Nice kitty

I haven’t quite figured out where to put my ham radio gear, so
right now, I’ve set up a temporary antenna on the back deck, and I bring
my equipment out there to operate in the evenings, taking advantage of
the pleasant weather.

Last night, I had set up a large pile of stuff, including a laptop, so I
could try PSK31, and
was enjoying myself despite the lack of success (I wonder if the fact
that my antenna is just a few feet from power lines has anything to do
with the high noise level?), when I heard an animal wandering through
the yard. At first, I assumed it was one of the neighborhood cats —
but then I took a look. It was furry, black, and had a white stripe
along its back. I decided it needed the back yard more than I did at
that point and closed down in a hurry, so that the skunk wouldn’t be
bothered by odd noises.

I think I’d better plan on setting up indoors.

Catching up on the mail

Commander Dave
out that having the hoses going to your washing machine break can really
your day — especially if you’re on vacation! We had a hose break when
the painters moved our washing machine while painting our utility room
— they turned off
the water very quickly, but it still made a mess. We bought
reinforced hoses after that, and we’re also careful to turn off the
water to the machine if we’re leaving for more than a day or so.

My Mom wants to know more about the stereo gear I bought this
weekend, so here goes.

The speakers are the
Boston Acoustics
CR series
(75’s in front, 65’s on the rear walls, and a CRC as the
center channel). I’m waiting for the subwoofer, a Boston Acoustics
PV600 to be
delivered — in the meantime, I certainly haven’t lost any bass compared
to my previous system.

The receiver is a Yamaha RX-V800, which
seemed to have a good complement of features, including enough inputs to
handle my assortment of gear (besides the normal array of stuff, we also
have a Laser Disc player and a MiniDisc deck), while letting me
relabel the display to show the equipment connected to it (no more
pretending that the DVD player is VCR2!). It also lets me assign
the optical inputs and outputs to any desired components, and it has
plenty of power.

I even thought the remote control was OK when I played
with it
in the store, but after really using it for a couple of days, I’ve
changed my mind; it’s probably the worst remote control I’ve ever owned.
It’s physically very small, so there aren’t many buttons on it —
but that means that some of the buttons change their meaning
depending on which other buttons have been pressed
recently. I can’t count the number
of times I’ve switched input sources when I meant to change DSP effects,
or brought up the setup menu when I meant to skip a track on a disc.

I think I’m going to be in the market for a good universal remote soon
— the Phillips Pronto has
gotten some good reviews, but it’s expensive. I have a PalmIII which
lost the battle of belt space and is sitting idle, so I’ll try some of
the programs which turn it into
a remote control
first, though.

Speaking of idling, I haven’t used my MiniDisc deck for a while — not
since starting to put
MP3s and WMA files on my laptop for trips. But I thought I should try
it to make sure I had connected everything up correctly, only to
discover that
its disk load/eject mechanism seems to be
broken. I’m not sure I really need to get it fixed, since
MiniDiscs are not high on my priority list, and I do have a portable MD
player/recorder, if I can just find it.

But not tonight.