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Try and Ye Shall Succeed

Converting data from text to numeric types gets simpler in the .NET 2.0 Framework with the TryParse method.

have a recurring dream. It happens often enough that I think of it in waking moments. The dream goes like this. (Don't you hate it when people tell you their dreams? I'll keep this short.) In the dream, I'm living in a house and everything's fine. Then one day, I discover a door in the wall, and find a whole wing of the house that I hadn't previously known existed. Sometimes, good things happen among the unfinished rafters, other times, bad. Either way, in every house I've ever owned, I've harbored this fantasy that some day I'll find this "hidden wing".

Amazingly, this time it actually happened. The guy who built the house we landed in was a bit, well, eccentric. It's a beautiful place, with lots of interesting details, and we knew from the outset that there was space above the garage that wasn't connected to the house, and wasn't built out. Bored one day, we climbed up a ladder into the unfinished space, and it was as if I was experiencing my dream, in real life. No walls, plywood floor, ceiling joists, and 700 sq ft of extra space. Now to find a use for it all!

Flip forward a few days (we move fast) and we have contractor drawing plans for a home theater. I've always wanted one. I hate having the living room cluttered with wires and big TV and speakers and stuff. A separate space, with a screen that rolls up at night, and a front projector-that's my kind of place.

Figure 1: Projector Manual Image: I attempted to decipher this figure to determine the appropriate projector and screen placement.
Little did I know what I was in for (we won't even go into the construction issues). Perhaps you've tried to deal with screens and projects and stuff, but it's almost got me wishing for the time when all we had was a 12-inch black and white remote-free TV. The variables involved in determining the correct screen size, placement, material, and geometry have me running for the hills. Some projectors can be hung from the ceiling above the screen, others cannot. The room has to be dark for some projectors; others can handle ambient light. (Our problem is that we're simply building a room with a projector in it. Apparently, to create an appropriate home theater, you need to create a black room with black walls and ceiling and carpet. No thanks.) I even attempted to decipher the following figure from one of the projector manuals, attempting to determine the appropriate projector and screen placement (see Figure 1). Good luck:

The result? I'll get professional help. As with most tasks such as this, I suggest finding someone who knows what the heck they're doing. If you're in the area in March or April, however, come on by for the inauguration of the theater. I haven't quite figured what the premiere showing will be. People tend to use big sci-fi epics to show off their systems. Perhaps some Star Wars thing? Send in your suggestions, please! Oh, and what did we learn from all this? When you're adding a room upstairs, build the stairs first. Climbing a ladder through a hole in the ceiling to haul up framing materials is just no fun.

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