The Conan Lorebook

Making the world safe from mediocrity.

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Gaming Headsets

I have no exterior game speakers beyond the cruddy ones in one of my monitors.  So, I don't mind spending some extra money if I can get good quality. The headset, which is a  headphone with a microphone, is needed for times when I play games with others -- like when Shannon talks me into a hot game of Company of Heroes.


I was very happy with my last headset, the Razer Piranha.  I got it on sale at $69.95, and was quite pleased overall.  The sound seemed good and the fit was comfortable.  My main problems were twofold:  the third cord, a USB-only was merely for lighting the headset, was just an extra wire hanging around for me.  The other was the annoying ease of unintentionally muting the microphone.  I believe Shannon is also having problems with his microphone itself.  Unfortunately for me, while pulling out my computer from its cubbyhole, the cord got caught and microphone no longer works.  Best Buy no longer carried the Piranha locally, so I looked for another set.


After reading a few reviews, I decided on the slightly more expensive Plantronics Gamecom 777.


 read more »


If you have an LCD or plasma monitor, then you may have found stuck pixels or been concerned about screen burnin.  Screen savers can help the latter from happening, but isn't always effective since some programs may be run for hours.  And little can be done for stuck pixels.


JScreenFixDeluxe offers the solution.  It's a Java program which offers a potential fix for stuck pixels (not all can be fixed this way, but many can). It also acts as a screensaver which keeps track of all the non-moving screen activity and puts up a negative on the screen.  It'll cost you 10GBP, which is probably around $20US (est.).    I've used it for over a year, and am very happy so far.


On the down side, it does occasionally have issues with licensing pop up. However, the  programmer is very quick to respond and helpful.   Still, there is no program that Iknow of that is better. If you have  a single stuck pixel, it's well worth $20 to get rid of the annoyance.


Try the evaluation demo for free. I believe it's the full version for thirty days.

A Computer Tune-Up

Just like cars, computers must be tuned-up periodically.  Just like cars, there's a one-shop-stop which covers many basics.  It's a free service from Microsoft, known as "Live OneCare".  Here's how to drive over to their site and get that 'puter purring:


Use Internet Explorer for this (not Firefox or anything else) and

  • Navigate to Microsoft Live OneCare.
  • Click "Full Service Scan".  A popup window should show up.
  • If it asks you to download and install anything, accept.
  • Click on "Complete scan (recommended)"
  • Hit the "Next" button.  It should either ask to install or start automatically downloading tools and begin scanning.
  • When the scan is finished, click the GREEN arrow-- "Not yet, I'm not
    ready to be protected with OneCare".  Otherwise, they'll try to sell
    you something.

From there, just follow the instructions. Most of it will be automatic. 

Now listen to that CPU roar!

I own a Buffalo!

Well, not that kind of buffalo. I own a Buffalo LinkStation Pro. It's a NAS with two 500GB drives in a RAID-1 configuration. I have redirected my "My Documents" to point to the network drive instead of my C drive, so now all our photos, videos, MP3's, downloads, etc. are backed up instantly.


I bought it for $250 shipped at (looks like the price has gone up since last week):


Highly recommended!

Improving the Parents' 56k Connection

It's been so long since I've used a 56k data modem to connect to the Internet that I believe going back would drive me mad.  The parents (who are already crazy) still must use this to connect, as they have no other real option.  Unfortunately, they have horrible connection rates -- even worse than the 52k which should be their maximum and regular connection rate.  


Their setup at the shop, as I recall, is like this: A regular telephone line connects to the outer box.  It comes in about 15 feet and splits into three lines; One for upstairs, one for David Lee's "garage" desk, and finally one line going into the office.  The office line then connects directly to a surge protector.  After this, I believe it splits again into the office phone and computer data connection/modem.  Along the way, it splits into a second phone line and number (one cable can share two phone numbers).  At some point, perhaps after connecting to the modem, it goes on to the credit card machine. 


Any suggestions for them (other than to move!)? 


They could buy a long-enough telephone cable to go from the box to the office surge protector.  From the surge protector run the cable to Mom's computer.  From the modem output, split as needed, even f it means a lot of backtracking.   Sheilded telephone cable might be overkill.   Or perhaps just making more-solid connections (adding outlets instead of just telephone extension cords).


Other than that, I'm not sure.  What say you?

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