Archive for News

Proximity detection failed due to unknown error ‘0x80004004′

I recently updated something and found that media would no longer play on my XBOX 360 from my PC. I kept getting a No Entry sign when I hit play, despite the fact that I could browse the files fine.

On looking in the Event Log on the Vista PC, I could see these errors being logged:

Proximity detection failed due to unknown error ‘0x80004004′. The best proximity time detected was -1 milliseconds.

No web searches revealed anything, but I worked it out:

Go into Media Player and select Library/Media Sharing. It will tell you that you don’t have sharing enabled. This is either because the firewall is wrong, or the network type is wrong.

To fix the issue, ensure that your current network is a ‘Private’ network, not a public one. Also ensure that the ‘Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service’ is set as an exception in the firewall settings.

Doing this enabled the Media Player Sharing dialog to work well, and the error to vanish and media to play.

Comments (2)

Dell Vostro 200 Overclock

A while back I got a Dell Vostro 200 for around $399, including LCD monitor. Great value and makes a great desktop.

PC’s never go fast enough however, especially when doing lots of video editing, so I investigated whether it was possible to overclock it. Turns out the motherboard is a Dell-specific board made by Foxconn. The G33M02. Looking at the Foxconn G33M, it looks like they have software overclocking… but that doesn’t work with the board.

Looking deeper, it has the ICS 9LP505-2HGLF PLL generating the CPU clock. ICS kindly provided the datasheet, which shows that it is not programmable though.

Therefore using software, it is NOT possible to overclock a Dell Vostro 200. Looks like a faster processor is what is required for me. That or to make a ‘BSEL’ modification to fool the processor into running at a higher FSB etc. Think I’ll take the safe option, but the next question is just how fast a CPU will it take?

If only Dell would tell us…

Comments (3)

Wedding Bliss? Not at Target

Yesterday I stood in my local Target store announcing loudly the free availability of my Wedding gifts! Read on to find out why…

Recently I got married. Yes, even geeks get married – probably more often than you’d think – and there’s a good chance that you know someone who’s about to get married right now. The whole wedding experience has been a really good time in my life, and I’d really recommend it if you’re having doubts. (Of course at this point a lot of people always point out the pitfalls of marriage too from their ‘bad’ experiences, but let’s focus on where I am now… still in that high point. They even have a name for it – The Honeymoon Period.)

But anyway, when we announced we were getting married, we did what every couple does – we selected a couple of wedding registries, choosing local stores as we thought that would make life simpler. Target and Bed Bath and Beyond. At this point I have to say (being from the UK) that I have been completely blown away (gobsmacked) by American generosity when it comes to giving gifts. I think that American’s really are the most generous people I’ve come across, and I don’t mean that as a means of getting kudos with anyone, I’m simply stating a fact. There are showers, showers and more showers and then all the wedding gifts too! People are amazing! Of course wedding registries play a big part in that. They simplify life by enabling you to help your friends and relatives know the types of things you’d like to help start your new life together.

Back to Target and Bed Bath and Beyond… Now both stores are similar – you walk in and friendly staff welcome you and ask if you need help finding something (or maybe this just happens to me because I always look lost?!) You scan little lists and have a website to tell your friends about. I have to say that the Bed Bath and Beyond website goes beyond the call of duty. It has guest list trackers, gift trackers, seating arrangers… the list goes on, but I digress – I’m not here to talk about websites. Functionally both work well and actually the Target.com use of the Amazon.com checkout enabled my UK guests to by gifts for delivery in the US – something they wouldn’t have been able to do with most other registry sites.

So we have some friendly stores. Both are as helpful as they can in enabling you to choose your gifts, but this is where the similarities end.

After the wedding you find that people have been so generous that they’ve got you things that are not on your registry. So you get duplicates, things that are slightly the wrong size. You know the thing. It’s kind of like having the most amazing Christmas present time of your life, and find that you need to make a few corrections!

So you visit the stores to do returns. Bed Bath and Beyond are amazing. They value the fact that you’ve just generated $1000’s in business for them and will return things no questions asked.

In Target, they don’t. They state that they only return items with a receipt. That they can only give you $20 back for an item with Target plastered all over it that cost $100. That even though you had 2 ‘king’-sized pillowcases on the registry list and the person bought ‘standard’, that they cannot return them to swap them.

Now I’m a principle man. I just can’t work out why a company won’t return gifts even when there is no doubt the item has been bought from them! I tried asking for the store manager, the area manager. The excuses fly – “Sorry, they’re at lunch” (despite it being 7.50 in the evening). “They’re unavailable”. “It’s policy, sir”.

I tell you this, Target give their employees good training for dealing with persistent customers. Training that would be better focused on teaching customer satisfaction!

Eventually I got frustrated, and decided that I’d rather give the things away for free than return them for pennies. My loud announcements of free nonreturnable Crok-Pots and the likes didn’t really work. Well that’s not quite true. I left the store having returned the items, so I guess persistence past the point of annoyance did eventually pay off, but I have this friendly advise:

If you want people to be able to return undesired wedding gifts (and I’ve heard that baby gifts have the same issue), then I suggest you remember the unfriendly red tape at Target. It’s even painted on the walls to help remind you!

Comments

Windows Help (WinHlp32.exe) on Vista

Microsoft have finally enabled us to view the old .HLP files on Vista. Check this link out:

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads

Comments

Even Google has hiccups

As probably the biggest web server farm in the world, with their entire business based on providing a reliable service, it is amusing to see that even Google occasionally has its hiccups:

Comments

Office 2007 Blogging

Apparently Office 2007 now provides a blogging capability from Word 2007. If this is true, then this post will appear on my blog.

Wow! And to think I couldn’t blog before this!

Off to click Publish now…

Ok, it worked.. Just don’t try and use smileys or anything like that.

Comments

Britain – Big Brother State

Comments

Western society… Big Brother is here

Let’s face it, current governments are spying on their population, none more so than the United Kingdom. It is done in the name of national security – using fear of terrorism as a method of bypassing people’s normal questioning minds. The new acceptance appears to be: “If it is against terrorism, then it’s good!” But this is not always true. The changes being made today are the implementation of systems that allow your government to spy on you, and therefore control you. It is time to start questioning this invasion of privacy.

This video shows some of the story: http://www.bigbrotherstate.com/

Comments

Using Media Player plugin in Firefox on Windows Vista

For some reason Microsoft decided to stop distributing the Netscape plug-in with the Media Player in Windows Vista. Clearly the ability to play Windows Media is required in all web browsers on all Microsoft operating systems, Microsoft having made the technology one of the most common Internet media formats.

The workaround I have found involves 3 simple steps:

  • Downloading the Netscape plug-in from Microsoft
  • Extract the file contents
  • Install it in FireFox.

The following Microsoft page lists the Netscape plug-in at the bottom:

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download/alldownloads.aspx

The download you need to save (not run) is called: “Windows Media Player Plug-In for Netscape”.

Download the file to your desktop. Using an archive manager such as 7-zip, extract the EXE file contents. With 7-zip, this is as simple as right-clicking and saying “Extract Files…” to extract all files to a folder.

Inside the archive there are several DLL files. To install support for Media Player, simply copy the file “npdsplay.dll” to your FireFox plug-in directory. Typically this is C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\plugins.

You can check the plug-in is installed correctly by clicking here: about:plugins

You should see the plug-in listed as “Windows Media Player Plug-in Dynamic Link Library”

Comments (1)

DRM – The way forward?

DRM – Digital Rights Management – has been a very contentious issue in my life. To date I have refused to part with any money for music containing DRM and instead buy my own CDs and rip them onto my own PC, enabling me to have my own digital jukeboxes that I feel I control.

Not alone, many people resent the idea that they are being controlled by the music or movie industry, for good reason:

  • You are restricted in use of what you buy. iTunes, PlayForSure and the Zune are all good examples of this – you buy for one player and are then locked in. You then have to re-purchase something you feel you already own just because you’ve bought a new digital player. Compare this to buying a new CD player.
  • You cannot protect your purchase. Unlike houses, cars and banks, PCs are inherently unreliable devices. If you buy a CD you can take a copy and use that while protecting your investment. Your house is unlikely to burn down and if it does you typically have insurance to cover that. PCs can catch a data destroying virus, corrupt themselves or simply break down meaning loss of investment. Some DRM systems permit backup copies to be taken but typically the process is to complex for the casual user.

From the industries perspective, they are looking to protect an investment. The Internet makes file sharing far too simple in their eyes – programs like Kazza robbing them of revenue. So they attempt to protect their investment, the bad thing being it is only an attempt and not a solution.

Unfortunately there is currently no technology that will ever be a fool proof method of protection. There is no magic pill that can taken. For every layer of protection added, a cracker goes and gets a debugger out and bypasses it. Unless we get to a fully-implemented Trusted Computing world, there can be no way that you guarantee that a program or operating system hasn’t been subverted into bypassing a protection mechanism. With the release of Microsoft Windows Vista, we are given small reasons for hardware manufacturers to bring TPM technology into their PCs with the introduction of BitKeeper technology – this is the first step on a slippery slope that has both positive and negative social implications. Personally I am against a full TC implementation, so I think simpler solutions have to be found.

From a practical perspective, I actually have no problem with a file having extra security information added, providing it offers this:

  • I can use the file on any device I want
  • If I loose the file, I can get it back again. For free.

This sounds as if it completely conflicts against the aims of DRM, and I guess it does. Rather than focus on the file owner and their rights, industry should move the focus to the consumer. Introduce a system whose aim is not to try and lock the CD in a vault, but one whose aim is merely to identify whose CD it is. A new system not managed by Microsoft, or the music industry, or a government. Rather one managed by the people. An open standard. Managed by a non-profit independent group. A group whose job isn’t to care about what a file is. What it contains or what its value is. A group solely responsible for signing it with the purchaser’s details. A digital certificate. Just like SSL.
Yes, this will never be fully secure, but that is not really the aim. A CD can be copied. Yes there will be abuse. People will download files to multiple computers. A CD can be ripped many times. There is no perfect world, but there should be an platform that exists, that can be openly implemented on any operating system that enables a person to purchase a music file, have evidence that they have bought it and a way of identifying whose file it is. Think any file too. Books, personal documents. Images. Anything made of bytes.

There will never be a DRM lock-in system that works, so the industry should take a new less restrictive approach and give us the flexibility of the CD back.  Then I’ll spend my $ online too.

Comments

« Previous Page« Previous entries « Previous Page · Next Page » Next entries »Next Page »