how to

9 posts

How To Apologize

Let’s set the scene. You agreed to watch your best friend’s bird while she went on a month-long trip. You didn’t have experience in caring for birds, but she made it clear that all you had to do was clean the cage, put out new food and water every day, and make sure her place was not freezing cold. Pretty simple, right? What you didn’t know is that the bird recently figured out how to open its cage door, and it liked to roam around her apartment. One day you came home, the bird flew out the front door over your head, hit the cold outdoor air and dropped like a stone to the ground. What to do, what to do? Continue reading

Is There a DIY Thing Out There Worth Making?

So, you find yourself surrounded by mason jars, corks, and I dunno, pipe cleaners and coat hangers, and you’ve decided to embark on a DIY project. If you’re like me, this will probably not happen, because 1) Where do you get all this stuff? 2) How does one ever really decide to make a reindeer lawn ornament out of mason jars, corks, pipe cleaners and coat hangers? No matter! This is what you’ve planned to do since all the Thanksgiving hullaballoo has died down and it’s right before the Christmas shopping craze gets into full swing. So, what’s a good DIY project? Continue reading

The Proper Way to Make A Bed

I am very serious about my bedding. I will leave the house in ill-fitting jeans and in one of the fifteen identical black t-shirts I own every day, but the bed? The bed is my masterpiece.

When I first moved in with Mr. Bunny, I was appalled by his bedding. The man owned nothing but t-shirt sheets. These are unacceptable. If you own these, you must throw them away immediately or at the very least tear them into rags. To make matters worse, they were in the loudest patterns possible. He bedded me on my first visit to New York on terrible t-shirt sheets in a horrifically bright psychedelic pattern. I closed my eyes and thought of gingers. I vanquished those sheets the day I moved to New York. Continue reading

I Hosted an Eating Competition

Watch the first Kalbi Burger Challenge and listen to me read the rules.

On Sunday, July 24th, I was drafted to be the host of the first annual Kalbi Burger Challenge. Six competitors at my favorite Koreatown burger place were going to try to eat 4 Kalbi burgers in ten minutes for glory and the potential to be in a plaque on a wall. Since I was the Foursquare mayor of this fine establishment (seriously guys, I love food) I was asked to be the emcee and judge. Continue reading

Home Theater PC on the Cheap

Let’s say that you’re tired of cable television. You’re tired of paying for the privilege of having 20 channels of reality shows, 40 sports channels, a music channel that barely features music, a learning channel that’s more creepy than educational, and 60 more channels you’ve never watched (Since when did we get Filipino soap operas?). You’re aware most of what you watch is online but sitting at your computer and watching TV isn’t a concession you’re willing to make. That’s when you stumble across 4 letters: HTPC

The Home Theater Personal Computer is computer specifically optimized for viewing TV shows and movies from your actual television set. They are usually a lot smaller and quieter than your usual desktop rig and usually run software that make finding your shows a snap. There are plenty of articles that will tell you how to build your very own HTPC and some even claim to be for the budget conscious. But what if you’re budget is non-existent or you just don’t want another box crowding your TV stand/entertainment center/stolen milk crates or you’re just a total cheap ass? What is wrong with using the computer you already have? Well, the answer to that my friend is: Nothing. You can still enjoy internet TV from the same computer where spreadsheets, spam email and your porn collection live (now in 1080p and 3-D). All it takes is a few cables and a tiny, little, teensy-weensy bit of technical know-how. Before you take this route, let’s set the proper expectations for this project:

  • This method will probably not get you HD-quality sound or picture. If you absolutely have to experience your TV in rich, 5.1 surround sound where you can hear every auditory detail or have such amazing picture quality that Admiral Adama’s face looks like the surface of a brown orange, you should probably just save up your money and get a dedicated HTPC. You will have to be willing to deal with pseudo-stereo sound and the occasional video stutter or any other “minor inconvenience”.
  • All of the necessary components are available either at your local electronics store or online. You won’t have to void your warranty, fabricate anything or seek out anything obscure which brings me to the next point.
  • It’s fairly simple. If you can hook up your cable box or at least have a basic understanding of what’s happening behind your computer, you should have no problem getting things working.

Step 1: Gather Your Equipment

Obviously, you’ll need your existing computer and a TV but there are cables and connectors to consider. Now, depending on your level of frugality, it is entirely possible to spend less on this set up than you would on a good 12 pack of beer. All of the components mentioned here are available through Amazon but don’t be afraid to hit up your local Radio Shack, Fry’s Electronics or any other A/V or computer supply store.

  • Your computer doesn’t have to be the latest or greatest. For reference, here are my rig’s basic specs:
    • AMD Athlon 64 3500+
    • Diamond ATI Radeon x1550
    • On Board Audio
    • Windows XP or Vista – Media Center Edition is preferred
    • 3GB RAM

    As you can see, it’s a few generations behind the times. It’s not an antique by any means but it’s not going to play Crysis. Not even the first one. However, it will play video just fine and that’s what matters.

  • This VGA splitter features 2 female ends and 1 male end

    When it comes to your television, things will be a lot easier and a bit more enjoyable if you have one that comes with a VGA connection built in and fortunately a lot of modern flat panels do. However, if you don’t have a VGA connection on your TV, you can find VGA to S-Video, component or HDMI connectors on Amazon for under $5.

  • Video cable – In order to get the picture from your computer, you need at least a VGA cable. These come in lengths ranging from 6ft to 25ft (and longer if you look hard enough). 15ft varieties can be found for under $10 online. Additionally, if you want to avoid the hassle of switching connections from your monitor to TV and back, you’ll VGA splitter (1 male/2 female).

    This is an example of VGA Cable
    VGA cable comes in lengths from 6ft to 25ft.
  • Audio cable – sound cards typically have 3.5mm jacks for easy use of headphone and desktop speakers. To get that piped into your TV or A/V receiver you’ll need a length of 3.5mm extension cable and a 3.5mm to RCA splitter. Depending on your set up you may have to augment this with additional extensions or adapters. Just be aware that quality might suffer a bit. You could also potentially need a small 3.5mm splitter if you want to use your desktop speakers from time to time.

Step 2: Installation and Setup

As always, make sure all electronics involved are turned off before you begin. In truth, finding all of the components is the hardest part as actually connecting them is pretty self-explanatory. Simply, disconnect your monitor and speakers from the back of your PC and connect the splitters. Then reconnect your monitor and speakers to the splitters and attach your extension cables to the other end. Attach those to the appropriate ports at the back of your television. I happen to have an A/V receiver so my audio cables were attached to an open connection there. Now you’re connected. It’s that simple.

While this 3.5mm to RCA splitter has two female connections, you can find versions with two male ends.

Setting up your TV and Computer to play together should be just as easy. Power both of them up and set your TV display to PC or RGB (consult your manual for details), adjust your receiver if applicable and you’re probably ready to go. There is a chance that what you see on the TV will be slightly distorted and if that’s the case, you may need to alter the resolution on your PC. I have found that in my particular case, 1440×900 works best.

Step 3: Enjoy

Congratulations! You have now joined the ranks of those who have decided to almost throw off the shackles of cable (You still need that High-Speed Internet, don’t you?). Now you can jump on YouTube and watch Toddler Metal or catch up on episodes of The Biggest Loser with Hulu. Next time, we’ll explore your options for HTPC software, which makes finding all of your shows much easier.

To make things even easier remotecontrols that are compatible with Windows Media Center are available for very little money.

If you have a modern laptop with a built in HDMI port then all of this just boils down to connecting to the HDMI port on your HDTV.

My name, my name!!

I’ve seen a great deal of sadness these last few days as people have joined the site. Some assholes took our screen names in Intense Debate before we had to create accounts!

Pitifully confined to one identity for all eternity, unable to mockingly change our names to add “peasant,” “ghetto,” or “entitled” as our designations change, we are bound to suffer a fit of depression.

But wait! There’s hope!

If you want to change your display name (which is not necessarily your username, though it can be), you just take a couple simple steps.

Log into Intense Debate, click on “profile” under “edit profile,” and change your display name. Add a description that will pop up if you hover over your icon in the comments if you’re feeling extra inspired.

See the graphic below – it’s so easy. In other servicey news, it seems that the upload image problem dealing with gravatar is tied to Firefox. It worked for me when I switched browsers.

graphic of editing display