This is what Shawn Morton would look like if he had been made of LEGO sMoRTy71.com -- the personal website of Shawn Morton
Thursday, March 31, 2005
Got a Yahoo! 360 invite
Thanks to my co-worker Rex, I now have a Yahoo! 360 beta account. I fiddled with it quite a bit yesterday; however, my profile still isn't completed.

While I think some of the features are cool, I don't think it is going to be something that I use that often. The main reason for this is because, unlike something like Flickr, there is no particular content type to come back for. With Flickr, you are checking on people's photos; however, I'm not sure what is supposed to draw you back to 360.

Maybe I am judging it a bit too early; however, that was my first impression. Here is my page so far.
Thinking about trying Linux
O'Reilly has a cool article on turning an old PC into a music server that runs on Knoppix Linux. I'm actually thinking about giving this a try. I've got a couple of media boxes around the house running on Windows. I'd like to see if I could get one to run a little faster using Linux. Plus, none of the activation headaches you get with using Windows XP.

According to the article, you can run Knoppix off of a CD to see if you like. Then, you can install it to the hard drive.

I'll post some photos and follow-up once I give it a try.
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Selection meeting tomorrow
Tomorrow is our marathon "selection meeting" at Ball Homes (our builder). We will have to pick carpet colors, cabinet colors, brick colors, vinyl colors, shingle colors and paint colors. We also have to go over to Sears and pick out the appliances we want. We were told to set aside 3 1/2 hours! I'll be glad when it's over; however, I am not looking forward to it.
Lunchtime basketball
Because it has been in the 70s here in Louisville over the past couple of day, we've been playing 4-on-4 basketball during our lunch hour at the office. I'm sure it looks pretty pathetic to those looking out their windows; however, we're having fun.

I've posted some of the photos I took at Flickr.
Monday, March 28, 2005
Gonna see The Roots in Memphis
For some reason, I decided to check out the lineup for the 2005 Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis. Turns out that Sunday, May 1st, the final day of the festival, has an awesome line-up - Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Elvis Costello, Billy Idol and... The Roots.

I have always wanted to see The Roots live, so I think we're gonna make the trip. Tickets are $20 per day. That's a steal considering the lineup.
Saturday, March 26, 2005
Finally, Apple does something I like
As I have been watching the NCAA tournament, I have noticed that Apple appears to have shot their iPod Shuffle commercials in HD. I wish more companies would do this (or, at least, they should let the local affiliates scale their 4:3 commercials to 16x9).
Friday, March 25, 2005
New QOTSA album is great
I have been wearing out the new Queens of the Stone Age album, "Lullabies to Paralyze," on Rhapsody since it was released on Tuesday. It is a great album. Not a track that I don't like.

I have been listening to it at work, then coming home and firing it up on my new Omnifi. "Tangled Up in Plaid" is playing right now. If you like QOTSA, definitely pick it up.
Picked our upgrades for the house
Amy and I met with the builder yesterday to pick out the major upgrades for the new house. It didn't turn out to be as bad (or as expensive) as I thought. We added things like better kitchen cabinets, a coat closet in the entry way and a larger patio.

The one thing that I had to have was the structured wiring package. Because it is a two-story house with a basement, there would be no easy way for me to run Cat 6 or coax cable after the walls were up. So for $600 (yikes!), the builder will run ethernet, video and phone lines back to a central box in the basement.

In a couple of weeks, we will go through the 3+ hour ordeal of picking all of the flooring, paint colors, brick colors, roofing colors, lighting, appliances, etc. I'm dreading that; however, once that is done, it's (hopefully) smooth sailing. We'll see.
Hooked on Project Greenlight
I checked out the first couple of episodes of Project Greenlight the other night and I am already hooked on it. As with the previous two seasons, they have picked a bunch of total schmucks to make their movie. The writers are on a huge ego trip (they already got agents and had a power lunch with their attorney) and the director is an introvert who wants to hire all of his family members in leading roles.

The best part of the first two episodes was when the president of Dimension films sat the 3 winners down and told them that if they don't improve the script that they would be fired and replaced. I'm betting that the director is fired before the film is finished.
Sunday, March 20, 2005
Bought a new house today!
Worthington Place 1
Well, we met with the realtor and the rep from Worthington Place to sign the papers on the new house. After looking over all of the places we were considering, this particular model was the best deal and Worthington Place best matched our criteria.

The house is a little over 2,500 sq. ft. with 4 bedrooms and 2.5 baths. It will also have over 1,000 sq. ft. in the unfinished basement. Eventually, I will convert the basement into an office and a home theater room.

The subdivision is about 3.5 miles from our current house and is about the same distance to my office.

We still have to pick all of the upgrades (cabinets, tile, etc.) that we want and then they will start building. The house picture above is the same model; however, there will be little changes. For example, our garage will face the front of the house instead of the side. We may also pick a different color brick and room. Not sure yet.

We are tentatively scheduled for a September 1st move-in. That will give us plenty of time to redo the kitchen and do the necessary repairs around our current place.

Should be a stressful couple of months while we get everything ready for the sale; however, we're pretty excited about having a new place.
Yahoo! acquires Flickr
Well, it has been rumored for weeks and now Stewart and Caterina have confirmed it. Yahoo! has acquired Flickr. Read more about what this means in Caterina's FlickrBlog post. Follow member reaction in FlickrCentral.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
House hunting: Strike 1
Arlington Meadows 2
Yesterday, Amy went to check out a house that our realtor recommended. It was nearly finished being built, had a huge lot, had tons of space, had a bunch of the optional stuff like 9 ft ceilings and fireplace AND they were discounting it $11,000 through the end of the month.

So I left work at around 5PM to go check it out. Turns out that someone walked in the sales office at the subdivision right before we got there and bought the house. They were actually there when Amy walked in to get the keys.

The good news is that the builder is willing to build us one for the same price if we commit before the end of the month. So, we're going to keep looking and think it over. We like the house inside and we like the subdivision (what there is of it right now); however, it has a ton of vinyl on it (which neither of us are crazy about).

Amy is going out again with our realtor on Tuesday.

BTW, I've created a Flickr photoset of the houses we've looked at so far.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Getting ready to sell the house
Although we've been talking about it for several weeks, today was the official beginning of the home selling / home buying process. See, we actually had our realtor come over and take a look at the house. We wanted to make sure that what we wanted to ask for the place was realistic. If it wasn't, it could really affect the price range for our new place.

Much to my surprise, she actually suggested an asking price about $9,000 higher than what I had figured. Shows how much I know.

Now, we have to focus on getting our house ready to sell. We asked our realtor to recommend any improvements that we needed to make to help it sell. The list was surprisingly short. We are going to redo our kitchen (which needed to be redone when we moved in), add some more lighting in the basement and plant some snazzy flowers around the yard.

I am dreading the whole process of finding a new place; however, I will glad when we have some more space. Plus, Amy keeps dangling the promise of a building a really nice home theater room as an incentive.
Saturday, March 12, 2005
Ugh! Cracked disc!
OK, I'm starting to think that Netflix secretly hates me. My other 2 movies finally arrived today and guess what? Come on, guess. COME ON! GUESS!

Well, if you guessed that my copy of "Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy" (don't ask) was cracked (after waiting 4 days for it arrive) then you'd be correct. Now I've got to wait until Monday for them to ship out the replacement (since they don't ship on the weekends).

I think after we get The Incredibles on Tuesday (or maybe it will be Thursday or Friday) I am going to cancel.
4-day Netflix shipping times
OK, now Netflix is really starting to p!ss me off. They shipped 3 movies to me on the 8th. Normally (as I mentioned in my previous post), I would get those on the 9th.

Well, yesterday (the 11th), I only received 1 of the 3 movies shipped. This means that I am looking at at least a 4-day shipping time for the other two movies.

If the next three movies after these don't go back to the 1-day ship times, I am done with Netflix.
Friday, March 11, 2005
It's offical, I'm throttled!
I've read about it on sites like HackingNetflix and I've even suspected it might be happening; however, now I'm positive that Netflix is throttling back the number of movies I receive by delaying shipment.

Prior to this last batch of movies, I would often get that "shipping tomorrow" message first thing in the morning which is really irritating (if you know you are able to ship it tomorrow, that means you have one and that means you could ship it today). I figured it was the first step towards the dreaded throttling.

Now with the latest three movies, I have seen a delay (an extra day) in the time it takes for my movies to return to Netflix and a delay (2 extra days!!!) in shipping time. So instead of getting my movies the day after they ship (which is what has happened for every movie I have gotten from them), I am now on day 3 with no movies! There is no excuse for such slow shipping times considering they have a fulfillment center here in Louisville.

I'll give it a couple more tries (say 6-9 more movies); but if I feel they are limiting their unlimited promise, I will drop them like a hot rock.
Tuesday, March 8, 2005
My DNS server saves the day!
I decided to fire up my old Windows 2000 Advanced Server box (Pentium 200 w/ 96MB of RAM) again and use it as a DNS caching server. Wow, what a difference! Look ups and page loads are super fast again. Hopefully, this will resolve the DNS issues once and for all.
Monday, March 7, 2005
BellSouth issue fixed (for now)
I was able to search the BellSouth website for the proper DNS servers for Louisville. Of course, the servers listed there were different than the one my BellSouth modem was trying to use.

I've gone around to the 5 or 6 PCs in the house and set the DNS server names manually. So far, things seem to be working fine.

If it starts failing again, I will go back to my DNS caching server. Hopefully it won't come to that, though.
BellSouth's DNS servers suck
I am really starting to get tired of BellSouth DSL service. I spent most of the weekend without internet access due to BellSouth DNS issues.

See, a couple of weeks ago, I turned off the box that I had been running a DNS caching server off of. I didn't think it was worth the extra electricity to run it. Since then, though, I have been plagued with timeouts due to DNS lookups.

I am able to connect to my modem, configure it and test it (seems to eliminate the modem). I am also able to connect to any machine within my LAN with no problems (seems to eliminate the router). I've even reset both of those to their factory defaults and manually configured them again.

Where the whole things craps out is when I do DNS lookups. My browser status window shows "Looking up cnn.com" for about 30 seconds then the page times out.

After doing a couple of Google searches, it appears that BellSouth is pretty notorious for having DNS problems. I guess it is time to fire that DNS server back up and point it to an external DNS server.
Sunday, March 6, 2005
Installed my Omnifi
Omnifi installed
I finally got around to installing my new Omnifi car MP3 thingee that I bought on Woot!. It was a little harder than I expected, mainly due to the wiring and soldering. Turns out that the color of the wires on the Omnifi wiring adapter don't match the colors of the wires on the VW radio. So I spent a lot of time trying to find the wiring diagram for the car online. Eventually, I found it thanks to DINsolutions.net.

I am still tinkering with it and the super crappy Simple Center software. I'll post more about that later.

In the meantime, you can see more exciting install photos here.
Friday, March 4, 2005
SPAM poetry
I got some spam for a mortgage offer from a guy named Travis Pruitt today. At the bottom, there was the usual random list of words that spammers always include. The ones on this message struck me as particularly funny together:

"coddle not the our of drummond
or you bulgaria joey"

Indeed.
Intel's HTPC strategy shifts
According to this News.com story, Intel is rethinking its approach to building and marketing "entertainment PCs." In addition to reducing the size and price of their boxes, Intel wants to de-emphasize the "PC" label.

I, personally, don't have a problem with having a "PC" in my living room. In fact, I have 3 in there now (if you count the XBOX and TiVo). However, I think, for mass adoption, HTPC's will need to be sleeker, cheaper and super easy to use.
Woot! is flooding the market!
OK, first, everyone who bought the same kickass Woot! that I did was selling them on eBay, thus preventing me from selling off part of mine for a decent price. Now, Woot! is offering the same damn deal again today!!!
Vimeo looks very cool
I just checked out Vimeo this morning and it looks like it could be very cool. It is basically Flickr for video clips.

It is in a closed beta, so you can't access any of the member's only features; however, there are enough video clips to see how the site will work. Like Flickr, it is very clean and very intuitive.

The only thing I question is whether as many people will take the time to edit little video clips (unless they expect the crappy quality videos you get from a digital camera or cellphone). Part of why Flickr is so popular is that it is so easy to take a photo and upload it.
Wednesday, March 2, 2005
R.I.P. Hermie
It is a dark day around the Morton household. The boys' new hermit crab, Hermie, died overnight. We're not sure what happened; however, we woke up to find him outside of his shell. The pet store told us that crabs only come out of their shell when they've outgrown their current shell or when they're dying.

Mahlon was devastated. He took such good care of the crab. He would hold him and mist him (with a spray bottle) and talk to him every day.

Miles was still asleep when Hermie was discovered, so he didn't find out until he found us comforting Mahlon. He was really upset, too.

Now we're torn as to whether to get a new crab or not. We don't want the same thing to happen again (since we're not completely certain that we didn't do something wrong with Hermie). Ugh. This sucks.
Tuesday, March 1, 2005
My Woot! came today
FedEx dropped off my Woot! booty this afternoon.

After doing some research online, it looks like I will be able to do the install myself. The hardest part is actually getting the radio out. VW radios require a special tool to remove them. Fortunately, the removal tools are available on ebay for about $10. The other tricky part will be wiring the Omnifi unit to the electrical system of the car. I've got a soldering iron, so how hard can it be, right?

The biggest bummer of the whole thing is that my Volkswagen radio doesn't have an RCA input which the Omnifi system requires. My options are a) buy an $80 RF modulator that broadcasts the MP3s over my radio (and sounds crappy) or b) purchase a $55 converter that attaches to the empty CD changer port on the back of my VW radio. While I am not pleased with having to buy this part, I am glad that I won't have to shell out $75 to have somebody install it (and they would have had to buy the part, too).

Oh and lastly, as one of my coworkers suspected, it looks like everyone who bought one of these sets on Woot! is selling it on ebay. So much for my plan to quickly sell half of the set to pay for the other half. I may wait it out a few days until the initial auctions close and see what the market looks like.

About Shawn Morton

Married father of 6; VP of Social Media at JPMorgan Chase; gluten-free; gadget enthusiast; hair metal aficionado; #Movember man View more on LinkedIn.