The Scientific Atlanta DVR Apocalypse

If there is a hell on earth, it will surely involve the Scientific Atlanta consoles that Time Warner laughably foists upon us as “DVR’s”.

Each and every week, our “DVR” fails to record at least one episode of a season pass due to strange start/end time conflicts.

One would think that if the “DVR” was going to fail to record a scheduled episode, the least it could do is to inform us of the failure.

But no; our “DVR” simply fails to record a show, silently, like a thief in the night, stealing our entertainment options away from us.

Perhaps this “DVR” is actually the first phase of the coming machine apocalypse? Is this Skynet’s advance party, come to annoy us to death?


The Play

I’m trying to write a play about the meaning of life, but the meaning keeps changing on me, and I can never seem to finish it.


Characters drift in and out without warning, and sometimes events happen for no apparent reason. At times it seems absurd, while at other times events seem to happen for some higher purpose.


It started strong, showed promise in the middle, but I seem to be struggling toward the ending. I don’t think it will end today.


At least, I hope not.

Life With Eee PC, Day 20: Integration

I’ve had my Eee PC for nearly three weeks. In that time I’ve used it to write many emails on GMail (tried Evolution Mail but it’s just too expansive to fit on the tiny screen), written some online course answers using AbiWord, scanned my wife’s transcript using the XSane Image Scanner, socialized via Twitterfox and gtwitter — in short, it’s become a useful tool rather than a novelty gadget. All this is apart from its daily use as my personal media player (PMP).

My replacement 8GB SDHC card finally arrived courtesy of Newegg, so now I’m rocking an extra 12 gigs of storage (SDHC card + 4GB flash drive) over and above the 4GB internal SSD. I had initially thought that I would use the SDHC card as a test bed to dual-boot the Eee PC, but I’m finding that I’m really happy with EeeXubuntu, and I don’t feel the need to switch to any other OS at the moment. EeeXubuntu is fast, stable, usable, and with access to the entire Ubuntu repositories, highly expandable (something the default Xandros OS is not).

These folks are trying to get Mac OS X Tiger running on the Eee PC.  So far the main problem seems to be that the OS 10.4.9 kernel thinks that one second is 2.6 seconds long on the Eee PC. Several people on the site are offering cash rewards for solutions to getting OS X running smoothly on the Eee PC. Personally, even though I love the Mac OS, I don’t think it’s a good fit for the Eee PC; I think it would need to be heavily modified before it could be useful on the tiny wonder. I’ll be watching their progress, though.

Eee PC as Personal Media Player

One thing I really like about using my Eee PC as a Personal Media Player (PMP) as opposed to what I’d erstwhile been using, my 5th-gen iPod with video, is that I no longer have to use iSquint (a tremendous piece of software, don’t get me wrong) to convert each and every one of my DivX files to mpeg-4 or h.264, the only video formats that the 5G iPod understands.

With VLC installed on my Eee PC, I can view pretty much any video format ever devised.

Having no limitations on what video formats will work on my PMP?

I could get used to this.

Life With Eee PC, Day Five: Settling In

Today I watched Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles season 1 episode 8 over my lunch break on the Eee PC, courtesy of Eee PC is integrating into my daily life, which I consider a good thing, a sign that it can grow into a proper tool rather than just the latest gadget in a never-ending parade of gadgets.

Speaking of gadgets, my co-worker just told me that since he’s got an iPhone, he no longer has any use for his Palm Tungsten, and is willing to give the whole kit to me for nothing. Hey, I’ll pay that price anytime! One can never have too many gadgets, am I right?

I’ve got Flock 1.1 beta installed under EeeXubuntu, and I have to say that it is much improved over v. 1.0 on the Eee PC. The previous veresion felt too cramped on the 7-inch display. The new Flock feels normaal and natural. In fact, I’m using its blog editor to make this entry right now. Good stuff.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

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Life With My Eee PC, Day Four: Stabilization

Day Four was all about expanding current capabilities, becoming more familiar, and tweaking EeeXubuntu for better operation and compatibiity.

Expanding capabilities: because I followed these instructions to enable Direct Rendering, I was able to download and install Google Earth, which runs amazingly well on this tiny laptop. Also today, my application for membership into the hulu private beta was approved, and during my lunch break I verified that I can watch hulu shows under EeeXubuntu.

Becoming more familiar came as a natural by-product of all the tweaking I’ve been doing, courtesy of this page. Major tweaks I’ve done include installing the LittleFox add-on for Firefox to maximize available browser real estate — on a 7-inch screen, every little bit counts! I’ve also tweaked the system to greatly minimize writes to the internal SSD.

For a longtime Mac user like me, the Eee PC isn’t just a different choice of computer, it’s a radical change in my entire life (since so much of my life revolves around computers). It means exploring and using new tools. It’s quite an adventure into the unknown.

Life With My Eee PC, Day Three: Success

Several happy things happened yesterday and today with my Eee PC.

First, after seven (yes, seven) tries, I finally got EeeXubuntu installed on the Eee PC.  You’ll recall that I was having a miserable time installing it on my SDHC card. Turns out this was because the card had failed. I’ve already requested an RMA from NewEgg to have it replaced forthwith. This time I decided to delete the default Xandros OS and install Xubuntu on the internal 4GB SSD. Also, instead of using my crappy external USB DVD drive, I followed the instructions to create a Xubuntu installer on a USB flash drive. In the end, that’s the method that succeeded in installing Xubuntu on the Eee PC.

The next happy event was that I got to use the Eee PC for some actual work. I typed my RMA request letter in AbiWord, made a wireless connection to my networked HP laser printer, and printed out my NewEgg RMA paperwork using the Eee PC. The entire process proceeded smoothly.

Next, I followed these intructions to enable Compiz Desktop Effects, which is pretty cool and works fluidly even with just 512MB RAM. I was really impressed after I enabled Direct Draw which speeded up 3D performance by over 400 percent.

Finally, I’ve got VLC installed and I used it to watch my customary TV episode over lunch today. The vide playback was much sharper and smoother than under the default Xandros OS.