Project Pontiac Trans Am

Last week I purchased a 1981 Pontiac Trans Am! If you know me well, you know I’ve wanted a 1978 Trans Am for years. Even though this is not the correct year, it’s very similar to the Trans Am I wanted and with a little effort over the coming years hopefully it will look like a 78′.

This is the first time I bought a car off eBay. The experience was a good one, but I certainly learned a lot in the process. Biggest thing, ask the seller lots of questions. I was not aware that some of the dashboard components were broken including the turn signal. I did, however, anticipate some issues with things like the doors, window gaskets, etc… So even though I was initially shocked by a few of the additional problems, I still feel somewhat satisfied that I got a decent deal on the car.

Important details about this car:

  • Has no rust (came from the West Coast)
  • Any Pontiac engine from 1970-1981 will fit (I’m looking for a Pontiac 400)
  • Car has factory T-tops

When this car was new in 1981, it was originally dark gray with silver interior. It came with the Turbo Pontiac 301 (4.9L) engine, power windows, power door locks, all wheel disc brakes, posi rear end, air conditioning, cruise control, intermittent wipers, and aluminum honeycomb wheels. It currently still has all of these options except the interior has been converted to tan color, the power door locks is no longer present, and the car was repainted black. For those Trans Am enthusiasts, I am sorry to say that it does not have the WS6 performance package.

The car needs a lot of work. So far the engine needs replaced, interior panels need some TLC, drivers door mechanically  needs some TLC, the wipers are not functioning, heater/AC controls are not functioning, broken interior heater core cover, window and T-top gaskets need replaced, turn signal is broken, steering column needs tightened, and heater core molding needs replaced.

The initial plan is to replace the engine with a Pontiac 400, fix the steering column, heater core cover and drivers side door.

I’ve decided to document all the work I do to the car as a podcast. I haven’t yet decided on a name or format for the podcast, but it should be a lot of fun. Anyone who would like to be involved with the podcast and/or help me with restoring this car, please shoot me an email, angelo [at] mandato.com.

Blubrry Powerpress podcasting plugin for WordPress

The new Blubrry Powerpress podcasting plugin for WordPress is now available. This is a very light weight podcasting plugin for WordPress to provide only the fundamental features for hosting a podcast on a WordPress blog.

Features:

  • Easily add/modify/remove podcast episodes from blog posts
  • Integrated media player
  • iTunes RSS tags
  • iTunes album/cover art
  • upload new iTunes/RSS cover art
  • Ping iTunes
  • Media size detection
  • Duration detection (mp3 only)
  • 3rd party statistics integration

Add podcast episode to post screen:
Add Podcast

Cross section of settings page:
Cross section of settings page

For over a year now we (RawVoice) have talked about working with the existing podcasting plugin for WordPress to get it to support storing podcast episode information in the native enclosure format in WordPress. After a lack of interest from that plugin’s developer to work with us (I think working with us would have conflicted with his work with one of our competitors), we decided we would create our own WordPress plugin. Even though we decided we would write our own podcasting plugin for WordPress, the idea was not accelerated until the latest version of WordPress 2.6 came out 3 weeks ago. The latest version quickly caused issues in the podcasting space. Since many of our podcasters on Blubrry use WordPress for distributing their Podcast, we decided it was integral that we provide a light weight podcast plugin alternative that would be more reliable for our podcasters to use. The last thing we wanted was our podcasters to fall out of podcasting simply because their web site was no longer functioning.

Within the first week of WordPress 2.6 being released, I designed the initial feature set listed above and we hired a developer to start development of the plugin. He did a great job of getting the plugin it to a beta stage within one weeks time. Following his work, I took the project over and polished it and optimized the code over the course of this past week. Many of the changes and enhancements I made were to streamline the plugin so it would utilize the least amount of server resources as possible.

An example where I took extra care to optimize the plugin was with how it detects the duration (time in hours, minutes and seconds) of mp3 files. The other podcasting plugin available uses Ajax to tell the wordpress blog to download the complete episode to detect the duration. This ends up creating very long executing script on the server to download very large media file just to calculate the duration. I developed code that only downloads the first few hundred kilobytes of a file in order to read the ID3 tag information. The result is very smooth and fast detection of the duration information saving server resources.

If you’re a podcaster looking for a well designed and light weight podcasting plugin for wordpress, I strongly encourage you to check out the Blubrry Powerpress. Please let me know what you think and if you have feature suggestions or comments.

Link: www.blubrry.com/powerpress/

podcastFAQ.com everything you need to know about podcasting

podcastFAQ.comI’m proud to announce that podcastFAQ.com is now available. podcastFAQ.com aims to be the starting point for podcasters and enthusiasts looking for information relevant to the industry.

The web site came from conversations Brian Yuhnke and I had following my visit to PodCamp Arizona. Many session speakers referred to tuns of web sites for podcasters to go to for information on specific topics. At the end of the day, I had about 40 different web sites to check out and they weren’t organized very well. About the same time, Rob Safuto left RawVoice which put the documentation responsibilities on the rest of the RawVoice team. After a few chat and phone conversations with Brian, we came to the conclusion that a wiki would be the ideal way to get the site started.

Once we discussed the idea with the rest of the RawVoice team, everyone at RawVoice went to work taking our own scattered documents and organizing them into the site you see today. As we were developing this web site, Todd Cochrane found the ideal domain name in his portfolio of registered domains, podcastFAQ.com.

As we developed and organized the content, we quickly discovered that we had a lot of missing information. To keep with the feel of the industry, we decided to make the home page of the site as honest as possible to encourage others to contact us with ideas and content.

We made a soft launch of the site last week to members of Blubrry, PodcasterNews and Tech Podcasts Network. Everyone has been very supportive of the site and it’s unbelievable how much content we’ve received already.

If you’re a podcaster or interested in learning about podcasting, please check out podcastFAQ.com. If you have some ideas for content or suggestions, please feel free to fill out the contact form. Your help will make the site better for everyone!

Netflix on computer plus 50 DLP TV equals AWESOME

Netflix‘s recent announcement that customers can watch as many movies and TV shows on their PC recently motivated me to check out the online service. I have to say the service is AWESOME!

We recently purchased a new 50″ DLP HD TV which includes many inputs including VGA. So we hooked up a computer and away we went. In no time we were watching movies from netflix.com on our big screen! The picture quality is excellent, I would have to say better quality than traditional cable. I would even go as far as say to say the quality is high enough that if Netflix offered all of their movies online, we wouldn’t even bother with the traditional movies by mail.

Future entertainment is going to move on-line. Live events will be streamed live and pre-recorded content will be released in the same fashion as podcasts. On demand services accessed through the Internet opens the doors of possibility that no Cable or Satellite service could match. I’m convinced Podcasting will be considered the pre-cursor to this New Media movement. I’m very excited to say I’m part of this revolution.

New Year Update

It’s been a while since I blogged anything. I’ve been very busy. Here is my update of what is going on in my life.

RawVoice
Been very busy working on a number of projects as usual. We are about to launch a new web site on Monday, January 14, 2008. If things go well, we’ll be launching some new service each Monday for the rest of the month. We’ll see if I can keep up.
http://www.rawvoice.com/

Spaceblue
I reprovisioned the server the day after Christmas, I am happy to report that I finally have everything on-line and running strong. I quickly got the crucial items on-line. I mainly had to get web stats and a few other little things setup after the new year. Setting up the new server took much longer that I anticipated since I switched from using Apache to Lighty web servers. It is paying off though, the server is handling the same amount of traffic without using all of the system resources.
http://www.spaceblue.com

PodCamp Ohio
I’ve been leading up the charge to organize PodCamp Ohio. Over the past month, we’ve secured a venue location and launched the web site. I am pretty happy with the core podcasters participating, they are really on the ball and have no problem taking charge of items they are good at. PodCamp Ohio will be on Saturday, June 28, 2008 from 9am to 5pm at the ITT Technical Institute in Hilliard (just west of Columbus), Ohio. More details are available on the web site.
http://www.podcampohio.com/

Association for Downloadable Media
Last fall I was elected Chair of the Measurement Committee of the Association for Downloadable Media. The entire process is exciting. I purchased a copy of Roberts Rules and have been slowly coordinating all of the members of the committee. After 12 people joined the committee, I was looking for the board members to set a limit to the size of the committee so it would not become too large to manage. The consensus of the board is to allow as many ADM members to join the committees as possible. I understand the motives, as the podcasting community is oriented in a way that encourages participation, it just makes managing the committee that much harder. I am up for the challenge and started devising ideas how to manage the situation. My position as Chair of the Measurement Committee could not be more perfect for the Association since I have both a technical background with Internet Engineering and vast experience with measuring podcast downloads.
http://www.downloadablemedia.org/

The House
Dad was in town two weeks ago when I was about to fix a shower leak. The work started with Dad reminding me to buy the tool recommended to remove the faucet cartridge in the documentation I printed out. A couple of minutes later, I broke the cartridge trying to remove it with pliers. Lesson learned, still listen to your parents! At this point I think Dad was convinced we would have to call a plumber, but my plan was to buy the removal tool and a screw tap. My plan worked luckily, with the help with an extra long screw replaced in the recommended tool. The rest of the process of installing the new cartridge went smoothly. I am happy to report the shower no longer leaks! If any family or friends need to fix a Moen shower/bath leak, let me know cause I have the recommended tool to remove the cartridge. Definitely don’t try to remove it with pliers!

San Giorgio Pasta Choo Choo Wheels
I told Heather a long time ago about Choo Choo Wheels Pasta and she looked at me rather strange. Two weeks ago I came across a package of San Giorgio brand Choo Choo Wheels and snagged a box. Sam Giorgio is my preferred pasta brand. The back of the box has a recipe for spaghetti meat sauce, so I thought I’d give it a try. I don’t have all of the details here, but the main ingredient are 2 large cans of whole pealed tomatoes, 2 small cans of tomato paste, 2 teaspoons of sugar, 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, graded and 1 pound of ground beef or sausage. I used a 1 pound roll of Bob Evans Italian Sausage. Cook the sausage, then mix everything except the Parmesan, bring to a boil then cook on a medium/low heat for 30+ minutes. When you are ready to serve, add the Parmesan, which will thicken the sauce. I like thick sauce, so stumbling upon this tip has revolutionized my spaghetti sauce making abilities! 🙂

Anyway, the sauce on the back of the Choo Choo Wheels box was awesome and so far is the closest thing I’ve been able to get to taste like real home made spaghetti sauce the way Grandma would make. She would cook the sauce for hours and have 3 different types of meats in the sauce. It is the standard which I use to judge all other sauces. Funny how that works.

What’s Next
I’m going to restart my Compiled Weekly podcast. The recent work I’ve been doing moving blogs around for RawVoice and reconfiguring the Spaceblue server with Lighty has given me a lot of content ideas for the show. I got a lot of knowledge to share about Lighty and tips with server management. I got just about everything automated so I don’t have to manage anything now. 🙂