Do Not Upgrade to your TomTom to 7.481

I just updated to the latest version of the firmware and now the TomTom hangs when search for a POI. “Tomtom Forums”:http://www.tomtomforums.com/showthread.php?s=85c58a2c63c0f09ae1ed4748c4fcfe4d&t=8710 reports lots of these problems. Basically, when searching a POI, it hangs on “Wait a moment…” amd then when you try to Find, you get a grey screen.

The above was for the 920, but this is with my 720. Sigh. Sometimes updating to the latest isn’t such a good idea particularly when there isn’t an obvious way to downgrade.

They report the easiest fix is to “roll back” to firmware before 7.481 and restore all directories. Of course I didn’t back anything up, so I’m SOL. One fellow reports downgrarding to 7.221 works. Apparently these are known issues with 7.481 and there isn’t a fix

Here is how you downgrade:

# http://www.oldboy.me.uk/TomTomUpdates/ Go here to find 7.221
# Decompress this to a directory on your computer
# If you have XP, then you can just drag it all to the root of your TomTom (don’t use their cheesy application, do it from the Explorer)
# If you have a Mac, then you have to go to each subdirectory and do this because the Mac replaces an entire directory with the new one, while you just want all the files in them updated.

One fellow did report that deleting some of the POIs may help (I have buckets of POIs from various sites).

http://www.tomtomforums.com/showthread.php?t=8710&page=3 while TomTom support claims that you can fix this by going to http://www.tomtom.com/6221 and downloading the TomTom Clear Flash Tool. Run it three times and this fixes the problems. Most other folks think that this is baloney and won’t work.

Schultzy’s

Here is what I learned from Bruce about restaurants. He knows the folks are “Schultzy’s”:http://www.yelp.com/biz/shultzys-sausage-seattle for quite a while now. He’s a smart guy:

* Its a cash business. So if you aren’t there everyday, it is really easy for a liquor bottle to disappear or for an order not to get rung up and cash disappear. He told one horror story about how an owner discovered the bar manager had stolen tens of thousands of liquor. I remember going on a casino backroom tour and being more impressed with the liquor dispensing system than anything else. They have all the liquor in a central room and tubes run to all the bars. They measure every drink being poored and tie it in with video cameras.
* It’s cheaper to buy pork than rice. Commodity prices have a really direct impact. And food prices can fluctuate 100% from week to week. Right now pork is at $0.99/pound is cheaper than rice at $1.29 so teriyaki places that depend on a little chicken and lots or rice are in trouble. Ketchup was cheap one week and they ended up buying buckets of it.
* Restaurants are a barbell business. Either you have the systems figured out like Chipotle or you are owner/operators where you can trust everyone.

All in all, a reminder of how any restaurant business that’s been around for more than 10 years is a true tribute to achievement.

As an aside, if you are really old, you might remember Shutzy’s from 20 years ago, when another buddy Dave made them famous as a poster child small business. The food by the way was great. Try the Diablo sausage!

Solid State Drives

Drool, drool, solid state drives are on the way. They are as fast as traditional hard disks. They are about $1,000 per 64GB drive which is still expensive but coming down fast. Think about it as the logical upgrade for your current notebook.

AnandTech: 64GB SSD on the Desktop: Samsung and OCZ go mainstream

new mainstream drives offering performance equal to the best mechanical desktop drives in most cases. The sustained read/write rates have increased to the 100/80 MB/s range. Capacities are now standardizing at 64GB with average pricing dropping to around $16 per-GB for the mainstream sector. The highest performing drives feature 120/120 MB/s read/write speeds with capacities up to 128GB, but pricing is around $29~$32 per-GB. In the high performance sector, we expect to see 150/100+ MB/s read/write performance shortly along with capacities up to 128GB around the current price range.

Buying Guides

Dave asked me what review sites I use as he uses “Consumersearch.com”:http://consumersearch.com, I use a different site for each specialty area. And some notes on what’s the right buys…

1. Camcorders.info. The best reviews on video cameras. Canon HF-10 looks like the winner as HD camcorder
2. Dcviews.com. An overview site with links to the very best photography sites. Dpreview.com is the best amongts them. Recommend the Nikon d40x, Nikkor 18-200 lense
3. Gameranking.com. Another overview site for pc and console games.
4. Pcmag.com. Seems like the last site left with any decent unbiased reviews of computer peripherals like monitors, printers, etc. I cross check with PC World.
5. Ilounge.com. Reviews on ipod and iphone accessories.
6. Car and driver. Where I get best car information for performance. Consumer Reports for reliability.
7 Skiing Magazine. Unfortunately their web site is beyond awful, so I get in print their annual ski guide. They are less good on boots.
8. Bicycling Magazine. Same problems as skiing, their website is awful, but print annual bike guides are good. Mtbrreview.com is decent for mountain bikes.
9. Conde Nast Traveler. Their annual review of top hotels is really good. Website is ok.
10. Wine spectator. Actually I really use what costco shows on their bins. Calculate the lowest cost for each point over 90 (that is, if you find a wine at $15 that is 92 points, I buy it over a $50 bottle rated at 93 ­čÖé
11. Storagereview.com. When I want to buy a new hard drive which is amazingly often.
12. Anandtech.com. When I want to figure out what processor to buy and the theory behind it. A good check on when to buy PCs since PC vendors are essentially on the Intel schedule.
13. Macrumors.com so I don’t end up buying a Mac one week before it is obsolete.
14. Apple.com store ratings for Mac peripheral ratings and Discussions.apple.com isn’t well indexed but is best place to figure out if an Apple-made peripheral or products stinks.

Soros on the economy

Minds over Money: The godfather of global investors – May. 14, 2008

Where is your money now?

A. Mostly in my endowment fund, a good portion of which I had farmed out to other money managers. When I saw what I considered the most serious financial crisis of my lifetime, I came out of retirement and set up an account to hedge their positions.

Q. How?

A. I went short [bet against] the dollar, U.S. and European stocks and Treasury bonds. I went long [invested in] emerging markets. That worked last year, but this year bonds kept going up and emerging markets down. So I’m about even.

Q. Should Money readers do the same?

A. You’d have to be pretty nimble. I think most investors would be best off in safe, inflation-indexed Treasuries, even though they’re quite expensive now.

Q.

Minds over Money: The godfather of global investors – May. 14, 2008

The days of rapid financial wealth creation are over. We’re now in a period of wealth destruction. It is going to be very hard to preserve your wealth in these circumstances.

Darrell is a genius

Here are some of the things he has selected…for us. He’s great and some good choices for others that are thinking about small business applications:

* “Fonality”:http://fonality.com. IP PBX and also a PC Magazine editors choce. They sell a hardware box. $1000 is the software charge for standard. Professional is $2K with the main additional things being FindMe/FollowMe and also provides conference bridging for free. The basic $1K thing looks good, for an additional $1K, you get FindMe that routs calls from the PBX to your mobile and Boomerang which does the reverse. They also have this thing called HUD which let’s you manage calls from your PC. Then you don’t have to buy some big dedicated thingy for your receptionist. They sell them with the hardware and also you have to buy handsets from them. You can upgrade to a mini-tower HP PC with onsite service for $650
* “Broadvox”:http://broadvox.com. These guys sell the actual SIP trunks you use to make calls. So they connect to the Fonality server in your office over your broadband provider (Cogent in our case) and then these guys convert it into a connection to the public switched network. This is technically called “SIP Trunking”:http://broadvox.com/SIPTrunking.aspx. The “GO!Anywhere”:http://broadvox.com/GOAnywhere.aspx gives you toll-free, long distance, international and unlimited local calling.

Finally, to connect to the internet, some choices are:

* “Watchguard”:http://watchguard.com. About $2K gets you a firewall. Personally, I think it is quite a bit of money, but it probably doesn’t pay to skimp.
* “Cogent”:http://cogentco.com. It depends on your building, but finding a building with fiber connection directly takes you out of the $400/month for a 1.4Mbps T-1 into getting 100Mbps or even more directly to the internet. Their “On-Net”:http://www.cogentco.com/us/pns_dedicated.php application let’s you check to see if your building is one of the lucky 1,215 in the US and Europe that are connected. They offer 100Mbps, 1Gbps and 500Kbps

Changing Default Application

While there is an application you can download and that makes it easy to change the default application. “AskDaveTaylor.com”:http://www.askdavetaylor.com/how_do_i_change_file_icons_and_the_default_application_on_my_mac.html has an obscure way to do it that doesn’t require a download:

# Click on the file that you want to change. For instance, foo.mpg
# Choose File/Get Info
# You will see a pane with all the file information. Now, this is really unintuitive, click on the “Open With:”
# Select from the pulldown a different application. The Change all… button lights up and click on it

So not too obvious, that it is on the Get Info, but it works!

Webcams

Dave was asking me about webcams. Since we use Macs mainly, I haven’t really studied the PC market (all Macs have iSight webcams which are decent, but most importantly built in).

“Cowboyfrank.net”:http://cowboyfrank.net has an amazing number of webcam reviews. He likes the “Creative Notebook Pro”:http://cowboyfrank.net/webcams/Creative/NotebookPro2007/Description.htm, but the top rated notebook one is the “Logitech Quick Cam Pro Notebook”:http://cowboyfrank.net/webcams/Logitech/QuickCamProNotebook2007/Description.htm. I have one of these and I must say its pretty good.

If you have a desktop, then he recommends the “Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000”:http://cowboyfrank.net/webcams/Logitech/QuickCamPro9000/Description.htm. I have an earlier model and must say it provides really great quality. Again the main thing is the image quality is really great.