Sunday Evening Bike Ride

Just took a nice and short bike ride the Greenway Trail that connects Beverly Hills park by my house to Mitchell Park and eventually Fox Brook park. Nice trip that’s about 8 miles through Brookfield neighborhoods and parks.

I recorded this trip using the Trails iPhone app that record maps while hiking, on bike trips or while jogging directly on your iPhone.

Sunday Evening Bike Ride at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail: Share GPS Tracks

My New Birthday Present

My brother is awesome and not only because he buys me the best geeky birthday present. For my birthday this year, he bought me a new DELL XPS desktop with the latest Intel Core i7 processor. The Core i7 is a quad-core processor with hyper-threading that appear as 8 separate processors to the operating system, giving the machine some serious processing horsepower.

My configuration is the Intel Core i7-920 processor(8MB L3 Cache 2.66GHz), 6GB of RAM (DDR3 SDRAM at 1067MHz), ATI RADEON HD4670 512MB video card and Serial ATA II RAID 0 With Dual640GB Hard Drives for a total of 1.2 TB onboard. The machine also came with combo Blu-Ray/DVD/CD reader and burner along with 64-bit Vista. Here are the complete tech specs for the geeks out there.

Qty Item Number Description
1 224-3607 Studio XPS 435MT
1 311-9770 Intel Core i7-920 processor(8MB L3 Cache 2.66GHz)
1 311-9800 6GB DDR3 SDRAM at 1067MHz
1 310-9731 Keyboard included in Dell Bluetooth Package
1 320-7771 ATI RADEON HD4670 512MB
1 341-8397 Serial ATA II RAID 0 With Dual640GB Hard Drives
1 421-0084 Microsoft Windows Vista SP1 Home Premium 64-Bit
1 310-1966 Mouse included with Keyboard purchase
1 430-3347 Integrated 10/1000 Ethernet
1 313-7184 Blu-Ray, DVD+R/RW, CD-RW Drive
1 313-7186 Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio
1 310-5408 Free Recycling Kit
1 310-9562 Bluetooth Keyboard and Mouse
1 341-8296 Dell 19 in 1 Media Reader withBluetooth 2.0

Here are some screenshots from the computer with more geeky goodness 🙂

Upgraded my computer – Love the NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT card

I have a couple of computers at home but my primary machine is a DELL desktop running Vista. This is a dual-core machine with 4 GB of RAM but it ran sloooooooooooowwwwww. So I just upgraded the machine with a new 500w power supply and a NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT video card. The NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT is an amazing video card that’s SLI ready with 112 stream processors and a 256-bit framebuffer interface running at 900MHz, DirectX 10, PCI Express 2.0 and the second generation NVIDIA PureVideo engine with full acceleration and post processing for HD DVD and Blu-ray movies.

Here are the screenshots of the Performance Information and Tools screen with the before and after Windows Experience Index number. Guess I need to upgrade the processor next.

The power supply I chose was the PC Power and Cooling PPCS500D Silencer.

Holy Bandwidth – Take 3

I just upgraded my existing Road Runner turbo connection to their Business Class service and I now have 15Mbps downstream and 2 Mbps upstream along with QOS to give my packets priority over the rest of the regular Roadrunner customers.

Road Runner Turbo - Business Class bandwidth test

Road Runner Turbo - Business Class bandwidth test

Prior to this upgrade, I was getting 15Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream and so the extra Mbps of upstream is nice but I can really tell the difference in the QOS. I did a speed test to a server in Chicago and then to another server in San Francisco and didn’t notice any drop in speed or overall bandwidth. Prior to business class Road Runner, there was significant drop-off in speed as you traveled further away from my location.

Netflix Player by Roku – Internet TV done right

I just want to say that if the future of Internet TV is anything like the Netflix Player by Roku, we are going to be just fine. I was one of the lucky ones who ordered the Netflix Player by Roku right away and have had the opportunity to play with it for the last few weeks. I absolutely love my Netflix player box – unequivocally 🙂 If you haven’t heard anything about the Netflix player, it is a little hardware device (box) that allows instant streaming direct to your TV over the Internet.

The box, made by Roku is a $99.99 one-time purchase which connects to your existing broadband (wired or wireless) connection and allows you to instantly watch content from Netflix web site. This box plugs into the same infrastructure over at Netflix that lets you watch streaming movies and TV shows on your PC. The nice thing is that this is part of your standard Netflix membership and there are no extra monthly charges. The same flat fee DVDs you receive are not impacted by your instant streaming. The Netflix/Roku box connects to any TV using HDMI, component, s-video, composite or good old RCA and you get full DVD video quality if your bandwidth permits.

I’ve had the pleasure of using this box and I have been completely and totally impressed with the design of box, the software and the actual quality of the content being streamed. Setup/installation was incredibly easy and I was able to get the box to connect to my WPA secured wireless network in seconds. The first thing the box did was download an update from Netflix and automatically update itself – nice feature. Once the box was up and running, I was able to link the Netflix box to my online Netflix account and anything in my ‘Watch Instantly’ queue was available for viewing on my TV. So I start watching Blade Runner and it’s almost an hour before I realize that I’m not watching a DVD on my TV and it’s actually being streamed live over the Internet. The picture and sound quality is unbelievable and rewind/fast-forward is decent with the little time-series snapshot of scenes to help gauge how far or back you’re going. The box supports HD but Netflix doesn’t support that at the moment but I fully anticipate Netflix enabling that feature as they build up a bigger library of on-demand material that is of HD quality.

I only have two complaints with the box and I think one of them will probably be handled in a software update. The first one is the lack of a power button – Once the box is plugged in and turned on, you cannot turn it off. There is no OFF button on the box or the remote and that’s just annoying. There is a little light that’s always on and it’s not blindingly bright or anything but I would like to be able to turn it off. The second missing feature is the lack of Closed Captioning – I think this is a big miss and a must for me as I’m often watching movies late at night while my wife and daughter are sleeping. I can live without the power button but I really want Closed Captioning enabled in the next software release – please!!

In closing, I cannot stress how good the quality of the picture is and I haven’t had a single issue with video glitches or slowness or pauses while it’s buffering or anything like that. I’ve seen several long movies along with the most of the first season of Heroes and I haven’t had a single issue. I do have a nice broadband connection with 15 Mbps down and 1 Mbp up but that’s fairly standard these days and Netflix recommends about 3-4 Mbps for the service. The other nice thing about this box and the use of the Flash memory is that it doesn’t have a fan and so its whisper quiet. I am also excited about the future as this box runs on a embedded Linux OS and Roku has released a lot (if not all) of the code under GPL. I can’t wait for all the mods/patched kernels and apps that are going to surface in the coming weeks and months.