PlayerPro for Android and AE2i

SC20111211-235338I have always been one that thought the price of the Bose headphones was insane- $150 for a pair of headphone?  They must be crazy!  But lately I have been seeing the ‘Beats by Dr. Dre’ headphones- and those are just fucking stupid in price- $500 for a set of headphones?  Kids these days…

Long story short, I actually tried on a pair of the Bose AE2i headphones- and I was pretty impressed with the sound.  Since it is return season (xMas holidays have an extended return period) I decided to purchase a pair of the Bose AE2is- and I am now actually considering keeping them...

Over the past few days, I have spent many hours re-ripping all of my music in FLAC format and then converting to Apple Lossless so I can play on my iPod.  After wasting a bit of time doing this, I realized that my Samsung Droid Charge can play FLAC music natively with the built-in Samsung music player (also works with PlayerPro and PowerAmp)…

I purchased a 32GB MicroSD a few months ago, and I believe I will be able to fit a bit more than 1/2 of my music library when most of it has been converted to FLAC format.

I really started using PlayerPro- and I am very impressed with this software; this makes my phone one of the best MP3 (and FLAC) players I have ever used- iPod Touch/Zune/Sony/Sansa has nothing on this App.  If you download this software, make sure you play with all the settings- specifically the lock screen settings/widgets- and the headphone controls/volume button overrides…

I think what I really like about this program is that is can change any/all of the functionality of the Android OS- something that Apple and others strictly forbid when working on their hardware.  :)

Ya Gotta love technology!


Kinect and Move USB Extensions

I don’t think I am alone in the way I have my TV mounted to one wall and my game console not just sitting on the floor beneath it- in fact, my game consoles are in the other corner of the room (in my stereo rack).  Having the TV mounted about 12’ away from the consoles can make the newer accessories for either a bit hard to connect.

Wii is easy- there are numerous wireless sensor bars that can be put anywhere; but the Microsoft Kinect and the Sony PS3 Eye (used with the Playstation Move controllers) can be a bit more challenging. 

Monoprice has a 10M USB 2.0 active extension cable for $8.46- which is considerably longer and less expensive than the Microsoft official 10’ Kinect Extension cable that is going for about $50.  The big difference is that the Kinect cable is designed to plug into the special port on the back of the xBox 360 slim and provide additional power.  If you (like me) purchased the Kinect separate from an xBox bundle, you also received a USB to Kinect power injector- and this when used with the 10M USB extension cable works perfectly!  :)

The PS3 Eye worked with the 10M extension cable- no problem.

I now have both USB cables ran in my walls and through my attic- so there are no cables to see save for the power plug for the Kinect power injector. 

Life is great when shit works!


'Tis the Season for Inexpensive Games!

I posted a few days ago about some uber-cheap closeout game deals at Target.  Black Friday came and several other places have sals started selling games at near-crazy prices; make sure to check out:

Steam's Autumn Sale - Deals change daily at 1PM EST.
I picked up Portal 2 for $10.79 (sale has expired), the Oddworld Box for $3.74 (expired), Orcs Must Die for $3.74 (expired) and Two Worlds 2 for $13.74 (yep- also expired).   Check back after lunch to se if there are any deals you can't pass up... :)

Amazon's Black Friday Sale - Deals on all kinds of games and accessories for the three day weekend:
So far, I found Duke Nuke'm Forever for $6.79 and The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings Digital Premium edition for $16.00; these deals are still rolling as I write this... :)


Kindle Fire

imageI received my Kindle Fire today (I missed the UPS driver yesterday).  It is a fairly nice device: very responsive virtual keyboard, friendly interface and fairly responsive.  The Kindle Fire plays a decent game of Plants vs. Zomies as well…
It is, however, pretty thick- I assume this is to allow for a larger battery- but this can be over looked.
One feature that really annoys the Hell out of me is the lack of physical volume control buttons; I do not like scrambling to find the soft menu volume controls when an app/game volume is much too loud.
I can definitely say that this device will NOT be a suitable replacement for me as an e-book e-ink device; scrolling down a zoomed in page in a magazine is way too jerky- the image tearing reminds me of a video game that has v-sync turned off.
For some reason the Kindle Fire is a 16x9 screen format- and none of the books or magazines in the market are natively this size; makes me wonder why Amazon didn’t go with a 4x3 screen format… I mean this was primarily designed to be an ebook/magazine reader, right?
About an hour after I opened the box, I became bored and figured out how to root it
After that I installed the Google Apps and fixed the Android Market, I installed ADW launcher to replace the Kindle Desktop.
Just for the irony, I also installed the Nook reader…
In summary, the Kindle fire is a decent Android tablet, good for games and web browsing, terrible as a book/magazine reader.  For the $200 price, you will be hard pressed to find a similar device- unless you look to the Pandigital devices. 
Personally I am seriously considering returning my Kindle fire and picking up a HTC Flyer from BestBuy for $100 more…

Apple Airport Express and Comcast

I have been using a D-Link DGL-4500 for a few years as my home router.  I have tried many different models from Cisco, NetGear, D-Link, Buffalo, Belkin and Asus looking for a better router, but the DGL-4500 has been a very solid performer and has features that I want/need- such as DHCP reservations, specific port forwarding and port translations.  Tonight I gave the Apple Airport Express a try- and so far it looks pretty good.

One issue with the Airport Express is that it does not do MAC address cloning- which is fairly useful for carriers such as Comcast that cache the MAC address and tie it to to the provided Internet IP address.

I have a Motorola Surfboard SB6120 cable modem and I found that it has a standard IP address of  Putting this address into a web browser brings up some interesting information about my cable connection- including a ‘Reset All Defaults’ option that should clear the MAC address that is bound to the CPE (Customer Premise Equipment) info for the modem.  I say ‘should’ as it did not appear to actually reset when I tried it.  Instead I found a way to have the modem recognize a new MAC address.

  • Unplug power from the cable modem and the router (Airport Express)
  • Disconnect the Ethernet cable between the modem and the router
  • Plug in both devices, letting them boot independently and complete their startup (look at the lights on the modem/router to see when it is done).
  • After the Cable modem is done, wait another full minute.
  • Plug in the Ethernet cable between the cable modem and the router broadband connection

If all works like it did for me, the cable modem should recognize the new device and use its MAC address for the new CPE.  It takes about a minute to reconnect to the internet, but it should complete.  If not, then you will probably need to call Comcast tech support and tell them you have a new router and they can clear the CPE info remotely.

To setup the AirPort Express, you will need an iPod/iPad or a Mac with the AirPort Utility.  This will be detected in network settings on an iOS device, or it is under Applications –> Utilities under MacOS.  If you are using a PC, you will need to download the Windows Airport Utility from Apple before you start trying to configure this new Internet connection.

I have been fairly impressed; the AirPort Extreme allows for separate private & guest networks, has a decent DHCP reservation system and has a pretty intuitive port forwarding setup.  Fore example, I was able to create a forwarding rule that forwards TCP 80, 21, 3550, 4550, 5550, 5511 and 8866 in one statement (these are used for GeoVision remote monitoring). 

Range seems pretty nice on the Apple device; I will try it out for a few days and see if it is really worth the $180 Apple is asking for it… :)


Closeout Game Deals at Target in Buckhead…

The Target store in Buckhead (on Peachtree) is having another awesome blow-out sale on games they are discontinuing- such as:

  • PS3 – Aragon’s Quest for $7.48
  • PS3 – Hunted: The Demon’s Forge for $7.48
  • PS3 – Iron Man 2 for $4.98
  • xBox 360: Create for $4.98

Several others around the same prices; these are just the ones I picked up.


Bring on the Cybernetics!

I am recently back into the realm of Science Fiction reading and most of the books I have been reading (specifically the Peter F. Hamilton and Alastair Reynolds books) are heavy into human enhancement/augmentation via cybernetic implants that will monitor biometric data.  
In this early part of the 21st century I see we are finally beginning to move towards the very infancy of this kind technology and here are a few of the monitoring devices I have tried:
Hear Rate Monitors: 
imageThe Zephyr Heart Rate Monitor is a Bluetooth enabled heart monitor that can pair with Android device and from there utilize an app to provide a real time heart rate monitor.  One issue is Bluetooth uses a fair amount of power (requiring recharge a few times a weeks) and I have yet to find any gym equipment that utilizes a Bluetooth connection- so data is only available to the Android device it is paired with.
SNAGHTML13645249DigiFit sells a module that connects into the data port of an iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad that allows the unit to connect to ANT+ enabled devices (such as heart monitors).  It also allows publishing workouts to Facebook/eMail/ and retrieves data from Zeo sleep monitors/Withings wireless scales/FitBit (coming soon).  ANT+ is a low-power standard for transmitting data and many of the newer gym machines can utilize this protocol.
Polar and Nike+ also offer a WearLink+ heart strap monitor, but it is limited for use with the Polar watch ecosystem plus a few iPod Nano devices (some needing the additional Nike+ module).  One benefit is that it can also utilize the Nike+ foot pods that go in/on your shoe to add a pedometer for pace measurement.
SNAGHTML13658329The FitBit is a clip on device with a digital accelerometer that keeps track of your walking steps.  Additionally, holding the button enters a bedtime mode where it tracks movement during sleep. The charge on a FitBit will lasts about two weeks of use.  It will wirelessly upload the data it accumulates when you are in range of the base/charging station.  One concern for the FitBit is that it is small and doen't have a hard clip; I have lost (and eventually found) this device four times in the past year.
imageThe Jawbone Up is very similar to the FitBit but it comes in a bracelet format (this eliminates my 'easy to lose' problem).  It also has a vibrate notification that can be set via iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad app to remind you or to act as an alarm clock (this works very well).  This currently works only with iOS devices and you must plug the Up device into the headphone jack to sync activity/sleep info; Wireless would have made this device a winner.
Additionally, the last few generations of iPod Nano devices and the Nintendo 3DS feature integrated pedometers.  Not much to see here- please move along...
imageThe Zeo Manager is a EEG headband that you wear on your forehead during the night.  There are two flavors; A desktop clock version with a SD card for data storage (i.e. manual upload) and one that utilizes Bluetooth with a connection to an iOS/Android device running the Zeo software.  The headband will monitor and graph the time you spend in deep sleep, light sleep and REM; It is much more precise than the aforementioned FitBit or Up devices as it uses an EEG to monitor electrical activity in the brain instead of relying on nocturnal movements for determining sleep zones.
Withings WiFi Body ScaleThe WiThings body scale is a WiFi enabled scale.  It will post your weigh-in to the WiThings page (also available for viewing via iOS/Android app) as well as post to Twitter or Facebook (if so desired).  It performs additional measurements for BMI, muscle or fat content.  It is pretty accurate for weight as it has four independent feet and it can be required to reset zero before each weigh-in.   It will record your weight in pounds, kilograms or stones...
So far all of these devices are external gadgets that monitor biometric data from external effects.  Hopefully in the next decade or so we will advance in the realms of neuroscience and genetic engineering to be able to directly interface with the body's electrical signaling network.  I am sure the military is already doing such as this- but once it becomes consumer ready (and affordable) I will be one of the first in line for the more advanced sub-dermal augmentations.  :)

Samsung Galaxy Player 5.0

SNAGHTML135a3c0bI picked up the Samsung Galaxy Player 5.0 about two weeks ago at BestBuy.  The Galaxy Player is essentially the gutty-works of a Samsung Galaxy phone but without the carrier radio,  using a LCD panel instead of AMOLED screen and featuring lower resolution front/rear cameras.  It is available in 4" (the 4.0 model) and 5" (the 5.0 model).

The device I purchased is running a flavor of Gingerbread and has a single core 1Ghz CPU and 8GB of built-in flash storage.  I immediately installed a 32GB MicroSD to allow for music and other media storage.

The device is very responsive- much more so than any other Android phone I have owned (a list which currently includes the HTC G1, Motorola Droid, HTC Incredible, Motorola Droid X, Google Nexus One, LG G2x and Sony xPeria Play) which is what I have come to expect after trying the Samsung Galaxy and Galaxy S phones in kiosk displays.

This device is designed to be an iPod Touch competitor (even the box it cam in looked eerily familiar to an Apple iPhone package, including white ear buds) and it does a pretty decent job.  The main issue I see with this tactic is the device thickness (to accommodate the large removable battery)- however this shortcoming is readily overlooked when you consider the better cameras, inclusion of a GPS module and microSD expansion.  If you have a mobile hotspot, another sell point is the Galaxy Player makes for a good turn-by-turn GPS device via Google Maps navigation.

The battery lasts about two days when on 'standby' and lasts most of a day when listening to music or audiobooks.  I installed the Audible app and listened to a book for almost 6 hours over Bluetooth headphones and the battery was still over 50%.  Video and CPU intensive games do draw the battery down a bit faster (as anticipated).  Plants vs Zombies looks great on the 5" screen I and playing for 30 mins dropped the battery charge about 8%; if the battery drain is linear, I estimate I could play for about 5h 20m before needing it would offer a low battery notice.

I love the form factor and performance of this device, but for me personally it will definitely be a YADIRDNN (Yet Another Device I Really Do Not Need).  With the upcoming release of the Galaxy Nexus I am sure this device will end up on eBay soon thereafter.

This device is perfect for someone that already has a phone and wants a nice Android device without a service contract.  It makes for a good MP3 player, but I find the iPod Touch to be a little more enjoyable to use- and the size/battery life ratio of a Touch is near impossible to meet.

If you are an iPhone user and you want to try out the Android ecosystem, then this is the perfect device for you.  However, if you are a Android phone owner with a fairly recent device, there is not too much new here- especially if you are a Galaxy S/II owner- and I would recommend looking elsewhere if you are in search of a dedicated MP3 player.


New Stuff this Week

It has been a week of many interesting things...

This morning I opened Google Reader and found it had been updated with a new interface and a tie-in to Google+; the same has happened for Blogger.  I like the new look, but the new navigation & search bars are taking up about 20% of my viewable screen of my laptop (1440x900)- hopefully there will be a way to change/turn these off in a future post.

I found an easy way to root my Verizon Sony xPeria Play (R900x) and I was able to use Root File Explorer to free up some  space by removing the Verizon crap-apps (Verizon Navigator, MyVerizon, Verizon Apps, etc) and my removing the built-in apps that can be moved to SD card once re-installed (Skype, Kindle, etc).  There is a good post on XDA Developers that has info on which apps are safe to remove and where they are located.

I am still waiting on my Google TV update on my Sony NSZ-GT1 player.  I received an email stating that updates will be rolling out 'over the next few weeks', but I want this update now!

It appears that USPS has updated their tracking page; it now looks like it belongs in the 21st century.

I am so ready for the Galaxy Nexus phone to be released on Verizon; hopefully Verizon will not screw me over by charging $200+ more for a subsidized phone with a 2 year contract renewal vs. new subscribers on the same contract.  If this is the case, I will be porting my number over to Google Voice, canceling my Verizon account and coming back as a new user (except that I will loose my 'unlimited' data plan- d'oh!)


Hotel TV Lockdown

I am out of town on a business trip and I became bored sitting around the hotel room and watching the standard TV.  I went to Gamestop and picked up a used GameCube ($30), a Gamecube memory card ($15!), Super Mario Sunshine ($15), Super Smash Brothers Melee ($15) and Metroid Prime ($7)- so for about $82 I had a console and three games to play to pass some time...
Unfortunately, the TV in the room is a Philips 27ST6210/27 and it is locked to disable the aux inputs on the side and back.  

I tried a few tricks found via Google to 'unlock' the menu, but with no luck.

I purchased an inexpensive universal remote to try to change the input mode; this was disabled.

I learned of the green Philips Master Remote RC2573GR that has a 'master' and a 'guest' mode to change TV settings- but these run $35 on eBay.

I found one post that suggests the Harmony does have codes for the 'master remote'.  I picked up a Harmony 200 remote for $20 from Radio Shack and I will try this when my clothes are done at the laundromat.

Just to be safe, I also purchased a RadioShack 15-2526 RF modulator that will take the composite video and audio from the Gamecube and inject the signal over channel 3 or 4 ($30).  If the Harmony does the trick I can return this...

Update:  The RF modulator worked, but it is very cumbersome to use as I must also keep a set of needle-nosed pliers to remove the coax cable from the back of the TV.  I purchased a generic Philips master remote for $33 and it allows me to re-enable the external ports.  Once enabled, there is a new option on the menu from the standard hotel remote to change inputs- and this option appears to stay once renabled (at least for a few week).


G2x Gingerbread

I love the Nexus One but I found a sweet deal on a T-Mobile G2x on eBay that I couldn’t pass up.  It came in today and has Froyo (v2.2.2) installed on it.  Information on the web indicates that a Gingerbread (v2.3) version of the G2x is due for re-launch, so the over-the-air (OTA) update should be headed out soon.

Being impatient as I am, I also found information on the XDA Developers forum  that the LG Update Tool will allow for a manual update to Gingerbread.  The entire update process took 8m 38s in the application, and then the phone took about 5 minutes to reboot (stuck at the ‘T-Mobile G2x with Google for 4 of those minutes) and now I am at v2.3.3.

The LG updater alerted that it might erase all applications and phone settings during the update, but everything from v2.2.2 appears to have transitioned to 2.3.3.

The G2x is a T-Mobile 4G device and I am seeing download speeds of about 6Mbps when using the phone a mobile hotspot.  Upload speeds are bout 1Mbps.

Samsung needs to have some pretty impressive stuff with the Galaxy S2 to make me consider an upgrade now… :)

EnviR on Pachube

I received my Current Cost EnviR unit today!

Once I opened the panel box, it took about 15 minutes to hook up- and most of that was spent making the cables all neat (and taping a packaging bag to the front of the 'brain' so it is securely wedged between the panel front box front & back).

The unit is fairly neat so far- even with the absence of Google PowerMeter.  I was able to find an application to upload to Pachube- which will create a graph based on the data provided to it.


Acer 3830TG-6431 Teardown

I was recently informed that the Acer 3830TG-6431 may have some thermal issues and that replacing the thermal paste with a higher grade paste may alleviate the issue.  I did not think I was having any problems, but I decided to see what was involved in replacing the thermal paste.  Hint: It isn’t very easy…
Here is my step-by-step tear down guide for the Acer 3830TG-6431.
Disclaimer:  Opening your laptop in this way will likely void your warranty.  It is very easy to damage one of the small cables/connectors and make your laptop inoperable.   I am providing this information as-is and I am not responsible for any damage/mayhem you may cause if you try to follow along at home.  I have done most of the documentation from memory- so I may have missed a screw/plug/etc.  If you are experienced in working on laptops, use your common sense when you are following this.  If you have never opened up a laptop before, I would advise that you do not start on this one as there are several awkward cable placements- and several easy to damage plugs.
With this in mind, it is time to get into the gutty-works of the laptop:
1. Remove the single screw in the center and remove the bottom plate of the laptop
2. Remove the following from inside the laptop
     a. Hard Drive
     b. SATA board connector for Hard Drive
     c. Mini-PCIe Wireless Card.  The two wires are mini-coax and should snap on/off without much effort.
3. Disconnect the battery switch connector cable from the motherboard
4. Remove the eleven (11) 2.5mm x 7 screws from the bottom of the laptop
5. Use a plastic pry tool (see recommended tools at the end of this post) to carefully release the snaps around the edges.  This will free the top cover containing the keyboard
6. Slowly separate the top of the laptop from the bottom; there will be 5 cables to disconnect before the two parts can be separated:
     a. Power Switch connector
     b. Trackpad connector
     c. Keyboard connector
     d. Bluetooth connector
     e. I/O board connector
All but the Bluetooth are ribbon cables and can be pulled out (or clip retention released).  The Bluetooth connector is a keyed connector and it should be carefully removed so the wires are not pulled from their socket.
7. Disconnect the left and right speaker connectors from the motherboard.  These are keyed sockets and very small and easy to break.
8. Disconnect the display connector.  Pull the connector straight up- do not attempt to pry this from the side as this can damage the connector.
9. Remove the one screw from the motherboard and the four screws holding in the battery bracket.  (The motherboard is beneath the battery bracket)
10.  Lift the front edge of the motherboard up to expose the connectors at the rear of the board (close to batteries).
11. Remote the three connectors:
     a. Power connector
     b. Battery connector
     c. Daughter board connector
Note: The battery connector is also accessible from the bottom of the system.
12. Remove the motherboard from the chassis
13. Disconnect the CPU fan connector
14. Remove the two (2) screws in the NVidia GPU heat sink area and the four (4) screws over the CPU area.
Note: The four numbers on the heat sink are the tightening order sequence for re-installing the CPU heat sink.  The numbers are opposite corners so to prevent over stressing one side and damaging the CPU core.  I would also suggest doing a gradual tightening in rotation to further ensure the CPU is not damaged.  For example:
   Just barley start screws in sequence #1-4
   Go back and tighten 1-4 in sequence to about half way
   Go back again and snug screws 1-4 in sequence
   Finally go back and fully tighten screws 1-4 (yep- in sequence).
This is a picture of the factory applied thermal compound.  It doesn't look like they used the good stuff:

15.  VERY IMPORTANT: clean off all of the old CPU compound before applying new thermal compound- from both the CPU and the heatsink!
PCB flux cleaner is great to get off troublesome thermal paste (found at Fry’s)
16. Make sure the tacky pads contacting the Chipset Processor, the GPU RAM and the chokes around the CPU don’t have any dirt/junk in them.  This could affect the heat transfer from these systems to the heat sink could cause damage/failure over time.
17. Once your new thermal paste is applied, do everything in reverse to put the system back together.
18. Fini
Here is a reference picture of the bottom of the system board:

This is the laptop bottom chassis with the system board removed; daughter board is still in-place:

This is a detail shot of the battery power switch and the Mini-PCIe WiFi card:

You will probably notice that the wire and connector from the battery power switch is missing.  I did not find this connector until I was into removing the system board- and the connector didn’t come out correctly.  Hindsight is always 20/20 and that is why step #3 is included above.
The system board power connector is pretty small- and almost impossible to deconstruct as Asus has added glue to the back of the connector (I am assuming this is to prevent possible terminal end pull-out from the housing?).  It took me about an hour to get the cables stripped, tinned and the terminal ends out of the housing.  It took another 30 minutes to get the damned little thing back together and soldered.

After all was done, one of the solder points broke from the switch board after the system was put back together.  I was not going to take the laptop apart again to fix. I ended up stripping a length of wire and shorting the connection on the board inside the connector (and covering with electrical tape); this connector is so small that even the micro-sized hard drive jumpers are too large to fit inside the connector!
In review, I do think the laptop is running cooler.  I did not take an accurate measurement before, but the system seems fees not as warm during normal use. I have even had the cooling fan switch off for 15-20 min at a time- and event that never occurred prior to replacing the thermal paste!  :)
Recommended tools:
You will need a small screw driver and some plastic pry tools, such as these:
Opening Pry Repair Tool For Cellphone / iPod / iPhone
A plastic spudger tool is also invaluable for this kind of work:


Nexus One Root on 2.3.4

I recently purchased an old T-Mobile Nexus One from a friend as I am looking to move to T-Mobile in the near future.  In spite of this phone being released almost 18 months ago, it is still a friggin’ awesome phone!  It runs smoother than my Droid X and seems to be much more stable.  I guess that is a benefit of being a Google flagship device where the updates all come direct from Google.
A quick revisit to the Google Phone page that originally only sold the Nexus One direct to consumers now shows fifty-four (54) different Android phones and Six (6) Android tablets; a lot has changed in the last year and a half. :)
When I received the phone it was in it’s original state with Gingerbread 2.3.3 installed.  I played with it for a few hours, installed the 2.3.4 update- and then decided to root it.  :)
These instructions are for a Windows system.

1st step is to void the warranty by unlocking the bootloader:

1. Download and install the Android SDK from Google.  You will need to install the Java Development Kit (JDK) for your system to execute the SDK setup (it will tell you if you don’t have it).  When you first run the SDK Manager, it will mark several items for download- if you are an actual developer then you will probably want to download all of these. Otherwise you will only need the USB drivers (both regular and Google), the SDK tools and the SDK Platform Tools. 
2. Download fastboot and put it in the folder containing the ‘AdbWinApi.dll’- most likely this will be under a folder called \platform-tools found under the main path where the Android SDK is located. (This is created when the SDK Platform Tools module is downloaded in the prior step.)
3. Put the Nexus One into fastboot mode by powering down and holding in the roller ball when you power back up.  You should get a white screen with three skating androids across the bottom.  When you plugin your phone via USB the phone should indicate ‘fastboot’ in the screen.  If not, check that the USB/phone drivers were detected properly in device manager.
It is now  time to go to a command prompt…
4. From the command prompt, navigate into the \platform-tools folder.  From here, execute the command:
     fastboot devices
If all the files are in the correct place and the USB drivers are installed properly your Nexus one should be listed.
5.Next, type:
     fastboot oem unlock
This will bring up a confirmation screen on the phone.  You must use the volume up/down buttons to move and power button to select.   Note: selecting yes will invalidate any warranty you have on this phone and will reset the phone to factory settings- i.e. it will erase the phone and start you over with the android setup screen on next boot!

Change the recovery image and apply the root patch.

1. In the phone, go into Settings –> Applications –> Development and enable ‘USB Debugging’ (this will be needed for testing much later).  When you plug the phone in you may need to specify another device driver from the \usb_driver folder if Windows does not automatically find the correct driver (it may be show a ‘Nexus One’ under Unknown Devices if the driver is not correct).
2. Download the su-signed zip and save it onto the MicroSD card of your phone.
3. Download the Clockwork recovery image and save it into the \platform-tools directory on your computer.  In this case, the image is called ‘Clock.img’.  If you use a different recovery image, the information in the next step should be changed to reflect the proper name.
4. Boot the phone into bootloader mode by holding in the scroll ball while pressing power.
4. Back to the command prompt and navigate to the \platform-tools directory.  Type the following
     fastboot flash recovery Clock.img
     fastboot boot Clock.img

5. The phone should reboot into Clockwork recovery.  Select ‘update from ZIP on SD card’, select the su-signed zip and confirm the update.  The update should go fairly quick.
6. use the power button to go back to the main menu.  Select ‘reboot device’ and press power again.
The phone will reboot and you will have root access.  The Superuser application will be present in the applications list.
To verify that everything installed correctly, make sure your phone is plugged into USB and unlocked with USB debugging enabled.  From the command prompt under the \platform-tools directory, run:
     adb shell su
A superuser request should pop up on the phone screen.  if you accept, your su will run and the shell prompt will change from ‘$’ to ‘#’ to indicate root access.


Home Energy Monitoring

Home Energy Saving Monitor ENVI-CC128 Complete Unit with TransmitterIt appears the both Google PowerMeter and Microsoft Hohm are throwing in the towel for home energy monitoring.  :(
Home energy monitoring is a pretty cool idea- being able to monitor power usage in real time via a dedicated display or via an iPhone/Android application.  Some of the systems have individual plug monitors so you can see exactly how much power your refrigerator or computer consumes in relation to your overall power usage (don’t think they have anything for 220v systems like the A/C, oven or dryer as of yet). 
Some of the more advanced monitoring systems will even allow for solar or wind generated power monitoring and calculate your offset from the grid power. This would be useful as I have been looking into setting up a modular solar power option that I can expand over the next several years- but solar is still so very expensive to deploy.
The idea is that once you identify usage patterns you can make changes to reduce your energy usage- and save on utility bills.
The Energy Detective (TED) lists several alternative application providers- but most are directed for use with the TED 5000 devices.  There are also several upcoming iPhone applications and one Android application listed.
I recently ordered the Current Cost CC128 from Amazon- which looks like it will be supported by MyEragy ‘soon’.  No sign of appliance modules for US plugs at this time…


Samsung Focus (SGH-i917) on T-Mobile

2011-07-19_10-46-44_223I picked up a good deal on a Samsung Focus phone from eBay a few months ago.  After TechEd 2011, I was interested in Windows Phone 7 (WP7) OS.  At the time my office used AT&T for my company cell phone so I was able to pop the work SIM in and use it without getting an additional carrier plan.
Times change and I no longer have an AT&T SIM- and I really do not want to pay the crazy GoPhone data rates ($25 for 500MB!) or sign another contract and I started looking at alternatives.
T-Mobile has an prepaid 'unlimited’ talk, text and web plan for $50/month.  The ‘unlimited’ allows for up to 100MB at 4G speed and everything else after that is 2G (EDGE) speed; for another $20 they offer unlimited 4G data as well.  I was unable to find a way to use an old T-Mobile SIM I had on-hand so I purchased an inexpensive prepaid T-Mobile phone from Target ($20 for a Nokia 1661), activated it and promptly pulled the SIM an stuck it into the Samsung Focus.
The Samsung Focus is a quad band 850/900/1800/1900Mhz device and T-Mobile uses 1700/2100Mhz for its 3G network- so there is no possibility of getting 3G/4G data on this phone with T-Mobile; the $50 plan will provide unlimited voice, text & 2G data. 
The Focus is SIM locked to AT&T- so installing the T-Mobile SIM provides a ‘SIM locked’ status on the screen.  If you are an AT&T subscriber, you can call AT&T and request an unlock code (tell them you are looking at vacationing out of the US and you want to be able to use foreign SIMs).  If you are not with AT&T you will need a 3rd party to unlock the phone.  I found a seller named ‘nckzone’ on eBay that will unlock the Focus for $5.80.  I forwarded the seller the information requested (IMEI, carrier and phone model) in an email and I received my unlocking code in about 10 minutes.  This purchase was made at 12:30AM EST, so I am pretty sure the seller is not in the US. 
With that, I now have an unlocked Samsung Focus working on T-Mobile.  For $50/month I have unlimited voice, text and 2G data- quite a bit less than the $115/month AT&T wants for unlimited voice, messaging and 2GB of 3G/4G data on their contract plan… (granted they are subsidizing a phone, but over two years that is a $1,560 difference).
If you are overly paranoid or hate credit cards you can even keep the prepaid phone as a total cash endeavor by purchasing the refill cards from Target/WalMart/etc.


Acer Aspire TimelineX 3830TG-6431

I have been on a quest for a decent gaming laptop for several months now.  I had a gateway P6860FX that was very awesome, but it 17” and way too bulky to carry around everyday.  There are some very cool new Sandy Bridge laptops coming out from MSI, Asus and Gigabyte- but these will all be $1000+ laptops.  Some of these can support up to 16GB of RAM (via four SODIMM slots), have dual SATA hard drives capable of RAID0 and offer full 1920x1080 HD resolution- oh, and a couple also have nVidia 3D or the new Samsung passive 3D.  :)

I was looking for a light weight laptop with a decent CPU and a decent discrete GPU; I came up with the Acer Aspire TimelineX 3830TG-6431.
The 13.3” screen is only 1366x768 (a very common resolution for 16:9 displays) and it can only hold 8GB of DDR3 RAM in its two SODIMM slots.  It uses an average Core i5-2410M dual core CPU clocking in at a native 2.3Ghz per core.  Where it shines is the GeForce GT540M (1GB dedicated memory) and an 8+ hour battery life (during normal use- definitely not gaming time).  USB 3.0, 1.3MP webcam and Bluetooth 3.0 and WiFi B/G/N are also nice added perks.

There is no optical drive on this model- but it only weighs in at a little over 4lbs!

Oh- and the battery is non-removable… WTF?

The device achieves 8+ hours of battery life by creating a hybrid display integrating the CPU embedded Intel HD 3000 and the discrete GT540M so the later is only used when needed- like what apple did with the MacBook a few years back.  This seems to work pretty well (save for MineCraft as it is all Java and CPU driven; OpenGL does not appear to help much) and I have seen an average use time of 6-7 hours during normal browsing/video watching/etc.  This drops down significantly when gaming that uses the nVidia 3D rendering.

Note: it does not appear to be possible to download the generic nVidia GT540M driver and install on this system; I get ‘supported hardware not found’ when trying to update to the latest & greatest driver.

Overall, I am very happy with the performance of the system for gaming.  I played Dungeon Siege III, Trine and Bioshock all with very high graphics settings.  The video was flawless; no frame skips or lag.  The bottom of the laptop stayed relatively cool, but the heat coming out of the left of the left fan exhaust was pretty hot.  :)

Not to happy with Minecraft performance; it is chunky and gets slower as you play.  I would be quick to blame this on the damnable java that this application uses for everything.


Note: this is with a Seagate Momentous XT Hybrid hard drive; the stock HD was a 5.2 rating.

Here are a few shots of the actual system:


Keys are separated; non-backlit.  Keyboard is not too bad, but the trackpad is very easy to hit while typing- which will drop the cursor somewhere inconvenient in the document you are typing.

There is a ‘P’ button on the upper right of the keyboard; when you unplug from the charger it auto enables.  I assume this is some kind of ‘power save’ mode as the screen dims and an on-screen green battery icon appears when the button is physically pressed.
There is also a little battery button on the front of the laptop.  If I press it while on battery it will turn blue for a few seconds; not exactly sure what this does.

The ‘user manual’ included the recovery DVDs you burn (three for full restore or just one for drivers & apps) is a ‘Generic User Guide’ for all models of the Aspire TimelineX series; the 30MB file has about 60 pages in English that cover computer safety, making recovery discs and the other Acer branded applications that are bundled with the unit.


The memory and hard drives are accessed by removing a single screw from the bottom of the laptop.  (Yay!)


Memory is easily upgraded to a maximum of 8GB with two 4GB DDR3 SODIMMs.  I replaced the standard 500GB WD hard drive with a Seagate 50GB Momentous XT hybrid hard drive.  I didn’t try one, but it looks like there is adequate space to fit a 12.5mm hard drive (like the Seagate 1TB 2.5”) in here- if anyone really need to know, let me know via email and I will test.

On the right side of the laptop there are solder points on the board for a Mini PCIe card, but no header was installed.  There also appears to be space for a SIM card slot, but again nothing was installed in this model.

One clever adaptation for this model is since the battery is non-removable there is an on/off switch integrated into the removal of the bottom of the laptop shell (switch is located to the left of the bottom SODIMM).  This switch disables battery power when the bottom is removed for service.  It can be turned back on for testing, but should (of course) remain off when replacing memory, HD, etc.

Note: FN+F3 toggles through and enabling Bluetooth and WiFi in some sequence (I think it is All Off/WiFi only/WiFi+Bluetooth/Bluetooth Only).  I took me a while to figure this out.

All said and done, I am very happy with my new laptop.  Is is basically a larger sized netbook with a real (i5) CPU, a decent amount of memory upgrade (8GB) and a dedicated GeForce GT540 GPU.  It is zippy for everyday work and very decent for real gaming.  The only thing I would really like to change would be a slightly better screen resolution (1440x900 would be nice, 1920x1080 would be awesome!).

UPDATE: I did a teardown of this system to apply some good thermal paste (I used Artic Silver 5).  I did not think there were any thermal issues before, but I have found the laptop runs MUCH better (and quieter) than it did prior! Most noticeably was in Minecraft- which is very CPU intensive.  I am going to assume that the thermal paste used by Asus wasn't very good so the heat was not being adequately transferred from the CPU to the heatsink/heatpipe- and this was causing the CPU to throttle..


MacOS is User Friendly - Total BS

MacOS seems pretty nice for basic web browsing but it can really become a tiring pain in the ass when you try to print an envelope from Microsoft Word...

I had a simple task: Open word, create an envelope (COM10 sized) and print it to my networked HP LaserJet printer.  I created the said envelope and went to print.  I had forgotten to setup my printer since my last re-install of MacOS, so it prompted me to add a printer.

Both my HP and Epson printers were found.  I chose the HP and it installed drivers and printed the envelope.

But nothing came out of the printer?

I checked the printer an all was Ok.  Looking in the MacOS control panel I saw the printer was paused.

Odd.  I un-paused.

The printer queue indicates:
  Looking for Printer

After a few attempts and checking settings, I cleared the queue and tried again.  Same problem.

Printer control panel shows device is Ok, detects the toner levels and links to the webpage in the HP device for more info.

Ok.  Clear queue, close Word, delete and re-add printer, open Word, create envelope and print.

  Looking for Printer


Ok, clear queue, close Word, delete and re-add printer with alternate driver (Gutenprint?), open Word, crete envelope and print.

  see above.

Wow- this is starting to be annoying.

I decided to see if HP had a specific driver for my printer for MacOS.  Under HP's site there is a specific driver holder space for MacOS 10.6 which basically says 'driver included in OS'.

I did a Google search for 'MacOS 10.6 HP LaserJet Paused' and I see many people having the same problem with a variety of other models and MacOS 10.6.

I printed the envelope from Word on my Windows 7 system and had no problems.

Note to self: If I need to do work, use a PC.


ThinkGeek T-Shirt Grab Bag

ThinkGeek sent out an advert for ‘One Random Shirt of Surprising Awesomeness’ for $5.99 – $6.99 ea (men’s XXL are $6.99- everything else is $5.99).  I placed an order on Thursday for five shirts and today I received my package, consisting of:

  • One blue World of Warcraft ‘Gnomeregan’ crest t-shirt (Ok)
  • One black World of Warcraft Cataclysm shirt (Cool!)
  • One black Mortal Kombat Fatality shirt (Ok)
  • One beige “I’m On a Worm’ shirt (guessing a Dune reference- but WTF?)

and… and… (wait for it)

  • One gray MineCraft shirt (Awesome!)

Ironic part is that I was looking for almost the exact same MineCraft shirt design- but I couldn’t find anything like this! 

I ordered another 5 shirts- total with standard shipping is $40.84- so $8.17/ea. for some pretty cool shirts!

Looks like I have my summer/fall wardrobe shopping pretty much done!  :o)


Good Science Fiction- Re-Discovered

I cannot remember how long it has been since I had a SciFi book that is so enthralling that it made me want to skip work/school to be able to finish it; Pandora’s Star by Peter F. Hamilton is such a work.  This book is immediately followed by Judas Unchained to compete the Commonweath Saga and later followed by The Void trilogy which is comprised of The Dreaming Void, The Temporal Void and The Evolutionary Void.  Together these books construct a plausible future that promise growth and evolution for the humanity through technology and discovery.

Pandora’s star is set in 2380 at a time where the human race has discovered wormhole technology and uses it to colonize other worlds and transmit data streams at faster than light speed.  Humanity has also discovered near immortality with their (stem-cell research derived) ability to rejuvenate bodies to prevent death due to old age and by recording human memories to crystalline devices embedded in the skull –so the unexpectantly deceased can be re-lifed into a newly cloned body with all memories intact (or edited).

Most of the populace in the 24th century also have organic circuitry tattoos (OCTattos) that serve to interface directly from the human nervous system to control external machines/electronics.  This technology also allows direct connectivity to the Unisphere (the galactic Internet) and options for additional physical enhancements such as enhanced strength, augmented vision, scanning devices, etc. 

Artificial intelligence has been created by copying human memory patterns and people tired up rejuvenation can upload their memories to the AI when they are ready for final death.  The largest of these is the Sentient Intelligence (SI) and it occupies its own planet and lesser Restricted Intelligences (RI) supplement everyday use systems.

The book opens with a little of background on the multiple characters that appear through the series and then focus on a pair of stars that have disappeared- supposedly enclosed by Dyson spheres.  There are numerous sub-plots and threads that seem to be completely unrelated but eventually everything comes together in the end of Judas Unchained.  If you watched the Battlestar Galactica spin-off series Caprica, you might know the complexity and entertainment value that the multiple threads create- and the ultimate feeling of satisfaction when they all come together.

Not to give any of the plot away- but it is a very good read; aliens, spiritual journeys, detectives, terrorists, starships- it is all in there.  All of the characters are uniquely human and the technological statu quo for the future seems like an expected evolution from current trends.

The Void trilogy is set 1,200 years after the end of Judas Unchained.  It references many of the events and characters from the prior two books -and I do not know how this new series would read without the fore knowledge from the others.  I have just started reading The Dreaming Void so I cannot comment much on this series.  So far it seems to follow the pattern of the earlier series- and is very entertaining. 

Unfortunately, I did not know that Misspent Youth was Hamilton’s initial foray into this universe- I will need to go back and read that one as well.  My understanding is that this book lays groundwork with the development of the rejuvenation process and he discovery of memory crystals that can store phenomenal amounts of data- which are both widely used in the later books.


Ham Radio, Car Keys, Electronics, Etc.

I am back in school- working for a BS in IT with a focus on security- but now I am in the science/math part and it is getting kind of boring.

I started listening to the iWoz book from Audible; now I want to get a Ham radio license and revisit my desire to understand more about electronics.  I know the basic components and basic principals such as amperage, voltage, resistance, etc.- but I want to understand why a transistor acts as it does; anyone know any good training videos?

On another note, my second ignition key for my Honda has broken.  This appears to be a fairly common issue with the 2003-2005 Honda models that had the security remote attached to the key blade.

The key is not a normal key; it is a high security 'laser cut’ key with an embedded transponder that disables a system immobilizer when starting the car.  A replacement key from the dealer costs about $160 as they must cut the key, program the remote and program the car to the new transponder.

For do-it-yourselfers, key blanks can be programmed to match the transponder of another key with a key programmer; otherwise you need a transponder programmer that connects in through the ODBII port.

Keyless entry programming is fairly simple enough- but both of my keys have working keyless entry electronics and transponders.

Alternatively, I found a ‘Fix My Key’ website that will cut a key from VIN# for $20 and I can install my remote electronics and transponder.


iPhone Tracking Data

There has been a bit of discussion on the Internet about the iPhone retaining a history of GPS location information- unbeknown to the iPhone owner.  It appears this action was fairly benign and the data never left the phone save for a backup to iTunes when the iPhone synchronizes.

Personally I would actually consider access to this information to be fairly useful for myself; I already use a GPS logger for GeoTagging my photos (not so much now as my HX5V/B camera has integrated GPS) ao having this data already logged on another device would negate the need for an additional device (and additional charger/batteries).

One resourceful person has released a MacOS application for plotting the data (synched with iTunes) over a map.  There is also a Windows version available.


The data seems to go back a distance (2/15/11 was the earliest in my cache) but seems fairly inaccurate as well as when I zoom into the map, there are several places I have never been (perhaps within 20 miles, but not that far off the Interstate).


Asus P8P67 Pro Sleep Mode Issues

I am still having annoying issues with sleep/resume and my Asus P8P67 Pro system. 

While digging through the BIOS settings to underclock my RAM speed (as suggested as one possible resolution) I cam across an ‘EPU Power Management’ option (beneath the RAM settings- of all places)- and disabled it. 

I will not know until morning if this fixes my standby issues- but I will try to update my findings over the weekend.

Update:  The EPU power setting had no effect; it may actually be having more issues than before. 

On a hunch, I decided to look at the memory to see if it may be the problem.  I was running 2x4GB and 2x2GB sticks for 12GB of RAM; I pulled the 4GB modules and replaced them with some older 2GB modules (so now at 4x2GB = 8GB).  I reset the BIOS to ‘optimal’ settings and my PC appears to have stayed online for the night; I will need a few more days to confirm, but initially this looks promising; 9+ hours and no sleep issues!

Update #2:  It looks like my RAM was the culprit!

I replaced the 4GB modules with 2GB modules and I have been almost a week without a sleep/shutdown issue.  (I did have one lockup, but that was probably a normal Windows issue).  I am nit sure if it is the 4GB module size or the RAM is defective, but I am currently running:

4x Corsair XMS3 2GB PC3-10600 1333MHz 9-9-9-24 (Kit of CMX8GX3M4A1333C9)

I replaced

2x Corsair XMS3 4GB PC3-10600 1333MHz 9-9-9-24 (Kit of CMX8GX3M2A1333C9)

I believe my memory was banked correctly; 4GB modules in slots 1 & 3 and 2GB modules in slots 2 & 4.

I am not sure if I want to try just the 4GB modules to see if the issue returns or if I should just be happy with it running as is.  I was hoping to eventually go to 16GB and onto 32GB (when they get around to making non-registered 8GB DDR3 DIMMs)- so I am kind of at a loss for what I want to do…


P67 Power Management Issues

i.e. P67 (SandyBridge) chipset will NOT resume from sleep mode!

I purchased a MSI P67A-GD65 B3 motherboard with an Intel i7-2600k a few weeks ago and returned the motherboard as it would go to sleep and not resume without a hard power reset (it also froze twice while working, so that was a deciding factor on the return).

I replaced it with an Asus P8P67 Pro.  It has been having many of the same issues when trying to resume from sleep mode:

  • Short ‘sleep’ sessions allow the PC to return to normal; generally under 1 hour
  • Extended (4+ hour) sessions will not resume.  Often my USB mouse will be dark and light up briefly when I press a button or move; but no wakey-up.
  • Pressing the power button on the system does nothing
  • My two options are to press reset or do a hard power off; after which the system comes back with with an unexpected shutdown alert.

Reading various forums (search for ‘P67 sleep mode issues’ and you get 1mil+ results) there are numerous suggestions:

  1. Disable PLL Overvoltage (specific to the Asus board); did this with no difference
  2. Issues with SSD drives and sleep mode; replaced the SSD with a SATA3 Winchester drive (and rebuilt Windows 7 from scratch) with no difference
  3. BIOS update will resolve; latest BIOS and no difference
  4. Issues with Win7 SP1 and Marvell SATA (SCSI MiniPort) controller Hotfix; Applied and possibly a difference?
  5. Use MCE Standby Tool; Installed tray icon, but does not appear to prevent sleep mode
  6. Disabled (as far as I can ascertain) ALL sleep, hibernate and hybrid sleep modes; still goes to sleep and having sleep issues!
    powercfg –h off
  7. Clear BIOS configuration after firmware update and reset to defaults; haven’t tied this one yet.

Today I was able to get my first successful wake from hibernation (albeit hibernation was disabled).  I pressed the mouse button on my PC and I heard the HDs click and the system fans spin up.  From powercfg I was able to discern:

powercfg -lastwake
Wake History Count - 1
Wake History [0]
  Wake Source Count - 1
  Wake Source [0]
    Type: Device
    Instance Path: PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_1503&SUBSYS_849C1043&REV_05\3&11583659&0&C8
    Friendly Name:
    Description: Intel(R) 82579V Gigabit Network Connection
    Manufacturer: Intel

This is logged as my first wake since I built this system about a week ago- not noting the 10 hard resets I have had to perform since then.

I am not sure if this was from the hotfix or from MCE Standby Tool running before it went into hibernation (or Hybrid sleep?).

I guess I will try the BIOS reset.  If that doesn’t work I will go back to Win7 with no SP1 and see what happens…



xBox 360 GPU

Ok, this video has me amazed:

I am learning that the xBox 360 GPU solder points may be ‘reflowed’ with the use of a hot air rework station and a 43mm nozzle:

This is not something I currently have a need for, but if I ever get a RROD on my current xBox 360 (or find a cheap original PS3 with GPU issues) I can purchase a few items and fix this myself!
Aoyue 968 3-in-1 Digital Hot Air Rework Station: Aoyue 43mm nozzle

Aoyue 968 3 in 1 Digital Hot Air Rework Station



42PF9631D/37 TV Issues

My roommate purchased a Philips 42” Plasma TV for her bedroom three years ago.  The TV worked great until a few weeks ago when the TV started not powering up; hitting the power button would turn the power indicator LED greed for a few seconds, and then it would flash red seven times. 

Luckily this is a pretty common issue as there are several posts (another here) and videos on the web detailing this issue:

I removed the back from my TV and it looks fairly intimidating:


A slow review of the mainboard revealed he capacitors mentioned on the posts; and they are blown…


The Capacitors are electrolytic 3300UF, 10V 105C units.  The part on DigiKey is P13117-ND.  I ordered four of these (two for extras in case I mess one up or one is damaged before delivery) and they are being delivered USPS priority mail.  They should be here by the end-of-the-week.

I have pulled the power supply board and I will install the new ones when they arrive.  I will post an update after all is done.


Neat Receipts

I have been using an awesome program called Neat Receipts for a few years now; it comes in a bundle with a small scanner that I use to scan in all of my receipts/packing lists/invoices/etc. It auto-recognizes dates and amounts (and sometimes vendor names- dependent on font) and allows me to categorize them and include information if they are business or personal expenses.

One issue I have with the software is you must use their scanner (I can import JPEG/GIF from another scanner- but that makes the scanning process more laborious, so I stick to their scanner) and their scanner can sometimes be unwilling to calibrate (especially with Windows 7 x64).  In my latest rebuild of Windows, I found that the scanner would not calibrate at all.

However, a quick Google search returned Neatco’s scanner trouble-shooting page with a link to their scanner maintenance tool (which I never knew existed)- this is a great utility if you are running Neatco’s Neat Receipts.

Droid X Gingerbread Update

A pre-release of Android 2.3 (codenamed ‘Gingerbread’) has made its way to the DroidWord Forums.
I have been running a variant of Gingerbread with Froyo via the Liberty 1.5 ROM, but there have been some stability issues (occasionally the screen goes off and it will not come back without pulling the battery)- so a semi-official release of Gingerbread sounds great.
The upgrade requires that you go back to the stock 2.3.340 ROM from Verizon; for this you need to download:
Boot the droid X in recovery mode by holding down the volume + and camera buttons while powering on.  Once the text screen comes up, plugin to your PC and restore the SPF file via RDS Lite.  Note:  There are some issues with the x64 drivers not working on some systems.  I was unable to get this to work on my MacBook Pro in BootCamp, but it worked without any problems on my gaming PC running.
You will likely need to wipe the settings on your phone as it will be stuck in a boot loop that will go to the boot screen and then restart.  Do this by booting the phone while holding down the 'home’ key.  The phone will bootup to a yellow exclamation triangle; press the ‘search’ key to bring up the recovery menu.  Select ‘restore factory settings’, wait a few minutes and reboot when it is done.  You are now back to a factory version of Droid X 2.3.340 ROM.
Do a basic setup that will allow you to get to the options menu where you can enable ‘unknown sources’ in the application settings menu.
Now you will need to re-root and re-install the Droid X Recovery boot loader.  Download:
Install both apps on your Droid X.  Run the Z4 root and establish a permanent root.  The phone may need to reboot once root is obtained.
Download the Rooted Droid X Gingerbread release and copy it to the root of your SD card on the phone. 
Run the Droid X recovery and run the ‘Bootstrap Recovery’ and then ‘Reboot Recovery’.  This will reboot the phone into recovery mode. 
Finally, navigate the recovery menu to install the Rooted Droid X ROM you installed form the SD card.  One more reboot and you should be running a semi-official version of Gingerbread on your Droid X!
The official release of Gingerbread expected to be released on March 27th, but is rumor is that Verizon rejected the update as it needed additional fixes from Motorola.  There is no estimate when the official release will be finalized, but his version should keep me happy until the final version has been rooted!  :)

P67 Upgrade Issues

MicroCenter has the Intel i7-2600k on sale for $280 this week.  This is one of the newer ‘Sandy Bridge’ 32nm quad-core i7 CPUs that has a clock speed of 3.4Ghz per core.  I have been running an Intel i7 860 (‘Lynnfield’ quad-core 45nm i7 at 2.8Ghz per core) and didn’t really see much need to upgrade- other than my current motherboard only has two SATA3 and two USB3 ports. 
However, the price was pretty good and I felt the sudden ‘need’ to upgrade.
CPU Comparison
The newer i7 models come in a new LGA1155 socket configuration- which does not work in my current Gigabyte P55A-UD3 LGA 1156 motherboard- so I also had to do a little motherboard shopping. 
There are currently two chipsets that support the LGA 1155 socket; the P67 and the H67.  The P67 does not use the integrated video found on the newer Sandy Bridge CPUs; it must be paired with a discrete video card and most most motherboards with this have multiple PCIe slots (supporting both SLI and Cross-Fire) and have good/exceptional overclocking abilities. The H67 motherboards do utilize the on-board Intel video, and these systems tend to be less expensive and have less features.  I am definitely looking to the P67 series.
One thing to note is that the initial release of P67 (and H67?) chipsets are being recalled by Intel due to a physical chipset problem that can affect the SATA 2 controllers.  From my understanding, this issue can take years to surface and it will only affect a percentage of the systems with this chipset version.  The problem is related to the fabrication of the chips and the only fix is to replace the affected motherboards.  The new ‘B3’ revisions of the P67 motherboards have this issue resolved.
I eventually picked up the i7-2600k and a MSI P67A-GD65 motherboard- and returned the board three days later.  The Windows install went without issues on this system, but the system had some problems- the system would not come back from standby/sleep mode on two occasions, and on another two occasions it froze up while I was working on it. 
I replaced it with an Asus P8P67 Pro; It is a very similar design and has not had any of the freeze up issues experienced by the former board- but I have had a few similar issues with returning from standby/sleep (albeit sleep and hibernate has been disabled in Windows).  This particular issue appears to be fairly common and disabling CPU PLL Overvoltage has not resolved this for me; hopefully a future Windows/BIOS patch will resolve.
On another note, the Asus VG236HE monitors are going back; they are so glossy that I am having more eye strain during the day when trying to read text that it negates all the benefits of the 120hz refresh.  I am replacing them with Acer GD235HZ models.