Thursday, December 30, 2010

Virgin Radio 95.3: The Ring in 60 Seconds

Thank you to everyone for making the Ring in 60 Seconds a huge success!  It made the top 10 films at the Virgin Radio Fake Film Contest placing 6th out of 197 films including some that were made by professional film companies and film students.

About the film 

This is a 60 second version of the Ring created for the Virgin Radio Fake Film Contest. Written, edited and directed by me.  It is based upon the 2002 Gore Verbinski DreamWorks film and it stars Kerry Sandrin as Rachel, Kassidy Nienhuis as Samara/creature, Keldon Nienhuis as Aidan, Karly Nienhuis as girl teen and Ryan Sandrin as male teen. Music used by permission from Kevin MacLeod.

ALL elements are original footage shot or created for the fake film.  The inspiration for this film are my friends and family who encouraged me to do this and helped make it.  You can also see how the film was made at the official fake website:  Lastly you can also visit the official YouTube channel.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Garage door opener trolley hits stop bolt

Photo: Frank Sandrin
I had to replace the gear and sprocket assembly after the sprocket got sheared off, likely due to too much play in the chain.  The replacement of this part is relatively straight forward and the instructions that come with the part (part number 41C4220A) are clear.  This can be replaced in about an hour.

A problem came along after the assembly was complete and I tested the garage door opener.  The trolly was parked where the door would normally remain closed.  When I pushed the button, the door began to open but it didn't stop and hit the stop bolt causing a lot of stress on the chain.  Eventually I got it to reverse back down but it didn't stop when it hit the ground causing the rail to flex and almost buckle.

The culprit was the limit switch assembly
Despite endlessly turning the travel and force adjustment screws, I wasn't able to correct the problem. After examining the unit it occurred to me that when I reassembled the unit, something called the limit switch assembly (part number 41D3452) was misaligned.  The unit has three white rods representing the drive gear screw and two adjusting screws.  I've diagrammed it below looking from the top down as Figure B. Alternatively, see Sears Parts Direct for a complete blow apart diagram of a typical Craftsman garage door opener.

Here are my steps to realign this module (this applies to most Craftsman garage door opener models):

  1. Unplug the garage opener.
    Figure A
  2. Ensure that chain isn't torqued against the bolt as this could be very dangerous to work on.
  3. Release the garage door from the trolley using the emergency release cord.
  4. Note where the trolley arm is parked.  Is it in the down position, up position or somewhere in the middle?
  5. In Figure A, at the bottom of the gear & sprocket assembly shaft, there is a small white plastic piece called the Limit switch drive.  It is attached with a plastic retainer clip, either pull this out with a set of needle nose pliers. Slide the drive off.
  6. You can optionally unclip the limit switch assembly (Figure B) and adjust it or adjust it in place.  I did the latter. If your trolley is the completely down position, turn the drive gear (1) so that the centre limit contact (2) is closer to the drive gear or (the green line in Fig. B). Turn it to the middle position (yellow line in Fig. B)  if the trolley is in the middle of the rail and if it is at the top, put it near the travel adjusting screw heads (red line in Fig B).
  7. The key is that when the garage door opens or closes, the centre limit contact moves up and down the centre white plastic drive gear screw.
    Figure B
    When it comes into contact with the metal down  contact (3) it stops and the same goes with the up metal contact (4). 
    • Assuming that trolley is in the middle of the rail, place the up and down contacts (3 & 4 in Fig B) so that they are about an inch away from the centre contact (sitting on the green and red lines in Fig B).  
    • If the trolley is all the way at the bottom, the down contact (3) should be touching the centre contact (2) over the green line and the upper contact (4) should be at the red line.  
    • Lastly if the trolley is in the all the way up position, have the upper contact (4) touching the centre contact (2) over the red line and the down contact a few inches away near the green line.
  8. Reassemble Limit switch drive and retainer clip and ensure that the front and rear panels aren't in the way.  I had them partially screwed back in.
  9. Plug the garage door opener back in and test.
  10. The garage door likely won't go all the way up or down but this is where you use the travel adjusting screws to fine tune.

So that's it in a nut shell.  Keep making small adjustments to both the travel and force adjusters in accordance with the manual or the instructions that came with any parts you ordered.  Good luck and be careful!

Before working on garage doors note :
   * the spring/s is/are under extreme tension and can seriously injury or kill you if you try to remove/adjust it
   * the door can weigh over 400lbs
   * the opener runs on 110v power
"According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, 20,000 people each year have been treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries related to garage doors. The most common injury is fingers getting caught or crushed. Injuries relating to the failure of extension or torsion springs send approximately 1,000 people to hospital emergency rooms every year in the U.S.
Therefore, if you’re not completely sure of what you are doing, leave it to a professional

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How to watch U.S. only content in Canada

You've missed your favourite T.V. show and you've scoured the web to find out that the television networks have full episodes on their website the day after it has been aired.  You click on the link and you're all ready to watch your show when you get a message that the content your trying to watch is only available to residents of the continental United States of America.

I've been searching for years for a simple method on how to get this programming in Canada. There have been VPN or proxy server methods that are slow, expensive, unable to stream rich media or simply out of service.  There are also other complicated methods that involve setting up a hot spot or having a friend in the U.S route the service for you.

I finally found a relatively simple and reliable method that has allowed me to watch the web content for all major U.S. networks including CBS, NBC, FOX ABC, MTV, SyFy and more!

I've broken this down into two small parts:
  1. installing and editing the Modify Headers plug-in
  2. blocking ports
First and foremost, I should mention that this can only be done through the FireFox web browser.

Part 1 - Installing and editing the Modify Headers plugin
  1. Download the Modify Headers plugin for Firefox. 
  2. Once installed, go to Tools => Modify Headers in Firefox and add a new filter by clicking on the drop-down menu in the upper left corner and selecting Add.
  3. In the first box, type X-Forwarded-For and in the second box, type in the IP address of any US web site. I used which is Blockbuster USA's address. Leave the third box blank
  4. Click Add and enable the filter if it is not (look for a green light)
  5. Click on Configuration in the right column and ensure that the check box for always on is checked and save.
Part 2 - Blocking ports

For this to all work you must block TCP & UDP port 1935.  I think by default Windows Firewall may block this port if you're using Windows. So you may be all ready to go.

If not, this can be done through a couple of different methods:
  • Your router (there are so many routers you'll have to consult your documentation)
  • On a Mac through a terminal window
  • On Windows using Windows' firewall  as already mentioned
That's it! This method works on most US-only streaming sites except for the Holy Grails of online programming Hulu and Netflix.

Oh yeah, one last note, I heard that this can disable Flash on some sites so you may want to enable this only while watching a video.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Case study: Marketing search terms rather than URLs

It’s no secret that good domain names can be difficult to acquire, expensive to buy (if bidding), and can sometimes be confusing to customers with all the dots(.), slashes(/\) and protocols (http://, ftp:, .com, .org, etc.).  Even when a good domain name is obtained, there is often a disconnect between the time the consumer has seen the advertisement and when they are able to get to their computers to view a website.  They frequently forget the URL or they may enter the wrong URL.  As a result, consumers may resort to using their favourite search engine to find the content they are looking for.

URL marketing versus search marketing

Recently we’ve seen a trend of advertisers moving away from URL marketing in lieu of promoting company or product search terms in their campaigns.  This is a marketing trend that originated in Japan but has also been growing in popularity over the last couple of years in North American ads.


Many web browser have also adapted to this trend as most address/URL fields now function as a search field as well.  Enter words into Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox or Opera’s address field and their default behaviour is to conduct a search rather than trying to resolve it as a web address. For example, enter the words Coquitlam relator into your browser's address or URL field now, hit Enter and see what happens.  You might expect it to self-correct by resolving to the domain Chances are that it went to a search result screen for your browser's default search engine.  Is this a coincidence or a usability statement about how brower manufacturers expect users to search rather than remember URLs? 

Marketing potential

The potential for marketing with this technique is huge, since no longer do marketers have to hunt down really slick and memorable URLs.  The marketing opportunities are expand when combining it with things like mobile marketing strategies. For those who prefer a more conservative approach, you can even combine traditional URL marketing with search engine marketing creating a hybrid approach.


Mind you this technique isn't without its caveats.  For example, your website must be optimized to appear at the top of the the results through keywords.  This is best done through unique words or a unique combination of words. If you cannot hold down that top spot you run the risk of your own marketing program referring customers to your competitors.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Street Fighter II cabinet restoration project

This is not my cabinet but it
was in similar condition
Although I never really played it in the arcade, I have been a fan of Street Fighter since it first appeared for the SNES back in 1992. I recall playing it until the wee hours of the morning trying to defeat the final boss, M. Bison.

So when I encountered a rough looking Street Fighter II cabinet at Able Auctions in the summer of 2005, I didn't put a lot of thought into the restoration. I had already acquired an Arch Rivals cabinet the year before for only $50 CDN which only required a few decals to restore, however, this was going to be a completely different story. The bidding ended up between me and another fellow and I managed to secure it for $125 which seemed like a descent deal at the time.

Final product
When I got the machine home and started going through it I realized I was in for more than I bargained. The wire harness was a chaotic mess that looked like a mangled plate of spaghetti, the monitor was dim and barely displaying, the chassis was being held in place with plastic twist ties and some hideous spiders had set up home at the bottom.  The list went on and on.

Without going into too much detail regarding each and every step of the restoration, what I thought would take months, turned into years before I knew it. Lots of money and time was thrown into it but eventually I finally completed its restoration.

Thanks go out to many friends for helping out including Glen A. for his electrical engineering genius and John Biehler for all around support.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Reduce junk mail and save the environment

With just a few seconds of effort, anyone can easily shrink their impact on the environment by telling Canada Post to stop delivering junk mail - but only two per cent of Canadian homes have done it.

Canada Post says it's because people want to get flyers and ads delivered at their door. Vancouver's Beth Ringdahl begs to differ.

Ringdahl's website,, spells out a simple two-step process to block junk mail: It's as easy as filling out a downloaded form and leaving a note on your mailbox. There are also a other options to stop telemarketers and fax spam.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mini DV camcorder displaying horizontal blue lines during playback

So I had bought a Panasonic PV-GS9 Mini-DV camcorder a few years back. Unfortunately, it has stopped working. Now during playback it displays horizontal blue bars.

I read several threads that recommended buying a Mini DV cleaner and running it up to 4 times. They also suggested to change to change your video tape as it may have been the cause of the original problem.

These solutions may have worked for many but not me. My camera was becoming progressively worse. It went to blue bars and no sound to no picture at all...just blue.

After using a cleaner 4 times I became frustrated to the point I was going to buy a new camera. However, with the camera still playing, I did the typical guy thing and rolled up my fist and gave it a good hit along side of it. Remarkably it went back to just the blue bars. I hit it again and it went back to a perfect picture. Seriously, it really did work! As an added bonus I felt like I was the Fonz!

I'm not saying this will work for you and hitting it too hard could make things worse but I was at a point where I didn't care any more and took a chance. I have since found out that this trick has worked for at least a dozen others as well.  If it works for you let others know by posting here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How to get cheap Shaw &Telus bundle prices (updated)

Telus section updated October 18th, 2010. I decided to post up this info as a lot of people were asking about the Telus and Shaw bundle deals and how to get them.


Prior to the deals I was with Shaw for TV and Internet and Rogers for phone service. Combined I was paying $175 per month and getting:
  • TV: basic 28 standard definition TV channels (no HD and no PVRs)
  • Internet: standard hi-speed internet
  • Phone: local telephone service with:
    • 1 call feature
    • Unlimited North American long distance calling
Shaw deal

  • 2 HD PVRs valued at $400 each
  • 250 channels including the HD Plus service
  • Extreme high speed (15Mbps) but frequently tests at up to 30Mbps
  • Includes speed boost of 30Mbps for first initial access of page or file
  • Local service
  • Unlimited North American long distance
  • 3 call services (Call Forward, Voice mail, Call Display)
  • $84.95/mo for 1st year
  • $124.95 there after
  • Internet neighborhood sharing. Performance affected by number of users on same node
  • The unlimited North America doesn’t apply after promo period
  • No contract
  • No new lines to be run
  • Can record up to 2 programs and watch a 3rd
  • Unknown usage cap
Telus deal

  • Optik fibre-optic TV
  • 1 HD PVR Anywhere (can record up to 3 programs from central PVR and broadcast to any TV in house in HD via existing lines)
  • 2 HD Digital terminals
  • 3 HD Digital PVRs
  • Optik High Speed Internet (15Mbps) equivalent to Hight speed Extreme with Shaw
  • No neighborhood sharing
  • Local service
  • Unlimited North American long distance
  • 5 call services (Call Forward, Call Screen, Voice mail, Call Display, Call Waiting)
  • $64.95/mo for 1st year
  • $117.95 there after
  • TV only has a 3 year contract
  • May require running new Optik lines to your house. They would in my case
  • Internet 25Mbps may be available in future
  • Internet is affected by recording multiple HD programming, watching and vice versa
  • 60GB cap on download traffic

Telus update October 18, 2010

I received another call from Telus this evening and they now provided two updated options for me:
  1. I can now get everything as mentioned above but without a contract.  However, the price is higher without a contract and it was unclear if the promotional period would apply.  In the end it would be $129/month.
  2. They still had the same deal as before but still with a contract for the TV only for 3 years.  The cost on the first year was the same as before at $64.95/mo, however, they sweetened the deal at $114/mo there after.
  3. For new customers who haven't subscribed to Telus High Speed in the past 90 days, they are also offering a free XBox360 250GB slim console if you enter into a 2 year Internet contract.  Apparently you can use the Xbox 360 to watch Optik TV.  Also, when combined with an Optik HD PVR, the Xbox 360 acts as a digital box with all of PVR Anywhere's features.  Since you can enter into a separate contract for the TV and Internet, it's conseivably possible to get this deal included. Offer is available till November 9th, 2010.  If you cancel the service early, you'll be charged $13/mo for the remainder of the 2 year term.

How to get the deal

First off, these deals may not be available to everyone depending on what services you have, if you are contract or if they even have the service in your area (i.e. Optik TV is only available if they have run the lines in your area). Lastly, it seems dependent upon the customer service rep you get although this is becoming less of an issue as they are very scripted now a days.

Try calling your preferred provider (Shaw 604-629-3000 and Telus 1-800-661-2200) and ask to be connected to Customer Retentions as a regular sales department cannot offer these deals to you. Customer Retentions or is the department responsible for keeping your business if you are planning switching providers.

From here, you can take two approaches:
  1. Soft approach: Mention that deal that you heard about from family, a friend or online (IMPORTANT: don't mention names!). Mention the Telus deal if you are calling Telus and vice-versa with Shaw. Ask if you qualify for the deal and find out what they offer. You may get the deal or some variation of it. You decide if you want to keep it.
  2. Hard approach: Mention that you are planning on leaving as the other company is offering you a deal. At this point, you can ask if they can match it or you can really play hard ball and wait for them to offer you a deal as they will be scripted to ask for an opportunity to keep your business. At this point, you mention the competition's deal.
Closing notes

There is no guarantees that you will get these deals but everyone has gotten something. 5/7 people I know have gotten one of the deals. The rest got some sort of discount. One person, who had a connection to Telus even got the deal above at $34.99 for 1 year and $74.99 there after...I'm so jealous.

Good luck and post back what you got or didn't get.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Computer can't connect to the Internet through router

I stumbled across a problem where my computer would not connect to the Internet through the router.

First, I troubleshot the cables. I could connect to the Internet if I connected directly to the cable modem, however, as soon as the modem was connected to the router I would have no access. I was also able to access the router's administrative interface so the connection was good there as well.

The solution to my problem was that my Internet Service Provider (ISP) required the modem to be connected directly to the computer.  The router interfered with that. To fool the cable modem that you're connected to the computer, you must copy (clone) your computer's Mac address.  The Mac address is the computer's distinct identifier on the network.  To clone your computer's mac address, it is easily done through your router's admin interface. I have the Linksys WRT54GS and the cloning button is on the main admin screen.  Keep in mind that each router's admin interface is different so either consult your owner's manual on how to access this or else Google is your friend here.

Generally speaking, once you're in the router's administrative interface, you will typically find a button that says "clone mac address".  Click on this and you're ready to go.  If you don't have this button, you may have to find the Mac address on your computer and manually enter it into your router's Mac address field.  Again, try using Google to figure out how to access your Mac address.

Another issue could if that if you're using Windows, ensure that Window's firewall is disabled as most router's have a firewall built in.  Having that or another duplicate firewall solution active at the same time can cause problems.