Wow, its been quiet around here lately. The news of the day is that Jen has a shiny new MacBook Pro to replace her Mini, which died a quiet death during a system update a few weeks ago. Its carcass has been sitting on my shelf for the past few weeks while I got other stuff off my plate, and now that Ive got some time I pulled a spare SATA drive from my cache and slapped it in the case. It started right up and seems to be running fine, so I upgraded the OS on the disk to Snow Leopard, downloaded a copy of Plex, and got it started indexing the catalog on the server in our basement. The server app doesn’t work like a true app, in that it seems to run as a daemon (once running it does not appear in the Dock) and has no preference settings I can find. The Client app disables the menubar and responds to a remote or the arrow keys on a keyboard. It’s reasonably fast, did a quick job of cataloging music and movies, and plays the majority of our catalog without complaint. However, the UI lists movies pulled in from other source channels that we don’t own, which was mystifying at first. I also hunted high and low for an option to install a plugin for the Netflix channel but came up empty-handed. Netflix and Hulu would be our two most commonly used channels, and if I can’t get plugins for them the point is moot.
All of the windows on the west side of the house (with the exception of the attic) have been scraped, glazed, painted, and washed, which is a huge relief. Theyve been crying out for attention since the day we moved in, and in the last two years Ive stood by as the glazing has slowly dried out and fallen from the panes in chunks. I took advantage of the Good Friday weekend to wrap that project up as well as clean up the basement windows, the front door molding, the back porch roof, and a variety of other smaller tasks.
We’re having the babysitter back in tomorrow night so that Jen and I can go out and see the Hunger Games, which is exciting. It’s been years since the two of us have been to see a movie together, and we’re looking forward to this one.
I’m a little (well, a lot) hung over this morning; I helped my neighbor fire up his first batch of homebrew last night, and we kicked it off with a bottle of something that kicked me. All I remember of the label was that it was 11.9% ABV, which is enough to make me silly; then we shared a bottle of Pearl Jam Twenty, which was tasty but not my favorite. The brew went really well; he has a new floor-standing propane burner and we stood around it shivering in the garage, then transferred it into the fermenter as the Ravens started losing in the second quarter.
In related news, my batch of Dead Ringer IPA is just about ready for a move to the secondary fermenter, and if all goes well I’ll finally have the hose and tank setup sometime this week. I have to buy a jar of commercial cleaner and get my keg washed and resealed for the batch when it’s ready, but that can wait until the week after Christmas.
This is the latest addition to the home computer fleet: a used (and free) Lampshade iMac, circa 2002. I’ve already had it torn down once to drop a new hard drive in, and it will need a new optical drive as well (the unit it came with is not reading discs). It can only run up to OS 10.4, but it recognizes large drives and has a built-in monitor, so I’m going to repurpose it as a music server and swap out the trusty old G4 tower sitting under my desk at work.
Sunday afternoon I started work in the coal cellar putting up studs for insulation. I noticed a huge temperature drop the first time I opened the door, so I know it’s still not sealed up properly. The first order of business was to mix up a bunch of hydraulic cement and plug numerous little holes in the foundation as well as a crack running down the wall from the corner of the coal chute. Once that was done, I installed studs along the east wall and got about 1/2 of the south wall done before I ran out of lumber. I figure about four more 2×4′s and two rolls of new R-19 should do the trick. I also stuffed the coal chute full of insulation and found a sheet of plywood to nail up over the opening to cut off the airflow. Once the wall batts are up, I can put the overhead insulation back in place and call that room sealed. Then, hopefully, the den will stay warm.
Well, I haven’t made as much of a dent in the huge to-do list written for myself as I’d like, but I’ve gotten some small things accomplished. Finn and I hit the steelyard to pick up supplies for my TV mount project on Saturday. Going to that place is like stepping back into the 1960′s—it’s a low-slung industrial building in the middle of the Rt. 1 corridor (the Interstate That Time Forgot) where nice old Baltimore Hons write out your order on a sheet of paper, tabulate it from a well-worn mimeograph price sheet, then add it all with a calculator. We got 9′ of 1.5 x 1.5 box steel for the pole and a foot of 2″ plate for the mounts. I’m going to cut it to fit, drill the holes and bring it back over to Chestertown for our welder to complete when he does the bumper work. I also bought a foot of 4×4″ box steel, hoping it will be the right size for the hinge as a backup solution.
Saturday also marked the first time I’ve dealt with leaves in the backyard since about 2006 or so; one circuit with the lawnmower made some finely-chopped mulch for next spring. The front yard still looks pretty good, although our hedges continue to collect and retain leaves from most of the surrounding counties.
Finn and I were on our own for dinner, so I took her over to the local Toys ‘R’ Us to scout out the Leapfrog lineup and judge whether or not it’s worth spending money on. Most of the merchandise I saw was 1-purpose stuff, made to do one or two things but not expand further which turns me off. Taking a chance on a $40 toy that might not help Finn read or learn numbers seems like a waste to me, especially as most of them spend more time highlighting other things—useless games, singing songs, etc. We fooled around in the store for almost an hour, and then went next door to the Panera for some dinner. Finn polished off a bowl of mac and cheese and then all of her yogurt, so I treated her to a cookie when we got home. After a shower, we read a few books together and then hit the sack clean and happy.
Sunday started with service across the street, and then a visit to the Gooch (our local thrift store in Irvington) for Mama to pick up some accessories for her christmas card design. Then, while my girls napped, I boiled water and got a batch of Dead Ringer IPA in the fermenter. While that was happening, I started pulling my keg apart to familiarize myself with the parts. I have new valves and O-rings ready but I probably need to buy some industrial cleaner to get the inside as spotless as I can. And, the pumpkin ale has had two weeks to condition in bottles, and tastes much better.
On the geek front, I spent a little time getting my old Powerbook 1400 online so that I could download and play a copy of ZPC, a freaky game from the middle 90′s that bent my head a little crooked. Describing it to my co-workers, I found a download of the CD image, and decided I needed to play it again. Getting the 1400 online meant I needed to bust out an older Airport Base Station that used 802.11b with no encryption, then find a way to get the files off the interwebs and decompressed correctly. (it took a modern version of Stuffit on my server and a burned CD, after I remembered I had a CD drive for it) but I have to rename the CD correctly to play the game. This got me thinking about playing some of my older games locally, and revisiting the issue of emulation on an Intel Mac. Looks like they’ve got it working in Lion with a few caveats, which is cool; it also reminds me just how much of my history is on discs that my current machine can’t read.
Lots of small updates. I was in Chestertown for day 2 of bumper building with Mr. Scout, and I wrote up a report here. I was also trying to make time to get to the steelyard to buy stock for a TV stand, and made it all the way down there with Finn to realize I’d left my wallet at the house.
I’m continuing to enjoy the Chinook IPA I brewed last month. It’s now registered for a local beer competition (“Manifold IPA”, in celebration of successful surgery on the Scout), and have to find a way to get it down to Maryland Homebrew to officially enter it. I also had another fantastic IPA at Brian’s that I think will be my next recipe.
Week 1 of life with my iPhone 4S has been awesome, to say the least. Having the camera in my phone rival that of a dedicated point-and-shoot is worth the purchase price. Having them sync wirelessly is like Christmas in July. I was driving the Scout back from Chestertown yesterday and asked Siri, “Tell Jen I’m over the bridge.” Siri set up a text message almost immediately and sent it off—working perfectly over the whine, roar, and rattle of the Scout at 65MPH. I bought an Otterbox Commuter case for it, and it’s a perfect fit.
Also: this rules.
I’ve been waffling on the decision to ditch AT&T and move to Verizon for a new iPhone. Here at Lockardugan Headquarters, we’re trying to lessen our monthly burn through capital, and one of the ways we might accomplish this is through a family calling plan. Mama is in the first quarter of a 2-year contract and I’m on month-to-month, so I could jump ship at any time. Today I waited for a very important phone call and was able, through chance, to connect with the person I needed to talk to, who then informed me the two messages I’d left last Friday had come through garbled. On my way home from work, in the middle of Frederick Road, my call dropped. Two of the last five outgoing calls I’ve made started with the deafening sound of a garbled dialtone, which then meant I had to hang up and dial again.
AT&T better have a sweet fucking family plan, or I’m history.
Jen emailed me to say our server is making sounds like it’s attempting to take off with a full load of passengers on a very short runway, which means that the “I’ve taken a shit and now you must reboot” screen I woke to this morning repeated itself sometime this afternoon, which is Not Good. So I have a date with Disc Utility and a can of compressed air this evening to see what’s going on.
This evening I’m also going to attempt to bathe my daughter, who refused her nap. Picture a blindfolded man wrestling a rabid badger under a waterfall. After drying the two of us off, strapping her to her bed, and putting out the flames in the server, I’m going to put a test coat of primer on the new woodwork in the den to see how well paint covers MDF. I hope it works well, because I’ll need to donate a kidney to afford real wood for the rest of that space.
I entered a month and a half’s worth of 2003 posts from the old weblog over the last couple of days, and it seems like it’s going a bit quicker than the last batch I entered a few months ago. I think my webhost must have finally listened to the survey results I sent in and got me a faster server.
Meanwhile, I’m zeroing out and reformatting the drive on my old 17″ MacBook Pro; every attempt to fix the video issue has met with failure, so I’m going to unload it on Craigslist and see if I can get some money for it.
And, no word yet from the electrician, which means I have to call and reschedule the drywall today (grr).
After several attempts over the last eight years, I finally sorted out and set up remote login to our home server here at IdiotCentral. To begin, I set up rules for AFP (Apple File Protocol) port forwarding on our FIOS router and created an account at DYNDNS.org. Back in the day their setup was ridiculously obtuse and there was no real good way to confirm things were correctly configured, but things have gotten a little easier. Now, they provide a couple of handy tools to test connectivity and open ports from outside one’s local network, which is a huge help. Once I’d set up the account and tested the open ports, I used a VNC account on a client’s machine to test the connection, and presto! I mounted my drive from their machine.
The next step was to shut down all open ports except for SSH (secure shell) to tunnel AFP and VNC using a method I found here. On first test from work this morning, It didn’t work, but that was because I’d set up one of the port forwarding rules up incorrectly. It’s now working correctly, and I’m connected remotely via SSH, which makes me very happy. Welcome to the new century!
In the future, what I’d really like is a copy of Leopard Server so I could set up proper share points and define users and groups, all of which would add layers of security to the existing setup. For now, what I may do is use the router’s built-in scheduling to close everything down after business hours so the port is only open for a short while.