Blogs

Mar 07 2007

Blog - Couchville Beta

A few days ago Snapstream released Couchville.com, a sleek and simple TV Listing site open to anyone on the net. The current version of the site is in beta, so it will no doubt have tweaks and changes in the future. Surfing on over to the Couchville main-page, I was greated by a page that reminded me a lot of the Google approach to doing business: very simple, yet it gets the job done. Snapstream's simple approach has garnered a lot of praise around the net and rightly so.

Couchville.com is not cluttered with ads and stories about our favorite celebs going into rehab. This made it easy to find out where to add my zip code and get my listings in a quick three step process. I would also note that the AJAX coding is done VERY well here. The loads are very quick.

After that, you are free to browse your listings. Similar to Google Maps, you are able to drag the listings to get the channel and time you so desire. Again, very simple and effective.

Above the Guide there are three buttons used for navigation. Obviously one for the guide, and the other two are for BTV Buzz and Guide Settings. BTV Buzz is information taken, anonymously of course, from thousands of BTV users that ranks top recorded TV shows, and top upcoming recordings. The settings page allows you to customize your channel lineup to better match your subscription.

Currently, the site uses a browser cookie to save the preferences. In this stage of the beta there isn't an ability to create a login and thus keep your settings regardless of the computer you are at. To follow the look and feel of the website, I would keep registration strictly optional and low key. People who want it can register, if not, cookies should be enough :).

I am not sure what else Snapstream has planned for Couchville.com but they have the start of a great TV based community :).

couch_screen1_thumb.jpg
couch_screen2_thumb.jpg
couch_screen3_thumb.jpg couch_screen4_thumb.jpg
Couchville Home
Guide BTV Buzz Listings Setup

 

 

Mar 07 2007

Blog - I joined the MP3 revolution with a 30GB iPod video

ipod_video.jpg

Digg this story! 

Not to get all gadgety on you but I finally got myself into the 21st century for mobile/personal audio. I thought I would share my first impressions, and general usage experiences as well as comments on moving video to the iPod from various sources including downloads and converted TV recordings.

 

Mar 02 2007

Blog - Analog TV and 2009 : let's clear something up shall we?

digitaltv.jpgNVIDIA's DualTV MCE end of life announcement made earlier today is the first of what I'm sure are many other similar product discontinuations and/or end of life announcements. Looking around various forums that have picked up on this I see some incorrect information being spread around.


To be clear: the mandate is only about over the air analog signals. It has no effect whatsoever on cable TV.

Cable companies are very likely to keep offering analog cable packages for some time, because in 2009 that analog cable service will still be quite useful to all those people who have 'cable ready' analog tuners (like nearly all VCRs and TVs have had since the 1990s).

The impact of the analog cutoff to anyone who is a cable or satellite TV subscriber is essentially no impact at all. It will only impact the severely poor who cannot afford cable or people who just don't care to watch TV much and thus still use the ol' rabbit ears on a 13" set from 1986. For these people a voucher system will be setup to help them obtain digital TV set-top boxes that are simple ATSC tuners with analog video outputs for legacy TV users, prototypes of set-top boxes like this cost under $150, so by 2009 these should be quite cheap, especially with a voucher subsidizing the cost.

The impact to the consumer electronics market is simply that any TVs, DVRs, etc. made from this point forward must also include an ATSC tuner, the cost of adding an ATSC tuner isn't very much these days. For the HTPC world this means that any PC TV tuner made from this point forward must have an ATSC tuner in addition to the NTSC one. You'll notice ATI, AVerMedia, Hauppauge, and Vbox all had combo or hybrid NTSC/ATSC cards out in time for March 1st.

Feb 28 2007

Blog - ReplayTV, quit Replaying!!!

hdrrtvlogoI was just greeted with a lovely SPAM e-mail from ReplayTV, promoting their PVR software and offering me a whopping 20% discount on it. What's the problem with this? Where to begin. I know how Replay got my e-mail address, I gave it to them when I signed up for their beta program for their software before it was launched. Let me count how many times the fellas at Replay contacted me to offer my advice: 0. Did I even get a courtesy "Sorry, you don't qualify." Nope. Zilch.

 

The first time I heard from them was after the product launched, and then only to spam me. Did I forward the e-mail to get off their list, Yes. Did I continue to receive e-mails? Sure did.

 

I'm blogging about this because I'm just baffled at Replay's plan. I can't be the only person that is extremely irritated by Replay & their guerrilla marketing tactics. It doesn't bother me that I wasn't selected to beta test (how I would not qualify is beyond me, but that's besides the point). What does bother me, is not doing a proper beta test, putting out a less-than-stellar first version, and then only having PC Magazine review it.

 

The funny thing, is if Replay contacted me today, and asked me to review their software, I still would. And I'd remain unbiased. I really do care for the Media Center market, and want the best products out there, and if there are flaws that can be improved upon, I'd love to be able to help & suggest. I just wish I could figure out some marketing schemes these companies have at times. 

Feb 20 2007

Blog - HDRadio

hd_radioFor the last couple weeks, I've been hearing about "the stations between the stations" and "hidden stations on the radio dial".  In fact, the radio commercials are talking about HDRadio.  This got me curious.  What is HDRadio?  How is it different from what I've already got?

 

So I did a little digging this afternoon.  As it turns out, HDRadio is the radio equivalent to HDTV.  To start out, radio broadcasting stations add a digital stream along with their analog stream.  The HD stations are on subchannels of the analog stations.  For example, in my area, a local classic rock station broadcasts in analog on 92.5MHz FM.  They also broadcast in HD on 92.5-1.  To draw an analogy, my local NBC affiliate broadcasts on channel 11 in analog and on channel 11-1 in HD.

 

So what is the benefit you ask?  Well, they say that it's cd quality audio.  All the time.  No static, no pops, no fading in and out.  It's a digital signal, so it's either there or it's not.  On top of receiving the audio, HDRadio also has the ability to send text to a display as well.  This can be the station identifier, song artist, stock quotes, weather forecasts, and pretty much anything else they want.  And to top it off...  it's still FREE! 

 

Now what do you need to get HDRadio?  Well, it looks like there are about a dozen different companies offering HDRadios at anywhere from  $200 to $1500 depending on the features you want.  Standard features seem to be the ability to pick up both analog and HD radio and display screen, as well as features you'd find on a normal radio like presets and alarm clocks (for home radios).  Some have hookups for an external antenna, RCA and/or optical audio outputs, even RS232 and ethernet for controlling via a PC.  Is it worth the price?  That's for you to decide.  I'm sure that with time, once this becomes mainstream, prices will fall.  Until then, I'll have to be happy with the concept. Smile

 

For more information you can visit http://www.hdradio.com/.

Feb 16 2007

Blog - High definition optical discs and their associated copy protection acronyms

hd_br_disc_logos_smlThe next generation optical disc formats, like standard DVD, are encrypted on disc, but unlike standard DVD, also require protected paths from the player to the display. With this comes a confusing new group of terms, many of which betray the idiosyncrasies of the next generation content protection requirements.

The confusion has become obvious, especially when otherwise very technically literate websites start producing Blu-ray and HD DVD articles but confuse the various copy protection mechanisms. I've seen the confusion become quite widespread among users and now tech journalists. Let's go over how this all works...

Feb 16 2007

Blog - Will my WHS Dream Ever Come True?

By now I'm sure you all have heard about Windows Home Server (or, WHS for short), Microsoft's latest OS idea about bringing a server into your home to provide a central system to store & backup all your files spanning from multiple systems. When I first heard about WHS, I got excited. You see, several years ago, there were some leaked photos on TGB of a Windows Media Server, that had an interface where it would show you what movie or TV was being shown to which system on the network. The possibilities were endless and it seemed that it would come out shortly.

Here are some of the screenshots I STILL HAVE to this day (3 years later...impressed? :-P) Now let me be clear: I did NOT take these screenshots. These were leaked & placed publicly on TheGreenButton forums 3 years ago:

mediaserver1 mediaserver3
 mediaserver5  mediaserver6

 

Fast forward 3/4 years, and WHS is announced shortly before the Vista launch, and is basically Windows 2003 Server edition with a very nice automated backup & sharing feature. So what's my gripe? 

 

With Media Center supposedly being such a growing interest & product within Microsoft, how is it's integration in a product such as this not realized? Microsoft has tried repeatedly to convey the idea of Extenders, where you can have these lower cost, quiet solutions by your TV, and then your computer in a closet streaming the content to it. So then...why isn't there any MCE integration?

 

I understand that they had to limit the number of features, but an MCE integration seems almost too simple to not do. Imagine if WHS could be your central Media Server Solution, where you could install 6 tuners, and have it stream to all your Extenders & Computers in your house. You could remote into it (since it's a secure server) and check up on what people are watching, or what's recording....record new stuff, etc.

 

The potential is definitely there, but as it stands right now, I just don't see much importance of this product for the Media Center market. Vista (and XP MCE for that matter) are solid enough products to use as a server, and you get the ability of having MCE. Don't get me wrong, I installed Beta 1, and absolutely love the features that ARE in WHS, including the Backup feature. But that being said, there's no way I can afford to have another system in my small house, which doesn't incorporate MCE.

 

Hopefully in the future, I'll finally see the Media Server product I was teased & tormented by so long ago. Wink

Feb 15 2007

Blog - Concurrent sessions & those who love them

I was asked recently by some friends, "Why is concurrent sessions so important that you cry about it every time we talk about Vista?" (you can imagine, the friends I speak of are MVPs or MVP-related. For those unaware of the issue I'm referring to, there was a hack for Windows XP that allowed you to have a feature that was only found in Server-based Windows products: the ability to have multiple connections into a system without logging the others off. 

 

Those of you who use Media Center I'm sure can see the usefulness behind this. If you have your system in your living room & just want to do updates to it, rather than interrupt those watching, with Concurrent Sessions, you could remotely log into another user account on the system, download any & all updates...all while still watching MCE on the big screen.

 

screenshot_tvmovies_mediacenter

 

In my situation, things are a little different. I used to have 5 systems, but after moving up north, I had to consolidate my systems. No longer did I have space to have a dedicated MCE machine as well as my server. What concurrent sessions allowed me to do was be able to have MCE on my monitor, and then be able to remotely log in via my work laptop. This allowed me to manage everything on my home server, web browse from my favorites, download, whatever, all while being able to watch TV through MCE on my monitor. It was a nice luxury I got spoiled with. 

 

Since upgrading to Vista, I've had to live without concurrent sessions, and it's been quite difficult. I do fortunately now have a separate TV, so I have a spanning desktop (desktop on my LCD, MCE on my TV), but the losing focus problem is quite annoying. And I lose speed too--now if I want to access my system, I have to use VNC, which is great, but just not as fast or effective as remote desktop.

 

There's a thread over at TheGreenButton about a gentleman working on getting this fixed, but my gripe to Microsoft is this: If you have this feature, albeit required a hacked .dll, but nonetheless, a feature MANY people loved & used, why not just include it? Obviously the capability is there. Am I the only person that thinks one more feature wouldn't have hurt Vista launch sales?

 

Let me know what you think, maybe together we can change this for future updates. 

Feb 14 2007

Blog - MythTV vs TiVo3 Redux

OK OK....   I got the not so subtle hint to crank up the MythTV bandwagon. Wink The comparison isn't exactly fair as MythTV is a complete media convergence device and a TiVo3 only handles PVR duties.  Here's my non-complete list of features MythTV has that I doubt the TiVo3 has.  Of course, since I don't have a TiVo3 in the house, this is somewhat of a guess on my part.

1. Web based interface that can be used over the internet or cell phone to review or schedule new programs, stream all content (recorded programs, music, or ripped DVDs), view local weather, and check the overall status of the server.  It is also possible via phpMyAdmin to modify anything in the database.  I would only recommend making this functionality available via an encrypted SSH tunnel.

2. Literally every gaming system is supported via an emulator plugin.

3. Ability to move the recorded content to any other device.  DRM is non-existent.

4. Local weather radar and forecast.

5. Built in web browser.

6. Up converted and de-interlaced DVD player/ripper.

7. Photo gallery with various transition effects.

8. Music player with playlist and multiple visualization effects.

9. RSS news feed reader.

10. Interface to manage your NetFlix account.

11. Interface for audio and video phone calls using standard VOIP protocols.

12. Caller ID on screen pop up.

13. A large selection of themes to choose from.  If you don't like what you see, creating your own or modifying an existing theme is fairly easy.

14. Did I mention that the system is DRM free?

15. A huge community available to help if something goes *boink* in the night.

16. Short of the hardware investment, it is free and open source.  If you don't like certain functionality and you happen to know C++ you can twiddle to your heart's content.  If not, check the feature request list and see if it is already in the works.

Of course, the biggest hurdle to overcome in the MythTV arena is the "fear" of Linux.  I can say up front that although some of the traditional users of Linux can be downright scary looking, in the past few years the OS itself has blossomed nicely.  If anyone is hesitant to take the leap, find a spare hard drive on which to install Linux, or try one of the many "Live" distributions which don't install anything to the hard drive.

Feb 14 2007

Blog - To 64...or not to 64

vistaSo you just took advantage of some of the great deals out there for some dual core (or heck, quad core) cpus & motherboards. You took the time, carefully planned, and then assembled your full system. Then you go to make your purchase of Windows Vista, only to be faced with the decision: Should I buy the x86 (32-bit version) or the x64 (64-bit) version of the operating system. Depending on who you ask, you'll get as wide a number of responses as asking blonde or brunette. So the question is, which is the right answer?

  

Well, I'm writing this to try to talk you all out of going 64-bit. No real reason, other than to try to save people some grief & time. Here's what you get WITH installing x64:

  • Some theoretical dream that apps & programs *SHOULD* run faster
  • Can handle larger amounts of RAM more efficiently

And here's what could happen for you:64_bit

  • Drivers not compatible or not written for x64
  • Applications/programs will not run or install at all
  • Even programs that will install, if not designed for 64-bit will run as a normal 32-bit, which is probably slower
  • Future compatibility - 64-bit operating systems are not new. WindowsXP had a 64 bit version which was greeted with very little attention, and the same problems that IT had remain prevalent in Vista.

So in the end, it really comes down to faith. Do you have faith that the developers will increase their attention to 64-bit? Just ask yourself, why would they? If everyone else is perfectly fine with the performance of 32-bit Vista, which I'm sure dominates the number of x64 installs...and time & time again companies are ignoring 64-bit drivers/programs, with little or no uproar...why would they invest the time & money into developing for it?

Don't get me wrong, I think 64-bit technology in theory is great & eventually as more & more people own the x64 CPU's, maybe it'll happen. But if OEMs/Computer Companies aren't pre-installing it on systems, that surely is not a good sign for convincing anybody else.

Don't take this article as a be-all-end-all to the debate, and by all means I hope this sparks some comments from our forum members about their preference. Maybe 64-bit IS for you? Maybe not. But either way, it's something that needs to be considered.

Remember, once you install the 32-bit or 64-bit version, the only way to switch is to do a full reinstall...and oh yeah, you'll probably have to call Microsoft to re-validate your key like I did. 

 

Feb 04 2007

Blog - State Of The Website Address

Has it been four months already? It just seems like yesterday I was wondering how we were going to pull this whole website off. I would like to start off by thanking everyone for getting one of the best communities on the net off to a great start. Of course, I have to say that ;).


 

For those of you just starting to come here and enjoy a daily dose of digital home news, reviews, and community loving, let me give you a little blurb on what we are all about. I started this website in October with the hopes of MissingRemote.com becoming a place where people are able to come to get the information they need to set up their digital home. A few examples of this may be setting up your home theater, connecting a HTPC to a home theater, and even a review or two of the products.

Given that the staff here has a very strong media center background, its not hard to see why we have a very strong Media Center feel to our website right now. However, we have no intentions of abandoning all other aspects of a digital home. A few of you may have noticed that we posted our first A/V review of the OPPO DV-981HD. As our site grows, you can expect many more of those type of reviews to compliment what we already have. We are always open to suggestions for Media Center alternative articles. My line is always open, you can reach me at alan at missingremote dot com.

Ultimately our goal is to have a strong foundation of home theater, home automation, and media center reviews and a series of articles on how to tie all three together in a system that every wife would approve of.


MissingRemote.com 1.5, maybe even 2.0, depending how generous we are with the numbering system is just around the corner. Mainly planned for the next version is navigational and spam filtering improvements. We aren't ones for big releases and fanfare, so you will likely see features implemented over the next month as they are completed. Once again, feel free to send in your suggestions and feedback, we do what we can. What is after MR 2.0? A website full of round corners and blue puffy icons? Hell no. Here a few things that I would like to see us accomplish in the future.

  • Grow the A/V and HA portions of our site
  • A photo gallery so everyone can show off their home theater setups
  • A series of articles on how to get the most out of your Media Center
  • Home Theater basics series (i.e. setting up a HDTV)
  • Many more contests
  • Provide OEM systems evaluations

On the staffing side of things, we have a new person on board. Lothar has decided, against his better judgment I am sure, to join MissingRemote.com has a moderator/casual review person/Linux guru. Here is MissingRemote.com's current staff.

Alan C. - Owner/News Guy/Fill in article guy.

John C. - Systems Admin/Senior Editor/Linux Guru

Matt W. - Senior Editor for Home Theater/Media Center

Mike G. - Senior News Editor/Media Center and Home Automation Editor/Microsoft MVP

Dan S. - Editor for Home Theater and Home Automation

Tim - Moderator/casual article contributor

As you can tell by all the advertisements, MissingRemote.com is not a full time job for us. Nevertheless, we are committed to providing a quality professional website.


I do have one favor to ask of from the community. If you come across an article you think others would be interested in seeing, please submit it to news @ missingremote. com 

 

Thanks to everyone involved with MissingRemote.com. Without those guys listed above, I would likely be 50 pounds heavier playing World Of Warcraft. This is clearly a team effort and I thank them for taking part. Thank you to our readers. :) There isn't much point in doing this stuff unless someone is around to enjoy this. :)

Best Regards,

 

Alan Cooke

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.

Digg it if you enjoyed this article:

 

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

 

Jan 13 2007

Blog - HQV Benchmarking the GeForce 7-series

The HQV Benchmark DVD is probably the best and most objective video processing test available today. Unfortunately there are still subjective comparisons that need to be made to give a final rating. Of course reference images are given to compare against, and if you see something that has totaly failed it is obvious. The less obvious is when the scores allow a middle value: what does this middle ground look like? To answer this you need to have some real comparisons, say for example against a sampling of DVD players. I did this testing while working on my review of Oppo's new kick-butt DVD player.

General testing notes
In case you've been under a rock NVIDIA has made large strides in exposing PureVideo functionality at the display driver level and less tied into their own decoder filter (PureVideo Decoder). Thus having it work in basically the same manner as ATI's Avivo technology. What that means is that using ForceWare 91.47 or newer is the key to better deinterlacing and video post-processing. In the screenshot at the bottom of my post are the settings I used for testing. NVIDIA has done something rather stupid (ATI is just as guilty it turns out): they have Inverse Telecine support turned off by default! You must go into the new NVIDIA control panel choose 'Video & Television', then 'Adjust video color settings', and make sure you're in 'Advanced' view, click the 'Enhancements' tab and check 'Use inverse telecine'. Without this checked you won't be using the advanced PureVideo technology, leaving this unchecked will also lead to most video cadences failing miserably when the HQV test is run. Similarly, any detail enhancement or noise suppression technology is also off by default. You do get sliders to control the level of processing which is great for adjusting to personal taste. I found 50% for 'Edge Enhancement' and 75% for 'Noise Reduction' to be ideal for the passing the HQV tests.

 

  GeForce 7-series
Color Bar/Vertical Detail (0/5/10)  10
Jaggies 1 (0/3/5)  5
Jaggies 2 (0/1/3/5)  3
Flag (0/5/10)  5
Picture Detail (0/5/10)  10
Noise Reduction (0/5/10)  10
Motion Adaptive Noise Reduction (0/5/10)  10
3:2 Detection/Film Detail (0/5/10)  10
Film Cadences (8 different) (5 points each)  40
Mixed 3:2 with video titles horiz. (0/5/10)  10
Mixed 3:2 with video titles vert. (0/5/10)  10
Total (130)  123

 

It's the little differences...
If you compare my chart to hardware.info's tests from 9/5/06 my scores have very similar results, however the hardware.info folks give the Flag a full 10 points which I don't think it deserves, the Oppo did better then what I've seen from PureVideo. Likewise Jaggies Test 2 is source of disagreement. It deserves a 3, Hardware.info which also tested against standalone DVD players agrees, Tom's Hardware's recent tests gave it a full 5, the Oppo did better on this test, I question whether Tom's really has seen modern video processing chips in action. Interestingly, like me, Hardware.info also arrives at a score of 123, they remove points in the Mixed 3:2 with Horizontal Video Titles which I don't think is deserved. They are also lenient with their score of the 3:2 Detection test giving it a 10. Using their settings this actually deserves a 5, Tom's testing corroborates this.

The PureVideo Decoder's 'Smart' Setting 
If you use a general DXVA decoder, such as PowerDVD or WinDVD, or set the PureVideo Decoder to 'Automatic' the 3:2 detection has an approximately 1/2 second lag. However when you use NVIDIA's own PureVideo Decoder in 'Smart' mode you don't even see the lag as it enters film mode. The lag means you get a 5 on this test. The testing procedures are quite clear: if the video processing locks on to film mode in under 0.2 seconds that's a 10, in 1/2 a second -- that's a 5. Anything longer is a failure.
What I found interesting is that this seems to go counter to the recommendations Hardware.info has. They say to use 'Automatic', I presumed that somehow 'Smart' used different logic then 'Automatic' and it might disable the much improved cadence handling that NVIDIA now shows. So I tested this by running the tests in 'Automatic' and in 'Smart'. There is no difference to the scores aside from the very important 3:2 detail test. 'Smart' is incredible, it never even batted an eye. It looks like with the newest ForceWare builds the cadence detection is ready to be used by any DXVA decoder filter. However having the proprietary 'Smart' mode of the PureVideo Decoder sweetens the deal. NVIDIA's own decoder is considered to have the best image quality of any commercial DVD decoder product and added to this is the fact that it also has the unique deinterlacing mode -- 'Smart'. Thus my scores presented here and in the upcoming Oppo review represent the 'Smart' mode scores.

HD Material
Interestingly, I found 'Automatic' performed properly with HD material while 'Smart' occasionally made odd hitching in HDTV playback. It looks like 'Automatic' is the middle-ground here if you watch a mix of both SD and HD or if you watch solely HD material.

Settings Used for Testing

 

nvidia_enhancements 

Jan 12 2007

Blog - Thoughts on building a high-def ready HTPC

Just kicking around some ideas for what would be an ideal next gen optical format (HD DVD and/or Blu-ray) ready HTPC. This is of course somewhat hypothetical as, alas, I don't have the hand's on knowledge... yet. This is culled from what I know from informal testing, user reports, and decoding performance benchmarks available on the web. Feel free to comment.

Full details and build notes after the "read more."

Jan 02 2007

Blog - 939 HSF To AM2 Socket Adapter

    While purchasing parts for my latest MythTV frontend client, I ran into a dilemma.  I wanted to take advantage of the upgrade path that an AMD socket AM2 system would provide, but I also really liked the performance of my tried and true Zalman CNPS7000B-AlCu heat sink fan.  Unfortunately, this fan is not directly compatible with the AM2 socket.  My search for a clean solution brought me to this page advertising a socket 939 HSF to AM2 motherboard adapter.  I was intrigued and figured $13 wasn't an over the top price if it worked as advertised.

 

 

939_am2_adapter

 

Dec 31 2006

Blog - Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year everyone! I hope 2006 was a great year for you all and may 2007 be even better. Look for a lot of great things to come from MissingRemote.com this next year :).

new_years_eve

 

Nov 30 2006

Blog - New MissingRemote.com Team Member

I would like to welcome Tony to the Missingremote.com team. More then a few of you know Tony as Crim on the missingremote.com forums. He will be coming out with a couple of Antec HTPC case reviews in short order.

If you need to contact Tony, you can email him at Tony <at> missingremote.com.

Nov 28 2006

Blog - Open Letter To HTPCnews.com Readers

I have read a few comments in the past few weeks that have finally prompted me to write a letter to the HTPCnews.com readers. I want to start off thanking everyone for creating such a great HTPC community. It is by far the friendliest and most down to earth group on the Internet. It was fantastic to see that even as the site grew there were no flames or fanbois to ruin it for the rest.

 

A few of you may know that Brad changed jobs over the summer and due to extensive travel and other commitments has has not had the opportunity to be involved in HTPCnews.com. Due to the very infrequent communication between Brad and the rest of the staff, I decided to quit HTPCnews.com and form my own site to continue to provide fresh news and content to the community. I discussed this at length with John and Matt and they were in agreement that we needed to move to a new site to continue the work we were doing at HTPCnews.com.

 

It was an extremely difficult decision to make! However, we do feel as though we made the right one because MissingRemote.com will have the right people and resources in place to make this new community as great as HTPCnews.com's is. Don't get me wrong, our goal is not to compete with HTPCnews.com but continue where it has left off. 

 

We also did not want to close down shop at HTPCnews.com as the forums and articles are a valuable resource to people getting started with Media Centers. John elected to stick around to keep the lights on and provide system admin services on an as need basis. As a matter of fact, he has beefed up security quite a bit to eliminate the hacking problems we experienced earlier on in the year. However, both Matt and John spend the majority of their time writing articles and contributing to MissingRemote.com.

 

In closing, I would like to thank everyone for making HTPCnews.com the great community it is. I look forward to working with everyone at MissingRemote.com! Comments, questions, suggestions and egg throwing are all welcome.

Nov 20 2006

Blog - I Lost My Remote!!!!

We have a winner!!!! The contest is now closed. That was way to quick ;)

As I mentioned last week, I lost my remote and now I need someone to find it!!! Somewhere in the website is my Harmony 880 remote!!!! All you have to do is find the picture below somewhere in the website (besides this article of course). The first person to post a screenshot  in this thread will get 25 US dollars via paypal or a $25 gift certificate to Target or Best Buy (US only for the gift certificate).

lost_remote

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rules:

1. Contest ends when someone finds the remote.

2. You find the remote by posting a screenshot in the proper forum thread.

3. This news posting (or the forum thread) does not count as finding the remote. Posting a screenshot of it will get you a "special" title.

4. Prize is $25 US dollars via paypal or a $25 gift card to Best Buy or Target (US only for gift card)

5. Gift Card is mailed via USPS within one week of winning

6. The remote you are trying to locate is the same picture shown above somewhere ELSE on the website. 

Nov 15 2006

Blog - I have lost my remote

Ack, I have last my remote! CoolIts been happening a lot more frequently these days and I expect this unfortunate event to keep happening. I was wondering if you guys could help me out a little this coming Monday. Somewhere in missingremote.com you will be able to find my remote (or at least a picture of one).

However, there is no good TV on until Monday, so don't bother searching until 9:00 am PST. I repeat, do not bother looking for my remote until Monday morning 9:00 am PST. The remote could be anywhere on the site and all you will have to do is post a screen shot in a forum thread letting me know you found it. The first person to find it will receive $25 via paypal or a $25 gift card to Target or Best Buy. Happy Hunting on Monday!

 

I also wanted to take this chance to let you guys know about a new feature we have. We will be providing additional information and resources for a few news stories on a daily basis. You are able to tell which news stories have the additional information by seeing if there are comments on the news stories and at the end of each day we will provide a roundup of the stories we added the extra information too. The extra information will come in the form of links to additional reviews, informative articles and definitions of certain terms.

Nov 06 2006

Blog - Analyst (Me): TiVo Should Buy SageTV

Well, it wouldn't be a blog without a little bit of armchair analyst going on. Whilst browsing for news over the past few days, I stumbled across PVRWire's article about things TiVo could do better to improve their product. One of the items was to have TiVo PVR software for the PC available. 

 

Now I would like to say that it took me more then a few hours on my special thinking place to figure out this marriage but it really didn't.

 

Sage would be a perfect fit for TiVo. They have the whole placeshifting, media extender, PC PVR software, and even a few media center tricks figured out. Both products are very PVR orientated and are well reviewed among TV nuts, so it only makes sense that these two would get along just fine.

 

The good is that TiVo lovers, would get placeshifting love and hopefully cheap extender love as well. The bad is the loyal Sage community might get squashed in the process as Sage get swallowed up by a much larger corporate entity.

 

What does it boil down too? TiVo needs to freshen up its products and Sage has the answer. 

 

0.0.logosagetv_mark

 

 

Nov 01 2006

Blog - Contest Winner!!!

We have a winner!!

jennyfur! Come on down, you have 72 hours to contact me via email, pm, or pony express!!! Of course, you have to take pictures of your goodies once you get them!!! Please include your shipping information in your email. Thanks to all who entered, I consider it a pretty dang good success considering this site is less then a month old. Thanks to those who tried to bribe me, but it just wasn't enough so I had to do it the old fashioned random number generator way.

Oct 31 2006

Blog - Snapstream Contest! More Chances To Enter!

The contest is set to end at 11:55 PST tonight! You can check out the original contest details here. You must have your entries in prior to that to get counted. Since I am a caring guy, I wanted to give you guys a few more chances to entery! Here are a couple of ways to make sure you get an extra entry in.

1. Submit news. It has to be HT/Media Center type news.

2. Be creative! Show something about BTV! A couple of screenshots, a mini-review, whatever you want. Don't be lazy!

 

Good luck!!!!!!

Oct 28 2006

Blog - Home Theater Power Protection

Recently, we had a user ask about the effectiveness of AC power conditioners in regards to their HT experience.  Are they "all that" or are they just the latest mumbo-jumbo fad to try and extract cash from your wallet?  Here's where I put on my day job hat (Electrical Engineer/Hardware Designer) and comment.  The opportunity for smoke and mirror marketing in this area is tremendous.  In fact, it is matched only by the wire and cable interconnect industry.  Due to the stringent regulations by which the power companies have to adhere, you can depend on the AC entering your home to be 120VAC @ 60Hz in the US.  The only conditions where this won't be true are:

1.  If you are experiencing a power outage
2.  If you have a heavily loaded circuit in your home and the voltage sags.
3.  If there is an electrical storm in the area and you get a spike.

Item 1 can be temporarily avoided with a battery backed UPS, but who has enough capacity to last through a movie?  Item 2 can be solved by taking an inventory of what is on the circuit and either upgrading the wiring or moving some of the load to another circuit.  An on-line UPS can also help with this, but more on that below.  Item 3 is always a gotcha.  The best surge strip in the world can still be foiled by a bolt of lightning.  You don't honestly think that a lightning bolt which arcs across the sky can be stopped by a 10 cent MOV?  That's right.  Surge suppression is primarily accomplished with a 10 cent part.  Kind of makes you wonder what the rest of the money is going toward doesn't it.

The power conditioning company's marketing department would have you believe that it is important to highly regulate the AC to ensure that it is a pure 120VAC sine wave.  Any sags or distortions will cause imperfections in the performance of your high tech A/V gear.  It is my opinion that all this filtering and correction are not necessary.

Lets start by talking about how a typical A/V component converts the incoming AC power.  Most media players and PCs require 12VDC or less to operate.  This is typically accomplished by a switching power supply.  The power conversion steps involve rectifying, filtering, chopping and regulating to a lower voltage, followed by more filtering.  In the end, variations on the original 120VAC line are easily adsorbed and dealt with leaving no traces of these variations on the output side of the power supply.  Some of these switching power supplies are designed to be "universal" or able to use anything from 90 - 265 VAC without issue.  Some high quality A/V devices use a linear power supply.  These can be identified by the large & heavy transformers that they require.  Even these have filtering and regulation stages that easily compensate for input voltage variations.
In short, unless you have a large sum of cash that you don't know what to do with (I accept donations Smiley ), I would recommend that you purchase a surge strip that you feel comfortable with and use the money elsewhere in your system.  Yes, these devices may do a really good job of regulating everything to 120 VAC, but I submit that it is not necessary with today's electronics.

Please Digg.

Oct 21 2006

Blog - HT Basics: Small Versus Large Speakers

HT Basics is a look at basic Home Theater setup and terminology. From time to time I will post a topic and let the community have at it. The goal is to come up with a meaningful discussion to help people coming here for the basics. Eventually, each topic will get moved to the HT Basics forum for easier searching.

The first topic, one critical to getting the most out of your system, is setting up your speakers as small versus large in your receiver.  Say, for instance, that you have a nice sub and a decent set of main speakers.  Is it better to configure your surround setup in the receiver to label the main speakers as "large" thus routing some bass to the mains rather than the sub, or should one configure the mains as "small" allowing the sub to do all the work?

Feel free to start the discussion in this thread.
 

Syndicate content
Website design by Yammm Software
Powered by Drupal