Vista Media Center Rocks!

Vista Media Center

Vista Media Center

When I was in Brisbane last year, my friend Luke showed me a Windows XP Media Center. I thought it was pretty cool and I’ll tell you why.

For those who don’t know what the fuss is all about, a media center is like a hard disc recorder (PVR), Foxtel IQ or a Tivo. That’s one of those devices that allows you to record TV shows, pause live TV and play it all back later.

They are usually made up of:

  1. Hard Disk to record shows onto
  2. A TV Scheduler program
  3. Connections to your TV and Stereo

They might also have a DVD burner inbuilt.

I had played with a Windows XP Media Center a few years ago, but digital TV was pretty new then and the digital TV recievers that I had were not compatible with the Windows Media Center software.

Digital TV has come a long way since then and so has the Windows Media Center platform. The hardware to make it all work is now much cheaper and easily avaialble.

So why does Windows Vista Media Center rock?

Well, Media Center is so much more than a Tivo, a Foxtel IQ or a PVR. Those things are purely oriented around TV. But whilst the media center might be connected straight up to your plasma TV or projector, it can also be another PC on your network. So with Media Center you can:

  1. Easily network with your other computers
  2. Share files, photos and videos around the network (think digital cameras and mobile phones that are already connected to your PC)
  3. Connect to and browse the Internet easily in a familiar environment
  4. Download and access online media (Think torrents – nothing illegal of course ;-), youtube, Bigpond movies).

What I found is that there is so much to watch on free to air TV but it’s never on when you’re there to watch it. Vista Media Center fixed that for me, so I cancelled my Foxtel subscription.

So when I have a moment, I can sit in my lounge, browse through some old photos while listening to some cool tunes. When I’m done, I’ll browse through the TV shows that I’ve recorded and find something worth watching!

Now if only we could get the free to air networks to buy some up to date and decent TV shows like The IT Crowd and The US Office… 

I’ll tell you a little bit about how to put your own Media Center together later…


Vege Garden Revisited

Vege Garden Plot 1 - 2008-12-17

Vege Garden Plot 1 - 2008-12-17

The vege garden idea turned out to be one of the better ones! Aside from the produce, it is a really relaxing thing to do.

I am fortunate enough to work from home, so I planted my garden right outside the door of my office. That way, I can just step outside for a break anytime of the day. Very theraputic.

What we’ve grown so far:

  • Tomatoes – Plentiful supply
  • Potatoes – Growing
  • Carrots  – Ate first produce this week
  • Sweet corn – I planted this everywhere I could… Looks awesome
  • Sunflowers – About to bloom
  • Strawberries – Green fruit growing well
  • Broccoli – will plant for winter
  • Cabbage – Womboks doing well
  • Snow peas – Tasty
  • Beans – Still growing, may be too late
  • Garlic – About to harvest
  • Rhubarb – In progress
  • Pumpkin – This plant could be trying to take over the earth, got some Kent seeds to plant next time too
  • Herbs, Mint, Parsley etc. – Mint is like a weed, parsley grew well and is going to seed, coriander and other stuff too!

Interestingly, that all came from my original post in May this year. The winter months in Melbourne this year took their toll and I didn’t really get started until September. I never re-read the original post until now, and it’s funny that everything that I wrote down was planted (is the secret really a secret?).

I forgot a few things in my original post… Additions to the list:

  • Lettuce – Did extremely well, won’t be buying lettuce again for a long time
  • Beetroot – How could I not try and start my own shrute beet farm (watch the US Office)
  • Cucumber – Growing
  • Zucchini – Growing
  • Rockmellon – Growing
  • Watermellon – Growing
  • Capsicum – Growing
  • Beans – Growing
  • Regular Peas – May be too warm now…

My attitude is a little extreme as usual… If it’s not productive it’s just taking up space… So I’m really not to interested in flowers or plants for decoration. I’d rather just plow the garden and plant a wheat crop ;-). Think I might be a farmer.

Written by brettg in: Vege Garden | Tags:

Incompetent but fit to teach?

I’ve always believed that it really is best to lead by example. I hope that I can pass that on to my kids in the hope that they could become good leaders themselves.

Of course not everyone sees it that way, such as the former Victorian teacher reported in the Australian today who told his class, “Don’t f..king swear at me.”

This is what his previous principal had to say about him:

“She (the principal) said of his performance, ‘it was a nightmare’ and that it was only good fortune that a child in the teacher’s care did not suffer any serious injury,” the panel’s report states. “The principal said it did not seem to matter to the teacher what was said about his behaviour or what help was offered. He simply ‘charted his own course’.”

This same teacher is now actively teaching in NSW, but his name is protected so that you can’t know if he’s teaching your kids.

With a serious and straight face, the Victorian Institute of Teaching came to the following conclusion:

“The panel determined that the teacher was guilty of incompetence, but remained fit to teach.”

So there you have it. I wonder how the good teachers feel about the new standard for teaching in Victoria? You don’t need to be competent to hold down a teaching job here, alive and breathing will do.

Does it make you wonder about the people who you are entrusting with your kids education? 

Written by brettg in: Education | Tags: , ,

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