Huh, Summer's Over?

September 30, 2005

The A/C in our house stopped working yesterday...
It was pretty miserable in the house: the temperature reached at least 96 degrees (F). But, we are prepared for this "catastrophe." I just renewed our home warranty. The problem is the process you have to go through in order to call upon the mighty power of said warranty. First you have to call the warranty company. Then you have to wait up to 24 hours (!) for a local service contractor to contact you. Finally the service contractor shows up at your house and hopefully can fix your problem and you pay him your $45 deductible. We are currently pending on the second step. I'm eagerly waiting to be contacted, and hoping that the contractor works weekends. Either that or someone needs to tell the weather out here that it's supposed to be Fall now...

The iPod Nano fund is coming along, and so far the beer withdrawal convulsions haven't been too bad. Feel free to help me out by contributing :)

Heather, Holly, Jeff, and I are all going to watch Serenity tonight. This is a movie spin-off of a sci-fi television show that was canceled after one season. I don't know how a show as awesome as Firefly was canceled, but it was. Luckily, due to high DVD sales and a rabid cult following, a movie has been made (and if it's good, hopefully more will follow). So, if you want to see a different style of sci-fi (this is like a space cowboy show and breaks a lot of "rules" that most sci-fi shows seem to follow) check out Firefly. And, go watch the movie so they can make enough money to make more.

The Plan

September 13, 2005

Okay, I really want an iPod Nano. I have been thinking about how I can acheive this and I came up with a plan:

I normally spend about $15 a week on beer. My plan is to stop buying beer and instead put $15 a week into an iPod Nano fund. Also, my birthday is coming up in 1.5 months, so I will be accepting deposits into the iPod Nano fund as birthday gifts.

In order to make this more interesting, I am going to keep track of the iPod Nano fund status on the main page. Also, Heather has veto power on this idea, so if she doesn't like it I'll have to come up with another one...

(also, if you feel extra giving, or just pity me, you can put into the iPod Nano fund whenever you want)

Got Nano?

September 8, 2005

Man, I want one of these so bad! Apple came out with a new iPod yesterday, and I've been drooling over it ever since. The dimensions on this thing are 3.5" high x 1.6" wide x 0.27" thick. The nano comes in sizes of 2GB and 4GB, with a color screen, and their slick as oil "click wheel." I used to think there wasn't anything special about iPods until I used that click wheel interface. It is the coolest user interface ever. In case you're wondering, I'm eyeing the 4GB one ($250).

So, yeah, just thought I'd let you know...

Been a while, sorry, whatever, here is what's new:

MythTV: It's like TiVo on crack! MythTV is a program that turns a computer into a "set-top box." A set-top box is a computer that you use with your television. MythTV performs TV enhancements like the ability to pause and rewind live TV, and also allows you to record programs for later viewing. With the recorded programs you can skip commercials while viewing, and even output them for burning to DVD. I hardly ever watch live TV any more. Another cool feature is that I can rip a DVD to image and put the image on the MythTV box and then watch the DVD from the hard drive with menus and everything else you expect from a DVD. You can play music (mp3, ogg vorbis, etc.) on the box, as well as standard video formats (avi, mov, mpeg, etc.) Recently, I have been downloading movie trailers and watching them on the TV instead of the computer.

I installed MythTV on an old computer using a distribution called KnoppMyth. KnoppMyth is a single CD installation that installs Debian and MythTV with other extras that enhance MythTV. It even has a walk-through setup that makes it easier to get working. If you didn't know, Debian is a distribution of the Linux operating system. That's right, MythTV only works with Linux. This is nice because both Linux and MythTV are open source, which also means both are free. While KnoppMyth makes the installation much easier, installing MythTV this way is still not for the feint of heart. Getting my system working still required quite a bit of tweaking the system. However the online community for KnoppMyth is excellent, and most people have had the same issues as me and there are tutorials that walk you through resolving those issues. The only extra hardware I had to purchase was a TV-tuner card (goes in computer and has a coax-in connection on the back), and eventually a larger hard drive to store all the TV shows and ripped DVDs.

The next step I would like to take is to build a new box from the ground up to make a set-top box that actually looks like it belongs on top of my TV. Right now, I have a computer tower on top of my TV. Once I get that done, I will turn the current computer I am using for MythTV into a second desktop computer so that Heather and I don't bump heads when we both want to use the computer.

Centralized network: Wired Ethernet in the home. Well, now that I have two computers hooked up to the internet and to each other via a network I thought it would be nice to improve my network setup. Before everything was in our media room and I had a long cable running from the cable connection over to my cable modem and an even longer cable going from the router on top of my desktop computer over to the MythTV box on top of the TV. My thought was this: install Ethernet jacks in the walls behind both computers and move the cable modem and router to the coat closet. The closet is a nice central location for when I run Ethernet to other locations I want it at, and it also seemed like a good place to put any server computers I plan to put together later. So, this weekend I ran power over to the closet, ran CAT5e Ethernet cable between both computers and the closet, and temporarily terminated the cable with RJ45 plugs. I also ran a coaxial cable from my cable splitter over to the closet. Right now the cable modem and router are in the closet and the network is up and running. I am expecting materials in the mail today that will allow me to make the installation more finished (faceplates, and RJ45 jacks). This setup is going to make it easier for me to complete my master plan. My master plan is to have MythTV set up on all televisions in the house (at least 3), have two desktop computers, a file server in the closet, and possibly a master MythTV backend in the closet. If you have trouble counting, that would mean I plan to have as many as 7 computers in my house. Pretty cool, huh? I'd have to buy a new router, though...

I plan to have a new survey up soon, so check the main page.

Expect to hear more about MythTV as I do more cool stuff with it. Also, feel free to ask me questions about it, as it has consumed much of my time and I'm still real excited about it.