Monday, January 09, 2006

More toys for my MCE

My Media Centre (Windows XP MCE edition) has been ticking along quite nicely for the last couple of months.... in fact so well that there are only a couple of issues... too many remotes and not enough space to store stuff.

To solve the problem with the remotes I've got a Logitech Harmony 880 - it's a very clever bit of hardware able to do a lot more than your average 'learning' remote... for instance, press one button to watch TV and it turns on the TV, Media Centre and AMP, sets the right channel on the TV and gets MCE to the right screen. Watching a recorded show or turning it all off again is just as easy. Initially the only real hiccup with setting up the remote was that the amp wasn't recognised (so a few extra seconds of learning) and the TV doesn't start up as quickly as the remote would like (so needed to tweak some settings to give it some more time)

The other new toy was storage... a pair of 7200rpm 300GB Maxtor 6L300SO SATA drives configured as a single Windows XP Dynamic drive - should keep the family happy for a short while at least ;)

There is only one little niggle remaining... not enough tuners (why do the networks deliberatly overlap the good shows?!)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Jabra BT800: just keeps on getting better

Jabra BT800 headsetSo far I'm very pleased with my Jabra BT800... makes life a lot more comfortable with the cellphone.

It's good to see that Jabra continue to support users with the new v0032 firmware update which adds a few improvements;

  • Faster audio transfer for Sony Ericsson phones
  • Faster speech channel handling – the call is transferred to the headset faster
  • Faster reaction on Key-presses during incoming call
  • The missing international prefix "+" is displayed in your caller list thus allowing you to dial out from your Jabra BT800

The upgrade is very simple - I wish other firmware fixes where as easy to apply, and makes use of the charging USB cable (but make sure you don't loose the little stylus or pushing the rest button can be a bit tricky!)

Still no caller-id from my SE T610 ... but then again, that's running firmware that's over 2 years old (but unlike the headset isn't a user upgrade and not worth the pain and cost of a Sony service fee)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Spring Clean the Laptop - Part II

The saga that began with a need to reinstall my laptop has progressed quite nicely, and I'm very happy with the results.

My backups didn't fail me, and my ability to track down old software CDs and serial numbers hasn't been compromised by the house move between getting the current machine and now.

One thing I did forget to backup was a lot of the samed passwords in IE for various websites. Luckily most of the really important ones I manage through eWise so as long as I don't loose the USB key with the important data on I'm okay!

One of the nicer aspects of the rebuild is that the machine is running really well again. No demo versions of anything or partly uninstalled trialware to slow things down. I did celebrate with an upgrade to Macromedia Studio 8 which negated the need for a couple of little utilities I used to have lying around.

On the whole it's gone well. So far I've not come across any problems with lost data or apps, and it has made me think about what I actually need as a bare-bones install and what I like to add for a comfort fit.

Now I've just got to decide if I want to repeat the process on the PowerBook and the Desktop machine....

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Big Brother 2006 - Applications

Once again the Big Brother roadshow is underway. Similar process to 2005... there will be a roadshow and then the process of whittling the applicants down to the housemates we get to know.

The site is back and ticking over nicely. The front end is showing it's initial simple face at the moment, but all the cool applications stuff is sitting there waiting to spring into life.

As usual the core is Classic ASP (with a big shiny SQL database lurking in the background)... but I have sneaked in some beginnings of a migration to ASP.NET. Means there is some duplication of common include files but no great shakes.

Now on to planning the main site....

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Beltane Trinity Craftings

Finally I've got around to fixing up the site for Beltane Trinity Craftings. It's very early stages... a lot of content needs adding and some tweaking of the design (first website this designer has done) and page templates but it was a fun ASP.NET build.

The whole thing took a day from getting the assets to launch (hosted as usual with HostingShop who do a great job).

Behind the scenes is a simple content management system (CMS) which allows the publisher to edit the copy for the pages, upload and tag images and manage classifications. It made good use of the ASP.NET Image Upload and Resizer code that I already had and a great Captcha sample but the rest was pretty much built from scratch - it's theraputic !

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Worried about the SonyBMG rootkit ?

If you're worried about the impact of the SonyBMG rootkit exposing you to trojans on your PC check out AnyDVD from Slysoft - allows you to not install the rootkit and still play the CD ;)

Also check out Rootkit Revealer to see if you're already 'infected'.

OSX users are also affected by SonyBMGs actions

SonyBMG are already under legal attack thanks to their actions. Meantime why don't we just vote with our dollars....

Remember... turn off AutoPlay on your PC unless you trust every disk you're putting into your machine...

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Blue(tooth) in the face

I've mentioned in the past how I wish Bluetooth was better supported. Today I went searching for a way to make good use of my Jabra BT800 headset and my SE T610 phone. It was a search in vain.

Specifically my goal was to be able to use my T610 as a webcam (with MSN Messenger) and the headset with Skype, MSN Messenger or any of the other SIP clients.

I'm usually pretty good at finding things on Google (after all, people do pay me to go find stuff for them!) so I was quite surprised to draw a blank after messing around for an afternoon trying to find a solution.

There are some webcam apps for Nokia S60 phones with a bluetooth connection - but even they don't appear to create a windows driver that can shift the camera output to a messenger product, it just lets you record as an AVI.

There are plenty of apps that let you use the mobile phone to view a webcam, but given that camera phones are pretty much standard fare these days and most PCs (with the exception of the now discontinued Viao PictureBooks, the Asus W5 and the new iMac) don't come with a webcam built in it would seem like a smart move.

Which brings me on to the on-going problem of getting the bluetooth headset working with Windows XP sp2 Bluetooth drivers. Most dongles ship with third party drivers (from Widcomm) that allow a wide range of Bluetooth profiles to be established - including the fairly obvious audio (headset) profile. For some reason Microsoft have decided to deny users of the hardware (like my Vaio T27GP) that comes with hardware supported by sp2 the joys of anything other than basic file transfer and serial (modem) connections.

I thought using the 3G LG 8120 was frustrating earlier this year as I even had to lug around a cable to use it as a modem. Having devices with really good Bluetooth support that I can't make use of is even more frustrating.

Oh, and out of the box OSX supports the headset profile so my BT800 works fine with Skype on my Powerbook. At least I can't find a way to use my T610 as a webcam with the Powerbook as well, or I'd end up having to take that on my travels so I can phone home without having to lug around a headset and a webcam along with everything else.

Update 9 Nov: Turns out I'm not the only one who thinks it's sad that there isn't yet an iPod with Bluetooth support