Sigh. Another apology.

Posted by me on Friday, the 2nd day of November, anno domini 2007 at 11:17 AM, local time.

So, yeah, it had been two months almost. Sorry about that. The longer it got to be, the more frightened I was about blogging. Just too much pressure for a high quality post or two. So, I got that out of the way earlier this week by posting the first random thought in my head: a low quality idea that got soundly berated by all. And that’s OK. Just had to get over my trepidation.

Now I hope to get back into the swing of things. I have taken the time to move all my ideas to blog about from my iGoogle notebook over to my blog’s draft section, hopefully meaning that I can more easily develop them and get them published easier. From opera, book, television, and movie reviews to random thoughts on people, places, and things, there are 46 such items, in various states of done-ness. Some are little more than titles, others are lists of links I should talk about, and some are very close to finished, with sentences and paragraphs and everything. Just need to polish and publish.

So, once again, many apologies for my lack of blogging recently. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I hope to do better in the future.

Also, don’t expect more than one or so posts per day, possibly down to one or so per week. I don’t want to overwhelm my readers with too much to read. I also don’t want the occasional reader of my blog to miss too much if they only stop by a couple times a week and read the most recent post. Not that my posts are so interesting or important that it would really be that big of a deal. :)

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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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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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My lack of Discipline.

Posted by me on Tuesday, the 27th day of December, anno domini 2005 at 10:32 PM, local time.

Recently, I’ve been backed into a corner and forced to take stock of my pitiful life. Not that I’m not a generally happy person, with a good family, good friends, and a good job. But rather that I have no discipline, lack direction, and just generally am not good at doing the things I want to do and am fully capable of doing.

Now, as I have said, I have been forced to see this about myself, and definitely see it as a Bad Thing. More difficult, however, is figuring out what to do about it. And even more difficult than that is to actually do something about it, since, as mentioned previously, I lack discipline.

Now, one might wonder, what are the sorts of things that I am not doing that I wish I were doing? Why, says I, a wide variety of things, both boring and less so. Call me a dork if you wish (though really, ahem, thats not actually necessary, I do believe…)…

I want to read more.
Now, now, I know what you are thinking. I read too much already. But I disagree. I think that I need to read quite a bit more. More specifically, I need to read different kinds of things. I already have the books to do so, I just don’t. I need to be reading the Bible more often. I need to be reading my math and physics books (I don’t even want to hear it) so I don’t start losing it all and end up as stupid as Patrick. I should be reading my history books, and actually spend some time learning the languages I am so fascinated by. I should be reading my books on sociology, and my books on psychology, and my books on music and art. I really need to read more.

I need to exercise more.
Again, I know what you are thinking. Surely a buff, in-shape, jock such as myself need not exercise even more! Alas, I surely must. I rely entirely on my overactive metabolism to keep me as fit as I am, which is really not fit at all. In the winter, I should be taking walks and utilizing the exercise and weight room in my apartment building while I still have it. In the spring, I need to be jogging and running and rollerblading on the trail that goes right past my freaking apartment!!! And all year long, I need to be walking to work, since its not going to be next door forever. I should be doing calisthenics in the morning and walking in the evening. I used to do these things, why do I no longer?

I need to eat more.
Shut up Adam, I have a high metabolism. But seriously, I really do need to eat more. Not irregularly, as I am now. There are days that I forget to eat lunch or supper, when left to my own devices. Since I hardly do anyting, it doesn’t actually matter. And when I do eat at home, I eat cereal, or yogurt. Seldom anything nutritious and substantial. I should be making my bread at greater volumes and eating it every day. I need to be bringing home more fruit and meat and eating that every day as well. The cheese that I love so much and sits in my refrigerator needs to be eaten as well.

I need to shave more.
I am a lazy lazy bastard, and the fact that I grew a pitiful beard is really just an expression of that laziness. Its easier to occasionally maintain a beard than it is to actually shave every day. How sad is this? That I find this extremity of laziness and flock to it? I need to shave more often. No more of this beard nonsense.

I need to water my plants more often.
Scarcely relevant right now, since I only have about 6 plants indoors through the winter that need to be watered since they are not dormant, like the other 30. And I will grant that last summer I did keep almost all of them alive. But I think they would have grown much better and more regularly if I had kept a closer eye on them all and watered them as often as I should have and fertilized them regularly and properly instead of just buying more plants. Of course, this brings me to my next problem:

I need to finish more projects that I start.
I have such wide ranging interests that I find myself starting many projects all the time, often with no real hope of finishing any of them, since I just start more. I had a great plan to help me water my plants more regularly, but I apparently just lost interest in the project and there it sits, doing nothing for my plants but mocking me with its unfinishedness. As well it should! In the wood shop, I have even more unfinished projects:

I need to spend more time in the workshop.
I enjoy wood working so much and have invested heavily in being able to continue doing so, yet lately I just have not done much at all. I have so many projects that I outline and would be wonderful to work on and finish, but I just don’t give them enough time. I need a new tool to continue, or I need more materials, and I just put the whole thing on hiatus for months. My plant nursery/growing box has been 70% finished for a month now, and my stool just needs some stain and varnish, yet I do nothing. And my experiments into the joinery necessary for my wine cabinet and bookshelf need a new miter gauge to continue, which I have even located and confirmed will work, yet I don’t buy it and use it, because I am lazy.

I need to spend more time cleaning.
Why is it that I always wait until I am completely out of clothes before I begin cleaning the old ones? Why do I wait until there are no spoons before turning on the dishwasher??? Why must the dust make the television unwatchable before I actually clean it off? This makes no sense! I may have had a breakthrough recently with this one, and hopefully it keeps on, but some may have their doubts.

I need to spend more time sorting through old records.
I have piles and piles of old bills, receipts, statements, purchase records, etc., etc., sitting around waiting to be sorted, collated, and filed away into the proper folders in my filing cabinets. By doing this, I would gain more room around my apartment and also would be able to start the next stage of this project: analyzing my old receipts and bills to see where my money goes and how to better leverage it. The problem is that I am too ambitious and want to enter it all into a database, see, where I can easily query all sorts of information, such as how much money did I “invest” in Barnes and Nobles in the year 2003? Or how much money do I spend in a typical March on food? This would be invaluable information in the formation of a dynamic, accurate, and streamlines budget for myself. Instead, I am left to simply guess and estimate, making my budget fat in places where it could be far leaner, and making it lean in places where I could do to spend more. Surely this is a noble ambition, if a rather ambitious one (yes, I know).

I need to paint more and draw more.
Ha! Bet you didn’t see this coming! Once upon a time, I took great pleasure in pencil and ink drawings, and would like to once again. I also would like to learn to use the watercolors that sit on my bookshelf to do some simple paintings or letterings. I have blamed my non-doing of these things on my lack of a suitable table on which to do them, but, as was pointed out to me, that is utter crap. I need instead to just sit down and begin to paint.

I need to become more musical.
Such lofty ambition for one who has never played an instrument other than a recorder in my wee years. I have long wanted to learn to play the cello, as many people surely know. But I have made no effort whatsoever to actually begin to do so. And the piano! I love the piano, but I have not even tried to learn. Many times, my sister has offered to help me learn, but each time I was too busy. Even now she plays softly downstairs. Perhaps later, Alaina. Perhaps next time I’m home. Perhaps when I’m old and grey. Perhaps when I’m dead! Why should I wait? The window where I could actually learn to play well may have long since passed, but at least I could gain some semblance of ability even now. And really, if I learn to play neither piano, nor cello, nor anything else, I will never learn to write the music that I so love to hear and that constantly plays in my head. Will my whistle forever be my only instrument with which to share the music I love so dearly? Perhaps I am better off merely listening to what has already been created, but I had so long hoped not.

I need to write more.
I still remember the days of my youth, when it was assumed that all the days of my life would be filled with writing. In grade school, a great number of my teachers encouraged me to no end in my writing and were certain that I would become an author one day. But what to write, said I? Scattered everwhere in my room at home are half starts at fiction, poetry, philosophy, and other such writings. Volumes I have written, but nothing that is coherent, nothing that is finished, nothing that is worth reading, nothing that has been written in the last five years! What has college done to me, that I no longer wish to write each day? That I no longer wish to ignore all else for long stretches of time and simply commit thought to paper? Now even this “blog” is sparse and empty. What I do write here is barely worth reading and is more of a general complaint than anything else. The most I have written, other than for school, are my detailed accounts of my beer making, and even that is formulistic and mathematical.

Where, I ask, is my ambition now? Where is my motivation? Why do I nothing? Why do I go nowhere, seek nothing, and merely exist? I lack discipline, but where can I find it? Where has it gone? Surely once I had it. I had such plans, such loft goals. I would do research, I would start a company, I would make millions. I would travel the world, I would be famous. Such foolish goals. I am a simpler man now, but I still have goals, I still have things I would like to do, things I should be doing, things I must be doing. Why do I do them not???

A simpler man, who seeks only a good life, a good family, and the discipline to take those things as they pass me by.

Lebe, du Narr, da dir Leben gegeben worden ist.
God put me here for a reason, but rather than seek it out, or in fact do anything at all, I sit here and wait for him to take me away again. At that time, I will say, “See? I am a good little boy, who sat still and waited for his Father to come retrieve him from where he was left for a while.” So deceptively simple to say that. So pat and perfect. And yet, and yet, the parable of the Foolish Steward comes to mind, it surely does.

Leben, Lieben, Dienen, Sterben.

For so long, I assumed that the first step on der Weg was a given. But I see now that I am wrong. The second step I assumed would come in time if I just waited. It seems that is also not the case. The third step was the one I knew all along would be difficult, and it has not proved otherwise. The fourth is out of my hands, I assumed, and would come when it came. Well, surely it will, but to have completed the other three in time may prove more difficult than I had originally assumed.

My my, what a strange and twisted path this post has taken. An interesting introspective though, and I thank The Instigator for sparking it off.
I still have not yet discovered how to best get a move on with all I wish to do, but Wish me Luck! And wish me luck also, as I do my best to follow the way.

Its funny, that a bit of fiction can be so relevant to der Weg, but it surely happens from time to time:

The Way comes but once. Be Steadfast. (With apologies. I like it better this way.)

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How sad

Posted by me on Thursday, the 15th day of December, anno domini 2005 at 8:14 PM, local time.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Only the second or third day in, and already he’s out of things to say. It’s sad really. But, mostly it’s cause I’m lazy. I might have things to say. Really. It could be possible…

But, really, I blame work. For some reason I stayed a bit late today. I actually got things done, since everyone else left, ya see. Though some of that time was spent eating various food things since it was the area’s “Goodie Day” (I hate the word goodie…) and then there was cheesecake…

To meander back to the topic for which this post was supposedly written, I don’t have a lot to say. Or rather, I have lots to say, but just very little of it can actually be said, for a variety of reasons, which I won’t go into here. I’ll save that for some other time when I have even less to say.

As a final note, please bear with me as I rip this blog’s theme apart and reconstruct it more to my liking. Until then, the place will be pretty much the very minimum required to still convey information.

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I felt left out

Posted by me on Wednesday, the 14th day of December, anno domini 2005 at 12:31 AM, local time.

Well, as sad as it is, I have succumbed to the pressure (mostly of the passive sort) of my peers and started a blog. Now, first, let it be said that I really never liked the word “blog,” as it seems to me a horrible corruption of English (not that English isn’t already corrupted, or is uncorruptable, but still). However, with this in mind, I do like to talk a lot about things of little to no importance, and The Blog is certainly the best venue for that sort of monologue.

So here it be.

Since I am by nature a lazy person, I can’t say for certain the frequency with which I shall be updating this site, but one hopes that it will be at least quasi-regularly.

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