Sharp VL-Z3 Dew Repair

Back in 2004 I posted about how hard it was to find the manual for my Sharp VL-Z3 MiniDV camera on the Sharp website, and how much better the Canadian branch of the Sharp corporate machine was at providing that kind of information. It’s now time to add a little bit more to the Sharp info pile: here’s a confirmed fix for the deadly “Sharp VL-Z DEW Message” problem.

On just about any video camera out there, you will occasionally see a “DEW” warning in the viewfinder when the sensors think there’s too much humidity present for normal operations. The Sharp VL-Z series cameras can take this to an illogical extreme: the dew sensor goes nuts and it always thinks there’s too much humidity for normal operations. Thankfully, there’s a solution to this issue and it does not involve boxing up your camera and sending it in for repair… If you’ve got a soldering iron and the realization that you’ve nothing to lose, you can repair your camera in about two minutes. It worked for me!

 UPDATE – An unseen side-effect of my “fix”… my standby function no longer works! I left my camera in the on position after playing a video, and when I came back 5 hours later my camera was hot to the touch and wouldn’t even load a tape. Buyer beware!

UPDATE – Bollocks! My dew warning has come back, and I’m shopping for a new camera. (January 14 2008)

D-Link DWL-121 Is Mac Compatible

DWL-121If you’ve never had the pleasure, let me introduce you to In their own words, “ is an online store and community that focuses on selling cool stuff cheap“. My kinda store!

Last week they featured a two-pack of the D-Link DWL-121 802.11b USB wireless adaptors for $9.99 + $5 shipping. The catch is that the DWL-121 isn’t an officially supported product for OSX, Linux, or Windows… it’s a special one-off adaptor D-Link made for a home entertainment system. It just so happens that you can hack the Windows driver for the DWL-122 to make the DWL-121 work with XP.

On a whim, I decided to install the OSX DWL-122 driver on my iMac at work (running 10.3.9 server). Lo and behold, the thing works like a charm! Sooo… don’t let anybody tell you the DWL-121 is WinXP only, because they don’t know what they’re talking about.

Your 1991 Honda Accord Transmission And YOU

To be certain, when I’m a crusty old man and I’m reminiscing about the days of old before there were flying cars and transporter beams, my 1991 Accord will definitely NOT come up in conversation. It is not sexy, nor fast, nor is it cool in a geek kinda way… it’s just a car that gets from here to there. A few weeks ago it actually stopped on its way from here to there, and I’m gonna post this so that all you other Accord owners can benefit from my mistakes.

When the “S” light on your dashboard stays on and your transmission won’t shift, don’t believe that greasy gear monkey behind the counter at the repair shop when he tells you your Accord needs a $2200 transmission rebuild… you probably just have a faulty Transmission Control Unit. And then, if that same grease monkey tells you a new TCU is $500 from Honda, drive that car back to your house in low gear and replace it yourself. Admittedly, I had to mail order my part from a junkyard in New York, but the price was right ($50 + shipping) and it took ten minutes to put the thing in. Now my Accord is as good as it ever and I have the satisfaction of knowing that I (kinda, sorta?) STUCK IT TO THE MAN!

Mandrake Linux, LG Cd-Roms, & You

Even though I don’t drool at the mouth about it, I am a Linux user. I’ve installed (or attempted to install) Redhat, Fedora, SUSE, Slackware, TurboLinux, and a few different iterations of Mandrake. Mandrake has been the most annoying, due to the well-publicized issues with the kernel destroying LG CD-Rom drives. What is not so well-publicized is the way to fix one of those drives that has gone bad. The LG site has a diagram and plenty of broken Engrish text files that are supposed to guide you through the process, but I had to search for two days until I finally found what I needed on

– Create a boot floppy disk dos 6
– Copy xferlg.exe and the firmware on that floppy
– Shutdown your PC
– Connect the CD drive on the second IDE cable BUT do not plug the power cable !
– Put the jumper on the CD-ROM drive as indicated in Dead.gif
– Turn on the PC (the drive has still no power cable) with the floppy disk
– When the floppy has finished to boot, press the eject button of the drive, and connect the power to the CD-ROM drive while the eject button is still pressed : the led blinks and then is continuously on
– Stop pressing the eject button after the led has finished blinking
– Run xferlg [name of the firmware without the .lge extension]
– Turn off the PC.
– Put the jumper of the drive in the correct position (master or slave)

It sounds dangerous, but it worked for me. All I can say is thank you open-source community and thank you Google!

HP ScanJet 5370cse Driver Install Tips

I purchased a HP5370 scanner at OfficeMax recently for only $29! It’s a few years old and HP will probably never update the driver again, but it works just fine with my current configuration and that’s what is important right now.

So, here’s the tip: When trying to install the drivers for Windows XP, you gotta boot your machine into SAFE MODE first. Then you can run the installer and everything will operate properly!

Update (June 1 2005): The last time I reinstalled XP, I left the scanner plugged into the box during the install. It was correctly identified and the drivers installed perfectly without any intervention from me at all.

Getting The Most Out Of A PowerBook 1400

1400.jpgI’ve always been a PC kind of guy…

It’s not that I’m one of those “Apple sux, PC’s rule” people, but I’ve always enjoyed being able to get my hands dirty with my OS and up until the advent of OS X, anything from Apple just didn’t allow the end user a “hands-in” experience. Despite this, I recently purchased a gently used PowerBook 1400c on eBay and I now know much more about the Mac OS than I ever thought I would or could. This isn’t really a “how to” in the classic sense; it’s more of a “how NOT to lose your sanity” than anything else.

First, here are the reasons why I bought a seven year old laptop that has all the speed of an original Pentium:

1. It’s upgradeable (you can put a G3 in it for $200).
2. They’re cheap (mine ended up costing $80).
3. They’re still useful (you can surf, email, and word process… not bad for the price).
4. They come recommended.

Secondly, here are things you should know if you’re considering a PB1400:

1. If it’s a 1400C it has an active matrix screen. The 1400CS has a dual-scan passive matrix screen.
2. The machine came in three speeds: 117Mhz, 133Mhz, & 166Mhz. I have the 117Mhz and it’s painfully slow.
3. If you don’t have an original PB1400 install CD, you can not install OS 7.5.3! (This has been the biggest headache for me and my PB1400… Apple offers the full OS 7.5.3 install for free on their web site, but does not offer the PB1400 Enabler file.)
4. eBay might be the easiest way to get a RAM upgrade, but it is not the cheapest.
5. OS 8.6, the OS many PB1400 enthusiasts consider to be the “sweet spot”, requires 24 Megs of RAM.
6. Unlike all other PowerBooks where you only hold down the C key, to boot from CD you need to hold down the command, option, shift and delete keys.

Third, here are some vital PB1400 links:

1. PowerBook 1400 FAQ #1
2. PowerBook 1400 FAQ #2
3. How to use an inexpensive 3Com PC ethernet PCMCIA card in your PB1400
4. – The PowerBook 1400
5. OS 7.5.3
download for free (sans the PB1400 enabler)
6. Updates for all the Classic OS’s
updates are crucial

Free VX4400 Backgrounds And Wallpapers

How Do I… ????

How do I put my own backgrounds and wallpapers on my VX4400?
1. Use a data cable and an excellent, free application called BitPim.
2. Use a data cable and a good (but complicated), free program called GAGIN.
3. Use any of the Verizon Wireless GetItNow getPix applications… these are not free.
So, I can email pictures to my phone now?
Yes, with the getPix applications you can.
Didn’t this page previously say the opposite?
Yes, it did. Things change. I’m a busy man… get off my back.
What about ringtones?
I’m not into ringtones, sorry.
How do I use the data cable with the free applications?
How to use GAGIN (kinda old)
GAGIN tutorial (not VX4400-specific, but it might help)
LG VX4400 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
BitPim VX6000 Tutorial (not VX4400-specific, but it should help)
Yahoo VX4400 Support Group


This page has changed… whats up with that?
Yes… I did a major overhaul on March 17 2004.
Did your wallpapers use to be in BMP format?
Yes… BitPim now works with JPGs (and has for a long time), so I switched ’em over.
Did you make all of these yourself?
The images have all been cut, cropped, and pasted from other people’s work. I make no claims of ownership of the images featured below. If you’re the original author or copyright holder of one of said images and you’d rather not see them used as cell phone wallpaper, let me know and I’ll remove the image immediately.
Why aren’t you “into” ringtones?
I’m just not. Now, get outta here kid… yer botherin’ me.    😉

To use these images on your phone:

  1. Click on the thumbnail image you want to use on your phone.
  2. The full-size image will appear in your browser window.
  3. Right-click on the image in the window and select “Save Picture As…”
  4. Save the image on your hard drive in a place where you can remember, and then use either GAGIN or BitPim with your cable to put the image on your phone.

Images removed… who uses a vx4400 these days?

Site Templates

I spend a lot of time building up web sites and then never putting them into production… don’t ask why, it just happens. Instead of throwing all those designs away, I’ve decided to start a site template repository here at Hopefully somebody will be able to put them to use.

Most of these designs borrow heavily from the lessons I learned at the CSS Repository at

I test all my layouts with IE 6, Opera 7, and Netscape 7.

site01.gif template #1
date added : April 10 2003
where/why : this is based on an old design from don’t worry, nobody will know!


site02.gif template #2
date added : April 10 2003
where/why : i enjoy a minimal, uncluttered layout; this design is about as minimal as you can get. feel free to make it ugly by brightening up those colors!


site03.gif template #3
date added : April 10 2003
where/why : this was a request from someone on the Movable Type forum… for some God-awful reason, two (!) people wanted a BIG-SMALL-SMALL column configuration. it doesn’t make much sense to me, but what the hell.


site04.gif template #4
date added : April 11 2003
where/why : This is a simple layout that achieves a lot with very little css… The beveled edges don’t render so well with netscape, but they’re plenty purty in IE.


site05.gif template #5
date added : April 23 2003
where/why : This is a heavily modified version of the “Holy Grail” design.


Importing From B2 To Movable Type

This How-To was updated on May 6, 2003 and then again on September 4, 2003 and again on June 4 2004. Given it’s age, this information is no longer relevant. I’m keeping it up here for historical purposes.

Here’s some code I wrote after getting involved in a discussion at the MT Support Forum. If you’re a MT user and you don’t read their forums, you’re only hurting yourself!

Many WordPress users visit this page hoping to migrate to MT with the help of this script… a visitor here named “seraph” tells us that the current version of WordPress uses a slightly modified database schema which keeps my script from working as designed:

all posts in recent versions of WP have posts set to 0 in wp_posts table, and there is a separate wp_post2cat table that links post IDs with category IDs.

Until i get a spare weekend to install WordPress and rework my SQL, I’m afraid you WordPress users will need to search elsewhere for your export/import needs.

This PHP script will read your B2 CMS entry, authors, and comments tables and format them for easy importation into Movable Type. Important note: all three B2 table must exist in your database or this script will not work! Please follow these directions closely:

1. To use this script, your host must allow you to run PHP scripts. Since you’re trying to import a B2 blog, this is probably not an issue (but I thought I’d mention it anyways).

2. Click here to view this code in another window.

3. Copy and paste ALL of the code into a new file and save it as export.php on your web-server.

4. Edit export.php to reflect your database info (your host, your login, your pw, etc).

5. Open a browser window and point to your copy of export.php.

6. Select the view source option from your browser’s menus.

7. Copy the source to another file and save that file in your import directory (as described in the MT import documentation. You did read the MT documentation, right?). Name the file something catchy, like import.txt.

8. IMPORTANT: Delete the first line of the file (it should be the line that has eight dashes )

How To Wrap A Burrito


I worked in fast food and at greasy spoons from the age of 14 all the way through college, so I sometimes get a little picky when it comes to how my food is prepared. The thing I get most picky about is my Tex-Mex… I rarely order a fast food burrito (a fast food burrito is a burrito from Taco Bell or Taco Cabana… please understand that a burrito served on a plate and smothered in sauce and cheese is an entirely different animal) simply because no one employed at these places can seem to assemble a burrito correctly.

Fact: a burrito (by design) is not supposed to fall apart… if it didn’t matter if it fell apart, it’d just be a big damn taco, right?

Also, a fast food burrito is not to be folded in on both ends; doing so takes away from the total usable fold-able area of the tortilla and only results in more rapid burrito self-destruction.

In an effort to contribute to the overall worldly good, I now present an easy and dependable method of reducing the dreaded Burrito Fallout Syndrome:

Continue reading “How To Wrap A Burrito”