Blog Archives

Monday night

Last night I watched several shows that had new episodes. First, I downloaded BSG from Sunday night and watched it, it is really bad quality but I still watch it. Then we watched Heroes which was good, we both like that show. Then we watched some behind the scenes stuff from LOTR that talked about how they did the angles to make the different races seem taller or shorter than others. Very interesting stuff!

Overnight, Abby woke up early, not sure what time it was when she came into our room. I had her come around to my side of the bed and pulled her up with me. She always sleeps so good when we snuggle! I don’t sleep well, she was laying on my arm and I probably only dozed on and off the whole night. Right about the time I start sleeping relaly well, the alarm goes off and its time for me to get up. We let Abby sleep in a little this morning in our bed, while we ate breakfast and got ready to go.

Weekend summary

This was a (mostly) very nice weekend.  On Friday afternoon/evening we had some guests over for dinner and got to watch a movie, which was great.  Our kids had a great time playing together and we all had a great time.  Saturday I got a ton of downloaded shows and movies burned to DVD.  Something I’d been putting off for quite some time.  I was able to free up lots of much needed hard drive space.  Liz had a fundraiser thing for her MOPS group to go to at the St. Pete Times Forum working on the floor at a vendor’s booth.  She got home early becasue there was no business that night.  They still got paid which was good.  I seem to recall getting to rest a lot on Saturday and Sunday.  Sunday I continued to burn movies to DVD and the kids got to play outside since it was a little warmer (abotu 65). 

   Its been chilly here the last few days, and all this week the highs are only around 60ish.  Today I think the high will be mid 50’s.  I’ve completely adjusted to Florida living now, and cannot tolerate temperatures below 70 degrees anymore.  I’m still trying to find a scientific explanation for this.  When I lived in the MD/DE area, I’d never even put on a jacket till the temperatures went below 40.  But in our Florida room, I was able to sit there with the afternoon sun coming through the glass windows and warming me up nicely.  It felt great!  I sat there with Abby and watched the cloud formations and tried to find shapes in the clouds.

The Great Speaker Hunt

I recently decided that I’d like to replace the older surround sound speakers currently installed on my multimedia PC at home. Since I don’t have cable or DirecTV or any other paid TV Service, I use my multimedia PC to download/watch any shows or movies (not counting DVDs) that I want to see. This works out great for me, and the quality is amazing. My multimedia machine is a 1.8GHz AMD system, with 512MB of RAM, a 400GB hard drive, and Realtek HD Audio processor. I checked out my system specs and found that if I bought a really nice set of surround sound speakers, I’d probably need a new sound card. I like the Realtek HD audio, but the physical outputs on the motherboard are limited. I won’t have enough outputs to power a decent speaker set in 5.1 surround. So I went online and took over an hour to decide on a new sound card. I ended up getting the Creative Audigy EAX PCI. Its not an expensive card, but should deliver good quality 5.1 6 channel audio to my living room. Now the hunt is on for a good speaker set, I want to get something thats 5.1 surround, has 2 right channels, 2 front channels, a center channel/sub. I need something with a remote for volume control. I also want something if possible, on stands, so I won’t have to worry about finding temporary stands or mounting stuff on the wall.

I think I found a few sets on eBay that look pretty nice, and are fairly affordable. I don’t really need a receiver, because I won’t be using it for any radio or with any other inputs. All my multimedia comes from my multimedia PC, so as long as whatever I get connects to my multimedia PC, I’m set. I don’t want to go overboard either, since I won’t be using them to their full potential till we either move to a more secluded area, or the kids are older. We live in a close neighborhood, so I don’t want to make too much noise! I’ll try to put together some kind of diagram and spec listing for my multimedia PC and home theatre system once its complete.

Lord of the Rings

   It may be hard for some of you to immagine, but I’ve never seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Well, I have recently succome to pressure on multiple fronts to finally sit down and watch it.  Friday night, I went to a friend’s house and watched the first movie.  We started aroun 7:20 and finished after 11.  I thought it was an interesting story and noticed lots of familiar actors and even some from Star Trek.  The effects were great, and the characters were good. Then, last night (Sunday night), I watched the second movie, and spent another 3.5 hours watching this story unfold.  I thought the second one was good too, it seemed to have more action and battle scenes and a lot more character development.  The effects were still great and since they filmed all 3 movies in order over 18 months, there was a great sense of continuity, since the characters weren’t obviously aging as the movies progress.  I have not yet watched the third movie, but plan to shortly.  Liz is even starting to watch them with me.  I better watch them all soon, or I won’t have much time.  Some other shows I like are soon to come back on with new episodes.  It won’t be long now before BSG and Heroes starts back up.

Windows Mobile 5 and ActiveSync issue

Out of memory
This can happen when you have set up ActiveSync to sync automatically over frequent intervals, and then you attempt to perform a manual sync. It occurs because the device thinks it is out of memory. Try these steps:
Perform a
soft reset. Then attempt to sync.
If that didn't work, check available memory: Press Start and select Settings. On the System tab, select Memory. If the amount of Free memory is very small, you may need to
delete add-on applications or purge old photos, videos or other large files to free up more space on your device.

It happns without warning and I can only tell its happening when I realize I haven't gotten any e-mail in pocket Outlook lately. When I check the ActiveSync screen I can see the view status link which shows me the above error. I have plenty of memory left, about 30MB total and I have a 1GB SD Card too. I haven't been able to figure out how to stop the errors, but a soft reset resolves it for a few days at a time.]]>

New Holiday project

Since our digital camcorder was stolen earlier this year, I most likely will NOT be doing another holiday video to send to family and friends. However, I do have a nice program called PhotoShow Gold, which can create some very nice fancy picture slideshows. I might try to get some audio recordings from the kids and from Liz and put together some nice slideshows with effects and voice overs. Perhaps by next year we will do another video, or maybe we can borrow someone else’s camcorder for this occasion. Either way, I’ll still be producing something, but not sure yet exactly what it will be.

Multimedia PC

Now that I have a big screen TV and no cable or DirecTV, I discovered a need to connect a PC to my TV to watch shows I download now in HD. I had the grand idea to buy a video card with DVI out and use my mail server (starbuck) to playback video I download from the internet. So I got the video card last night and put in into Starbuck. I was very disappointed to find that there were no drivers from ATI that would work with the card and support Server 2003. So that shot down that idea. The whole reason I wanted to use starbuck was because its a more powerful machine, at almost 2GHz and 1.5GB of RAM. So as a last resort, I took my old backup server (janeway) and reloaded it with Windows XP Pro. I installed the video card and proceeded to setup the machine to be my playback computer. The bad thing is that its dog slow, this thing only has a 667MHz CPU and 512MB of PC100 SDRAM. So I finally got it all setup and drivers installed and connected it to my TV. I had to tweak the video settings and finally got it to where I could see the Desktop on the TV. I installed my codecs and began trying out the video playback. So far it all worked with only one hiccup, its on wireless, and a cheap wireless card at that. So I was copying over a 1GB+ file to playback and the wireless disconnected at 85% of my file copy and I lost it. I gave up around 11:30pm and went to bed. I plan to run cable into a wall jack behind my entertainment center so I can hard wire the connection, rather than rely on flakey wireless. Of what I was able to watch, I think this setup will work for now, but I definately need to get a better machine to use for video playback.


Our old house sold rather quickly, it was listed, sold and closed within 30 days. Our buyer was a little wacky and we had to jump through all kinds of hoops to make him happy. The closing date snuck up on us big time and we had only a few days to make moving arrangements. Liz and I packed up as much as we could and we had some friends that were nice enough to come over and help us. We had some help loading large items onto a moving truck which we were fortunately able to get for free from our real estate agent’s company. It was a 15′ truck and took 2 full loads to get all of our things to the garage of the new house. Liz and I loaded the first truck load along with some help from friends with the large items on Saturday morning. We then took the load to the new garage and unloaded it with just Liz and myself. It took us about 1 hour or so to unload the first trip. Then we took the truck back to our house and started to load more. It was getting late and Liz’s dad had come down to help from Ocala, so we took a dinner break and ended up with Liz’s dad and myself stopping by Dairy Queen on the way back. We got all the rest of the stuff from our old house loaded onto the truck in a few hours. Leaving only some trash to put out for collection and some small items like mirrors and things we could get with the van. It was almost 10pm by this time so we decided to leave it at that for the night and I drove the full truck back to a baseball field parking lot next to some friend’s house whom we were staying with. The next afternoon, Liz went somewhere with the kids and I took the truck to the new house and unloaded it by myself. It only took me a little over an hour and a half to get the extremely packed truck unloaded. What can I say, I’m nothing if not efficient. Ha ha. That evening I took the truck back to the real estate agent’s office and got my precious Miata back. I enjoyed a nice pleasant ride back to where we were staying.

First our home sale was supposed to happen on a Friday and the closing on our new house on a Monday. However, there was some kind of delay last minute and we could not close on either until Wednesday. So Wednesday finally came, I took some vacation days off work for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday but also had Monday off for Columbus day. So I had 6 days to move and get settled in. We met at the title company at 3pm on Wednesday to close on both houses. The buyer of our house could not be there so he came earlier and signed paperwork. Which we were very happy about so we didn’t have to deal with him in person since he gave us such a time dealing through his real estate agent. Not to mention his agent had a horrible accent and was very hard to understand. They got to us in a short amount of time and we signed all the sale papers for our old house. We finished only after about 15 minutes or so, and then decided to move on and finish the signing of the papers on our new house. This way, when the seller got there all he had to do was sign a few papers and we’d be all set.

Bad thing was that the amount we got back at closing was not as much as we had thought due to higher taxes and expenses in closing. So we got back just short of the amount we wanted. We had planned to pay off two big debts but didn’t receive enough to pay off just one of them. We will be getting an escrow refund from our first mortgage which will help and we don’t have a mortgage payment until Dec 1st, so I’m hoping the extra bill I hadn’t counted on will not be too high of a payment. We should be able to pay a little on the second debt which will hopefully make it more managable. We still have some things we need to buy though, like a dishwasher, since it died just after we got the keys. I’d like to get a new refridgerator, but that will have to wait. We did get a new TV (woo hoo), couch set, and some other things, but the budget is going to be interesting now. We are going to have to take Sarah out of private school and send her to a very highly rated public school nearby. We just can’t afford her tuition anymore with the higher living expenses. This has been hard for Liz and I’m not happy about it either, but unless I get a major career boost (and I already do good) or Liz gets a good job, we just can’t afford to send our kids to private school. Its bad enough just paying tuition for one, I can’t immaging how we could send all our kids to private school. Sarah will likely start public school in early November.

Activating utilities at the new house was a little strange, we are just outside the city limits of Temple Terrace, but still are on their water/sewer system. Tampa Electric still services us which is good, but water and trash pickup were tricky. The county told me they didn’t service my address, the city said they didn’t service the address, Temple Terrace told us they did. So it was a bit confusing getting it all setup. But on the day we moved in we had power, water/sewer and trash pickup is covered in our property taxes. I missed trash pickup this morning, I guess they come way earlier than I am used to, so I’ll have to remember to put it out the night before the pickup day. I ordered Verizon FIOS for internet access to try it out and see how it works for me. Its cheaper than Road Runner and has faster upload speeds which is more important to me than a few MB faster download speeds. I am downloading any TV shows I want to watch now so we didn’t get cable again and I don’t want to pay for Satellite, which stinks in Florida anyway with all the rain in the summer. I connected my PC via DVI to the new TV – a Hitachi 57″ HDTV. I watched some things on it in HD and its amazing. I just need to get a good surround sound system and I’ll be set. But thats one more thing I can’t afford right now. I might be able to get a PCI video card with a DVI port on it, and just use my e-mail server as my multimedia machine. I’d also need to get a wireless keyboard and mouse, but thats not too expensive. I have yet to decide what I want to do about that yet.

We love our new house, its not brand new and it has some maintenance things that will need to be done, but its been cared for and is in good shape overall. Its in a very quiet neighborhood, peaceful and pleasant. Liz has already been rollerblading a few times and I took the kids in the back yard last night to assemble their swing set and it was so quiet and there was a nice cool breeze blowing with no one else around. I have some installation inadequicies so it took a little longer than I had wanted to get the swing set assembled 🙂 We still have lots of stuff in the new garage so only my Miata can fit in there at night right now. I would like to have both vehicles in the garage by next weekend. Its not that much left to move, but its a matter of time and energy to go through it all. We made good progress in the few days we have been there, the kitchen and living room look great, but the other rooms are a little bare right now.

So I’m back at work today after a long break and am right back into the mix of things again. I think I am becomming a supporter of capitol punnishment for spammers. :-)]]>

150GB Raptor Drive, Awesome!

Western Digital Raptor X 150GB

Western Digital’s latest 150GB Raptor has a clear cover that shows what’s going on inside and costs as much as a half-terabyte drive. Which should you choose?]]>