UserFriendly.org is SUCH a drain on productivity. Especially with almost 10 years of comic strip archives.
I love having a daughter. No, really. There are times though…
Like last night. She likes to play with the remote control and normally everything is ok. Occassionally we have to get it out of her hand because she is holding it by the volume up button, but by-and-large all is well. Last night she dropped it for the 4294th time. Since she had dropped it 4293 times before, I didn’t think much of it. I just picked it up and put the battery cover back on it. Later that night, my wife was trying to turn the system off and I hear “Jere, el control es roto.” (Jere, the control is broken) Lo and behold the LCD touchscreen had several lovely cracks in it. The actual LCD was fine, but the touch surface was completely unusable. Which, on a remote control dominated by the LCD is not good. We turned everything off, she went to bed, and I hit the internet.
Since the control was fine except the touchscreen, I knew I could download the program (that I spent literally days programming) and upload it to a new one. But wait! Maybe it’s time for a new control. There are a variety of things that I’m not thrilled about when it comes to the ProntoNG. The touch screen is great for flexibility and I can make it display anything I want. The software lets me enter IR codes in hex if I want (great for creating custom codes for an HTPC). It really is a good remote control. The downside of the touchscreen and the limited number of hard buttons is that you often have to look at the control to use it. Even after a long time using it, I still found myself not hitting the key I wanted.
So, off I go to Remote Central. By the way, if you are in the market for a universal remote control, this is the site for you! After perusing their VERY thorough reviews, I found that the one I liked was the URC MX-900. The review is here. According to the (again, excellent) forums there, the software to configure the MX-900 isn’t available to us mere mortals. Sure, you can get a one time download, but you have to be a “professional installer” to get updates. Luckily, there is a Sound Advice nearby that is an authorized dealer and agreed to share the updates with me.
Now I have my shiny new control, my broken old control and software. I start programming the control fully expecting to spend the rest of the day working on it. That was at 2pm. It is now 4pm and I’m done. It was an excellent experience.
First off, I didn’t have to deal with graphics. That saved a LOT of time.
They (URC) allow you to drag and drop IR codes from Pronto configuration files. Is that not brilliant? I just dragged the codes to the buttons I wanted and it worked great first time.
Another benefit of the MX-900 is the dual nature of all the buttons. They can act as either “normal” buttons, meaning they have one code (or macro) assigned to them, or they can act as “push and hold” buttons. The push and hold buttons have one code (or macro) if you push and release the button and another code (or macro) if you push and hold the button for a configurable amount of time. This is extremely useful and a brilliant idea.
So there you have it. My opinion of the Universal Remote Control MX-900: Brilliant.
This is disappointing. Apparently the new “hardware encode HD video from component inputs” box from Hauppauge won’t be shipping tomorrow. According to Brent over at blogspt (http://brentevans.blogspot.com/2008/04/hauppauge-hd-pvr-shipping-delayed-to.html), the shipping has been delayed.
Order numbers 32700 - 33600 should ship by mid-May while order numbers 33601 - 34600 should ship prior to the end of May. My order number is 33756. Ugh.
Why is this important? Right now the options for recording HD on a PVR are limited. Basically you have the firewire hacks, various QAM/OTA tuners, and CableCard (if that even counts). The firewire hacks are expensive. The various QAM/OTA tuners work great for local channels, but you can’t get SCIFI HD or HBO HD on them. The CableCard would be great if it wan’t so locked down. And, yes, I know the whole point of the CableCard is that it is locked down. Ugh.
ShowAnalyzer, of course, doesn’t support h.264 or AAC audio yet. I’m hard at work on the next version that does. It already decodes the sample file that is floating around but samples aren’t the real thing and I’d like to get my hands on one for testing before I release the new generation of commercial detection into the wild (meaning your hands ).
I guess this will push back ShowAnalyzer’s version 1.0 release back a couple weeks.
In correspondence with one of my loyal clients, I was reminded that there was one thing I wanted to say yesterday that I didn’t.
I met my wife (to be) while I was stationed in Rota, Spain. We did everything we were supposed to do and ended up in Beaufort, South Carolina as my first stateside duty station after we were married. The closest immigration office was in Charleston. After that tour, I was relocated to Jacksonville, Florida.
Now that you have the background, here is the point. Dealing with the immigration office in Charleston was a nightmare. Dealing with the immigration office in Jacksonville is absolute heaven. Not once did we go to the Charleston office and actually accomplish anything other than ruining a completelly perfect day. Not once have we visited the Jacksonville office and left without them fixing the problem that brought us there. Let me stress that. They didn’t just give us advice on which form to file or that we need to wait a little while longer. They FIXED the problem.
Not only that, but the visit was easier. In Charleston, you have to just show up and wait your turn in an uncomfortable and loud waiting room. In Jacksonville, you go to the Infopass website and make an appointment. You show up, show your appointment paperwork, go in and get seen. No muss no fuss. The waiting room is clean, quiet and comfortable. The contrast between these two offices could not be greater.
I have no doubt that our smooth ride was due, in no small part, to the excellence of the Jacksonville CIS office. They have my appreciation and recommendation.
Today was a big day for the Jones’ family. My wife, Cristina, after years of dealing with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, became a naturalized citizen today. It was actually quite moving. It was much longer than I expected though. Our paperwork said to show up at 8:30am and we didn’t leave until 11:45am. But, no time was wasted and it gave a sort of culmination to all the effort that had led up to that point.
We have learned a lot in the journey, so here a few nuggets of wisdom for anyone who is dealing with the USCIS:
While this post was completely off-topic, it hits home for my household. Take it for what it’s worth.
It seems like one of the most used words on the internet is ‘blog’ and that everyone has one. Well, now I have one as well. Hooray!
I’ve seen a lot of blogs that only talk about the goings-ons of that website/company but this won’t be one of them. I will, of course, post an entry anytime that I release a new version of any software I develop but I’ll also talk about software development, programming, home theater PC’s (HTPC’s), Windows, and anything else that catches my fancy.
I won’t post every day, but you can expect to see something new a couple times a week. Or not. We’ll see how it goes.
As always… Enjoy,