Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

The holiday is over - back to work

The holiday is over - back to work

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I don't know about you, but vacations never seem long enough and going back to work is hard.  You know, it's like kick starting a motorcycle that's been sitting in the garage too long.  Lots of kicks before it finally comes to life.

In my case, the past couple of weeks have been filled with a number of events both joyous and sad.  I had a house full of children, their children, in-laws, friends, pets, car wrecks, family friends fighting cancer, football games, food and more food, tech projects, yard work, honeydues, shopping, etc.  You know, a typical holiday vacation.  Nobody got hurt in the car accident (except a bank account).  Cancer sucks (and everyone knows it).

As for the fun stuff, it's been a fun two weeks.  The very first thing I did was buy Gears of War.  I'm close to the end of the campaign and will begin Xbox Live mutliplayer fun soon, although another certain Alpha test may derail that and consume my time.  You can probably guess which game.

As for the tech projects, they have been mostly failures.  This years round was small in scope compared to last year.  Or more accurately, I just haven't achieved success with them.  I'm sure more time and research will solve everything.  So here's a few of the projects:

  1. Xbox 360 HD-DVD - purchased, installed and enjoyed three HD-DVD titles.  The current selection of titles at the retailers are too small and they are too expensive.  So the HD-DVD drive will collect dust some until the prices for content get more bearable.  Sorry, $25+ dollars for a movie is too much for me.  In fact, some of them were like $39.99 or something ridiculous like that.  Huh?  Someone is smoking crack if they think the masses are paying $40 for a HD-DVD movie.  I'm getting to the point where I won't buy until it's $9.99 or below.  Granted it's 480p content, but heck, my upscaling player still has a few months left in it.   
  2. Windows Vista Ultimate home install - I flattened my MCE 2005 machine and pulled the VBOX ATSC HD tuner and replaced it with the AVerMedia AVerTVHD MCE 180 tuner.  I did this because I had the inside track on some MCE QAM recording capabilities.  Don't get your hopes up.  It didn't work very well.  In fact, I never even tried to record because the live playback is slow and the audio and video are out of sync.  I'm hopeful someone will come out with a set of drivers that will work for the AVerMedia or VBOX tuners that will allow unencrypted QAM live viewing and recording inside MCE.  If so, then I won't have to buy a OCUR based solution next year.  I have not given up hope on this and will continue to test as I receive driver updates.  I'll flatten my box again soon anyway and retest with the VBOX.  I have not activated Windows Vista yet, and probably won't until I decide on a more final config.
  3. Portable Media Player - I have the Creative Zen Vision W (ZVW).  It has been a pretty disappointing out of box experience for me.  I'll probably detail this more in a separate post, but essentially it boils down to trying to find the magic transcoding software and settings to produce the video I need for the ZVW.  So far, I have not had good luck.  It's interesting to me that the player won't play MOV files that play perfectly on my PSP.  Nor will it play some of my WMV files.  Grrrrrrrr...  The whole video scene right now sucks in my opinion anyway.  Why?  Money of course.  I'll get on that rant later.
  4. VOIP change - Verizon, in their infinite wisdom, made some changes about 8 weeks ago to their VoiceWing VOIP offering.  It affected me a number of ways and I got some of them resolved.  Since the remainder went unresolved, I ordered and received the AT&T CallVantage VOIP offering.  So far, it's working very nicely but the proof will be better understood next week after a couple of webcasts.  I'll be canceling VoiceWing very soon.  It has a broken wing.

Like I said, small potatoes compared to last years purchase of a HDTV, Xbox 360, extending my cable box with a eSATA drive, adding a VBOX tuner to MCE 2005, running CAT 5 everywhere, etc.  But, I had more success last year so it was less frustrating than this year.

Oh well, back to work...

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  • Sounds like you had a great vacation! I went off to visit family and came back to find that I have no job. Yeah, talk about a shocker! It kinda stinks because it is the holiday season but not too bad as I'm in my early twenties and going to college with no kids.

    Anywho, what happened to the car accident? a simple fender bender at the house?

    I'll start praying for your friend with cancer. I have a friend's mum with cancer, I know how it can affect others.

  • One of the n00b teen drivers backed into another car (broadside).  Unfortunately, the car that got hit is a rental. Sux.

    Sorry to hear about your job.  You might take a look at http://microsoft.com/jobs.  We usually have a ton of positions in Seattle.

    Thanks for the prayers.  We appreciate it.