Archive for the 'reviews' Category

My Dad Loves His Natural Latex Mattress

Two posts ago, I posted a video from Lee Carter talking about toxins in your bed, how that was evil, and a better way: natural sap-of-a-tree latex mattresses. I got one for my dad. Here’s how it came in the mail:

Well, it’s been a few months, and he loves it! Unfortunately, we didn’t get any pictures as we were putting it together. 🙁

BUT… we will get some pics as we assemble mine! Unfortunately, I haven’t ordered mine yet. But I will, just as soon as I save up some more dough. These mattresses ain’t cheap, but we’ll never need to replace ’em, so that’s going to save us lots of money over the long term.

Good groves: Magnatron 2.0

Goood groooves!:

I bought it:

Not the vinyl but the digital download, then I downloaded the whole thing in FLAC.

Groovy, man!

Solo: A Star Wars Story

I don’t see what all the griping is about, Solo: A Star Wars Movie was AWESOME!!

I loved it so much I’m going to see it again, and then buy it once it comes out on Bluray.


908 hours of Neverwinter playtime

908 hours of Neverwinter playtime

Years ago, I tried out Neverwinter with some friends.  It was okay, not great.

Since then, I’ve jumped into the game from time to time.  I’ve built up two characters to the current level cap, level 70.

Getting your character to level 70 is easy.  Even playing a few hours per night like I did, it won’t take more than a week or so to level up all the way.  The first few areas/regions, starter levels, are designed to be easy on your character (at that level) and to make it easy to level you up.

After that, however… things get a bit more serious.  What do I mean?  I mean you won’t be able to do JACK SQUAT without POURING MONEY into the game.

The game is free-to-play, which means free-to-suck.  You can play for free as much as you want, but you won’t get anywhere.  I’ve been playing for well over 900 hours, and both my characters get their asses kicked wherever they go (except the starter levels).

So… after many, many hours of frustration, my advice regarding Neverwinter: don’t bother.  There are many other games which are much more fun.

Hawk’s Shirt of the Day 2014-02-24

SAME Recordings

SAME Recordings

I listen to SAME Radio almost every day.  Steve Anderson & Chris Breame focus on the best new and forthcoming uplifting trance & progressive.  I love it!

So, naturally, I had to get the shirt.  Sadly, the online store which sold it to me no longer stocks shirts of any kind.  Booo!

Steve and Chris are both fun and creative guys.  Examples:

From Ep 252, Steve: “Let me check the menu and itinerary.  We have… Progressive Goodness, tick. Tremendous Tranceness, also tick. Scottish Accent thrown in for good measure… Yep, we’re all sorted and ready to go!”

From virtually any episode hosted by Chris:  “And now here’s a track mixed by MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”  (Chris is the type to never let an opportunity for shameless self-promotion go to waste.)

Black YouTube

I got tired of squinting against the annoying glare of YouTube’s glaringly bright white background.  This is how it looks to me now:

Black YouTube

And here’s how the video-player page looks like:

Black Youtube video player page

Pure awesomeness!!!

How to make YouTube black:

1) Install a Firefox plugin called StylishWatch a video on how it works.  Be sure to click on the “Restart now” link/button in Firefox after it’s installed.

2) After Firefox has restarted, install Black Youtube by Panos on  You won’t need to restart Firefox after installing any styles.

3) Visit Youtube and bask in the black awesomeness!

4) OPTIONAL: Open up a new tab and go to:  Browse around.  They’ve got alternate styles for lots of sites.


Virtru.comI still remember the good ol’ days of trying to use GPG over email… trying to get my Dad to install a GPG plugin into Thunderbird… trying to get his own public/private key pair generated… trying to import my own public key into his keyring… trying to get a message encrypted and/or decrypted one way or the other… and in the end, it was just unworkable.

Now we’ve got Virtru!  It’s a browser plugin.  It encrypts/decrypts right in your browser and works with popular web-based email services such as Gmail.  I use it with gmail.  Once you install it, all ya gotta do is compose a new message and click the “Activate” button.  That’s it!  Try it:

CenturyLink DSL service


Centurylink DSL connection 50Mbps/20Mbps

I’ve got two new DSLs from CentryLink, and they ROCK!  Both of them are 40Mbps down / 20Mbps up (even though the modem reports 50Mbps down).

Our first DSL consisted of a wire poking through the hole in the wall, just like that black coax cable line in the picture.  BTW, I cancelled our CableOne internet line as it was not as fast as our new DSLs, plus CableOne doesn’t want our money (they wouldn’t allow more than one line per house).  I would think that a company would want my money, but CableOne doesn’t.  Plus, they advertise that their cable internet service is 10x faster than DSL when it’s actually slower.

For the 2nd DSL, the field technician installed that three-jack box in the picture, top-left.  Click the pic for a larger resolution.  The top jack was our original DSL line, running at around 40Mbps down / 5Mbps up.

For the 3rd DSL, the field technician just had to hook up the jack and we were in business.  After that, I cancelled the 1st DSL line, as it was the slowest.  But at one point, we had FOUR hi-speed internet lines coming into our house.  Now we just have the two DSL (green wires), one for me and one for my roomies.

The line is so fast that I can’t really max it out.  Every speedtest that I run doesn’t go near the line’s max.  Running two speedtests at the same time using different computers on the same line gets near the line’s max.  It’s so fast that I can upload to my hosted server faster than it can receive.  I love modern technology!

Centurylink speed test 40Mbps/20Mbps

Psyko Carbon vs. Zalman 5.1 surround-sound headphones

Psyko Carbon & Zalman side by sideShort review: Zalman wins.

Long review: Welll…

Ever since I saw this video, I’ve been wanting a pair of these Psyko 5.1 surround-sound headphones. The video explains the tech of how they worked and it looked like a good design. However, there are two major drawbacks (and one minor drawback) with the Psyko system.

Front of Psyko ampPsyko major problem #1: The sound is not as good. Why? My theory is because the sound originates in drivers on top of the headset, and then this sound needs to travel down through sound tubes, or channels, to your ears. I’m thinking that this is causing the mid-range to be reduced, leaving the headphones sounding “flat-ish” and “tinny”. The Zalmans, on the other hand, sound rich and full.

Back of the Psyko ampPsyko major problem #2: The amp generates a low “buzzing” sound, or line-noise, when the volume is cranked all the way up. Why do I need the volume cranked all the way up? Because the volume in Skyrim is low and there is no way to crank it any higher. I’ve searched. There is a way to do it in other operating systems, but not mine. Besides, in an amp, I do NOT want it generating line-noise at any volume level. The Zalman’s don’t need an amp.

Psyko minor problem #1: The headrest hurts the top of my head after about a half hour. No good for gaming, and no good for movies. If they had placed a wide band across the headrest, it would probably have been fine. But instead, they’ve got five narrow pads under each speaker driver set, and this puts too much pressure into too small of an area–at least for me. I can wear the Zalman’s all day and half the night (and have, playing Skyrim).

There is a feature of the Psyko Carbons where you can lever open the side of the earpiece so that you can hear what’s going on outside the headset. I think this is a waste. When I’ve got a headset on, I don’t want to hear anything else in my environment. On the contrary, I want my environment isolated. This may be contributing to the “tinny”, non-rich sound.

Good things about the Psyko system:

Psyko goodness #1: The spatial-positioning is excellent. Things which are in the rear channels really sound like they’re behind you. Front and center are also excellent. This is the whole point of a “surround-sound” system, and the Psyko system delivers.

Psyko goodness #2: The amp has a light for each channel. This is cool when listining to 5.1 surround-sound, and also useful for debuggin.

Creative Sound Blaster X-FiAs part of my quest for awesome 5.1 surround-sound, I picked up this cute little Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi. For some reason, the surround-sound card built-in to my motherboard lost it’s right channel, so now I just use the X-Fi and it works very well. The software that comes with it is excellent.


Zalman ZM-RS6FM Virtual 5.1-channel stereo headphones with microphone at This is my affiliate link.

Youtube video explaining how the Psyko system works.

Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi at Creative’s online store.

iPic Gold Class Theaters in Pasadena

iPic Gold Class Theaters in Pasadena are amazing, rich, posh, and fun. Also very expensive, but if you’ve got the coin, and if it’s for a special occasion, it’s well worth it.

What was the special occasion? My roomie’s birthday. He loved it!

It’s underground. Enter from Miller Alley, get your tix and go down two escalators. Once underground, you show them your ticket and either take a seat in the Salt lounge or go right in to your theater. You can order up a drink, or go for a full meal. Yup, Salt is a full restaurant and bar. The food is excellent! My roomie reported that the drink he got was outstanding.

We got there early so we ate in the lounge while we waited for our theater to empty out. Because my roomie got a drink I became the designated driver. I’m always the designated driver.

These theaters are small, only holding about 40 people. The seats are huge cushy recliners (look for the buttons on the inside-side of the chair) with huge armrests, blanks, pillows, and a storage compartment under one armrest. All seats are paired up, and there is a small cocktail table between and in front, with a green-lit button which changes to red when you push it to get their attention.

Inside the theaters you can order food or drinks or desert or whatever and they bring it to you. The service is excellent!

I did not take any pictures when inside. Why? 1) It’s pretty dark. I would have had to bring my regular camera with the flash built-in and I didn’t. 2) All pictures on the website are accurate. Check it out.

Carrier IQ

You’ve probably heard about the fuss. A company called Carrier IQ developed some spyware for cellphones which reports everything you do, text, surf, etc, on your phone. It started when an Android developer, Trevor Eckhart, noticed the traffic and reported it. Carrier IQ tried to silence him. He brought in some big guns with the EFF. Check it out:

Software maker sorry for trying to silence security researcher:

Assange: ‘iPhone, BlackBerry, Gmail users – you’re all screwed’:

Does your smartphone run Carrier IQ? Find out here:;content

I have five words:

Class Action Lawsuit!

… and …

Criminal Prosecution.

As I’m on a rooted Android system, Cyanogenmod, I don’t have Carrier IQ installed and never have. I do recommend you get an Android smartphone, root it, and install Cyanogenmod. It’s totally free and well worth the trouble. In fact, you can get a fully unlocked and rooted phone with Cyanogenmod already on it from people on Ebay. That saves you from even doing the work.

On a related note, I do recommend you get the app Lookout from Lookout Labs. For a free app, it’s pretty darn impressive! They also have an app which can detect the Carrier IQ rootkit/spyware called Carrier IQ Detector.

Lindsey Sterling is Amazing

Ever seen a Violinist rock out? This is the first video I saw Lindsey Sterling in (she can dance while she’s playing her violin!):

She makes me smile just by her enthusiasm alone! Check this out (she’s playing all three parts):

And she can dance while playing her violin on stage live!:

I love this song. Here’s the official video for it:

She did a half-time show at a basketball game:

Search YouTube for “Lindsey Sterling” for more. She’s got her own channel here:

Kindle Fire

Yayyy! I got my Kindle Fire and it’s pretty darn awesome. You get tremendous value for your money.

Well done, Amazon! It looks like someone at Amazon read my open letter to Jeff Bezos.

It has a nice, solid feel. The back is a soft, slightly rubbery material which makes it not slide around the desk when you’re sliding your finger across the touchscreen.

Speaking of the touchscreen, it is very sensitive and very responsive. I like it a lot.

The screen is very bright, clear, and sharp. The colors are rich; the lights are light and the darks are dark. Very nice. I could watch a movie on this.

Speaking of movies, you’ve got instant access to everything Amazon has to offer, which is impressive. That’s nice. Also YouTube vids work very well, even the hi-def ones.

The system is fast and responsive with very few delays.

Reading books is nice. Reminds me of reading on my phone, but with a much bigger screen.

Now the bad stuff:

No Google Marketplace!

What app store do you get? Amazon’s app store. Most of my favorite apps are not on Amazon’s app store:

  • You want the Gmail app? You’re screwed. But you can get your Gmail via their web interface.
  • You want a different browser such as Opera? You’re screwed.
  • You want Google Maps? You’re screwed.
  • You want Catch so you can take notes? You’re screwed.
  • You want Google Translate (which speaks!)? You’re screwed.
  • You want the Google Talk app? You’re screwed, though you can get there via a their web interface.
  • You want the Google Calendar app? You’re screwed, though you can get there via their web interface.
  • You want an ssh client like Connectbot? You’re screwed.
  • You want a VNC client like AndroidVNC? You’re screwed, though they do have some other VNC clients which I didn’t bother with because I can’t pipe them over a secure SSH connection via Connectbot.

Shipping an Android device without the Google Marketplace is like selling you a car without any tires, wheels, or axles. The engine will run, but you won’t be able to go anywhere. It seems that Amazon is trying to make the device closed, when they should be trying to make it as open as possible. Once the device is open, then all the geeks will jump in and customize it. Once that happens, and people see what can be done with it, it will sell even more.

This first item, no Google Marketplace, is the most annoying; it cripples the device.

No card slot(s)

It’s got about 6.5 Gigs available out of the box. This is not enough to store all my media, but it’s a good start. If the device had a card slot (or two!), then I could buy lots of storage, load up those cards with all my crap, and put them into the device. Then I’d have my library (or a good portion of it) with me when I’m out of network range. Amazon may have made it too dependent on the network.

If you’re only going to use it for reading Kindle books, then there is no problem. But if you’re only going to use it for that, then get one of the e-paper versions. It will be cheaper and the battery will last longer.

Other Annoyances

No GPS, but I can live without that.

If they are not going to allow me to install Google Maps, it doesn’t much matter that the device doesn’t have a GPS receiver built in.

No cellphone network, but I can live without that, too.

I can get the Kindle Fire online when I’m on the road and away from wi-fi networks by turning on wireless tethering on my phone. Then my phone becomes a bridge between the cellphone networks and wi-fi for the Kindle Fire. It works, but it’s not fast enough to watch videos.

No camera, but I can live without that, too.

It’s an appealing idea to take pics on a device with such a large screen.

In Summary

I really like the device, but it could be so much more. Perhaps someone at Amazon will read this and make the Kindle Fire v2.0 even better?

I still think my cell phone is the best “tablet” available, but without the big screen. It’s Android, has Kindle for Android, B&N Nook for Android, and Google Books for reading, YouTube videos, a video player I found on Google Marketplace (Mobo Player) to play virtually any video I put on the micro SD card (yes, it has a card slot!), three music players I found on Google Marketplace (XiiaLive Lite, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn Radio) for my music (and for streaming music), a GPS receiver (Google Maps/directions!), digital compass, a camera dictionary + Google Translate (which speaks!), VoIP clients such as Sipdroid, Barcode scanner (it has a camera), Ustream (for both broadcasting and receiving), ShowMee, games such as NetHack and OpenCacheing for GeoCaching… I could go on and on.

So, it seems my Android phone (which is several years old now) is much more advanced than the latest slate from Amazon. I’m keeping my hopes up that the Amazon Fire v2.0 will be a truly outstanding dream device with Google’s Marketplace.

The RAVE Diet

After watching the video, I decided to get more info so I read the book. After that, I was sold. So I tried the RAVE Diet.

After having been (mostly) on the RAVE Diet for well over half a year, I can highly recommend it.

Go here and get the video plus the book:

The video is called “Eating”, and the book is called “The RAVE Diet”. You can order the DVD+book combo here:

I’m not making any money off this recommendation. The only affiliate program I belong to is the Amazon Associates program. But I’m not linking to the book on Amazon, I’m linking straight to the author’s site. Go there, get the video and the book. Watch the video first, it’s only 90 mins. If it seems to make sense to ya, read the book.

Note that you only need to read the first half of the book; the second half is nothing but recipes. If you’re really in to cooking, well then you’ll want to read the second half. I’m not so much in to cooking, so I skipped it.

I know so much more after reading the book. I feel like I know a big secret. Well, I guess that’s true. When I travel around and see what people are eating (and their sizes) I feel like I’m in on a really big secret. Actually, it kinda is a secret. Watch the video and read the book to see what I mean. I bet you’ll look at society differently.

Simple Mobile update

I forgot to post this update on what happened.

My monthly “re-up” date rolled around and, of course, Simple Mobile would not charge my card (because they don’t want my money) so they turned off my service. I tried, fruitlessly, many times, to re-up using their website. Their website constantly declined my card. My card worked fine with (they do want my money), PayPal (they do want my money as well), and other miscellaneous stores such as ThinkGeek (they also want my money).

But it seemed Simple Mobile didn’t want my money. I fear they’re going to be canceling a lot of people when their re-up dates roll around and they can’t charge any cards. I hope Simple Mobile stays in business because the phone I got works on the T-mobile network and I don’t really want to sign up with T-mobile.

Anyway, after several days of complete website re-up failure, and calling Simple Mobile (they could not help me either), I decided to swing through a local Simple Mobile store and see what they could do for me. Turns out, if you have cash, they can re-up right then and there. I didn’t have enough cash, so I couldn’t do it right then. But it’s nice to at least be able to pay for the service.

I went back again a few days later and paid with cash and was able to re-up via the store. The store called a special number, put in a special code, entered my phone number, then waited about 3 minutes (of silence), then it was done and my phone worked.

Here’s the best part:

The plan I was on was $60 / month. This was their “unlimited talk, text, and web” plan. I don’t know when it happened, but now their “unlimited talk, text, and web” plan is only $40 / month. I logged in to my account on their website (yes, that part worked), and switched my account from the $60 / month plan to the $40 / month plan and now I’m working again.

So because of all this trouble, I’m saving $20 / month. I’m really kinda happy that they didn’t automatically re-up me at the $60 / month level. Hopefully, they will have their website fixed next month so that I don’t have to go back to an actual store to re-up.

Simple Mobile doesn’t want my money

Very strange. I’ve been trying to pay Simple Mobile for my cell service for about a week now. They refuse to accept payment. When I call, they tell me to go to a store and pay with cash there; they don’t take payments over the phone.

Otherwise, I’ve been pretty happy with the company and the service. Not too much to complain about.

But when they actively refuse may payments, makes me wonder… Does this sound like a company that wants to succeed? Maybe they just have sooo many customers that they don’t need me?

Very strange. I don’t know what to do except hunt down a store and pay with cash.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One by Ernest ClineO M G! This book, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, is the greatest book of all time in any universe! And I’m not just saying that ’cause I like it. Well… okay, maybe I’m saying that ’cause I like it. Watch the video.

I rreeeaaaaaally like it! I just got done reading it. I don’t think I’ve ever read any book that fast in my entire life!

It’s about a gigantic contest for one billionaire’s fortune. But this one billionaire did NOT make it easy. Also, some well-funded asswipes are trying to cheat their way through the contest. They are trying to sort-of brute-force the contest via dishonorable means.

Where does all this take place? Inside the greatest “virtual reality” system ever not-yet developed called OASIS. Weeeelll… not ALL of the battle takes place inside the OASIS. There is actual, physical danger also. But mooostly it takes place inside the OASIS.

Ernest Cline: you are Tha Man! You are sooo goddamned Airwolf! I get almost every one of your 80s cultural references. Keep up the good work! MTFBWYA.

And one more thing…

I sooooo wanna play!!!

Ebay’s email policies suck!

I’ve had an email account with Ebay for a while. I nearly always register my username as ‘jedihawk’, if I can. Usually, it’s available. So I got ‘jedihawk’ as my Ebay username. That makes sense. I also have registered many email adresses over the years. I always go with

So I’m now trying to update my email address in the Ebay system and it won’t let me change it. Why? Because my Ebay username is the same as the first part of my email address.

This means I’m stuck. I can’t change my Ebay email address to any of my other email addresses. They all (or nearly all) start with ‘jedihawk’!

Ebay’s email policies suck!!! Ebay is trying to take my security out of my hands. They are trying to prevent me from “hurting myself”. Well, I’m a big boy now. I’ve been online for decades. I can spot a spoof email a mile away. I have never been fooled by a spoof email. Ebay doesn’t need to protect me. I can handle it all by my self. I’m all growed up ‘n stuff.

I called Ebay support and talked to a nice lady who tried to help, but was completely unable to. I explained how I was a “net veteran”, and how I was in no danger by having my email address the same as my username (like it already is!). She understood, but still could not update my email with Ebay.

So it looks like I’ll be missing out on Ebay emails soon, as my old email address is going away. Oh well, at least they have an internal email system I can access.

Ebay, if you’re listing: Your email “security” policies SUCK!! Grow a brain and stop trying to protect me. I can handle it myself. Put the responsibility where it belongs: with me! Rather than prevent me from updating my email address, put up a warning, then let me make the change!

Santrex sux

I heard an ad for Santrex internet hosting services on, so I thought I’d give ’em a try. Basically, here’s what I think:

Santrex sucks ass!

Why? Because they told me that my order was flagged as fraudulent and asked me to scan my credit card (both sides), AND scan my ID card (both sides), plus my billing address (which I already gave them), plus my phone (which I already gave them) and send it to them to prove I am not fraudulent!

Can you believe that? I told ’em, ummm, like no ‘n stuff; cancel my account and issue me a refund.

They asked my why I was “afraid to submit this information”. I told ’em, I’m sticking with ServerBeach, where they don’t flag me as fraud.

I was going to start with just one server with Santrex. If it worked out well, and the bandwidth was good, and the power stayed on and so forth, I would have increased the number of servers, plus I would have rented more expensive servers for some of my clients (with more bandwidth, more storage, etc.) But now, Santrex will not be getting any of my business.

I’m not saying Santrex is collecting ID’s and credit cards for fraudulent purposes. I’m not saying that at all. I’m only saying Santrex is not recommended. Go with instead.

HJ-Split Multi-Platform File Splitter

I can recommend HJ-Split.

I have used HJ-Split in Windows, to split up a huge file, and send it to a friend of mine on a Mac. There’s no way he is ever going to install it into his Mac, so I’m not sure if that version works, but HJ-Split works great in Windows.

I also used it to break up a large file and get it home and into my Linux system. I used the software to break up a 31G file into 1.5G pieces, put the pieces on my 32G USB drive, took it home, copied all the pieces into my Linux machine at home, and then pieced it back together again using the ‘cat‘ command. Worked perfectly.

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