Trips, Gadgets and Upgrades

Come to think of it, I’ll tack­le these three items in the title in reverse order:

The rea­son that it has been so long since I’ve post­ed any­thing to this blog was because of the new-and-improved release of Word­Press, ver­sion 2.1 (referred to as Ella, as in Fitzger­ald), which is the soft­ware that I use to pub­lish this blog. I need­ed a block of time of about 3 hours, I thought. The first step to doing the upgrade was to down­load both a back­up of the data­base that Word­Press uses (SQL), as well as all of the files that made up the ini­tial blog, tak­ing care to insure that if any­thing went wrong, I could par­tial­ly or even com­plete­ly recon­sti­tute the rough­ly 200 post­ings from just the text. I did this once, but then saw some com­ments. So I put off the upgrade, and there­fore, put off any new posts. Final­ly, yes­ter­day evening I had enough time to very care­ful­ly back every­thing up, delete all of the old blog files (except for the con­tent), and then upload the new ver­sion and run the upgrade script. To my sur­prise, every­thing worked per­fect­ly. Either I’m bet­ter at this than I thought, or the many peo­ple who have report­ed going through an ordeal mov­ing to the new ver­sion had more com­plex sites than I did; I real­ly can’t say.

At any rate, the blog is back, upgrad­ed and improved, and despite delet­ing and upload­ing all of those files and per­form­ing a few oth­er tasks extreme­ly slow­ly and care­ful­ly, it did­n’t take 3 hours; More like 90 min­utes. The changes to Loud Mur­murs are invis­i­ble to you, dear read­er. It does serve the pages far faster, and the edi­tor for doing posts has been dra­mat­i­cal­ly improved. There are a few oth­er admin­is­tra­tive screens and secu­ri­ty rewrites, etc., but again, it’s all behind the scenes. Take it from me, on the oth­er side of the site, we’ve all got new fur­ni­ture. So wel­come to Loud Mur­murs 2.1. Long time, no see.

One rea­son (among many) that I was­n’t able to find time for the upgrade (or post­ing) was a new gad­get. Our newest piece of tech­nol­o­gy is a gift from my broth­er and his fam­i­ly, a TiVo. After a long wait, we’ve final­ly got­ten it set up and record­ing away. It was no small task, because get­ting Cana­di­an list­ings require a net­work con­nec­tion if you don’t want the box mak­ing week­ly long-dis­tance phone calls to the states, because the set­ting for retriev­ing Cana­di­an list­ings is — and I swear I’m not mak­ing this up — Leo, Wyoming. So, after get­ting a wire­less adapter so that we can use the TiVo with our home net­work, and after a few oth­er elec­tron­ic, hard­ware and soft­ware hoops, I’m pleased that I no longer have to choose between catch­ing an episode of Heroes or writ­ing an entry here. Let’s hear it for time-shift­ing! I should men­tion that the oth­er advan­tage to hav­ing this PVR (Per­son­al Video Recorder) on the home net­work is that I can copy any record­ed show from the TiVo to my com­put­er, and after some com­pres­sion and con­ver­sion, to my iPod. Too cool.

After my trips to Buf­fa­lo and San Fran­cis­co, our lit­tle dri­ve down to Seat­tle felt quite short. We vis­it­ed for a brunch and after­noon with my broth­er and his fam­i­ly. We had a ter­rif­ic meal at Mon­soon, an upscale Viet­namese restau­rant where you can not only get that won­der­ful clas­sic, Banh Xeo (pro­nounced Bann-show, it’s a sort of crêpe/omelette that actu­al­ly con­tains no eggs; the ‘crêpe bat­ter’ is a mix­ture of water, coconut milk and rice flour with a trace of tumer­ic and fold­ed around hand­fuls of beansprouts, shrimp and lean pork), but also a ter­rif­ic Vanil­la French Toast made with brioche (which my niece ordered and many of us tast­ed). We only vis­it­ed for a short time, but man­aged to fit in a chilly walk on Seat­tle’s new Olympic Sculp­ture Park. We also picked up that affor­men­tioned wire­less adap­tor for the TiVo, and were back in Van­cou­ver before mid­night (but not that much before, due to a stop in Belling­ham to do some minor shop­ping at Tar­get).

There’s lots more to add; when you don’t take note of things right away they pile up. I’ll try and catch up in future posts.

7 Replies to “Trips, Gadgets and Upgrades”

  1. Your home TiVo net­work sounds way cool — When my part­ner and I even­tu­al­ly get to Van­cou­ver per­ma­nent­ly, we’ll have to get you to come over and con­fig­ure some­thing sim­i­lar for us! My goal is to have all inter­net con­tent avail­able to be view­able on a tele­vi­sion — sounds like you’re just the guy to set that up.

    On a culi­nary note, the Banh Xeo sounds incred­i­ble … Is there a recipe you can share? 🙂

  2. When I got my TiVo, the instruc­tions for Cana­di­an users (on the tivo.com site) were to start with the Leo set­ting to down­load the ser­vice pack upgrade, which would then allow it to enter a cana­di­an postal code. I ran the TiVo off the tele­phone cable for a good month before I got a wire­less adapter, and it always dialed a local 604 num­ber to retrieve pro­gram list­ings.

  3. Hi Bob, although I’m a geek (and ful­ly admit it), I’ve got­ten a lot more expe­ri­ence late­ly mov­ing things the oth­er way (i.e., from TV to Inter­net) than from Inter­net to TV. Nev­er­the­less, near­ly any­thing is pos­si­ble, with enough know-how and/or hard­ware…

    As for a recipe for Banh Xeo, I think I saw one at:
    http://tinyurl.com/2n7gez as well as http://tinyurl.com/33g5lx
    They are a treat.

    Hi Jen (and I’m thrilled that there is anoth­er TiVo user in Van­cou­ver — I think I remem­ber when you got yours and was pret­ty envi­ous), this Series 2 box actu­al­ly auto­mat­i­cal­ly down­loaded the ser­vice upgrade after I acti­vat­ed it, and I hooked up the wire­less before there was any dial­ing going on. I assumed with Leo, WY in the address fields that it would dial their local num­ber, but it sounds like an even more bizarre set­up. I haven’t a clue how they man­aged to have them dial a 604 num­ber (the instruc­tions were actu­al­ly on the screen to put Leo, WY in the city and state fields, but put the Cana­di­an info in the address fields — Ok…), but I’ll stick with the net­work con­nec­tion to avoid the also inex­pen­sive but def­i­nite­ly annoy­ing sit­u­a­tion of hav­ing a tele­phone cord draped across the liv­ing room.

  4. Well now there just might be a rea­son to sub­scribe to a cable TV ser­vice. We haven’t had TV for years because it always dic­tat­ed our time (The dic­ta­tor of time). With this gad­get you still main­tain con­trol. So to be com­plete­ly hon­est you don’t watch any ‘live’ TV now?

  5. From the day we got it going, we have not watched more than a minute of ‘live’ TV. We are prob­a­bly not typ­i­cal, in that we had one of these when we lived in Boston and so already had made the men­tal adjust­ment, so the change in habits might take a bit longer for oth­ers. There’s also one habit we haven’t repeat­ed (yet) from our first peri­od of using one, and I real­ly don’t have a good word for it: it’s start­ing a TV pro­gram between 15 and 20 min­utes late (if it’s an hour long pro­gram), so the recorder is record­ing ahead of where we are watch­ing. We then fast-for­ward past the com­mer­cials, and end up in real time just at the end . I’m sure the adver­tis­ers just love that one.

    I’m think­ing that we won’t have enough time to watch every­thing that we record, so some (much?) of it will even­tu­al­ly get erased as new­er mate­r­i­al takes it’s place (you can con­trol how some­thing is delet­ed — even set­ting it to nev­er delete, but then you fill up the hard dri­ve). There’s room for about 80 hours though, so we’ve got a while to go before we reach that point.

    I just moved an episode of Mon­ty Python’s Fly­ing Cir­cus to my iPod, and despite some washed out colour, it’s per­fect!

  6. Hi! My hub­by and I are mov­ing to Van­cou­ver in August and are con­tem­plat­ing buy­ing a TiVo (we have DirecTV w/ TiVo in the States) before we leave the US. Hope you don’t mind, but I would like to ask you a few ques­tions . Are you using the TiVo with Shaw? My hus­band will die if we don’t have NFL Sun­day Tick­et, so we have to go with Shaw. What were some of those hoops you had to jump through? Last, any sug­ges­tions for a Van­cou­ver new­bie?

  7. Hi Aman­da -
    Yes, I use the TiVo with Shaw and it works fine. The only real hoop you have to jump through is a some­what odd set­up pro­ce­dure that TiVo helps with this on their own site:

    http://tinyurl.com/25hanh

    You’ll notice this bit:

    Cana­di­an res­i­dents will be giv­en spe­cial instruc­tions to fol­low when acti­vat­ing ser­vice. Please look for the link “Instruc­tions for Cana­di­an res­i­dents,” under Step 2 dur­ing the acti­va­tion process at tivo.com.

    • Enter your actu­al Cana­di­an street address in Field 1 of the Street Address
    • Enter your actu­al Cana­di­an Postal Code in Field 2 of the Street Address
    • Enter Leo, WY 82327 in the City, State, and ZIP Code fields

    As Jen noticed, even though Leo is where the ini­tial set­up goes (and who knows why it’s there of all places), the TiVo does even­tu­al­ly use a local (604) num­ber to retrieve the pro­gram guide. If you have Shaw’s Inter­net as well (which I’d rec­om­mend), then I’d rec­om­mend you use that (with a router) to con­nect your TiVo to the Inter­net. It will mean that it does­n’t have to dial out in order to get the pro­gram list­ings. I don’t know about NFL Sun­day Tick­et, but if it’s avail­able on Shaw, it should be record­able by your TiVo.

    There are a few lim­i­ta­tions about using your TiVo in Cana­da: Some of the fan­cy new stuff that TiVo has added (Ama­zon Unbox, which lets you order movies with your TiVo) and a few oth­ers like their Show­cas­es for pro­gram­ming on pre­mi­um chan­nels don’t work in Cana­da. Actu­al­ly, I think the Ama­zon Unbox may work, but only with the Amer­i­can Ama­zon store (not Amazon.ca), so if you already have an account with that store, see if you can keep it, although this is one of the few times where it will be use­ful to you.

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