Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Home Theater
The home theater is up and running. We've enjoyed it quite a bit. To help break it in, I had several friends over for Game 1 of the World Series. Even though FOX didn't broadcast the games in HiDef, they did broadcast them in widescreen format. Everybody seemed to enjoy the experience.
When the Chiefs played on Monday night (ABC has done a great job of pushing out HiDef content, including MNF), the game was absolutely stunning. The ABC HiDef format just seems to really shine on my home theater projector.
Last night, I watched a little bit of Monsters, Inc. The colors were bright and beautiful. Very enjoyable.
I would say the most stunning experience I've had in my new home theater was watching the new Lion King DVD with its Home Theater Sound Mix. The sound engineers did a great job remixing the soundtrack to match most home theater applications (smaller rooms, etc). I think more DVD's will be doing this in the future. Taking a soundtrack that was engineered for a large theater with lots of people into a small home theater isn't quite the optimum solution. You will find that the studios don't use the rear speakers quite as heavily as you would think. But folks watching at home expect to hear lots of sounds from their rear speakers. The Disney mix did a great job of filling the room with sound without muddying the soundstage. Great use of the rears.
SharePoint Again
I've immersed myself in Microsoft's Windows SharePoint Services and SharePoint Portal Server. This is a great product. For my current client, we are building an Intranet Portal system for their employees to have access to all sorts of information. The solution includes document management, security, targeted content, and much more. And, we're building it in 3 weeks.
My company used to butter its bread building intranet solutions from scratch using ASP and SQL Server back ends. A solution like this could easily take 6 months or a year to build. And it wouldn't have the level of functionality or customization that a SharePoint implementation provides.
I think it's a great product. However, it is not without its faults. Some things that seem like they should be so easy to do are not. For example, if a company has an external timecard application, it should be able to notify users in SharePoint that they need to approve a timecard. So far, I have not found an easy way for this to happen. I have tried to set up a custom list for all of these notifications, and then each user must then subscribe to receive alerts from this list. That works, but it isn't quite as functional as we would like.
I was hoping the Alerts OM would expose a method to allow external apps to create new alerts targeted to specific users. I haven't found that yet.
Catching up
It's been a while since I blogged. First: the World Series. Unfortunately, I missed game 6. It sounds like Beckett pitched a fabulous game. It will be interesting to see what happens to the Yankees this off season. I have a feeling Brian Cashman's powers are going to be greatly diminished. How much more money will George sink into the payroll in attempt to buy the championship next year?

Friday, October 17, 2003

World Series
I wonder how many folks were actually rooting for a Marlins/Yankees world series. This is pathetic. Considering I had just finished a beautiful theater room in which I could enjoy the World Series in 92" glory, the games I have to watch now are pathetic.

Perhaps next year, the Royals will be Marlins of the league (just as the Marlins this year were the Angels of last year).
I've been working recently on a SharePoint Portal Server 2003 implementation. Frankly, it's frustrating. Even though the product is officially "released" (at least to Partners, who are now implementing it), there is absolutely no useful documentation on it.

I'm trying to accomplish some fairly simple functionality, and I am just spinning my wheels. The SDK is incomplete. The object model is documented, as far as what objects exist, there is no useful information on how to use the OM. I suppose this is what it's like to be one of the first to do real projects using a brand new product.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

World Series
I'm pulling for a Cubs/Red Sox World Series. I think any "true" baseball fan is pulling for this match up. Mainly because it is an unlikely match up between two teams who have had poor post season luck for nearly a century. Unfortunately for Red Sox fans, I would be pulling for the Cubs in that World Series. The Cubs are a likeable team. They have a good mixture of veterans and young guys. The Red Sox, on the other hand... I don't know. The only word that seems to come to mind is... thugs.

While I don't think the Cubs will have too much trouble with the Marlins, it will be a different story for the Red Sox. I see the Yankees and Cubs in the WS with the Yankees winning it in seven.
Though they haven't arrived yet, the carpet layers are due today. Tomorrow, loose ends will be tied up and then it's party time!

I purchased a new receiver, the NAD T752. I haven't hooked it up yet. I think it's going to be a good receiver for me.

After the carpet is down, I will set up the receiver and speakers and try it out. On Friday, my home theater dealer is going to come by and calibrate and optimize the system. And he's going to do it at no charge! Then on Sunday, we will have a house full of family to watch some football. We're really looking forward getting the system up and running.

Speak of the devil. Carpet layers just arrived!
Haircuts - I told you so...

Monday, October 06, 2003

Basement almost complete
Last Friday, the tile guys laid tile in the bathroom and tiled the shower. On Saturday, the electrician came and installed the light fixtures and finished the outlets and switches.

Today, the plumbers were at the house to finish the plumbing. They installed the toilet, and finished the shower. They also installed the sink in the bar. They couldn't quite finish, though because we don't have the vanity top/sink for the bathroom. I'm not sure what went wrong there - perhaps it was assumed the plumbers would bring it, I don't know. At any rate, they will need to come back to install the bathroom faucet when the sink gets installed.

We are scheduled to be completely done on Wednesday of this week. The carpet is coming tomorrow, and the final hardware (door knobs, etc) will be installed on Wednesday.

Over the weekend, I installed the screen and projector and I hung the back surround speakers. Things are really starting to come together.
Bunch 'o Long Hairs
Last week, I had decided that I would blog about the Boston Red Sox. Of course, this blog no longer applies, but I'm going to blog on it anyway.

The Boston Red Sox look like a bunch of losers. I've never seen one collection of guys who, almost to a man, look so sloppy. Every one of them has long hair and some kind of facial hair. Why is that? Why would one team have so many players who look like slobs.

Being a Royals fan, I have always been partial to Johnny Damon. I think Johnny's an above-average player with good speed and enough patience to be a good lead off hitter. Since he decided to grow his hair out, I no longer like him. He looks like he should be living in the woods scaring campers. And the rest of the team looks like a bunch of hairy losers.

Of course, just as I was going to write this, several players decided to change their luck by getting haircuts. Think about it - with long hair, they were down 2 games to none. Since they've cut their hair, they've won two straight and go for the series victory tonight. I guess there is something to be said for presenting a good appearance.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Rush to judgement
ESPN hired Rush Limbaugh to add a bit of spice to their Sunday morning NFL pregame show. Rush has long been an avid NFL fan, and being an opinionated person by nature, did contribute interesting commentary to the show.

Recently, Rush found some trouble after he made a comment on the show about Donovan McNabb, the quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. Rush's point was that McNabb is not quite as talented as we are led to believe. Unfortunately, Rush decided to bring race into the picture. His comment eluded to the perception that the media is propping McNabb up because he is black. While I agree with Rush that McNabb's talent is overrated, I'm do not think it has anything to do with race. McNabb plays football in a large media market on the east coast. His football team has been successful the last couple of years. The quarterback is always the focal point for any successful football team. I believe the Eagles' success has been a result of a fantastic defense in tandem with a sufficient offense. McNabb is a good enough quarterback that he won't throw the game away, but I'm not convinced he is an impact player like Michael Vick.

I believe Rush is a victim of the media looking for somebody to attack. Rush has made enough enemies over the years that there are lots of folks looking to tear him down. Nobody even noticed the comments until a full three days after they were made. Is what Rush said right? No, of course not. The media isn't propping up a player because of his race. The media is propping up McNabb because he is the quarterback of a successful team in a large market. Did Rush's comments warrant his resignation? No. What he said was stupid. But that's what he was paid to do: to provoke discussion on the show. I believe Rush would still have his job today had the other cast members successfully argued against Rush on the show. Instead, they didn't seem to put up much fight, and his comments stood on their own. Then, a couple of days later, the media found something they could latch onto to attack Rush. The machine was set in motion, and Rush is now gone from the show.

I've listened to Rush for years on his radio show. I'm somewhat conservative, so I tend to agree with Rush's comments. I don't agree with his comment regarding McNabb, but I don't believe he should have lost his job over it. Why can't different opinions be discussed and differing points argued?
I recently decided that I do not want to tear apart my existing home theater system for the basement theater. Because of that, I will be purchasing a new receiver for the basement theater. The model I've decided on is the NAD T752. This receiver's stats are not as mind-blowing as other models out there, but just like my projector choice, I'm not looking at raw stats to decide. I'm trying the models out and purchasing the one that gives me what I need for the price I desire. The projector I bought (the Plus Piano Avanti) is not very popular among the so-called experts. These folks talk about how it's brightness is only 450 Lumens, or the contrast ratio is to low. Well, I've seen the projector next to a much more expensive projector with fat stats. I didn't see much of a difference. For my money, I'll take the $3,000 project that does all I need over the $6,000 projector that does all I need.

At any rate, the NAD receiver produces a nice sound and is plenty powerful for my room. I'm looking forward to getting it hooked up to my Wharfedales.

We are getting so close now, we can almost taste it. The painters did come on Monday and painted the walls. The colors look great. In the theater, we picked a darker color for the wall where the screen is mounted. It looks great.

On Tuesday, the tile guy game to lay tile. Unfortunately, it was raining, so the tile got wet on the way to the house, so he said that he needed to let the tile dry out before laying it. I think it was a cop out, but that's just me. Anyway, he dropped the tile off and left. Tuesday evening, I mounted the frame for the screen on the wall.

On Wednesday, the tile guys came and laid the tile around the bar. They also put some floor leveler in the bathroom, and then left. I'm hoping they will be back today to finish the job. They still need to put the tile on the bathroom floor, tile the shower, and then grout all of the tile.

As for the rest of the work, I think we will be finished sometime around next Tuesday. The electricians are coming Saturday to install light fixtures and finish their work. The plumbers are scheduled to come next Monday to install the sinks, shower and toilet. On next Tuesday, the carpet is scheduled to be laid. That should finish it up! The furniture is scheduled to be delivered on Thursday of next week, and we are planning on having a bunch of people over next Sunday to watch football.