Thursday, December 19, 2013

Why Quickbooks Pro 2014 Sucks

There is no question that Quickbooks is an AMAZING tool.  If I had to do everything manually that is offered through Quickbooks, I’d be dead in the water with tracking work, billing clients, doing taxes, etc.

That said, I am constantly ASTOUNDED by the basic functions that are not addressed, or the horrible, horrible hoops one so often has to jump through to get things to work.

Several months ago, Intuit “sunset” my version of Quickbooks (2010).  This is to say, they wanted more money from me, so they cut off some basic services (like being able to e-mail invoices) so I could no longer get by with a product that is only three years old.  I can understand sunsetting products because you can no longer keep up support on ancient software (i.e. Microsoft shouldn’t be expected to still be actively supporting Windows ‘95), but to cut basic functions (that require NO direct support to the customer) is tantamount to gouging the customer.

I got another e-mail from Intuit this week that stated “Oh, by the way, if you want to generate 1099’s and you have anything older than Quickbooks 2013, you’ll be doing that BY HAND because the IRS slightly changed the formatting and we’re not going to make the minor changes in your ONLY THREE-YEAR-OLD PRODUCT that would address the situation.”  Pretty douchey, Intuit.  But since I have many, many 1099’s to generate, I decided to pony up the cash for the newest version (2014).

Be aware: Intuit sends out e-mails stating “we’ll give you a 20% discount on our product!” but the product sells for $20 less than that “20% discount” on Amazon every day.  This is to say, Intuit often tries to sell suckers their product for $249 when they (Intuit) are also selling it for $178 on Amazon.

Anyway, I just set up Quickbooks Pro 2014.  On the upside, everything seems to have transferred over without issue.  Again, this is huge, and serious kudos are in order for Intuit getting this part right.

However, the first thing I wanted to do was invoice a customer.  The new setup required me to associate a new e-mail account with the company file, but they WILL NOT let you use an e-mail address that doesn’t have it’s own outgoing SMTP server.  I realize this could be justified by saying they are trying to minimize spamming, but who in the world would use QUICKBOOKS as their spam vehicle (especially when there are so many other FREE and EASIER ways to do it)?!

Like millions of people, I use Gmail to filter all my e-mail (the spam tools and search tools are just so much easier than maintaining your own e-mail accounts on a web server).  It’s great that Quickbooks has updated their software so that you can use Gmail directly from their software, but you can ONLY use your main Gmail address.  In other words, even though I have an account called “”  that I use from Gmail, I can only use “” to send e-mail from Quickbooks.  The only way to use my business address ( would be to actually set up the address on my web server, and this would require setting up a program to check that address (rather than just having e-mail addressed to that address forwarded to my Gmail account).

ANYWAY, this was not made clear until I was asked to enter my e-mail password when sending an e-mail/invoice to my client.  The send failed.  But here’s the kicker… the e-mail window has ONLY two options “send now” or “cancel.”  Thus, there was NO WAY to save the rather lengthy e-mail I had composed to my client!  What kind of freaking nonsense is THAT?!  You have an e-mail composer that doesn’t have the option to SAVE.  Come on, Intuit.

Intuit also now has the Intuit Payment Network.  I’m not going to go into what I think about Intuit getting into banking, but I do think that it’s INCREDIBLY annoying that they have the e-mail composer defaulted to placing ALL THE INFORMATION about how to use the Intuit Payment Network right SMACK DAB in the middle of your e-mail!!!  Why isn’t this information at the end of the e-mail?  Luckily there are ways to turn it off, but there doesn’t seem to be any way to MOVE the information (I actually would like to let my clients click the link to pay me by credit card, but I don’t wan that message RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF MY FREAKING E-MAIL!).

What Intuit needs to fix with Quickbooks:

  • Make it so you can SAVE THE FREAKING E-MAIL YOU JUST WROTE in the compose window (add a “save” button to the “send now” and “cancel” options)
  • Make it easier to edit/move the “Intuit Payment Network” default text  (--I get that you want me to use your service, but putting this text in the MIDDLE of my damn client e-mail isn’t going to get me on board!)
  • When I search for help, don’t direct me to ASTOUNDINGLY STUPID POSTS FROM IDIOTS in your “Community Help,” especially when those posts contain NO ANSWERS
  • Make it so when you view “sent e-mail” from the customer information panel, you can actually READ the e-mail (not just that you sent it)!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What’s the Difference between Preset Bins and Custom Bins in Adobe Premiere Pro?

effects binThis question was kind of driving me crazy, as there didn’t seem to be any clear cut answer anywhere on the web.  So here it is…

Custom Bins simply store shortcuts to presets.

Preset Bins actually store the presets.

I mean, they’re both containers for data stored elsewhere, but this is how they function within the Premiere interface: one holds links, the other holds the actual presets.

Thus, Custom Bins allow you to organize presets while leaving them in their original location, which is useful when setting up a bin for commonly used presets.

Preset Bins are great for holding presets that are project specific.  For instance, I’m currently working on a project with some pretty bizarre color balance and level settings.  It’s not likely that I’ll ever use them on another project, so I’ve set up a Preset Bin named with the title of the project.

On the other hand, I use things like Cross Dissolve, Reverb, Brightness/Contrast, Colorista, and Exponential Fade in most of my projects.  Thus, I’ve set up a Custom Bin named “COMMON” with those effects in it.

And now you know.

TeraCopy: Better than Windows Explorer but still lacking

I do a lot of file copying.  Most people do.  However, as a filmmaker, photographer, and recording artist, I do a lot of copying of massive amounts of data (my machine is currently running a >800GB transfer that’s been going for more than 20 hours).

The native Windows Explorer copy feature makes me nervous, because sometimes it drops data or runs into trouble with transferring data, and basically, for lack of a better term, just craps out.

A while back I finally found a copy program I like to replace the simple “cut and paste” in Explorer.  Checksum verification was the single most important feature I was looking for.  Basically this means each file is analyzed and assigned a number and then checked against the transferred file once copied.  From the ubiquitous Wikipedia: “A checksum or hash sum is a small-size datum computed from an arbitrary block of digital data for the purpose of detecting errors that may have been introduced during its transmission or storage.”

When I shoot photos or video, I need to be absolutely sure the data is not lost or corrupted during transfer.  Checksum verification helps mitigate this problem.  I never transfer anything important without running checksum verification.

For this reason, I love TeraCopy.

I also love that you can pause a transfer, and also that you can initiate several transfers that will run in the order you set them up (rather than try to run them all at the same time… though that options exists as well).

I wish you could pause a transfer or test, shut down your computer, and come back to it.  It doesn’t seem like there is anything that would prevent this from being possible (TeraCopy would just need to store the same “pause” information and then access it once the computer was restarted).  This would be AMAZINGLY helpful for when you’re in the middle of a large file transfer but need to shutdown or restart your computer.

My biggest complaint with the program is that Code Sector brags about how FAST TeraCopy copies files.  They say it over and over again.  It’s even their freaking TAG LINE (see photo).


In all my personal experience and in EVERY review I’ve seen online, TeraCopy is proven slower than just about any transfer program out there… including Window’s native “cut and paste.”

But the thing that has REALLY been annoying me lately is just how insanely slow the file check runs after the actual transfer takes place.  It actually takes CONSIDERABLY longer for TeraCopy to run the Checksum verification after the transfer than it does to actually transfer the files.

I would REALLY like to know what is going on there.

There have also been quite a few times where I’ve initiated a large file transfer and then left it to run overnight, only to come back in the morning to see an error from TeraCopy that states simply “TeraCopy has stopped.”  Uh, ok.  What about all the bragging on the TeraCopy product page about how TeraCopy will try again and again to transfer a file, but ultimately if it fails it will simply skip the file instead of crapping out (like Windows Explorer)?  From the product page: “In case of a copy error, TeraCopy will try several times to recover and, in the worse case scenario, will simply skip the file, not terminating the entire transfer.”  This has not been the case in my experience (on many occasions).

Still, though slower than Windows Explorer copy, I feel more secure transferring my precious data with TeraCopy.  Perhaps it’s a false sense of security, but at least I sleep a little better at night knowing that checksum verification has been run after the file transfer.

Saturday, September 14, 2013 is Failing

I used to buy most of my computer stuff on, but as of late, mostly everything comes from Amazon.  At first this was because I signed up for a Prime membership and all my shipping was free, but now it’s mostly for price and selection (everything available on NewEgg is on Amazon, and usually at a lower price –with free shipping to boot).

Add to that that Newegg has started utilizing “click here to be sent an e-mail containing the price of this item” listings, and it’s just NOT worth my time to even LOOK at  What in the WORLD?!  It’s a stupid idea, and when the prices are STILL higher than Amazon and I STILL have to pay shipping from NewEgg, why would I bother with NewEgg?

For instance: I’m getting ready to purchase a Samsung 840 SSD for my system OS.  The price on Amazon is $225 (free shipping with my Prime account).  I checked out Newegg just to make sure, and had to fill this out and check my e-mail TO EVEN SEE A PRICE!


On top of the inconvenience, the price is actually $25 more than Amazon, and I am also stuck paying shipping!  Massive fail,

Newegg has a new membership “free shipping” program like Amazon Prime, but why would I sign up for free shipping on NewEgg at the same price as Amazon when my membership at Amazon has SO MUCH MORE available (not to mention all the Prime Video Streaming available with the Amazon Prime program)?

I realize this is an example of a HUGE company crushing the competition and removing competition from the consumer which could eventually adversely affect the prices and services I see, but NewEgg needs to find a better way to compete with Amazon, because this certainly IS NOT IT.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Installing an Auxiliary Input for an RBQ Dodge/Chrysler Factory Stereo

[see simple Bluetooth update at end of post]

I have a 2006 Jeep Liberty CRD (diesel).  It has the in-dash 6 disc changer with Sirius satellite radio (which I will never use) part # P05091507AE.  This was the penultimate of the stereos for the vehicle in 2006 (the RB1 nav radio was the ultimate) and is designated as the “RBQ” unit.  However, it COMPLETELY fails to address MP3 audio (brilliant).


Every iPod/auxiliary input adapter out there says “NOT FOR RBQ STEREOS.”


I don’t want to replace my factory stereo with an aftermarket head unit, because I think they look like crap, they are more likely to be stolen, and they won’t work with my integrated steering wheel controls.  I’m kind of assuming there may be another factory stereo I could purchase that will work with my steering wheel controls and already HAS an auxiliary input (or at least plays MP3 CD’s), but it’s a bit like the proverbial needle in the haystack (I searched a while and gave up).

So, I’m trying to find a DIY solution to address the problem.

This post ( shows the installation of a TERK XM XMDCHY100 in a 2005 Dodge vehicle with the RBQ radio.

This unit is actually used to install XM Radio, but the adapter includes an auxiliary input so would work for my purposes.

I was not able to find this model (sales discontinued on every listing I found).  For reference (if you find one), it looks like it was priced at around $100 new.

This post ( seems like an even better solution, because it only involves a five dollar part from Radio Shack (a five pin 1/8” jack).  It does involve quite a bit more work, however, so some readers may be intimidate by all the wiring and drilling for dash mounting involved.

The mod is performed on a vehicle with an external CD changer, but it seems like the mod would perform the same splicing into the XM Radio connection (turbo04 confirms this with his post here –worth a visit).  You MUST use the five pin 1/8” jack (NOT the 3 pin), because the 5 pin jack will send a signal interrupt to the unit when a cable is plugged in (telling the head unit to use the jack instead of the satellite radio). 

Also this mod (adding the 1/8” jack) will only work when there is an XM Radio unit hooked up, otherwise, the head unit will not “see” that XM Radio is a valid source, and just skips over that connection when you’re hitting the mode button.  Furthermore, there seems to be some contention as to whether or not the XM Radio must be functioning in order for this mod to work.  Many users report that without actual audio from the XM Radio (whether it’s the preview channel or an actual subscription), the stereo will not recognize the auxiliary input jack.  Without performing the mod, I’m not sure how to confirm this.

x581PA11CHR-fFinally, over the coarse of researching this post, I found ONE SINGLE available unit that will supposedly work for my factory stereo.  Here is the link I found: ($115)

Here is the same item on Amazon: ($107)

and Crutchfield (though a search for your vehicle WILL NOT return the item on their site): ($130)

The first “most helpful” review on Amazon is from a 2006 Jeep Liberty user, so I am getting my hopes up. Another ‘06 Liberty reports that the unit won’t charge his iPhone 4 (might be iPhone 4 specific since he says it DOES charge his Nano).

This unit is more expensive than the 1/8” jack mod, but it does have the advantage of charging your iProduct and allowing you to use your steering wheel controls to access your iPod (though it only allows you to scroll through your first 5 play lists since it’s treating your iPod like a CD changer!!! [update] --evidently you can select which 5 playlists to access)

The PA11-CHR does have RCA input jacks, so with a simple RCA to 1/8” adapter you’ve also got a regular auxiliary input.

After reading all 22 reviews, there are quite a few reporting low hum or static, but one person suggests simply putting the unit in a static bag to solve the problem, so I think I may go for it. Some users also report that this unit switches over to FM Radio randomly, but most note that it doesn’t happen that often.

FWIW, several retailers selling this unit online say that it will not work with RBQ stereos, but other sites (and users) confirm that it will.

There was apparently something called the “Mopar iPod Integration Kit” available at one time, but damned if I can find it for anything older than 2008. [update] The only 2005-2007 model I’ve found is being sold for $318… almost the price of a new Jeep! This would most certainly be another great possibility if you are able to find one at a decent price (works with all models including the RB1 nav radio and RBQ). –just found the model number necessary Part # 82209616AD; the msrp was $175.

These are other numbers I’ve found for the Mopar integration kit for the ‘06 Liberty: JEP82209616AC, 82209616AC, 82209616.

Here’s a post on that shows all the iPod kits available from Mopar.

[UPDATE 5-17-15] I can’t believe how cheap some tech things have become.  I recently purchased a Bluetooth dongle for less than $5 from Amazon.  I plugged it into my Jeep’s USB charger and then plugged a 3.5mm cord from the dongle to the aux port in my PA11-CHR.  Now every time I get into my Jeep, my phone automatically finds the Bluetooth dongle and I can stream music (and calls) wirelessly to my factory stereo.  The iPod still works as well (just turn the stereo off and back on to switch from aux port to iPod port –whichever is active will take over).


Thursday, July 18, 2013

This is The End

Is it just a coincidence that the ONLY time This is The End is playing at our local theater is 4:20?


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Comcast is Deceitful, an Unfair Monopoly, and Does Not Deliver What They Advertise

[UPDATE]  As much as it pains me to say this (because I feel like an idiot): I was wrong in this post regarding the speeds.  I was using an outdated modem.  Comcast’s advertised “super speeds” utilize a new protocol that requires modems designated as DOCSIS 3.0 which enables faster transfer of data over the same lines (regular old coax cable).  DOCSIS 3.0 enables “channel bonding” of up to 8 downstream and 4 upstream channels.  This means the user could actually see speeds of 300Mbps down and 100 Mbps if the service provider was offering it.

After installing my new Motorola/Arris SB6141, I ran a check on and got this:


Wow.  That is fast. So my apologies to Comcast for making a post which stated they do not provide the speeds which they advertise.  Perhaps they should have made it clear that there were new protocols (DOCSIS 3.0) that could only be harnessed by new hardware (like the Moto SB6141), but it’s completely my fault for not thinking about/addressing this possibility before writing this post.

My opinions on the “unfair monopoly” and the fact that Comcast won’t post their pricing online (and instead provide only information on their “new customer” and “bundle” promotional prices) stand.  My opinion on the abysmal Streampix service stands.  My opinion on suddenly charging customers for equipment they’ve been using for years stands.

My “basic cable” requires a little box that causes clutter and requires me to use Comcast’s crappy remote.  Comcast charges me $1.99/month for equipment rental for this box even though I’d been using it free for years before “upgrading” my internet package.  I get only 4:3 SD picture (which means most programs are missing 25% of the picture which gets cut off on the edges).  It cracks me up that 4:3 SD is even an option anymore.  Also, I have to scroll through HUNDREDS of channels I do not receive.  In other words, when using the up/down buttons on my remote, I will see a “you don’t get this channel” many, many times when scrolling from one station to the next.

But again, my apologies to Comcast regarding the speeds.  I am achieving the advertised speeds, and the only reason I wasn’t is because I was using an outdated modem.


I’m sure there are millions of “this is why Comcast sucks” type posts out there (there certainly are millions of angry comments on any post with Comcast in the title).  I’m adding my voice to the throng.

As I research and type, I find there are more and more things to write about, so I want to just get this out up front:

I pay for 50Mbps internet.  I realize it’s “up to” 50Mbps, but when you NEVER receive anywhere near that, and in fact receive, on average, only the speeds advertised for TWO FULL TIERS BELOW THAT SERVICE, it is a blatant lie.  Comcast is selling me something they KNOW they absolutely cannot and will not deliver.  Here is a screen grab of my internet connection speeds (from over the last few months.  I’ve just been clicking “check now” at random times; I know it’s not very scientific, but it definitely illustrates the point.

Please click to enlarge and take a look at how incredibly abysmal my ACTUAL internet speeds are.  Feel free to make sure my testing times don’t target typically busy times (i.e., 3.5Mbps down speed at 11am on May 18?!).  Also, can you find the point where I “upgraded” to the 50Mbps service?  No.  You can’t.  The speeds consistently SUCK across the entire polling time.  But for the record, it was back in April.


Not once, not even ONCE, did I get close to 50Mbps.  The fastest my internet speed has EVER been is 35.41Mbps (I broke 30 only twice).  My average is 11.10 Mbps.  The speed is OFTEN below 5Mbps.

The first “explanation” Comcast would give is that their data is shared on neighborhood hubs and at any given time there are many households sharing the same connection so speeds will suffer.  First of all: what an incredibly frustrating way to set up your service –the times when you want internet most your speeds are slowest?!  Second: I am the ONLY household on our point of service.  I know this because I complained for THREE YEARS (and the neighbors for another five years before that) because the apartment complex behind my house receives Comcast, but we could not. Finally Comcast relented and put a hub waaaaay out in front of our house near the street (the hubs that serve the apartment complex are all behind our house, on the other side of the fence, about 20 feet from the house).  There are no other houses anywhere near that hub.  I had a long conversation with the service tech who installed the line.  He had nothing but wonderful things to say about Comcast. Ahem.

My connection is ideal. So why can’t I get anywhere close to Comcast’s advertised speeds?

Ignoring the fact that they are lying about what they can/will provide, my theory is that they don’t want to enable you to “cut the cable.” If you were really getting 50Mbps, then the dream of purely internet served media entertainment could be realized, and cable is where the vast majority of Comcast’s revenue comes from.

Conspiracy theories aside, it’s almost comical that it’s nearly impossible to watch Comcast’s new “Streampix” service when you have their fastest high-speed internet, because your internet connection isn’t fast enough and/or consistent enough to allow for streaming an online television show (we tried to watch an episode of The Newsroom at 9:30pm via Xfinity Online and had to turn it off after about 10 minutes of buffering, super-glitchy, garbled garbage).

Speaking of “cutting the cable,” I recently was going to cut cable entirely. I had the most basic cable package, which was pretty much 20 channels or so (less than my current ultra-basic cable package) about 1/4 of which were in Spanish, which unfortunately I don’t speak. They were/are also all 4:3 SD, which means (not including the language barrier) I’m missing around 25% of everything that is shown (a 4:3 screen only shows 75% of a 16:9 screen) and I see it in horrible resolution!

It took me a while to get up the gumption to actually make the call.  After all, the price of basic cable and internet “bundled” was only $5 more than the internet service alone.  It’s a pretty good scam they have going to nickel and dime the customer.  In fact, they got me with it again when I went to downgrade to internet only.

I was already paying nearly $80 a month for high speed internet bundled with ultra-basic cable, and I was planning on dropping the “bundle” to pay $61.95 a month plus additional fees (the price offered at the time for stand alone 25Mbps service) for an internet only plan.

This “bundle” I had included two services: 25Mbps high-speed internet for $48.95 and Economy Cable for $21.62. In addition to all the miscellaneous charges (network fee, franchise fee, etc.), they were also charging $3.99 a month for a service protection plan, since last time I had a major problem with my service, they wouldn’t even take my call because I didn’t have the “service protection package” –even though the problem was ABSOLUTELY outside my house at the service point near the street. The “service protection plan” is specifically for covering problems inside the house… hilariously, I have only ONE cable jack inside my home –and it’s immediately on the other side of the wall from where the cable physically touches the house.

When I called Comcast, they did their typical “we can offer you this” to keep you from cutting services.  They offered to upgrade me to a “special” existing-customer-only bundle they were running: their NEW AND IMPROVED 50Mbps “Blast!®” internet with basic cable bundle, with the addition of their streaming television/movie option called Streampix.

So now for $79.95 my bill clearly states, and I quote: “Blast Plus Includes Blast! Internet Service And Digital Economy With Digital Converter, Streampix”

When I got my first bill, I found they are now charging me $1.99/month for a digital adapter (DTA) which I’ve had in my possession for YEARS, even though my bill specifically states that Blast Plus “INCLUDES” my “Digital Converter.” What the eff is up with that?

My old bill was usually around $77.03 (the specific amount on an old bill I grabbed). My new bill is $85.57 (this month’s bill). My internet speeds are exactly the same (and only around what is offered via their bottom tier package).  The only thing that changed is that I now have to pay every month for my digital adapter… oh, and I have access to the world’s shittiest online streaming media selection via Streampix.

imagesStreampix’s content is horrible.  Just plain horrible. “It’s JUST like Netflix” said the salesperson when I upgraded to my new Comcast package back in April. I can assure you it’s NOTHING like Netflix. It’s honestly the worst selection of movies you’ve NEVER HEARD OF offered ANYWHERE. It’s not just bad movies; it’s movies you’ve seriously NEVER heard of.  Titles like Jack Hunter and The Lost Treasure of Ugarit or Daryl Hannah in Storm Seekers are the cream of the crop.  Even their PROMOTIONAL graphic (seen to the right) touts a bunch of shows YOU DON’T CARE ABOUT (and it’s definitely the BEST of what they have to offer).

Speaking of “upgrading” to new services… one of the many complaints you’ll see online about Comcast is this: try figuring out how much their service costs for an established customer (not a a promotional rate used to ensnare you into their web of lies).  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

Couldn’t find it, could you?  That’s because there is NOWHERE ONLINE WHERE COMCAST LISTS THEIR REAL PRICES.  They litter the web with all kinds of promotional deals, and they tease you with “click here”’s promising to take you to “real” pricing, but they all re-direct to promotional pricing and bundled packages.  In fact, just click around the Comcast/Xfinity site for a while.  There are THOUSANDS of links that all go to the same damn page (which contains no valuable information).

There is NOWHERE you can find a clear listing of what Comcast’s services cost.

For the record, at the time of this posting, here are THE REAL stand alone high-speed internet service prices from Comcast:

The cheapest internet service Comcast offers is called “Performance Starter” and is $49.95 a month for up to 6Mbps down and 1Mbps up. The next tier is “Performance” which boasts 25Mbps down and 5 Mbps up for $51.95/month (that’s right, only $3 more, but good luck seeing those speeds!). Finally, the third tier is “Blast!®” which claims to offer up to 50Mbps download speeds and 10Mbps upload for $61.95 a month. However, I can GAURANTEE you will not see those speeds on a regular basis (if EVER).

Regarding my claims of “monopoly:” I have two choices for internet service, and two choices only.  I can have Comcast, or I can have Century Link.  The absolute fastest speed Century Link can give me on DSL is 10Mbps, and you almost NEVER hit that speed (I used to have it, and my neighbor still does).  Service from any “dish” provider is pretty much the exact same thing rebranded (definitely DSL) and still mind-bogglingly slow.  Comcast is the only provider who can even touch the cable running in my neighborhood.

So, there are two choices for “high speed” internet, and both suck.  Is there ANY room for competition?  No.  Can you imagine trying to “break in” to the high-speed internet market?  What an hilarious thought.  I’m pretty sure that’s the definition of a monopoly.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Dawes “Stories Don’t End”

imagesListening to these guys again today.

I liked 'em when I first heard them, but I didn't realize how much until today.  I am REALLY digging them.

The music. The progressions. The harmonies. The lyrics (“…but I wanna raise with you and watch our younglings hatch – fuckin’ make the first letters of their first names match” –from “Hey Lover” made me giggle today).

It's pretty 70's (rock not disco), but I love that about it.  There is no denying the Mark Knopfler in the tasty and subtle lead guitar snippets that pepper everything, and for me, that is a very good thing. And I'm pretty happy when I hear all that Jackson Browne in the vocals.

Gardening at Night (drink recipe)

This is a drink I invented last night.  We drank it while eating grilled jalapeno/lime jumbo diver sea scallops, grill-roasted yukon gold potatoes, and an organic kale salad with blueberry-cilantro-lime dressing.  There was a kick-ass lightning storm across the entire mountain range.

Freaking fantastic on all counts.


  • Jim Beam Green bourbon
  • St. Germain elderflower liqueur
  • fresh limes
  • cilantro
  • blueberries
  • jalapeno
  • basil
  • St. Pellegrino sparkling water

Muddle a couple sprigs of cilantro in a mortar/pestle. Squeeze in a quarter of a fresh lime.

Toss some blueberries and a couple slices of jalapeno into a shaker.

Pour 1 part St. Germain (we call it faery-teat juice) and 4 parts Jim Beam Green into shaker.

Pour a little of the liquor mixture into the mortar to extract everything, and then pour it all back into the shaker.

Shake vigorously with ice (I like to bruise the eff out of the ice so there are chips floating in your glass).

Place a small handful of blueberries in the bottom of a high ball glass then fill with ice.

Pour shaker over ice to around 3/4 full. Add St. Pellegrino to fill glass.

Garnish with basil and two slices of jalapeno on a thin slice of lime.

Watch the lightning and remember how awesome your life is.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

An Effective Cable Hanger

I’ve been looking for a solution to the millions of cables I have lying around the studio.

From USB to Sata to XLR to DVI to HDMI to extension cables/cords of all sorts I have a mess that makes Medusa look like Jean-Luc Picard.

imagesThe standard studio solution is a piece of metal, bent at a 90 degree angle, with lots of slits.  Most retailers want upwards of $20 for this $1 piece of flimsy steel.

One can easily enough craft one out of scrap wood (simply cut a bunch of 1/4” slits in a board), but I am hoping for something a little more interesting.

rack7-300x201Points to this guy for making one out of a spring stretched on a piece of molding.  Probably my favorite of the online solutions I found, if for nothing else than innovation and using scraps he found laying around (he actually scavenged the spring from inside an old scanner –looks kind of like the same sort of spring that would pull grandma’s screen door shut).

I actually bought a bunch of hose hangers from Harbor Freight a couple of months ago when they were on sale for $.99 a piece thinking I’d use them to hang cables, but even mounted in an “x” pattern I’ve decided they’re too bulky and take up too much wall real estate, so they’re going in the garage and shed (for their intended purpose: hoses and extensioncords).


So for now I may try the stretched spring approach or break down and just cut a bunch of slits in a board or three.  In the meantime, hopefully some kind, inventive soul will come along and post a glorious solution in the comments.

Will Side Scrolling Save MySpace?

MySpaceI’ve been getting like 10 annoying e-mails from MySpace every day. (“Check out _______'s new profile on Myspace”)

I’ve been treating them as spam, but finally today I did some Googling to figure out what the heck is going on.  One of the first things I found was this article on Forbes from back in January.

I vaguely remember some nonsense about Justin Timberlake (and Specific Media Group) purchasing MySpace for millions of dollars (turns out 35) back in 2011.  I guess they’ve finally put their ducks in a row and it’s time to show the neighbors.

So it’s no big secret that MySpace totally screwed the pooch on harnessing the advent of social media.  They could have ruled the world, and instead “Tom” stood with his dick in his hand watching Facebook cruise on by with billions of dollars whirling in the wake.

Perhaps MySpace will fall on its face again, unable to recover from a folly of such magnitude, but perhaps this is their chance at redemption.  We’ll see if the magic of JT can reach beyond SNL and revive another dying (dead?) media giant.

The new MySpace focuses almost entirely on music.  Not a bad idea, and definitely a great place for JT to test his powers.  There is a player at the bottom of the page that is always there.  If your looking at MySpace pages, you’re supposed to playing browser based music.  We’ll see.  It’s at least better than the abysmal service that is Sound Cloud (I know… maybe I’m just too out of touch to “get” Sound Cloud, but so far I haven’t been impressed; maybe I’m “doing it wrong”).

But here’s where it’s REALLY at [eye roll]: I have always like side scrolling, and it’s seemed to have been widely overlooked over the years by the vast majority of web design.  Not any more!  MySpace is all about the side scroll.  But will it be enough to resurrect the deadest thing still on the internet?

I guess time will tell.

Meanwhile, I took a few minutes to dust off a couple of my old MySpace pages (that I literally haven’t visited in YEARS!).

I still need to poke around a bit more to see if MySpace seems to be exciting/interesting enough to garner any of my precious internet time. So far it seems to be nothing like Facebook, so things look promising.

Friday, June 28, 2013

An Open Letter to Chapstick

Dear Chapstick,

If you are going to charge me close to $4 for a .15oz stick of petroleum, please spend some time and effort on a delivery mechanism which hasn’t changed in nearly 90 years.

Almost inevitably my Chapstick tubes end in a gooey, unusable mess when the wheel on the bottom of the stick turns in my pocket and the product gets all jammed up inside of the cap.

Are you telling me that in an age where we can talk to our friends in China on MOVIE PHONES you can’t make a tube of petroleum wax that doesn’t spooge all over the freaking place?

PUT A FREAKING LOCK ON THE TWISTY PART. The fix is only a click away.



Wednesday, June 26, 2013

“Stratospheric” (the new video from Story of the Running Wolf)

The best thing on the internet just went live today. Hardy Howl Films presents this nostalgic gem for the LA duo Story of the Running Wolf. I’ve embedded the video below, but do yourself a favor and watch it in 720p full-size to enjoy all the glory of the especially well done film-to-video-transfer and 80’s-television-look goodness.

Story of the Running Wolf is Josh D’Elia and Jeffrey Chernick.  While other acts may be attempting a return to all things 80’s, D’Elia and Chernick do it with a precision and flair that leave all others in the dust.  Not only that, but they are not simply imitating the past with covers (like most 80’s-return bands trying to access via corny, clumsy comedy), but are instead writing their own original material that could easily and seamlessly mesh with any video line-up circa 1983 MTV.  Think Naked Eyes, Asia, A-Ha, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, New Order and you are on the path to Story of the Running Wolf.  These guys remind you what the 80’s was all about.  When you see and hear them one might first be tempted to cringe at just HOW MUCH 80’S they have conjured, but NO ONE who was alive in that decade can resist the mysterious day-glo neon and checkerboard-bad-3D-cool that some how sucks you in (because it IS cool whether you like it or not).

The video for “Stratospheric” is a mash-up of originally imagery in the style of The Never Ending Story (they made a freaking LUCK DRAGON!) and Labyrinth.  Let me just say that D’Elia as Bowie is spot on, but literally each and every visual element and piece of the story does it’s part to transport the viewer right back to a time when Aquanet was as ubiquitous as OP.

Even the motion logo at the beginning of the video got my pulse pumping with nostalgia.  The way D’Elia (who did much of the post work on the video) and Hardy Howl captured the “Sit, Ubu, Sit” and “Stephen J. Cannell Productions” feeling (remember the guy pulling the piece of paper from the type writer and flinging it into the air so it turns into the “c” of the logo?), right down to the warbly audio and cheesy-quasi-industrial video music queue, is just perfection.

Perhaps the best thing about this video, however, was how it transformed a room packed full of LA-hipster-douchebags at the Sayers Club in Hollywood last Saturday night into a screaming mob of 8-year-old little girls.  It was magical to see the mass of scarf-wearing (IT’S 90 DEGREES OUTSIDE!!!), pretentious a-holes drop their guards and literally scream with joy when the music started pulsing, the video rolled, and FREAKING FALCOR came flying across the screen.  Not even the scenester elite could deny the awesome.  The performance from Story of The Running Wolf that followed the video’s premier was nothing short of magical (and was mystically enhanced by the AMAZING and legendary sound system at the Sayers Club).

And kudos to the folks at Hardy Howl for bringing CUPCAKES to the event! The staff didn’t know what to do with themselves (the manager commented that no one had brought food to the club… ever) except abandon their reserved cool and climb aboard the life-sized Falcor that Hardy Howl brought to the club for PHOTO OPPS!!! Seriously… slutty club girls sans underpants with faces filled with a joy and innocence that would have brought tears to their daddies’ eyes.

If you EVER get a chance to see Story of the Running Wolf live, do NOT miss the opportunity. And if you can see them at the Sayers Club (this was their second performance at that venue), do anything and everything you can to hear them amplified by electronics that I can only assume involved some sort of pact with the devil.

A new album (including “Stratospheric”) is slated to drop in the near future, so for now you’ll have to sate your SOTRW hunger by downloading the single from iTunes and watching the video over and over and over again.

Alternatively, you can catch the tasty flava of Story of the Running Wolf in the remixes they’ve been doing at the behest of various bands on the LA Scene including an upcoming remix for Fitz and The Tantrums.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Getting a License Plate for Your Trailer in Colorado

It should be noted that in conversations about politics, I generally take up the “side” of pro-government.  However, anytime I have to actually interact with government agencies, I quickly understand where those in favor of smaller government are coming from.  However, it seems strange that people would argue for more “local government” in favor of making government “smaller” when local government is generally the most frustrating to deal with. Any whoooooo…

I recently bought a small flatbed utility trailer at Harbor Freight to haul drywall (to finish the studio) and maybe haul off yard waste every once in a while.

In typical government fashion, it is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to find a straight answer on the website about what you need to do to get a license plate for your trailer.  I’m not sure why this is such a closely guarded secret.  It’s actually a fairly simple process (as government processes go).  The trouble I find is that all the information on the website is cyclical.  If you click on a link that you think will give you some information about titling your trailer, you are directed to a different (but similar!) page with a LOT of information.  You have to dig to find the tiny piece of information you’re looking for, then “click,” and BOOM you’re starting all over again.  I spent about 45 minutes on this wild goose chase before giving up and calling someone (at one point I did see a tiny little blurb about home made trailers needing to be inspected by the State Patrol, but nowhere did they give any information about the temporary plate you’ll need in order to drive there). The person I spoke with put me on hold several times (asking others for the answers), and I was transferred around a couple of times.  I spoke with people at several offices and also the Colorado state patrol.


So as I mentioned, I had purchased a trailer kit from Harbor Freight; therefore I had to assemble and wire my own trailer (which evidently classifies it as “home made”) and thus needed an inspection from the Colorado state patrol before being able to title/register my trailer.

Once you have assembled your trailer, you need to get a temporary plate, but these temps only last ONE DAY (as opposed to the ones for a car which last a month or two).  Thus, on the day you have your inspection appointment at the State Patrol office, you must first go to the DMV and get your one day temp tag.  I actually asked the lady on the phone, “Do these temps last 24 hours, or just for the day you get them?”

She said, “Twenty-fours hours.”

“Great!” I said, “So I can come in and get it today around 3pm, and it will be good until my appt. tomorrow morning at 10am?”

“No,” she replied, “It will expire tonight at midnight.”

I SOOOOOOO wanted to ask, “Um, so, do you work for the government?”

REMEMBER: I wrote “DMV” above, but it’s actually the titling office.  In Colorado, you get your driver’s license at a COMPLETELY different place than where you title/register your vehicles.  This is incredibly stupid but nonetheless the case.  Every time I’m at one of these offices, there is inevitably some poor schmoe who has waited in line for nearly an hour only to get up to the desk and have the clerk yell at them because they are in the wrong place.  It doesn’t seem fair (or even reasonable/acceptable) for the clerk to yell at the person for thinking the government would be efficient enough to put all functions of the DMV in ONE PLACE, but this is almost always the case.

It should also be noted that the Colorado State patrol office where I will be having my trailer inspected is nearly THREE TIMES the distance from my house as the Titling Office.  Thus, I will have to drive (technically illegally) all the way to the DMV to get my temporary plate, then drive to the State Patrol, then drive immediately back to the DMV to get my “regular” plate.  Brilliant.  What sense does this make AT ALL?!  I have to drive ILLEGALLY to the Titling Office to get a temporary piece of paper to drive somewhere else and then drive back.  WHY NOT JUST ELIMINATE THE FIRST STEP ENTIRELY (other than the fact that the state gets some paltry amount of money for the temporary title –and I have to sit in line for an hour).Steaming mad

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Authoring Mixed Aspect Ratio DVD’s in Adobe Encore

This is an old issue, but one that still comes up often enough for me.

I haven’t authored a 4:3 DVD in years.  This is because I haven’t seen a 4:3 screen in years.  Almost every television and computer monitor is now being made with a 16:9 (widescreen) aspect ratio.

However, we still delve into the archives often enough to find SD video that was shot 4:3.

When creating a widescreen DVD in Adobe Encore, these 4:3 videos usually wind up getting “stretched” on the screen to force 4:3 to conform to the 16:9 aspect ratio.  This is especially problematic when the video stretching makes your wife’s butt look wider than it actually is (doh!).  Thus, finding a solution was imperative.

For a specific example: I recently created a "wide screen" DVD of 20 or so archival live dance videos, along with some newer live dance videos as well as some dance for the camera pieces we had recently created.  Some of the archival videos were from quite a few years ago and had been shot 4:3, though most were shot 16:9.  When viewing the DVD (which is created as 16:9), there were still a few videos displaying 4:3 stretched to 16:9 rather than "pillar boxed" so there was no stretching.

Most of the clips were also rendered out of Premiere with the correct MPEG-DVD settings so that no transcoding was needed.  However, a few videos were still being transcoded by Encore, and this is where the problem was arising.

The solution for me was to go to those videos, right click on the video asset (not the timeline, but the actual video), "revert to original," and then "select transcode settings."  From here I could set the transcode setting as 16x9 HQ DVD instead of "automatic" so that the final video output was widescreen instead of the 4:3 that was getting stretched (Encore wants to leave a 4:3 original video as 4:3, which might make sense, but is not what we want for a 16:9 DVD!).

Hopefully this information helps someone find what they're looking for.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Replacing a Jeep Liberty Actuator Pin and Ignition Switch

I love the Internets. Even more so, I love the people who take the time to share their knowledge to help out their common man (or woman or transgendered individual).  Social responsibility is a large part of why I share these tidbits of information that hopefully make someone’s life just a little bit easier.

Last week I pulled into the Post Office and ran inside to drop off a package.  When I returned to my beloved Jeep, I turned the key and… nothing.  Actually, there were lights, but they were accompanied by silence.  All the dash lights and everything came on, but there was no starter crank, not even the dread “click-click-click.”  Just silence.

Rather than start screaming obscenities, I pulled out my Droid and searched “Jeep Liberty Turn Key No Sound.”  There were a decent number of returns, but six or so down was a post on the wonderful with the title “06 CRD Won’t Always Crank… Problem Found!"

Throughout the thread were many suggestions, but the one that seemed to fit the bill regarded the actuator pin, a long plastic pin in the steering column that connects the actual key cylinder to the ignition switch (which seems like a ridiculous part… and even more ridiculous is the notion of making it out of plastic –this is a part that gets cranked/tweaked over and over and over again –plastic –really?).

There was a diagram and a suggestion to jumper the starter relay to bypass the ignition process.  I found a small piece of copper wire, jumpered the relay pins, and sure enough, little Thumper started cranking like a champ.  I pulled the relay back out and drove home, saving myself the time, hassle, and cost of a tow!  Very cool.



I actually spent the next week starting the car this way while waiting for parts to arrive.  I would simply turn the key to the “run” position, pop the hood, place the jumpered starter relay in its slot, and the starter would crank and fire up the engine.

If you’re doing this, just remember to pull the relay out before driving away, or the starter will keep cranking as you’re driving down the road.  Also, you don’t need to “seat” the relay all the way into its slot.  The jeep will fire up as soon as the pins hit the contacts.

Note that several people in the Lost Jeeps thread mentioned dealers that wanted to replace the ENTIRE STEERING COLUMN rather than service the part.  $1200 in parts and service vs. a little less than $40 in parts to do it yourself in about an hour.  This is EXACTLY the reason it’s a good idea to do a little research before simply turning your keys over to the dealership.

Surprisingly enough, it turns out that the METAL in my actuator pin housing had broken, not the actual plastic pin.  It looks like the metal was brittle and crumbled like the “pig iron” you often see installed for drains in old houses.

Here is a link to the part you will need:

Dorman 924-704 Ignition Switch Actuator Pin

Several people also suggested changing the ignition switch since it’s cheap and you’ve already removed it during the process, so I went ahead and did that as well.  Here’s a link to the part:

Standard Motor Products US447 Ignition Switch

Here is a link on youtube that illustrates the entire process.  They do a great job of announcing the step you’ll be undertaking, then showing you how it’s done.  Great tutorial. I believe they are actually changing the pin on a PT Cruiser, but the process is nearly identical.

I also highly recommend reading the post on Lost Jeeps to prep yourself with general knowledge before undertaking the work!

Below is a gallery of the photos I took while changing things out.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Creating Photobooks for Gifts

There are a lot of places that do “photobooks” these days.  I’ve seen books from Snapfish and Costco, and while they’re fine (especially for quick presents for friends and family), they always seem just a little under par for what I’d like to see.

I did a bit of research a while back, and from what I found, I really liked Blurb.  Not only do they have the typical “upload your picks and choose from our styles,” but they allow designers like me to go crazy and do everything from the ground up.  They’ve even got a plug-in for InDesign.  This I really like.

I ordered a sample pack of their papers (both for pages and covers), and I think these guys are where its at.

Their prices are reasonable, and for the quality of what you receive, I think it’s the best deal going.

Not only that, but if you use this link:

…you’ll receive $20 off your first book (full disclosure: so will I!!!). [smile]

Friday, April 19, 2013

I Like What’s Going On Here

The next two months are going to be VERY good for music.  It seems like it’s been a while since THIS many promising new albums from established artists were all released at once.

Phoenix - BankruptThe National - Trouble Will Find MeVampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the CityDaft Punk - Random Access MemoriesIron and Wine - Ghost on GhostSir Sly - Ghost (7")51gBAduEQBL41o1q-r8yfL713d U7a7wL._SL1500_

The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s have a new album I’m looking forward to as well, but the artwork is so unbelievably god-awful that I refuse to post a pic here. And I really hope the 7” from Sir Sly is the bellwether for a full length album.

[UPDATE:] And if we’re lucky:


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Word 2010 Can’t Open Documents Larger than 512MB


Bet you didn’t know that, did you?  In fact, I bet you didn’t know it until you placed an image in your Word .doc, clicked save (or Word autosaved –which is an even MORE startling situation), and then Word 2010 took a giant dump on your desktop, and finished off by telling you it can’t open the document you were JUST WORKING ON.

Man… there are just SO MANY opportunities to hate Microsoft.  I mean, I realize when you make EVERYTHING we use, it’s just simply “math” that there are going to be more things for us to hate you for, but why in the EFFING WORLD would they do this to us?!  At least give a pop-up dialog box that says “are you sure you want to do that?” (preferably with an explanation of why it’s a bad idea) before letting you do something you had NO IDEA would render your ENTIRE DOCUMENT COMPLETELY UNUSABLE –UNOPENABLE even.  Not to mention the fact that if your document is that big, you’ve probably been working on it for quite some time.

I stayed calm.

I went to trusty Google.

I love a German named Uwe82 right now.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I’d have gone ballistic had it not been for the fact that he posted on a forum somewhere how to fix this FUCKING INSANITY. Uwe82, I could kiss you.

  1. Rename your Word document extension to “.zip” (no quotes).
  2. Using Windows Explorer, open the zip file (just double click it) and navigate to the sub directory marked “word” and then “media” under that.
  3. Delete a few images in there.  It’s helpful to open the files you are deleting so you know what you’ll need to replace later.
  4. Name the zip file back to “.docx” and when you open it back up there will be placeholders for the materials you deleted.

I wasn’t aware that Word was actually placing FULL SIZE copies of every image I was inserting in the Word Document.  At first I was hoping that Word was simply linking to the files I was placing, but after the document got pretty long I started regularly checking the file size, and I noted that it was increasing pretty dramatically each time I dropped a photo into the document, even when I was making those photos much smaller.  I thought Word was at least resizing the image (downsizing) when I clicked “save,” but no, it was simply placing an exact copy of the full-sized original image inside the document.  Sure, this is great if you go back later and make the image larger in your layout, but simply linking to the original image is a far better solution.

There is a way to “link” instead of placing actual files/images, and I would suggest everyone follow this method (I haven’t poked around yet to see if it can be set to “default,” but hopefully that’s an option).  When you click “insert” to place an image, there is actually a drop-down in the lower right corner of the dialog box.  “Insert” is the default, but you can select “link” from the drop down instead.  You can do the same thing (or fix an existing problem) by right clicking on an image, selecting “change picture” from the menu, and then making sure to select “link” from that same drop down when selecting the new (or same, as it were) image.

I would suggest making a folder that contains all the images in your document, and linking to the images/files in that location (vs. scattered around your hard drive(s)).  Not only does it keep the photos separate (and thus the Word Doc file size down), but your images are all in one handy place if you need to have the document printed from a different computer than the one you’re working on.  Simply take the Word document along with the folder containing all your photos/files, and you’re good to go.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Automatic Fire Suppression System for Home and Small Business

I have been searching for several hours for an automatic (unmanned) fire suppression system for my music and film studio.  I’ve got a lot of stuff (equipment, data, media, etc.) that I’d like to keep safe from fire, even when I’m not around, so just a fire extinguisher won’t do.

I started my search with Halon, because when I was a kid I saw a fireman do a demonstration at an Indian Guides meeting with this stuff, and it was AMAZING.  Evidently Halon destroys ozone like nobody’s business though, so it was banned in 1994.

The replacement is called Halotron, and is often used in auto racing and marine applications.  It’s great because there is no thermal issue (like with CO2, which can get really cold), and it leaves absolutely no residue (like dry chemical or foam, which will DEFINITELY damage equipment).

It’s strange that there are not more options for this out there (or, ANY options, as the case may be).  This seems like something that anyone with an expensive home theater or computer set up could really use.  And a delivery system for a relatively small canister of Halotron seems like it would be incredibly simple.

There is some indication that ceiling mounted “spot” fire extinguishers exist (basically an extinguisher you hang from the ceiling with a heat activated sprinkler head), but I can’t find a trustworthy looking source (lots of weird options from India, but that’s all I can find).ModularABC10

There is also a guy currently selling three Halon ceiling mounted fire extinguishers on eBay from his old business, so that is also an indication that these systems exist, or at least used to, but I’m definitely not going to buy his old, used extinguishers to protect my valuable equipment, media, data, and building.


It baffles me that it would be so difficult to find an item that seems like it would have tons of applications for residences and small businesses.

Anybody with some information on such a thing, please post in the comments!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

HTC One – maybe the best but a 4MP camera?

I recently broke my original Droid Incredible screen after nearly 3 years of constant, hard use.  I spent about two weeks researching phones to find a replacement.  So what was my final choice?

The Original Droid Incredible!

I ordered a new digitizer with the front housing, and it took me about 10 minutes to replace the broken glass.  I am still upset that Ice Cream Sandwich was recently released for the Thunderbolt and NOT the Incredible, but I guess I’ll just have to get around that by finally rooting the phone and installing a ROM that takes me to ICS.

The truth is, every phone currently on the market either sucks for one reason or another, or is the size of a dinner plate (which is its very own reason to suck).  Hopefully the manufacturers of smartphones will quickly realize that people who want tablets will buy them.  People who want phones need something that will fit in their pocket and can be operated with one hand. “Phablets” suck.  Period.  Even the moniker makes me feel like a douchebag just for saying it.

I was excited to see the new HTC One announced, but I’m on Verizon, and they are the only carrier on the planet who won’t be supporting the HTC One.

Turns out it doesn’t matter though, because the HTC One only sports a 4MP camera.  HTC is claiming it doesn’t really matter because they’re “ultra pixels” (ooooooh!), but while these “ultra pixels” might look fine on a screen, especially for being only 4MP (they may even look as good as 8 “regular” megapixels), you can’t print at the same size as an 8MP image.

I actually use my Droid Incredible for photography and fine art printing. The HTC One camera just won’t get me to where I need to be.

Taken with my Droid Incredible, somewhere over Germany. Printed on Canon archival canvas with archival Canon inks:

1934ish by Daniel Beahm

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Charlie Rose David Letterman Interview

I forgot to post about this when I saw it the other night… well, quite a few nights ago.

Charlie Rose interviewing Letterman after the Kennedy Honors.  One of the better interviews I’ve seen on television in a long time.

Here’s a link to the full 32 minutes on Charlie Rose’s website.

I often think Letterman is an asshole, and maybe he is, but this interview really offers some insight into what he’s achieved and how hard he has worked (and still works). He also talks about being an asshole, and maybe trying to be less of one.

This interview was aired with an interview of Led Zepplin (I guess also part of the Kennedy Center Honors).  What should have been much more interesting was, well, not really very interesting at all.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Green Glue Acoustic “Glue” Sound Dampening

I am finishing up building a music/film-editing studio, and one of the final steps of construction (before I start appointing the interior and gadgets) is finishing the walls… which is to say, finishing the acoustic enhancement to “typical” walls.  This involves two layers of 5/8” drywall with a special layer of “magic” in between.

The magic is called Green Glue.  The name is a bad choice (Green Goo, perhaps… or maybe Oobleck, if they  could get the rights from Dr. Seuss), because it’s not glue at all, and this seems to confuse a lot of people.  You can’t use GG to adhere the two sheets of drywall.  It doesn’t work anything like construction adhesive (i.e. Liquid Nails).  This actually comes up quite a bit in forum discussions, but the fact of the matter is that if you used Liquid Nails in the same way you would Green Glue, it’s likely that your acoustic dampening would actually be reduced instead of increased. Liquid Nails becomes rigid when it dries, so it is possible that it would simply turn your wall into a giant drum head, actually increasing reverberation and reflection (no absorption of sound waves, and instead more reflection).

Green Glue claims that their product converts vibration into heat.  It remains flexible, and thus absorbs sound waves/vibration rather than allowing them to reflect back or transmit through the wall material.

My research regarding Green Glue actually began with this “why is it any different than Liquid Nails?” question –I was wondering if I could use Liquid Nails in the same way one would use Green Glue.  You can sift through hundreds of pages of third party technical data like I did, or, you can go the quick route and take my word: Green Glue is worlds apart from Liquid Nails.  If Liquid Nails was an elephant; Green Glue would be a Blue Heron (or perhaps a slug, considering the sticky goo factor).

After deciding that Green Glue was worthwhile (and worth the rather high price when compared to Liquid Nails, which, again, is not even REMOTELY similar), I ordered a 5 Gallon bucket of the stuff from Amazon… probably a mistake.  I highly recommend going a more direct and productive route.  The attention and specificity you will get from someone who knows what they are selling (like Ted White, co-founder of Green Glue, now owner of The Sound Proofing Company) are worth their weight in gold… and you will actually get a BETTER PRICE on what you need (not to mention complete and detailed instructions, vs. just a bucket in a box).  The only downside is you have to actually communicate with a human. The Sound Proofing Company won’t sell you anything until you fill out a little online form telling them about your project, and then wait for someone to get back to you. Not a good system for impatient people who don’t like talking on the phone –like me (which is why I ordered from Amazon before realizing the above route might be better).

I paid $215 plus $15 shipping for the 5 gallon bucket on Amazon.  Ted tells me he sells a 5 gallon bucket for $198.  Here’s the kicker though… on Amazon, the special applicator (a 32 oz., specialized caulking gun called a Speedload Dispenser) sells for $56 plus shipping.  Ted let me know his company sells the gun (which he helped develop) for only $29 (though their website indicates otherwise, so you’ll need to contact them directly).

I actually became acquainted with Ted because I was trying my damnedest to avoid purchasing that applicator.  I didn’t want to “throw away” $60 on an applicator that I would use once and never again.

I was hoping I could use a trowel to apply the Green Glue, and this method is actually encouraged by several “licensed” resellers of the product.  I can assure you, the guys who invented the glue and a bunch of other people who chimed in on the message boards get REALLY upset when you talk about using a trowel.

The consensus is that you are supposed to use two loads of Green Glue from the Speedload Applicator with the tip cut to 3/8” and a bead applied in a spaghetti type pattern.  PERIOD.  No other application method will deliver the desired results.  I’m serious, guys.  The people who claim to know the most about this product will get REALLY PISSED OFF if you try and go any other route (I got pretty beat up on several message boards). Seriously. They get really mad… which is weird, because the manufacturer of the product and many, many other official resellers say it makes NO DIFFERENCE whatsoever what pattern you apply the glue, and also what thickness of bead should be used.

For what it’s worth, the written materials that come with the tubes tell you to cut the nozzle to 3/8” and apply one load in one direction and the second load in a perpendicular direction (no mention of spaghetti or any sort of randomness). The Speedload Applicator comes with nozzles pre-cut to 3/8”.

The literature that comes with the applicator also clearly states: “…Lines, squiggles, plops, etc. The pattern isn’t an issue, it’s the amount being used. The Green Glue needs to be roughly even across the board.” They even show one example pattern that is extremely uniform… which supports the use of a trowel. And one of the photos of the application shows Green Glue literally just “plopped” onto the drywall.

The “makers of Green Glue” (the people now running the company) could clearly care less about the application pattern of the product.  They also think 1/4” is fine for the bead.  Or 3/8”. Or whatever. Another site,, says: “A larger tip opening on the nozzle to speed up application will still yield the same results as applying Green Glue Compound with a smaller bead.” They go on to say: “No specific coverage pattern is necessary to ensure excellent results.  Apply at least semi-evenly over the correct amount of square footage per tube and you will succeed.”

This YouTube video DIRECTLY from Green Glue Company, LLC (“copyright Green Glue Company, LLC 2008”) shows a person “spooging” Green Glue onto drywall in streams and globs.  Not the spaghetti technique.  Not the two directions technique. And very much NOT a uniform bead of Green Glue (anywhere from what looks like 1/4” thick to maybe nearly 2” thick).

This video directly from the Green Glue Company website regarding installing GG with the speed gun applicator from a 5 gallon bucket says you should cut the nozzle to 1/4” (not 3/8” like I was told is a MUST). It should be noted for shits and giggles that  the hole the guy cuts in the nozzle in the video looks like you could drive a truck through it.  This video directly from the GG website regarding installing with 28 oz. tubes also says 1/4” (not 3/8”). Both videos show the person applying a straight line “2 to 3 inches from the edge” all the way around the perimeter of the drywall sheet before treating the rest of the board. The “5 gallon bucket” video also says you should pull the plunger on The Speedload Applicator 2-5 times before starting in order to lubricate the gun, but makes no mention of adding any lubricant.  To my knowledge, the guns don’t come pre-lubed, and in fact, the instructions that came with mine make a rather lengthy point of how to add WD-40 at various places to lubricate the gun before beginning. This 5 gallon bucket video also notes that one tube of GG is only about 70% as effective as two tubes.  Both videos go on to say “the application pattern does not matter so long as you have distributed the compound evenly across the drywall.” I got SO MUCH SHIT on various discussion boards for asking WHY the spaghetti pattern was the only way to do it. (Also, the idea that the application pattern doesn’t matter leads me to believe that applying with a trowel is totally fine).  The video also says that no treatment of the first layer of drywall is necessary (I mudded all the seams on my first layer, and I don’t regret spending the extra time), but that the second layer should be staggered (to overlap the previous layer’s joints).  Finally, they recommend a quarter inch gap is left between all edges of your second layer of drywall so you can apply acoustical sealant –but then make no mention of whether or not you are supposed to mud over that, or if you then just paint the “acoustic goo” sealed seem, which I can only assume would be extremely obvious looking (not a “finished” look). [UPDATE] From “Step 4. Seal Your Wall Once the topmost layer of drywall is attached, seal the wall thoroughly using Green Glue Sealant or a comparable high quality acoustic caulk. Tape and mud your seams as you would normally do, and prepare for your wall finishing.” If you have staggered your drywall so that the top layer seams are flush against a solid piece of drywall (not lined up with the lower layer seam), I’m not sure why this would be necessary, but it is what it recommended. The literature that comes with the Speedload Applicator says, “Dedicated high performance rooms such as recording studios and theaters often specify the use of acoustical sealant in corners and along the floor. You can alternately use drywall compound to make sure all gaps are filled.  The goal is to make the room has as air tight as possible. [sic]” It should be noted that the Speedload literature also goes so far as to say THEY DO NOT RECOMMEND taping and mudding the first layer of drywall.

NOTE: All videos and literature say you need to apply the drywall with screws within 15 minutes of applying the glue.

For what it’s worth, I still think there’s merit to the trowel method if you are applying Green Glue in cooler temperatures. I wouldn’t try using a trowel when it’s warm out or if it’s warm in the room (the GG will be too viscous), but when my studio was at 50 degrees Fahrenheit and the product was much thicker and tackier, the GG spread perfectly with a trowel (see photos below).  A 1/4” tooth would be perfect for Green Glue’s recommended bead size, and applying it in two opposing directions seems like it would work great.  It’s not a totally random pattern, but according to Green Glue, that really doesn’t matter.

Ted White says Green Glue needs to be applied at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit for proper compression, and while I believe him (especially since he was around for all the testing of the product), the literature that comes with the glue and on the GG website makes no mention of this.  Somehow the temperatures here in Colorado reached 70 degrees Fahrenheit this January (no kidding!), so I ended up using the Speed Gun Applicator, but had the temperatures remained cold, I would likely have spent less time trying to bring the ambient temperature of the studio-under-construction up to 70 degrees, and would have gone with the trowel (ESPECIALLY since the Green Glue site and many others say the thickness of the bead and the application pattern are both completely irrelevant as long as you use the correct amount and get even coverage).

GreenGlue IMAG2043

Green Glue applied with trowel (ambient temperature around 50 degrees Fahrenheit). This stuff will definitely make a sticky mess if you’re not careful.

The same board two months later. Bead width intact. Product “dried” (sticky to touch, like a Whacky-Wall-Walker, but leaves no residue). Notice how the product is now green instead of just minty white.