Archive for February 2009

Dell mini 9 Netbook for $199 (Today Only)

Just a quickie notice today, that Dell is offering $50 off, today only, on the Dell mini 9 netbook. I know a lot of you want one, so here’s your chance to get one and save money, too! Offer good until midnight CST tonight.

One Day Only! Inspiron Mini 9 for only $199 after $50 off. Offer ends February 27, 2009.

Mini 9

Mini 9 in Obsidian Black

The base model for this price comes with the Ubuntu Linux operating system (version 8.04.1). Some people say, “Linux?! I don’t know Linux” which shouldn’t be an issue because many people get the netbook for Internet usage, and once you’re on the Internet the operating system doesn’t make much of a difference.

The base model also has an Obsidian Black finish (which can be changed to either Promise Pink [add $30 and Dell will donate $5.00 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure), Alpine White or Cherry Red [add $30], Stickers in Green, Black, or Blue, or The Muse in Purple or  Orange [either of the beforementioned for an added $50]. It also includes 1Yr Ltd Warranty and Mail-In Service, 512MB DDR2 RAM (Memory), 4GB Solid State Drive (no moving parts like the drive in your digital camera). It uses the Intel Atom Processor model N270 (technically that’s 1.6GHz clock speed, 533Mhz FSB (Front System Bus), and 512K cache memory space on the chip). The screen is a glossy 8.9 inch LED display (1024X600). Internet access is via a Wireless 802.11g Mini Card.

Available Upgrades

Some of the upgrades include 4 times the memory (2 GB) for $75 (that’s a good price), 4 different hard drive upgrades up to 64GB for $150, and a 250 GB external portable hard drive for $80 (another good deal), and last but not least an add-on integrated 1.3 MP webcam for $25.

Promise Pink (For the Cure)

Promise Pink (For the Cure)

Muse Orange

Muse Orange

Save up to $72 on iPod and iPhone Speaker Systems

MacMall - Your #1 Apple Superstore!

Here are a few standout offers I found at the Mac Mall.

alteclansingt612Save $72 on the Altec Lansing T612 Digital Speaker System for iPod and iPhone only $127.99 (was $199.99): The T612 digital speaker system is a also acts a speakerphone for calls on your iPhone. Similar devices required iPhone users to use flight mode which meant you wouldn’t be able to receive calls while docked. The T612 doesn’t require you to use flight mode, so you won’t miss any phone calls. When a call comes in, the music stops so you can hear your call. The T612 was rated the “Best of 2008” by iProng magazine, and received similar high marks from PC Magazine.

The T612 features four specially engineered speakers to smoothly reproduce music across the full audio spectrum with powerful, deep bass with it XdB bass-enhancement technology that creates deep rich bass without a subwoofer. It’s docking station will recharge your iPhone or dockable iPod.

It includes a wireless remote that keeps track forward and back, volume, and bass & treble controls at your fingertips. Plus it’s elegant, wall-mountable design will looks great in your living room or office with a wall-mounting kit that is sold separately.

Alternately, the T612 has an MP3 player jack that allows you to connect your MP3 player or CD player at the same time as your iPhone.

clockradioAlso at the MacMall you can save $55 on the iHome Bluetooth Clock Radio & Speakerphone for iPhone & iPod NOW only $124.99 (was $179.99). Like the T612, the iP47’s dock will play and charge your iPhone or iPod, or you can wirelessly stream music from your Bluetooth-enabled phone, PDA or computer. The Bluetooth technology also allows you to control other Bluetooth enabled devices such as handsfree units and headsets using AVRCP and A2DP profiles.

ihome-clock-radioThe speakerphone feature, with its built-in mic allows you to answer and place calls using your iPhone or other Bluetooth-enabled cell phone.

The clock radio portion has a 4 speaker stereo  sound, a dual alarm allows separate wake times, and a clock that automatically sets itself. You can choose to wake to to your iPhone, iPod, Bluetooth enabled device, or its  AM/FM radio with 12 station presets. It also includes a full-function remote control with snooze.

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Gmail Crashes Again

googlemail_1349839cIf you’re an up-early-in-the-morning-to-check-my-email kind of person, and if your email is Gmail (Google Mail) then you may have woke up to disappoint today. Gmail crashed …. again.

Gmail users in the US and the UK experienced a 2.5 to 4 hour outage of service this morning, and Google is still scrambling to explain how it happened.

ComScore analysts estimate as many as 113 million people use Gmail worldwide. Not bad for a program that’s still in Beta. It may be the longest running test program on the planet for that matter. “Google has the world’s third most popular web mail service behind Hotmail with 283 million users and Yahoo with 274 million e-mail users”, comScore said.

Today’s outage isn’t the first. Another outage occured just 6 months ago in August 2008, when again, service was out for several hours after a glitch in the Gmail contacts system locked users out of their email.

Got any questions? Contact me at skylarkingblog at Ciao!

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Dell’s Four Hour Sale Today Only (Get ’em in Pink)

Yesterday I received an odd email from Dell. Not odd in the sense that I doubted its authenticity, but odd in the sense of what the message was promoting:

A Four Hour Sale on laptops for today, Wednesday, Feb. 24.

The sale starts at 2 PM CST and ends at 6 PM CST on the aforementioned date. They are promoting 3 laptops in particular:

inspiron1420The Dell Inspiron 1420 laptop: For this laptop they said “Hurry 4 hours only! Save $245 on this Inspiron 1420 laptop. Now just $499 after instant discount. Offer ends 2/24/09 6:00 PM CT.” Give it a click if you’re interested in taking a look-see. It’s available in 5 different colors: Pink ($5 is sent to Susan G Komen for the Cure), Brown, Red, Blue, and Green. It has an Intel Pentium Dual Core  processor (Technically speaking it has 1.86GHz clock speed, operates on a 533Mhz Front System Bus, and has a 1MB cache on the chip). It has a 14.1 inch screen, a hefty 3 GB of RAM (Memory) and a good sized 160 GB hard drive for holding all your files. It runs on Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium Edition which isn’t all as bad as people make it out to be. For productivity it comes with Microsoft Works. If you need to burn discs it has a CD / DVD writer (DVD+/-RW Drive). For your Internet it has the standard Wired and Wireless 802.11g Mini Card found in many laptops today. A friend of mine has one of these computers and he keeps it in the kitchen for the whole family to use.

xps-m1330The Dell XPS M1330 laptop is built for gaming. Throw away the home dektop because this is all the computer many people will ever need.  It comes in Pink ($5 to Susan G Komen for the Cure), Tuxedo Black and Midnight Blue. It runs on Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium 64 bit edition (that means extra processing power over the traditional 32 bit systems) with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor (It’s the T6600 with a 2.2GHz clock speed, a 800Mhz Front System Bus (FSB), and a 2MB cache on the chip to speed up procesing jobs). It comes with a 2.0 Megapixel Webcam built-in, with 4GB DDR2 SD RAM (Memory), a huge 320GB SATA Hard Drive, a CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW Drive) and wired and wireless internet capability. As I said, this is a gaming computer and it comes with a NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GS video adapter with 128 MB of video RAM. It’s also good for video wherever you go, and it has a long lasting 56Whr Lithium Ion Battery, High Definition Audio, and Bluetooth connectivity.  Hot stuff. And lest I forget: Hurry 4 hours only! Save $250 on this XPS M1330 laptop. Now just $799 after instant discount. Offer ends 2/24/09 6:00 PM CT.

inspiron1525The Dell Inspiron 1525 laptop. Ah, the trusty Inspiron 1525.  It’s coming to the end of its online model life, and will soon be replaced by the Inspiron 15 Feb 26 as a matter of fact), and its going out in style with a Limited Time Offer of a Free Memory and Hard Drive Upgrade! Colorwise, it comes in Jet Black, Promise Pink (No extra cost and Dell will donate $5.00 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure), Midnight Blue, Espresso Brown, Chill Pattern, and the sexy Street Pattern (shown). But it’s what’s on the inside that counts: Intel Core 2 Duo processor (The T6400 with a 2.0GHz clock speed, 800Mhz FSB (Front System Bus), and 2MB cache on the chip), Windows Vista Home Basic Edition SP1, Microsoft Works, a Glossy, widescreen 15.4 inch display (1280×800), 3GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 RAM (Memory), a 320GB SATA Hard Drive, a CD / DVD Writer (DVD+/-RW Drive), Wireless Internet through a 802.11g Mini-Card, Bluetooth connectivity, High Definition Audio, Dell Remote Access for  free basic service, and 2 GB Dell Online Backup for 1 year ot keep your important files safe and sound. Find out more with the link that follows: Hurry 4 hours only! Save $315 on this Inspiron 1525 laptop. Now just $549 after instant discount. Offer ends 2/24/09 6:00 PM CT.

Thanks for your attention! See you soon!

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14 year old arrested for texting in school

samsung-messager-now-from-cricket-2Several “news” web sites are carrying the story of a 14 year old girl in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin who was arrested at the school on Tuesday, Feb. 17 for texting in class.

Most of the sites report the story as it was originally reported on The Smoking Gun web site, in that they all wonder if it was necessary for school officials to call the police. Apparently, she has frequently texted in class in the past, and had frequently been told by her teachers to put away her phone.

Wauwatosa, WI

Wauwatosa, WI

Some of you may be thinking, “Wauwatosa!?!  What else are you supposed to do in Wauwatosa?” Don’t get carried away on the rustic name. It’s a city in the Milwaukee metropolitan area.

Of course, the details about the police interaction with the student are telling about the students honesty and trustworthiness:

1. The girl repeatedly denied having a phone on her person, but a subsequent frisking of the girl revealed a cell phone hidden in the back of her pants.

2. When asked for her mother’s phone number, the student gave several false numbers, just off by one or two digits before finally offering the correct phone number.

    Regardless of whether or not you feel it was necessary to call the police, it is clear that the student has problems with self-discipline and honesty. Texting in class is just another impediment to getting the most out of your education. Apparently she was texting in her math class, too. Tonight, she can show her parent’s how to deduct $268 from their bank balance for bail on disorderly conduct. It would be interesting to know what her grades are like, in general, and I’ll venture a guess she was texting other students in the building.

    Granted, people will say it’s the parent’s responsibility to teach their kids better, but when they fall short of that goal are the rest of us supposed to excuse the child’s actions and say, “It’s not the kid’s fault. Their parents should have done better.” I don’t think so. In this case the crime is minor, and due to her age it will probably be sealed, so details won’t come out later. Perhaps if she learns anything from this incident she’ll turn around and have her record cleared later.

    In the meanwhile she’s been held on $268 bail for disorderly conduct. Hopefully her mother will discipline her appropriately, and, hopefully, the child will learn something valuable from this.

    Of course, she’ll probably enjoy the fact that she’s been barred from the school grounds for a week. Now she’ll be able to text her friends from the comfort of home unless her parent’s choose to take the phone away from her. Barring her from school was probably the most unnecessary punishment for her in this case.  She probably has enough class time to make up for already.

    Those of you who are reading this on your cell phones in class or in the conference room at work probably think I’m nuts.


    For more on the story check out TG Daily, Fox News, and The Smoking Gun. Read the Houston Chronicle’s report on the Etiquette on texting. Got an opinion? Post it as a comment below.

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    Car Connection, your auto shopping resource

    thecarconnectionI’ve been shopping for a new car lately. Nothing fancy. I’m mostly practical when it comes to cars. (Don’t mention the new Ford Mustangs, or I will become decidedly impractical). During my web focused car search I came across The Car Connection.

    The Car Connection has proven to be a great resource for my car shopping needs. Their reviewers provide full bodies reviews and ratings for just about any car you can think of … or at least as many as this practical shoppr could think of.  The reviews provided sizeable articles on a wide range of makes and models both new and old. So it’s useful even if you’re in the market for a used car.

    In addition to the well-written articles, they provide detailed specifications and pricing for each make and model covered, along with a 10 point rating system regarding Styling, Performance, Comfort and Quality, Safety, and Features.

    2009-audi-q7-premium-plus_100167859_mLet’s say you’re in the market for a 2009 Audi Q7.  This model has information gathered by 8 on-site reviewers, plus an additional 38 reviews and comments from guests of the site who also provide their opinions on the Audi Q7. They also had information regarding some of the popular equipment packages for the Q7, along with links and summaries of other reviews around the web.

    ford_100171131_mForgoing the Mustang for the time being I looked into the 2009 Ford Taurus. Right across the top was an umissable rating of 8.4 out of 10 which was further broken down into the aforementioned categories. Beneath the headline were easy to find links to jump to the portions of the reviews that dealt with those criteria.

    Maybe you don’t know exactly which car, truck or mini-van you’re looking for.  Not a problem. The Car Connection has menus and links for narrowing down the type of vehicle you’re looking for based upon a wide range of details. You can search by price, body type, number of doors, sports, luxury, practical (wink wink) or economical.

    I also liked the fact that they provided links to auto insurance companies, and that they quite readily referred me to other reputable car review sites. They also provided information regarding financing a car purchase, and links and search tools for classified ads from private owners and auto dealerships are thousands of other web sites.

    honda_100173423_mSo whether you’re in the market for a Honda Fit or maybe your business needs a new fleet of mini vans, I think you’ll find The Car Connection to be a worthy and reliable first look location. I’ve found it to be a very professional, personable, and resourceful informational auto shopping site.

    More Info for Connecting an iPod to a home stereo

    Back on Sept. 16, 2008, I wrote an article regarding connecting your PC or iPod to a home stereo. A reader, LD, asked about the pros and cons of using a stereo y-connector with the iPod’s headphone jack, which I offered as a relatively low cost solution in my earlier post, versus connecting with a y-connector or kit with Apple’s Universal Dock. You can read his full comments and questions with the original post here.

    Here’s my take on the headphone jack versus the universal dock approach:

    Apple Universal Dock - Apple Store (U.S.)

    Docking Port
    I’ll assume the docking port in question is the
    Apple Universal Dock from the Apple Store (U.S.)
    ($49). One advantage is it looks cleaner/neater sitting next to your stereo instead of a loose headphone cable, and it comes with a remote control. If you add a USB power adapter ($29) you could also charge the iPod, but the same holds true without the docking port. If you choose to use the universal dock, your standard 1/8″ stereo y-connector ($7.49) can be used.

    Cable and Monster Cable

    Belkin Y Adapter Cable - Apple Store (U.S.)

    I find the headphone cable and jack suitable, and I consider myself to be something of an audiophile when it comes to stereo equipment, but care must be exercised with the volume control. The rule of thumb with stereo equipment is to always have the volume turned down before turning on any equipment. Taking care to do so has always worked fine for me.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love Belkin and Monster Cable, but I’ll pass on them if I’m trying to hold onto my cash that day or week. Currently, I use an ordinary stereo y-connector from Radio Shack, and I have had no problems with it. I play my iPod on the stereo a few times a month, and just leave the cable in plain view.  No one else in the household has complained yet, and most of them are much neater and more organized than I.

    To clarify, the standard stereo y-connector will connect to the universal dock, but get the Monster Cable if its in your budget. Their cable is of a higher gauge, and does make a audible difference if you have an ear for it.

    Feedback and Amplification
    It’s true that the iPod output level with just the headphone jack is affected by the iPod’s own volume control. You should always start with the volume on the stereo and iPod turned down. Then turn up the stereo volume to a level you usually find suitable — you won’t hear anything until you turn up the iPod’s volume — and then set the iPod to play and turn up it’s volume control. Resist the urge to make it “extra loud” by turning it up too high.

    Though I don’t have a docking port now, it has been my experience that any device that utilizes the iPod’s connector, instead of the jack, disables the volume control of the iPod wheel. Using the iPod wheel will have no affect on volume.

    Another note: Care should be taken when the stereo is on, but an iPod isn’t connected to the jack (without the dock). If your stereo gets set to that input, and if something charged or metallic comes in contact with the end of the jack — think kid’s fingertips or some stray metal object like a set of keys set to rest on the shelf — then harmful feedback could occur. My headphone jack is set well out of reach, so I’m likely to be the only offender.

    Thanks for your questions and comments, LD. I’m glad I could be of help.

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    Ridiculous Site of the Day: (or Oprah with Bacon)

    baconOkay, I’m adding fuel to the fire and throwing some bacon on top of it. (It’s my late breakfast, and very possibly the worst post to date on this site.)

    Crazy, ridiculous, (add your own adjective here) site of the day is with a dot us instead of a dot com. And no www required, why let a few extra letters stand between you and your bacon. allows you to serve up your favorite web site — or any web site — with a serving of bacon on top.

    To use with your favorite site, just type and then type the full address of your favorite site after the last slash, and don’t use any spaces.

    So here are what some sites look like with bacon on top:


    Oprah Winfrey: Mmmm! tasty!

    starwarsStar Wars: The dark side is better with bacon.

    Skylarking: Do birds eat bacon?

    whitehouseThe White House: Can’t reform Wall Street and save the economy on an empty stomach.

    New York Times: This’ll be great on Sunday mornings at the breakfast nook.

    Late Entry: with bacon:

    If you don’t believe it, or if you need a helping of bacon, just go to and try it out yourself. It’s not fattening and it won’t clog your arteries.

    Thanks to caroliiine and dens on Twitter for bringing home the bacon.  Skylarking thanks you!

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    TigerDirect Deals of the Day

    Here are the deals of the day from These prices are good until noontime tomorrow (12 Noon EST, 2/5/2009).


    • SAVE $200 on an eMachines Notebook with an AMD Athlon 1.6 GHz processor, 2 GB of RAM (Memory), 160GB hard drive (Storage), Dual Layer DVD ReWriteable Drive, 15.4″ WXGA screen, Windows Vista Home Basic. Now: $399.99, Reg.: $599.99


    TODAY’S TOP SELLERS (Available while supplies last)

    • InFocus Projector
      InFocus Projector

      SAVE $20 on Transcend’s 32GB USB Flash Drive $39.99, Reg.: $59.99.

    • SAVE $30 on a Western Digital Caviar Green 1 TB SATA Hard Drive (1 TeraByte = 1,000 GigaBytes). Model Number WD10EADS.  SATA-300. Now: $99.99, Reg.: $129.99. Green means it has special power saving features.
    • SAVE $30 on an InFocus X6 DLP Projector with 2,000 Lumens output. Weighs only 4.5 lbs. Now: $399.99, Reg. $429.99.
    • SAVE $100 on a Lenovo IdeaPad Netbook with an Intel Atom 1.60GHz processor, 512MB of DDR2 RAM (Memory), an 80GB hard drive, a 10.2″ WSVGA screen, and integrated Webcam. Operating system: Windows XP Home Edition. Color: Black. Now: $299.99, Reg. $399.99.
    • dellSAVE $240 on a Dell Latitude Laptop with an Intel Pentium M 1.86GHz processor, wireless network card, 1GB of DDR2 RAM (Memory), a 60GB hard drive, and a ReWriteable CD drive that plays DVDs, too. The screen measures 14.1″. Operating system: Windows XP Professional. This is an off-lease unit. Now: $399.96, Reg. $639.96.

    See more deals from here.

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    13 Days to Digital Television

    There are 13 more days until the analog television signals are shutdown and the conversion to digital television broadcasts is “completed” on Tuesday, February 17, 2009. Estimates have it that as many as 7 to 12 percent of the television viewers who get their TV signals from analog television antennas are unprepared for the switch. That means anyone who doesn’t subscribe to cable, satellite, or some other pay TV service will be getting nothing but static after Feb. 17.

    Just a few days ago a bill to postpone the dealine was defeated, but the House of Representatives is set to vote on that digital TV transition bill again today. The suggest new date for conversion is June 12, 2009. 4 more months or 120 days. (Update: The House voted to pass the bill, so the date for analog TV shutdown has been pushed back to June 12, 2009).

    Let’s just assume that the bill to delay doesn’t pass, what do the unprepared need to do, and where does the rest of the world stand on conversion from analog to digital TV?

    Options for the Unprepared

    1. Sign up for a pay TV service such as cable or satellite
    2. Purchase a digital television set with a digital tuner
    3. Purchase a digital converter box that connects between their existing TV antenna and TV set. (You can get information on the government’s converter coupon program at

    Last month President-elect Barack Obama called on the Congress to delay the transition to give people more time to prepare. The FCC was offering $40 coupons for the purchase of converter boxes, but those funds have run out, and there is talk about directing some of the financial bailout monies into the program.

    US and The Rest of the World

    The United States isn’t alone in the digital televison conversion crunch, but if we can make the switch as planned next month, we will be the seventh country in the world to switch, but we will be the first superpower to switch.

    There are two bright spots in the US: one is in Hawaii, and the other is in Wilmington, North Carolina. Wilmington television broadcasters and citizens completed the conversion on September 8, 2008, while Hawaii switched just this past Thursday, Jan. 15. There are a few people who are still in need of boxes, but the majority of the citizens were prepared.

    Six Other Nations Have Made The Switch

    • Luxembourg was the first country on September 1, 2006.
    • Netherlands moved to digital broadcasting on December 11, 2006. About 90% of the households subscribe to cable.
    • Finland switched on September 1, 2007, but cable TV viewers continued to receive analogue broadcasts until the end of February 2008.
    • Andorra completed its switch-off on September 25, 2007.
    • Sweden used a progressive transition working from region-by-region. The conversion started on Gotland on September 15, 2005, and was completed on October 15, 2007, in Scania and Blekinge. Cable distributors are allowed to continue broadcasting analogue television.
    • Switzerland began the switch on July 24, 2006 in Ticino and completed it on 26 November, 2007.

    Other Countries Conversion Plans

    Most other nations are shooting for 2010 or 2012 for completing their own conversions from analog to full digital broadcasts. Here’s a rundown on the plans and target for some nations:

    1. Australia has delayed conversion until 2010 for some regions and to 2013 for the rest of the country
    2. Brazil has scheduled for June 29, 2016
    3. Canada plans to finish by August 2011 with minor exceptions in remote areas
    4. Croatia and the Czech Republic plans to cinvert by 2010 and 2011 respectively
    5. Denmark, October 2009
    6. France will have completed the switch-off in 2011
    7. Germany started the switch-off in the Berlin area on November 1, 2002 and had planned to complete the switch by the end of 2008. I’m not certain of the status of that switch at this time.
    8. Greece will switch after 2011
    9. Hong Kong plans to be switched off by 2012
    10. Hungary is scheduled for some time between 2010 and 2013
    11. Ireland‘s goal is set for most of the country by 2010 with the rest to follow by the end of 2012
    12. Japan‘s target date is July 24, 2011
    13. Kenya had plans to complete the switch in 2008 bu I have no further news on their status at this time
    14. Mexico initiated a 20-year plan to switch in 2002 with the target year of 2022 for completion
    15. New Zealand estimates completion by 2013 to 2015
    16. Norway started the witch in March 2008 and will the progress region-by-region as Sweden did. Completion is scheduled for the end of this year
    17. Poland plans for either December 2012 or 2014
    18. Portugal is aiming for 2012
    19. Philippines, December 31, 2015. ABS-CBN, the country’s largest TV network is supply converter boxes to the Metro Manila area
    20. Russia plans to be completed in 2015
    21. South Africa started the switch-off in November 2008 in preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and should be completed by mid 2011
    22. South Korea‘s target date is December 31, 2012
    23. Spain, April 3, 2010
    24. Ukraine, July 2015
    25. United Kingdom starting converting in Wales with the first switch off on March 20, 2005, but they were problems and conversion resumed on October 17, 2007. The rest of the UK is scheduled to be completed in 2012

    Is Skylarking Prepared?

    My home has three televisions, and at least one of them is safe so far, but I’ve got my doubts about the other two; and we’re taking a “wait and see” approach toward them. We have cable TV (Optimum), but only one set is full digital without a box. Another set is “HD Ready” which means it can display HDTV, but it doesn’t have the tuner necessary.  An add-on box will be needed, which we can get from our cable provider. The third set is completely analog, and unless it gets some sort of box attached to it, it will most likely be completely useless unless we get a converter for the rabbit ears, and I don’t think they make one. The ones I have seen are for outdoor aerial antennas with coaxial connections, not screw terminals.

    I’m looking forward to what happens today, and in the week’s ahead.

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