Many of my favorite all-time movies are on this list, and with good reason. I will need to seek out a copy of Six String Samurai and rewatch Zardoz; I didn’t like Dark Star all that much, and A Boy And His Dog was boring. But the Fifth Element, Repo Man, Big Trouble In Little China, and Buckaroo Banzai are classics. Oh, and it looks like I’m going to have to see John Dies At The End, too. Because Clancy Brown.

Date posted: January 23, 2013 | Filed under entertainment, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »


How did I spend my three-day weekend? I organized. Picking up where I left off over the Christmas break, I cleaned up piles laying around the basement earmarked for donation, disposal, or consolidation. The Scout is loaded up with a pile of crap to go to the dump (along with our Christmas tree, which never got taken by the County even though it was on the curb within the week specified). I moved my new tool chest, a gift from my father, into a new open space and consolidated two toolboxes, two tool caddies, an entire workbench, and one shelf of handheld electrical tools into one easy-to-access area. I pulled an ancient section of pegboard out of the attic, painted it white, and backed the second half of the tool bench to get oddly shaped and easily lost items off the bench and into view. I still have a mountain of small hardware bags that need organization as well as a crate of loose hardware in jars from my father, so I’m going to have to buy a plastic divider box or two and sort through all of that to get it out of the way. It’s kind of a shock to go down there and see so much open space again.

I also inherited a couple of old Macs from work: a white G4 iBook and a G3 Pismo Powerbook, both models I formerly used to own. The iBook may become Finn’s computer (it’s between that and the lampshade iMac) and the Pismo will be my backup OS9 machine. Spurred on by my burst of OCD, I made a Google spreadsheet with all of our house Mac information to keep things straight, and for insurance purposes. In digging through hardware, I found my Powerbook 160 is refusing to start, so I did some sleuthing and found that a dead PRAM battery is usually the culprit–especially since the machine was working when I got it. So I pulled it apart and hunted down a replacement.

I brewed a Nut Brown ale on Saturday night, knowing both my kegs are close to exhaustion. It went easily–it’s hard to fuck up an ale, really–and my starting gravity was only off by .002%.  So I should have something new to drink in about four weeks. Next up will probably be another batch of Chinook IPA.

Sunday was game day, and it did not disappoint. I was pleasantly shocked at the outcome of the Patriots/Ravens game, frankly, because I figured it would end like most Baltimore playoff games do, but it’ll be good to see them in the Superbowl again. We had C&G come over to grill up some food and watch the game, and the whole thing was really good. As always, I’m going to be sad to see the season over with, no matter what happens in two weeks.

Meanwhile, with the temperatures plunging into the single digits, we are battling our local mouse population, which has been much more active in the last few months. The first night I put out traps with dabs of peanut butter and we got one kill, but they wised up after that. Last night I made improvements to our arsenal by tying small pieces of chorizo to the bait arms on our traps, and within an hour or two we got another one. There was no other movement after that, so I may need to switch to cheese or some other smelly foodstuff, but it’s nice to know my theory worked.

Date posted: January 22, 2013 | Filed under apple, geek, house, photo | Leave a Comment »

Galaxy Explorer

This totally takes me back.

Date posted: January 19, 2013 | Filed under geek, photo | Leave a Comment »

This year, as in previous years, I got a gift certificate to Best Buy at our holiday Christmas party. I decided to spend it on an AppleTV, something I’ve been looking at buying since they came out in 2007.

Having plumbed the pole in our den with expandability in mind, it was simple to hook up. I had already run extra power and network cabling out there, and the HDMI cable goes right into the back of the TV. Eventually, when I’m able to afford a decent head unit with HDMI input/output, I’ll move everything off the pole and back onto the cabinet and use the head to switch between inputs (FIOS, AppleTV, XBOX). But for now, it works great. It’s resting on the top of the TV right now, but a few strategically placed zip ties should hold it securely until it makes the move.

I set up my Flickr, Netflix, Vimeo, and iTunes accounts in minutes. Picture quality for Netflix was marginal (I tested an episode of Mythbusters, so it may improve with true digital movies, or there may be a setting I’m missing). We sat and looked through Finn’s Flickr set as a family before heading off to bed last night, although we can’t watch videos posted there. Stupid Flash.

Setting up iTunes was pretty easy; it requires activating Home Sharing in iTunes, which then makes it discoverable by AppleTV. Paging through music and movies is easy at that point. One caveat: The furthest back AppleTV can connect with iTunes is version 10.5 (roughly Leopard). Sharing pictures is a little trickier, because it requires finding and enabling a somewhat hidden feature within iTunes to share photos in iPhoto. Once I’d done that, I could browse everything on my hard drive.

The G5 server in our basement has been finicky sharing its iTunes library, requiring multiple library rebuilds, but I found a really easy method for doing so.  I did sort out a good way to share video without importing them into iTunes (thereby making iTunes that much slower): deselect the “Copy files to iTunes Media Folder when adding to library” setting in Preferences -> Advanced. I also found that iTunes doesn’t like AVI files, which means we have four years worth of Flip movie files that need to be converted to be shared. Yuck. Fortunately, I finally found a good .m4v converter called Adapter which converts .FLV, .MOV, .AVI and other formats without fucking up the sound, which is a godsend. Now I need to dig out that disc of Venture Brothers episodes and convert them all to .m4v.

The iPhone Remote application was also easy to sync up once I’d enabled Home Sharing, and in a lot of ways it’s easier to use than the supplied remote (which I predict will go missing within a week). It’s simple, it does what it says, no muss or fuss. I haven’t tried any AirPlay features on the set yet, but I’ll give that a try this evening.

One future solution to the sharing problem that I’ve been considering is a NAS box in place of the server. A bunch of research I did yesterday points to two consumer-level products at the $300 price point: the QNAP TS-219 and the Synology DS213. Each are two-bay enclosures with an integrated processor and on-board web service to share files. The most important features I need are AFP, Time Machine compatibility, and iTunes audio and video streaming. The QNAP is missing Time Machine functionality, while the Synology has Time Machine built in and an iTunes server available as an app. I’m a little dubious about the app, but I’m going to do some more research and see what reviews it’s getting. I’d love to be able to ditch the G5 and go with a managed box, especially because a new Intel Mac Pro is north of $2K and I never see them come up on Craigslist.

So, overall I’m very happy with the AppleTV. The ability to stream Netflix movies, access movies and music from our home server, and pull photos down from Flickr is awesome. With a few more tweaks, I think it’ll be perfect.

Date posted: January 17, 2013 | Filed under apple, geek | Leave a Comment »

Here’s a great thread on the Binder Planet about D44 Rear Disc Brake installation where the bracket was welded onto the axle flange. Further down in the thread there’s a parts list for a bolt-on solution, which is more my speed, but the combined price list is about $700.

→ This is a syndicated post from my Scout weblog. More info here.

Date posted: January 16, 2013 | Filed under Future Plans, Part Numbers, Purchasing, Scout | Comments Off on D44 Rear Disc Brake installation

Triceratops ride

Date posted: January 15, 2013 | Filed under finn, photo | Leave a Comment »

Ooooh, look at this: Inexpensive tube amplifier kits. Yummy.

Date posted: January 15, 2013 | Filed under music, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »


Date posted: January 12, 2013 | Filed under finn | Leave a Comment »

Here’s a great use for spent grain left over from the brewing process: Spent Grain Bread. Via Lifehacker.

Date posted: January 12, 2013 | Filed under brewing, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »


Cleaning out the basement last weekend, I ran across all my old LEGO plans and bricks. Playing with Finn over the break, I got an urge to put a kit together, so I broke out some of my bricks and got this far in the kit before I had to stop. This is the Galaxy Explorer, one of the first-generation LEGO Space kits they sold, and the beginning of an addiction. I’ve got a bunch of key structural bricks tied up in old models I put together 20 years ago, so I’m going to have to cannibalize those to finish this one off.

Date posted: January 10, 2013 | Filed under geek | Leave a Comment »