This Old Computer: Upgrade or Replace?


I get a lot of questions from people who are trying to decide what specific hardware to put into their computers. More often than not, they are trying to take a very old computer and make it usable again. The problem with very old computers trying to run current operating systems and applications is that it requires almost an entire new computer worth of upgrades to bring it up to speed. On the other hand, I've used several computers now that are a few years old and only need a very simple upgrade to keep them usable for another year or two. The problem is that most people simply don't know when it's worth it to upgrade and when it's time to just replace it all. Fortunately for them, we can answer most of the questions here.

How to Add a Cheap Aux Input to Pioneer P-series Stereos


If you have a Pioneer or Premier CD/MP3/Radio in your car and you don't have an auxiliary input already, it's really not too difficult to add it, provided you have a compatible head unit. Models starting with a "P" after the dash such as the Pioneer DEH-P2900 are compatible. The aux input connects through the blue IP-Bus connector on the back of the unit. Pioneer sells an adapter that comes in the form of a little metal converter box but you can get just a cable adapter for much cheaper. I've done this in 2 cars now for about $10 each total and it has worked perfectly each time.

Drupal Taxonomy - How to add a list of clickable sub-categories


Drupal is a very powerful Content Management System (CMS) that has a well-designed taxonomy module. Taxonomy is the system of categorization and classification of things. In Drupal's taxonomy, you can define multiple vocabularies and the terms in those vocabularies can have multiple sub-terms. This site is set up that way with the high-level terms being general concepts such as "Programming" and "Technology." The one thing I wanted that it did not do out of the box was to show sub-categories as an additional navigation menu when you clicked on a parent category. It's not to hard to implement if you know how. Read on for the code snippets.

Qwest DSL: Cheap, Quick and Easy wireless upgrade


If you're fortunate (or unfortunate as the case sometimes is) to be a Qwest DSL user with an M1000 DSL modem and you don't currently have Wi-Fi in your home, there is an excellent upgrade option for around $30 that works very well and is one of the few upgrades I've ever seen that quite literally takes a few seconds to do.

Getting Started in Android Game Development

If you're interested in developing a game for the Android platform, there is a lot you need to know.  I'm the developer of Light Racer, Light Racer 3D, Antigen, Deadly Chambers and Wixel, which are currently available on the Android Market. I've also been involved with the development of about 5 other games for Android and iOS and am co-author of Beginning Android Games 2nd Edition.  I've developed games before but the original Light Racer was my first Android application and I learned quite a bit about writing Android games that I'd like to share with everyone.  I even wrote an online book detailing the development of Light Racer 3D, which is full of how-tos and useful code snippets. If you have previous experience with game development, moving over to the mobile platform won't be all that difficult.  You will mostly just need to learn the architecture and API.  If you're new to game development, I have assembled a list of must-knows for getting started.  They apply to many different types of games, including action, strategy, simulation and puzzle.

Google Android 1.0 API: Great Architecture but Short on Sound

The Android API is very well designed with regards to application integration and general mobile use.  I think google did an awesome job with the architecture.  The Activity/Intent/Application model is very well though out and allows for some nice "piggybacking" of one app onto another for extended functionality.  I like the layouts and views a lot.  They gave us a SurfaceView to do double-buffering of drawable area on screen and they even gave us an OpenGL 1.3 implementation.  What about sound?  The Android sound API seems to have taken a back burner for the latest 1.0 release.

How To Solder Deans Connectors to a LiPo Battery

RC Helicopters
This seems like a fairly basic thing but if you haven't ever done it before it can be a little confusing as to what the best approach is.  Unfortunately I didn't have an extra set of hands to help take photos so I won't be able to show the two-handed action which is at the heart of a good soldering job but I can at least show the tools needed, explain some technique and show the end result.  The example will be a deans connector soldered on to a lipo battery suitable for a 450-sized electric helicopter.  This can also be applied to RC cars, planes, transmitters and any custom connector for any application.

Qualifications: Palin vs Obama

I try to keep the site oriented toward techie DIY stuff, but every once in a while I feel the need to voice a little political opinion.  This is not necessarily one of those times, because I'm only going to post facts and keep my two cents out of it.  I came across this little excerpt on an electric car discussion thread but it's probably one of the best summaries of Palin vs Obama that I've read.

How To Improve Digital TV (DTV) Reception

Many of us are still using OTA (Over The Air) Digital TV to get our local channels in High Definition.  I use a $10 rabbit ear w/loop antenna that I bought from Radio Shack and for the most part it's able to pick up all of the broadcast stations.  I have been having problems with reception from time to time when people walk around in front of the TV.  I've already relocated the antenna away from other electronics up in the highest spot available, which helped but didn't make for a fully stable HD picture.  I was sure that the only way to fix it was to put an antenna up on the roof, until today.

Vista Business 64 in the Workplace

After reading about the numerous problems with Vista, I was quite hesitant to try it in the workplace.  I work off a laptop at a client site as a software engineer for a major consulting company.  My job demands that I have 100% uptime with all applications and software development tools.  I can not afford to have stability issues or any kind of OS incompatibilities.  To make matters worse, we use 2 VPN clients, 4 different large software development tools and a suite of other smaller applications.  After installing Vista Business 64 on a new Lenovo T61p laptop, I was pleasantly surprised with the results.
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