First and foremost, when working with any electronic gear, make sure the equipment is completely unplugged from any power source, including USB.

Tools needed:

– a thin-bladed knife (a utility knife is best, as it will likely get covered with epoxy)
– a Phillips head screwdriver
– pliers (needle-nose are preferable)

1. Take the thin-bladed knife and, at one of the front speaker housing corners, wedge it between the black, plastic, speaker housing face and the silver trim piece.

Logitech Z-10 - pic 1


2. Gently and slowly rock the knife back and forth to cut through the adhesive that’s holding the face plate to the speaker housing. Take care to keep the knife lateral to the face plate… the back of the plate has a black coating on it, making scratches transparent and very visible from the front.

Logitech Z-10 - pic 2


3. Make 4-5 passes around the speaker housing with the knife, cutting a little further into the adhesive each time.

4. Once the face plate starts to come loose, with your hands, gently go around the housing a few times, prying the face plate up a little more each time. Since it’s plastic, be sure to not bend the plate too much, as it could break.

Logitech Z-10 - pic 3


5. Once the plate is off, grab the Phillips head screwdriver and loosen the eight screws holding the housing together.

Logitech Z-10 - pic 4


6. Once the screws are loosened, slowly pull the housing apart. Be careful because the speaker wires don’t have much extra slack.

Logitech Z-10 - pic 5


7. With the needle-nose pliers, clamp and remove the speaker cable leads and the tweeter leads.

Logitech Z-10 - pic 6


With that, you should have successfully disassembled the Logitech Z-1o speakers.

Logitech Z-10 - pic 7


In this case, it turns out the problem is a blown speaker, as you can see the tear in the cone. Boooooo!!!!

Logitech Z-10 - pic 8

Hey, all. To get right to the point, I have an old Samsung Gravity 2 (model SGH-T469) that I no longer use, so I offered to give it away to someone who can make use of the phone. I, of course, want to make sure everything I put on it comes off it before the device leaves my hands for good. One major snag popped up, though – I lost the Master Reset password.

After trying no less than 40 possible combinations, I put my old pal, Google, to the task. In general, those Fixya and Wiki Answers pages seem to be little more than hugely unorganized data aggregate sites. They’re like those reverse phonebook pages that have EVERY SINGLE NUMBER COMBINATION listed so the search results will lead you to their page…. only those “help” sites list all possible model numbers, whether they have any useful info for those devices or not. So after searching numerous sites, I finally found a random page that was a huge help. I’ve since closed out of it so, without proper attribution, I’d like to say a big “thank you” to whoever you are.

It turns out that, from the main screen, you can put in a keypad combination to reset the phone – with or without that Master Reset password. Admittedly, I cringed a little when I hit the “OK” key because, well, it’s a little scary trusting that a random code found on a random website ISN’T going to turn the phone into some sort of drone device or whatever.

So, after removing the SIM card, this is what I keyed in from the main/home screen:

Upon hitting “OK,” BAM! This message popped up: “Please wait as the phone will automatically restart after full reset is performed”

So there you have it – a simple solution for a lost Master Reset password on a Samsung Gravity 2, model SGH-T469.

I work on one of the most-watched shows on TV. This is no small operation. Just like any other big, legitimately successful enterprise, we operate under a budget, but we also try to buy products that are going to be reliable. You know, as it’s said, “You get what you pay for.” But sometimes, what you pay for doesn’t turn out how you’d expect. Enter the Microboards G3 disc printer.

The G3 is the second disc printer of the same model that my employer has purchased for the office. The first one was acting funky, so a second one was purchased as a replacement. Taking a quick stroll across the internet, most distributors selling this printer have a price of just over $1,000 on them. That strikes me as pretty expensive for the luxury of printing labels on 50 CDs or DVDs in succession. That’s really the extent of what it does.

The printer does make life a little easier, when it works properly, but the problem is that it’s finicky on a daily basis. “The printer cartridge is unable to move” is the most frequent error message, which is only remedied by shutting down the printer, restarting it, then setting up the print job again. On occasion, even the restart doesn’t help because the printer cartridge is still apparently stuck. Stuck on what, I have no frickin’ clue. It sure doesn’t look stuck.

So, today, after being fed up with getting the “Hey, I’m stuck again” message, I thought I’d give the ink cartridge a little push/pull to see if it moved. The result was that something clicked… and not metaphorically. I’m talking about the “Uh oh, did I just do something bad?” kind of click. I printed a test disc, and the alignment was was off… what should have been printed in the middle of the DVD ended up being far enough to the right that the 10 characters in one line had almost printed off the disc. I could see that the cartridge physically wasn’t returning back to its usual spot after printing.

Since I am fairly savvy with electronics, and such equipment doesn’t belong in landfills, I had tucked the old, disc printer #1 away in a cabinet. I almost pulled the old unit out, until I discovered something on problematic printer #2… Underneath where the ink cartridge rests when not in use, there is a plastic, square outline. I pushed the cartridge holder straight back, and it moved without any resistance, like it’s spring-loaded. Then, sliding the ink cartridge to where it should have been situated, I pushed the plastic square back, and the ink carriage finally popped back in place. A test print was successful, as the text alignment was properly centered on the DVD again. Whew! A thousand more dollars potentially saved.

I am very confident that this debacle hasn’t totally fixed anything – the cartridge will continue to get stuck on itself, and printing will continue to be problematic. The bottom line is that this disc printer is expensive, yet unreliable. Microboards is now trying to phase out the G3 in favor of the G4. But considering how long the G3 was on the market, my expectation that reliability has improved is admittedly very low.

Have your own experience with the Microboards G3? Let me know about it in the comments section below!

I just discovered some extreme ignorance I possess regarding one of my guitars. It’s a Paul Reed Smith Custom 22, which I’ve owned for probably seven or eight years now. Coming from the old school, plain old tuning peg world, I restrung the PRS tonight the same way I always have – locking down the string with plenty of excess slack, then continually winding the tuner until each string reaches its proper pitch. It doesn’t seem like rocket science… until you think there’s a problem with your equipment and just realize the problem is that you’re behind times.

When I got the guitar out and started this project, I thought “Hey, the tuning peg is broken! I can’t lock down the string… it keeps popping out of the string holder on the peg every time I try to wind it.” I was frustrated because, well, this guitar is really nice and has been super reliable for quite a while now. But after seeking some expert advice, this is what I found:

1) There is no need to wind the string around the machine head like on the old style tuners. Don’t do what is shown in the photo below. Rather, read on for proper instruction.



2) My whole concept of the Paul Reed Smith winged tuning pegs was just completely wrong. When you’re finished setting up new strings, the wings on the machine heads should flare outward from the guitar, and the top and bottoms rows of tuning pegs should be fairly symmetrical.

To begin putting on new strings, loosen the cap screw just a bit (no more than a quarter turn is needed).



Flare the wing on the machine head outward, and line up the string in the slot, as shown below. No string slack is needed.



While holding the string in place, hand tighten the screw cap, then begin rotating the tuning peg. The screw cap will continue to tighten and, once the machine head aligns just right, the string will begin to tighten. Once tightening begins, push the flat side of the wing in towards the middle of the headstock to lock the string in place.


From there, bend the string back towards itself, snip of the excess string, and continue tuning the guitar up.


The finished product should look similar to the photo below:


FINALLY! After so long, this guitar has been properly strung. I’m read to rock, and hopefully you are now, too!

If you have any questions about this process, feel free to let me know in the comment section below. Additionally, if you have benefited from this post, leave a little note or consider sharing this page. Thanks!

In what felt like a one-two punch, I recently had a Seagate 3 TB internal drive fail, then the manufacturer’s “SeaTools” diagnostic software wouldn’t boot. I used the Windows XP version of SeaTools, and the software then recommended using the DOS version. Further complicating the diagnostics, to use the software you have to burn a “disk image” of the software on a CD or floppy disk. I opted for the CD, not so surprisingly, and used “Alex Feinman’s ISO Recorder.” That Freeware is recommended on the Seagate website, if you don’t have programs like Nero, EasyCD Creator, etc., but it didn’t work for me.

Upon reading carefully through the instructions and creating the ISO disk, I rebooted the computer and it froze on a message reading “Error reading from drive A: DOS area…. Ignore (I) Retry (R) Abort (A).” Hitting “I” did nothing, so I then moved on to try all kinds of fixes to get past that. Turning off the “A” drive in the BIOS settings didn’t solve the problem, and changing the boot sequence order, -making the CD/DVD drive the priority – didn’t help either.

What DID work was using a different program to burn the disk image. I fired up my Mac, downloaded the DOS ISO image, and burned it to a new CD using the Disk Utility program. To do that, you open up Disk Utility, click “File” at the top, select “Open Disk Image,” and navigate to and open the Seagate “SeaToolsDOS223ALL.ISO” file you have downloaded.

Then, still in Disk Utility, select the ISO filename that shows up in the bar on the left side of the utility. Go up and select the “Burn” icon, and the ISO disk should soon be ready.

From there, I put that disc in the Windows computer, and it booted straight to the “SeaTools for DOS” software. The Long Test is the way to go, as it discovered a whole page’s worth of bad sectors on the drive. Based on the test results, the problems are apparently fixed, though that still needs to be independently verified.

If you have any questions about this process, feel free to let me know in the comment section below. Additionally, if you have benefited from this post, leave a little note or consider sharing this page. Thanks!

It’s rough sometimes dealing with an older computer, especially when it feels like all your electronics are starting to have issues at the same time. Although I have a couple of newer computers, I still sometimes tinker around with a Dell XPS 400, purchased new in 2005. It’s actually still a fairly reliable workhorse, though I have been cleaning it up, with the ultimate goal being to retire that old system on eBay.

I started backing up the XPS’s files last week, and of course when I have my sights set on getting rid of the thing, it crashes. During startup, the system kept stalling on a BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) error. I really wish I would have taken a photo of the screen, though at the time I didn’t know I would be writing about it later. What is known, however, is that part of the “stop code” on the blue screen was 0x000000D1, and the error cited at the bottom was iastor.sys

Another cog in the wheel that slowed down finding a solution is that there was some sort of apparent voltage issue with the power supply at some point. That caused the plastic to melt on the SATA and power connectors that plug into the hard drive. Not cool (or good!) But what can ya do? Until now, it’s never had any hard drive issues beyond that one day, a few years ago, when I wondering “Where the heck is that burning smell coming from?” Due to the melted connectors, I can’t simply remove the hard drive and put it in a different computer to run diagnostics.

Upon researching the problem, it started to become more clear that the boot files on the hard drive must have become corrupt. I was at a loss for what could possibly be done. After giving it a few days (and considering the issue with the melted connectors), I decided to power up the Dell but connect the SATA (data) cable to the motherboard on a different Windows XP computer.

Can you guess what happened next?

The secondary Windows PC instantly recognized the Dell’s drive, and “Chkdsk” (the Check Disk program) began to run. After a few minutes of diagnostics, the secondary computer finally reached the Windows desktop screen, and the Dell drive popped up as a secondary hard drive! Hooray! It seemed to be fixed! … !!!

At that point, I shut down both computers and plugged the SATA cable back into the Dell. From there, I booted that computer up, and everything was almost back to normal. I say “almost” because the processor was doing this new thing, were it was constantly spiking at 100%. Even more strange was that the Task Manager didn’t show anything hogging more resources than usual. Finally, it occurred to me that I tweaked some BIOS setting when first trying to figure out what was going on with the Dell computer. It turned out I needed to set the computer up to share the dual core processors again, as it was then only using one of the cores.

To make a longer story even longer, if you’re getting a Blue Screen of Death and have an older computer, it might be worth a shot plugging the hard drive up to another computer to see if you can run some diagnostics. It worked for me, and I’ll finally be able to put this computer up on the auction block soon. “SOLD, for a thousand dollars!” – one can dream….

Having worked on a number of reality TV shows, it was always part of my job to have people who MAY appear on screen sign “Consent to Use Image” forms. On one particular show, it was a rather tricky operation because there was a form for unpaid appearances, one for paid appearances, and two others for, uhhh, some sort of confusing, paid/unpaid stipulation. Ultimately, law can be a pretty murky area, so one photography professional I know always carries around $1 bills to compensate people for incidental appearances. If people happen to show up in video he shoots for commercial use, he gets them to sign the “Image Use” agreement and pays them a buck. His agreement form points out that they were paid – and how much – to further help avoid legal claims.

Another important consideration for these “Image Use” forms is to jot down on the form itself a physical description of the people who have signed these agreements. In the long run, Producers and Video Editors can then determine much easier which people have already been cleared to be used in your production.

The example listed below comes from a show I previously worked on. As I am in no place to dispense legal advice, I am conveying the information below “as is.” In other words, using the information given is at your own discretion, and you should run it by a lawyer to see if he/she has anything to add to it.


Consent to Use Image

I was/will be filmed, photographed, or recorded by ____(your company name goes here)____. In consideration of the potential exposure that this production may bring me, I ____(subject fills in name here)____ grant to ____(your company name here)____ and its agents, licensees, productions vendors, affiliates, subsidiaries, successors and assigns, the universe-wide, royalty-free, fully paid-up, irrevocable, and perpetual right and permission to (without my approval) use, publish, broadcast, and copyright (whether in digital form or otherwise) my name, nickname, persona, character or characterization, initials, logo, slogan or catch phrase, autograph, facsimile signature, voice, photograph, film, video or new media portrayal, actual, simulated or drawn likeness, images, biographical or historical information, any material provided by or statement made (whether oral or written) by me, and physical attributes including, but not limited to, any material based on or derived based on my likeness.

I also agree to assume all responsibility for and hereby release and hold ____(your company name here)____ and each of its officers, directors, employees, shareholders, agents, licensees, affiliates and subsidiaries, harmless form any liability of any kind or any claim whatsoever (including, but not limited to, claims for personal injury or death, invasion of privacy, defamation, right of publicity or infliction of emotional distress) directly or indirectly arising out of or resulting in any way from my likeness being used by ____(your company name here)____ and I acknowledge that my likeness may be used in and in connection with still imagery, film and audio, affiliated with current and future ____(your company name here)____ projects.

I acknowledge that there will be no compensation to me for being filmed, photographed, or recorded and the rights granted herein except as provided herein and that ____(your company name here)____ is not required to use my likeness. I also acknowledge that all materials produced under this agreement, including any photos, films, or recordings are the absolute and exclusive property of ____(your company name here)____ forever. This agreement shall be governed by and construed under the laws of the State of ____(your U.S. state)____ and the parties hereby consent to the exclusive jurisdiction and venue in the courts sitting in ____(your city and state)____.



Print name:________________________


Date of birth:_____________________

Today’s date:______________________


Once I get my domain website in order, I plan on making the document above a downloadable form that’s already formatted, so stay tuned. For more Reality TV / Documentary resources, check out this post: How to Conduct a Documentary / Reality TV Interview.


Finally, as an aside, WordPress provides me with two types of useful stats: page views and how a person landed here. Though anonymous, sometimes I can see search engine terms that linked to this page. For this entry, I sometimes see terms like “can you be on reality tv without consent?”

Well… unless you feel your appearance is exploitative and tarnishes your reputation, don’t be a jerk and try to figure out ways to screw people out of money. There is already too much dumb litigation going on in this society, bogging down the courts and creating animosity between people.

I’m no lawyer or judge, but I have taken Media Law classes that exposed me to real-world privacy cases. Chances are, if you’re trying to figure out if you can exploit people and seek damages for a situation where no harm was done to you, then you’re probably S.O.L. Were you in a public space when you were filmed? If so, you can’t have any expectation of privacy. Were you on film because you were in the proximity of a public figure? Then, you’re not the subject of the video. If you just happened to be in the background, you may – but probably don’t – have a case. Were you on the news? News is public interest. No money for you. If you were in a private space, are you sure there wasn’t a filming notice posted and, by entering the property, you were giving consent for your likeness to be used?

If you were in the background of a show, do what I’ve done – laugh about it, share the exposure with your friends, and fuhgetaboutit. Unless Honey Boo Boo’s family made you look bad (by association), you were caught making out with a high schooler, or Snooki assaulted you, it’s probably not that serious. If it is, get off the internet and take the footage you were in to a lawyer, because you’re not going to get good, free legal advice through a Google search.

As always, feel free to share this page via the social networking links provided below… comments are always cool, too!

Home Brewed Beer in Clear Glass Bottles

Last night I bottled my second batch of beer, and maaaan was it a challenge. As mentioned in my previous post [(Home)Brewing Some Beer], the Mr. Beer kit is a good way to begin to learn the craft of beer making. The equipment leaves something to be desired, however, as it’s cheap. But as we’ve all heard, “you get what you pay for.” Everything is plastic, which means replacement parts are required at some point. Unfortunately, in my case, the need for a replacement part came much too soon. The spigot on the fermenting tank stopped working after brewing the very first batch, and the discovery of that came at a most inopportune time.

While prepping the second batch (American Blonde Ale), I went through the motions – sanitize all the required tools/boil water in a pot/mix in the hopped malt – and discovered that the sanitized water wouldn’t pass through the spigot on the fermenting tank. So the only option was to flip the fermenting tank over to dump out the water. I then removed the spigot from the tank to see what was up. The assembly is designed so that hitting the “push” button activates a bar inside that pulls down on a rubberized seal, allowing liquid to pass through the valve. Well, the bar had somehow become disconnected from the rubberized enclosure, so the “push” button activated nothing. Since the spigot wasn’t leaking, I had no choice but to go ahead and reassemble it so the “wort” and yeast could do their thing.

Mr. Beer’s Customer Service dept. was a big help. I let them know the equipment failed after just a single use, and they promptly sent me a replacement/redesigned spigot. It sure is nice to have, though it’s hard to remove a tap when its seal is helping keep liquid in the fermenting tank.

My wife and I schemed and debated on the best approach to get the beer out for bottling. Ultimately, I ended up turning the faulty spigot counter-clockwise until beer began pouring out. I really hope the liquid didn’t get too agitated/aerated, as it flowed down into the sanitized pitcher I put in the sink. In retrospect, the better idea probably would have been to sanitize a ladle and slowly, scoop by scoop, move the beer into the pitcher. Once enough beer poured out of the tank, I was able to reach in and install the new spigot.

Also, this could turn out to be a really stupid move, but I substituted sugar for honey in one of the bottles to see what happens. As it’s a sugar product, I know the yeast will convert it to alcohol, but I have no idea if it’s appropriate to use the same amount of honey as the recommended amount of sugar. We shall see, and hopefully nothing blows up.

One thing I was concerned about was that all the swing top bottles I have are clear. Dark brown and green bottles are used to keep out sunlight, which can break down the hops in the bottled beer. Sometimes that’s used for effect, as it adds flavor to brews like Corona. So it seems to be that you can use whatever bottles you want – colored or not – but be sure to store the clear ones in a dark cabinet to avoid introducing a skunky flavor.

Also, to further develop my beer making skills, I bought a hydrometer. Honestly, I still don’t know exactly what the “specific gravity” readings tell you, but I do know that you can calculate the beer’s percentage of alcohol (ABV) with the device. The tool also indicates if fermenting is underway or if it’s complete. But how to determine those from the hydrometer, I have no idea, as the one purchased through Mr. Beer came with no instructions at all. You’re pretty much on your own figuring the thing out, but I guess they must figure you know how to operate such a device if you’re buying one. But I don’t, and I have some research to do.

So my second batch ever is now in storage for the next couple weeks. Hopefully it will be a hit at Thanksgiving… but I think I’m going to have to try a bottle beforehand so I don’t potentially offend my guests!

I’ve written about it before, and I’m writing about it again: data management is extremely important if you want to keep files around for the long haul. And maintaining organization for those files is key, as we only have so much time on this planet to deal with such issues. I’m writing this as my other computer is copying old CD-RW files to an external hard drive. I have stacks of media that need consolidated, and it’s a shame that the project requires so much of a time investment. That doesn’t have to be the case for data generated today.

In an earlier post (check it out here), I spoke of technology like the Drobo S, which we use at work to backup video footage that costs millions of dollars to produce. As it’s frequently said these days, “storage is cheap,” so there is very little excuse to NOT backup all your important documents, including (but not limited to) your photos and videos.

The file management system that works best for me is a combination of an external hard drive and a pair of DVDs. That is, I try to be meticulous about backing up every single important file to that external drive, and then to a primary and a backup DVD when enough data accumulates and warrants burning a disc.

Also, for my system, I try to keep the data conventions simple. I really enjoy travel and taking pictures – probably spending more time doing so than I should – so I keep a primary folder on the external drive called “Photos-MainBackup”. From there, all photos are narrowed down into more folders displaying the year (if known) and content. For example, one recently created folder is called “2012-Italy”. Nice and simple. That way, you can search for content based on year or the subject. And sometimes it helps you to figure out exactly when the heck you went somewhere.

Also, many of us have pretty sizable music collections these days, so it might not be such a bad idea to create a “Music-MainBackup” primary folder, and maybe even a “Documents-MainBackup” folder.

Of course these are merely suggestions. This is the system that works best for me, so I don’t have to spend a whole lot of time sifting through data to find what I’m looking for. Again, if “storage is cheap these days,” there is very little reason to lose data forever. It’s bound to happen, though, if you don’t plan ahead. Backing up does take a little time investment, but the time spent is very well worth it. Otherwise, it seems that the time invested in creating content that isn’t worth saving is a waste right from the start.


Colorful Circuits

Wine is a tricky thing. The output between two years is never quite alike because no two growing and harvesting cycles are quite the same. Some days see rain, others not. Some days are stifling and others are perfect. It’s just always different, day to day, year to year. That’s part of what makes it fun – the unknown… and the hunt for a product cultivated under “optimal” conditions (whatever that is). But the wine hobby can also be a frustrating one. That part comes from finding a go-to favorite and realizing how elusive it becomes once new stock is released and the stores stop carrying your favorite year.

My interest in wine tasting really stems from a singular event. It was Thanksgiving in 2007 or so, and the holidays are always a time when my family keeps the wine flowing. One bottle in the mix was a 2005 Turning Leaf Pinot Noir, and it stood out like a sore thumb… but a good sore thumb… a really good sore thumb! That bottle of Pinot Noir was a cheap, $6-7 bottle (in Ohio), and it really made me say, for the first time, “Woah, this is really good!” Years after first trying it, it’s taste is still pretty distinct in my mind – it had strong strawberry notes and a buttery kind of feel/flavor. And now I can’t find it anywhere. By the way, Christmas is coming up in a couple months, in case your sleuth skills are better than mine. Just sayin’.

Back to the real focus of this post… It’s really interesting considering how broad the wine “bouquet” can be. Not only do growing conditions affect the flavor, so do the storage methods. Stainless steel often gives wines a more crisp taste, which can be complementary for light, fruity wines. On the other hand, red wines stored in oak sometimes enhance wines with lovely vanilla notes.

The list below is of notes I have either used or heard others use to describe wine characteristics:

asparagus (as a joke, from the movie “Sideways”)
cat piss (seriously, I’ve heard this one!)
fruit punch
grass (freshly cut, of course)
honey suckle
lemon zest
orange blossom
orange zest
zoo (the first Gewürztraminer I ever had tasted like the smell of a zoo… yuck!)

As for an actual wine wheel, feel free to print/check this one out:

Wine wheel courtesy of:
Public Domain Pictures