Will my new desktop be an HTPC?

December 31, 2008 2:57 pm Published by 2 Comments

It’s been several years since microATX motherboards became commonplace, kicking the Home Theater PC movement into high gear. While researching hardware to build a new desktop computer, I ran into an interesting question: Can it be an HTPC? The “HT” part of the quotient would require it to be able to connect to my television, which is currently in a different room than my desktop, and I want to be able to still sit down at the computer. I don’t want heavy VGA running from the machine down the hallway. So it seems like I’ve only got a couple of options:

  1. Run cables down the hallway, and hope M doesn’t notice. (Good luck).
  2. Wireless video. Half junk, half expensive vapor.
  3. A thin client like a Sun Ray on my desktop.
  4. Give up and pick either a new desktop, or an HTPC.

Right now, option 3 sounds the most promising. There are a handful of people who have talked about hooking high-end thin clients up to their TV to act as a home theater interface, but I’ve found no discussion of doing it the other way, as far as I can tell. I’ll be investigating this deeper over the next few weeks. But experimentation might be too expensive; I might just end up going for option 4.

Lessons learned from Film Addict

December 20, 2008 10:19 am Published by Leave your thoughts

It’s been a week since I posted Film Addict. It got posted to, Slashfilm,, and became a Twitter and Facebook meme on some level. At this point, it has received 100,000 pageviews, and it was filled out 37,000 times (peaking at a rate of over 1000 per hour, but at this point still about once a minute).

Lessons learned:

  • If I use strict and warnings, I should keep an eye on the Apache error log. I generated 10GB of errors in the first 24 hours, filling up /var on my webhost, which resulted in 8 hours of downtime during the Slashfilm surge.
  • Google Adsense now allows “personal” domains. I tried to sign up in 2004, when Weboggle was all the rage, and I was turned down because it lived under I’m not sure when the policy changed, but I applied this week and was approved on Thursday.
  • Google ads don’t really make you much money. At this point, the ads on the Film Addict page have made me $2.90, but even if I had had them from day one, I’d only have made about $15.
  • I sleep fine at night, even after creating something clearly intended to be meme-fodder.
  • With enough data, you can get awesome bell curves. Histogram of number of movies seen:

It didn’t end up going much of anywhere on Digg or Reddit or Delicious. I’m not sure why, but I think part of it might have been the individual nature of the form. You could compare your list against your friends’, but there was no community interest. Another factor (especially on Delicious) was the unique id in every posted URL; there could never be enough posts of a single URL to get any momentum.

Film Addict

December 13, 2008 4:21 pm Published by 9 Comments

A couple friends of mine posted one of those lame Facebook chain note things today. It was a list of a couple hundred movies, mostly 18-25-year-old targeted franchises from the past decade or so (think Scream, Saw, American Pie, etc) with some others (mostly very popular) thrown in. “Copy this list to your profile and check off the ones you’ve seen”. The list’s arbitrary inclusion criteria angered me, so I decided to make my own, with a better inteface than “copy and paste it yourself”. The list is IMDB’s top 250.

I posted it to MetaFilter Projects. Pretty much immediately, Mathowie Twittered it. At this point, more than 200 people have taken it already. Give it a try, compare your list to mine.

M’s Fellowship

November 24, 2008 6:38 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Remember four years ago, when M had to make a huge list of hospitals where she wanted to do her residency? And then she had to interview at a bunch of them? And then throw her name on a pile that got fed into a giant algorithm?

Well, we’re she’s doing it again. There are 9 hospitals on the list for a rheumatology fellowship, and the list of possible cities looks a lot like the last time around. We’ll know where she’ll be interviewing by sometime in January, interviews themselves will be in February, and then match day is June 17.

Massachusetts Politician Watch

November 6, 2008 3:54 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Massachusetts has two Senators who have been on the job for decades, and a newcomer Governor. It’s possible that all three won’t be on the job in 2010:

  • Governor Deval Patrick, former Assistant Attorney General under Bill Clinton, has said he won’t accept any position in DC, but that hasn’t kept his name from showing up on rumored short lists for AG or even a future spot on the Supreme Court
  • Junior Senator (and former Democratic Presidential candidate) John Kerry has been mentioned continuously as Secretary of State. He’s been a lot more circumspect about whether or not he’d accept.
  • Senior Senator Ted Kennedy was diagnosed with brain cancer in May, and although he is still working and appears strong, his prognosis is grim: median survival is about 15 months.

So what happens if Patrick and Kerry go to Washington, and Kennedy is forced to retire? Patrick has a Lieutenant Governor (Tim Murray) who becomes acting Governor in his place. Kerry and Kennedy don’t have that cushion, they must be replaced by special elections. Coincidentally, Massachusetts changed that law just in 2004. The rule before then was that Kerry would have been replaced Republican then-Governor Mitt Romney if he had won the Presidential election.

Whoever replaced Kerry or Kennedy would be the first new Senator from Massachusetts in more than 24 years.