HTC Touch 3.03.651.4 Firmware

Holy crap; ask for something, and there it is!  (gotta love the Internets!).  I went back to PPCGeeks to look for another custom firmware and there is a link to the official Sprint HTC firmware!

Downloading now- and probably testing for the better part of the night...

Custom HTC Firmware

I have become very tired of awaiting the 'promised' firmware upgrade for the HTC Touch from Sprint.  A few months ago I tried a hacked version of the Alltel firmware that enabled GPS and EVDO Rev A (which worked pretty good)- but I have grown tired of its occasional lockups and slowdowns...

I was trolling around PPCGeeks and ran across the PPC Kitchen firmware update.

This firmware is a fairly interesting concoction; it allows me to chose a base firmware and add on various applications, themes and tool.  (One nice feature is the ability to use the HTC Diamond applet on the Touch).

So far the results have been varied; the device seems to run faster, but I have issues with many applications being 'unsigned' and unable to be run on the device (which worked fine under the Alltel firmware!).   I also have the occasional issue where I receive a phone call but I cannot click the 'accept' button (after the incoming call is over, the phone unfreezes and I can call the originator back).

All-in-all it is a mixed bag; lots of extra features, but lots of issues too (like being unable to set the default button action).  Hopefully Sprint will eventually release a final HTC Touch firmware and I can use it as a base for the other applications I have found embedded within the PPC Kitchen firmware options. 

The ugliest "radio" I have ever seen...

The ugliest "radio" I have ever seen...


GeoVision GV800-4A

There was an attempted break-in at my house a few weeks ago (I have a video of the attempt up on youtube) and I finally realized what a pain-in-the-ass it is for me to get video content from my present security DVR to a format that is useful for the police to research. 

I have a 16 Channel DVR that I purchased from CCTV Factory a few years ago.  It is a decent system and has most of the features I want but it uses a proprietary '.DVR' format for video exports.  To view this, you must use a specific DVR player software that is not the easiest thing to use.  Exporting video to DVD (I upgraded the included CD-RW drive) usually ends up in corrupt disks and export to USB is painfully slow (I am guessing it is USB 1.1?). 

My recent solution to overcome this to purchase a Dazzle DVD recorder for about $40 and capture the video out from the security DVR.  This worked very well (well, at least after upgrading to Pinnacle Studio Ultimate v12), but it still created another step in getting the video from me and to the proper authorities.

I have tried PCI capture cards in the past, but I went the inexpensive route via eBay and purchased two "SKY-104" 4 channel 30fps cards for about $25/ea.  I was not very impressed with the quality and it was hard to find software that worked reliably.

I decided to take the plunge and purchase one of the famous GeoVision cards.

After a little research, I decided on the GV8000-4 card; this is a 4 channel card with 120fps and 4 audio channels (although I would need to re-wire to use the audio portion).  It goes for about $350-$400 online and after some research I went back to CCTV Factory (by the way, they were VERY helpful at handling my order!).

One main issue is that some of the cards labeled 'GeoVision' are not true OEM products (or they are older versions?); a good indicator for this is if they can run version 8 of the GeoVision Surveillance System software- and this is a primary reason for purchasing a GeoVision card!

The card installs rather easily; Windows XP detects eight devices (four GV800_4A Video Capture devices and four GB800 Audio devices).  Note that the drivers are not signed by Microsoft so this software will not work on 64bit systems (or Vista as of yet). 

Nest the surveillance software is installed and cameras are connected to the BNC ports.  The software has all sorts of bells and whistles that I like, such as:

  • up to 720x480 recording resolution per camera
  • email/SMS notification on alarms/motion detection
  • Web page viewing interface (IE only!)
  • Remote view software
  • PDA software (Symbian, Palm and Windows Mobile- but I have yet to get this working on my HTC Touch).
  • Up to two zones of motion detection per camera source, with 5 levels of sensitivity per zone.
  • Video stabilizer and noise reduction options
  • auto-restart of real-time recording if idle for a set number of minutes.
  • Recording in Geo-MPEG4 or Geo-H264 video format.

There are lots more features as indicated on GeoVision's web site.

The biggest feature for me was that video is recorded to the hard drive in the specified (GeoVision customized) MPEG4 or H264 format- so as long as I have the proper codec installed I can edit them directly in any video editing software.  The software saves the files in folders based on camera number, date and brakes the video files up into 5 minute (max) files for easy viewing/editing. 

There are a few issues with the remote view software and Vista x64; the software will allow remote viewing of the cameras, but it can take 2-3 minutes to close the program after clicking the button.  I have also had two occasions where the cursor would go to a strange corrupted icon look and the computer would BSOD or just freeze and reboot.

I am very happy with the GeoVision software/hardware and I will be purchasing a 2nd card to allow for additional cameras (I have one already wired up and plans for 3 more).



Another 'must have' program is Evernote...

It is similar to OneNote but it synchronizes data to the web (free account or paid account options)- and there are, PC, Apple and PocketPC clients that can all access the same data. 

I find it useful to create a list of things to do on my PC and then I can view them on my HTC touch- or to take notes on my phone and have them appear on my PC at home.

One VERY useful thing I did was to put all of my DVDs in a list and post them into a notebook in EverNote- so now when I see a movie at BestBuy or Fry's and I cannot remember if I already own it (early senility is starting to set in) I can do a keyword search and know for sure...

The ability to embed hyperlinks and PDF files (and other formats) also makes it useful for working on projects (such as my CarPC project).

CarPC Planning (again)

I am re-considering installing a PC in my car (recently influenced by the good work others have done on a very similar vehicle). My initial requirements are GPS, 802.11b/g, EVDO, Touch Screen and and interface into car stereo- but it would also be nice to include wireless sync, hands-free bluetooth, backup camera and 'rolling' drive camera.  I don't have any need to watch movies on the unit (I think GPS will be distracting enough!).

This is the quick list I have come up with:

A quick total puts it at about $830(!)- not including shipping or cables... If I do go ahead with this I will be purchasing the parts over several paychecks:

  • Phase 1: Computer - $362.00
  • Phase 2: Screen - $350.00
  • Phase 3: Other Accessories - $115.00

The most difficult part will probably be modding the car to fit the screen- followed by running power + VGA to the trunk (where I plan on mounting the computer).

The motherboard has 8 USB ports and the case will provide 4 external ports (2 on motherboard + 2 on front of case); the other will need to be wired internally.

Gateway P-6860FX Addendum

I have been running XP on my P-6860FX for over a week now and I am very happy with it.  There are three 'unknown' devices in device manager, but a little Google research indicates that these are ACPI extensions for Vista's 'direct application launch'; XP does not support this so I am ignoring them.

I have been testing the battery under XP and under normal use (browsing, downloading, blogging, email, etc.) I am getting a little over 2.5 hours per charge.  Not the best battery life for a laptop (albeit it is pretty good for a 17" laptop) but it is much better than the 1 - 1.5 hours I was getting with Vista!

I also found that the Gateway Camera Assistant works in XP.


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