Audrey’s first PC

I decided to get Audrey a PC for her fourth birthday. She’s a little too young for it, but I really want to get both our girls exposed to technology at an early age. Another goal is for them to learn to touch type at an early age. Anyway, I didn’t really want to spend a lot of money on something that’s likely to get broken. I figured a netbook would fit the bill perfectly. Lucky for me my brother-in-law wasn’t using his old Eee PC 900, and gave it to Audrey for her birthday. To make this more fun I went with a Hello Kitty theme on the system. It’s running Fedora 19, XFCE desktop, sugar, KDE Education Project, and a home page of

Hello Kitty wallpaper really helped get her interested. It’s such a cheap trick, but it’s effective.

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Syslinux 6.01 @ PXE


I was reminded tonight that newer versions of syslinux (one of my favorites) has broken out libraries from the previous stand-alone modules. Traditionally, for setting up PXE environments all that was needed was pxelinux.0, memdisk, menu.c32, vesamenu.c32. The friendly folks on #syslinux directed me to

Basically now you’ll need:
pxelinux.0, memdisk, menu.c32, vesamenu.c32, ldlinux.c32, libutil.c32, libcom32.c32
in the root of your tftp server.

All of these can be found under the bios directory when you download versions 5 or 6 of syslinux.


Fedora 19. Making libvirt and firewalld play nice

I’ve been running Fedora for quite some type and it’s hands down my favorite bleeding-edge distro. Since I’ve been at Red Hat though, I’ve been using RHEL on my work laptops, and I’ve really enjoyed the experience and stability. So the past three years it’s been Fedora at home and RHEL at work, and that’s worked out perfectly. …..until now. Continue reading “Fedora 19. Making libvirt and firewalld play nice”

My Top 10 Most Influential Guitarists

I should preface this post by stating that this is simply a list of the most influential guitarist in my journey as a guitarist. I’m not claiming this is the be-all-end-all or the best “of all time” top 10.


Tim Miller

Favorite Album: Trio Volume 2
I first saw Tim play when I was a sophomore in high school and I’ll never forget that night. About a year later I bought his first CD, With the Distance, and it made such an impact on me that I traded ~80% of my CDs to start a jazz collection. Tim has an incredibly unique approach to the guitar. His bell-like tone mixed with long, complex phrases create an amazing sound that is a joy to listen to. He’s currently on staff at the Berklee College of Music and recently launched an on-line guitar lessons site. If you’ve never heard Tim play definitely look him up on youtube or grab one of his CDs.

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Time to upgradde my desk


I bought my last desk as a college student for $99 at Walmart. While it has served me extremely well, I’ve outgrown it in a lot of ways. I found it really frustrating looking for desks both on line and at retailers. There are so many out there and almost none of them do what I want. Especially not for what I’m willing to pay. Luckily a guy named Michael was nice enough to build exactly what I wanted from Ikea parts and post *all* the info on line. Not only did he build a micro-site located here about his project but he also answered several questions via email. He’s a very nice guy.

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I ♥ Dimarzio Pickups

The stock setup has a multitude of settings. Each pickup is hum-cancelling and there’s a mini toggle to split the bridge and another one for the neck/middle. There’s also a push/pull tone knob that will add the bridge pickup in positions 1 & 2.

I’ve had my Tom Anderson Hollow Drop Top Classic for about eleven years now. It’s by far the best guitar I’ve ever owned. Over the past three years, I’ve found myself playing this guitar less and less as my tastes continue to evolve. In fact, my strat has been my main guitar for the past year and a half. Back when I purchased the Anderson I really gravitated to higher output pickups. Not so much any more. When I started playing teles back in 2004ish I realized that lower output pickups had a much sweeter & brighter sound. Conversely, hotter ones can sound harsh and darker. I’m not saying that all high output pickups are dark & harsh, but they certainly *can* be as is the case w/ the pickups in my Anderson. Continue reading “I ♥ Dimarzio Pickups”

How much is too much?

I love mobile devices. You name it, laptops, smart phones, tablets, etc. There’s just something about a small screen that’s portable that draws me in. I still have very fond memories of my first monochrome PDA with 2 MB of storage. I also had a really great Windows mobile device, the HP 1910 made by HTC. Back in the day these things were amazing. …but they’ve started accumulating in my house. I need a better lifecycle for getting rid of old things I no longer use. Continue reading “How much is too much?”

Naylor Duel 60

After a four month wait I finally got my Naylor Duel 60 amp and 1×12 cab. ….It was worth the wait. The amp sounds incredible and is surprisingly versatile. It’s difficult to describe the sound, but overall it’s very smooth, thick, punchy, and responsive (how’s that for a generic tone description?). The drive channel is what put Naylor on the map as one of the first boutique amp companies in the early nineties. It’s a very Marshall’esq overdrive, but a lot fuller sounding. It’s hard to describe, so let’s just say it’s what I always wanted Marshalls to sound like. Continue reading “Naylor Duel 60”

Gotoh Tuners > Schaller Tuners

Over the years I’ve had several sets of both Gotoh & Schaller tuners. When I built my last strat I opted for a set of Schaller mini locking tuners. I went this route because this was the only locking set that Warmoth sold. In hind sight that was a dumb decision. This marks the last time I settle for hardware over convenience. The Schallers did work OK, but after a re-string they take FOREVER to settle in and hold tune. Not only that but they felt cheap and the gears didn’t feel very smooth. Even though I wasn’t 100% satisfied with them I was planning to just tolerate them. That changed a few weeks ago when the high E string tuner on the developed a rough spot on the post. It basically sliced the string as it’s tuned to pitch. 100% useless; total garbage. I’ve never experienced anything like this before with a tuner. Continue reading “Gotoh Tuners > Schaller Tuners”

New Canare Cables

OMG! That wiring looks perfect.

I bought a bunch of Switchcraft plugs and Canare cables for my birthday this year. …..I know I’m a nerd. I used George L cables for a long time, but I didn’t care for the tone or the fail-rate. Everyone loves the simplicity of solderless cables, but I just don’t think it’s a good idea any more. For the first time my signal is 100% high-end cables w/ quality plugs – and it’s awesome. I also ordered right-angle power cables to help squeeze in more pedals. Those combined with angling the ‘L’ of the plugs down towards the floor, I was able to fit four pedals where previously it was three.


Tubescreamer Repair

A couple months ago I was rearranging some pedals on my baord and I noticed the patch cable kept falling out of the output jack on my favorite TS-9. I knew that wasn’t a good sign. It has been a few years since I’ve opened one of these and I had forgotten that the jacks are plastic. <sigh>

Yuck! Who’s idea was it to use plastic jacks?!

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HDHomeRun Repair

Over the Christmas break I re-wired my “server room” at the house and I accidentally plugged in the wrong power supply to my original HDHR. The unit is supposed to run on 5 volts but I sent 12 through it. The only reason I noticed was this electrical burning smell. After taking apart the case I could tell the inductor behind the AC jack was what was heating up and creating the odor. It turns out this wasn’t the problem but rather the symptom of IC7 being blown. The support I received from Silicon Dust, the manufacturer, was amazing. Not only did they help me troubleshoot a unit who’s warranty expired years ago, but they also told me the make/model of the chip so I could order a new one. My buddy Daryl helped with soldering, as I’ve never done components this small and my soldering iron stinks. A replacement chip was ~$3 from Digikey and the HDHR works perfectly and no longer smells like burning.

Fun with HDHomeRuns

The updated board is 1/3rd the size

The HDHR3 has a dual tuners, but only uses a single coax input.

The HDHomeRun by Silicon Dust has been my favorite tuner for MythTV for several years now. I think I got it back in 2007 or 2008. It has a fantastic set of cross-platform software including a robust command line utility. Silicon Dust has also done a great job of releasing regular firmware updates that have added new features and increased the reliability, even for the older devices. Continue reading “Fun with HDHomeRuns”

New DLP Lamp

We bought our DLP TV back in 2006 and five years later it was finally time to change and lamp. Over time the screen became very dark and it was very difficult to see dark scenes in movies (or play Halo). My wife finally lit a fire under me to fix it and I got a new, name-brand lamp on Amazon for $100. After all of five minutes to swap bulbs the TV looks good as new, and I’m not used to the really bright screen anymore. I had planned on keeping the original lamp as a backup until I removed it. I’ve never actually seen one of these that’s on it’s way out. See how the halogen is extremely swollen at the base? That combined w/ the discoloration in the upper left hand corner of the backing tells me this bulb was probably hours or minutes away from blowing. Anyway, kudos to Amanda for encouraging me to change it.

20 minutes with the Line 6 M9

My M9 arrived today (thanks Amazon) and I had a few minutes to mess with it tonight. First the layout of the unit is brilliant. The interface is very intuitive and easy to navigate. I didn’t have enough time to go though the massive set of sounds,  but i can already tell this is going to displace a significant portion of my pedal board. Bye bye TC Electronics pedals. :)

Soloing with Big Nasty

The Big Nasty

A few weeks ago in Cornerstone I was able to really lock-in w/ our drummer John Simon, or Big Nasty as we like to call him. listen to the clip below to see why we call him that. The mix was taken straight from the board and the sound quality isn’t great, but I think the playing is really good. This is my tele’s neck pickup through the J-Station w/ the LTD & Blues Breaker turned on.


Dimarzio Area 58s & 61

Thanks to Amazon and Fedex my pickups arrived on time today.  I decided on the Area 61 for the bridge and the Area 58 for the neck and middle slots. These are fully hum-canceling and have the standard six poles on top.

Looking at the bottom of the pickup reveals nine magnets in the pickup. I assume the extra three magnets are reverse wound to cancel the hum, but that’s only a speculation.
Continue reading “Dimarzio Area 58s & 61”