I’ve been looking at ways I can make my DVD collection more accessible. I find that I end up watching crappy On-Demand movies through cable rather than getting into the ol’ DVD collection because the DVD collection is a pain in the ass to find things in and it ends up being, frankly, too much effort. (Yeah, the collection is that big. Well into the hundreds of discs.)
The notion of a media center PC springs to mind, but the problem I’ve seen with most media servers is that they require you to rip the DVD into just the video and a single soundtrack or some such, losing the menu and the features and the rest of the DVD that you paid for. I want the whole thing - I bought the movie and all the extras, I want access to all of that.
I found MediaPortal today and I think that may be the answer. It’s got native support for Daemon Tools so you can just rip your DVD to ISO format and have the media server play it just as though you had put the physical DVD into the drive. That’s exactly what I’m looking for. Plus it’s free!
I may have to get a test of this going at home. If it pans out, the new year may find me building a home theater PC with a loooot of storage and ripping the DVD collection onto that. I’d like to enjoy the movies I own again and not just be in the media storage business. The iPod has liberated me from CDs (well, the iPod with iTunes and a fairly sizable external drive); it’s time to be free of DVDs as well.
Amazon has this new “video on demand” service called “Amazon Unbox.” For about a second it looked interesting - get digital versions of movies rather than buying DVDs - until you look at the license agreement you have to accept to get these movies.
I think I’ll be passing on the old Amazon Unbox.
I’m generally irritated today and I don’t think it’s any one particular thing, so I can’t say what the root of it is, but I’ll gladly share some of the stuff pissing me off. Granted, more of a cathartic effort for me than a great entry for the readers.
There’s one week left for RSVPs to come back for the wedding and we’ve only gotten about half back. Yeah, folks have a week left, but I think it’s time to start chasing people down. There’s really no margin for folks to just be showing up without having replied. Which means I’m going to have to start getting email reminders out to folks with email and call the rest personally. I’m not sure what the difficulty is with sending a pre-addressed, pre-stamped postcard, but apparently it’s a showstopper for some folks.
I’m concerned that a good friend of mine is becoming a workaholic, possibly entirely out of boredom, as they have become fairly distant in recent times. Not to mention pretty conservative with information about what they’ve been up to. I’m not interested in the gory details of peoples’ lives, but when you get together to talk to someone and it’s a one-way information sharing street unless you ask just the right questions, it becomes a little stilted.
On that same note, I got an instant message from another friend who seems to know a hell of a lot more about what I’m doing than I know about what they’re doing. It’s been a while since I’ve gotten together with this friend, but somehow they are entirely up to speed on a lot of things - things I’ve not posted, emailed, IM’d or talked to them about. That’s a little disconcerting, and I’m not sure how I really feel about it. I’m glad to reconnect with this friend, but I think if my friend wants to know what’s up with me and Jenn… they should ask me and Jenn.
I’m super bored with the latest project at work which involves a hell of a lot of “review this stuff you’ve already done.” And I’m tired of people telling me when I mention how boring it is that, “you have to take the good with the bad” or “business needs require tasks that aren’t as fun sometimes” or whatever. I get it. I mean, I’m doing what needs to be done, right? That doesn’t make it fun, it only justifies the requirement. I’m not debating the requirement. I’m debating my motivational difficulties in completing the task.
Anyway, it’ll get done, I just have this vehement ennui.
Hey, that’s a good band name. “Vehement Ennui.”
Okay, done ranting. Time to get to work.
I went to the store last night to pick up some unsweetened shredded coconut for use in a recipe I plan on trying out. Unfortunately, it looks like the market for unsweetened coconut is somewhere between nil and zero, so they have seven brands of sweetened coconut but not a single unsweetened bag to be seen.
This being the case, I crossed the store to the rarely-visited produce section and picked myself up a fresh coconut. The only way to get unsweetened coconut is to get it right from the source, right?
It’s three bucks for a coconut. Three American dollars! For one coconut! Somehow I think they’re getting me coming and going on that one. But what choice have I got? Three bucks later, I’m out the door and on the way home.
Fast-forward a bit and it’s Travis vs. The Coconut. The coconut, staring up at me from the counter with its three beady eyes, me staring back at it, not really sure how to proceed. I mean, I watch Survivor, I’ve seen folks open coconuts, but it usually involves a large rock and a machete, neither of which I have readily available. Plus, somehow I think that’s going to create a larger mess than I’m willing to clean up. As it stands, that sonofabitch is shedding its shell crap all over my counter.
It crossed my mind that “I know computer stuff, maybe Jenn knows how to open the coconut,” but I was disappointed in that effort - she didn’t really have an idea, either.
Good Housekeeping to the rescue. There are actually two pages on how to deal with coconuts in there. (It sort of reminds me of my mom’s [really] old Joy of Cooking cook book that explains how to prepare squirrel and other crazy shit.)
Here’s what you do: get a hammer and a screwdriver. Yeah, because you have those sitting in the kitchen. Okay, so take the screwdriver and pop two of the eyes of the coconut out. Take that, you stupid coconut! Drain the liquid out of the coconut because it’s freaking nasty and if you need coconut milk the stuff in the can at the store is better. Now bake the coconut at 350°F for 15 minutes. (I think the baking is to dry it out, but it wasn’t dry when I finished baking it.) Finally, take the coconut into the garage and beat the shit out of it with the hammer until you have reasonably sized coconut chunks.
Now comes the hard part. You have to use some sort of cutting utensil to get the coconut meat off of the shell. I found that it was easier to do this with some of the larger pieces of coconut because once you get a large section going, it all comes off in one big piece. Smaller bits are harder to get started. Once you’ve got the thing shelled, use a peeler to remove the hard brown outer skin on the coconut meat. (You would think that removing the shell is enough, but no, there’s like this “shell within a shell” bullshit so there’s still more shell to remove.)
That peeling is actually the hardest part because coconut meat is slippery so you can’t really get a good grip on it while you’re working. Again, larger pieces of coconut were easier to deal with here. Of course, you can’t escape unscathed, and I peeled my left middle finger just a little in the process.
That’s when I decided that if I were on a deserted island, I’d just starve. Cracking and shelling and fucking peeling and everything else really is just a hell of an effort to get a little bit of coconut. I think you’d be better off trying to catch fish with your bare hands or wrestle an alligator or something. They must have some sort of coconut shelling/peeling machine at the coconut factory. This is ridiculous.
The end result of all this is that we now have a shelled, peeled bunch of coconut we can run through the grater tonight and use in the recipe. Let me tell you, that coconut had better be the best damn addition to any recipe ever tasted by a human tongue. I’m gonna be so hella pissed if I just spent all that effort for some mediocre crap.