Ramblings Of The Week

by Damian on August 28, 2011 · 10 comments

in News

Right now I am sitting at home bored out of my mind. We somehow managed to get through what according to the media and politicians was going to be the storm of the century (don’t get me started on that nonsense), but being trapped in my house has me a little stir crazy (and there is only so many times you can dunk on a 4 yr old playing the Wii…). I am too restless and have the attention span of a 2 yr old to put together any sort of substantive post, so I thought I would just jot down a few items rolling around in the vast caves of my head.

Building An HTPC, Here Are Some Resources:

About a week ago I posted about a new PC build I had done. For those who have never built a PC before this can appear to be a very daunting task, so I thought I would highlight a few solid options if you are looking to get started.

(1) Renethx’s Guide To Building an HTPC – Over on AVSForum, forum member Renethx has put together an excellent guide and thread for building an HTPC. Within the thread Renethx will also answer any questions you may have about a build (whether compatibility of components, hardware/software issues, etc…). His guides will range from $2 – $10, and will provide everything you need to build the HTPC for your needs. The guides will break down between the various HTPC sizes (mini-ITX, mATX, etc…), budgets, and even includes media servers. On the link provided at the beginning you can find samples of his guides as well as how to order. Overall Renethx is one of the most knowledgeable guys on AVSforum and I would highly recommend checking out if you are looking  to get started in HTPCs or even just to stay current.

(2) Assassin’s Simple/Beginner HTPC Buying and Building Guide – Another member over on AVSForum, Assassin, has created a thread on building an HTPC. However, Assassin has decided to take it a step further and try to make a business out of it, starting up his own website that provides both a variety of free and paid for guides on setting up an HTPC. Additionally, if you are interested in an HTPC but have no desire to build or set up yourself, Assassin will build and deliver a custom HTPC to your doorstep, usually within 21 days. This not only includes the hardware but also setting up the software side around Windows Media Center + Media Browser. Unlimited access to the paid guides will cost $20, and you can contact Assassin through his blog if you are interested in purchasing a custom built HTPC (some examples here). Assassin is also very active on his AVSForum thread, willing to help out any user who has questions or issues.

UPS To The Rescue:

With Hurricane Ilene rolling through one of the primary concerns is loss of power. Fortunately this was not an issue for us. However, there were a few instances where we lost power for maybe a minute or had a quick power flicker. I was sitting at my desk working on the computer when this happened, yet not once was I interrupted. The only way I even knew there were power issues was the little notification message from Grid Junction that popped up on my PC. It quickly reminded me how important it is to have a good UPS connection, especially if you are running a media server at home. With the CyberPowerCP1500AVRLCD I never missed a beat.

Writings On the Horizon:

It has been a little slow for me of late getting some good writeups posted, and this has been mostly due to a combination of tackling some hardware issues (building a new workstation PC and my Windows Home Server going out of operation for over a week) and being kept occupied by the family in the summertime. My list of topics I would like to write about has kept growing though, so here is a sneak preview of what I have lined up:

  • Remote Potato Writeup/Review
  • Family Diary for WHS Writeup/Review
  • HDHomeRun Prime Cable Card Writeup/Review
  • JR River Media Center Writeup/Review
  • Popbox Writeup / Review
  • Media Browser Guide Revisit
  • ASUS EeePad Transformer Mini Review
  • Plus much more

Staying Healthy:

I have always been a fairly active person. I have been playing baseball every summer for t he past 7 summers, and usually work out 2-3 times a week. However, during this time I managed to let my health get away from me somewhat, and even though I would have never considered myself overweight I was definitely carrying around a few more pounds then necessary. I don’t know what got into me but starting this year I decided enough was enough, and have been a health crusade ever since. I started the year around 225lbs (I am somewhere between 5’11″ and 6′) and as of now I am down to 200lbs. Along the way I have dropped about 2-4 inches on my waist and many people have commented on how much younger I look (it really is amazing how much extra weight you can carry in your face). The changes I have made have been both around exercise and diet. On the diet side I have been more careful about tracking my calories. I am not looking to starve myself but instead to make good choices (and you would be surprised when you look at the numbers how much fat/calories/carbs are hiding in foods you may consider healthy). An excellent site I use to track my macros (comes in handy to test out some numbers before you head to a fast food joint) is MyFitnessPal. You can mess around with a variety of factors that works best for you, and ultimately my focus is more on calories then the quality of the food (i.e. if you overeat healthy foods you will gain weight). You can see below a typical day for me (keep in mind my protein is on the higher side because I lift weights frequently)

When it comes to exercise, as I mentioned I have been lifting 2-3 days a week for the last 5-10 years. The big change I have made is that now I exercise 6-7 times a week, split between 3-4 days lifting and 2-3 days cardio. I am fortunate enough to have a small gym at work, so before work I head over there and either walk or run on the treadmill (while using my EeePad Transformer as a mobile movie jukebox) and on the weekends I head to the gym by my house to lift. 6-7 days a week may seem like overkill and is definitely not necessary to lead a healthy lifestyle, but it just fits in best with my goals (plus I can get a bit obsessive compulsive once I start something!). Since starting my routine I feel a lot healthier, my joints and skin feel better, I ran my first 5k, and I can tell my wife I am armed and dangerous!

Final Thoughts:

Well, that is all I have to offer today. The wind is still howling here but hopefully should die down soon enough with only a broken tree branch and a couple panels of my fenced popped out to show for it. How is everyone else doing? Anything interesting going on? Any good vacations coming up? Anything of interest you would would like to see either myself or the other contributors here write about?

Article by

Hi, my name is Damian, and I'm tech gadget addict! Although I always had some interest in technology, it wasn't until I got my EX470 and more importantly found Mediasmartserver.net, that my interest became an addiction. My goal, aside from world domination and to see the Mets/Broncos win another championship, is to set up the perfect digital home where all my media is available at the click of a button. When I am not writing for Mediasmartserver.net you can find me over at my blog at http://www.adigitalhomeblog.com or follow me on twitter


Alex Kuretz August 28, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Good to hear that Irene didn’t swallow you whole. I have been exercising more this summer too, running and working out 2-3 times per week. It has made a big difference in how I feel. I think your arm is probably as big as my thigh. :-)

Damian August 28, 2011 at 6:17 pm

C’mon, we have to be the most fit tech bloggers out there ;-)

JohnBick August 28, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Generally fine here, but we did get water in the basement for the first time since we got the place almost 20 years ago! Turns out that a groundhog dug out a nest right up next to the foundation. It filled with water and we got it inside!

Now I have to figure out the best way to plug it up! Anyone have any thoughts? (One entrance is under the front stoop and the other is under s front window that “projects” past the foundation. Neither is in a convenient place to dig…)

So the day I was finally going to start to get more active was shot to h___!!! No real damage, but some wet boxes, a rug & pad to dry out, and a LOT of water to vacuum up. When we had some work done in the garage this spring we intentionally left an open spot under the threshold of the new door to allow water to drain into the garage (and out through the garage doors). THAT was a good move! But I emptied a 16-gallon shopvac six times anyway! And I have nice clean floors in both the basement and the garage! (It’s not a “finished” basement, by the way! And it’s not likely to be one as long as I own the place!)

Other than that just a few places where mulch and/or topsoil were washed away. I figure an hour with the wheelbarrow once things dry out.

Made out better than several neighbors who’s basements are not walk/drive-outs!

Damian August 28, 2011 at 6:16 pm

F’n groundhogs. We have ground hogs all over the place here and they routinely make homes under my deck. I have caught about 3 since I have been living here, and actually just caught one a few weeks ago who made a massive hole at the bottom of my deck where you step off.

Fortunately I live in a new neighborhood so not many trees (the tradeoff is the excessive winds). Aside from losing a few panels on my fence I made out ok (my neighbor’s fence unfortunately, half got knocked down, but on the bright side it did probably save my fence :-) )

T-Bone August 29, 2011 at 8:55 am

HAHA you Brought the gun show to the internet haha.

On a more serious note I have also started working out. Its noticable when you stop working out how crappy you feel and fat. when you gradually put on weight you dont really notice or see it but when you work out and relapse to your old habits the weight b lines back and you just feel crappy. I say good job man keep up the good work. For me I just need to be more consistent. I start going hot and heavy 7 days a week but life always seems to derail me.

T-Bone August 29, 2011 at 8:58 am

Ive even drug my girlfriend into a healthier lifestyle. The Grerat thing for me is that when I finally got her to commit she is like a machine. She keeps track of out food and fat/calories. I was doing ok but its better when you have help sometimes. Her favorite is tony horton, while p90x is still a little to hard core for us she digs the 10 min workouts. she sees results she couldnt with the eliptical or treadmill. I on the other hand like the eliptical and stuff a little better I feel I accomplished something.

Damian August 29, 2011 at 9:04 am

Yeah, it has helped that my wife has been on a health kick. She is in to running, so she has done a few 5ks and is gearing up now for a half marathon in November. Whatever keeps her focused on not wanting to have a 3rd kid is ok with me!!!

I have the P90X 10 minute Ab workout which is solid, but that is the extent of home workouts that I can do. The key to cardio (whether treadmill or eliptical) is having movies to watch. Prior to when I started cardio I rarely ever had time to watch movies. Since I started I have gotten through over 20+ movies, and it keeps cardio from getting boring.

Congrats on starting working out as well. It isn’t easy to stick to it. For me once I started to see results and feel better it has kept me motivated to stick with it (I was actually at the gym at 5am today doing deadlifts because it was closed yesterday from the storm lol).

Pluckyhd August 31, 2011 at 5:26 pm

I like you damaian but that picture makes me think d bag :) lol just kidding man good for you for losing weight it’s no easy task!!

Damian September 1, 2011 at 7:01 am

If you just realized now that I am a d bag then you haven’t been paying enough attention to our emails ;-)

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