All posts for the month February, 2007

FM25B Most of you know what Internet radio is. For those who don’t, it’s simply radio programming transmitted over the Internet as a stream (rather than a download like a podcast). Usually, but not always, the programming is associated with a normal broadcasting station and mirrors their on-air content.

The benefits of Internet radio are several:

  • Variety: You can listen to programming outside of your normal radio range. I regularly listen to stations in Los Angeles, Duluth, Boston, Houston and Colorado Springs. There are even Internet Radio stations in countries all around the world.
  • Time Shifting: For network or syndicated programming you can listen at different times due to time-zone shifting or station schedules. Often on weekends I don’t get up in time for the NPR Weekend Edition but I can catch it from stations in the Mountain or Pacific time zones.
  • Quality: Many stations stream high quality audio – much better than you get on an AM signal and often better than a distant FM signal.
  • Freedom: If you live in an area where your local stations all have crappy programming you can find something more to your liking somewhere else. Since our local public radio stations imploded recently, I’ve been getting my radio fix from a wide range of stations. There is an all folk music station I listen to in Boston, a station that carries Old Time Radio programs on the weekend, and several stations with unique local programming. I’m still looking for one that streams Dr. Demento!

Of course the downside is you can’t do this in the car. You are not, however, tied to your computer to listen to Internet radio. With a low-powered FM stereo transmitter (I purchased the FM25B kit from Ramsey Electronics) you can listen anywhere in your house. Ramsey and other manufacturers have a number of models in a wide price range.

With the FM25B connected to my PC and using a simple wire antenna, not only can I listen to Internet radio anywhere in the house, but in the garage, out on the deck or when out working in the yard.

It’s perfectly legal within FCC Part 15 regulations though if you get interference complaints you must change your operation to eliminate them.


Just a warning that Rock Ends may look weird for a bit. I’ll be upgrading to the newest version of WordPress and won’t have all my customizations restored immediately.

Brrrrr!It’s colder than (fill in your own epithet)!

How cold is it?
Here is the forecast for our area (Shellsburg, Iowa) over this weekend (February 3-4)

Today: Partly cloudy and cold, with a high near 0. Wind chill values between -20 and -26. Breezy, with a west wind between 15 and 23 mph, with gusts as high as 32 mph.

Tonight: Mostly clear, with a low around -15. Wind chill values between -24 and -29. West wind between 9 and 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.

Sunday: Partly cloudy and cold, with a high near 0. Wind chill values between -21 and -31. Northwest wind between 9 and 13 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.

Sunday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around -18. Wind chill values between -23 and -32.

(Those are degrees Fahrenheit)

Guess I’ll hibernate now.

People who have visited our house will remember the doormat on our back porch. We picked it up at a pet shop in Florida years ago and it had started to show its age. We ordered another one online and it came today. Why talk about this doormat?
Well, the doormat is cool but even cooler was the warning statement on the back.

Important things you should know about your new doormat
warning: Do not use mat as a projectile. Sudden acceleration to dangerous speeds may cause injury. When using mat, follow directions: Put your right foot in, put your right foot out, put your right foot in and shake it all about. This mat is not designed to sustain gross weight exceeding 12, 000 lbs. If mat begins to smoke, immediately seek shelter and cover head. Caution: If coffee spills on mat, assume that it is very hot. This mat is not intended to be used as a placemat. Small, food particles trapped in fibers may attract rodents and other vermin. Do not glue mat to porous surfaces, such as pregnant women, pets and heavy machinery. When not in use, mat should be kept out of reach of children diagnosed with CFED (Compulsive Fiber Eating Disorder). Do not taunt mat. Failure to comply relieves the makers of this doormat, Simply Precious Home Decor, and its parent company, High Cotton, Inc., of any and all liability.

So my hat’s off to Simply Precious Home Decor, and, High Cotton, Inc., Humor will get my business nearly every time.

But there is more… We got a second package in the mail today that was another example of good business practices.

We have Cuisinart coffee maker and like it a lot. Recently it started having trouble with its automatic shut-off. It looked like the valve on the filter holder had somehow been damaged – probably in the dishwasher.

Jan found their website and asked about purchasing a replacement filter holder. In a day or so she received an email that the part was in the mail. When it arrived today I looked at the invoice. Cost: $0.00, shipping $0.00.

So I also want to say Way To Go! to the Conair Corporation and to Cuisinart. That sort of customer service is a rare thing nowadays. They will also get my repeat business.

I wish more corporations were like these.