Yet More On Media Center

Here I am again, now, talking about my Windows Media Center and the challenges I’ve been having.

The last post said I was happy about the Blu-Ray player, but that’s not quite true. Watching a few Blu-Ray disks has revealed a problem with playback: stuttering. Occasionally, the disk would pause or hesitate, or just generally not play smoothly.

Now, ArcSoft has release an update to Total Media Theater that is supposed to solve a whole host of issues. Of course, I think my problem was broader than just that and related to hardware and drive issues with the drive itself. Funny thing: the manufacturer of the drive just released a firmware update relating to “smoothness of play”.

Hmmm… Maybe I wasn’t the only one having issues?

I haven’t watched a disk yet with both updates, but I’ll have to do that soon.

New Look And Feel

Some of you may have noticed that things are looking different here. Well, they are. But not just “looking” different, are we. We are actually “feeling” different. Under all this visible change are other major changes – changes that will not only make my life easier, but will make the site a bit more stable, reliable, and faster.

What I’ve done is actually migrate [finally] all my sites/blogs/galleries to a single server. I’ve eliminated the old photo gallery server that was an “interim” box and moved that function to the main server. I’ve removed all instances of MySQL and am instead utilizing a single Microsoft SQL Server 2008 instance, which will soon be upgraded to SQL Server 2008 R2 for those that care.

This was harder to do than to write about and much pain and link adjustment/correction was required after migration to make sure everything was working.

In the past, running WordPress required MySQL since the Microsoft database was considered “enterprise” and not “open source”. However, in recent months, some enterprising individuals wrote a WordPress plugin that allows a connection directly to MS SQL instead of MySQL.

Now, all my blog are belong to MSSQL. [Grammatical incorrectness intentional for those not “in the know”, and if you don’t know where that reference comes from, I’m not explaining it to you.]

Our Mexico Trip

I said in December that I would write about our vacation to Mexico, so I’d better do that – you know: keep my promise. It’s the right thing to do, you know.

We had intended to combine a beach vacation with Laura’s mother and a dive trip entailing several days of diving 4 for me, and 3 for Laura, only the Sunday I was supposed to start diving, I get a phone call at the room telling me the port is closed due to high water. Fortunately, I wasn’t really “feeling it” that morning and was in need of more vacation rest. Back to bed I went with no regret.

The next day, Laura and I made the taxi ride to the dive shop only to be turned down again by the port captain for high water. Even so, I was still not upset at not getting to dive – a miracle in itself. Tuesday, we called ahead and were told that all was good.

Once we arrived, we got on the boat – a very SMALL boat for our dives. Laura, at this point, is becoming very concerned due to the size of the boat both for the now-obvious method of water entry [the back roll, which she doesn’t like] and the relative size of the waves in comparison to the boat. Not to be deterred, we board and head out to the reef. After struggling to hold on to the boat for a while we squeeze into our gear and back-flop into the water. What we saw, I think, wasn’t worth the effort. The first dive was only moderately clear, maybe 30ft visibility. We did see two very large spotted eagle rays and two stingrays, but after a while it was time to come up. It was a passable dive.

Once on the boat, we began to feel queasy. For Laura, this was kind of expected with the water being so rough. What was not expected and far from normal was me, leaning over the side and tossing out the chorizo I had for breakfast. After that, we all felt better and decided on one more dive. We might have been better just heading back. Visibility was even worse and the current was now very strong. It was one of the most unsatisfactory dives I’ve had. We finally got back to shore and decided that we’d had enough diving for the trip. We had lunch at a great little restaurant in town and then headed back to the hotel where we were much more interested in lounging by the beach and pool and a couple of snorkeling outings.

We did have Thanksgiving dinner on Cozumel island and Pepe’s Grill. And yes, there was lobster on my plate.

Closet Construction & Data Migration

Now that the urgency of my project schedule has eased after the holidays have passed, and now that life is settling back into more normal rhythms, Laura and I have taken on and completed some projects. Among those are the complete replacement of my closet and some backend server migration – stuff that you don’t see, but see the results of [or not].

First off, Laura has been bugging me to “re-do” my closet for years. Our master bedroom has two closets, one large [hers] and one small [mine]. We did hers shortly after moving in, and a couple other projects involving the same closet construction parts and process. Now, it was my turn – especially since it seems my excessive quantity of shirts was bending the closet shelf/rod downwards. In my defense, the truth was that it wasn’t a capacity problem, but one of sloppy installation of the old system. I think it was bad when we moved in, but my obtaining a few more items of clothing has not helped.

Friday, on the way home from work, I stopped at the mall and picked up the equipment and shelves… in my two-seat convertible. It fit, but it was tight – kinda hanging out the back. That night, we ripped out the old shelves and I sanded and spackled the gaping holes that were left. I did more sanding and spackling the next morning and that evening, we painted the walls a similar color to the ceiling of the bedroom. Today, we installed the shelving system and hung up my clothes again. No more sagging: all is well with the world!


Oh, look: room for more shirts!


And the data migration part? I’ve just found out that there is a database plugin for WordPress that allows for it to utilize Microsoft SQL Server as the backend database. FINALLY. You’ll have seen many posts from me in the past about this [if you’ve been with me that long] and know my frustration that WordPress would never abstract the data layer and forced a proprietary data source on the users. Well, I’ve ditched it and this is my first post on the blog using SQL Server. So far, I think it’s a bit faster. But, I could just be biased…


The main thing is that I know how to use it, manage it, optimize it, and patch it. It is, after all, what I do.