[Xbox-Mod] XBMC - ShoutCast Streaming Radio

I installed the latest XBox Media Center on Sunday. It's pretty slick and the Avalaunch dashboard I am running made exactly three A button presses to run the installer. After that I was able to FTP audio/video files and set up playlists etc.

There is also a ShoutCast client that you can use to browse a wide variety of feeds from ShoutCast.com. Last night I was listening to the Saskatoon (Canada) Police/Fire/EMS Scanner live on my Xbox. That was kinda cool. I also tuned into GrooveSalad from SomaFM.com which is a personal favorite.


I can understand being upsold fries...

So I have been working on installing the mod chip in my xbox which, assuming you do the smart thing and get the solderless kit, has been a piece of cake.

I realized that I needed a splitter adapter for the HDD power supply. A search of the premises garnered no such piece. So, I head to RadioShack because ``they'll have it``. Actually, I went online and got the part number and called to make sure the nearest Shack had one in stock. They didn't. But, the SouthTowne location had one, five really. I walk in the door and the RadioShack Employee begins the following exchange.

RSE: Can I help you?
Me: I need a 278-688 Power "Y" Adapter for a Hard Drive.
RSE: *walking to the exact spot on the wall* That should be what you're looking for.
Me: Thanks, that's it.
RSE: *walking back to register* How's your cell phone working for you?
Me: Absolutely Perfect
RSE: *standing in front of the Verizon dislpay* Who's your carrier.
Me: U.S. Cellular
RSE: We get alot of that. That'll be $5.84
Me: *gives him $10*
RSE: $4.16 is your change...
Me: Thanks.
RSE: and when it comes time to look for a new cell phone stop on by and we'll get you hooked up.
Me: Uhm. Yeah. Thanks.

RadioShack is supposed to sell transistors, circuit boards, and Power "Y" Adapters. Not cell phone service. Not to mention he is trying to sell me a service that I already own which is provided by a company who does a great job. And no, I don't want fries with my splitter either.



Candy Order Form

It's that time of year again. Anyone interested in ordering candy should return a completed order form, available in PDF & Excel formats. We will be taking orders for candy until January. Just a reminder, we do get busy around the holidays. If you want orders for Thanksgiving or Christmas submit them early to ensure delivery by the desired date.

If you have any questions let me know or post a comment here.


Weekend Update without Kevin Nealon

Saturday in the mail we received our passports. That was the last remaining obstacle for our trip to Amsterdam. It's a time consuming process and rightfully so with the power this document gives you. Jen and I are both excited about the trip. It will be our first to a foreign country. Jamaica is hardly a foreign country especially when you don't leave your resort ;).

I purchased an XBox mod chip this weekend. Ima follow Chris' lead and utilize my XBox as a media center. Looking for a cheap HDD in the 200 GB neighborhood. Hard drives are cheap any more, I did find a 200 GB Western Digital for $159 ($99 after rebate). Depending on when the chip comes in I hope to get it running by our Friday team-building excercise after work.

Anyone interested in running down to Fright Factory next weekend? I think it'd be fun to get a group to go down there.


Fright Factory: Janesville

Jen was at a party with some ladies from on Saturday in Edgerton. She got a ride down and I picked her up around 7:00 PM. We had made tentative plans to try to find a Haunted House in the Janesville area. We mis-communicated and each thought the other had the directions. We decided to just drive down and see what we could find. Going south on Hwy 51 we're not seeing anything we get to the point where we are just about to turn around and head home when I saw a sign for "Fright Factory".

Fright Factory is held in an unused pen manufacturing plant. Panoramic, the builing's namesake, purchased Parker Pen Co. and have since moved to a new building. The attraction is contained to the first floor and begins with the fact that the building is indeed haunted by Henry, a dedicated employee, who according to the locals still roams the building after passing away on the job.

This is one of the more thought out and entertaining events that I have been to in recent memory. While the haunted attractions in the Dells area are a little more polished and gory Fright Factory focuses more on suspenseful sensory excitement. Whether it was intentional or not the smells throughout the tour were unique and make you wonder whether they foreshadow events to come.

Overall, I would recommend this feature to anyone who's got the time to make a trip to Janesville. I will warn you though You will get split up from the rest of your group if only for a brief time. That may scare some kids more than anything. There are periods of pitch black darkness. Our group managed to find a corner and get stuck there. There were however some helpful souls there to help us out.

On the way home we found several more Haunted Houses that we passed right on Hwy 51. Including the Janesville Jaycees Haunted House at the new Panaoramic builing. I'm glad we missed them though. The Fright Factory was exactly what we were looking for.


Wrinkles and Hanna lounging on the bed.


That sinking feeling ...

You know what I'm talking about. For example when you drive past a cop a little too fast. He pulls out behind you and follows you for a bit. Happened to be coincidence as he turns off without pulling you over. You know you just did something stupid. You knew better. You knew if you got caught it would cost you but, you had some excuse that made it okay. Until things appear to go wrong. That's when you suddenly get a nervous stone in your gut.

Perhaps you look for help from above? Oh, please Lord if I don't get caught I promise I won't ever be that stupid again.

So, this afternoon I was changing the front brake pads on our Subaru Forester. The squealers had been tattling on me for not changing them for a few weeks. We were running late because of the Apple Butter incident. We had an annoying incident at Rocky Roccoco's wherein we waited for 10 minutes and were never helped. As you can imagine I was in a great mood!

I pull the tire off the driver's side. Zip out the caliper bolts and pull off the pads. Not too bad, the conservative squealers were letting me know there was 5/16" of pad left. I get that side buttoned back up and move over to the passenger side.

Off got the lugnuts and tire. I go to yank on the air hose and it pulls tight. There was just enough hose to reach the gun in and zip out the caliper bolts. I noted that the high pressure rubber brake-line rubbed a little when I pulled out the top bolt. Should be fine. I get the old pads out then put the squealers on the new pads and installed them. All that's left is to put in the caliper bolts and put the tire on no problem.

Then I ran into a problem. The mount for the caliper bolt on top was spinning freely on the caliper side. I started it by hand and try to tighted it up with the air gun. The back side just spun freely keeping up with the gun. All the while the socket is rubbing on the brake line. Finally, using a wrench to hold the back side in place I was able to tighten the top bolt. As the bolt went into the caliper it applied more pressure on the brake line. The bolt tightened up and the whine of the air gun faded away and I heard a distinct gurgle. Like a pressurized liquid in a hose with a tiny leak.

Here's where that sinking feeling comes in. I knew I was rubbing on the hose. I could see it. I can think of any number of reasons now why that was a bad idea. Had I gotten up to move the air compressor 6" closer I have enough room to avoid the rub all together. And the list of possible solutions goes on and on.

I ducked my head in to see if I can find the leak. I pulled the air gun out of the way to get a good look at the brake line. I couldn't see any brake fluid. The gurgling noise had also quieted down. Trying to recreate the rubbing to locate the leak I put the air gun back into position. When I put a little pressure ong the line with the socket the gurgling noise returned. Pull the gun out, the noise went away.

As it turns out the cop turns off and he in fact was not following me. Rather I hadn't rubbed through the brake line. It was just some moisture in the air line and a guilty conscience.

Apple Butter

We had plans to make Apple Butter this weekend using an overnight slow cooker recipe Jen had brought home from work. We didn't read the instructions very carefully. ``Overnight`` loosely translates to 10 hours. We started the ingredients on low at about 5:00 PM Saturday evening. We finally read the instructions about 8:00 PM and realized the next step to apple butter needed to occur at 2:00 AM Sunday morning. We decided to stay up later than usual and finally strained the apple mash going on 1:00 AM. The next step called for the strained mixture to cook on high for 1 1/2 hours. We left it on low and went to bed. Jen's dad Al was getting up early to go hunting and, as it turns out, to turn off our crock pot.

Long story short; Too Late!; We've got apple butter but it took us about three hours off of a normal weekend schedule.


Spammers may be on to something ...

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was radnieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? yaeh and I awlyas thought slpeling was ipmorantt !.!.!


Jason's Blog is back.

It's sad that this made my blog. ;)


Sunday Jen and I made our way down to Geneva Lakes Kennel club. Chris had invited us out to a Madison Sports Car Club Autocross Series event. Autocross is a timed competition on a challenging road-race style course. The MSCC AutoX Series holds events at locations like Columbus 151 Speedway, Rock County Airport, Rockford Speedway or pretty much anywhere they can get a stretch of asphalt.

We were running late and as we took the exit off of I-43 Chris was making his first run. Just as we arrived we saw a number of folks making their way to the far end of the course. We couldn't see where Chris had gone and yet more people were running to the far end of the course. I grabbed the camera and we walked over to see what the comotion was about. A driver had lost control near the finish line and slammed his left rear into the two foot concrete base of a light pole.

Before we got too close someone shooed us away as we had not signed the insurance waiver. d'0h! We went and signed in. Turns out the guy running the event was a friend from high school, Eric Hutchins. A few minutes later we made our way over and found Chris waiting in line.

I took over camera duties and took probably too many pictures. Chris looked surprised when I said that there were only 20 or so of 150 exposures left. Pictures I assume will be coming into to work with Chris today.

We took a short break and went shopping in the down time where Chris had to work the course.

When we got back I rode along in the Miata for a run. It was much faster than it looks. Our time was just a second slower than his fastest time to that point.

Maybe I'll take the Acura out next year. Maybe.


Wisconsin in the news...

It's always impressive to me to see the state I live in being featured in the news. Especially for monumental decisions being handed down by the Court of Appeals.

In an unforseen twist the Appeals Court ruled that drunk driving laws do in fact apply to frozen lake surfaces. This decision reversed a ruling against a drunk driver (Paul Minnig) who had been chasing snowmobilers in his truck. Dodge County Circuit Court judge Andrew Bissonnette had stated that the drunk driving laws definition of "highways and 'other premises' open to public motor vehicle use" did not include frozen lake surfaces.

These sure are interesting times.