Sun, 31 Oct 2004

My Condolences...

Andrew, My condolences. Byron looked like a pretty laid back cat, with one hell of a personality - it's like losing a close friend when pets pass away.

One of my previous cats, by the name of "Sawyer" (long story), lived at home in the country with my Father. After I went to high school in the city, I never saw much of him. When I discovered one weekend that I was home that he had been hit by a car, I was quite upset (with my father too, It was a while before that weekend, and he hadn't told me at the time it happened).

Anyway, Andrew, give him a good burial spot, it sounds like he deserves it.

[04:45] [/Life] [permanent link]

Thu, 28 Oct 2004


Ok, so I've had a MythTV box for quite some time, but recently I've done some cooler stuff with it - I've also got a local friend who's done some pretty neat stuff with it too. Well, indirectly - not really with Myth per-se, but with stuff Myth uses (You should see his Satellite Dish farm).

To start with, said local friend had a spare DVB-S card that he wasn't using, and I mentioned some time ago I was interesting in getting - so he sold it to me... (must pay him..) The house I'm renting at the moment already had a small dish on it, pointing at Optus B1. The previous tenants had Satellite TV, from the local provider, Sky, which has a presence on B1. The goverment owned broadcaster also has some FTA stations on it, which are the target.

Anyway, after futzing around, and upgrading the Myth box to a 2.6 kernel for support of the DVB-S card, I get things working, but not in MythTV. Takes me a good week to work out that the DVB testing utility in the setup program hardcodes the LNB values for a Universal LNB, As opposed to a Ku Band LNB that are all too common here. Grr. Grr. Grr. So I finally get things working in Myth. Damn, that DVB-S picture is crisp.

Right, about this time, I also noticed that the xmltv source I was using to get EPG data dried up - an old website that was discontinued by the entity that owned it - somehow tied up with the broadcaster, but I don't know for sure. This is where the local friend comes in. Drew has been mucking around with pulling the EPG data out of the DVB-S stream that the PayTV provider (Sky) has on B1 - and he was successful. The added bonus is that he provides the data in xmltv format..

So, the next problem was that the Audio I was feeding from the Myth box into the TV was really low, so I had the mixer wound all the way up so you could hear things - but playing videos was still really really quiet.. Turns out that the sound card is emitting line-level audio, but the TV is expecting something with a little more meat...

To solve this, I decided to purchase a simple Stereo Ampilifier kit from the local Radio-Shack-alike, Dick Smith Electronics. The K-5008 looked like it'd do the job nicely.

After building, then realising that I'd wired the 9V supply socket backwards, sadly, after I'd fried the chip... Then purchasing a replacement chip, I had a working Amp that meant I could finally wind down the volume in the software mixer, and actually have decent audio across the board within MythTV. Excellent.

I'm still pissed off that I managed to wire the socket wrong, when I swear I checked it at least three times before I soldered it...

The only downside, is that now it's actually possible to hear the 'muted' audio emerging from the line-in (for the TV tuner card)... It is very faint, and as long as you don't wind the TV volume up too far, you can't hear it...

[23:14] [/Hacking] [permanent link]

Tue, 19 Oct 2004

Serial Consoles (and other stuff)

Well, I'm sure we've all done this before, but I'll blog about it anyway, because I'm different, dammit. I did go one step further though.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been productive at home, for the first time in a long while... I'm not sure what prompted it, but I think it has something to do with the fact I had to move my office and radio shack downstairs, to the cold room, next to the garage (where the rack of servers happens to be). This was prompted because the S.O. required the room I was using, since she wanted to create a spare bedroom/Her Space area. This is all fine, except that I had a lot of really heavy stuff in there, including two big desks, a filing cabinet, and an HF radio station.

Anyway, moved all this stuff, and started setting up the new room the way I wanted it, which meant running a new CAT5 cable, and getting antenna feed lines sorted out... (unfortunately, I'm going to be without a decent HF antenna until I can work out the best way to put one up in the new location...)

Through all this, I scavenged the 33.6k modem out of my old desktop, and lugged the machine half built as a firewall replacement down to the new office - these things prompted me to put them to use... Now the 33.6k is in my 'network' server (dns, dhcp, etc), being used as a modem with sendpage, so I can feed myself pager messages through the telco's TAP number. Pretty neat. I rummaged around and found the 40G drive that I couldn't decide what to do with, and stuck that in the mail/web server to use as a file store - it's now also a file server. Finished building the replacement firewall, and put it in production. (much better as a full woody, with a faster CPU, rather than that old 486dx40 with too little ram, and a really old insecure kernel).

The room was previously being used as storage of my collected hardware, so that stuff is now out in the garage... must get some shelving for them... Anyway, the cupboard in the room was also being used for storage, so I decided to pull out the two PowerMac 7200's, and putting the contents together as one system with a larger amount of RAM, and two HDD's. Installed this, and discovered that quik is pretty cool... no MacOS needed there. Inside these things is like a damned faraday cage, so the new machine got christened as faraday. (This now makes my home network have 5 out of the supported 11 architectures of woody.. i386, hppa, alpha, sparc, powerpc. - just need to get that mipsel box going now..)

Anyway, after doing all this, I decided I should get all these systems some upgraded, and packaged kernels... so after installing grub, and installing the respective kernels, they're all up to date. (and the root fs on the firewall is too small, so I had to purge the running kernel to get the new one on - I hate rebooting systems like this...)

Now, because I have a Stallion EasyServer II in the rack, with serial cables to everything in there, I decided to get all of these servers going with serial consoles.... a fiddle here, a tweak there, and a few reboots later, I can see each machine boot in a telnet window from my laptop upstairs...

Oh, and to top it all off, I decided to run a longer CAT5 serial cable up to the lounge, and have a DEC VT520 terminal there - great for nload on the firewall!

[22:42] [/Hacking] [permanent link]

Mon, 04 Oct 2004


Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe.

Just a random post... The above came around a Social list at work a few months back...

[Apologies to non-english speakers.. who may find the above harder to read than the rest of us]

[02:19] [/Random] [permanent link]