Media streaming

I used to stream all of my media from my computer to my TV using Windows Media Player 11 when I had Windows XP. It was incredibly easy and straight forward. Then I upgraded to Windows 7 and Windows Media Player 12, and after a lot of finagling, I finally got it to work. Then came the upgrade to 64 bit. Now I can’t get it to work at all and I know I’ve done the exact same steps. In fact, it was working but for some reason it just stopped. I tried the forums and despite the different offers of fixes nothing worked. So I gave up and ran across a free media server called TVersity. Incredibly simple to set up and use. I had it done within ten minutes. Now, along with the video files, the music and photo files that never worked with WMP12 work with this. I highly recommend it if you’re as frustrated with WMP12 as I am.

If you’re looking to find a way to stream Hulu, Comedy Central, YouTube, etc., etc., get PlayOn by Media Mall. Another great program that I highly recommend. It’s $20, but worth it. Especially when you go to their plugin page and add other great sites like Vimeo, 66stage, Sci Fi and many others.

“I love your frame”

“I love your frame,” isn’t something you want to hear when turning in a piece of artwork, but that’s the comment I received today when I turned my photos in for this Friday’s Spring for Art fundraiser in downtown Winston-Salem. If anyone is in the area and enjoys art, you might want to come out. It’s $50 for non-members.

I recently finished a major computer upgrade from 32 to 64 bit processing. Of course, it didn’t go without hitches. The first problem I had was figuring out how to make a raid system. My motherboard has specific SATA slots for it and trying to fit six hard drives and two optical drives isn’t easy even with an over-sized computer case. Fortunately, after harassing my friend for technical advice, I was able to overcome the problems and now have a RAID 5 system in place. My next problem was with Windows 7. I wasn’t aware that if you make changes to your computer it won’t let you use the product key to register because it thinks it’s on a different computer. After an hour-long phone conversation with a customer service rep, I was able to get another product key and register Windows 7 64 bit. After that, I thought I was free and clear, but my computer was acting very strange. It was taking over ten to fifteen minutes to reboot and sometimes it wouldn’t reboot at all. I finally diagnosed the problem that it was reading a different version of Windows on my old hard drive and was merging the two together forcing the long reboot. I had forgotten to format the hard drive because I was on the phone with the customer service rep. So I wiped the hard drive, reinstalled Windows 7 and was good to go.

I love gardens!

I have to admit, before I moved to North Carolina, I had no interest in gardening. Well, I still don’t, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a good one when I see it. Nice gardens in Michigan are few and far between, but down here in the south with nice weather for most of the year, you can really do a lot to create and maintain a nice garden. That’s why most people I’ve met down here have really nice gardens. Some, like my friends Keith and Wayne, have spectacular gardens. So I decided to capture it in a video.

What’s the most impressive about their garden is that they did it themselves. From the waterfall to the bird house to the zen-station, everything was hand-built by them. I go gaga every time I see their waterfall. If I lived there, I’d have to move my office outside to take full advantage of it.

Anyway, check out the video here:

Steps to installing a new OS in your computer

To take full advantage of the new Adobe CS5 suite, I’m about to install a new 64 bit Windows 7 into my computer to replace the 32 bit in it now and I’d thought I’d share some steps with everyone in case you ever wanted to do it yourself. Remember, I’m an amateur, but I think I have a firm enough handle on how to do it after doing it several times in the past two years. First, I’m going to give you the quick list and then I’m going to elaborate on them.

  • Back up everything!
  • Make a list of all your programs and make sure you have all the info you need to reload them.
  • Deactivate all of your programs.
  • Some programs (such as iTunes) use other files. Make sure you place those files in the same hard drive; i.e. if iTunes uses files from the F drive, make sure you put files back into the F drive. Make the list.
  • If switching from 32 to 64 bit OS, take full advantage by adding more RAM. Most 32 bit systems can only use 3-4 GB of RAM. 64 can take advantage of 16 GB.
  • Check to make sure you’re happy with you memory. Now is the time to add more if you’re not.
  • I repeat: back up everything!

The first step is self-explanatory. You should be backing up everything already, but you really need to do so if you plan on uploading a new OS.

Not only should you make the list of programs you use, but make sure they’ll work in 64 bit. Most, but not all programs, work in 64 bit and there may be some device drivers that you won’t be able to use either; e.g. printers, scanners, etc. may not work with 64 bit systems. Check to make sure first. You don’t want to learn afterwords that you can’t use your favorite printer if you need it.

I always forget to deactivate my programs before I restore my computer. You’d think because you’ve already paid for the program and you have a hard copy of it that you already own it and the program will know it’s you. Think again. Once the serial number is programmed into the computer to activate the program, you can’t enter it again, even if it’s by the same user. Companies work hard to prevent pirating of their programs and this is one of the ways that make it difficult to run duplicate copies from one disc. So you need to open up the program and search for the deactivate button usually found underneath the help tab. Remember to do it for all of your programs. When I forget to do this, I have to contact the company to verify that it’s me and this can be a time-consuming process.

If I’m going to go through the trouble and upgrade my OS, I might as well upgrade my computer at the same time. I recently built my computer so I know I have the top end of most hardware, but I need more RAM and I need more memory. Now’s the time to do it.

You don’t want to run a 64 bit system with 4 GB when you can run it with more. I only have 4 slots for RAM so I can only go up to 8 GB. If you have more room, I recommend filling every slot. Remember, RAM is cheap and hard drives are cheap so fill it up!

And since I have my computer open, I might as well add more memory. This step is probably the most difficult for me. I happen to have four hard drives already and I’m about to add three more. Working with video consumes lots of memory so I’m constantly running out and moving files here and there. I don’t have any tips to make this easier, just remember that if you go play a song or open a word file from a program and it won’t open, it’s because it’s probably in a different hard drive then it used to be in. So you’ll have to go and search. If you have thousands of songs and hundreds of movies like I do, it’s probably best to make sure they stay in the same drive.

Before you begin to swap out OS, don’t forget to back up everything! It pays to check and recheck everything, especially since more and more people use their computers for personal things.

This is just a list I made to help me. You may want to (and I highly recommend that you do) check with a computer expert before you do this. You could lose everything if not done properly. I didn’t learn these things on my own. I contacted my computer expert first as well and I have had a subscription to Maximum PC for the past three years and it’s helped me learn a lot in that time.

If anyone has anymore suggestions or comments or I’m just completely wrong about something, please let me know.