NS4300N Update

I purchased a Promise NS4300N as it was on sale for $300 at Fry's.  This model seems to perform a bit better than the prior one I reviewed, but there is still an issue with dropped connections (I will have to do some further research).

It looks like there was a SR4 firmware release on the Promise web site, but the link is broken at the moment... (actually most of the links are broken at the moment- just the PDF downloads are working!)


XBMC for Mac OSX?

I have been waiting for a stable version for XBMC for Linux for a while and I recently saw an article on Lifehacker that there is an OS X flavor of XBMC available...

I installed this on my MacMini and I am very impressed; it has almost the same functionality that my faithful XBMC (on the xBox classic) had, but it also supports HD content! (not really possible on the original version due to the limits of the xBox hardware).

1080p MKV files played without a hitch (maybe a little lip-sync, but that can vary in movies); 1080p WMV-HD played, but no audio (could be a bad encode) and was a little jerky at times.  IMGs and VOBs for DVDs play with no problem.  DivX, XviD, MPEG, MPEG2 and MOV all play.  Please note that for the video playback I was running at 1920x1200- so it should run a little better at a native resolution.

The current beta version of XBMC for OS X will play slightly more content than my Vista Ultimate HTPC with my default Codec setup (ffdshow, Mastroka and AC3 filter).

The default setup utilizes the MacMini remote- but there are some features missing (like a 'Stop' button).  I also see it has settings for 'Universal Remote' but I do not have my xBox remote handy to test.  I was able to bang around on the keyboard and find a key that returned to the menu (tab).

The XBMC for OS X system was very stable- until I started installing scripts form the main menu.  The Flickr script crashed on install and the Cranky Geeks podcast script crashes the application when it tries to download; I am assuming this is still a work in progress.

A little more testing and I may be looking at an additional MacMini for the roommate's system (so I don't have to burn DVDs for her).


HTC Touch Firmware Hack

I did the firmware update tutorial over at PPC Geeks and I now have a HTC touch with EVDO rev A and working GPS.  (Take that Sprint PCS!!)

It was fairly easy as there are really only four steps needed:

  1. Confirm/Revert your firmware to Sprint OEM Original firmware
  2. Unlock the phone with the Vogue Unlocker
  3. Update firmware with the custom Alltel firmware
  4. Flash with a custom Sprint Firmware

If you want to do this for yourself, please follow the instructions provided on the PPC Geeks website.  Please also note that attempting the above can 'brick' your phone and it will most likely not be covered by Sprint support.

The firmware installation has made me love this phone even more than I did prior; it is definitely a 'power user' firmware as there are a plethora of adjustments/tweaks. 

Some of main features provided by this hack are:

  • GPS Enabled
  • EVDO Rev A Speeds
  • WM6.1 Features, such as journaled SMS messages.
  • Lots of programs added in- such as Opera Mini, TCPMP, S2P (a pseudo 'cover flow' music player) and a multitude of configuration programs.
  • Adds a music launcher icon to the Touch Home panel
  • Adds S2U2 screen lock ('slide to unlock' like the iphone)
  • Lots of tweaks, such as choice of weather providers, LED indicators, custom startup screens, etc.

There is also a seemingly hacked version of TeleNav that provides turn-by-turn GPS directions (not sure how long this will last).

This update should tide me over until Sprint can get around to releasing an official firmware update (if this ever happens since the HTC Diamond is due for release soon).


Taking the Hobbits to Isengard

I am not sure why, but I like this video... (maybe it is the LotR background music remix?)


Economic Stimulus

I received my 'economic stimulus' check Friday, so I set out to stimulate the economy- starting with Frys!

I purchased a new Promise NS4300N NAS (Fry's had them on sale for $299- and I thought I should give it a second chance based on responses to my review).  I will evaluate and update my review (so far, it does appear to work a little better- ~80Mbps transfer over my GB network.

I also picked up a second GeForce 8800GT (PNY XLR8 version) from BestBuy ($180 on sale, -$25 gift card, -$30 reward zone coupons = $125!) to try out SLI for the 8800GTs (perhaps in Age of Conan?).

Age of Conan Pre-Reg + Early Access Download

So I paid the extra $10, and tonight I received an email that the early access download is ready!

The client downloads pretty quick and then the main download starts: 13.7GB @ 150kBps; so I have 1d 5h 52m until my download is complete! (gives mea little nostalgia for the good 'ole dial-up BBS days!)

Yard Sale PVRs

A friends called me yesterday to let me know about some stuff she knew I would be interested in at a yard sale; a TiVo and a ReplyTV for $25 each.  I told her to snag them and I was on my way...

When I got there, there wasn't just two PVRs- there were four! I purchased three of them and my friend purchased the fourth (which I took home for inspection/upgrades/etc).  Goods for the day at the yard sale:

  • One ReplayTV 4508 PVR
  • One Tivo Series 1 PVR (Philips PTV100)
  • Two Tivo Series 2 PVR (TCD140060, TCD24008A)

Did I mention that all of the above have lifetime memberships?  :o)

So far it looks like the ReplayTV  and one of the Tivo (the TCD140006) have dead hard drives- but fixing these guys will be half the fun! 

I believe I have found a site with TiVo images at ftp://ftp.abs.net/tivo and I am now in #tivo on EfNet to see if I can locate a login/password for this ftp site.  After that, I can use a MFSTools boot CD (free download) to restore an image.

Due to my excessive OCD/ADD, I became tired of waiting for a response so I purchased a copy of InstantCake (so, the case was not a lie?) and created an 80GB drive for the TCD140006- so all three TiVo are now up and running.

I also was able to call TiVo and have all three devices transferred to an account: they only need the activation number from the back of the unit and they created a new account for me and moved all three devices into it.  I must say that their support is very helpful and very friendly.

For the ReplayTV, I installed the drive into may PC and verified the HD was dead with RTVTools (it was unable to backup the drive to an image, so it was bad).  I then downloaded an image from The Serenity FTP server and used RTVTools again to restore the downloaded image over a 300GB Seagate drive.  Finally I ran the RTVTool patch (for drives over 147GB), installed in the drive in the ReplayTV and reset it to default settings with '384 + Zones': The RTV4508 now has 280GB (about 94 hours on 'high quality') for TV and 20GB for photos...

I think I'm being 'Hyborianized'...

I purchased an Age of Conan pre-order at BestBuy; and spent another $10 to start 3 days early (on the 17th)... Now I am just waiting to start the early download (unless that doesn't start until the 14th?)

I also downloaded the open beta (which ended today, d'oh!) client and it was 14.5GB- so it may take a while to download the final version!


HTC Touch Firmware

I guess I haven't had a chance to do a write-up about my Sprint HTC Touch that I purchased a few weeks ago; but it is my favorite phone to date! (compared to a Treo 700p & 700wx, Blackberry 8700c, 8800 & 8310, Nokia 3650 and many other older Nokia models..)

So either Sprint has canceled their GPS upgrade (which was indicated as 'Available Q1 2008' in the online description) for the Touch or they have released an update and I cannot find it- I will assume the former as Sprint is very good at screwing over their customers...

Alltel has released a GPS/EVDO Rev. A enabling firmware update for their Touch- and I found instructions for using this on the Sprint Touch over at PPCGeeks.  There is more discussion on XDA-Developers and Howard Forums.  I am considering trying this as it would be very nice to have these features on my phone- If I do, I will do a follow-up on the outcome.


Samsung P2 Firmware Update

Samsung has released firmware v4.13 for the Samsung P2; It looks mostly like a GUI/theme update.

There is an install tutorial on YouTube; you will need to download the firmware and the GUI Update from the Samsung site (and also snag the games pack if you haven't already done in the prior firmware update).

I really wish Samsung would include 'release date' and 'update info' on their download site- the only reason I was aware of the GUI update (at the bottom of the download list- below the 3.15 firmware) was from watching the YouTube video...

Someone was actually kind enough to go through ALL of the new themes:

WHS Sites

I have found a few good sites with WHS software/update info; some of them include:

I have discovered that x10 ActiveHome does not play nice on WHS- it has random 'illegal operation' and Dr. Watson errors.  I am testing it under Windows XP in compatibility mode to see if it works better.  I think it is  also important to run it from the console window (or remotely via VNC) as the remote desktop connection is more like Windows Terminal Server (TS) mode (which makes sense as it is based on 2003 Server)- save for the add/remove programs not acting like I am accustomed to for TS mode.


Windows Home Server Update

Today I had to 'bite the bullet' today purchase an OEM copy (the only version that is available) of Windows Home Sever (WHS) from Fry's.

I was down to '8 days remaining to activate' and I didn't want to wait and see what happened to my 3+ TB of movies, music and pictures that now call the server home...

I had tried an AntiWPA crack, but it appears Microsoft did some background updates and 'fixed' this.  At first I was getting a message on my clients that I needed to activate but when I checked the server it indicated it was already activated (via AntiWPA).  A few days ago I checked and it was now telling me I had an invalid key and a new key entry box was up...

WHS server has been pretty reliable and the upcoming Power Pack 1 update promises makes it an even better product.  I didn't really mind spending $180 on WHS as I think it is worth it (if nothing else, just for the fact that if/when my roommate's PC crashes again all I will need is a replacement hard drive and  a WHS client restore boot CD!)

WHS appears to have fixed all the weird 'glitches' that my Vista media center was having with Networked drives.  It also makes a fair media server host (with WHS add-ins)- but TVersity makes it a DNLA media server for the PS3.

Computer Upgrades

On Friday I decided it was time to upgrade to a new Intel Wolfdale Core2 Duo CPU.  I also needed a few other things to go along with this, so I ended up with:

I pulled the 8800GT from and the 4GB of OCZ DDR2 RAM from my old system.  I added a few hard drives (after some data juggling to free them up), a CompUSA branded SATA DVD-RW drive (I found on sale for $20 at MicroCenter), a PCI 5 port USB card (I have a lot of USB peripherals), and a dual port SATA Card (to support additional hard drives/SATA DVD drive).

My primary hard drive is a Western Digital Raptor X 150GB drive; the other four drives are each 250GB drives (some Seagate, some Maxtor) and give me a total of about 1.1TB of storage.

Since I do a bit of downloading, I have allocated two drives to this processes; one is a 'News' drive for downloading files from the binary news groups.  The other is a 'Downloads' drive for IE/Firefox downloads and extracts from the News drive (via NewsLeecher).

The remaining two drives are dedicated to Games and backups.  Games are simply game installs.  Even though my PC is backed up to my Windows Home Server (WHS) and I have chosen to store my user data (photos, docs, music, etc) on the WHS server, there is no backup of the data on the WHS (at least until WHS Power Pack 1 is released)- so I copy data from the server back to my PC with Titan Backup.

So far the system is very stable and much quieter than my prior AMD Phenom 9500 system.  While four cores are cumulatively much faster than the two core CPU, the issue is that most games/application will not recognize more than one core- so Neverwinter Nights 2 ran like ass on the Phenom 9500.