EE Feature

swan tron dot com recently made the front page of EEWeb. Well I’ll be.

eeweb feature

eeweb feature


I appreciated the bump in traffic.
I am more appreciative of the recognition by an EE site. Don’t underestimate we hacky math types.

Thanks to EEWeb…

PDF to Word Converter

PDF files have all sorts of great implementations. When security is a concern, it is pretty much a standard in the software industry to go with PDF…as much as I love a plain text file, sometimes they just don’t cut it. External facing documentations? Think PDF.

The downside of the standard comes in the conversion factor. Doing business on different levels undoubtedly will end up with different departments using different file types. Standardizing via pdf will end up involving pulling a full gambit of extensions into the desired form. It can get messy.

I recently stumbled across a solution that I am glad to see exists…namely, a pdf to word converter. No joke…it took me by surprise to see that it is easily handled.

pdf to word converter
+1 quick

Quick-PDF (as the name implies) provides a solution that can do PDF to Word Converter easily. I have struggled in the past to find a way to drop PDFs into .doc files, .rtf files, etc. on Windows machines. Not anymore. They have even worked in a command line mode…which, needless to say, really pleases a *nix guy like me. High quality to boot. I’m a big fan.

I’m glad to report that I will no longer be maintaining my docs in multiple formats. +1 efficient.

Choosing a Web Designer

My skill set is so sufficiently awesome in the design realm, that I can turn this…

chicken crop
crop == gizzard

…into this…
chicken wattle
wattle you have? (A: a whole bunch of MSG)

…using nothing but MS Paint. I can also put down an entire box of MSG in a Biskit Chicken in a Biskit. But that is for another day.

If you, unlike me, are shopping for a web designer, take the following into consideration.

Whether you are building a new website or having an older one redesigned, it is likely that you will need the assistance of a web designer. If you spend some time browsing the internet, you will soon discover that there is a significant difference in those websites which have been professionally designed and those that haven’t.
Nowadays, if you want your business to get noticed then hiring a reputable web designer is a necessity. So how do you go about choosing one?
Firstly you should do your research on potential web designers or web design companies. You will find that Southampton web design agencies may work in a completely different way to a web designer in Dorset. Therefore, it pays to look around and not necessarily just in London.
You need to enquire into their previous work and ensure it is similar to the standard you are after for your own site. It is important to remember that your website should not just be a copy of previous work, so look at more than one example to ensure that the designer is capable of catering to individual client needs. You also need to research into whether this work was delivered in a timely manner. It is all well and good receiving an incredible design for a new website, however if it is going to take 3 years, you may need to reconsider. The majority or web designers will have a portfolio and this is a great way to judge their work and their professionalism.
Client testimonials are another way in which you can compare designers. Be wary about these testimonials as it is possible to make these up, so it is important to follow them up and actually speak to previous clients to gain further information. For example if you are contemplating a web design Bournemouth agency, you may wish to speak to a range of their clients to gauge an understanding of how they work.

Satellite Internet Basics

Q) What would make a guy throw caution to the wind, and void a (quite significant) warranty on a piece of technology?
A) An internet addiction.

I rooted my Droid 2 a while back, largely due that answer above. That power-thirsty screen, with all of its hi-def beauty, is awesome for web browsing. My project requirements often find myself hammering out code on either my netbook or notebook, in dire need of an internet connection. Poor wi-fi signals just don’t cut it…I rooted my phone for access to that lovely Verizon 3G. Don’t tell Verizon. Do tell Verizon that my battery life is easily doubled, now that their bloat-wear has been removed. Nuked from orbit. But, I digress.

There are many, many places that have either awful cell reception or no reception at all. What is a guy to do? Connect from orbit

satellite internet
satellite internet alien is unidentified

Say you have just moved to a new house. Say you are in a trough of garbage cell coverage…out in the country, maybe. You will find yourself with two likely options: low speed dial-up internet, or high speed [link removed]. I bet you know which one I would chose. Hit that link to see what I am talking about. It is the only viable option for a decent connection at times.

If you want some numbers, with these connections you can see download speeds up to 1.5Mbp…which is roughly 30 times faster than dial-up. See…no joke here. The weird thing is that these packages are pretty much the same price as my connection with Bresnan. Sort of puzzling how they can offer deals like this.

Hit that link to see what I am getting at. I’m off to feed my internet addiction.

You’re Killing Me Smalls

1997 called…they want their dial-up back.

no thanks.

Looks like someone pissed off the network admins at work. I would find this really funny, if I were not excited to try Ubuntu 11.04 in a VM.

Cancel. I’ll try this at home later. Expect a review of Natty soon.

Best Online Shopping

As I am an expert on all things internet-y, it should come as no surprise that I am a proponent of online shopping. A staunch proponent, in fact. Don’t get me wrong…I am all about grocery shopping. One of my dream jobs is to work in a butcher shop; maybe I can make that happen when I retire from this code stuff. If I ever hit the lottery, it will be a tough call as to whether or not I drop of an application at Orange Julius or the Meat Shop. Time will tell.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Tracking down items online. It really isn’t that hard. One of my daily rituals on the webs is to check the deals at For those not in the know, Savings is sort of a hybrid between Woot and Amazon. Good stuff.

saving money
I need to spring for a better drawing setup

Instead of offering a limited deal of the day, a la woot, or a selection that is somewhat static, a la Amazon, is an aggregate of deals from all over the place. Mothers Day flowers…you bet. JCP and Target…you also bet. The cool part of this is being able to associate a store’s deal with what you need. Take my t-shirt wardrobe for instance. If J C Penny’s is having 25 percent off of men’s ware, I can snag those suckers for two bucks per unit. Not too bad, right.

Hit that link up there to see what is available. Tell them Joe sent you.

Buy an HP… Really

Maybe I am a bit jaded. I have spent far too many hours digging around in Dell laptops…that might make a guy sort of jaded. Maybe it is the fact that I am tired of all of the Dells sitting around my garage; time for a new toy, perhaps. Regardless of the root cause, I’ve been taking note lately to the HP discounts hanging around out there, and I really want one.

Case in point. Last week at work, my home slice bjordan and I were talking about Unity, and how Ubuntu might be dropping the ball on their netbook OS. I suggested that it was pretty much designed to be run on a tablet, and that it (was) getting good reviews from some power users, even though I hate the term “power user.” Long story short, we both decided that perhaps our netbooks needed upgrades…a la touchscreens. There are kits available to upgrade the Mini 9’s screen to a touch…but, why do that, when this bad boy is on the market:

hp image
FTFY = Fixed That For You, FYI

The HP TouchSmart units are awesome. Especially the TouchSmart tm2t series. Imagine that bad boy, WITH WINDOWS TOSSED STRAIGHT THE CRAP TO DEV NULL, running Ubuntu 10.10 with Unity…perfect. No hardware issues, with a slick touchscreen interface. I would love to get my hands and fingers on that sucker…swivel touch swivel awesome. For the win, of course.

Best News on the Interwebs

I spend a fair amount of time blathering on about technology and current events. I figured I should put together a post to divulge some of my sources. Think of this either as a master “works cited” reference, or as a “read like Joe” document, of sorts.

holy smokes
holy smokes indeed

Take note, I have not had a newspaper or magazine subscription for years. Years and years, actually. All of my sources are online…for better or worse.

I’m all about my news…the more varied, the better. I typically begin by checking local online sources, namely the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and Billings Gazette. The Bozeman Police Reports alone make the Cronicle worth checking, for comedic value alone.

When it comes to national news sources, I typically stick to and Drudge is fairly conservative, (some might argue that he is uber-conservative, but I disagree) but fairly thorough. I have Google filtered to give me a ton of national and science-based stories. All in all, these both serve to collect news from a large variety of sources. It serves to keep the reader on his or her toes, by keeping fresh points of view present.

I have a few more specialized news sources I check on a daily basis as well. I keep up with our neighbors across the pond with euro news, and stay current with my nerd news via slashdot. Euro News fills in the spaces missed by mainstream media regarding Europe, and slashdot fills in the things that media deems too obscure on which to report.

I also check a few other random sites on a frequent basis. The Onion is the best, and their sister site AV Club offers some good reviews of music, games, movies, etc. Geekologie is quickly becoming a favorite as well…sort of like swantron, oddly enough. I keep up on my beloved Chicago Cubs on, and to a lesser extent

Consider yourselves warned…but please don’t cut out the middleman and stop checking this site out. FTW!

Choosing an ISP

How times change. I can remember a time in the not-so-distant past where AOL disks would show up in the mail on a daily basis. Flash forward less than a decade, and here we are with a bevy of internet service provider options. You name it, DSL…cable…satellite, mobile wireless, and even ol’ clunky, dial-up can be tracked down in 2010. The question is: where to start?

How about right here at this link about internet providers. has a bunch of slick content on their site. Here is the one that jumped out at me. They have a tool with which you can gauge your internet speed. Here is the result of my test.

graphs are c00l

Oh snaps! I’m closer to the T2 than to the T1, you Bresnan suckaz!
~~Note: I don’t care for Bresnan much…between the spotty cable “reception” and the broken HDMI out on my DVR, I am not a proponent of Bresnan. The internet connection is screaming fast, however. Moreover, venting about Bresnan is good times~~

Anyhow, the above link has some other good material. Using the Broadband Internet Service Lookup Tool, I managed to plug my info for Bozeman in and see my options. Unfortunately, looks like the Verizon deal might be worth a second look. Unfortunate, since Verizon’s customer service is actually worse than that of Bresnan. Tech support FTL.

On a lighter note, check this out…

Dial-up Fail

It is completely Martian to me when I see or hear about somebody using dial-up. But…a ton of people do. God only knows why…with prices like those. Also, I assumed my parents were the only people left in the world not using webmail. That list made me laugh…I wonder if is taken?

I couldn’t be that fortunate…I’d probably end up with Which is very awesome.