Today’s GeekSquee

20 09 2007

I have much geek-joy this morning. Yesterday was a banner day in playing with all the little toys I have, and building up some new ones. Without boring you all to smithereens going on about details in my Java / XML project, lets go with a few things that are slightly more tactile. Gaming, Cons, CD’s, and wafts of fresh air.

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Enabling Relationships

9 06 2007

I have to admit, there are times when having an enabling partner brings unexpected benefits.
In this case, my wife happens to work for Bose as a project manager, and as such as access to their employee discounts and specials. Because of her signing bonus, we have a lovely Bose Lifestyle 48 soundsystem to complement the Big TV. I would never have the money to be able to afford such an extravagant system, but it’s hard to argue with the discount.
Tonight I added some more pieces to the mix. We got some new speaker stands for the satellite speakers, and rewired the MythTV box a bit. The new stands look great!
Next step will be to use the new video switcher on the LS48 to route video and audio all via the Bose box. That’ll require ducking into the nest O wires behind the display. Something I’m really not looking forward to. :-/
One thing I am toying with though is calling up Comcast and upgrading our cable tuner to HDTV. The whole “we’ll stretch 4:3 to fit on an HD form factor” thing is getting wearing. Unfortunately, I’m guessing that Comcast is not providing boxes with enabled Firewire ports, so the usefulness of my MythTV tuner card is dropping daily. Damned corporations.
On the plus side, though, Ben has successfully aquired the HDTV cable for the Gamecube, so we’ll be enjoying true 480p signal shortly from that little puppy. Mmm, SSX3 in full glory.

A successful movie night.

9 07 2006

Last night the a-forementioned movie night was had at Chez Geek. This was my first real chance to show off the new monitor setup. We chose Chronicles of Narnia for presentation – so the kids could attend, and the grownups would have something to enjoy as well.

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MythTV Update – New video!

9 06 2006

It’s been a while since I last posted about the ongoing MythTV project here at Chez Geek. For the most part it’s been quiet. After coming back from Ubercon, where the box was very well received, I sort of parked it on the side and didn’t touch it for a few weeks.
This week, things have gotten busy again.

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GeekState 1.1

15 04 2006

After a week of whining about things broken and whys, this has been a day or two of resolution and fixing, so lets put some positive things down on the Geekscale…

  • MythTV
    The MythTV box has been resurrected. Thanks to the joy that is KnoppMyth, and the foresight to put all my ‘file storage’ (music, movies, games, etc) on secondary drives, I was able to rip out the blown drive and drop in a spare 20gigger, and have it up and running in no time.
    Oh, and half a terabyte of storage? Kicks.

    dbs@deathstar:~$ df -h
    Filesystem            Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
    /dev/hda1              17G  2.3G   14G  15% /
    /dev/hdb1             233G  137G   85G  62% /myth
    /dev/hdd              230G  198G   21G  91% /myth2
  • WinXP
    Thanks to Barb’s help, the WinXP box has been rebuilt. Or reinstalled. or something. We waved an XP installer CD at it, and said “Thou shalt rebuild yon self!” – naturally, this didn’t even come close to ‘just plain working’. There’s a whole nother series of rants on the idiocy that is the WindowsXP operating system – suffice to say, at one point I had to boot said KnoppMyth CD on the Windows box _JUST_ to find out what sort of video board I had via lspci. Cuz. Ya know. Windows cant’ just TELL you. That would be… uh. Something.
  • Eclipse
    So, that problem with the ‘Array out of bounds’? Turns out that WTP doesn’t like if you’ve not defined any servers for deployment, and the WebServices WSDL builder gets really ticked off without any targets at all. That was easily fixed. Alas, my workspace (Eclipses’ term for where you do configuration, have projects checked out, etc), finally got too confusing to debug, so we’re trashing and starting over. Fortunately, everything is in Subversion, so there’s really nothing lost. Folks on the Eclipse support channel have been great.

All in all, not too shabby. I can almost feel my productivity coming back to normal! Now, hm, I wonder how my Eve character is doing…

Sidenote – when I was but a young geek, I regularly read Steve Ciarcia’s ‘Circuit Cellar‘ in Byte magazine. Every month he’d talk about all the cool projects he had around the house – stuff he was building, things that worked, things that didn’t. I thought it was one of the coolest lifestyles around. I suspect I’m slowly, inexorably, following in his footsteps. Cept he was a better writer. 🙂

Today in the Book of Why

12 04 2006

Friendzzzz, open our K&R to page 32, psalm 12. Today we shall recite from the Book of Why, wherein all manner of faults in life are exposed for cleansing…

Let us begin…

  • Why… did my MythTV primary volume kick the bucket just at the point where I’m ready to start working on some code to interract with it? We thank the powers at Maxtor for not taking the half a terabyte of other storage with it during it’s death throws. Amen.
  • Why… does the Linux kernel decide to number ethernet ports, particularly wireless ethernet ports, in a totally arbitrary way? Booting up may provide us with the mysteries of eth1, or perhaps today it’s eth2, or even something like eth1_someoddtext. Amen.
  • Why… is the Eclipse WTP project, such an awesomely wonderful and fantastic environment, be occasionally revealing itself as ‘not -quite- 100% stable’, particularly when I’m in the middle of convincing a client to use it? Amen.
  • Why… does the Bluetooth stack on the Treo 650 suck so bad? Simple requests for OBEX services cause the phone to crash and reboot. Connections to it are spotty at best, and it offers NO services up to a remote requestor. Makes it very hard to say “Please get my photos off my phone.” It is safe to note that almost every other Bluetooth phone on the market today at least provides a Bluetooth FTP service. The Treo doesn’t even have decency to say “no services”, it simply drops the connection. Amen, dammit.
  • Why… is there no easy way to hit the Tab key in Firefox in a textarea, and have it generate a Tab? Amen.

We shall ponder these life puzzles as we ommm around the coffeemaker and await enlightenment via it’s gurgly goodness.

MythTV Gaming – Happy Happy Joystick Luv

11 12 2005

This weekend saw some serious exercise on the Myth box. Because of a fairly major snowstorm, we spent a fair amount of time indoors, trying not to get on top of each other and stave off cabin fever. The Myth box came in very handy as (at least in Ben’s case), it was the instrument of recall to his Super Bomberman days. This game, ancient though it is (the SNES version we’re running is 12+ years old), is still outstanding.
What really made it tasty was we got 3 joysticks + the keyboard working on the box. Two of the sticks are the Thrustmaster gamepads I mentioned earlier, one was a Logitech Rumblepad I had frankly forgotten I owned. These all come up on the USB bus under linux as /dev/js0 through /dev/js2 respectively. More on this shortly.
The game ran perfectly via the ZSNES emulator managed from the Myth front end. With 3 adults and 1 7 year old playing, it was quite the bit of fun.
But of course, there has to be at least one hassle. The USB hookup I’m using has a tendency to reset for no reason. We’re not sure if this is the hub, or the cabling, or the connectors, or what. The issue is, when it resets, the joysticks tend to be renumbered. If I’m running /dev/js0 and /dev/js1 gamepads, and the hub resets (from just moving around on the couch or the like), BING, those joysticks are now /dev/js2 and /dev/js3. Nice that it resets and reloads, not so nice in that now the main joystick I use for selecting games and controlling the Myth box is unavailable. I could use some input (so to speak) on this problem. Linux geeks may have suggestions on how to better control the dynamic device assignment in the USB system. Its workable when you have unique devices (Camera goes to /dev/camera, etc etc), but when you have multiples of the -same- device (say, 4 gamepads), I’m not sure if it’s possible.
The other good toy added recently was a wireless keyboard and mouse courtesy of This has helped a lot as it’ll allow us to push the box back under the shelving by the TV (the keyboard cable was VERY annoying to deal with). Next will be a USB extension cable to bring the joysticks nearer the players.
All in all, I continue to be fascinated with this machine and all it represents.