Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The State of Technology

I wiped and re-installed my system drive this past week. It's nice to have a fresh install. I've already had issues.

Actually, it was a minor thing. LogMeIn. When I installed this software, and rebooted, I could see the Windows logo as it started, then my monitor stopped getting a feed. I could hear my startup music, so I knew it was just a driver issue. Reinstalling the drivers (after rebooting into VGA mode, YUCK!) seemed to fix it. But now I'm back up and running.

And Patched!
As you can see from this post from Coding Horror, (one of my new favorite blogs!) it's very easy to kill an unpatched system.

What is my goal!?!
Ubiquitous media!

I want music, videos (recorded via DVR/PVR), and pictures that I can access from anywhere. That means, I want my PDA to plug into my system at home, and pull a random selection of music from my music server to take with me when I go. I don't want to have to think about selecting this one, or that one, but not that one, cause I'm tired of it...

Why? Cause the radio in my car doesn't pick up any channels, that's why.

I'd also like all of this to be streamed to my entertainment system along with online streams of music, and perhaps something like MovieLink, where you can buy and download movies to view for a period of time.

Did I mention this should be free? Or at least cheap. Believe it or not, most of my entertainment system was given to me, or purchased used. I am a cheapskate!

We're not far from this though. Using GBPVR, and my MVP I've got most of it already. Music, Pictures, DVR, and some streaming music even. And all I paid for was the hardware. I was able to pull out my 60 disc CD changer from my entertainment center, because all (or soon to be all) of our music is on our server, and fed through the system, complete with album art.

As for movies, GBPVR has a plug-in that allows you to view the listings for the local theaters, COMPLETE WITH TRAILERS!!! Just a click of the remote away, I have weather, music, pictures, theater listings and TV. And I only pay $10/month for cable. How's that for cheap!

That's not to say I wouldn't mind paying 2 bucks to download a rented movie. I'd be saving 2 bucks compared to the $4 to rent a DVD at the local place, not to mention the $3 for the gallon of gas. (Okay, it doesn't take a whole gallon to go get a movie, but still...)

In the mean time, we have people working for cheaper access to space. But of course there is debate about that. If you have a few minutes, look at this discussion on the Space Elevator.

So, why can't we just go the extra mile, get me my media, and let me be.

But all that aside, governments still can't feed all the people. The cold war is over, and yet you still here them saying 'I'm gonna point my guns at you if you don't play my way.' All-in-all, I haven't spent much time on my persuit of music, because there are FAR MORE IMPORTANT THINGS to worry about.

So, here's a reminder to myself and others. Let's stay focused people!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Remote Control your PC easily, and FOR FREE!!

I've been trying this today:

I can remotely connect to the PC I have set up as a client, and do whatever I need. Currently I'm connecting to my big Windows XP system at home. But on that system, I have a VNC connection to my linux box. So I'm able to configure things on my site, or just do some work on my server.

Even going 3 PCs deep (Local to client, client VNC'd to linux) was adequate to work with. Don't expect to watch video played on the client, but that's a given.

The only problem I've seen so far, and I'm not sure if it's a problem or user error, is remotely rebooting my PC. I told my client to reboot for some windows updates that had run, and now I can't get in. But other than that, it was quick and worked well.

Wyoming pictures at last!!!!

Here is the Wyoming pictures link.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Online, customizable, radio

Okay, let's broaden the search. What online music services do you use to listen to streamed music. This is music that plays through your browser (or software) but is not downloaded.

I have used Launchcast and Last.FM. How about you?

Desktop apps dead?!

It may be true, at least for many things. This is a nice, concise post on Coding Horror. And having Streets and Trips, I agree with him.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Last.FM, who else uses it?

If you do, please comment here. My username is mkenyon2


Well, we made it to Wyoming and back. In this installment I'll tell you some of the highlights, the low points, and review some motels/hotels.

The flights out (Philly to Salt Lake to Billings, MT) went fine. Got our car quickly. FYI for later in this story, Philly to Salt Lake is 4.5 hours.

Found our way from Billings to Cody quite well. This gave us our first impression of what was in store. Along the route, we passed through what is called, the Bench. The Bench is a LONG, flat strech of road, with ranches on either side. We drove onto this area, and saw mountains ahead. 'Wow, nice, we should get to those in a few minutes.'

45 minutes later, we were continuing to think we'd get to them soon, but were beginning to wonder if it was some sort of illusion. They were growing in view, ever so slightly. That's just how BIG and VAST things are out there.

I will consider Cody Wyoming the world's first 'tourist trap'. It was laid out by Buffalo Bill Cody to be specifically a tourist town, and talked the goverment to put an entrance to the worlds first National Park (YellowStone) right where Code would stand, so you can't use the East Entrance to Yellowstone without passing through Cody.

Words can't describe the park. I'll put pictures up soon, but try to see it yourself if you can.


Our first motel was the Rainbow Park motel in Cody, WY. This was an inexpensive place, older, but clean. It had a kitchenette with a stove and fridge, but not pots/pans/or utensils. I'd give it a 2.5 - 3 out of 5.

We were supposed to stay 1 night in Billings before our flight home. Our choice, Red Roof Inn. Eh... 2 out of 5. It had an indoor pool and was okay.

Crown Plaza, Billings. This was unexpected, and usually expensive. More about why we were here later. The beds were plush, and the room nice, but I don't know if that would justify the usual $129/night price. Maybe it was all the service they were 'supposed' to offer. The tub was filthy. In room movies were $14.99. Only 30 or so channels. Local calls were $.75 apiece. I'd give it a 3.

Why 2 nights in Billings?

Adventure, don't you love it? We originally were scheduled to leave Billings on a flight that would take off at 7:50 AM, Tuesday. We were alerted that the flight schedules had changed, and printed up the new itinerary, which showed the new flight time of 7:30AM. However, our E-Ticket that we originally printed up said the original time, 7:50. Due to several issues Tuesday morning, we got to the ticket counter at 7:15AM. Luggage check-in stops 1/2 hour before the flight, so we would have been fine for the 7:50 flight, but we got stuck since we had the 7:30 fligh now.

Long story short, there were no available seats left on Tuesday, so we needed to reschedule for Wednesday's 7:30 AM flight. But what to do instead? Well, Delta was good enough to get us set up at the Crown Plaza, and Crown Plaza sent a shuttle over to get us. We caught up on some sleep and walked around the hotel (as we had no car anymore) finding a small museum to tour.

Flights Home

The flight from Billings to Salt Lake was on a smaller, Canadair, jet, with a young zippy pilot. This allowed for some bumpy flying, especially at landing. Kinda upset my wife's stomach and head.

From Salt Lake to Philly was a larger 757, and was pretty smooth except for one large patch of rough turbulence. However, there were 3 young ones sitting close behind us. If one wasn't screaming, the other was singing. (Jingle Bells of all things.) (The two directly behind us were able to also kick our seats quite frequently.) The flight out had 2 young boys in front of us who were quiet as mice. Thankfully their mother had brought along a portable DVD player. Way to go mom! I wish the ones on the way back had thought of something like that, but what ya gonna do.

Needless to say, my wife's headache got much worse on those 4.5 hours... but we're home, safe and sound. Our luggage is rough, but we're ok.

So, that's our trip in a nut-shell. And as I said, pics will be forthcoming.