Hey! This is the old a broken mold. Newer stuff is at abrokenmold.net.
That being said, feel free to rummage through the archives over here. Also feel free to leave comments; we're still keeping an eye on this.

So, today I stopped in at J's Place on my Christmas shopping rounds, and vaguely wondered if he had any mics. I was looking for one for my harmonica, as I have a Leem GA410D amp that was given to me, but no mic to go with it. It's just a small guitar amp, but that's perfect for that essential blues harp sound. Also, I had checked at WC Marketplace while shopping there, and saw a few cheap $15 mics, and one nice $188 Shure SM58 Vocal, which is pretty much the standard for vocal mics. I wasn't quite sure what I was looking for....I knew what Adam Gussow recommends, but not sure if I could find that kind of mic, especially as he got his a long time ago in some obscure store. Anyways, I was just looking around, and saw this box that said "Shure" on it and "microphone" and had a little picture of a mic, but kind of a strange-looking mic, more like you'd see on an old ham radio or something. I asked the guy if he had any mics, and he said he was out of stock, and asked what I was looking for. But when I mentioned harmonica, he went over and pulled that mic out, and said it was a harmonica mic he'd had around for a few years (the box says 2001 on it). It's a Shure 520DX, also known as the "Green Bullet". If you looked at the picture linked there, you can see why. He told me it listed at $150, but I could have it for $85, which I think is a deal, considering current online prices are a little above that, and no shipping and handling.

When I got home, I plugged it in and tried it out. I was getting some undesirable feedback with sudden attacks on the harp, but it sounded pretty good. Then I looked up the manual online, only to have my mom point out that it probably came with one, which I quickly found in the box. Funny. Anyways, once I followed it's recommendations, I got a better sound. It's pretty sweet. The only thing that I'm not completely happy with is that, with a normal vocal mike, you can use your right hand quite well for vibrato, whereas this is a little bigger around. Oh well. Anyways, it IS pretty much the standard, time-tested favorite for blues harmonica. So, cool.

Also today, the Dell tech came and replaced my motherboard and LCD screen on the good old Vostro 1400. I had called Dell on Monday complaining about some graphics issues. I had initially seen my display divide into little, rectangular pieces, and start rapidly jiggling back and forth, and then go black. I powered it off. I ran it in safe mode, and uninstalled my nVidia drivers, then installed a different version, 180.70, although I see a newer version is now available from LaptopVideo2Go. I had no problems until a couple days later, while sitting in Bucer's in Moscow, ID. My screen did the same trick, except this time in a tasteful shade of pink, broken up with little black strips here and there. I powered off and back on, this time resolved to call Dell as soon as possible. I did so, the representative, after a little troubleshooting, advised that he would send a tech out with a new mobo and screen. In my opinion, they could've just replaced the mobo, or even just the gfx card, although it's kind of better to replace the whole deal in these cases, but I wasn't complaining about the screen, especially since I had a minor scratch on mine. At any rate, out he came. It was the same guy who replaced my mobo last year, when I complained about audio issues often experienced with this line of Vostros and Inspirons. The condition is pretty widespread, and solutions range from DIY frequency adjusters, tape between the wifi card and speaker cables, and installing drivers for different graphics cards. Not to go into the technical details right now, but there's supposed to be some conflict between maybe the wifi and audio, and/or gfx and audio being on the same PCI or something.... (Speaking of which, my new mobo audio sounds just as good, if not better, than previously. Great!)

Anyhow, he disassembled it, replaced the motherboard and screen (giving me an opportunity to clean out some of the dust with compressed air and oil the screen hinges), and reassembled it! Sweetness. And, so far, everything looks wicked awesome.

As a sidenote, I also finally put my MD button to use. I still am afraid to hit it when the laptop is off, for fear it will screw up my boot partitions, but, in Windows, I now have it set to turn off my screen (using Monitoroff, of course). Instructions here. I downloaded the zip file, and just edited the registry entries before incorporating them, and used Monitoroff instead of the other program.

Next on the list? Maybe try out KDE in Ubuntu, perhaps set the MD button to boot Ubuntu per this guide, perhaps buy a 9-cell battery....options, options.

Well, that's it for now!