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Using GFCI outlets where there could be water

There’s a good reason why you should use GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) outlets, and if you don’t it’s probably worthwhile to switch out the outlets with some.
Usually GFCI outlets look like the ones with three holes, with the left hole a bit bigger than the right. Usually these days, they have the little test and reset buttons in the middle of the outlets. As electricity flows from the right to left (hot to neutral), this is monitored by the GFCI outlet. If there is any changes at all, then the outlet turns off the hot. The reason is that if you happen to have a bare wire and have water leaking onto it, the reaction of the GFCI is not only much quicker but it is localized. It can prevent the flow of electricity at a faster rate since it can shut off at around 1/30 of a second.
Thus, this is great for water pumps with aquariums, or why most bathrooms in houses these days are outfitted with these particular outlets. So if you don’t have in your home, it’s probably a good idea to take a look at doing some outlet replacements just to increase a bit of safety factor.
Photo Credit: (iceplee)

HashMyFiles

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If you’re downloading files, then you know that sometimes corrupt transfers can totally ruin your day, especially if they are large files. Using a hash tool can help you make sure that the files got through okay. That’s where HashMyFiles comes in. This freeware tool from Nirsoft basically can generate the MD5 or SHA-1 hashes that you need to make sure that it’s consistent before and after the transfer. This application works for anything from Windows 2000 to Vista.

Metal Gear Solid 4 Bundle

This last Friday, I received my latest acquisition. The PlayStation 3 80 GB Metal Gear Solid 4 Pack. So far, I’ve held out in buying a next-generation console due to the fact that the price was incredibly high and there just wasn’t as much in incentives (all the great games were not out yet).
No more. Bundled with Hideo Kojima’s latest creation, Metal Gear Solid 4, this amazing game not only captivated the fan in myself, but it drew in others in the surreal graphics and directing. It truly is a joy to play when the game is practically an interactive movie. Which is also why I think Kojima should direct the live-action MGS film instead, but that’s a whole other story.
The bundle above is actually a bit difficult to get and it comes with an 80G Playstation 3, the new DualShock wireless controller, and a free download of Pain, alongside MGS4. The Limited Edition bundle comes with a few more discs (soundtrack, and MGS4 extras) and is painted gun metal gray along with a gun metal gray controller. But don’t stop now! If you’re not yet satisfied with the MGS4 offerings, there are still other bundles that you could get your hands on before they’re gone. Japan has released not only the usual black Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots [Premium Pack], but also a white one, and a satin silver edition.
This bundle deal is not only worth your while, but getting the system with the new DualShock 3 controller (all previous SixAxis controllers didn’t have the old Playstation shock vibration function) and a game that has been rated perfect scores in both Japan, Europe, and the United States, has got to be worth it. It’s actually more buying each separately, but we won’t go into that. It was a brilliant move to package it in limited release with one of the greatest series games. Sony XMB interfacing has also come a long ways, by copying the PSP interface and enhancing it further.
So what are you waiting for? You have got to be feeling that nostalgic want to start screaming: Snake? Snake!? SNAAAAAAAKKKKEE!

iTunes Saturday

Apple iTunes Apple iTunes

Building tables in css

One of the most basic things to learn outside of manipulating text in css, is manipulation of tables. There is always a need to know how to place something in the right place with the right margins.
Thankfully, the World Wide Web Consortium has a page that helps you understand not only how tables work in HTML, but their respective counterparts in css. This gives you the chance to set up the css version of a table.
It’s always good to know the basics. While css isn’t rocket science, it does tend to become a bit convoluted when you’re just starting out and there’s a whole lot of things in a stylesheet that you’ve never tinkered with before. Just take one thing at a time and master one at a time. It doesn’t take too long to fly around in css otherwise.

Movie Review: The Golden Compass

interestingly enough, when I rented this movie, I was expecting some really bashing messages due to the publicity from religious groups on how the book’s author (from which the movie is based) was an atheist and the trilogy itself had anti-Christian themes. But fearing not that this was anything but movie magic, I trudged on.
And boy was I not disappointed. This was a great children’s movie in a world of magic and technology. In fact, while the film’s technology in the make-believe world was a bit off, it did remind me of steampunk. Which is “oh-so-cool”.
To myself, this story was one of a little girl that was searching for answers in the world and trying to save her friends. She has the naivety that only child can get away with and boldness to question that only a child would. In fact, personally I found that if there was any film that would make Christian groups mad, it would have been Da Vinci Code (of which they did) but this movie was nothing more than something similar to Harry Potter.
Of course, if you don’t believe me, then go rent it for yourself. If you aren’t convinced that there is nothing there but to entertain children and adults alike, then there are more things that are concerning you than The Golden Compass. Myself, I don’t let it bother me that there are weird people out there that look for strange drawings of supposed sexual nature in Disney animation. It’s just a kid’s movie. Just sit back, and enjoy it.

Digital television in 2009 only effects over-the-air

dtv2009.gif Believe me. I didn’t know the answer to this either. A few of my friends during different conversations have asked about this so for clarification for anyone else that might have second thoughts about it.
Yes, in February of 2009, your analog televisions will not work. But with some caveats. This only effects over-the-air signals. That means, if you’ve been using “rabbit ears” (antennas) this whole time, then those won’t work anymore unless you get a digital tuner box. That’s why dtv2009.gov was created.
Now, if you use cable or satellite television, there shouldn’t be any changes. If you provider is telling you that you have to switch to “digital television” by 2009, then that’s actually wrong. I’ve actually had a couple friends come up and tell me that this is what they’ve been told by their friendly local cable provider’s customer service reps. If so, that’s extremely naughty to prey on people that thought they needed to change to digital television for “cable”.
So, if you didn’t know, now you know. If in doubt, go to the government website and take a looksie. And be reminded that it’s actually the air signals that are changing (the stuff you can get for free) and not any actual service providers.

Learning to speak proper Mandarin

From another contributor at 8A, Joz gives us, Two Chinese Characters, with John B. Weinstein and Carsey Yee.


I have got to say that on one level, it’s very amusing to see people take a different approach at teaching Mandarin. A quick look shows that Weinstein is actually not only a professor of Chinese but he is also fond of Asian theater. Ah ha! Probably thus the entertaining video on Youtube!
Definitely has peaked my interest. I’d also be interested to see if they teach in the simplified version, or the traditional version (since I was raised under traditional) and if there eventually would be spin-offs for different dialects. Hate to say it, but I’ve been putting off learning Cantonese even though I have a whole bunch of movies on my shelf. Give the love to subtitles.
Good stuff, eh? Good stuff.

Changing your Unix environment to use vi

Every so often, you’ll run into a Unix box somewhere that has the editor defaulted to sed. Yes, you heard me. sed.
Don’t ask me why. While sed is pretty powerful, it’s a lot easier to mess with vi, isn’t it. Well what’s missing is the change in the .profile. You need to edit the .profile so that there is the following commands:
EDITOR=vi
export EDITOR
That’s it. But these two commands will set it up so that your environment defaults to vi when you relogin or you re-launch the .profile.

USB Write Protector

scr_usbwp.png One of the most incredibly annoying things about Windows is the USB write protection that some drives use. Incredibly silly for a portable device type hardware product unless it’s a lock on the drive itself. But, apparently people do use the software lock since there is the USB Write Protector.
I can attest to feeling like I want to pull my hair out whenever I actually run across a USB drive that has this function turned on. This requires Windows XP SP2, so obviously it’s a function that came after SP2. Either way? Truly annoying. But if you need it, have fun.