Apple Hardware

I really like Apple hardware. ….most of the time. I have an Apple keyboard and it’s amazing. I also have two mighty mouse and they’re pretty good (until the scroll ball gets dirty and stops working). Anyway, I’ve been annoyed by mice in general lately and figured I’d give the new Apple Magic Trackpad a shot. Apart from the incredibly stupid name, I really like the form factor.  Right now I have two main grips with it:

  1. I wish there was a wired, USB version. I don’t like messing with batteries.
  2. No Linux support. I know they’re never really “support” Linux, but it would be nice if they would throw us a bone every once in a while. Especially considering how much they “borrow” from the open-source community, they need to give back a little more.

So after screwing with this for three hours it only sort-of works in Fedora 13. Basic mouse functionality worked out of the box, but I need things like scrolling and tap-to-click. Things that are typical for touchpads. I’m a bit disappointed at this point.

Re-finishing the Tele


I got an itch around Easter to refinish my Tele. It’s going well, but taking a lot longer than I originally anticipated. I have approx. 3 more coats to go; after it cures in couple weeks I can start to rub out the finish. It going to look good, but now I’m wishing I painted it a trans-white. Oh well, maybe next time.

The BS line-up

I’ve completed six pedals now. Here’s a shot:

2x Tube Screamers, a chorus, 2x blues breakers, & a micro amp booster.

I may need to re-think my crappy P-Touch labels. Some of them are starting to peel.

Myth .22 upgrade

I couldn’t be happier w/ the new MythTV setup here at the house. The new version is a major improvement over the last release. I’m also really enjoying the mythbuntu theme.

Video Game Music

My brother-in-law is a very talented C++ programmer who is writing a 2D side-scroller video game. Over the holidays he asked me if I could write some music for the game. I slapped together some scratch tracks, and I think it came out OK. I wasn’t sure how well it would translate to background music for a game so I added some of my favourite classic game sounds on top to see if it would hold water. I think it’s pretty funny. Enjoy!

KDE Rocks

Over the past four years I’ve used both KDE & Gnome, but I’ve typically gravitated towards Gnome. ……that is until I played w/ the controversial Gnome Shell. Get me out of here! Watch the screencasts

Of course I didn’t really like KDE 4 when it first came out either. ….maybe it’s my “inner old-man” coming through that makes me resistant to change. I’ll admit that it’s entirely possible that I’ll warm up to the concept, but right now Gnome Shell looks and feels pretty awkward. I really hope they make it an option that can be disabled.

Enter KDE:

Anyway, I’ve been curious about giving KDE another shot recently so after my Karmic upgrade was running terrible, I decided to give Kubuntu a shot. It is AWESOME. What a beautiful desktop; I was really blown away.

Here are the issues I have w/ the current state of KDE:

  • Network Manager sucks – I couldn’t connect to my hidden WPA2 wireless network @ home. Also the openvpn component had problems w/ Kwallet. I ended up running gnome’s network manager.
  • No native SOCKs proxy – I believe this was included w/ KDE 3.X (not 100%) hopefully this will be added sooner than later.
  • Odd keyboard shortcuts – I qualify this by saying odd= I’m not used to it. Luckily everything is tweakable (which is often one of the main criticisms of KDE) so I was able to set it back to a Gnome-ish feel.
  • Korganize lacks simple Google Calendar setup. :(

At any rate, I have moved almost all of my boxes to Fedora 12 now, and one of the things I really like about their KDE distro is it defaults to gnome’s network manager. I’m going to stick w/ Gnome on my laptop for now because of the SOCKs issue, but for the time being I consider my self a KDE man and I’m loving my office PC.

Blues Breaker becomes Bread Breaker

I built this pedal because I needed something I can leave up at the church. After consulting a friend who went to seminary, we concluded that it would not be sacrilegious to give this a “church” theme. I was originally going to build another Tube Screamer and call it the Jesus Screamer, but I think 3x Tube Screamers is enough. I debated calling the MBB kit Jesus Screamer, Hey Zeus Screamer, or G-sus  Screamer, but it’s not a Tube Screamer it’s a Blues Breaker. Anyway, Bread Breaker 5000 was the most appropriate name I could come up w/. The pedal features a white case, white knobs, a blinding white LED, and cheap white P-Touch labels. The color of course represents the “holiest of tones” that this pedal produces.

Blues Breaker Clone

I finished putting together a General Guitar Gadgets MBB kit over the holidays. I had ordered a case from Pedal Parts Plus but sense it hasn’t shown up in weeks, I used the original case for one of my GGG tube screamers. The wiring is really sloppy on this one. I’ll definitely clean that up when I move it to the permenant case. Anyway, the pedal sounds great and I couldn’t be any happier with it.

My MythTV Setup

I’ve been an avid MythTV user for the last 2 -3 years. It all started when I got fed up w/ Tivo’s service. My wife and I loved our old Tivo, but it drove me nuts that the hardware & feature set was locked down depending on the subscription plan. I won’t go into too much detail on how my setup evolved the way it has, this is more of a venue to document my current setup. Basically this setup allows me to record, or watch, three five HD shows simultaneously. The commercials are flagged and automatically skipped over while watching the shows. Not only are both our TVs tied into this setup, but both our office PCs and laptops run MythTV as well. Myth also has preliminary support for streaming TV shows over the web interface like a slingbox. Anyway, there are many, many more features but most importantly my recurring costs for this are $20 a year for the listing data (…and electricity). You’ll notice that none of this hardware is expensive or high-end. It’s pretty basic stuff really.

Master Backend Server Hardware:
(The silver case on the bottom right)

  • Case: Antec P180 –  This case is AWESOME. I highly recommend it. ….it’s expensive though.
  • Motherboard: Abit AB9 Pro – I choose this one for the 10x SATA ports!
  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Dou E4500 @ 2.20 GHz
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Hard drive(s): 2x WD 750 GB RAID 1 for OS, music, pictures, & home movies. 4x 500 GB for TV & Movies. 1x 1 TB drive for backups and misc storage.
  • Tuners: Tichnisat AirStar HD-5000, 2x Silicondust HDHomeRun
  • Misc: 2x NICs
  • OS: Fedora x86_64

Living Room Frontend:

  • TV: Samsung 56′” DLP
  • Case: Silverstone LC17 –  This case is really nice, but it’s large and too expensive.
  • Motherboard: Abit NF-M2S
  • CPU: AMD Athon 64 X2 5600+ 2.8 GHz
  • RAM: 2 GB
  • Video: Nvidia GeForce 9500 GT w/ VDPAU (fanless, DVI –> HDMI)
  • Hard drive(s): 1x Hitachi 160 GB
  • Remote: Humax Tivo D800 Remote (the Peanut)
  • OS: Fedora x86_64

Bedroom Frontend Hardware:

  • TV: Old Samsung 27″ CRT P.O.S.
  • Case: Antec Minuet 350
  • Motherboard: ECS GeForce6100PM-M2
  • CPU: AMD Athon 64 3200+ 2.0 GHz
  • RAM: 2 GB
  • Video: Nvidia 7200 (fanless, Composite)
  • Hard drive(s): 1x 4 GB USB Thumb Drive. Cheap & silent.
  • Remote: StreamZap
  • OS: Fedora x86_64

Here are some helpful links for anyone interested in learning more about MythTV:

AB9RPO

Super BS Chorus!

As always the BS stands for Ben Screamer ;)

I started building a BYOC Chorus back in November, and when I was finished, it didn’t work. I spent a lot of time going over the all the solder joints and checking the components w/ my multi-meter. I couldn’t track down the problem. A good buddy of mine, who actually knows what he’s doing, spent some time w/ me a couple weeks ago combing over the circuit. It turns out that one run to the depth pot had come loose and the trim pot was turned all the way down. Now that it functions, this pedal sounds pretty good. It’s a worthy replacement to my old T.C. Electronics pedal that I lugged around for 11 years and never used. I did such a bad job painting this kit the first go-around that I felt compelled to re-do it. The LED is white and pulses to match the rate knob. I also added a switch to change from chorus to vibrato mode; which sounds terrible – but it was available so I has to install it.

From guitars

The New BS-808

From

I was so pleased w/ my BS-9 that it really wanted another one with more of a vintage vibe. When the kit went on sale, I couldn’t resist. I first built this to the original 808 specs, but it didn’t sound very good. I then added the AMZ mods and the OPA3134 opp amp and now I like it quite a lot. I also doubled up on the symmetric clipping; There are 4x 1N914 diodes like my Barber LTD. It definitely gets that “Wayne Krantz” sound. I don’t think I’m 100% finished. The bass boost is either not enough bass or too much bass – so I still need to play w/ the CAPs I’m switching between. This pedal also has a little bit too much in the mids for my taste, but it still sounds great and I really enjoy using it. Since I don’t care much for the LED clippers I’m going to be experimenting w/ MOSFETs in the near future. More to come.