Trials of a new screen

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My husband brought home a new shiny last week.  A 27″ apple cinema display.  Oh my oh my.  So pretty.

The initial attempt to plug it in resulted in us discovering an issue with compatibility of ports.  My graphics card was an ATI Radeon 5870, which has a mac compatible display port, but not the mini version, which is what this screen supports.

We ordered an adapter which says it converts the signal.  A week later, we first test the screen on my husband’s laptop, which has the same display port that my computer has.  Bingo, it works!  Sweet.  So we plug it in on my system and sadly, we didn’t get the same positive response.  Instead, the system constantly makes a disconnect reconnect sound from Windows and flickers the screen on and off along with the audio.  My system does pick up the icam, speakers, and usb hub which is built into the screen, but not the screen itself.  *sigh*

After a bunch of digging and research, we discover that we essentially have 2 options.

  1. Pay around $200 for an active converter (the adapter was a passive converter)
  2. Find another graphics card which supports the darn mini-display port.

We researched option 1 already and didn’t like the whole idea on principal (my graphics card was the same price.  I’m not paying $200 just to make this darn screen work on something which has no other function.  That’s a lot of dough for the return), so we started looking at option 2.  We found graphics cards which are supported for around $230.  Looking on ebay for how much my current card is going for, it looks like we’ll be able to essentially exchange cost for cost.  My card sells for MORE than the new card, and the new card has similar capabilities.


So new video card it is.


Installed the card and yay!  It works!  So now I’m on this amazing screen and need to figure out what to do with my existing wide-screen.

I really like the idea of having it standing tall to the right of the lovely cinema display.  It would be both useful for reference while working on projects as well as be appealing, but the stand which it is on isn’t one of those which allows for it to tilt and stay on its stand.  So back to Amazon.  After reading a ton of reviews, I found this little guy which was just over $15.

Amazon is swift.  I ordered it on Monday.  Today is Wednesday and it arrived around noon.  I was just at a pausing point with a project, so I thought, “What the heck?” and proceeded to install it.

All was well.  My stud finder (which always tells me there’s a/c in any part of a wall… ) was quite consistent with its reporting of where a stud was.  I marked, measured, leveled, and got everything ready.

Part of this was the concept of where the darn screen would be exactly.  This swivel can extend, go left and right, and tilt, but it can’t go up and down, so I need to figure out exactly where vertically this will be placed.  Not too high and not too low.

My first attempt to mark exact placement was to take chalk and thickly put lines where the bracket will need to attach to the back of the screen.  I took the screen and rubbed that on the wall… nope.  There’s a lip that prevented the chalk from touching the wall.

Second attempt was to put the screws partially in, and mark the screws with chalk… but the screws are the shiny kind which wouldn’t even take the chalk dust.

Attempt number three, I take double sided tape, put that on the ends of the screws and try to get it to stick to the wall – and they liked the screws a little more than they liked the wall.

Last attempt, I combined both concepts and drew with the chalk directly on the tape, and then took the chalked, taped, screw ends which were partially screwed into the screen, and rubbed that on the wall where the screen needed to be.  THAT actually worked.


Next on the order of business was the installation itself.  There were heavy wood screws in the pack that came with the wall mount.  So after double checking my leveling and marking exact placement of the mount, I started getting this thing into the wall.  Halfway through screwing these wood screws in, the top one’s head started stripping.  I slowed down and tried to get the screwdriver as perfectly placed as I could, but the screw wouldn’t stop breaking down.  It got beyond turning… it was just too mangled up and not screwed in enough to call it good.

I’ve heard that a screw with stripped threads would be removed by drilling into the middle of it and slowly removing the drill bit which would release the screw.  I didn’t think it would work in this case but I was willing to give it a try (I figured the threads were entrenched too much in the wood, but who knows?)

So I get out the drill bit and start trying to drill and *SNAP* the entire thing just snaps in half.  It didn’t even leave a devit in this darn screw.



Got a pair of locking pliers and plied the sucker as tight as I could and was able to very slowly but steadily remove the darn screw.

What I don’t get is why the heck the manufacture would send sub-par screws like this.  The stripping of the head was rediculous.  Their guide said in red italic text that this needs to be mounted directly into a stud.  Since they knew it was going to be in wood and under a lot of torque, why the heck would they include a screw with soft metal?!

Anyway, I had a long solid set of wood screws in the garage, easily installed with that and got the screens set up.


Last on my list is to figure out how to control the brightness of the screen.  It’s system driven like a laptop’s screen is.  I’ve read that drivers can be found on an OSX Leopard disk within the bootcamp area.  I truly hope that is true because this screen is quite dim.

Will post an update with what I discover.

Thanks for reading!



I discovered how to control brightness on my 27″ apple monitor and posted what we discovered:

27-inch Apple Cinema display on my Windows 7 system


Yogurt, My New Favorite Ingredient

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As the first post after mentioning my intent to change the tone of content here on Facing Blend, I’ll kick it off with one of my new “obsessions” – new healthy stuff to try.  Now, this isn’t really a new thing.  I enjoy hearing about ways that I can change what I am doing to improve the health and well-being of my and my family’s life.  This has taken me down so many roads from different and fun new physical activities to improving the food that we eat.  (It also includes new ways to improve the health of my pets)

The latest change that we’ve been slowly integrating into our life is the use of yogurt.  The health benefits are numerous.

Up until recently, yogurt has been in basically 1 form: A lovely plastic cup which contains fruit and occasionally granola.  Sometimes it comes in a tube for my kids – but the contents and “application” of yogart has always been essentially the same.

Well that’s changed a bit.  I read an article on either Yahoo or MSN (can’t remember which, sorry!) which was one of those picture “articles” which listed 10 things which should be eaten more to improve your health.  Well, yogurt was one of them.  The article mentioned  the use of yogurt in other ways than just the cup of fruit – to use as part of the base for mashed potatoes.

So I decided to experiment.  I headed to the grocery store and picked up some plain WHOLE yogurt (not non- nor low-fat… I’ll talk about that in another blog), and proceeded to do just what the article mentioned – using yogurt as a replacement for the milk and butter.

What I found was that it was quite tasty – and a bit surprising.  It tasted like I added sour cream to my potatoes rather than the yogurt taste I was expecting.

Since my initial experiment, I’ve altered the quantity of yogurt.  Replacing ALL of the butter and milk was quite unbalanced in taste.  Instead, I add 2-3 tablespoons of yogurt and add butter and milk until I get a consistency which was appealing.  It’s certainly not an exact science, so if you try it, you’ll have to use your judgement.


Since, I’ve been trying different things with yogurt.

  1. Cheese sauce (pouring over broccoli)
  2. Cheese, Broccoli, Chicken & Potato soup
  3. White sauces in general including a lovely fettuccine sauce over shrimp & crab ravioli
  4. The mashed potatoes mentioned before
  5. home made ranch dressing (I still use some sour cream)

I’ve not discovered anything else where it sounded like yogurt could be used, but I’m still exploring this new ingredient to my cooking.


Oh, and btw: So far, all of the dishes have been kid tested and over the top approved.  My 1 yr old enjoys the food and my 5 year old asks for seconds!! (That almost never happens)  My daughter’s absolute favorite is when I make the cheese sauce and mix it in with rice, broccoli, carrots, corn, and shredded chicken(after boil-cooking it).

Yay yogurt!

Creating a Simple Twitter Bird in Expression Blend

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twitterbirdLately, I’ve been somewhat caught by the fun of creating a unique twitter bird for every project that I do which has twitter feeds.  Twitter birds, can anyone think of anything more fun?

Ok, I’m sure you can, but I decided to kick off my tutorial section of FacingBlend with a fun and easy to create twitter bird done within Expression Blend 3.

Please click on the “More” below to view the entire tutorial in silverlight!

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FacingBlend’s Silverlight page is LIVE!

Click here to view

Since yesterday, I’ve had several emails asking questions regarding this release, so I thought I’d share a bit.

Most websites that I’ve seen around which had displays of Silverlight use weren’t as artistic as I thought a site could be.  Expression Blend is a very powerful tool, and like most tools, if you really play with it, you can find that you can do almost anything if you just play with it long enough and tailor things to fit what you want, but… I’m not seeing that being done!

So I wanted to create a silverlight website that really pushed hard and heavy on the “pretty” side.  I wanted it to use my favorite color, green ( no relation to the current popularity with “going green” ), but still have a little “windows vista /7” glassy watery look/ feel for the background.  The centerfocus on the site isn’t really the content, its on the background which is done entirely in XAML.

That’s right – the pretty thing that appears to be raster based, is 100% xaml.

Now, I wasn’t really going for a “portfolio” either – this is my personal website.  My play-thing over the web, so I stayed away from the typical “portfolio” feel.  I’m having fun here.  I feel like I’m playing when I’m working in Expression Blend, and I really wanted that to show in the design.  I think my absolute favorite part is a little geeky.  Even the icons are done in Xaml and I think there’s just something awesome about that.

The Toybox itself was what pulled back my timeline a bit.  What to put in there?  What to NOT put in there and how the heck do I want to organize it?

Well, I kept not having time to work on this and it sat on a back burner not  being worked on for months.  I seriously had this nearly done back in December of 08, but I got stuck working on a few other things and having a blast with my family and helping out with a logo for the company, Seovian (which you can find in my galleries here on my blog).

I then was pushed by 2 different projects that I’m working with to upgrade to Silverlight 3 and with that, I forced everything aside, brought Facing Blend in Silverlight back into the forefront and finished the entire Toybox in 3 days(in my spare time).

I still look at this stuff and have to remind myself that I actually did this, all on my own, that I’m not looking at someone else’s work.  I still can’t believe how much I’ve learned in such a short amount of time.  Maybe it’ll sink in a few years from now, but until then, I keep getting deeply involved in design work and when I come “out of it” and look at the whole picture, I am impressing even myself.  2 years ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed that I could do what I just released.  It just blows my mind.

Look ma'! I made Simon in Silverlight 2!

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If you’re so inclined, you should join me in doing a happy dance!

Its finally ready! 


Simon, in Silverlight 2!

I’ve had this sitting on the front and back burners for the last… few months (has it really been that long?).  Got the design to my buddy David at about 3 or 4 weeks ago, he gave it brains and sent it back to me a week later… but in silverlight 3.  What the heck?!

I want the world to actually get to PLAY WITH THIS!!  So I rolled it back to silverlight 2… but there was a problem or 2.  The sounds wouldn’t play, we didn’t have all of the sounds anyway, and the font wasn’t playing nice!

Ugh – and then work.  Why the heck does that thing which makes my life actually operate smoothly have to come into the foreground just when I need some time to do my little projects?!  Geez.  What are these people thinking – do they think they pay me or something to do their stuff?  Oh yeah, right.  They do.

Long story short, its DONE! 

Go!  Click on the picture – it’ll take you there.  Have fun!

Oh, and tell me what you think in a happy comment, if you please 😀