A low-power HTPC running Boxee on linux 64 bit (and XP, sigh, brickbats to Netflix)
March 9, 2010, 1:22 pm by bottleman. Filed under: diy, reviews, software.

Last month I finally got sick of cleaning peanut butter off DVD’s. Between me and the 4.5 year old, there probably was a whole jar of the stuff inside the dvd player, and a corresponding amount of skipping. We’d turned to online streaming services like Hulu, which sat on remote servers and were invulnerable to the mess, but they tied up my laptop every time the kid wanted to watch Finding Nemo, or Super Structures.  Also, I didn’t enjoy the vibe that was building up, where there was no separation between the machine I use for work and the one I use for vegging out.

It was finally time to realize a scheme I’d been mulling for a while: making a tiny little home theater PC (HTPC) that would allow my household to go diskless.  Here’s how I did it and how it’s working — which is great, even if some providers of content and software seem determined to keep users stuck in the past.

I got a little Acer Aspire Revo R1600 computer.  …more

Fatal exception 0E
October 11, 2008, 12:24 am by bottleman. Filed under: software.

I thought I had gotten over pitying Windows users (I’m bigger than that now), but then I read “How I learned to stop worrying and tolerate Vista.”  It is the saddest piece of tech journalism I have ever read.

photo illustration by unknown blogger — original post has been lost

The author, Stephen Williams, has been so worn down by experience that he has no positive expectations of Windows anymore, but no willingness to try alternatives either.  He projects a kind of bovine acceptance …more

My laptop can kick your laptop’s ass (not that it has any need to, of course)
November 20, 2007, 4:04 pm by bottleman. Filed under: making a difference, reviews, software.


In general, machismo is the sign of a loser. Think of some truly powerful people — Louis the XIV, the British Admiralty (once upon a time anyway), Tom Cruise, a Pope of your choice, even, for god’s sake, Rummy in his prime. Every one has a suspiciously feminine, manicured cleanliness. They all show off more than a patch of pale skin as they sway down a line between the momentous and the monstrous. It’s only the people they conquer that need to drink a lot, work out with weights, wave guns, and put on snarly faces. …more

The mark of Zotero (software review)
January 8, 2007, 3:16 pm by bottleman. Filed under: reviews, software.

I’ve made it my tedious, stick-up-the-butt habit to intermittently harangue others in the blogosphere about one thing: the need to dig in to original experiences or primary data, instead of just “adding to the chamber of echoes” — that is, re-re-re-hashing highly processed media reports or press releases.

If you’re writing (say) about sewer overflows, please: get in to one! (In the company of safety-oriented professionals only, of course.)

photo by flickr user owlhere, licensed under Creative Commons. see http://flickr.com/photos/owlhere/10618639/

If lieu of that, study a technical report about the number of miles of giant pipe produced, or how and why such systems are designed to overflow.

You might find that it’s not just bloggers that get basic facts wrong, it’s also professional journalists. They don’t know any more about sewers than you, and if the only sources they rely on are “expert” flacks from various interest groups their stories will be missing some really important context.

Still I know that using primary data isn’t easy. Finding and comprehending it is more work. And wrangling facts can be like herding cats: when you’ve got hold of one, catching another lets the first one squibble out of your hands. Documents on the web move and change. Links disappear. Accountability becomes fluid.

Thankfully there’s a new, totally free piece of software that can really help wrangling all those squirmy cats — oops, I mean facts. And statements. And ideas. It’s called Zotero, and though it’s currently still in beta, I recommend it now. …more