Blog Archives

Sansa to IPOD conversion

I have been using an 8GB Sandisk Sansa for my mobile media needs…that is up until last night.  I traded a new graphics tablet I bought at a CompUSA closeout for a 4GB IPOD nano with video.  At first I was going to give it to Liz, but after tinkering with it for a while I decided to keep the IPOD and give her the Sansa.  There are several reasons for this..

1. She won’t use the IPOD to its fullest extent (I will)
2. The Sansa has more storage space so she can put more photos on it and use it for client demos for her photography clients
3. I already have accessories she would need such as the carry case with clip so that she can take it with her more easily.
4. I would use the video playback more than she would.

So it worked out great for us both, she got a device she can use to store her favorite music, use in her photography business and its easily portable and easy to use.  Plus the Sansa has a built in FM radio so she can listen out and about. 

So now I have to convert all my WMA files to mp3, since some of them were DRM protected, I have to obtain the non-DRM protected versions so that I can import them into my itunes library.  I use both Rhapsody and Itunes now, I think Rhapsody has a nicer interface, but itunes is definately easier to get podcasts and audiobooks, etc. 

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Mobile Music

I have never been willing to spend a large sum of money to purchase a mobile MP3 player such as the IPOD or similar.  But this past week I found a great deal on TigerDirect for a Sandisk Sansa 8GB player.  My gracious wife made no objections to me getting it, so I happily placed the order.  It arrived on my doorstep on Saturday afternoon in the mail, and I began goign through the options and setup.  I can play video, music, photo slideshows, FM radio and even use it as a voice recorder.  It works with Rhapsody which has recently become my favorite online music source.  I like ITunes too, but I find I use it more for podcast subscriptions than music, only because I don’t have an IPOD so its not as useful for me.  I spent a few hours this weekend searching for and adding new music to my new player.  I know I am years behind and people have been doing this for quite a while, but having a mobile music player and being able to sync playlists and media and take them with me anywhere, is really cool! 

My Pick for screen recording

I have tried several software packages to do screen recording, and I must say that my favorite by far is Camtasia studio by TechSmith.  Their software is visually appealing with a modern and intuitive interface.  It also outputs your projects in a variety of configurable formats and makes your work look very professional.  Several neat features I enjoy are smart focus and a neat little mouse trick.  With Smart focus, the video can zoom and pan as you move your mouse around while recording, this way the viewers get a close up view of what you are doing and you are not wasting as much viewing space with unused area on your desktop.  I also like the feature of using the hotkeys to pause recording so you can make changes or do other tasks, and when you un-pause, the mouse is returned exactly to where it was when you paused the recording, eliminating the annoying mouse jumps you get in many other packages. 

Its not free, and in fact is one of the most expensive solutions I looked at.  But the user experience is ver good and the output is the best I’ve seen in screen recording packages.  This is a great tool for many professions and specific tasks, but particularly useful in IT as you can record tutorials or how-to videos with ease, and make them very easily viewable and portable!

Home media management

I came across this software over the weekend: Media Center 12

Its a really nice media management package that has all the features I was looking for.  It can catalog my media including pictures, audio and video.  It can create various types of playlists, and even has a theatre mode for easy use on the PC or a TV.  You can even run a media web server and use it as a remote control for the media center and play audio/video or slideshows by clicking links on the web interface, what you select starts playing on the display connected to the server.  I really like this package, its got some good plugins and skins and is the best one I’ve tried yet. 

Windows Vista Upgrade failed

Last night I was trying to upgrade to Windows Vista on my main XP computer.  I was 3/4 of the way through the installer when the install screen vanished and dropped me back to the XP desktop.  XP still seemed to work, and no matter what I tried, I could not get the installer to resume.  I had no choice but to reboot, but what I didn’t know was that Vista had already copied over its boot files and screwed with the MBR on my hard drive.  So upon reboot, I get a Vista boot loader, which goes to the setup screen, but promptly throws up an error saying (not exactly sure of wording) “Windows could not initialize the installer”.  So XP was dead at this point, sure there are some ways I could have gotten it back, but I really wanted Vista to install. 

I ended up using a Knoppix 4 bootable CD and using the file managers in linux to backup my data on my XP parition to a file share on a server in my network.  After the backup was done, I wiped the partition and loaded the full install of Vista and installed fresh on the clean XP partition.  I am not sure if I am going to go with Vista or not, so I’m installing from the media with no CD key, just to use it in eval mode.  If Liz likes it and can get used to it, we might go ahead and buy the Ultimate edition upgrade.  But for now we’ll give it a try and see how it goes.  So far its running great on my hardware, but I’m a little disappointed with the performance rating of 3.7.  I have a dual core P4 3GHz chip, 2 GB of performance DDR2 RAM, and 256MB ATI X600 PCIe video card running on a nice Abit motherboard.  I was expecting to get a score near or at a 5. 

Coming up!

There are a few things I’m working on that I will hopefully be able to release on both my blog and family website soon. Here is a brief list of things I’m trying to get setup…

1. Method for web visitors to send me messages or info, perhaps post back information to my site, maybe a public category where friends and family can post messages.

2. Podcasts – We have a lot of fun doing podcasts. I hope to get the girls and Liz and I back into a somewhat regular podcast series. It would be audio only at first, probably short (under 5 minutes) and of course make you laugh.

3. Way down the road, I’d love to start doing video podcasts. This is going to take a little more thought and planning, and we don’t have the video equipment to take on this job yet.

4. Add pictures to posts – it would be nice if when I posted an update on the site if I could attach a picture to the post for a visual aid of what I’m talking about. So from now on, I’m going to try to post individual pics of the kids or relevant pictures of what relates to my post so that its not just a bunch of boring text… 🙂

5. Custom theme – at some point down the road, its inevitable that I need to try to create a custom theme for WordPress. I have up to now used freely available themes I found online and modified them for my own use. This has worked out fine so far, but its time I start looking into option to code my own theme. This would open up all kind of opportunity as to how I want the site to look, and it would be a lot of fun designing graphics and CSS for the site.

New website goes live!

Last night I decided to just go ahead and make our new website live! I thought that the new design was close enough to done to warrant moving ahead with making it public. We will still be doing some minor updates here and there, and maybe add some new functionality soon as well. We had played with some podcasting stuff a while back and I may enable some multimedia features such as podcast posts with audio only for now, and maybe video later on.

Update to TILT review

Ok, I did more testing this weekend and have found the following relating to the TILT by at&t. 

 1. I thought the camera was pretty bad, but found that if you give the room proper lighting, it actually works well and takes ok pictures for a phone.  Same goes for video, the video was choppy and really bad with the frame rates, until I discovered that if I had good lighting in the room I was recording in, the video also looked pretty good. 

2. The HTC Home plugin was causing my phone to switch to vibrate on its own at what I thought was a random schedule, however it turns out that any time I had a calendar items that marked me as busy, it would set the device to vibrate even if the “auto” setting wasn’t being used.  This was very annoying, and I was able to find a different build of the HTC home plugin in the xda developers forums to get rid of this issue.  Only now the plugin seems a little hesitant to start up after a reboot, I have to go into my today settings and tap ok again to make the plugin appear.  Minor complaint, since the vibrate issue is fixed.

 3. I highly recommend the Kaiser Tweak app from xda, it quickly lets you apply many tweaks to the phone.

4. The HHC Home plugin customizer is a must!  It makes configuring the home plugin much easier and quickly helps you customise your icons and other options. 

The song of a parent

This is an amazing video, it so accurately captures the feelings of a parent with small children. I can’t say enough things about how much I like this video. You’ll just have to watch it for yourself. Video courtesy of YouTube:

Multimedia computer problems

For the last few weeks my multimedia PC has not been running well. Video playback has become jerky at best and basically become useless. I got a new CPU from ebay for it, but it took two trie as the first one I got was the wrong socket type. I got the new CPU the other night but found that it quickly over-heated with the little heatsync that came with the semperon CPU. So I had to order a new heatsync from ebay to replace it. Then I tried putting in the new video card, but found it wouldn’t get past the checking NVRAM screen and would just shutdown. So I also am waiting for a new power supply to arrive. All this stuff should be here by Thursday this week, which is tomorrow, so I should be able to reload my multimedia machine on Thursday night or Friday and get it back up and working better than before. It should then have a 512MB HIS radeon 1650 video card, Athlon 64 2.2GHz cpu, and should be much better with video playback.