XBMC port to Linux?

The XBMC Wiki has info on the port of XBMC to Linux; all I can say is HELL FCUKING YES! I will leave Windows MCE in an instant if they can get the functionality/stability of XBMC and it will play HD movies!

For those of you that have never heard of XMBC, here is a link to the user manual...


X10 Followup

I installed the phase coupler over the weekend and it seems to have taken care of most of my issues; devices in different rooms work with no problems.  The only exception to this is my roommates' room; I think she has a power adaptor or something that is causing devices in her room to have intermittent functionality. 


Windows 3.11

It all started when I found my 'Ultima Collection' CD in my games binder; none of the games (Ultima I - VIII) will run under Windows XP- so I tried to figure out how to get them to work!

After a while, I decided on Microsoft Virtual PC.  I setup a VM and configured DOS 6.22 and Windows for Workgroups 3.11 (I had to dig up an old S3 driver to get more than 16 colors!). 

After a while, I had wonderful Windows for Workgroups 3.11 up and running:


I installed The Iron Helix and Maabus, but I am still having problems getting any of the Ultima games to run!  The Ultima the Reconstruction website has some official and user created patches, but it has proven difficult.

I had to regress back to my old CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT tweaking days:


It looks like I may need to work with the old SoundBlaster settings to get them to work as all the Ultima games appear to run independent of Windows (probably the same issue I am having with NovaStorm and the Crusader Games).

I will have to see if there are Windows 3.11 compatible drivers for my current hardware (GeForce for Win3.11?); maybe a 'bare metal' install may be a little more reliable than the VM world (at least for gaming).

Back to Live Writer (beta2)

Windows Live Writer has updated their client to beta 2 and included better support for Blogger- so it looks like I will try this program again!  :o)

I can also do multiple accounts and flip between each (to publish one post to both accounts).

In addition, tumbr looks like it will aggregate different feeds from different blogs into one site- so I am also playing around with broo2.tumblr.com

Funny Office Music Video


Sony GPS Logger

I am not a big fan of Sony (they are arrogant overpriced bastards) but I picked up their GPS-CS1 GPS Logger from Fry's yesterday. This is a small AA battery powered unit that keeps a log of where I go with GPS coordiantes and time stamps stored on the 32MB of flash memory on the unit. Time is synchronized to the GPS satelites internal with the unit.

As long as my camera is close to the correct time (anyone know how to sync a Casio EX-S770 to computer system time?) I can use the included software to load the data from the GPS-CS1 and match it to the time stamp on the picture. I can also overlay the images on Google Maps and have a graphic journal of where Iwas at what time; also known as GeoTagging.

The unit seems to work Ok, but I may return it and buy it from Amazon (for $40 less) or look at another option such as the GlobalSat DG-100 (with the better SIRF III chipset). Option #3 is to find a camera with a built-in GPS!

Phase Coupler? WTF?

If you would have asked me what a phase coupler was last week I would have tried to quote and episode from Star Trek Voyager; but I found out with my new X-10 home automation system (yes- the company that had all those annoying pop-up webcam ads) that I may need one. (Manuals for various devices can be downloaded from their FTP Site)

Electricity is sent to ahouse over three wires (plus ground); two 110v 'hot' wires and a neutral wire (to allow the circuit to complete). Combining the two phases in an outlet gives 220v for devices such as dryers, ranges, A/C units, etc. The panel box in a house is configrued so the two 110v legs are balanced across the breakers- and isloated from each other (as far as the X10 system is concerned). To fix this I need to install a phase coupler- basically a capacitor that will let the higher frequency X10 commands pass between the two phases.

To compensate for this, there is the passive phase coupler and coupler-repeater; the one marketed by X10 must be installed across two 15A breakers while SignaLinc has made one that plugs into a 220V outlet.

So X10 is currently isoloated to my room (two outlets, wall switch, two plug-in adaptors and a few remotes) but I am planning on wirirng several rooms after I have the repeater-coupler. I also learned that X10 does not work at all on devices behind UPS systems and does not appear to work with certain surge supresors. I also may be having problems as my bedroom areas are behind Arc Fault Circuit Interupt (AFCI) breakers- and I cannot seem to connect to other segements (on the same phase) that are down-stream from the AFCI...

I have found some great deals on X10 hardware/software on ebay from The Home Automation Store and Digitronix Domain (as well as a few 'Lot of X10 hardware' auctions).

I will probably be writing about my X10 exploits for the next few posts... :o)


Looking for a good price on a PS3?

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


VMWare meeting at Atlanta Convention Center

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

That is one big-ass plug....

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T



Where is the diet vanilla coke?

answer: not in this picture! There were two 12 packs of vanilla zero (the replacement for diet coke vanila/black cherry vanilla) which I quickly snagged; sorry Reynoldstown- you are out until Kroger





I found an excellent article on photo geotagging on GPS passion; I think I just use my Mio C310x and try some of the software they mention- most likely JetPhoto Studio as I am fairly impressed by all the options it has for publishing images (Flickr, Web Album, Flash, LightBox, Screen Savers, etc).

Now if I can find out how to purchase EU maps for my C310x I will be set for our trip to Greece...


Sony BluRay Player only $499!

Sony released their new BluRay player at an incredibly low price of $499 (that's $100 less than the PS3- excellent way to kill off your PS3 sales as a BluRay player Sony!)- and the Toshiba HD DVD player on Amazon is going for $250... oh- and you get 5 free HD DVD movies (via mail) with purchase of a Toshiba HD DVD player.

Let's see; both formats are basically identical (save some film companies are backing only BluRay or HD DVD) and the cheapest BluRay player is twice that of the cheapest HD DVD player. I think Sony will soon have a HD BetaMax item.

Personally, I think price will be the deciding factor in this 'standards' war- one that Sony cannot win as it wants to controll the format and rake in the profits by licensing their (expensive) proprietary format to everyone else (just as they have failed to do for the past 2 decades).

Another good read on the joy of Sony formats on this blog...

Picasa2Flickr Plugin

I am sure Yahoo will not fully appreciate a Google application hack to upload to their Flickr service, but I think this is a great combo for me! (I wonder if there is a plugin for Adobe Elements to upload to Flickr?)

Picasa2Flickr Plugin at Sourceforge


New Bluetooth Headphones

I took the plunge and spent some real money on some bluetooth headphones; I picked up the Sony DR-BT21G from Fry's for $130.

My first impression of them is awesome; they look good, they sound awesome and the battery life is rated for 11 hours on a full charge. in addition, they sport a microphone (still need to test this with my Treo) and are Bluetooth 2.0 (higher through-put to reduce signal drops/clips) and have A2DP/ACRCP buttons for FF/REW, Volume +/- and a 'custom function' button. They also fold up to a fairly small size (a much welcomed change from my Logitech Wireless Headphones for iPod).

I paired the headphones up with my Dell Axim X51v. The first pairing failed (there are no instructions in the box, so I winged it). After trying all the default pairing passwords (0000, 0000000, 1234, 12345678) I gave up and downloaded the manual from Sony eSuppprt. (Turns out I was right with the '0000' passcode!). Another attempt and success!

The headphones sound great; there is a full, deep bass from Nine Inch Nail's 'Down In It' and the highs are clear and not overpowering. The volume seems to be limited- I cranked volume on the Axim and the headphones up to 100% and they didn't seem to be super loud; but I doubt I will be wearing these to cut the grass or on an while sitting close to the engine in the coach class of an airline. They are open-ear and I am pretty used to the ear buds so this could be the difference.

The bluetooth connection was much more stable than my prior set; rarely had a signal drop while wandering around my house. The range is advertised for 30' but walls and such can easily cut this down- but at 20% I still had a solid signal.

Note: if you are using a 'Armor' or 'Rhinoskin' case made out of aircraft grade aluminum for your audio source you should note that the metal blocks most of the radio signals- my roommate found this out the hard way with her cellphone that kept dropping calls. These cases are great for protection but they also act as a shield and block most bluetooth/802.11/cellular/GPS signals!

The headphones seem to be fully charged out of the box- I used them for about 3 hours before I took them off to work on other things. At about 2 hours the weight of the headphone started to make the top edge of my ears hurt (where the band loops back from the ear piece). A slight re-adjustment alleviated this discomfort but I think it was more of a temporary relocation of the pressure points.

I looked at the phones again and the folding feature makes the band look cheap and fragile- I wonder how long it will take to break these in my gym bag. The behind-the-neck design also does not open out to an even arc but has a strange bent angle in the middle- sort of like it should snap open but it cannot; this greatly deters from the look and feel of the unit. The overall finish of the phones is Ok, but it looks like something that will quickly wear and leave partial text and dull areas after a few months.

I am also curious as to why the charging plug is in the left ear piece but the LED/charging indicator is on the right ear piece- with all the buttons/controls for the system; perhaps to show that both sides are connected via a wire inside the unit?

Sony could have also included some extra foam ear piece covers for $130; these will probably look fairly nasty after a few months (as most on-ear headphones do)

Overall I am pleased with the unit; great sound and bluetooth response, more than adequate buttons/features, and simple and easy to use. The design/finish looks a little 'cheap' but time will tell how this holds up.

Tomorrow I will purchase Softikck Audio Gateway for my Treo 700p and test out the headphones with PocketTunes and try the microphone out with a few random calls...

Next project is embedding/merging GPS data into the EXIF data of my digital pictures!

New Pocast Favorite

Somehow I ran across the Mysterious Universe podcast during the process of trying out Doppler and re-installing iTunes in XP (I think it was while researching feeds on Podcast Alley); this is an excellent podcast that touches on science, mysteries, paranormal and a whole range of other things. The basic podcast is free, but I think I may sign up for the premium membership for the extra info (and to show the podcaster that I really appreciate his work!)

I was trying out Anapod from RedChair Software as an alternative to iTunes; I am a big fan of their software for the Creative Nomad and the Rio Karma, but they cannot match the flexibility of the playlists in iTunes (it also doesn't work with two ipods- without an additional charge and complexity). I abandoned their software and went back to iTunes.

An interesting (perhaps almost pleasant?) surprise with the Doppler podcast aggregator is that it creates playlists and automatically loads them onto my ipod (and disables the normal podcast sync). This is a little different than what I am used to, but much easier after I created groups for my different podcast genres (Tech, Videos and Other) as I don't have to keep messing with my ipod while in my car (connected via Denison Ice>Link Plus to my stock head unit).

Doppler will also do this with Media Player- but it seems to be an either/or choice between Media Player or iTunes; and I want both! :o)

The BEST extension for Firefox!

While looking at my Foxmarks (and looking for a way to sync to IE so I can add favorites to my Axim X51v) I chanced upon an extension called CustomizeGoogle- which lets me filter the search results... Holy crap- I have dreamed of this!!!

I added in a few filters:


Now if I search for "randomitem review", I am not inundated by worthless links to sites on nextag or epinions! I am sure this filter list will grow, but I am already thoroughly impressed!

Even more: It has customization for GMail (and other applications) and adds 'sticky settings' for Google Search- so I do not need to keep changing the 'safe search' feature...