Control your universe on a budget – Remotely

Remote ControlIn a world of converging entertainment devices, who hasn’t been faced with a coffee table full of remotes? Most of which are badly designed, unintuitive, and just a pain to learn.

When shopping for a universal remote, one can spend hundreds of dollars. Boasting features like an LCD touch screen, USB interface, and an online database of downloadable codes.

But what if I don’t want to spend $500.00, $200.00, or even $50.00 on one of these marvels? Isn’t there a "budget" remote that does what I need?

My main concern was to find one that could replace my current favorite (PVR remote). Now that’s a well designed remote.

The issue was those extra features that your typical universal remote doesn’t have (page up, page down, back , skip, search, and other pvr functions). Most  "budget" remotes (sub $15), not only lack these features, but their layouts are pretty lousy. And to top it all off, they only contain a short list of device codes.

The day I stumbled upon the Philips P6DSS Universal Satellite Remote , as I was browsing through the  electronics department, at Zellers. I noticed it had a similar button layout as my PVR remote "woohoo". Upon closer inspection, I also noticed  the relevant buttons (skip, scan, FF, RW, Play, Pause,and Stop).

This is when I  said to myself, "snap out of it dummy, these are typical VCR functions"… But!, right above the navigation buttons, there laid the (pg up/pg down). That’s what got my hopes up, once again.

The Second criteria it had to meet, was being able to control my XboX console (it’s been my media center since the day I modded it), Anyhow, according to the package, it supports XboX. AWESOME 🙂, as soon as I saw that, I went ahead and picked it up.

Programming was a cinch, all the codes (TV, VCR, and PVR) worked fine. As for the XboX, I had to use the learning feature. It took a few extra minutes, but in the end, it was a snap. Now I can access all the features from my original remotes, and in the case of my tv remote even more than the original.

This slick baby is lightweight, intuitive, and without any compromise in function. And with a price tag of only CA $18, you just can’t go wrong. The only negative thing I could say about it, would be the buttons feeling a little hard to press, and doesn’t seem to have the quickness of the originals. For a guy with hot dog fingers like mine, it’s barely noticeable, and merrits my two thumbs up. 

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Whether your a graphic designer, a desktop customizing geek, or a social network junky… We all love icons, and the Iconbuffet is the place to be.

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The Chefs at the Iconbuffet create masterpieces when it comes to icons, these pixel perfect works of art can be used anywhere: websites, desktop icons, even as avatars for your favorite social network sites, most sites (ex: digg, flickr, twitter etc. ) give you the option to upload an avatar, which is a tiny picture (usually 48×48 pixels), that represents you or something you like.

This site is geared toward graphic professionals, requiring icons for their projects, and some of their icon sets can have a pretty hefty price to some ($299us), but well worth it. However if you can’t afford that, don’t shy away just yet, because your gonna love this place (it’s what really got me hooked)… Which is their own little social network, and when you join  (it’s free), you become part of the icon loving community, where you can add friends, chat in the forums, trade icons, and every month you get a free icon set delivery, stamps, tokens, and as you build-up your profile you get badges and points.

You really have to join to understand and experience all these goodies.  The community is really friendly, the icons are awesome, and the staff is just fabulous.

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First Taco Bell in Montreal

Taco Bell LogoYo quiero Taco Bell. I’ve always been a big fan of Taco Bell, I know it’s fast food and doesn’t compare to "Real" Mexican food, but Why am I so excited? Don’t get me wrong I don’t think Taco Bell is the greatest food in the world, but once in a while nothing beats that 99 cent soft shell taco.

Taco Bell has been all over Canada for a while, except for Quebec. At first I thought it was a language issue, in Quebec everything must be prominently French, and I just assumed no one wanted to go through the trouble of translating the menus, packaging, signs etc.

But one day we went to visit a friend in Ottawa (2hr drive from Montreal), and spotted a Taco Bell, of course we stopped in for a bite. What really surprised me was, everything was bilingual? what’s the deal? So why not in Montreal? Till this day I still don’t know what took them so long, but we finally got our first Taco Bell in Montreal, more specifically (in Pierrefonds, corner of Pierrefonds blvd and des Sources blvd).

Although I think this is great news, I feel a little pessimistic, and don’t think it will do well. Why?

  • First of all, bad timing, just a couple of weeks ago there was an E. Coli Outbreak caused by Taco Bell’s across 6 states. That can’t be good publicity, which brings me to my second point.
  • NO Advertising, I hear rumors going around, a friend of a friend heard they were going to open a Taco Bell in Montreal, but when I Googled it, or even checked the official Taco Bell website, there was no news or information about it. I did however find a post on a forum about the rumored location. So I took a drive and checked it out myself, I was pleased to see, it wasn’t a rumor.
  • Lastly, I feel the location isn’t the best. My opinion would be downtown and for the West Island, St-Jean close to the highway, or even the Fairview mall. The main roads on the West Island are (des Sources, St-Jean and St-Charles), des Sources is the first exit coming from downtown and takes about 10min to reach Pierrefonds blvd. It beats driving 2hrs to Ottawa. Still I believe the Fairview Mall or around that area would have been better exposure, especially with the lack of advertising.

So the official opening date is Dec 18, 2006, hopefully it will be a success and they will sprout out, all over Montreal. I for one look forward to it. Mmmm Tacos. 🙂