Wednesday, December 06, 2006


This is a review from my initial disk labeling experience, using the Casio CW-100 Disk Title Printer, priced at $115 on Amazon. First -- this is a home studio or consumer product. (The better option for professional color graphic imaging which I use for my commercial video customers is an ink-jet printer, which handles bulk quantities with robotic stacking and cost $1,500 from Primera.) Having said that ... the Casio, priced at only 1/10th the cost, will find use for simple text-only disks that can handle thermal transfer printing (ink ribbon)... with 300 dpi quality -- which is very good. Note: permanent ink markers will work on disks -- but they run the risk of data damage and of course they look like crap. And NEVER use paper labels, which gum up the disk player and are a pain to print, and throw drives off balance. NOTE: an important distinction -- ink-jet printable disks are available as flat silver or snow-white coated rough surfaces, which DO NOT work with thermal ribbons. They have a surface 'tooth' that adhere's well to wet inks. They are available in some (not all) electronic stores or order on the web. However, disks for the Casio CW-100 thermal printer ONLY must use a clean (no label) surface for dry thermal ribbons -- and (this is important) -- which have a clear area in the top/bottom for the printing -- not an embossed logo of the disk manufacturer or other disk information, or rule lines for pens. It won't print well on those raised or rough surfaces. I use Imation DVD-R 16x disks with plenty of clear space ... or the TDK disks that work well, and Casio lists Maxell and JVC (CD and DVD)compatible disks. So, try to find a "compatible" (totally blank) disk on price special -- that also has a low error rate and high burn quality (that's another story un-related to labeling). Given the above ... my initial disks printed well. The unit connects to a PC or Mac with a USB cable, with AC power, in either vertical or horizontal position, requiring about 8-inch square. The PC software permits the use of the computer's true-type fonts, and the claim is you can import .jpg or .bmp graphics (ie logos). While print formatting is VERY structured, the software permits positioning, centering, flush-left/right, sizing, etc. up to six lines top or bottom. There are also four ink-colors. But, other users warn against all but the black ink. Be sure to buy extra cartridges.... $7.50 on eBay (vs $10 retail), from which you might get "up to" 40 disks, probably less. In summary, the CW-100 gets good reviews from the home market, and certainly has a place in the home studio for clean, professional looking text labels.

Monday, November 06, 2006


(CLICK FOR VOICE) It's all about the sea in Le Cinque Terre... see the photos. Our 10-hour tour today was, yes, exhausting, but also a wonderful option to the previously-visited Florence. We traveled by bus and train to five small medieval towns that haven't change much since the 14th century -- only 500 to 1000 inhabitants each, who sustain their lives from olive and grape production, and some tourism. The Cinque Terre community is a chain of 'old towns' built on sheer cliffs, with a bell tower and church at each, rising above the tile roofs. We indulged at a typical sea-side restaurant -- It's our final port, with one more sea day.


Saturday, November 04, 2006


The scenery is nice, but in Villefranche Sur Mer (France), it was the people who got my eye. It's great for "people-watching" along the Cote d'Asur ... where visitors experience a magical atmosphere of sun, sand, sea, wine tasting, shopping, sightseeing, dancing, and gambling. To the north is Monte Carolo, to the south is Nice and the Cannes Film Festival. The Villefranche port was created in 1295, and still has a 14th century ambiance of red-topped tile roofs built into the cliffs, tunnels, and cobblestone narrow streets. We stopped into an Internet Cafe, and then had a salmon lunch in the sun at a waterfront brassiere. A few dozen sailboats were tied up in the harbor, surrounding our giant cruise vessel. Oui, it's nice to hear French again. Back to Italy tomorrow -- last stop in Florence.

Friday, November 03, 2006


They say that, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” but that’s all the time we had for a visit. Our group of five made their own way, covering about five miles on foot, including St. Peter’s Cathedral, the Trevi Fountain, Piaza Navonna, the Pantheon, the Coliseum, the Roman Forum and ruins being un-earthed by architectural students. The Vatican Museum had an 8 block line of people, 7 across waiting patiently -- maybe 10,000++ people. We passed on that 3 hour wait to see the Sistine Chapel. Our most welcome stop was an off-street trattoria called “Colors” -- a buffet starter, wine, the main course and secundo, followed by dessert and an espresso. Perfect for tired dogs, at only 65 Euros for all of us, or about $80. We were amazed at the realism of the Bernini statues throughout the city. The most grueling part of travel must be the heat and humidity, but touring Rome in November or Spring means a cool and comfortable 65 degrees. People love to stroll here ... mostly rubbing elbows ... but watch out for the Vespa scooters and cars that sneak up behind street-walking tourists and then hit the horn! Tomorrow -- we visit Villefranche in France, then back to Florence for our last stop before trip’s end in Barcelona... back to reality.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


CLICK FOR VOICE) -- Naples is the third largest city in Italy -- stepping off to Pompeii, the Island of Capri, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coastline. But, in fact, very little kept us in Naples itself, whose history dates back to the 4th century. Since it's devastating eruption in 79AD, Mount Vesuvius has dominated the lives of the neighboring Naples community, and is expected to erupt again by 2044. Our visit took us south to Sorrento and then through the narrow mountain chain along to Amalfi. Sunsets are as picturesque as the azure waters are pristine. What amazed most travelers were the home and hotel architecture built into the cliff walls and sea-side gorges. Each photo here represents the diversity of the Amalfi Coast -- I especially enjoyed the little tan dog near the front-wheel of the scooter.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

DAYS 10 - 11: VENICE

Two glorious days in Venice -- a maze of 177 canals and 400 bridges, with millions of poles driven into the sediment to hold up the buildings. Our ship was met by a small demonstration of environmentalists who oppose the new Moses project of water containment, and erosion of the lagoon from cruise ship traffic. Venice was home to Marco Polo, Vivaldi and Casanova. We missed a classical concert, but celebrated Donna's birthday with a gondola ride, then a visit to the Murano glass works, the Doge's Palace in the Piazza San Marco, and the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore ... and then a quick visit to the Danieli honeymoon hotel of Megan and Tom. We did some healthy walking (rather than the water taxis), to help counter- balance the wonderful Italian food.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


CLICK FOR VOICE: Along the Dalmatian coastline of the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik, Croatia might conjure up images of war at its worst. But modern Croatia has come a long way from it's neighboring Bosnia, rebuilding the town to near-original ancient marble-paved squares, cobbled streets and boutiques, and is one of UNESCO's "world heritage treasures." Among these treasurers was the invention of the men's necktie, initially the silk cravat worn by soldiers. Entering the harbor we are greeted by a spectacular sunrise and the massive suspension bridge -- then we ventured out to the farm-country to meet the people whose origins begin here in the 13th century. (click on the voice file).

Saturday, October 28, 2006


CLICK FOR VOICE: These photos show a theatrical play at the ancient library in Ephesus. Listen to the descrption of this typical day in the 3rd century AD by clicking on the voice link above. Ephesus is still 80% hidden beneath the centuries of soil, but the massive restoration process has given us the best evidence of life in historic times. Comments we heard throughout were: "Amazing and incredible." We walked the same streets as Cleopatra, Socrates, Mark Anthony, and Paul the Apostle. It was time to stop, and contemplate the roots of our civilization.

Friday, October 27, 2006


If there is anything better than the blue waters and food of the Greek Islands, it must be the sunsets viewed from the volcanic peaks of Santorini. We traveled up 580 steps -- the easy way by cable car, considering all the donkey dung on the climb. But once on top .... wow, break-taking! We had a huge Greek salad with friends, and took a fast taxi ride 7 miles to the artists' community of Oia. White-washed churches and homes are built into the mountain and many worth millions each. We learned of the mythical lost world of Atlantis, supposedly swallowed by the sea when the volcano erupted 3,500 years ago causing the end of the entire Minoan civilization. And the
shopping is among the best in the world for Greek textiles, jewelry, glassware, etc. So many panorama's to photograph -- I chose to focus on the unique outdoor sculptures included here. Tomorrow is a 'sea-day' so I'll post the next report on Sunday, when we'll be in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


CLICK FOR VOICE: About 20 km inland from our Agean seaport of Kusadasi, the Hellenistic and Roman city of Ephesus is one of the most historical sites of the Mediterranean. We might summarize our brief visit there as somewhere between a spiritual awakening and an environmental epitaph. Our Turkish guide is a book of knowledge -- not unlike the 12,000 scrolls once housed in the library of Ephesus ... but lost is the secret passageway leading from the library, under the street to the bordello. Even then advertising pointed the way ... and maybe you could hear, "Honey ... I'll be at the library tonight." Tomorrow we're back to the Greek Islands -- and a visit to an art colony. The photo of the rose, is from a garden at the home of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


CLICK FOR VOICE: Mikonos, Greece,  population 9300,  is today's port of call ... an eastern-most Greek island, known for it's spectacular beaches, white and blue-trim Grecian villages, and great sea-food.  At the top of the Hora town harbor hill are windmills, dating back centuries to claim power from the island environment.  Tourism and night-life support the island and hotels for the rich, famous and party crowd.  The narrow and clean streets are thronged with chic fashion salons, cool galleries and jewellers, loud music bars, and torrents of crimson flowers.  We escaped with one jewelry purchase ... and a cup of Greek coffee that brings new meaning to the word 'strong.'

Monday, October 23, 2006


It is 6 am, and we hear the call to worship outside our 12th-story hotel window. Clearly, an Islam country Turkey -- wasn't always that way, as Istanbul (Constantinople) was once the seat of the Roman Christian and Byzantine Empires -- at least until about 1453 when the Ottoman Turks took power. So much for history ... worth a study of the rich history of the Anatolian Peninsula where civilization dates back to the stone and bronze ages.... that would be at least 10,000 BC. And one more geography lesson ... the city of Istanbul technically separates two continents via the 27 kilometer Bosphorus Strait ... Asia and Europe, with the city sharing both sides of the water. Today we walk the European side, and the nearby Taksim streets for shopping, lunch, a mosque and meet friends from Canada. Then a swim in the relaxing hotel pool (see photo), steam bath, and massage. An easy day -- not much is open as Ramadan is celebrated. Tomorrow we sail for ports to the south, to Ephesis, home to St. Paul and John in the 1st century AD.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


We arrived mid-day in Istanbul after 14 hours of flying from Minneapolis through Amsterdam ... an 8 hour time zone change. The city dates back to 700BC and the Byzantine and Ottoman empires ...the days when it was named Constantinople. The modern Hotel Ritz Carlton Hotel is first class, with a spectacular view -- overlooking a mosque and a 35,000-seat football stadium on the shores of the Strait of Bospherus. Hours after arrival our guide takes us through the grand bazaar (see photo) -- but it's only a glimpse at this hectic marketplace before the final feasts of Ramadan close these busy bazaars tomorrow. Our other tour is through Beylerbeyi -- the summer palace of five 19-century sultans. Cameras are forbidden -- unless you pay $9 for the privilege! (Or try your less conspicuous cellphone camera.) And now, to shake off the jet lag and get some needed sleep.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


CLICK FOR AUDIO - DAY 1:   This begins our reports from the Mediterranean, as we travel 14 hours today from Minneapolis to Amsterdam and Istanbul.  Whew.  I hope the back holds up!  There's more on the 2-minute audio link above -- a brief delay as it downloads to your QuickTime media player.  We'll try to submit reports daily from our travels ... and invite you to respond with any questions or comments (below).  Bon Voyage.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Starting Oct. 20 we will begin a series of daily 'podcast' audio reports from the Mediterranean aboard a cruise ship, from where we will be traveling for two weeks -- from western Turkey, to the Greek Isles, and Italy. I hope you will join us here, and participate as a listener, or reader and contributor to these blogs.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Living Room Fragile trailer

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View the 'trailer' of this one hour drama made for cable access television in Minnesota. Produced by St. Paul independent filmmakers Phil Holt (writer and director) and Jim Radford (cinematographer). The plot: when John is laid off from his job, he and his family try to keep their lives from shattering apart. Slowly, steadily, the cracks begin to show. Starring Kathleen Kohlstedt, Jerome Marzullo, Tim Payton, Jay Urmann, Stu Naber, Joshua Iley, and Phil Holt. See the entire hour movie at:

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Free Speech Threatened

I suppose you have been following the progress of federal legislation of the Internet, which would permit the carriers (Verizon, Comcast, ATT) to charge different rates for usage ... so your site with more hits woyld pay more than me with less hits,, but I might pay more by publishing more or less video online. The likelihood of pay as you go is a very threatening control mechanism by the feds and utilities, and would dramatically change the current Net model ... with the tradeoff of increasing corporate services, reliability, speed, and reach, but putting the small guy who can't afford that out of business. I think its very similar to the cable TV legislation that would create tiered packages for viewers, and if the channel is not in the package, it could not be viewed ... that would most likely eliminate most of the non-commercial community cable access channels, such as where I air my documentaries, church programs and screen play -- and where many relevant local programs are aired and producers are trained in TV, thanks to grants from municipalities and the cable companies. That open access (AKA freedom of speech), and equality of viewership would end ... as many people would not likely pay the extra fees to get community TV ... but simply accept a pay per view model. If you get the chance to voice your opinion on either of these issues, cable TV and Internet open access, don't hesitate. Write your legislators. When the utilities take these over, it will end free speech as we know it.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Reselling Web Sites

New idea to make money ... according to the current issue if Business 2.0 -- very easy money. Buy and sell existing websites ... not just a domain-name play, but spot the potential of an existing site, rehab it and increase traffic, and resell it. At, for $10 people can list sites for sale or aution them off. Demand has soared. In April, they added 400 new sites, growing 25% per month. All sorts of sites are available ... blogs too. The key is to understand what you are buying ... check their Google ranking, and etc. Check revenue stats and scan message boards for their credibility with users ... and build a plan. BUILD NEW VALUE into the site ... Example ... sold last August for $1,000, and resold after a refurb and accompanying customer increase, to $13,500 ... not a bad profit margin.... excluding the new ad revenues from Adbrite, Yahoo, and CasaleMedia ... revenue of apx. $1000 a month. This exmple was completed in 6 months, by a high school senior. How much is your site worth?

Growth Stocks

Huge surprises to me in he top 100 list of 2005 growth companies ... bottom line, best bets in bio-med and pharma stocks, not just Net biz. Starting with Celgene (think thalidomide) at 144% growth, then RedHat Linux ... at 104%, and Apple (thanks to iPod), and SanDisk, and ValueClick (online ads), but then the bio firms kick in ...Palomar, LifeCell, Gilead (flu drugs), Clinical Data, Kyphon (surgical products for my spinal osteoporosis), and many more ... eBay fell from 14th to 92nd), and Digital River was a MINUS 29% growth.... all according to Business 2.0


Geo-caching for Outdoor Fun

I've discovered (OK, tripped over) a really enjoyable ... uh hobby, sport, past-time, part techno, part environmental, part exercose. They call it ... "geo-caching." As in geography, and nested stuff. The concept, I explained to my 6 year old grandson, is to find hidden treasures, using a satellite GPS unit, or a geek's walk in the woods. Of course, levels of difficulty make it more interesting. There doesn't seem to be a huge after-market of commercialism attached to this ... and it works for all ages ... and is global. It appeals to my gecko side, So ... off to my first cache .... a mile from the house in the woods. Cool ... found it INSIDE a tree stump, sealed in an ammo box, including a traveling "bug" with dogtags for proof of identity via a registration website ... the next guy who finds this can remove the dogtag and diary and re-plant it in a cache somewhere in Washington or Arizona, whatever. I also left a toy in the box. So, what's my GPS? A VERY cool Magellan Explorist XL, with big bright screen, streets software and 3D, good battery life and handheld or car portability. Anxious to take it on a trip.... especially to Europe. Another plus ... unlimited (??) smartcard memory for maps ....Only downside is the limit on map area file size (65Mb) ... so it requires transferring one state or area at a time from computer (disk) to the GPS via the smart card. No big deal ... don't need the entire country anyway. Has improved my map reading -- never to be lost again. Hmmm, I can't rcall ever being lost.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


You want one of the best new tech weblogs and website?  Go to: -- thorough coverage, good photos, brief and to the point, pulls no punches.  Fast way to keep up with tech toys and gizmos. 

Saturday, February 25, 2006


It's been several months.  I'm now a total fan of the projection system (see photo of my cave.)  This is not only huge at 90-inches, but this Optoma 2000 lumen projector is compact, "sufficiently" bright, and admittedly my first step into high-def TV (Olympics were awesome).  Ok, it's not great in a bright room.  For that, it's either a pricy plasma or LSD screen, or I use the old-fashioned floor model TV set (for the grandkids or when I want to save on lamp time). For less than a grand (Best Buy), this thing is perfect for a 2 or 3 year bridge to 'the next big thing' in home electronics -- which appears to be Sony's light emitting diode displays.  Further, this works great for many on-site video jobs, where the room is dark, and the audience is 50 or less.  Set up my Yamaha 'loud' speakers, and we have a pretty impressive video display and sound system. 

Monday, February 13, 2006

Test Posting Using Net2Phone

this is an audio post - click to play This is a test audio feed, originating from a voice call using Net2Phone, fee-based at 2 cents a minute ... maximum of 5 minutes per posting. The option is a cell or landline call to the blog service in California, thus a higher fee option. Both seem to have acceptable quality, and differ only in price and the communications equipment available at the moment -- phone or laptop.

Donna Finishes Disney Marathon

End of the Disney marathon for Donna ! Great accomplishment! Book your own trip to Disney with Donna, who has some great travel deals ... check out her webpage, title above.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Camcorders for 2006

The videocamera improvements in 2006 are designed to shake up this lethargic business which has dropped off in consumer spending since the iPod. Here are "Camcorder's" pick of new or desired features:

1) Wider LCD screens to 3.5 in. diagonal for older eyes and touch controls... plus 16x9 ratio on SD cameras.

2) enhanced sound with Dolby 5.1 for home surround systems.

3) better DVD camcorders (all Sony) ... hope for 3 chip cameras to improve this segment, widescreen and price.

4) More MPEG-4 storage flash cards with high qualit images, better lenses.

5) better combo cams with still photos up to 4 MP and maybe higher. Capture stills simultaneously with video.

6) better HDV cameras up to 3 chips, lower pricing.

7) improved disk drive cams, record many hours on MPEG-2 format ... no tape, improved ergonomics.

8) more featurs ... from larger screens and touch screens to manual audio controls, ie the Canon GL2

9) Integrate MPEG-4 or WMV video capture into portable media players ... already lots of storage at 20Mb ... up to 50 hours of video, or 200,000 1mp photos, or 10,000 mp3 songs. See Gemini 402 by Archos.

10) phase out of analog ...VHS and Hi-8