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My Mighty Monopod


Last month I purchased my first monopod. Today was Memorial Day and I finally got my butt outside and put it to use. I went hiking in the Blue Hills and captured some nice nature shots.

The Manfrotto 680B Compact Monopod is well built and feels very sturdy in my hand yet maintains a light weight of 1.7 lb (0.77 kg). There are four sections of metal tubing controlled by three flip lock levers that allow it to fold down to 20 inches (50.8 cm) and extend to a maximum of 60 inches (152.4 cm).

A camera can be attached directly via the mounting screw at the top. However this limits the camera to horizontal shots and makes it difficult to quickly get back to a handheld shot. That's where a head such as the 234RC Swivel/Tilt Head with Quick Release comes in.

It tilts so you can get both horizontal and vertical shots with ease and the Quick Release system allows you to detach your camera from the head in a fraction of the time it would take with a direct connection.

As you can see in the pic on the right, there is a plate at the top of the unit. The plate detaches from the base of the head with a turn of the lever on the right. Attach the plate to the bottom of your camera via the mounting screw and you can easily, and as its name implies, quickly attach and detach your camera from the head/monopod.

And it works as advertised as I continuously had my Nikon D80 and monopod separated while walking and attached for photo taking. Another sign of the sturdiness of the monopod is that you can use it as an impromptu weapon of defense if you find yourself facing a wild animal or perhaps even a potential mugger. Wield it like a baseball bat or stab like a lance. No person or thing is going to want to be hit by this chunk of metal.




Racquel Darrian wallpaper


Racquel Darrian was one of the biggest starlets of the '90s. I found a high-quality photo shoot from late in her career and used one to make this wall.


Racquel Darrian Closeup by ~nolody on deviantART




Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection


40 games for $30!

I picked up Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for the Xbox 360. It's a collection of 40 games from the days of the 16-bit Sega Genesis updated for the current generation consoles (it's also available for the PS3). I would pay $30 just for the three Streets of Rage titles as those games hold some of the best gaming memories for me.

I think the resolution of the original games was an interlaced 320x240. Here, they've been converted to 720p. My TV has a native resolution of 1280x720 and the games (at least the good ones) look great. They aren't overly pixelated, blocky or blurry. I've been playing the RPG Shining Force a lot and haven't suffered any eyestrain or headaches.


Here's a full list of the included games:

  • Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
  • Alien Storm
  • Altered Beast
  • Beyond Oasis
  • Bonanza Bros.
  • Columns
  • Comix Zone
  • Decap Attack starring Chuck D. Head
  • Dr. Robotnik's MBM
  • Dynamite Headdy
  • Ecco the Dolphin
  • Ecco II: The Tides of Time
  • E-SWAT
  • Fatal Labyrinth
  • Flicky
  • Gain Ground
  • Golden Axe I
  • Golden Axe II
  • Golden Axe III
  • Kid Chameleon
  • Phantasy Star II
  • Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom
  • Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium
  • Ristar
  • Shining in the Darkness
  • Shining Force
  • Shining Force 2
  • Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
  • Sonic 3D Blast
  • Sonic and Knuckles
  • Sonic Spinball
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 3
  • Streets of Rage
  • Streets of Rage 2
  • Streets of Rage 3
  • Super Thunder Blade
  • Vectorman
  • Vectorman 2




Computer upgrades


A fan in my HTPC, which I affectionately call Thivisol, started emitting a loud whine. I popped off the cover and found it was the 40mm fan atop the Nforce chipset. It still spun, but the sound was annoying and a bad sign.

As long as I was ordering a replacement fan, I figured I'd look into some other upgrades. I decided to up the current 1GB of memory to 2GB with a 2GB kit (2 x 1GB) of Kingston 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 333 (PC 2700) Dual Channel Memory.

My notebook (Tsianina) also has 1GB of memory and it struggles mightily when I open my normal array of applications. That was resolved with two 1GB sticks of G.SKILL 200-Pin DDR SO-DIMM DDR 333 (PC 2700) Memory.

Now all three of my main computers, Dee, Thivisol and Tsianina have at least 2GB of memory. In the beginning of its life, Windows XP never seemed like a memory hog. But it has grown quite a bit with three Service Packs and dozens of updates. With a larger footprint plus my most essential applications running at the same time, RAM usage on my systems has grown.




Andie Valentino wallpaper


Andie Valentino is one of those natural beauties that I could look at forever.


Thumbing Andie by ~nolody on deviantART




Lela Star wallpaper


A wall featuring the petite and beautiful Lela Star.


Lela Star Ass Up by ~nolody on deviantART




No more Pioneer TVs


Pioneer. Plasma. HDTV.

For the past several years, those three words have been synonymous with high-quality video reproduction and a great home theater experience. Pioneer has consistently made the best plasma HDTVs. Their sets are known for state-of-the-art picture quality and have consistently earned high marks in reviews. The KURO line of displays is the benchmark when it comes to such desirable qualities as black level, shadow detail, color accuracy and video processing.

Today, that has all gone away as Pioneer announced it is leaving the TV market altogether. The company had previously announced plans to stop producing their own plasma display panels (PDP) and instead source them from Panasonic because of shrinking profits of a maturing market for flat panel TVs. Even though fans did not welcome that news, a Pioneer HDTV with a Panasonic PDP and Pioneer electronics would likely still have been better than most of the competition. The major component would no longer be made by Pioneer, but the TV would still be engineered by Pioneer. But any hope for more Pioneer HDTV goodness is now gone. Videophiles will have to look elsewhere for the ultimate in flat panels.

This is flat-out sad news for all home theater buffs. It doesn't affect me directly as I don't own a KURO or any Pioneer plasma television, but I am saddened by the fact that I won't be able to in the future because the top player is now out of the game.

Today's announcement comes on the heels of the quieter news of the death of laserdisc.




Game purchase


With Circuit City going out of business, I picked up some Xbox 360 games and an accessory. The games are on the older side and were cheap to begin with -- the most expensive was $20. After the 10% discount, the price of the games ranged from $12 to $18. I got the best deal on the charge kit, which was only $21 after discount.




Movie purchase


Jigsaw returns for another installment of bewildering puzzles designed to test human will and moral codes. I'm a huge fan of the Saw series and can't wait to watch film number five. Also, finally picked up Doomsday... hey, I just can't get enough of apocalyptic action flicks.










My name is Dixon and this is my personal home page. I'm a geek, marketing exec and wannabe- writer, hacker & artist living in Boston.

Life is too dreary. I need to have some fun.


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