Saturday, October 15, 2011

SMS via WiFi for Travel

I am currently traveling in Europe.  No phone sucks (I’m on Verizon, which is CDMA, so I can’t use Europe’s cell towers).  At least I can connect every once in a while, when I stumble onto a WiFi hotspot and at my hotel.

Without going crazy, I spent a little time researching how to SMS over WiFi.  What I REALLY want is for my Android device to utilize WiFi for SMS so my texting threads (and contacts) still work, but that doesn’t seem to be an option (though there may be some promise when using Google Voice if you’re willing to integrate your “real” phone number with your Google Voice number).

The best (at least easiest and most apparent) solution I found was an app in the Market called textPlus.  I set up an account that allows me to text over WiFi; they actually assign you a phone number and associate it with your account.  Thus people can text you at this physical number, and you receive it through the app.  I do have to import individual contacts into the app (hopefully this information isn’t being harvested by the app), and when I text people, they need to respond to this new number (all they need to do is respond in their texting app).

On the Google Voice front, below is a video showing how to use your Google Voice number to go back and forth with SMS and e-mail.  This means you have to use your Google voice number for texting (not your phone’s actual number) and it doesn’t really get the messaging to streamline in your Android text threading.  This may change if you integrate your actual phone number with Google Voice and then use your Google Voice number as your main device number, but I’m not willing to let big brother get that kind of a hold on my communication structure just yet.

Google Voice SMS to e-mail conversion

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Ongoing Saga of Netflix

The hilarious letter received today…

Dear Daniel,

It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs.

This means no change: one website, one account, one password…in other words, no Qwikster.

While the July price change was necessary, we are now done with price changes.

We're constantly improving our streaming selection. We've recently added hundreds of movies from Paramount, Sony, Universal, Fox, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, MGM and Miramax. Plus, in the last couple of weeks alone, we've added over 3,500 TV episodes from ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, USA, E!, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, ABC Family, Discovery Channel, TLC, SyFy, A&E, History, and PBS.

We value you as a member, and we are committed to making Netflix the best place to get your movies & TV shows.

The Netflix Team

The whole “we’re constantly improving our streaming selection” made me laugh, considering my queue just went from around 250 shows to less than 150 (those 100 shows were removed from the Netflix catalog).

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Browsing Amazon Prime Instant Video Titles is a Horrible, Horrible Experience

Part of the ongoing “Can I end my cable subscription yet?” conversation is which online streaming providers are a necessary and/or viable part of your media delivery arsenal.  Amazon is making a rather weak bid by simply providing content as part of their $79 a year shipping subscription program.  Kind of like a growth on an otherwise great countenance, some people will view it as a beauty mark; others will view it as a mole.  And I guess you can’t really bitch about something that’s free… but I’m going to.

1109935-broken_compass_superSo my question is this: why is no one discussing how incredibly awful Amazon Prime Instant Video’s browsing/navigation experience is?  I Googled the topic and found nothing but general comparisons of Netflix and Amazon (mostly regarding number of titles) with no mention whatsoever of the INCREDIBLY ABYSMAL title browsing experience put forth on the Amazon site.  The only way to browse APIV titles online is via the regular Amazon shopping interface.  This means you can only see 12 titles at a time.  How long would it take a person to view “more than 10,000” titles if you can only browse 12 at a time?!

Not only that, but the Amazon Prime sign up page states that there are over 10,000 instant videos available, yet under “video definition” filter on the left-hand side of the page only 126 HD titles and 668 SD titles are shown.  It’s been a while since I’ve really had to do much math, but I’m fairly certain that 126 plus 668 does not equal over 10,000 (and only 126 HD titles is pretty laughable).

You also can’t add titles to a queue (thus, when you want to watch, you have to search for a title specifically).  You can create a special “wish list” for saving only Amazon Prime Instant Videos, but a wish list is an even more painful navigation experience.

Under the “unlimited instant video” drop down at the top of the Amazon page is a link called “your video library.” However, “your video library” only stores purchased video, thus you can’t add Amazon Prime Instant Video titles to “your video library.”

There is also no integration with Windows Media Center (there is integration with WMC for “your video library,” but as previously mentioned, you can’t ad APIV titles to your video library, only paid titles).

How does Amazon expect to compete with the other streaming providers if they won’t address navigating content?!  I guess on price alone.  So for now, Amazon Prime Instant Video is kind of like that off-brand mp3 player from 2003 collecting dust in your closet:  yeah, you have it, and technically it plays music, but it’s so painful to actually use that you never will.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Windows Media Center PC (Breaking the Shackles of Cable)

After years of thinking and talking about, I've finally got a Media PC (also called HTPC or Home Theater PC) up and running.  I had been waiting for this and that, but as with all things technology, you have to just jump in the pool at some point.  I went the less-cred/much easier route of building around Windows Media Center instead of building an XBMC box.  Yeah, you can customize the hell out of XBMC, but I know I'm going to be using a Win 7 PC, and I'd like my girlfriend and guests to easily be able to use the system, so WMC it is.

  • MOBO with many internal SATA ports (at least 6), Gigabit ethernet, and many external USB/eSata ports, and I decided on a motherboard with on-board HDMI video instead of an additional video card (one less component to buy and manage)
  • 128GB SSD for system drive
  • multiple 2GB hard drives for file storage (in RAID or just as is)
  • Hauppauge 1250 tuner card with remote (yes it works to control Windows Media Center)
  • As many silent fans as your case will accommodate (I've got six fans in mine, and it's still pretty quiet)
  • BluRay/DVD/CD burner
  • Windows 7 Professional (thus Windows Media Center)
  • AVG antivirus
  • MalwareBytes (anti Malware)
  • Launchy (I don't like shortcut icons cluttering my desktop)
  • iTunes
  • Airport Utility (for streaming audio to a Mac Airport via iTunes or Airfoil)
  • Hulu Desktop (I’ve actually stopped using this, because I like watching Hulu with AdBlock in Firefox)
  • Hulu Desktop Windows Media Center plug-in (again, no longer using because I don’t use Hulu Desktop anymore)
  • Amazon Unbox (for playing Amazon Instant rentals and purchases in WMC -doesn't work for instant streaming; to my knowledge, nothing does)
  • DVD Decrypter I’ve switched to HD Decrypter; it breaks a lot more encryption (for ripping purchased DVD's to my hard drive)
  • AdBlock Video (doesn't work for Hulu Desktop, but it's great for eliminating commercials when viewing browser-based Hulu, NBC, CBS, etc. via Firefox)
  • uTorrent
  • TED (Torrent Episode Downloader)
Why your Hauppauge remote isn't working: chances are the infrared cable's not plugged in all the way. The cable likely has an eight of an inch more to go before it will work.  You'll hear it "click" when it's actually in all the way; it may feel a little like you're forcing it (because you are), but this is the trick!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Netflix Continues to Fail (?)

This morning I opened my e-mail to find this note from CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings:

Dear Jonas,
I messed up. I owe you an explanation.

It is clear from the feedback over the past two months that many members felt we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming and the price changes. That was certainly not our intent, and I offer my sincere apology. Let me explain what we are doing.

For the past five years, my greatest fear at Netflix has been that we wouldn't make the leap from success in DVDs to success in streaming. Most companies that are great at something – like AOL dialup or Borders bookstores – do not become great at new things people want (streaming for us). So we moved quickly into streaming, but I should have personally given you a full explanation of why we are splitting the services and thereby increasing prices. It wouldn’t have changed the price increase, but it would have been the right thing to do.

So here is what we are doing and why.

Many members love our DVD service, as I do, because nearly every movie ever made is published on DVD. DVD is a great option for those who want the huge and comprehensive selection of movies.

I also love our streaming service because it is integrated into my TV, and I can watch anytime I want. The benefits of our streaming service are really quite different from the benefits of DVD by mail. We need to focus on rapid improvement as streaming technology and the market evolves, without maintaining compatibility with our DVD by mail service.

So we realized that streaming and DVD by mail are really becoming two different businesses, with very different cost structures, that need to be marketed differently, and we need to let each grow and operate independently.

It’s hard to write this after over 10 years of mailing DVDs with pride, but we think it is necessary: In a few weeks, we will rename our DVD by mail service to “Qwikster”. We chose the name Qwikster because it refers to quick delivery. We will keep the name “Netflix” for streaming.

Qwikster will be the same website and DVD service that everyone is used to. It is just a new name, and DVD members will go to to access their DVD queues and choose movies. One improvement we will make at launch is to add a video games upgrade option, similar to our upgrade option for Blu-ray, for those who want to rent Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360 games. Members have been asking for video games for many years, but now that DVD by mail has its own team, we are finally getting it done. Other improvements will follow. A negative of the renaming and separation is that the and websites will not be integrated.

There are no pricing changes (we’re done with that!). If you subscribe to both services you will have two entries on your credit card statement, one for Qwikster and one for Netflix. The total will be the same as your current charges. We will let you know in a few weeks when the website is up and ready.

For me the Netflix red envelope has always been a source of joy. The new envelope is still that lovely red, but now it will have a Qwikster logo. I know that logo will grow on me over time, but still, it is hard. I imagine it will be similar for many of you.

I want to acknowledge and thank you for sticking with us, and to apologize again to those members, both current and former, who felt we treated them thoughtlessly.

Both the Qwikster and Netflix teams will work hard to regain your trust. We know it will not be overnight. Actions speak louder than words. But words help people to understand actions.
Respectfully yours,

-Reed Hastings, Co-Founder and CEO, Netflix

p.s. I have a slightly longer explanation along with a video posted on our blog, where you can also post comments.

If you follow the link to the post on the Netflix blog, you’ll see a LOT of people explaining why two separate accounts (Netflix for streaming and now “Qwikster” for DVD’s) for what used to be one service is a horrible idea, and how they’ll be switching to Blockbuster for their mailed DVD needs.

Did Netflix not see this coming?  Why in the WORLD would they give their customers such a huge opportunity/reason to switch to a service that definitely has a benefit over their service (you can physically return/swap a DVD at a local store immediately, vs. having to wait for the US Post to do everything with the new “Qwikster”).

Also, I assume they had to go with the annoying spelling (Qwik with a “w”) so the Nestle bunny wouldn’t sue?

Netflix obviously had to do some restructuring because they weren’t going to survive on the price structure they had going, but this seems like some extremely poor planning.  Did they do any market research before going this route?

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Create Wake On LAN Button to Remotely Wake Computer

I’ve got my MEDIA tower set to sleep when it’s not in use.  To avoid having to physically go wake up the computer by hitting a button or moving the mouse, imagesI’ve set the machine to Wake on LAN, which means I can wake the computer remotely by sending a command from another machine.  The machine being waked up (the MEDIA tower) needs to be physically attached to an ethernet cable (LAN connection) for this to happen.  You can, however, send the wake up commands wirelessly.

I used basically two sources to find this information.  For configuring my WOL set up, I used this link.  Note that all the firewall information is only necessary in order to use the testing programs to make sure you’re set up right.  You shouldn’t need to set firewall exceptions to simply send the wake command.

To create my WOL desktop shortcut, I used this link (this link also contains all the information from the previous link).

Basically, you need to set your BIOS on the target machine (the one you’re waking up) to allow Wake on LAN (settings will depend on your specific MOBO).  Then you need to download a tiny little program called MC-WOL from  This little executable is what allows you to send a “magic packet” to wake the remote computer.

Find the MAC address of the machine you want to wake up (type getmac in a command line), and use it with the MC-WOL executable (type MC-WOL.exe and then the mac address from a command line).

[a command line means from a DOS window: type “cmd” from the Windows icon at the bottom left corner of your screen and a DOS window will pop up]

To create a shortcut for WOL, use the command you used to Wake your PC and copy it into notepad.

Example:     C:\mc-wol.exe 01:2C:21:E3:D8:5F

Save the text document and then change the .txt extension for that file to .bat.  You can now double click this file to run the Wake On LAN request for the target computer.

p.s. I first set up this button because I didn’t think I could cut/paste into a command line window, but then remembered if you right-click on the window border and select Edit>Paste from the drop-down you can paste into the command line (so you don’t have to manually type the MAC address).

Working with Networked iTunes Libraries and Music

My music library has reached a size that’s not feasible to keep on my laptop, so I’m now accessing my iTunes library from a central MEDIA tower.  I have an Airport hooked up to my main house stereo, so I can select that unit from the speaker selection in iTunes no matter which computer I’m using.  We’re also sharing all the iTunes libraries in the house (my laptop, the media tower, my wife’s computer, etc.).

I use the shared (MEDIA tower) library when I’m home.  This means when I travel, I need to use a different library (one that accesses only the songs that are physically stored on my laptop).

You can alter the iTunes library you open by holding down the shift key when opening iTunes (you must keep holding down the shift key while clicking the iTunes.exe icon and keep the shift key held down until you see the select iTunes library dialogue).


Here’s one of the more important things I’ve found when using this setup:

When adding files/folders to your main (MEDIA tower) iTunes library, make SURE you add the songs by their NETWORK path (not the media computer’s hard drive path).  This way, when you open the iTunes library from another computer, it will start looking for the files via the correct computer name, not the computer from which you opened iTunes (localhost and hard drive path).  This just makes things a little easier when opening files from various (multiple) computers.

If you’ve got \\MEDIA\ set in your iTunes Media folder location under iTunes’ preferences, this should happen automatically.  But I’ve found that sometimes iTunes will still use the hard (localhost) hard drive file path.

For instance, if I’ve got three computers named MEDIA, DEATHSTAR, and CARL, and my main file repository is on MEDIA (this is where the main iTunes library that I open from other computers exists), when I add a folder or file to the MEDIA library, I need to be sure the file or folder is being added from the network not he hard drive path.  If the file path is using the hard drive path on the computer, change the file path to \\MEDIA\ instead of E:\Music\ (for instance).  This way, when I open the library on DEATHSTAR or CARL, iTunes won’t try to look for the files from localhost\\E:\ and will instead start from the network path \\MEDIA\.

A few people have asked why I would want to open the actual library file instead of just playing from the shared library.  The reason is because I want to make any changes I make to the songs, ratings, playlists, etc. show up in the main iTunes library file (so the changes are reflected on all computers).

The only major downside I’ve found so far with this method is that it can take iTunes a LONG time to “checking iTunes library” when opening the networked iTunes library.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sending an Old Fashioned Telegram in Modern Times

[update] ATTENTION: is an extremely shady company.  Not only were they awful to work with (not returning calls, charging fees that were not published, charging per character to include the delivery address in the telegram message body without disclosing this charge up front, etc.), but I just received my credit card bill and found they charged the transaction as CASH, so I was charged additional “cash transaction” charges by my credit card company.  I can’t believe American Telegram can stay in business.  They are shady.  Their customer service is abysmal.  DO NOT USE AMERICANTELEGRAM.COM.

[update] I finally received some response from the company, by way of a “teen texting” style barrage of e-mails with absolutely no tact or sense of how to address customers in which they attempted to defend their actions.  For instance:

“If you could, please attach the screenshot to those you let know about your issues. [sic]   We have not changed our website in several years, meaning this information was presented to you when you checked out.   I am sorry you did not read it, but it was there, sir.”

Hilarious. p.s. The information to which this person is referring states clearly that the words in the destination address are included, not extra.  I assume this company’s “customer service” consists of a couple of people with absolutely no training except what they learned by arguing and pulling hair in grade school.

My dad is retiring, and we thought it would be clever to send him an old fashioned telegram on his last day at work.

Western Union used to be THE entity for telegram communication in the U.S., but they sent their last transmission on Friday, January 27, 2006.  Here’s a little history on Western Union’s telegram heyday.

So I began researching companies that still offered the service.  American Telegram seemed to be the most legitimate company still sending telegrams.   Following is my experience placing an order for a telegram:

First of all, I would highly recommend NOT using American Telegram.

American Telegram is pretty much a suck-fest.  I had a question about the telegram I wanted to send.  Their website site has a bunch of “call our operators!” banners everywhere, but no real answers to any of your practical questions (Do I pay for punctuation?  Do you use “stop” instead of a period, like a telegram should? etc.).  So I called, but got a message stating all operators were busy, and that I should leave my name and number and they would get back to me.  I did that, and after an hour of waiting with no response called again, as I needed to be sure my transmission was entered that day, for next day delivery.  I left my name and number again, but still received no response after another hour of waiting.

I probably should have taken this as a sign and abandoned American Telegram.  Instead, I decided to go ahead with the web form for sending a telegram.  The page clearly shows the next day service is $22.95 plus $.79 a word, and even if I was paying for the word “stop” (used at the end of a sentence), it should still have only been an extra $3.16 (four “stops”).  I typed in my 25 words (plus four “stops”), filled out the sender and recipient information, and entered my credit card number.  When I clicked “Process Telegram” I was taken to a sort of receipt page that stated my charge was for $22.95, plus 45 WORDS, plus tax (no mention of tax on the preceding page).  The bottom of the receipt showed:

Order Total:
Thank You! Your order will be processed very soon! Need to make a change to this order? We're happy to serve you. You may contact, or you may Call us at 1-800-835-3967 during normal business hours (PST timezone).

I immediately called the number on the receipt, received the same message I had previously heard, left my name and number AGAIN, and have since done that several more times… still with absolutely no response from American Telegram.

So… no confirmation page before taking your money.  No word counter on the form where you type your message.  No information on how punctuation and word count actually works.  No returned phone calls.  Mostly just a giant, suck-fest.

I paid $62.74 so you can learn from my mistake: DON’T USE AMERICAN TELEGRAM.

By the way, according to their phone message American Telegram evidently also runs Candygram, but their website makes NO mention of this service.  They DO, however, list a singing telegram service, but then inform you that it will be delivered by phone –so who cares?!  Anybody can call someone and sing to them.


Other telegram companies:

iTelegram (The International Telegram Service)

Telegram Stop

To be clear, Telegram Stop is more of a novelty service that is in no way legally binding or otherwise associated with most of the reasons one would send a telegram.  For $5.95 they will print and mail your message.  You also get a digital copy e-mailed to you.  There is no expedited delivery, and most messages will be delivered in 4 to 8 days.  You can’t deliver to any sort of live event, and you must give a street or P.O. Box for delivery.  Thus, the only real difference between Telegram Stop and sending a letter, is that you can choose their “styles” to print the message on.  In other words, Telegram Stop is pretty much a scam, charging you $5.95 to send a $.44 letter.

The Best Songs Ever Written

My life is filled with lists.  This one is not, like so many, to rule and dictate my actions, but instead to serve as a reminder.

Some day I might try and assign some sort of order to this list, but for now, these are just some of (what I feel are) the best songs ever written/recorded, in no particular order (I plan on continuing to add to the list over time):
  • “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure
  • “Ally” by Marie-Juliette Bird
  • “How It Ends” by Devotchka
  • “Hyper Ballad” by Bjork
  • Albinoni's Adagio In G Minor
  • "Days Go By" by Duncan Sheik
  • "Losing My Edge" by LCD Soundsystem

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Canon Elph 300HS Review

update: The shutter lag on this camera is infuriating.  Wanna take a picture of a baby or a dog (pretty much the only two things I photograph)?  TOO BAD!  By the time the camera actually snaps a shot, the subject will be in Timbuktu.  Wanna do it with the flash on?  Forget it!  I’ve had to wait up to three full seconds for the camera to actually fire.  Disappointed to say the least, which is a real bummer, ‘cause I thought I was going to love this camera.

I was hiking on some wet rocks and fell on my damn camera.  The screen is now a giant spider web.  I’ve had that Casio EX-V7 for more than five years, and I loved that camera (though I did have to send it in for repairs, luckily under warranty, not once but twice when I dropped it and it was bricked by the image stabilizer).  I especially loved the speed with which it could power up and shoot.  Also the speed with which it could simply shoot and re-ready itself for another shot.  There is no camera on the market that can match it.  I also loved the fact that it had an optical 9x zoom, with NOTHING PROTRUDING (the magic of mirrors, I assume).

I have to say, after a couple of weeks of online research and then “hands on” experiences trying out various cameras, I’m not too thrilled about the pocket-point-and-shoot offerings of Summer 2011.  At least not in the realm of power-up-shoot and/or shoot-and-shoot-again (which, let’s face it, is the most important factor in a pocket camera).

So though it doesn’t match the speed of my beloved Casio EX-V7, and though it has to pop-a-woody when powering up to shoot, I’ve chosen the Canon Elph 300HS as my new pocket shooter.

I ended up buying it from Best Buy, because I needed it that night for an Andrew Bird / Haley Bonar concert.  It sucked that I had to buy an SD Card at a retail store, but there was an 8GB class 10 card on sale for $20, so it wasn’t too outrageously overpriced (this to say: the camera does not come with any memory).

The still shots from the evening were surprising.  The actual photos from this camera do beat out my Casio by a long shot.  And I was amazed by the low-light shooting capabilities (both still and video).  The video isn’t on par with a dedicated video camera (some jitters and some trouble focusing), but it’s nice to have a full 24p HD option in my pocket when the situation arises.


  • Small size is incredible (the main reason I’ve chosen to keep the camera). It’s great that this is truly a pocket point-and-shoot.
  • The macro is awesome. I’ve been shooting things from only an inch away! I missed this capability with the Casio.
  • 1280p HD at 24ps (see cons as well)
  • I love the texture of the black model (matte, almost like fine sandpaper, and thus easier to hold on to)
  • I like being able to take a photo during movie recording (and being able to switch to movie with one, dedicated button while taking photos)
  • I like the external battery charger so two batteries can be utilized with one charging while out of the camera.  I can’t believe there are still cameras on the market that require in-camera battery charging.


  • I miss 9x non-protruding zoom from Casio Exilim EX-7.  The Elph only has 5x optical, and it requires the ridiculous extended lens.
  • There is no “audio only” recording option.  I’m a musician and I REALLY miss the “record audio only” option for recording song ideas and audio notes.  I also used this feature numerous times for recording conversations and people telling stories.  I’m really going to miss this feature.
  • 1080p HD at 24fps is awesome to have, but the camera seems to have trouble focusing (so far I have lots of out of focus HD video clips –unacceptable).  The video is often also jittery, even at 720p (vs. 1080p).
  • Not enough flash settings from the flash menu on the menu ring (Casio had red-eye, soft flash, regular, etc. where Canon only has auto-on and off –you can’t even force the flash on (for fill) unless you’re in Program mode!)
  • I wish there were shortcuts to the various “effect” shooting modes.  Having to scroll through a thousand settings before you take the picture means the moment has almost ALWAYS passed by the time you get the camera set up right.
  • Shutter lag… by the time the camera shoots, the subject has moved on to doing something else!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sending Larger Than 2GB Files

In an age where the terabyte rules, and I’m sure we’ll be moving into petabytes and exabytes any second now, it sure seems like a pain in the ass to get a 5GB file sent over the web.

YouSendIt is the reigning online file transfer company, but they have a 2GB single file limit.  DropBox is the favorite of Lifehacker and their ilk, but they also have a 2GB single file limit.  Even Microsoft has sky drive, and while they have a 5GB cloud capacity, they sport a COMICAL 50MB file size limit.  Most FTP options also have a 2GB file limit.

So what do you do when you need to send an 11GB file to someone on the other side of the country (or planet)?

This week I found two decent options.  One is to torrent the file (who knew it was for more than just stealing?!), and the other is through Skype.

There is a pretty decent tutorial here on how to create a torrent file using uTorrent (free program).  You simply create the torrent file (which is basically a sort of map for the recipient to find your computer and the specific file), and then send that torrent file to your recipient.  Your computer then feeds the file to the recipient (using a torrent program like uTorrent) over an internet connection.   I highly suggest using the forced encryption mentioned in the tutorial, especially if you are on Comcast.  The one thing the tutorial fails to mention is that you will absolutely need to set up port forwarding on your router (for the port you designate to work with uTorrent).  This is easy to do and a simple Google inquiry for port forwarding on your specific router should get you going.

The easiest way, however, to send a large file is to simply open up a Skype conversation with the recipient, and select “Conversation” from your menu options at the top of the screen, then “Send” then “File.”  Yesterday I sent an 11GB file.  It took around 11 hours over a Comcast connection.  Not exactly speed of light, but at least the file got there.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

If You are Eating Chocolate, You Are Probably Eating Lead

ChocoLeadTurns out most cheap, American chocolate contains lead.  Not only that, apparently it contains quite a bit.  During the production process, things like lead solder in the grinding machines falls into the chocolate, and thus you eat it when you consume chocolate.

Evidently Mexican chocolate, where production oversight and regulation is more lax, is even worse.  In addition to the lead in the wrappers, Mexican chocolate is most often made with tamarind and chili peppers which are often grown in lead-laden soils.  When the peppers are dried, the lead becomes even more concentrated.

Even low levels will: reduce IQ, cause learning disorders, stunted growth, impair hearing, and cause kidney damage. Lead exposure in childhood has also been linked to higher absenteeism in high school, lower class rank, poorer verbal skills, longer reaction time, and poor hand-eye coordination.  Also, the uptake of lead is increased when certain other metals are present. It was found that there was a higher absorption of lead when calcium was ingested at the same time.

The above is excerpted from:

Thus, if your kid is drinking his/her milk or taking their one-a-day vitamin like a good like tyke, they are likely upping the amount of lead that gets absorbed into their bloodstream.

Fact sheet from the West Coast Analytical Service website:

American Environmental Safety Institute
Fact Sheet – May 2002

On May 8, 2002, the American Environmental Safety Institute will petition the Director of the California Department of Health Services to ·  adopt regulations under the California Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act to list any chocolate products containing more than 0.02 parts-per-million of lead as “environmental lead contamination,” and require the chocolate manufacturers who sell in California to pay the Act’s required fees to help fund the public education effort to fight lead poisoning; and find that any chocolate product containing more than 0.02 parts-per-million of lead is “adulterated” within the meaning of California Health & Safety Code §110545, California’s Food and Drug statute.

In concert with filing suit on the same day against the major chocolate companies under the consumer health protection provisions of California’s Proposition 65, the Institute will take these administrative petition actions based on the results of its recent research into the health effects of a wide variety of chocolate products in California. A well-respected analytical laboratory performed the Institute’s testing, and found that
significant amounts of the toxic metals lead and cadmium are present in virtually every chocolate product tested. The following facts demonstrate the extent of this lead in chocolate problem and its significant impact on children:

1. Significant levels of lead were found in a wide array of chocolate products (including syrup/toppings, milk chocolate products, dark chocolate products, and chocolate products that contain nuts, rice and other “inclusions”), with the levels ranging as high as 0.105 parts-per-million (“ppm”), 67 times as high as the lowest amount of 0.00157 ppm. These results show that the amount of lead in chocolate products varies dramatically. Clearly certain manufacturers have found ways to reduce the amount of dangerous lead in chocolate – why can’t the rest?

2. Americans eat an average of 12 pounds of chocolate per year. Chocolate is marketed intensely to children under the age of 12, those most susceptible to the dangers of lead and cadmium exposure, with chocolate candy sales growing more than 7% per year in the late 1990’s. Chocolate candy sales grew the most for afternoon favorites such as fun size and snack size bags of chocolate candies, which grew at a 12% per annum rate, according to the Chocolate Manufacturers’ Association.

3. The Institute’s research shows that daily lead exposure from many chocolate products violates the Proposition 65 “no significant risk” limit for lead of 0.5 micrograms per day. (California Health & Safety Code § 25249.6 and 22 California Code of Regulations §12805(a)).

4. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control considers lead poisoning the major environmental health threat to children in the United States, stating in 1991 that:
-Lead is ubiquitous in the human environment as a result of industrialization.
- It has no known physiologic value.
- Children are particularly susceptible to lead’s toxic effects.
- Lead poisoning, for the most part, is silent: most poisoned children have no symptoms. The vast majority of cases, therefore, go undiagnosed and untreated.

5. The impact of daily chocolate consumption on children is to increase dramatically, often by 100% or more, the amount of lead in the child’s diet. For example, a 5 year-old child consuming as little as the 1.44 micrograms in a typical snack pack of M&Ms consumes more lead than he or she would get in the entire daily diet of the average 5 year-old child in America today – this exposure also violates Proposition 65’s “no significant risk” limit for daily exposure to lead.

6. The increased lead in a child’s diet from eating candy increases the lead in the child’s blood system, which in turn adversely affects their neurological development, meaning lower IQ scores and the like. In 1999, the Centers for Disease Control reported that the average blood lead level for children ages 1 to 5 in America was 2.0 micrograms per deciliter (“ug/dl”) of blood; for children ages 6-11, the number was 1.3 ug/dl.3 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has
determined that for every microgram of lead that a child consumes, their blood lead level is increased by 0.16 ug/dl,4 and that a sustained 1 μg/dL increase in blood-lead concentration results in a loss of 0.257 IQ points in an average child.

7. Based on the blood lead level data developed by the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the consumption of just one of these typical M&M chocolate snacks results in an 18% increase in an average 6 year old child’s blood lead level.

8. The consumption of a typical Kraft Chocolate Fudge Pudding (2.7 micrograms of lead) results in a 33% increase in an average 6 year old child’s blood lead level.

9. The consumption of a typical Nestlé’s Double Chocolate Meltdown Cocoa Drink (3.67 micrograms of lead) results in a 45% increase in an average 6 year old child’s blood lead level.

10. The consumption of a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Easter Bunny (4.93 micrograms) results in a 61% increase in an average 6-year-old child’s blood lead level.

The Institute – and, more importantly, California’s consumers and its young people – needs your help. Please contact the Director of the California Department of Health Services and indicate your support for the Institute’s petition to call on the chocolate industry to get the lead out of chocolate. You can reach the Director as follows:
Diana M. Bontá, R.N., Dr.P.H
California Department of Health Services
714/744 P Street
Sacramento, California 94234-7320
Our basic slogan says it all: “They Can, So They Should – Get the Lead Out!”

For even more scary, check out Lead Contamination in Cocoa and Cocoa Products: Isotopic Evidence of Global Contamination on the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences website. 

Good thing I’m not that big a fan of chocolate.  Viva la savory!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Like Rats from a Sinking Ship? (Netflix Changes Plans and Rates)

Rats jumping shipNetflix recently announced that they will be changing their subscription plans and rates.  The unlimited single DVD and streaming plan that once cost $9.99 a month (I was actually paying $8.99 when I first signed up), will sky rocket to $15.98.  The plans can be purchased separately for $7.99 each (so no discount for the combo).  New users signing up will see this change immediately, while existing users have until Sept. 1 to change their plans.

It’s going to be interesting to see how this affects the masses.

Obviously Netflix couldn’t sustain their business plan on the current rates under which they were operating (unless they planned on carrying only obscure documentaries and non-studio titles… which they were teetering on the edge of as it was).  I assume this pricing change will allow them to start carrying more popular and newer titles.  We’ll see if it improves their instant streaming catalog (I kind of doubt it).

Unfortunately, in the transition, the change promises to hurt independent film.  As a filmmaker who’s movie is about to be purchased for DVD rental by Netflix, this blows even more hardcore.

Netflix pays filmmakers a negotiated (but much more “standard”) price per disc purchased.  Netflix pays a negotiated price for a period of time for unlimited streaming.  Obviously they’re going to pay an unknown indie film much less than a film from an established studio with star power.  Thus, the DVD deal is much better for a filmmaker (even established filmmakers/studios).

If people bail en masse from Netflix’s “unlimited DVD” package (which initial user reactions indicate), we stand to lose a substantial amount of expected revenue from this source.

Not only that, but the timing of this announcement was AWFUL.  Netflix will increase their initial DVD order for an indie title based on a higher number of current users with the title in their queue (you can queue a DVD before it’s actually available –not so with streaming titles).  As soon as our agreement with Netflix was secured, we told our fans to place the title in their queue, and many, many people did.  The very next week Netflix announced their plans to change their pricing and plans.

I wonder how many existing “DVD” subscribers immediately bailed on Netflix, thus driving down the number Leading Ladies DVD’s queued.  I wonder how many more will bail before Sept. 1.

Our film is slated for release Sept. 13, 2011.  Just enough time for all our fans to cancel their DVD memberships with Netflix.  Hopefully our fans will wait till the last second to cancel DVD memberships (so the order still goes through –I’m betting Netflix already has this factored in for current orders, however).

Hopefully people will just actually buy the DVD and support independent film.  Here’s a link.

Viva la storytellers!

p.s.  I don’t know if it’s related, but the Netflix widgets for film titles (an image linked to a button that will add a title to your queue) has recently stopped functioning –it’s been down for days.  Hmmm.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Trims and/or Chapters Adjusted

Add this to my long list of gripes about Adobe Encore (currently using CS4).

Just opened a project that had been burning fine.  Changed nothing.  Now after I click “build,” Encore gives me an error of “Trims and/or chapters adjusted.”

Most solutions found via the web suggest this problem arises after transcoding, however, my video and audio is all MPEG-DVD generated out of Premiere (no transcoding occurs in Encore).


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

FINALLY - Flash, thus Hulu, Supports Multiple Screens with Full Screen Video

I haven’t tried it out yet, and I won’t be anytime soon as I’m running many, many video renders on this machine and it’s not really the best time to try to watch Hulu, but I was very happy to see this message when I powered on today:


Monday, April 18, 2011

Adobe Premiere Pro CS4: Disable Audio Clip, Timeline Won’t Play

When working in Adobe Premiere Pro CS4, sometimes when I disable an audio clip to silence that isolated audio (Clip>Enable) the timeline will no longer play.  You hit the space bar… nothing.  You click the play button in the Program Window… nothing.  Actually, “nothing” isn’t exactly right.  The play button does toggle to the stop icon, but only for a few seconds, like it’s trying to play, but then it switches back.
I’m posting this because I can’t find the issue documented anywhere, and I just wanted to let people with the same problem know they aren’t going crazy.
I don’t have a fix, but it happens to me often enough to be an issue.

[UPDATE] One solution (as posted by Greg in comments): find any disabled clips in your timeline.  If two disabled clips are butted against one another, Premiere will not play (obviously a glitch in the program).  Thanks, Greg!

I have had this problem when only one clips is disabled, but hopefully the above works for you!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Colorado Periodic Report Filing Scam

Attention Colorado business owners:

I have an LLC for my business in Colorado.  Colorado requires a business’s information be kept up to date with the State with yearly filing.  The fee for this service is $10, and can be done entirely online (you can do it with physical copies on paper, but it’s more expensive).

This year I received forms around tax time stating that I needed to pay a $225 filing fee.  The form looks kind of official, so I did a little research to make sure I wasn’t missing something.

So you know “Corporate Controllers Unit” is a Nevada based company.  They have NOTHING to do with the state of Colorado.  If you read carefully, you’ll see that technically they are offering to help you file your paperwork.  Thus, what they are offering is a “service.”

Just above the signature line at the bottom of the page is this sentence: “This product or service has not been approved or endorsed by any Government Agency and this offer is not being made by an agency of the Government.  U.S.C. 39.6.3001(d).  This is a solicitation for the order of services, and not a bill, invoice or statement of account due.  You are under no obligation to make any payments on account of this offer.”

However, they are making it look like they are agents of the Government, and you are required to pay this fee.

Don’t fall for it.


Just a few sources on the subject:

The Ripoff Report

Steamboat Pilot & Today

Rocky Mountain Real Estate Law

Sunday, March 6, 2011

iTunes Crappy “Automatically Add Media” Functionality

It’s unbelievably lame that when you add media to your media folder, iTunes won’t automatically import it into your library.  And it’s NOT that it’s not COMPLETELY possible (and already scripted/coded).  In iTunes 9 they actually implemented a special folder (it’s freaking called “Automatically Add to iTunes” and sits in your iTunes directory) that you can (read: HAVE TO) add media to to have it automatically show up in your library.


So why the F*CK not just implement that code with the f*cking MEDIA FOLDER?!

Unbelievable.  Typical, and what is apparently the norm, but still somehow unbelievable.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Gawker Media is Really F*CKING Up

Lifehacker and Gizmodo used to be the blogs I read most often.  However, recently all Gawker Media sites underwent a change that at first was just annoying, but after trying to use for a couple of weeks I find is downright prohibitive.  Until things change, I’ve actually gone so far as to remove Gizmodo and Lifehacker from my RSS feeds [sniff- I’ll miss you guys!].

First of all, any internal linking (which they use a lot of) has been obliterated, especially on mobile devices (which is where I most often view these sites).  Because mobile devices are automatically routed to a page which lists the most recent posts (there doesn’t seem to be any getting around this), ANY link you click will take you to the new “main” page (not the page you were trying to click to).

Also, when using an RSS feed, you see a preview of the stories on a site.  It used to be you’d click on the preview for any Lifehacker or Gizmodo story and go straight to the full story.  Now you click the preview, get taken to the “main” page, have to find the story again (often buried deep on the list), and then have to click to the story in order to actually read the material.

It was bad enough when Lifehacker and Gizmodo truncated their previews to just a few sentences from the story.  The new format is now impossible.  For a contrast (that works), Engadget usually shows nearly all the text from a story in my RSS Agregator.  I can get the full idea of the story, and if it’s something I’m really interested in, I’ll click through to the site.  The new Gawker format forces you to click through (and then sift through crap looking for the story) just to get a HINT of what’s going on.  Gawker may think it will increase traffic to their sites, but I’m not willing to do that, and I’m betting a lot of other people aren’t either (and will just find alternative sources for their news).

I honestly can’t figure out what the hell is going on with their new landing page (Lifehacker or Gizmodo –they’re set up the same) when using my desktop browser, so I’ve just stopped visiting altogether.  It’s so convoluted with photos, ads, and oddly aligned garbage that it’s not even worth my time.

I went to the Lifehacker site and wrote one of the editors (Adam) to voice my concerns, and I was surprised to actually get a personal e-mail back.  He assured me they were working on the issues.  Unfortunately though, they aren’t working on them fast enough, and they’re losing readers.  Hit any blog/forum discussion of the issue, and you’ll see that people are abandoning ship.

Surely Gawker Media is a aware of how bad things are.  I can’t believe they haven’t just reverted to the old setup until they can better work things out for a new format. 

They are seriously screwing the proverbial pooch here.

[update] Even Penny Arcade agrees!

Monday, February 14, 2011

LCD Soundsystem Says Goodbye

It is so hard to type through the tears.

Tonight LCD Soundsystem bids farewell with their last live broadcast performance. Their last “official show” will be April 2nd at Madison Square Garden.  The show sold out “instantly.” Hopefully we’ll still get to catch ultra-underground performances at nameless bars and secret knock clubs across the planet for years to come, but only time will tell. 

James Murphy was interviewed by Stephen Colbert, before performing “I Can Change” and then waving toodle-oo.  The mellow tune was well done and apropos.

As an aging musician, it was hard to hear the “I’m getting to old to rock” sentiment that Murphy (age 41) put forth as the impetus for the move, but to each his own (and I can certainly understand where he’s coming from).

I still plan to keep writing and rocking well into my 90’s; maybe I’m losing my edge.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Hulu Dual Monitor Full Screen Problem

[UPDATE] Supposedly update 10.2 FINALLY addresses this problem. (click here for post)

It’s extremely annoying that Hulu won’t remain full screen (from going full screen in a browser window) if you have it open on the 2nd monitor of a dual monitor system.

For years (seriously), the Hulu website has had this to day:
Q : I use dual monitors but can't run full screen on one and work in the other screen at the same time. How come?
This is currently a limitation with the Flash Player which we're using to stream our content. As a short-term workaround, you can maximize the pop out player instead. This will achieve nearly the same effect and allow you to work on the other monitor.

We're continuing to investigate possible solutions as we want to take good care of our multi-tasking users.
I don’t really believe they’re investigating squat.  Again, it’s been years.

If you use the above workaround, you’ll have addresses and folders and such at the top and bottom of your screen.  You could also use the dedicated Hulu desktop player.

I just wish they’d fix the problem.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Working with Multiple iTunes Libraries

You can’t access two libraries simultaneously, but you can utilize different libraries for different sessions, and it’s quite simple.

On Windows, simply hold down the SHIFT key while clicking through to the iTunes icon in your start menu.  On Macs, use the ALT key.  In other words, click shift, click the start button in your lower left hand corner (Windows), click the iTunes folder, and then click the iTunes icon to launch iTunes.

You will see a screen that allows you to choose which iTunes library you would like to use for your session.

Why would you do this?  Multiple users on one machine (who don’t like the same kind of music).  Different styles of music (I created a separate library for Xmas so all my Xmas music isn’t cluttering up my “normal” library). Etc.

The trick I’d really like to find is how to use multiple sources for iTunes files (one media folder on my machine, another on the network, another from an external drive, etc.).  Currently, iTunes will only look in one place for media (you set that location in the edit > preferences > advanced window).

The only solution I’ve found is a program called PowerTunes, but it’s $20 and it seems like there should be an easier way to handle the problem.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

myRemote Android App for Windows Media Center

I am in heaven.  I had been using gRemote to remotely controller my computer when watching media.  It basically turns your phone screen into a track pad.  There’s another screen with play, ff, rew, etc., but I honestly have no idea what good it does, as I’ve never seen it work with any program.

I just downloaded myRemote from Viclabs on the Android Market.

All you do is download the msi from the link above (it’s the server software that allows your phone to communicate with your computer), download myRemote from the Android Market, right click the myRemote icon in your tray to find your computer’s IP, and enter the IP into myRemote on your phone (make sure WiFi is enabled on your phone).

Now you have a robust, suberb remote to control Windows Media Center.  Not only are there plenty of buttons specifically for Media Center, but you can click the mouse button on the myRemote interface and use your phone screen as a track pad to control your entire computer (like gRemote).  The trackpad screen also has a text input field at the top, so you can input text.  Click your dpad or trackball to apply the text you’ve typed.  Very slick.

Probably my favorite feature of myRemote is the fact that it has volume control and a MUTE button (sort of).  If you long-press either volume button, it will jump in 15 point increments.  I no longer need my TV remote control to handle the volume.

The dedicated full screen toggle button is great.  You can also open and close WMC right from the application.  The power button will close whatever window is currently in focus, so not only can you use it to close WMC, but any open program.  In the bottom right of the main area are two buttons to toggle between a full screen view and a scrolling carousel view of all your open windows.  Very, very cool.

There are dedicated shortcut buttons to Live TV, Internet TV, Video Library, and music library.  For some reason there is no button for the Movie Library, but if you press the windows logo button it takes you to the default screen so you can scroll to the correct library.

The plus/minus buttons function as skip forward/skip back during movie playback. The FF/RW buttons at the very bottom to the same, but in greater increments.

I have no idea what the camera icon button does, so someone please tell me (it’s driving me crazy).

I run Hulu and Netflix via WMC.  I’ve also found that you actually don’t have to run Hulu from Media Center to control it with the dedicated myRemote keypad.  For Hulu, use the center arrow keys.  Ok is play/pause, left and right are fwd/rev.  The dedicated FF key at the bottom left functions as a full screen toggle for Hulu.

For added fun-ness: you can run the server over 3G instead of WiFi. Forward port 9876 (UDP) to your PC and then use your router’s IP address (from your ISP) in your myRemote app.

Fix Windows Media Center and/or VLC Video Washed Out (too bright)

Whenever I try to watch my ripped DVD’s the video is washed out (too bright).  For the record: I rip the DVD’s I’ve PURCHASED so they don’t get scratched and they’re all on a media server so I don’t have to load DVD’s.   It doesn’t matter if I use VLC or Windows Media Center, the picture is always too bright.

Windows Media Center doesn’t really have a way to adjust your picture settings (stupid), so there is no obvious way to fix the problem via the software’s controls.

VLC at least allows you to make adjustments to how your picture appears, but since the video was washed out in both programs, I assumed something else was wrong.

I downloaded the latest drivers from NVIDIA and updated my settings, but still the problem persisted.  The blacks just aren’t black (the black bars at the top and bottom of the screen are MUCH darker than the blacks in the video).

I spent a couple of hours searching for solutions, and while there seems to be a fix for ATI cards, a documented fix is lacking for NVIDIA (it’s outlined at the end of this post).

For your general knowedge, Here is the ATI reason and fix (from Stephen Neal on

Bottom line... Microsoft appears to have messed up and stipulated inconsistent support for SD and HD (or SD and HD protected path?) video in Vista's EVR (and probably else where)

This results in SD DVD and TV appearing to have set-up or raised black levels and dull white levels (i.e. grey blacks and dull whites and washed out colours) OR HD Blu-ray (and AIUI HD TV) content having crushed blacks and clipped whites.

Cause is inconsistent handling (and I suspect downright ignorance) of broadcast and pre-recorded video running with black at 16 not 0, and white at 235 not 255. (This dates back to 1982 when the first major international digital video standard - ITU 601 - then CCIR 601 - was ratified, and has remained the standard - for very good engineering reasons to do with retaining image quality - for both SD and HD video ever since)

There IS a registry fix for ATI cards and IGPs - called the BT601CSC=1 registry hack which changes ATI's SD handling to match their HD handling, and works well.

There appears to be no such fix for nVidia - I've raised it with Gigabyte and nVidia but have had no constructive solutions offered yet. (Gigabyte hilariously suggested I try a new video card to solve the problem on my newly built 9400 IGP HTPC...)

AIUI the problems are as follows :
HDMI Displays expect 16-235 video as a norm (though some can switch to 0-255 inputs this is no use if you are using an HDMI input with an AV amp, and your other sources switched through your amp are 16-235 standard) Bottom line - HTPCs feeding HDMI displays should be operating in 16-235 colour space. Both ATI and nVidia cards appear to support this.

DVDs, SD and HD TV broadcasts, DVDs, HD-DVDs and Blu-rays all use 16-235 video levels as well.
PCs use 0-255 levels internally.

What seems to happen is that SD content is kept with black at 16 and white at 235 in the PC 0-255 representation, which means that when this is converted to 16-235 HDMI output PC 0 is mapped to HDMI 16, and PC 16 - input video 16 to quite a lot above this in HDMI, PC 255 is mapped to HDMI 235 and PC 235 - input video 235 - to quite a lot below this... However for HD this doesn't happen and instead the input 16 is output as 16 and the input 235 is output as 235...

With nVidia cards you need to run in 0-255 mode to get 16-235 SD content passed through cleanly, but run in 16-235 mode to get 16-235 HD Blu-ray content passed through cleanly.

So the fix I found was to use the NVIDIA control panel to control your video playback instead of the video player’s settings.

  1. Open your NVIDIA Control Panel (type NVIDIA in your start menu search field and select NVIDIA Control Panel).
  2. Go down to Video and select “Adjust video color settings.”
  3. Under #2 (How do you make color adjustments), select “With the NVIDIA settings.”
  4. Under the Advanced tab change the Dynamic Range with the drop down to “Full (0-255)” (not “Limited (16-235)”).
  5. For my display to look as it should, I had to uncheck “Dynamic contrast enhancement.”

My video now appears as it should (not washed out).

Monday, January 3, 2011

Key Ring App for Android

Oh, man, I love this app!

I hate having all those freakin’ little pieces of plastic with UPC codes hanging from my keychain just so I can be sure to get the “fair” price (instead of ridiculously inflated ones) at my local retailers.

I know some places associate your phone number with your UPC code, but I don’t like the idea of the grocery store (or anyone else) having my personal number.  I’m sure they are selling it to lists all over the planet.

I’d been using a phony number (note my awesome pun) for these associations, but not everybody will take a phone number, and this app solution is better anyway.

I can’t believe no one thought to do this before, but the Key Ring app lets you scan in all those UPC codes and store them on your phone!  You just pull up the appropriate UPC and have the check-out person scan the image directly from your phone’s screen.

PERFECT.  No more overloaded key chains for me!

The process is simple.  Open the app and click “add card” and the app uses your camera to scan the UPC code from any card.  You can choose a retailer from a rather extensive list (Safeway, King Soopers, Blockbuster, PetSmart, etc.), but if the place you’re scanning isn’t on the list (like my local library), that’s OK.  Just add your own title.  You can even suggest it to the online database.

If you’re having trouble getting the UPC to load-in via your camera (like if you have an old, ratty, illegible UPC tag), you can manually enter the number via your keypad.

Key Ring even takes it a few steps further by allowing you to create an online account.  You can manage your information and they will send coupons directly to your phone for various retailers so you can have the check-out person scan the UPC for the coupon from your phone!

As I am paranoid about the privacy of my number (the reason for having this app in the first place), I am not using the online account option.  The app works perfectly (sans coupons) without creating an online account.

Application Data Space Is Low

[update July 2011]  So I finally bit the bullet and clicked the "clear data" button for the Dialer application.  It was at an incredible 70MB, but I feared I would lose all kinds of contact information.  Turns out it has more to do with stored SMS and MMS, as all my messages were wiped after doing this (luckily I thought to run a data back up before doing this.  I guess HTC thinks it needs to store SMS/MMS data in the Dialer Application AS WELL as the SMS and MMS programs? WTF? Anyway, I haven't had any storage issues at all since doing this.  In fact, I reinstalled a bunch of apps I had deleted for space, including Netflix, and have experienced no issues whatsoever.  Just thought you might like to know.

[update June 2011]  This is getting effing ridiculous.  I have removed Facebook.  I have removed all SMS and MMS.  I have moved every application possible to the SD card.  I went into Apps and cleared all caches (and even some data from programs).  Still, I am not able to even listen to my voice mail (of which I only have ONE), because I get the message: "Unable to manage your messages because your storage is full.  Please delete content from other applications to make more space."

I have more than 6GB of free space on the phone.  If HTC/Google doesn't fix this sh*t soon, they are losing a customer (I assume many).

Topics covered:
  • managing SMS and MMS
  • application data space and application space
Ah, the dreaded HTC/Android “Application Data Space Is Low” error.

Hopefully the genius architect who coded HTC phones to only allow a miniscule amount of a phone’s memory to be used for app data has been fired, ‘cause this is a horrible over site.  You should at least be allowed to change this setting yourself (allocate an amount of memory to system vs. data).

I’ve got more than 5GB of free space on my phone’s memory, yet my Droid Incredible keeps screaming at me: “Application Data Space is Low!”

There are quite a few apps at which people often point fingers.  The two biggest culprits I’ve found in my searches were Facebook and News Rob (or other RSS/Feed readers that cache data locally).

Another thing I learned is don’t EVER sync the Facebook App to your phone for your contacts.  You don’t need (or want) every friend you have on Facebook synced to your device.  The HTC Facebook app that came with your phone does a great job of syncing faces to the numbers you have on your phone.  If you allow the app you downloaded from the market or Facebook to sync, it will store a lot of useless data on your device.

HTC Mail often gobbles up application memory as well.  Clear your stored mail!
Here’s a list of some of the top space gobblers on my device (this is just the space the actual app takes up –not necessarily its data):
  • Dialer Storage: 62.57 MB (wtf?!)
  • Contact Storage: 21.23MB
  • Firefox: 17.71MB (this is way to much, I think I’m deleting the app)
  • Google Earth: 15.06MB (I’ve never used this; I think I’m deleting it)
  • Google Maps: 10.63MB
The next app (doubleTwist) is at 6.35MB and they get smaller from there –all under 7MB.
To find apps that are gobbling up too much data resource, go into Settings > Applications > Manage Applciations > Running (or All) and look for the culprit.

Some people have also had success just clearing the cache for various apps.  Don’t hit “Clear data” as that will clear user names and important data for the app.

Another thing that can help is where you store your apps.  I’ve got a 16GB SD Card in my phone, so I try to store as many “non-speed sensitive” apps as possible on the SD card instead of internal memory. Unfortunately your apps will start competing with the space for your media (songs and videos) when you do this.

THE FINAL SOLUTION (for me): The thing that I never really thought about (duh!) is that I’ve had my phone for going on a year, and I’ve never backed up my SMS or MMS.  That data can build up, so I assume it’s taking up a lot of space –especially with all those MMS photos.  Some of my conversation threads have over 1,000 messages (I’m looking at you Mikey B, Miguel, and E)!

Deleting text messages seems to be a long and laborious process unless you do a “select all” and just wipe everything.  You can also just delete certain threads (conversations with certain people) by long pressing the conversation and selecting “delete.”  Note that you can “lock” specific messages (under the message’s long-press menu) so that when you delete the entire conversation those messages won’t be deleted; just be sure you don’t tick “delete locked messages” when you’re deleting the thread.

To save future pain, you can set the number of messages your phone will keep.  Just be sure to back up your SMS/MMS often unless you’re not worried about archiving your messages.
Go into your message app.  Click the second icon at the bottom of the screen (it’s a text bubble with lines overlapping a text bubble with an icon).  Press menu.  Press settings.  Click “Delete old messages,” and set “Text message limit” and “Multimedia message limit” as you wish.  These settings are per conversation (not total).

ALSO: Scroll down to MMS settings and select Attachment Storage.  Change it to SD Card.
You can also change your voicemail attachment storage location from here (scroll down a little farther on the main message settings screen).

This whole shabang has brought me to the search for a good back up app.  There are some fun apps that backup SMS to Gmail, but none of these handle MMS, and I’d like a more robust back up app anyway (for apps, call logs, etc.), so I think I’ll be going with MyBackUp.  More on that in another post soon!