rjpaulsen's blog

Recommendation for Replacement Cell Phone Parts

Although it may be a bit scary giving your credit card information to a company in Hong Kong, we have had good luck with Cellular Nationwide Network (http://cnn.cn/). They sell replacement parts for all kinds of phones -- and not just chargers, cases and adaptors. We've purchased a replacement casing, a replacement track ball (both for a Blackberry Pearl) and a charging port (for a Nokia). They also sell replacement screens -- and that is the actual LCD part, not just the clear plastic cover (which they also sell).

Crate & Barrel Silicone Baking Cups

The Crate and Barrell Silicone Baking Cups are intended to be reusable cupcake liners. According to the box, there is 'no greasing' required and your cupcakes will 'pop out easily.' After destroying practically every cupcake in an attempt to taste their chocolaty goodness, it is safe to say that these baking cups are one of the worse kitchen gadgets to clutter your cabinets.



Sole Unisex Softec Ultra Insole

The SOLE Softec Shoe Inserts by NatureWorks replace the inserts that come with off-the-shelf sneakers. They improve comfort, balance, alignment and pressure distribution by giving extra arch support, and can help flat-footed people. Besides being Eco-friendly (they are made of corn and not petroleum) these inserts differ from others in that they can be heated in your kitchen oven so they will form to the shape of your foot. 

How do I power my USB devices on an airplane?

If you are going on a short plane ride, we suggest instead of plugging in, you just bring fresh batteries and maybe a backup. You cannot guarantee the plane will have power, and getting it to work requires even more hardware, wires and luck.

  • Choose the Right Seat

Planes do not have a power adaptor at every seat, so when booking a flight and you are prompted to choose a seat, go to www.SeatGuru.com, look up your plane and locate available seats with power. SeatGuru indicates seats with power by a black dot. You may be warned that not all versions of your plane are have the same and may not have available power.

Using the Garmin 260 GPS to Navigate European Streets

It was time to update my original Garmin GPS and I had two options. I could get a Garmin that read street names or, for the same price, a Garmin that has US and European maps. Since I had a vacation to Germany planned in the near future I opted for European maps that come with the Garmin 260.

Apparently there are "maps" and "Detailed" maps and the Garmin came with "detailed" maps, which appears to be true. All the tiny little streets (some only a block long) all seemed to be there in the various towns I checked.

  • Works well in open areas, but not in narrow streets

Many of the streets in the 'Old' part of towns are very-very narrow (Just a few feet wide in some places). Although the buildings are not tall (mostly 2, 3 or 4 stories) there is not much clear sky and unfortunately that seems to be enough to block the satellites.

  • Doesn't work well turning it on and off

Since I didn't want to approach the end of the day only to find my GPS was dead, I would only turn the GPS on until I had a clear shot to my next location. The problem with this is that because of the poor reception it sometimes took 10 min before it had a lock on the satellites. That is a long time waiting, or a long time heading in the wrong direction.

Coby CV-E195 Noise Canceling Headphones

At $20, these are going to some of the cheapest noise canceling ear buds you can buy. If you were considering picking up a cheap pair, don't. They do practically nothing for canceling airplane engine noise. In fact, I would argue they make engine noise worse by adding to it a high-pitched hum -- even when there is audio input. They are cheaply made and the control box is unnecessarily large.

Panasonic RP-HC30 Noise Canceling Headphones

The Panasonic RP-HC30 noise cancelling earphones remove some of the persisten background noise from your environment.  The $40 RP-HC30 ear buds are not as good as $400 over-ear headphones, but they do work well and they easily fit in a pocket or carry-on. Where more expensive over-ear headphones block out virtually all airplane engine noise these ear buds mostly take the edge off of the droning of the engines.

When first using the RP-HC30 on a flight it was disappointing how little engine noise it seemed to block; seeming to old make the engine noise sound 'different'. After being removed thirty min into the flight it became obvious how much engine noise was actually being reduced. Although "Reducing outside noise by 75%" does not make an immediate difference, it makes a huge difference over time.

Structurally the device is well built and very compact. The oddly shaped ear buds fit nicely in the ear canal and offer excellent sound quality (including bass). There is virtually no hiss when noise reduction is enabled and even then it is only noticeable if there is no audio input.

Thanks to the compact size, decent sound quality and ability to make flights more pleasant, the Panasonic RP-HC30 Noise Canceling Ear Buds are now a permanent addition to the carry-on bag.

Issues When Upgrading Blackberry from BIS to BES on T-Mobile

When switching from BIS to BES on my Blackberry I had some issues that I was not able to find easy answers for on Google, so I thought I'd pass it on to you incase anyone has the same issues (and so I have it written down). My internet didn't work, my personal email didn't work and I ended up with duplicate Calendar Entries.
1. My bookmarks did not work. I had to:

  • Edit each bookmarks from "Internet Browser" to "Blackberry Browser".
  • Set the default browser to "Blackberry Browser" (Options->Advanced->Browser).

2. After setting up Exchange I was able to get my Exchange email, I did not getting my Yahoo/Gmail email. I also could not get Google Maps or Blackberry Maps to work, I had to:

V178 AL DENTE 5 Piece Pasta Maker Review

The "V178 AL DENTE 5 Piece Pasta Set" is an all-in-one pasta maker that includes the main unit, two accessories that cut a total of 4 sizes of pasta and a 3rd accessory that cuts ravioli and lasagna.

I was concerned about getting the V178 AL DENTE because of the negative reviews on Amazon but took the plunge since Amazon is great on handling returns. After having it for a week I've made several batches of pasta and I am very happy with the quality and functionality of the device. It took 3 batches before I got the hang of it, but recent batches have been turning out good.

I'm guessing those with issues are putting too much in, not taking the time for practice runs or using dough that is too sticky. For someone, like me, that wants a pasta maker and knows it will only be used occasionally, the Price/Quality exceeds expectations.

Cleanup is easy if your dough isn't sticky (which it shouldn't be) and no have been no issues with metal/oil residue as reported by others.

The 3rd accessory (Ravioli/Lasagna) seems to be the least useful since Ravioli will be easier using a Ravioli cutter instead of trying to feed it into the machine at the same time the pasta is stuffed. The other accessories do a great job and look like they'll last as long as the other parts of the unit.

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