What self respecting geek wouldn’t like home automation products? X10, yea that company with the ridiculous pop-up ads all over the web about the “spy” cameras they sell, actually makes some neat stuff that is inexpensive (although some of it’s cheap too). These products allow you to, among other things, remotely control lights and appliances using X10 enabled modules. X10 is actually the name of a company but also the name of a communication protocol used by these devices to well…communicate. Today, there are a number of products that either compete or compliment the X10 products that have existed for years. I’ll get to those later.
I got my first taste of X10 products when I lived at home. We lived in a smaller house and there weren’t quite enough bedrooms for everyone. I decided it was time for me to create my own room and that’s what I did. I converted our old toy room into my bedroom. The problem, there was no way for me to control the lights in the downstairs area once I was down there. After a bit of research, I found a couple of products at a local Radio Shack that would allow me to remotely control the basement lights from my new room. The products allowed me not only to remote turn off and on the lights, but also dim them, something we couldn’t do before.
Here’s something I don’t like but I see it everywhere. Widescreen TV’s (particularly flat panels) that stretch 4:3 content so the aspect ratio is off. I understand people want to “get the most out of their set” but it’s funny to me they picked up a nice hi-def TV only to display standard def content at an incorrect aspect ratio. One wonders if they got the TV for their improved picture quality or status.
The Linux community has been saying it for years, “this is the year of Linux on the desktop” and each time I wrote it off as wishful thinking. For a number of years I felt Linux had never really made any real progress, just changes. I said things like, the things that were good in Linux 5 years ago are still good now, and everything that sucked about Linux 5 years ago still sucks today. You have your old timer applications and services like Apache that are just as rock solid today as they’ve ever been but then some projects like GNOME have felt unfinished.
If you’re like me then you probably have a number of email addresses that you’ve acquired over the years. Among all my accounts, I’ve had this one Hotmail address for the longest but I never log into it anymore because of the amount of spam I was getting. The problem with hotmail is the spam blocking tool is rather hit or miss.
For all of my POP or IMAP accounts I use Thunderbird and I’ve always been impressed with its spam blocking feature. Well not too long ago I found out about a great extension for Thunderbird that lets you add your existing free webmail accounts like Hotmail and use all of the features of Thunderbird you’re used to.
You can find the extension at http://webmail.mozdev.org/
…but you never really know how awful it was until you see it up close. A video was posted that later made it to digg.com of the planes hitting the towers on 9/11. The video of the second plane hitting is zoomed in very close and you can almost feel the impact of it just watching the video. I can’t imagine what it was like actually being there, or worse.
Well, the video was removed, so this is no good 🙁
I’m not much of a TV watcher yet I appreciate devices like the TiVO and DVRs and have always wanted one. The problem is, sometimes I’m really cheap, I don’t want to pay for a TiVO and I really don’t want to pay a recurring fee just to get a program guide. Being the techie geek I am I also want to be able to watch recorded TV shows on other devices and again, pay nothing for it.
MythTV to the rescue. (http://mythtv.org)
MythTV has existed for a number of years now and I’ve given it a try multiple times. Each time I gave up on it any one of a few reasons and it usually could have been resolved by throwing more money at the project. I usually hit two snags with my MythTV setup. One of the reasons was, where do I put a loud computer that isn’t too far away to hook up to the TV (for those times when I *did* want to watch a show on the TV) but most of the time it was because I didn’t have enough computing power to do transcoding, better known as, the ability to pause live TV. This was a real bummer to me because it’s one of the key features of any DVR, any VCR can record a TV show, but only a DVR can pause live TV.
Here is, the first post in my blog. What a dandy. I kept hearing about this WordPress and I’ve always heard it’s about as good as it gets. I decided I better jump on the bandwagon and get going with it. I’ve tried a few times to start up a blog, this is probably attempt three now, and each time I find that I never post to it. I usually tell myself that I don’t have time, but the real reason might be because I’m just not that interesting. We’ll see.