Why is Google Mocking Me?

Posted by me on Tuesday, the 5th day of December, anno domini 2006 at 1:00 PM, local time.

Based on the last few quotes of the day on my google homepage, I have determined that they are deliberately mocking me and my habits. Here is today’s quote:

To be a book-collector is to combine the worst characteristics of a dope fiend with those of a miser. – Robertson Davies

I mean, seriously, that’s just not nice. I’ve never made disparaging remarks about google, and so shouldn’t have to expect them to make such remarks about me.

On another book related note, I have finally managed to pick up the book club book, Time Enough For Love by Heinlein, again and started reading it. Our first meeting for the book is this Friday, and I have about 200 pages short of where I need to be for it. But, progress was finally made. And, the little short sub-story was very entertaining. It was subtitled as “The Man Who Was Too Lazy To Fail.” It was fantastic. The motivations of this guy seem very familiar… I have heard laziness being called the Engineer’s Disease, and I am no longer ashamed that it is so!

Anyway, my opinion of the book is improving. It has points where it is a bit of tedious crazy Heinlein-ness, but by and large it appears to be shaping up as the kind of book where some old cantankerous fellow is interviewed by a much younger man for insights into life and living in general. One must deal with the old fellow’s occasional oddities and eccentricities, as well as his antiquated notions and not-quite politically correct ideas, but there are a lot of fun, interesting, and useful stories to hear from him.

But, I am not very far in the book, so who knows if it will stay that way for very long.

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Lots of Books

Posted by me on Monday, the 4th day of December, anno domini 2006 at 10:17 PM, local time.

So I found this quote on my google homepage today. Its accuracy is remarkable, yet somehow depressing. Oh well.

Books to the ceiling, Books to the sky, My pile of books is a mile high. How I love them! How I need them! I’ll have a long beard by the time I read them. – Arnold Lobel

On another book related note, yesterday, when I foolishly went to the bookstore, I purchased a couple more books, which is unremarkable in and of itself. However, one of these books was a small collection of poems by Tim Burton (whom you might recall from such movies as The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride). I thought, well, I like his movies, they are touchingly surreal; surely his poetry will be similar. And so I brought it home.

It was definitely surreal. But rather than being touching, most of it was just disturbing. The art was very familiar as Burton’s, the poems were all short doggerel at best, but the topics were downright grotesque. I am slightly disturbed. Note, Kyle, if you are reading this, this is definitely a book that you would enjoy. Everyone else reading this, I would recommend perusing a bit so you are fully aware of Mr. Burton’s psychotic tendencies, but only do so on an empty stomach and only if you are of healthy constitution in general.

On a completely unrelated note, yes, it has been months since I last updated this. Yes, I plan to continue to update it on the same loose schedule. And yes, if anyone still bothers to come here and read these things when updates do happen, I do appreciate each and every one of them.

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Close call!

Posted by me on Sunday, the 10th day of September, anno domini 2006 at 11:30 PM, local time.

So, I had a close call with my laptop today. I was done using it for a while, and so I set it down on the endtable (rather hard, I must admit) and wham! Out go all the lights and the dang thing shuts down completely. Instantly. Not even a little light indicating that the power cord was plugged in. It rattled a bit when I shook it… It refused to turn back on.

Later, I still couldn’t get it to turn on so I completely disassembled it to see if anything was mechanically wrong or had broken off or something. Didn’t find anything odd, though there was certainly plenty of dust. I did break one of the three fans’ power/sense connector off the motherboard on accident during all of this though. Anyway, since I couldn’t find anything, I put it all back together and what-do-ya-know, it powered back on ok and seems to be fine now… I still don’t trust it really, but I don’t really want to buy a new laptop right now. Then I wouldn’t be able to buy the stuff for my new fileserver! So, I think I’ll just pretend everything’s fine, buy my fileserver stuff and then act all shocked when my laptop finally bites the dust.

Sounds like a plan.

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Even easier.

Posted by me on Sunday, the 10th day of September, anno domini 2006 at 11:00 PM, local time.

So, in my extreme laziness, I have finally made my rack server use the gmail account I gave him a while back. He reads the email account every once in a while and will post blog entries based on the emails I send it. Its handy, since its just too much work to go into the blog webware and type in there. I guess I just want gmail to be my interface to everything. And while I was at it, my server also can interpret a couple other commands for data entry and the like. At first I had a whole big authentication scheme, but it got to be a pain in the ass. Now it just makes sure the email is of the correct format and from the correct email address. It’s not foolproof, but it’ll do.

The other handy thing about it is that it can post at a specific time in the future (or immediately, of course). That way, I can keep my posts near round number posting times, which is always a plus…

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Pickled Eggs

Posted by me on Thursday, the 20th day of July, anno domini 2006 at 10:09 PM, local time.

So, as many people may know, I like pickled eggs. Back home, you could find a jar of pickled eggs pretty much at any bar you wanted to go to. Up at school, maybe a third had pickled eggs around. But here, there is not a single bar to be found that sells them! What kind of crap city is this? So, I had no choice: I had to make my own pickled eggs.

So I brew up a batch of vinegar salt water solution with a variety of spices and such to add some flavor and let some hard boiled eggs sit it in for several weeks. Now, I’m not quite brave enough yet to let the whole solution sit out, so it has to work its pickling magic in the refrigerator for now. Which is fine. I don’t think it hurts the flavor any. I’ve been testing an egg or two every now and again, and they are getting to be rather tasty. I really should hard boil some more eggs and refill the jar. I think I’ll let the brine stay as is for a while. Its in vinegar, for goodness sake, so it’s not like it will go bad!

Anyway, I just thought I would let people know: Pickled Eggs are great! And its really quite easy to make your own. If there is enough interest I could post the exact ingredients I combined for my brine, but really, its a secret (and it’s not that hard to come up with something good on your own, anyway).

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Waiting for the Harddrives

Posted by me on Friday, the 7th day of April, anno domini 2006 at 12:10 AM, local time.

So, overnight really means, better luck next time, its really two days.

Anyway, while I wait (patiently?) for the hard drives to arrive, I’ve been playing with alternate booting methods. Booting from USB keydrives was supposed to work with this motherboard, but it was also supposed to work on my Thinkpad, where I never really got it to work at all. So, needless to say, that didn’t work here either. :) Booting live linux CDs worked just fine, of course, with SLAX having a lot more hardware support than Knoppix does. Maybe a more recent Knoppix has some better drivers, but I just tried what I had.

That got rather boring, so today I played with PXE booting from network. Set up my rack server to provide the DHCP booting, kernel image, initrd, and the rest of the setup. That should let me play a bit more with more recent kernels and drivers for the case and motherboard so that when the harddrives really do get here tomorrow, I should be relatively ready to go. Surprisingly, booting over network was a lot easier than I would have originally thought. Not too slow either. You should try it :)

Well, thats about all thats new on the MythTV front for today.

By the by, I added the Man Room Cam link to the links on this page so nobody has to wade through recent articles to find the one where I listed that link. I have heard that several people seem to use this page as a portal to that one. So, alright, I’ll try to be accommodating.

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Posted by me on Tuesday, the 28th day of March, anno domini 2006 at 12:55 AM, local time.

Ha! Now that no one reads this thing anymore, I shall post some more things to it, just to confuse you all.

So, anyway, as I’m sure many people are aware, I have long been planning to build a MythTV box so that I too can join the DVR revolution. The VCR has its limitations. Also, I have been lazily not updating this blog very often. So, I thought I would use this place as a kind of heres-how-I-did-it type blog for my mythTv box. From time to time. Feel to free to mock my problems as they come up and belittle my plans for my new computer as you will.

Since I havn’t actually purchased any of the hardware for this new thing yet, I can’t really describe how I’ve got it set up just yet… For now, I will describe what will be in the thing, and then as I get the pieces, I will try to remember to write about any issues that crop up and resolutions to the problems.

So, here goes. First, I will likely be getting almost everything from NewEgg. They might not have the absolute best prices but they are certainly reasonable, and have a great selection and great return policies.

The order in which I present these things might be a little odd, but it really just harkens back to route I took to decide what to get. Sadly enough, it all started with the case. I blame Adam. The whole damn thing is his fault.

The Case
Thats right, its the Silverstone Lascala SST-LC11S-M. A great case, that really was made with only one thought in mind: Jon will love this. I mean, seriously, its MicroATX, comes with a remote control and IR module, and a front panel display (both with linux drivers direct from Silverstone’s site). It comes with a nice and quiet ATX powersupply (only 240W, which is slightly worrisome, but can be upgraded to 300W if not more from Silverstone). Price isn’t horrible, but you are paying for their high quality case engineering abilities and whatnot… right… anyway.

The Motherboard
So, ok, I’ve got a cool case, but it needs a MicroATX board. And really, when I think of what a nice motherboard needs, what comes to mind but dual gigabit ethernet ports, onboard SATA with hardware RAID0/1, onboard Audio with SPDIF I/O, onboard Video with DVI/VGA/S-Video/component outputs…

Of course, only one such motherboard exists: The AOpen i915GMm-HFS. Its a Pentium M board, which originally I wasn’t overly happy about, but seriously, with the limited powersupply available and how I really do want the thing to run quiet and cool, its really the best way to go. Originally the motherboard did have some issues with the CPU heatsink, but they’ve since fixed that up, so thats good. It also boots from USB, which is a major plus. There is also a good wiki devoted to using the thing with linux, and the outlook is very good. Pretty much everything works 100% with the latest 2.6 kernels and a couple module options. Even S-Video/DVI/component out, SPDIF in and out, the fan speed controllers and temp sensors, the hardware raid and sata stuff, etc, etc. So thats all great!

The Processor
So, since I need a Pentium M now, I really have just a couple choices from NewEgg. Either a 1.73GHz Dothan, or a 2.00Ghz Dothan. Now, I really don’t need that extra 0.27 GHz, so I went with the slightly cheaper 1.73Ghz guy. Its 533MHz FSB and 2MB L2 cache should make it a lovely speed increase from most things I’m use to. I’m sure we’ll be very happy together.

The Memory
So, in brief, I figured memory is cheap, so I might as well load up. 2x 1GB of DDR2 533 RAM should be great. Its CORSAIR, so its not the absolute cheapest cheapo crap I could find, but its still not bad in price.

The Drives
Ok, if the motherboard supports hardware RAID0, and linux supports the chipset, I’d be foolish not to take advantage, right? Also, it appears the every time I check back, prices fall further. So, two Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 SATA 120GB in a lovely striped array should work great. 240GB of space for a DVR should be fine, right? If not, I always could use some network attached storage over my dual gigabit ethernet ports….

I do have some slight concerns as the noise levels of these guys, even though a lot of the reviews claimed they were pretty good. We’ll have to see I guess. Can’t be louder than my current laptop, as I know many people will attest to.

I’ll also mention here, though its rather boring, I will be getting a DVD drive for this thing as well. DVD burner actually, so that will be cool (DVD+/-R, DVD+/-RW, DVD-RAM, CD-R, CD-RW burner). Don’t know that I’ll use it all that often though.

The Capture Card
Last but not least, is the capture card. The Hauppauge WinTV-PVR 500 really seems the way to go. Sure, its analog only, but I only have an analog TV anyway, and don’t really see the need (or the allure) of HDTV. Analog is cheaper, and it works fine with everything :) I can upgrade later if I need to.

The card is the only PCI card I’m going to need to have in this system which is pretty nice. The card has two onboard analog tuners and also allows S-Video input from a cable box or VCR or what-have-you. Each tuner also has its own dedicated hardware MPG encoder! I have heard reports online where encoding two different things at the same time with this card has only about a 2-5% CPU utilization overhead or so (and that was on a Celeron, I believe). That should leave plenty left over for watching a third show or playing music or doing God-knows what else on here.

It also works great with MythTV and linux, the reports seem to indicate in the reviews on NewEgg. There were some issues with this card on early VIA chipsets, but those have been resolved (VIA issue, as I recall). Also has an FM tuner on it, but I don’t really listen to the radio much so I don’t expect to use that a whole lot. I may attempt to set it up though, depending on how bored I get with this thing… :)

The route to the poor house
So, I am planning on starting to buy this stuff starting with my next pay check. Since I really need a couple parts before I can even boot the thing, a large portion of it will be coming shortly I think. The case will be arriving first, as I need its power supply. With it will likely come the motherboard, CPU, and 1GB stick of RAM. Since it can boot off of USB, I should be able to get linux up and running at that point, and mount stuff off my network. Not too bad really. Should be able to play music and downloaded TV shows at that point without too much trouble.

Shortly thereafter I’ll probably get the two harddrives and the DVD drive. That should allow me to fully install my linux distro of choice (Slackware of course…) and mythtv software and get things rolling on that end. At that point, I’ll definitely be able to use it for my music listening and downloaded TV shows, as well as DVD playing.

Finally, I’ll need to get the capture card and the other stick of RAM to complete the system, but they can wait a bit to spread the costs out. Since I really will need them to run the system with any real DVRness, that will be a good impetous to get them, since I will have already gotten everything else for it already :) Once I get those, it should be only a very short hop to watching TV through the thing, and recording television shows as well (I’ve read reports that with the ivtv drivers, recording is as simple as “cat /dev/video0 > show.mpg”. Now that, is sweet), even if I don’t fully have MythTV setup yet. With my current television lineup SQL database scheme already in place on my other server, I may just play around for a while with integrating that with recording TV automatically from there. Command lines are better, I say!! :-)

Anyway, it’s late, I’m tired, and I have a bit of a headache. Probably because it’s late and I’m tired.

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