Diary of a DJ

Carvin PA Kit


I’ve taught dance for years and there is really nothing I like more than great sounding music. I’m a fan of it all.. Rock, Classical, Disco, Funk, Big Band, Country, Pop and even Dub Step, I love me some Dub-Step. Recently I was asked to DJ at a dinner club, I enjoyed it but their equipment was sub-par, so I’ve decided to buy my own.

This post is simply blogging the trials and tribulations of a newbie DJ.

It should be noted that if you have guaranteed gigs, you can very quickly pay off your investment of equipment. I was asked to prebook several events, so to me, the output of cash was well justified…and after it’s paid off, then you’re looking at pure profit.

Out of the gate I purchased 2 15″ Carvin PA speakers with an amplifier ($730) (seen above).

tepxtrem1501I used just the two 15″ speakers at two events..but I am a bit of an audiophile and was not quite happy with the bass of the speakers, so I recently purchased a 15″ Xtreme 1501 active subwoofer from Technical Pro (seen to the left). You can’t beat the price ($300) though I read both positive and negative reviews..I figured I’d roll the dice.

So far I’ve only tested the subwoofer in my garage, but I’m EXTREMELY pleased by the sound…I had to play with it for a bit, but once you figure out the balance between speakers and sub, it’s pretty golden.

Again, Keep in mind, I’m VERY picky about the sound and I’m digging this setup so far.

Finally, I purchase the American DJ Festive Pak 2 for lighting via Amazon for $100. There are 3 lights, 2 of which I’ll be using, but the third is a basic strobe, which most people hate, so I’ll be tossing that…or saving for Halloween!

NOTE: I had to learn this, so I’m passing it on to other newbies. There is such a thing as Powered (or active) speakers and Passive (or nonactive) speakers. Powered means they have their own power and don’t need an amplifier while Passive means they need an amplifier. Powered speakers generally run more expensive. My setup is two 15″ passive speakers that need an amplifier and a Powered Subwoofer. Powered subwoofers offer a more rich and deep bass from everything I’ve read…and if I’m going to invest, I want the best sound possible.

In my case, I connect the two passive speakers into the amplifier via the right and left ‘speaker’ outbound, then connect the subwoofer to the amplifier via the ‘monitor’ outbound. This way I control the speakers via the ‘Main’ volume and the Subwoofer level via the ‘monitor’ volume.

I’ve got two AV inputs on my amplifier so I have two different computers that hook in, each get their own volume on the amp. On one laptop I am using Club DJ PRO VJ6. It allows you to HDMI from your laptop to a large tv/monitor and run music videos while the music cranks from your speakers. The site says it’s $39.00 for only one more day…but it’s said that since I bought it 5 months ago. On the other laptop I use iTunes, which I was pleasantly surprised regarding how many dj friendly features iTunes has (auto fade, auto volume correction, song cue etc).

As I mentioned, I’ve only used my setup 2 times and this last time I had two issues where the music went dead for a couple seconds (which when you’re dj’ing it feels like an hour of silence). I am not sure what caused it, but suspect the amplifier went out momentarily due to overload. I am starting a Ladies Night gig every Thursday at a nearby bar, so If it continues I’ll upgrade my amp and let you know how it goes.

I also plan on tweet streaming live occasionally from the bar via TwitCaster  (@dancelesson)

Final Note: Everything but the Carvin Speakers I purchased through Amazon, and it’s been a GREAT experience.

Questions and comments are welcomed.

Latest Update: 4/16/2014

4/16/2014 – So I’ve done approx 10 gigs using the setup described below…and I’ve had some issues.

My Carvin Amplifier (XP800L Powered Mixer) is not cutting it. Nearly every gig has some sort of issue. If I use just one speaker combined with my Subwoofer (sub with pole and 15″ speaker on top) then it works ok…but for the larger events, when I use both 15″ speakers along with my subwoofer, my amplifier will start dropping out (also known as clipping).

It works fine for the first 1.5 – 2 hours, but as the party gets going you’ll find you’ll need to boost the volume. This is when I’ve had the problem, numerous times. I’m not even turning it up 3/4 of the way, just past half way and it’s starts having issues. Also, the USB port started to smoke when I plugged in my Phone adapter, that’s no good. I took the Amp into Carvin and they said the USB issue should not be happening, and I can reduce clipping if I rely on the Main volume control more than the Input volume control. I tried that at my last gig and it did not have any issues after 3 hours, but…the volume was not being challenged at that gig because it was more low-key event.

I’ve researched and the Carvin XP800L delivers 140 watts per 8 ohms and my speakers are 8 ohms. 140 is not allot so I decided to update my amp. I’ve recently purchased the GTD Audio BM-226. I found it on Amazon and it’s REALLY affordable (around $170) …but it delivers 250 watts per 8 ohms, so that is nearly double what I currently have. The reviews were decent in regards to sound and power though the instruction booklet is pretty useless and is written in POORLY transcribed english. I have not used the new amp at a gig yet, but out of the box it’s very sturdy and it feels/sounds good.

Lastly, I’m not using Club DJ Pro as much and rely more on Virtual DJ. I’ve found it to be easier to match beats and it works great with a USB headset. I have also found that 128 Beats Per Minute is the hot trigger for getting/keeping people dancing. So query online for popular dance songs that are 128 BPM to build your library.

Lesson Learned: If you don’t have powered speakers, the Amp is the heart of the system and it needs to have power.

Latest Update: 2/9/2016

I’ve had countless gigs now, mostly weddings, anniversaries and such.. Since purchasing the GTD Audio BM-226 amplifier I have not had a single clipping issue. This amplifier has proved to be WELL worth the affordable price (I hope I’m not jinxing myself).

Quick notation, I did do a gig at a beach and required a generator. I thought a 2000 watt unit would do the job, but it did not. There fortunately was a 3500 watt unit on the premises used by another vendor. They allowed me to plug in and it worked fine. I was unable to plug anything ELSE in, but for just the amp it worked fine. I was a bit screwed when my laptop died ;0). Keep in mind, the other vendor was also pulling juice, so perhaps if I had the 3500 watts to myself it would have been fine.

Please note, after 2 years now, both the Carvin 15″ speakers and the Xtreme Subwoofer have performed wonderfully. Well worth the money and I am now charging enough to where I’ve paid for my equipment 50 fold.

PhotoShop AutoSave – Holy Crap!

AutoSave for Adobe Photoshop, Dreamweaver and IllustratorSpoiler Alert: This app is amazing, and I’m not even affiliated with it!

I am a huge PhotoShop user, I would consider myself advanced. I use PS CS5 and it is open 24/7 along with Dreamweaver.

Regardless of your software, designers and developers who work with projects that progress will always meet that moment where either their app crashes or they simply forgot to save and they lose minutes, hours or even days worth of work.

No matter how many times you tell yourself  “remember to save, remember to save”…when you get deep into a project and you’re on a roll, it’s VERY easy to forget to cntrl S (win).

Two nights ago I had put about an hour of work into a new project, I grew tired and decided to go to bed… I forgot to save the latest version of my layout.

The next morning I came down to find my system had updated and rebooted. The last hour of work, Gone!

This put me on a quest. I Googled ‘CS5 Auto Save’ and found that as advanced and dominating Adobe is in the industry, they have yet to include an Auto Save function in their suite…at least not as of CS5.

I did however stumble across an amazing FREE little app made by a Korean developer.

AutoSave is a crazy little application/service that runs in the background (PC only it would appear). You download it, install it and you will find the logo above appear in your system tray.

Right clicking the icon gives you the option to choose how often to save, whether or not you want backups made (and how often) and what applications you want it to work on!

Did I mention it’s Free? The person does ask you to buy them a beer or coffee if you like it, I donated happily and recieved a very sincerely thank you message.

AutoSave works not only on PhotoShop but also on Dreamweaver and Illustrator. It will also work on a few non-Adobe apps like Painter, 3DMax, SketchUp, MangaStudio and Notepad++.

The makers of the app did not ask me to post this, I am simply shocked it’s not not out there more and I find it to be a lifesaver!

System Safety: Many of you, like myself, may question “if it runs in the background, how do I know it’s not doing something else..like turning my system into a spam zombie?“. Well I certainly have no guarantees..I don’t know the developer personally. I do however utilize ESET NOD32 Antivirus (Superior AV Software) and I specifically scanned this little bugger, but it found nothing harmful.

The link to the developers site is here (note, it’s a Korean ‘google site’): Click Here

The Download link to the Latest English version of  the app is here: Click Here

HOWEVER, I run Win 7 and had an issue with the above version, I emailed the developer and they sent me the following link, which works great: Click Here

NOTE: This app when installed was in Korean, but right clicking the icon in the tray and selecting  ‘Language’ allowed me to change it to ‘English’.

The Waltz…Easy As 1, 2, 3!

If you’ve read my post ‘Why Dance? It Doesn’t Take A Genius” then you already know that women love men who can dance…ask any of them.

All cards on the table, the Waltz is a dance most men will do formally 1-2 times a year…maybe.

Note that I said ‘formally‘… all circumstances are different. The Waltz is a dance most commonly seen at weddings, anniversaries or other formal events. Of course your career and/or social circles may expose you to more formal events than the average Joe. Regardless…  if you know the timing and understand the basics, the Waltz is a dance you can do anytime, any place. It will draw envy from men and respect from women.

Different dances are dependent on the individual song and that song’s timing. Would you know a Waltz if you heard one? Below is a short list of songs that are different speeds of waltz tempo. For those of you who are familiar with playing or reading music, the Waltz has 3 beats per measure (3/4) while most other music is 4 beats per measure ( 4/4). Only the waltz is 3/4, that’s what makes it unique.

Short List of Songs You Can Waltz To:

Remedy & Sweetest Devotion – Adel (both fast viennese waltz)
Ray LaMontagne – Let It Be Me
Counting Crows – Raining In Baltimore
Journey – Open Arms
Sarah Mclachlan – Angel
Seal – Kiss From A Rose
Simply Red – If You Don’t Know Me By Now

So to clarify, you can dance a Swing, Fox Trot, Cha-Cha, Rumba, Samba, Tango or most any other dance to a 4/4 song. But you can only dance a Waltz to a 3/4 music, and no other music will work with the Waltz !

Defusing a theory: I hear all the time “You can’t teach me to dance, I don’t have any rhythm”. This is nonsense and I’ll prove it to you. Do you have a heart beat? Does it beat to a rhythm or is it completely erratic? When you walk down the street, do you walk in a rhythm or do you stagger, stutter and falter down the street? Just stop for a moment…if you need to, get up and walk through the room. Both your heart beat and the stride when you walk are very rhythmic. You don’t think about it, you just do it naturally every day!

Everybody has rhythm, some people just have a harder time consciously putting it to work.

I chose to write this post about the Waltz because it is the same rhythm from which you walk. If you were to count up to 6 with each step you took as you walked down the street, it would not be “1….23…..4..5…..6” it would be “1…2…3…4…5…6”. ….That timing, that walking….That is the Waltz .

Doing the Waltz is like walking down the street only you apply simple patterns. The timing and the rhythm remains the same as walking “1..2..3..4..5..6”.

The simple pattern applied is what’s called the ‘Box’ step, because it looks like a square on the floor…or a ‘Box’.  Just like walking, you step left, right, left, right, left, right. Also like walking you step in even tempo “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6″.

At first it will likely feel stiff and not natural, but after doing it for 5-10 minutes straight, you will find it becoming more and more simple, more natural.

After teaching this basic step I often hear the common statement…”This is not what it looks like when I see it on TV!”. This is true, and the reason for that is the turning. I would GREATLY encourage you to practice this step WITHOUT turning. Practice it just as you see, do it over & over & over again, until you feel it’s becomes ‘easy’.

When is it ‘easy’ enough? When you can hold a conversation with another person while doing this pattern, then you’ve got it well enough to move on.

The animation to the left shows the same box with no hesitation, as it should be danced. Immediately start a new box upon completing the previous.

Turning The Box: Turning this simple box is likely not what you expect…you Do Not use your feet to turn the box. There is a surprising parallel between leading a woman on the dance floor and many sports. In boxing, the trick to a good strong hit is the utilization of your shoulders with your body weight. Similarly, when golfing or snowboarding, the trick to proper technique is the use of shoulders and manipulating your body weight.

Dancing is the exact same idea. Always continue stepping in the pattern above, then start to turn your shoulders to the left very slowly. Let me emphasis ‘slowly’.. one box step will not even turn you 1/4 . You will be better off doing a couple box patterns without turning…then after 2 or 3 boxes, start turning your shoulders slowly to the left. Do not think about turning with your feet at all, your feet will follow your shoulders and the box will turn on it’s own.

This is a baby step to the technique of leading a woman on the dance floor. Whether you choose to Tango, Swing or Salsa, you can lead most any woman with proper shoulder work (technically called FRAME).

The Waltz is a great stepping stone to more complicated dances and a great way to learn the basics of leading a woman on the dance floor.

This is where I’ll wrap this post but look forward to your feedback and I invite suggestions or requests.

Why Dance? It Doesn’t Take A Genius!

Learn the basics of most social dances

I’m a typical guy! I think Led Zeplin is the best rock band of all time, I drink beer, I watch football and my celebrity crush list includes Salma HayekCatherine Bell and Tanya Memme.

I am fortunate however in that I learned something very early on…Women Love Men Who Can Dance!

Knowing how to dance is like knowing several different languages. Most people understand Rock, Funk, Classical or Rap…but not many can also understand Tango, Waltz, Salsa or Swing.

My Revelation: I was aproximately 15 years old and our school was organizing a dance in which parents where invited. Parent attendance was rare so they planned to have a Waltz contest for the … ‘old folk’.

I had discovered the previous year that I liked moving around to music when a  friend put on Midnight Star’s “No Parking On The Dance Floor“. I really had never heard this kind of ‘electronic funk’ before and it pretty much blew my mind.

Aware of my newly found appreciation, my friend Lilas looks to me and says, ‘We should learn to Waltz for the contest’. Understandably, most 15 year old boys when confronted with a request to ‘learn the waltz‘ would tend to shy away, if not literally run away! Fortunately, my 15 year old, puberty bent mind processed the idea of spending time in close proximity with a pretty girl..and I accepted the challenge.

Now I hardly remember the school dance, nor the contest. As a matter of fact, we may never have even attended. But I do clearly remember going to the library, finding an ‘Arthur Murray book of ballroom dance’  and learning the basic waltz ‘box step‘ with Lilas.

**Did you know that when a guy knows how to do a basic waltz box step, there are ENDLESS girls lined up wanting to be taught?? This is something I learned almost immediately.

After my schooling I ended up visiting one of those Arthur Murray dance schools in Orange County CA. The next 5 years found me teaching social dance professionally. Ultimately I grew tired of all the egos, boas and glitter and left…but the education was invaluable!

Disclaimer: I am NOT telling guys to stop everything and walk into a dance studio… God No!

I completely understand guys cringing at the thought of dance lessons. Shows like Dancing With The Stars don’t help matters at all! The representation of men who can dance in the media is piss poor.

Guys, the reality is this…telling a woman you can swing or salsa has more effect than telling her you’re independently wealthy. Being lead around the dance floor is something very few women experience anymore…and women LOVE to dance.

If you are secure enough with yourself to walk into a dance studio..do it! If you feel better with private lessons, there are plenty of teachers in most any city, simply ask their training. Most independent teachers did, at one time, work through Arthur Murray or Fred Astaire studios.

Learn from books, learn from online videos. Learning the basic step patterns is important, but utlimately I recommend working at least a little with a female instructor to build your skills in ‘leading’.

Dances I recommend learning: (in order of ease)

Rumba: it’s easy and slow. The rhythm of a Rumba works with most any slow song. (anything but a waltz song)

Waltz: the basic pattern is the same as the Rumba, just different rhythm.

Fox Trot: great casual walking around the floor dance, perfect for those Sinatra fans

East Coast Swing: (aka Jitter Bug) same rhythm as Fox Trot, just more rhythmic than smooth

This Blog will be growing with actual instruction, please bookmark it for more later.

SOPA/PIPA – A Bad Taste In My Mouth!

Stop SOPAEven though we are active members of this society, it seems as though nothing we think or feel truly counts. It appears as though the government runs everything and we are but a tiny voice yelling down a dark cold chasm. Unfortunately it is that feeling that has led this country into the piss poor shape it’s in today…if we don’t get involved, nothing will change or improve.

H.R.3261.IH better known as SOPA  (Stop Online Piracy Act) is a legislative nightmare.

Listen, I’m a web developer who has built numerous interactive interfaces for countless organizations. I’ve had MANY creations ripped off and have made other people abundantly wealthy from MY hard work. Nobody is more agitated by Intellectual Property theft than myself. However SOPA is not the answer.

As a web developer and hosting service, SOPA could hold me responsible for the acts of others. It will open the door for fraudulent accusations with laws that would support those accusations before defending my rights as a responsible server/sight owner working in a global market!

I understand that we all want to think and hope that the government should be able to facilitate SOPA efficiently, but the internet is EXTREMELY complicated with VERY vague laws. The government can’t even run Amtrak or the United States Postal Service, less complicated entities that have been around for decades & decades.

Please make an effort to demand SOPA be brought back to the drawing table!

Looxcie Into The Future!

A bluetooth camcorderA bluetooth earpiece that doubles as a camcorder..that would be cool!

This is a quick shout-out for the Looxcie bluetooth camcorder. I’ve had this device for about 8 months. I have the first generation…which is a bit bulky, but still very cool!

Here’s what it is and how it works:

Looxcie is basically a Bluetooth audio device for your smartphone, I have an Android. If I want to make a call, or if my phone rings, I can speak using this little gadget in my ear. However, Looxcie also contains 4GB of a flash memory and can act as a camcorder.

The tip of the device (the white part) is a camera lens. If you where to simply press the red button (on top of the ear piece) you would start recording whatever you are looking at. You can twist the camera very small turns to ensure you are getting a stable recording (make sure everything is not crooked).

How do you see what you are recording? You use the Looxcie app that goes on your phone! Looxcie has two applications, well three now, more on that later. In general you have LooxcieCam and LooxcieMements. To be TOTALLY honest, I really don’t understand the difference between them. I have BOTH on my phone..but still don’t quite understand what the difference is except that the interfaces are different…they appear to DO the same thing (start recording, view previously recorded videos etc).

Regardless, in a nutshell, you turn on your phone’s bluetooth, you turn on the camera and turn on your LooxieCam application. As you record you see your footage on your phone, pretty darn cool. Because this is video delivered via a bluetooth connection, it appears a bit jumpy, but rest assured the actual footage is not jumpy at all. On that note, when you review your footage via your phone, you are initially viewing it from the earpiece to the phone..so that footage is also jumpy because it’s Bluetooth that is still pulling from the earpiece to the phone display. You need to SAVE the footage to your phone before you get the actual footage as it really is.

The video format is MP4 and the camera has two settings (set on the LooxcieCam application settings). You can set the resolution to either 480P (30 fps), this is youtube ready footage, or you can use 380P (15 fps) which is smaller and better for emailing.

You can view Ariel Winter from Modern Family via Looxcie here.
You can view lots of users samples here.

One very cool feature from Looxcie is the 30 second clip button. Let’s say you just recorded something cool…with one click of a button on your ear piece, the last 30 seconds of footage is taken and uploaded it to your Facebook account…pretty bitchen!

Now, as I mentioned, I have the first generation Looxcie, it cost me aprox $149.00 down from $200.00 after about 3 months sitting on the shelf. It clearly was a bit over priced and I don’t think people understood what it was.

Looxcie 2 is now out (pictured left) and is a bit more sleak and attractive with an all black, more lightweight design.

And finally, one of the coolest features just released from Looxcie (1 & 2) is their Looxcie Live! Now I do allot of live streaming (I developed and own Bspot.tv) so my natural assumption is that I’d be able to use this feature to stream to Bspot.tv..too cool!!! But, that is NOT yet the case.

Looxcie Live only works with other people using the Looxcie Live app on their phone. I personally had to upgrade the firmware on my Looxcie 1 in order to use the feature at all. So currently you can not broadcast live to other peoples computers..only their phones IF they have the looxcie Live app on their phone. While this feature is basically useless to me personally..it’s a step in the right direction and I have to think home computer viewing is right around the corner!

Here’s Looxcing at you!

Square Up – Credit Card Processing Made Easy!

Process Credit Cars Via Smart PhoneAs a web developer/designer who works with a lot of small start up businesses, The most popular question I get asked is “How can I take credit card payments?”

The time and expense of setting up a merchant account with your bank so that they can lease you a credit card machine while also charging you per each and every transaction..can be daunting, frustrating and expensive!

Paypal now has a virtual terminal that you can use if you are a Paypal member. However the virtual terminal requires you to ‘apply’ to this service and you may get turned down based on your credit rating. You also still need to be sitting at the computer to process the transaction when using Paypal.

There are newer, and what I consider AMAZING, sites/apps you can now utilize to process credit cards. I predict these sites are scaring banks and causing them to lose processing fees hand over fist.

One of those site is wwwSquareUp.com

Square is an amazing application that I frankly am SHOCKED I had not heard of before! With Square (www.squreup.com) you can be set up and taking credit card payments (visa, mastercard, amex, discover) in about 10 minutes via your smart phone or iPad (iphone/ipad/Android). NOTE: this is NOT a resolution for processing online payments from your website, Square is only to process credit cards person to person or over the phone.

Setting Up Your Account: Simply navigate on your computer to SquareUp.com and sign up. They will ask you questions regarding your needs (personal or business account etc) and they will need your bank information so that they may batch transactions into your bank account. They do not ask for your full SSN, only the last for numbers along with DOB. They will then ask a few questions to validate your ID..pretty impressive really.. and it’s all done via HTTPS SSL security.

Accept Credit Card Payments via Square

The account is set up literally within minutes and you can instantly start taking credit card payments via the Square application (load to your smart phone or ipad via iTunes or Android Market). The application will allow you to type in the Credit Card information and process the card, but they also will send you a credit card swiper that plugs into your phone headphone jack…for free!

Truth be told, my experience with the swiper is hit and miss. Some cards took numerous swipes to process correctly..but some went right through.

After entering the amount to charge and then swiping the card, the customer can ‘sign’ the transaction with their finger right on your phone! (under settings you can tell the app to not require signature for any transaction under $25.00).

A receipt containing an image of the signature can be sent to the customer via txt or email.
Every evening Square will batch your payments and deposit them into your bank account.

The application is free, the card swiper is free and Square charges only 2.75% (similar to Paypal) from every transaction for the convenience of instantly accepting credit card payments for your business! You can also have numerous users all logged into the same account with their phones processing payments (like in the case of a sales expo or a small shop with numerous sales clerks).

Other features from Square via the phone App:

  • Log Sales History
  • Accept/log cash transactions
  • Automatically add sales tax
  • Allow for tips to be added to sale
  • Multiple users accept payments into the same account

The ONLY thing that would make companies like Square unstoppable is if they offered an API to allow you to process credit cards through your website…I have to think that is in the near future.

If you knew Shuzi Like I know Shuzi

Shuzi America, Vitality Through TechnologyHave you heard about SHUZI Technology? Shuzi Qi is a US-based technology company that is developing personal wellness and performance products using Nano Vibration Technology (NVT). Shuzi’s proprietary technology (NVT) has been shown to improve blood flow, enhance cellular communication and reduce painful inflammation. SHUZI also offers powerful protection against EMF (electromagnetic field) interference and has been tested and proven by highly respected doctors, health practitioners, physical trainers and athletes, with measurable results backed by Darkfield Microscopy Blood Cell Analysis, Thermal Imaging Centers of America and FDA Approved BioMeridian testing.
30 Seconds after wearing Shuzi TechnologyThe image to the left is actually my own hand before wearing the technology (left) and 15 seconds (middle) then 30 seconds (right) after putting the bracelet/technology on! Note the cooling throughout the middle of my hand.

This is how it works: SHUZI’s NVT chip emits a subtle energy, a nano vibrational frequency that resonates throughout the body on a healthy cellular frequency. When worn, blood tests have shown SHUZI’s NVT to improve cellular communication and re-energize blood cells that may have otherwise been compromised or exhausted by everyday environmental and physical stress.

I wear Shuzi, in fact I wear 3 shuzi items all the time (titanium bracelet, sports band and a newer item not on the market yet, the ‘Super Chip’).

I’ve watched the tests and I’m blown away every time. This is no Power Balance placebo effect..I know this becuase Shuzi  has performed countless thermal tests and blood cell anlysis which show visible improvement in circulation and blood cell integrity!!

I suggest EVERYONE at least check it out, it’s not cheap, but it’s not too expensive either, the technology is worth every penny.

HP Mini 1151NR – Helpful Reformatting Tips

NOTE: Post updated 3/8/2012 – See down the page for Audio and Wi-Fi updates

I have the HP Mini 1151NR through Verizon Wireless. Every time I take this little guy out with me people ask questions “Do You Like It”, “How Much Was It?” etc.

Let me just start by saying that I am a web developer and purchased this Mini as my on-the-go, non-development laptop… & Yes, I love it .

I picked up mine refurbished and it was only $150.00 after a mail in rebate plus extending my 2 year data plan which had ended.

I am a Multi-Media developer, I founded and developed Facefinder.com and bSpot.tv and I likely utilize my Mini a bit more vigorously than the average user. I do all the basics (word processesing, email, FB, Twitter etc) but I also utilize it to stream live video/audio broadcasts and entertain with music at parties.

This Mini comes with aprox an 80GB hard drive, 1GB of ram and a 1.60GHz processer (all specs can be found here http://bit.ly/hEqRmX). I purposely do not load a bunch of programs to it so that it will run as efficiently as possible with my multi-media tasks.

Recently my Mini crashed. It just stopped booting saying it had a corrupt boot file. Ultimately I had to wipe it out and start fresh..this is where the frustration set in, but I am here to help you help yourself. I was able to get my Mini back up and running better than ever… You’ll find how I did it below:

Successfully Reformatting My HP Mini 1151NR

I inserted the XP disk and reformatted my drive, I then loaded Windows XP Home addition but could not get on my local wireless network nor LAN to work. I had a real problem tracking down all of my drivers so I called HP (India) and was told they could help me for $50.00… Luckily I chose to look around a bit longer and found what I had been looking for…for free.

http://bit.ly/g2rd6R  (bookmark this page NOW & put it somewhere safe)

The page above from the HP web site has all of the drivers you will need to get back online and fully functional.

Start with the BIOs upgrade (6th from bottom), then the Chipset (second from bottom). You may then want to go for the Graphics driver (3rd from bottom) because your screen resolution will likely be jacked up.

You’ll want to load the top 2 drivers under Network to get yourself back online, but Loading the Bluetooth driver is up to you..if you are not going to utilize Bluetooth, then don’t hassle with it (I’ve used the bluetooth with Skype on my mini but was not impressed by the sound quality, sort of choppy).

The only driver you will NOT want to load is the Audio (1st on list). The IDT driver offered on that page DOES work, however it is NOT High Definition. You’ll notice that there is not both a mic and earphone jack on your Mini…only one jack wich acts as both. I believe this has something to do with the LOW Fidelity sound you’ll get if you plug in headphones or external speakers.

To improve your audio experience NOTE: if this audio driver does not work for you (you get an error), see post update farther down the page from 3/8/2012!
I tracked down the High Fidelity IDT driver and it works fantastic with the  Mini. I use external speakers daily and stream Pandora, iTunes and more..it sounds great.

Download the IDT High Fidelity Driver Here: http://bit.ly/dVIQjf
Evidently it’s a driver meant for Windows Vista but works great on this Mini with XP.

I did not load anything under the Solutions section. I’d tried the HP Connection Manager but was not terribly impressed.

If you are using this mini with Verizon: you’ll want to get yourself back online with Verizon so you’ll need the VZAccess Manager..but there are several versions so you’ll want the following:

Download VZAccess Manager Here: http://bit.ly/fyQYqW

That is it, from here you should be back online with a great sounding Mini HP!

Good Luck!

Quick Update: March 8, 2012….

My mini started giving me issues again (slowness, F1 Boot errors saying my drive was crashing etc). Also, since I last wrote this I’ve dropped my Verizon data package on the mini because I upgraded my phone to the Droid Razor with the hotspot…no need to pay for two data package when I can wirelessly tether to my phone with my mini.

The good news is that the mini works great with my phone, and I’m saving money on my phone bill.

Also, I was able to completely reformat my mini and have it up and running online in about 30 minutes using the information listed above.

One difference however was the Wi-Fi. In my home I’ve updated my router to the Netgear N600 Dual Band router. For better security I set my ‘Wireless Security Option’ to WPA2. Well we are thrilled with our router around the house, the Wii and the iPods all run better and faster…however this mini with ‘Windows XP Home’ did not support WPA2, it was looking for WEP.

Luckily, the issue was resolved quickly when I found that there was a ‘hotpatch’ for Windows SP2 that updated the wireless configuration ability to include WPA2.

You can find the hotpatch here: SP2 Hotpatch
**In case you don’t have Service Pack 2 (You can skip SP1) it is here: Windows XP Service Pack 2

After installing first the SP2, then the hotpatch, I got up and running on my home network in seconds.

Audio issues: Even though nothing has changed on my mini, for some reason the IDT driver I link to above errored out on my laptop this time around. After a bit of trial and error, I was able to get the High Fidelity driver to work after installing the following driver FIRST. If the above aproach worked and your mini sounds good (via headphone’s or external speakers), then ignore this part…but if it sounds like crap & you attempted to install the IDT driver linked above and got an error, try installing the following two drivers, this worked for me.

First IDT Driver: IDT Driver Download

Second IDT Driver: IDT High Fidelity Driver

That is all, for the second time, my HP Mini is up and running great..this time all avoid loading a bunch of apps and just use it for email, music and such..tethered wirelessly through my Droid Razor ;0).

Iraq & the Dinar, 2011 could make millionaires

I am not one to spend time in foreign currency, but a friend of mine recently commented on the pending re-evaluation (RV) of the Iraqi Dinar (IQD).

I’ve spent MUCH time learning the activities taking place in Iraq, but I’ve never paid much attention to the currency value.  A simple Google query showed the Dinar currently trades at 1,160 Dinars to every $1.00 US Dollar. In laymen terms this means that each Iraqi Dinar is worth only $0.00085 US Dollars. Now consider the Dinar for investment purposes, for every $1,000 US dollars you can obtain 1 Million Iraqi Dinar.  Having 1 Million Iraqi Dinar means little when each dinar equals only $0.00085 US Dollars. But what happens if the Dinar returns to it’s Pre-War (Operation Iraqi Freedom) value?

In the 1930’s when the Dinar was still connected to the British pound it valued as high as $4.86 US dollars. As recently as 1988 each Iraqi Dinar was worth $3.22 US dollars. Coming into the 90’s the Dinar was still well over $1.00 US dollar.  While it’s highly unlikely the Dinar will ever see these values again,  It seems VERY  likely to at least reach $1.00 US dollar as the country stabilizes.

The result of the Dinar being re-evaluated and trading as 1 Dinar to every 1 US Dollar (1:1) would be countless instant millionaires. ANYONE who invested $1,000 US dollars to obtain 1 Million Iraqi Dinar could then cash out and receive 1 US dollar for every Iraqi Dinar they hold. ($1,000,000)

The US has a direct vested interest in ensuring the success of the new Iraqi government. Maliki has been made PM and 39 of his 42 cabinet members have been approved (I’ve read rumors that 2 of those 3 remaining seats have now been chosen as well).

A Re-Evaluation WILL occur, it’s just a matter of when. A full government must be in place & a budget must be approved for parliament before an RV can occur, but it appears the seats are being expedited and the budget is finished and must now simply be read 3 times to gain approval.

Speculation of the Iraqi Dinar Re-Evaluation has floated for years, every since it’s decline, So the question is: Once all of Iraq’s ducks are in a row, won’t they once again wish to trade as one of the wealthiest countries in the world and is it even remotely possible that the Dinar would trade at less than 1:1?

Update: 4/21/2014 ###################################

Um, it’s 2014 and still nothing has happened. I have not lost faith, Iraq HAS to re-value if they expect to do any foreign trade…so, we simply hang in there.