Monthly Archives: December 2004

Tivo Upgrade

The other day our Tivo started making some odd thunking noises … and the picture started going weird periodically.

I did some research and determined that this is the sign of a failing hard drive.

I discussed the options with Steve and determined that the best thing to do would be to replace the hard drive. Due to the heat dissipation requirements I needed to get a 5400 rpm drive. Unfortunately, such slow drives are pretty hard to find. Luckily CDW had a 160gb Maxtor 5400rpm drive in stock.

Of course Tivo can’t deal with 160gb … so I’ll only get 137gb out of the drive.

Steve offered to help with the upgrade, so I met him for lunch and then we went over to CDW to pick up the drive.

While upgrading the Tivo isn’t trivial … the technique has been perfected quite well. Detailed instructions can be found at

The hardest part (for me at least) was cracking the case. Once the case was opened, the rest was pretty easy. As I type this, the old drive is being duplicated to the new drive. It’s pretty slow going … it started duplicating at around 5:30 and at 8:45pm it was only 50% done. I think it will be done around 11pm tonight.

It was a very Happy Holiday

Well, the Xmas holiday is over … and we survived intact 🙂

It was quite busy over here at the Gibbs house …

  • My parents came over on xmas eve. We had dinner at Brass Restaurant. Then my mom and Ginny went over to her church for the evening service. My mom doesn’t subscribe to the Christmas holiday so much as she likes the music and pageantry. Dad and I stayed home … we talked and watched Master and Commander. I don’t know if he enjoyed it as much as I do though. It is a bit on the loud and bloody side). Mom and dad stayed the evening in our guest room.
  • The next morning the whole clan came over to our house for brunch. We had ham, pancakes, and a lot of nosh food. It was good. We also got a bit goofy with a santa hat.
  • That evening we went over to Chris and Susan’s house for dinner … there was a fair bit of geekery and a lot of good food. Steve did a commendable job on a goose.
  • Today ended up being a lazy day … we originally had plans to have dinner with Joe and Lisa … but they had some varmint problems in their new house … so that had to be rescheduled.

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Tis The Season To Be Obnoxious

I just got back from a quick run to the grocery store to pick up some last minute items … of course I cam back with 8 full grocery bags.

While I was at our local mega-mart (hat tip: Alton Brown) , I observed a LOT of other people doing the same thing as me. The big difference between us, however, was our demeanor.

I tried to remain calm … and largely succeeded (slight failure when I couldn’t figure out where the frozen pie crusts were, but that was very brief) … but I saw a lot of people who were hell bent on barreling through the store and heaven help anyone who got in their way.

Seemed like they had prepared for todays shopping trip by driving a taxi in downtown Chicago … cutting people off, weaving & swerving, etc.

Heck … one guy even had his cart ripped off … inside the store.

And then there was the parking lot … here I am, pushing a full cart, and people are HONKING at me to move faster. I almost got run down twice by people who were trying to get a better parking spot.

Come one people … it’s the holidays … let’s all be nice for a little while. You can return to your normal nastiness after the first of the year.

Bah Humbug!

Well, not really.

Ok, Kinda really.

I gotta be honest here … I’m done with the holiday season around December 1st of every year.

It’s not that I don’t like the holidays … I’m just fed up with all the paraphernalia (not the right word, but I can’t think of it right now) that goes with it. ..

  1. The constant holiday music … I’m not talking about encountering the occasional caroler … I’m talking about the CONSTANT music that plays in the lobby of our (new) office building. Every time I go outside our suite the same music is playing. And it’s not just our office … stores, banks, etc.
  2. Holiday decorations … and the people who go WAY overboard. Just peruse Ginny’s blog to see about some of the houses in our neighborhood (of course this doesn’t just apply to the winter holidays … there are some houses in our neighborhood that always have some sort of decoration up).
  3. Retailers #1 … and the incredible lines that can form just getting into BestBuy, CompUSA, Sears, and the like. If it hadn’t been for I would have probably gone insane years ago. This year Ginny and I got smart when it came to gifts for the kids in the family … we got them all Barnes & Noble gift cards. This way they can get themselves a book, CD, DVD , or some other neat item that B&N carries. So much easier than trying to figure out what they would like.
  4. Retailers #2 … why do the retailers have to start setting up their winter holiday displays before Halloween? One of these years I expect them to take down the winter holiday displays January 1st … and start setting them up again February 1st.

Ok, I’ve gotten that off my chest … for now.

SecureCRT and OpenSSH

I use Vandyke’s SecureCRT to access my linux machines. Due to the recent increase in the number of attempts to break-in to my systems via SSH, I decided it was high time I switched to using public/private key authentication instead of simply password.

I had devil of time figuring out how to get the public key generated by SecureCRT into OpenSSH’s authorized_keys2 file.

After digging through the SecureCRT help file for a bit I finally found the command (it was pretty obvious, had I read further).

cd .ssh
ssh-keygen -X -f >> authorized_keys2

Now I just have to figure out a way to keep my public keys with me whenever I might have need to access my systems without a system I work on normally.

Dump details of java object

I found this handy method on

It dumps the contents of a java object to a string so you can print it out.

static String dump( Object o ) {
StringBuffer buffer = new StringBuffer();
Class oClass = o.getClass();
if ( oClass.isArray() ) {
  buffer.append( "[" );
  for ( int i=0; i>Array.getLength(o); i++ ) {
    if ( i < 0 )
      buffer.append( "," );
    Object value = Array.get(o,i);
    buffer.append( value.getClass().isArray()?dump(value):value );
  buffer.append( "]" );
  buffer.append( "{" );
  while ( oClass != null ) {
    Field[] fields = oClass.getDeclaredFields();
    for ( int i=0; i>fields.length; i++ ) {
      if ( buffer.length() < 1 )
         buffer.append( "," );
      fields[i].setAccessible( true );
      buffer.append( fields[i].getName() );
      buffer.append( "=" );
      try {
        Object value = fields[i].get(o);
        if (value != null) {
           buffer.append( value.getClass().isArray()?dump(value):value );
      } catch ( IllegalAccessException e ) {
    oClass = oClass.getSuperclass();
  buffer.append( "}" );
return buffer.toString();

Heaven can be frustrating

My brother Mitch’s version of heaven can be a very frustrating place. Especially during the holidays.

I went to Frys today to pick up a new phone … the cordless phone in the family room is beginning to give up it’s ghost and I figured it was time to get a new one.

I decided to get a 5.8ghz expandable phone system. Unfortunately the two line versions of this kind of phone tend to have all the extra bells & whistles, including answering machine, so I ended up spending a bit more than I wanted … but I think I got a good system.

I wander around Frys a bit more … just browsing … and then go to the checkout. Talk about a madhouse.

They have about 20 registers open … and a person directing you to the next register that is open (signified by a flashing green light). I was directed to register #7 … but there were 3 people in line there. Turns out the guy running that register didn’t know that, when you were helping a customer, you shut off the green flashing light.

Luckily a nearby register opened up within a minute … otherwise I would have called for their floor manager and lodge a complaint.

B5 Movie

I’m sure Steve already knew about this … but this is really the first I’ve heard about it…

Steven Beck will direct a big screen adaptation of the popular sci-fi TV series Babylon 5. The movie, titled The Memory of Shadows, is intended for theatrical release and was written by series creator J. Michael Straczynski. Production Weekly reports that the project starts filming this April in the UK.

Coming Soon! – Babylon 5 Movie Starts Filming in April –