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September 19, 2010

Is your VMWare Player slow? Switch to VirtualBox. [Virtualization] | Posted at 12:20 PM

Mine was. I am on Windows 7 64-bit and I was trying to virtualize a Windows 2008 R2 server so I can transfer all my development tools. It had the benefit of cleaning off my computer and putting all my dev stuff into a neat little package I only had to run when I wanted to work.

I chose to use VMWare Player because of VMWare's fame. The problem was, it was sometimes much slower than my host machine, suspending state made it even worse, and shared folders caused issues with Visual Studio.

I had tried looking online at potential issues it could be but didn't find anyone with my issues. wPrime showed that the guest OS was using almost as much CPU power as my host OS so that didn't seem to be the problem.

So in the end, I switched to VirtualBox, an open source software from Oracle. It was wicked fast and easy to configure (make sure to enable IO APIC for Windows machines). Shared Folders even seemed to work better because when I created a sym link to my host OS development folder, Visual Studio didn't seem to have the issues it did on VMWare.

So if your VMWare Player seems like it's not pulling its weight, I'd recommend switching.

8GB of RAM now seems like a good investment to me. The CPU seems fine even under load; I usually only use one OS at a time, not both.

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Here is my configuration:

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PS. Is this a mindwarp or what?

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That's "Seamless" (Right-ctrl+L) where it will hide your guest OS desktop background and it will look like you have integration between both OSs. You can click any of the windows and they respond as they should. It's awesome.

September 18, 2010

This is Pretty Sad, Isn't It? [Never Enough] | Posted at 1:00 PM

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OK, so I still have 437GB left… but still!

My C: and D: partitions are on two 200GB drives. I was thinking about swapping my C: drive with this monster and then using the extra GB for another storage (media) drive. Then I can move my virtual machines to C: to speed them up. It's cheap but will hopefully speed things up without costing me the price of a PS3.

June 18, 2010

Go to Gamestop and Get a Shiny New Xbox 360 for $150 [Deals] | Posted at 6:38 PM

My new Xbox 360!

Kotaku to the rescue. Here's my experience:

After reading the article, I called my local Gamestop and they said they had 1 new Xbox left. So I quickly backed up my profiles, themes, avatars, etc. on my 4GB flash, and only about 50MB worth of stuff was backed up. Didn't transfer videos, etc.

Stuffed my Xbox Elite 120GB (no wireless adapter) into my backpack with cables and grabbed about 10 games (X360, Wii) I've been wanting to get rid of.

I drove to the Gamestop and asked if they still had it in stock, they had, and I gave them my stuff. After going through everything, they took everything except the old Xbox originals.

"Where's your controller?" Uh… crap.

I forgot a controller! So I either had to trade in everything and NOT get to apply it to my new Xbox purchase (because the trade was incomplete) or gamble and come back (traffic was about 25 mins each way).

BUT WAIT. The nice woman said that she could sell me a used controller and that'd count, I'd just be paying that much more. So that's what I did... unfortunately, but I didn't want to come back later.

The moral of my story: REMEMBER TO BRING EVERYTHING. They need wires and controller but not an HDMI if you have one; the new Xbox doesn't come with an HDMI cable. I almost gave them that, too.

So, in the end, my receipt was:
Trade-in + Edge Savings: -$198
Used Wired controller: $27
New Xbox 360: $300
Edge + GameInformer 12mo: $15
Tax: $9

This brings my total to only $153. If I had remembered my controller, I could have had the bugger for $126! But now I have an extra wireless controller, letting me use my wired for my PC... so whatever I guess.

I am very happy not only because I have a new pimp Xbox but also because I no longer need my network switch all the way across my apartment just for the Xbox. Now my Wii, Xbox 360, and laptop use Wi-Fi. So will my PS3 once I buy one.

READ ON FOR IMPORTANT TRANSFER INFO

I found out too late that the USB transfer didn't go as smooth as it said it did. It didn't transfer about 4 gamer profiles (my girlfriend's and my friend who play A LOT) and it didn't transfer most (any?) of my save games (even though it did transfer a few saves from other profiles)!

So now I have 0% in Red Dead (although I beat it) and no savegames in all my other games. At least I have my achievements, which my girlfriend unfortunately can't say.

The reason I believe this happened is because of a stupid "feature" that when you transfer, it actually MOVES the information to the other device instead of copying. I had initiated a transfer before that I canceled about 25% of the way through, then deleted whatever was on there because I assumed it just copied. Nope. I deleted my own save games.

Double check your transfer to make sure everything transferred correctly and DO NOT just format your USB drive; transfer everything over first.

June 3, 2010

Controlling Multiple Computers Using One Keyboard and Mouse using Input Director [PC] | Posted at 8:50 PM

I recently upgraded my old Pentium III server to some hand-me-down hardware I got from my brother's old PC. It's an Athlon XP 2700+ with 512MB of RAM and an ATI X1600 512MB video card. I'll be slapping 2GB of RAM into it and adding some more hard drive space.

Anyway, my dilemma was that I only had room for one keyboard and one mouse but I had two monitors. Some might have used a KVM switch (I actually have a USB switch I used to install the OS and configure the BIOS on it). You could also use remote desktop, which I did with my last server. However, switches and remote desktop are too manual for my taste.

Desk and computers

As you can see, my server is on the left of my desk and my PC is on the right side. The left monitor is my PC and the right monitor is my server.

Input Director to the rescue! It effectively handles all the screen switching for you so you can use your second computer as if it was connected to your primary monitor. When you move your mouse to the side of the screen where the second computer's monitor is at, it will automatically switch your keyboard and mouse focus to that computer. It even handles copy/pasting! You could try Synergy as well (I've used it previously) but it didn't play nice with Windows Server 2008 which is what my server runs.

April 2, 2010

Jumpstart Your .NET Web Application Development - $12 [Marketplace] | Posted at 4:51 PM

I've been exploring the CodeCanyon marketplace for a little while now and I am pretty impressed. It's an opportunity to monetize some ideas I've had and to gain some portfolio work and possibly more customers. I've been a proponent of free software (I provide some on my development site) so I won't be selling everything I make, but I think it's nice to put some product out there as a web designer.

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I've just released my Web Application Template package for .NET web applications (and it's only $12). It's basically what I would prefer to start with every time I work on a new web site… in effect, a "Web App in a Box."

It supports .NET 3.5 and .NET 4 and offers a slew of features (ELMAH integration, compression/minification of CSS and JS, etc), the to-do list ever growing. You can be sure I'll keep it updated because I will be using it myself! I'm already using it for a new version of Intrepid Studios (not a total redesign, more enhancement-like).

I was sick and tired of all my projects using different file/folder/solution layouts and having to duplicate code across them all the time. I wanted a way to easily get started without spending time configuring everything. While I was working on it, I thought it would be useful for other developers. Will it really save you six hours? Well, it took me a solid 6+ hours of development time to set it up… and then some. Six is a safe bet, possibly more if you aren't that familiar with some of the components I integrated.

As always, let me know if there are bugs and improvements you think of.

You can also check out my previous CodeCanyon release, Google Picasa Gallery + API.

March 25, 2010

Windows Phone 7 Quick Tip: Disable Hamachi [Tips & Tricks] | Posted at 8:59 PM

I ran into a problem while playing with the Windows Phone 7 CTP the other day. I was trying to use the Google data services via the WebClient object. It was throwing exceptions no matter what I did. I noticed it threw exceptions on ANY Google-hosted URI.

Long story short: disable Hamachi or any other potential virtual network adapters. VMWare seems to not interfere but Hamachi enjoys taking over connections sometimes and will hijack your phone emulator.

You can view the details of my adventure right over yonder.

March 10, 2010

How To: OS Fingerprinting Using Wireshark Capture and p0f [Security] | Posted at 4:00 PM

In one of my classes this week, a project we had to do entailed analyzing a Wireshark packet capture to determine what kind of attacks were being used and to identify not only the tool being used to perform the attacks but the attacker's operating system.

I will not go into detail on how to analyze a Wireshark capture nor the specifics on operating Wireshark. I only want to show you how to use p0f (Passive OS Fingerprinting software) to analyze and spit out the signatures from a capture file.

This is specific to Windows. Chances are, if you have Linux you can probably figure out how to do it…

Here's what you need:

  1. Capture file (either *.cap, *.pcap). Use Wireshark to save the output.
  2. Windows PowerShell or Command Prompt
  3. p0f.exe

I will assume the capture file is in the same folder as p0f.

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Open up PowerShell and navigate to your p0f directory (using the cd command).

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Now just run this command to output the analyzed results to a file. To paste into PowerShell: Right-click titlebar, Edit > Paste.

&".\p0f.exe" -s attacker.pcap -o analyze.log -l

This command will execute p0f against the "attacker.pcap" (your capture file name) and output the results to a file named analyze.log.

The –s switch causes p0f to scan the capture file. The –o switch will output to a file. The –l switch will format every entry into one line.

You should open up analyze.log and look through it!

That will display the signatures p0f found (if any).

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In my case, the perpetrator (192.168.0.9) was using Linux 2.4/2.6 and was using Nmap to scan the target. Keep in mind that p0f doesn't identify all Nmap scans… there were four total types in my capture but p0f just had one type.

Bonus

This command sequence works for my capture. It takes the output of the analysis, selects the pertinent information (regex), displays the matches, groups it, then displays it in a nice handy list. No need to look at the thousands of lines in analyze.log!

This may or may not work for you (PS. this is my first attempt at really trying PowerShell… so this probably sucks):

&".\p0f.exe" -s "attacker.pcap" -l | select-string "(\d{1,3}\.\d{1,3}\.\d{1,3}\.\d{1,3})(:\d{1,5})? - (.*?)(?=->|$)" | %{$_.Matches} | %{$_.Value} | %{$_ -replace ":\d{1,5}", ""} | group-object | Format-table Name

It will take a few seconds depending on how large your capture is. Alternatively, just replace the call to p0f with "get-content analyze.log" if you used the above method and it will be much faster. The output will look like this:

PowerShell to the rescue

A neat little list that will display unique signature/IP combinations.

March 5, 2010

How To: Get Tversity to Stream MKV Files to Xbox 360 [It Works] | Posted at 10:55 AM

The other day I successfully got a 720p MKV file to stream to my Xbox 360. Before I get into the details, I can't guarantee this will work for you. It did for me and it could be any one of these things that will make it work for you.

The last thing I did that made it work was to go into ffdshow audio decoder settings and set it to downmix decoded audio to stereo (NOTE: before I had it set to 2.1, that didn't work!). Here's the screenshot:

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Just try doing that. If it doesn't work, then try the rest of these steps that I did.

  1. If using Vista/7, make sure you have Windows Media Player 11 installed.
  2. Download the K-Lite MEGA Codec Pack
  3. Let it uninstall all the things it warns you about.
  4. Restart
  5. Now go into the ffdshow audio decoder settings and make these changes: change WMA 7 and WMA 8/9 to use libavcodec.

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Go into the Tversity settings Transcoder page and change it to my settings:

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If Windows Media Video 8 doesn't work, 9 works for me. You can change your connection speed accordingly.

These are the changes I made and it worked. If they don't work for you, just make sure you can actually watch the mkv files on your own computer. If you can't, you must be missing something.

Note: While this DID work, my computer was not fast enough to transcode a 720p file into HD WMV so it buffered a lot and was choppy. For low-end machines, I'd recommend lowering the video resolution. Also, forget about rewind/fast-forwarding… that just didn't work for me.

January 5, 2010

Overclocking My Computer [Tedious] | Posted at 12:57 AM

Nine episodes of 30 Rock later, I think I've reached a stable OC of my computer, at least for now. I'll give it a week or two before trying anything different.

To answer my previous frustrations, the slowness has to do with my RAM and primary hard disk. All of the slow loading is gone with the OC'd RAM. However, my friend has a slower CPU but uses RAID'd raptors as his main drives and his computer smokes mine. It sucks but my Maxtor primary drive (200GB) is slower than my Samsung 750GB drives (by a lot).

This should help anyone with a similar configuration. I will update it as my config changes.

  • Gigabyte EP45-UD3R
  • Intel E8500 3.16Ghz @ 3.96Ghz
    • FSB: 415
    • Multiplier: 9.5
    • Vcore: 1.3875
    • Termination: 1.28
    • PLL: 1.35
    • MCH core: 1.3v
    • MCH/DRAM: 0.91
    • ICH I/O: 1.57
    • ICH Core: 1.2
  • 4GB G.Skill DDR800 @ 830Mhz
    • Latch: 333Mhz
    • Multiplier: 2B (2 x 415 = 830Mhz)
    • 4-4-4-15
    • Voltage: 1.9v
    • Termination: 0.9v

I can definitely tell the difference between stock settings and OC'd. Everything starts up almost twice as fast. I also get significantly better marks in 3dMark.

At a slight OC (355FSB, 710 DRAM) I got 6267 3dMarks (from Vantage), 266fps in CS:S, and 37.5fps in World in Conflict. At the current OC, I get 6455 3dMarks, 293.94fps in CS:S, and 40fps in WIC. It's pretty significant, especially when I can see the difference in startup times for slow programs (Outlook, Visual Studio, etc.).

This CPU is amazing. I was able to OC it by 25%, which is pretty insane. The reference rig I was using got it up to 425FSB and 850Mhz DRAM but I am already breaching 63C load temperatures. I want to see how this pans out with regular use.

Thanks to this thread for tips and reference.

One thing is for sure, it's good to have something to watch while you wait for endless benchmarks to finish.

January 3, 2010

Giving your Xbox 360 cheap wireless [Networking] | Posted at 11:32 AM

Over Christmas break, one of my presents was to wirelessly-enable my girlfriend's sister's Xbox 360 on the cheap. Once I was done, I had saved her $65 (plus tax).

Instead of walking you through everything, I will just give you the walkthroughs I used.

Note: This is not meant for non-technical people. It would be easier for you to buy the $100 wireless adapter. However, for techies, this will save you tons of money.

Requirements

First, let me describe what you need:

  • A primary router/modem-router with wireless capability (any router will do).
  • A DD-WRT-compatible router. A Linksys WRT54G works excellently and we bought one for $35 at a local computer shop.
  • An ethernet cable

The end result of this is as follows:

  1. The primary router, in my case located downstairs, has a wireless access point configured. I enabled WPA2-Personal security on it. If your DSL modem has wireless capability, you're all set. In my case, I had to configure the primary router to get an IP from the DSL router.
  2. The secondary router can be configured two ways: a Client or a Repeater Bridge. I chose the latter because it is easier to manage the network when all devices are on the same subnet. In addition, you get an added bonus of a second wireless access point!
  3. The Xbox 360 connects via ethernet to the second router.

To setup your second router, you will need to install DD-WRT. Do not just download it and flash it, you'll probably break your router.

How to Do It

This guide is meant for using DD-WRT, since it had the most documentation and supported Repeater Bridge mode. There also seems to be a way to do this via the Tomato firmware (seems only to support Client mode right now).

What I did was follow the excellent installation guides on the wiki. Here is the list of things I used:

  1. Read up on how to identify your router and version. I used this WRT54G guide on the wiki. Just Google "dd-wrt [your router model]" and you'll get the Wiki page for it.
  2. A walkthrough for Version 8 of my router. Note: Versions matter! The guide for version 6 (my second router) was much different than version 8 (the first router).
  3. Be sure to read the notes in the Peacock thread on the forums. Note: The only real tidbit of information that I used was to know how to do a 30-30-30 hard reset. LEARN IT.
  4. The files needed for your router and version. Search it in the router database. Note: Some installation guides use custom firmware so read the installation guide for your router just in case. This was the case for me with my secondary router which used version 6 software.
  5. Read the guide on Client mode or Repeater Bridge, depending on your needs. I chose the latter because it was simpler and easier to manage.
  6. Be patient. When steps tell you to wait five minutes, wait five minutes. I used Online Stopwatch to time everything appropriately. The whole process of setting up two routers with DD-WRT and configuring everything took about 4 hours (since the second router wasn't working right at first using client mode). The end result was awesome, though!

Notes

In my case, there were some things the wiki and thread said would be a problem but turned out not to be.

The guides say that when you flash the firmware with TFTP on Vista/7 you have to time it right. This wasn't a problem for me. I simply restarted the router, ran the command to flash the firmware, then hard reset the router again. I didn't run into any problems using Windows 7.

Some guides say it's not possible to manage both routers under a Repeater Bridge configuration. That's not true, if you set up and remember the local router IP, you can still manage it. I made it easy. My primary router was http://192.168.1.1/ and the secondary one was http://192.168.1.2/ since the primary router gave out IPs after 100.

Additionally, it's a good idea to enable/disable your LAN card on the computer you're using to flash the firmware once you change wireless modes on the router. It is also a good idea to clear the cache in Firefox/IE each time you flash a new firmware, to make sure you're getting the right pages.

Initially, I had tried to configure the second router as a wireless Client but it wasn't working. It was much easier to configure the router as a wireless bridge or repeater bridge. That's what I'd recommend. For the client mode, you might need to configure advanced routing and such… for a repeater, the guide was insanely straightforward. Additionally, client mode separates your network into two subnets: 192.168.1.* and 192.168.2.* which can make it harder for devices to talk to each other. Apparently, version 6 and version 8 WRT54G routers don't work well in that situation. A repeater bridge is almost like a bypass of your second router, it doesn't assign IPs, it passes all traffic to the primary router.

Results

The results were excellent. The Xbox 360 worked great on Xbox Live and I saved them $65 compared to buying a wireless adapter. In addition, they get a second access point upstairs!

Another solution, and simpler but less flexible, is to use a laptop with a wireless card and ethernet card. Bridge the connections, hook up the Xbox to it via ethernet, and then connect to wireless. This also worked for me using Windows 7 in about 5 minutes. However, you always need the laptop to connect to Xbox Live.

October 6, 2009

Digital Receipts [Ideas, Ideas, Ideas] | Posted at 12:39 PM

So I was thinking earlier today, wouldn't it be great if I could view all the receipts from my purchases online in my bank account? Not only would I have a permanent record, if the format was open, I could get a lot of info on my spending habits or even an inventory of what I own.

I figured this was not a new idea and was glad to see that it's being worked on. Well, who knows if it still is, that article is from 9 years ago. The standard (ARTS Digital Receipt XML) is being used by some third parties. The only way for this to work is to get banks on-board so there can be a way to easily view these.

Not only could brick and mortars use these receipts (since they already send your credit card info to a clearinghouse), but online stores could use it too. Which means no more keeping receipts/invoices in a file cabinet! I keep receipts in empty Kleenex boxes… just in case. I don't keep receipts from small or insignificant purchases, only ones where I'd possibly need to return something.

Anyway, I thought it was a good idea and hopefully in the next decade we'll see it come to pass… I can dream, can't I?

October 2, 2009

You Don't Need Photoshop: Get Paint.NET | Posted at 11:21 AM

Saying you don't need Photoshop is probably false if you really want powerful photo editing abilities but for those that just need a powerful image editor and don't want to pay $400, then Paint.NET is for you.

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The best part is that is totally free and is constantly being updated. Above you can see the latest beta version and it is awesome.

There are layers, history, and filters along with common tools like magic wand, pencil, brush, shapes, freeform shapes, and more. It has everything you need for creating images and more. It also works great with tablet PCs.

I've installed it on every computer I own and always recommend it to my friends. It's easier to use than Photoshop is and is friendly to newbies.

So what are you waiting for, get Paint.NET!

August 19, 2009

Windows 7 RTM Available to MSDN-AA Students | Posted at 2:02 PM

Just so you know, if you are apart of the U's MSDN-AA (MSDN Academic Alliance) program, the RTM was approved by my friend just last week. It's Windows 7 Professional (32 & 64-bit editions).

I have installed Windows 7 RC on my desktop, laptop, brother's desktop, and my dad installed the RTM on his laptop. I plan on installing it on my other laptop as well. I love Windows 7.

June 22, 2009

Reflections on Windows 7 [Hallelujah] | Posted at 11:40 PM

I’ve been using the RC1 since it came out as my main OS on several computers. I use it on my desktop, tablet, and now my brother’s desktop (all 64-bit).

There’s a reason that I am not using XP: it’s time is finally over. There’s a new sheriff in town and it’s Windows 7.

So why the heralding? Isn’t it pretty much Vista with a new face? In some ways but in others it’s pretty different.

For one, Microsoft rewrote the codebase to use native code (rather than relying on other code as Vista did) which translates into much faster response time and speed improvements. Literally it is faster than XP. My tablet was slow as molasses with Vista and now it flies.

For two, there are many subtle but impactful improvements that MS did with 7 including: awesome boot screen, interesting task bar (more on that later), better Explorer navigability, themes, helpful wizards, and more.

When you install and start using Windows 7, there’s just something about it that speaks to you. It’s like it was made for you. Vista was clunky and annoying. I think what really sold me was the speed and personalization options like rotating wallpapers, awesome default themes, and cool sounds. You can also spot minor improvements all around like a better network icon/wireless finder, etc. There’s also Windows Backup that will make an image of your hard drive. Not to mention Windows Snipping Tool that makes creating how-to’s/walkthroughs easy.

The task bar is a questionable “enhancement” to Windows. On one hand, I really like it. On the other hand, sometimes it’s a little annoying. For example, when you hover over a button, it shows you a preview of the window plus if the window is open, it will fade everything out to outlines and show that window. That is nice. Losing the ability to create a nice and easy quick launch is annoying. Sure, you can create a folder, add shortcuts to it, then add a new toolbar to the taskbar and… wait, isn’t that what Quick Launch did for you?! Now you pin an item to the taskbar ala the Mac OSX dock. Mostly this is useful but it might confuse people for a little while. It is also not apparent at first that right-clicking brings up useful options for a program. Personally, I keep three programs permanently pinned: Libraries, Firefox, and Windows Media. Libraries is quick to open a new explorer window, Firefox is usually always open, and WMP for music.

The system tray is revamped too to minimize screen real-estate. Now you can pick and choose what icons to show in the tray easily by dragging and dropping them. All extra icons open in a small popup window. One thing they need to fix is if you open a program through that popup window, it won’t go away immediately unless you focus on it then click off it. It does go away after a few seconds but it’s confusing and annoying.

What about games? What about them, they all work fine! I’ve tested and played Fallout 3, Left 4 Dead, Crysis, TF2, Age of Empires, Guild Wars, and Burnout Paradise. If it worked in Vista it will work in Windows 7 (and then some, if it didn’t work in Vista, it may in 7). I am using the current non-beta Nvidia drivers and they work great. Playing Fallout 3 at 4xAA/15xAF 1680x1050 max settings with no slowdown on an 8800GTS 512MB card.

So my point is… Windows 7 is what Vista should have been and is an excellent piece of software worthy of its hype. There’s no going back to XP for me, folks!

May 8, 2009

Microsoft Office Live Workspace Video [OLW] | Posted at 10:05 AM

Me and my roommate created a video for the MSP program showcasing the reasons why you really should be using Office Live Workspace.

Check it out:

March 31, 2009

DreamSpark: Download Microsoft Development Software for Free | Posted at 11:39 AM

I have some awesome news! Now instead of paying $500 for the latest Microsoft development software, students can get it for free using Microsoft DreamSpark.

For U of MN students, here's how to get started in less than 90 seconds:

  1. Visit http://dreamspark.com
  2. Click the product you want
  3. Click Sign-In
  4. Sign in with your Windows Live ID (Hotmail, or any other Microsoft account)
  5. Click "Verify" on the product page
  6. Choose your continent and country
  7. Wait for the schools to load in the right box, choose University of Minnesota
  8. Login with your X.500
  9. Click "Download" for whatever method you want (download manager or web browser)
  10. Voila! All done!

Of course, that's not all you get. Students also get one FREE voucher for a Microsoft Technology Specialist certification exam! It's first-come, first-serve, so get one now and sign-up for a seat! There are plenty of times for MN exams.  When choosing an exam, choose ones that begin with TS (Technology Specialist).

After clicking "Get Key" on the above link, make sure to print out the page and save it somewhere because you must bring it to the exam site.

On the Start page for ProMetric, click the Choose a Location. Select US, Minnesota and the first exam set. Then click Next. Choose an exam (sort by Name and scroll down to TS). Choose something you know you are proficient in, for me, I am taking the TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 ASP.NET Development since I've had years of experience using it.

After creating an account, you may need to repeat finding a location and test center. Once you arrive at the test center locations page, find a test center close by and click Schedule an Appointment. Then choose a date that works best (mine is May 22). You cannot schedule anything after 8 weeks from the current date. You should wait if you want a later date.

My exam was $125, it's awesome that I get to take the exam for FREE! That is definitely super awesome.

March 3, 2009

10 Office 2007 Tips & Tricks [Self-Improvement] | Posted at 6:07 PM

As a Microsoft Student Partner, we're doing a new campaign to promote Office 2007.

I've created a deck of 10 useful tips & tricks I've learned while using Office 2007. It's impossible to list everything but I go through some key features that you may have overlooked.

I've posted it on Live SkyDrive, an excellent cloud storage (25GB!).

I will also probably share it on SlideShare.

December 19, 2008

Oh My God, Browsing the World in 3D [Google Earth] | Posted at 12:05 PM

Minneapolis in Google Earth, 3D Buildings

(Not a photo. Click for larger. Source: Google Earth)

So I read a little post about the new Google Earth update and how NYC is in 3D.

I decided to download Earth and look at Minneapolis (see above). So. Awesome.

To enable 3D buildings, just check "3D Buildings" in the sidebar. Then hold down right-mouse button and zoom in. Once you're in far enough, the view still start to tilt and the buildings will take on depth.

It is SO COOL to just fly around the city, I was looking at the U of MN campus and I recognized all the buildings instantly. I was half expecting to see little people moving around. I think they should add that, just for fun!

Welcome to SimWorld.

December 16, 2008

Image Grid Creator [.NET] | Posted at 2:40 PM

album_grid_creator

Update (3/5/09): Added project to Intrepid Studios.

I told you I was going to create some software that would let you make album cover grids. And I did!

Download

To download the software, head on over to the Image Grid Creator project homepage.

November 25, 2008

UAC in Vista and Windows 7 | Posted at 2:39 PM

Let me just say I am not a fan of UAC, the User Account Control feature in Windows Vista. Ya know, the thing that comes up whenever you want to make any change at all?

I just read an article at PC Magazine on security in Windows 7 and it seems that UAC is still poorly implemented in Windows 7. For me, I just don't want it. I've maybe only ever gotten malware once in a year.

I want to echo the author's thoughts on what Microsoft should do for UAC:

"Never ask whether to allow elevated privilege to a known, valid program—certainly never ask when it's a Windows component. And if it's not a known program, examine all of its behaviors, not just the fact that it needs Administrator privilege. Then make a considered analysis of the program and allow or block it. Don't foist that responsibility off on the user."

I agree wholeheartedly. I hate when UAC asks for permission when I myself run a program. Of course I want it to run. The only time you should ask is if I downloaded the file. But see, the problem is that I expect spyware detection when I run an installer, so UAC shouldn't even bother me unless there's a problem.

You know what's even worse? When I want to copy and paste files. Seriously, don't ask me when I manually copy/paste, I know that I want to make changes. LEAVE ME ALONE.

Right now UAC is a failed security attempt. Either improve it tenfold or just get rid of it, no one likes it at all.

November 21, 2008

Sample: Using Multidimensional Arrays in .NET [Exercise] | Posted at 1:57 PM

From my IDSC 3102: Intermediate Programming class, here is the first program we had to complete.

IDSC 3102 Assignment 1

What It Is

A basic implementation of a fake airline reservation program. Add/remove passengers to a seating chart and waiting list.

What You Will Learn

  • How to use a 2D array to manage a seating arrangement
  • Display a graphical representation of the airline seating chart
  • Use an ArrayList to manage a first-in, first-out waiting list
  • Add and remove passengers from the seating chart or waiting list

Download Source

Download zip (86KB)

October 31, 2008

Gears of War 2 LAN Party and XNA Game Studio Presentation | Posted at 2:02 PM

image

Whoo, I get to host a Gears of War 2 LAN party!

More details on Facebook!

I'm expecting a bunch of people to show up, I mean, we are giving away copies of the game. It should be a lot of fun.

October 24, 2008

Shoutout to WebHostingSearch.com [Friends] | Posted at 2:15 PM

I want to thank Eva from WebHostingSearch for letting me be added to their site, WebHostingSearch.com. Check out the site for a running list of design and hosting companies around the nation.

On that note, I am getting ever so closer to releasing my brand new Intrepid Studios site. It's looking good so far. I'll post a preview soon.

October 17, 2008

Mac, Windows, and Linux [The Big 3] | Posted at 3:57 PM

I was reading the post on BoingBoing about how the Microsoft ads were created on Macs, and then reading the comments on The Cult of Mac blog. As a designer and someone who's seen how Microsoft does its marketing as a Student Partner, this didn't surprise me. Obviously Microsoft hires an ad agency to make its ads and the agency uses whatever it feels comfortable with to make the ads, this should be a non-issue except that it's a good headline.

Anyway, one of the commenters made a great post about how people should open their eyes a little bit more. He talked about how it doesn't matter what OS is inherently "better" because there's no answer to that. It depends on the user. He mentioned that as someone who views a computer as a tool, then all 3 operating systems provide good options.

If you've developed on computers you know these key things:

  • Every OS crashes. My iMac has crashed or froze more than my Windows PCs. Not that they don't crash, they do.
  • Each OS has something better than another.
  • Each OS has a toolset that is a boon to different kinds of developers.

That's my view, personally. I use an iMac at work and I love it for my PHP development and graphics design. Expose, Spaces, and Apple-Shift-4 are fantastic. At home I use a Windows XP desktop, which I love for my games and .NET development. I have my HP tablet with Vista that I love for its Tablet functionality and OneNote 2007. And finally, I keep a Knoppix bootable CD around in case someone's computer goes beserk and needs backing up.

As someone who's now used Vista for awhile, I can say that since SP1 was released it's a fine OS. Yes, the security dialogs can be annoying but it's not that bad. I haven't had my laptop crash yet and it's fast. My friend uses Vista daily as a gaming machine and he doesn't have any problems. My roommate has a 64-bit Vista laptop and enjoys his 4GB of RAM and gaming. It had a rough start but honestly, some features it has are much greater than XP. It's not that bad.

It will be beneficial to you in the long run to get acquainted to all the OSs, as it helps when you work at different businesses.

September 29, 2008

UMN MSP Blog [Wired] | Posted at 9:46 PM

I've created a separate blog using Windows Live Spaces. All it really means is that I will be posting exclusively on Microsoft stuff on that blog rather than filling this one up. I'd rather push people to a more official blog so they can check that for updates.

In other news I have an official email:

kamran.ayub [AT] student-partners [DOT] com

Content to look forward to:

  • Windows Live Writer review
  • Windows Live Mesh preview
  • Windows Live SkyDrive preview
  • Windows Live Workspaces preview
  • HP 2710p Tablet Review
  • Zune 8GB Review
  • Information about Zune Social/DDR Sweepstakes
  • Upcoming events I'll be hosting

Oh, I will have a busy October.

New Facebook Page [Being More Social] | Posted at 10:33 AM

image

I've created a new Facebook Page for Microsoft Student Partners at my University. I'll be using it to promote events, contests, reviews, etc.

Later this week I'll be creating profiles on MySpace and YouTube as well, so look out for that.

If you're reading this, make sure to become a fan!

September 1, 2008

RIP D-Link Gamer Lounge [Just My Luck] | Posted at 10:35 PM

Isn't it fitting for my router to die the day before classes? I mean, it's not a HUGE deal but we can only use two computers, so no Xbox Live, wired printer, or development box until maybe Friday.

I just ordered a WRT54GL considering I can just install Tomato or DD-WRT on it to get extra features.

I'm just sad because my D-Link was awesome, a D-Link DGL-4300, for the last two years and now it just suddenly died.

It basically will keep restarting and never stop, it's pretty stupid. It works fine otherwise, between restarts it won't have any problems. It won't even reset when I try to press the Reset button.

August 26, 2008

Watch Hulu On Your TV [Awesome] | Posted at 10:12 AM

I use a little program called TVersity to stream my music, videos, and pictures to my Xbox 360. Once I discovered Hulu, I wished TVersity supported it. Alas it was not to be.

Enter PlayOn. PlayOn is still in beta but it works! It will stream YouTube, CBS, Hulu, and ESPN to your console (PS3 and Xbox). Unfortunately, just glancing around I didn’t find any full episodes from CBS.

I tested it out and I watched The Daily Show and a handful of YouTube videos (TVersity supports YT as well).

Once they add a few more networks so I can watch Lost in HD, we’ll be golden. NetFlix support will be redundant for 360 considering the Fall update but for PS3 users that might be some good news.

There is a 30-day trial and after it expires you can pay $30 to activate it. If you ask me that’s well worth the price if you’re like me and don’t have cable and don’t want to watch TV on your monitor.

Thanks Penny Arcade!

August 22, 2008

Money Well Spent [Mmm, TV!] | Posted at 8:24 PM

So I got the TV delivered today and I broke it in, playing some Soul Calibur IV and watching some HD Olympics. As with the Toshiba 42RV530U TV I already reviewed, it is awesome.

Here it is in action!

My Toshiba 8-22-2008 5-54-00 PM

My Toshiba 8-22-2008 5-54-24 PM 

Oh. Yah.

I will report any problems but so far it’s been great! I guess buying refurbished TVs isn’t so bad.

In my room it looks huge, it will look humongous in the dorm, heh.

August 19, 2008

Replacing Your Comcast Box With a Newer One [Surprised] | Posted at 9:10 PM

I'm not going to lie. When I sat down and waited about 25 minutes to get on Live Chat with Comcast Support to ask them whether we can replace our old cable box with a newer one with HDMI output, I was expecting a laundry list of things to complete. Imagine my surprise, when the support person just said I can bring it to my local office and get it swapped for a new one. I asked the inevitable, "How much does it cost?" and he said nothing, it's free.

Wow. Comcast, you have surprised me.

We had an old DCT6208 and we couldn't watch another program if we were recording one.

DCT3412At first, they gave us a DCT3412. Why the later versions go down in number I'm not sure. Anyway, that one had a dual tuner, 120GB hard drive, HDMI output, and a SATA connector for an external drive.

The unfortunate thing is that it had trouble displaying HD channels. There are artifacts and corruption galore making them unwatchable. We thought it just might be one channel but it happened to all the HD channels.

DCH3416 We exchanged it the next day and we got the DCH3416! Awesome. This has a 160GB hard drive instead and looks a lot nicer.

HD even looks a bit better, smoother, I think.

August 18, 2008

Alright, I Bit the Bullet [Ouch] | Posted at 2:07 PM

I bought my new TV for my dorm. I was going to wait until next week, when I get my paycheck to add some extra breathing room but today’s deal just couldn’t be passed up. I definitely have enough left over money to keep me until next week.

Basically, the TV we bought for our home which was $1300+ with the warranty I just got off NewEgg, again, for $950 as “Recertified.?

I realize there isn’t a warranty with it and I can’t even return it… but I can at least not accept it if I see there’s any damage during shipping.

I just feel relieved I don’t have to search anymore. There were a few other options, but for a TV I know to be perfect for what I need and that I’ve seen in action, I don’t think it was a bad purchase. Plus, $100 less for this TV compared to other ones and only $30 more than the 37? I originally planned to get.

I will definitely write about my experience once I get the TV, hopefully, this week or next.

August 14, 2008

Today’s Woot: 32” Westinghouse LCD TV - $400 | Posted at 12:43 PM

image

Grab it while you can. My girlfriend just bought a 22? LCD for $375, we should have waited to see what Woot had to offer, now I feel stupid.

Also on Sellout.Woot there’s a Sharp 37? 720p LCD TV for a mere $700. If it was 1080p I’d get it, but right now I have my sights set on a Toshiba 37?.

July 30, 2008

It’s Official: I’m a Microsoft Student Partner! | Posted at 1:54 PM

Joining the rest of the participating universities around the world and the other 1400 student partners, I was chosen to be a Microsoft Student Partner at the University of Minnesota! How absolutely exciting!

It has good pay for the hours and tons of benefits:

  • Training and information for new products, plus previews
  • My own MS-provided laptop
  • Supposedly an MSDN subscription
  • In-road to MS internships and full-time positions (Xbox Live, watch out)

I’ll find out all the benefits when I fill out all the papers and such.

That means that this blog and Facebook will become fairly important for me to send out updates. Sweetness!

July 11, 2008

Nvidia Dual View and Secondary Monitor trouble | Posted at 10:24 AM

First, let me say I am extremely happy with my new 8800GTS card. I can finally play all my games max settings at 1680x1050. Yes, even Crysis with all settings High.

I had a little issue yesterday and I still can’t tell you what’s causing it as I’ve only had time to play two games since I got the card.

When I installed the newest drivers, 175.19, I turned on Dual View. Everything seemed fine but I immediately went to play Crysis.

After I was done, if there was any window on my secondary monitor, it would flicker. It would go black for a second then come back and it would do this indefinitely unless I moved all the windows off of it.

I figured it was a driver problem or Crysis. I rolled back to the official MSI drivers for my card which were at 175.16, not bad. I played COD 4 and when I exited I tested a bit. It didn’t happen.

I would test some more by playing Crysis but I have to pack and get ready. It’s either the new drivers or Crysis that was causing the screen flicker, I’m not sure. It might have also been some weird program malfunction, I really have no idea! I didn’t bother restarting to test that theory.

July 8, 2008

Fix: ATI CCC 8.6 Infinite Loop Bug | Posted at 9:50 PM

I wasn’t the only one to have this problem. Apparently, when I installed the new ATI drivers for my temporary video card, the Catalyst Control Center (CCC) will keep disappearing and reappearing if you try to open it. Others have the same problem. As pointed out in the aforelinked thread, you can just get around it by installing only the 8.6 driver and then the 8.5 CCC:

  1. If you haven’t already installed it, grab the new ATI 8.6 Display Driver Only package. Install it.
  2. If you have it installed already, uninstall the new ATI CCC from Add/Remove Programs. Note: Only the CCC, not the driver or software uninstall.
  3. Now, download and install the 8.5 CCC and then restart.

Now once you’ve restarted, you can use the Catalyst Control Center without it acting up.

Dear Creative, why did my speakers die? | Posted at 6:17 PM

So that’s not entirely accurate. See, my external decoder box that comes with the Creative Inspire 5.1 Digital 5500 speaker system died. That means I pretty much can’t use the speakers even though the speakers themselves are just fine.

I emailed Creative to see what I could do, but I fear that I will have to buy a new system… which is too bad considering all I need is a new decoder box.

I am glad I bought these quality headphones… gaming without sound is like… like… going to Baker’s Square and not ordering French silk pie!

July 3, 2008

How To: Use Remote Desktop With Dynamic IP | Posted at 1:52 PM

If you’re like me, your computer at home or work constantly changes its IP address. You have to either email yourself your new IP address or sign up for something like DynDNS.org. There’s an easier, free way!

I’ve talked a bit about Hamachi before and while it was primarily conceived for games it works well for work environments, too. Hamachi is a free VPN network tool that allows users to join a network and create a VPN.

The idea here is to create your own little VPN so that you can remote desktop to your Hamachi address instead of your own IP that changes frequently.

Home Computer / Server / Always-On Computer

  1. Go and download LogMeIn Hamachi
  2. Install Hamachi, you may need to restart.
  3. Close the wizard by clicking the little X in the corner.
  4. Power On Hamachi by clicking the Power button.

    hamachi-power
  5. You may need to enter a “nickname? which is just an ID for this computer.

    hamachi-nickname
  6. Click the Network button and click “Create a new network?

    hamachi-create-new-network
  7. Enter a network name you’ll remember like “MyHomeNetwork?
  8. Enter a secure password, don’t forget it!

    hamachi-create-network-dialog
  9. Hamachi will assign you its own IP address

    hamachi-ip
  10. Your home computer is done.

Work Computer / Clients

  1. Repeat steps 1-5 above.
  2. Click the Network button and click “Join an existing network?

    hamachi-joining-network
  3. Enter the appropriate details.

    hamachi-join-network-dialog
  4. Hamachi should successfully establish a connection to the server
  5. Start up the Remote Desktop Client

    hamachi-rdc
  6. Open Hamachi and right-click your server computer, choose Copy Address

    hamachi-copy-address
  7. Paste the address into the RDC address input.

    hamachi-rdc-ip
  8. Connect and enjoy!

Now whenever both computers are running Hamachi you can Remote Desktop to either of them, assuming you have Remote Desktop set-up correctly. If you’re behind a firewall or router, make sure to forward port 3389 to the proper computer.

How To: Remote Desktop to a University Computer | Posted at 12:03 PM

Last year, I had my desktop PC in my dorm here at the U of MN. When I went home, I needed a way to check my computer for email and do various other things like work remotely.

The University blocks the remote desktop port (3389) from outside, so how did I get it working?

I emailed 1-HELP and they said that if you use this VPN connection utility, you can remote desktop to your University computer.

  1. Download and install the Cisco VPN utility
  2. Restart your computer and run the “VPN Client?
  3. Connect to the U of MN VPN network
  4. Start Remote Desktop and type in your UMN computer’s IP
  5. Voila! You should be good to go

If you are trying to remote desktop to your own university computer that’s NOT the University of Minnesota, consider searching for a VPN utility provided by your university.

Keep in mind: the VPN utility is encrypted so it works well for securing your wireless connection in public places. They also keep an eye on traffic, so don’t do anything suspicious while you’re on it.

July 1, 2008

How To: Get iSight Working With Windows XP Using Parallels 3 | Posted at 2:59 PM

At work I use an iMac which I actually do like even though I am primarily a Windows user.

I have Parallels at work so that I can test different OS browsers during development and I sometimes use Skype. I wanted to see if I can get iSight working with Windows XP under Parallels and you indeed can, originally found via StevieNova. I’ve added screenshots and a walkthrough!

  1. Right-click Parallels
  2. Go to Devices –> USB –> Built in iSight
    iSight_parallels
  3. Make sure it’s checked
  4. Windows XP should detect it but just hold on
    iSight_XP_found
  5. Download these XP iSight drivers
  6. Extract them to a folder you’ll remember, probably your desktop is best.
    isight_desktop
  7. Click the option saying you don’t want to check Windows Update and click Next in the XP Hardware wizard (these screens might appear a bit differently on your computer because I installed the drivers already). 

    isight_step1
  8. Click “Install from a list or specific location? and click Next.

    isight_step2
  9. Click “Don’t search. I will choose the driver to install.? Click Next.

    isight_step3
  10. Click “Have Disk? then “Browse…? and then go to the folder you extracted the iSight drivers to.

    isight_step4
  11. Click the iSight INF file and click Open then OK. Click Next to install the drivers.

    isight_step5

Voila, you should now have it working! To make sure, go to My Computer and click the Apple iSight icon.

isight_mycomputer

Now you should see yourself!

isight_working

Happy iSighting!

P.S. You can delete those driver folders now.

June 30, 2008

Microsoft Student Partner | Posted at 10:08 PM

I applied to be a Microsoft Student Partner for my university a few months ago. I am excited because they’ll start calling people for phone interviews soon. It was supposed to be by June 30 but I guess they got a lot of applications.

I would be happy to get the “job? (it is about 5 hours a week paid) since there are some great perks. First, it will open a lot of doors after graduation. If I could work in the Xbox division at Microsoft, that would be sweet. Second, it comes with a free MSDN subscription. How awesome is that? I need Windows Server 2008 for my server now.

I applied for the Marketing position. If their advertisement was serious and I get to plan a Halo 3 Gaming Tournament, that would be amazing. They asked a lot of questions on that application. I feel like it was a bit subjective because new ideas for marketing an event would come up when I talked with people about it. I mean, advertising on Facebook is a given. Anyone should do that, I’ve seen how well that works. And then putting up flyers in high traffic zones around campus is a great way to advertise. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen ads just walking on the bridge or through campus.

Since I have some people who’d be interested in helping me with these events, leveraging them for word-of-mouth or just chalkin’ up the paths works wonders.

How this all will work with my current job and classes, I am not sure, but I tend to have at least 5 hours of free time a week minimum so it shouldn’t be an issue.

Hats off to thee.

June 27, 2008

How To: Fix Windows Vista Parental Controls “Access Denied” Preventing You From Playing Games | Posted at 8:30 AM

My friend had a problem when he first started using Windows Vista where he would try to play a game like BioShock and Vista said he wasn’t allowed to play the game, it said “Access Denied?.

This made no sense because Parental Controls weren’t enabled at all and we could find no setting to disable it.

The unfortunate part is that I don’t know how to fix it. The way we fixed it was by formatting.

I don’t know if this was a problem with early Vista and has now been fixed, but if anyone is running into this problem, I don’t know how to fix it.

However, some people over at the 2K forums might have fixed it. Here’s a post that explains how to make it work (presumably). I edited it to provide maximum readage and helpfulness:

I’ve had this problem with a few games, and I am using a custom install of Vista.. basically you need to restart the parental controls service to make them work:

  1. Click Start
  2. Type in “Services.msc? in the search box, Press Enter
  3. Find Parental Controls in the list
  4. Right-click it and choose “Start?

That should enable the game to work, you can also change the default option from Manual to Automatic to make it work from now on.

To do so, double-click the Parental Controls  and change “Manual? to “Automatic? in the drop down menu.

Hope this helps enjoy Bioshock. I know this is an old post but when I was researching a fix I wasn't able to find one and had to work it out for myself and I figure this is the best place to put the result.

[Original Post via 2K Forums, Thanks nerionix!]

Hopefully that might fix it.

June 25, 2008

How To: Get IPX Games to Work in Vista | Posted at 11:04 PM

Update #1: Looking for information on how to get Red Alert 2 working on Vista? Try this RA2 patch.

If you are a classic gamer, someone who plays the old Command and Conquer series like Red Alert 2, Yuri’s Revenge, and prior, you may have realized that trying to LAN on Vista doesn’t work.

That’s because these games use the IPX protocol, not the new TCP/IP. Since Windows XP, IPX has been supported on Windows but now the new Vista doesn’t support IPX.

I did find a post about how to maybe get it working. I can’t vouch for this as a solution because I don’t use Vista (old habits die hard) but perhaps it will work for some of you.

If I had Vista, I’d post a walkthrough with his steps but alas, I do not.

Alternatively, I have my own idea (that my friend mentioned):

Use a virtual machine with Windows XP and LAN over that. That would entail everyone having the virtual machine installed (or using XP) and running XP… but… if you’re really that hardcore…

You could also dual-boot XP and Vista, switch to XP for those classic games. When you can buy 750GB for $99, well, there’s no reason not to!

June 20, 2008

Animoto: Pretty Fun Web App | Posted at 11:05 AM

I found this via Superficial Intelligence, another U blog.

Basically, you use a number of pictures and a music file and Animoto will create a video based on the pictures and music. It’s pretty neat, check out the 30 second clip I made:

It creates 30 second clips for free, otherwise it costs money for full ones.

June 19, 2008

First Amazon MP3 Purchase | Posted at 11:38 PM

I wanted to buy a true DRM free album today, so I browsed Amazon MP3 for some of my favorite artists. Surprisingly it found all of the bands (and their albums) that I was looking for.

I ended up getting 3 Inches of Blood’s “Fire Up the Blades.? It’s a really nice album… I’m not finished listening to it though, I just bought it about 5 minutes ago.

Fire up the Blades

Amazon’s setup is surprisingly simple. A small program is downloaded that gets the MP3s, then it places them into your My Music folder properly organized and adds the songs to either WMP or iTunes. I had to modify the preferences at first because it defaults to iTunes and saves it in My Music/Amazon MP3.

Damn, between Amazon MP3, Rock Band, and Audible I will be spending a lot of money on music and books…

June 16, 2008

Comcast vs. Satellite | Posted at 5:36 PM

My family is getting tired of paying out the nose for Comcast cable. We get charged about $88-$90 per month just for cable. We only watch a handful of channels like TLC, HGTV, Discovery, CNN, Cartoon Network, Nick, Disney, Comedy Central, and some HD channels.

Now that we have a brand spankin’ new HDTV, I realized that Comcast’s HD lineup is really terrible. Half of it is sports and the a third or so is premium channels that we can’t watch. What use is that?

So I’ve been researching a bit and I think we might go with Dish Network’s DishHD package. It comes with about 40 good HD channels (including 90% of the ones we only watch), for about $30/month base price.

My dad wants to have two receivers for two rooms since he wants an HDTV upstairs eventually too. I suggested we get the free HD DVR for the entertainment room TV and then just buy a nice HDTV antenna to get all the local HD channels and analog channels for the other TVs. That way they can enjoy their news and TV shows upstairs in HD and come downstairs to view their special satellite-only HD shows. Besides, the free HD DVR has a dual-tuner, so it can at least output some standard def to another TV separately.

Hey, for $30, not bad? Plus with a NetFlix subscription and an Xbox 360… well, streaming movies!

Comcast, just because you have “more HD channels than satellite? doesn’t equate to them being better. Quality over quantity, buddies.

June 14, 2008

New Design | Posted at 7:22 PM

When I started this blog, I used a theme that someone else had designed. I figured that since I’m a designer, it would make sense that my blog should have its own unique design. So yesterday and today I spent some time and came up with this. It’s simple but effective.

Now I have something to call my own!

I hope you like it.

June 11, 2008

Keeping up-to-date on your favorite TV shows using your favorite RSS reader | Posted at 8:07 AM

For those of you who have never heard of Hulu.com, it's a site that is sanctioned by major TV networks to host their shows. And I mean, Full Episodes, not just little puny clips.

One of the cool features Hulu has is the ability to generate RSS feeds for shows' episodes.

You can also embed the video in an enclosure so that Google Reader (my preferred RSS reader) can play it without you having to visit the site.

Unfortunately, it embeds the player, not the video, so you can't use it with programs like TVersity which can stream video podcasts to your TV.

To see an example, check out this RSS feed for The Daily Show!

http://www.hulu.com/feed/show/902/episodes?enclosures=1

Notice the "enclosures=1" attribute. That adds media enclosures to the feed.

I am currently subscribed to The Daily Show, Colbert Report, and the Office. Too bad they don't have lost, but then again, ABC.com has full HD episodes so it's no biggie.

June 10, 2008

Publishing to UThink using Windows Live Writer | Posted at 1:08 PM

I am testing out this neat way of publishing to my blog. I dislike the interface for Movable Type that this blog uses, so I wanted to see if I can publish using Windows Live Writer.

You have to admit that Microsoft did  good job with the Live software. This program is pretty darn neat.

Anyway, if you can see this, well it's been a success!

May 31, 2008

Drivers for your laptop GeForce Go card | Posted at 5:13 PM

If you're like me, you bought a nice laptop so that you can game on the go. However, you soon realized that the included drivers suck horribly (in my case, Dell). Furthermore, I found out that the nVidia mobile drivers won't work with my selected video card and manufacturer. To be fair, I did upgrade the video card it came with originally to a GeForce Go 7800.

It took me a long time to find drivers that actually worked, but then I was stuck with old ForceWare 77.xx drivers instead of the new ones.

Today, I found ones that work beautifully. It's the 169.xx series which were made for desktop cards, but work perfect for my laptop, too.

For reference, I use a Dell Inspiron E1705. I downloaded the drivers from the awesome site, LaptopVideo2Go.com. You can check out their updated forums for new drivers. Here's how you install them:

  1. Head to the 169.61 driver download page for XP. Depending on your OS, you might want to go to the parent forum to find the Vista drivers.
  2. Download the original nVidia installation package (the "Driver" link).
  3. Extract the nVidia driver to a folder.
  4. Download the "Modded INF" file, and save it to where you extracted the nVidia drivers. It should ask you if you want to replace the file nv4_disp.inf and you click "Yes."
  5. Install and test it out!

I was able to play Oblivion, Ultra High, at 1360x768 (my LCD TV's supported VGA resolution) with minimal slowdown. More importantly, I could use the nVidia Control Panel to add some custom resolutions. One bug I saw is that I couldn't see the text for the nav menu options in the control panel. It's okay though cause you just click them to see them. No big deal.

Enjoying the new TV | Posted at 12:45 AM

My family just got their new Toshiba REGZA TV I picked out for them delivered today. I set it all up and have been enjoying it all day.

Within the week I will post a large review, with pictures, since when I was researching the TVs I never found a good review for the TV. I want to wait, so I can calibrate it and hook up the Xbox 360 via HDMI to really see how it performs. So far I've tested 1080i HD material (via Comcast), the Wii, and 480p DVDs. I have to say I'm impressed with even SD material, but I'll elaborate next week.

May 24, 2008

Thoughts on Google Reader | Posted at 10:32 AM

I recently switched from using my iGoogle homepage as an aggregator to using Google Reader instead, because let's face it, I read a lot of blogs. I love it, I think it's really neat. Plus it lets you add a widget to iGoogle so I still use iGoogle as my homepage.

If you're like me, you don't like to keep visiting sites to get updates. For example, for my YouTube subscriptions I just added them to Google Reader. A quick Google search brought up this page from YouTube detailing how to get RSS feeds for specific users (or tags or categories, etc.).

Now I can get updates when I read my blogs/view subscriptions on Reader. Cool! I also added my shared items to the right.

May 20, 2008

Firefox 3 RC1 | Posted at 1:08 PM

firefox_logo.jpg

I've been using Firefox 3 here at work since Beta 4 and I've been really impressed. Recently, RC1 has been released and works just dandy. At work I use an iMac and Firefox 3 is way faster than Firefox 2 on my box. I installed it on my PC too, and I'm waiting for my add-ons to be updated. Web Developer Toolbar was updated today to support RC1. I'm waiting for Firebug to be updated so I can properly debug my web applications.