Category Archives: Tivos & Other Technology

A list of our mp3 music collection

{click here for:}   Our MP3 Music Library List

Here is a list of our mp3 music collection, stored on a desktop PC,  usually played from itunes,  that will someday be converted on to a digital music player for music inside and out.  Eatch artist entry contains at least one, and in some cases many, complete albums.  But I am focusing the collection on breadth of an artists , rather than complete discographys of selected artists.

Tivo Season Passes 2009

We love our Tivo so much we got a second one.
Now there are two of them searching, tracking, selecting, and recording all the shows we may want to watch.
Waiting for when we have the time and interest to watch them, on our schedule.
This came at about the same time that Comcast pushed out their own digital systems requiring yet more equipment to set up, store, manage and make sure they stay connected in just the right way.
Requiring installatino of cable cards into our dual tuner Tivo. Mmmm recording two shows at once while watching a third, recorded show…..  But I digress.

This is really about re-organizing and updating the Season Passes in the Honey Monk house.
Putting them all down on a list makes it seem like we watch way too much TV. But these are shows that rotate through the season so less than half are actually on the schedule at any time. Plus we only record new shows (except for Divine Design).
Some we don’t get around to watching, some are can celled and I just need to clean them up, some are unseen in hopes of replacing the aforementioned can celled shows, but we may not stick with them. Anyway, in alphabetical order……..

Tivo 1

  • Cycology
  • Cyling
  • Devine Design
  • Diry Sexy Money
  • E.R
  • Eli Stone
  • Eureka
  • Get Color
  • Good Day Oregon Home & Garden
  • House
  • In Plain Sight
  • Mad Men
  • Middlemen
  • My Big Amazing Renovation
  • My Boys
  • Pushing Daisies
  • Soundstage
  • Stagers
  • Two and 1/2 men

Tivo 2

  • 30 Rock
  • Better Off Ted
  • Big Bang Theory
  • Brothers and Sisters
  • Burn Notice
  • Chuck
  • Desparate Houswives
  • Dollhouse
  • Everybody Hates Chris
  • Friday Night Lights
  • Game
  • Greys Anatomy
  • Kings
  • Leverage
  • Lie to Me
  • Life
  • Life on Mars
  • Lost
  • Medium
  • Monk
  • My Name is Earl
  • Psyche
  • Reaper
  • Samantha Who
  • Saturday Night Live
  • Terminator
  • The Mentalist
  • The Office
  • The Simpsons
  • Trust Me
  • Ugly Betty

How do I decide if I need a digital convert box?

Our son T is our has lots of expertise in retail electronics.
He is acting as a guest author today on “The Blog of GoLiNiel.

digital converter boxI’m sure you’ve heard by now that next year (midnight on February 17th) major TV stations will be changing from an Analog signal to a Digital one and how older TVs will need a Converter Box to continue to receive a signal. However, many of you may have questions about your TV and the switch, and hopefully I can answer some for you.

First off, a couple questions for you:

Do you have cable, satellite, dish, or some other form of pay-for-TV service?
Have you bought a TV with a digital tuner* in the last year?
Do you only use your TV to: watch VHS/DVD movies, play video games, or act as a computer monitor?**

*more on that later, if you’re unsure, keep reading.
**if you occasionally use it to watch a TV broadcast, you may want to keep reading.

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you DO NOT need a converter box, your TV will continue to function properly, and you should STOP READING (unless you’re truly interested or still not sure).

If you have cable, satellite, dish, or some other form of pay-for-TV service you DO NOT need a converter box.

Your VCRs, DVD players, computers, and game systems will continue to work as normal with, or without, the converter box. (Note on VCRs: You CAN use still your VCR with a converter box to record a program, but you CANNOT watch one program while recording another (see

An antenna and a digital tuner are required to receive over the air broadcasts (e.g. channels 2, 4, etc.). If your TV has a digital tuner you may continue to use your existing antenna; however, a digital antenna will give you a better signal.

If you purchased a TV within the last year, chances are that it already has a digital tuner in it, especially if it is an LCD or Plasma TV. To verify if your TV has a digital tuner, check the TV set itself, the box it came in, the instruction manual, or the manufacturer’s website; look for “digital tuner,” “digital input,” or “ATSC” [a type of tuner].

If it HAS a digital tuner and DO NOT have cable, satellite, dish, or some other form of pay-for-TV service, you DO NOT need a converter box, just an antenna.

If it DOES NOT have a digital tuner, and you DO NOT have cable, satellite, dish, or some other form of pay-for-TV service and are NOT going to subscribe in the future, you DO need a converter box and an antenna.

The Government has put in place a program to offer coupons to households to help cover the cost of the converter boxes (they’re $50). Each household is eligible for 2 coupons, valued at $40 each. To request the coupons, apply online at or call 1-888-DTV-2009 (1-888-388-2009). You must apply by March 31st, 2009.

I suggest you apply if you don’t have cable, satellite, dish, or some other form of pay-for-TV service; or even if you do, but not all of your TVs are hooked up to it. Even if you don’t watch TV much, it is still a good investment; $9.99 isn’t that much to pay, all things considered.

New tasks?…..New blog.

My position at work has changed focus slightly.
A portion of my responsiblities have always included manually testing software produced by our developers.
While I will still be including this testing amongt my other duties, a larger portion of my attention is to be directed towards coordinating our efforts in “Automation Testing”. This means finding ways to do large, difficult, or repetitive tasks programmatically, instead of manually.

So, this means that maybe I need to create another blog to track, discuss and document what we have done and learned in this bold new frontier.

That blog is tentatively titled: “Automating our QA, one step at a time

What flat panel monitor should I buy for my pc?

My sister writes: I am contemplating getting a flat monitor for my computer. Did some looking on line, but found that it’s hard to tell about picture quality etc when I’m not in person. I don’t have to have anything fancy or very big, but I would like something more sleek than the mini-truck now on my desk. What advice might you have on brands, stores, or all those fancy numbers that they use to describe their machines?

OK sis, this is a big territory, so here is more than you probably wanted to know……..

Ergonomic Adjustments:
It is important to be able to adjust the placement and angles of the monitor since you may be looking at the monitor for extended periods of time. Most monitors can be tilted and I would not recommend one that did not tilt.
Some of the best can also pivot. A cool feature but unless you cannot move the monitor base, not a necessary one.
A real nice feature to look for when choosing a monitor, is if the monitor can be raised or lowered, since monitor height is perhaps more important than monitor angle.

Picture Size:
As in TVs, size is the diagonal measurement of the screen. Generally speaking, monitor sizes will be 17 inch, 19 inch, 20 inch and 22 inch.
Prices will typically increase with size. Also, with each increase in screen size, text is easier to read and there is more desktop space in which to move and display concurrent applications. So maybe a valid selection criteria could be, how much do you want to spend. It is not necessarily true that increases in size correlates to increases in resolution and picture quality.

Extra Features:
Some monitors will come with extra features, that are simply a matter of preference.
Integrated speakers may save space if you don’t want speakers elsewhere. But integrated speakers may not be as good as ones you already have, or plan to get. Headphone jacks and USB ports could be nice if your pc unit is not placed conveniently. So don’t pay extra for features you already have in your pc.
Adjustment and power buttons are perhaps the most significant extra features decision. You might want to make a decision and the look and usability of the buttons, particularly the adjustment buttons. Yet the functionality of the power/menu buttons are going to be the so similar for most all models that differences in button design are inconsequential.

Product support:
Support can be important if there are issues with the performance of your monitor.
While most all major brands will have an adequate or comparable support process, some off brands may not.

Contrast Ratio is a way of measuring dynamic range, expressed as a ratio. The ratio is found by comparing the brightness at the screen center when all the pixels are white to when the pixels are black. The contrast ratio is a good indicator as to how rich the colors will appear, generally the higher the number the better the image. You know, whites whiter, blacks blacker. An average contrast ratio would be 500:1 This is a technical measurement of a visual display, therefore a bigger number isn’t necessarily better. The better measurement is still what looks good to you.

Response Time is usually measured as the time it takes to change a pixel color from fully black to fully white, others measure gray-to-gray (color to another color). This is delineated in milliseconds. Milliseconds? Seriously, who cares? Lets just disregard response time. The time is takes for your computer to respond is an issue, not so critical for your monitor.

Brightness is measured in candelas per square meter, and again it is more technical than user relevant. Most comparable monitors will be rated the same. You should base your opinions of visual quality on your perceived standards anyway, so lets just disregard the brightness specifications.

Aspect ratio refers to size. In this case it refers to the screen dimensional measurements in number of units. For example: the 16:9 ratio refers to 16 units wide by 9 units high. It would be wider than taller. A 4:3 aspect ration would be 4 units wide and 3 units high. Still wider than higher but almost square. The 4:3 and the 16:9 are the two main aspect ratios available. The 4:3 ratio is more typical for pc applications. Most monitors of 22″ or larger will use the 16:9 ratio which may tend to require more scrolling up and down pages in order to see all of the display of a page.

Resolution is expressed in terms of the number of pixels on the horizontal axis and the number on the vertical axis. The sharpness of the image on a display depends on the resolution and the size of the monitor. The same pixel resolution will be sharper on a smaller monitor and gradually lose sharpness on larger monitors because the same number of pixels are being spread out over a larger number of inches. If enough attention is given, you may be able to tell a difference in resolution. This specification is of little importance with text applications, but gains more importance with more detailed graphic ones. Again, the higher the number may not be as important as your personal judgment of the picture quality.

A Kensington Security Slot is a small hole used for attaching a lock, in particular those from Kensington Computer Products Group. Locks are generally secured in place with a key and attached through cable to be looped around a permanent object, thus securing it in place. Kensington locks aren’t designed to be a solid protection measure as the lock can be torn out. The Kensington lock is best used in busy offices, coffee shops and libraries, as it is often used as a deterrent to prevent opportunist theft. In a home, it is not of much value for protection against theft of a monitor, so the choice is yours.

Ok then, What to do and where to go:
HP, NEC, ViewSonic, Syncmaster, Dell, LG, Samsung are among some of the most dependable monitors which are in a similar class.
Most big box stores, and computer and office supply stores will sell some of these brands.
My recommendation is that you make buying decisions based on more on price (your price range, price differences between stores, sales prices, etc), functionalities and personal visual comparisons than on technical specifications. Go to a store that has several makes, models and sizes side by side, showing the same display. Which one do you like the best? Look more at the big picture (bad pun?) , and remember that the technical specs are just the tiny details.

Winter storm damage strikes my office computer.

Portland has had two days of heavy rain and winds. In our office, we are shielded from the winter elements.
We are not however, completely shielded from the damages that can be caused by sudden surges in the electrical power. Here is a picture of my computer screen after such a surge in power. It is black. And this computer is likely to stay black. After the big blow, I yanked all the cords and rushed it over to our Information System gurus and pleaded for help. “I’m sure it just needs a new power supply or something. You gotta help me!” They emerged from their cubicle several hours later, sadly shaking their heads. They had done all they could. Nothing could be salvaged. They assured me they had tried all the diagnostic and repair methods available, it was just too far gone. Something about smoked and scorched leads into the hard drive. They probably said more, but I was no longer hearing them. My mind was searching for a plan to recover what data I could from a system that has been accumulating stuff for a decade. I will likely get a good portion of the stuff back from previous, but not entirely recent backup sources. I will never recover all the data, and now a new system has to be entirely reconfigured. The next time I saw the gurus, I received the obligatory speech about backups. Yes, yes, I know about backups. And I also know that everyone who uses a computer has, or will have, a tragic loss of data. I guess I don’t think about it often enough.
There are tons of ways to backup your data.
Two ways I backup data at home is to copy it off onto CDs, label them and store them in a book.
I also have some external USB hard drives to which I can copy whole directories.
At work there could be other systems on your network, or tapes or USB sticks, it doesn’t matter how you do it.
But remember…. Do it, or lose it.

My computer after a power surge

Planning Our 2007 Tivo Season Pass.

The pilots for most of the new TV shows to 2007 are still a month away, but it is time to start updating our Tivo Season Pass.

Earlier we looked at our existing 2006 Season Pass. We are now beginning to clean up and re-prioritize the shows we will continue to watch in order to make room for the new additions. We have looked at some of the early reviews available all over the web, and drafted a preliminary list of shows we may be interested in. This list will grow, as the season nears as more information is available, and our scope widens. Our strategy is to include all the shows that we may want to follow, so that we can get in from the start, knowing that there are several shows in the group we will drop very early. You should be able to determine whether you will want to follow a series, within the first 1 to 3 episodes. Sometimes you know during the very first show, sometimes you want to give them a little chance to develop into something interesting. If we can’t decide by the 3rd show, then we give it up just because we don’t have the time to let a mediocre show drag on.

So, here are some of the shows I will be adding to our Tivo Season Pass. We will have to wait to add most of them until they start to show up in the schedules, so I need to check in each week to see if they appear in the search list. No reviews here, look elsewhere for that.

  • Aliens in America
  • Big Bang Theory
  • Bionic Woman
  • Burn Notice
  • Cane
  • Chuck
  • Dirty Sexy Money
  • Eli Stone
  • Independent Lens
  • Kid Nation
  • Mis/Guided
  • Mad Men
  • Private Practice
  • Pushing Daisies
  • Reaper
  • Sarah Conner Chronicles
  • Viva Laughlin

My Tivo gets me. The ‘Swivel Search’

TiVo’s new universal Swivel Search is a TiVo searchgene.jpeg feature that helps you navigate both traditional broadcast TV plus the brave new world of broadband video with one simple search. Kind of like IMDB for TV, or to a lesser degree, Stumbleupon. Maybe more like 6 degrees to Kevin Bacon.
Just put in a word or phrase, and TiVo searches thousands of hours of TV programs, the free program do
wnloads (like The New York Times, CNET, The Onion, and more) as well as the TV and movie titles you can buy or rent from
Example: You just watched How I Met Your Mother, which uses a lot of Flashbacks in the plot. The Swivel “FLASHBACK” Tag leads you to The Family Guy, which stars Seth Green. Seth was also in Austin Powers, as was Will Ferrell. Will was in The Producers with Matthew Broderick, and Matthew will always be Ferris Bueller. Ferris was directed by John Hughes, who also directed the movie She’s Having A Baby, which starred—go figure—Kevin Bacon.

Tivo updated my Tivo with Amazon Unbox

The great guys at Tivo just sent me mail!

“Thank you for using the Amazon Unbox on TiVo service! We are proud to announce a new feature for the Amazon Unbox on TiVo service – now you can also rent or buy Unbox videos directly from your TiVo DVR. This means you have access to Amazon Unbox’s unparalleled selection of movies and TV shows, available right from your remote. To take advantage of this new feature, you need to establish a personal identification number, or PIN, that you will need to enter each time you make an Unbox purchase from your TiVo DVR in order to prevent unauthorized charges. To configure your PIN, visit the Amazon Unbox Settings page located at To shop for Unbox videos on your TiVo DVR, go to “TiVo Central” and select “Find Programs”, “Download TV & Movies”, then “Amazon Unbox”. Thanks, The Amazon Unbox Team ”

According to this article, TiVo has released this new feature which will allow you to order Amazon Unbox movies directly from your TiVo.  I signed up last month when they were offering a $15.00 movie credit just for signing up. I have downloaded two movies, although I found the Amazon user interface fairly difficult to navigate and that getting my movie downloaded to the Tivo was a little more than a few clicks away. And my second attempted movie download seemed to download the same movie 5 times in succession. But I will not give up on it yet, as the interface through Tivo promises to be simpler if nothing else.  Anyone else using Unbox?

Tivo Season Pass 2006

The 2006-7 TV season has slowed to a crawl. While there is still some good new material being shown, the majority of the viewing is re-runs. This means that the TIVO is not quite as busy as it was earlier in the year, and it hasn’t had to make so many critical decisions about what the record and when and just how we would like our recordings prioritized. Mr. Tivo (yes we give it some respect) does an admirable job of reliably saving just the shows that we will want to watch, and showing them to us, whenever we are ready to see them. Now is the time to review the Season Pass settings we have for this year, to weed out the shows that we loved but for some reason the networks didn’t think we wanted to see. The season pass list must be modified because has become pretty complex, and the new shows are starting to appear on the independant channels.

This post is about what we have on our existing Season Pass, in our currently prioritized order. Later I will explore the additions to the Pass for 2007-2008

  • Cycling – All the pro-tour bicycle racing all year, shown on Versus. Their are lots of them, the Tour de France is just the biggest one.
  • My Name is Earl – So many funny lines.
  • The Office – We work in offices, sometimes this makes us cringe.
  • Grays Anatomy – Honey loves the romances
  • Lost – Everything said or seen is there for a reason.
  • Desperate Housewives – Like the show, but don’t like the characters?
  • How I Met Your Mother – Simple premise, good acting, complete characters, and funny.
  • Monk – Clean, decent, obsessive compulsiveness, whats not to love.
  • Ugly Betty – Dramatic comedy with some originality.
  • Scrubs – Great mix of laughs and sentiment, with some sick stuff going on in the background.
  • Eureka – Sci-Fi show that could be real, except you know its not.
  • Meerkat Manor – Loved the tiny meerkat family drama, but wondering if the show is still going on?
  • Psyche – Hilarious private detectives.
  • Brother and Sisters – Full stories, great acting by everyone in that very large and close/semi-dysfunctional family.
  • Hustle – A new show on American Movie Classic channel. This BBC show of con-men is simple yet there’s always a twist at the end you didn’t see coming.
  • Men in Trees – Light, romantic, fluff. Nothing more.
  • My Boys – Using baseball analogies to explain relationships. Something for both of us.
  • Friday Night Lights – Sports theme show that isn’t really about the sport.
  • Austin City Limits – Some really good musical guests, produce some listenable hour long shows.
  • The Riches – Interesting premise, with a storyline that doesn’t appear can last for too much longer. Very good acting though.
  • The Simpsons – 13 years and running. Its the Simpsons. Nuff said.
  • 1,000 Places to See Before You Die – A light travel show focusing more on attractions than any travel issues, we can pick and choose the places that interest us.
  • Reno 911 – Flashes of things funny, dull, crude and weird. You never know.
  • Myth Busters – Those guys make and often then destroy, some cool stuff.
  • Good Eats – Cooking show that is educational and from a different perspective than most.
  • Victory Garden – When I am in a gardening mood.
  • Sound Stage – Sometimes have some good music.
  • Beavers All Access – Behind the scenes of Oregon State University sports. (Still looking for a good University of Oregon Sports show)
  • Crater Lake – Honey wants more info on this. This entry is actually a “Wish List” for the term “Crater Lake”. Mr. Tivo will automatically record any show with the term “Crater Lake” in the show title/description.

These are interior design shows for Honey. She loves these things.
When a TV is showing live TV its usually HGTV.

  • Divine Design
  • Debbie Travis
  • Get Color
  • Double-take
  • Designer Challenge
  • Big ideas for a small planet
  • Design Remix
  • Redesign
  • Designing for the sexes
  • Get it together

Why people really don’t switch to Linux

The question is why do people use pay for Microsoft products, when Linux, in most cases does the same better, for free.  The Ubuntu Linux operating system has proven to be easy to load, update and use, for both business and personal use. provides a great comparison of MicroSoft/Linux, with Gas/Hybrid vehicles.

So, it seems that the issues to this point have been

  •  Microsoft is the operating system that has been available on machines we buy
  •  Microsoft is presumed to be easier to load/use
  •  Microsoft has more applications

Times are changing.
Why people really don’t switch to Linux