Yearly Archives: 2009

S/PDIF Wishes and HDMI Dreams

One of my long-standing dreams of home ownership has been to have a bitchin’ audio/video setup. I’ve probably had this desire for longer than I’ve had the desire to be a home owner, now that I think about it. Just for clarification – by “bitchin’ audio/video setup,” I don’t mean some $50,000 custom-made setup that is put into a specially designed room with amphitheater seating positioned on shock-absorbing pylons, or anything like that. While that would certainly be neat, that’s not really what I’m looking for.

What I want is a system where I can be enjoying either music or a movie/tv show/whatever in one room, and be able to move to another room and enjoy the same content, seamlessly. Moreover, I want this to be usable by multiple people, simultaneously. Here are the big bullet points for what I am after:

  • All rooms should be connected to a distribution setup
  • The distribution setup should send at least one HDMI and at least two S/PDIF signals to each room
  • HDMI feed should be attached to HD peripherals – DVD player, HD Satellite receiver, XBox360
  • Optionally, HDMI should be connected to a computer for MythTV/Hulu playback
  • S/PDIF feeds should be provided by a computer with some sort of remotely controllable music player
  • Keep A/V equipment as out of sight as possible

Historically speaking, the audio part was more important to me than the video part. Back in my apartment days, I only had one TV/receiver setup that could play back HD content, so moving to different rooms wasn’t really feasible. I did, however, have S/PDIF capable receivers in all three rooms of my apartment, so the audio part was quite achievable. I was able to run cables through the HVAC ducting between my office, bedroom, and living room, providing the necessary connections to make things work. However, my signal source left something to be desired. I was using the digital output of a Sound Blaster Live! card, split three ways, to drive the setup. It worked for the most part, but the thrice-split signal was a bit weak in the living room, and it suffered cut-outs when the signal would get too weak.

While not really willing to spend any cash to solve the problem, but very willing to dream, I started looking around for solutions. After poking around for a while, I came across a few possibilities. One device, the Sonifex RB-DDA6S, provided a full S/PDIF splitter/amplifier, but I was pretty turned off by the price. I came across a few other devices that would distribute both HD video and S/PDIF audio. I didn’t have much use for the video back then, but times have changed. Now that Erin and I are living in our large new home, the video part of the equation is much larger. We’ve got multiple HDTVs, multiple content sources to drive them (HD Satellite, DVDs, MythTV, XBox360s) and multiple rooms, so I’ve started considering video as a larger part of my dream setup.

HDMI is pretty much the only way I would go in terms of video. It yields the best quality, and has the smaller connector when compared with component video + S/PDIF. Being a digital signal, it’s harder to simply split it, but there are solutions to that. Earlier on today, while browsing on amazon.com, I came across this bad boy: the Intelix HDMI-2X8. This thing would satisfy pretty much all my needs in terms of video distribution (sans cabling, of course). Two distinct inputs (one HDMI, one DVI plus coaxial/optical S/PDIF), and eight HDMI outputs. That would allow me to feed in the output of the master HD content provider (my Onkyo TX-SR605, connected to the satellite and DVD units), and a computer, and have it display on pretty much any room the house. We’ve actually got 11 rooms (counting the garage) that we *could* run signal to, so it wouldn’t satisfy every need, but it would sure get things started. Seeing as how normal DVI-capable LCDs will display HD video content (sans audio, of course) with a HDMI-to-DVI cable, this could be quite handy.

I think its time for some more pondering on how I would best control this system… More to follow!

Thanks Mrs Veronica!

The Phishing Phairy delivered me good tidings today!

Dear Mr/Mrs
My name is Veronica ,I am the Current CEO of BankInter Branch office in
Madrid Spain, we offer Xmas loans with a minimum interest rate of 1%.
Fill the application form for immediate process.

LOAN APPLICATION FORM

NAME.............
FULL ADDRESS.....
CITY.............
STATE...........
ZIP CODE.........
COUNTRY..........
TEL..............
Sex.............
LOAN AMOUNT NEEDED....
LOAN PURPOSE.........
OCCUPATION..................................
MONTHLY INCOME..........................
LOAN DURATION PERIOD...............................
Other Contact E-mai:

PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL APPLICATION/INQUIRIES SHOULD BE SENT TO
intercustomercareservice@live.com AS THIS ADVERT IS SENT FROM OUR PUBLIC
OFFER CENTER

Thanks
Mrs Veronica

It’s good to know I can get a Xmas loan from Mrs Veronica with only 1% interest! Where do I sign up?! Oh wait! I can sign up in my email!

Seriously, who falls for this crap?

Floating What?

Update a CentOS 4.4 xen instance to 5.4? Sure thing. I’ll just resolve some broken dependencies, and then I’ll be on my way…

[root@homeapps ~]
: rpm -Uvh procps-3.2.7-11.1.el5.i386.rpm udev-095-14.21.el5.i386.rpm e2fsprogs-1.39-23.el5.i386.rpm e2fsprogs-libs-1.39-23.el5.i386.rpm –nodeps
warning: procps-3.2.7-11.1.el5.i386.rpm: V3 DSA signature: NOKEY, key ID e8562897
Preparing… ########################################### [100%]
1:e2fsprogs-libs ########################################### [ 25%]
2:procps ########################################### [ 50%]
3:udev ########################################### [ 75%]
4:e2fsprogs ########################################### [100%]
[root@homeapps ~]
: yum update
Floating point exception
[root@homeapps ~]
: ps aux
Floating point exception
[root@homeapps ~]
: top
Floating point exception

Oops.

Good thing I made a backup.

He Breathes

That's the rumor, anyway. I figure I should update this at least once or twice a year, so here goes.

The past few months have been pretty busy, but in a good way (mostly). The largest event has easily been the purchase of a house! It all happened in a whirlwind, with all of the pieces falling together in an eerily easy progression. Home ownership is definitely a change, but it's a good one, no doubt about it. Almost immediately after moving in, I was taken with the (much larger than usual) urge to build things and acquire copious amounts of power and hand tools. Erin has also noticed changes, hers being largely unexpected. In the search for another indoor activity besides Eve, she took up quilting! She's getting into it pretty heavily, and is making a lot of progress in a short amount of time.

Work has been hectic and stressful, which is the norm these days. I still haven't found a comfortable balance between being a boss and getting my own tasks done, and it makes things pretty difficult. I'm making a concerted effort to delegate more, but it's met with only limited success so far. Hopefully that trend doesn't continue.

That's all for now. We'll see if I can get back into the habit of posting, but I can't make any promises!

Sleep Is Good, I Hear

Yet another long while between posts. I suppose anyone that reads here should be used to that by now. There's plenty of stuff worth mentioning here, I suppose, but I rarely have the desire to sit down and type something up.

One thing that has made my life significantly more unpleasant lately is a general inability to get a good night's sleep. For the past two months, at least, I wake up feeling like I slept half the time I did, and its cumulative effects are the pits. My attention span is shorter, I have a harder time remembering things, and on bad days, I just lose topics of conversation in mid-sentence.

Erin is reasonably sure that I have sleep apnea, or something close to it. She's observed shallow breathing followed by fits and starts pretty much every time she's watched for it. From what she sees, I mostly wake up once every 15 minutes or so on the typical night. That would surely explain while I feel like a wet bag of crap every morning these days.

Looks like I need to head to the doctor once again.