So Let it be Written, So Let it be Done!

November 28, 2008

The Next Seven Days

Filed under: kamakula — kamakula @ 12:28 am
Tags: , ,

Well, it’s been a good thanksgiving. Once again, I’m reminded that I’m getting older. Since I was 22, I could no longer eat as much as the previous 10 years. Prior to then, I’d used to clear my plate three times with room for cake, pie, and ice cream. Now, I’m just managing twice with one slice of cake and one scoop of ice cream. How far the mighty have fallen indeed.

Prior to driving to DC for the holiday, there’d been jokes going around about taking advantage of the situation. Subtly mentioning that my car was low on gas for example. . .or my fridge low on food. I think I’ll just return with the usual leftovers and buy my own gas. I was never really one for asking (subtly or not) for monetary support from my parents.

But, that aside, the post title alludes to the contents of my next week. There’s homework to complete for two classes, projects for two more (given that I only have three classes that assign work, there’s obviously some overlap here) and some prep work to do before I return for the class I’m TAing (ghost TA now and actual TA next semester). 

I’m a ghost now because the class is only offered in the spring. What I’m doing now is essentially preparing the project the students will work on the entire semester. It involves robotics, a contests, and intro to engineering education, all topics which I have more than a passing interest and experience. Seriously, it was quite literally a stroke of luck that got me into this position.

But beyond the robot stuff, which will continue to consume more of my time, I’m planning a media center. I already have a projector setup in my living room. Given the experience with a hacked xbox owned by my temporary housemate, I’ve decided to make it the workhorse of my media center. So, at the center is the xbox connected to my router. I’ll be purchasing a NAS (network attached storage) unit with two drive bays. At the moment, I plan to populate those with 1TB drives.

Probably a year or two from now, I’ll end up retiring those as permanent storage and upgrading to whatever the vogue amount will be (assuming that we don’t have major advances in hard drive data transfer technology [even with the router only supporting 10/100 ethernet and sata drives, I’ve not seen any speed measures where people have managed to transfer data faster than 80Mbit/s). So, I’ll likely buy the drives and nas under the cover of black friday (unless I come across a cheaper alternative on ebay) and the xbox off someone on craigslist (original xboxes are going for about $30 though I would like a wireless controller).

The annoying thing about ads for xboxes is that everyone seems to want to jack up the price by including games. I’m not going to be playing any games, I just want the barebones system, power cord, av cables, and controller. So, I’m going to be annoyed if I end up having to find a wireless controller separately because I’d likely have to pay a significant fraction of whatever I end up paying for the xbox to get it. (Buying an xbox with games doesn’t really get me anywhere, by themselves the titles are maybe worth $1 or $2 each).

If I end up buying the drives and nas separately, I may just get one drive for now, as it is, the whole media center thing will cost around $300. If I can save $100 until Christmas, that would be good. Besides, I’m not going to fill 1TB in a month’s time. 

There’s more exciting stuff about the nas – like most of them are ARM based boards running embedded linux, which means they’re eminently hackable and you can feature expand them way beyond anything advertised on the box. At a bare minimum, by January, whichever one I buy will be running an ftp and itunes server, bittorrent client, have ssh access enabled, and probably more things which I may find interesting. For example, since I’d then have full control over USB, I could connect anything I want which could allow for some interesting remote control of home applications (Though given the likely location of the nas. . .perhaps not).

Yep, the most exciting things in my life over the next seven days are robots and building a media center. The good news, they’ll be kickass.

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