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    Kirin in Snow

    Kirin in Snow, originally uploaded by estranged42.

    We drove up on top of the rim near Sedona and gave Kirin her first taste of snow. We built quite a fine snowman that many people enjoyed. More pictures to come. You can see a qik video of us playing in the snow:



    Starfield, originally uploaded by estranged42.

    After nearly a year, I finally finished up putting LED ‘stars’ onto our bedroom ceiling. See this earlier post where I talk about getting it started.

    After a lot of soldering and taping, I managed to tape 32 white LEDs to the ceiling of our bedroom, and get stars working.  I tried a bunch of different wiring ideas out before settling on simple bare buss wire.  I just put some white electrical tape to keep it in place, and tape over any place where the lines have to cross.  

    The affect is really pretty awesome with the room dark.  There are just enough stars lit at any one time to barely light the room, but not so bright that you can’t fall asleep with them twinkling.

    Nothing like blinking LEDs!

    Code: View or Download 

    LED Control Wire Connections

    Control Wires

    One Star


    Installing Bazaar (bzr) GUI Tools

    I’ve been trying out Bazaar, a version control system, lately.  One of the things that caught my eye is that the core team develops a cross platform GUI interface for the system.  Installing bzr itself was pretty straight forward, they even have a simple Mac OS X installer package for it.  Installing the GUI tools was… less intuitive.

    There’s some really basic instructions out there on how to do it, but the documentation is somewhat lacking in specifics.  Fortunately there’s a great project out there called macports that was able to do 98% of the work for me.

    The last 2% came down to two errors involving path info, or the lack there of.  The GUI parts are all written in Python, on top of Qt. Adding the following lines to my .profile file fixed several hours of frustration in terms of “Why won’t you work!”

    export DYLD_FRAMEWORK_PATH=/opt/local/Library/Frameworks:${DYLD_FRAMEWORK_PATH}
    export PYTHONPATH=/Library/Python/2.6/site-packages/:${PYTHONPATH}

    Gotta love free tools, but whew, they aren’t always the easiest things to install…



    IMG_2829, originally uploaded by estranged42.

    Kirin helps bake cookies.


    Thanksgiving art at Kirin's daycare

    Angela and Kirin paint some turkeys.


    Backyard Trees

    Climbing in the backyard trees.



    IMG_2771, originally uploaded by estranged42.


    Visiting Horses

    We visited the horses at one of Angela's friend's ranch. Big and small!

    Reid Park Train

    Kirin and Mark ride the train. :)


    We wandered through Idea today, and found this cute little girl who wanted us to take her home with us. So we did. Yay!


    Getting Kirin ready for bed

    Friday night.  Time for bed?  No… time to run around and dance!  This is Kirin running around to Lunch Money’s “It Only Takes One Night To Make A Balloon Your Friend”.  Great song.



    Backyard Landscaping

    We finally got around to getting our back yard landscaped. Arid Plant Designs did it, and they did a great job. We finally have something in the back yard other than dirt! We even have grass! I’m pretty happy having some grass for Kirin and the dogs to play in. I’ll post some better stills tomorrow.


    Kirin's 1st & 2nd Year Videos

    I’ve posted short video compilations of Kirin’s First and Second years.  I put them in a new Friends & Family section on the site, which you have to log in to see.  I’ve made a couple of accounts already, please contact me if you want to see them.


    Beginning of the end for SMS

    Yay! Apple’s push notifications for iPhone work great!  No more SMS abuse from AT&T!


    Home Theater Mac

    With Kirin’s increasing love affair with Elmo, we decided to bite the bullet and get a new TV. Our old TV we got when we first got married, so I figure eleven years is a good run for a TV.

    We were replacing an old 28” CRT TV that had a G5 iMac hooked up to it. The iMac was really starting to struggle with playback on full screen h264 movies, so we decided to replace that as well. To be honest, we actually set out to only replace the iMac, but we got side tracked…

    We decided to get a Mac Mini as the basis for the setup. The new Minis are a pretty decent setup for a home theater PC. Its small, its quiet, and it doesn’t look half bad in the living room. We got the Mac Mini home only to discover that I needed a new cable… a quick trip back to the store, cable in hand, home again. This time I was beset by our biggest setback.


    The old CRT TV only had a coax RF input. I had an RCA -> RF converterbox already, and was planning on just going from the Mini’s DVI port -> DVI to Video Adaptor -> RCA to RF adaptor -> TV. However, it turns out that the Mac Mini, and likely all future PCs, can no longer output a standard analog video signal. Why is this? Simply put, the MPAA has managed to con the graphics card makers, the PC makers, congress, and most of America into thinking that analog signals = piracy. Sigh.

    So no I was faced with either returning the Mini, or going full bore and getting a new TV. I needed a TV capable of either DVI or HDMI inputs. Pretty much any new flat panel TV these days has those inputs, so it was time to buy a new TV.

    We got a Samsung 32” LCD TV, got Jeff to come help hang it on the wall (out of Kirin’s reach!), and were finally able to hook the Mini up, and enjoy high def goodness.


    Apple ships most computers with a tiny remote, I got one with my last MacBook from work. For some reason, they don’t ship one with the Mini however. Seems strange, since a lot of people seem to buy the Mini to use as a home theater PC. Anyhow, I had a remote already, pointed it at the TV, and was off into Front Row, Apple’s media center software. Once I had iTunes and iPhoto hooked up to my media library, (Yay for external drives, and symbolic links!) Front Row saw all our music, movies and photos. Digitizing movies and putting them into iTunes is a bit of a lengthy chore, but its very worth it. I never have to go hunting for a disc when weKirin wants to watch Elmo. Just punch up Front Row, scroll through the list of movies, and press play.

    The realsurprisein all of this came last week when Hulu released their desktop app. I was pleasantly surprised when they announce that it would run on both Windows and Mac OS X. I downloaded it, installed it, signed in with my Hulu account, and in minutes I was watching shows from my queue right on the new TV. I’ll say this right now. Cable andSatelliteTV are dead. Within five years, the majority of ‘television’ will be video on demand, streamed to you over your only remaining communication utility: broadband internet.

    We had one small snag in the remote department. With two main applications, Front Row and Hulu, Apple’s simplistic remote couldn’t handle launching different apps. Fortunately, the people at iospirit make a really great program called Remote Buddy. It’s basically a highly configurable menu system that is controllable by remote, and is nice and large, perfect for a home theater PC setup. A little configuration in that, and I’m able to easily choose between Hulu and Front Row. The bonus is I can control a lot more on the Mac also. iPhoto is right there, and has some really stunning slideshows now. Having a 32” video picture frame is pretty cool. We have some Airpot Express modules around the house doing the Airtunes thing. However for someunfathomablereason Front Row doesn’t support streaming music to airtunes speakers. It works fine from iTunes, so Remote Buddy lets me jump into iTunes also with ease.

    Final touches involved getting a shelf to put all the electronics on.  We still need to get some conduits to hide the cables running to and from the Mac.


    All in all, I’m really happy with the setup.  I really like having the iPhoto slideshow up.  Its great to be able to enjoy your photo library on a day to day basis, without having to sit in front of a computer.  Just turn the slide show on and wander around the house.  We still don’t watch that much television, but what we do watch is now easy and more enjoyable.  Pretty happy with the setup.