Via Mini ITX BIOS corruption

There's nothing more that I hate than losing perfectly good hardware due to buggy software. This is just what has happened the last couple of days as I attempted a BIOS update on my Via Mini ITX CN10000 system. After downloading the BIOS flasher ( and the new BIOS BIN file, I set to flashing the BIOS - as you would any other. Until everything stopped.

That's right, this BIOS updater seems buggy as all hell - as after a quick search on the ViaArena forums there have been many people who have killed their Mini ITX systems using this BIOS update tool - Some of these many months old. This leads to the question, if so many people have killed their mainboard with this bios update tool, why are Via still offering it as the ONLY way to flash the BIOS of their systems via DOS? Surely after so many people kill their system, they would change the flashing program to a non-buggy one?

Lucky, in my position, I have access to a friends PLCC programmer so it may be possible to recover the BIOS on this system - however if that wasn't the case, I'd be looking for another $280 mainboard. Not a good solution :|

Preserve the Net!

The Australian Federal Government is pushing forward with a plan to force Internet Service Providers [ISPs] to censor the Internet for all Australians. This plan will waste tens of millions of taxpayer dollars and slow down Internet access.

Despite being almost universally condemned by the public, ISPs, State Governments, Media and censorship experts, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy is determined to force this filter into your home.

Preserve the Net and make things a better place for all Australians!

Kenwood KDC-BT7539U review

As a lot of you know, I've had lots of trouble with a Pioneer DEH-P7050BT car stereo with bluetooth handsfree. After 6 months of talking with Pioneer to try and get a fix to the many issues I was seeing, they have finally pointed me to a document that Pioneer UK have released at the end of October saying that the unit is not compatible with my Dopod 838 Pro phone. I see this as admitting defeat.

So, I got authorised to return the unit to JB Hifi for a full refund! This I really liked, but it left me with a dilemma - What to do next?

After hunting around the stock of JB Hifi and looking at prices, I stumbled upon a Kenwood KDC-BT7539U on the shelf for $296AUD. Keeping in mind that I just returned the Pioneer unit for $420! My original plan was to purchase a non-bluetooth stereo and a separate Parrot car kit. This is when it was pointed out to me that the bluetooth module in the KDC-7539U is actually manufactured by Parrot!

After hassling someone in Strathfield to test the unit out, all seemed to work fine with my device, however Strathfield wanted to charge $429AUD - for the same unit on sale at JB Hifi for $296AUD!

Anyhow - after installing the unit, I paired up my Dopod 838 Pro and things seemed to go fairly smoothly. I had a few minor issues with phonebook syncing, so I downloaded the bluetooth update to version 1.60 from the Kenwood web site. Things seem to be going very well for this unit at the moment - and compared to the DEH-P7050BT from Pioneer, my gripes list is VERY minor:

1) The method to change to preset radio stations is a bit too involved - as you have to rotate the right knob, then select a preset and then press the knob again. I wish I could assign these to just moving the knob to the right or left.

2) The phonebook seems to use the Lastname, Firstname format when displaying phone numbers on the display. I like having this the other way around and I can't seem to find a way to swap it to Firstname Lastname.

3) To select an option from the settings menu, you have to hold the right knob in for 1 second. When I'm used to just pressing a knob once, it takes quite a bit of time to get used to.

Other than that, the audio quality is suburb. Calls are clear, there is very little noise, I haven't experienced a call dropout yet, and there aren't any random hiss/hash noises in my car kit audio. All in all, Kenwood seems to have done an excellent job with this head unit - for almost half the price of the Pioneer 7050BT. When you consider a basic Parrot CK3100 is still selling for around $260AUD, then $270AUD for a Kenwood head unit AND a Parrot car kit is phenomenal value!

Rating: 8.5/10 Audio: 9.5/10 Value: 9.5/10

Mobile Aviation Resources

One of the annoying things about flying is the lack of ability to get forecasts and check area forecasts on the move. I spent weeks searching for a mobile (ie PDA or normal handset) and data plan friendly site that allows me to retrieve TAFs or ARFORs on the go.

My searches came up with nothing. So I wrote my own.

Check out Steves Mobile Resources page to find a simple, fast way to get TAFs and ARFORs live to your PDA or mobile phone. HTML is stripped to a minimum for speed and cost! Feel free to send me your feedback.

NOTE: This service only works for Australian forecasts.

Sesame St classic Yip Yips.

While I was browsing through a heap of videos I couldn't stop laughing at the memories brought back by the Yip Yips... These creatures from Mars were always trying to figure out what things were and always got it wrong...

For the sake of comedy, click more for a few of them... TV today doesn't come anywhere near as good as this... :)

The Clock

The Computer

The Radio

The Telephone

CPL AGK exam passed.

After sitting the CASA CyberExam today, I must say that from clicking the "Submit Exam" button to the moment my result appeared seemed like an eternity. That being said, after a sleepless night of worrying and thinking that I hadn't studied enough and being very nervous about what I was about to do, I managed to pass with a mark of 83% :) 2 CPL exams down, 5 to go - Next up, Meteorology.