Apologies for the slowdown on bloggery of late – my Now Playing deadlines and an extended visit by the in-laws coincided.
Happily for me, Viv’s parents spent a solid week working on the yard – sifting soil, ripping up old grasses, planting new flowers and so forth. It’s great to see Viv so excited and happy about gardening and I want to be sure to provide her with all the support she needs to continue developing this interest.
In other news, my Mac Mini, originally obtained with an eye to replacing the current webserver, is now acting as a media server in the living room, with the help of a cheaply-bought EyeHome, a PnP/Appletalk breakout box designed to get the goods from hard drive to A/V system. While it has a few irritations, the cost of the box included software that enables any given Mac as a Plug-and-Play Windows Media server, meaning I can point the streaming media server I obtained from League brother Manuel a few months ago at the smaasset base and get the audio on a secondary amp.
The video playback quality is quite satisfactory. The box’s TV-oriented software includes a rudimentary web browser which makes Microsoft’s initial WebTV offering look positively polished, but happily also includes some minimal RSS capabilities and http-based streaming audio. I haven’t yet gotten it to deliver WFHB, but I will!
The other point to consider in looking at EyeHome is that it provides an optical-audio-out, something that is integrated into the new Intel-based Mini, but not in the model I have; thus I obtain greater audio quality from A/V files than is possible via the two-channel stereo mini jack, in theory.
However, there is one true annoyance in the configuration I have set up. The Mini has a single firewire jack and comes maximally loaded with an 80gb internal drive. It’s been well-known for years that nonlinear video – DVD-quality video stored in formats that can can be manipulated and played back from hard drive by a computer – is currently the queen of storage-space requirements. A single season of a popular current TV show requires roughly 20gb; it’s easy to recognize the need for additional storage space. I have a 300gb drive on the firewire bus.
One of the objectives I hoped to accomplish by moving the Mini to the living room and hooking it up to the A/V stack was to semi-permanently mount the iSight in the living room while using the tube as the computer monitor. Tests showed that this was a satisfactory solution, bandwidth constraints notwithstanding. However, the camera requires that it be powered by the Firewire bus, and the drive housing I’m using isn’t doing so. I’ll toy with running the media drive via USB, but won’t hold my breath for satisfactory results.
Have a happy fireworks day!