August 28, 2004

OzTiVo - worth the effort

After much fiddling with my imported US TiVo, and help from the knowledgeable OzTiVo community, it is up and running. Without a doubt it was worth the trouble. The setup is a Series 1 TiVo, 120 Gb HDD, TurboNet card and a Teac digital receiver (because the IR codes are easily obtained).

Initially I tried an Airnet card, but it seemed that the wireless PCMCIA card that I obtained from ebay was faulty - buyer beware I guess. (And the seller, one J Underwood, had the gall to complain that my feedback was not positive enough.) To get the wireless connection, I am using a Linksys game adaptor, formerly plugged into my PS2. This takes all the fiddling of the WEP setup away from the TiVo, and the networking worked right out of the box with the latest image.

My advice for any others considering an OzTiVo is DO IT! There is plenty of help available, and a great starting point is http://minnie.tuhs.org/twiki/bin/view. A great resource for technical queries is the mailing list archives, or failing that post to the list.

The TiVo interface is very simple to use, and the manual is available online here.

Posted by Jeffrey to the Technology category at 11:18 PM | Comments (0)

FP2003 and WSS

I came across an interesting article with some warnings regarding editing WSS sites with FP2003. It relates to the way that site definitions are stored, and describes a subtle yet important change that occurs when a page is opened with FP2003 and saved (even if unmodified). The term is 'ghosting', and the full article is The Dangers of using Front Page 2003 with SharePoint Sites (registration is required to download the document). Worth a read.

Posted by Jeffrey to the Sharepoint category at 10:59 PM | Comments (0)

August 04, 2004

Drawings to go

I recently acquired an iPaq 2210 with the intention of being able to take drawings for multiple projects with me when I go on the road. As we use Autodesk's dwf format in house, this was the format of choice, with pdf format being the fall back position if the former did not work.

To get dwf's to work on the iPaq took some fiddling. The viewer chosen was PocketCAD DWFview. (There is also a free dwf viewer available from www.graebert.com, but I found the former to be better.) Having installed the viewer, I found that it could not open dwf's made with the DWFeplot6 that comes in AutoCAD 2004 (and is used by the Publish... command). I had to manually install a new plotter using the 'Release 14 look', which apparently creates dwf's using the previous file version.

(As an aside, there is also an option in the plotter setup to turn on layer information, which is not turned on by default when publishing dwf's.)

So now that I can open dwf's, I have to say I am slightly disappointed with the performance. Opening a typical dwf drawing takes quite a while, and the zoom has to be large before the lines are clear. This is in comparison to pdf's, which have a substantially larger file size, open quicker (?!), and look noticeably better on the small screen. My observation is that the dwf format on the iPaq loses some fidelity, whereas the pdf format does not. And before I tried them both, I would have expected the opposite.

Still, I am happy to be able to carry a large number of drawings in my pocket and would rather wait for them to open than wade through a mountain of A3 hardcopies.

Posted by Jeffrey to the Technology category at 03:14 PM | Comments (0)

Sharepoint at work

We recently took on board a virtually endless stream of design projects from a new client. We faced a dilemma - we were to do the structural design, but drawings were to be done by the client's own drafting staff. Somehow we needed to keep control of the drawings so that everyone that needed them could access the latest revisions, but they were not available for production until they had our approval. The existing system being used simply used email to send the drawings around to whoever wanted them. This made it difficult to keep track of revisions and to know who had access to which drawings.

The solution - a sharepoint subsite to act as an extranet and retain all of the drawings. This took about half an hour to set up the way that we wanted it, and then we invited the various users that needed access to the information. To control the drawings, we simply turned on document approval for the document library. Then the drafting team could post drawings to the library but they did not become visible to the production site until we had reviewed and approved them.

This is a very simple application of Windows Sharepoint Services, but it suited our needs perfectly, provided structure to a system that was not working previously, and will save us (and our client) a lot of time.

Posted by Jeffrey to the Sharepoint category at 02:59 PM | Comments (0)

Airport, Airtunes

I have just had the pleasure of setting up an Apple Airport Express. Suddenly my Windows PC with 2500 MP3's can stream them over my wireless network (802.11b) to our surround sound system, and there is no longer any need to load CD's or wait for them to change.

Apple make good looking gear, the airport express unit is very slick. Setup was straight forward, I just had to find the Ascii equivalent to the hex WEP key that I had been using and the airport express was able to connect to my router. Now from within iTunes I can pick the destination - being PC speakers or loungeroom hifi - and the music starts!

Posted by Jeffrey to the Technology category at 02:47 PM | Comments (0)