Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Right now I'm building a desk for my wife and I decided to undertake turning my own legs for the project. I didn't really want to purchase a lathe (and learn how to use it), so I found a technique which uses a clever jig plus a plunge router to do simple turnings. The idea came from the book Router Magic by Bill Hylton.

The way it works is you create a box with an open top and holes drilled in each end such that you can suspend a blank in the jig and allow it to turn freely. Then you create a sled that attaches to the base of your router. This sled then slides back and forth along the length of the blank. You just turn the blank by hand as you slide the router back and forth. I used a dish cutting bit in the router and it did an excellent job. Just a slight bit of sanding was necessary after turning the legs.

Here are some pictures:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

It's been a year since my last entry. Wow. Time flies. The other day I decided to ressureect my PVR machine. Around a year ago the web site I use to get TV listings for my PVR software (GBPVR) stopped offering free TV listings, and so rather than having to pay a monthly fee to get my TV listings, I decided to shutdown the machine. Fast forward a bit and now there is a free way to grab listings from the Yahoo! website and convert to the TV XML format. So I spent the better part of a weekend installing new software and a bit of new hardware. Here's what I did in slightly more detail:
  1. I also use this machine as a file server so I updated it with my latest mp3 collections and got my external backup drive synced up with it.
  2. Fixed color issues with video playback. For the longest time I've had issues where video playback outside of GBPVR had incorrect colors and was basically unwatchable. After a bit of Google-Fu I went into the nVidia control panel and reset the gamma slider in the overlay menu, and that seems to have fixed the issue.
  3. Installed a new wireless network card and external antenna. I'm using an MSI 802.11g card plus a D-link external antenna which drastically improved my network throughput.
  4. Installed GBPVR 1.2.13
  5. Setup Yahoo! XML TV grabber
  6. Ran ChangeDatabase utility (included with GBPVR) to convert from my ver old version of database to the new system GBPVR uses. This fixed an issue with the "Search Guide" feature where it never found results.
  7. Installed latest stable build of Comskip, for commercial tagging in recorded TV
  8. Installed Weather plugin
  9. Installed Cinema Listing plugin
  10. Installed Netflix Watch Now plugin. This thing rocks!

Now my PVR machine is running like a champ! The bugginess in GBPVR and its plugins is gone now. Occasionally before GBPVR would get super slow (maybe a memory leak?) and I'd be forced to reboot the PC. I haven't seen that problem so far. Also, the DVD player is much more usable and smooth. And the Netflix Watch Now plugin allows me to watch Netflix instant movies on my TV without going through the Netflix website!