Category Archives: Life


I recently purchased a Mac Mini to be my home media computer. I plan to blog more about that later. For now, the only tricky thing about using a Mini has been using my TV for a monitor.

There’s a lot of noise on the web (or Google at least) when trying to search for a solution to using a Mini’s DVI output on LCD TV’s. Typically they recommend using DisplayConfigX  or SwitchResX to tweak your display modelines, timing, resolution, and just generally dive deeper than I like  into display configuration. My solution was MUCH simpler.

My television is a Samsung 46″ LCD (LN46A539P1F). It has 3 HDMI inputs, but one is specifically intended to be used for PCI DVI input converted to HDMI.  It also provides a VGA DSUB input which works perfectly with a Mac Mini’s miniDVI->VGA apapter, but the point here is to get direct digital signal without converting to analog.

The Mac Mini has a miniDVI output and is packaged with a miniDVI->DVI adapter, so to get a signal into the TV, you’ll need a DVI->HDMI or miniDVI->HDMI adapter. I bought both from Monoprice as they are very inexpensive and either works fine.

Once you have the apdapter on and the HDMI cable connected to the TV, the Mac will recognize that it is displaying on an HDTV and will recommend 720p (1280×720 resoution) or 1080p (1920×1080 resolution). However, you will now most likely see that your output is either too small on the screen (has a few inches of black border around the picture)  or is too big (extends beyond the screen). If it’s too big, you have Overscan enabled in your Displays preference pane. If not, you should enable Overscan.

Now, on your TV, go to the Menu:

  • Choose “Picture” (should be first option)
  • Choose “Picture Options” (near the bottom of list)
  • Choose “Size” (will have options like 4:3, 16:9, and Just Scan)
  • Choose “Just Scan”
  • Close Menu

Bam! Your display should now be just right!

I Bought a New Camera

I’ve been a bit obsessive this week as I’ve been trying to research and find a new camera that I would really like. The last one died last weekend… so we were facing the trip home for Christmas with no camera! Before Beaumin was born, not having a camera for a few weeks would have been a non-issue, but now, we take multiple pictures a day!

I talked with several friends who are way more “camera geeky” than I am… I’m pretty ignorant of photography for the most part, but I wouldn’t mind learning a bit more. So I only had a few basic criteria:

  • Pretty decent low-light (indoor) photos
  • Use AA batteries (I really like having easy access to spares in a pinch)
  • Some advanced features so I can learn more if I get motivated

Not required but very nice to have items were:

  • Big optical zoom (because its really nice)
  • Viewfinder (because sometimes glare just makes LCDs useless)
  • Semi-fast flash recharge

It was soon obvious that I was looking for an “Advanced Point and Shoot” for which a few of the top players were Nikon’s P80 and Canon’s SX10 IS. I have some friends who are die-hard Nikon fans and others who are die-hard Canon fans, so this was tricky. 🙂

Continue reading I Bought a New Camera

Flood Tragedy in the Mid-West

I’m currently packing to move to Portland, Oregon, but I grew up in the Iowa City, Iowa area and have lived in the Des Moines, Iowa area for the last 5 years.

The last week has brought massive flooding to much of the mid-west, Des Moines and Iowa City included. There’s been national news coverage, and locally its the only thing happening. Massive flood work and relief efforts are underway everywhere. There was a similar devastating flood in 1993. This flood is worse, but at least there’s been a lot of warning. A lot of people had days to prepare, evacuate, move belongings to safety, etc.

My family and I are safe and well. My in-laws had a flooded basement due to the exceptionally high water table, but that’s manageable. My parents’ church building is completely under water, but they were able to move everything in the building to a safe location before the flooding hit them. At their home they don’t have internet or phone, but they do have power, and the cell phone is providing basic email for now.

My sister has posted flikr photos of the flood in the Iowa City area, as has her boyfriend Joe in this blog post.
The Iowa City Press-Citizen has coverage of the flood in the Iowa City area (link to front page as the “photos” link isn’t working).

In Des Moines, two friends have posted flood pics: Colin and Mark.
The Des Moines Register has photos and coverage of the flood in the Des Moines area.