MythTV Project update – Yay real screens!

MythTV Screenshot

Originally uploaded by eidolon.

Well, this weekend saw a bunch of advances on the project. The biggest was figuring out, much to my chagrine, that my Toshiba television did in fact have an S-Video input on it. Doh! I patched that puppy in tout de suite, and got an immediate full color image up on the screen. Hooray!

With that cable patch, we were pretty much set. Movies, live tv, dvd’s, music, etc – all were working properly. We even stopped having the lockup problem on MythMusic when going to full screen visualization.

We’re not 100% there yet. XMame is acting unusually twitchy when it comes to screen resolution. Some resolutions work okay on the external monitor, some do not. I can tweak the xmamerc and get SOME of the games working, but others will stop functioning all together and bomb out on startup.

I think I’m getting closer and closer to the time where I’ll need to do a Myth build from scratch on the box, building the code from source (rather than use Knoppmyth). There’s too many problems with the Knoppmyth distribution that I cannot repair without an upgrade (like broken MythGame sorting, MythWeb upgrades, etc).

But for now, I have a stable, useable box.

MythTV Project update – Bad card, Good games!

I had chalked this weekend to put in some work on the MythTV Project. As of mid-day Saturday, it’s been a mixed bag of results.
I received my replacement MX4000 AGP card from Newegg right as scheduled, and proceeded to install it into my system. The problem happened when I tried to remove the old card which had gotten pretty badly wedged into the slot. I believe I ended up cracking the slot (an AGP card is a ‘double-depth’ card, which means it goes pretty far into the motherboard). I installed the new MX4000 card, and apparently didn’t quite get it in place properly, because after 5 minutes of use, I was getting noise on the screen and corrupted video. No amount of swapping, reseating, fiddling, or whatever has solved the problem, so I’m RMAing the card back to Newegg, and trying a new one. Alas, I’ve had to go back to my old nVidia card in the meantime.
On the good side, I did some more work with MythGame the plugin for MythTV that acts as a front end to XMame, a wonderful arcade emulator. After populating the machine with the ROMS I had (all legally, natch), it took some noodling to get MythGame and XMame to configure properly. I’ve narrowed down a lot of the problems to the fact that the KnoppMyth folks rolled a ‘mid-development’ version of Myth out with their last ISO image, so many things are only half completed. I won’t be able to use the new ROM SQL database stuff yet, but ‘big browsing’ (using just filenames) -is- working.
I also picked up a pair of Thrustmaster (yes, thats really the name) USB joysticks from CompUSA ($9 each. Cmon), and Debian Linux picked them up automatically. I had to tell XMame to use the joystick (putting ‘joytype 1’ in /etc/xmame/xmamerc), as well as some other minor tunings (always run fullscreen, here’s where the rom dir is, etc etc), but after that it’s been working great. I have to decide whether the handheld controllers would be best, or if something like an X-Gaming controller is needed. However, in the time it’s taken to write this article, my friend and my wife and my son are now gathered around said system playing Gauntlet II on the handheld controllers. That may have answered my question for me.
Minor update – Something is amiss in my USB setup. The joysticks have a tendency to disappear off the bus and not reinitialize. A hard reboot seems to fix it, but not exactly an optimal situation. Stay tuned.
“Wizard is about to die!”. Ahhh.

Create your own lighting controller

So a few days ago I posted a link to a fellow who had programmed all his christmas lights in time with a Trans Siberian Orchestra track. I sort of mused, being the geeky fellow that I am, how this could be done in a reasonable budget.
Hackaday to the rescue! They pointed me at this wonderful site that gives full detailed howtos on building controllers to drive your own lights display.
Not that I need another project right now.

Further BOINC Fun

Our new team in Seti@Home BOINC processing is cranking away. All the user information has migrated into the system, and our ranking is rapidly climbing up the ladder. I have to admit seeing full statistics and graphing stuff like this representation of the Stonekeep team is just too cool for words. We’re ranked about 17,000 out of 31,000 teams right now, and I expect that’ll climb steadily as our total credit keeps going up.
If you haven’t joined already, feel free to add your machine to Cluster Computing and Yak-Shaving division of Stonekeep Consulting.

Another reason I detest Windows.

Folks are well aware that I’m not exactly a screaming Microsoft advocate. While I concede they’ve done more to advance and stabilize the concept of ‘Computers for Everyone’ than virtually any other manufacturer (save perhaps Apple), they’ve done so in such a poor, disorganized, and ruthless fashion, it’s resulted in a global environment that is virtually impossible to be productive in without spending enormous amounts of time and money on licensing, virus protection, system tuning, configuration, and security auditing.

I offer as evidence, dear readers, my experience trying to set up my son’s computer this afternoon. It’s installed with a (licensed!) copy of Windows 2000, running on an AMD Duron 850mghz machine with 512meg of RAM. No slouch is this machine, and the goal today was simply to get it to the point where he could run his Reader Rabbit game.

What follows is a Rant. Read at your own risk.

Continue reading “Another reason I detest Windows.”

So, how DO you meet women on the Net? Ask ClueChick!

It’s the age old conundrum. If you’re a guy, and you’re looking for friends, dates, or romance on the net, you’re immediately at a disadvantage. It’s generally up to the guy to take the initiative. So how DO you reply to the personal ad of that wonderfully sexy person on OkCupid or Craigslist and not sound like a total dweeb?
There is help! Enter ClueChick! Her job? Help the poor schmoes like yourself come across as something other than slobbering hordes of testosterone. She’s taken on the admirable role of educating the masses on how to function in the online dating scene. Not only how to answer ads, but how to choose which ads to answer, and what to say in those responses.
An excellent read, whether you’re on the lookout or just interested in an up front and honest statement about what to do, what not to do, and what to AVOID AVOID AVOID!


It’s rare that I find an online service that I really get sunk into right off the bat, but has me totally roped in.
Some friends of mine have been using it for general picture sharing, and although I knew a bit about it, my experience with other picture sites (Shutterfly, some others) has really left me cold. They try to be a whole-experienc-happy-javascript-flash site, when all I really want to do is post and share pictures.
Flickr has hit the right balance of photo database services, community, and technical features. Not only do they allow quick browsing of your own and other people’s pictures, but they also provide tools to link your picture sets into external pages and blogs. I’ve added links to my Flickr photos in the sidebar on the blog now. Pictures I’m looking to share will definately be posted into Flickr from now on.
Flickr Fun
Here’s a neat thing I’ve found fascinating to do with Flickr. Go to the main page, and click on ‘Everyones Photos’. This is a constant stream of the photos being uploaded to Flickr by every user. Refresh it every 5-10 seconds. It’s like an around-the-world window into dozens of peoples lives. I probably watched it for almost 2 hours.

Seti@Home New Team

The legions of Stonekeep minions took on a new dimension today as we set up the Stonekeep Cluster Computing team on Seti@Home. We’ve got some fairly high-power hardware lying around, so we figure it was time to put all that idle silicon to work and band together.
If you’d like to join, feel free. It’s certainly a good cause (I think the Seti project is fascinating in its own right, and this lets folks participate in some small way). I doubt the Stonekeep team will ever compete with the big boys, but I still hope to rack up some good unit counts.

MythTV Project Update. Disk space!

Here’s a quick update to my project to build and run a MythTV box.

Today saw what is most likely the last bits of setup on the disk storage. Thanks to a fortuitous woot at, the main drive is now a 250gig WDC ATA drive. That, coupled with the 40gig drive we originally isntalled on, and a ‘portable’ 160gig external drive, brings us to the awe-inspiring:

Filesystem            Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/hda1             2.6G  2.0G  459M  82% /
/dev/hda3             4.1G   24K  4.1G   1% /cache
/dev/hdb1             233G   18G  204G   8% /myth
/dev/sda1             147G   43G   97G  31% /external
/dev/hda4              31G   33M   31G   1% /backups

It’s not quite half a terabyte. But it’s getting mighty close. And I remember the GLEE I had back in the day when I first got 2 hard drives working in my very own PC. 2 20 MEG (that’s megabyte) Seagate ST225 drives. I spent time just copying data from one to the other, just to see how fast it was.

This machine has over 10,000x the disk space of that old PC.

(I won’t mention the 1300x the amount of memory, and some absurd performance factor between a 8mghz V20-based PC and an AMD Athlon 1400.)

Special thanks, by the way, to Ben for doing a lot of the maintenance work on this box. I know he’s got some self-interest in seeing it all work, but he’s the one who finally installed the Big Drive, and got it configured properly, as well as the networking work that was required for remote access.

Cool Google Maps toy du jour.

This is a cute little toy. Kayak Buzz lets you type in an airport code, and it’ll show you, on google maps, a list of discount tickets radiating out from that airport, color coded based on price. This includes international flights. Nifty.
I’m honestly not sure about the usefulness of this. The listing of the flights available is nice, and it’s great for looking up “Hmmm, I think I’d like to go somewhere this weekend”, but the map is somewhat hard to view on a reasonable scale. Though the slider for eliminating things based on price is verrahnice.
Thanks to Ringel for the pointer.