Home Theatre PC (Components)

Thursday, 29 May 2008

For a while now, I've been thinking about building my own Home Theatre PC (HTPC). I've got an unused Vista Ultimate license that I'd like to put to good use, and using it for a Media Centre fits the bill. While you can buy a prebuilt HTPC, but I thought it would be both fun and educational to build one from scratch.
There are a number of good resources when planning to build a HTPC, but I've found the most useful are:
After throwing around various combinations of parts I've come up with the following list:
CPU AMD Athlon X2 4850e
Case Antec Fusion 430 Silver (includes power supply)
Tuner Hauppauge HVR-2200
Fan Noctua NH-U9B Quad Heatpipe
Motherboard GA-MA78GM-S2H
RAM    Kingston (2x1G 800) KVR800D2N5K2/2G
Drive 1 3.5" HDD SATA-300 250GB 16MB Seagate
Drive 2 Western Digital 1TB (WD10EACS)
Keyboard Shintaro wireless
Remote Microsoft MCE Remote Control
DVD LG GGC-H20N/L Blu-ray/HD reader, DVD & CD writer
I posted this list to the forum (like a lot of others do) just to check it was reasonable.
The main criteria I've worked from are quiet operation (and hence 45W CPU) and provision for the future (high definition).
I made use of the Static Ice price comparisons to gauge what were good prices. If I lived in Sydney I'd probably buy most of the bits from IT Estate, however once you factor in shipping, the local retailers MATS Systems and MSY are pretty competitive.
I was originally planning to get the Pioneer BDC-S02, but opted for the cheaper (and in-stock) LG instead.
The other curious thing is that we've got a very old TV that used to belong to my parents - an early 1980's Philips model that only has an RF (aerial) socket. Not exactly what most home theatre systems are made of, but it works, and I'd prefer not to have to replace it before it completely dies!
So my plan is to use a cheap video card (a Gigabyte 8400GS 256MB GV-NX84G256HE) that unlike the onboard video has a TV-OUT socket, and use an RF Modulator to convert that to something the TV should like. If that fails, then maybe we'll just have to buy a new TV.
Once I've purchased all the components, I'll post an update on the build progress.

New workplace checklist

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

There's nothing like changing employers (eg. leaving UniSA for the world of contracting) to make you realise there's lots of things you need to (or should) know, either before you start or very soon after.

Each workplace is different - some things will be common (eg. provision of toilets!), but there can be differences or variations.

In no particular order, here are some things that came to mind:

Can you think of anything else I've forgotten?

Amelia is home

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Ashford Hospital have a scheme called "Baby Bliss" where you can transfer to the Adelaide Hilton and finish your hospital stay there. They provide a midwife onsite, but it's only suitable for mothers and babies that are doing really well and don't require other medical attention.

View from our hotel room across Victoria SquareWe found out on Saturday that the Doctors were happy for us to take this up, so that night the five of us spent our first night together as a family. The older kids enjoyed the experience - watching the trams and the fountain in Victoria Square from our room, Chinese takeaway and breakfast at the Pancake Kitchen. Narelle particularly enjoyed the room service (which is included for the mother).

 

Amelia asleep on the couchMonday morning Narelle and Amelia were able to come home. Narelle is recovering quickly and Amelia is feeding and sleeping really well. She's also doing the other thing that babies do a lot of as well :-)

I don't plan to blog anymore about Amelia at this stage. I prefer to be cautious about publishing details of our kids online (I know there are people out there that would misuse this information). When they're old enough I'll let our kids make that choice themselves.

Amelia Jane Gardiner

Thursday, 15 May 2008

I'm extremely proud to announce the birth of our third child - Amelia Jane Gardiner. She was born yesterday morning at Ashford Hospital, weighing in at respectable 7lb 4oz (in the old money).

David holding Amelia

Narelle and Amelia are both doing very well.

Amelia with her big brother and sister

ADO parameterised queries and return values

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Back before ADO.NET, we used good old ADO to do our data access in our ASP pages. To improve performance and avoid SQL injection attacks, it is good practice to use parameterised queries or stored procedures. Usually these are interchangeable but I've noticed today that ADO throws up the following error if you try and set up a return value parameter:

Microsoft OLE DB Provider for SQL Server error '80040e21'

Multiple-step OLE DB operation generated errors. Check each OLE DB status value, if available. No work was done.

For example, the following code gives that error:

Set Cmd = Server.CreateObject("ADODB.Command")
Cmd.ActiveConnection = conn

Dim ParamReturn
Set ParamReturn = Cmd.CreateParameter("Return", adInteger, adParamReturnValue)
Cmd.Parameters.Append ParamReturn
Cmd.CommandText = "INSERT INTO table (col1) VALUES (?); RETURN SCOPE_IDENTITY()"
Cmd.CommandType = adCmdText

Cmd.Parameters.Append Cmd.CreateParameter("p1", adInteger, adParamInput, , "value")

Cmd.Execute 

I haven't found any solution, other than to use a stored procedure instead. Presumably return values aren't supported for plain parameterised queries, though I haven't seen that documented anywhere (yet).