More fun Vista Stuff!

Yes- I have been screwing around with Vista for the past two days; but more gizmos abound!

1st new 'got to have' addon is TVTonic; This is basically a video podcast agregator that can collect any video podcast that supports RSS enclosures.  It has severl hundred podcasts in its library (only fav I didn't see was MoBuzzTV!) and it downloads in the background and allows me to play them from an embedded program in Media Center.  (I guess this kills the need for a video cable for my iPod!)

2nd new addon is something I am stil testing  is a Media Center Remote Record option.  It reuqires an install on the MCE system, but then I can login to a MSN TV guide and search/schedule any show for recording (via a passport/live account).


Vista auto-logon registry key...

In case you have a Vista (premium or ultimate) setup as a HTPC, you may want it to automatically login if; a little research indicates it is the same registry hack as for XP:

-Autoadminlogon (1)
-DefaultUserName (your user)
-DefaultPassword (your password)
-DefaultDomainName (if you have a domain)

You'll need to create the DefaultPassword string and value.


Either Microsoft is really good with their Vista support or they are trying to keep me very happy (little bit of paranoia there)...

I had some more problems after the ATI driver uninstall (still getting BSODs on startup), so I decided to format and start over.

I still had a few issues (BSODs on two occasions) and then the error analysis report suggests I install a new ATI driver from Microsoft or ATI- via a new Radeon X1300 patch that was released today. Now that is not so unusual, but the same thing happened with a patch for the Windows 2003 Admin tools- and TrendMicro Anti-Virus- and an Intel 945 video driver; all three had new patches for issues I had found just a day prior. Maybe this is the normal new Microsoft service, but it just sounds weird that they are happening so quickly...

So now Vista is all good and running with a clean install and the DVD gallery patch has been re-installed; there is a Microsoft TechNet article on the patch. A little further research and I found how to include the DVD box image with the DVD files.

Test to see if Blogger is 'fixed'

Another Vista 'Feature' Tweak...

To help resolve the issue with slow-as-ass file copy/transfers in Vista:

Go to Programs and Features in Control Panel, and chose the option for Turn Windows Features On or Off.

You'll likely receive a UAC prompt.
Uncheck Remote Differential Compression and click OK.
Enjoy faster file transfers.

Vista MCE Update

So the newest ATI driver sucks- I started getting BSODs on boot and (when Vista would boot up) the trouble-shooting indicated a video driver and I should disable video acceleration (but that option wasn't there!). After uninstalling it seems to work better...

The native vista driver of 720p inside of Media Center works much better than the ATI video driver; full-screen with no apparent clipping!

I also wasn't seeing my DVD rips; a little research indicated that I need to do a registry tweak:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Settings\DvdSettings

Change ShowGallery from Play to Gallery.

After this, I now have a 'DVD Library' option in the menu and Vista seems to organize them accordingly- sweet! Now I need to find out how to set the thumbnail for each movie (for the ones that I am not burning off in a week or two).

In spite of the driver issue, Vista MCE is still a thumbs up for me...

Comp Day and New Toys!

Today I took one of my comp days for weekend work (DST patch and data center move) and I will take a second tomorrow- my last comp day will be next Friday (I hate long weeks).

On my day off, I worked on my roommate's and her business partner's 'Pearl' Blackberries- wow, almost like being at work! The new (replacement) unit for Jon was missing the contact behind the track ball; I took it on my own to fix it. DST patch, lastest firmware, etc.

First Toy:

After that, I went to Fry's and picked up a new microATX motherboard for my HTPC. The current board is a cheap-o ECS RC410L/800-M that I basically got for free when I bought a Pentium D925 (Dual core x 3.0Ghz) CPU, so I really cannot complain all that much about it. It did the job for Windows XP MCE 2005, but it would BSOD while trying to install Vista. The error code I received was an IDE error (Vista didn't like the ATI chipset) and I tried swapping HDs, DVD drives, cables, etc. A quick search on Google for "RC410L/800-M BSOD" indicates others are having similar issues; there are mentions of a hacked BIOS (last official update was 06/2006), but that sounds like more trouble...

I finally gave up decided to get a decent motherboard.

I picked the Abit Fatal1ty F-190HD; not because of hte 'Fatal1y' branding, but more for the fact that it has on-board HDMI (via another ATI chipset- that was kinda scary!). The only short-coming of this board is that it only has one old-school PCI slot and two 1x PCI-E slots; I guess this is the push to get me to abandon the ole' PCI slot...

Vista installed like a champ on the new motherboard (everything else was the same) and I didn't need to use my NVidia 6600 PCI-E card (don't laugh- I only bought it as it was cheap and it had a component output break-out box) as the on-board HDMI works great with my TV.

Vista wasn't too happy with the default video settings (under scanning) but the latest (and still buggy) ATI drivers/control center allowed me to create a custom resolution for the desktop. Ironically when I setup MCE with the old drivers, it allowed me to set 720p for its interface, and it looked great- since the ATI driver install it has a black box around almost every window.

I found a Vista Codec Pack that seems to work fairly well, so all of my XViD and DiVX files are playing fairly well. So I have migrated yet another system over to Vista.

Second Toy:

My Canon Speedlite 430EX flash came in today (for use with my Rebel XT camera); I popped it onto the hot shoe of my camera, and I am fairly impressed! I have taken several indoor pictures at night and it is hard to tell if it is a day or night shot! The pictures also look much more sharper as the flash has an auto-focus beam assist (also make it easier to take pictures in the dark as it throws a red cross pattern where it is focusing!).

I have a lot to learn about the flash before DragonCon! :o)

Additionally I picked up a 500GB Segate PATA drive (16MB cache, 5 year warranty) for $129 at Fry's- this will go into the DVR that I am getting next pay cycle (perhaps along with the 400GB I pulled from the prior MCE 2005 system).


La La Startup

My shipping kit for la la arrived today; five envelopes and five plastic CD cases.

La La is a service where you list all of the CDs you have and you can trade the ones you are tired of (if anyone is interested in them). You can mark CDs that you don't want to trade (so you don't accidentally try to send them) and search for ones that you want to receive.

Basically when you ship out a CDs and you get a 'trade credit'; you can then go request a CD and someone will send it to you (if it is available). The fee is $1 to la la + shipping (I think they said about $0.75 each CD)- so it is like trading an old CD for something you want for $1.75.

I have added a 'la la badge' to the right side of my screen so you can see some of the CDs that I have for trade.

New Cameras

We are doing some upgrades around the house, so I am upgrading our security cameras as well. I found a place with decent price on cameras and cable called Closeout CCTV- and I spent $500 on six cameras (420 line- not too bad), a 9x12v power distribution block and matching 'duo' cables (BNC+Power). However, their prices on DVRs are not the best...

For a new 16 channel DVR I am probably going to use CCTV Factory.

(Oddly enough, both of these guys appear to be primarily eBay vendors.)

Now I have to sift through the whole DVR jargon environment and see what I need/want:
  • MPEG-4, MJPEG or JPEG2000?
  • CIF (320x240) or Frame (720x240 or 720x480)?
  • 480, 240 or 120fps (across up to 16 cameras?)
  • BNC pass-through, VGA out, web broadcast and/or 3G phone support?
  • Triplex or Pentaplex?
  • IDE HD, CD-ROM, DVD-ROM and/or USB?
  • Internal power or external brick?
...or do I just forgo the entire DVR box idea and get me a nice GeoVision card and build my own DVR?

Blogger Still Broke

I received a message from the blogger staff that my blog 'was not considered SPAM' and that the word verification would be removed after I logged out and back in (wow, are they running Windows?); no luck... I am wondering if they applied the patch to my abandoned (now deleted) blog...

So- all blogging tools are still useless; all posts are saved as 'draft' until I login to the Blogger page and open and publish with this 'word verification'...

What the Hell do they consider 'SPAM' at blogger/google?


SlingBox client for PalmOS released

SlingMedia has released a (beta) client for the PalmOS- finally (OTA download is here). It is still $30 if I want to use it for more than 30 days- so it is probably a passing amusement more than something I will really use (now for $15-$20 I would consider it).

I was going to try it out today, but it appears we are behind on the cable bill so my cable box has been deactivated (into which I have connected my SlingBox); I guess I will try it out tomorrow! :o)


New Mags

Here are some cool magazines that I picked up at Barnes & Nobles earlier tonight; the UK magazines seem so much better (and more expensive!) than the US versions.

Hopefully I will find the time to read them!

stuff digitalslr digitalcamera


Blogger- WTF?

It appears that blogger has implemented a new form of 'spam control'- requiring me to enter a 'word verification' for each blog that I post. What this has done was put several of my posts into 'draft' limbo waiting for me to login to blogger and change them from draft to post with via the word verifications.

A few suggestions to blogger/google:
  1. Lose the word verification- this breaks about every blog tool that exists (performacning, live writer, etc).
  2. Notify people when you make changes to the way things work!
  3. Make new 'spam tools' options that will need to be turned on by the user- not the reverse; i am sure there are millions of pissed-off people that have no idea how to turn this off!
I have requested that this silliness be removed from my blog- now lets see how long this takes to actually occur... (Yet another reason to move over to Word Press or Movable Type!)

God of War II and PSTwo

In case you didn't hear, God of War II for the Playstation 2 came out last week- with some very good reviews. I was a fan of the original God of War, but I really didn't want to get my old (modded) PS2 down from the attic and hook it up. Here are my excuses for not using that one:

  • Laser assembly kind of flaky (replaced it once, works Ok, but not 100% reliable with DVD+R media)
  • DVD door cover broken
  • No place in audio rack
So I talked myself into buying a new PSTwo (PS2being the old 'brick' style with a separate network adapter, PSTwo being the new slimline' style). I also decided to use it with my new 24" monitor as it has two component inputs- that took care of the space issue.

I think it finally came down to the 'new hotness' vs. the 'old and busted' mentality to justify needing a new PS2- for God of War II... and other things...

No two ways about it; God of War II is fracking awesome. There is one part called the 'Steeds of Time' that is just breath taking- and I think I am less than 1/2 way through the game, so I am sure there is lots more to see!

In addition to God of War II, I picked up a copy of Shadow of the Colossus (new), Final Fantasy
and Soul Reaver 2 (Both used). New 'classic' games are going for $20 each; used games are as low as $8 (at GameStop/EBGames)- this is a price where I don't feel it is
worth-while to look for a Mod chip for this unit...(and the DMS4 EZI SE Pro is $80!)

However, I really do enjoy taking the units apart and connecting wires andchips and seeing what I can make the unti do!


Catching up...

It has been a busy few weeks; I returned from New Orleans and I have been fairly busy at work and around the house- not much time to play World of Warcraft even!

Work has been busy with several things; migrating data centers, backup restructuring, build room rebuild, and several other little projects that keep popping up at the last minute- but that keep life interesting.

I have been contacting old friends via email lately; which is good.

I am back on a low-carb diet, so my energy levels are low (maintained by caffeine until my body adapts) but I was able to make it to the gym yesterday- and plans are to go back tomorrow... I think if I can get down to my ideal weight (about 190) it will be a lot easier to maintain as I will be more apt to be more active!

I have decided my favorite two TV shows are definitely the new Battlestar Galactica (renewed for a 4th season!) and HBO's Rome series- I am actually leaning towards liking Rome a little more as I feel more anxious to see the next episode (even though I know what happens -as it is based on Roman history!). It is kind of like a soap opera set in 300BC - but with the occasional death via gladius...

Not much else to write at the moment...

Looking for a Joost Token.

Anyone have a spare token for Joost beta?



I never noticed the full-sized CHUD egress port in front of my house until this morning...