Monday, June 23, 2008

Panasonic's New Plasma Line

Panasonic's 2008 line of plasma TV's looks to be a good one. If you are a budget-minded consumer, you may want to look at the TH-PX80U series, which comes in sizes of 42" and 50". The 50" model lists at $1,699 but can be found online for as low as $1,239.

It got a nice review on Cnet and features an improved anti-reflective screen and SD-card input slot that is compatible with the gallery player adapter.

Other features include:

  • "720p" native resolution (42-inch: 1,24x768; 50-inch 1,366x768)
  • 15,000:1 native contrast ratio
  • Three HDMI inputs
  • Game mode

Friday, June 13, 2008

Home Theater Paint

I recently finished painting my home theater and while doing research I found a useful article on painting a home theater that I used as a guide. Formerly, my walls were painted a light beige color that reflected too much light. I decided to replace that paint with a Streudel color from Ralph Lauren. Its a chocolate brown that looks quite dark with the lights out. Although a flat paint is ideal, I decided to go with a Satin for some additional protection. I wanted a paint that would absorb more light without looking to dark. I have a front-projector and the previous paint would "light-up" during bright scenes.

Here's a list of do's and don'ts from Dennis on Home Theater Paint:

  • Choose a high-quality paint
  • Do not use a gloss or semi-gloss - stick with flat (best) or satin.
  • Avoid blues and reds, as they will give off a colored glow during bright scenes.
  • Stick with neutrals and browns.
  • Test samples of wallpaper with your projector on before purchasing to make sure that it doesn't reflect too much light.
Another thing to consider, if you were projecting on a blank wall, a dark paint color will certainly require you to purchase a separate screen.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

How to Sync Google Calendar with Outlook

Here's a cool feature for those of you who use Gmail and Google Calendar. Google has an application available for free that allows 2-way syncing between your Outlook Calendar and your Google Calendar. I use Outlook Calendar, so syncing with Google Calendar gives me an easy way to check and update my Outlook Calendar from any computer.

Its easy to install, simply install the app from google, enter your gmail username and password, and select 2-way or 1-way syncing. 2-way syncing updates events on both calendars to match each other. 1-way syncing updates either your Google or Outlook calendar exclusively. You can also select how often you want the sync to occur. The default is 120 minutes.

That's it. You should notice your google calendar updating immediately with your outlook events. I tested putting a new event in the google calendar to see how it would work. The same event popped up in Outlook seconds later. Pretty nice. I plan on using this feature with the new iPhone so that I always have access to my up-to-date Calendar.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Windows Vista Keyboard Shortcuts

If don't use Windows shortcuts, you may want to spend a few minutes learning a few. They can really save you some time on some common Windows tasks. One common shortcut that I use often is copy and paste. To copy, press 'control' + 'c'. To paste, press 'control' + 'v'. After you start using them regularly, you'll not want to go back to mouse-clicking your way through every task.

Here are some other Vista shortcuts you may find useful.

F1

Display Help

CTRL+C

Copy the selected item

CTRL+X

Cut the selected item

CTRL+V

Paste the selected item

CTRL+Z

Undo an action

CTRL+Y

Redo an action

DELETE

Delete the selected item and move it to the Recycle Bin

SHIFT+DELETE

Delete the selected item without moving it to the Recycle Bin first

F2

Rename the selected item

CTRL+RIGHT ARROW

Move the cursor to the beginning of the next word

CTRL+LEFT ARROW

Move the cursor to the beginning of the previous word

CTRL+DOWN ARROW

Move the cursor to the beginning of the next paragraph

CTRL+UP ARROW

Move the cursor to the beginning of the previous paragraph

CTRL+SHIFT with an arrow key

Select a block of text

SHIFT with any arrow key

Select more than one item in a window or on the desktop, or select text within a document

CTRL with any arrow key+SPACEBAR

Select multiple individual items in a window or on the desktop

CTRL+A

Select all items in a document or window

F3

Search for a file or folder

ALT+ENTER

Display properties for the selected item

ALT+F4

Close the active item, or exit the active program

ALT+SPACEBAR

Open the shortcut menu for the active window

CTRL+F4

Close the active document (in programs that allow you to have multiple documents open simultaneously)

ALT+TAB

Switch between open items

CTRL+ALT+TAB

Use the arrow keys to switch between open items

CTRL+Mouse scroll wheel

Change the size of icons on the desktop

Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +TAB

Cycle through programs on the taskbar by using Windows Flip 3-D

CTRL+Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +TAB


Use the arrow keys to cycle through programs on the taskbar by using Windows Flip 3-D

ALT+ESC

Cycle through items in the order in which they were opened

F6

Cycle through screen elements in a window or on the desktop

F4

Display the Address bar list in Windows Explorer

SHIFT+F10

Display the shortcut menu for the selected item

CTRL+ESC

Open the Start menu

ALT+underlined letter

Display the corresponding menu

ALT+underlined letter

Perform the menu command (or other underlined command)

F10

Activate the menu bar in the active program

RIGHT ARROW

Open the next menu to the right, or open a submenu

LEFT ARROW

Open the next menu to the left, or close a submenu

F5

Refresh the active window

ALT+UP ARROW

View the folder one level up in Windows Explorer

ESC

Cancel the current task

CTRL+SHIFT+ESC

Open Task Manager

SHIFT when you insert a CD

Prevent the CD from automatically playing



Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +PAUSE


Display the System Properties dialog box


Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +D

Display the desktop


Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +M

Minimize all windows


Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +SHIFT+M


Restore minimized windows to the desktop


Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +E

Open Computer


Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +F

Search for a file or folder


CTRL+Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +F


Search for computers (if you are on a network)


Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +L

Lock your computer or switch users


Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +R

Open the Run dialog box


Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +T

Cycle through programs on the taskbar


Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +TAB


Cycle through programs on the taskbar by using Windows Flip 3-D


CTRL+Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +TAB


Use the arrow keys to cycle through programs on the taskbar by using Windows Flip 3-D


Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +SPACEBAR


Bring all gadgets to the front and select Windows Sidebar


Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +G

Cycle through Sidebar gadgets


Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +U

Open Ease of Access Center


Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +X

Open Windows Mobility Center


Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key with any number key

Open the Quick Launch shortcut that is in the position that corresponds to the number. For example, Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +1 to launch the first shortcut in the Quick Launch menu.