Arduino-based automatic cable cutter

Instead of cutting cables manually, like a chump, I built this:

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YouTube Link to 

The code is available here.

Parts list:

Tascam US-122L

In my ongoing hunt for good audio, I decided it was time to get a real audio interface. I had been jury-rigging my mixer with more adapters than most people own in order to get the sound into my laptop. I finally gave up and just did a search on eBay for “audio interface.” I picked the highest price I was willing to spend, and watched every single one below that price. With the help of JBidWatcher (an awesome piece of software) I was able to snag a Tascam US-122L for half-price.

I was excited when it arrived, all shiny and visibly used. But as long as everything works, I don’t care about a few scratches. I installed the software, fired up Audacity, plugged in a mic, and… Nothing. Audacity gave me an error. I thought I had researched this one and confirmed it was compatible with Audacity. I tried Garage Band. It worked perfectly. It was obviously something wrong with Audacity. But I had read about people using it with no problems. On a whim, I decided to install the Snow Leopard driver (I only have Leopard.) Voila! It worked.

So now I have a fully functioning USB audio interface. I like it. It has rudimentary level meters (a green light that turns orange, then red when the level gets too high.) It accepts line and mic inputs, and it provides phantom power. The US-122L plus Audacity equals a pretty legit recording studio. As long as you only need to record two tracks at once. For $65, that’s fine by me.

Tascam US-122L



Tascam US-122L

Tascam US-122L

Cheaper printer ink

Printer inks are a rip-off. Period. There is no way is ink $3,500 per gallon. (Assuming the ink cartridges are 12 cc each at $13 a cartridge. That’s 92 cents per cc, a gallon is 3,785 cc = $3,482/gallon.) Now, we don’t buy ink by the gallon, but almost $80 to replace all the ink in my printer seems too steep. Read on to find out how you can refill your ink for less than $15 per full cartridge set. Continue reading

Safari, and why I don’t use Firefox

I have been a Safari user since it started shipping with Mac OS X. Before that, like many users, I was stuck with Netscape Navigator (ew) or Internet Explorer for Mac (ew again, but less this time.) When Safari rolled out, i was happy to shun the awful UI of Microsoft forever. Along the way I tried Firefox, but it wasn’t to my liking. Now that Safari and Firefox have both matured significantly, I have compared Firefox and Safari again. I even tried switching over to Firefox, but it only lasted about a week. I just think that Safari is the better web browser. However, Safari can learn a few things from Firefox, and vice versa. Continue reading

More Facebook Badness

Despite users despising the new layout, the user-hating folks at Facebook have decided to change the design yet again. This time, they have changed the look of the homepage only. Unfortunately, this is where most users spend most of their time, so it has a significant impact. In the old new design, wall posts, status updates, and the like were all in the same place. Each of the different things had a unique look to them. At a glance you could distinguish between wall posts and status updates. Not anymore. Continue reading

Vista allows you to control your kids computer use!? No way!

According to another Mojave Experiment ad, Vista lets you control your kids computer use. It allows you to set the amount of time per day, and the hours of the day that your kids can be on the computer. It also tells you what the kids have been doing. Mac OS X has included those features since Tiger (10.4.) Leopard even allows you to manage the account from another computer on the network. See the screenshots after the break. Continue reading

Vista lets you record TV!? No way!!

I just saw a commercial for Vista. They were showing off how Vista can, get this, record live TV so you can watch it later. I really wish my computer could do that…wait, it can.
TV Tuner cards for computers have been around for a long time. Any tower PC, and now even laptops and all-in-ones, can record directly from the cable coming into your house. There is no benefit to having Vista. You simply don’t need Vista to use a TV tuner. Not only that, the commercial seemed to suggest that by simply (or not-so-simply) installing Vista would suddenly allow your computer to record TV. The problem is that you still need a tuner card. And how much do you want to bet that you tuner card will work with Vista? Oh, and you also need Vista Home Premium or Vista Ultimate. I’d rather spend the money on an HD tuner.
Now if only the video on Mojave worked…

Razer Diamondback and the Mac

I got an awesome early Birthday present. A Razer Diamondback 3G. I decided to download the Razer Pro|Click drivers, because the Pro|Click and Diamondback really are the same mouse, just with different colors. Unfortunately, the drivers did absolutely nothing. So I decided to use a product I reviewed earlier, USB Overdrive. Again, the driver didn’t work. This time, though, it made the right side-buttons act exactly the same as the scroll wheel. In my quest for full Diamondback functionality, I looked at SteerMouse. This $20 application is actually better than USB Overdrive, in that it recognized all the buttons properly, and it overrides the system control of sensitivity and speed. It also includes a feature that jumps the cursor to any of the window control buttons, or the default (OK, Cancel) button.