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Le T’Internet – using 3G on Eurostar on SFR

February 3, 2009 Leave a comment

Just thought I’d post a little revelation I had on the Eurostar in France, heading towards Paris.

I’ve been using an SFR Dongle – based on the Huawei E160E. It has this wonderfully annoying habit of dropping the connection entirely whenever it loses coverage, which is every minute or two, requiring a manual reconnect; and then my Checkpoint VPN drops, because the IP address for the new connection is different.

Cue my (unlocked) T-Mobile E220 Dongle. Stick the SFR card in there… and hey presto, no more disconnects. If it loses coverage, it just happily waits until it gets it back again.

Admittedly – the connection is SLOW. ie. average 1-2kbps, with peaks of 10-15. I suspect there’s some connection continuity/reset thing going on with SFR’s network, so they actually force the disconnections, because their network can’t follow there my modem is fast enough to do any good.

I also suspect it’s just a timeout setting somewhere, which I could modify somewhere on the new modem.

Still – for now, it means I get some sort of connection, and don’t have to manually hit ‘connect’ 20 times a journey. Old tech, eh?

* Oh – and OnSpeed seemed not to like the choppy connection either – it works out LESS reliable than with no compression/proxy at all.

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Categories: HTPC

Got a Gigabyte GA-G33M-S2H? Does it work with Media Center?

March 22, 2008 Leave a comment

Lucky you… I think…Gigabyte GA-G33M-S2H

I spent two months, on and off, hunting one of these down. Eventually I found one (in France, on eBay), paid top dollar (or Euro) to get it over, and then had another 2 weeks of pain trying to get it to boot an OS (but that’s another story!)

Once I had it up and running in my HTPC case, I found it wouldn’t work with Windows Media Center – giving a “Your Video Card or Drivers are not compatible with Media Center“. I used to get that with my old MC, based on an ATI / Sapphire Radeon 9600 – the solution to which was usually a good kick and a reboot.

With this mobo, there is no graphics card – I’m using the HDMI output of the on-board Intel G33 graphics. I eventually tracked the problem down to the Hardware Acceleration. Reason – I don’t have none; not on the on-board graphics of this mobo. So, I took it down from ‘Full‘ to ‘None‘, and Media Center then opened without complaint.

I still didn’t have any TV or DVD though. The reason for this was fairly obvious – I didn’t have any MPEG2 decoders, which both use, installed. Then came the next tricky bit: trying to find an MPEG2 codec that didn’t need Hardware Acceleration. I eventually found it within the Cyberlink MPEG2 Decoder, in FinalCodecs. I’m not sure if this is entirely legit, so I’m looking for another Codec that’ll provide a long-term solution. Admittedly, although I have an C2D E6750 that should software-decode BluRay movies without any problem, it seems to struggle with the frame rate on simple DVDs.

However, in a final twist, Media Center is complaining about video drivers again – and nothing seems amiss. So… back to the Codec pool, it seems….

From Strength to Strength

July 23, 2007 Leave a comment

I now have my Bedroom ‘What’s up this morning’ screen much the way I want it; we’ll customise it a bit more no doubt, as we move it around.

I went through both Yahoo Widgets and Dashboard Widgets, looking for the closest fits to the functionality I needed. Yet again, it was the MacOS Dashboard Widgets that won out, making another case for running the Bedroom Media Center in MacOS rather than Windows MCE.

Now we can see time, date and weather at a glance: I can also see the local wind forecasts for kiteboarding (no Windguru widget in Yahoo); and in terms of travel, we can see live departure information for our two nearest National Rail stations, Tube station, and a trafficam from our nearest main road. The two screen can be brought up in Dashboard with a single click….

In terms of controlling the Mac, I’ve found the following:

Both Apple Remote and K610i handle Front Row fine. The Front Row Menu button was initially tricky – the SE editor works by asking you to press the required keys, but pressing Win-Esc (the default MacOSX Front Row shortcut) is a system combination and an app can’t capture this. Initially I fixed this when I found I could edit the SonyEricsson HID file (which is XML with an image appended), and mixed and matched the key combinations to get one that worked.

However – I then found that you can simply re-map the shortcut for Front Row in MacOS system settings – so I mapped this to f10, and used that on the phone. Much easier!

So that leaves Sleep, Wake-up, and Dashboard:

  • Sleep is tricky on the SE – this time, the key combination includes Eject or Power, neither of which exist on a Windows keyboard, hence they can’t be recorded for use on the phone. There is also no mapping in MacOS setup. On the Remote, I was surprised to find, much easier: hold down Play/Pause for 2s, a little symbol comes up, and Mac falls asleep
  • Wake-up is easy on both: for the Apple Remote, press a button – the Mini wakes up. On the phone, enabling Bluetooth Keyboard/Mouse can wake computer will allow the Mac to wake when the phone connects.
  • Dashboard is easy for the SE – a keyboard shortcut – but not so for the Apple Remote. I’m currently looking at some MacOSX apps to send the keyboard shortcut for Dashboard using the remote.
Categories: HTPC