Saturday, August 25, 2007

Wake UP Already - Alarm Clock Hacks for the Sleepy

I have a bad habit of using the snooze on my alarm clock too much. Probably from reading blogs and blogging too late at night... Anyway, I ran across a ingenious alarm clock hack that inspired me to make a compilation of several alarm clock hacks all with a little different aproach. Thankfully, I won't be needing to use any of these this weekend although Monday could be another story.

This first one is one I found on Hackaday. These guys modded a clock so that the snooze became the clock itself literally. In their words "In this project, we will bypass the mechanical snooze switch on top, and instead turn the alarm clock off in a much more fun way: punching it!"
It looks pretty much like any clock but its anything but. Read the entire how to here.

This next alarm clock gets a little more geeky. The Retractable Alarm Clock is Smart. So smart it has a customized snooze button made to accommodate the movement of the retractable cord powered by a small dc motor. The alarm gradually increases the loudness to wake up sleepers gently. To prevent the sleeper from falling asleep to the monotonic sound of alarms, our alarm varies the frequency every 12 chirps.”
The complete (very complete) how-to here

A Lego Alarm Clock Snooze Button Made With Legos found on Flickr

Here's a video of the Remote Control Clock. This one uses a simple tv remote control to control the alarm clock. Might be a little too convient for me :)

Read the story of the IR Remote Control Clock at Gogglemarks

If all else fails, you could buy this Flying Alarm Clock for $40. If this one doesn't annoy you enough to wake up, you must need the sleep more than I though anyway.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Must Read: Good Stuff I'm Reading

It's Friday and I'm too worn out to post new stuff. So instead, I'm passing along thing's I've been reading from other great blogs:

How to Sync your iPod to LastFM and Facebook - a great primer on connecting what you listen to on your iPod with Facebook by Internet Duct Tape

Fluther: Resistance is Futile: - An interesting question and answer service. It's a little different than the others you might be familiar with. AppScout reviews the site.

Record Audio Files with Audacity - I've used Audacity for quite a while now and love it. It's free and opensource and it works well. Mark at does this how-to on Audacity

SDV Keeps on Rollin' - Dave Zatz at Zatz Not Funny talks about how Cox is deploying SDV and mentions the concern that switched channels can't be viewed with CableCARD boxes.

I thought Blockbusters goal was to beat Netflix - UneasySilence has another story on Blockbuster's missteps in the war with Netflix. I have said before that I think Blockbuster has lost that DVD rental war with Netflix but who knows...

Zooomr Zips Where Others Zag: Adds RSS to Ziiipline - Davis Freeburg is excited about the new RSS feature added to Zooomr's Zipline.

Send Documents, Web Pages to Mobile Phones via SMS Cloud Print - Amit Agarwal at Digital Inspiration has yet another great how-to on sending documents and web pages to your mobile phone.

FoxyTag Marks Speed Traps on your Google Maps - Kristen Nicole at does an overview of FoxyTag, a mobile application that alerts you to upcoming speed cameras while your driving. I made a stupid comment towards Kristen recently and feel pretty bad about it so its only fair that I respect her continually-good blogging. Nuf said on that topic...

Flex - The Ultimate CD Furniture - Robert at GeekAlerts highlights a very cool way to display your CD's.

Come Visit the HP Garage - Robert Scoble is back to blogging from his short break and has a review of their visit to the HP Garage - where Silicon Valley Began

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ultimate Geek Desk - Made From Computer Chips

I just ran across what looks like the ultimate geeks desk. Matt Tovey had taken a pile of old computer chips, removed all of their heat sinks and used them as eye candy covered by a beveled glass top!

Very Nice

Here's a picture of the original pile of computer chips

Read More about building the Computer Chip Desk over at Matt's Blog

Found via Evil Mad Scientist

PandoraJam Ripping Pandora Music

Pandora is one of the best web-based radio "stations" for listening to and finding new music to suit your tastes. I use the web-based pandora and also use a Pandora Beyond Media HTPC plugin on my home-theater-PC to listen to music. Now there is PandoraJam, a $15 application that streams music from Pandora and then allows you to record those songs in AAC format to be imported into iTunes along with cover art and the tags you have set up. Other features include scrobbling your Pandora songs to Last.FM and streaming Pandora to an Airport Express and all of its HiFi goodness!
I kind of wonder how long this will last though. It seems that this "recording" function would be in violation with Pandora's terms of service. For this reason alone, I wouldn't pay the makers of Pandorajam a penny since they will likely be getting a cease and desist letter from Pandora very soon.

Hack YouTube Commercials - How To Block the ads on YouTube

As you likely already know, YouTube is all proud that they now have added commercial badness to YouTube Videos. Well as much as that sounds like a good idea for Google (owner of YouTube) it doesn't make for a very good viewer experience so you'll understand why I am excited to see that there is a way to block those ads on YouTube.

First, you need to get Tubestop, a Firefox extension that was made to stop the auto-playback of YouTube videos. As luck would have it, Tubestop also stops YouTube ads from displaying as well!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Make Your Own USB Power Supply

Need a cheap USB power supply to charge or power your PSP, iPod or any other USB device?

A forum member at Hacked Gadgets called Reverend Jones has a way to make your own USB power supply from an old plug in power supply To convert this old power supply into a USB power supply he says to first acquire a regulated 5 vdc wallwart (old power supply) rated at 500ma or higher (he used one from an IoMega Zip drive) and then added:

  • 330 ohm 1/4 watt resister

  • 10k ohm 1/4 watt resister

  • 3mm LED (red, green or yellow)

  • USB-A jack, female
Here's a shot of the original power supply
This is the power supply with all of the parts exposed
Here's the final product. Looks nice and it's useful.

What a great way to re-use old computer parts instead of tossing them in the landfill! Read the entire how-to over at Hacked Gadgets Forums

found via Hacked

New TV Season Premier Listing

It's time for the new TV Premiers! I can hardly believe it. My daughter is back in school, my summer vacations are all but over and the new TV season premiers are just about to begin. Since I'm a fan of Time-shifting shows, I mostly lose track of what day shows premier. I use Snapstream's Beyond TV to set up my recordings and once I've done that, I can pretty much count on those same shows recording automatically even into the next season.

Still, I take care at the beginning of each season to make sure I have those shows I want to watch set up to record. For new shows I'm interested in, I typically will record an entire season and then watch them after the season is over. This way I can prevent getting into a show that will be cancelled and leave the story hanging like they did with Invasion. I can do this without missing a show since My Home Theater PC has five tuners on it (3 SD and 2 HD).
Also, if your planning on watching a lot of these shows this year, do yourself a favor and time-shift with a DVR. Then fast forward through the commercials. I do this with Beyond TV and can just hit the channel-up button while watching to skip to the end of the commercials. Saves me lots of time.Without further banter, here are the show listings that I've gathered:

CLICK HERE to go to the updated listing - a PDF download of the TV Listings is available also.

You might also be interested in the following posts:

Movie Times Google Maps Mashup

Your getting ready to head to the movies and want to know what time Superbad is showing and at what theaters? now has a google mashup that maps the movie theater location as well as the movie listings for U.S. theaters in your area. Here's an example for the 10011 Zip Code:
To try it out head over the Three Movie Buffs:

Other Google Maps Mashups Highlighted on this Blog:

Make Your Own Ipod Case from Bike InnerTube

So you yave a new Ipod and you blew all of your cash on the Apple toy right? Well has a how-to just for you.

Make your own iPod Nano case out of a bicycle innertube. DIY doesn't get any better than this now does it...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Flickr Hack: Show All Flickr Contacts

If you use the popular flickr photo sharing site and have so many flickr contacts that you can't remember what they look like, Check out this link.

This will show all of your buddies (you have to be logged in to flickr of course) with buddy icons on a page.

For a complete listing of flickr hacks and tools CLICK HERE

Here are some other Flickr-related Hacks Highlighted on this Blog:

DVD Authoring Software for Free: Make Your Own Movies

I had a request by a reader for a freeware or inexpensive DVD authoring program that will take video clips, convert them into DVD-compliant files and even burn them to a DVD disk. I'm an owner of a digital camcorder and also have a pretty large collection of video clips that I'd like to use in DVD's that I author. My favorite application for making my own DVD's is TMPGEnc DVD Author, but since it costs around $100, I found another option for those of you just getting started in DVD authoring and for those of you on on a budget.

To use Movie DVD Maker, you simply add the video clip/s:
Pick the DVD Recorder or select to save to Hard Drive, convert and wait for it to process. The time it takes to convert to a DVD format depends on the speed of your PC, but count on it taking a little while at least.
When the DVD is finished, you'll get the screen below saying it is complete.
SoThink Movie DVD maker is a solid, free software program for DVD authoring. It converts from most formats like MOV, AVI, MPEG, WMV, MP4 and 3GP to a standard DVD format. It doesn't currently support menu making on the DVD but it does support trimming video clips, combining clips into a movie, support for subtitles, output to DVD folders among other features. Once it finishes creating the DVD format it will burn the newly created movie to your DVD. I should note that the default output format is PAL so if you are in the U.S., you will need to change it to NTSC.

If you need a simple, free DVD authoring software I highly recommend this one.
Read more about this free software and download it at

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Track Timezone Times Visually

Want to know the time in another area of the world? Want to see that timezone difference on a map? is a site with a Flash interface where you choose a timezone and/or a city & country. Then it displays the current time.

Here's another visual timezone map with a search by city that tells you the current time at that location:

Not as nice looking as the first one, but just as functional.

Extreme Mod: Commodore 64 Movie Server

My first computer at home was a Commodore 64. I learned a lot from that old box and it was the beginning of my move from video game junkie to computing. Today I ran across a cool mod that takes the old Comodore 64 computer and Snapstream's Beyond Media to make a movie server. This guy used an old, nonworking Commodore 64 computer, Commodore 1541 drive, a fanless VIA EPIA ME-6000, Mini ITX Motherboard, 512 MB of Ram, a 500 Gigabyte hard drive, a stripped down version of Windows XP Pro and Snapstream's Beyond Media.

This was no plug-and-play project. It involved some case mods and know-how, but it turned out really nice.

The newly converted Movie server connects to his home network for streaming movies. He now uses it to serve up movies in the family room or any other room with PC's in the house. It is currently in the basement hooked up to a 5.1 surround sound processor and a 4ft by 5ft wide-screen overhead projector. Below is a photo of his working C64 Movie Server in action.

To read the entire how-to and see more photo's head over to the Commodore 64 Movie Server Page

For more on Home Theater PC's Click Here or subscribe to this blog HERE

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Week In Review Stories from The Past Week

It's been a busy week at Brent Evans GeekTonic Blog. In case you missed any of the recent posts, below is a summary of the past weeks posts on this blog. To make sure you don't miss any future posts, subscribe to the RSS Feed.

Wii Hacked: Play DVD's with a Wii Console
Per Digg, Team Symbiote (the makers of Wii-Boss) have released a DVD player Application for Wii. To do this, you would need a mod-chip on your Wii, which I won't be doing any time soon, but it does prove that the Wii that you and I own has the capability to view DVD movies just like its more…
How To Edit and Add Video Clips to Powerpoint Presentations
Another Teacher Tech Article for you. This is for anyone who would like to edit a video clip from a video file or from a DVD and add that video clip to your PowerPoint presentation. There are several steps in this process - some of which you might not need if you already have a video clip on your…
Vista, We Have a Problem - The Defection of a Major Vista Supporter
I'm in good company if those that believe Vista is not going well for Microsoft. I've been one of those PC users who decided to stick with Windows XP for the time being instead of switching to the new Windows Vista. My reasons include the cost of upgrading my several PC's, not wanting to…
Free Online Movie Trivia Game
Do you like movies? Want a free web-based movie trivia game that shows you a movie clip and you choose the correct (hopefully) movie title from a list? Peerflix - a service that allow you to trade movies with other movies using a Netflix-like web interface has put up a great little trivia page thats…
MySpace Music Hack: Download MySpace Songs For Free
We have yet another website that is offering a way to find and download free songs that are meant to be streamed on MySpace . This one is MySpaceMP To use it, you simply type in the band name without spaces (so if you wanted to search for "Plain White T's" you would type in…
Mass Edit BeyondTV Show Details
Using my favorite Home Theater PC Software - BeyondTV , you can edit any of the show details such as title, description using the built-in BeyondTV web admin interface . If you are just editing one shows information this is more then sufficient for the task. But if you are needing to edit multiple…
How To Convert Classic Nintendo Controllers to Work With Wii Console
With the Nintendo Wii there is support for the old NES, SNES and N64 games. To play these games you can buy a "classic" controller for about $20. But what if you already have an old NES/SNES or N64 controller? Why can't you just use those? Well Raphaël Assénat has done just that.…
Rumor: Netflix Dropping Price Again - 2nd Time in Three Months!
UPDATE: It's no longer a rumor. The AP has a story saying that Netflix is testing lower prices with select (not all) customers. "Netflix is always testing prices. Some members, a small fraction of our total 6.7 million members, have been notified of a lower price on some of their plans. It…
iFrame - a DIY Digital Photo Frame That Does it All
I've highlighted many photo frames in the past including the one I made , but I just ran across one that is rather unique in functionality. Jake Durrett has created a do-it-yourself digital photo frame that in his words "can do it all." He built the DPF from an Apple iBook G3. His…
Ebay Hack: RSS Feed for Item in Certain Price Range
Are you on the hunt for a certain item on eBay? Want to receive a notification in your RSS reader ( I recommend Google Reader for an RSS Reader , but any will do) whenever an auction item ending today is in your price range? Here's a useful Yahoo Pipe that does just this. Here's a screenshot…
Easy Flickr Hacks: Surf Your Photos
Want to view flickr photos in a little different way then the default viewing format? Try "surf mode". On any individual picture add " /surf " to its hyperlink. For example the picture below is in "regular mode": And the next picture is in surf mode. Here you can…
Free Easy Photo Editor - Photobie
Looking for a free, but still powerful photo editing software program? Look no further then Photobie. Photobie is a Windows application built as an easy-to-use, but feature-packed tool that supports photoshop filter (.8bf) plugins and also includes an advanced screen capture tool, a gif animation…
Is Valleywag Our Version of The Daily Prophet?
I recently saw a comment about an insanely-unbelievable-Valleywag-post that struck me as funny, but surprisingly true. The comment compared the Valleywag Tech Gossip Blog to the "Daily Prophet" of Harry Potter fame. Valleywag for quite some time has entertained the geek masses with its…
Hack iLife HD for Free iMovie HD
Here's a hack for all of you Mac users out there. If you have Apple iLife 08, Apple is giving you iMovieHD for free . But if you have older versions of Apple iLife (before the 08 version), you can still get iMovie HD for free with a simple hack: open up the terminal…
Another Reason to DIY HTPC: Time Warner to Disable Fast Fowarding Commercials
Beginning in October of this year, Time Warner plans to start a new service called "look back". They call it DVR-like which is another way of saying this is an Even More Crippled DVR then ever before. The service will be free of charge to its customers (except for the fact you are already…
Madden 08 For the Wii Get Ready For Some Football!
Are you ready for some football on the Wii? Madden 08 for the Wii Console will be out this Tuesday, August 14th and I plan to pick this one up this week for certain. Here are a few of the features of the Wii's Madden 08: Exhibition match-ups Online lobby with real-time leaderboards EA Locker…
Mobile Phone Jammer For Sale?
Could it be posible? A device that blocks the mobile phones from working around you? That only costs $56? Well, even if it's real it is probably illegal for personal use as it would block open radio signals in the area which is illegal. Still, it sure sounds useful for those moments when people…

Wii Hacked: Play DVD's with a Wii Console

Per Digg, Team Symbiote (the makers of Wii-Boss) have released a DVD player Application for Wii. To do this, you would need a mod-chip on your Wii, which I won't be doing any time soon, but it does prove that the Wii that you and I own has the capability to view DVD movies just like its more powerful Xbox and PS3 cousins.
I presume the reason Nintendo doesn't just turn this functionality on via a simple firmware update is because they don't want to fund the license fees that would be required for such a function. Hopefully they will add this eventually to existing Wii's although I doubt it since it has already been announced that Nintendo will be selling DVD enabled Wii's sometime before the year is over.Once you have your modded Wii (not recommended by this Geek Tonic Blog by the way) Simply burn the ISO to DVD, boot it in your Wii and then swap it out for a DVD Movie. That's it :)

Via Nintendo Scene digg story

How To Edit and Add Video Clips to Powerpoint Presentations

Another Teacher Tech Article for you. This is for anyone who would like to edit a video clip from a video file or from a DVD and add that video clip to your PowerPoint presentation. There are several steps in this process - some of which you might not need if you already have a video clip on your hard drive.

1. If you want to get a clip from a DVD, you will first need to convert the movie to a file format usable in PowerPoint - NOTE: If you already have your file on the hard drive in an mpg, wmv or avi format go on to the next step. Download and install the freeware application Handbrake. Once you run Handbrake, Insert your DVD into the DVD Player. Select the Browse button and select the movie if it doesn't load it automatically.
You then need to select the "select title" button and choose the movie title if there is more then one movie on the DVD. In the destination section select your file format to be avi and type in the name you want to use for the clip. There are many additional options you can use to customize, but for simplicity, lets just click on the "encode" button. At this point it will begin to work behind the scenes to convert your movie to a usable avi video clip in the directory you chose to save it to. When it is complete, the window like the one in the photo below will say "complete" You can close it and move on to the next step.

2. Edit MPEG or AVI video files. Next we will edit the movie or video clips to show exactly the portion of the video you want included as a clip on your PowerPoint presentation. To do this we will use the free software provided with all Windows XP licenses called Movie Maker although you could use many other programs such as TMPencDVD Author for example . Find Windows Movie Maker on your PC (typically by selecting Start-Programs-Accessories) and open it. On the left under "capture video" you will see "import video". Select that and select your video clip from the appropriate folder. That will import the video and break it up into several smaller clips. For the next steps, watch the video below on how to use Windows Movie Maker to edit the video clip:

One thing you might need to do in Windows Movie Maker is to increase or decrease the volume level of the video clip. To do that, on the Audio or Audio/Music track of the timeline, select the audio clip whose volume you want to adjust. Then click Clip, point to Audio, and then click Volume. To adjust the volume, do one of the following:

To reduce the volume, slide the Audio volume level slider to the left.

To increase the volume, slide the Audio volume level slider to the right.

To mute the clip, select the Mute clip check box.

To reset the volume to the original volume, click Reset.

3. Add Clip to PowerPoint. Now that you've edited the video clip, just save it. There are two methods of playing video during a PowerPoint presentation.

You can embed the video clip into a slide by going to the point where you want the video inserted, select Insert Menu-Movies and Sounds+Movie from File. Find the movie file in your folder and double-click on it. PowerPoint will then import the file and then you can reposition or resize the clip.

A second method is to embed a WMV file in the slide itself. This way you will have the Windows Media Player controls (play, pause etc) beneath the clip which is nice for longer video clips.
Its best to keep your video clips small for size and better presentation.

For further information on adding video clips to PowerPoint, check out this Microsoft help document. If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to comment below.