Sunday, May 30, 2010

Some lessons learned from experience...

I've removed the Compro single tuner and put in a Leadtek DTV2000DS twin DVB-T tuner.

I was finding that with the wife's "Masterchef" show on 6 nights a week, often for over an hour, that it was common for me to clash with it. Problem solved instantly with a dual tuner that allows watching something and recording something else, or recording two things and watching a third with the TV tuner.

The remote control that came with it is rubbish though... unfortunately I'm being forced to use it short term (see later this post).

I'll save the Compro for something else later on.

Also, I'm glad I didn't plaster in the wires running from the HTPC to the TV, as I would have not been able to accommodate the wire for the center speaker, nor the remote control receiver that now conveniently sits lodged between the speaker and the TV. The conduit gives the flexibility to crack it open and add wires as needed. The best of both worlds would be to have a hollow wall, but that wall is brick... so no can do.

I was prepared to plaster in the front speaker wires however, since can't conceive of having to put extra wires to the speakers. Once again, the Sonicrafter scoured a groove in, without creating clouds of dust that an angle grinder does.

The rear speakers are on a hollow wall, so it was a simple matter of cutting a hole the size of a milk bottle cap at the top and bottom, getting a lead sinker tied to finishing line, dropping it through and hoping there wasnt a noggin in the way. Once the sinker was grasped at the other end, tie on the speaker cable and gently pull it through. One of the speaker wires is slightly visible from a certain angle, because there was a noggin there, but its not really noticeable, so I can live with it.

The rear speakers are mounted in the corner of the room and angled out slightly, using of all things, door stops screwed into the wall to give the speakers a good angle... works well!

Have a look at the Dolby site for correct layout.

The remote control that I had also has blown up. I think it might have been a little toddler who switched off the HTPC while it was in S3. And then maybe flicked the switch on, off, on, off, etc - I don't know, I wasnt there. But in any case, it looks as though the receiver, rather than the remote, has blown something. Its little red light doesnt come on anymore and the HTPC doesnt generate a USB interrupt when plugging it in (not sure that it used to before, but generally most USB things do... don't they?). All the USB ports seem to work with the wireless dongle, so the receiver is my best guess about whats gone wrong.

I've since learned that nobody in suburbia sells MCE remote controls - so I ordered one that I was originally going to get but couldnt find. This one

If it turns out that the remote wasnt broken and something else is wrong, I'll be unimpressed.

Something else I've learned is that ATI Catalyst Control Center (CCC) which gives you access to all of the fancy settings like brightness, colour and gamma on the GPU *IS NOT* backwards compatible with the drivers. I discovered this by downloading a new version of CCC, upgrading it, but not upgrading the associated graphics driver. I discovered that all of the changes to settings would revert back to defaults immediately - effectively preventing me from tuning the colours. Drove me crazy for a couple of days before I worked it out.

I've taken the drastic step of not allowing anything to upgrade automatically except antivirus. Yes, even Windows... as I'm tiring of their weekly Windows Defender updates. With luck, there will be no more software to go onto this machine.

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