Review of the Disc-Go-Pod PLUS

Problem: A lot of my CDs are scratched and therefore skip when I try to play them.

Solution: Buy a machine to remove those CD scratches. I bought a Disc-Go-Pod PLUS for about $500.

My review:

First impressions

  • Wow, this is small! It’s bigger than a roll of toilet paper, but smaller than a bowling ball.
  • And what, no anodized aluminum casing? No brushed steel anywhere? What’s all this gray plastic?
  • Hmmm… This is just a motor in a plastic case. The motor spins the CD against some pads. $500 for that??

So I take it out of the box. The instructions seems pretty short, and I see that I have everything I need to get started–the liquid polishes and a few other things. I follow the instructions carefully, and put in a scratched CD. Sure enough, after one cycle, I’ve got a mirror-shiny disc.

Following the instructions, I spray it with the finishing spray, and hand wipe it clean with the soft white cloth that the machine ships with. I take it over to my computer to test it with Exact Audio Copy (the standard freeware software to test the readability of the data on audio CDs) to check it, and sure enough, the CD has no errors.

So I run a few more CDs through it, and I receive mostly the same results, with a couple of exceptions, which I’ll talk about in a bit.


The first pair of pads stopped working for some reason, perhaps because they got gummed up with ink or other material from the CD I put in upside down! What do I mean by saying the pads didn’t work? Well, they were effectively too ‘sticky’; i.e., they were holding onto the CDs with too much force, which kept the CD from spinning at the high RPM necessary for a good clean. I took them out and cleaned them with warm water and a toothbrush, the cleaning method I saw mentioned in the manual, but they still didn’t work. Fortunately the Disc-Go-Pod comes with a spare set of pads, and these worked fine. On Monday I’m going to contact the company to ask for advice. Continue reading

Google Gift 2006

Google 2006 Year-end Gift for AdSense Publishers Just got this via FedEx Ground today. I remember because the delivery guy was on his cell phone jabbering away in Brasilian Portuguese outside my door. (What’s with San Francisco delivery drivers and Brasilians, anyway? I swear they’ve got half of the driving jobs in the City!)

So the Google Christmas (or whatever holiday you do or do not like or like to celebrate) is basically a small media player. It’s got an LCD screen, a small speaker, and an even smaller microphone. It’s also got a slot for an SD card or MMC card. Wikipedia tells me that an MMC card is an older format that can be used in SD slots.
It comes preloaded with some images and a couple of sample MP3s and MP4 movies. I’ve got mine loaded up with NiMH batteries, showing the pre-loaded media.

It seems pretty easy to load media onto the device. Windows explorer tells me I’ve got about 25 MB of space. However, it doesn’t seem to automatically resize images, as the huge image I dragged and dropped with Windows Explorer threw an error.

I’m going to play with this a bit more. It could be fun. Funny, I was just thinking about getting something like this when it showed up in the Amazon Gold Box the other day.

A Black Plastic Waterman Fountain Pen from France

I used to have this really wonderful and stylish black plastic Waterman fountain pen I bought in Paris. It had an orange clip and cost about US $5 (30 francs, I think.). It was cool because it looked good–the plastic was a kind of nylon-like softish plastic with a matte finish. And it wrote pretty well. I liked to use it as my main writing utensil.

But I lost it. I’d picked up another one at some point and given it to my father, and one day over at his house on Lakeview, I quietly lifted it out of his lazy-susan pen tray. (I still need to tell him about that.)

I was happy again. But one day, after telling my students how much I liked the pen and how they weren’t made any longer, it disappeared from my classroom.

Now I’ve been looking for one of them again, but I don’t know what they’re called. I’ve got a standing search on eBay for ‘plastic Waterman’, but I’m not too hopeful.

Anybody know where to buy another one? Or at least what they’re called?

Interviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco Chronicle Interviews Erin (Article has a photograph, too.)

Last week I was interviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle (by Ellen Lee) about the CD-swapping site (see my review of lala). I talked for a while, a bit more than 30 minutes, if I recally. A freelance photographer (Megan Rathfon) came over to my house the next day to take a few shots of me working on the computer.

Not a whole lot to tell. They were a lot friendlier and more professional than some of the reporters I’ve dealt with in the past, and I had a nice conversation with the photographer about the business in general and about photography equipment.

Review of

If you’ve never heard of, here’s the quick run-down: a bunch of really smart people, with lots of seed money, have set up a system whereby you can trade CDs with other people for a dollar or so. It’s basically an intermediary for CD trading.

To simplify further, to trade CDs that you have, here’s what you do:

  • You have an original CD that you are willing to part with.
  • You list it on their system. This is pretty easy to do, and their search function employs the latest trendy AJAX technology, so various search results appear as you type.
  • If another lala member wants your CD, you get a message tellling you that somebody wants your CD. Continue reading

The Duckberg Times

Yeah, I know it was an obscure DC ‘zine before zines were cool, but I loved this publication. And I talked to the publisher, Linda, a bunch of times at various clubs, including the short-lived Pub Club and Cagney’s.

To this day, I remember Love Monkey:

  • Love monkey, love monkey, set me free.
  • It’s gonna have to wait till I take a pee.

And there’s more–one strip about the CIA planting a radio device in somebody’s head.
I’ve still got one strip in my old photography notebook, and I’ve seen something about the Duckberg Times on amazon, so I guess I’m not the only one who remembers the Duckberg Times.

Nikon F100

I dabbled in photography in college and even took a few classes as electives. I enjoyed them, but my teacher (Dr. Mary Hammond) was very old-school, and never let us use any of the various technologies available to us. She said all you needed was a Pentax K1000, a good lens, and lots of film (she liked Ilford for black and white). We were required to take a semester of manual pinhole photography before we could even pick up an SLR. As I’m sure all of you are aware, a manual pinhole camera requires the use of a very slow film because the shutter is very slow or at the very least, imprecise (since a human hand has to open and close the shutter). We had to shoot all of our pictures using paper negatives (which are grainy compared to film), but that’s what Dr. Hammond wanted. Continue reading

vBulletin vs Invision

Edit: 2011 June 16: This post is rather old and some of the information no longer applies. I’ve been getting a lot of bots hitting this post, so I’m closing it to comments.

I have been using vBulletin and Invision Power Board on different sites for several years now. I know that many people will want to know only my final decision, and to cut to the chase, I will say now that I much prefer vBulletin. But please keep in mind that what works for me may not work for you. As they say on forums sometimes, YMMV (your mileage may vary, which means that it might be different for you).

For those of you who want to know why, please read on.

I will try to describe my thoughts as i felt them (i.e., as I installed the two software packages on my sites and learned how to use them):

What I liked about vBulletin: Continue reading

A Brown Flair

My father always had the best handwriting of anybody I knew. He had a knack for giving even the shortest note look a touch that gave it a special impact.

And at the time his writing instrument of choice was a brown flair ben, the one with the small white plastic disc on the top of the cap that would spin if you turned the barrel while holding the cap still. Papermate would later upgrade the white disc to a white star, and although I must admit that I liked the new design, I felt a tug of nostalgia for the old design.

Google Toolbar for Firefox Bug

Situation: I’m typing in an input field and want to enter a special character, for example to type in “café”. I hit Alt + 130 to enter the “é” character.

For some reason, the “é” character shows up in the Firefox Google search box, not in the text box, then the page directs to a new page.

Data isn’t always saved (I guess that depends on the application.).

Response from Google: Known bug.