In Valid Logic

Endlessly expanding technology

Update on my Media Center debacle

Since my post about my MCE system going boom was two weeks ago, figured it would be good to post a little update.

So originally, my video card had crapped out as a result of overheating due to a dead fan and lack of notification about it.  Turns out I had to get a new CPU and motherboard as well.  Yeah, they don't really make socket 478 Pentium 4s anymore.  It was kind of dated when I first bought it, but they were cheap.  Now, when the CPU poops out, not going to be able to find any new ones.

But now I have a nicely refreshed and cooler system.  It isn't quite 100% finished off just yet.  I like the case that I got, but still need to make a few modifications.  The case only has a front fan on the right side, in front of the hard drives and over by the power supply.  The cdrom is in the middle of the case, so it acts as kind of a barrier.  The left side doesn't get any airflow.  It has no fans, no air vents, nothing, but over on that side is the video card, cable tuner, and HDTV tuner.  So no airflow, but some heat generating parts that have no fans.  My plan is to cut a hole in the bottom of the case to mount a fan to add some airflow on the left side of the case.  Second, it has nice rubber grommets on the hard drives and the fan by the hard drives, but nothing for the rear fans, and they seem to generate almost all the noise so far.  Want to find or make some rubber shims to quiet them down.  And third, the motherboard only has one system fan connector, but I'm going to be having 4 system fans.  Need a way so the other fans can still have monitoring on them, but don't want one of those extremely ugly fan controllers.

The other thing I am battling is with my HDTV antenna.  I finally replaced my crappy old indoor antenna with an outdoor one.  I took the old satellite dish off the house and put the antenna in its place.  The problem is shows are a little choppy.  HD is an "all or nothing" so you don't get fuzziness like with standard channels.  Instead, it will play fine, and then pause for a second or so.  It can get really aggravating through.  The antenna has a recommended range of 30 miles, and using AntennaWeb, I know which direction it needs to be pointing, and that they are only ~18 miles away, so right in the sweet spot.  I think I may need a signal amplifier, since the cable distance may be too long.  Hopefully a quick run up to Radio Shack will solve that.

So far, I love Vista Media Center.  Far improvement over MCE 2005.  A lot of it are simple little things.  When watching something and you hit stop, it goes back to the menu instead of showing the boring "resume, restart, delete" screen.  When watching live TV of a show you are also recording and you hit stop, it actually just stops playing it.  Before, it would ask you to stop recording instead of stop watching.  And a number of other excellent usability tweaks.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

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