Thursday, November 30, 2006

Our basement is finally clean!

For any of my friends and/or who have had the (mis)fortune of visiting the basement of our house, many have been all too kind to not mention the horrible state of disarray that it has been in for the last decade or so (if not longer). If anyone ever picked up on this, there was a reason why my house was never offered up as a meeting place for group projects (this, along with the fact that people would get lost trying to find my house).

As a constant source of embarrassment for my parents, they have been on my case for as long as I can remember to clean up the area. But we know how that type of a plea can fall on deaf ears, especially when it is so easy to maintain the status quo.

While I don't have a proper 'before' picture, here is one picture that gives you a glimpse of how bad our basement was (at times, it was even worse than this).

Thanks to our acquisition of the Nintendo Wii, the above state of the basement did not allow enough space to get the most out of the game play offered by the Nintendo Wii controllers. Over the last week, my brother and I have cleaned out the basement to a point where we now have enough space for the Wii, and I am still be able to have my Media Center computer setup along with all the networking components and any other necessary cabling items. This clean-up task was completed last night with the relocation of the cables under the table where the tv is now located. Here is the 'after' shot.

As you can see, there is a lot of space for up to four people to play on the Wii, there is more desk space for my computer (on the left side of the above picture), and all the network infrastructure (switch, access points, cable modem, VOIP gateway etc) is now centralized and more importantly, organized. As a bonus, I even have a dual monitor setup on my computer now (my mom was wondering where her LCD monitor went... she eventually found it in its new home).

LCD HDTV with the Xbox 360, Xbox 360 HD DVD Player and the Nintendo Wii. Off to the left, you can see all the networking gear.

Media Center computer with dual monitor setup. I have my normal desktop on one monitor and Media Center on the other monitor)

My parents are (more or less) happy with the outcome, but don't tell them that a game console was what finally prompted me to take action!


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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Nintendo sells 600,000 Wii consoles

It looks like Nintendo has gotten off to a great start with its Wii console, selling over 600,000 units in the first week of availability since its North American launch. According to Nintendo, over $190 million USD has been spent on the system, accessories and games. In contrast, Sony was estimated to have sold 259,000 units of its Playstation 3 console that was released 2 days earlier than the Wii.

For many still looking to get their hands on a Wii, many of the large stores in Canada such as Best Buy, Future Shop or Walmart continue to see demand exceed supply, as there is no product available on store shelves.

Nintendo is set to release the Wii in other markets, with its Japan launch on December 2nd, its Australian launch on December 7th and its European launch on December 8th.

Perhaps a contributing factor for this quick start is the cost of the Wii. Coming in at $279 CDN, it is much cheaper than the Sony Playstation 3, which costs either $549.99 or $659.99 or the Microsoft Xbox 360, which costs either $399 or $499 depending on the exact hardware configuration.

Of course, with this price difference, there is also a difference in what these systems are capable of. Nintendo's Wii does not have the high-powered graphics subsystem, an all-encompassing online play system or the inclusive home entertainment portal (i.e. Blu-ray, HD DVD, Media Extenders, etc) that is offered by either the Playstation 3 or Xbox 360. Instead, Nintendo has tried to make games more immersive, largely due to its unique motion sensitive controller. You can see my previous blog entry about the Nintendo Wii for more details about the controller.

Which console design philosophy will win out in the end? Super-high powered graphics, integration into a home multimedia setup, inclusion of online play or unique gameplay options? It is clear that each one of these elements on its own won't be enough to turn the tide in this console war. The winning console will ultimately have features that incorporate aspects of all these elements. The company that finds the best mix at the right price will likely end up on top.

It will be an exciting next few years as this battle for console supremacy ensues and I look forward to seeing how this plays out.


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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Remote Desktop Connection (Terminal Services Client 6.0)

Microsoft released its Remote Desktop Connection (Terminal Services Client 6.0) software today for Microsoft Windows XP and Microsoft Windows Server 2003.

Remote Desktop Connection (Terminal Services Client 6.0) provides a way to use any new Terminal Services features introduced in Microsoft Windows Vista and Microsoft Windows Server Code Name “Longhorn” from a computer running Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or Microsoft Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 1.

The following are new features found in this Remote Desktop Connection update:

  • Network Level Authentication - Network Level Authentication is a new authentication method that finishes user authentication before you establish a full Remote Desktop Connection and the logon screen appears.
  • Server authentication - Server authentication verifies that you are connecting to the correct remote computer or server. This security measure helps prevent you from connecting to a different computer or server than you intend. This also prevents you from unintentionally exposing confidential information.
  • Resource redirection - The Remote Desktop Connection 6.0 client update helps you redirect Plug and Play devices that support redirection.
  • Terminal Services Gateway (TS Gateway) servers - A Terminal Services Gateway (TS Gateway) server is a type of gateway that enables authorized users to connect to remote computers on a corporate network. These authorized users can connect from any computer by using an Internet connection. TS Gateway uses the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) together with the HTTPS protocol to help create a more secure, encrypted connection.
  • TS Remote Programs - TS Remote Programs is a feature of Windows Server Terminal Services that lets client computers connect to a remote computer and use programs that are installed on it.
  • Monitor spanning - Remote Desktop Connection supports high-resolution displays that can be spanned across multiple monitors. However, the total resolution on all monitors must be under 4,096 x 2,048.
  • Visual improvements - Remote Desktop Connection now supports 32-bit color and font smoothing.

You can find the downloads here:

More information can be found in this release's Knowledge Base article (KB925876).


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Monday, November 27, 2006

Ronaldinho's Amazing Goal

Whether you follow soccer (or as they call it everywhere else in the world, football) or not, there was a pretty amazing goal scored this past weekend in the Barcelona vs Villareal Premier Liga game by Ronaldinho.

According to the commentary, descriptions of this goal and the compliments directed at Ronaldinho included some of the following:

A thing of beauty and brilliance.
It was as electrifying as a hair dryer thrown into a hot tub.
Like Betamax, they do not make them like him anymore.
An extraordinary goal by an extraordinary player that will send these people into their dreams tonight thinking of heavenly things.
Absolutely bamboozles his defender with this virtuoso goal.
That's not human... it is superhuman.

Think this is an exaggeration or is it really as good as described? Check out the goal for yourself and be the judge.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYkdPxRwPVA">Video Link</a>


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Friday, November 24, 2006

ATSC in Canada with Windows Vista

Now that Microsoft's Windows Vista has been finalized, fellow Media Center MVP Peter Near has updated his ATSC instructions for those of us living in Canada. This is essentially what I had to do to make ATSC work as described in my recent blog posting, Media Center in Vista.


You will need basically the following items to pull this off:

  • A computer with Microsoft Windows Vista (you can do the same with Media Center 2005, those instructions can be found here)
  • A decent ATSC tuner for your PC. I am personally using a DViCO Fusion HDTV5 USB Gold, Peter notes some other cards in his instructions.
  • A good quality UHF antenna appropriate for your area

You can read about some of my experiences with the above three items in my blog entries, First Foray into HDTV, HDTV Antenna Update, HDTV Antenna Update Part 2, and Media Center in Vista.

For the detailed bits of getting ATSC to work in Canada (including screenshots of all the important steps), please follow this link to Peter's ATSC in Canada with Media Center Vista (RTM) blog entry.

Thanks Peter for this great guide (and all the other helpful bits of advice along the way).


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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Media Center Keyboard Shortcuts

In a previous blog posting, Media Center Trick Play Functionality, I briefly talked about keyboard shortcuts that you could use in Media Center.

While Media Center was optimized for a 10 foot interface, that is, it was designed to be shown on a screen 10 feet away and controlled with a remote (a la sitting on a couch), it also has a two foot interface, that is, it can be controlled via the traditional mouse/keyboard combination.

Most Media Center users likely have the Media Center remote (or some similar device) but in some usage scenerios, it is not practical to reach for the remote when you are using the mouse and keyboard. For example, I might be watching Media Center in windowed mode, while sending e-mails or working on spreadsheets. Unless you have three arms (one for keyboard, one for mouse, and one for the remote), it is arguably unproductive to reach for the remote. In such a case, it is good to know that there are keyboard shortcuts for almost all of the commands found on the Media Center remote.

Shortcuts that I commonly use include going to the Recorded TV menu, going to the Guide, Skip/Replay of Live/Recorded TV and Channel Up/Down.

For a list of Media Center keyboard shortcuts, see the following links:

What's different between the two Operating Systems?

From what I could tell, some shortcuts were removed (i.e. shortcut to Messenger functionality was removed in Vista, because that feature doesn't exist anymore) but more or less, there haven't been any substantial changes.

One remote function that I have found that does not have a keyboard equivalent is the 'Return to Last Viewed Channel' function. I have been bugging this since the first Media Center beta in 2002, but no action has been taken yet. On the Remote, while watching TV, pressing either the OK or the Enter button on the remote would bring you back to the last channel that you were on previous to the present channel (for example, if I go from channel 14 to 28, pressing OK or enter would bring me back to 14) . I wonder why they left this one out..

Anyways, check out the keyboard shortcuts, it might help to increase your productivity (ironic, eh?)


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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Nintendo Wii

So I lined up for a Nintendo Wii this morning. I arrived at the Best Buy on Laird Dr in Toronto at 4:45 am. Ended up being 25 out of 74 (I admit, I sort of cheated, as my brother Gary and his friend Benny 'saved' a spot in line for me since midnight). Store opened at 8:00 am, and we were back home by around 8:45 am or so.

There definitely was a need to line up early, as many people who came later did not go home with a console. Even as we left, we still saw people lining up down the street at Future Shop, which was slated to open much later (10:00am).

The base unit, priced at $279 CDN, came with the following items:

  1. Wii Console
  2. Wii Console Stand
  3. Wii Remote
  4. Nunchuk
  5. Sensor Bar
  6. Wii AC Adapter
  7. Wii AV Cable
  8. Wii Sports Disc

Also picked up an additional Remote for $44.95 and Nunchuk for $24.99 and a couple of games.

I also had an American Express coupon which gave us $30 off on any Best Buy purchase over $300, so we even managed to save a bit of money.

Perhaps the most innovative aspect of the Nintendo Wii is its unique controller. The Wii Remote is both wireless and motion-sensitive and it offers an intuitive, natural way to play games. The ergonomic controller plays into the conventional motions you might make everyday. On other consoles, if you wanted to hit a drum, swing a tennis racket or swing a bat, you would use your thumbs on a controller to perform the movement. With the Wii Remote, you can use regular motions to help make you the center of the game. For example, when you hit the ball while playing tennis or baseball, you actually simulate a swinging motion to hit the ball, or to punch someone in boxing, you perform a punching movement.

The Nunchuk controller plugs into Remote and expands the amount of things you can do. Two examples given include first-person shooters and a football game. In first-person shooters, the controller carries the burden of movement, freeing you to aim and fire using a more natural motion with the Wii Remote. In a football game, you can make your quarterback elusive with the Nunchuk controller while you look for an open receiver to throw to using the Wii Remote.

Here are some pictures.....

Picture of the Nintendo Wii

Nanchuk and Remote

Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Xbox 360 HD DVD Player, Microsoft Xbox 360 (unfortunately, I don't think a Sony Playstation 3 is in the cards anytime soon, if ever)

Both systems going at the same time (Wii Sports: Bowling vs. Gears of War)


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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Media Center SDK for Vista released

Aaron Stebner announced on his blog that the Media Center SDK for Windows Vista has now been released. For those interested in developing on the Media Center platform, this is an essential download.

Aaron also notes that a power toy, named the MCML Preview Tool Launcher, has also been released. You will need to have the Media Center SDK for Vista installed in order to use this power toy. He states the following about this power toy:

This tool makes it much easier to preview markup as you write it by eliminating the need to type in file paths or URLs and adding the ability to track the history of previous files that you have viewed so you can jump back to them quickly. Also, it makes it much easier to configure the command line switches supported by the MCML Preview Tool in the SDK.

Both the Media Center SDK for Vista and the MCML Preview Tool Launcher are available for download at the following URLs:


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Demand for Windows Vista RTM overwhelm MS Servers

With demand for the Release to Manufacturing (RTM) version of Windows Vista overwhelming their download servers, Microsoft has temporarily removed the x64 version of the Windows Vista from connect.microsoft.com, MSDN and Technet download sites to reduce server load.

Those that have already started to download the x64 version will be able to continue downloading it; however, no new downloads of the x64 version will be permitted until the server load is lessened.

The x86 version of Windows Vista will still be available, but new downloads may intermittently not be offered when servers near full capacity.

Microsoft plans to offer the x64 version of the Windows Vista for download again once the download demands on their servers settle down.

It is awesome to see all this interest in Windows Vista, and hopefully things return to a state of normalcy in the next few days. In some ways, this is almost a virtual version of scenes that happened when people rushed into stores to get their hands on Playstation 3 gaming consoles. Only here with these Windows Vista downloads, no one is being physically trampled in the stampede.


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Friday, November 17, 2006

Media Center in Vista

With the release of Windows Vista for MSDN Subscribers, I installed it on one of my computers today.

This was the perfect opportunity to install my DViCO Fusion HDTV5 USB Gold to act as the ATSC HDTV Tuner in Media Center.

As many of you know, ATSC HDTV in Media Center is only officially supported in the US (for both Media Center 2005 and Vista's Media Center). Because I am in Canada, this should have been a setback. But thankfully, where there is a will, there is a way. Coupled with my recent antenna install, as mentioned in the blog postings, First Foray into HDTV, HDTV Antenna Update and HDTV Antenna Update Part 2, I was ready to have Media Center tune into these HDTV broadcasts.

Because ATSC HDTV is not officially supported in Canada, you'll have to resort to registry hacks. Following instuctions provided by Media Center MVP Peter Near in his blog entry "OTA HDTV in Canada on Vista betas", I was able to get Media Center to receive all the channels through my antenna. Peter mentions that he previously had trouble with CFTO and WIVB reception; however, thanks to his efforts with both those tv stations, they can now be viewed in Media Center.

Here are some screenshots of Media Center in action.

ATSC HDTV in action (CTV HD) - notice the Transport Control Bar is much less obtrusive than previous versions of Media Center

ATSC HDTV channels listed in the Electronic Programming Guide

The Extender Manager is now presented via the 10 foot interface

Viewing a HD Recording via the Xbox 360 Extender

If you are in Canada, and you have the right hardware, you can set this up too. If you run into any issues, take a look at my previous blog entry, How to troubleshoot ATSC issues in MCE, for links to some helpful tips that will help you troubleshoot.

As for me, I desperately need more than 512 megs of RAM for this computer. Windows Vista on 512 megs of RAM is like running Windows XP on 128 megs of RAM.


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Thursday, November 16, 2006

ATI Driver Updates - Catalyst 6.11 and Theater 550/660 drivers

ATI released updated drivers for its Radeon 9500 and higher video cards and tv tuner cards based on the Theater 550/660 chipset.

For those of you using Windows XP Media Center 2005, these drivers should be useful to you.

Direct links to the download pages are available here.

Among the main features of the Catalyst 6.11 drivers include

  • Fixes so that 3DMark03, PCMark05, Rome: Total War, Rush For Berlin, Tomb Raider Legend and Window-Eyes Professional v5.0 work better in certain scenarios.
  • Plugging a TV into s-video out connector, followed by entering to display manager and clicking detect displays no longer results in the TV failing to be detected.
  • Using the Uninstall Utility to remove the display driver or Catalyst Control Center no longer results in portions of third party applications also being uninstalled.
  • Performance Increases - A performance increase is noticed in Call of Duty 2. Performance improves as much as 12.5% at 19x12 settings and as much as 10.5% at 12x10 settings on X1900 Software Crossfire configurations. Largest gains seen with 4xAA enabled.

One Media Center related fix is the following:

Connecting two display devices on a system running the Windows MCE operating system and enabling extended desktop mode no longer results in display corruption being noticed when dragging and placing a window between the two display devices.

Additional updates can be found at the release notes link at the above Driver download link.


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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Toronto One Zone Wireless Network Review

Toronto's wireless network, One Zone, was launched with great fanfare two months ago (and previously mentioned in a previous blog posting Free WiFi in Downtown Toronto). That ought to be sufficient time for Toronto Hydro Telecom to shake out most of the bugs, so it's time for my thoughts about this service.

All in all, this wireless network delivers on what it was designed to do. When I am in the service zone, as indicated in the map below, service is decent. However, I pretty much have to be standing still. If I walk at a normal pace, it isn't long before the signal sometimes drops as I exit one access point's area and enter an adjacent access point's area. At times, I wish that the signal would penerate further into the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (south side of Front Street, just west of Simcoe Street) as One Zone, with its price of $0 (until March 2007) is just a tad cheaper than the Convention Centre's wireless access price of $400 (yes, four hundred dollars) for 24 hours of access.

One major issue that Toronto Hydro Telecom needs to resolve is the 'bad certificate' issue that appears on their log in portal. Essentially, Toronto Hydro Telecom needs to ensure that the certificate granted to their https server is from a Trusted Certificate Authority. At the moment, Toronto Hydro is issuing the certificate with their own Certificate Authority that isn't trusted. This is why you'll get errors (regardless of web browser) similar to the following prior to the log in screen (click the picture to expand it):

After two months, this issue should have been fixed. With One Zone being free until March 2007, hopefully this problem is not indicative of how Toronto Hydro Telecom plans on operating this service once they start charging customers. It should not be too hard to fix (i.e. ensure that Toronto Hydro Telecom's own certificate authority is recognized by an already trusted certficate authority), so hopefully, it is resolved ASAP.

For more information about certificates, see the following pages:


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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Where did the Rogers Centre pictures go?

A few people have e-mailed me to ask where the Rogers Centre (formerly known as the Skydome) pictures that I posted in late August/early September went.

I was asked to remove all the pictures and its associated blog entries a few days ago and I complied with that request.

Sorry to those who were looking to see them. Due to the nature of the request, the Rogers Centre pictures will not be back and I will not be taking comments on this topic.


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Saturday, November 11, 2006

CD/DVD Burning issues in Media Center

Aaron Stebner pointed out several useful tips for CD/DVD Burning issues in Media Center over the last few months. These tips include the ability to create a log file for debugging, changing the temporary folder for CD/DVD burning, and recreating the the Burn CD/DVD button in More Programs if it was inadvertently removed. Since these questions come up on the newsgroups every so often, here they all are in one blog posting.

Creating a log file for debugging

If you are having trouble burning CDs/DVDs in Media Center, Media Center can create a log file of the burning process for the purposes of debugging.

To enable this, follow these instructions:

MCE2005:

  1. Click on the Start menu, choose Run and type notepad %windir%\ehome\createdisc\soniclog_mce.log
  2. Click Yes to create a new file in this location
  3. Close Notepad and click Yes to save the file

Vista:

  1. Click on the Start menu, choose Run and type notepad %temp%\soniclog_mce.log
  2. Click Yes to create a new file in this location
  3. Close Notepad and click Yes to save the file

Changing the temporary folder used by CD/DVD Burning

By default, Sonic DVD burning software that is included with Media Center uses the default temporary folder (%temp%) when it transcodes recorded TV to compress it for burning to a video DVD. If you are running out of space in this temporary folder, you may run into errors during the creation of the temporary files during the transcoding process.

If this is happening, you can change the location of your temporary folder to a hard drive that has more space. To do this, follow these instructions (these instructions assume that your second hard drive has the drive letter 'D', substitute another drive if it suits your setup better):

  1. Click on the Start menu, choose Run and type sysdm.cpl
  2. Click on the Advanced tab and click the Environment Variables button at the bottom
  3. Double-click on the User variable named TEMP and change it to a path on your D drive
  4. Double-click on the User variable named TMP and change it to a path on your D drive
  5. Double-click on the System variable named TEMP and change it to a path on your D drive
  6. Double-click on the System variable named TMP and change it to a path on your D drive
  7. Click OK to officially change these environment variables
  8. Restart your computer so that Media Center will pick up the changes to these folder locations
  9. Try to burn your television show to a video DVD again

Recreating the Create CD/DVD option in More Programs

Many of you have seen the Create CD/DVD option in te More Programs menu within Media Center. Some of you may have removed it before realizing that there was no easy way to get it back. If this has happened to you, it is possible to re-enable this item by following these instructions:

  1. Close Media Center
  2. Click on the Start menu, choose Run and type cmd
  3. Run reg add "HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Extensibility\Categories\Listmaker\Disc Burning\{1beb699f-dc1e-41a7-a31a-d4b339d21f42}" /v Enabled /t REG_SZ /d True /f
  4. Re-open Media Center and navigate to More Programs to verify that the Create CD/DVD option appears in the list again

Thanks a lot Aaron for posting about these great tips.

Sources:
How to get Sonic CD/DVD burning software to create a log file for debugging
New location for Sonic CD/DVD burning log file in Windows Vista
How to change the temporary folder if you run out of space while burning a DVD in Media Center
How to re-enable the Create CD/DVD item in Media Center


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Friday, November 10, 2006

Windows Vista/Office 2007 RTM Availability

It's been a big week for Microsoft with the Release-to-Manufacturing (RTM) of Windows Vista and Office 2007.

Here are links to the respective RTM announcments for both products:

Both Vista and Office 2007 will be broadly available as a stand-alone product or pre-installed on new PCs on January 30, 2007.

For MSDN Subscribers, Vista and Office 2007 will be available on the following days:

Download availability

ofc-brand_h_rgb.png

wVista_h_rgb.png

from Sunday, November 12th

from Friday, November 17th

The long wait for these highly anticipated pieces of software from Microsoft is nearly over!


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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Media Center TV Tuners

As many of you Media Center users may already know, there is a finite number of tv tuners that you can have in one system. With Media Center 2002 and 2004, you were limited to one tv tuner. With Media Center 2005 with Update Rollup 2, there was support for either two ATSC tuner cards and two NTSC tuner cards or 2 PAL or 2 DVB-T tuners. These same limits remain in place for Vista's Media Center.

It was soon discovered that while Media Center was designed to deal with multiple tuners, artificial limits were placed upon the number of tuners that would be exposed to Media Center for various reasons including:

  1. I/O considerations (i.e. hard drive bandwidth, system bus bandwidth, CPU utilization, etc)
  2. UI presentation of tuners (i.e. setup considerations, conflict resolution, etc)
  3. Testing (i.e. to make sure all scenarios work and scale well with x-number of tuners)

Over the last year or so, many Media Center enthusiasts (i.e. those on thegreenbutton.com) have found registry hacks that will allow Media Center to use more than the supported number of tv tuners. However, such solutions were not for the faint of heart, as it required quite a bit of manipulation in the registry, since the functionality was not exposed in the Media Center UI.

This is set to change with a new application that a friend of mine pointed me towards. Ramon Van Bruggen has written an application called the MCE Tuner Extender. This application is aimed at presenting a user with a nice graphical interface to implement the registry hacks needed to enable support for more tv tuners in Media Center for either Media Center 2005 or Vista's Media Center.

Here is a picture of the application itself.

There are two caveats to this program:

  1. It is a .Net 2.0 application, so you need to have the Microsoft .Net Framework 2.0 installed
  2. You have to have run through Media Center's TV Signal setup once prior to running this application

My only suggestion to Ramon would be to allow users to download this application directly without having to register. Aside from that, things are looking great.

For more information about how Media Center 2005 has been designed to deal with x-number of tuners, including the registry bits required to enable more tuners than what Media Center officially supports, please see Peter Rosser's blog posting on Tuners and TuningSpaces.


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Gears of War Toronto Launch

My brother and I were invited to the Gears of War Launch event in Toronto last Monday night (November 6th). This event consisted of a select few members of our Xbox community based in Toronto who were invited to spend more time with Gears of War before the game launched on Emergence Day (November 7th).

Available exclusively for the Xbox 360, Gears of War, developed by Epic Games Inc. and published by Microsoft Game Studios, tells the harrowing story of mankind's struggle against the monstrous Locust Horde. Featured in this game are stunning high-definition graphics and an intense storyline on the scale of a blockbuster movie. In this game, you have the option of battling through a challenging single-player campaign, or you can take the war online via Xbox Live from intense, nail-biting multiplayer firefights and/or thrilling, online co-operative play.

The Launch Event in Toronto was held at The Berkeley Church. Twelve consoles were set up for the fifty guests to try out the game. There were four-vs-four team death matches, and two player co-operative modes for everyone to try. In addition, with many of the Canadian Xbox community members in attendence, the Xbox Canada team was also on hand to capture reactions of community members on-camera.

My brother and I had to leave prior to the end of the event due to work (setup for the Toronto International Art Fair at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre); however, as a parting gift, we were given a copy of the Gears of War game. Given that we only have one Xbox 360 between the two of us, it will be an interesting battle to see who gets to play the game more often. Perhaps this issue will be rectified in the very near future...

Here are a few pictures from the event. Thanks a lot to Microsoft and Epic for putting on this great event.


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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

HDTV Antenna Update Part 2

Continuing on from my last HDTV Antenna Update...

The DViCO Fusion HDTV5 USB Gold tv tuner that we ordered last week finally arrived. Since the weather was nice, I decided to go back up on the roof to fix up the antenna install.

Here is an additional picture of the install (it is now on the proper side of the chimney relative to where it is being aimed which I've calculated to be 160 degrees east of magnetic north).

IMG_3513

I'm pretty much getting all the channels I expected to, except for WGRZ (NBC). Here is a listing of stations that I am receiving, along with signal strength information:

  • 4-1 WIVB-HD (4-2 Radar, 4-3 WNLO-SD) - 83%, 22.6 db
  • 5-1 CBLT-DT - 100%, 27.6 db
  • 7-1 WKBW-HD (7-2 WNGS-SD) - 71%, 19.2 db
  • 9-1 CFTO HD - 84%, 23.4 db
  • 23-1 WIVB-HD (23-2 Radar, 23-3 WNLO-SD) - 87%, 23.1 db
  • 25-1 CBLFT-D - 97%, 26.3 db
  • 29-1 WUTV-HD (29-2 WUTV-SD) - 95%, 24.4 db
  • 33-1 (suspect this is WGRZ?) - bounces between 0 and 18%, 6.1 db
  • 43-1 WNED-HD (43-2 WNED-SD, 43-3 WNED-Th) - 80%, 21.7 db
  • 44-1 OMNI 2 - 100%, 33.3 db
  • 57-1 CITYHD - 100%, 27.6 db
  • 64-1 OMNI 1 - 91%, 24.4 db
  • 66-1 CKXT-DT - 64%, 17.4 db

What's next? I'll try to adjust the antenna some more so that I can get WGRZ. Once that is done, I'll bring the cable from the antenna into my house on a much more direct route (it is currently running around the house and through my back door). Then the signal gets split four ways. I'll need to look into possibility purchasing a pre-amp and/or a distribution amp. Once all this is done, then it is on to hooking up my Media Center computer to record this ATSC HDTV content.


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