2008 - 2009 Winter season

Here I go!

(… insert 4 months, 12 days and an Austrian ski holiday here …)

2008 - 2009 Winter Season Closer

Yep, we started and ended the winter season in the same place.

More photos and videos from the season closer over at Ioana’s Flickr, including my infamous Barlang Bang jump.

Heading into the straight line

… with the WordPress installation.

I moved everything to the root of the site yesterday (good bye blank index page), created redirects for every old post, renamed old folders and checked if redirects work. The old assets (images and files) are still where they used to be, so there shouldn’t be any broken links. A few moments after the redirects became active I already received a spam comment so it was time to activate Akismet. It was then followed today by some other essential plug-ins like the Google XML Sitemap generator and the Twitter Tools plug-in, which I’m still waiting to see in action. But for the moment everything seems to be working fine.

More plug-ins to come (any recommendations?) and I have to fix the header logo but I can’t get hold of my casual designer

Goodbye MySpace account

I deleted my MySpace account today. (Notice how funny “my MySpace” sounds?)

The reason? Way too many e-mail notifications announcing friend requests from random “friend collector” people… I just felt guilty to press the Deny button so many times. Anyway for me MySpace was only useful from one point of view: finding new releases from my favorite artists (which were all my “friends”). But I haven’t had much time to look around lately and I’m not really in the mood to discover new music nowadays (I mostly listen to web radio when I want to entertain myself) so I put things in balance and decided it’ll be better for me to just let go.

And since I were at it I followed the example Ioana set a few days ago and deleted my Netlog account too. They haven’t lost much, I was logging in once every 6 months anyway. But at least Netlog canceled my account instantaneously whereas over at MySpace I had to click the ‘Cancel my account’ button 3 times and also had to click a link that arrived by e-mail just to arrive to a page that said that my account cancellation request has been recorded and they will delete it in the next 48 hours. Hah, as a web developer I know that this “we’ll do it in 48 hours” thing is such a huge bull, but I think it saves lots of teenager accounts from getting “accidentally” deleted. You know, you’re disappointed in love, come home, wipe your account, sleep a good one and then realize life is still worth living. So you uncancel your account first thing next morning.

As little as I’ve used it but I still noted that Netlog is heaps better than hi5 but as hi5 is Romania’s national adopted relig… social network I really have no choice. Everyone’s on it and so am I. And Facebook is hip, although I wish there was a way to set that I’m not interested in event invitations. Hmmm, maybe there’s an option and I should really uncheck it as I get a considerable amount of spam inviting me to various Bucharest based events. And I’m not interested to install that new Mega Atomic Poke application either. Actually speaking about applications reminds me that I have to go feed and caress my pet Gruber in Pet Society

Many say social networks are a huge waste of time, and they speak the truth, but hey, what’s not these days? Cough, blogs, cough? :)

And as a conclusion here’s a related video, well worth watching:

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Now add me as friend damn it!

Keeping up with the times

Yep, I finally migrated this blog to WordPress.

I’m saying finally because this should have happened a good few years ago, when Wordpress started to get largely adopted by bloggers around the web or at least later when I started to get fed up with the sluggishness of Movable Type. But I never came around doing it because of the lack of time and partly because MT had it’s own special PERL-ish flavor plus I liked certain aspects of the admin interface. And I was sort of against the tide with my decision to stick to MT, since I earn a living by writing PHP code while I have next to no experience with PERL - so hacking WordPress should be easy while tempering with Six Apart’s product was next to impossible.

Unfortunately, my 6 year old, tweaked to high heavens template which I liked so much died in the upgrade process. But never fear, actually finding the theme that you’re probably looking at (except if you’re reading this in an RSS reader and are lazy to click through) was what prompted me to finally make the switch. Because it looks sooo-sooo sleek. After a few tweaks, making it able to display my posts that contain 500 pixel wide photos, it was ready to go live.

I also solved the permalink problems by following the relevant guide from the ever handy WordPress Codex. I know from a previous experience that it doesn’t take Google long to reindex my stuff but I also needed the redirect script for the sake of those who linked to my articles from other sites. Yep, this includes myself. And yes, the geek speaks out, I like the WordPress style permalinks a lot more.

Well, much tweaking ahead, but here we go… Go go Wordpress! :)

XBMC - My media center of choice

XBMC Media Center or XBox Media Center to avoid the recurssion.

A program I started using heavily lately mostly to forget the misery I’m in. Why would I need a media center you might ask. And I’ll respond.

Sometime around the end of the summer I “borrowed” a secular TV from my parents, actually our first color television they bought in the first half of the nineties, because lately it was just sitting there in my ex-room perfectly functional and because I bought a Dreambox 500S clone to be able to watch digital satellite. Actually a blast from the past, as you might remember that I’ve had digital satellite when I was living in my parent’s house in some better times. Sigh. After the initial enthusiasm about watching satellite TV passed… Wait, don’t get me wrong, I’m still watching TV, but not as intensively as in the begining. So after the initial enthusiasm passed, I dug out my trusty old PlayStation 2 to play some games on the rainy weekend days and also remembered I had SMS installed on it. SMS stands for Simple Media System and it’s actually a DivX player for the PlayStation 2. It works something like this: you launch a program on your PC, tell it which folders contain your media, then you boot up your modified PS2 fitted with a network adapter (long live eBay!), start SMS and in no time you’re watching said media on your TV. It’s much more convenient because the TV is bigger than my monitor, a lot closer to the bed and I have the PlayStation controller as a remote.

This was the first step. After realizing how convenient the concept of a media center is and hitting the limits of my poor PS2 - it can play DivX, XviD, MPEGs and MP3-s but it doesn’t have the processing power to be able to handle the newer formats like mkv - I started digging for solutions. Actually I remembered about XBMC because I sort of bumped into it several times during my reads of Download Squad and Lifehacker. So I installed it and started the testing / accomodation process.

XBMC Media Center screenshot

[ Sorry for the slightly skewed aspect ratio of the screenshot, it’s the PAL resolution. ]

One of the first cool things I noticed after the elegant menu operation was that after showing it the folders that contain my media scattered around several harddrives (some even networked) I could browse as with any file manager or I could switch to library mode and let it scan everything and pull information from the web about each movie and TV show episode I had. That’s hands down AWESOME becuase when I say information I don’t mean text only. It also fetches DVD covers, episode screenshots and so called fan art which are basically splash screens for movies and TV shows. Needless to say it organizes TV shows by seasons and episodes and remembers which ones you watched and which you didn’t - so by using µTorrent and eztv and with a bit of knowledge you can automate the whole downloading process and have your favorite shows waiting for you when you return from work in the evening.

Another very cool thing is that XBMC can play back everything you throw at it (didn’t have any issues until now) even if it’s packed inside RAR archives, so you don’t even need to bother to unpack stuff you get from the Net, thus saving precious harddrive space…

Until this point all was good, except that for every interaction with it I had to get up from the bed and make the 3 lazy steps to the computer and back. This is where the the $11 remote I bought from eBay saved the day. This way, the setup is damn near PERFECT.

– placeholder for a photo with the remote –

After watching several episodes of Dexter and some movies for a few days, yesterday night I discovered another cool thing. It’s called Navi-X, it’s a script for XBMC and it makes it possible to watch everything that’s to be watched on the web from the comfort of your couch / sofa / bed. For the moment I was so happy with the fact that I’m now able to watch Diggnation on my TV that I’ve sort of ignored everything else but I saw stuff like YouTube, Shoutcast, podcasts, Flickr, Adult Swim, Nasa TV, Apple movie trailers… As I said, you can watch everything that’s to be watched. It could be better integrated but until a better solution arrives - or gets included in XBMC - this will do.

I might be repeating myself here but I’ll have to state it: XBMC is A.W.E.S.O.M.E.

To be continued…