Archive for category The Home Front

The iPad – Not perfect. Here’s why.

In and amongst the fevered pro-iPad ravings today, I thought I’d throw a bit of a wrench in the works, as I’m not of the opinion that the thing is all it could have been. Mind you, I’m definitely pro-iPad, I think it’s a great device, I just think it could have been a lot better.

With that in mind, here are some things I really think can be done better:
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Looking for some good TV?

Broadcast television is, in my opinion, kind of like the badlands of North Dakota. Occasionally pretty to look at, absolutely treacherous to wander around in, and the source of nothing of concrete value whatsoever.

Having said that, I have found the following efforts, uniformly produced by non-broadcast concerns, to be well worth the watching. In no particular order:

  • The Sopranos
  • Firefly (sadly, an incomplete series)
  • Weeds
  • Dexter
  • The Daily Show
  • Six Feet Under
  • Enterprise

That’s pretty much it. Just thought I’d drop this as heads-up for anyone who wasn’t aware of one or more of those shows; I’ve really enjoyed them, and so has Deb.

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Back to my Music

My audio recording / performance gear

These images show some views of my music studio, which is set up in an 11′x19′ open loft above our main living space. You get to it via a bridge from the master bedroom loft on the other side of the building. I’m into rock, blues, metal, and I dip a bit into almost everything else. I just like to play, frankly. Even music I don’t like to listen to is fun to play.

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Building a Library

Here’s another window on our church-to-home project. Deb and I are both avid readers, and a library has always been high on our list of things we wanted in our dream home. Naturally enough, it was one of the first rooms to be allocated, and we’ve got some of the final shelving done. Not on the walls, or out on the floor. In the ceiling.

That’s right — the ceiling. I used 9″ BCIs to support the floor above, and left the bottoms open. To those, I attached shelves suitable, depth-wise, for paperbacks. When we do the walls, we’ll make deeper, higher shelves so as to accommodate textbooks and so forth. Here’s what the ceiling looked like with all but one (the one closest to you) of the shelves attached:

Library ceiling

The shelves on the walls are temporary modular units that are doing yeoman service until we can get around to building the final ones into the walls.

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Home Theater: Thinking Big. Really Big!

As some of you know, Deb and I bought an old Nazarene church in 2006 with the idea of converting it into our home. It was, once the pews and other church furniture were removed, basically a big, empty cube. One of the key features that weighed in on the decision to purchase the building was a large space behind the pulpit that we could see was about 16:9. We thought that would make a great theater; and after a fair amount of work and kicking equipment around, it turns out that was right. Here’s what we ended up with:

204" 1080p DLP FP home theater
I pushed the shadow levels up so the details of the system are easier to see; this makes the projected image look like it isn’t getting very black, but it actually is — DLP projectors make good blacks

You’re looking at a 17 foot (205 inch) diagonal, 1080p projection system with well over a thousand watts RMS distributed across 7.1 channels. It presently features a Mac (as media librarian), DirecTV / HD-DVR, 16-channel IR/color 1 TB security DVR, SVHS, DVD, MD, CD, Sirius sat. radio, XM sat. radio, broadcast HD receiver, blueray / PS3, HD-DVD / XBox360, PS2, XBox, Gamecube, and a Wii. The receiver is a Sony STR-DA5300ES with six HDMI inputs, and the projector is an Optoma HD-80. Deb and I built and finished the audio cabinetry, and I put the electronics together. Seating is a 12-foot wide, 8-person couch with two built-in recliners at the center “sweet spot” just out of the picture, a few feet in front of the cabinetry.

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Deb's Stained Glass work

The Pumpkin, candlelight, edited
(“The Pumpkin”)

Deb and I bought a church in mid 2006 and are working to turn it into a home.

It was a “Nazarene” church, and as part of their outlook, there wasn’t anything fancy about the building. No stained glass, per se, just some yellow “rippled” glass panes that probably served to keep the congregation focused on the proceedings inside.

Well, early in 2007, Glasgow experienced a hailstorm with baseball sized hail, and it took out all of our west-facing windows. And I mean completely. If you’d like your windows broken, three or four minutes of consistently baseball sized hail has few peers in efficiency. So anyway, we boarded ‘em up, insulated them, and resolved to get to them later.

Well, later is here, at least, for our bathroom spa window, it is. Deb spent two months of evenings down in her workshop putting together that beauty; I spent three days learning how to frame it into the old window casement, and what you see here is how the window looks inside the spa by the bath (our bath is in its own room, separate from the other fixtures.) You can see the tree branches outside just a little bit during the day, but it isn’t distracting:

Stained glass in bath / spa (interior view)

We plan to do all the windows this way. Other than the huge amount of time, which Deb seems more than willing to contribute, this is a very inexpensive way to do windows. We’re looking at about $100 per window for double layered, sealed single acrylic panes, including all the woodwork, which I do. The building has 13 huge windows, most are about six feet tall; we’ll have all manner of opportunity to do cool things, and at very little expense compared to standard window treatments.

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