Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Oops | Internet TV | Etc.

First and foremost, I need to apologize to my shamrock-influenced friends for failing to wish them a safe and happy St. Patrick’s Day. Sorry guys.

Next up, a short “Friday Fun” video.

Almost a year ago I wrote an article How To Watch TV On Your Computer, which mentioned Hulu, a “streaming media” portal. For those who make use of Hulu on a fairly regular basis, you may (if you haven’t already) want to download and install the Hulu Desktop app.
Hulu Desktop gives you a 10′, remote-controllable interface (for your TV).

And, for those of you who make use of Hulu on a fairly regular basis and also are using Windows Media Center on your Windows 7 PC, you can download and install Hulu Desktop Windows 7 Media Center Integration 2.0.

Hulu Desktop Integration 2.0 provides an easy way for users to go back and forth between Windows Media Center and Hulu Desktop. When clicking on HULU in Windows 7 Media Center, the software automatically closes Windows Media Center, Starts HULU Desktop Maximized in full screen. When you are done with HULU Desktop, click on Exit in the main menu, the software will automatically start Windows Media Center back up in full screen mode.

This software is aimed at people who want to have a easy way of switching with just their remote controls while sitting on the couch.

Please note.. while I did fiddle around with Hulu Desktop, I do not have a media center PC & TV hookup running, so I – personally – have not tested the integrator. However, I have seen it recommended in such reputable places as PC World magazine (so I am comfortable recommending it).
I would appreciate reader feedback on this one.

… rainstorm blowin’ in. Think I’ll stay indoors..

[related update: Wow. We just got a tornado warning.. We don’t get those. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/San-Mateo-Co-Under-Tornado-Warning–118253114.html. I cannot remember ever hearing of one.. and I grew up here. They say the safest place is in your basement. Um.. basement? This is Kallyfornyah. Who has a basement?]

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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March 18, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, digital Video, dtv, how to, Internet, PC, software, tech, Windows, Windows 7 | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Your Media, View It Anywhere*

Free Program Turns Your PC Into An Internet Media Server

I came across an program that you can download and install on your PC which allows you to “serve” (aka “stream”) your stored media (recorded shows and movies, music, jpegs, etc.) over the Internet.

orbtestAll you need is a XP, Vista, or Win7 computer (to be the “server”) and a broadband Internet connection.

Then, when you are out-and-about (“mobile”) you can ‘log in’ to your “server” (your PC) and access your stuff – from your phone, laptop, etc., and/or you can share it with others.

It is called Orb, and it is feature packed and very simple to use.

Orb MyCasting is a free service from Orb Networks that makes it easy for consumers to remotely view and share their live and recorded home and Internet TV, music, videos, photos, podcasts, and other digital media stored on their PC, from any Internet-connected device, be it a mobile phone, PDA or laptop.  MyCasting is the opposite of broadcasting, allowing you to stream your digital media when (time), where (place), and how (device) you want it.

Orb Networks is the first company to offer a single solution for enjoying virtually all of your digital media remotely, using the devices you already own.  There is no need to choose which technology path to go down to access your media remotely; other options are cumbersome and require an additional investment in yet another “cool” technology.  Orb is free and begins with one easy download: there is no hardware or software required, and no additional time needed to catalog and categorize your digital media.  You get instant access to the digital media that’s already on your PC.  Just download Orb and start MyCasting.”

I can see lots of uses for this technology whether or not you are a “road warrior” and often away from your PC. And it’s free. The folks there at Orb Networks get a big tip of my geek hat, and I encourage you to click here and visit their website. There is a short animation which demonstrates how it works, and screenshots of the many features.
(Also, you can view their Orb FAQ.)

* Orig post: 9/22/09

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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June 17, 2010 Posted by | computers, digital Video, dtv, how to, Internet, software, tech, Vista, Windows, Windows 7, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Commercial Free TV*

Using Your PC to Record and Watch TV is “Good”. No Commercials Is Better!

I used the switch to digital TV broadcasting as my excuse to stop watching TV.

Why have I stopped? Because I reached a certain Maximum Threshold of Tolerance. And, I don’t want to risk a RSI, (repetitive-stress injury) ala “carpal tunnel”, from constantly reaching for the remote so I can hit the Mute, Skip, Pause, Die You Stinking Commercial, Die !!! buttons. Also, I despise “reality TV”. I don’t think I’m alone.https://i1.wp.com/www.hrrc.org/Image/betamax.jpg

The usual method for defeating commercials is to record your desired program on a Betamax, VHS, TiVo, DVR, or Media Center PC, and then “fast forwarding” (skipping) over the commercial advertisements; which long ago failed to meet the most modest standards of taste and decorum. Or we purchase movies and watch those… a few trailers at the beginning we can tolerate.

There should be a better way, and there is.

Today’s free download: If you use Windows Media Center to record programs, there is a pure genius program, for which I would like to throw the author(s?) a parade, which will automatically strip the commercials out of your recordings. That’s right – remove. That results in smaller files, and more enjoyable entertainment.

Lifextender is a dead-simple commercial-removal application designed exclusively for Windows Vista Media Center users. There is ZERO configuration required, however, there are plenty of options if that’s your thing.

[note: Lifeextender is “donationware”, meaning you can “tip” the author any amount, if you so desire. I “tip” my geek hat, and that’s for sure!]

* Orig post: 6/17/09

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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June 12, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, digital Video, dtv, how to, software | , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Fix A Stuck LCD Pixel

“Stuck” screen pixels are usually a white, or red, or green, or blue, colored dot on your LCD screen, that remains “stuck” (fixed) with that one color. (Where as “dead” pixels are black, and generally cannot be fixed.) stuck_pixelStuck pixels frequently fix themselves (go away) with time – be that an hour, a day, a week, or a year.

If you have grown tired of waiting, and want to try to unstick the pixel, the standard method is to use a program to “flash” colors repeatedly to the area, forcing the pixel react. This is not always successful, and you may need to contact the LCD’s manufacturer, and discuss a replacement.

udpixel

UDPix screenshot

The program I use for this on computer monitors is UDPix (UnDead Pixel) which applies rapid display changes to a selected area for a period of several hours. You launch it, and drag a small, flashing rectangle over the problem pixel(s). You can continue using your computer while UDPix is running.

Today’s free download: UDPix
“UDPix is a simple program that helps you locate and possibly fix stuck pixels in your LCD display.”

For those of you who might want it, there is a good tutorial for using UDPix here. [note: I really do not recommend the alternative method mentioned at the top of the article under the title “UPDATE 1:”]

Related download: I have not personally tried this application yet, but another such tool is JScreenFix.
“JScreenFix is a software solution that can fix stuck pixels, reduce screen burn-in and improve the quality of images displayed on a screen.”

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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April 17, 2010 Posted by | computers, dtv, hardware, tech, troubleshooting | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Free Online TV

This week the number one download on ZDNet is Free Online TV Player 2.0.0.8.

The Internet is awash in video content, both the kind that originates on TV and the kind only intended for online viewing. The amount of content available on the Web makes the hundreds of cable TV channels we’ve all come to expect look like a drop in the entertainment bucket. Free Online TV Player is an easy way to access streaming video in a variety of genres from around the world.”

Which doesn’t really surprise me – “free” and “TV” and “online” all being rather popular words. String them together and you have a winner, surely.

I am not a fan of TV (IMHO, it rots your brain) but I went ahead and downloaded this program anyway, so I could test it out for my readers. Since it says I can view channels from around the world, maybe I would find some show worthy of my time and attention?

Publisher’s description:
Free Online TV Player uses proprietary technology that took us over one full year to develop. Our technology locates and plays over 750+ free online TV channels right over the Internet. You get live TV broadcasts daily from around the world. No TV card or hardware to install. Just live TV streamed directly to your PC via your Internet connection.

I found that it is true that there is a huge selection of channels to choose from, and out of the 6 that I tried, 5 didn’t work and one (the SciFi Channel) showed me a commercial that I could not skip, mute, or fast-forward through. While I liked the large selection of channels, and the ability to sort through the multitude easily (by sorting them into categories.. such as genre), I do have an odd quirk, I want to see the listing by shows, not by channels, and telling me what’s-playing-right-now would be good, too.

Now I admit that my very quick testing and poking around is hardly a fair assessment. I found it installed quickly, and uninstalled smoothly and properly. Small and lightweight, it looks sharp and the menu is easy to figure out. Popular channels are listed, as well as obscure titles. C/Net’s Editors give it 4.5 out of 5 stars, and as I said, it’s this week’s top download, so.. here you go: Free Online TV Player 2.0.0.8.

If someone is looking for an easy online TV viewing solution, this one is very good.” — Rick Robinette, What’s On My PC..

(Might be a great app for travelers and other road warriors… help pass the time waiting for the plane/train to board..!)

Related download: XBMC

Unrelated download:
Are you looking for a good way to sync your Outlook on multiple machines? One solution is SYNCING.NET.
PC syncing made personal

“With SYNCING.NET, keeping a desktop, laptop and notebook up-to-date in real time has never been easier or more cost-effective. We offer unique solutions for every type of individual and business. Secure data exchange solutions for your personal needs – and all without a server. 30-day free trial.”

  • Full Professional Edition functionality
  • 30-day free trial with no further obligation
  • Simple, user-friendly installation

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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April 16, 2010 Posted by | computers, dtv, Internet, PC, software | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Getting The Best From Your HDTV

Bringing home your shiny new HDTV is just the beginning

A very smart man once told me, “Paul, don’t re-invent the wheel”. He wasn’t being derisive or mean, he was simply reminding me of a basic tenet that I sometimes forget. I was reminded of it today when considering how to write today’s HDTV article, and in my research came across a series written by Becky Waring for PC World magazine. It says it all, and does so far better than I could, so I am simply going to point you to it! She covers all the bases, and if you own (or are about to own) a HDTV, I’m sure you’ll find it well worth your time.

“Bringing home your shiny new HDTV is just the beginning of your home theater adventure. But don’t settle, as many HDTV buyers do, for just plugging your new set into your existing setup. The next steps you need to take after bringing your HDTV home are crucial to both your enjoyment of the set and getting the most out of your investment…”
Please see How to Install Your HDTV

Other titles in the series are:
How to Get the Best Video Signal for Your HDTV

How to Improve the Picture and Sound on Your HDTV

How to Connect Your New HDTV Properly

Stream HD Video From Your PC and Other Devices

[a brief aside: I seem to be coming across articles by Ms Waring more frequently of late, and I’m glad of it. She is top-drawer.]

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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September 29, 2009 Posted by | advice, dtv, hardware, HDTV, how to, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Use Media Center to Watch TV?

Using Your PC to Record and Watch TV is “Good”. No Commercials Is Better!

Recently, the US transitioned to the transmission of digital signals for over-the-air television; which we are told, went “smoothly” (see A Smooth Transition?).

That “smoothness” is probably due to the fact that the majority of people no longer get their TV from the airwaves, but buy subscriptions to Satellite, Cable, or IPTV providers. Some people simply purchased and connected a analog>digital converter box.

While not widely reported, no doubt some others are still fighting to get their antenna positioned just right.. And still others (such as myself) used the transition as an excuse to simply stop watching TV.

Why have I stopped? Because I have reached a Maximum Threshold of Tolerance. AND, I don’t want to risk a repetitive-stress injury (ala “carpal tunnel”) from constantly reaching for the remote so I can hit the Mute, Skip, Pause, Die You Stinking Commercial, Die !!! buttons. Also, I despise “reality TV”. I don’t think I’m alone.https://i1.wp.com/www.hrrc.org/Image/betamax.jpg

The usual method for defeating commercials is to record your desired program on a Betamax, VHS, TiVo, DVR, or Media Center PC, and then “fast forwarding” (skipping) over the commercial advertisements, which long ago failed to meet the most modest standards of taste and decorum. Or we purchase movies and watch those… a few trailers at the beginning we can tolerate.

There should be a better way, and there is.

Today’s free download: If you use Media Center to record programs, there is a pure genius program, for which I would like to throw the author(s?) a parade, which will automatically strip the commercials out of your recordings. That’s right – remove. That results in smaller files, and more enjoyable entertainment.

Lifextender is a dead-simple commercial-removal application designed exclusively for Windows Vista Media Center users. There is ZERO configuration required, however, there are plenty of options if that’s your thing.

[note: Lifeextender is “donationware”, meaning you can “tip” the author any amount, if you so desire. I “tip” my geek hat, and that’s for sure!]

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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June 17, 2009 Posted by | computers, digital Video, dtv, how to, Microsoft, PC, performance, tech | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments