Friday, October 31, 2008

All Hallows Eve

Well, it's the 31st of October and there are several exciting things happening in the coming month.

First, NaNoWriMo is on again and I've foolishly decided to throw my hat in the ring again. I have no idea how I will go, but I've met up with several other people here in Perth who are also doing it which ought to make it more exciting. I've got the full month (rather than the crazy half-month I had last year) which means I ought to be able to finish more easily (or write more).

The second, much less exciting thing is that I'm also growing a moustache for Movember - any excuse to have a hairy lip caterpillar asleep under your nose is good enough for me.

Thirdly, on the first of November I am going Skydiving! Yay me. I'm kinda crook though, so I don't know if I'll be allowed to jump or not. I'm in the mindset that they won't let me so I'm not overly excited about it, though I'm sure the nerves will kick in once the plane takes off and I'm in it.

Also, though probably not in this month, I'm looking to upgrade our home viewing experience by installing a home theatre - though not anything fancy. Basically, I'd just be adding surround sound speakers to our existing telly. Not massively fancy, but better than what we have now.

And since the telly will only go as high as S-Video, I figure I might connect a basic HTPC to it, though it'd just be a box with all our movies and music on it - no tv cards. I don't watch a lot of tv anyway.

So looks like it'll either be a lot of fun or a lot of pain and convalescence if I land badly (or too fast). I've never broken a bone in my life, but there's a pretty good chance that something might happen tomorrow.

We'll see...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Gearing up for NaNo again

Well, it's the end of October and I'm gearing up for NaNoWriMo again. I had good fun last year and it'll be good to get back into writing again.

I didn't get as much work as I wanted up on Loneverse as I wanted to, mostly due to my laziness, travel and general apathy (which is bad).

I'll let you all in on a little secret - I'm not going to go for the proposed 50,000 words that is the recommended goal for NaNo - I'm going for 100,000. Which is just insane, but that's the way I roll. I met up with a bunch of other like-minded nutters (which I mean in the nicest possible way) here in Perth who are also doing the NaNo this year. We are having a Word War (who can write the most) with a little town in the heart of USofA.

Also, last year I went for a very worthwile, structured, "proper" 50K novel. This year I intend to simply write 'til my wrists collapse. So it'll be more stream-of-conciousness than a proper story with those silly little things like plot or reason that editors seem to get hung up on.

Other than that, not a whole lot to report. It's been a quiet week. Mum is sick, the cats are sick and John is sick but I've managed to dodge the bullet thus far (knock on wood).

The last bit of news to report today (Sunday night) is that I want to start my exercise regime again. I stopped altogether after returning from Sydney, which I'm not overly happy about. I'm starting to get a little soft in the middle, which I don't like.

Plus, I'll be going skydiving next Saturday. If I don't post on Sunday, you'll know why...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Abomination with Fresh Herbs

Cooking today and came up with a new recipe.

I call it "Abomination with Fresh Herbs" - and this is how to make it:

First, boil a pot of water and cook some spaghetti in the normal way. Strain the spaghetti and put some oil, finely chopped garlic, Thai seasoning and Comino into the pot a fry lightly.

Put the spaghetti back into the pot and stir thoroughly. Throw in a mess of chopped coriander (or parsley) and the juice from a whole lemon and stir some more. Allow to sit and then serve with a side of salad.

Tastes better than it smells.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Homework for media PC

Well, I've been spending a bit more time looking at different options for a media pc for the house. The hardware isn't an issue as there are various vendors around who are able to supply the parts that I need (I would build my own rather than an off-the shelf unit).

The sticking point is the OS to use. There are a couple of options, ranging from free to very expensive. At one end is the preferred Linux-based option. I like Linux because it is free and because I hate Microsoft. I'm not going to use an Apple solution since I don't have any Apple pc's available but apparently iLife has some pretty good functionality built-in.

Having done my homework, it appears that there are two main options - Windows Media Centre (either built-in to one of the newer top-level Vista releases or the older XP MCE)or LinuxMCE . There are a couple of other distributions (such as Mythbuntu) but LinuxMCE shows the most promise.

The first thing to do is to determine what I actually want. So after some thought, here is my current list of requirements for the HTPC:

  • It needs to be a "dum" unit - power on, use, turn off. No login, no passwords, no need for a keyboard during normal use.

  • Simple: it needs to be controllable with just a remote and be easy enough to manage that any non-technical person in the house can use it with no (or only basic) prior knowledge.

  • Play DVD movies from a disc.

  • Play audio CD's from a disc.

  • Play avi movies from the drive (with a variety of codecs such as DivX and Xvid).

  • Play digital music (mp3, wma, ogg, etc) from drive.

  • View images from drive.

Having said that, there are also a lot of features available that I don't need.

  • I don't want it to connect to the internet.

  • I don't want to record or watch TV.

  • I don't need it to connect to anything else other than the screen and amp.

LinuxMCE has quite a lot of features for controlling the entire house, multiple computers, PVR functions and so on - lots of stuff that I don't want.

So on the balance of things, it looks like I'll be going for either a Windows based MCE or using a normal Linux distro (such as openSuSe) and just modifying it to act as a Media PC. The trick will be getting it to work with a remote and have all the codecs it needs.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Off to Kalgoorlie

Well, this should be an interesting week.

Going to Kalgoorlie for the weekend. Not sure how much fun it'll be, but I hear that they have a big hole in the ground.

Also, the iPod has worked out pretty well, but I think I may have been slightly over confident in buying the 120Gb model, since so far I have converted almost my entire library and it has come out to like ... 4Gb. I could almost have put the entire library on there in wav format instead of mp3.

In other news, gearing up for NaNoWriMo again. This time I'll have the full month rather than just half a month so it should be a little easier. I was thinking of getting an ergonomic keyboard and one of those "learn to touch type" programs, but I really should have done that, like, back in August - not late October. I still might do it anyway, just out of spite for myself.

Also, after doing some measuring, I might need to think a little harder about the HTPC idea for the living room...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Thinking of building a HTPC

Well, as mentioned earlier, I was thinking of building a Home Theatre Personal Computer (HTPC). Don't really need it and can't really afford it but it would be nicer to see some of the movies that I have on a proper TV rather than on the computer.

Looking around, the "main" option seems to be Windows MCE - either the older XP based one or the newer one which comes bundled with (some) versions of Vista. Another option is to use a distro of Linux.

Not sure which way I'll go... need to save the cash first.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Fedora 9 - setting NumLock on automatically

One thing that was bugging me about Fedora 9 was that it didn't have the NumLock key turned on by default. It wasn't annoying enough that I wanted to change distros' (openSuSe has this feature on by default) but it annoyed me enough that I went looking for it.

I was quite disappointed to find that there were a lot of elitist and jerkish behaviour in the replies by a lot of people that are supposed to be helping new people in the Fedora forums. No wonder MS continues to have such a strong market share.

Anyway, I did finally find how to do it, so I figured that if someone else wanted to make Fedora 9 have the NumLock key on from startup or by default, then here is how to do it:

First go into super user mode : su


yum install numlockx

then :

gedit /etc/gdm/Init/Default

next you search for a line like this:

exit 0

In my case, it was at the end of the file. Now you add this code on top of that line:

if [ -x /usr/bin/numlockx ]; then /usr/bin/numlockx on fi

So you end up with something like this:

if [ -x /usr/bin/numlockx ];
then /usr/bin/numlockx on

exit 0

Don't forget to save and then exit. Next time you boot up the computer, the NumLock key should be on by default. It worked straight away for me, hopefully it'll work for you as well.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Burned by

The common joke floating around the net at the moment is that they are called "" because you only host with them one time - then never again!

There are a number of people who have had their domains pinched or held to ransom. Getting domains back from or recovering the domains has become a big pain for many people.

If you are reading this and you are interested in getting your domain away from them so you can host elsewhere, pop over to this forum where we are compiling information on how to get people's domains back.