A Flamethrower is the best birthday present ever, thanks wife!
For those wondering, this is the Weed Dragon VT 2-23 SVC (full disclosure: Amazon Affiliate link). It's basically a flamethrower that you hook up to a standard propane tank. There is a cheaper model without the squeeze valve, that's the VT 2-23 C, though I'd highly recommend the SVC instead; this thing shoots a flame about 3" in diameter and 12" long out the end and it would be hard to move around without the ability to control that. All proceeds from the Amazon links will go towards either a hand dolly or a back pack to carry around my propane tank (temporarily swiped from my grill), I haven't decided which yet.
You can see in the bottom half of the photo where I've flamed all the moss and weeds in my pack patio and in the top half the area I haven't done yet. It's pretty effective and extremely satisfying.
(Note: my birthday was actually about 3 weeks ago, but it's rained a lot lately here, I didn't get to try it for a week, and then I was traveling.)
A few months back I posted a short review of the Auzentech X-Meridian sound card, as well my thoughts on a few of the popular aftermarket opamp upgrades. My decision at the time was that I preferred the TI/Burr Brown OPA2107 for its lack of the typical Burr Brown sound with a solid mid-to-high range and cleaner bass.
That said, 4 months later all four OPA2107 opamps have failed!
Just under 2 weeks ago I ordered an Auzentech X-Meridian 7.1 Sound Card based on some recommendations I read over on AVSForum.com. The card finally arrived the middle of this past week and I got the time to install it in my HTPC last night (to replace the integrated sound from nVidia's SoundStorm).
For those of you that don't know, the X-Meridian is based on the C-Media Oxygen HD CMI8788 audio processor. Now, if you're not familiar with that particular chip, just know that it can do pretty much anything, including but not limited to Dolby Digital Live, Dolby ProLogic IIx, Dolby Headphone, Dolby Virtual Speaker, DTS Interactive, and DTS Neo:PC. While this card does pack some incredible features for digital output, where it really shines is when you switch over to the analog outputs.
If you've read my "About" page then you'd know that in addition to working full-time, I'm also a graduate student at Penn State studying Software Engineering. The class I'm currently taking is on Software Project Management and is taught by Dr. Phillip A. Laplante. As a part of this class (which I'm already paying too much for), I was required to buy one of the books the professor wrote. The title of that book is "Antipatterns - Identification, Refactoring, and Management".
I assumed that like most text books that this one would be boring and that the professor was only doing it to make a few extra bucks. I couldn't have possibly been more wrong. As it turns out, he only gets about $0.80 for each book sold (there are only about 20 people in the class), and this is one of the funniest books I've read in a long time.