Why you do not want to show static information on a Plasma screen!

I snapped this picture at the train station at Stansted. One of the worst cases of burn-in I have ever seen. Click the picture for a closer look. This is why a Plasma screen is totally out of the question for my HTPC!

I wonder what the sales persons told the people at the train station when they sold these screens?

“We have these new fantastic flat screens for your train tables. They are only £ 10 000,- a piece and will last for at least two years.”

Why you do not want to show static information on a Plasma screen!

Silencing an XFX GeForce 6600 GT AGP with a Zalman VF700 Cu

Recently, I bought a new screen card to be able to run Win MCE 2005. I went for an XFX GeForce 6600 GT AGP. Mainly because the GeForce 6600 GT supports NVidia PureVideo and because the XFX Card had two DVI connectors.

I knew that I had to remove the original fan and mount something more silent, so at the same time I ordered a Zalman VF700 Cu.

I followed the instructions and the VF700 is quite simple to install. However, I encountered one problem on my particular card. The instructions tell you to mount the RAM heatsinks, then mount the GPU heatsink. Well, guess what – the RAM chips are too close to the GPU on this card, so the GPU heatsink will not fit if you mount the RAM heatsinks. It is close to impossible to remove the RAM heatsinks when they are properly in place.

A couple of minutes with some cutting pliers, and the problem was solved. You can see the result in the pictures.

After the modification everything went smooth. From a very noisy card to a dead silent one and a 10 degrees lower GPU temp!

Just thought it could be interesting for people to read this if they plan to buy the same combination.

GeForce 6600 GT GPU

Silencing an XFX GeForce 6600 GT AGP with a Zalman VF700 Cu

HTPC Update – Installing Windows Media Center Edition 2005

I have been playing around with HTPCs for several years. I started out with an ATI All-in-wonder back in 1999. I have been running ShowShifter, myHTPC, Meedio, BeyondTV and Beyond Media. My last configuration was this one:

Meedio
J River Media Center
NetRemote
Girder
BeyondTV
SlimServer

I must admit that I am dead tired of administrating several pieces of software and all the communication between them. Now I want something that just works. BeyondTV is a very good PVR. Meedio is a very good media management tool. However, they both need their share of caring and configuring… And running two different main applications is not as ideal as having one application taking care of the whole frontend.

MeedioTV is not yet released in a version that is simple to set up in my region, so running Meedio only is out of the question.

I have tried installing the plain combination of BeyondTV, BeyondMedia and the Snapstream FireFly Remote. But, BeyondMedia is simply not good enough. Browsing my 400 album music collection by having to scroll slowly from “10 000 Maniacs” to “ZZ Top”? Nope.

So, now I am giving Windows Media Center Edition 2005 (MCE) a try.

I will report back here as my installation progress!

HTPC Update – Installing Windows Media Center Edition 2005

Travelling with a GPS and a digital camera

I just read this interesting post after finding a link to it over at brilliantdays. Some more searching and clicking, I also found this, and I came to think of the following story:

A couple of years ago I traveled through Alsace in France by bicycle. I had my GPS attached to the handlebars and took lots of pictures with my digital camera during the trip.

When I came home, I transfered the pictures to my laptop as usual. I also transfered the GPS-log with all the coordinates to the same machine. I started thinking about how nice it would have been if the GPS was built into my camera so that I could have placed all my pictures on the map.

Thinking a bit further, I realized that I actually had the data to do exactly that:

1. A track from the GPS. Basically a long list of time stamps and GPS coordinates
2. Huge amounts of pictures. All of them time stamped
3. OZI Explorer software, supporting links to pictures in the maps

So, I have data telling me where I was when. And I have pictures telling me when they where taken. There is a link here: when.

I figured, how difficult could it be to match the time stamps from the pictures to the closest time stamp in the GPS-log? That would actually place the picture quite accurate. Well, that was not too difficult. I imported a list of the pictures and the complete GPS-log into Excel. A little VBA code, and voila: a file that was compatible with OZI-explorer placing all my pictures amazingly accurate on the map.

You can click the picture in this post to see one of the results.

For the people that are familiar with excel and visual basic for applications (VBA) you can download the very undocumented excel sheet with the code that match gps points with pictures here:
PlacePicturesGPS.xls

If you manage to import a list of pictures with time stamps in the sheet called pictures and a tracklog into the sheet called track, keeping the right data in the right coloumns, running the script called PlacePics2() will match the closest track point to each picture. Running the script called GenerateOziMapComments() will generate a text file with the information needed to place the pictures on a map in OziExplorer. The last script, cleandups() is simply a script that you can run if you want to delete the rows where several pictures is placed on the same GPS-point.

This whole process is very undocumented, but if you want to try it out please do not hesitate to ask questions through comments here. If people show any interest I will consider a major upgrade of the documentation!

Travelling with a GPS and a digital camera