Kurt Dinnes, Not Your Ordinary Contractor

Kurt Dinnes is not just another Builder, he creates places that you are proud to call home. The last home that he built was a high-tech Showcase Home in Oklahoma City. It sold for just under $500,000 and all the proceeds went to charity.

Kurt is one of the Managing Partners of Sun Contracting, a construction company that began in the early 90’s. Kurt is also the President of Taco Mayo, which is a chain of contemporary Tex-Mex restaurants spread out across the south central region of the US. He and Randy Earhart, the other Managing Partner, began Sun Construction to accommodate the needs of their burgeoning restaurant business. With 88+ restaurants spread across the south central US since 1978, in-house construction and remodeling of many of these became a necessity. They found that they could manage the construction more economically and efficiently if they acted as the general contractors. With a successful business model implemented, other people were soon requesting their services.

A member of the Oklahoma City Homebuilders Association, Kurt takes his contribution to the community to heart. Part of the Taco Mayo mission statement reflects this: “Recognizing that success does not come easily, especially for individuals in less fortunate circumstances, we take very seriously our responsibilities to the communities that have been so good to us.” Sun Contracting was honored to participate in the SW HomeBuilders Association Showcase Home charity program. They donated all their fees in addition to helping to solicit vendors to donate furnishings, materials and high-tech appliances for the Showcase Home.

The 2007 Showcase home set a fundraising record. Over 70 vendors, manufacturers, craftspeople and artisans donated or heavily discounted their materials that went into the three bedroom, one outdoor living room house. “Normally, it would take at least a year to build this kind of home, instead of a little more than four months,” Dinnes said. “The subcontractors went way beyond the call of duty,” he said. All this in order to meet the Showcase of Homes deadline. The 3,500-Square-foot house includes a 700 square-foot game-theater room. “This is the room of rooms,” Dinnes said. The house also has many smaller elements that make a house a home, including a pot-filler faucet by the stove and six showerheads in the master shower. Dinnes said “the more sophisticated buyer will inquire about updated options for the bathroom, but he also likes educating other buyers about their shower selections. I love building people’s dream homes,” he said.

The profits from the house after the sale went to The Southwest Homes charity. This charity donates money to the local schools, YMCA, and houses for disabled children that they support. The Showcase Home was featured in Central OK Homes Magazine and drew over 2500 visitors. People from the area came to not only see the home but also to view the latest technology in the home building industry. The Showcase Home featured chiseled stone, rough cedar beams, scribed wood floors, high-tech appliances, low VOC lighting, house-wide surround sound, a built-in theater system, and an outdoor living room complete with fireplace. Steve Spitz, from “Better living with Steve Spitz”, a west coast design show, assisted with color choices and interior design for house.

Kurt is a people guy. It is apparent when you meet him. He is outgoing and friendly and at first introduction, makes you feel like you’ve known him since grade school. He loves to work with his clients, helping to solve their marketing and financing problems in the restaurant business as well as with home building solutions. His typical day consists of meetings with clients, employees and the members of his Taco Mayo team, listening to problems and coming up with solutions.

The most difficult challenges he comes across in the contracting business are managing expectations with subcontractors. Kurt has high standards. Like a superhero, he likes to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. With regards to deadlines and quality products, sometimes subcontractors do not see things the same way. Rather than see the glass as half-full though, Kurt always manages to see the cup as overflowing.

Kurt’s Four Favorite Tools

1. DeWalt Cordless impact drill

2. Paslode cartridge nailer

3. Makita 7-1/2″ Miter Saw

4. DeWalt Laser Leveler

Choosing The mp3 Player That Suits You

If you’ve been looking around for an mp3 player, chances are you’re very confused with all the different specifications and the vast array of models out there. You’ve read that you can get your entire music collection on to one mp3 player and that’s true – but not every mp3 player. You have also been told that you can throw them around, go jogging with them, climb a mountain with one and all this is true – but again, not every mp3 player will withstand this treatment.

Basically, if you want to get physical with your mp3 player then you need one with no moving parts. In this case, the iPod is not what you want. You would be looking for a machine which saves it’s music to memory. Some of the most popular mp3 players which fall into this category are in the Creative MuVo range.

There are basically three types of mp3 player. Hard drive based, memory based and mp3 CD player based. The hard drive mp3 players allow you to store thousands of tunes whilst the memory based version sacrifices music volume for freedom of movement. You can even get waterproof mp3 players! The mp3 CD players read the mp3 music from a CD which you have pre-burned.

So now you have enough information to know what type of mp3 player you should be looking for. Now what about capacity? How much music can you get on the various players out there? Let’s take a look ….

If you want your music to sound good you want to be using at least CD quality mp3s. One minute of CD quality mp3 takes up around 1Mb. The memory based mp3 players have a top limit of around 500Mb meaning you can get roughly 120 average length tunes on there. But the top end hard drive versions go up to as much as 60Gb which is a whole lot of music – an anorak’s dream 🙂

Another consideration is battery life. The hard drive mp3 players plough through the batteries at a rate of knots since the disk has to physically turn. The memory based option uses a lot less battery power. Many of the memory based mp3 players use the AAA size battery which is very convenient since you don’t need a re-charger and you don’t need to search for hard to find battery types. You’ll find that most hard drive versions use lithium-ion rechargeable batteries and if you use your mp3 player a lot, your re-charger will be in regular use. Many people simply leave the power lead plugged in when they are at home.

An important factor in your decision should be the size of the unit. If you want to use your player at the gym or while you’re out jogging then you’ll want the smallest player possible. There are some really tiny models on the market these days. You will usually have to sacrifice some storage with a very small mp3 players but you can usually get enough music on there to have a good long workout.

If you want to use your mp3 player more at home then size will not be such a great consideration. The iPod is still a very compact unit and most people will be held to fit their entire collection on there. Of course the iPod is not your only option and there are many excellent manufacturers out there. Just be careful of some of the cheap imports you see on ebay, often there is no support for these players.

As a replacement for the home hi fi system, the mp3 player is becoming more and more popular. High fidelity purists obviously will never be swayed but to most of us the quality of the mp3 is perfectly adequate for our everyday listening purposes.

In fact many modern players coming on to the market have been designed with both portability and versatility in mind. What better way to entertain your dinner party guests than to have your mp3 player randomly selecting music from over ten thousand of your favourite tracks? No more fumbling around in your CD rack trying to find the disk that lost its cover 😉

Now you know what to look for, go get yourself a player and join the digital music revolution.

Was the XBox 360 Released Too Soon?

Less than a week after launch, Xbox 360 owners have started to complain about several problems with their new Xbox 360, mainly over heating and disk scratching. What seemed to be isolated cases several days ago, now appears to be more prevalent.

A reader of Xbox Today claiming to be an Xbox LIVE technical support worker, believes that nearly half of the Xbox 360’s are “broke.”

“I estimate at least half the 360’s out there are broke… nothing but constant calls” explained the source

Regardless of whether-or-not the source does work for tech support, there is still a growing number of concerned Xbox 360 owners with broken Xbox 360’s.

The question that most people are asking is; did Microsoft launch the Xbox 360 [http://www.xboxtoday.ca] prematurely?

Last time around Microsoft actually launched too late. Sony sold more than 20 million units by the time Microsoft sold its first 1.5 million. This time around, Microsoft has the head start. The Nintendo Revolution and the PS3 are both expected to be released in 2006, at least 6 months after the launch of the Xbox 360. However, with the obvious shortage, and the growing number of complaints, MS large head start may have less impact then previously thought.

As the next few months play-out it will be interesting to see if MS can overcome the concerns with technical issues as well as the obvious shortage prior to the launches of the Sony PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Revolution. Either way, 2006 is shaping up to be a great time for gamers.