Installing Vista (AKA More Netgear WG311 Misery)

I managed to get a copy of the 32-bit Windows Vista Business from the MSDN Academic Alliance program through university and, after a RAM and graphics card upgrade, and a lot of moving of files to clear a partition for it, I was ready to install Vista. The installation itself went reasonably quickly. After about half an hour I was choosing desktops and playing with the control panel.

I was disappointed to notice that my initial Windows Experience Index (Microsoft’s measure of how pimped your PC is) was disappointing at 2.2, let down by poor graphics performance, considering I’d just spent about £40 on a new 256MB card from Dabs. Maybe it’s because I’m only running AGP4x, I don’t know. Anyway, Vista told me my system was rated as follows:

Processor (AMD Athlon 2800+): 3.4
RAM (1.5GB @ 266MHz): 3.7
Graphics (256MB eForce 6200): 2.2 4.1* – yay!
Gaming Graphics: 3.0
Primary Hard Disk (Seagate 120GB 7200rpm): 4.4

The first spot of trouble came as I tried to get my wireless connection going. The device manager was reporting my Netgear WG311 v3 present and correct, but it wasn’t picking up my network. Oh dear. Anyone familiar with my previous exploits with this card will probably guess I wasn’t very surprised by this.

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How to run IIS Web Server in Windows XP Home

Microsoft tell you that it’s not possible to run IIS, the Windows Web Server, on Windows XP Home Edition (see note 1). In previous versions of Windows, the home versions (Windows 98, ME etc) included something called Personal Web Server, which was a bit like a cut down version of IIS. Imagine my horror when I had to create a website using ASP (not my choice, I’m a PHP kinda nerd.) only to find that my shiny new operating system couldn’t even do something my mum and dad’s old Windows 98 box could do.

Having paid seventy odd pounds for this ‘upgrade’ I was a bit miffed that Microsoft had discontinued PWS. Then, after a bit of Googling, I discovered Win XP Home could run a web server after all – and IIS at that. As a bit of a bonus, you can also access the Windows XP Pro / Windows 2000 style advanced security settings (see note 2). Here’s how it’s done.

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WordPress: Problems Updating Settings

I’ve just spent the guts of an hour fannying about no various websites trying to figure out why I was getting an HTTP 404 (File not found) error when trying to update the settings on WordPress to make it ping different services. I hunted through the file being called, ie options.php, to no avail. I Googled the problem and found this. The guy who zipped a new options.php file had taken it offline (more 404!!) and the other solution posted there didn’t work. Still a 404. Then I read it might be something to do with Apache and mod_security, so spent a minute or two pondering contacting my web hosts.

Then it came: my Eureka moment. After some messing about I noticed it didn’t happen on the “General Options” page (options-general.php), only on the “Writing Options” page (options-writing.php). I then tried updating the settings without changing any of them and … it worked!! Crazy!

It didn’t take long from then to figure out that the problem wasn’t with the WordPress setup, but with one of the URLs I was trying to get it to ping. Apparently WordPress doesn’t like Pinging the services at NorthernIrishBlogs.com, BritishBlogs.co.uk or IrishBlogs.ie

WordPress doesn’t seem to want to work with any URI that has a “.” in it, so that rules out any that point to files (with extensions) rather than directories (in fact, I just tried to save this post after inserting an example URL and was given a similar 404. I then went into panic when I hit ‘back’ on the browser to see an empty text area where my post used to be! Thank goodness for auto save). Presumably WP is trying to pingback the URL because it was in my post, and is having problems but I don’t know, but it doesn’t seem to have a problem with normal URLs, extension or not. Bizarre!

To be continued…

Playing iPod Video on Your TV

Please note that this entry is about my 5G iPod Video.  Information may not apply to other models like the iPod Classic.

Getting video files to play on your TV from your iPod is actually a lot easier than I imagined it would be. If you have AVI files that you couldn’t be bothered burning to VCD/SVCD or DVD, a much friendlier alternative is to play download them to your iPod. There are two hurdles you’ll have to overcome, but in reality, the process is much more painless than converting the files to MPEG and burning them to a CD or DVD is.

Converting Your Video

Before you put a video on your iPod you will need to convert it to an iPod friendly format. For this I recommend the free program, Videora iPod Converter. This will convert your DivX or Xvid AVI files into an iPod-friendly MPEG-4 file; I recommend the highest bitrate 1500kbps setting.

That’s it; easy! I’ve found that the time taken to convert a video file using Videora is slightly less than the play time of that video. A 2 hour video file should be converted in about 1 hour 25 minutes.

Playing On Your TV

When Apple released their video iPod they released a special AV cable for it that would connect your iPod to the red, yellow and white AV sockets on your TV, allowing you to watch the videos on your iPod on a larger screen. As it turns out, this was a bit of a scam. All they did was take a standard RCA-to-AV lead (commonly used for connecting camcorders to TVs) and send the video over the red cable (which usually carries sound) instead of the yellow one. This means that you can use a standard RCA-to-AV lead if you have one kicking about – just connect the red plug to the yellow socket, yellow plug to the white socket and white plug to the red socket. Scumbags, eh?

Don’t panic if you, like me, don’t own a camcorder and don’t already have an RCA-to-AV lead. You can buy one specially colour-coded for iPods (so red goes to red etc.) off eBay, where I got mine for £3.73 including postage!

Then it’s really simple, just go into your iPod video folder and set the Video Settings to output to TV, connect it up and you’re away.