Monthly Archives: August 2006

Echolocation in humans

c/o mefi, this is amazing. Echo location in humans.

Pinnacle Studio 10.5 500-USB Serial Number

So about two months ago I bought a Pinnacle 500-USB video capture device. I have a relatively full schedule, so sometimes I pick up hardware but don't have a chance to use it for some time. Anyway, I waited a bit over a month to finally install this device (so the return period was over, and I had already filed the receipt for my accountant anyway), and when I went to install it, I discovered that there was no serial number on the CD or on the product or included in the box.

First I went to a couple serialz type sites to see if I could quickly just find a number to drop in, but that didn't work… I went to the official Pinnacle support site, and I guess this is a common problem, because they have a set of FAQs specifically about missing serial numbers. To get a new serial number assigned, they say they need proof of purchase attached to the request email, so I used their “contact us” form, selected “missing serial number”, and included a picture of me holding the product, with links to my sites so they could confirm my identity if they needed to. When I hit submit, it told me something along the lines of “we're sorry, your answer has already been answered on this website.”

And that's it.

No instructions as to where this hidden cache of serial numbers might be hidden. So then I send the email again (and once manually), and attempt to not include any keywords that I think might get me spit back to the automated “your question is already answered” bullshit. I waited two weeks and received no reply from Pinnacle to any of my queries. Total ripoff.

So this morning I went into Future Shop (where I'd intially bought it), pulled one down off the shelf, opened the packaging, pulled out the serial number, and took a photo of it. Fuck Pinnacle. Requiring a software serial number to install hardware is total bullshit.

What it should do is just install itself as a capture device and let you use your own software (even Windows Movie Maker if you want) instead of whatever they try to force on your harddrive (and since this is a device that's best for laptops, that's not cool). I'm not the Linux guy. Sorry Pinnacle. I'm not coding my own driver for your dumb product.

My apologies to whichever customer tries to install the product. I told the employees at the store what I was going to do as I was leaving, but they didn't care. I think someone's going to get sold a non-functioning product because I got assigned their flair, and I feel bad about that. If I ever have to do this again, I'm going to include a note in the product explaining that the serial number is invalid.

Or maybe they'll find this post when they do a Google search to try and find a serial number for Pinnacle Studio. I hope I didn't mess with the wrong yuppie.

People I look like?

Admittedly I did upload a strange picture of myself (taken lying down, apparently squinting into an overhead light), according to this celebrity face recognition toy, I look like Brzezinski (the politician, not the arm wresler), Nietzsche, John Peel, and Samuel L Jackson, among others.

I don't really see the similarity, but maybe someone else does. Oh yeah, and I'm going to try putting forums on all my entries for a little while because I want to see if it makes any dent in load on this box (which is why I didn't do it on the old box).

Edit: Apparently I'm a dummy that didn't click the “create forum” button.

Steampunk Guns?

So when I saw that Weta was selling a range of “steampunk” rayguns, I was pretty interested because I like the idea of solving tech problems (like building a gun) using unconventional methods. Sadly, it turns out that the Weta models are just that — models, and non-functional. And in any case, they're fantasy rayguns, not guns that fire bullets.

But looking at that got me thinking about DIY airguns, and tossing the idea around in my head as to what would be needed to build a steam-powered gun. I mean, it's not that different from a potato gun or airsoft weapon — the main difference would be that you're generating your high PSI source from either steam directly or a steam pump (so your gun would operate on cold air, not hot wet air).

That dumb sketch is the idea of a paintball type gun with four (or more or less) chambers that would be the firing buffers (separate so you can fire this weapon in select-fire mode) that charge up from the main tank between shots. The reason for this is so that the main tank can be located separate from the rest of the weapon (and to make it easier to use different sources of power — you could power this gun with anything from electricity to gasoline to wood).

It's too bad; I have all of these ideas about stuff I'd like to build but I just don't have time to put it all together. What I'd really, really love one day is to have enough money to assemble a thinktank of people who just build all these funny ideas. I really need to buy a big farm soon… Any unemployed machinists reading this looking to drop out for a while?

Monday Morning

I feel like I'm not dedicating enough time to this blog. Honestly though, my days aren't that exciting. Here's pretty much how they go:

  • Get up at around 6AM and try and remember my dreams
  • Juggle and play bass for about half an hour to relax
  • Answer pending messages and reply to longer conversations
  • Prep work for Phil as needed
  • Run errands as needed
  • Work on various projects
  • Eat, drink, and be merry
  • Go to bed around 10PM

That's about it.

Oh, and if it's October 8th (I think), you can add “go to IRON MAIDEN concert” to the list, ha. Today I have to go open a new bank account (at a new bank) because stupid 9/11 has made it such a monstrous pain in the ass to move money internationally.

I love this clip of a three year old in a toy dunebuggy that his father souped up by re-gearing and upgrading to an 18V setup with an extra battery… Part of me thinks that this is really irresponsible parenting, but at the same time, the kid totally “gets” how the vehicle works even through skids, which is pretty cool. They'll be a very natural driver when they grow up.