After about 12 hours of grinding away, my server finally finished its scan of all my music and made itself ready for streaming. For about 5 hours yesterday I had everything working great, searching and streaming songs, playlists, and the like. Great, this is just what I was looking for.

Then I noticed that my laptop couldn’t go to any web sites. And my router appeared to be dead. Hmm, that’s not right.

I discovered that at least twice an hour, for some reason, my router, a Linksys, goes all wonky and stops responding to anyone but the server and Roku client. No one can be pinged, tracerouted, or communicated to. Cycling power on the router brings it back to life, or I can sit around for 5 minutes or so until it clears itself.

It is truly baffling why this happens, but the music still runs. I suppose more diagnosis is in order, but I find that UPnP is neither truly universal nor plug-and-play. Figures.

I spent a good part of today doing some online shopping for Christmas gifts. Much to my surprise, after doing research this past week, capturing prices and URLs, I go back and find that most of the prices change quite dramatically. A combination of local taxes (thanks California!) shipping costs that aren’t known, and just plain bait-and-switch tactics by the web sites have conspired to raise just about every price.

So when you do your shopping and you see a price that is just too good to be true, be sure you verify it by going down the purchase path until the tax, shipping, and availability questions get answered. And watch out for those restocking fees… they’ve gone up to nearly 20% on some items this year.

I tried for a third time in as many months to find a Pizza Hut, any location, at any amount of purchase price, to deliver a pizza to my door. They simply won’t do it. The closest one is just 3 miles away, I could probably see it if I stood on the roof of the house. No, they would rather refer me to two other locations that are even further away. And of course, neither of them will drive here, either.

So I’m left with some local shops that do an OK job for pizza and charge through the nose, or I have to get up, get out, and get the pie myself. Figuring in the fuel cost these days for the truck, its a wash if I drive to the location and back for the pizza. Guess if I want better service I have to get a better, more fuel sipping form of transportation? In any case, Pizza Hut earns the big thumbs down from me, again.

Just after I posted that last story I went to look at comments. I found that I have been spammed about 200 times since I last checked, basically once for every time the blog gets updated. This really bites, so I’ve turned off unmoderated comments again until I can find a better way to do things.

That is just poor behavior and I find it difficult to believe it does anything more than upset people. I certainly won’t be going to any casino mortgage gaming web site for my favorite interest rates again.

EDIT: I have found an excellent site that has many possible solutions for spam comments. If you run WP like I do you’ll want to visit the WP Spam Comments site and get some help. Highly recommended.

I just picke up one of these Roku SoundBridge 1000 boxes to fiddle with. So far, I’ve found it to be pretty cool and relatively easy to setup. This version is WiFi (b) enabled, so I just find some speakers and a power plug and I’m up and running anywhere. It is reasonably easy to go, now with the Windows UPNP functions working.

The downside, as it always is for me, is that none of the server software that talks to the Roku can handle the volume of music I want to play. Simply put: they choke. Currently the Windows Media Connect service running on my home server is pegged at 100% CPU utilization and over 163MB of memory usage. This is after it has been trying to digest my music for the past 6 hours or so. Guess there is still room for improvement with these devices. On the other hand, iTunes and SlimServer do work with smaller quantities of music, so it isn’t all busted dreams.

Because I have nothing better to do than poke around on the web during the mornings on weekends, I found this small but growing phenomenon: podcasting. For those who are uninformed (including me, evidently) this is the ability for the common man (and some more special folks) to create their own audio broadcasts to go along with their blog.

I have to say that its still pretty early days, but it seems to me that this is the poor mans solution to Audible, with more uneven talent. There is some interesting stuff out there to listen to, but if I need bite size nuggets of technology info, I will get my tech news from someone who has been doing it a long, long time and does it for a living (he is a friend and very funny).

Discuss amongst yourselves.

As I woke up this morning on the far side of the planet (Taiwan) I am saddened to see that 51% of Americans put Bush back in office. The international reaction was predictably muted, but it is obvious we haven’t made many friends around the world with this president.

I look forward to returning home and hearing how it is we ended up with the same guy in charge as when I left.