Archive for the Entertainment Category

Find Out if You Are Getting The Net Speed You Pay Your ISP For?

Posted in Entertainment, Web Site on February 19, 2009 by Ethan Dickenson

This site provides you with an interface to test the speed of your internet connection and then it provides you with a graphical display that summarizes how your speed compares with the average in your city/state/country…  Everyone should run this so they understand what they are getting.  I was surprised and upset when I figured out that I was not getting the service I was paying for.

The test is easy to do, so just go to this site and choose a server location.  The ads are a little confusing so stay away from all those, just choose a server that is close to your geographical location and it will take care of the rest.  When the test is complete, click on the ‘my summary’ tab at the top.   You can run the test several times and it will keep track of each test and display the results, this way, you’ll know it wasn’t a ‘fluke’…  I’ve only run my test 3 times over 2 days…  I’ll keep testing, but at this point, I’m fairly certain these figures are typical of the throughput I normally get.    More details on my personal ‘tail of woe’ are at the bottom of the page, after the information on


My Personal Tail of Woe…

I’ve often wondered why it sometimes seems to take a long time for me to navigate from page to page on the internet.  I’ve tuned my PC, bought one of the best ISP packages available in my area, I use Mozilla and have tried other popular browsers, I spent time tuning my browsers and tweaking the way they handle cash…  but I always seem to be slower at home than I do when I log onto some other network.  I’ve been unsatisfied with Time Warner Cable’s Road Runner service for other reasons but this is something new.  The other reason I’ve had some frustration with this ISP is because my line drops about 10 times a day and the only way I can fix it (after investing time with their tech support) is to reboot my router.  About a year ago it dropped my line and when I rebooted my router it didn’t fix the problem.  They told me my router was old, which upset me because it was a linksys router, nothing had changed on my end, and it was a very popular product… but I bent over, ‘assumed the position’ and went out and bought a new Netgear router and I was up and running again, but my line still drops at least 10 times a day…  Once I got so frustrated that I tried to cancel my service and I spent over 2 hours on the phone talking with customer service people and running into dead ends and finally they referred me to the phone number for their ‘customer attrition center’ which rang busy every time I called.  To make a long story short…  I just let it go because I didn’t have time to dork with it.  I’m paying 150 bucks for my phone, Road Runner, and the most basic cable you can get (that has the box, which I need so I can get Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon for my kids).  If I were getting excellent service and great speed out of my internet connection it would still be too much but to be paying above market prices and then receive below average (market specific) quality…  it just adds insult to injury.   So now that I’m sure of the cause and what is to blame…  I’m going to figure out a way to resolve the situation and either fix the problem or cancel the service.  Who has time to deal with this kind of crap…

It seems like, in today’s economy, the consumer has to fight so hard to get a fair deal from so many of the companies we do business with.  The frustration and stress that we have to live with are unprecidented in human history.  If you don’t watch everything you pay for like a hawk you’ll end up on the short end of the stick.  What’s worse is that sometimes you need to fix a situation but you can’t do it, and the reason you can’t do it is because the company has knowingly used a strategy to frustrate you so you will go away and put up with their low quality or damaged or misconfigured product.  Between banks, insurance companies, heating and air conditioning (maybe I should just say contracting in general), wireless phone companies, and all the other products and services we must buy to keep our world running…  we spend so much time dealing with crappy customer service that it drives us all nuts.  Why is it that all these companies are out to deliver poor quality and a terrible customer experience.  Corporate America deserves to have the shit hit the fan.  A generation ago business practices like this would have been considered illegal.  These strategies designed to knowingly frustrate the customer are unacceptable and shouldn’t make sense in a healthy fair market.  And when the government then bails out these crooked companies it really screws everything up.    We should never have started giving money away because now the companies can screw the consumer all they want and they won’t go out of business and they probably won’t have to lay people off!  How will they know the difference between right and wrong?  What ‘control’ is there to ensure the customer gets what they pay for?  Big business will frustrate and steal from the consumer whenever they can get away with it and for as long as they can get away with it.  Eventually, America’s economy will collapse and the American consumers will all end up in funny farm somewhere,  having been driven completely crazy from the insane stress of having to deal with business practices designed to frustrate them so they won’t get their issues resolved.  It’s a rediculus and awful situation and the American businesses that utilize these tactics deserve to go out of business and they should be ashamed of themselves.   It’s a sad situation because eventually we’ll probably decide to put government regulations in place to protect the consumer from the people they are doing business with.  The free market is a wonderful thing.  Through it’s nature, it resolves all these issues.  But when our government ‘bails out’ and provides ‘stimulas packages’ we are screwing with the ‘nature’ of the free market and everything falls apart.  The only role government should play is to ensure the free market is exactly that so everyone can open up a business and compete at the same level.  The minute it becomes viable (and it’s coming) for me to utilize the Internet as my feed for my television, I am going to say goodbye to the cable company.  If they were smart, they would be working hard to build customer loyalty instead of squeezing every cent out of their installed base and cutting their business costs so close to the bone that they can’t support their comittments.  The whole situation is infuriating to me!!!


Make XP Look Like Vista in 3 Easy Steps

Posted in Entertainment on November 28, 2008 by Ethan Dickenson

vistablackscreenshotsmallI was sick of how my laptop looked.  So I tried to ‘freshen it up’ but I only had a couple of themes on my system, and those looked like they came from 3.1 era…, so I selected get more themes in the properties–>themes directory, only to be routed to a website telling me to upgrade to Vista.  So then I searched the web for XP Themes and got completely confused because, after selecting I theme I liked and trying to download it, I found out that you had to buy and install some software to use it.  That’s not what I was looking for!!!  I just wanted to download a free theme!   So I got stubborn, and it took me a couple of hours, but I finally got it pinned down.  So I thought I’d share my experience with you so others wouldn’t have to spend a night pulling their hair out like I did.

3 ‘Kind of’ Easy Steps

1. Go to and you have to register before it lets you download a file… so you give it an email and it sends you an email and you open the email and click the link and then…  you will be able to download your file (a bogus process that someone needs to fix).  Then you can go to the page on ‘belchfire’ that has the file you want here –> and just save it to your desktop for now.

2. Because Microsoft insists on making things difficult, you have todownload a freeware program to ‘fix’ or ‘workaround’ the partial road block Microsoft built into XP that made it so you couldn’t use themes from anyone else but Microsoft.  I happen to be running service patch 2, However, if you are running service patch 3, I did notice that Softpedia had a link to this same program that is designed for that version…  so just download the one appropriate for what you are running (either Service Patch 2 or SP3).  I’ve only tested it with SP2 but soon I’ll put this on my desktop too and then update this post.

Service patch 2:

Service patch 3:

This is the part that was a little hairy, well…  it’s a lot hairy.  In fact, it’s so hairy it’s scary!  🙂  After I downloaded it and ran it I got an error that said 200811ddhorror_28jpgsomething like ‘you’ve got a file in i386 folder and it isn’t recommended to continue.  Either move that folder or cancel the operation’. I took a leap of faith and moved my i386 folder to c:\my documents and then I ran the software and everything turned out great.  After running this program you do have to reboot your PC.

3. Now open the directory, C:\windows\resources\themes and then open the zip file you downloaded in step 1, double click on the directory and it will open and show you 2 other directories named ‘fonts’ and ‘theme’ , open the ‘theme’ folder and then drag and drop the ‘Vista VG Black’ directory into the “C:\windows\resources\themes” that I had you leave open a minute ago.  And do the same with the file named VistaVG Black Theme file that you see there and then you are ready.  All you need to do is right click on your desktop and select ‘properties’ and then select ‘themes’ and choose ‘Vista VG Black’ and it will change everything for you.  Including the wallpaper, cursors, Start bar, active and inactive windows, sounds… everything will look just like Vista and I really like it.  One added bonus…  now you can download any of the themes on that site you registered for in ‘step 1’ and they will work.  Also, I’m sure there are other sites that have many many other themes for Windows XP.  I downloaded 3 before I found the ‘vista’ one I liked.  So now you are free!  the way it should be!!!

I will put in a brief disclaimer in this post, which is really only common sense…  I test this software I write about and it works for me.  I can’t accept responsibility for anything that doesn’t work or if something screws up your system…  But at least I tried it on my CPU and it worked well and without problems, which is better than you just trying it on your own!   And that disclaimer really applies to all my blog posts. 🙂

Legal and Free Music Downloads- Qtrax Still Not Allowing Downloads

Posted in Entertainment, Free Music Downloads, Freeware Download, Music, peer to peer with tags on January 28, 2008 by Ethan Dickenson
I wrote this post January 28th 2008 yet the Qtrax site still does not allow downloads.  It says “downloads are coming soon”.  I’ve downloaded Qtrax’s client and have it on my system.  Which I won’t advise you to do, at this time because downloads are not yet available. However, they claim they are coming so we are all waiting and hoping that some day soon, Qtrax will enable the downloading of free music via their peer to peer network.

Original Story Starts Here:

Beavis & Butthead As Butthead might say, Free music downloads rule. I was surprised and pleased to see this article come across the wire.
Apparently, the music industry has caved into the demands of consumers, powered by technology that makes sharing and transferring files between people and devices a snap, to offer free and unrestricted access to nearly every song available. This time it’s no joke because the music companies have signed on with an organization that has developed a peer to peer network which will earn income through advertising and pay the music companies a fee based on ‘use statistics’. Hopefully, this will trickle down to the musicians who wrote the songs. I knew, the first time that I downloaded a song, this day would come. The ability to search archives, download single tracks, and transfer them from computer to mobile devices, is a technology that is far better than the old system of music distribution. It was obvious to me that the music companies and the

Dancing Bear

musicians would need to reinvent the way they made money. Being a ‘DeadHead’ (The Grateful Dead allowed recording and encouraged the distribution of their music from shows), I’ve always felt that musicians should make most of their money from performances and not from the copyrights of their songs. I wrote to my senators and congressmen when I first saw the technology in an effort to explain why things would change but copyright protection has been in place for hundreds of years and it took some time (about 7 years) for the reality to sink in with the music industry. This demonstrates and confirms my theory that, legalities can not stand in the way of practicality because the best solution will always become ‘common sense’. BTW, don’t steal that phrase or I’ll sick my copyright attorney on you! No really, I’m not kidding, but I don’t demand money just credit… 🙂

This is the link to the new peer to peer music service. I’m sure there will be other services like this one working to sign deals with the music industry, but hat’s off to Qtrax because they ‘broke the ice’. I will write another post after I have a chance to try out the service and review it.

Straight Shot of Life’s News!

Posted in Entertainment with tags on November 10, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

Rotten ReaperI can’t stomach Rotten’s daily photo montage but their news page is a refreshing change from the rest of the Net’s myriad of white washed, politically scrubbed, vanilla sources. Rotten’s news page is the best place on the net to have a sobering look into the mirror of our culture. No punches pulled here, no political correctness, no washing down or hiding stories that don’t fit into prime time, this is the real deal scraped from the underbelly of humanity’s culture. So look, read, and learn, about how “Rotten” (and fascinating) our world really is.

Fontashia Fonterrific fontellicious fontout fontorino fontolla fontetaboutit

Posted in Desktop Enhancement, Entertainment, Frequently Updated, Web Site on September 20, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

OK today we’re talking fonts. It’s been a while since I ventured out into the font world to have a look at what’s available out there. I’ve done a couple of things that I hope will save you some time. I’ve picked through most of the free sites and I can fill you in on their individual strengths and weaknesses. If you don’t want to look through a bunch of fonts, and you trust my taste, I’ve linked directly to the fonts that I’ve installed on my system. One more thing before I turn you loose: the term ‘breedlink’ refers to something that links directly to a file and it will start downloading. So whenever you see that term, you’ll know that when you click on it a download will start. Below, I’ve given you a link to the sites and a ‘breedlink’ to the fonts on that site that I found to be something I could read and may use.

At Font Freak you can download an endless supply of free fonts. The site layout is very basic. They just list the name of the font in the font’s ‘type’ and that’s all the information you get before you download. This makes for fast downloads but you don’t know what you are getting… The one thing that I really didn’t like about this site is that they mixed in shareware fonts with the free fonts. About 1 of every 10 fonts on the site is a shareware font. I don’t know how they hope to sell anything because you have every size and shape of font imaginable on the site for free.

Visit the fontfreak site at this link:

These are breedlinks to the fonts I installed on my PC from this site.

Breedlink –

Breedlink –

Breedlink –

Breedlink –

Breedlink –

Breedlink –

Breedlink –

Breedlink –

Breedlink –

Breedlink –

Breedlink –

Breedlink –


Fonts 500 advertises themselves as “The Webs Top 500 Free Fonts”.

This site has quickest and easiest layout for downloading fonts. They list several on a page but you don’t get to see much of the font before you download. Same as above only in smaller type but at least you know they are all free so you can download away! I did notice some overlap between this site and Font Freak.

This is a link to the site itself:

Here are the ‘breedlinks’ to the fonts I installed on my PC from this site.

Breedlink –

Breedlink –

Breedlink –

Breedlink –

Breedlink –

Breedlink –

Breedlink –

Breedlink –

Breedlink –

Breedlink –


Urban fonts was a laid out a little differently. When you ‘mouse over’ a font type it shows you the alphabet in that font and that helps with the selection process but it also slows down your ability to grab a bunch of fonts quickly. So the tradeoff is better knowledge for time put in. Their site is well worth a look. At this point, I was getting tired of downloading fonts and I was getting there seemed to be a lot of overlap with the other 2 sites but it is still a good site and I was happy I found it.

This is the link to Urban Fonts:

These are the ‘breedlinks’ to the fonts I thought were best at this site:

Breedlink –

Breedlink –

Breedlink –


Exljbris, is a totally different site. This is a guy that makes his own fonts and has created a website to distribute them. He has 8 different high quality and original fonts that are all readable and will be nice additions to your font library. I’d recommend you go to their site and download each of them. One bit of advice, if you look at the list of fonts on the left of their web page, you’ll notice that the first is named delicious, I was confused and thought it was a hot link to bookmark their site but it isn’t… Just click on deliscious and it will download the font…


Those are the sites I’ve collected over the last couple of years. Please let me know if you know of a better site and I’ll try it out and probably put it in. This is a post that will be updated frequently so come back often to see if I’ve changed anything. Any new posts will be at the top and they will be marked as ‘new’.

Save Money! Cancel Cable – TV For The Next Generation

Posted in Entertainment, Video on September 11, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

joost.jpgJoost has been around for a few months and is the best ‘TV over the Internet’ site I’ve found (although there is a lot of competition). Joost has a pretty good lineup of channels and should keep you satisfied for hours of high definition television bliss. It makes me wonder how long cable companies are going to be around. Theoretically, you could buy a large PC monitor and hook it up to a good CPU, which you could buy with all the money you save on cable bills, and (if you subscribe to the other ‘TV over the Internet’ services) get a pretty comparable service to standard cable and just think of the benefits! Joost still has a few kinks that will keep it out of the mainstream living room, but for those of us who are comfortable with technology, it is a viable option. I’m thinking about switching my cable off. My teenager doesn’t watch television any longer and if my 10 year old twins had access to a computer in a comfortable setting they could make the change as well.

You have to download Joost from the site below. It takes a fairly robust PC but nothing the average household doesn’t have today. You could go out and spend 400 bucks on an e-machine and be more than ready to run Joost. After you download, and sign in, you’ll have to get used to the interface and the way it assigns ‘channels’ but you could be watching television productively within a half hour, maybe less…


When I wrote this post I didn’t realize that Joost was still doing their Beta. You should be able to get an instant invitation at the site below. Please let me know if you have any trouble getting a membership. My thanks and appreciation to Gigaom for letting us in on their coattails.


veohThere is another solution and maybe even a better one. Here is a site named Veoh that has an open beta of their internet TV. The quality is even great with their streaming setup, which you get just by going to the site. They have a very strong list of channels and movies. I’m currently checking out their Veoh home TV (open beta), which I would give you a link directly to that website but it requires you to get a username before downloading the software but it is no problem, all you have to do is register.

With the combination of these 2 sites I truly believe the cable company is going to start getting some cancellations from the geeks like me. But they still have Road Runner (cable modem) and I even have my phone hooked up with them. So I can’t eliminate my bill but I can certainly lower it! If you like TV, you’ve got to check out Veoh. I didn’t even mention it’s social aspects and other features but you’ll be impressed every time you click your mouse.

Phizer Marketing With Illegal Spam Campaign?

Posted in Entertainment on September 8, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

This is an article from download squad.  My response is below.  I am completely outraged at this breaking news story.  Please read this and think about how damaging this could be for phizer and comment.  

Pfizer computers sending Viagra spam?

Pfizer computers sending Viagra spam?Pfizer is a pretty big drug manufacturer is it not? Then why have they been hawking Viagra and fake Rolex watches through their email network?

Apparently some of Pfizers computers have been sending out emails that are not part of their marketing efforts. Malware has infected a number of the drug giant’s computers and instructed them to send out spam on behalf a very ingenious hacker that has penetrated their systems that should have been well sealed up. A security based company let Wired into what was happening, and has stated that Pfizer’s computers have been sending out spam for the past six months from over 138 different Pfizer IP addresses hawking their own goods, as well as junk stocks and penis enlargement products.

There is no word from Pfizer whether they know what’s going on inside their own computer network yet. Maybe they are keeping it a little hush hush for now until quarterly earnings prove that the hacker’s efforts are affecting their bottom lines in a good way.

Submit to Netscape

Related Headlines

Reader Comments

(Page 1)

1. The facts in this article are unbelievable and intolerable. Their stock should nose dive in response to the public finding out about their illegal internal marketing policies. If this is true, the evidence sounds very strong, the major media channels should really pick it up. If I had Phizer stock I would be rushing to sell. It is absurd and totally unprofessional for a well known and reputable pharmaceutical company to have a coordinated spam campaign. Do they also conspire to fake prescriptions? What do these spam messages say? I’ve never got an viagra spam email that says ‘contact a reputable physician to get your prescription today’. They have to be involved in prescription fraud if this is true and that is another problem. This is completely unthinkable.

Ethan Dickenson, Author, Today’s ‘Best of Breed’
~~~~~A suite of freeware for Windows~~~~~

Posted at 11:05AM on Sep 8th 2007 by Ethan Dickerson