Snap Shots (web page preview)

I’ve added some code to my blogs from that creates “Snap Shots” for external links. I tend to reference other places on the web, so any external link will now feature a little balloon (indicated by red arrow below.) If you float your mouse over the external link, you get a quick preview of the web page. With links to Wikipedia, Snap Shots goes one step further and makes the text very readable. For example, float over this link to Five Forks, Georgia.

In the example below, I’m floating my mouse over a link to an Apple ad, and you can quickly tell which ad it is… the one with the “Mac Genius.”


Ted should probably add Snap Shots to his blog since he does external links.

How To Scan: ScanMaker X6

We have an old scanner that still works just fine, although the software that worked in Windows 95 does not work in Windows 2000. But the drivers work with other software that can import from a scanner like Paintshop Pro. Steps:

1. Turn on scanner (hooked up via USB) and put photo / document face down.

2. On Dell, start up Jasc Paintshop Pro.

3. Choose File… Import… TWAIN… Acquire

4. For photos or documents, I typically choose color and 150 dpi

5. Use the preview button to do a quick scan

6. Adjust the outline to only the part you need (photo, article, check, etc.)

7. Press the Scan button, and the image will be brought into a new Paintshop Pro document ready for scaling, adjusting, and saving (typically as a JPG.)

8. Turn off scanner.

Here I’m scanning the check we got for the Jeep Wrangler. There is a photo of Ted at sunset in Thailand on the scanner for some reason.


DSL Speedtests 5-20-2007

After a couple of weeks of outages and a terrible last weekend, turned in a trouble ticket with, and they had Bellsouth do some signal tests. A problem was spotted between our house and the phone company (not sure where) and a technician was dispatched (but we didn’t see him) and whatever happened, we’ve had good connectivity for a week now. Record download speeds based on past logs.

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Range Good

gas-receipt-5-11-07-passat.jpgDidn’t realize the VW Passat was going to require premium gas. It needs a minimum of 91 octane. I’ve never put $51.92 in a tank before. Ouch. And this wasn’t even an empty tank! I put in 16.23 gallons to fill up an 18.5 gallon tank. Now the good news is I’m getting 28 to 30 miles per gallon where I was getting 18 to 20 with the Cherokee. So my range is almost 500 miles vs. 320 miles. Range good.

2007 VW Passat: Wolfsburg Edition – The Buy

mini-cooper.jpgKathy, Kelly, Claire, and I went car shopping last weekend. We started off by test driving a mini-cooper convertible. Fun, but just way too little space. It even made Kathy feel a bit sick as a passenger… kind of like a roller coaster. (Maybe it was my driving.) To set the seat back where I would want it, Claire would have to put her legs in the trunk. The other thing that sealed it was that the nearest service center would be 35 to 40 minutes away. We bagged the mini-cooper idea. Maybe when I’m an empty nester.

Next we drove a 2006 Jetta TDI. (A new car, really, just a carried over model.) With the diesel engine, I could expect 37 to 40 mpg or about 600 miles per tank. It was a fun drive and had enough backseat room for adults. Kathy and I liked it. On the way out we spotted a dark gray Passat on the showroom floor. It was a “Wolfsburg Edition”. We sat in it. More room than the Jetta and some nicer features.

Next we went to the Honda dealer. Yawn. (No offense bruthu and fathu.) “Do you want to test drive one?” the saleman asked after explaining the 20 different variations of models. “No thanks,” I said, almost falling asleep where I stood. This cracked Kathy up as we got in the car to drive off.

jeep4door.jpgWe had looked at the new 4 door Wrangler before, but had yet to drive one. At the Jeep dealer they had just sold the only one they had on the lot. We were able to take a look at it. Kathy liked the “rock red” color and really likes everything about the 4 door wrangler. In fact, she decided that would be her next car and not mine. (At 19 miles per gallon, it just didn’t make sense to be mine.)

Off to the Toyota dealer where we test drove a Toyota Camry Hybrid. Kathy announced as she drove it that it was “like driving a cloud.” It was very strange coming to stop lights and hearing only the fan of the air conditioning. I would turn off the air, just to verify there was no noise. We enjoyed the ride. Kathy thought it felt luxurious. Our salesman was nice, but terrible. He put us through a back-and-forth negotiation on payments that made no sense. We eventually just left, not understanding what he was trying to do.

After much discussion and research, I asked Kathy what she thought about the Passat. We decided to return and test drive that the next day. It felt like a combination of the fun of the Jetta and the luxuriousness (although not cloudness) of the Camry.

More research, and I decided the Wolfsburg Edition was a good deal. VW had introduced a volume push in April with this edition, by putting together a nice package of features, building it in Germany (vs. Mexico or Brazil), and pricing it a couple of thousand dollars lower than existing inventory without the features. (Creating a problem for the salesmen who had to try to explain this.) The cars we saw were an early wave of this push, and most were gray, silver, white, or black. I had a hard time finding any color.


All of us liked a shadow blue-on-tan Jetta we saw on the lot, so I went looking for a similar color scheme in the Passat. Found one that had just been delivered to Jim Ellis in the back of their lot Thursday evening.

Kathy gave me the price target, and on Friday, I started negotiating with Jim Ellis (who had the car) and Dwight (who could get the car by Monday.) I was able to get Jim Ellis down to Kathy’s target price. Dad and I went over Friday night and wrote the check. It took about two hours to go through the process of getting the car. Much longer than I expected. I told them they should go study the CarMax process.

It was fun, though, when Dad and I arrived to find the car all cleaned up and ready to go sitting on the showroom floor. The sales guy gave us a tour of all of the features. Once the paperwork process began, Dad headed home… after making sure the price agreed was the one I got to write on my check. It was.

This is the fifth volkswagen in my life. The first was Dad’s light blue bug (which also had a sunroof.) Kathy drove a light blue bug when I first started dating her. We left it with a frozen engine somewhere in Marietta. Kathy and I were married in my brown Rabbit. Later I bought Carol’s white Fox. It’s good to be back in a VW. Driving is just more fun in them.

I hope Carol can see it soon. I want us to both climb in the back of the trunk together like we used to do in Dad’s blue VW.