Monthly Archives: February, 2009

Good While It Lasted

Hulu has caved into pressure from their content providers and changed their service so it will no longer work with Boxee. Unfortunately this also broke the XBMC-Hulu plugin.

Our content providers requested that we turn off access to our content via the Boxee product, and we are respecting their wishes.

From the Doing hard things post on the Hulu Blog.

Damn. Just damn.

I really liked watching The Daily Show & The Colbert Report on my TV. While those two shows are good, they are the only shows on Comedy Central which interest me. Then you factor in that cable companies do not allow subscribers to pick channels à la carte, so I’d have to double my cable bill just for those shows and maybe 2 other channels (each having no more than 3 shows of interest), I guess I’m done watching this stuff on TV1.

Plus I only had a single episode left to watch in Journeyman, which it turns out was really good. Though I stick by my initial assesstment of the first episode being a bit slow. Now I wish I’d given that a second chance before I rewatched all of John Doe, which had an interesting premise but really sucked.

1 At least for now. There is some talk on the XBMC Forums about continuing to work on the XBMC-Hulu plugin to get around Hulu’s changes

Valentine’s Day

Been a bit distracted, so I haven’t written up my thoughts on this year’s Valentine’s Day. So here goes.

My wife and I got dressed up all fancy. Me in my kilt and my wife in a fancy, new dress. She looked stunning. I was her barely tolerable dining companion. We ate for our first time at a restaurant called Daniel Arthur’s. Where exactly we heard about it, I’m not sure. Maybe it was just from driving by it, maybe it was mentioned by a neighbor or a friend, I can’t be sure.

I can say for certain that I have never paid so much for a single meal before. And yet as much as I dislike spending money like that, it was a wonderful evening. We arrived just before the dinner rush started. It was a cold evening out — particularly when wearing a kilt — but the restaurant was toasty warm. We were seated immediately and given complementary champagne. Soon thereafter our waitress brought out an amuse-bouche consisting of a salmon mousse spread on a slice of cucumber with a fresh dill spread topped with tobacco onion. I’ve never had anything quite like it and would have been pleased to have a tray of them to munch on.

Next up was the appetizer. A tempura, lobster tail on a bed of cabbage lightly coated in a slightly, spicy sauce. The surprising thing of the sauce was after the initial burst of heat, the spiciness did not continue to build. It merely lingered on the tongue. Fortunately the chef foresaw this and followed up the appetizer with an apricot sorbet, which did a wonderful job of cleansing the pallet. Then it was time for the main course, for which both my wife and I had selected the Angus beef ribeye with brandied, caramel onions, grilled portabello mushrooms and smoke gouda and roasted garlic potatoes.

The ribeye was good — not my normal cut of beef and a touch too fatty for my taste — still it was tasty and my word those potatoes were heavenly. The portabello mushrooms were small, barely noticeable bits whose flavor was completely hidden by the onions. Mind you, those were tasty onions but I would have preferred more/bigger mushrooms and less onions. The pièce de résistance was the desert of which there were two small portions. One was some sort of bread pudding thing. I’m not particularly a fan of bread puddings though this seemed nice; however the other desert utterly blew it away. The other desert was an espresso crème brûlée and it was heavenly. I do not make a habit of passing along my compliments on a meal (or any portion of one), beyond the simplest of courtesies to the wait staff. That night I broke my habit due to that desert. My wife is an excellent cook with a better than fair hand at making deserts but even still that espresso crème brûléewas truly one of the best things I have ever eaten.

I should also note that one of Daniel Arthur’s features is they have live music every evening. On Valentine’s Day, in pleasant surprise they had Kevien “B.F.”Burt playing. We had heard Kevin playing previously at a neighborhood party and greatly enjoyed his performance. If we’d realized he was the music for the night, we might have sprung the extra cash for the package where he would come to our table and play a song for us. Since we didn’t know and it was a bit late to change our plans1; we didn’t get a song directly but did enjoy hearing him perform for several other tables near by.

End conclusion, it was a beautiful (and tasty) meal with a beautiful (and tasty) woman who I happen to be lucky enough to be married to.

1 Getting the song at your table was part of the most expensive package which included other options, such as a full bouquet of flowers at your table.

I Hate Plumbing

With apologies to Cole Porter…

I hate plumbing in the spring time,
I hate plumbing in the fall,
I hate plumbing in the winter, when it drizzles,
I hate pluming in the summer, when it sizzles.
I hate plumbing every moment,
Every moment of the year,
I hate plumbing,
Why, oh why, do I hate plumbing,
Because my leaky, f’ing faucet is near.

That bit of drivel is meant to prepare you for some whining and ranting on my part regarding the latest installment in our plumbing adventures. This afternoon I worked from home as I received a phone call that the plumber had the replacement part he needed and would be coming by. The plumber showed up slightly later than I was expecting, but once he arrived I showed him the tub and the shutoff valve in the basement1. I left him to his work and got back to mine.

The handle on the shutoff valve was old/rusted and back when the first plumber came out for the broken faucet; he broke the handle (but not the valve thank god). Today’s plumber went back to his truck to get some channel locks to turn it with and also found a new handle sitting loose in the truck which he said he’d try putting on2. Then he went back to the bathroom and got to work. A few minutes later I heard him exclaim “SHIT!” I asked if everything was ok, but got no reply. I could still hear him moving about, so I figured he’d just bonked his hand and went back to work.

Shortly there after, he came out and asked if I was sure the faucet was a Price Pfister? I said no, that’s just what the other plumber had told us. He said in any case the part the first plumber told us to order was the wrong part and in fact it’s not even a part for the same brand of faucet as we have. He left then to see if he could track down the part we actually needed somewhere around town.

When he got back, he had the bad news that nobody has the part we need locally and we’ll need to order it.

[INSERT EXPLETIVE]

He also asks a few more questions about the other plumber who’d been out and recommends calling them back to try getting our money refunded. Apparently he used to work for that company and still knows a few things about their procedures. Seeing how it’s been almost a month, our faucet is still broken, the plumber who originally came out to look at it never wants to discuss it with us; my wife thought that was a good idea.

Then he turns our water back on and goes back to his shop. Not more than 30 minutes later, he calls back3 and gives me the details for calling the manufacturer of our faucet as the part which is broken has a 100 year warranty on it. My wife gives them a call. She immediately gets through to an actual human being, who takes our address and say it’ll be sent out via UPS and should be in our hands by Monday, Tuesday at the latest. Time taken to complete the call was less than 10 minutes.

Yes, I said less than 10 minutes. I know, we were both stunned at that too and they did not have us pay anything for the parts! Now that’s some seriously good customer service. She then called back the plumbing company of the first guy who came out and complained at them for 20 minutes straight. Unfortunately it turns out she was talking to a receptionist and the shop foreman will be calling back tomorrow when she’s at work. I’m going to have to field that call and it’s scheduled for approximately the time I’m walking in the door after driving home.

*sigh*

I really hate plumbing.

1 As a reminder, the tub with the broken faucet has no local shutoff valve. To stop the water flowing, we have to shut off the water to the entire house.
2 I don’t believe it fit, but it was nice of him to try.
3 Unlike the original plumber who appeared hating calling us back and didn’t like us to call him either.

Hot Time on the Town

While I do love the views and general atmosphere of the office we moved into, the room gets really bleeping cold. Cold enough that some days, such as today, my hands are halfway numb by the time I leave at the end of the day. So tonight when I got home, I grabbed a book, started our gas stove heating up the tea kettle and leaned up against the stove to read. My wife who was on the phone with one of the plumbers1 we’ve been talking to and moved me away from the stove because she thought I was standing too close.

Me being cold and a touch grouchy about being cold, told her I was doing it deliberately and told her to go back to her phone conversation.  I was just finally starting to feel warm again when she came back into the kitchen. Then she asked the plumber to hold on a second because her husband was on fire.

Yes, she said on fire. Woohoo! I’m sexy…. Wait, that was panic in her voice… I reached behind myself to feel at my shirt2 and what do you know there was FIRE. Fortunately my wife grabbed the sprayer from the sink and hosed me down. I didn’t get hurt at all, if you exclude my pride3 and what feels like a sunburn on a single fingertip. Though the shirt I had been wearing was ruined.

The really sad part? It was only about two seconds before she sprayed me down that I was finally feeling warm. *sigh*

1 Yes the faucet our bleeping, downstairs bathtub is still broken.
2 I agree in hindsight that was stupid, but my brain was having trouble processing the information her voice imparted on my ears.
3 Which suffered greatly from the experience.

XBMC-Hulu Update

I’ve been using the Hulu plugin now for a few days and it’s great but I do run into the occasional problem.  So I’ve been following the thread over at XBMC Forums about it as the plugin is under active development.  In a recent post to that thread, one of the developers said:

Please use the google addons.
Right now google addons is more in sync.

Sometimes I use my personal googlecode just to back stuff up, or sync it between my home computer and the one at work. Anytime I’m ready for you guys to try something out I’ll just stick it in the google addons svn & if it’s broken I’ll just revert it.

Which is a good tip as the thread has links to a wide variety of versions of the plugin scattered throughout its 45 pages.  Unfortunately the tip does not really clear things up in my particular case.  As I stated previously I’m using a copy of the plugin from xbmc-hulu. The developer who made the above comment is recommending people use the version of the plugin from xbmc-addons instead of his personal version at rwparris2-xbmc-plugins but makes no mention of the version at xbmc-hulu which shows that developer’s username as one of the project owners.

Bah.

I suppose I’ll just have to download the xbmc-addons version of the hulu plugin, try it out and compare it to the xbmc-hulu version.  As soon as I’ve had a moment to do so, I’ll post my results.

UPDATE: I’m not seeing any difference between the xbmc-addons & xbmc-hulu versions so far.  However after reading the thread on XBMC Forums, I did go through the trouble of configuring the plugin (under the XBox version -> Videos -> Plugins -> Hulu -> press the white button on your controller).  Setting a default video quality makes using the plugin much nicer (cuts out 2-3 button presses when trying to watch a specific video).  You can enter your Hulu account username/password but there doesn’t appear to be a benefit to doing so yet.

UPDATE2:Per the XBMC Forums, xbmc-hulu has been removed in favor the version available via XBMC SVN Repo Installer and the SVN Repo Installer pulls from xbmc-addons.

UPDATE: Per the XBMC-Hulu plugin release thread, there is no currently working version of the plugin.

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