Monday, January 29, 2007

ebay and youtube vids = great combo and IE7 gripes (whats w/the crappy big monitor support??)

well, i've decided that i'm sick of my current phone (z710i w/w710i firmware) and have thus posted it on ebay..

feel free to bid, knowing its from a great seller, me! hehe... anywho.. thus my quest for my next geek toy. i've been getting more and more curious about the older tablet pc systems, one thats been high in my ebay/online deal search is HP's TX1100.. its a converitable tablet interface, however the tablet itself can be detached and taken and be used as a tablet only (no kb).. so far i've seen some decent deals in the sub $600 range (my sweet spot for toys!), but hope to score one on ebay for a bit cheaper.. we'll see..

however since i was going to sell my phone, i decided what better way for potential buyers to see how the product performs than by embedding some vids of the phone's menu's in action. i know as a phone whore, i love seeing a phone's UI in motion is important to me.. UI is a main decider in my choosing a phone..   so i changed my auction selling form to be HTML and then embedded my youtube vids of the flash menus into the auction. it turned out pretty neat. we'll see if it helps sell my phone or not.. get some youtube hits atleast! haha..

 and finally.. IE7.... whats up w/the crappy formatting for my 24" widescreen running 1920x1200?? why can't pages be centered when in windowed mode??? why can't the page/tables stretch to my 1920px horizontal??? come on!!!! seriously why aren't big monitors taken into account w/xp/vista/ie7??  thats MS's goal or so it seems is to integrate pc and tv and living room, we need some better visibility and text displaying technologies before they'll gain anymore ground.. 

hell if vista is a prob w/my 24" widescreen, image my probs w/my 37" lcd hdtv in my living room? i guess we'll see oncei upgrade my living room pc..

 i'll step off my soapbox now.. peace

Friday, January 26, 2007

windvd and vista vs me, round 2: me!

well, i was hoping to finally get my windvd8 working on vista, however i was having a heck of a time w/windvd8 installing.   i kept getting an annoying you need the DirectX Runtime Feb2006.  at first i was afraid of installing the update since i feared it may ruin my vista and its directx10, however after some reading/searching i decided to go ahead.  it turns out the package only updates missing/needed components and leaves newer ones intact. so thus far good to go.

finally got the latest windvd8 trial installed, my build was the vista patched one so now i can finally watch dvds on my vista install again.   i was going to try to use just media player for dvds but the performance was horrible.  windvd8's latest patch/build seems to fix the lag i was seeing in media player and w/my older windvd8 installer.

another note, photoshop cs2 has been running pretty smoothly for me thus far.  i only had one lockup but that was during install.  i've noticed if you get errors when installing xp apps, do the right click on the .exe and choose properties and then go to the Compatibility tab and put a check in the Run for Windows XP SP2.  seems to resolve install problems. 

now if only i had drivers for my ATI HDTV Wonder.  i wonder if i had vista ultimate if i would? i did see a great deal on the Vista Ultimate Ed for only $199 over at  , i'm pretty tempted to get it for when the cable card tuners start coming out. hmmm...

 UPDATE: got my ATI HDTV wonder going finally, had to use my older WinXP drivers and had to install them manually by browsing and then selecting them from the list of Sound Video and Game Controllers.  Then used the ATI DTV Wonder Analog AV Capture Device driver and voila! i see it now, the last device i have to get going is my Creative Live! Cam Video IM Pro.Â

wii news channel is live!

well, woke up and went to the living room to see a nice suprise! my wii was glowing, so i powered it on and saw the message on the boards that it was live.  so i updated my wii and got a taste of the news channel.

very nicely done! see my youtube video of it over here of it in action:

peace! give my video a moment or two to load. i'll embed once its live.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

vista business ed notes and using...

well, so i've prob ran the last 4 versions of the vista betas and finally this weekend got Vista Business Ed RTM up and going on my main pc.  my initial impressions of vista were luke warm due to the super long install times of the betas. i was anxious to see how the final release of vista and its aero style would run or crash. this is my first real attempt at using vista as my main os, but i have my xp prof sp2 still dual booted and setup just in case.

i'm only on day 3 of running vista and so far things have been so, so.  basically reminds me of when XP first came out.  silly cd/dvd burning software crashing the os, features from the prev OS that seemed to be left out, horrible vista compatible driver support, and the newb-ness of the OS itself.

so here are a few things i've noted about Vista thus far and think may help other virgin Vista users out.

1. older Nero 7 versions will crash Vista.  there is a video encoder in the installation that makes vista crash over and over again.  however, there is an alternative solution.  a few geeks have made a custom installation, micro and lite nero 7, that will work with vista.  i'm using the Nero 7 Lite and it lets me do everything i did w/the full version (never/hated the stupid showtime player, always took over all of my video/audio extensions).  check that out over here: 

2. ATI video drivers DO NOT allow fullscreen overlays like in prev versions.  this was a biggie for me since i use my dual monitor setup mainly for movie/video watching and i always have my ati settings setup to have fullscreen overlay video on my secondary when i have video going in the primary.  very nice for movies while surfing, etc. we can only wait til Ati updates/adds this feature back to their drivers or someone hacks the current one.  i've heard you can use older RC1 betas but i'm a bit skeptical on using even older ati drivers.

3.  Where's the My Pictures slideshow screensaver??? seriously, i loved that screensaver!!  it worked w/multi-monitor setup (pics would alternate between my two monitors) and let me use my monitors/pc as a digital photo frames in my room (have a hotkey setup to turn on my screensaver, i love you ultramon!). i found a MUCH better alternative.  Google's Picasa has a screensaver function.  once you activate in Picasa, it will add a screensaver into windows display properties > screensaver area.  Choose it and click on the settings button and then choose which folders you want (you can do multiple folders, folders in picasa (starred/tagged) or even from picasa webalbums).  Jackpot and another point for Picasa! get it over here:

so for the time being, i'm still using my XP  setup for movie watching at night and my vista setup during the day.  so it seems i'll prob be dual booting for some time to come. anywho thats about all for now, more to come (hopefully cablecard tv tuners and vista ultimate!).  oh yea, here's my latest desktop, vista styled.. :P  (doh, wp won't let me upload... so.. coming soon? hehe)

vista desktop 01242007

Monday, January 22, 2007

wiimote skins.. in the flesh

well, as born-again nintendo boy, i had to go out and get some wiimote skins from just cuz.. i figure i've skinned my psp, ds, and why not my wii?  plus, i get to brag about my nearly complete wii setup with 4 wii-motes!  just am 2 nunchuks and a classic controller from my full wii setup! hehe.

wiimotes wii



Sunday, January 21, 2007

my weekend of projects: hds, vista, snowboard and a ds lite

well, this weekend i had set aside for all of my recent geek projects/purchases.  lets see what was on the agenda: new hd/redo system storage scheme, get new DS One flashcart working, setup Vista, setup/tweak my snowboard, and of course get a blog in.

 my new harddrive project seemed to take up most of the weekend since i was redoing my whole partition/storage scheme.  redoing my scheme required me to basically setup my partitions on the 500GB first, install XP to my first partition, then hook up the rest of my drives and then one by one, backup the data to the 2nd and 3rd partitions on the new harddrive, then format/repartition the old harddrive, and finally copy data back to respective partitions.

this took me about a day to do (moving over 700GB of data manually is probably in my top ten of boring computer tasks) but was well worth the time.  My current drive/partition setup is as such:

-Disk1 (500GB), 3 partitions for XP, Vista, Ripping
-Disk2 (300GB), 2 partitions for files, games
-Disk3 (250GB), media files, my documents
-Disk4 (200GB), dedicated entirely to storing of Ghost images of my setups (so glad i made a Live Ghost Boot CD!)

my drives
vista seemed to run and load much faster on my new drive (has a 16mb cache vs my prev having only 8mb caches; i remember when most drives only had 1mb or 2mb caches, those must really seem slow these days).  the maxtor drive is a sata300 drive but my motherboard's sata controller is only a sata150; so i'm not getting the ideal speeds at all but still access times are good. 

i did my first real vista install today since i plan to run both that and XP SP2 on my main box.  my first few boots w/vista were interesting since i had installed nero 7 right away and it seems that nero 7 has an issue w/vista or the version i had did.  so i went online and found a micro and lite version of nero (made/customized for Vista), check it out over here:  install the micro version to get almost every feature, the lite is for basic burning only.

also used several tips from tech rx in getting my vista setup and adobe reader going.

after finally getting my XP Prof and Vista dual boot setup done, off to tweaking the snowboard. 

just got a new 2005 Burton Cruzer from REI for a pretty good deal. After riding some very sweet setups at the demo days at Spirit Mt, i decided that i had to actually spend some money for a brand name board. my current board is a cheapy, generic one.  the K2 and Burton setup i rode was beautiful, if not a bit scary.  i would consider myself to be a more aggressive freestyle rider, i love to go as fast as i can at times; however the k2 and burton setups it seemed almost hard to slow down or keep at a casual not screaming pace.  i had no problem w/the tougher, uneven terrain (a key thing for me since my face plant).  Last year i was up at Lutsen in northern MN snowboarding w/a bunch of my skier pals.  we hit up a pretty fast blackdiamond and i hit it too hard and did a faceplant going about 30mph.  not a fun weekend! since that wipeout i've been a bit on the softer side and also reason why i got my new board. 

my snowboard

one thing that amazes me with snowboarding is the level to which it has risen.  i started riding way back in 1994, so i'm pretty experienced (i'm a carver more than a jumper or pipe) and i remember my first board.  it was an airwalk 120 (started riding pretty small boards at first) and didn't have any of the quick release stuff or pads or anything.  i look at my latest board and the level of customization with it and it amazes me.  today i removed and adjusted the bindings (Morrow bindings).  the bindings can basically be taken fully apart and adjusted in almost each aspect.  pretty crazy i'd say!  well, got my new setup so we'll see how that holds out next weekend at my parents.

and the final project, my new DS Lite homebrew cart.  i decided to go and get a new DS One SC slot 1 card since my current SuperCard MiniSD is good and all, but sticks out a bit at the bottom.  plus, the DS One is a super key also so no firmware upgrade needed.  got it working but have been having some probs with the microSD card.  it seems i may have too slow of a microSD card, but we'll see after i play aroud a bit more.  

ds one and supercard sd

hoping to get my laptop power cord in (got from a pal that declared it dead, dead? never! hehe, popped a new 60gb hd in it so we'll see if an OS installs or not) and my Wiimote skins in.  i broke down and got 4 different ones from   and hopefully my fourth and final wiimote i got off ebay will come soon too!

peace out

Saturday, January 13, 2007

iPhone thoughts...

well, this last week or so we finally got to see Apple's first true jump into the cellphone market w/their rumor-laden iPhone.

the iPhone boasts some pretty impressive features such as being a widescreen iPod, Mac OS X like interface, widgets on the dashboard, and all in apple smooth/ease of use.  so, will the iPhone be the success that apple and most industry experts expect it to be? or will apple in turn kill its own iPod market w/such a device?

here are some of the features from apple's site on the iPhone (

-iPod music and video player
-iTunes support
-Touchscreen, Widescreen.
-Gesture support.
-Accelerometer detects landscape/portrait aspect automatically
-OS X operating system
-Wifi, BT, GPRS/EDGE wireless connectivity
-Widget support
-2mp camera
-4gb or 8gb flash onboard storage

the iPhone really isn't that breakthrough of a phone/device.  all of the current technology exists in current phones (ie MDA, HTC Wizard, etc) and most run the Windows Mobile 5 OS or Symbian. however, it seems that apple's venture tries to do all of these things in a much more integrated/intuitive way. i know from my personal experience that the Windows Mobile 5 OS is not an easy one to get used to for new users.  it is a bit clunky and slow and does freeze up at times too.  so i give apple props in that i know the device's os and integration of apps will be very clean and smooth and stable.

however, one thing that i do not like is the fact that apple will not allow non-apple applications on it. for the average joe thats prob not a big deal, but for me it is. this reminds me of a phone i used to have, the Sidekick and Sidekick2.  these phones had a similar proprietary OS that was very smooth and clean. they also were one of the first IM/txting targeted phones and did IM/txting very well and also the web.  however, these phones did not allow the user to add any other applications; the only way was to apply for a developers key and then upload them via the HTConsole (which of course i had and loved! fell in love w/some great beta apps like Hipster and Underground Weather).

so that is a minor gripe of mine of the iPhone. another gripe is that i'm a gadget geek/whore and love having the toy that no one has; everyone will have the iPhone.  it will be a huge success, a no brainer.  the hype surrounding the phone for the last 2 years has been crazy in the cell/mobile scene. however, one MAJOR gripe i forgot to originally add was that the fact that the iPhone is a cingular exclusive and in turn those of us not w/cingular may SOL come release day since there has been no mention of an unlocked version!

and finally, is apple shooting itself in the foot by releasing the iPhone? some people think they may be, however i do not agree.  there will always be the iPod only market.  you know apple will update the player w/the iPhone release; who knows, maybe they'll release a 100gb version soon or a widescreen/touchscreen version. plus the iPhone has only 4 or 8gb of memory.

for some reason, apple just can't seem to do any wrong these days.  the iPhone will be a success unlike the infamous ROKR of past and i will prob end up with one on release day given it is unlocked.

and no, i am not an apple fanboy but must give them props when due. i just hope they release the iPhone unlocked to a carrier so we can use it on T-Mobile (i can live w/o the visual voicemail feature that seems to be tied to cingulars network)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

phew! finally settled in!

well.. after about an hour of good ole copy and pasting (ctrl+c/v-ing), i got all of my older  blogs from my blogger account over here. feel free to peruse if you dare! haha... warning, may contain geeky content...

not sure what my next project is going to be yet. i think vista and the ati tuner are looking pretty possible at the moment (due to my hate of my hd dvr box, arg!).  or maybe it'll be a new phone, hate to say it the iphone concept looks pretty sweet.. (did i say that out loud?), but i'm still planning on waiting until tmobile gets UMTS going before getting another premium phone (might get me a used K790a for the time being).  if anyone has any thing geeky or technological they want to see let me know, i'm always down for a fun challenge or attempt. :)

Monday, January 08, 2007

hope at last! ATI announced ATI TV Wonder HD Tuner!!!

well, after using Media Center and other PC Based PVR/DVR solutions, i've been extremely dissappointed with all of the cable company dvr boxes.   my SA HD box is pretty sad when it comes to searching, organizing, recording storage.  however, amd/ati is here to the rescue!  They announced the ATI TV Wonder HD for Digital Cable (cablecard compliant).  here's a link to the announcement over at

however, this will of course require you to have Vista to use too, but the cost of vista and the card may in the long run be cheaper than a Tivo Series 3 box (plus, no monthly subscription fees) and gives one much more flexibility.  however, i may have to upgrade my home living room pc to be vista ultimate ed compatible (video card and memory upgrades would be a must).

perhaps we'll see a nice influx of cablecard 2.0 ready pc tuners after CES 2007; supposedly Vista is/was the key to Cable HD TV on the pc.  hopefully the card is sold alone or perhaps bundled w/vista vs being sold in a pre-built systems.

 nonetheless, a step forward and some light at the end of tunnel for us PC HDTV PVR/DVRers

Saturday, January 06, 2007

microtransaction model/strategy = the future of techie/gamer hell?

recently, we as consumers are starting to see a shift in marketing/business strategy in the gaming world and technology world. we are seeing a shift of selling a complete product to the idea of selling a core product which you can purchase smaller upgrades/add-ons for (for an additional amount of course).

some examples of these microtransactions would be buying extra clothes/weapons for a XBOX360 or PS3 or PC game, purchasing of cars and tracks, different levels and even the gaming systems themselves, excluding the Wii since there is only one version available.

we also are seeing the inclusion of ads into games, from bilboard signs in racing games to graffiti ads in a fps game. a trend that until recently hadn't been tried or implemented.

to me, this sucks. most of us are getting nickeled and dimed all the time each day, the last thing we want is to have the same thing happen to us when we are trying to get away from it all and relax w/our games. the ad thing doesn't bother me too much since they do need revenue and if its not too intrusive its more realistic in a sense.

however the microtransaction strategy is just annoying. why can't the original game have all of the cars and upgrades? yes, i understand that being able to add more cars (newer ones) or the latest rosters is a justified sell. i guess its hard for me to think about paying extra to get the white lamborghini countach vs unlocking it via a challenge (anyone remember how great Gran Turismo was on the ps1?). to me it seems like it lets developers get off easy on an unfinished product while us consumers/gamers pay the same price and then some for all of the cool add-ons.  pricing and the quality of the content will ultimately determine my final thoughts but i'm still very leery of the idea. hopefully the quality of the core game isn't limited and requiring the add-ons to be a great game.

i guess we'll see how this all pans out as time goes on. 2007 will the be the year of the micro-transaction i fear. however, if it succeeds or fails is us up to us.

don't forget that we are paying their paychecks and without us consumers there would be no industry.
just my $0.02

Friday, January 05, 2007

music libraries, keeping it clean

well, most of you are prob like me in that you have a pretty extensive mp3 collection (i had previously converted my whole 200+ cd collection to mp3s back early in the day)... so.. how does one keep so many files/folders organized?

sadly, i am not a big fan of iTunes; its limited plugin/external plugin and limited media library functionality doesn't do it for me. i've been using Winamp since v1.0a back in 1997 and still consider it to be among THE best music/video players. however, recently i had helped a friend recover all of her files from a macbook whose hd crapped out and in exchange for me helping her get all of her files back and making a full backup of the drive, she gave me her music library. after moving her music into my library i realized that unlike me, she didn't keep a clean library at all. most songs didn't have tags, tons were in the AAC format (itunes), and others were not tagged properly. normally, i'd just go in and rename tracks and create the artist - album folder structure but man, when you have over 2,400 songs its not very efficient and too time consuming. so my quest was on.

what could i use to organize and identify the new music? also, how could i convert the itunes format songs to mp3s? (again, i like to keep all of my music in a solid mp3 format, that way i can rip to any of my other devices at will and i have the hd space). this would not be an easy task.

after finding several free programs to rip the aac to mp3, i broke down and got imtoo audio encoder (commercial) and converted the aac to mp3 w/o any tag info (i didn't really look too hard to find a quality ripper since the files all had the proper tag info in the file names). after converting them, i then used Winamp to load all of the music into my Media Library. I also setup the preferences so that smart tag reading was on. I then went into winamp, sorted by artist first and then selected all the songs for a particular artist and updated the artist tag info (being sure to create idtags if they didn't have any). after tagging most songs by artist, i opened up Windows Media Player and then again imported the new music into my library in there. i also selected the option to add missing media information. let the import go for an hour. then finally went back and made sure most of the tags and music were identified, for the unknown music i removed those from my media player library and then went into the options and checked the "Rename music according to rip settings" (i also setup my rip file naming to be what most files and itunes seemed to use, artist-album-track#-title. then let media player work away, after an hour or so, i went into my music folder and verified the structure.

finally, i still had to deal with the ever dreaded untagged/un-named music. i have yet to find a good and fast program to identify this type of music, so if you know of one, PLEASE put a link to it in my comments! i'd love you forever! hehe. however for the time being i use my cellphone's Track ID feature. Some of the newer Sony Ericsson Phones (mainly the walkman line, W series) have a feature called TrackID. This litle application will sample and record a clip of music via the microphone and then send that to a server which in turns identifies the artist, title, and album which you can then send the info via SMS or just view. Very handy i must say for those songs you have no idea what the name is. The only downfall is that you need to get a pretty clear sample of it (be in a quieter area or the music has to be super loud, bg noise will affect your results).

so i did that for the remaining songs and now have a clean library again. so the moral of the story is.

Keep your music libraries clean from the start!! I'm a big believer in keeping a very organized file structure. Doing so is the first step to becoming adept in the computer world, well at least imo it is, and taking control of your files/music. Trust me, i'd be screwed if i didn't (i admit, i have 3 hds in my pc and over 700GB of data (docs, files, music, pics) and all of it is in a very structured manner).

whenever i rebuild my system or just want to redo my setup, i always plan out the partitioning of the hds before starting. i use a very simple scheme, i have 3 hds; 200gb, 250gb, 300gb. Which in turn i have broken up into 7 partitions for what they are going to be used for (ie, i have a main C: for my os and programs that will be installed (usually 80 to 100gbs), a music drive, personal drive (for mydocuments folders), etc.) . This makes finding apps/files very intuitive, however the main thing is to keep a consistent file naming structure, so for example in my apps drive i have folders named for the type of application they are and then under the main category a subfolder, so Audio and Video > Media Players > WindowsMediaPlayer10setup.exe, etc.

also, if anyone knows of any good apps for importing/tagging music, drop a link or name of it in my comments.

happy 2007!