Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wave at Google

I need to get on the Wave learning curve and see how useful a tool it is. Google typically puts out good stuff (if only some mail client/app would duplicate their conversation view), so if they went to this much trouble, it is probably worth it. After all, it seems like a true "generic" p2p application.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

In the flash cloud

Seems like something should be worth doing here... just need to figure out what:

Pay attention to the /. article on Amazon "stealing" more business from companies by offering mysql. Another article I haven't had time to read calls Cloud computing the "Hotel California of tech." Many people seem to ignore the downsides of cloud/sharing though: /.

But virtualization appears to be here to stay:
  • SR-IOV demo
  • Lots of ubuntu related virtualization and cloud related stuff on and youtube, including even in the ubuntu luid announcement.
  • Ubuntu had a magazine dedicated to "in the cloud"
  • VirtualBox seems to be a favorite over VMWare and others.

The other hot topic worth tracking right now is solid-state SATA drives, seeing as how MySpace just replaced all their spinning disks with SSD's. Just beware of consumer grade SSD's. In other news, Intel just up'ed their speed with a firmware update. Speaking of Intel, lifespan is quickly becoming "not a problem":
  • X25-M mobile product using multi-level-cell (MLC): 5 year of useful life under typical laptop workloads with up to 20 GB of host writes a day (~36.5 Tetabytes of writes if you do 20 GB * 5 years). Doesn't seem like much, but that means you're re-writing 1/4 of your 80 GB drive every day. 0.15 Watts - which is indeed about 1% of a spinning drive.
  • X25-E extreme (server) product using single-level-cell (SLC): 64 GB drive supports 2 Petabyte of lifetime random writes (so it seems like they are saying each storage location is good for 32k writes [I'm assuming that wear leveling doesn't get the in way]). 2.5 Watts still, but I expect this will drop considerably on their next generation.
Crucial just released a high performance (faster than Intel) MLC based on the Indilinx controller. Turns out that Patriot Torqx and OCZ Vertex (and maybe Agility) are also based on that controller - no word yet on durability. Other items of interest regarding SSD's: TRIM and Garbage Collection (GC). OCZ firmware upgrade allows for this.

Intel's next gen SSDs are due in mid-2010, possibly even with SATA 3.0 support.
One ISP offers SSD drives - I expect lots more will soon too. Wonder about renting, or rent-to-own on SSD's.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Crypto junk

There is an interesting "stick figure" how-to guide for AES. Quite interesting (if this can be explained this way, what else could be worth explaining in this way)!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Protecting against valid users

Not sure that it is really worth it, but /. has an interesting thread on forkbombs and protecting against them.

Monday, September 21, 2009


I'm getting the urge to do a theme. I have a decent awareness of usability issues, and there sure are a lot of usability issues with the current MythTV themes. With 0.22 being released (and 0.23 being promised soon after), it might be worth starting now.

I like the indicators of this one. With animated menus, it could look like paper folding and unfolding, left and right, and for a different level of menu, unfolding up and down. I'm thinking that every other menu should scroll the opposite way... if I press down, I should keep pressing down until I get to the option I want... then press right, and keep pressing right until I get to the option I want, then down, etc.

An XML editor for the mythtvtheme sure would be nice for this... wonder what that would take?!
An XML theme editor, perhaps (which says "create the .pro, .conf, .xml and image files that define the theme")?

Font resources:
* One of the fonts that is supported by the Web Open Font Format (Mozilla is adding support for this)

Twitter / Facebook use(full/less)ness

Some interesting quotes worth saving:

"In Philadelphia I watched many attendees using Twitter as if it was crack. Can't chat with you and look at you because I may miss that Joe just took a piss and Betty just ran out of mascara. Twitter won't succeed if this route continues." - Allen Stern

Facebook is actually less useful than a number of other apps - it just somehow obtained critical mass (probably by focusing on high school and college people), and provides an API for third-party games ... and who doesn't like games, especially ones that allow you to show off to your friends and family how well you are doing. Mixx, StumbleUpon, or even Twitter might be better because there is no way to see what people are writing about without getting approval to be their friend. "follow" does seem like a more accurate term.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Widgets, widgets everywhere

There is even a "Widgets lab" website... Vizio looks like they don't want to have to depend on Yahoo for Widgets, so they are doing their own. Another brief here, but I can't find any details. Samsung's isn't hard to find though. Maybe they are calling it "Vizio Internet Apps" (VIA).

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Linux sound

Pulse Audio might be worth it, but the wide spread reports of problems with it (especially on Ubuntu) really makes one wonder. Here is someone trying to lead the lost through the storm.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The state of GPG

According to Robert Burrell Donkin, it would be worth it to backport GNU 2.0.12 to other Ubuntu versions. Of course, I'm planning on moving to 9.10, so I'll be picking it up anyway. The main point of the article: generate your key under 2.0.12.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Eventually there are splitters, and then there are directional couplers. The cable company thinks it is worth using directional couplers. See also: discussion on mythtv-users on 12 Aug 2009.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I guess it is worth paying extra money for a decent keyboard. I got the ultra-cool looking Logitech Cordless Wave, but the range stinks. I tried adding an external antenna, but that doesn't help at all.

I guess I need to investigate other RF solutions, some of which include:

  • Microsoft Optical Desktop Elite for Bluetooth
  • Rimini / Media Tech?) MT1218 (possibly discontinued) and others
  • Logitech Cordless Desktop Optical 967320-0403 (should I trust another Logitech?)
  • Grandtec Long Ranger 900Mhz Keyboard and Mouse Combo (KEY-2000 / G126-1040 / UPC 768267091239)
  • DSI FK-760 (10 meters claimed)
  • Adesso 2.4 GHz RF Wireless Multimedia/MCE Keyboard with Optical Trackball WKB-3200UB, $60 or maybe the WKB-4000UB. I think Linux compatibility has been fixed. 3200 looks to have the best reviews, and even that may not be ideal.
  • Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Desktop 7000, $110.
  • diNovo Media Desktop Edge, Mini, and/or Laser (10 or more meters)
  • Gyrations recent keyboards (10 meters)
  • (30 meters!)
  • As always, Newegg's power search to the rescue (complete with "track ball" search option)

Google search: wireless touchpad. Product search shows a number of different solutions - need to compare that against the list above.

IR solutions:

  • Microsoft Remote keyboard for windows media center (MCE keyboard)

Sunday, August 09, 2009


Exercise is certainly worth it... and there are lots of ways to exercise... intelligently and not. Cross-fit seems to be relatively intelligent, although it does behave slightly as a cult.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

GPS, mobile and not

/. has a good summary of hackable mobile GPS units, including a link to the pinout for the V3 Tom Tom (which runs Linux). Just to save it from disappearing from the face of the earth and all human knowledge, here it is:
  1. RX data in for UART ttySAC0, default rate = 115200, 3.3V TTL
  2. Power output for accessory, I tested sourcing 100mA will no ill effects on unit
  3. TX data out for UART ttySAC0, default rate = 115200, 3.3V TTL
  4. Measured 1.4V output, most probably an audio line output
  5. When connected to ground via a 1K resistor the unit reports an external line input, so presuably that’s what it is
  6. Ground
  7. Function unknown but when connected to ground via a 10K resistor it caused an immediate shutdown of unit.
Eventually I think it would be worth setting up an alert on ebay for a GPS unit to find one that I could cheaply connect to my Linux server.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Everyone knew it was coming

There were many signs the economic bubble was bursting.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Nintendo DSi

So we bought our Nintendo DSi. It might be worth trying to figure out how to get mythremote to work with it, although it appears it would, at a minimum, require a recompile since the binaries are for the original DS (not even the DS lite). Not yet sure what the hub-bub about Acekard 2i is yet, or the dldi patching tool.

Then we have the fact that Nintendo tries to lock this thing down so tight, it only accepts AAC encoded audio by default. Of course, resourceful people are already playing video and games (Games index used to be here) with it using iplayer/Moonshell2.

Then there is the IdeaS Nintendo Emulator for PC.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Ubuntu stuff

Of course source control systems are worth it. The question is which. git has a large following, but there are a large number of people that bazaar may be a better fit for a large number of applications. What about bug tracking? Bugzilla is there, and I've slowly come to appreciate trac, although it definitely has some short comings. Then there is launchpad. It reminds me of Apple software. It's plenty powerful for the things you need, but if you don't want to do exactly what they provide for you, it's hard. Source code browsing stinks. Almost no-one links their bug fixes to the actual code changes. And bug statistics/reports are almost non-existent, making it a questionable choice for larger projects, and a non-starter for commerical ones (although perhaps that is the way they want it).
  • Perhaps some of the larger users of bazaar have worked this out already?
There appears to be a way to submit bugs from outside the launchpad website. Perhaps a client could create stats by polling every bug in a module?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mobile phone search has what appears to be a pretty comprehensive list of smart phones. Just need to find the newest one that is available at a decent prices (and has decent reviews).

Monday, April 27, 2009

Fool a Turing machine

In case I'm ever attacked by a terminator, it might be worth keeping a list of ways to fool Turing machines handy:

  • Speak/write oddly. Perhaps like Yoda: Stan the trashman, am I.
  • Write with massive misspelling: fi yuo tyep wtih mssaive splleing errros, yuo mya be albe to fool a cmoptuer.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Reviews for audio-video stuff

Finding reviews on HDTV's is not difficult. Finding good ones is though. Here's a list:

Summary sites of other reviews:

Review sites themselves: (better than average reviews) (include settings),2845,2341501,00.asp (European) (barely worth it) (European?)

Intelligent discussion forums:
AVS forum
Blu-ray forum (24p discussion)
AV forum (UK)
Debug/config port for Kuro and others.
Calibration appears to be worth it, especially for $89.

Price search:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Is VOIP worth it?

Topic: next gen methods of doing phone service.
* Using PC for POTS

Monday, November 10, 2008

Developer resources

I'm slowly realizing that the quickest path for me to help with Mythtv is to help with Mythweb. It is quite nice as it is, but I think it could be made to be considerably better.

AJAX resources
Nerd produced list of neat tricks



Friday, September 26, 2008

Sometimes China gets it. And sometimes they don't.

Stupid obvious statement: There are lots of very smart people in the Chinese government.
Not so stupid question: Why do all those smart people not realize that people prefer genuine over fake?

The 2008 Olympic opening ceremony was unfortunate. Somewhat understandable - because they didn't want something to go horribly wrong and not have anything at all - but unfortunate in that they seem to miss the fact that people would rather have something real rather than perfect (as if they can be completely perfect). The world would have understood if a huge rain storm (or smog) had prevented any view at all of the footsteps to the birdsnest. But as I said, it is somewhat understandable because it is, most of all, a work of entertainment.

Last summer there was melamine contamination in pet food. The Chinese government appears to have denied it before they even investigated the claim. First of all, why does the Chinese government need to deny anything? The pet food is made by a company, not the government. Or at least, that is what we are led to believe.

Unbelievable that they would even consider doing though, was a press release of how a Chinese space mission was going - before it even launched! On 26 Sept 2008, the story hit the wires:

The article described the Shenzhou VII space craft orbiting the Earth and outlined a conversation between the astronauts.


The article later described the reaction to a successful outcome of the mission. "Ten minutes later, the ship disappears below the horizon. Warm clapping and excited cheering breaks the night sky, echoing across the silent Pacific Ocean."

It is as if the government is afraid that if everything isn't picture perfect, the world will fall apart. The crazy part is that every knows that it isn't perfect, so the only ones that the government is fooling is themselves.

It would be worth it for them to adopt a picture of the truth, rather than a picture of perfection.

A /. article on the Chinese firewall has some interesting observations related to this. Perhaps the government's desire to portray perfection is based on its desire to paint an image of China as being the best nation in the world, for whatever definition of "best" you want to use. You'd think that a civilization as ancient as that which China hosts would have learned a long time ago that perfection is never achievable (and any person that actually thinks for themselves will immediately identify "perfection" as simply an illusion).

And at what point do you stop the lieing? Do you take it as far as Microsoft does, and their apparent self-image of perfection that is so obviously flawed (to everyone except Microsoft) that it is a joke?

Updated years later: The Chinese govt is still at it. Of course, they aren't the only ones... no other than the DOJ of the USA got caught.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

HDTV Antenna

Some things are not worth buying, while others are. An antenna for an HDTV may fall into that category. Depending on which stations you are trying to pick up (and how far away those are), you may or may not need one.

The ever present /. discussion on the topic.

Random quote and links of interest that I've found:

Terk HDTVa Indoor Amplified High-Definition Antenna for Off-Air HDTV Reception has decent, but not the best reviews. the below is supposedly better:

Regarding Philips High Performance Amplified Indoor Uhf/Vhf/Fm/HDTV Antenna:
An improvement of the PHD TV3, July 7, 2007
By Diego Banducci (San Francisco, CA United States) - See all my reviews
At $500 per year for basic cable, the financial argument for buying an antenna is compelling if you're not a cable junkie. So the issue is which one to buy.

We live in a reception hollow about 15 miles from most of the local station antennas. This antenna improved reception for all of the stations in the area when compared with our old PHD TV3, especially major network affiliates, but was weak on independent stations. (Prior to that, we had a Terk, which was the worst of the bunch).

Philips seems to be oblivious to the fact that a lot of people who buy indoor antennas place them in the attic or some other enclosed space. The instructions for this antenna tell you to set the rabbit ears straight vertical for channels 2 - 6, and horizontal for VHF channels above 6. The latter is difficult, if not impossible, in an enclosed space.

So we just set them straight up, which worked fine for all VHF channels except 7, a marked improvement over the PHD TV3.

UHF reception, on the other hand, is somewhat worse. But we don't watch much UHF.

The gain control is useless. On every other antenna I've tried, the gain control has improved reception, but not this one.

I found the other reviews on this page (especially Y. Chang's) very helpful, and recommend reading them.

Update: Several years ago I read an amazon review that described the Winegard SS-3000 as being far and away the best indoor antenna. I couldn't remember the name, but recently tracked it down and bought one. It really is the Gold Standard of indoor TV antennas. Unlike most others, it is compact, has no rabbit ears, and incorporates modern technology in its design. I was able to buy one from Affordable HDTV in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. It's more expensive than the others (costs about 100 bucks), but is significantly better. An identical product is sold by Terk as the TERK HDTVLP Indoor / Outdoor TV and HDTV Antenna:

Winegard also sells an outdoor model SS-2000 "Squareshooter" that looks to me like it could easily be mounted indoors. It too has received excellent reviews, although I have not tried it. It sells for about the same price as the SS-3000. It is also sold by Terk as TERK HD-TVS Slim Profile Outdoor HDtv Antenna.

Monday, September 08, 2008


SSL is obviously worth it, for a number of reasons: guarantees you are talking to whom you think you are, and you can do so securely.

Where to get a certificate?
  • CAcert (not approved by Mozilla yet)
  • StartSSL
  • StartCom
  • RapidSSL
  • InstantSSL

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Data availability and backup

It is crazy how many people seem to think that trusting Google with ALL your data is "good enough," and that you don't need any backups. What happens when you need access to a piece of your data at the most inopportune time (when Google or the Internet [are they becoming one in the same? :~] is down)?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

House Value and searching

Now that the MLS monopoly is supposedly finally broken, check out ZipRealty, RealQuest (division of First American CoreLogic), and Zillow.

But who has the time to do property tax protests themselves?
  • (35 to 50%)
  • (50%)
  • ($299.. a better deal if expecting savings is over $299*2/tax_rate. Tax_rate for Richardson is around 0.022 including homestead).
  • (Austin)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Securing financial data

Home users have a few choices for good security for their financial data (on the assumption that their computer or data will eventually fall into the hands of a thief). One solution is to do the same types of things suggested by this thread in /., even if it is written for something else. Then there is Linux encrypted filesystems, including eCryptFS. Of course, I'll probably want to upgrade first because there have been some decent changes in the year since I installed 8.04. Someday I'll have some time to get that set up.

Printers and ink

Inkjets are a pain. You want handy color printing sometimes, but most of the time you only need black and white. Color laser printers are still relatively expensive (but apparently dropping quickly in price), but so is the ink for an inkjet - and that ignores the relatively short time period that the printer works before the heads get clogged up, and how long ink lasts. Several stories on /. about stuff related to this. Color picture prints at local stores has dropped to the point that inkjets may not be worth-it any more. Several stories on /.

Friday, June 06, 2008


Oh, there are so many choices. Threads of choices, in fact.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Mail over the interwebs

Coldtobi has a list of the free web-accessible email clients. Horde seems like a good choice, in which case, some performance hints might come in handy.

Others to check out: Kerio MailServer.
I haven't yet tired to figure out where that fits into this:
RoundCube = Squirrelmail = Horde != Zimbra = Bongo (old:Hula Project) = OpenExchange = Exchange

Thursday, May 29, 2008

C++ required for base Myth dev

True, much of the mythweb related stuff doesn't require C++, but it's still full of OO items.

If I want to start submitting feature patches to myth, I'll need to be a little more up to speed on stuff.

cuymedia has the C++ program classes in handy web format.

My first project might involve creating a new/second dontrec flag to fake out the scheduler. Are rec_override and rectype_dontrec related?

Quote worth saving related to C++ strings:
As a reference, I'd like to
mention Matthew Wilson's chapter on efficient string concatenation in his
book "Imperfect C++". He uses expression templates (that's the technique I
just described) and gets impressive results.

With that said, your point is valid. 90% of C++ programmers will use string
classes that are very inefficient for concatenation, starting with
std::string which I hate for that reason (and many other reasons, e.g. you
have to
resort to Boost for mundane things like trimming)
by: Steven Burns[royalstream at microsoft's hot mail]

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Games and Educational PC

My daughter has a laptop. It's a nice laptop, well, except for the missing keys that she pealed off and either broke or lost when she was 2-3 years old. And except that the hard drive is so small, only a few games will fit on it. Or that it has 512 MB of RAM, takes forever to boot, and is too slow to browse myepets. She needs something with more HP.

Wine and Cadega with Edubuntu maybe?

Interesting commentary on Sugar, the interface for OLPC.

Here's a /. discussion of good games (some kid friendly, some not).

Monday, April 14, 2008

Lists and stuff (movies and tech and ...etc.)

Someday Blockbuster and Netflix's will be dead. The Internet will be fast enough that people won't want to pay the postage. The question is who will be the winner, and the timing of that.

The lists of good movies to see is endless:

As are the the lists of "useful websites", "useful plugins", etc:

How about I start my own "randomly useful" list?

  • Yelp to search for restaurants, and other businesses
  • blackviper for windows tuning (Windows Powertoys may help as well)

Speaking of Youtube, they have a number of different formats:

  • Checkout this video with fmt=22. The specs are 1280 x 720, 30fps, 2000kbps video AVC, 232kbps audio AAC, 44.1khz stereo. Most videos don't support this yet or do not meet the (unknown) requirements. To embed youtube HD quality add &ap=%2526fmt%3D22 to the end of the embed code urls.
  • Adding &fmt=6 to the end of any youtube video's url will give you Youtube's new high quality setting. 480 x 360 ~900 kbps 44.1KHz 96 kbps Mono CBR 30 fps Video Codec: Flash Sorenson Changing the number from 6 to something else yields different formats though it's not obvious which numbers work.
  • Format 18 generates an mp4 using 512 kbps h264 at 24 fps with 44.1 kHz 128 kbps AAC stereo, which is compatible with video iPods. This is way better than using a service like, which transcodes the crappy quality youtube vid into an mp4. Using fmt=18, you get a video transcoded from the original clip the user uploaded. The bitrate is lower on the mp4 version, but since the resolution is smaller it compensates. The h.264 codec has better looking videos at lower bitrates anyway. We finally see stereo on youtube with the mp4 version! It has a widescreen 16/9 aspect ratio rather than 4/3.
  • Video downloaders like keepvid still work. Enter the url, click download, now grab the link and add &fmt=6 or &fmt=18 (for mp4) to the end. The good people at lifehacker created an easy to use firefox extension that will put a download link under each vid. You can also get the download url if you follow my wireshark tutorial but the process is pretty tedious. You can do it manually too, but it's annoying. Go to any video on youtube, right click then click view source. Click ctrl+F, which will open a searchbox and type &t=. Next copy the value after the t= but before any "&" characters. Grab that and the video_id and your set. The vid id is the v=something part of the url. Just copy the variables into the url below.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Video conferencing on the cheap

Finding a computer cam for video conferencing with decent resolution and frame rate seems to be pretty hit-or-miss. Even the Logitech Quickcam Fusion only does 640x480. Newegg, as usual, is a good place to go for a few.

How about just voice? David Rowe has some neat stuff. And of course, /.

BTW, prefer ones that adhere to the USB video device class specification(s). There are a few lists:
Then there is packet priority (aka QoS) to deal with. /. to the rescue.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

VHS conversion

VHS conversion is something that lots of people want to do. Many have already done it, perhaps with not ideal results, due to interlacing artifacts and/or noise. There are a few forums like AVS and videohelp, that have people that have discussed and done this before. Noise reduction and comb filter(s)?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

LCD's without enough colors

Apple is being sued, again, over color space (from /., as usual).

This is absolutely true. I'd estimate that the vast majority of LCD panels on the market are 6-bit screens. Whether you are buying Benq, LG, Dell, Viewsonic, it doesn't matter. Most of them are 6 bit.

They are cheaper, and they have faster response times.

8-bit LCD panels are almost a niche specialty 'pro product' in today's market, and unless you went out of your way to buy an 8 bit screen odds are you took home a 6-bit TN panel, advertised as showing "16.2 million colours" without even knowing it.

Its not just Apple. Although they seem to have gone beyond marketing deceptiveness to outright lies and deserve to be taken to task about it.

But don't for a minute think all those free Dell monitors bundled with low end PCs are anything better. Hell, even the ones you can pay to upgrade to aren't often anything better than 6-bit.
Those advertised as 16.7 million colors tend to be 8 bit.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


My MCE remote that came with my PVR-USB2 doesn't seem to be programmable (to have the volume control the television). So I bought the ultra cool M2010 remote off ebay, and ordered the receiver from Dell, per the AVS forum thread (it contains a discrete power supply and two chips: CYWUSB6934-48LFXC [wireless USB tx (and rx?)] and the CY7C63743-QXC [enCoRe USB something or other].

Be sure to keep in mind Bruce Perens instructions.

# cat /proc/bus/input/devices

# cat /proc/bus/usb/devices
If I have trouble:

Or maybe I should just buy the Logitech Harmony remote that everyone raves about. Nawww... that would be cheating.

One thing I noticed is that the remote is recognized as a keyboard rather than a remote. A thread on the linuxmce forum mentions getting Linux to recognize it as a remote by keying on its USB UUID, which allowed someone to use UIRT by way of adding a line in /etc/something/rules.d. Seems like part of the problem might be some keycodes are > 255? Xmodmap is the default way of supporting stuff via the HID driver that is enabled by default. A hack into LIRC might provide access to more keys. The guy that figured out the rules.d aspect is named Adam Pierce. LIRC appears to be the much preferred way because it works across lots of different applications. There is also a thread on myth-users about udev to skip the keyboard buffer.

I wonder about the other direction. The remote has an LCD screen. Interesting - there is a USB LCD display that you can buy which we might be able to base some of this on. It uses the standard libusb, with a small adder: usblcd. linuxusblcd and lcdproc also exist. There is even Mythlcdserver, which uses lcdproc. Might use a usb bus tracker within windows to see it (the driver) in operation.

Different thread on the same topic: I also have a desire to be able to remotely control a frontend from a remote computer (that is obviously not the front end). Especially mythmusic (or whatever might replace it). So volume control, next song and previous song are the most important. Being able to retrieve the playlist would be a big bonus, although I'd probably be happy with Previous song/artist + current song/artist (and hopefully + next song/artist). There are some people that appear to have done something similar: Web Virtual Remote, iphone remote control, mythetomer, mythRemote, mythdroid (for Android), and for the iphone: Remote Remote and MyMote. Mythdroid includes mdd ( which intercepts music info headed for the LCDproc - this could be useful for debug and other things. The mythtv telnet socket wiki page has links to some of these as well. Or maybe I'll just settle for vnc. tkmythremote is new, as is mymote (which is much more than just a simple remote - perhaps what I want for the LCD display??). Someone apparently posted a python script to do something similar from the command line.

And it would be worth being able to:
  1. Power down the backend with a keypress or mouse button (or combination)
  2. Restart the front-end
Since I have a combined frontend/backend, this shouldn't be too hard.

Someone has gone to the trouble of putting together some scripts to control the stereo and TV.
Commandir has a pretty comprehensive list of lirc related configs - it might be worth grabbing in case the site goes offline. Of course, it is probably based on the files semi-hidden in on the lirc website.

BTW, irw and mode2 are the two utils for debugging lirc:
$ sudo killall -9 lircd
$ sudo mode2 -d /dev/lirc0

Monday, March 17, 2008

Robots for pets?

Some day, a goodly percentage of the population will have robots. Maybe not stand-up robots that carry on a conversation (at least for a good long while), but utility robots that are happy to take orders and do things for you. Toy robots might also. I wonder if many people might buy robots rather than pets... because they tend to be cheaper in the long run.

The Pleo appears to be the most advanced one that is widely produced as of 2007.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

HDMI and IEEE1394 devices

There are encoders and decoders. Companies such as Silicon Image, Vativ, TI, and Analog Devices make them. Who else? One would of these companies be a good investment with blu-ray finally chosen as high def format and HDTV's quickly dropping in price?

I'm also looking for a good Firewire device to connect to the output of my cable box. Choices seem to include:

  • Hitachi XWX (not SWX): 51XWX20B, 57XWX20B, 65XWX20B + 65S700, 57S700, 51S700, 65T750, 57T750
  • JVC 94 Monitor: AV-56WP94, AV-65WP94
  • Mitsubishi WS-485111, WS-55511, and WS-65511 + WS-48613, WS-55613, WS-65613
  • Panasonic PT-47WD63, PT-53TWD63, PT-56TWD63
  • SONY ( KDP-51WS550, KDP-57WS550, KDP-65WS550
  • RCA/Thomson: WD52W140, HD61W140, Scenium: HD52W151, HD56W151, HD61W151, HD52W41, WD56W41
  • Toshiba (DTVLink = 1394): 51H93, 57H93, 65H93
  • Zenith/LG: *maybe* DU-50PZ60 or MU-50PZ90V

D-VHS digital VCR's (ideally one with D-Theater content protection). Aka DVS?
  • Panasonic PV-HD1000
  • JVC HM-DSR100, HM-DH5U, DT100U, HM-DH40000, HM-DH30000U (aka 30k)
  • Sony DHR1000, DSR2000
  • Mitsubishi HS-HD2000U DVHS
  • Marantz MV8300
Interesting published article:

Users manuals:

Beware of Hitachi and RCA - they may have "braindead 1394" - aka "digital A/V" OR simply "digital interface":
  • Hitachi's VTDX815A
  • RCA: VR911HF
Hitachi and Thomson Consumer Electronics, the U.S. subsidiary of France's money-losing Thomson Multimedia that owns the RCA and GE brands, were the first to detail their D-VHS time-shift offerings. Hitachi showed a prototype $599 D-VHS deck with an IEEE-1394 connection to its IRD at the Winter Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in January, 1997. Thomson chose the Satellite Broadcasting & Communications Association (SBCA) show in March to outline its plans for the DSS-3 product line, which includes an as-yet-unpriced D-VHS deck. Much to the dismay of FireWire purists, both decks use brain-dead 1394. TWICE (This Week in Consumer Electronics) quoted Randy Staggs, Thomson VCR product management manager as saying: "The simplified digital A/V bus doesn't have the simultaneous two-way communication of the full IEEE-1394 spec, which allows us to use a less-expensive microprocessor." The same article attributes to Hitachi TV product manager Jim Abrahamsen the somewhat misleading observation that "the interface is 'a simplified digital A/V bus,' meaning that while the IEEE-1394 connection is used, only four pins out of the six specified in the standard are used to carry bitstream data." It's true that four conductors carry the IEEE-1394 data; the two missing conductors in the four-pin IEEE-1394.1 consumer connector carry power. But the IEEE-1394.1 connectors used by today's DV and DVCAM camcorders and decks implement the full IEEE-1394 protocol, not some proprietary "simplified digital A/V bus."

Other 1394 devices (might not be 5C compliant):
  • Pioneer 520H-S DVD/HD recorder
  • Panasonic DMR-HS2

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hard drive cooling

With almost no airflow on them at the moment, my top HD runs at 50C and the one immedately below it runs at 49C. Both are 10 to 15C hotter than I'd like (per Google's research paper on HD temperatures - ideal is < 40C). Thinking about mounting a large diameter quiet fan next to the power supply to blow directly on them. Here's some options:

  • Nexus Frizzbee Inaudible HDD Cooler

Monday, December 17, 2007


I wonder if I should implement a PBX on my Linux server. Don't know why, except that it'd be a cool replacement to an answering machine! Asterisk is one obvious answer. /.
There is a second discussion as well.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Hard drives

It appears to be pretty well established that the fewer number of platters, the lower the power and noise (with obviously significant variation between drives families and vendors). But since we're speaking in generalities, Western Digital's SE16 series appears to have a very good trade-off between noise, power, and throughput/access time. Possibly an even better trade-off than their new GP (green power) series make, where performance appears to suffer. The Spinpoint F1 uses just a bit more power, but has considerably better performance.

WD2500KS has 2x125 GB platters
WD2500AAKS has 2x160 GB platters - 3 heads $50 on ebay. A bit more retail

WD3200AAKS has 2x160 GB platters

WD4000KS has 4x125 GB platters
WD4000AAKS has 3x166 GB platters - 5 heads

WD5000KS has 4x125 GB platters
WD5000YS has 4x125 GB platters
WD5000AAKS has 3x166 GB platters - 6 heads $100

WD7500AAKS has 4x188 GB platters - 8 heads $150

Speaking of WD, it has different seek modes which further tradeoff access time vs. noise (and probably to a lessor degree, power): AAM, which may not work on ASUS boards due to conflicts with A.I. Quiet (fan control stuff?)?! Normally it can be adjusted with HFT (Hitachi Feature Tool), Abacus HDD Acoustic Manager (hddacman), or HDDScan. Maybe just need to do the adjustment on a different motherboard.

Prices are December 2007. Wonder how long it will take 1 TB drives to be $100!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Careers, planning, jobs, future, etc

More stuff here later. Didn't realize that google had a job search site now!

Nothing wrong with having long terms plans (for career or for life in general).... just as long as it isn't written in stone.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Un-interruptable power

Commerical UPS's are expensive and don't seem to last very long. Maybe a homegrown one would be worth it?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Snail mail spam

Isn't the spam you receive at home in your snail mail box annoying? And even more annoying when it is something misleading (like a service warranty for your car, coming from a company with what appears to be no name - the result being that the only name you see on the letter is the name of your car). And most annoying, stock tip letters claiming to not be attempting to influence you to buying a stock, yet they most obviously are. It would be worth coming up with a response to that... even if it were to get the SEC involved.

It is a completely different topic, but this /. postingreminded me of the same thing:
Appending "Of course, correlation doesn't prove causality." to the end of an article strongly implying causality in every sense, doesn't absolve the reporter from the false conclusions he/she implies throughout the rest of the article.

That the correlation was run at ALL implies that someone was 'looking for something' - suspect 1. The layer upon layer of dependent statistics leading to a very authoritative-sounding "the likelihood that this is a concidence is 7%" makes it sound very scientific and accurate - suspect 2

Sorry, this is FUD passed off as news supported by phony statistics.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Myth software specific stuff

I'm starting to get too get too much stuff collected up on my PVR posting, so I figured splitting out stuff that was specific to Myth software would be worth it.

File/show renaming has pluses and minuses.

New mythv-vid branch has an opengl renderer that appears to be well received, although Make sure the XComposite extension is disabled for the best performance. While neat, XComposite will lower rendering speed quite a bit when using OpenGL. VAAPI (video-decode acceleration API) is also a factor.

If it isn't already enabled (mine was), call cable company and ask for them to send the app_if enable command down ("
have the headend engineer enable the "App IF Port" using the DAC") to cable box to enable serial port (or HSI port) on cable box. There seems to be surprisingly little info on setting the external channel change command, either for serial or IR blaster. Did I miss something at install?!

For IR, Google search on
0_82_KEY_POWER, irsend, send_power_new, Searching irsend and external channel change, I found a bit hint on the ubuntu forums: irsend DirecTV $S [NUM] or:
Make a file /usr/local/bin/

REMOTE_NAME=TWC_UR4-P360 # change this obviously
for digit in $(echo $1 | sed -e 's/./& /g'); do
irsend --device=/dev/lircd1 SEND_ONCE $REMOTE_NAME $digit
sleep 0.4 # note, you may have to tweak the interdigit delay up a bit
irsend --device=/dev/lircd1 SEND_ONCE $REMOTE_NAME SELECT
That same search turns up other hits that I haven't investigated yet (but which probably contain my answer). Finally found a more extensive discussions of the channel change script on the ubuntu forum, which has a posted copy of (still current as of Jan 2008)

For serial, even less stuff. Found this posting from someone named
Karl Kamysek which mentions mythtv/contrib/channel_changers/dct-channel which:
# ./channel -v 10
Attempting to initialize DCT
No response to packet
No response to init_1; trying to continue
No response to packet
No response to initialize_2
That was also mentioned on the mythtv-users list which seems to mention that being located here: /usr/share/doc/mythtv-0.18.1/contrib. Looks like searches for dct-channel turn up quite a bit, including a thread from 2005. Found a 2007 link to dct-channel.tgz. Ahhhh - finally found MythTV_External_Channel_Changer on the Ubuntu wiki.

Myth also appears to have power scripting if you know where to look... but scripts may need some touching up to know how/when to stop if they are prematurely stopped by the user.

Various tips on myhdbox, knoppmyth, and gentoo-wiki.

Man, I'm surprised to find that the complaints about MythMusic are mostly correct. It really seems like an unfinished product. I'm sure it can be done via SQL, but I can't find any way to change anything after the CD is imported - that includes deleting a song or album!

For rebuilding a database: scipt will import the old recordings. Speaking of which, someone else has posted:
automysqlbackup bash script is awesome! I use in my cron.daily. It backups mythconverg daily and weekly, compresses them, rotates them, erases older ones etc etc. check it out:

this is the command I run in my cron.daily folder
Speaking of sql - I'm a command-line type guy, but I'm not afraid of GUI's either... so which sql GUI/browser is best? phpMyAdmin? sqlmaestro? sqlmanager?

Lastly, the ever important debug:
mythfrontend -v important (or -v help to list more options)
Now for SVN / myth-dev hints/stuff:

Using 1 machine for both trunk and fixes.

Builds of 0.21 (and I assume 0.20) require a two step process due to a circular library reference.
Need to read:

Maybe I'll just stick with building my own Mythbuntu rather than the whole svn:
Beware when upgrading!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Quality products

Whenever I go to buy something, I always have a debate with myself: is it worth it to buy a high quality (but VERY expensive) version of the product, or buy the lower quality (and sometimes dirt cheap) version? It's a complex question made even harder by the fact that some mid-grade brands try to pass themselves off as high-grade (Bose comes to mind, but are they even mid-grade?). Not that there is anything wrong with mid-grade (I buy plenty of mid-grade stuff... looking for the "best" at a price range I'm willing to swallow).

It involves balancing the overall price of the product, how long it will likely last, how frequently it will get used, and how good a job it will do.

A perfect example is cordless drills. I finally decided to go with a cheap one made in China because in order to get a cordless drill that is really worth having, you have to pony up quite a bit of money. Instead, I got the cheap one for the small projects and will get out my corded drill for the major ones.

Here's a list of some of the higher-end brands for things:
This could also expand into a list of things to beware of.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Fun stuff

Origami has always interested me. I think somewhere I have bookmarks for some sites, and I'm sure there are more - although perhaps not this serious.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Displaying data

There is so many ways to display data... just look at digg's cool tools for watching their stories. IBM has a tool for generalized data sets, it appears.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Savings: absolutely worth it!

Neat blog post about energy savings.
And for the machine I'm about to build: how about a high efficiency power supply? /.
Also need to investigate power savings in the form of ACPI for Linux.

"Deal sites":
  • digg discussion
  • moneysavingexpert (mostly UK stuff?)
  • xpBargain seems ok, but almost lists too much stuff. Same with techbargins
  • dealnews has decent categories
  • I like Spoofee's listings better, although maybe it lists too little. Need a happy medium
  • and of course, the kings, Fat wallet and Slick Deals (which has a better interface than FW)
General shopping sites I've found good deals at:
  • Typical: newegg/chiefValue,, tigerdirect, macmall
  • Smaller: 6thAve, J&R, Butterfly, Vann's, Crutchfield (during sales), Abt,,, (although beware of shipping delays that cause you to be ineligible for mail-in rebates), "Monitor outlet"
  • Hit or Miss: Abes
  • Beware: zoommania (lists things they don't have, and may not sell items unless you buy overpriced accessory packages) and Regal camera

And then we have savings as in money savings:
but be sure to check out the banks before you send them your money!
Speaking of saving money... Beware the planners.