Category ArchiveFlying Nerd recommends

Bargains &Flying Nerd recommends 29 Aug 2007 08:24 am

Topfield SD PVR boxes now on sale

At the House of Nerds, we love our Topfield PVR. It allows us to simultaneously record two TV programs (to hard disc drive) while watching another previously-recorded program.

Frankly, the Toppy has revolutionised our (actually quite limited) TV viewing. It’s now unusual for us to watch anything in real time. We tend to set things to record, and then either (i) watch them later or (ii) start watching the beginning of the recording while the recording is in progress. In both of these scenarios, the Toppy allows us to skip over advertisements almost instantly.

The good news for you late adopters is that Topfield Australia now has SD (standard definition) PVRs on sale for $399 — see here. Unless you have a HD-capable display device (plasma, LCD, CRT), the SD Toppy is probably all you need — SD produces surprisingly good quality in most situations. And when you team up the Toppy with a few community-generated add-in programs (known as TAPs), you have a very usable and worthwhile box.


Cars &Flying Nerd recommends 15 May 2007 04:12 pm

Nissan Tiida – silly name, not a bad car

Here’s something new for the Flying Nerd – car reviews.

Those who know me will also know that I’m partial to a nice car. Past inhabitants of the FN garage have included a Nissan Pulsar SSS, Ford Falcon XR6, Subaru Liberty RX and VW Golf GTI (no, I’m not known for my brand loyalty). The current Nerd-mobile – a 5-year-old Ford Escape (nee Mazda Tribute) – reflects the triumph of function over form: it can tow a glider trailer and is not discomfited when bashing around the perimeter tracks at a country airfield. The Golf GTI was far from ‘at home’ in that environment.

Just for this week, the Escape is away having some repairs done, and in its place, AAMI has furnished (for the princely sum of $15 per day) a Nissan Tiida. I thought it might be fun to pass comment on this latest model tiddler from Nissan.

Overall, the Tiida is a pretty good little car. It’s not a car for enthusiasts, but for a small family looking for practical around-town transportation, the Tiida would be a decent solution.

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Cars &Flying Nerd recommends &Sport 08 May 2007 01:43 pm

Australia’s best (general) motorsport magazine now weekly, on-line and free!

I’ve been reading Motorsport News since the first edition was published, back in 1993. I don’t think I’ve missed an issue in that time!

Reacting to changes in the publishing game, the MNews team has decided to

  • abandon the fortnightly magazine format
  • produce a weekly on-line edition (free of charge)
  • publish a monthly magazine with in-depth news and analysis.

The third on-line edition has now been released. You can access it here. It’s terrific!

If you enjoy motorsport (local and international), then I thoroughly recommend that you check out Motorsport News. Visit the site for a weekly update, but be sure to support the team’s efforts by buying the monthly magazine as well.

Computing - general &Flying Nerd recommends &Nerd stuff 10 Apr 2007 11:18 am

Another screen shot utility

Window Clippings looks like a nice utility for capturing windows in either XP or Vista environments.
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Computing - general &Flying Nerd recommends 06 Feb 2007 02:32 pm

Fabulous little screenshot application

UPDATE 14 FEB 07: Version 2 is out and it’s not free any more. Still a great little app…

Like many computer nerds, I find myself often wanting to take a screenshot of an application window or just a small region of the screen. Like everybody who has ever tried this, I have found Windows (XP)’s built-in ‘print screen’ function to be woefully inadequate.

Well, here‘s a beaut little tool that’s free for non-commercial use: WinSnap.

WinSnap allows you to capture:

* the whole screen, or
* a user selected part of the screen, or
* an application window, or even
* a collection of application windows.

With this tool, you can

* capture windows with rounded corners (without having the capture ‘square up’ the corners
* rotate the captured windows
* add drop shadows
* add watermarks.

If you take screenshots, you WILL find this application useful.



Cars &Flying Nerd recommends 22 Jan 2007 01:25 pm

Top Gear returns to SBS

Top Gear is back on SBS – Monday nights at 7.30pm. Recommended.

Flying Nerd recommends &Music 21 Nov 2006 03:38 pm

More new music – two hidden treasures

Well, new to me at least.
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Computing - general &Flying Nerd recommends 17 Nov 2006 03:29 pm


As promised, herewith some observations on the FreeNAS Storage Area Network application.

After my bad experience with the Netgear SC-101 (here), I was (again) the owner of two unused 200GB IDE hard drives, and I still wanted to have a free-standing backup location for the family’s computers.

A quick search led me to FreeNAS, an open source project based on the FreeBSD operating system.
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Flying Nerd recommends &Miscellaneous 13 Nov 2006 11:22 am

Nerd versus flying insects

If you read my post some time ago about rainwater tanks, you’d know that our home has a new deck out the back. Here it is:


Our rainforest-like back yard is really delightful — cool, green and lush. Lots of birds visit us (I saw a glorious red and blue rosella this morning).

For years, we have also been plagued by mosquitoes.

Well, deck + mosquitoes = frustration. Frustration that there’s a beautiful deck outside that’s not being used because nobody wants to share blood with the mozzies.

Technology to the rescue.

At the Sydney Royal Easter Show we came across a man selling Bug Eaters. We bought a Bug Eater to tackle our mozzie problem. Here it is, installed on the side fence:

Bug Eater
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Flying Nerd recommends &Flying Nerd site &Nerd stuff 10 Oct 2006 05:19 pm

Akismet spam blocker

I implemented the Akismet anti-spam technology on this site nearly a year ago.

In that time, Akismet has detected and blocked 311 spam comments. One (yes, one) spam comment got through.

I reckon that’s pretty good performance for a free tool.

Computing - general &Flying Nerd recommends 18 Sep 2006 06:39 pm

Possibly the most useful tool for your PC

Yes, it’s a big call.

But those who have installed some form of ‘desktop search’ application will usually swear by them.

For a couple of years now, I’ve been using Yahoo Desktop Search – a free program that can be downloaded from Yahoo. YDS works in the background to index all your files and emails, and allows a near-instantaneous search when you’re looking for something. The underlying technology for YDS came from another company: X1. It’s my impression that Yahoo has lost interest in YDS. The updates seem to have stopped flowing, and the level of support is poor.

But the news is not all bad. In fact, it’s good! X1 has made their full X1 desktop search tool – the latest version – available for free from their website. And it’s a really tremendous tool.

I’ve installed it so that X1 has taken up residence in my Windows taskbar as a little search box:

X1 in taskbar

and as a toolbar in Outlook:

X1 in Outlook toolbar

Highly recommended.

Flying Nerd recommends &Movies 28 Jul 2006 08:53 pm

“Jindabyne” (movie)

* raw
* stark
* tense
* dark
* beautiful
* emotional
* wrenching.

Wonderful ensemble cast.

Heart-felt attention to detail.

No CGI special effects.

Thoroughly recommended, but not for the children (moderate coarse language).

Flying Nerd recommends &Miscellaneous 27 Jul 2006 03:21 pm

Top Gear – really IS the best show on TV

Just watched this week’s ep of Top Gear (shown on SBS on Monday evening). Haven’t laughed so much in a long time. Highlights included:
* Jeremy Clarkson’s face being deformed driving an old Maserati F1 car (without a helmet!)
* the STG1,500 sportscar-but-not-a-Porsche challenge (won, despite expectations, by the mighty XJS Jag)
* dropping a skip full of junk onto a Maserati Biturbo.

Neil was right. Being a Top Gear presenter would be the best job in the world – a notch above being a Mythbuster.

Flying Nerd recommends &Music 24 Jul 2006 10:29 pm

New music: Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint

Latest CD in my player – and one I am enjoying – is a collaboration between Elvis Costello and American songwriter/producer Allen Toussaint called The River in Reverse.

The title refers to the flooding in New Orleans after Cyclone Katrina. The album was recorded in New Orleans, apparently in an attempt to demonstrate that the local music scene is still alive.

The River in Reverse

The music on this CD is rich and smooth. It’s not the hard-edged punkish-rock of Costello’s early work (or even of the recent Delivery Man and When I was Cruel). The band is a combination of Costello regulars and Toussaint’s virtuoso team. The playing is sharp and dynamic, but with lots of light and shade. I’ve been particularly enjoying track 3: Tears, Tears and More Tears. Samples of the tracks play on the EC web site for those who are interested.

Flying Nerd recommends &Nerd stuff 20 Jul 2006 02:20 pm

William Shatner’s finest work??

I’m happy to admit to being a huge Star Trek fan. My wife doesn’t get it. She thinks the Horta looks like an animated chenille bedspread.

The Horta

Anyway, until now, I would have argued strongly that Star Trek represented the pinnacle of William Shatner‘s acting career. Captain Kirk was strong, honest, sophisticated, chivalrous, respectful and very human. An altogether good bloke, really. Shatner’s portrayal was always genuine and warm. I liked it, and so did millions of others (nerds or not).

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