Windows 7 RTM – The last installation

Windows 7 PackagingSo Windows 7 is now released to manufacturing (RTM for you acronym junkies out there) and this is the last time I’ll need to be installing the operating system before it appears in the shops. During the Beta, aside from a few minor issues with hibernate, Windows 7 has been wonderfully stable and, I must say I’m impressed by the new Media Center interface (EngadgetHD have a look at it here).

Anyway – this is a HOWTO for installing the Windows 7 RTM [Get it here] from a USB drive, mainly because it’s faster than doing it from a DVD, and also – because my various DVD drives appear to not enjoy talking to each other. These instructions assume a Windows based operating system, I completed them using Windows Vista.

Continue reading “Windows 7 RTM – The last installation”

Installing Windows 7 (Build 7000)

Windows LogoWow. I’m in love again.. well, maybe – I’m certainly in LIKE!

A few days ago I wiped out my gaming rig with the intention of installing the latest beta of Windows 7. The Beta was opened up around mid-January and attracted a LOT of attention, and downloads. Personally I grabbed both the 32-bit and 64-bit builds as at some stage I’d like to see if I can get an install running on the EEE.


The 32-bit DVD turned out to be a failure, but – since I have a Core 2 Duo I was able to install the 64-bit version without issues, in fact I was struck by just how FAST it installed – I was go to whoa in around 15 minutes. In terms of peripheral detection, everything- including my Leadtek USB DVB-T tuner were found and working right off the bat.

So, first impressions are ‘wow’ and ‘cool’ and ‘I want to replace Vista PERMANENTLY’. If you have a spare machine kicking around at home, I’d fully recommend it.

Post Install:

Media Center – This just works. No fnarkling in the registry, no loading internal webservers and pointing guide downloads to a local source – it just works… with a DVB-T tuner that is – the channel names are captured but I’m not seeing the guide data getting populated within the grid. I have my suspicions that the guide may not be found as my DVB-T card is kinda ancient and may not be picking up the now/next data correctly. I know Mauricio has been testing the Win7 Media Center for a lot longer (and probably has more recent gear than I do) and, given that he’s replaced Vista on his primary media server box, I suspect he has had more sucess in this space.

I haven’t had time (or free PCI slots) to try a traditional tuner and, given the guide data in NZ is only transmitted in band for DVB-T transmissions, I’m not holding my breath.

Edit 02/02/2009: I’ve got the bug!

I wandered into the office at home this afternoon to find my Win7 rig dead. Well, running – but with no display and no ability to wake it up. Apparently others have also seen this behaviour but, unlike those commenting on the article, I have yet to have any sucess in the whole ‘turn it off and on and off and on until it wakes up’ department. So, at the moment – I’ve got a dead PC and no obvious way of sparking it back to life. Granted, it’s Beta – but this seems kind of fundamental so, assuming I can resurrect the box and get Windows 7 talking to me again, I’ll be disabling all power saving features in the hope that things don’t repeat. Failing that, it’s back to WinXP, or Vista, or Ubuntu + WINE.

Edit 03/02/2009: Aaaand we’re back

Managed to get the PC booting again, it may be conincidence, but after popping out the video card and booting off the onboard video, things livened up once more. Reinserted the video card and all back to it’s normal speedy self. Much enjoyment playing around on the system now.

Mythbuntu 7.10 Released!

While I haven’t played with MythTV for quite awhile, I was pretty excited to learn that the Mythbuntu project has released their latest update to bring themselves into line with the 7.10 Gutsy release.

MythbuntuI’m going to download an ISO of the latest build to try out on one of my machines at home – I’ve got a wee plan for a possible front end client machine already <insert evil cackling>

To HD or Not HD – That is the question…

Given the work I’ve been doing over the last few years in the DVR/PVR/Television space, I’m now being (rightly or wrongly) sought out by my friends and family for advice as to what to buy when they’re replacing their Television sets. I’ve written an entry on this previously, but figure it’s probably worth another post as my thinking on the matter solidifies.

I’m of the opinion (which is subject to change pending convincing technical arguments, or a Lotto win) that buying an HD set is a good idea, but not worthy of sinking the kids education fund into at the moment as there are still a number of up and coming technologies (aren’t there always?) which require serious consideration.

So – my current response to inquirers is “get an HD set, and make sure it can do HD, but don’t spend too much as you’ll be wanting to replace the unit in around 5 years when OLED or SED make it to market, and HDMI 1.3 (or whatever supersedes that) becomes commonplace.”

The biggie here is to make sure the screen does what you’ve asked for as sales people seem to be economical with the truth and, while being technically correct, HD ready and actual HD display can be different. To this end, I’ve added a resolution table to the end of my ‘Getting High‘ post which you should check off against to ensure your display will do what you want it to. Once you’ve established the resolution you want to run, for goodness sake – make sure the set includes an HDMI port which inturn needs to support the HDCP content protection ‘standard’ – otherwise you’ll end up with a device on your wall which can display HD content, but no HD content which is broadcast (or purchased as a HD-DVD/Blu-Ray/Whatever) will be allowed to get sent to it. There’s some links in the last sentence there – follow them and get informed so at least you know what you’re talking about when the sales guy in the local electronics store tries to tell you about high-definition.

Have you registered your lounge & RFID tagged your friends and family?

In the continuing saga of the MPAA riding roughshod over the general public comes this wonderful article via my friend Trev which covers the latest lobbying of congress by the MPAA.

Dan Glickman want to regulate things before they get too far out of hand and the MPAA loses control like they have with online sharing of copyrighted information. “We have a right to know what’s showing in a theatre.” says Glickman. If passed by congress (the same group of people see the internet as a bunch of “tubes” [MP3]), this would see home theatre equipment manufactured in the future requiring technology to directly inform the MPAA of what was being shown and specific details fo the audience. You’ll need some motion sensors and biometric technology to help them out with this too.

Now, for those of you who are thinking that your setup isn’t flash enough to be defined as a home theater, get this – the MPAA defines a home theatre as:

“… any home with a television larger than 29″ with stereo sound and at least two comfortable chairs, couch, or futon. Anyone with a home theatre would need to pay a $50 registration fee with the MPAA or face fines up to $500,000 per movie shown.”

Glickman (and by extension, the MPAA) doesn’t believe that you should be able to buy a DVD and invite people (including your own family) to watch it as it denies them the revenue they would have otherwise generated. He concedes that since it’s not feasible to expect everyone to have their own copy of a DVD, that the ‘registration fee’ is a “fair compromise”.

Oh – if this has you shaking your head in disgust and vowing never to upgrade your gear to this new ‘enhanced capability’ equipment, the bill also seeks to ensure that existing home theatres be retrofitted with the same technology, unless the owner is willing to take responsibility for directly informing the MPAA and receiving approval before each viewing.


Thank goodness I live in New Zealand and not America and our government won’t be swayed by such ridiculous notions… oh, hang on… bugger.

Yeah – that ought to almost do it…

Yeah… 100Gb/s – that’s what I’m talking about!!

I just saw this article on Engadget about the University of California who have sucessfully stood up a 100Gb/s link over fibre between Houston, Texas and Tampa, Florida.

Now THAT kind of speed to the premisis would certainly support multiple HD streams for all the TV and PVR devices in the home! Now if only we could sort out a fair DRM system and allow for local caching so as not to kill New Zealands international link 🙂

Getting High

A few weeks ago, I was transferred to the ‘Video Services’ team while our company-wide restructure continues on into its ninth month. This transfer is part and parcel with the braindump we’re doing after my recent trip to IBC and has the potential to get my darling Wife ‘into’ TV enough to let me finally get that HD Flat Screen mounted on the wall I’ve been looking forward to since running the draw wires during our renovations.

Now – I’ve had my head in the TV space for a number of years, yet – despite broadcasters overseas recognising the benifits of HD to the viewing experience, broadcasters here in New Zealand seem to be playing something of a mexican stand off to see who will run with High Definition (HD) broadcasts first. It’s unlikely to be forced by our government who’s plans are still at a ‘wait and see’ stage, but the emergence of Freeview in New Zealand in 2008 should at least level the playing field for broadcasters who would liketo offer up HD.

I have my own opinions on this, and as some some of them are formed from knowledge of the industry (which obviously I’m not discussing in a public forum), but the up shot it, from overseas trends alone HD is coming, and my next TV will need to support it. (Well, okay it doesn’t need to support it, but my Wife has given it a thumbs up after I explained she could use a new HD screen to run her presentations off for our new business.

So anyway, the next step is to do some research, pick through the Digital Home magazines we subscribe to at work – and buy an HD TV.  I’ll update this entry as I find more information which proves useful in the New Zealand market.

Update 11/12/2006:

Ahh the tyranny of technology – just as you’re almost ready to make the jump into new capabilties – something new and more exciting is ‘just around the corner’. The specs for HDMI 1.3 have just been released and are discussed here. So now I’m torn – should I buy now, or wait for the new features such as:

  • More complete HDCP support (read: compatibility with poorly implemented ‘other’ devices)
  • Double the HDMI bandwidth (new audio formats)
  • Automatic lip-syncing
  • 30-bit colour (less banding between colours/better gradients, better contrast ratio, better ‘shades-of-grey’ representation)

It’s all pretty compelling stuff and gives me even more reason to lurk in the HDTV Discussion forums where I’ve been hanging out for the last month or so (still haven’t caught up but meh… never will). Digital Home - HDTV Resolution / Viewing Distance Chart

One of the best finds from the forum was this chart which shows at what point you actually get benefit (as opposed to bragging rights) from your xx” HD Display. YMMV of course (oh, sorry – that’s Your Mileage May Vary – ref: the L33t Sp34k post) but there’s also threads which I have in favorites on some relevant themes such as a HDTV buying discussion, Which Plasma to Buy, as well as an assortment of threads discussion the pitfalls and virtues of 720p vs 1080i vs 1080p vs Whatever-comes-next.

Update: 22/01/2007

Well, I’ve had enough friends and family ask me what kind of screen they should by to warrant another update to this posting. One of the big gotchas about buying a ‘HD’ display is what different manufacturers (and marketers) call High Definition (HD). The difference between true HD (as per the resolutions in the table below), and HD Ready need to be understood and challenged when making your purchase decision as their may be ‘economies of truth’ in the description of the sets capabilties.

Resolution / Scan Type / Aspect Ratio
1920×1080 / Progressive / 16:9
1920×1080 / Interlaced / 16:9
1280 x720 / Progressive / 16:9
1280×720 / Progressive / 16:9
720×576 / Progressive / 16:9 and 4:3
720×576 / Interlaced / 16:9 and 4:3

I’ve also included Standard Definition (SD) in italics for completeness. Obviously there are different scan rates but this is a rough guide, if you’re that keen you’d be checking out the Wikipedia entry wouldn’t you!

Update 13/04/2007

At what distance resolutions matterFollowing my recent discovery of the ‘Coolness Roundup’ podcast, there’s a new graph created by Carlton Bale from his post “1080p Does Matter“ which you may find useful.

Editing DVR-MS Files

I love my Windows Media Center – it’s been in place for a little over 2 years now (I think, it’s all been a blur of watching what I want, when I want) but the one thing which has bugged me is the amount of disk space the recordings take, especially given I can now access more programming than before, I simply have problems storing it until I can view it!

Until now, my solution has revolved around plugins I have found via that meca of MCE goodness, The Green Button community site, I’ve been using DCut to edit out the start and stop buffers (I’m still allowing -5 minutes from start and +15 minutes from stop to allow for ‘changable’ broadcast times), I’m then using Power Compress on the resulting file to transcode to a more efficient .WMV format (though, in the process, MCE seems to lose the ability to quickly fast forward through streams).

BUT WAIT – There’s another way!

If you’ve got access to your files on your local LAN and have a PC (yes, you’ll need that 2′ interface) running Windows XP, you can use Windows Movie Maker with this wee registry tweak which Chris Lanier has just (re)blogged about. For the sake of redundantly archiving this tweak throughout the Interweb, I’ll attach it here and quote it below:

 Open Notepad and paste the following in it.


Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

“FriendlyName”=”WMT MSDVR 2 Dexter Filter”


@=”C:\\Program Files\\Movie Maker\\wmm2dvr.dll”



Save the file with a .reg extension (example: MM2.reg) and then double click on it to merge it with your existing registry.

So – I’m yet to try this at home, but it’ll sure save me the grief I get when wanting to chop up files and re-encode them, when everyone else wants to watch (Recorded) TV or use the Media Center Extender (which borks when the local MCE machine is grinding it’s way through a re-encode.

Of course, out of interest, I tried doing this on the Beta version of Windows Vista I’m running and what do you know? It supports DVR-MS import and editing nativly (with some VERY nice .WMV options). I’ll have to type up a Vista fanboy post soon I think, the ‘yay, they’ve fixed that’ list is getting longer every day that I use it.

Thanks Chris, Thanks Green Button Community!!

Great Guides coming soon?

I saw this article come through on my RSS feeds a few days back and I thought “I really must flick that link out to some of my colleagues” then I thought “I really must throw that into a blog so I can get down some thinking’s around it” then I thought… “Oooh – Coffee…” and went and had a coffee, forgetting the article altogether! Fortunately, I’ve managed to ‘re find’ that story and so follow my musings, after the jump. Continue reading “Great Guides coming soon?”

I got the world on a sling, sitting on a rainbow…

Well okay, it’s not the whole world – it’s just the bits that Sky TV in New Zealand broadcast, and it’s not sitting on a rainbow either, it’s hooked into the home network and running over the internet.

For those of you still confused as to what I’m talking about (i.e. probably everyone), I’ve recently hooked up a SlingBox to a Sky STB Decoder and am now able to placeshift my sky viewing across the internet to my PC or my mobile phone.

Continue reading “I got the world on a sling, sitting on a rainbow…”