Monday, September 26, 2011

Beer Can Wifi Antenna

Ain't she a beaut? Here are the instructions.

I guess the idea is that the beer can reflects signals that would otherwise escape through the walls, into your neighbor's house. Does it work? I dunno. I didn't do any careful before/after signal strength testing. The signal was pretty good before, throughout the house, and it's still pretty good. 

But it's a beer can! Cool!

And yes, it's a PBR can, and yes, I poured the beer down the sink. Somewhere a hipster is crying. It's from a six-pack that Stacy bought two years ago, to kill slugs. PBR - a thousand uses! Just don't drink it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Color Android Tablet - Under $250. Available Now.

That's right, you can have a decent Android tablet, today, for under $250. 7" color touch screen. Wi-Fi. A zillion Android apps. Here's how.

It turns out the Barnes & Noble nook Color e-reader already runs Android, albeit a neutered version. And B&N is selling refurb units on eBay. So head over there, search for "nook," and buy a color one for about $190. 

[Update, thanks to Cheryl: is selling refurb nook Colors for less than B&N.] 

Then head over to Amazon and buy one of these cards for about $50 (for 16 gigs. You can spend more for 32 or less for 8. 16 feels like the sweetspot.) The card contains a bad-ass version of Android called CyanogenMod. It runs on a bunch of Android platforms, including the nook Color.

(Wait a week for the toys to come...)

Okay, first set up the nook the official way. Make sure it works.

Next, follow the instructions that come with the card and install it. You don't have to open the nook up, but It's a little tricky - the card port was designed for tiny little fingers. I found this video helpful.

When you reboot, you've got yourself an Android tablet. And you've delayed Apple's global hegemony by ten minutes or so. Cool!

There are other ways to do this, but the beauty of running CyanogenMod off a separate card is that you don't alter your nook in any permanent way, or void the warranty or anything. You can revert to a vanilla nook anytime, simply by removing the card.

Now I can lie in bed, watch SportsCenter, and read Facebook on a reasonable display. All at the same time. Truly, the golden age is here.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Back Off, America

Ten years ago, we were still living in New York. Stacy worked at the World Trade Center. She was there on 9/11. She got out okay. We were lucky - no one close to us died. We had friends who weren't so lucky. 

Over the years, America at large seemed content to move on, and that was fine with us. Each bitter anniversary was a private time to remember. We didn't need hoopla.

But now America, with its fondness for round numbers, has glommed onto the tenth anniversary. It seems like every group of more than three people is holding an event to mark the day, and any politician who can get to a microphone has something to say. It's bugging me, but I've got a short fuse, so I asked Stacy, because she skews angelic. Well, it's bugging her, too. We both feel like something intensely personal is being taken away from us. I think I'm getting my first tase of cultural appropriation from the losing side, and I don't like it at all.

By all means, America, remember 9/11. Remember New York, remember D.C., remember the plane crews and passengers, remember the troops who served in the wars that followed. But don't you dare tell me what it felt like, and what it all means.