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Tech

Cheap HTPC with XBMC and IR

While browsing newegg the other day, I saw a nifty little gadget called a ‘nettop’ by the name of ‘Revo’. A nettop is essentially the desktop version of it’s cousin, the netbook. Similar to the netbook, the nettop is designed with lower power consumption, small footprint, and low cost in mind. Surprisingly, the Revo nettop (or Acer Aspire Revo AR-1600 as it’s formally known as) makes a decent Home Theater PC (HTPC).

revo_horizontal

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Tech

Windows 7 outperforms XP on Old Hardware

I just installed Windows 7 on an 8+ year old machine I had laying around my house and I was surprised to see that it runs as well as it does. In fact, it runs better than the XP installation I had installed on the old PC before upgrading it to Windows 7. To be fair, the Windows XP installation was a few years old and probably suffered from disk fragmentation and memory being consumed by the random applications and services that had been installed.

Hardware that I had difficulty with in Windows XP was automatically recognized and had the proper drivers installed. Even the cheap-o USB wireless stick I bought a few months back was recognized during the installation so I could setup my wireless network before even booting into the full operating system. On my windows XP installation, I had a bunch of problems getting the USB stick to work and had to get drivers directly from the manufacturer. With 7, everything was automatically recognized and installed.

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Tech

Windows Default Icon Spacing

Yet again, I have typed up another long entry in Joomla just to have it all disappear because Joomla (and it’s Editor components) suck at handling sessions. I won’t get into that here, but I do want to get a piece of information across that isn’t widely available on the internet.  I messed with my Icon Size and Spacing (horizontal and vertical) in Windows XP and I couldn’t find the original settings to change it back to.  I pulled it up on another one of my computers and figured I would post it on the internet for all to see.

Icon Spacing (vertical): 43
Icon Spacing (horizontal): 43

A quick side-note that I made on my original post was the fact that windows will only display icons up to 72px and the built-in windows icons usually only scale "gracefully" up to about 48px. In contrast, Mac OS X will display icons up to 128px and every icon I have ever seen on a Mac will fully scale to that with no problem. To read more about this, see the icon topic at XvsXP.

Categories
Tech

Media Center – Software vs OS

After trying a couple different applications designed to effectively act as a replacement for Windows XP Media Center edtion (MCE), I'm going back to Microsoft's operating system. Basically, none of the applications could do everything MCE could. And even when they got remotely close, the interface was hideous in comparison to MCE.

I needed an OS that was based on XP Professional so I could use the development tools required for my classes, like Visual Studio .NET. Being based on Windows XP Pro also allows me to enable Remote Desktop Connection so I can access and control my desktop from anywhere with Internet Explorer 5 or newer… or the Remote Desktop application….

I personally prefer to use the Remote Desktop application because it allows me to connect my local drives/printers on the laptop while im "logged in" to the Remote Desktop. This ability was the solution to my loud computer in my bedroom being the computer I use to download files over night. The thing is so loud, I can't go to sleep with it on at night.

I needed a remote server in a different room so I could continue my downloads over night and cut-down the total overall time to download. My xbox is modded with XBMC, but there are no homebrew applications to download torrents. So I installed Linux on the xbox (X-DSL) and installed a BitTorrent client. That worked… kind of. If I wanted to use the Xbox Media Center functionality of my xbox, I would have to stop downloading.

So what next? How about one of those spare computer I have sitting in my closet? Perfect. Install Windows XP, set up the computer, set up remote desktop, set up file-shares… "wallah!" I now have a file/torrent-server to house all my media.

I'll get back with some photos and screen shots… for now, use your imagination. I'll try to write up some info on the processes later.