Read on for some happily raving blather...

Fumoto Oil Valves rock.

I tend to do oil changes and minor stuff on my Soobyroo myself; with a set of drive-on ramps for getting underneath it's not hard to do that even in my excuse for a garage. Last time I did a service, about half a year ago, I gifted the Soobyroo with an N-type Fumoto valve, and today it proved its worth - the oil change was a total no-mess-no-stress item: Cut cable tie (BSTS), attach hose to nipple, plop hose in old oil canister, twist valve handle, wait until drained. No more expendable crush seal rings, no more worrying about overtorqueing the drain bolt, no more gushy hot oily mess that inevitable extends to outside the drain pan. Very much recommended, and not pricey at all.

Hanlin V3 Ebook

I'm a good customer of the second-hand bookstore in Coolangatta (as they usually have a nice SF selection), but I always run out of book storage space very quickly, and I like ebooks for recreational reading. For numerous years I used my Palm Pilots (a TRG Pro mainly, then a Palm 3C) for reading books but the screens are a tad small, even more so on my phones (Treo 600, 680 and now a Centro - I still love PalmOS!). A colleague showed me his Cybook Bookeen last year (a practical device but limited by its software), and around Christmas I got me a Hanlin V3 reader.

The Hanlin reader should have been called 'Babel' - it's being sold with so many different labels - but it's a nice device, Linux under the hood, APIs and development environments are available and it reads just about everything under the sun.

The standard firmware is a bit limited in some regards, but there are many decent alternatives around; the one that I find most pleasant to use is the Russian one by biv_sumy (Tigor LBook 2010-01-21).

Topfield PVRs

Australian TV programming sucks: the gov't-controlled ABC is good but pedestrian in content, the gov't-semi-supported SBS is great and shows 90% foreign stuff (current Austrian import: Stockinger shudder) but since a couple of years ago they also advertise during films (moderately but still obnoxious). And the commercial stations? They manage to ruin any kind of film by absolutely overloading it with ads. Ben Hur ran recently and I counted 18 commercial breaks. Sure, it's over four hours in length but still...

So last week I got me a Topfield TF5000PVRt, second-hand with a somewhat smallish harddisk (that immediately got swapped out with a spare 200gb). It's an older SD model (actually it records HD just fine, just no decoder), DVB-T dual-tuner and with very nifty instant timeshifting capabilities, with USB for transferring your files to a computer, and -most importantly- it comes with a published API and gazillions of small extension programs (called TAPs, Topfield Application Programs) which make the device even nicer.

Gadgetry that I use with the Toppy:

  • Skip TAP: gives you quick tiem jumps, with binary search (the jump time gets halved on every jump, great for zeroing in on the end of an ad)
  • EPG Navigator TAP: really nice program guide replacement, better timer access
  • HDFW TAP: firmware patching in memory, also for firmware flashing
  • TF5000 Display TAP: use the front panel seven-segment display more flexibly
  • TSR Commander TAP: one-key configuration access for other TAPs
  • Puppy: for accessing a Topfield from a Unix box via USB
  • DVBCut: for convenient editing and converting of Topfield files (which are MPEG-TS plus bookmarks) to DVD-ready MPEG-PS

A very nice device, and the timeshifting takes away the pain of the damn ads.

[ published on Mon 05.04.2010 19:20 | filed in interests | ]
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© Alexander Zangerl