A very long catch-up post
Oct 10, 2007

I've been getting bad about updating regularly, and I'm trying to fix that. I have, however, been very busy lately. Here's a quick rehash of what's happened since my last post:
  1. It turned out that the work I was expecting to have to do while I was in Illinois ended up getting pushed back by my client. So I never really had to test out my Parallels/Gentoo/Lighttpd/SQLite setup for web development (although I did some very basic tests that worked out just fine).
  2. IMG_0016
  3. I got to meet Jessi's sister's new daughter, and basically my niece, Maura, just hours after she was born at around midnight on Sept. 28. Here are some pictures of her meeting her aunt Jessi, her grandma, her great-grandma, her mom, and, of course, me, all taken on my iPhone (the one to the right is my favorite of the many funny faces she made).
  4. Went to the wedding of some of Jessi's friends from home.
  5. Flew back to Boston.
  6. Had a whopping 4 or so days before some other friends came from Illinois to visit us, and then got to show them around Boston and expose them to some of our favorite things here (like G'vanni's in the North End and Tacos Lupita in Porter Square). Though in the process it finally dawned on me that since we have a car now the Providence and Manchester airports are within range so we can actually fly on SouthWest and save some money when we go places that JetBlue won't take us (they flew SouthWest into Providence).
  7. Finally sold the Mercedes. I didn't get quite as much for it as I wanted, but I still got enough that it was worthwhile having repaired and sold it rather than just junking it when it died.
  8. Finally got that project that I had expected to be working on while I was in Illinois. Ended up having to do the whole thing in two days (ah, the joys of sub-contracting).
  9. I lived out my 9,125 day, remarkable only in that it's a multiple of 365. This was the same day we ate at G'vanni's, and afterwards got pastries from the North End's Modern Pastry.
  10. I put off development of my WiFi database site in favor of a different project. This one will be less flashy, but will have much greater personal utility. It will also probably be useful for a lot of other people too, so my plan is to make it a hosted (free) service and open it up for anyone to use. I'm considering the possibility of maybe some premium features that you have to pay for, but that will have to wait.
  11. My MacBook, which I've had for approximately 17 months now, died. I'm fairly positive it's a hard drive failure as when it happened there was no kernel panic or any other sort of error message. The computer was still running, but any processes that were trying to access the hard drive locked up. Then the hard drive started making a pleasant clicking sound. Upon attempting to reboot I sill get the starting chime, but then it just goes to a white screen and clicks. This all seems consistent with a hard drive failure as when it happened most of the system would have been running in RAM and so unaffected, and the startup chime is stored in firmware and so also unaffected.
And that brings us to today. Currently I'm waiting until it's time to head over to the Apple Store in the CambridgeSide Galleria to have them look at my MacBook. The problem is such that they'll spend a few minutes looking it over and then tell me that they'll have to send it in to the service center for repairs (they only do work on desktop locally, laptops are always shipped out). It should be a fairly quick repair though, so I should only be without my laptop for probably a week at the most. Fortunately I bought AppleCare for it, so the repair will be free. I'm also working on designing a home theater setup for the condo. Currently the only screen we have to watch the few tv shows and movies we watch is my monitor. This isn't as bad as it sounds, as it's a Dell 24" LCD with greater than HD resolution (1920x1200), but it does mean that we have to sit in the office on our desk chairs which isn't as comfortable as it could be. The other day we tried moving my computer out to the living room to see if the screen was big enough to use as a tv in there. It isn't quite, but it wasn't actually all that bad. However since my MacBook just died I had to move the computer back into the office so that it would actually be useable. So now I'm planning out what will become our home theater system. I'm fairly positive that for the screen I'll be getting the Olevia 342i, a 42", 720p tv without an HDTV tuner. This may seem lacking, but it isn't. At about 8-10' away, the difference between 720p and 1080p on a 42" screen won't really be noticeable. And we dont' need a built-in HDTV tuner, because I'm going to be using the TV with a SiliconDust HDHomeRun. The HDHomeRun is a much better choice for us becaues it's a dual-tuner device, and it's compatible out of the box with MythTV, which is what I plan on using to manage our video library and for it's DVR capabilities. That leaves only the question of how to implement the MythTV system. I've narrowed that down to two options:
  1. A Mac Mini. Actually, that's a vast oversimplification. The Mini would only be running the MythTV front-end. The back-end would be running on a Linux box. I already have a suitable machine to use for the Linux box (I built it a couple years ago as a gaming rig, and it's more than up to the task), I just need to reformat the drives and install MythTV. So the only cost there would be the Mac Mini (about $600) and the drives for storage ($330 for a 1 TB drive to start). So the total initial cost of that MythTV setup would be around $1000.
  2. A TVease Zodiac. I'd get the $900 base model, because I don't need/want the analog tuners and it's cheaper to use the HDHomeRun than to get a model with HD tuners; also it's cheaper to add more storage myself. This ends up being a little costlier, but significantly easier in terms of setup and usage. It also reduces the number of components the system has by allowing me to put the MythTV front-end and back-end in the same box without significantly reducing my storage capacity (it has room for three drives, so a maximum of 3 TB, but I can always add external drives as well so the maximum storage capacity is essentially infinate). I probably wouldn't get a new HD for it right off the bat. Even though it will only come with a 250 GB drive, I can point it to the 500 GB RAID that I currently store my digital video collection on over the network so I think it will be sufficient for now. Of course eventually I'd probably want to put another TB or more into it. The total initial cost of this MythTV setup is also about $1000, but much easier to accomplish.
So I have to figure out which setup I want to use. The Mac Mini will look better, but the Zodiac doesn't look that bad, and the eventual plan is to recess it into the wall anyway which will look pretty cool no matter which I use. I'm really leaning towards the Zodiac right now, but I want to do a little more research before I make any sort of decision like that. In the mean time, I can at least get the TV and see about hacking it into the current setup (perhaps using KnoppMyth on my PC (the reason I'm not going to just go with a plan like that is it won't look as good and will be loud, should be perfectly fine for a temporary setup though).
blog comments powered by Disqus