I came across this excellent article about the importance of adjusting your TNC output levels to correctly drive your transmitter. Until now, I’ve just basically atached the TNC to the radio, and it just worked. By following the adjustment procedure outlined in the article, I was able to increase the range of my APRS Internet gateway quite significantly.
Now this is really cool. A utility that allows you to map an FTP site as a Windows drive. This sure makes web site maintenance a whole bunch easier. Make sure you use the Google link in the story to find the download (not the commenter’s link to Novell) – it appears that Novell might have removed the file from their site.
There are thousands of blogs out there which makes the job of exposing your blog to new readers very difficult. There are the usual methods such as pinging sites like blo.gs. Then there’s more shady systems of ‘click exchanges’. I was leary of these services, mostly because it seemed like just a random traffic generator, without actually having people read the content. But I broke down and decided to try one out. I managed to find BlogClicker which is a click exchange system designed specifically for blogs. Basically, you sign up, register your blog, then start surfing other blogs using their web-based tool. You have to spend 20 seconds or more on a site, and you get credit for viewing that site. These credits will add your own site to other people’s viewing (the more you view, the more your own site gets viewed). I’ve been using it for a couple of days, and I’ve managed to find a couple of very interesting blogs, as well as hopefully expose my blog to a new audience.
The XBox is a very nice piece of hardware. The simple addition of a modchip and large hard drive turn it into the ideal media centre. In fact, I’ve now got two of them in my house. One of them isn’t even used for games playing – purely for media playback.
It’s the media playback capabilities of software such as XBMC that make it so versatile. I use a Linux box running Azureus to acquire a large quantity of my video entertainment. It allows me to catch up on my favourite UK sitcoms and soap operas from Canada. The Linux box shares the download directory as a Samba share, and XBMC points to that share.
The missing piece is to be able to watch recorded shows from my satellite. I already own the Bell ExpressVu 5100 PVR, but it’s a sorry excuse for a PVR – it can’t record by show name, only by date an time, so it’s not much better than an old VCR! So I decided to see what MythTV could do for me.
MythTV gives me all of the functionality of a TiVo box, but without the DRM. I set up a second Linux box as my MythTV backend server. It is connected to a Bell ExpressVu 2700 receiver. I built an IR blaster using the plans found here. After fighting with lirc for a few days, I finally got it set up and changing channels on my receiver.
The front end involves using the XBMCMythTV scripts on my Xbox. These scripts are still a little rough around the edges (watching live TV is still touch and go), but it works well enough for recorded programs. There’s a problem with XBMC and MythTV at the moment. Apparently, the two projects have differing ideas about how to interpret the NUV file format standard (this is the format that MythTV uses). The scripts work fine if the video source was recorded using a MPEG2 hardware compression capture card, but doesn’t work if the video is encoded in MPEG4 (which is the case for the lower end capture cards). There are rumors of a patched mplayer.dll file for XBMC that fixes this problem, but it didn’t work for me.
I came across this blog entry today. Very interesting. It outlines how to use the 1-800-FREE411 service with SkypeOut to make a call to a normal landline without using your SkypeOut minutes (because Skype doesn’t charge for calls to 800 numbers). The only caveat with this process is that you have to have a SkypeOut account set up with a balance (even though the balance doesn’t get used for these calls). Very cool!