess up the file type.

The steps for this are pretty simple.

1. Be sure Skype is shut down for this; otherwise the hack may not work. Rule of thumb, never hack or edit an open program.  In this instance will be hacking a supporting file, so if you make a mistake, you won’t have to reinstall Skype.

2. In Mac HD/ <you>/Library/Application Support/Skype

Look for the file called “shared.xml”

3. When you open this file up with the text editor, you’re going to see a lot of things that may or may not make sense to you. That’s  ok in this instance as we will not be messing with most of it anyway.

4. Look for the line that reads <VoiceEng>. It should be near the bottom of the text file.

5. Once you have located it, right after <VoiceEng> Hit a return or enter and on the very next line type in the following: <AGC>0</AGC>

When you are done, it should look something like this.

6. When you’re done, be sure to save the file and shut the editor window before starting Skype back up.

To test to see if the hack too effect, open your System Preferences and go to your sound settings. Click on your input tab at the top, and set your Microphone all the way up to the top.

Start a Skype call with a friend or call the Skype audio setup test and watch your microphone settings slider. If It doesn’t move, Congratulations! You have taken back control over your microphone from Skype!  If not, try again, sometimes it’s easy to miss a step or another error may have happened during the set up.  If for some reason Skype refuses to start up, you can simply trash the “shared.xml” file and be sure to empty your trash, before reopening Skype up again. Skype will simply make a new file and you can make another attempt.

If you want to disable the echo cancellation, just add in <EC>0</EC> right below the <AGC>0</AGC>

Good luck and Happy Hacking!

Aug
18

Well as I will be doing a news section on the podcast, I thought it was also fitting to cover some news here on the blog.  I will still be doing my other segments “Packard’s Tips” and “Packard’s Gripes” as well.

This week as you all know (unless you have been under a rock someplace) that the new Mac OS X 10.6 has come out. Now with it’s shelf life less than a week old, there are already rumblings of an update to 10.6.1! From what I have uncovered so far, that this latest update has been due to the multitude if program incompatibilities and on some systems a dreaded Spinning Beach Ball Of Death (SBBOD)!  One thing that Apple has been known for is pressing forward with their operating systems to keep bringing us closer the point of something that only really Apple knows for sure where it want to bring it’s users to their way of thinking or way using technology around us.  Recently, I also uncovered that with this latest update, according to someone that that I spoke with that works with Apple, during the install of 10.6 should you have to force the install to restart by rebooting or suffer a power outage, it will have a better chance of picking up and getting messed up during this upgrade.  I have also been hearing and from my own personal experiences with the “new OS” that a lot of the upgrades are so far under the hood that a lot of code will have to be rewritten to take advantage of this new system. Other than a few items, that have been “polished” there isn’t really too much new with this “update” from Apple. Is there a reason to rush out and get this latest update?  I would have to say no.  Was the price right for the amount of upgrades, perhaps, but by all accounts it isn’t a “new” OS but one that feels more like a service pack.

What are your thoughts on the latest “update” from Apple? Love it, hate it, or just waiting on the side for the fluff to settle?

Aug
18

I don’t usually gripe about much, but one thing that always gets me steamed up is when people give out bad tech advice to people who know even less and don’t know any better.  What’s worse is when it comes from people that are working in a store that sells hardware or software for computers!  I can excuse the people that work at places like Wal-Mart as I don’t know for sure if they really get trained for the area and are all over different parts of the store.  I have had this happen a few times when I have been in the Wal-Marts in the past, and happen to catch these errors, and the sales personal pretty much walked away at that point because I guess they knew that they were already out classed by my tech knowledge and had other customers to attend to.  What really burns me though, is when I go in to the Best Buy stores and this happens. As this past weekend the day after Snow Leopard had arrived, and I was killing some time with my daughters waiting for the local Mac store to open.  As I was meandering up and down the isles looking for a N.A.S. (Networked Attached Storage) router, and as I happened to overhear a sales associate telling some poor unsuspecting customer some really bad information about how to switch out cable modem.  He started out by saying that she could just hook it up and go; when she asked if she had to inform the cable company of the switch he said, “No, there isn’t any need.” At that point I was screaming in my head and as I cannot stand people getting bad information, I had to interject, at that point the sales personal started to actually disagree with me!  However, as I had already gone through this with a former neighbor I had many years ago, I already had my arguments all in order and at that point the sales associate tried to show me away by asking me what I was looking for and directed me to an area where he knew the item I was looking for wasn’t there, or maybe again, he was wrong about that as when I went to look again after being down that area, I thought I might had missed it.  However, it wasn’t there so I headed back to the area where I would have guessed it should have been, but they apparently stopped selling them at this time.  I happened to run in to the woman again with out the sales associate around and apologized for butting in on her conversation and explained that I really don’t like how people go out with bad information.  She smiled and then said, “That’s ok, I’m done with him anyway.”   Not sure this is really a PC or Mac issue here, but she was carrying a Mac Airport Express at the time, so I guess I wanted to be sure she was going to get the real help she needed and not blame her computer at home, which I guessed, was a Mac LOL.

Anyway, if you are or working in a store that sells technology, please at least KNOW what your talking about and if you don’t, please get someone that does or work in another part of the store. Like the TV’s or stereos!

Aug
18

Ok, I usually post tips, but this time I thought I would post something fun I just came across. If you have or are using Vista, this song is for you!

Song Vista Drivers

Got my parts, got what I need
Just gotta put it together
Active cooler and some new thermal grease
So my new CPU will not fry

Verse 2
So many times, I’ve clocked it too fast
Hot swapped my BIOS for glory
But not again — I’m learned so much since then
I just hope that I don’t cause a fire

Chorus A
When I find all the drivers that’s when I’ll know it’s right
I’ve got all the components I desire
I’ve got new SATA cables and some cold cathode lights
But I don’t know if I have the right
Vista drivers

Verse 3
Motherboard mounts in the case
I put in two brand new hard drives
Don’t have to wait, ’cause they’re both solid state
Add two more, now that’s four, in RAID 5

Chorus B
But I still need the drivers or those hard disks won’t write
Without them, this whole project’s looking dire
I’ve installed several RAM sticks and the optical drive
But they won’t do me much good without
Vista drivers

Verse 4
Final piece falls into a place
Lean and mean, power hungry
DLLs have been giving me hell
With a flick of the switch it’s alive

Chorus C
It came down to the drivers, though they put up a fight
I can see my performance soaring higher
Now with my best screwdriver I’ll make everything tight
And I finally found all the right
Vista drivers

Those damned Vista drivers
Nvidia drivers
Creative sound drivers
I hate Vista drivers
They’re still Longhorn drivers

Aug
18

So you finally, decided that it’s time to go out and buy a new computer, but what to buy? The old argument of “I’ve had a PC running XP for so long and from what I’m told they don’t have anything available that I can do on it.” Well I’m here to tell you that many of the programs that you have on the PC can and are available on the Mac.

The argument “No writing programs”

This is a big misconception on the Mac. The Mac has built in a word processor called TextEdit, while this program is good for writing down notes, typical text files, and you can even use it for HTML editing (if your good at hands on HTML editing) .

The argument “When I send these files to some one they can’t read them!”
This is also not true. There are many ways with this FREE text editor that you can save your files so that your friends, relatives, and colleagues. The formats that this simple little FREE (Did I mention FREE?) word processor can save to:

Rich text format (RTF)
RTF with attachments (RTFD)
HTML
Web Archive
OpenDocument Text (odt)
Word 2007 format (docx)
Word 97 Format (doc)
Word 2003 XML Format

This includes tabs, text formatting and yes even your pictures in the documents!

If you are dead set on giving Micro$oft more of your hard earned cash, you can always get Microsoft Word for Mac.
It has most everything that the MS Word on the PC side that you can think of.  There are so many there I would be writing a book if I were to get them, all down here.

The argument “What about chatting? My friends are on XYZ! I want to talk to them!”

Yes Virginia, you can also talk to all your friends and even do it all from one Application!

On the Mac, another FREE (There’s that word again!) application, called Adium. You can find this at http://adiumx.com. With this you can talk to your friends on several networks that are the more common and even some that are unusual!

This one program covers the following: AOL, Jabber, MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, Bonjour, Facebook, Gadu-Gadu, Google Talk, IRC (Interenet Relay Chat) Laconica, LiveJournal, Lotus Sametime, MobileMe, MySpaceIM, Novell GroupWise, QQ, SIP / SIMPLE, Twitter, Yahoo! Japan.
Now some of these you wont even have any idea what they are and some you will. This list is from the beta one that is out that only works under Mac OS 5.0 and higher., however the current version does handle about 99% of the ones listed above.

The argument “I don’t know what anti-virus programs to get for it!”

Well let me set your mind at ease here. Quite simply.. You don’t need any! However, if you really feel you want to get an anti-virus for your Mac, there are a few suggestions that I can make.

The following are free:

iAntivirus This works with Mac OS X 5.0 and up http://www.iantivirus.com
ClamXav This works with older Macs http:// http://www.clamxav.com
This one also finds most windows viruses so you don’t pass them on to your PC buddies!

The argument “There aren’t any programs for the Mac!”
If I were to name every site and every program that was available for the Mac, You would be reading this list like it was the book “War and Peace”.

A great place to get you started to finding free and other programs is the site http://versiontracker.com

This is a great place for a new user to start browsing for applications. They cover PC stuff as well!

The argument “The Mac costs to much!”

This has been an argument since the days of Mac & Windows became rivals. There is an old saying and I don’t know anyone that won’t agree with this “You get what you pay for.”   PC makers are using cheaper and cheaper parts for their computers, we all know this but are afraid to really admit it. When the cost of parts goes down, the cost also goes down, but that means there is little or no customer support for that computer.  Many PC makers have gone this route, and if you don’t believe me, call your customer service department and just try to get someone that can really help you without pulling out your hair!  Also with the Mac there are a lot of programs that come already with the OS that are free (Free? AGAIN?) and not the demo stuff that works for a week or less then quits working, but full working versions of great software, making movies, basic photo editing and as I mentioned before the word processor. I have only touched on just a few of the applications that come with the OS. There are oh so many more!

Argument “I won’t know how to use a Mac! Aren’t they like all weird and stuff?”

Using a Mac is not any harder than using the Windows environment you’re already used to. There are a few little differences in the GUI (Graphical User Interface) but they are minor and if you know how to switch a computer on, you can handle using a Mac.

A few subtle differences are you will notice that instead of closing your windows on the right side, you close windows on the left side. Here you have a ”Dock” vs. a “Start bar”.  Also instead of clicking on your start bar your applications that you want to use many times can be put in the dock or removed easily by dragging them to it.  Go up to the top of the screen to control stuff vs. going to the bottom.

I could go on, but if you really want to get a feel for the differences between the PC you have now and a Mac you could have or are considering getting, you can visit your local Apple store or neighborhood Mac fan boy. I’m sure they will be glad to show you their Mac!