Windows Media Center 7 is my latest toy. I have been playing with it the last few weeks and one of the tasks that has consumed most of my time is the one that has given me most of my frustrations, encoding video. And what is the problem? Probably that the question you may have after reading my words. Well, I have been trying all this time to encode video using the mkv format and the h264 encoder. I have tested many tools and I have obtained the best results using Avidemux. But… for some reason 4 of every five DVDs that I’m trying to convert with this tool end with a crash. This issue has made me start using Nero Recode 2, a wonderful tool that never crash. The few things that I don’t like on it is that it save in mp4 format and even when it includes the subtitles in the file, there is not any way in 7MC to use them. English is not my first language so subtitles help me a lot when I do not understand a word. Using Avidemux I’m embedding the subtitle in the movie and on that way I can see them in 7MC. Anyway… I can’t say that I have not enjoyed all this quest to find the perfect encoder and VideoHelp.com has been one of the best source of information in this adventure. I have almost tested all the freeware mentioned in that page and most of them have crashed in W7 or the results have not been the best. What encoder are you using to play HQ movies in your Media Center? May be you want to share your experience with me.
Once "inking" gets into your veins you will never be able to live without it. Frank J. Garcia
My Surface PRO 3 'Must Have' Accessories List
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
The Tire maker Bridgestone is thinking seriously about entering the market of the eBook Readers considering the prototypes shown in this article.
Bridgestone says the prototype has a 10.7-inch-screen, is just 5.8mm thick (Kindle 2: 9.1mm) and can display color pages. The device can be bent to some extent since the circuit board and the electronic paper are flexible.
Color and flexible eReaders, awesome.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Fujitsu has released Windows 7 Compatible Drivers for some of devices: P1630, U820, etc… Still has not released yet anything for the P1620 and P1610 series. I hope that this does not mean that this machines are not supported by this company any more.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Windows 7 has been released and Microsoft had ready for this release two modules of Media Center: Internet TV and Neflix. I really impressed with Netflix, the player made in silverlight works perfectly adjusting the streaming to whatever download speed you have from your Internet provider, and it does it during the playback. So you notice when you start a movie how the quality goes up after a few seconds of playing (I’m using a 12 mbps service). The HD still no there but the quality that I’m getting in movies and some series available in HD is fantastic. The Netflix software for 7MC was very well designed. Basically, you don’t need to visit Netflix website to manage anymore your queue. You can search for movies and the navigation options during the playback are compatible with MC Remotes.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Lets start with one of the TV commercials released by Apple yesterday talking about the release of Windows 7.
Pathetic. That’s the word that came to my mind after I saw the 3 commercials. The first one was talking about Microsoft promising a new OS without bugs and I have to say that that was the stupidest of all 3 because Snow Leopard has been the buggiest of all the releases of Mac OS X. How can Apple talk about bugs when they have not removed yet all the “fleas” from their own spotted animal.
But anyway, lets go back to this video. The migration path from Windows XP to Windows 7. How many times we have said and all my fellow IT friends have said that a clean install is better than an upgrade? Millions. Now this is where the whole thing fails. Everybody does not know about Windows Easy Transfer. This program makes a backup of all your documents, emails, programs configurations, etc, from your old XP and restore it back in your Windows 7 installation. Simple like that. After that all you have to do is reinstall your programs. Windows Easy Transfer is a freeware that comes pre installed in Vista and Windows 7 and can be downloaded for XP at Microsoft.
Now, I won’t lie to you, this is where the thing becomes a really mess if you are not a very organized person and you do not keep track of your serial numbers. But come on! You can’t blame on Microsoft for your own problems. You have paid for most of those programs, that’s like an investment so you should keep or your serial organized in a document kept in a CD or somewhere safe.
I understand that many people buy pre configured computers because they are afraid of installing anything. For those people the message is simple. Do not be afraid. All those big programs have a Setup Wizard that guides you during the whole installation process. Every thing is easier than what you think. A lot easier than switching to Apple, a new completely world for you. And a closed world I should say. A word where everything comes from Apple and should be approved by Apple, in a single word, a Dictatorship . What are you going to do with your freedom of choosing from millions of programs every time that you want to buy a program? Or… what you are going to do when you want to find a freeware for something that you want to do and you find that there are not that many options in the Apple World. And let’s not talk about games!
I’ll tell you how you are going to end. You will end like the 85% of the Mac users out there that still have a PC or have installed Windows in their Macs in a sort of virtual machine.
This commercial like all the other commercials of this series is just a lie. And if you think that I’m too rude when I said that let me rectify. The commercial is not reflecting the reality. The switch from XP to Apple is not a lot easier than switching to Apple. Oh, by the way, where is the part in the commercial that says that Apple does not allow you to install Mac OS X in your PC and that means that all your hardware investment is useless and you will have to buy Macs that is a lot more expensive than your current PCs.
The next time that you see on of these commercials from Apple in your TV remember me. They are the last thing that you can use as a reference or research if you are seriously thinking about to switch from Windows to Mac. I have not seen one in the last few years reflecting the reality in any grade.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Those who beta tested W7 should have already received an email like this:
We’ve reached the final milestone in our Windows 7 release schedule—general availability! Thank you all for the feedback you have provided during the Beta and Release Candidate processes. You have helped us make this the strongest Windows client operating system to date.
For continued support for your deployment and migration processes—including resources to help you with application compatibility, security, networking, manageability, and much more—bookmark these resources:
- Guidance, tools, and demonstrations - Springboard Series for Windows 7 on TechNet
- Community advice, tips, and best practices – TechNet Windows 7 Forums
- Virtual labs, webcasts, and podcasts – Windows 7 IT Pro Events and Webcasts Portal
Also, to stay up to date on new resources, the latest guidance, and upcoming events, sign up to be a Springboard Series Insider!
Thank you for all your support!
The Springboard Series Team
Today many stores are making available many good deals including W7 for free in many of their new boxes. Do not miss this opportunity.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
According to a note just posted at SuperSiteBlog:
the version of Windows Media Center in Windows 7 has gotten a significant update today, with the addition of Netflix and a new version of the Internet TV functionality, the latter of which has all kinds of new content, including great TV shows, Zune video podcasts, and more. It's an excellent update, from what I can tell so far, and I will have a short, more formal write-up about this later in the week. Check it out if you're using Windows 7!
Wow! That’s really good news! I have a Roku box at home for Netflix but lately I have been playing most of the time with 7MC (Windows 7 Media Center) using a Ruvo mini PC and I have been waiting for this update. I really want to see how Netflix works within 7MC. A friend of mine just tried Windows Update and did not find anything so let’s hope that tonight this new update is finally released to everybody.
Monday, October 19, 2009
One of the features a like from 7MC (Media Center 7) is the interface for playing DVDs. I like the fact that when you have the DVD in the drive MC pulls the information about the DVD and it’s available during the playback without having to stop the movie. Here is a short video that I prepared using a Ruvo mini Cap 7 and an external DVD drive connected to it.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Here is an example of how some makers call their accessories using the names of the best sellers trying to increase their own sales. Logitech Notebook Kit MK605. Check the picture of it.
It’s a Mouse/Keyboard/Stand kit. Now, is not a Netbook a device with a keyboard and mouse integrated? Is not a Netbook a device that when it’s opened the display stays standing up like the stand in the picture? So… This kit is not for netbooks guys! This is a perfect kit for Tablet PC owners, for UMPC owners and for MID Owners. All of them devices that most of the time come without a keyboard! So name it properly!
Logitech has an entire family of laptop accessories designed to enhance your experience, comfort, and productivity no matter what you’re doing or where you’re doing it and today, we’re adding the Logitech Notebook Kit MK605. Combining a pivoting riser with a wireless mouse and keyboard, the Notebook Kit MK605 is our first all-in-one solution to feature our recently announced Unifying technology, providing a convenient and flexible way to make your laptop experience more enjoyable.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Like I said in my previous post, sometime the clones have more features than the original devices.
Known as the DaPeng T2000 Wi-Fi TV Cellphone, the actual phone itself retails for around 150USD through Western retail channels, less on the streets of Shenxhen, and is in fact very similar to a host of iPhone clones floating around the markets of China with specs that measure up fairly well against any of them. Dual SIM, GPRS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth etc on a device that is slightly thicker and shorter than the Apple original, featuring a slightly smaller touch screen. The OS is the standard Apple OS clone that you've seen on most of them. What makes it stand out is of course the keyboard/wallet.
One of the webpage I follow in my RSS Reader is Shanzai.com, one of the reason is very simple, you can’t fight the reality, almost 90% of all electronics that we own are made or the components are made in China. In another hand, China is the mother of all the clones available in the world and lately the quality of these clones is at the same level and sometime even higher than the original devices. Shanzai.com is the best source of information about all these topics. And it’s this page totally dedicated to show the world all the new clones being released to the market the one also showing that Chinese Market has a dark side and that side is revealed in this video.
Monday, October 12, 2009
No, this is not a “how to” note or anything like that. Windows Media Center for me is something completely new. I have been using UMPCs and Tablet PCs for the last 3 years and on them this program does not work to well so I never tried. And probably that’s the best thing that happened to me because my first encounter with MC has been with 7MC or Windows 7 Media Center. A version of MC totally renovated by Microsoft. Sponsored by Ruvo, I will be shooting short videos of 7MC showing how easy is to use this program and different options that you can enjoy on it. The first video of this series shows how easy is to navigate using a Microsoft MC Remote Control and play a DIVX file stored in the HDD.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
I’m not the one saying it, he is Walt Mossberg, the man behind the Personal Technology Column of The Wall Street Journal. And here is exactly what he said:
In recent years, I, like many other reviewers, have argued that Apple’s Mac OS X operating system is much better than Windows. That’s no longer true. I still give the Mac OS a slight edge because it has a much easier and cheaper upgrade path; more built-in software programs; and far less vulnerability to viruses and other malicious software, which are overwhelmingly built to run on Windows.
Now, however, it’s much more of a toss-up between the two rivals. Windows 7 beats the Mac OS in some areas, such as better previews and navigation right from the taskbar, easier organization of open windows on the desktop and touch-screen capabilities. So Apple will have to scramble now that the gift of a flawed Vista has been replaced with a reliable, elegant version of Windows.
Since the first beta I have been saying that this version 7 is the best thing Microsoft has released in a long time so it does not surprise me to read such comment coming from Walt Mossberg. Now prepare yourself for the Mac fanboys reactions we will have a lot of fun in the next few days.
I just received an email from Douglas Krone, CEO, letting me know that they just have opened 3 stores in Europe.
They will start selling the Viliv S5 in these 3 languages and they are offering to all users buying one of these devices today THREE free accessories with the purchase:
+ car kit
+ leather case
+ spare standard battery.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
According to this post from Shanzhai page, there are plans to release a nettop using the Via C7 processor with the new chipset VX855 which should have a performance equivalent to what we have seen in the nVidia ION, recently tested by me in a netbook kindly provided to me by Ruvo.
Our contacts on the backstreets of Shenzhen, China have alerted us to the impending release of a shanzai-made mini-desktop PC that eschews Nvidia's ION in favor of VIA's CPU platform.
What has been my experiences with Via. Their processor is not bad compared with the Atom. Their graphic chipset are not bad too… but… there are only few video players in the market optimized to recognize their chipset and use them.
AndroidGuys has put together a list of tips to keep your Android phone optimized.
This is simply a general list of things that I notice on new users’ phones that really brings them to a stand-still. (Especially when you are guilty of all of them at once!) I understand that everyone’s experience of their Android phone and what they use it for is different; however, the more you give your droid to think about at once, the less efficiently it thinks. If you remember this very general rule, you are most likely going to be able to trouble shoot or tweak things on your own to be back in tip-top shape in no time.
He is absolutely right. I have seen this a few times already, phones overloaded with applications that I call vampires because they suck all the resources available in the phone.
This is something that most of us do, but now it is an official rule and if you don’t do it you could receive a fine of up to $11,000 according to PCWorld, page that have analyzed the regulations and summarized them in this article.
As of December 1, the Federal Trade Commission is going to require bloggers, and prominent tweeters and Facebook types to disclose any paid endorsements to their followers, online friends and readers.
Every time that I receive anything from any company I say it clearly in my reviews. And that’s something learned from my other fellows bloggers. We do it because we think that is unethical to hide this fact. Others just do it because they feel more important saying that X company sent him/her X product to review. Come on! A little bit of fame does not hurt anybody.
Another fact that I do not hide and my fellows MVPs do not hide too is that we are MVPs. That means that we are supposed to show the world all the new and good things that Microsoft releases. It does not mean that we should not criticize Microsoft but it says clearly that we believe in Microsoft and we like Microsoft products.
Anyway, it’s good to know these new regulations to avoid the fine. And be clear… This applies too to anything that any of you write in any forum. If you are bashing a product from the competition you should mention clearly what company you are working for.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
The statistics come from the research firm NPD Group and they were published recently at The Inquirer page.
This means that 85 per cent of Mac users have a pragmatic approach to their machines and use the best tool for the job at hand, whatever they want when they want it.
The study also revealed what I always suspected, the average household income of those with Macs was around $100,000 and having a Mac was a status symbol. That probably explain why 85% of them also have a PC, Symbols sometime are not enough to live in current modern world controlled by PCs.
GottaBeMobile found about this project of a Chinese University that I consider something out this world. If this software is released it will become the salvation of people like me that does not know a thing about Photoshop.
Monday, October 05, 2009
We have seen lately some hardware makers switch from the Intel video chips or the SIS graphic chips to the nVidia ION and some of you have asked if that helps. I’m currently testing the Ruvo Mini Cap 7 but using the nVidia ION Graphic Chip instead of the SIS 672 and the next two pictures show how the W7 graphic scores changed depending on what chip the device was using.
Using the nVidia ION
And the next one is using the SIS 672
A noticeable difference.
Saturday, October 03, 2009
We all like to see what's inside of our devices, lets face it. But here is the thing, dissamsabling them is easy, what's hard is putting them back to how they were before.
The above picture of the Benq S6 MID was shot by a young lady that loves to strip down her devices. And let me tell you, this picture is the most decent one. Check the rest here.