This started out as a hunt for an air leak. For a couple of years I’d noticed there was a nasty draft coming from my Saturn Ion’s glove comartment. Tolerable in the summer, but pretty chilly for passengers during the winter months.

The day arrived when I was ready to disassemble the dashboard and hunt down the problem. “An air supply hose must’ve slipped off ” I thought. With several hours set aside for the project, I gathered up my tools, scrunched under the dash and began to start removing parts. I opened the glove compartment and started to remove the door. It was then that I noticed an small, slim plastic door at the very back of the glove compartment. It was hanging open. The source of the cold air!

As it turned out this is the door for the cabin air filter, a smaller version of the air filter you’re used to replacing on your home furnace. I think the previous owner of my car must’ve pulled it out, gone hunting for a replacement and then given up. It would’ve been nice if he’d closed the air filter door first!

Replacement of the air filter is an easy task, requiring no tools. To replace the filter carefully pop the left guide from the outer glove compartment door.



Then pop out the right guide (a little harder, but it’ll come out if you’re careful).



After the glove compartment door is loose, swing it all the way down. You’ll see the slim (approx. 2″ x 10″) cover to the air filter. If it hasn’t been tinkered with, you’ll see two plastic pull-clips on either end (in our case the clips were gone so we replaced them with small sheet metal scews).



Slide the old filter out. Installing the new filter is a bit trickier than changing your home furnace filter. The filter tends to hang-up every so often. It goes in at a slight angle, so work it back and forth and it’ll eventually slide into place.



Then close up the filter door and secure it with the original push-clips or with two sheet metal screws.


Now you’ll be breathing cleaner air, and in my case, no more drafts!

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Backing Up Your Memories

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The older we get the more important our memories become — the tangible ones like photos and pictures of our loved ones, our happy times, life’s markers like weddings, parties and holidays. In the Digital Age we need to take extra steps to make sure those files are properly protected.

Back everything up. This goes without saying. However you need to back up the same files in several places to be really safe.
DVD’s and CD roms fail after time. I have some CD’s burned in 1998 that are losing their silver layer. It’s flaking off like old paint!

Once a year one of our studio hard drives “dies”. Usually it’s the motor bearing freezing up and the data is lost.

RAID systems have the benefit of redundant hard drives (data is written to two drives at once). Yet they’re still prone to failure if a virus enters your system.

So the point here is to back up in several ways:

- make one, or better yet two, DVD disc data copies. Don’t skimp, use a good brand of media (we recommend JVC Taiyo Yuden DVD’s)

- use an external USB Hard drive dock and back up to an external (removable) hard drive.

- keep a backup copy on your extra laptop.

- try to store a backup in an off-site location (such as a bank lock box or at a friend’s house)

All this extra effort will preserve those images for a lifetime (and longer)!

If you grew up in the 1940’s you’ll have fond memories of Saturday afternoons well spent at the movie theatre. Sitting anxiously, with bated breath we waited through the coming attractions, newsreels and cartoons, looking forward to the next chapter of our favorite serial.  

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KING OF THE TEXAS RANGERS (1941) is one of those wonderful serials! Football-player-turned-actor, “Slingin’ Sammy” Baugh, stars as Texas Ranger Tom King, who must avenge the death of his father. Duncan Renaldo, of TV’s Cisco Kid fame, co-stars as Lt. Pedro Garcia who becomes King’s sidekick and friend. Neil Hamilton, light years before his role as TV’s Commissioner Gordon on BATMAN, plays a duplicitous fifth columnist who’s helping the Nazis (although they’re never mentioned as such in the serial).

 King of the Texas Rangers048The plot’s quite standard for a serial, but the real delight comes from watching the frenetically paced action sequences. Republic writers were often told to keep the dialogue in serials to under 700 words per episode, and as you can imagine this leaves lots of room for the action parts! There’s shoot-outs, crashes, explosions, exciting chases on horseback and best of all, the amazing stunt work. It’s all carefully choreographed by a skilled team of stunt professionals who put their lives (and limbs) on the line for the sake of the serial. You’ll find yourself reaching for the “pause” button to see just how the stunts were done. There’s amazing back flips, jumps and falls, all done without CGI ! The images shown below don’t do the stunts justice, you really need to see them in action!

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KING OF THE TEXAS RANGERS also features wonderful miniature work from the extremely talented team of Howard and Theodore Lydecker. Miniature sets were carefully crafted to duplicate real locations….then they were blown up!  The Lydeckers often filmed these miniatures outdoors, utilizing natural light, which adds greatly to their realism. Throughout the serial you’ll see amazing explosions, car crashes and other realistic-looking “disasters”. They’re all quite detailed, even to the point of wood scraps flying everywhere during an explosion!

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On KING OF THE TEXAS RANGERS, as with most Republic serials, directors worked in pairs, William Witney handling the action sequences while John English took charge of the dramatic exposition. Their teamwork is rewarded with a tight combination of action and dialogue. If you watch any of the Witney-English co-directed serials you won’t be disappointed!             

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It’s all high-spirited fun and action — guaranteed to please the 12 year old kid in you!

Note: — The best quality prints of KING OF THE TEXAS RANGERS can be seen on Republic Pictures’ VHS or Laserdisc releases, which are purportedly made from Republic’s own 35mm negatives. There is no commercially released DVD, so the quality of no-name DVD’s may be poor.


Here’s some more screen shots from the serial:

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Neil Hamilton as the “bad-guy” John Barton


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Duncan Renaldo gets the drop on a henchman


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Lots of good explosions, courtesy of the Lydecker brothers!


The Good Guys always win in the end!

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 I’ve never been a fan of the superheroes that populate the Marvel Universe, but this film made me a believer. Vivid, exciting, with witty dialogue and wonderfully conceived action sequences, “The Avengers” is a winner all the way! The action scenes are carefully designed, choreographed and executed. They’re a delight to watch, especially since the camera doesn’t bump, grind and shake like other routine action films. With expert use of CGI, Manhattan receives a thorough trouncing, receiving more damage than anything Godzilla could unleash on Tokyo. (We like to think that it’ll be all repaired in time for the sequel).

"The Avengers" (2012)

The Avengers sports a great ensemble, both in conception and casting; Tony Stark/Iron Man ( Robert Downey Jr.), Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Steve Rogers / Captain America (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner / The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Clint Barton / Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner ). They’re a superb team, and their quick, witty repartee further fortifies their relationships.

Samuel L. Jackson returns to familiar territory as the fastidious Nick Fury. Tom Hiddleston gives an over-the-top performance as the megalomaniac, Loki. Gwyneth Paltrow and Clark Gregg return in supporting roles. Harry Dean Stanton appears in a nice bit part. 

An all-time winner for summertime family entertainment (PG-13). Highly recommended.

In this much anticipated prequel, director Ridley Scott returns to the well one more time for a look inside the Aliens Universe. Replete with all the trappings of the best sci-fi films, ”Prometheus” attempts to show us how the Aliens began their interactions with Man.

Tough, spunky scientist Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” 2009 ) leads an expedition that uncovers ancient paintings on a cave wall. Early Man is depicted looking upward at a strange configuration of planets. The scientists come to realize that human life may have originated on an alien world.

An exploration crew is assembled to travel to the far away world to investigate. Onboard the spaceship Prometheus, the crew is greeted by a holographic version of the aging scientist who’s funding the expedition. (We’d wished it was the John Hammond character from “Jurassic Park,” but instead it’s Guy Pearce badly made-up as a curmudgeon with a cane.)

Keeping the crew in line is martinet Meredith Vickers (Charleze Theron), a representative of the corporation financing the expedition. Dour and statuesque, she seems to relish her position of power. There’s the stereotypical cigar chomping ship’s captain, Janek (Idris Elba), who cares little about the mission and is just anxious to get home and collect his pay.

And in any Alien film, you have to have an android onboard. To this end Michael Fassbender turns in a durable performance as the duplicitous android David. However, we couldn’t help drawing comparisons to Lance Henriksen’s superior (and pluckier) Bishop in ”Aliens” (1986).

Dark, somber and with outstanding special effects, ”Prometheus” creates the feeling of a great mystery waiting to unfold. There’s dark, subterranean alien tunnels, doors with mysterious hieroglyphics, lots of puzzles waiting to be answered….all of these ingredients should create a great sci-film. However, it’s not long before clichés and mediocrity foul the mix.

Unruly crew members don’t follow orders, wandering away aimlessly. The scientists throw caution to the wind, taking their helmets off when the air seems “good”, and cavalierly poking and prodding at anything that drips alien goo.

Then there’s a flamethrower “incident” that’s both startling and spectacular. (Flamethrowers, we have to assume, are standard issue on missions like this, despite the fact that they’ll be used on planets where the lack of oxygen would impair combustion.) We’d guess that many other weapons could serve up quicker and more accurate results.

As the action and tension increase, all logic is thrown aside. Elizabeth, under extreme duress, injured and bleeding, must perform several elaborate computer programming functions in the medical bay (a tricky procedure even on one’s best day) yet she does all this with the skill and aplomb of a veteran medical technician.

Like the 1940′s matinee serials where kids knew their hero was making the wrong choice, “Prometheus” makes you want to yell out loud at the screen, “Watch out! … Don’t do that!”

Director Ridley Scott (“Bladerunner” and “Alien”) has tried to give us a palatable Aliens prequel but it all falls short because of a threadbare script and poor character development. The finale sets us up for a sequel, but one has to ask “what’s the point?”

I’ve been waiting to transfer my family VHS tapes to DVD, looking for a recorder that would make the whole process easy. The Magnavox ZC320MW8B/F7 DVD recorder at Walmart turned out to be the answer! At only $98.00 it turns out to be a great deal for dubbing directly to DVD!

I’m already quite familiar with the Magnavox 2160 & 513 line of HDD/DVD units, having owned a couple myself. This stand-alone DVD recorder seems to operate & burn DVD’s with the same ease, the main difference being that there’s no internal tuner and no internal HDD. When you record you’ll need to use an external video source such as a VCR, camcorder or external TV tuner.

A quick look inside the unit reveals a DVD burner assembly that looks similar to the one in the Magnavox 2160 (although I can’t guarantee that it’s identical). It’s well made, and in my experience it burned both DVD+R and DVD-R’s with ease. Both formats play back reliably on most modern DVD players. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that you can considerably extend the life of the DVD burner by using 8x blank DVD’s instead of 16x. The laser runs at lower power when it burns to an 8x disc, lengthening the life of your recorder.

The Magnavox ZC320MW8B/F7 comes with a remote control that’s similar to the 2160 & 513 Magnavox remotes. A few buttons that weren’t needed are missing, so the remote may look somewhat naked by comparison. Operation of the recorder is quite straightforward, and if you’re familiar with the 2160 or 513, this DVD recorder operates in the same manner.

Direct dubbing is very simple, insert a blank DVD, on the remote press the REC MODE (to select recording speed), then when you’re ready hit REC. For extra convenience, once you’re recording, you can press the REC button several times to choose the time to shut off the recording. When you’re finished recording the Magnavox automatically creates a title menu showing program length and record date (you can also add a still frame photo from the recorded movie to the menu title). Tip: if you don’t enter a date or time into the DVD recorder’s memory, it will leave these things blank when it burns the title menu on the DVD. Also, if you’re direct dubbing, set your burn length time to exceed the amount of time on the disc you’re burning and you won’t even see the “empty space” title box in the menu. Finally, and of paramount importance, be sure to FINALIZE the completed DVD so that it’ll play back on other DVD players.

The particular unit I bought was the last one in stock, and since the unit had been returned the store kindly gave me a discount. Over time I’ve seen several Magnavox boxes at Walmart that look like they made it to someone’s home before being promptly returned. I believe some consumers are confused about how to program these units. More importantly, they don’t read the instructions explaining how the discs have to be finalized before they’re played back on other DVD players. If you can spend ten minutes to read through the instructions you’ll save yourself a lot of frustration. By the time you’ve burned a couple of discs the whole process will become second nature!

All in all, the Magnavox ZC320MW8B/FZ is wonderful buy at only $98.00. Great for direct dubbing or timer recording from an outside video source. It’s a wonderful addition to your video hardware collection :)

The Longest Journey (2000) 4 CD set by FunCom - When playing the game on a Win XP system, the game may lock up at the start of chapter three.

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This is the point in the game where April Ryan enters the police station. As soon as she enters, the game will freeze and you’ll get an application error box. You may have to use ctrl+alt+del to get out of it and in some cases you may have to reboot the computer manually.

Tip - To fix the problem, first make sure you’re running game in compatibility mode for Win 95/98. In the Longest Journey folder, right click on game.exe —> properties –>compatibility. Set compatibility mode to Windows 98/Windows ME. Then click on game.exe to start the game. A grey Windows box will pop up with options (see photo) In this window un-check 3D acceleration.

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This should solve the problem and allow you to get into the police station without crashing the game!

Saturn Ion wiper mechanisms are prone to failure when the plastic casting in the wiper mechanism cracks. Signs of failure are apparent when your wiper blade suddenly becomes “floppy” and overshooting the window when it wipes. If you grasp the wiper blade down by it’s base (where it goes into the car) it should have very little play, if it wobbles around, chances are that the plastic mechanism has broken and you need to replace the mechanism.

For about $90 you can order a new replacement part that’s all metal from Their website also has a very good installation article

Disclaimer: Repair tips in this article are designed for informational purposes only, without warranty of any kind, in no event shall the author of this site be liable for any consequential, incidental or direct damages sustained in the course of using the information in this article.

Start by removing the black plugs covering the nuts at the base of each wiper arm. Next, you have to remove the wiper arm nuts. Getting the wiper arms off is the most difficult and frustrating part. After you remove the nut, you’ll find that the wiper blade arm is pressed onto the tapered splines of the wiper mechanism. You’ll probably have to use a mini-hub puller to free up the blade arm. Before you do this, put the nut back on the wiper arm shaft loosely,  this will protect the threads from the hub puller. Be very careful, too much pressure from the hub puller could crack the wiper blade arm! Slowly adjust the hub puller, applying tension. Gently tap the top of the hub puller and at some point the wiper blade arm should pop loose! Using some Liquid Wrench will also help.

After the wiper arms are removed, keep them separated (the passenger side has the shorter wiper blade). Next, remove the plastic cowl covering the wiper mechanism.  There’s two push-pin fasteners (one on each outer end of the cowl) and two small hex screws (see photo). After these are off, disconnect the wiper washer hose and prop the cowl back so you can work on the mechanism.

Now you can reach in to remove the three large bolts holding the wiper mechanism, then slide it out so you can do the replacement.  If you’re careful, you can do all of this without unplugging the wiper motor (it’s very hard to unplug). It’s important at this point, that you carefully duplicate the position of the replacement arm mechanism with that of the one you’re removing. The position of the short bar that is bolted to the wiper motor is very important. If you don’t match it closely the mechanism won’t function correctly.

After the new mechanism is back together, replace the two wiper blade arms. Don’t tighten the wiper arm nuts fully, just enough to hold the arm to the mechanism for a test (you may have to remove and reposition them if they’re just not right). Run a test and after you’ve confirmed that the blades are in the correct position, tighten down the wiper arm nuts and replace the cover plugs.

This should be a good long term fix for this Saturn wiper problem since the replacement mechanism is all metal!

Disclaimer: Repair tips in this article are designed for informational purposes only, without warranty of any kind, in no event shall the author of this site be liable for any consequential, incidental or direct damages sustained in the course of using the information in this article.

If you’ve ever had a disc get stuck in the Olevia BDP-110 Blu-ray player, you know how frustrating this can be!  The player locks up and can only be re-started by unplugging and then plugging in the A.C. cord.  Even then the player boots up and locks again without ejecting your disc. Here’s how to manually eject the disc.

Warning:  This article is for informative purposes only!  We take no responsibility for any damage that you may cause or incur if you try this yourself.

First, and most importantly, make sure the A.C. line cord is unplugged! Remove the eight (8) small phillips bolts that hold on the top cover of the player. Tip the cover up at a 45 degree angle and remove it. ( The yellow screwdriver in the photo is pointing to the eject hole)


We found that it was easier to reach the eject hole by tipping the player assembly out. There’s 4 small brass bolts and a red SATA-type cable holding the blu-ray player unit in place.

Here we plainly see the eject hole, faintly marked “E”.  Straighten out a paperclip to about a 3″ length and insert it in the hole.  As you push it in you’ll feel a small wheel inside the player turning the eject mechanism.  You may have to do this several times. As you push the paper clip in, you’ll slowly see the eject door opening.  Eventually you’ll be able to pull the tray out and retrieve your missing disc!

Warning:  This article is for informative purposes only!  We take no responsibility for any damage that you may cause or incur if you try this yourself.

HARRY BROWN is a gritty and realistic crime drama that re-visits the familiar territory of the DEATH WISH films. Michael Caine gives an engaging performance as Harry Brown, a British 70′s-something pensioner, besieged by a neighborhood of drug dealers, addicts and thugs. Recently widowed and all alone, save for one friend, we can’t help but sympathize with his plight. It’s when Harry’s best friend is mugged and brutally stabbed to death that he becomes a vigilante. In short order Harry is dispensing his own form of justice around his housing estate.

Police woman D.I. Frampton suspects Harry’s motives, and quickly becomes a foil to his ‘Bronson’ personna. The role of the ‘maverick British police woman’ has been created many times before, most notably in the TV series BLUE MURDER and PRIME SUSPECT. In HARRY BROWN, Emily Mortimer gives a durable performance in a workmanlike role.

As always, it’s a pleasure to see Michael Caine adding finesse and charm to an otherwise familar crime drama. HARRY BROWN is an enjoyable, yet gritty and violent film.
Recommended (with cautions about blood-letting)