Nov 20 2010


Category: Windows MobileChrisM @ 1:44 am

From GPS onto a multimedia application. This is one of the few programs I’ll be recommending for Windows Mobile phones that isn’t free. I don’t personally own a license, so obviously can only speak about my experience using it on a friend’s identical phone who did legally buy it. Anyway, the app’s name is CorePlayer and I will be writing a more detailed post on it in the future, including some benchmarks I ran comparing different Windows Mobile 6.5.x ROMs, using Sense as your UI or not, and consequently, just how much free memory effected video playback.
For now, back to the basics, CorePlayer is capable of playing back most audio, video and online formats natively. In the same way that driving a Ferrari will part the crowds in a busy street, using CorePlayer if you have only ever used Microsoft’s Windows Media Player 10.3 for PocketPC (admittedly this is still an improvement over previous WMP versions) will be a real eye opener to anyone watching your device.
Some tweaking of settings (of which there are many, you can alter buffer size and behaviour, graphic equalizer bands, vertical sync and other video tweaks & network settings) is required to get the smoothest video playback, and if you want the best possible playback, you may find you need to re-encode some videos, unless your CPU is 1GHz or the integrated GPU in your phone actually has proper drivers, unlike the HTC TyTn II / Touch Pro2.
Finally, if your budget is tight, you could consider CorePlayer’s freeware ancestor – TCPMP, I’ll write a post on that program later.

Tags: , , , ,

Oct 21 2010

That New Post Is Over Here Google!

Category: WordPressChrisM @ 1:27 am

Continuing this series of posts on WordPress plug-ins that I’d recommend to people starting up a blog, this one is on a sitemap generator. This plug-in is strictly backroom only – your visitors won’t explicitly see it in action.
Although sitemaps are sometimes included in a website for people to get a run down of what pages exist, and sometimes their hierarchy, this plugin creates the sitemap for search engines. Although titled “Google XML Sitemaps“, it actually also informs the Ask, Microsoft’s Bing and Yahoo search engines about your site.
Every time you write a new post, or edit an old one, a new sitemap is generated and the search engines bots will be able to find your fresh content.
Why should you care about all this? If you don’t want visitors to find your site, then you don’t need to worry. However, most people are happy for new visitors to take a long around, and the more the search engines know about your site (specifically its content and obviously the URLs they can be found at), the more often you’ll appear in a search result. Obviously a lot more SEO comes into the equation, however in terms of an install and then forget about it plug-in, you can’t really go wrong with it.

Tags: , , ,

Jun 24 2010

Looking At A Kinect

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 11:11 pm

Most times I don’t find myself wanting an add-on for a console or gaming device for a PC very strongly. Microsoft’s Kinect (formally codenamed Natal) is starting to tempt me already though. Hopefully it will be available by Christmas, at least in Britain.

Michal Czerwonka/Getty Images

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Jun 03 2010

Step By Step New Hotmail Account Guide

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 12:41 am

If you are Roger (Dad’s next door neighbour), this post if for YOU! If you aren’t him, and are just reading this blog post because it is on the front page, feel free to keep reading if you need a step by step guide to starting a new Hotmail account. If I was in Evesham right now, I’d probably try and convince Roger that a GMail address might be a better idea, but that would take too long using Dad as a message relayer 🙂

Anyway, onto the guide.

1) Turn on the PC. Start your preferred internet browser (likely to be Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome)

Start Your Internet Browser

Start Your Internet Browser

2) Enter in the address bar, and press Return or Enter on the keyboard

Enter The Address

Enter The Address

Press Return Or Enter (Thanks Wikimedia)

Press Return Or Enter

3) Click the Sign Up button located in the lower left of the screen
(Hoping a screen shot isn’t necessary here 🙂 )

4) Decide whether you want a or a address. It makes NO differences, other than personal preference. If hotmail is your choice, proceed to step 5. If you want, click the first drop down box and click on

5) Pick an address you want to use. It makes sense to choose something that is difficult to mis-spell, easy to remember, and finally, something someone else will not have already registered. Bad choice examples: , , . All of those are either easy for other people to spell incorrectly, or will most likely have been registered already.

6) Enter your chosen e-mail address in the first text entry box. Click the check availability button. Swear loudly as you discover someone else already has the exact address you want. If it isn’t free, Microsoft will ask for your name and some relevant interests and suggest available e-mail addresses you might like. Either follow their steps, or click on the little X in the Windows Live ID advanced search box and type in a new e-mail address. Again click the check availability button. Repeat these step until you are informed that your chosen address is available. (If possible, try not to select an alternative address they offer that has a number on the end. Again, easy for other people to mis-type/remember it).

7) Select a password that you want to use to sign into this e-mail account. If possible, choose something you do NOT use anywhere else online. It needs to be six characters long, and if you use a mixture of lower and UPPER case letters, numbers and special characters (£${ etc. etc.) it will be harder for other people to guess your password and hack in. It will also make it more difficult for you to remember, so try and find a balance 🙂 Type this same password into the retype password box.

8) If you have now selected an e-mail address and password that Microsoft isn’t complaining about WRITE THEM DOWN NOW. TWICE. Keep each piece of paper in a different room, so if you ever forget your address or password, and can’t find the 1st piece of paper with the details recorded on, you have a second chance.

9) If you already have a different e-mail address that you can still access, enter it in the Alternate e-mail address box. This is the address that Microsoft will use if you ever ask to reset your password if you’ve forgotten it (and lost both pieces of paper). If you don’t already have an e-mail account, click the “Or choose a security question for password reset” link. If you clicked the link, select a question you won’t ever forget the answer to, and enter that answer in the Secret Answer box.

10) Fill in the rest of the boxes down to Birth Year with your relevant information.

Fill In Other Boxes. ZIP=Post Code

Fill In Other Boxes. ZIP=Post Code

11) In the text box below Birth Year, you need to type the eight characters shown in the image just above it. This is Microsoft’s attempt to make sure you are a real human asking for an e-mail address. They apparently had problems with hamsters and motorbikes pretending to be humanoid and asking for addresses. Or it could have been people using automatic systems for spamming. I can never remember which.

Capcha Code

Capcha Code

12) Untick the “Send me e-mail with promotional … ….” box. Double check all the boxes on the page are correctly filled in.

13) Click I accept. If all information has been entered correctly, you will now be logged into your e-mail account. The first time you send an e-mail, you may be asked to enter another eight letters from a strange looking image. Again, another anti-spam step.

14) In the future, visit, and if you see your e-mail account on the right hand side, click sign in. Then enter your password, and click sign in. If you are on a different computer or internet browser, you will also need to enter your e-mail address.

15) Ideally, repeat steps 1-13 and create a second e-mail address that you will use when signing up for other accounts online. Why? Your first e-mail address is for friends, family and people who you trust to send you real e-mails. The second account you create can be given to anyone/any company online. This way, if these companies spam you, it won’t interfere with your personal e-mail account, and if the spam ever gets too bad, you can just create a new second account, and not have to tell all your friends to use a new e-mail address.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Feb 03 2010


Category: PersonalChrisM @ 7:43 pm

If I do ever decide to modify our Xbox 360 (so we can play backups of legally purchased games of course!), how difficult will it be to write firewall rules in the router so that internal network traffic (such as media sharing) but ensure that it doesn’t contact Microsoft at all. (They recently banned the hardware IDs of a lot of consoles that had been modified).
Does the arrival of Apple’s iPad really spell the end for netbooks, or will it fall into the pit of forgotten gizmos like the Newton?
Can I really fit all we need (data wise) in Britain onto a 16Gb thumb drive (and therefore not have to worry about customs hinting at a bribe being needed again), or will I end up giving up and just taking both portable hard drives again? In case you’re interested, yes customs officials in Kazakhstan don’t care if you are carrying 1Tb of data on hard drives, memory cards or thumb drives with you. Have that same data on a DVD or CD though, and you’re supposed to get them pre-checked (and pay the fees) a few days before your flight.
Answers on a postcard to…

Tags: , ,

Dec 09 2009

Windows 7 Working Well

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 11:19 pm

Although my webcam (a Genius Videocam Look) and fingerprint reader (a Microsoft 1033 model) do not have drivers for Windows 7, I’m not too upset. Although this PC has spent the last few days in Windows 7, I’ll be returning to XP once I’m content that I understand the basics of the operating system, or at least enough to go through the basics of trouble shooting someone’s PC if they have it installed. By the time I eventually move over to 7 permanently, I’m hoping the drivers will either be published, or I’ll have bought more recent models anyway. So far, it does seem to be less of a resources hog than Vista is, and I’ve only found a handful of (mostly old) software that didn’t like running on it. I’m also attempting to use this fresh OS install to find as many freeware alternatives to software I currently use, so Office 2003 has finally been replaced with OpenOffice, WinRAR by 7-zip etc. etc.
The TV card (a Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-4000) actually seems to work better within Windows Media Center than it does in Vista, though I don’t know if this is down to the newer drivers, or the Media Center app itself.
Anyway, I’ll be posting back and new information as I encounter it.


Aug 13 2009

Caffeine Hit On Bling?

Category: VideosChrisM @ 1:07 am

With Google claiming that the new back end workings for their search engine having been in the pipeline for a while, and Microsoft explaining it merely as a kneejerk reaction to their Bing search engine, who should we believe? Does it really matter?
Well first I would like to give you the opportunity to see Microsoft’s chosen viral ad for Bing. I’d recommend moving sharp objects, small children and pets from your immediate vicinity first.

Next we have the Onion’s take on Google and their privacy policies. This one might make you laugh, you might not, but you won’t be wanting to time travel and stop the conception of the video maker at least 🙂

So, back to the story, what changes can we expect from Caffeine? Well, searching for a term like “Kazakh Yurt Rental” would not simply just use the old Google algorithm where the site with the most (with weight for relevancy) links would be in first place, allowing for on and off page SEO obviously. When implemented, if the rumours are true, when two sites of roughly equal ‘value’ to the reader (as pre-determined by Google) contend for a search term, the site with the most recent article/post would nudge ahead, and therefore place higher in the search results.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

May 18 2009

Xbox 360 Posts

Category: Personal,WordPress,Xbox 360 UpdatesChrisM @ 1:27 pm

Just a quick explanation for anyone wondering why a games console appears to have hacked into this site 🙂

The short version is that my Xbox 360 posts details of games I have played recently, and any achievements attained. Whenever you see the nickname AntiSceptic, you can swap that for Chris, in your head 🙂 SilentlyScreaming is pretty much the only other alias I tend to use online. That was too long for Xbox live though 🙁 So I had to use my second choice, the one I ‘borrowed’ from Gavin all those years ago.

The slightly long winded version is this… IF my console is connected to the internet (not possible right now, as I have no xBox WiFi adaptor, and there is no network socket in the in-law’s living room), then every time I play a game, the Xbox Live service is informed of any relevant data. From Microsoft’s servers, the people over at 360voice & GamerDNA extract enough data to create blog posts. (See the last link in this post to see the original version). From here, my blog grabs the RSS feed for that page (see here), and posts the information up, under a different user account (it was simpler than trying to form lots of regex expressions to swap AntiSceptic for Chris or ‘I’, and I didn’t like making it look like I was actually talking about myself in the 3rd person), using the WP-o-matic plugin.

As mentioned, the Xbox 360 is currently offline, so the posts so far have all been my console ‘complaining’ that I’m not giving it enough attention. I’m not sure what will happen when I reconnect it when we move back to our flat – whether it’ll ignore games played and achievements…. …. achieved, or amend the older posts, or simply provide a summary of what has been missed.

Anyway, why do all this? Because I wanted to see what was possible. Am I claiming any sort of originality here? No, Narcogen has been doing this for a couple of years, I only just got around to viewing his site’s source to get a clue how he achieved this. Ha, upon checking I had got the right URL for his blog, I now see that each Xbox post actually has a link in it to 360voice. Hey ho.

You can see my official profile over here, and the 360voice/GamerDNA pages here.

Tags: , , , ,

Dec 12 2008

Data Recovery

Category: FriendsChrisM @ 1:53 am

Seb bought his external hard drive over, so we could swap films non-commerical, freely given away videos. He also wanted to run a couple of tests on it, as there had recently been some data loss. Whether it was caused by proximity to some magnets, a hard knock to the disk, or just the drive’s age, he couldn’t tell, but Microsoft’s tool (chkdsk) had actually ended up doing more harm than good, so we decided to try out a few live CDs to test what could be recovered. As the drive is in an external USB enclosure, we had to find a PC that recognised such devices during the POST checks, to ensure the disk diagnosis software (DOS-based) could see the drive without Windows being involved. Unfortunately, the test will take around 170 hours to complete, but as you can effectively pause the software, and continue on from the same spot on a different machine, we thought we’d leave it running a while, before he takes it home, and attempts the test whilst connecting directly via a P-ATA lead, and hope that the USB interface is the main reason for the slowness right now.

Tags: , , ,

Sep 23 2008

Ubuntu And Open Source Alternatives To MS Office

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 3:39 am

So, a week or so ago, I was having problems with Outlook, or more specifically Microsoft Word (which gets loaded in the background each time Outlook started as it was the default HTML e-mail editor). I tried a couple of standard approaches to fix the problem, and didn’t get very far. Having had enough of some of the bloat that has been added over the years, as well as losing my original receipt and product key for Microsoft Office 2003, I decided to finally try out OpenOffice properly. I’ve installed it in the past, and made sure it could at least cope with the sort of everyday requests home users would throw at an office suite (for when friends & family asked if their was a viable alternative), but this was a concerted effort to see if I could eventually take over all my work processes to this collection of apps. The basic formulas I was using in Excel seemed to transport over well, and nothing else seemed to much of an issue, so it looks as though it will stay on this installation for now.

Moving on, I decided to try out Thunderbird as a replacement for the e-mail functions (at least) of Outlook. As I still have a separate product key for Outlook (from my last few smartphones and PDAs), I will be keeping hold of it for contact & calendar synchronization with aforementioned devices; at least until I can see how solid alternative synchronization programs to Activesync are.

Finally, I rounded off the beginning of more new learning processes by (almost) properly installing a Linux distro – Ubuntu. I say almost, as it didn’t involve fiddling with partitions, I used Wubi to install the OS, which uses a large file on my C: drive as a virtual partition. That probably isn’t the correct terminology, but hope gives a good indication as to how it works. So far, no major problems, considering my previous Linux tinkerings on my own PC have been limited to live CD/DVDs, where a lot less configuration is required/possible. Other than the nVidia GUI for setting up multiple displays stubbornly initially refusing to grace my system with it’s presence, not too many problems so far. Obviously a lot of my old ebuyer bargain basement USB toys don’t have Linux drivers available, but as I’m not intending to switch to Ubuntu as my sole OS, this isn’t a deal breaker.

Oh, and just in case people didn’t bother reading the comments section to the Some News post, the picture was my way of imparting some VERY good news – Irina is pregnant, with the happy day predicted to occur some time around mid-February.
2 Thumbs Up Bouncing Bouncing 2 Celebration Dance Rubber Smiley Woohoo

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Next Page »