My own little hunk of Cyberspace

Monday, January 30, 2006

Family Ties

My Grandmother, Kathryn Snidow Sowers, was a remarkable woman. As a matter of fact, I was lucky to not only know all of my grandparents, but 3 great grandparents, which were all very special to me in different ways. But it was my "Granny Kay" that inspired me to take up drawing, painting, collecting family artifacts, and researching and recording our family history. Today, although it can still be a challenge, it is SO much easier for me than it was for her. She dutifully and diligently wrote to relatives, state and federal agencies, genealogical and historical associations, supplying what little information she had on some distant relative, only to be returned little tid-bits of information that she compiled for over 50 years into an impressive family tree.

Today - I have the benefit of her research and the internet. To give you an idea of how much more information is available for genealogical research - I submit this case in point. I haven't touched this information in almost ten years, but I estimate that my Grandmother's research supplied about 125 of our ancestors, and I had added about that many more (and expanded the search to my mother's side of the family). Since restarting my research last week - I have added about 130 names and tons of missing dates and locations, as well as many historical facts. I am amazed at the information that is available that was not out there 10 years ago. I have census records, church directories, and thousands of other researcher's information at my fingertips.

So - I continue to research our family, partly for the challenge, party for the historical education one receives doing so - but mainly to continue the legacy of my remarkable grandmother, Kathryn Snidow Sowers.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

HOO are these guys?

The Hoos didn't just beat Miami - they crushed them by 20 points! Leito is the real deal - he has this team competing in the conference with the best of them. We are still getting 8 -10 minutes per game from walk-ons! We're tied for second in the conference - un-freakin-believable!!!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

What the???

It's NCAA Basketball season, and being a Hoos fan, I was relegated to chalking up ANOTHER season to a rebuilding year. But miraculously, the Hoos have knocked off VA. Tech and North Carolina this week , propelling them into a tie for third in the conference. I know - it's still early in the conference season - but not too early to notice that Dave Leito has them playing defense and winning games doing it. The key stat for this HUGE win against North Carolina - 12 blocked shots! What a difference a disciplined coach makes!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

My New Toy

Thanks to my wife and my parents, I recieved the components I needed for Christmas to build a Multimedia DVR PC. My eventual goal is to be able to record and play HD programming, but this little guy is the first step.

First - I needed a good, compact mobo that incorporates as much as possible without sacrificing quality. I chose this MSI Micro ATX Mobo with the following specs:
4 DIMMs w/ DDR 400 upto 4 GB
1 PCI-E 16X; 3 PCI; 8 USB
6 Ch. Audio; 10/100 LAN; IEEE 1394;
ATI Radeon Integrated Graphics,
1 x S-Video port,1 x Composite TV-Out

The mobo supports the Socket 939, with the ATI Radeon XPRESS 200 Chipset, 128 meg onboard ATI graphics, dual channel ram (I put 2 one gig chips in). I chose the Athlon 64 3000+ CPU. I also chose a Western Digital 300 gig IDE drive for System files and storage, and a 80 gig SATA for video capture. I put in an ATI All-In-Wonder TV Tuner / Encoder card for testing, but this will only be temporary. I use the component out to route video through my amp to the LG 42 inch HD TV.

The next task was to find a nice, component sized case that blends well with my other audio components. For this - I chose the Enermax 100s MediaCenter. I found it from the fine folks at Extreme PC Gear.

The case has very good ventilation, with ultra quiet fans, and has front side USB and Firewire, with a 7 in 1 Card reader behind front sliding doors.

The LCD monitors and controls CPU and Case fan speed, CPU and Case Temperatures and drive activity.

I put a Philips 16 X Dual layer DVD burner in it to complete the setup.

The last decision to make was an OS - but there really wasn't any choice - XP Media Center was built just for this purpose. I am very impressed with it - once you have all your MP3's tagged properly, sorted your photos, and your video files arranged and cataloged, Media Center imports them. Using the internet connection, it automatically downloads cover art and pertinient info into a very sleek interface. See the screenshots below:

The next endeavor will be to purchase an HD Video Card / Encoder / Output card. I'm about 90% sold on the MyHD MDP 130 card, with it's matching daughter card. This will allow me to encode and playback at up to 1080i resolution, and also provide an optical connection for 7.1 audio playback. I was all ready to pull the trigger on one, until I noticed that I need tires for the Touareg, so it'll have to wait a little while longer.