Archive for April, 2011

More Easter Pics

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Here are a few more shots from today.

What happens to a very cracked egg when dyed:
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My favorite ladies.
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The young man.
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And our best family picture ever.
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More in the Easter gallery.

Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

The kids were apparently feeling better this morning because they were both up at the crack of dawn. I would blame anticipation but R clearly didn’t have a clue, and N seemed to do a double take at the eggs everywhere. Of course, once he remembered, it was hard to get him to sit still and eat his breakfast.

The rest went pretty much the way you might expect. R crawled around playing with the strange colorful balls and N moved quickly from one spot to another filling his basket.

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Adventures in Digital Media (Take 2…)

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

So we’re a bit over two weeks in on the digital experiment and we’ve decided to ditch the cable TV.

After the initial few days, we completely redid the entertainment center. VCR: Out. DVD Player: Out. DVDs: Out. CDs:[1] Out.

What’s left: Sony 32″ LCD HDTV, WD TV Live Hub, Sony A/V Receiver, Cable Box/DVR and a 10+ year old FM antenna.

The cable box is going back to Time Warner next week… and we will be adding a Harmony 650 programmable universal remote (shipping from eBay).

So what’s in our entertainment domain now? Details below.
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  1. Which were technically in a shelf next to the entertainment center. []

Photo update

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

It’s been a while since we posted, but we have put up quite a few photos over the last few weeks.

Here’s a sampler:

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Adventures in Digital Media

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

So K and I are beginning an experiment which, if successful, may lead to the termination of our cable bill. We are, as my friend Stephen put it, ‘going a la carte’.

In addition to hopefully reducing our monthly costs, we are also hoping to consolidate our video and music collections such that they can be accessed throughout the house.

The first step in this process was the acquisition of the Western Digital TV Live Hub. This is a set-top box[1] about the size of two DVD boxes. It contains a 1TB drive (which we are rapidly filling), USB ports for additional external storage and Gigabit network for accessing network file storage or online services (e.g. Netflix, Pandora). It costs about 3 months cable bills.

We have activated a trial of Netflix (which will eventually cost about 1/10 of a cable bill per month) which provides ample streaming access for movies and kids TV shows (timeliness not being a big factor for these).

After some initial thrashing, we have settled on DVDFab for converting our DVDs to playable formats. Depending on the amount of space we wish to commit to, we’ve successfully converted them such that special features and DVD menus are retained. However, as cool as this looks, we’re settling on this not being worth the space required[2] We could recode the DVDs for more compression, but they’re already significantly below the resolution of our TV.

We’ve also activate a trial of PlayOn which allows a PC to transcode and stream various internet video sources (e.g. Hulu, CBS, PBSKids, etc.). Unfortunately, this does not support HD content, although it may be coming in the future. This application costs about 1 cable bill to buy a permanent license or less than 1/10 cable bill per month.

The jury is still out at this point, since there are clearly advantages and disadvantages to consider.

  1. which is actually setting below our ‘set’ []
  2. A DVD with all of the extras can easily reach 8GB, while the movie itself with no additional compression is 1/2 to 2/3 that size. []