Arches at Cleveland Bridge


The Enid City Trail System is comming along. The major work on this initial phase is nearing completion. These arches were installed today on the bridge just east of Cleveland. They seem to be a gateway. There are plans in the works to add a trail head just east of this bridge. Room for parking and restrooms are all part of the rumors swirling around town. Even though it’s not officially open I bet we’ll see more and more users out there.

Enid Trail to be Updated

Plans for the expansion of Enid’s Trail system were reported in the March 14 edition of The Enid News and Eagle. Matt Davis, a member of the Enid Park Advisory Board, commented on the City’s plans for the next phase of the trail system. He said that costs will be covered jointly by the City and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. The OK DOT has required that the trail system connect commercial, public, educational and governmental sites through out Enid. It should meet recreation and transportation needs.

You can find the complete plan (PDF) at the City of Enid’s Website. And looking at the maps this phase is just the beginning. This phase should connect the East Side with the West and likewise, the North and the South sides of Enid.

Initial work to be from Parkway in Indian Hills to Oakwood and then continue from Oakwood to Garland. This trail should follow and old rail road track that no longer exists but the right-of-way still exists. On the PDF this would be trail number 3, The Rail Road Pass Trail.

Future plans are for a trail that starts at the western end of The Rail Road Pass Trail and heads North into Cedar Ridge. Again, on the PDF, this is trail number 5, The Track West Trail. A trouble the planners and builders have is how to cross West Owen K. Garriot (US 412) safely. This is the last traffic light in town and drivers are eager to get up to full speed and get out of town.

Also on the City’s to-do list is trail number 9, The Channel Fairway Trail. Initial plans are for it to start close to midway of trail 3 and head North to Chestnut Ave and beyond to Crosslin Park using trail number 12. Number 12, The Farmland Express Trail, is a necessity. If you want to get to the Jumbo Foods shopping center from the South you must use Cleveland. This road is fast, 45 MPH, and narrow. This road is not safe. Having a trail that gets pedestrians and cyclist off Cleveland is a big deal. And it will be see lots of traffic.

The Southgate Lane Trail, number 13, travels from Meadowlake Park in South Central Enid to Vance Air Force Base will remove travelers off South Cleveland. Presently, there are lots of cyclist and runners who get to Vance on South Cleveland. While this stretch is a bit wider than up North it is just as fast. I have to commend the City for wanting to make Cleveland safer. I know that I will be a heavy user of this part of the trail system.

And to connect the South East side of Enid, they are building the Government Gateway Trail, number 15. This will start on the far East end of number 3 and turn North towards East Owen K. Garriot and Independence Avenue. The City plans to use the Old Santa Fe Depot as a trail headquarters. This is a local land mark and shares parking with our farmer’s market. This will be the first leg to allow people to get to Enid’s downtown. Like many towns, the downtown holds government buildings as well as shops and convention centers.

In my opinion, the City is doing the right thing. Giving it’s citizens the choice and liberty to get around town safely is outstanding. As transportation cost keep rising having choice on how one can ‘get around town’ is forward thinking. Once this trail system is complete, people can choose from their our personal automobile, taxi service, the Transfer Bus system and this trail system.

HDHomeRun by SiliconDust

I hate looking at my cable bill every month.  Who wouldn’t want to ‘Cut the Cable’.  I have always known that the best High Definition Television picture could be had by using an over the air antenna. Where I live, that’s 80 miles to the transmitter sites. So I needed a long-range or fringe antenna. And it had to be up above my home’s roof ridge.

After watching Iyaz Akhtar on This Old Nerd, gave me the tools to make this pipe dream a reality. I mentioned the tuner Iyaz finally settled on, the HDHomeRun, and a friend said I could use his old antenna. I ordered it up and initially installed the antenna in my attic. Ran the RG6 cable to my network and downloaded the software from the Ubuntu Repository.


A word about the HDHomeRun. It takes either an Over The Air (OTA) or QAM unencrypted cable TV signal and converts it to a MPEG video stream. This stream can be easily handled by popular DVR software packages. Most notable are Windows Media Center, MythTV, and VLC. I have to say that the Windows Media Center, with the free channel guide, is the way I am leaning when I build my (HTPC) Home Theater PC. The interface is easy and nice.  And it comes standard with either Windows Vista or Windows 7.  It has the Partner Approval Factor. But I don’t have a HTPC just yet.

When the HDHomeRun arrived it was easy to install to my home network. basically just plug it in and do a channel scan. It had marginal signal strength and quality with my antenna in the attic. But now I knew it was going to work. Up to the roof top I go. Once it was in the ‘clear’, I was getting all the channels without any trouble at all.

The only real trouble was the user interface. Using the Linux software, it was taking to many clicks just to tune in a channel. There is no way that anyone other than me was going to use this. So I had to write something that took advantage to command line interface that the HDHomeRun provides.

I dove into the manual and a myriad of google searches. I got a crude bash script that allowed me to tune the HDHomeRun. But still, my wife and kids are not going to use a bash script! I needed a make this as simple and easy as could be. I needed a be able to get this down to a mouse click.

I found that you can use zenity to give your bash scripts a GUI. I rewrote the bash script for only the channels I wanted and dropped an icon on the task bar for quick starting.  Now VLC is the Swiss Army Knife of media players. It can and will play about anything you throw at it. And if you are crafty enough it can stream it over your local network. But I wanted a cleaner interface. I decided on mplayer.

I am cheap. I use old hardware for my computers. mplayer is going to need all the help it can. I edited the mplayer config file to buffer for eight meg. That did the trick. No added buffering.

Here is the latest version of my script.  It still is pretty crude.  I am no professional programmer –Not even close.  And remember, this is suited for the channels available in my area.  If you use this, you will have to edit most of it.  I share it with you as a guide, of sorts.

My bash script for tuning the HDHomeRun

And a screen shot from my netbook, yes my netbook, showing the channel selection interface and a mplayer displaying live free television!

Screen Shot
My TV Tuner Script and mplayer

Now this hack puts me one step closer to ditching my cable bill.  I haven’t yet.  Mostly due to those one or two shows I just can’t get over the internet that are only available on cable.  But soon…

WDTV Live Plus

A while back, a couple of years now, I converted an older laptop into a file server using the server edition of ubuntu. The purpose was to allow me and my family to back up our local files. Then my kids got iPods and now we were each starting to collect music locally. And this file server became our shared music server.

Then, of course, they wanted digital copies of our DVDs. And with all our photos added, our little server that could became our media server. We used VLC on our computers to watch, listen and view all of this. But we wanted the living room, ten foot, interface.

After looking around a bit, I came across the Western Digital WDTV Live box. It allows for Standard Definition and High Definition connectons; and an ethernet jack. Just what I needed. We initial used it to watch our backed up DVDs and video Podcasts. It served our purposes nicely. It also came with pandora, flickr and youtube support. And we used it all.

My idea was to in the future sometime when I had an HDTV that I would get a better box, Boxee Box, Popbox or somethinig. Well I never got the shinny new HDTV but we wanted to consume our media on other standard TVs. So I figured I would just get another WDTV Live. When I seached I noticed the WDTV Live Plus with Netflix. I bought it. And now wish my old box had Nelflix. The Live Plus also has Mediafly support. So I don’t need to download all my podcasts anymore, I just stream them.

WDTV User Interface

The WDTV user interface is ok, just ok. It’s no AppleTV, Boxee or XBMC by any means. But once you get to the movie, you never really need the interface at all. The codec support is outstanding. It plays iPod movies and .MKVs. I have installed the MediaTomb server software on my little server, but really don’t need it. On a five star rating, I would give the WDTV Live Plus a solid four. The interface is not as flashy as it could be, but it does everything I need it to.

Pros: Netflix, Codec Support, Plays Local and Networked Media, Pandora, Flickr and Youtube support.

Cons: User interface, maybe.

So As I type this, the WDTV Live Plus might be the best set top box on the market. Again, at this very moment. Here comes the new AppleTV, GoogleTV and the Boxee Box.

Dixieland Celebration

Last night my family and I traveled to Edmond to a Celebration of Life. The family and the recently departed was a lover of Dixieland music. And they hired ina trio of players, banjo, trumpet and trombone. They played for almost two hours and were outstanding. I have always been a bit envious of folks who can play music so effortlessly. These three gentlement just loved this music and it showed in their playing. We all enjoyed as well. We later thought this would be a great addition to any wedding or any other large gathering, a BBQ picnic, perhaps. We had a great time due to the people in attendence and the great music. A big thanks to the family for allowing us to attend.