Category Archives: How to

How to do stuf

Got Windows 7 ? .. find out how to unlock the special features

This was discussed last week on Leo Laporte’s TWIT podcast featuring Paul Thurrott and Within Windows blogger Rafael Rivera discussing Microsoft PDC and Windows 7.

Rafael stumbled upon the unlock while looking thru the mounds of stuff provided at PDC and posted the how to on his blog. Way to go Rafael 2 points for you!

read more | digg story

You should also check out Ed Botts follow up story.

News Flash – Hulu and Netflix play directly to your TV – Popcorn Hour and MediaMall Playon

Popcorn hour a110 … its a networked media tank, a NAS, A UPNP server, a samba server, a media server, a NFS server, a Bitorent client, an NZB client and an energy saver to boot.

So my Popcorn hour a110 came in last week and I’ve been having tons of fun playing with it.

I have a netgear digital entertainer hd eva8000 (about $300) which has some similar features to the popcorn hour box… that is it’s HD, you can stream movies and music and pictures from attached usb drives or network shares , watch youtube and get some internet news feeds etc. Its great but there are some major differences …

1. You have to run software from a PC
2. No internal storage
2. No Hulu and Netflix
4. No using it as a nas
5. No nzb downloads
6. No Bitorrent client
7. Not much web content

The Popcorn Hour doesn’t need to have a PC running, you can add a internal hard drive or not. You get much more functionality when you do.

You can add more than 1 usb external drive.

Without a PC you can plug in a usb drive and hook the supplied hdmi cable to your TV and watch your movies or listens to music or view pictures. Add a drive and you can install all the extra provided software ..

You get:
A universal plug and play server which will usually automatically find any shared network stuff ( like my windows home server)

A samba server so you can connect the internal drive to your PC … map the drive on your pc and use it as a NAS or just copy over movies to play directly on the popcorn hour. To connect your popcorn hour to your PC (in vista) click start and type // (or whatever ip address you popcorn is using) hit enter and you will get a login box asking for a username and password … which by default is nmt for username and 1234 for password. In xp I think its start, run and then type.

•Right click on the “share” folder. You can see one option as “Map Network Drive”. Left click on that.
•Select the drive label you want to assign to the “share” folder, and click finish.

You might also use the smb server to create a network share with your nas or windows home server. If you have a windows home server then on the popcorn hour click setup then network shares then add

Share name videos

url smb://server/videos

username any username you already set up on the server

password the password you setup on the server for the above username

You can do the same for the folders photos and music . You’ll then see those listed under source on your popcorn hour.

An NFS server … another way of connecting.

An FTP server …

A Bitorrent client … just port forward 8077 on your router to the ip of your popcorn hour (note: you should also set the popcorn hour to a static ip address in the network menu on the popcorn hour.) and drop or save torrent files to the torrent folder on the popcorn hour drive you mapped to your pc earlier. You can manage the torrent downloads from your browser.

An NZB app … if you have a usenet news server account just open the .nzbget folder on your popcorn hour drive and edit nzbget.conf file in notepad and change the newsgroup section replacing server1 info with your =news server, your =user name, your =password and save the file.

# Host-name of newsserver
# Port to connect to (default 119 if not specified)
# Username to use for authentication
# Password to use for authentication
server1.password=12345678# Maximal number of simultaneous connections to this server

After you’re done just drop or download an nzb to the nzb folder on the popcorn hour drive and boom its downloading to the download folder … even unrar’s the files.

Has youtube and other web content and saya tv .. I was not too interested in those .. but what really struck my fancy was a separate download – mediamalls playon. You install it on your pc and it acts as a server that lets you play Hulu and Netflix directly to your TV. QUITE AWESOME!!!!!!!!

So all that stuff I tryed … except nfs and ftp. Worked perfectly .. downloaded a torrent no problem. Downloaded an nzb and unrared no problem. Watched movies from windows home server shared drive, shared drive on the pc perfect … Played some music, watched some picture slide shows also perfect.

Now the popcorn hour is not as easy to setup as the Netgear hd Entertainer eva8000 and the popcorn hour doesn’t have the fancy pictures and movies descriptions you add with tags in the Netgear either. BUT you can add them . There’s a program called my Yet another Movie Jukebox that creates a movies catalog for you automatically with details and pictures from IMDB. Of course as you probably know you the movie you search for on IMDB may be another movie with the same or similar name so there are some drawbacks to the completely automated option.

Also check out My lil Movie Jukebox and a demo of it . My lil jukebox creates its pages from a neat program call Movie Collector which is not free but I already had it so …. Its has a lot more control of the data and you not only get cover pics and imdb details and ratings, but actors links and bio’s.

So that’s where I am right now .. This ain’t a box for your granny … but if you’re halfway intelligent you can figure it out and there are lots of great links on the popcorn hour group on Geeks.

Everything works perfectly playing from the popcorn but I am still working on getting the my lil movie jukebox add on program to play the links from my windows home server share. I’ll keep you posted as I progress.

2 days later

Okay .. here is my update on getting My Lil Movie Jukebox working on the Popcorn Hour A110 using media files on the windows home server.

Before you read any further you should be aware that one of the programs required to run My Lil Movie Jukebox is Movie Collector Pro which is not freeware. If you have a lot of movies … I have 500 .. you can expect to spend several hours using the program to grab photos and data about your movies and creating links to the actual movie files where ever they reside. There are other programs that will create a jukebox and try to populate the data from imdb automatically … Personally I would rather have the correct details and the added control you get from Movie Collector.

The My Lil Movie Jukebox has an extensive details page on how to use it. You should read it . Some of the setup details were incomplete and didn’t work for me with windows home server and the export app would not let me change the play button icons … but once I got it to install correctly I would say its pretty nice.

Another note before I describe how I got it to work with windows home server … about the Movie Collector export settings … while experimenting with different paths and going back to export again I found I had to reset the file to index.htm and the template to nmt.

The main page for My Lil Movie Jukebox has all these links below … I just put them here for convenience.

Download Movie Collector Pro and choose the default install

Download the My Lil Movie Jukebox software and unzip to the movie collector templates folder in your my documents folder

Download the Irfanview program file and choose the default install.

Download the ImageMagick program and choose the default install.

How to get My Lil Movie Jukebox and Popcorn Hour NMT to work with Windows Home Server.

You should be running the NMT software samba server and the Upnp server on you Popcorn Hour. You should have the drive on your popcorn hour mapped to a drive letter on your PC.

When I tried initially the Upnp server found the server:1: windows media connect and you could browse the folders and play the files from the popcorn hour but that won’t help you with the My Lil Movie Jukebox setup.

The Network Shares in setup showed nothing. You can manually add a network share or browse and add a network share. Browsing there I could see SERVER but clicking on it brought the infamous “no content found”. You can manually add an smb share and it will add a source where you can browse your shared folders and play your files but the link it created would not work with My Little Movie Jukebox export.

The solution is …. login to your windows home server go to users and enable guest with no password. Make sure Guest has the rights for Videos, Photos and Music. After you do that go to setup and network shares and click browse .. now when you browse to SERVER you will see the shared folders. Click on Videos leave the name blank … you don’t have to use Guest as user here you can use any name and password that is setup on your whs. I used Guest no password.

Below is what the export looked like. On the Windows Home Server in Videos I have 4 folders inside the Videos folder … Favorites, TV, new, and Movies which has 2 sub folders, grade a and grade b. I have the shared folder Videos mapped as Z:\ I used all the default settings in export except I chose to show title below image, and I took out the last 4 filters. enjoy

Drive Location = Y:\
Copy Resources? = YES

My PC Location 1 = Z:\Videos\Favorites\
My NMT Location 1 = file:///opt/sybhttpd/localhost.drives/NETWORK_SHARE/SERVER:Videos/Favorites/

My PC Location 2 = Z:\Videos\Movies\grade a\
My NMT Location 2 = file:///opt/sybhttpd/localhost.drives/NETWORK_SHARE/SERVER:Videos/Movies/grade a/

My PC Location 3 = Z:\Videos\Movies\grade b\
My NMT Location 3 = file:///opt/sybhttpd/localhost.drives/NETWORK_SHARE/SERVER:Videos/Movies/grade b/

My PC Location 4 = Z:\Videos\new\
My NMT Location 4 = file:///opt/sybhttpd/localhost.drives/NETWORK_SHARE/SERVER:Videos/new/

My PC Location 5 = Z:\Videos\TV\
My NMT Location 5 = file:///opt/sybhttpd/localhost.drives/NETWORK_SHARE/SERVER:Videos/TV/

******** INDEX SECTION *************

MovieIndex = index
Movies per page = 091
Index Background = background.jpg

Movie Columns = 7
Thumbnail height = 195
Thumbnail padding = 6

Focus Text = #000000
Focus Color = #FDDB2B
Captions? = YES

Thumbnail Cleanup? = YES
Irfanview Folder = C:\Program Files\IrfanView

ImageMagick Convert = YES
ImageMagick Folder = C:\Program Files\ImageMagick-6.4.2-Q8

******** DETAILS SECTION *************

Details Background = AllBlack.jpg
Image File Ext. = png
Display Movie Back = NO
Cover Image Height = 500

Focus Text = #000000
Focus Color = #FDDB2B

Play (not selected) = play1.png
Play (selected) = play_selected1.png

IMDB rating = YES
Video format = YES

Show Seen It = NO
Show Cast Info = YES

Show Crew = YES
Show Actor Links = YES

Show Nav Top = YES
Show Nav Bottom = NO

******** ACTOR SECTION *************

Actor Background = Movies1.jpg
Copy Actors Folder = YES
Perform Actor Export = YES

Focus Text = #000000
Focus Color = #FDDB2B

Actor Movie Columns = 6
Actor Cover Height = 230

******** FILTERS SECTION *************

# Filters to Export = 16
Main Index Title = Movie Index

Filter 101 = Action Action Movies
Filter 102 = Adventure Adventure Movies
Filter 103 = Animation Animation Movies
Filter 104 = Comedy Comedies
Filter 105 = Crime Crime Movies
Filter 106 = Drama Dramas
Filter 107 = Family Family Movies
Filter 108 = Fantasy Fantasy Movies
Filter 109 = Horror Horror Movies
Filter 110 = Musical Musicals

Filter 111 = Mystery Mysteries
Filter 112 = Romance Romance / Romantic Comedies
Filter 113 = SciFi Science Fiction Movies
Filter 114 = Thriller Thrillers
Filter 115 = War War Movies
Filter 116 = Western Westerns

You can buy the a100 Popcorn Hour for $179 and the a110 for $210.


Absentee Ballot – Be careful … you could poke your eye out with that thing!

Pencils are dangerous – Remember the warnings you got from your mother … “if you stab yourself you’ll get lead poisoning” (actually Mom … it’s not lead its graphite) and “Be careful … you could poke your eye out with that thing!”


I received my absentee ballot in the mail the other day and was ready to fill it out and send it in … but then I read:

WARNING: Use only a No. 2 pencil.  “


You’ve got to be kidding me … I haven’t even seen a pencil in years! I searched through my “junk drawers” – where I find all kinds of interesting artifacts .. but no pencils. I asked my mother who has at least 6 of everything … NOPE! I asked co-workers at the office “You got a #2 pencil?” – they had no pencils. I’m determined not to go to the store and a buy a #2 pencil.

If you have a pencil then you need a pencil sharpener too right?

Those pencil erasers always wear down or break off so you also need one of those big erasers.

What if my pencil doesn’t say the number on it … #2 is not the only pencil you know!

So why did do we start using pencils on tests and ballots … and why are we still using them?


“The #2-pencil requirement is mostly historical. Because modern scantron systems can use all the sophistication of image sensors and computer image analysis, they can recognize marks made with a variety of materials and they can even pick out the strongest of several marks. If they choose to ignore marks made with materials other than pencil, it’s because they’re trying to be certain that they’re recognizing only marks made intentionally by the user. Basically, these systems can “see” most of the details that you can see with your eyes and they judge the markings almost as well as a human would.

The first scantron systems, however, were far less capable. They read the pencil marks by shining light through the paper and into Lucite light guides that conveyed the transmitted light to phototubes. Whenever something blocked the light, the scantron system recorded a mark. The marks therefore had to be opaque in the range of light wavelengths that the phototubes sensed, which is mostly blue. Pencil marks were the obvious choice because the graphite in pencil lead is highly opaque across the visible light spectrum. Graphite molecules are tiny carbon sheets that are electrically conducting along the sheets. When you write on paper with a pencil, you deposit these tiny conducting sheets in layers onto the paper and the paper develops a black sheen. It’s shiny because the conducting graphite reflects some of the light waves from its surface and it’s black because it absorbs whatever light waves do manage to enter it.

A thick layer of graphite on paper is not only shiny black to reflect light, it’s also opaque to transmitted light. That’s just what the early scantron systems needed. Blue inks don’t absorb blue light (that’s why they appear blue!), so those early scantron systems couldn’t sense the presence of marks made with blue ink. Even black inks weren’t necessarily opaque enough in the visible for the scantron system to be confident that it “saw” a mark.
In contrast, modern scantron systems used reflected light to “see” marks, a change that allows scantron forms to be double-sided. They generally do recognize marks made with black ink or black toner from copiers and laser printers. I’ve pre-printed scantron forms with a laser printer and it works beautifully. But modern scantron systems ignore marks made in the color of the scantron form itself so as not to confuse imperfections in the form with marks by the user. For example, a blue scantron form marked with blue ink probably won’t be read properly by a scantron system.

As for why only #2 pencils, that’s a mechanical issue. Harder pencil leads generally don’t produce opaque marks unless you press very hard. Since the early scantron machines needed opacity, they missed too many marks made with #3 or #4 pencils. And softer pencils tend to smudge. A scantron sheet filled out using a #1 pencil on a hot, humid day under stressful circumstances will be covered with spurious blotches and the early scantron machines confused those extra blotches with real marks.

Modern scantron machines can easily recognize the faint marks made by #3 or #4 pencils and they can usually tell a deliberate mark from a #1 pencil smudge or even an imperfectly erased mark. They can also detect black ink and, when appropriate, blue ink. So the days of “be sure to use a #2 pencil” are pretty much over. The instruction lingers on nonetheless.”

About Pencils

“One pencil can write 45,000 words or draw a line 35 miles long. It can write in zero gravity, upside down or under water. The “lead” is non-toxic graphite – the wood is cedar. Mass produced in Europe since 1622, the first U.S. pencils were made in 1812. And why are 75% of all pencils yellow? During the 1800s, the best graphite came from China. Yellow is the color they associate with royalty and respect. A pencil painted yellow became know as the best pencil you could buy.”

Here is the front page of Maryland Absentee Ballot. Where it actually says ” Mark only with a #2 pencil. DO NOT ERASE.


Popcorn Hour Box – PLAYS Hulu and Netflix on your TV

A brief history first … I dropped cable about 8 months ago. Since then I have been getting video from a number of sources using technology.

I have multiple pc’s on a wired gigabit network with a Dlink draft n router. I connect to a windows home server where I have 2 terabytes of storage.  On the home server I store my digital DVD and TV show collection, my 5000+ mp3’s, and bout 12 GB of photos. I also do back ups of the pc’s.

In addition to the home server I have several external usb drives with digital media, 4 replaytv’s loaded with recorded shows, a roku box for Netflix Movies and TV shows, (its rumored Roku will add Hulu and others soon) and a Netgear Digital Entertainer HD eva8000.

With the Netgear eva8000 I can play all the media on my windows Home server and any external usb drive I attach to the eva8000 directly to my HDTV with hdmi cables. The replay attaches directly to the tv and I can play any stored shows and also transfer the shows to a PC If I want.

The Netgear eva8000 is great … it cost about$300, but there is another really awesome box called the Popcorn Hour (see the video review). Its about $200 and can do all that the eva8000 can plus a whole lot more. I ordered the popcorn hour a110 about a week ago … demand is extremely high so there a a several week wait …  next shipment date is October 15th.

Chris Pirillo started a new social site called Geeks (similar in ways to facebook). So while I was waiting to get my Popcorn Hour Box I joined Geeks and started a group there called Popcorn Hour. The purpose was to get some tips from current Popcorn users and get the most out of my box when it arrived.

Well I answered a lot of my own questions while researching links to start discussions in the group. So far I have started 13 dicussions which all include detailed information, how to’s, faq’s, forums …

Rather than repeating them all here I have included a link to the Popcorn Hour Group on Geeks. If you have the Popcorn hour I encourage you to add comments on the discussion threads there. Once I receive my box I will try to do a post including the unboxing all the way through to integration with my other video devices.

So checkout the Popcorn Hour Group for all the details and enjoy watching Netflix and Hulu on your big screen TV.


IMDB offers free streaming videos ? Not ready for primetime!

I saw a mention on a blog today about a new site for free streaming movies and TV.

Yes …  IMDB the internet movie data base has joined the cast of others offering free content . Their site leaves much to be desired unfortunately.

Their page says “IMDB is now showing full-length movies and and a great selection of full-length TV episodes directly on our site — for free!. We have the best selection of films and shows on the internet, paired with all of the rich film and TV information that you expect from IMDB. Best of all, you can watch it all right now for free! Take a look at our featured content below, or search for your favorite films and TV shows to find the videos and movies you want to see!”

Really? … the fact is there are currently 20 New TV Episodes, 20 Classic TV Episodes, 20 New Movies and Recent Favorites (I wouldn’t call them new), 20 Classic Movies, 20 Independent Shorts, and 20 Latest Trailers available for immediate viewing.

Lets see .. that’s 120 … 80 if you take out the shorts and trailers … or 40 if you also take out the dated classic tv and classic movies. A far cry from 6000 they mentioned … since there is currently no way other than random search to find the other 5880.

Yeah right … like we are really going to randomly search and hope to find one of the free ones?

All the ones I clicked are actually streamed from so why would I not just go to HULU where I can easily find them?

Word is IMDB will have HULU and ABC content and that the movies and TV shows will only be available for set periods of time … not perpetually.

Sorry IMDB .. I love your movie index but this new service really needs some work, especially the navigation.


What old people do for fun!

I laughed so hard I almost pissed myself!

Opt out of everything here … Google – Yahoo targeted ads, Telemarketers, NebuAd, Credit Card offers …

With Google and Yahoo recently adding the ability to opt out of targeted ad’s this seemed an appropriate time to list some other places you can opt out.

Note that many of these work by adding an “optout cookie” to your browser. If you clear your browser cookies or they get deleted you’ll need to opt out again … so I recommend you bookmark this page.

You may want to check out a  related post on disabling snapshot inline mouse over popups while you’re here.

A few of these require a mail in form or you calling a telephone number.

Of special note are the Credit Bureaus … Equifax, Experian, and Transunion … which can opt you out of unsolicited credit card and insurance offers globally, the government DONOTCALL registry which stops telemarketers from calling you, the search engines … which probably have more information about you than anyone and the Network Advertising initiative which lets you opt out from 16 at once.

The Opt out Links

Double click Cookie Optout

Federal Trade Commission optout resources

Yahoo targeted ads optout

Google targeted ads optout

LexisNexis optout

Mozilla Optout

Verizon redirected DNS optout

Choicepoint Optout

24/7 Media Opt out

Charter Communications Optout

Microsoft Optout Telemarketing Optout

FDIC Unsolicited credit card and insurance offers optout

NebuAd Optout

Core Metrics optout

GM Optout

Metlife Optout

AT&T non customer optout

AT&T Customer optout

HSBC Bank Optout optout optout

ValueClick Media optout optout

Blockbuster Optout Directions

Experian Credit Bureau Optout

Macy’s Optout

Network Advertising initiative Multiple Optouts (16)

Capital One Optout

Equifax Credit Bureau optout

Transunion Credit Bureau Optout