Atom-based Media Center: Part 1

I elected to give myself a little project this weekend and it started with this small mountain of boxes:

Boxes, boxes, boxes.

Don’t worry, there’s a method to my madness. It isn’t often my crazy ideas have a purpose, so this time I’m making an exception. I also promised to share some of my experiences with a friend of mine who was interested in the project so he could freeload some information share in the learning experience.

The idea started about two weeks ago when I was mulling over some way of providing my mother with an entertainment system that could replace a few aging devices. Since she’ll be having back surgery next week, I figured it would be much easier for her to contend with a single device than to muck about with several. Plus, she has an old video cassette recorder that is on the verge of going wherever it is electronics go when they pass on into the afterlife, and it occurred to me that bringing her kicking and screaming into the digital age might not be such a bad idea. She’s in desperate need for a video recorder of sorts and being as I inherited her frugal nature, I wasn’t about to purchase a TiVo unit for her. TiVos are too limited anyway. She needs a relatively decent computer to sub-in for the period of time she won’t be able to sit at an actual desk. Plus, with her “real” computer being in an upstairs room and her refusal to let us bring it downstairs, I started mulling over a solution.

So far, I’m fairly impressed. There have been some teething problems–the project is still a work-in-progress–hence I’ll be posting this DIY walk-through in multiple parts.

Read more…

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Opera, Tabs, and You

So you like tabs…

…lots of them. Worse, Opera doesn’t cooperate particularly well when you have a gazillion of the darned things. If you’re like me, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Maybe you’re fed up with Firefox feeling sluggish with more than 100 tabs, you want to try something else, perhaps you don’t care much for Chrome, and you just heard that Opera 10 came out of beta/RC status. As a consequence, you’ve probably encountered this:

tabs_wow

It looks awful, doesn’t it?

Don’t worry, I have a cure. It’s a little hidden in Opera’s appearance preferences, but once you figure out how the customization feature of the toolbars works, it isn’t so bad!

First, navigate to Tools > Appearance > click on “Toolbars” and enjoy mucking about with something that isn’t immediately intuitive. I promise, it isn’t. You would think there’d be a drop-down list somewhere that gives you an option. Maybe you’ve tried clicking on one of the buttons (and they highlight individually). But here’s what you do: First, click on a tab; the bar should now appear with a yellow highlight around it–maybe something like this:

Yellow Highlights

See how my tab bar has a little bit of yellow around it? If you don’t have the same thing, click on a tab–literally on the tab. If you click to the side or on one of the various buttons surrounding Opera’s tabs, you’ll wind up selecting the button.

But, back to what we were doing, assuming you’ve gotten the whole how-the-heck-do-I-select-this-stupid-thing out of the way. Let’s, take a look at the appearance settings–you’ll see that the text next to “wrapping” in my screenshot is currently highlighted in blue. That’s important, because you’ll need to select show extender menu:

Show extender menu.

Once you select it and click OK, your Opera window will now look like this:

Fixed!

Much better! The only downside is that it appears you can’t use the scrollwheel to cycle through the list of tabs as in Firefox (not literally cycling tabs like Arora does; just the list of tabs!). Now it’s possible to go back to being a tab monger without winding up with zillions of 10-pixel-wide tabs and requiring sniper-like skills to click the exact one you want.

Oh, and for you browser devs who think no one in their right mind would use more than a hundred tabs, I’d like to offer a rebuttal. Take this as a use case to prove that there are some people out here insane enough to use much more than a hundred. In fact, try 400+:

477!
2 comments.
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Move Completed (Almost)

All right, most of my content has been moved over to WordPress, including my poetry. Gallery links and a few other loose ends will be included in the coming days. Stay tuned!

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