This Christmas was filled with all sorts of delights. From good times with family and friends to new XBox 360s, bikes, TVs and laptops.
After dealing with the agonizingly inconsistent behavior of our Sony KP-51HW40 for over a year, we finally decided to replace it with a Samsung FP-T5084 plasma we ordered from Amazon. This flat panel display has an HD tuner built in, so as soon as we plugged it in, we were mesmerized by the few free HD channels that Patriot Media offers. Luckily one of them played the Pats-Giants game in beautiful colors and amazing detail. We switched back to the standard def channel every now and then and were appalled at what now seemed like a bland and blurry display. Our cable company offers a number of other HD channels for only a few dollars a month extra, so they may be worth pursuing. Our TiVo has been showing its age and now that I know our favorite shows such as Heroes and Battlestar Galactica may be running in HD on NBC, it may be time to look at the Series 3 TiVos for their HD recording capability. The old set has been relegated to the basement where it amazingly is no longer flashing colors or shutting itself off. We attribute that to the bumpy journey into the basement.
My son got another XBox 360, this one with the HDMI port which we can use with the new plasma system. The older one goes to the basement with the Sony rear projection system for simultaneous big-screen gaming. Of course, rewiring the whole entertainment center took about 4 hours of breathing dust and uncovering ancient artifacts such as an old composite cable labeled VCR. In all, we freed a number of unused cables from that jungle of wiring and took out our old faithful Pioneer DV-414 from 199, which hasn’t been used in some time since the XBox 360 was able to do progressive scan playback. A cheap HDMI cable and the XBox HD-DVD kit will let us get into some nice HD-DVD movies. I think that with the advent of the sub-$100 HD-DVD player, HD-DVD will come out the winner over Blu-Ray this season, the same way DVD won over Circuit City’s terrible short-lived DiVx disc rental system back in the holiday season of 1998. Only the final numbers will tell.
Our littlest one got a few video games and a new bike. My daughter finally got the extra Compaq C717NR I picked up on Black Friday. I haven’t seen any rebates from it yet, but I’m anxiously waiting for those to come in. She’s doing OK with Windows Vista and the home wireless is keeping up with both laptops. Nothing new on the music front this year, as everyone but the 4-year old has an iPod, although he keeps going to apple.com to look at the videos and hinting that his favorite color is green. In some of the pictures of our Christmas photos you’ll see a long string of cards. This is from a nice Mini snail mail mailing list on northamericanmotoring.com I signed up for where we traded addresses (50 total) and sent each other Christmas cards.
The break involved a lot of resting, and working to set up some computer projects I had on the back burner such as finishing the virtualization of the web server, a few network upgrades in the home, and setting up my dad’s Dell PowerEdge 2950 (2x 3GHz dual core, 16GB mem) with CentOS and VMWare Server. There was a lot of Halo 3 being played! We closed the holidays with a New Years Eve bash at the Stress Factory comedy club in New Brunswich NJ where Joey Kola and Patty Rosborough performed to a sold out crowd.