HTPC + OTA antenna, mostly a complete affair

Ever since I bought my house I have been eyeing the antenna that protrudes proudly from the chimney and plotting. Two weeks ago I successfully refurbished the antenna with the help of one my field friends. It was an old antenna so I had to get a 300 ohm to 75 ohm transformer which I ran quad shield coax cable from. This past week I assembled a PC for recording TV off of said antenna using Windows Media Center. Things I wanted out of my WMC:

  • Stream anything

  • record HD OTA programming

  • playback OTA recordings

  • future blu-ray playback

  • bitstream HD audio

It essentially does all of those tasks with the exception of 720P or 1080P flash video. I really wish I would've looked into the E-350 more. Apparently, it's not unknown that it struggles with high quality flash. Although in fairness to myself, I did read an article that promoted it for an HTPC build. I'm going to update the drivers and shit, but if that doesn't work then I'm selling it on eBay and getting an I3-2100 or A6. Decently more expensive investments, but will surely handle flash fine. My current build:

Screw the cable companies.

Some general thoughts about Wikileaks

  • It hasn't really released anything dangerous.. unless you consider exposing US mercenary dealings in child prostitution "dangerous"

  • Or that one of Kim Jong-Il's sons is too busy playing videos games to take over the country

  • Nobody in the US has ever really been prosecuted for just releasing classified information

  • Assange isn't even a US citizen, nor does he reside here - consider this when coming up with excuses to stop him

  • He's not a terrorist. Stop saying he is.

  • The rape charges seem a lot like an excuse to arrest him

  • The outrage from US officials is directly proportional to their worry that Assange has something on them

  • He may be a dick, his motivations may not be pure, but his actions do not warrant a kill squad

Just saying.

This nation is fucking mad

Some of the crap that's been happening lately along with some of the ideas our venerable leaders have been tossing around are fucking ridiculous. The fact that Google or Verizon would be allowed to shape internet policy in this country should by itself be an indication that something is wrong.

Now we have this shit which is bascially the FCC saying it's ok for ISPs to introduce data caps and overage charges. Oh joy. I really have no idea how much data I transfer in a month but I imagine it to be well into the GBs with streaming TV, movies, music, and games. I don't find it entirely implausible that I would go over Comcast's "crazy high" 250 GB limit every now and then. More than any of this though, it's a thing of principle. When I buy broadband, I want to think of it as I'm buying a particular speed. It's already painfully obvious to me that because of the profit motivation, US broadband companies want to deliver as little service as they can for as much as they can. This, in my opinion, is just opening the door for more profit grabbing. Ars brings up the point, "When the cable companies roll out $5 data-capped Internet access to make it easy for poor families to get online, it's hard to envision much opposition," but it's also hard to imagine a scenario in which they don't make an attempt to limit the service they deliver to a user already paying $45/month for broadband service. They have much greater faith than I do that corporations will not be giant douchebags in order to haul in larger bags of cash.

Then, there's also the scenario Ars presents in the, "We're excellent 'managers'" heading. Consider that my Netflix is carried by Time Warner Cable which also delivers TV. If, as Netflix plans to do, they begin to carry currently airing TV shows on instant watch, is it safe to say that there could be throttling and/or price shenanigans on the part of TWC? I would say in all capitals with many "1"s and "!"s YES!!!11!1

Consider also that there are only two viable companies that deliver broadband service in Cincinnati. Cincinnati Bell and TWC. Cincinnati Bell delivers painfully slow Zoomtown which tops out at 5 Mbps for $35. TWC can deliver something like 15 Mbps for $60 or 7 Mpbs for $50. In my opinion, this isn't even competition because I sure as hell want more than 5 Mbps. Combine that with the fact that the copper in my rented apartment is so old I can't even keep stable connection to Zoomtowns routers. I used to have ZT, you see, and I had a tech come out no less than 3 times to fix the issue. I finally gave up and cancelled and just got TWC. I can't have the internet go out every other week and then have to call a tech. One can only talk to India so many times and power cycle the modem before wanting to murder oneself. This general lack of competition compounds my concern for "managed" services.

An Ars commenter:
"Yah I can see it now. Are you a gamer? Yes? Oh that'll be an extra 5 dollars on top of the standard fee. Do you use Netflix or any other kind of streaming video services? Yes? That'll be another 10 dollars. How about Skype? You can tack on another 7.50."

Holy wikileaks dickshit

Whether or not you think this shit should've been made public or not, some of it is pretty amazing...

"Biographic and biometric data, including health, opinions toward the US, training history, ethnicity (tribal and/or clan), and language skills of key and emerging political, military, intelligence, opposition, ethnic, religious, and business leaders. Data should include email addresses, telephone and fax numbers, fingerprints, facial images, DNA, and iris scans."

"The big story circulating around the globe is that Arab nations have been urging the US to bear down on Iran.

"King Hamad pointed to Iran as the source of much of the trouble in both Iraq and Afghanistan," one November 2009 cable discloses.

According to the memo, Bahrain's Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa was speaking to General David Petraeus. "He argued forcefully for taking action to terminate their nuclear program, by whatever means necessary. 'That program must be stopped,' he said. 'The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it.'""

From Ars, but many, many news stories about this

My new router

Micro Center was having a sale on routers a few weeks ago so I bit the bullet and bought one. I bought the cheapest wireless N router they had by TrendNet. Never used TrendNet before but they were supposedly good and we have a few in the office. This thing sucks balls. First, I didn't realize that the router can't run G connections and N connections at the same time unless it's dual band. My fault I guess for not doing enough research. I have enough devices running on G still (almost all) that I still need G wireless. I'm not about to buy a Wireless N adapter for the Xbox or a new card for my notebook. So, I pretty much have to run the router in G mode since if an N device is already connected, none of the G devices will be able to connect after that. This is annoying, but not the end of the world. No, the problem is that sometimes the router won't accept new connections. If someone comes over with their laptop and tries to connect, they'll connect but not have any internet. I can restart their computer as many times as I want, fuck with settings, etc and still nothing. But then, I can restart the router and magically everything works. This sucks dick.

Piece of shit - do not buy.


Money to be spent:

My router seems to be dying. I have to reset it about once every week as the wireless goes down at least that often. Pretty annoying.
Really want a backlit keyboard. There aren't really any well-reviewed ones. The Saitek Eclipse II is the best well-reviewed but seems like they keys wear out in a year. I'm not sure if that's a dealbreaker or not as buying a $50 keyboard every year is gay.
Considering buying winter tires which would necessitate new wheels this summer. I'm trying to decide if it's worthwhile or if I should just slide around on my all-seasons like I did last winter.
My auto premium is coming to rape me in the ass in the next few weeks.

Really need a new router but want a gigabit one if I'm going to buy a new one. Keyboard and tires do not seem all that necessary.