Daniel Schoerner's blog

May 30 2013

Blog - Phoenix 2 for Sage TV Now Available!

While SageTV may have been acquired by Google, this has not put much of a damper on a very active user development community. New tools and plugins are still being released for SageTV all the time. The latest new release is Phoenix 2, a sleek, streamlined, and very responsive new user interface that takes advantage of the existing metadata and fan art features provided by the Phoenix APIs while still allowing the ability to build custom content libraries using your own filters.

Phoenix Landing Zone

Mar 07 2013

Blog - Quick Look at Standout Designs Haven 72" TV Stand

Over the holidays, my wife and I purchased our first home and one of the first things that we realized was that we would need a new tv stand because of the awkward location that our tv would be in. For quite a while, I have had my eye on Standout Designs. I just never had the exuse I needed to buy one of their stands until now. 

Yes - I know. I'm horrible at lighting a shot taken with my iPhone. I couldn't figure out how to get a good picture with light coming in behind the tv. I told you it was an awkward place to put it.

Over the holidays we ordered their free wood samples and found one that was the perfect match for our other furniture. Then it was a couple of week wait for the stand to arrive. 

Which it did. On a giant truck. I was very happy to have splurged on the lift gate shipping option. The tv stand is heavy. Very, very, heavy. This is why you hire movers kind of heavy. Helping lift it off a 55' trailer would have been a bit much. If you have stairs, you will definitely want the white glove option.

Unpacking went smoothly. Everything was in great shape. Here's a picture of the stand from the back.

You can see the nice large fans. They spin extremely slowly so that you can't hear them and do a nice job of venting heat from the stand. There's a temperture sensor built in so that you can have them auto on/off or just switch them to on/off all the time.

Oct 14 2010

Blog - Xbox 360 Chatpad Driver Challenge!

Lately I have started playing games on my Home Theater PC. Sitting on my couch and playing video games on my 42" tv is absolutely great. It's comfortable, the screen's big, I can kick my feet up. All around excellent. To play games I use a Logitech Rumblepad 2 for playing the game and a Logitech diNovo Mini for communicating in the games. Pick up, put down, pick up, put down...over and over. This for me is the biggest issue I have with gaming on my HTPC. I've also never really been interested in the lap board with keyboard and mouse. I like my controllers!

Enter the Xbox 360 Gamepad with Chatpad - A controller, a great one at that, that has a snap in thumb keyboard for typing. It's amazing anytime I use it on the Xbox. 

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The Catch - While the Xbox 360 Gamepad works great on the PC, there is ZERO support from Microsoft for the Chatpad. People all over the internet have pushed on Microsoft in every public forum imaginable, but all that ever happens is one division at Microsoft points at another as having responsibility for the development. Someone even wrote a Macintosh OS X driver for it, and there is still nothing working for the PC. 

Beyond playing games on your HTPC, this also becomes an alternative style remote for Windows MC or other app. With great wireless range, and no line of sight required, you could locate your HTPC in a closet or cabinet and still surf the web, or just use the Dpad and buttons to quickly navigate around. Analog sticks can be remapped to mouse movement, all of which makes this a very unique and flexible alternative to you standard mouse/keyboard combo.

To that end, the folks over at MP3Car.com have started a collection fund to support the rewarding of the first person to develop a PC driver for the Xbox 360 Chatpad. Today I pledged $25 via PayPal, and if this is something you think you'd find useful I encourage you to go do the same. Who knows, our very own Mikinho might be the one to solve the problem.

The Goal - To create an open-souce, fully functional set of drivers for the Xbox 360 Controller to utilize the Chatpad peripheral accurately to work on Windows computers. There is a Paypal donation link provided, and the winner of this contest will get the full purse. MP3Car has voluntarily gestured to start the bank with $25, and they have pledged to pay any associated paypal fees; this ensures the winner will get the entire donated amount.

The Rules
1. Driver must be open source.
2. Driver must install in windows XP, Vista OR Win7 (support for only ONE operating system is now OK).
3. Xbox Chatpad must work like a regular keyboard in Windows.
4. Driver must install along with or completely replace the original Xbox drivers, and must not effect the original function of the controller in any way. This can be accomplished by re-writing the original drivers, or having a one-click accessible add-on activate on top of the working original drivers when wanted.
5. The first member to post their own original working drivers in this thread will be the winner. This winner must be accepted by the majority of the participants, for quality of product and authenticity of workmanship.

 

Feb 16 2010

Blog - Simple Blu-ray Playback with SageTV, SageMC and Total Media Theatre 3

Sometimes I forget how much I love SageTV, SageMC, and TMT 3. This forgetfulness usually occurs when I have started tweaking things but not found enough time to set things up properly. I had experimented with various methods to launch Blu-ray playback on an old SageTV install before I moved to Windows 7. I had gotten ripped BR folders to play on my HD200, and discs to playback on my full client. However my method of setting this up wasn't the most straight forward. Sometimes things are easier than we make them.

Tonight everything changed. I took a look at SageMC's External Player capabiliites. Suddenly eveything fell into place. In less then ten minutes I had my SageTV launching TMT 3 for playing back both ripped Blu-ray folders and discs. If you have SageTV, SageMC, and TMT just follow these simple steps.

Edit the following file in C:\Program Files\SageTV\SageTV\STVs\SageTV3\SageMC\

- dvd_player.cmd : Replace existing text with this (including quotes, alter drive letter as necessary): "C:\Program Files\ArcSoft\TotalMedia Theatre 3\uMCEDVDPlayer.exe" %1

Save and Close the file. Then launch SageTV, goto SageMC Setup->External Programs, and then enable External DVD Player.

Ta da! Full support for Blu-ray folders and discs from SageTV on your HTPC. Only issue I seem to have is that when SageTV wakes back up the W7 menubar is on top of it. I'm pretty sure I can resolve that.

EDIT: Solved the problem with focus, used EventGhost to do a Bring to Front on SageTV.exe.

Nov 02 2009

Blog - $10 Blu-ray's at Best Buy This Week

Normally I avoid Best Buy. But I was sitting at a cafe flipping through the Sunday newpaper and took a glance at the weekly Best Buy circular. They're having a sale with (according to their website) 91 different movies priced between $7.99 and $9.99. Maybe I've been a little disconnected but this seemed pretty cheap to me for Blu-ray discs. There are some pretty good films in there that are probably worth picking up if they're not in your collection.

  • The Terminator
  • Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
  • The Transporter
  • The Usual Suspects
  • Reservoir Dogs
  • Napoleon Dynamite
  • Under Seige
  • Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2
  • Robocop
  • The Graduate
  • Requiem for a Dream
  • Carrie
It's always nice when you find one of your favorites in the bargain bin.
Oct 29 2009

Blog - Windows 7: Get Your New Install Humming

Everytime you reinstall Windows there are always lots of fun configuration tasks that need to be taken care of, and this applies just the same to upgrading to a new version of Windows. I've tried to put together a list of some of the key things you'll need to remember when migrating to Windows 7 and please add your own ideas to the discussion. Soon all our computers will be humming along with hardly any need for intervention.

 

Setting Up Windows

  • Configure Automatic Defrags - Looks like W7 doesn't have that much flexibility, as all the drives have to run on the same schedule for defragging
  • Consider a Backup Plan and Schedule - I usually do at least a back up of a nice, clean setup with drivers and core applications installed 
  • Setup Auto-login - I password protect the system for the admin account, but on a hard reboot I want to make sure the machine can auto login and continue recording
  • Configure file sharing - I'm sure there are a few other computers around the house that might access the media on your HTPC
  • Choose a Background or Use None At All - This time around I'm going to see how a plain black desktop feels, one with no icons, taskbar, or anything.
  • Set up / disable the screen saver - I don't use one, but maybe you do
  • Configure Power/Sleep Settings - Don't you hate when the screen shuts off because you don't move the mouse enough
  • Remote Desktop - Hit up the MissingRemote.com Guide to Concurrent Sessions, a great way to use Remote Desktop to administer your PC while the family still gets to use it
HTPC Configuration
  • Configure Audio & Video Drivers - Make sure these are both tweaked for great sound and picture
  • Calibrate Audio Levels - Use a Sound Pressure Level (SPL) Meter to first configure your Pre/Pro or AV Receiver. Then go through your audio control panel and various applications to set everything to consistent volume. This way when you switch between apps you won't blow your eardrums.
  • Install all your favorite apps & tools
Some of My Favorite Apps & Tools
  • AVG Free Anti-Virus - Unobtrusive, seems to do the job
  • AnyDVD HD - Archive your BD discs
  • DVD Profiler 3 - My choice of DVD cataloging software
  • Total Media Theatre 3 - Plays BD folders (PowerDVD does not)
  • DVDShrink - Archive your DVD discs makes isolating main feature and audio tracks easy
  • EventGhost - Automate whatever
  • Exact Audio Copy (EAC) Archive CD; All mine are stored as both FLAC and MP3
  • Hulu Desktop - Watch Hulu without a web browser
  • ImgBurn - For burning the occassional disc
  • Firefox - A web browser
  • Total Game Control - Let's my gamepad do all sorts of cool things
  • SageTV - A PVR and so much more!
What do you guys consider critical for a new build?


Oct 21 2009

Blog - Windows 7 is Here!

On the night before Windows 7, there were screams of rage in the house, as I accidentally deleted all my lossless audio...crap that doesn't rhyme. But now the stockings were hung and a new partition was cleared. Windows 7 started to download and October 22nd wasn't even here.

Windows 7 is Here!!

The student/alumni pricing was a pretty good deal. I might even beat launch day, although I guess it's launch day already in other parts of the world. I even splurged the extra $13 to have a copy of the media mailed to me.

Jun 09 2009

Blog - More fun with Hulu Desktop - Using any remote with EventGhost

After getting EventGhost up and running to integrate PowerDVD 9 with SageTV, I took a look at Hulu Desktop. Integration was pretty straight forward as all of the keyboard commands were available in the software. I'm too lazy to write a plugin, so instead I pulled all the relevant XML from my save file, and you can just copy/paste it into your saved EventGhost XML file. Then all you need to do is associate the remote control buttons that you want to use with it. Here it is below, and I hope this is useful for some of you. Read on for the full XML code you'll need...

Mar 30 2009

Blog - SageTV News: Sage HD Theater Sale and SageMC 6.3.9 Released

Just got back from Tahoe and saw a few tasty tidbits in my inbox. For those looking at buying SageTV extenders, Sage is running a March Madness Sale (until end of month).

Enter the coupon code MMAD09 when checking out to get the indicated discount. (Coupon expires April 1, 2009)

- $20 off SageTV HD Theater (only $179.95)
- $25 off SageTV HD Theater and SageTV Media Center for Windows software (only $224.95)

MeinMaui also just announced the latest release of SageMC. Here's a look at the new features. Things that caught my eye - Intelligent Sorting of Recorded TV Screen (that might do something for you Autoboy), Subtitle Support, Cycling through Fan Art, and Screen Capping Fan Art from Video

Click Read More for the full list of fixes and changes.

Feb 12 2009

Blog - Build Log - A journey towards all HD all the time (Part II - Build Up)

After tearing down the HTPC, I started putting things back together with my brand new parts. This is actually going to be retrospective look at building my HTPC since it's been up and running with minimum required functionality for the last couple months or so.

This build was designed to be the main HTPC in the family room. I planned to leverage my existing HTPC case, the Accent HT-400. The HTPC is used for tv recording, archiving and playing back DVDs, Blu-ray playback from disc, photos, and music playback. I've stopped gaming on the pc and instead am using the XBox 360 for that. In the future, I plan on turning this HTPC into a thick client and moving the hard drives and tuners to a PC based on WHS. This thick client HTPC will then continue to serve as the main box in the family room/home theater. To this extenders will be added in other rooms for music, tv, and video distribution. Home Automation will be added eventually to the WHS box after it is up and running next year. 

For the core of my new HTPC I selected the Asus P5Q-EM based on the Intel G45 chipset running a Intel E8500.

 

build-log_01-01tn.jpg build-log_01-02tn.jpg
build-log_02-01tn.jpg

 

Let's take a closer look at how things worked out.

Feb 10 2009

Blog - Server Storage - RAID, WHS, and Throughput

The discussion, here, about larger storage setups caught my attention this week. Large storage setups for many simultaneous users have considerations beyond your standard small home server. Some of the major considerations are hard drive choice, disk configuration, sufficient throughput for your application, backup, fault tolerance.

- Hard Drives: If you are planning a large 10TB+ array of discs, you may want to consider enterprise class drives from leading hard drive manufacturers. These drives are certified for 24/7 operation, and warrantied for 5 years. However, there is a price for the higher reliability drives. Western Digital Enterprise Class Green Power drives cost about 80% more than their equivalent consumer version.

- Disk Configurations (from Wikipedia):

RAID

  • RAID 0 (striped disks) distributes data across several disks in a way that gives improved speed and full capacity, but all data on all disks will be lost if any one disk fails.
  • RAID 1 (mirrored settings/disks) could be described as a real-time backup solution. Two (or more) disks each store exactly the same data, at the same time, and at all times. Data is not lost as long as one disk survives. Total capacity of the array is simply the capacity of one disk. At any given instant, each disk in the array is simply identical to every other disk in the array. - IS BACKUP
  • RAID 5 (striped disks with parity) combines three or more disks in a way that protects data against loss of any one disk; the storage capacity of the array is reduced by one disk. - NOT BACKUP
  • RAID 6 (striped disks with dual parity) (less common) can recover from the loss of two disks. - NOT BACKUP
Windows Home Server Drive Extender - a file-based replication system that provides three key capabilities:
  • Multi-disk redundancy so that if any given disk fails, data is not lost - NOT BACKUP
  • Folder Duplication - allowing the selective backup of any of your shared folders, keeps duplicate copies of specified folders on seperate drives, must manually enable - IS BACKUP
  • Arbitrary storage expansion by supporting any type of hard disk drive (Serial ATA, USB, FireWire etc.) in any mixture and capacity — similar in concept to JBOD
  • A single folder namespace (no drive letters)

- Transfer Rates

The throughput of the system may or may not be important to you. You'll want to check on the specific card you plan on purchasing. Real world transfer rates can be very different from what is advertised on the box. The hardware raid cards will be faster and are capable of supporting many users. The hardware solutions can easily handle throughput from many drives simultaneously without degradation of performance. If the files accessed are on different drives, the total throughput can be quite high. WHS Drive Extender is a software solution and much more appropriate for a small number of users/simultaneous file transfers.

- Backup / Fault Tolerance

All of the above mentioned solutions for creating large storage arrays are really not good backup solution for critical data (except RAID 1). Many of them do have fault tolerance, allowing them to rebuild the array by replacing a broken drive. In the case of hardware RAID, the RAID card is also a fault point and would likely need to be replaced with the same model card to get the array back up and running. For critical backup you will need a separate solution. I have been considering this for my family photos. Movies and music are replaceable, while family photos aren't.

Jan 29 2009

Blog - Movies, Music and TV in the Air

 I find myself spending much too much time on airplanes. This past year I earned status on one airline, and almost on a second. My fiancee is travelling so much that she is going platinum on multiple airlines. With all this time spent in the air and on the road we've gone through quite a few of the many options for taking media in the air. Technology continues to evolve and provide a never ending supply of ways to entertain yourself on the plane. I find myself carrying far too many of them, with a laptop (or 2), an iPod Video, a Nintendo DS, and my phone. Today, I thought I'd just try and capture a few of the many options out there for consumption while flying the friendly skies. 

Laptop - Something almost every business traveler drags along, as do many others. Good screen size. Plenty of storage space for media. Plays DVDs/Blu-ray. Heavy option, if media playback on the plane is the only point in bringing it. Crappy battery life for long trips. I feel like if I get to watch the whole movie than it's a good day.

Portable DVD Player - Take your DVD collection with you...literally. This option offers a nice screen size depending on model you choose, and potentially decent battery life. Smaller than a laptop. But you have to actually bring physical discs with you, so decide what you want to watch before you leave the house. There are a few ways to work around bringing your own.

Buy DVDs / CDs at the airport - Seems every airport now has a stand or store where you can select from a horrible selection of overpriced DVDs and CDs. Personally, I'm not a big fan of this option.

Rent DVD & return at destination - Never actually participated in this. I am always slightly concerned there won't be an easy place to drop the disc off on the other end, and/or I won't have time to go hunt it down.

The new disposable rental - I've noticed this popping up all over the last few months. The disposable DVD rental. For something like $5.99 you can rent the movie, and watch it as much as you want inside a 24-hour period. Then throw the disc out. The green side of me thinks this is wasteful. However, for busy travellers definitely more convienent than the rent and return option.

Watch whatever Netflix just showed up - Often times this is the route I go. It just doesn't require any thinking, planning, or cash.

 

The Portable MP3 Player - Pretty good choice for music consumption. Battery life should be plenty for any day of travel. Most players today have enough storage for huge music collections, so you never have to worry about leaving your ABBA Gold behind. 

The iPhone/iTouch - Music, Movies & Games all in one. There is certainly something to be said for that. Most people can handle adding movies/music via iTunes. You can add your own with just a little bit of effort. I've heard that by reducing brightness and disabling the phone portion 6+ hours of video can be enjoyed. That's not too shabby. Should do for most flights, especially since you can't watch during takeoff and landing. Gaming leaves a little to be desired. iGames tend to be OK, but lack in depth what you might get for a real portable gaming system.

The Blackberry - I have one. I put a couple songs on it. For some reason I haven't really done any more than that. I love my phone, but I've never really had the urge to load it full of stuff. Maybe I'll try that for my next flight. The phone's battery life is exceptional, so I guess I'll give this a go next time and load up my microSD card. There's an issue...limited by microSD for storage.

 

The Nintendo DS - Great selection of games. Can buy game cartridges that allow microSD cards for video/audio playback extending the capabilities of console. Smaller screen than most phones for video viewing. Battery life is amazing. I can charge the DS, game a little every day and not have battery issues for a week. Not sure about battery life during video, have not personally tried it.

The Sony PSP - Bigger screen than the DS. Easier to load media on than the DS. UMD is stupid. IMO, gaming not as good as DS. (Worldwide sales numbers would probably support that conclusion)

 

DirectTV - This is nice, a full lineup of 40 or 50 stations that you can tune in anytime during your flight. The only thing is, when you're on those mid-day flights you are reminded of how bad daytime television is and find yourself praying you'll stumble upon a rerun of any of the crime dramas. Or maybe just indulge that guilty pleasure reality show you can't even set to record on your DVR, but hey, if it's the only thing on... Free on JetBlue, $5 on Frontier.

On Demand Movies - I had this once, flying first class. A large selection of recent releases, hot food, silverware and free cocktails. I strongly recommend this avenue.

 

Don't forget the headphones!!!

Noise Cancelling Headphones - These can make flying much more pleasant by filtering/drowning out ambient sounds. There are tradeoffs in size and quality of noise cancelling between the two pairs we own.

Sennheiser PXC250 - Smaller, foldable, easy to travel with. Smaller ear pieces and less effective noise cancelling. Enabling it does seem to bump audio volume a couple db. $100ish.

Bose QuietComfort 3 On Ear - Good noise cancelling, I prefer over ear but my fiancee likes the on ear fit of these. Larger, and when packed in travel case occupy a bit of space in the bag. $300ish.

I'd really love to find a great pair of tiny buds with noise cancelling. Or maybe try the custom fit buds.

 

So what do you bring on the road when you travel?

Jan 27 2009

Blog - Why I love SageTV

I know everyone here probably already knows I'm a SageTV user, and I have been for the past many years. But today I had one of those moments that reminds me why I love SageTV, and in particular it's developers. The development team's dedication to providing timely, friendly responses to inquiries is probably one of my favorite things about this company.

Now that I actually have modern tuners, extenders, and other equipment (instead of the stuff from circa 2003), I have been updating my version of SageTV frequently throughout the current 6.5 Beta. At some point, a bug was introduced that broke the way the system read the tags from my flac files. Yesterday after trying a suggestion from tech support first, and then doing a complete rebuild on my own which I had been planning (new apt = new build :) ), I followed up to tech support by sending them a sample file to try and debug from. This was probably about 10pm EST last night.

Here's the email I received early this afternoon:

OK, this is fixed for the next build now. :)  (the one we're putting out today)

Cheers,
SageTV Support Team

 

Does it really get any better than that? File bug report, wake up around 11, eat breakfast, get email that devs have already figured out problem, and included it in latest build which happens to be going out today. I don't really think it does. So thanks to the Sage dev team for being absolutely great!!!

 

P.S. If you're a Sage user and paying attention, this probably means a 6.5 RC2 or 6.5 Final to be out today Cool

Oct 24 2008

Blog - I'm Annoyed - FUD in Review Articles - Companies That Can't Do HW and SW

I'm annoyed right now. Intel apparently can't deliver a motherboard that has working hardware acceleration of their new X4500HD graphics chip. It works on all the third party motherboards just fine. They updated the bios and broke hardware acceleration of all the blu-ray formats. Classic case of hardware company that can't write software. They need to fix whatever it is that is wrong with the bios and let people know that it is fixed. Articles are popping around the internet now comparing HW acceleration of the X4500HD to discrete graphics cards. Conclusion, while integrated graphics isn't bad, the CPU usage is absolutely horrible and discrete 4830 is a much better investment for Blu-ray playback. The article notes that HW acceleration could not be enabled, and they link to a video that discusses the issue if you watch a lengthy movie about the issue, but they don't state the problem up front in the article. HW acceleration is broken in BIOS's numbered higher than 0075 on the Intel DG45ID. Intel is aware of this and trying to fix it. So let's take this time to rake an integrated chip over the coals and laud the value of high end discrete cards.

Two things about this piss me off:

1) Reviewers not putting all the information in their article (even though they are aware of it as shown by their link to the video Kyle at HardOCP made.) Summarize the information from the video in the article, that gives readers all the information in an easy to digest manner. 

2) Hardware companies that write such buggy driver/bios/software code that their hardware with all of it's careful thought and design fails to work.

Out of this:

Thumbs Up: Kyle at HardOCP for running this issue to ground with Intel. If you have the DG45ID, use BIOS 0075 (not 0079 or 0081).

Thumbs Down: Legit Reviews - Despite the website name, the review is less than legit. Apples to Oranges comparison -> Conclusion go buy this other hardware we just reviewed.

/End Rant

PS - I'll go back to writing my build log now.

Oct 21 2008

Blog - Build Log - A journey towards all HD all the time (Part I - Tear Down)

Hooray! The last of the parts for my new build arrived last week. I have spent the last several months planning this build. The goal was to upgrade to a machine that ran Blu-ray and recorded in HD with ease, while also building an HTPC that was even quieter than my prior build. Music playback is also imporatant, but that is something that I was already satisfied with in my older HTPC and wouldn't be much of a change in the new build. I had been waiting on the arrival of my Intel E8500 and it showed up on the doorstep on Thursday night courtesy of UPS. Looked like I wouldn't be going to work on Friday. My fiancee flew in Friday night, and the goal was to have everything up and running (and the apartment cleaned) prior to her flight arriving. Theoretically we would be enjoying plenty of HD all weekend long.

build-log_01-01tn.jpg
Yeah! Toys!

I took advantage of my planned day off to get a little extra sleep and rolled out of bed around 9:30. I was meeting a buddy who is a stay-at-home dad at 10 for some breakfast before we both got rolling on projects for the day. My buddy was going to attempt to repair his broken XBox 360, while I stripped down and rebuilt my Home Theater PC. Breakfast was excellent. I really have become quite the fan of avocado in my omelettes. Mmm.....tasty green fatty berry. Bet you didn't know that avocado is technically a large berry. At least you learned something from my blog today. Then it was time to get rolling on the build. I'd start by stripping out all of the old components, cleaning the inside of the case, and installing Acoustipak insulation.   

 

Aug 15 2008

Blog - Good Times with Blu-ray on AGP and an Athlon 64

The past week I've been playing around with a an Asus AH3650 512MB AGP Card. I have to say, it's been fun. It continually surprises me by how low spec a system I can use to play back Blu-ray. So let's take a direct approach to this little write-up. Right now I'm watching Super Bad (AVC ~30 Mbps, Dolby TrueHD 5.1 ~1.3 Mbps) on an Athlon XP-Mobile 2400+. Freaking ridiculous. That really pretty much sums it up. Below I'll go through the graphs and measurements of different software on different hardware configurations. I've selected a few films that push the bit-rate boundaries to see how things perform. 

 

Software Titles Used

  • 27 Dresses - 20th Century Fox - AVC @ 34 Mbps
  • The Orphanage - New Line Home Entertainment - VC-1 @ 27.9 Mbps
  • Dream Girls - DreamWorks Home Entertainment - MPEG-2 @ 30.8 Mbps

Bitrates above are average bitrates. Bitrate average for 27 Dresses is per back of disc case. Seems pretty accurate, based on where the actual overhead while watching it. I would have guessed 32 or 33 Mbps instead. Dream Girls and The Orphanage average bitrates are per this resource at Blu-ray.com. The interesting thing about The Orphanage is that while the average bitrate is 27.9 it has peaks in the low 50's at times, if only for a couple frames. These titles all represented some of the highest video bitrate material available for each of the three encoding formats per the prior mentioned list of flims and bitrates.

Now let's move on to the different hardware configurations tested and see how they fared.

 

Jul 30 2007

Blog - A Home Theater PC I Would Love To Build

My current HTPC has begun to stagnate a little. While it still runs great, I haven't made any significant advances with it in the last year. Forever on my mind is a HTPC build that I would put together if I weren't living off of student loans. In my current situation, I have only the one large tv that has access to the HTPC so I'm not worrying about server/client setups yet. So, below is something I'd like to give a go in the near future should I happen to fall into some parts.

 

- Case: OrigenAE X11 HTPC Case with VFD/IR Module and MCE Remote

- Power Supply: Seasonic M12 500W Modular Power Supply

- Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-965G-DS3 LGA 775 Intel G965 Express

- CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 Conroe 2.4GHz LGA 775 Processor

- Heatsink: Thermalright SI-128 CPU Cooling Heatsink

- RAM: Kingston 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) KVR800D2N5/1G (x2)

- Hard Disk: Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD5000KS (x3)

- Blu-ray/HD DVD Drive: LG Super Multi Blue BD Drive/HD DVD reader - SATA GGW-H10NI

- Video Card: Gigabyte GV-NX85T512HP GeForce 8500GT 512MB 128-bit GDDR2 PCI Express x16 w/ HDCP

- Sound Card: Auzentech X-Meridian 7.1
- Accessories: National LM4562NA Operational Amplifiers

- HD/SD Tuner: HDHomeRun Networked Digital TV Tuner (x2)

- Keyboard/Mouse: Gyration Universal Remote Control and Compact Keyboard Suite for Media Center

- Case Fans: Nexus Real Silent Case Fan SP802512L-03 (x2)
- Accessories: Zalman Fan Mate 2 Fan Controller 

 

Reasoning: I'd consider going with a case with a touch screen in an instance where I put the HTPC in a server rack, or in a home theater with only a projector display device. Currently in my family room I don't see the need for a touch screen LCD on the case. I currently have a Seasonic M12 500W and I love it. Modular cables are great and it's quiet and efficient. The Auzentech X-Meridian is to use with analog out audio. In a situation where I'd use SPDIF, I'd look for something else. I receive all basic cable as unencrypted QAM, so I would use the HDHomeRun for both HD and SD recording, hence the need for 2 of them for a total of 4 tuners. Don’t forget a Gigabit Router either if you try to run multiple units simultaneously. The HDHomerun is something I'll probably purchase soon and use with my existing setup since I know the QAM channels are there and viewable, I just can't record them with my existing HTPC. Hope this gives some ideas to those of you looking to build your own HTPCs for the first time!

Jan 28 2007

Blog - Using a Dremel to mod your case

For Christmas this year, I received a new power supply for my HTPC. But lo and behold, when I opened up my PC to swap power supplies, it didn’t fit. What was I to do? I could have returned the perfectly good power supply and swapped it for a different model which would fit…or I could go to the hardware store, buy some power tools and take care of the situation. Clearly, the second choice was the way to go. 

My trip to the hardware store was uneventful and I came home with a brand new Dremel 400 XPR 4/41 (4 attachments & 41 accessories). It was $79.95 plus tax. There were less expensive packages, but this one included the Flex Shaft. The Flex Shaft allows you to work in tighter spaces and hold the grinding/cutting tool of your choice like a pen.

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Dremel in the box
What's Included 
My brand new Dremel
Stock photo of everything included

 

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