Tuesday, July 19, 2011

NineBall Versus Pythia 2.0: Upgrading a HTPC, Part 1

For a few years now I have been running a home theatre PC (HTPC) as the main component of my primary viewing area. It has served me well and has been well used by family and friends. It has also been a let down in some areas, under utilized in others and simply requires an upgrade in several places. Here is the link to the original build log on a forum I frequent; eventually I will port that log here as I started to do with Project Hydra. As it was built well before I started this blog, I will outline the components used here until I port that log over.
  • Chassis - Antec Fusion Black 430 - $180
  • Motherboard - Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H - $86
  • CPU - AMD Athlon 64 x2 4850e - $105
  • CPU cooling - ThermalRight XP-90 w/ Nexus Real Silent 92mm fan - $48
  • Memory - Mushkin HP PC2-6400 2x1GB Kit - $55
  • OS Drive - Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 500GB 3.5" SATA - $70
  • Optical Drive - LG GGC-H20L Blu-ray/HD-DVD/DVD±RW - $140
  • Video Card - Sapphire Radeon 3450 PCIe Fanless - $51
  • NTSC Tuner - Nvidia DualTV PCI - $212
  • OS - Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit OEM - $103
  • Remote - Microsoft MCE Remote Control and Receiver w/ 2 blasters - $27
  • Joypads - 2x Microsoft XBox 360 Wireless Controller for Windows - $69 (total)
Original Total - $1146

This setup has allowed all the media playback/ripping capabilities you would expect in a HTPC, casual gaming and recording/playback of 2 NTSC channels at a time. Moving forward, I expect to see improved media playback/ripping performance, more serious gaming capabilities and the ability to record/playback up to an additional 3 ATSC channels. As I am replacing the OS already, I will also take the opportunity to update all my software, both of which should add alot of visual appear and usability to the system.

My upgrade path is currently as follows: I will be replacing the CPU, video card and OS and adding the ATSC tuners. A friend has also provided me with a slightly newer motherboard if I can fix it (should be easy from his description) which would also require DDR3 memory. In the next part, I will outline all the new components that will be making up the Pythia 2.0 build.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

NineBall Versus Fatherhood

So, fatherhood has kept me busy and my projects are piling up, with many getting nearer to completion but none being quite there. Below I am including a list of my current projects, almost all of which are being documented and will be posted at some point in the future (another project I'm slacking on...).

  • Project Hydra (NAS) - Has been running smoothly since I first put it together. I have a new 2TB drive to upgrade my array with.
  • Project Pythia (Main HTPC) - Pretty stable but has S3 sleep issues occasionally (not going into it). This box is slated for a major hardware and software overhaul as soon as I have time.
  • Project Hermes (OTA TV) - My antenna is partially built and will be mounted temporarily in the office in front of the window. When I have time in the future I will mount it on the roof.
  • Project Selene (Baby mobile) - For my (currently) 4 month old son and has priority over all other projects. This is a complex one but I hope to have it done before he is sleeping in his bedroom.
The following are future projects that I hope to embark on.

  • Project Kerberos (Router) - I have a VM running Untangle server that I use as a gateway/firewall for all my other VMs to connect to on the internal VirtualBox connection. In production, I would place this in-between my modem and my LAN, replacing my basic aging router.
  • Project Ladon (Home Automation) - In the future I would like to tie all my entertainment, ambiance, security and networking together into a nice whole-home package. Preferably with Android device integration.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

NineBall Versus the CNAME Alias

For as long as I've had this blog (which surprisingly is almost a year although my post count wouldn't indicate it), I've had a domain name; actually longer. Although I did know that I could set up my blog to look like it belonged under my domain name, I had never looked into how to do it. Until today that is.

Following the instructions I found here, I logged into my registrar's control panel and setup the CNAME as directed and then into my blog settings and set the domain name. The steps below are for my registrar, netfirms.ca, but as the instructions state, they should work roughly the same for any registrar. And obviously, if you use the hosting provided through Google, it should be even easier.

Step 1) Log into the control panel and navigate to Domain > DomainCentral

Steps 2-3) Drop down the domain you would like to edit, navigate to the DNS tab and select CNAME Alias from the modify drop-down box. Add the CNAME alias that you would like to redirect to your blog. And now the part that made it all work for me when it should have based on the support article: add the CNAME alias again with
 in front of it. Adding the second entry made it work for me but your mileage may vary and this may not be required.

And that's it. Give the DNS entries time to take; you'll know it worked when you navigate to your CNAME alias and get a Google 404 page. Once that happens edit the domain used for your blog as directed in the instructions and you're all set.