Tuesday, May 5th, 2009 @ 2:11pm

While searching for ways to integrate Hulu with MythTV, I stumbled upon Boxee. Right now, it’s only available for Linux and OSX flavors, but a Windows version is supposed to be released this summer in June.

Boxee is an idea of where I see media centers heading, allowing information to be easily accessed all in one place. I haven’t had a lot of time to play around with it, but I like what I see. It can poll my local hard drive or network to look for content, or even stream my content online by pulling information in from sites like Flickr. Even more interesting is the social aspect of Boxee. By adding friends to my account, they can recommend new media to me, or I can view their streams to see what they’re watching.

Take a look at this video introduction explaining how Boxee works:

Queen on Old Hardware

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009 @ 9:14am

I’m a sucker for Queen. But at the same time, it’s pretty amazing the different sounds that can be extracted from old hardware. Some guy had the creative idea to arrange program old hardware to play Bohemian Rhapsody. Enjoy!

Windows 7

Monday, April 20th, 2009 @ 11:20am

Windows 7I’ve been sporting the 7000 x64 build of Windows 7 for several months now, and wanted to post some of my impressions on Microsoft’s latest push on their newest OS. Vista has been a marketing disaster for Microsoft. Even with service packs improving Vista’s stability and functionality, the stigma associated with Vista is still bad enough to have people stick with XP. I myself have been using XP for the past 8 years, with brief forays into Ubuntu for my primary OS. But Windows 7 is all about change, and Microsoft has something to prove. Will they succeed?

Windows 7: New Taskbar

One of the most interesting changes from Vista and prior versions of Windows is the task bar. Instead of having the normal, “each window takes up space” portion, applications are reduced to large icons in a similar manner to Apple’s OSX dock in 7′s default setup. The task bar is surprisingly very interactive, showing indicators of the number of windows, or status information for items such as downloads or file transfers. It’s also easy to switch between windows, or close excess windows with the preview Window feature. Of course, if all of this seems daunting, the old task bar functionality can be restored.

Windows 7: Start Menu

The start menu is not surprisingly very similar to Vista’s, but with some additional functionality. “Jump Lists” are a new feature which allow you to quickly access commonly viewed sites or files from frequently accessed programs. This feature can be accessed through the new start menu, or by right clicking on the icon in the task bar.

Of course the previously mentioned items are all about eye candy. What about actual performance? With my desktop’s configuration, Windows 7 is very responsive and I’ve experienced little to no slowdown. Compared to when I beta tested Longhorn/Vista, Windows 7 is a very big improvement in being a much smaller consumer of memory resources. Additionally I’ve been able to run Steam games very smoothly with no major issues. Like Windows Vista, Windows 7 includes a scoring system from 1.0 to 7.9 that rates your systems performance. Given my machine’s specs, here is my score:

  • Processor: 6.1
  • Memory (RAM): 5.9
  • Graphics: 7.9
  • Gaming Graphics: 5.9
  • Primary Hard Drive: 5.9

Overall score: 5.9

I could probably improve my performance with faster RAM, or setting up a RAID array, but overall the general performance of everything is very speedy and quick.

Overall, I’m very happy with Windows 7 and feel that it is a much needed improvement over Vista. There is a lot standing on Windows 7 at the moment, and Microsoft really needs to make a big push to show that people really need to upgrade from Windows XP. Given that I’m running a beta version and it has thus far proved to be very stable and reliable, good things should come once the final version is ready for release.

Download Firefox 3

Monday, June 16th, 2008 @ 5:59pm

Tomorrow is the release date of the official version of Firefox 3, and to boot it off they are having a download campaign. If you have an older version of Firefox, download it. If you don’t have Firefox *shudder*, download it.

I have been using the beta/release candidates for over a month, and the features and speed has been greatly improved over previous iterations of Firefox, so you really are doing yourself a disservice if you do not download Firefox 3 tomorrow.

Black Screen of Death

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007 @ 9:36am

See for article.

As per the article, Computer World is reporting that Microsoft has just turned on “Reduced Functionality Mode” for Windows Vista users. What this means is that for users not running authorized versions of Windows, Vista functionality is crippled reducing the screen to a black screen with no start menu and no desktop after 1 hour of browsing.

The problem with this in itself is that Windows itself has had issues authorizing itself. A few weeks ago, the Windows Genuine Advantage had an outage. Not to mention there are a ton of cases where Windows has had “false positives” identifying legal licenses of Windows as “pirated”.

I seriously question Microsoft’s intentions here. I understand they want to battle piracy, which is noble on its own terms, but when you alienate your own legal customers, your business should be at risk. It’s no wonder that XP still retains a large portion of the market share and that alternatives such as Linux and OS X are becoming more popular. If Microsoft does not shape up and learn that you should not treat all of your customers like criminals, some changes could be in store for them in the future.

More PC Updates

Saturday, September 8th, 2007 @ 9:02pm

Not to bore anyone reading this, since this is mostly for my reference to help remind me what I was looking at, I’m putting up some more finds that I’m considering for my new upgrade.

On the hard drive end, I’m currently looking at a 320GB Western Digital 7200RPM. It’s cheap, and probably provides more space than I’ll ever really need in the near future. Although, with something like this I can now rip my CDs at a higher quality than 192kbps and dedicate a whole partition to just that.

In the realm of processors, I feel like an AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ Windsor 3GHz should do the trick. It’s just at 3GHz and still under $200, so you can’t really beat that.

I have not decided if I’m going to purchase a new graphics card yet, and I may hold off on that. I’m currently using a GeForce FX 5900, and it seems to hold its own pretty well. Although, I might be looking for a cheap TV tuner and a new case to house my old components as a home DVR powered by MythTV.

Motherboard Hunting

Sunday, September 2nd, 2007 @ 10:47pm

So I’m coming close to finally upgrading my PC after many years. I’ve been looking at motherboards, and may have narrowed it down to the following two selections. The ASUS M2N-SLI Deluxe and the ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe.

The price range between the two is quite large, $129.99 and $179.99 respectively at the time of this post. While the latter is more expensive, it includes onboard wireless capabilities along with some additional raid options that the former does not offer. Any thoughts or suggestions?

Edit: I’m still looking around for motherboards at this point, as these two seem to have gotten mixed reviews (bad ASUS drivers, non-hardware RAID). I really liked my SOYO motherboard from back in the day, but I can’t seem to find those around anymore.

Update: Found a third motherboard to faceoff to the other two. An ECS KN3 SLI2 which seems to cheaper than both the ASUS motherboards I listed before with as much bang. And it can support up to 32GB of memory. Who knows why I would need that much memory anytime in the next few years, but you never know…

The Joys of Technology

Friday, January 19th, 2007 @ 8:42am

I suppose one of Murphy’s laws could be, “The more you need a piece of technology, the more likely it is for it to break.” I have experienced that on this weekend. Not only with one items, but two as a matter of fact. First, my iPod is in for minor repairs which will take two weeks longer than a mistake on BestBuy’s part. Secondly, my laptop harddrive decided this weekend would be the perfect time to fail. Both of these items I really needed for my long trip this weekend, yet I’m having to cope without both. Oh well.

I do love tech support however, I tried to call Sony up since I wanted to replace my laptop harddrive ASAP, and needed to know if a new harddrive was compatable with an older standard on my laptop. A simple question with a simple “yes” or “no” answer… at least so I thought. My conversation with Sony went something like this:

Me: I need to replace my laptop harddrive. Are newer ATA-6 harddrives compatable with the ATA-5 standard on my laptop?

Sony: (Some mumbo jumbo about how they can’t provide support for new hardware, even though I only asked a simple question that could be solved with such a simple answer)

– Here I explained the problem I have, the steps I tooked to come to the solution that my harddrive no longer works.

Sony: You need to [some steps to reinstall Windows] and [some more steps].

Me: I can’t even follow those steps, because the bios doesn’t even recognize the harddrive.

Sony: Then you need a new drive.

Me: … (Internal Thoughts: Well d’oh. )

I decided at this point, I would be better off with my time spent on google, and sure enough I found the answer within 2 minutes. It frustrates me to no end that tech support can not answer such a simple question reguarding their product. Customer service should be just that, service, and should not feel like a diservice to the very customers you are supposed to be serving.

I have bought a new drive already. It is a good thing though, even though my old harddrive went bad. I’ll have a lot more space for doing things (2x the space infact) and might even try to install Linux. Who knows?

Computer Junkie

Wednesday, July 5th, 2006 @ 11:48pm

So as par my last post, I’ve been working on an old machine to install Linux on. I was having some problems with the computer. I didn’t know if the hard drive was bad, the IDE cables were kaput, or the motherboard was shot. But thanks to Dana’s parents, I got some old PC part’s to check out! Upon trying out the new hard drive(s) I got the following error:

Keyboard Error: No Keyboard Present.
Press F1 to continue.

Oh gee, that sure is helpful! I wonder who came up with that? Unfortunately, the one floppy disc I had available somehow got corrupted so I won’t be able to flash the bios until I get another one. If that fails, I guess I’ll have to see if I can get a new motherboard. So if anyone would like to donate an AMD Socket A, ATX motherboard that supports SDRAM (PC100 or PC133) to my cause, I would be very happy!

In other PC related news, my new DVD-RW drive came in today. It’s pretty sweet. It supports DVD -R, +R, RW, Dual Layer along with CD-RW as well. I can burn a full 4.7GB DVD-R in only about 5 minutes! Time to finally clean up all the junk that has been piling up on my hard drive…


Tuesday, June 27th, 2006 @ 9:43am

So I’ve gone where I’ve never gone before. I’m finally about to use another operating system other than Microsoft’s Windows. I had an old PC in my closet that was just sitting there collecting dust, so I came up with the decision to install Linux (Open SuSE distribution) on it. I’m not sure exactly how I feel about it yet, but I think it will be a rather interesting experiment to see how everything goes. Doesn’t this look like the coolest logo ever?The SuSE distribution is a massive 3.5GB download, but thanks to bit torrent it was a rather quick operation that only took about 3 hours to download. Pretty nice eh? I’ll be working on installing that over the next few days, so I’ll let you know how it goes and I’ll probably even post a few screenshots of the operation too.

On a somewhat unrelated note, I’ve finally been admitted to UAB. Woohoo! (Yes, I’m still going to Samford… it’s just a real complicated issue, I just have to take one class fall/spring at UAB this next year in order to graduate)