Just had to post this…

More on my life soon, but in the meantime I saw this and just *had* to post it here considering the season, the animal people some of my readers are, and- oh just watch it already! 🙂  I give you…

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Missing them already

This post was written last Tuesday, before the last post, but the sentiments still apply of course.  There was a video too, but unfortunately I did not get permission to post it here.  However, once it is officially posted at the church website I will be allowed to post that link.  Technically, the video is viewable now online via the site it’s hosted on, but since the link isn’t public yet it’s still being treated as private.  So, to the post:

Well, this last weekend was it. Maybe it was the way we went back to permanent small groups so I had the same kids each week, or maybe it was putting together the video, the first time I have ever made a video like this for 4th/5th grade, but I don’t recall feeling this way about any other group of 5th-graders leaving. Maybe it was both. It’s not as if I haven’t gotten close to the students before, I have. There is even a select group who I shared a cabin with for two summers a couple years back. Maybe my memory is just faulty. I don’t know. So two weeks from now we’ll be introducing an entire new group of kids into 4th grade as we move this last year’s 4th grade up to 5th. Due to the way things are done in the kid’s ministry with 4th and 5th grades going to service with their parents the last weekend of every month, the 3rd-graders actually have one more week before they come to us as 4th-graders. This weekend was also the swan song for this year’s drama for the K-3rd grade kids. This would ordinarily have been my week, but I had switched with someone who couldn’t do his week last weekend. Ironically, I received a call on Friday night that the one playing the guest role for the weekend couldn’t make Saturday night, so could I fill in for him? I did, which rather made things strange. I was performing with my cast, but not in my normal role. I did wear a false mustache and Fedora (can you guess the role type it was from the headwear? 😛 ) so I would at least look less like me in my other role playing a different role.  Hmm, could that last sentence of mine be more confusing?  At least you now share something with undoubtedly some of the kids who watched. 😀 . If you haven’t yet figured out the guest role this weekend, I’ll have to pull out my whip and… do something with it.  So anyway, as it turned out the original actor couldn’t make Sunday either, but the director filled in that day so I could at least spend an entire service with the very last 5th grade group at the 11:15 service.  Yes, I do miss them.

Coming to a close

‘Tis that time of year again, when things come to an end for the hot season.  This month is halfway over, and jobs will soon dry up for me.  I anticipate this week will be my last full week for work, assuming I can find jobs for Thursday and Friday- the rest of the week is covered.  Fortunately a friend of mine has a friend looking for a few part-time camera-people to take pictures of cars for ads.  I am also going to finally start filling out some summer applications if anything is still available out there.  I did apply for a management position at Oberweis, but I kind of bombed the interview (hey, at least I got that far) and they never called back.

Besides school, I have just performed my last church drama for the year- so sad.  Next week should have been the one for me, but I switched with another cast member because he couldn’t do this week.  It was also a farewell of sorts for our 5th grade students.  I say of sorts because there is actually one more week, but it was decided to go ahead and hold the graduation this week since next weekend is Memorial weekend.  Yes, graduation.  We actually held a little ceremony for them with the Pomp and Circumstance song and diplomas from children’s ministry.  As of next month they will be considered 6th grade and a part of youth ministries which goes through high school, though similar to children’s ministry which is divided into three parts (pre-K, K-3, 4-5 which parallels school which calls them early childhood, primary, and intermediate) it is divided into two parts, junior high and high school.  They also had a going-away video which I put together over the last few days, which included testimonies from many of the 5th-graders.  I wish I could have watched it with them to see their reaction, but ironically for only the two times I was there they mistakenly played it at the wrong time, while I was still doing drama.  If the church makes it public by putting it on their website I will post a link to it for you.  I will be modifying the video (change some text, lower the music volume which was too loud during its sections compared with the spoken sections) to show the new 4th-graders next month, and since drama won’t keep me out this time I will get to see the new kids’ reactions at least.

Friday

Well, that Thursday entry was less than exciting I think.  Hopefully this will be an improvement- 8th grade.  In near-city district.  At the end of the year.  When another job popped up in a different district I was tempted to dump this one for it, but in the end I didn’t have any issues thanks to required worksheets to be filled out while watching a movie.  It was a social studies class, but she also taught one literacy class- I think all teachers teach one class outside their specialty to save on paying for another teacher since the numbers allowed for this.  Obviously, if this would cause the class sizes to be 35+ they would probably pay for an additional teacher.

So I arrived in the morning to handwritten plans, a videotape, a few stacks of papers, and two machines I could play the tape in- one a TV on a cart, the other a projector with a combo DVD player/VCR.  Being the tech person I am, I chose the projector, but first I had to hook everything up.  I plugged the projector and DVD player in and connected them with the supplied A/V cable.  Well, finished connecting- for some reason some connections were already there while others were not- interesting.  I had time to test it out, so I did.  Eww, was that it for volume?  I turned the projector volume to max but then it just sounded bad.  Hmm.  Wait, there is an additional speaker on the bottom of the cart, but how to plug the video into the projector and the audio into the speaker?  The cable was such that it couldn’t be split.  What was this?  A second audio cable!  Only- no.  It had a mini-end to plug the computer (also on the cart) into the speaker, but neither the speaker nor the player had a place to plug in the mini end, but all was not lost- the projector had an audio output and it was a mini- problem solved.  The player went to the projector, the projector to the speaker.  Done.  The only issue I had all day with this setup was the speaker A/C plug kept coming loose, but fortunately not during the video.

So in the end four classes saw the video ( a very unexciting one about Congress), the one literacy class had a quiz and a reading assignment from their books, and the tutorial (study hall) was… very small.  Only a handful of students apparently had tutorial with this teacher.  I caught up on some book-reading during this time.  Then I was done with an off period.  Or not.  The office called me and had me watch over a group of kids in the gym where they had some free-time (it was an LD class, but I saw a few friends from the BD/ED class there as well with another teacher).

So that was my week in review, in five posts.  How was yours? 🙂

A video teaching weekend


Being that it’s been five days since my last post, I would suppose it’s time to write something again.  But what?  I suppose I can write about this weekend.  This post will actually go back a bit though, since earlier events pertain to this weekend.  For the most part the weekend was quite ordinary.  4th/5th grade ministry on Saturday night and Sunday morning, the service I went to at 8:00, er I mean 9:00 (sure felt like the earlier time for some reason…  You did set your clocks forward, right?), dodge-ball for gametime, yep- quite ordinary.  So let’s focus on the other stuff.

First off, back in January we started something which should have become regular.  As I make a video every year for my cabin at summer camp, I was asked to make some short videos for the regular service every few weeks.  Well, they handed me a camera back then to record the kids at various moments during the services I was there.  Another filled in for me at the third service.  Mission part one accomplished.  Part two would be editing, and that became the big problem.  They have a Mac set up at the church where they do their own editing using iMovie.  Now, if I had a job at the church this wouldn’t be a problem as I would just use this computer, but I don’t, so I could easily use mine instead.  Not so easy in fact.  First off, my computer is not a Mac (though I have experimented a bit with OSx86 to turn my computer into what’s known as a hackintosh by installing OSX to my external hard drive).  I quickly found out that the Firewire port on a Mac is not the same as an IEEE-1394 port on an HP (two names for the same thing, only “Firewire” is copyrighted by Apple) so the firewire cable they had didn’t work.  We tried a USB cable for the camera, but that required drivers my computer didn’t have, and I couldn’t find one on the web.  A few weeks went by, and we experimented in saving the videos on their Mac then transferring them to my computer.  Let’s just say slow and awkward.  The default format on the Mac of saving video is a format with the extension .dv.  I could save each video as .mp4 or try to find a program on my computer to convert the native .dv files.  Yeah, too much work.  So they look to get the right cable to go to my computer.  They find one at Radio Shack for $20 and one online for 50¢.  Which would you go with?  Well, they bought both, hoping to be able to return the overpriced Radio Shack one should the cheap one not work.  Last Wednesday, fingers crossed, we tried the cable.  Worked like a charm.  We finally got the video from the camera to my computer in a format my computer liked, mpeg-2.  So, Friday night I worked for a few hours to get that first 4-minute video done, and brought it with me Saturday night.  Popped in on the computer from my flash drive, which held both .wmv and .mpg versions of the video,  and we were ready to go.  Not so fast.  No audio cable from the computer to the sound board.  Sigh.  Well, I just played it in silence since the worship team was practicing anyway.  We left a message for the tech director to leave us the proper cable, and come Sunday morning they had one waiting.  Then, we had the computer taken away and replace with a different one because they needed the one elsewhere.  The one they gave us was not turned on and literally took 20 minutes to boot up, log in, and finish loading Windows.  Good thing I had the .wmv version as there was no way this computer would be able to handle MPEG-2.  In any event, mission completely accomplished.  Hopefully next time we will record a new video and do it again, minus the mishaps.  Ideally I will transfer the videos before I leave for the day.

This weekend was also a time I got to teach again, finally.  I last taught in December.  I taught a lesson on stuff.  No, I am not being general.  The theme of the year is living like a Christian, so this week was about having and wanting stuff, whatever that stuff is to you being video games, stuffed animals, trading cards, or whatever.  The start of James chapter 5 tells us a bit of God’s feeling on this topic:

1Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. 2Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. 3Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. 4Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.
(James 5:1-6 ESV)

Stuff- not so bad.  Love of stuff- watch out.  It is not wrong to be rich of course, but if your heart is with your money or things, then that’s a problem.  After all, Jesus Himself said you can’t serve two masters.  If you serve money, you will not be able to serve God at the same time.  I showed them some pictures of way overdoing collecting stuff (here and here for example), and I acted out a person on the phone trying to get something no matter what it took, even hurting someone to get it. I thought my teaching went fairly well, though still a few minutes long.  There was a video at the start (not the one I put together) that I should have ended earlier than I did.

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It’s official- summer is over

And mostly due to my laziness I am subbing once again, and that is good news for this blog.  I have been on hiatus from this for too long.  I still intend to have some posts of my life outside of teaching, but for a while I have just been turned off from writing during the best time those post would have fit.  Well, to tell the truth my life outside of teaching really hasn’t been too exciting.  Remember back in June when I went to camp?  Well, I am finally making the DVD I have done for my cabin for the last few years.  I have two slideshows and a video finished, along with a video I borrowed from my DVD two years ago in which I just had to modify the end to fit my more recent cabin.  I have been using Ulead VideoStudio which I got free with this computer.  It really is a nice program, and not ridiculously high-priced like some packages out there.  Last year I used a 30-day demo of a $250 DVD authoring package which was nice, but not worth that price in my opinion.  Maybe $100 like this one, but not $250.  I also used a slightly buggy freeware program to do one of the slideshows, and maybe another one.  I haven’t decided yet what to do about this last one to make it different enough from the first two.  Well, I still have a week to put the DVD together before the next church time.  This weekend is the last one of the month, so 4th and 5th grades don’t meet.

As for subbing, I was actually able to get three half days during this first full week of many districts.  Apparently the special ed meetings started right away.  I could have had a fourth, but they called me after 8:00 to arrive there at 8:30.  Well, I might have been able to do that if I was ready to go when they called, but since it was 25 minutes away and in fact I was woken up by the phone call, that wasn’t going to happen.  Besides, I had to take my car in that morning for a new muffler.  Anyway, the three days I did have were pretty similar.  They were all at different Junior Highs (that district doesn’t call them middle schools) and were 8th grade, or a 7th/8th mix.  Two of them were 7:15 AM jobs (too early!) but fortunately I got to sleep in for the last which was an “afternoon,” starting at 10:45 AM.  I didn’t have to leave notes for two of them either, which is always nice, since the teachers came back.  Surprisingly one of these times was the “afternoon” job.  I guess she came back from her special ed meeting for the weekly school meeting.  Since school started last Thursday in this district and the meetings are on Wednesdays after school, this may have been the first one which would probably make it important to attend.  As for the other morning job, that teacher only teaches there in the morning, so I she wouldn’t have come back.  I would presume she teaches somewhere else in the afternoon.

All in all the three half-days went well.  Hopefully I will have more work next week even if there is one day off for labor day.  I am signed up again in three of the districts I worked in last year.  The last was still on the hired subcaller system and barely called me so I switched them for another district that is computer-based so I have more of a chance for work.  That is, I am still working on being signed up there, but that is for a rant in another post…

The New HPX

Courtesy of absolutevista.com, I now have a new computer. This page will eventually tell about my experiences thus far, but for now enjoy the pictures. Click on each thumbnail for a larger picture. Be careful- some are quite large and will take time to show on a slow connection. Please excuse the quality as I am not a professional photographer by any means. Except for the desktop screenshots, all pictures were taken with my Kodak 4-megapixel Easyshare and edited with Corel Paint Shop Pro X2. The thumnail pics were done with IrfanView. Oh, if you see only one picture per line then resize your browser window. It should be friendly to 1024×768 resolution or higher. They should be two across.

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Closed BoxOpen Box

The box for the computer. Sorry for the shipping labels- they are pretty much permanent.

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AccessoriesInstructions

Some of the accessories and the setup instruction sheet. The power brick in the left picture is easily recognizable, but the others probably aren’t. They are an HDTV antenna (back), another antenna (FM I believe), a remote controller to use the included remote (pictured later) with another device like a TV, and a pair of headphones.

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Closed ViewKeyboard

The closed computer (left) and the computer opened up, at least the keyboard (right). Note that not only is the computer large enough to have a keypad on the right, it has room for a place to put the remote on the left! Just above the keyboard is a control panel that is lit up. These are touch-sensitive buttons- not just a cool display. There are closeups of this below.

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Panel 1Panel 2

The closeups are pretty much shown from left to right as they appear. The left picture starts with the power button, the only “real” button that actually goes down when you press it unlike the others. Next to the power buttons are three buttons that will load up HP’s Quickplay software with two buttons that will go right to the DVD/Blu-ray player or the external input (antenna or s-video). Those buttons are repeated in the right picture, and beside them are the standard controls you would see on a standard multimedia keyboard. Just to the right of that (not pictured) is a button that will dim the entire panel for “theater mode.”

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Panel 3Panel 4

On these two pictures you see slider controls that will adjust the volume or treble/bass. Pretty neat on the surface, but I found it really doesn’t work that well in practice. I found it much easier to tap the [-]/[+] buttons directly than to use the slider. Pressing the treble/bass button will switch between the two. An on-screen display pops up when you press either of these controls. To the far left is of course the mute button. Not shown to the left of that is a button that will turn off the wireless networking, both WLAN and bluetooth. The control on the far right opens the CD/DVD/Blu-ray drive. The light you see below the treble/bass slider is the num-lock light. The caps lock has a similar light.

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Fingerprint ReaderRemote

The picture on the right is a closeup of the fingerprint reader in the dead center of the control panel above the keyboard. The icons on either side are the theater mode (left) and wireless toggle (right) mentioned earlier. With UAC on Vista I have found this to be an incredible resource, saving me from having to type in the admin password every time I want to install something, run certain programs, or even delete unwanted icons from my desktop (whose idea was it to protect the desktop?!?). I have yet to check if the fingerprint reader can be used at the BIOS level, but I hope it can for security reasons. The picture on the right is a closeup of the included remote sitting in its bay to the left of the keyboard. The switch to the right of it releases the remote.

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Left1Left 2

Here are the ports on the left side of the computer. From left to right are two USB ports, the LAN port for wired networking, HP expansion port to connect to a docking bay or port replicator, VGA out, HDMI out, E-SATA port, 1394 (FireWire) port, digital memory card reader, and ExpressCard port.

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RightFront

Quite a bit less on the right since that is where the optical drive is. There are two more USB ports in addition to the drive. The picture on the right is of the ports on the front of the computer. As you can see, we have the IR remote sensor, microphone input, and two headphone inputs.

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Rear 1Rear 2

These two pictures are from the back of the machine. There are air vents on either side. In addition to that are the IR emitter port (remember the accessory above?), audio input, s-video input, antenna input, and audio output ports for 7.1 sound. I am a little confused at this because to this day I have not figured out how to get Quickplay (the only way to play Blu-ray, which can use 7.1 audio) to use anything but the left/right channel! I can play DVDs through another player and get 5.1 sound, but as I said only HP’s Quickplay will play Blu-ray.

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SizeSoftware

The left picture shows the stickers at the bottom corner. As you can see it comes with the Core2 Extreme (X9000), Vista (x64), and NVidia (8800M GTS). The right picture is a bad photo of the webcam just over the screen. An LED lights up when it’s on so there should be no surprises. I hope this is hard-wired so a hacker can’t turn the camera on without the LED lighting up. Um- excuse me while I find some electrical tape to cover it. I think it’s by my tinfoil hat… 😛 If you look closely, you will also see a microphone to the right of the webcam. The computer has two built-in microphones just above the screen on either side of the webcam.

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DriveDisc

The Blu-ray drive, with and without a disc. Since I have already seen the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, I chose to rent a Blu-ray movie instead to test this out.

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QuickplayBluRay

HP’s Quickplay software in action in select mode and full-screen mode.

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Enchanted 1Enchanted 2

Two more pictures from Enchanted. Notice how in the picture on the left the menu works a little differently from DVD movies. I am not sure if this is just Enchanted or other Blu-ray titles as well. Clearly you can do more with Blu-ray. Even some of the included games are a bit more involved than your standard DVD fare.

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SizeSoftware

In another attempt to show you just how large this computer is I have set a desktop keyboard on top of the HPX. As you can see, this computer is just as wide. There’s a little story with the keyboard comparison- one of the posts on Absolute Vista after their contest ended linked to a site that did a photo comparison with an HP tablet PC. Not knowing how a tablet PC compared with a regular laptop I wrote John back that it would have been a better comparison for me if they used a desktop keyboard instead, since they have a size most people know, or can at least understand just by looking in front of them. So I figured, why not? So here it is. Anyway, the picture on the right is the software I received as a bonus to the computer. Dead center on the bottom is Norton IS 2008. Though I hear Norton software has improved from its bloated, crippleware infamity, I still do not trust it. Notice in the screenshots below that Avast! and Comodo have replaced the previously Norton IS 2007 trial. I had thought Office 2007 was to come with this computer, but I guess I got Norton instead. Fortunately I already had a license from Microsoft’s ultimate steal promotion (Office 2007 Ultimate for $70!) last year. It pays to take continuing education classes sometimes…

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DesktopWindows

Two boring screenshots, with some lame site showing on the right. Okay, I am kidding. It is only thanks to their contest that I have this computer and am writing this right now, so it’s only right to give free advertisement for their site. 🙂 The desktop background is from a site where I found a lot of breathtaking pictures. Just underneath the taskbar is the name of the photographer, Rob Laddish. I forgot to bookmark his site, but I am sure a search on google or whatever engine you use will yield good results.

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Well, now that the eye candy is out of the way, how about some of my thoughts and stories? Well, after a few emails back and forth with John from AbsoluteVista, I received the two packages via FedEx. When John gave me the tracking number he forgot to tell me who was delivering it, so on my third try (tried USPS and UPS first) I found FedEx was going to deliver it, and so I headed home from work in anticipation and, nothing. I looked it up again and yep, it was on the truck to be delivered. I waited a bit, and a little after 5PM the van pulled up, and I was at the door before the delivery guy could ring the doorbell. I signed for it and I was ready to go. From the picture above, you can probably guess that the computer was not packaged inside another box to hide the contents from view, but it didn’t matter as it arrived safe and sound. I examined the computer box and saw that it had been opened before- probably John checked it out to make sure it worked. This was a potential concern if I wanted to sell it, and I did think about that considering the value of this thing. However, the want to keep this won out and here we are. I opened it up and realized that this thing was enormous for a laptop. Good thing I didn’t go out and buy a laptob bag for this- I think I will need an art bag (holds sketch pads) to transport this around!

Next up was the software box. Everything that was in this box is pictured above. Again, from the list on their website I was able to see that I received everything, with Norton 2008 apparently substituted for Microsoft Office, as the only Office on this computer was a 60-day trial. As I also said, it was no big deal since I already had Office 2007 Ultimate. Right away I installed Paint Shop Pro since I use this a lot. As soon as I do my week at camp this summer, I will be checking out Video Studio as well. The rest I saved for later.

I hooked up the computer, turned it on, and went through the initial setup. Vista had me create an account and finally I was looking at the Vista desktop for the first time. Incredible- what a difference. 1920×1200 resolution. Until now I had only used up to 1152×864. But- only the one account, and an administrator account at that? I thought Vista made people create a user account without administrator privileges? Well, in the interest of security I went ahead and did that, and now I am operating from a standard user account. One of the things it kept reminding me to do (other than registering) was to make a fingerprint profile to make logging in easier. I actually decided to skip this for awhile and just login by password. This lasted less than a week before I finally got tired of UAC asking me for the administrator password and registered two fingers to my administrator account. What a pain! It took untold amounts of swiping to even get it to tell me it got the finger, but I had to do it four times (turned into 30+!) to get to know the finger. Then more times than not, it would tell me that the fingerprints were no good and I had to start over?!? Well, it finally took and I decided (much later) to register two other fingers to my standard account, so now whenever I have to reboot or I just turn on my computer, the account I log into depends on what finger I choose to use to sign in. I still use the passwords from time to time so I don’t forget them though.

Well, time to install some of my own stuff. I quickly found out it was best to do this from the administrator account. UAC may come up with the “are you sure?” prompts, but at least I didn’t have to swipe my finger or enter a password. One of the first things I decided to install was a real mouse- I really hate touchpads. I will only use them if I have to. I uninstalled Norton 2007 right off. “Are you sure? You may lose your trial period…” Only a few times in my life have I ever been more sure. Next up, Avast, make a retore point, Comodo, and how about updating some drivers? I would start with the video drivers. I find on NVidia’s site that I would have to get them from HP or risk losing function of the media controls. Fine- I go to HP’s site and it wants the model number. Of course, HPX wasn’t good enough, it wanted “Pavilion xxx.” Naturally this was at the bottom, in the back. Always the most inconvenient of places. Carefully lifing it up and contorting myself so I could read it, I memorized it, entered it in, and voila! The drivers. Downloaded, went to install video drivers right away. Being video drivers the screen went blank at some point. You-know-whose law being what it is, the drivers fail at this point. I wait and wait, and nothing but a blank screen, so I can’t even find out what went wrong. Sigh. I reboot, restore, then find it lost my fingerprint information. Oh joy! Registration again. You know how that went, just like before. Comodo would have to be reinstalled too. The video drivers were in my download folder and were now gone thanks to Vista’s restore feature- yeah, restore the folder to its original empty configuration… No matter as I wouldn’t be trying those again. Hopefully future updates will go through the HP/Windows update features.

It is fortunate I have been using someone else’s computer for so long. It has kind of weaned me off of some programs so I really didn’t have much to install. There are a couple more things I want to install that were on my old computer, and I eventually will, but for now I am satisfied. Anyway, next up was to try the new media features, particularly blu-ray. Having seen the Pirates movies before, I decided to go rent a movie- Enchanted as you know from above. Excellent movie as I found out. And this computer does an excellent job playing them- not a single problem with the movie. Well, an annoyance. Quickplay apparently doesn’t save the position of the movie if you stop in the middle. When I wanted to continue, I had to go through everything again (blu-ray ad- why? I already have blu-ray and this is a blu-ray title!; previews- this is where the menu button/option comes in handy; FBI threats) before finally being able to find my place again. Moving on, I decided to try the media center. I went through the setup, hooked up the HD antenna that came with the computer, and found I only received a few channels on it. No sign of the multiple channels of one station my brother gets on his HDTV either, like PBS-1, PBS-2, etc. I guess I need a real antenna. I haven’t yet tried the satellite over s-video, but I will. And I will start doing some recording too.

How is it for games you might ask? Well, I can’t answer that as of yet- I have been a little busy getting acquainted with these things to give my freebies a try. When I get back from camp I will give Gears of War and Viva Piñata a go. I expect some nice speed and nice detail. I have tried MAME though. Definitely an improvement on frame rates. Some of the unplayables like California Speed, Gradius 4, and others have become more enjoyable if not full speed. California Speed gets about 65-75% in game, but San Francisco Rush only gets about 50%. For those who are not MAME-geeks, Seattle/Vegas games like these two require hardware not currently sold in the consumer market to get full speed, though some who have overclocked Core 2 CPUs to 4GHZ and beyond have gotten pretty close. Emulation requires a lot of power. Dreamcast emulation should be nice when I get around to it.

Video I have just started to get up and running again. A few of the apps I’m used to no longer work, like ProjectX, but others like avi.net and mediacoder seem to be working. So far the encoding speed has improved by 50-100%, but I expect when I find more 64-bit and more multi-threaded applications I will see this go up immensely. There will be more on this as I figure out what applications are best on this hardware/OS.

Now for a couple of disappointments. First off, the 5.1 sound in Quickplay- is this only allowed over HDMI? Why even bother with the analog 7.1 output then. At least other apps don’t have this restriction. I am still trying to figure out how to play blu-ray in Media Player Classic- it claims to be a blu-ray player, but it looks like certain codecs need to be installed by programs like PowerDVD, and I know pack-in versions of this and WinDVD don’t allow more than stereo sound. That’s only for the pay versions. I may have to invest in one. Another dislike is no SPDIF (digital audio) out. Apparently digital out is over HDMI only as far as I can figure. I know there are converters out ther, but they are expensive. There is also no s-video output, so I can’t use my analog TV as a second monitor for games or video (typical uses of mine). Again, there are converters available, like VGA to s-video, but they can be expensive or low-quality. The placement of the keys and touchpad have been problematic as I am not used to them. I had to find a tweak to disable the caps lock key after hitting it accidentally over and over again. As for the touchpad, there is a button to disable it. I kept gliding my thumbs over it when typing. I am more comfortable with a real mouse anyway. I have had issues with Vista x64 and applications I am used to using, but I guess it’s not much different from moving to XP from 98. Eventually I will get sorted out on this. The last thing is where do I find a laptop bag for this beast?? It won’t even come close to fitting in a regular bag! Okay, that one was kind of lame.

Where do I go from here? Well, a lot more testing is needed for sure, like with regular PC games and real 64-bit multithreaded video applications. More media center use as well. I have only had this for a few weeks after all. However, I will be away for a week so I won’t be updating this during that time. I suppose you can consider it finished- for now.

Oh, I almost forgot.  Click here to read the story I wrote for the contest.