How to Waste Time

Callahan’s recent blog post reminded me of a lot of the ways I waste time. Some of them being moderately amusing.

Basically, I feel kind of like those guys (usually married) who have numerous weekend projects and live for Home Depot. The difference is that my projects are much more frivolous and require minimal manual labor.

  • The MythTV Project. This is the one I mentioned in an earlier post which I eventually got working on my normal TV (picture here). In theory, this was a good idea. I got to play around with Linux and wound up with what is effectively a TiVo without service fees. The problem is that, as with any “project”, it doesn’t come out quite as expected. The thing locks up when it’s on the TV screen and I try anything as sophisticated as “fast forward” (even though it works fine on the computer screen). This is not to mention the fact that I generally watch less than an hour of TV a day.
  • The Linux Answering Machine Project. This was another great waste of time. My intention was to have all of my calls answered by a Linux computer running VCOP with a normal internal modem. It turns out that all of those cheap modems you see are windows-only (sometimes called “Winmodems”). After buying, trying, and returning no less than 3 modems from Best Buy, I was unwilling to actually by a serial modem which surely would have worked (but would have cost $60).
  • VoIP. After giving up on the answering machine, I went with yet another solution that would allow me to receive voicemail notifications in my e-mail – Voice over IP. This was another blogworthy adventure. The part I didn’t mention is that I make and receive no more than 3-5 phone calls a month from my apartment.
  • Linux Router. Most people who want to share an Internet connection amongst multiple computers at home buy a home router from someone like Linksys or Netgear. That was me too, until I decided that I could put an old computer to use and make it into a router, replacing my trusty Netgear box and saving a little space under the desk. After purchasing a free network card and spending hours reading various documents on how to set one up, I’ve now chucked out the Netgear router. What have I gained in terms of functionality you might ask? Well, for most intents and purposes, nothing.
  • X10. After getting a starter kit for X10 stuff, I was convinced I could automate various things around my apartment and operate them all via remote control and/or the computer. What things might you ask? Well, I really should have thought that through. The first thing to try (naturally) are lights. That’s cool and all, until you realize if you use X10 to control a light, you can no longer use your lightswitch unless you buy some extra components and install them for your switch (which I’m not about to do in an apartment). At the time, I also found my cable modem was cutting out from time to time. So I decided to hook it up to the X10 lamp module so I could easily reset it. It worked once, then it blew out the modem and I had to buy a new one. Eventually the one thing I got working was a fan, which I used to turn on at specific times and cool the apartment for when I get home. That’s helpful for a few months out of the year. I have another module on an unswitched lamp, but it only works intermittently.
  • This blog. Okay, it doesn’t take much time, but the time it does take is clearly wasted.

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