Audio Format Sound Qualities

I made this little table for my own personal use, but I thought I'd add it to this page in case anyone else might find it useful.

Audio Format Sound Qualities
 
CD
NEAR CD
FM RADIO
TELEPHONE
Wave (.wav)
44.1 kHz, 16 Bit, Stereo
N/A
32 kHz, 16 Bit, Stereo
11.025 kHz, 8 Bit, Mono
MP3 (.mp3)
192 Kbps, Stereo
128 Kbps, Stereo
96 Kbps, Stereo
16 Kbps, Mono
Window Media Audio (.wma)
128 kbps, 44.1 kHz, Stereo
96 kbps, 44.1 kHz, Stereo
64 kbps, 44.1 kHz, Stereo
16 kbps, 22.05 kHz, Mono
(this information was taken from the conversion settings of TuneSpark CD Maker)

Weird Al Yankovic UHF DVD Review

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This review was originally written on July 1, 2004
Side A Is Excellent, Side B Is A Major Disappointment

Overall, the UHF DVD (MGM) is excellent, however I can't give it a perfect 5 star rating because of what's on side B: deleted scenes and the Pan & Scan version of the film (not the full frame unmatted version from the original VHS release). Al mentions that there are hours of deleted scenes, so why didn't they use the entire side B for them? Nobody asked for the crappy Pan & Scan version of the film. To add insult to injury, two of the deleted scenes are fast forwarded through. Sorry Al, but even if you don't think those two scenes are of any value, your fans think otherwise.

2017 UPDATE - Although my mini-review was about the original 2002 MGM DVD release, it can also apply (mostly) to the 25th Anniversary Edition DVD and Blu-ray released in 2014 by Shout Factory because all DVD extras (minus the Easter Eggs) were ported over "as is" with no new deleted scenes added.

Weird Al Yankovic - The Ultimate Video Collection DVD Review

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This review was originally written on July 4, 2004
How Could They Screw Up Something So Simple?

It shouldn't pose much of a problem to put together a DVD containing a collection of music videos. So how come the makers of the Weird Al Yankovic: The Ultimate Video Collection DVD got so much wrong?

1. The videos are not in chronological order. That right there is a major no-no.

2. There is a layer change-type pause inbetween EVERY video (I think they put each video on it's on Title and my player has to pause in order to retrieve the video). Because of this, some of the extreme end of the audio for each video gets cut off.

3. There are some compression artifacts, such as at the very end fade outs of "I Lost On Jeopardy" and "The Saga Begins", and after the movie clip montage in "UHF". Considering the total length of the videos is 86 minutes (plus another 10-15 minutes for the bonus features), there should not have been a need for very much compression, so there should be no artifacts at all.

It should also be noted that the Spy Hard video has two titles: "Spy Hard" and "Opening Title Sequence by 'Weird Al' Yankovic." The one on his previous DVD release ("Weird Al Yankovic: The Videos") has no titles at all. Of course, in the film "Spy Hard" all of the titles are present. This means that there are now three different versions of this video.

Digital Concepts 89379 3.1MP Digital Camera Review

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This review was originally written on May 5, 2005
Takes Very Poor Picture Indoors, Consumes Lots Of Batteries

I bought the Digital Concepts 89379 3.1MP Digital Camera because I needed one solely for taking photos of the items I sell on the internet. I didn't want to spend a lot of money (read: over $100) on a digital camera, so when I saw this at Wal-Mart for $60, and saw that it had a built-in flash, I figured that this would do the trick. Even though it's a cheap camera, I figured that it should be able to handle such a simple and undemanding task as taking photos indoors of various little and big items. Boy was I wrong.

This camera takes VERY POOR picture indoors, even though it has a built-in flash. In fact, the flash makes the pictures worse. Pictures taken with the flash appear all washed out.

Unless you hold the camera incredibly steady, you risk having shaky pictures. Half the photos I took were shaky, even though I held the camera as still and steady as possible. The camera has a hole on the bottom where a tripod can be inserted. I highly suggest you use one, if at all possible.

It consumes battery power at a fast rate. I put new batteries in it and within a few hours it started complaining that the battery was low. When it prompts "Low Battery," it doesn't let you use the flash (how annoying!). It uses 3 AAA batteries, but has no adapter for house current, so you're forced to feed it more batteries. It even uses up battery power when you're not using it at all. I had a set of 3 brand new AAA batteries sitting in it for two weeks, while the camera was just sitting in it's opened packaging. When I went to use it again, first I saw defects in the preview screen, then eventually the camera would keep shutting off as soon as I would turn it on. Thus I was required to put another set of three brand new AAA batteries in it.

It has a 16MB built-in flash memory which requires a constant electric current to store your photos. Should the camera lose power (for instance if the batteries die or are removed), all stored pictures will be lost. Sakar recommends always downloading your photos to your computer as soon as possible to prevent unintentional data loss. I recommend not buying this camera unless you have a SD card or buy one along with the camera (luckily I did). The SD card supercedes the built-in memory, so all photos are saved onto the card instead, where they will not be lost because of the power supply.

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The package comes with the camera, instruction manual (which is easy to understand, if somewhat poorly written), drivers disc (with PhoTags software), USB wire (to connect the camera to your computer), and a hand strap. Although the manual tells you first that the PhoTags software is needed to transfer the photos to your computer, if you continue reading you'll learn that it isn't. In fact, you can use the camera without installing PhoTags at all. The driver installation is located on the CD at: \drivers\setup.exe. Once installed, when you connect your camera to your PC, it will appear as another drive on your computer (two drives if you have a SD card in it). Then you can just copy, move, and delete the photos on it from Windows Explorer or whatever way you normally work with your computer files. I don't know if it's just me, but I found that Windows kept reinstalling the drivers every time I connected the camera to it. That got very annoying real quick, especially when once it made me get out my Windows 2000 CD.

You *might* need PhoTags to use the camera as a webcam, but then again, you can probably find some other software on the internet (maybe for free) that will let you do that as well (and maybe even better).

In case you're wondering, PhoTags is a rather useless program to organize photos (to a certain degree), add text and captions to them (which can be turned on and off using "Active Captions" technology - software required on the computers of anyone you send your photos to), make minor corrections (such as red eye removal), and do simple photo print projects (calendars, greetings cards, postcards, etc.). Two of the photo projects are non-existant: Album Creator and Video CD Creator. When you click on either of them, you are taken to the PhoTags website where you are prompted to buy the full version for $10 to add these two features.

Although I didn't expect to get a top-of-the-line digital camera for $60, I did expect to get something that would take decent photos indoors. I guess I'll have to keep looking.

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LG W1943TB-PF Black 18.5" 16:9 Widescreen LCD Monitor Review

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This review was originally written on October 10, 2009 (completely rewritten on January 16, 2010, updated on March 13, 2010)
Dead Pixel On 2nd Use, Defects In 2 Replacements, Refurbs Sent As Replacements For New,BBB Helped Me Get Value Difference Refund

Since July 2007 I've owned an Acer AL1917WAbd 19" LCD Monitor. It works great and I've never had a problem with it. However, with the recent purchase of a Blu-ray drive, it no longer meets my needs as it's not in a 16:9 aspect ratio (it's 16:10) and it's not HDCP-compliant (a requirement for Blu-ray playback). So I went online and looked for an affordable monitor that met those two new requirements, and also has a DVI-D input and is physically no wider than 18 inches (the maximum amount of space I have available on my desk for a monitor). I found a monitor that met all four of my requirements, but I sure had a heap of trouble with it since practically day one. Here's a nice detailed timeline of the ordeal I went through.

09/30/2009 - Purchased the LG W1943TB-PF Black 18.5" 16:9 Widescreen LCD Monitor brand-new for 119.95 from Newegg, in spite of their horrendous Monitor Replacement Only Return Policy which states that "there must be a minimum of 8 dead pixels to declare an LCD display defective and eligible for return" within 30 days of purchase. Since the Acer LCD monitor never gave me a single problem in 2 1/2 years of use, I figured that I wouldn't have any with the LG monitor, and so that horrendous return policy didn't scare me away.

10/01/1009 - Received the monitor via UPS. On it's SECOND USE, in less than a week of ownership, I noticed a big ugly black spot in the screen! It was on the left side, where it got in the way of my work. I work frequently in word processing applications, which have a white background, so it very easy to see. Since I never experienced this phenomena with the Acer monitor, I went online to see what it was. I've learned that it's known as a "dead pixel", and apparently there's nothing that can fix it - as opposed to a "stuck pixel", which apparently CAN be fixed.

Newegg specifically mentioned that a minimum of eight dead pixels has to be present before they would take it back, so I didn't bother wasting my time trying to return it to them - though in retrospect maybe I should have lied about how many dead pixels there were and tried doing an exchange with them, because the alternative was much worse. Instead, I contacted LG customer service to see if they would honor the three year warranty. I originally made the mistake of using the newly-learned phrase "dead pixel" in my transmission to them, which resulted in an e-mail that read, "Unfortunately that is a standard that they [Newegg] use based off of all LCD monitor manufactures. We would have the same policy to have the repaired/replaced only if the unit had that many pixels out." I waited a week or two and tried contacting them again, this time only referring to the defect as a "black spot" (which is what I was calling it until I learned the proper terminology online). This time I had better luck, as they allowed me to exchange it for another monitor in a process that they call a "Standard Swap".

10/29/2009 - First Swap claim was initiated via e-mail, but would not get processed until I had the chance to call customer service two weeks later. I couldn't even file the claim through their online form as the monitor isn't even listed on their website!

11/16/2009 - First Swap claim was processed, monitor was shipped to LG on 11/19/2009.

Now before I go any further, I want to provide the complete parts list for the brand-new monitor:

-- W1943TB-PF Monitor.
-- W1943TB-PF Monitor Stand.
-- DVI-D Signal Cable.
-- 15-Pin D-Sub Signal Cable (standard VGA cable).
-- Power Cord.
-- W1943TB-PF Drivers/Users Guide disc (an actual factory-pressed disc, not a CD-R).
-- W1943TB-PF Easy Setup Guide paper.
-- Standard LG Monitor Warranty Information Sheet.

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(image courtesy of NewEgg)

In the Swap instructions letter that I was e-mailed (along with a pre-paid FedEx label to print out), I was told in bold capital underlined letters, "PLEASE SEND ACCESSORIES (CABLES. CORDS, REMOTES. MANUALS ETC.)" So I included every single one of those items listed above in the package that I sent to LG. To this day I still have not received the last three items back. Granted, they're not required for the normal operation of the monitor (even though the Quick Start Guide says to use the drivers on the disc instead of the standard Windows plug & play driver), but they ARE something that I paid for - and I feel insulted that I was told in bold capital underlined letters to send everything back, only for LG to decide not to send it all back to me in return.

11/24/2009 - First replacement monitor was shipped from the LG warehouse to me.

11/27/2009 - Received first replacement REFURBISHED monitor. I was expecting a brand-new monitor like the one I purchased brand-new less than 60 days earlier. This monitor had a small defect in it, though not as noticeable as the one in the other monitor. There was a small thin black line in the lower right area of the screen, about an inch above the clock in the tray area of Windows.

Also, I didn't get back half of the items that I sent back with the original monitor. This replacement unit was missing the DVI-D Signal Cable, Drivers/Users Guide disc, Easy Setup Guide paper, and Standard LG Monitor Warranty Information Sheet. I've had to temporarily borrow the DVI-D cable from the Acer monitor in order to connect the replacement LG monitor to my computer. Instead of getting a real drivers disc, LG had sent me a CD-R which has no drivers on them at all (only user guides). Because (as I would later learn) the drivers I installed from the original monitor did NOT get fully uninstalled when I used the "uninstall driver" button in Windows, Windows kept looking for them at every boot, prompting me with this message: "Please insert the Compact Disc labeled 'LG Monitor Profiles Installation Disk' into your CD-ROM drive and then click OK." As the monitor is not listed on the LG support site, I couldn't even download drivers for it. So for a few weeks I was annoyed at every Windows boot-up by this message. (I eventually learned that pressing the "rollback driver" button would fix the problem by reverting back to the standard Windows plug & play driver. You know, the one that the Quick Start Guide said not to use.)

Anyway, I was willing to live with the small defect, though I e-mailed and phoned Jennie Ramey (SWAP Coordinator, RA Department) and customer service to get the missing accessories. Jennie told me that I shouldn't have to live with the defect and that I should send it back for another monitor. Jennie also told me over the phone (on 12/7/2009) that "customer service generally sends a reconditioned unit for units over 60 days old". That's all fine and dandy, except that the claim was initiated LESS THAN 30 DAYS after the original purchase, and the replacement was sent out LESS THAN 60 DAYS after the original purchase. She didn't know why I wasn't sent a brand new unit, but she was willing to send me one. The only problem is that she didn't have any brand new W1943TB-PF units in stock at the warehouse in Alabama (where she's located), and she wouldn't be able to order any for me. I don't know why she couldn't order any as she works for the company that makes the product, but so be it. However, none of the alternate models we discussed met my few qualifications: 16:9 aspect ratio, DVI input, HDCP compliant, and 19" in screen size (20" would be a stretch for the space I have, anything bigger definitely wouldn't fit). So I was in store for yet another refurbished unit.

12/08/2009 - Second Swap claim was processed, monitor was shipped to LG on 12/15/2009.

12/29/2009 - Second replacement monitor was shipped from the LG warehouse to me.

12/31/2009 - Received second replacement REFURBISHED monitor. Again the package was missing the Drivers/Users Guide disc, Easy Setup Guide paper, and Standard LG Monitor Warranty Information Sheet. At least this time it came with the DVI-D Signal Cable. At this point I've realized that I'm never getting those three items back, even though they are technically something I paid for when I bought the original monitor.

This second replacement monitor is, sadly, not 100% defect-free, though it contains the least annoying defect of the three monitors to date. About 2 1/4 inches from the right side of the screen, about half an inch from the bottom (a little above the tray area, in the status bar of most applications) is a very faint dark spot (probably a dead subpixel or half-pixel or whatever it's called). It's only noticeable if you know that it's there and you know where to look, which is a BIG improvement over the defects in the other two monitors. Still, this just proves to me that LG is incapable of manufacturing a 100% perfect defect-free monitor. Considering the poorly-designed LG Chocolate cell phone that left my mother with hundreds of dollars in unwanted charges a few years ago because it kept doing things other than what she was trying to do, I've come to the conclusion that LG stands for "like garbage".

I'll live with this most minor of defects, but a bigger injustice is present that LG would not correct on their own.

They would not give me a refund of the difference between the full retail price I paid for the brand-new monitor and the value of the refurbished monitor I received as the replacement so soon thereafter. Jennie Ramey told me via e-mail that she "can not refund [me] the difference in price", but she did not say why. She did say that "replacements that are sent out for units over 90 days old are reconditioned", which is a change from the "60 days" she mentioned over the phone on 12/7/2009 (I guess she can't keep her story straight). However, whether 60 or 90 days, I should have received a brand new unit. The first claim was initiated LESS THAN 30 DAYS after the original purchase, the first replacement was sent out LESS THAN 60 DAYS after the original purchase, and the second replacement was sent out LESS THAN 90 DAYS after the original purchase. So there's no reason that I should not be granted a refund for the difference.

On February 1st I sent a letter to the President and CEO of LG Electronics USA at the U.S. Corporate Headquarters (1000 Sylvan Ave., Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632). I figured as the head honcho, he'd be the single best person to contact about the matter. After waiting three weeks for a reply and not getting one, I contacted the Better Business Bureau on February 22nd for help.

Four days later on 2/26 I received an e-mail from Jennifer Adams-McKee, Asst. Manager of the Customer Resolution Team. She told me that "the warranty statements on our monitors do state that parts or units may be replaced with reconditioned units at LG's discretion. It does not specify any age of the unit at all. However, we at LG do try to make it a "good" practice to use new stock for any units less than 60 days old whenever stock is available." Okay, that explains the situation better than what I've been told over the past few months.

Jennifer was very willing to grant me a refund of the difference in cost between what I paid for the new monitor and the value of the refurbished monitor I received as the replacement. She told me that refurbished units sell online for 89.95 to 99.95, and that she would be able to offer me a refund of 30 dollars. I replied back to let her know that this would be quite acceptable to me. The check was cut on 3/5, and received by me on 3/8/2010.

Although I'm happy with the end result, after this experience, I certainly won't buy another LG product ever again, and certainly won't recommend LG to others.