Ceton InfiniTV 4 Multi-Tuner CableCard

Very recently I bought my wife a Hauppauge TV Tuner for mother’s day. I think we had talked about getting one before so we could downgrade our cable boxes from Verizon FIOS’ HD DVRs to their regular HD boxes, but admittedly when we got the tuner we didn’t even have cable.

That didn’t stop us from using it however and we installed it in a Windows 7 box using just a regular OTA antennae. And even though we didn’t end up recording too much with it (what’s their to record on regular TV anyway), we were blown away about how cool Windows Media Center is when it has a tuner to play with.

If you’re a home theater buff like myself, you will really marvel at how sleek, elegant and functional Windows Media Center is… Especially if it’s your first TV Tuner/Media solution.

Return of the Cable
So fast forward a couple months and cable has once again returned to our house along with its huge bill for renting their cable boxes. And if have cable and don’t think it’s a racket – YOU IZ CRAZY. I mean, I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but a Verizon FIOS HD DVR is probably something like $13/mo and a regular box has to be about $7 so every month I’m spending $20 extra to “rent” their equipment which I absolutely need to watch their programming! Again, it’s a racket.

And because of this I started looking for CableCard tuners. I heard about them a while ago through the AVS Forum but now doing some serious research, I was amazed to find that as much as these were lauded over, basically only 1 really exists in the ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner and you can’t find them anywhere except on eBay and then only if you’re lucky. I swear you can’t even buy them from ATI’s website! (And let’s not forget they usually sell for north of $200 too).

Enter the Ceton InfiniTV 4 Multi-Tuner CableCard
So if you haven’t heard, some company called Ceton has made a new card that looks like it’ll blow the ATI one out of the water. The Ceton InfiniTV 4 accepts one CableCard, allows you to view or record 4 channels at once, and view these programs all around your house! Do you realize how cool that is? So instead of me paying the $20 a month I am now, I can just do the Verizon FIOS CableCard rental of of a few bucks PLUS I can watch the programming on more TVs without having to pay any more to the man!

Ceton Infinity 4 Multi-Tuner CableCard

Now admittedly the card has a “high” price tag of $399 but I figure I’d make that up quick if I’m distributing the programming to 3 TVs like I’m going to. The only real problem now for me is that Ceton has delayed shipping the card (I think I heard because of a parts shortage) meaning that I’m going to have to hang in here with my high cable bill for a little while longer. But in any event I’m still way excited about it. Anything that helps me bring media into the house and reduce my monthly bill gets two thumbs up in my book.

XNA – 2D Beginner's Guide Done, Now What?

This past weekend I tweeted that I had finished with the XNA Beginner’s Guide to 2D Games. If you have no idea what XNA is, here’s a quote from Wikipedia:

Microsoft XNA is a set of tools with a managed runtime environment provided by Microsoft that facilitates computer game development and management.

Got it? You can use it to help you make games for Windows and on the 360. Now if you’ve always wanted to make games but never thought you could, this probably isn’t the thing for you. Because even if you have the desire -Without the technical skills to back it up, you’re really not going to be able to gain an understanding of anything from the videos since they build on the fundamentals programming.

And from an XNA standpoint, you get only the glimspsiest of glimpses into XNA and all it can do. For instance, as far as certain effects being built into the system, how to do music, etc etc… That’s just not covered by the Beginner’s Guide. But you know, they probably shouldn’t be because then the guide would’ve taken me 2 weeks to get through. (#):)

What I Made
So what I made was nothing to write home about, that’s for sure. But as far as it goes to get my feet wet in XNA game programming, I’m pretty happy with the Beginner’s Guide overall. It basically steps you through how to make a 2D shooting game where enemies scroll in from the right and you can rotate a turret to aim at them and fire. So while what I made was pretty basic, there are lots of “extra credit” videos linked from the site that show you how to do cooler things like particle generators and stuff. BUT, I haven’t touched those vidoes yet.

2D XNA Beginner's Guide Screenshot

Will I Do More?
Really not sure. This was a really fun diversion this past weekend, but I seriously don’t know that I have any desire at the moment to make games. They take up a lot of time and by the time I really finalized something as an Indie developer, Microsoft would probably be launching their 720 or something. ha ha.

New WordPress Install – Painless

So as some of you know, I just started a new blog. It’s not quite ready yet because I still have to get all the plugins working, layout to where I want it to and get all the other small things up and running like my Google Sitemap, Technorati, pingbacks, and my Feeburner feed. Argh. A LOT to do!

Before all this though, I had to of course install WordPress on the new domain. I remember the first time I did it how much of a pain in the neck it was. I had to update my mySQL version, permissions, and a whole bunch of other crap. This time, it was PAINLESS. It took me 5 minutes (maybe 6) to upload all the wordpress files, another minute to setup the database, and another minute to go through install.php. And before I knew it, I was presented with a message saying, “[All done! Thought there would be more steps? Sorry to disappoint!]”. Couldn’t be happier! The hardest part of yesterday was definitely deciding on a theme, but I had done some preliminary research on that front too so that was easier than I thought it would be too!

Nintendo's WiiWare Will Allow You to Make Games for the Wii

Engadget and GamaSutra are reporting that Nintendo will allow users to download WiiWare from the Shop Channel which will allow them to develop games for the Wii a la Microsoft’s XNA Game Studio Express. This is a pretty exciting thing, both for developers and consumers because obviously this unlocks the Wii to even more forms of content and likely – content that consumers would rarely (if ever) see otherwise. Continue reading “Nintendo's WiiWare Will Allow You to Make Games for the Wii”

Video Game Addiction

I thought I knew about video game addiction when trying to Gold Medal every last thing on the original Project Gotham Racing for XBox. (Which I ended up doing). But recently, the term “video game addiction” has made it into the news, this time the talk being whether or not it is a true addiction akin to alcoholism! The thought is, (I guess), if it’s registered as a real addiction, it can then be helped through insurance companies and the like. Is it just me – Or does this just sound like cRaZiNeSS!? Continue reading “Video Game Addiction”

Let's Go Phishing!

A while back I got an e-mail that looked like it was from Bank of America telling me to “verify and register” my computer to avoid identify theft. Thankfully, this isn’t my first time to the rodeo but I know there are a lot of people out there (who probably won’t ever read this) who could easily be taken in by such things. And so I present this to you in order to serve as a reminder to stay ever vigilant about Phishing scams and also to show you what should trip your Spider-Sense! First we’ll take a look at the e-mail in it’s entirety and then we’ll BREAK IT DOWN. Continue reading “Let's Go Phishing!”

Spock Search Engine

I’ll admit it. I didn’t know what Spock was at the beginning of the day. But soon I would get a mysterious e-mail from Ram over at Teknobites inviting me to participate in the service. Initially, I didn’t recognize the name “Ram” and I thought the whole thing was some sort of SPAM. But something told me to investigate the matter because the name “Ram” sounded somehow familiar. Long story short, I found out what the deal was, went over to the Spock website and did some reading up on this new search engine.

I new that if I was getting an invite to this whole “Spock Thing”, it had to be something different than the usual search engine. My instincts didn’t fail me, and it turns out that the search engine is focused on people. That’s right, you can type in a name and get all kinds of juicy info on that person. To see what output you’ll get I searched for one of my favorite people. You guessed it : Steve Nash! Continue reading “Spock Search Engine”

Why Do People Gotta Be Hatin' on Me and Entrepreneurship

I’m not sure if I have said it in as many words to you (all of my party people), but I work pretty diligently online in order to form a more perfect union (for myself) so that I don’t have to work in my cubicle anymore. I’ve made great strides on this front, (in the very least from a knowledge point of view to a greater extent in a financial point of view [actually getting paid for some web design work]). So it’s just a shock to me when I speak to my friends and family about leaving my job behind with better living through the Internet and they just stare blankly back at me as if I said I was going to sell crack for a living. Continue reading “Why Do People Gotta Be Hatin' on Me and Entrepreneurship”

Dell and Walmart

So I just saw a commercial saying that starting soon, you will be able to buy a Dell computer at the huge retailer, Walmart. For some reason this really put me back in my seat and so I decided to dig a little bit to see what was up. I found an article at BetaNews talking about the deal and namely how it was Dell’s “first step” into global retail. It’s just funny how times have changed. I remember “back in the day” (like the mid 90s), it was all about who made your computer. Back then, Gateway was a huge player in the PC game and a good desktop would set you back well over a grand. Then Gateway fell off when Dell stormed onto the market (that’s at least how I remember it) and Dell surged ahead under the guise of tremendous customer service.

I guess at that time, computers were still relatively new in the consumer market and people were still plenty intimidated of them so the customer service tip was a good one. But now…well…Prices for everything computer are so cheap now. So much cheaper than back then. It seems that everyone now pretty much thinks a computer is a computer so the cheaper the price the better. And again, for the mainstream consumer market, I guess I can’t really fault them too much in this thinking. So I think that’s why Dell and Gateway and companies like them lost their edge. Why buy something online and have to worry about shipping and handling when you can go to a store TODAY and get something for cheaper that “does the same thing”?

Personally, I build all of my desktops (like so many of you) so I don’t have any particular affinity for Dell. But I think that the Walmart and Dell deal will be good for both. If Dell can get their $400ish computers into the stores, I think they’ll find a market. And even if their name isn’t what it once was, I think the idea of owning a $400 Dell computer will certainly attract an audience.

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

My Mother-In-Law is a nice person, don’t get me wrong. But she has this horrible habit of e-mailing me with stuff I could care less about. You and I typically call this stuff SPAM. She hasn’t started e-mailing me Viagra offers yet, but plenty of chain e-mails, horrible jokes and even worse riddles. To alleviate this problem, I gave her another one of my e-mail addresses that a lot of junk e-mail already goes to so at least I wouldn’t immediately give her e-mails any importance. Well anyway, she sent me one the other day and it started with “I’ve been trying not to send you any junk, but I think that you will like this clock.” And included was this link : http://home.tiscali.nl/annejan/swf/timeline.swf.

Basically it’s a clock made in flash that displays the seconds, minutes, hours, days, months and years…it the most boring way possible. I mean, it basically presents everything my digital watch does, but in an even less attractive way. Why in the world did she think I would like this clock? And it being done in Flash, (with all of the cool things Flash is capable of), just makes this worse.

It was then I remembered about an ACTUALLY cool clock a friend of mine, Marieke did in school. Not only is it beautiful, but is has constellations in it too, and has a cool day to night graphic. SOOOO MUCH BETTER. You can check out a picture below, and check it out in action here.