Basic home/car electronics questions

Dear #Lazyweb – it’s the holiday season, and there are a few simple electronics questions I have for you.

  • Are Ethernet -> WiFi-G adapters really that expensive? I need a simple G wireless adapter for a DVD player that only has an Ethernet port. Isn’t there some option besides all the overpriced “wireless gaming adapters”? (And yes, if I am going to play FPS’s online, you can be sure I’m using a wire, just in case). Prefer Netgear, since that’s the router.
  • Can anyone tell me what the exact ports on the back of a Sony XR-430 car radio are? I’d love to connect my iPod to my car stereo, and I know there are some RCA jacks on the back (from a fuzzy picture online), but I don’t want to actually pull the stereo out to plug in a 3.5mm plug -> RCA adapter to find out that they’re only outputs, not inputs. My CD changer is slowly dying, so I really need a better way to play iPod music in the car.
  • Is there really that much difference in HDMI cables? I’m looking to upgrade to a medium size flatscreen – possibly a 37in at 1080 (that’s as big as will fit, I think), and I’m wondering if I really need one of the $50+ HDMI cables to stream videos, or if one of the cheaper ones (or one of the insanely cheap Amazon.com ones!) will work well enough.
  • Home furnace electrical backup. We have a gas boiler for steam heat, and an older timed setback thermometer. When the power goes out, the gas stays on, as does the thermostat (and the water and water heater, nicely enough). But the boiler itself has a 120v circuit, so… no heat in the winter. Isn’t there some fairly simple way to hookup a battery backup for the boiler? It’s got a permanent pilot light, so what the heck does it need much power for other than sending the thermostat’s “yes” or “no” signal? If we could solve this, we could comfortably ride out any winter storm even without electricity. (Well, at least until all the laptop batteries die, that is!)

Thanks again #Lazyweb, and I hope you’re having a wonderful winter holiday season!

Maine is dark

Really dark. You just can’t believe how vastly deeply inkly dark it is. I mean you may think it’s awfully dark in your bedroom when you turn out the lights and close the door, but that’s just twinkles compared to Maine. And you haven’t stayed in Maine until you hear the loons on the lake in the middle of the night. Spooky, unless you’ve heard them before, and then it’s just eerie.

We had a lovely family vacation up at a cabin on the lake. Yes, it’s near Waterford, and no, it’s not at Papoose Pond, although one set of our previous neighbors stay there, and several other neighbors stay within a town or two of us. It’s odd how many New Englanders we’ve met who not only spend summer vacation in Maine, but spend it within a few miles of where we do.

Sadly, cell phone service is only on the highways, my dial-up was less than anemic, and the nearest wifi was over 20 min drive away, as well as my firewall acting up, hence I’ve been offline for the past weekend. Although I feel bad about missing a few things, it really was relaxing. I went just over 3 days without using a computer at all, and I can’t remember the last time I’d done that for… possibly years. While it’s a good thing to get completely away from work and such for a while, it still could have been useful to use teh internets for all those little convenient things, like ordering something online, checking the weather, and good gods, Google Maps would have been handy for exploring around there.

In any case, the weather was beautiful and we not only took out the canoe but also the little outboard skiff and got to cruise through the ponds. Quite spiffy.

Anyway, I’m back now. We’re all fine here now, thank you. How are you?

Wifi quietness atop the hill

Reading RoUS’ latest Wfi note, I double-checked the wifi status in my neighborhood.  I’m almost at the top of a prominent hill, mind you, so in several directions should have quite the range.

Two.  Two measley other wifi signals.  That’s it.  This is a pretty nice neighborhood, too, so just about everyone has broadband. At least I have 50% secure neighbors: one of the two signals is security-enabled.

Hmm, the one neighbor who I know has wifi (I used to borrow it, with permission, when our ISP service was bad) isn’t detected.  Wonder what’s up with them.