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Josh Lyon

Shiner – Test Video

I am trying to find a simple solution that will allow me to upload and play videos on my website in a format similar to google video or YouTube, but it doesn’t look like there’s really anything good out right now that does that.  The closest thing I’ve found is to convert the video to flash (flv) on a local computer, then upload the file to my webserver, then play that back with an FLV player.

I’ve attached a sample video below so you can see how Riva’s encoder performs.  It’s really crappy in my opinion, so I may just go back to using Google Video / YouTube.  The original video was taken with my Cell Phone at 640 x 480 resolution in 3G2 format. It was approximately 250kb in size.  I had the Riva encode shrink it down to 320 x 240 and somehow the video quality got worse (blockiness) and the size of the file went up to nearly 1 MB.

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Josh Lyon

Another Round of Toys

I just went through another round of buying toys and I’m not sure I’m quite done yet.  My most recent purchases include yet another large hard drive (500 gig), next-gen game console, speaker wire, and more.  

360 - Black and White ThumbThe Xbox 360 Elite edition recently came out and I had been eyeing it for a while leading up to it’s release.  It’s very similar to the Xbox 360 Premium edition, but it adds an HDMI port, black finish, and larger (120 gig) hard-drive. There are a number of reasons I decided to take the plunge and get one.  I’m not really a true “gamer” by nature, but I am interested in console modding / hacking.  My current Xbox 1 is the pinnacle of my home theater and entertainment system.  It’s modified to run “homebrew” software, copied games, and emulate older consoles. It currently has a piece of software on it called Xbox Media Center (XBMC), which serves as a dashboard from which I can launch other applications, games, and widgets or play movies, music, and pictures. I really should post an article about this to describe in more detail what it does, but for now I’ll leave it at that.

That being said, the Xbox 360 really didn’t excel at any of the things that my Xbox 1 did once it was modified.  However, the in-game graphics and technology inside the console are what really did me in. I said I’m not really a gamer, but if you know me you know I love technology and high-resolution video/graphics.  I recently bought a 56” 1080p TV and now that the Xbox 360 includes an HDMI output, I thought it would match up well.  On top of that, all my home-theater equipment is black so the console will match much better than the standard white version.  The fact that they threw in a larger hard-drive was just an added bonus.  I really have no need for it now – I already have around 2 TB (terabytes) of storage capacity on my network – but in the event that the Xbox 360 is modified to allow homebrew apps I’ll be happy the storage space is there.

Since I moved to my new apartment, the complete home-theater experience has been lacking in one area – completing my surround sound.  I have a 1000 watt 7.1 setup powered by an Onkyo high-current amp, but I only have 2 speakers and the sub hooked up at the time.  The way I laid out the apartment wasn’t really accommodating for the complete system, but I finally decided to buy the tools I needed to complete the job.  Laura has been doing some decorating and I now have a great place to hide the two rear speakers out of the way. I bought some Acoustic Research PR362 flat, white speaker wire to run to the rear locations and a fishing tool to get the wire where I need it.  I still don’t have a good location for the rear center speakers, but for the time being 5.1 will have to do. Attached is a diagram of what a 7.1 setup looks like.

 

7.1 Diagram

And what better to pair with my new home-theater and entertainment equipment than another 500 gig hard drive for the media-server.  The computer currently has an 80 gig “system” drive that is used for operating systems and applications.  I have Windows XP, Mac OS X, and SUSE Linux 10.2 loaded on it for fun – but really only use the Windows System. I keep getting larger and larger hard-drives, but there’s not much I can really do about it. Here’s the progression of the computer storage capacity:

40 GB
80 GB
80 GB + 80 GB
80 GB + 80 GB + 160 GB
80 GB + 160 GB + 160 GB
80 GB + 300 GB + 300 GB *
80 GB + 500 GB **
80 GB + 500 GB + 500 GB

* 160 GB drives went into the Xboxes
** 300 GB drives went into the Xboxes

As you can see, it will only be a matter of time before I need even more capacity. It would probably be a really good idea to have a good backup system, but as much as I change through hard-drives I couldn’t afford while I was in college. Who knows, maybe a good RAID setup will be my next purchase.

 

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Josh Lyon

Laura and Shiner Moved In

The day has come.  Laura and Shiner have finally moved in!  I went to Austin this past weekend to get Laura, her stuff, and our dog and move it all up to Dallas.  I halfway expected it, but there was still some packing to be done.  Laura put in a good effort getting a good amount of boxes packed up, but there was still some stuff left to be done.  I flew down on Southwest Airlines via a one-way ticket from Dallas Love Field to Austin.

Side Story:

I’m really not a big fan of Southwest.  I think it’s really just a multitude of small things that add up and make it a bad choice for me.  For one, I hate the fact that your seats are not assigned. And I hate the whole boarding group thing: They give you these boarding groups that I think are defined by how early you check in. You have groups A, B, C which board the plane in alphabetical order. Even this is a multi-dimensional issue in itself.  Within these groups there is really no structure, so whoever gets to the airport earliest, or waits in line the longest, or somehow gets ahead of you in line gets the best priority within each group.  Even worse than that is the groups don’t really even seem to matter.  Group A had a ton of people in it with Group B and C passes.  So they were getting ahead of everyone when they shouldn’t.  On top of that group B somehow had two lines entering the plane at once. It’s really just a big mess.

So you finally enter the plane in your boarding group and realize everyone else who was actually in group B/C, but entered with group A, has taken all the aisle seats except for a few at the back. So you work your way all the way to the back of the plane because you have long legs and want the space for your knees and need room in the aisle for a little breathing room for the boys downstairs (read: your family jewels [read: your balls]). But as you get to the back of plane where there are now only two or three aisle seats open – where you passed plenty of middle seats 20 rows up – some douchebag from group C who decided to board ahead of you in group B takes the last aisle seat.  With everyone behind you entering the plane and looking for a seat you are stuck where you are.  You are in the farthest seat to the back of the plane. And it’s a middle seat.

God, I hate Southwest.  But back to the real story at hand.  I dealt with the crappy seat for all of about 45 minutes and landed in Austin.  Laura picked me up with Shiner in the car and they were both really happy to see me.  Laura gave me kisses and Shiner gave me… licks.  I really don’t remember anything from that night so it was either uneventful or we went down-town and had such a good time that I don’t remember it. We got up early and packed up the Penske truck with all Laura’s belongings.  I was surprised at how much we filled the truck up, but we also inherited a washer and dryer from the apartment complex. (Thanks!) Shiner and Maddie –my brother’s dog– got to play one last time and Laura and I started on our way to Dallas.

The trip was pretty uneventful.  I got to cruise in the big ‘ol Penske and Laura and Shiner rode in her car.  We stopped by Laura’s mom’s new place to drop off the couch Laura had and pick up her old dresser and night-stand.  Laura’s mom had just moved the day before us, so luckily all the stuff was downstairs in the garage. Brian Kammerer and Laura’s mom met us over at the new place and we all moved everything in.  It was a ton of help (thanks ya’ll!).

Brian’s now borrowing my xbox for the week as part of his “payment.” He is also getting a ridiculously sweet deal on a pull-out-bed couch and leather couch.  That’s another story all together but the reader’s digest version is this: I asked Brian if he needed couches (now that we have like 5) and he said yes.  Later I was joking with Laura that we would give him buy-one-get one free and give him a great price on the pull-out couch. She offered the combined offer of a great price and buy-one get one free and he said yes.  He was a ton of help anyways and I’m happy to help a friend, so it all really works out in the end.

My brother wants the chair-and-ottoman that matches the pull-out couch and I really need to figure that out.  I don’t want to store it for the next few months… so Jesse, we’ll be in contact.

As my good buddy Porky used to say,
“That’s all folks.”

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Josh Lyon

San Francisco: MS Project Server

I’m back from my week in San Francisco for training on a Microsoft tool called Project Server.  To fill you in, my company is looking at tools for managing projects and the visibility of projects.  We already have licenses for MS Project Server (link), have it set up on a development box, and have been looking at it as a possible solution.  I was slated with heading up the initiative and my boss wanted me to go to a training to evaluate the tool as a possible solution.

A company called EPM Solutions (link) was offering a boot camp on Project Server and it seemed like it would be a good way to get an idea how project managers, end users, and administrators would have to interact with the server.  This lined up pretty well with what we were trying to get out of a course, so I decided to go with it.

The hotel EPM suggested was about $129 / night, but it offered a shuttle to the airport and the Seaport Conference Center (class location).  I figured if I had free transportation, my boss would think it was unnecessary to get a rental car.  I didn’t want to be stuck at the hotel during the nights, so I decided to look for a cheaper hotel to make up for the difference.  I found an Extended Stay America one exit further north that was about $50 / night cheaper – so I figured I could get that and a rental car and be set.

I ended up getting a good price on a fare at about $240 roundtrip. I left Sunday morning and arrived late morning.  I picked up my rental car and set out to check out the city.  Without having any real idea of where I was going, I knew San Francisco was north of me, so I took the highway 101 in that direction. 

I saw a sign for Monster park, so I decided to stop off and see what that was all about.  I drove through a somewhat ghetto part of the city and worked my way to the stadium.  It’s sponsored by Monster – the company that does cables and power products.  At the time, they were having some sort of rally racing. It was a bunch of rice cars (Civics, RSX, etc) and a few nicer cars (BMW M3, Corvette, etc.) running around the parking lot on some coned off course.  Those guys have to be crazy. I wouldn’t want to be driving crazy on a concrete/gravel top road having rocks fly up and scratch the hell out of my paint. But oh, well – to each their own. The area just outside Monster park was really nice. There was a really pretty dock, the bay, a fence, and some mountains.

You can see those items in the photo gallery.  I was getting bored, so I decided to head to the heart of San Francisco.  I drove around the downtown area for about an hour looking for something to eat for lunch. The city was pretty packed and there was nowhere to park.  I saw a film crew shooting something at some point, but I don’t know what it was. After driving around for while and not finding anywhere to park I finally caved in and decided to just get some fast food. I spotted a Burger King attached to a gas station and decided it would do.  After looping around to get to it, I pulled into the parking lot only to find that it was take-out only.  I wasn’t about to enjoy my first meal sitting in my car.  

That being the case, I headed back to find my hotel.  After getting all checked in at the Extended Stay, I was REALLY getting hungry and decided to stick with the fast food idea.  I found a Wendy’s nearby and enjoyed a hearty triple-meat cheeseburger, a Caesar salad, French fries, and a coke. Mmmm.  With my appetite appeased, I went back to the hotel to connect to the internet and research the tourist attractions.  Did I mention I had to pay $5 just to get on the hotel’s wireless?  What kind of sham is that?  The front-desk person probably pocketed and got their own Wendy’s cheeseburger. 😉 Oh well.  I found some good info and decided to go hit up the cable cars and fisherman’s wharf.

I found a Wells Fargo (my bank) ATM and pulled out $20 for the cable car ride.  The website said it was only $5, but twenty is a good number for a little cushion. After searching for some off-the-beaten-path-around-the-corner-and-down-the-hill parking I found a spot.  I walked to the cable car platform, waited around for a few minutes, and got my first real taste of the city: the old cable cars. It turns out that $5 will only get you a one way ticket.  But who the hell only wants to go one way.  When you get there, how do you expect to get back?  So I opted for the $11 all day pass, which turns out will come in handy later.

I rode down to the Embarcadero / Pier 1-2 area and decided to hoof it (read: walk) to Pier 39.  I didn’t realize of freaking cold it was out there, so by about Pier 9 I decided I would hitch a ride on the old electric rail car.  I got to the Pier and my first task was apparent: find a sweatshirt. Did I mention it was cold there? I found a University sport-wear place and walked in.  They were watching the Golden State vs. Dallas game and I let them know how cool I thought Dallas was.  Those California Golden State boys didn’t think it was funny… but I did.  I found a cool brown sweatshirt with San Francisco written across the front of it in scripted print. It was only like $22 and I was cold, so it was well worth it.

I headed back out on my touring adventure and checked out Alcatraz (from the pier), then the Sea Lions, and finally had some dinner at a little surf place on the pier.  I hopped on the old electric rail car on my way back home.  We stopped a little down the road outside a CVS and I had to get off and switch to the next train.  We waited for about 5 minutes when our driver came back and said we had to wait – that there was a fire truck and ambulance on the tracks ahead.  Well, we waited. And we waited.  And 40-45 minutes later the emergency vehicles cleared out of the way and we headed on our way back.

I hopped back on the first cable-car I was on and got some good pictures on the way back to where my car was.  Again, you can see these pictures in the photo gallery. This day was probably the most eventful part of my trip… and I’m a little tired of writing.  So maybe I’ll fill you in on my visit to Half Moon Bay, dinner with Uncle Scott and Cindy,  and my other little side-trips while I was there later.

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Josh Lyon

LorieAndJesse.com

My brother recently proposed to his long time girlfriend (and now fiancée), Lorie.  I’m his best man, so I decided to make him a website.  Check out the photo gallery and sign the guestbook (on the right menu) while you are there.  As you might imagine, the theme is love based.  Their wedding colors are chocolate brown and pink, which was really interesting to work with when I was creating the template.  I was surprised how well gradient fades from pink to brown work and I think the little hearts have the perfect touch.

http://www.lorieandjesse.com

The site information is easily updateable by Lorie and Jesse – as it has a nice user friendly interface.  They can change / add text on the site using a simple WYSIWYG interface and photos can be uploaded directly from within Windows XP.

For technical purposes:
The main part of the site is simply informational using Joomla as the CMS. I have included a guestbook, which is powered by EasyBook and a photo gallery powered by Gallery2 and the Joomla g2 bridge.

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Josh Lyon

My bitch is in heat

Laura has had Shiner in Austin pretty much since the day we got her.  She stayed with me for a week and comes to visit on the weekends, but other than that she has been in Austin with Laura.  We’ve taken her to two different vets and they each thought she was a different age (between 5 and 10 month), but they both agreed that she was spayed.

I came home the other night to find that Shiner had pulled down a case of CD’s off my desk and tore the top part off that had a floppy disk in it.  She had torn the floppy disk to shreds as well as some flip flops she found. When I was picking it up I was worried that she had hurt her mouth on the floppy disk. I saw a few drops of blood on the ground, so I inspected her mouth and paws for cuts.  I didn’t find any, so I didn’t really worry about it.

The next morning I took her out for her morning routine and came inside to find a little spat of blood from where she was sitting before I took her outside. As you would imagine, I was a little concerned so I checked her over again – this time making sure I checked her back paws, legs, etc.

Much to my surprise I found that her vagina was red. I got a paper towel and wiped her down and found that there was some blood on the paper towel.  After doing a little research on the web I narrowed it down to a few things:

o       She is in heat (but she’s spayed, right?!)

o       Low blood platelet count

o       Urinary disease / issue

I did a little more research and after talking to Laura, we decided I should take her to the vet.  When I examined her more closely I noticed that the muscles around her vagina were really firm.  My research told me to check if it looked different, but how the hell should I know as I don’t really have anything to compare it to. I had read that if parts of the uterus or ovaries are left in the animal that those parts can trigger the heat cycle. 

I took her to the vet and they basically confirmed my suspicions. When I told them two other vets said they thought she was spayed, the new vet asked me a simple question “so they shaved her belly and checked for a scar?”  Well, no, they didn’t shave her but they did look for a scar.  So he took her into the other room and shaved and checked it.  What I thought was the scar he indicated was simply her belly button. He said the scar is typically below the belly button a little bit down towards her belly.  The only thing they could have mistaken for a scar was some light pigmentation which was pretty clear wasn’t a scar upon shaving her. 

So, what it comes down to is she is now wearing what looks like a diaper (pads) until she is through her cycle and we are going to get her spayed.  As one of my coworkers put it, it’s like having a teenage girl that you are trying to keep away from all the boys.

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Josh Lyon

Flamingcube Archive

edit: I think I figured out the dynamic redirection issue. The flamingcube.com domain was redirecting to www.boshdirect.com for SEO (search engine optimization reasons). Now it points directly to the home directory and should accept names as if it were boshdirect.com – you should see the changes as soon as the information propagates across the internet.

I checked some of the logs and noticed that I was getting a good number of hits from some old links on flamingcube.  Because of this, I've decided to upload the old content to the site.  I'm working on getting some URL redirects setup, but some of the links are having issues that I can't figure out. On that same note, I guess I should probably get a site search up and running again. 

When I originally moved boshdirect to the new host, I started using new software and archived the old boshdirect blog posts.  However, I never archived the blog posts and pictures from the flamingcube software. Luckily, I could still access an archive of the files and was able to upload some of the articles and images.

Here's a link to the photo gallery archive:
  http://www.boshdirect.com/gallery/?g2_itemId=830

And a link to the site-map, so you can find the article you are looking for:
  http://www.boshdirect.com/site-map/

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Josh Lyon

New Dog – Shiner

So I got a new dog this past weekend!  I can't say that I found the dog, as it's more like she found me (or my brother).

My brother, Jesse, works for Sprint and was at a Sam's Club for the day when a stray dog decided it wanted to go inside the building.  The staff that worked there kept trying to kick the dog out, but weren't very successful in doing so.  They would take her outside and close the door on her, then she would just run around as fast as she could to the other door.

At one point, she even began to use some stealth tactics to try to get in the door.  As a couple of people were walking in, she snuck behind them and tried to walk right in behind them, like she was part of the crowd.  My brother felt bad for her and decided he would take her home, clean her up, then take her to the vet/shelter.  He figured he would probably handle her a little nicer than the guys at Sam's would who wanted to kick her out.Image gallery link at the bottom.

Laura and I were just getting home from having lunch and getting my haircut, when we saw Jesse walking in the apartment complex with his dog, Maddie, plus another one that was just a little bigger. We asked him who she was and he explained the story to us.  We pretty much instantly fell in love with her and decided to go with Jesse to get her all washed up.

She was whining a lot as we washed her, but I think it was only because she was starving and she had to watch Maddie eat a full bowl of food during the bath.  We scrubbed her down pretty thoroughly with some anti-flea shampoo and she looked completely different.  I wish we would have had some before and after pictures, but you'll have to deal with just the afters.

Right when we got done cleaning her, she went straight for the remnants of what was in the food bowl.  We gave her some more food, but didn't want to overdo it and have her throw up. After relaxing and playing with Maddie inside and outside, we took her to the vet to get her scanned for a microchip.

For those of you who don't know, they are now putting RFID microchips in animals so that when they are lost/found you can take them to a vet/shelter and they can scan the animal to get the owners information out.  Sounds kinda Star Trek like, but the future is now.  Turns out she didn't have a microchip and there were no reports out for anyone looking for her.

We decided to have the vet do a full check-up and administer the shots/medicine she needed.  She was running a temperature of 104* F.  It's actually only a degree or two high, as dogs typically run between 100-103 degrees Fahrenheit.  She probably had been eating some bad stuff while she was on the street, which was causing the fever, so the medicine should take care of that and we will have to go back later for her vaccinations and microchip. Image gallery link at bottom.

I almost forgot to mention one of the other sad parts.  When my brother found her, she had a tiny collar around her neck that was almost choking her.  It was probably put on her when she was younger and she got lost and grew out of it.  It was dirty and missing some of the beads on it, so she was probably out on her own for a while.  She's in good hands now, as she's at my girlfriend Laura's place getting pampered and her medicine administered.

Here's a link to the photo gallery:

http://boshdirect.com/gallery/?g2_itemId=323 

http://www.boshdirect.com/gallery/?g2_itemId=454

 

 

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Josh Lyon

Dad’s Birthday

It was my Dad's birthday this weekend and they came up to Dallas to celebrate it.  My girlfriend, Laura, still lives in Austin and she got to ride up with them.  It was nice to be able to see my family before I have to head out to Spain for a month.  Speaking of the trip to Spain, it might be pushed back a little bit to accommodate the schedule of the project.

Because my dad's birthday is in January, he usually likes to have one of his favorite meals – Chicken and Noodles.  It's a really simple, but delicious meal that is basically just noodles, chicken, mashed potatoes, and corn.  Because Laura is a vegetarian, she opted out on the chicken and just had Noodles. Bruce and Kathy Witwer, some of my parents best friends, are the ones who made the chicken and noodles and had us over for dinner and games.

My car was overheating this weekend, so I pulled into a gas station and waited for it to cool down.  I pulled the thermostat, which I suspected was the culprit.  After pulling the thermostat, the car was running cool, so I got to drive out to Allen to enjoy the Chicken and Noodles.

On Sunday, Bruce and Kathy, my parents, and Laura's mom came out to my apartment to have lunch.  We went to Cozymels, which is a Mexican food place close by.  Afterwards, my aunt and uncle Randy and Cathy came out to watch the football game.  My cousin, Chris Lyon, plays high-school football and is huge.  At 16, he's over 210 pounds and is a big guy.  We had a few beers, watched the game, and everyone left sometime after around 5 pm. 

And here I am at home alone again.  It's actually not been that bad as work has kept me pretty busy. I'm excited about Laura coming up here when she graduates, but I'm going to enjoy traveling at work to keep me busy until she gets here.