Home Theater PC Plans

I have plans to set up a HOME THEATER PC for my place and my head has been spinning about the right way to tackle this project. I have been searching blogs and consulting with friends on the best options and setups I could have.

My drive to take on such a project was a result of my mothers last visit to my place. In the evenings she liked to watch movies. That is it’s self is not something hard to do. However, when you have a collection of over 400+ DVDs it can be not only daunting, but intimidating to find a movie and watch it. So I wanted to get all my movies digitized in a way that someone could turn on my TV, scroll through my collection of movies, pick one and play it.

For this I have chosen to go the Apple Mac Mini route. I plan to pick up a Mac Mini and hook it up to my tv and start encoding all my movies.

For someone with 200 movies or so this would be a perfect solution. However I have 400 movies. So I started to look into additional storage options. I believe I am going to go with a NAS storage server setup with enough extra space so I can continue to grow my movie collection, but also allow all the computers in the house to be backed up to the NAS.

I am still working out the details of everything, but when I am done I am planing on having quite the blog post about my setup.

My Dad, Netflix and Foreign Films

Farsi
Farsi

My dad came up to Juneau to visit recently. He came at a good time because we have been having some amazing weather up here. Mid to high 70s with very little overcast or rain. We are  having a good spring and summer this year that’s for sure.

While he was here we did all the normal sight seeing stuff like visiting the Mendenhall Glacier, Eating at the Twisted Fish, Checking out the Shrine of St. Therese, ect.

One of the unexpected things we got to do was to watch some Persian movies in Farsi. I discovered that Netflix has a great foreign selection. I was able to do a Google search for some movies in Farsi that won some awards and queued them up to stream to my PlayStation 3 so we were all able to watch the movies on my television.

All the Farsi movies I found on Netflix where subtitled in English so we where all able to follow along with the movies.

How To Organize Your D&D Miniatures

Dungeons & Dragons Logo

Table Of D&D Minis
My Table of D&D Minis

I had a need to organize my D&D minis. I was finding that just to  locate a particular one for D&D night had become a chore. I was always sifting through a box or bag of them just to find one in particular. Not to mention storing minis in a box or bag is not the best thing for them.  Parts get bent or broken if your not careful. So I have come up with a way to organize your Minis. For the most part your only going to need 3 things.

  1. Sterilite Draws (You can find them most retail stores)
  2. A Label Maker
  3. Apple’s iPhoto (mac only) or Google’s Picasa (Mac or Windows) Software

STEP 1: LABEL THE DRAWERS

The first thing I did was to label my drawers. I printed labels from my label maker saying “Drawer 1”, “Drawer 2”, “Drawer 3”, and so on and stuck them to the front of each drawer. The drawers I am using I picked up from Wal-Mart and they are called “Sterilite“. Just little plastic drawer storage units big enough to hold my minis.

STEP 2: LOOK UP EACH MINI ONLINE

I layed out all my D&D minis on the kitchen table. I then proceeded to look up each one online. I would use a site like Alter Reality Games to search for each mini individually. When the search would come back I would be presented with an image of the mini and some text including the mini’s name and the set it came from.

iPhoto D&D mini collection
iPhoto D&D Mini Collection

STEP 3: PUT THE INFO INTO IPHOTO

Save the mini’s picture to iPhoto (or Picasa).

SIDE NOTE: You can create a brand new iPhoto library so as not to add a bunch of pictures of minis to your personal photos by holding down the option key and launching iPhoto. The program will ask you if you want to create a new library or open an existing one. I created a new library and saved it in my computer’s D&D directory.

Next I created an album for each drawer. So I have one album named “Drawer 1”, “Drawer 2” and so on. As I copied pictures of minis into iPhoto’s album named “drawer 1”  I would select the image and paste in text related to the mini that I found from the website.

In both the iPhoto and Picasa programs you have the option to enter text information about the image. Here is where I enter the mini’s name and the set it came from. (See the image on the right)

D&D mini drawer
D&D Mini Drawer

STEP 4: PLACE THE MINI IN THE DRAWER

After all the all the information about the mini was entered into iPhoto I then put the mini in the corresponding drawer. Repeat steps 2 through 4 till your whole mini collection has been cataloged in iPhoto.

So now If your looking for a green dragon all you have to is type in “Green Dragon” In your search field and iphoto or Picasa and it will tell you what draw the mini is located in.

SOME HISTORY

I have almost been playing Dungeons & Dragons for a year now. For less time then that I have started collected D&D minis. My collection has grown quickly and I needed a way to store then. Rather then reinvent the wheel I turned to Google for help. I figured I was not the only one with this question and someone else must have come up with a solution that I could use.

Well sure enough I found a hand full for websites selling products for miniature storage. But I was not finding a lot of end user experience. Since I was not satisfied with what I found on a few Google searches I turned to Twitter and asked the following question of some DM’s I Follow.

@theodudek, @SlyFlourish, @newbiedm I need a way to store my growing #DnD miniatures collection. Do you guys have any suggestions?

NewbieDM sent me the following response:

@Nicap (thats me)  I buy these plastic drawer storagethings at Wal-Mart. keep them there, sorted by undead, PC’s, creatures, etc…

Right off the bat that sounded like a good idea to me. I went to the store and picked up a couple of these plastic drawer storage things and tossed my minis in them and life was good. Life was good till my collection of minis grew to the point that finding ones needed for a particular game was becoming a chore.

After some time thinking about the problem I am up with the solution above that has been working out for me very well. I hope you all find it useful.

How To Use Street View On The iPhone

For anyone who has had trouble using Street View on the iPhone, I hope this helps. Last November, Apple release iPhone firmware 2.2 which introduced Google’s Street View to the iPhone’s “Maps” application. This was a new feature I was trying to use while I was on vacation this last December in Washington State. But at the time I was a unable to figure it out.

Now that I am back in Juneau, I have had some time to dig around the internet and figure out how this works. Here is a step-by-step of what you have to do to enable use Google’s Street View.

Step 1.) Launch the ‘Maps’ application on your iPhone by tapping on the icon.

Step 2.) Type in any city or location that has Street View enabled.

Step 3.) On the bottom right of your screen tap on the “page” button and then tap on the “Drop Pin” button located on the middle of the screen.

Step 4.) Drag the “Drop Pin” to the location on the street you want to see. Then tap on the “person” icon on the left side of the pin. This will activate Street View on your iPhone.

Using Street View on the iPhone is pretty amazing really. I would argue that it’s better then using it on Google’s maps website. It’s very fluid, and quick to respond to your figure swipes, pinches, and taps. Having the little GTA map circle on the Street View screen helps you know which way you are looking.