Gaming Keypads and Retro Gaming

Video Games - AtariNote: This is not sponsored by any company nor is this a review of any specific product. While I do mention my specific device, this should apply any and all programmable gaming keypads.

As a programmer and a PC gamer, I have an affinity towards programmable gaming keyboards. The ability to create macros on the fly is invaluable both in a game and in an IDE. While I always liked the idea of a gaming keypad, I never really could justify the high price since I already use a programmable gaming keyboard. However, when I found one on sale I bought it without hesitation. I figured, even if I don’t like it for gaming, I could always take it to work and use it with my laptop for programming.

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Farewell Google Reader

RSS Feeds

Google Reader is officially dead. So what are you going to do now? Here are a list of some good free RSS readers.

If you want a full drop-in replacement, you can’t go wrong with Feedly. It’s a browser-based application that exists as an plugin or as an app for Apple iOS and Android. As a Webapp, it is synced across your devices, just like Google Reader.

If you only have one device or would rather just have a strait up RSS client here are a few of my personal favorites. For Windows, there is RSSOwl (PC). It is a basic RSS reader in written in Java. Vienna is probably the best reader for MacOS X. It features a “river of news” style feed that is customizable with various themes. On the linux front, there is Akregator on KDE and Liferea for GTK based Desktops such as Gnome and XFCE. These are both pretty capable readers and, if they aren’t already installed by default, are probably just an apt-get or yum command away.

If you want some more alternatives, here is a nice comprehensive list courtesy of GigaOM.

Don’t forget to subscribe to this feed in your new reader!

Fix – Chrome Audio Bug.

I recently went to play a video on Youtube and I noticed there was no sound. I doubt it was the video as I have played it a few times before. After some searching, I found that other people were having the same problem. It turns out that Chrome was recently updated and with it was a bug that affects Windows users who do not use stereo sound (My computer was set to Quadrophonic).

Until this bug is resolved users can go into their audio manager and set their speaker setup to Stereo.

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Radio Surfing In Style For Cheap (Or Getting Started with RTL-SDR)

Software Defined Radio is one of the coolest things to happen in the field of electronics since the personal computer. Instead of requiring lots of expensive single-purpose hardware, SDR does most of the work in software meaning that all you really need is an antenna, a special box, and a modestly powerful PC. These boxes such as the USRP by Ettus Research typically go for hundreds of dollars, which is cheap for hobbyists and researchers but not for broke-ass guy like me. Needless to say, when I heard about a $30 “el cheapo” TV dongle that could be used as an SDR, I quicky bought one.

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iTunes Windows 7 Icon Fix

OK, as a Mac and Windows user, iTunes on Windows has always bugged me for how buggy it compared to the OS X version. One of the more nitpicking complaints involved the taskbar icon. My problem didn’t just involve a double icon, but also the icon wasn’t the iTunes image (being some generic program icon). Plus, on top of that it had the label of iTunes(4). What was up with that? Well I managed to fix all these problems with one simple solution.

  1. Close iTunes and Unpin all iTunes icons from the Taskbar
  2. Open Explorer and go to the following folder: %appdata%\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch\User Pinned\TaskBar
    1. Note: %appdata% is a soft link that typically refers to “C:\Users\<User Name>\AppData\Roaming\” Try this folder if %appdata% doesn’t work
  3. Delete all iTunes shortcuts in this folder
  4. Run iTunes either from the Star Menu or by running: "C:\Program Files (x86)\iTunes\iTunes.exe"
  5. Right Click the iTunes icon on the task menu and click “Pin this program to taskbar”

By doing this, iTunes should only use one icon and will now have the iTunes picture.

Fix – Windows Media Center Not Showing Files

I have an XBox 360 which I use to stream my media collection to my TV. It is horribly finicky on the best of days and just outright useless on the worst. (I will save my rant on lack of supported codecs for another day!) One day I go to watch an episode of Babylon 5, only to find that all the files are gone. As far as Media Center is concerned, they don’t exist. Never mind that they are still on my PCs hard drive and that Xbox’s video player sees them. After looking at the Windows Media Center library, they all seem to be missing…just a bunch of empty folders. After forcing it to re-scan my library didn’t help, I found that the problem involves registry keys that somehow were deleted.

Here is the fix:

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