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2006/11/30 HP Photosmart C6180 vs Brother MFC-665CW for linux and others
π 2006-11-30 22:28 by Merlin in Public

I had been looking for a multi function fax/flat bed scanner/copier/printer, with ethernet and wireless support.
First, when I happened to stop by Office Depot, I saw the HP Photosmart C6180 , which seemed to be a decent device. It was a bit expensive ($300), but I figured that if it came from HP, it would have to have great linux support, so I bit the bullet and bought it.
Well, after several hours of configuring it, and setting up linux to talk to it, I came to the conclusion that I was somewhat disappointed. In the process, I also had to upgrade my windows/vmware image to W2K SP4 (I had no service packs before in order to keep the image as small as possible) so that I could try some of the windows software for the scanner.
Printing did work pretty easily, but I never got faxing to work except from the command line and on the printserver, not remotely. Sending jobs through the printing system just would hang forever and I couldn't find an easy way to just use the fax as a printer from windows. As for scanning, it just wasn't supported on linux and required windows to work, which is quite disappointing. HP did put out the hplip software suite, but outside of a spiffy control panel that doesn't do that much for me, it didn't get faxing working, and it didn't support scanning...
A few days later, I ran into the Brother MFC-665CW at Fry's while going to buy something else, and it turns out that office depot had it too, but helpfully was hiding it in the back and just did not feel the need to display it. That's disappointing because the unit only cost $150, supported everything the HP did, also had a build in answering machine and phone handset, and also had full linux support , including for scanning over IP. Go figure... Anyway, I ended up returning my HP Photosmart to them, and got the Brother MFC instead.
I still need to spend some time to configure it, but it looks like a much better choice for half the price.
Sorry HP, but your product was too expensive, inferior, and you even tried to sell out linux for your own benefit this past month.
2006/11/26 Monterey Day 3: Point Lobos Hiking
π 2006-11-26 21:25 by Merlin in Hiking

Day 3 was poised for rain, but we hopefully still had some time before that
started, so we decided to try one of our two planned hiked, and walk around Point Lobos, and see China Cove, Bird Island, and others ( download GPS track )




The hike itself is more of a walk: the terrain is really very easy, and we only covered a few miles and stayed 3 hours or so, but that was enough to see the main views. It is indeed a very nice coastline
Rain came down soon after we made it back to the car, so we were ok (I was tracking the storm with near realtime satellite nexrad data from weather underground on my cellphone, and we knew it was about to fall on our heads and got back to the car just before it started raining. Yeah for technology! :)















The other pictures from the Point Lobos Hiking are here
2006/11/25 Monterey Day 2: 3 Cold Dives
π 2006-11-25 21:22 by Merlin in Diving

While in Monterey, it made sense to at least try to dive there. I kind of prefer my water at 29 to 30 degrees C, and didn't quite look forward to 14-16 degree water, but eh, it was worth giving it a shot :)
The first dive was a bit short, and with pretty bad visibility, but it was a reasonable intro dive for that morning











The next two dives were going to be boat dives on the Silver Prince. The first was a depth one, down to 25 metres or so and it was pretty freaking cold, despite the multiple layers of wet suit, booties, gloves, and hood :)
The second dive was off shore in kelp, and that was more manageable. I had the pleasure to be visited by a seal that came nibbling on my fin for a few seconds before taking off















The other pictures from the dives in Monterey
2006/11/24 Monterey Day 1: Moss Landing Kayaking
π 2006-11-24 20:42 by Merlin in Hiking

Jen and I went for a 3 day weekend around Monterey after Thanksgiving.
The first day was spent Kayaking around Moss Landing, and seeing the numerous birds and sea life that hangs out around there (Pelicans, Sea Otters, Seals, Sea Lions, and more).
While it doesn't really count as hiking, it still felt like close enough considering that the idea was still to enjoy wildlife while self powering your way through it :)




That was actually quite nice, especially when we saw a sea otter carrying a baby on her belly. We went up to the end of the estuary, then had a nice picnic at a landing spot, and headed back.
The "interesting" part of the trip was when the rudder controls that broke, and when one of the passengers who happened to be carrying tools, and zip ties among other things, was able to put them to use to fix the kayak and allow for the trip to continue :)





















The other pictures from the Kayaking in Moss Landing Slough with its wildlife are here
2006/11/22 IFR flight/training
π 2006-11-22 21:58 by Merlin in Flying

After a 2-3 week break to rest from my IFR training, I scheduled my first training flight in a Trinidad TB20 in light IFR conditions.
The idea was to transition to a different plane, and learn the avionics. Unfortunately, the GPS screen didn't work that well so it was hard to learn from it. I'll likely need at least another time to get things right, but still, it was an interesting flight, except for the almost one hour spent on the ground in Santa Rosa while waiting for an IFR clearance to go back.








A few more pictures from the TB20 IFR flight .
The next day, I also got some training in a G1000 simulator to get used to the avionics, in preparation for C182/G1000 IFR training later.
2006/11/17 430 at Thunderhill
π 2006-11-17 08:01 by Merlin in Cars

I can't believe it had been more than a year since I had last gone to the track, but with my miata requiring more love^H^H^H^Hhelp than I can give it, and my mostly flying machines that actually do have wings, I guess it just had been that long.
After the last (I'm sure minor, but annoying nonetheless) fuel delivery issue with my miata, and my not being a mechanic, I decided to call it quits, and sell my miata. That gave way for another car, and it was more than time to go back to the track to try it out.

Since I was still half on European time, getting up at 05:30 to go to the track wasn't that hard, so I just left that morning for Thunderhill. Weather was not that great, and the 505 raceway was fogged to the ground, with a police escort enticing everyone to stay below 70mph anyway (which I got all the way to thunderhill, somewhat slowing me down (about 2:15-2:20 to get there)








There were lots of varied cars in attendance, including some fast lotuses, and a Radical racecar (that one was fast).







hey, they look like they almost belong together :)


Unfortunately, my brand new brake pads barely lasted 100 miles of track, and I decided to call it quits while I still had enough pads left to go home





Although good time was had nonetheless.... The car felt solid and fairly forgiving, even with the traction control in race mode, and while I didn't get very exact times, I got down around 2:10 or so. I know the car can be pushed harder, but I'd rather work my way up to it while keeping it with the shiny side up :) and I also felt the car's weight a bit in the turns, but especially in braking, where I found that the stock pads didn't actually do that good a job stopping the car fast in my opinion (especially if they wear out that quickly in addition to that). Well, I'll see what can be done next time.





My timings were a bit sloppy as I tried to use my GPS watch as an automated timing device, but it just didn't work that well this time. I think a running/biking watch wasn't really designed to work at 120mph+, and pinpoint a loop point ot reset the lap timer at that speed :)

Drive home was uneventful, although not that fast due to generally too many people on the road, and left lane camping (2h25 or so).

You can look at the rest of the pictures of the TEAM event at Thunderhill
2006/11/11 10 Years of Armin: Armin Only @ Ahoy, Rotterdam
π 2006-11-11 12:50 by Merlin in Clubbing

To celebrate his tens years as a DJ and producer, Armin did another Armin Only at Ahoy, with 9.5H of DJ'ing this time (9H last year). The 12,000 tickets sold out weeks in advance, but luckily, my Dutch nephew Justin, was able to find a few for me.

Since I was tired of missing the best trance parties in Holland, and that's while living next to one of the 5 US cities that at least gets some trance and visits of the best DJs once in a while, most people in the US aren't that lucky. So, I decided to start going to Holland for the top parties, and Armin Only seemed like a perfect way to start :) (yes, it was an expensive trip, but it was well worth it)



It took a while to get everyone in, even with a reasonably speedy search. I get a bit annoyed when they steal my water at the entrance to later sell me some quite tiny unsold bottles from DanceValley 2005, but whatever I guess... Eh, at least they had enough sense not to disallow cameras like at Monster Massive. Thanks for that.



My cousin Justin properly set me up for the evening :)




a few people showed up indeed, and lines went outside in the rain


For the first 3 hours, Armin hid behind a drape, and spun from behind it, probably as a way to tease the crowd a bit, and I'm sure it also gave him the opportunity to get a potty break and get something to eat, because at 01:00, 3 hours into his set, the drape went down, and he didn't go anywhere and spun for us for the next 6.5H, all the way to 07:30 (indeed totalling 9.5H).




Armin had some nice surprise guests, like Justine Suissa who performed several of her well known songs ( Burning Desire , Wall of Sound , and Sky Falls Down ). Justine just did the best performance hands down again, you could tell she had all her soul in it, and she does have an amazing voice.
That said, Isle the Lange sung a nice track, The Great Escape , and Susanna was also here, singing Shivers .







Justine Suissa is just amazing: great voice and great performances




Isle the lange


Susanna from Shivers


Of course, let's also not forget Armin's brother, Eller van Buuren, who was the first performer, and played some nice tracks on an electric guitar ( clip 2 ). Other welcome guests included Rank 1 , playing live .





Eller Van Buuren playing the guitar for us


Rank 1, playing live





Many people stayed until the end (luckily it was easy for me, because my body was still on california time, i.e. the party was more or less daytime for me). Armin finished with Words for Love , and the never dying Motorcycle, as the Rush Comes ( clip 1 , clip 2 , and clip 3 ).
Armin then went to thank the crowd as much as he could without getting mobbed (the one guy he got up on the stage with him was very enthusiastic and would almost not let Armin go :), and we headed home in a grey, overcast, morning, with memories of one of the best parties ever.
So what's all this about PvD still being #1 with his self DJ'ing laptop? Come on, Armin deserves the #1 spot already, by a long shot. He also deserves an award for being the only DJ to have done close to 300 weekly mixes. Just like ASOT 250, thanks for the last 10 years Armin, and we're looking forward to the 10 next ones, since Trance will not die :)
In a word like in a thousand: "Armin, thank you"

Anyway, you can have a look at the rest of the pictures and videos of Armin Only at Ahoy to get a small taste of the event (before you Email me to ask, the videos require the divx video plugin as microsoft video at similar bitrates is pretty poor)




While I thought to myself that the lasers and decors were poor during the first 3 hours, before the curtain went down, they were quite nice after that. Very colorful indeed




Y'all go home now, you hear? :)

2006/11/05 Good bye kittens
π 2006-11-05 23:54 by Merlin in Cats

I had to give up the adorable little kittens I was fostering until they were ready for adoption, because Jennifer turned out to be very allergic to them unfortunately.
Five did eventually get used to them, and while he usually kept them at arm's length when they started getting a handful for him, all in all they were doing ok.
Oh well, it was still nice and fun while it lasted, and hopefully things should be ok after I got the house professionally cleaned.





2006/11/05 I'm an instrument rated pilot
π 2006-11-05 06:28 by Merlin in Flying

After about 3 weeks of hard work, I finally got my instrument rating on my first take. It was unfortunately delayed by a couple of days due to IFR weather on my check ride day (yes, it's a bit ironic, I know, but it comes down to the fact that an examiner would rather not fly in real IFR conditions with a student who could make mistakes that could then be fatal).
Turns out that on the friday I was supposed to take my check ride on, I wasn't feeling that great anyway, due to a bad night, so while I felt adequately trained, I wasn't really looking forward to the flying portion that day anyway. The oral/ground portion was a breeze though, as I had studied more than enough for it :)
The check ride ended up happening on a sunday morning (which is unusal, but Mike Shiflett was nice enough to accommodate me, since my PIC instructor was due to fly back to Southern California that day), and it went well.
I think I was about as focussed as I have ever been, and flying was barely 1.4H (Localizer at hayward on backcourse for a hold, vectors back to localizer, down to minimums, vectors to Moffett ILS, ILS with GPS turned off (not that I cared, I didn't need it) down to minimums and missed approach/left turn by 101, ending with unusual attitudes (which were mild in my opinion), partial panel navigation and vectors back to PAO GPS 31.
I have to give it to Mike for having his check ride routing down to a science and the shortest you can do while still remaining legal. In the end, I made one major mistake, which was to not triple check the ever varying throttle position on the ILS approach, which ended with me doing the approach at over 100knots instead of 90knots. That said, I kept the needles where they were supposed to be for long enough, so it worked out anyway.
In the end, I just passed my Instrument Rating with 40H instrument time, 0.3H actual, and 9H ground trainer. It took about 10 days of reading the books and preparing for the test and another 10 days for the flight training.
If some of you are looking for a DPE and don't know, Mike Shiflett is not only an all around nice guy, but he will really try to give you the quickest and therefore most painless check ride while fulfilling the FAA requirements.



Yes, I got nine hours of flying on this, but it actually works if you're not going to see anything outside anyway












doh, I really wanted to take a picture with my instructor, and DPE, but that's all I got


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