Thursday, October 12, 2006

My DVD Player Segfaults

Call it age, but my patience for the gizmo is starting to wane.

Not too many years ago I found a certain degree of pleasure in putting together my own PC. I could tune it to exactly what I wanted, down to the individual jumper settings on the motherboard. I mean, really, who wouldn't want to spend a Saturday afternoon futzing with BIOS settings? Good times, I tell you.

Then I started getting busy. With work. With life. With spending my Saturdays outside. If I weren't married to a fellow geek, there would have been a Dell under my desk a long time ago. No, it wouldn't have all the knobs and dials tuned exactly how I would like it AND I would have to pay more than I would have if I had bought the parts individually. But really, I was okay with that. I had my Saturdays to waste doing other things and I felt that to be a reasonable trade off.

This laziness started creeping into other aspects of my gizmo-hood. Instead of hacking together a DJ-friendly toolchain with my PC, I got equipment that did most of what I wanted out of the box. Ditto with the TiVo vs. Media-PC.

The Smarter Half, however, was not ready to give up her gizmo-hood quite so easily. The fact that she sends me daily links to interesting things on Gizmodo qualifies as the less than subtle hint with respect to where she stands on the topic. So when the DVD player started going a little freaky, she decided that a replacement appliance wasn't going to do what she deemed necessary. So now I have a DVD player that seg-faults.

Specifically, we now have a Mac-Mini under the TV. Cute machine. Looks great in the entertainment center as far as an computer "looks" go. But the thing is still a (relatively) big complex machine compared to a standalone DVD player that does nothing but play DVDs. The Mac can go into "appliance mode", but of course that eliminates a lot of the possible functionality which means The Smarter Half generally keeps it at the desktop. Now when I press "DVD" on the remote, I see a MacOS X desktop, complete with a few random files on the desktop itself. Joy.

Want to play a DVD? Well, hit the DVD button on the remote, then figure out the triple handstand magic key press with appropriate prayer to get the right screen. Once there, pray that some other aspect of the system doesn't start doing funny things that affects the playback of the video. Think I'm making a big deal of this? Well, the first DVD we played in there started stuttering... Heidi drops a root shell to the Mac in my lap and asks, "see anything wrong?" Great... can't watch a DVD without looking for rogue processes.

I'm sure I'll get used to it and eventually even grow to like some of the neat-o features. But in the meantime, I'm going to stick to being the resident Old Fart and remain angry at the fact that my DVD player can seg-fault and crash.


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