New Home Theatre setup

I’ve just bought a 37″ LCD TV, 1080i FullHD all the bells and whistles. Its lovely. I’m awaiting a HDMI->DVI cable for my Mac Mini, and then that will be hooked up to replace my Xbox as my media centre box (running Plex).

Someone is seriously inflating the cost of computer accessories in France though – a 1.5 metre HDMI->DVI cable was 30e in the supermarket where the LCD came from, or four quid including postage from ebay UK for 2m!

I’ve moved the CRT telly into the snooker room, along with the Xbox. I tried overclocking my OpenWRT wireless routers to get the signal through the two 3 foot walls, and it just managed it at 15dbm (up from 7dbm!) but there’s more noise and heat and less signal now, so streaming video doesn’t work, even though http/ping/ssh are usable. So I’m going to have to run some CAT5e up from my bedroom through the lofts and down I think – which I already did when we renovated the snooker room, although its on the opposite wall to where I need the TV, and we’ve sealed up where the a cable could run behind the skirting boards!

I’ve got to do the same down to the Mac, as I tested and even 720p video’s can’t stream over 54g wireless (regular DivX does of course) and VNC is a bit slow too, gigabit will be much nicer. So I should be able to run a cable from a switch in my computer room, through the ceiling where the gas pipes go, and along the beam in the lounge to the Mac. I’ve got to look into the effects of running UTP cable alongside copper pipes, and then either beg some cable from PP, or see if the couple of 25m lengths I’ve got are enough – should be for the Mac, dunno about the snooker room though.

If I cable those two up, I can completely disable wireless in my house, it is an awful piece of technology really – too many “standards” with differing implementations, way overstated speeds and far too vulnerable to interference from microwaves, phones etc. Fine for some casual web surfing from a laptop, although I don’t have a laptop anymore – another piece of technology I don’t really have a use for.

I’ve also got to get a friend to help me run some more satellite cable (which I’ve got to measure and buy too) for the snooker room, I’ve got a spare Sky box, card and LNB socket, so might as well plug it into the telly.

It’s sweltering hot the last couple of days, I’ve been over to the folks and used their jacuzzi, but it doesn’t cool you much when its over 31c outside. My lounge is about the coolest place at the moment, being all thick stone walls and tile floors, as long as I keep the door shut.

Update: I just moved my 24″ LCD onto my main desktop machine, seems like a waste on the laptop docking station (it used to share with the Mac Mini) and wow, 1900×1200 is a lot of desktop space! You can play 1280×1024 games in a window, or have what used to be a fullscreen VirtualBox session in a window and still have about a third of the desktop free. Websites can look a bit odd though. An 80-column text editor only fills about a third of the screen too, so it should be useful for programming. The sound is a bit tinny compared to the 19″ though – as that was a TV as well, so had good speakers. Of course its handy for watching movies with the widescreen aspect ratio.

Update 2: I found that even the wireless speed of the Mac Mini was unacceptable – scp’ing a 700Mb DivX took ages, so I’m currently hanging a 15m piece of CAT6 out of the window and in through the back door! Getting around 35MBytes/sec over GigE now, so copying a 4.4Gb Matroska file took under 3mins!

I’ve also figured out how to sleep the Mac Mini remotely, as if you use shutdown it won’t wake using WOL. So you just make the following AppleScript:


tell application "System Events" to sleep

chmod a+x it and run it over SSH.

WordPress 2.8

Just upgraded the blog to WordPress 2.8, doesn’t seem to be much new for a major version, other than Widgets are a bit easier to configure now – instead of editing the theme, you can just drag’n’drop them onto the left/right sidebars.

Upgrading from 2.7.1 went easily, helped by using a non-default theme I guess – no more editing the CSS every upgrade; although for the first time I had to disable, re-enable and re-configure a plugin to get it to work.

For some reason Wake-On-LAN is working again on my Fedora11 machine, must have needed a reboot of one or other machines for some setting (/etc/ethers or BIOS?) to take effect. I re-ran “ethtool -s eth1 wol g”, so maybe that helped, even though ethtool reported that it was already setup that way.

I still can’t get the Nvidia drivers to work properly, even tried the beta 185.18, I’ve got a feeling its that N6200 card, its always been a bit odd – why I replaced it with the lower spec FX5200 at one point!

Weather’s been lovely this week – had a BBQ yesterday and having another one later today when its cooled down a bit.

Firewire Friday

I’ve just plugged my firewire camcorder into my CentOS 5.2 box and it seems they’ve backported the broken raw1394 drivers that Fedora has into the kernel. Hopefully its fixed in Fedora10, or I’ll be borrowing Mum’s Ubuntu 8.04 laptop to try that – I might try my Mac Mini actually….

I watched The Mummy 3, which was about as good as the other movies, bit of a shame they replaced Evelin and made everyone older – I assume as they’re going to make the next sequel (about Aztecs) the son’s story more than the parents. I wonder what happened to the Scorpion King franchise…..

I have no idea why people thought Jet Li was so good in the movie though – there were barely any fight scenes and he was encased in clay for most of the movie, so could have been replaced by any actor.

Update: I used the Mac Mini and iMovie to import the DV files from the camcorder. Of course iMovie has rubbish export formats – unless you like Mac-centric QuickTime MP4’s at 320×240 resolution! So I just saved the DV files and imported them into Kino on the Fedora7 box for processing and outputting to DVD quality MPEG2.

I also noticed that my fileserver seems to default to 10Mbps half duplex (instead of gigabit/full) when woken using WOL. From the output from ethtool, I think the problem is that if you turn off autoneg, it defaults to the slowest setting.

Update 2: just watched The Love Guru, which was pretty standard Michael Myers stuff, but pretty funny too – especially the acronyms.

Also just used WordPress 2.6’s revision control to restore an autosaved revision over the current revision that I accidently pressed ‘refresh’ on.

Wakey Wakey

I got Wake On LAN (WOL) working on my server today, its nice to be able to turn it on from any machine on my network (including my rourter!) without having to wander to my computer room. I use ether-wake as that send magic packets, the wol package uses UDP which doesn’t seem to work.

I’ve just bought from eBay, a Linksys WPS54G wireless print server, so that I can print to my laser without having the fileserver powered on, and I can move it to a better location across the room. I’m keeping the inkjet on the fileserver as the print server doesn’t support the scanning function.

Also from eBay, I’m also getting a new WiFi card for the laptop I’ve given Mum as RT2500 support seems to be useless in Fedora9, Ubuntu 8.04 and CentOS 5.2, this one is an NEC WL54G which does 802.11B, A and G+ up to 108Mbps, which will be interesting to try with my Buffalo router which can do 125Mbps G+, I bet it doesn’t work due to the implementations differing. Well 54Mbps will be fine anyway with the Freebox. Hopefully this will work better as it can use the kernel-based ath5k or third-party MadWifi Atheros AR5002X drivers.

We’ve 99% finished the shell, we moved the snooker table and sofa in now its carpeted. Dad’s mounted the scoreboard and cue rack etc. I’ve even put my mini fridge in there to keep the beers cold! The landing and lounge in the main house look so much more spacious now too.

Update: just watched The Babysitters, about a bunch of teen babysitters who offer “extras” to the clients. It was OK, gets a bit serious after a while with them devolving into druggie-thug-pimps.