Looking at LCD Monitors (Home Theatre PC)

Monday, 9 June 2008

I’ve had a couple of comments that trying to use our ancient CRT TV with the HTPC is not a great plan. So I’ve been doing some additional research into buying a new TV. The criteria I’ve been using include:

The first big choice seems to come down to plasma or LCD. I’m leaning towards LCD at the moment, as I don’t want a ridiculously large display (which the plasmas seem better suited to) and and would prefer something that doesn’t suck heaps of power (and consequently $$$).

The next thing is that many manufacturers sell both LCD TVs and LCD Monitors. Now unless I’m missing something obvious, it doesn’t look like there’s that much difference between the two categories. Some of the “TV” models have in-built tuners, but as the HTPC will have that I’d rather buy one without and save a few dollars.

Contrast ratio is also important, and here bigger is generally better.

Response time is also apparently relevant, as that determines how well it can display fast moving images. Smaller (faster) is better.

So here’s some of the models I’ve come across so far:

Model Size (inches) Contrast ratio (dynamic) Response Time (ms) Price (AUD)
ViewSonic VX2835wm 28 800 3 635
BenQ V2400W 24 1000 (4000) 5 629
Samsung 245B 24 1000 (3000) 5 712
LG L246WH-BN 24 2000 5 460
Samsung 2493HM 24 1000 (10,000) 5 599
Samsung 2693HM 26 1000 (3000) 5 699

I still haven’t made a decision and it would be good to actually have a look at some of the candidates in person. I’m open to any other suggestions too.

SQL Replication talk

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Browsing the Australian SQL Server User Group site today I noticed there’s a talk on SQL Server 2008 Replication in Sydney next week.

I then wondered what might happen if the replication got out of hand…

sql replication joke


Thursday, 5 June 2008

My contract with DECS finishes this Friday. I hadn’t heard if they were planning to renew, and in the meantime I was asked to interview for a contract position with ABB Grain. I’ve accepted a 6 month contract position with them beginning next week.

ABB (which in a previous life was the Australian Barley Board) are located in the Adelaide CBD,though down on South Tce so I’ll have to investigate some different public transport options.

Apparently I’ll be working on some WPF applications. This will be new to me, so I hope it will be a good “learning on the job” experience.

So it’s farewell to DECS and the nice people that I’ve had the privilege of working with, and looking forward to finding out what my next workplace will be like.

Candle (as my first agency) have been good, and I really appreciated the unexpected present and card from them on the birth of our new baby. The new position however is through Icon. One difference I’ve noticed already - they have online timesheets.

Every workplace has its own unique attributes - I wonder what ABB’s will be?

I guess I’ll find out next week :-)


Friday, 30 May 2008

From one of the original creators of MbUnit comes Pex - automated unit test generation.

“Pex generates Unit Tests from hand-written Parameterized Unit Tests through Automated Exploratory Testing based on Dynamic Symbolic Execution”

I’ve read bits and pieces about Pex before, but now there’s something to download.

Jeff Brown shows how you can use Pex with the latest Alpha release of MbUnit’s Gallio test runner.

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:

CPUAMD Athlon X2 4850e
CaseAntec Fusion 430 Silver (includes power supply)
TunerHauppauge HVR-2200
FanNoctua NH-U9B Quad Heatpipe
RAM   Kingston (2x1G 800) KVR800D2N5K2/2G
Drive 13.5" HDD SATA-300 250GB 16MB Seagate
Drive 2Western Digital 1TB (WD10EACS)
KeyboardShintaro wireless
RemoteMicrosoft MCE Remote Control
DVDLG 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.