Thursday, June 29, 2006

Flat Cat 5e

With my SageTV system, I've always wrestled with network connectivity. With the original box (Dell Dimension GX150), I used a 802.11b USB 1.1 adapter. When I bumped it to 802.11g 108 Mbps, I had to get a gaming adapter since the USB 1.1 port wouldn't run that fast. Frankly, I was probably optimistic to think that the USB 1.1 port would be the limiting factor.

When I upgraded to the GX270, it had USB 2.0 but I kept the gaming adapter. I have always had questions about the speed of the 108 Mbps network. It seemed that the gaming adapter kept slowing down and then speeding up. You can't really tell much about the gaming adapter since it just looks like an Ethernet port to the PC.

I had a guy come out and look at running me Cat 5 between the SageTV box and the router but he couldn't get to the top of the wall with the router.

This week we had some tile laid and I realized that the guys that do that also lay carpet. I remembered something that I had seen at Wal-Mart. It was FLAT Cat 5e cable. It came in 3 lengths, 15 ft., 25 ft., and 50 ft. I measured and the 25 ft. would reach from the SageTV box to my closet where my networking stuff is.

The floor guy lifted up the carpet and slipped the cable under it. He had to take a coat hanger and work it under a door threshold but it worked fine. It's so FLAT.

As I thought about blogging on this, I went to the APC site looking for pictures and specifications. I didn't find anything so I just scanned some of the packaging.

SageTV PlaceShifter

One of the guys at work is a BIG soccer fan. Last week while the first round of the World Cup games were on, he was out of town and was worried that his TiVo might fill up. I told him I was recording several of the games for my son-in-law and that I'd be glad to record some for him using my SageTV system. As we talked, I remembered that Sage introduced a new feature in v5 called PlaceShifter.

PlaceShifter gives you the capability to remotely access your SageTV system. He downloaded the client and I began trying to set it up on my SageTV server. I followed all the directions carefully but it wouldn't work. You have to open a port in your router. I tried it with manual port forwarding and then with UPnP. Neither worked. I opened a support incident with Sage and sent them lots of screen captures. I exchanged e-mails with them for several days.

I finally noticed a thread on their forum on PlaceShifter and described my problem there. I got an answer back from a support person at Sage in 7 minutes! The key was "Oh -- have you restarted SageTV?" The Sage manual kinda talks about this but it's in a different section than where you have to go to setup PlaceShifter.

Anyway, that fixed it and now it works great! I found that you can buy the license for PlaceShifter for $25 from To install the license, there is a link in the SageTV Start menu. You need to have the SageTV server stopped when you do this. You can create as many users as you want but each license gives you 1 concurrent user.

Sage has a server where your SageTV server registers its key and IP address. Then you give the PlaceShifter client that key and it uses the server to get the address of your server. From that point, you pretty much get the same experience as being in your easy chair.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Browser Share

Remember back in January when I wrote an entry on SiteMeter Statistics on this blog?

I looked again this week at the browser share numbers. Here are the 2 charts side by side:

Firefox has grown about 10% from 29% to 33%. Surprise! Surprise! IE has dropped almost the same amount that Firefox has grown. One interesting thing is that IE 7 is starting to show up.

Then I went over and looked at one of my other sites, It has a different mix of browsers. Here's a table of its statistics:

Firefox only has 10.6% while IE has 86%. IE 7 shows up here too but with only about half the usage.

Kinda interesting the difference between this blog with a techie audience and with a more mainstream audience.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

BACKUP Rises Again

As you can see in my previous post, I have a box named BACKUP in my home network. Originally it was an old HP mini-tower. It was so old that it was a hand-me-down from my mother! I loaded Windows XP Pro on it and put a 250 GB Western Digital in it. I mounted it as \\BACKUP\FILES.

The problem was that \\BACKUP\FILES kept disappearing. When it did, even restarting the box didn't remedy it. I'd have to drag the box out of the closet (remember how I like to run systems headless) and open the case and wiggle all the cables. Then it'd go through this "No operating system found" routine until it'd all work again. I'd button it up and back to the closet it'd go.

This got old after the second time so I looked for alternatives. I figured it had something to do with the IDE controllers on the old HP. I had an old ThinkPad 600E and a USB/IDE enclosure but the ThinkPad didn't support USB 2.0. I found this on for $12.95 and I had a port replicator for the 600E that had an Ethernet port.

Now the 600E is BACKUP. Unfortunately, I'm still having problems with the Western Digital. I wonder if it is the way I have it jumpered. I hope that's it. It'll run for a day or two and then just disappear.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

How To Mount ISOs

The other day when I was working on UN-Authoring DVDs, I needed to see what files were in ISO images I had saved of video DVDs. I could have burned them to DVDs but I knew I really didn't want/need the DVD disks at that time, only the files within them.

So off I went Googling and came across Microsoft's Virtual CD-ROM Control Panel. Besides the unwieldy name, it's "unsupported" (more on that in a minute).

You can download it from Microsoft here. There's a good write-up on it here including the following readme file.

Readme for Virtual CD-ROM Control Panel v2.0.1.1


System Requirements
- Windows XP Home or Windows XP Professional

Installation instructions
1. Copy VCdRom.sys to your %systemroot%\system32\drivers folder.
2. Execute VCdControlTool.exe
3. Click "Driver control"
4. If the "Install Driver" button is available, click it. Navigate to the %systemroot%\system32\drivers folder, select VCdRom.sys, and click Open.
5. Click "Start"
6. Click OK
7. Click "Add Drive" to add a drive to the drive list. Ensure that the drive added is not a local drive. If it is, continue to click "Add Drive" until an unused drive letter is available.
8. Select an unused drive letter from the drive list and click "Mount".
9. Navigate to the image file, select it, and click "OK". UNC naming conventions should not be used, however mapped network drives should be OK.

You may now use the drive letter as if it were a local CD-ROM device. When you are finished you may unmount, stop, and remove the driver from memory using the driver control.
It may not be the friendliest thing I've found but it works great.

Regarding support, just to show you how deeply it's embedded in Microsoft, look at this Knowledge Base article.

Friday, June 02, 2006


While I learned a lot at ASUG, I didn't really get packed very well for that trip. As I sat in the Memphis airport leaving that Sunday, I realized that I didn't bring the charger for my Treo. When we landed in Orlando, I made a mad dash to a gadget store and picked up a PowerPod from EarHugger.

Here's what it looks like:
Interestingly, EarHugger doesn't say much about it. I found this description at

The PowerPod features:
  • Cord retracts into charger for easy storage
  • LED shows connection made to phone
  • Charge phone while talking
  • Charges cell phones from 4 different power sources
    • Standard wall plug, computer USB Port, 9-Volt battery and car cigarette lighter
  • Comes with 5 adapters
    • Most Nokia, Motorola, palmOne Treo, BlackBerry and Kyocera phones
  • Folded size approximately 4" x 3" x 1"
You kinda have to know the code that the BlackBerry uses a mini-USB connection for charging (why doesn't everybody?). What that means to me is that I can use the PowerPod to charge my Plantronics Discovery 640 Bluetooth headset also. Pretty cool.

You can buy one here.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Father's Day Wish List 2006

Seidio Stereo Adapter

This will let me use iPod stereo headsets to listen to movies on my Treo.

You can order it here.

Travel Sentry Certified Luggage Lock

This will let us lock our luggage and still let the TSA check it.

You can order it here or just drive to Target. We probably need 4 (2 sets of 2).

Kingston Technologies 512MB DDR SDRAM


Hopefully, this will speed up our desktop PC.

You can order it here or drive to CircuitCity. I need 2 of them!

I'm Just Not Sure

When I went to ASUG a couple of weeks ago, I took 2 SD cards - a 1GB in the Treo to use for audio recording and note taking and a 512MB full of movies and podcasts. I took a wired headset for the Treo to use to listen with but with my luck it was bad. So I wanted to use my laptop to watch the movies on the airplane. But I didn't take my USB SD reader!

When I got back, I got to looking for a USB SD reader to keep on my keyring. There were several choices that called themselves "keyrings" but they didn't have a loop on them or the loop was on the removable top (don't get me started on that!).

I finally found the I-Rock IR8200 at for $12.99 and $4.99 shipping. Here's what it looks like:

You can't tell from this picture but mentioned in one of the comments was that there was a loop on the swivel cover for the USB plug. I could use that to put it on my keyring.

So I ordered one and it came in today.

It's larger than I hoped (but honestly not larger than I expected). Here's how it compares to my Sandisk Micro USB drive and an SD card:

So now, what to do? It's really bigger than I will tolerate in my pocket. I could put it in my laptop case but that's where the regular USB SD reader was when I needed it. Maybe with the keyring loop I can attach it to something like the retractable keyring I keep my RSA token on.