Controlling Windows Media Center From Your Smartphone

While I’m on business travel, I sometimes forget to set the Windows Media Center software on my home desktop PC to record a special show or event. Luckily, there exists an application called WebGuide4 that allows me to remotely examine my current recording schedule, and make whatever changes I see fit. It’s all web-browser based, so I can make the changes either in a desktop web browser like FireFox or Internet Explorer, or from Pocket Internet Explorer on my Moto-Q smartphone!

Much like the LogMeIn software (which I mentioned in a previous posting), you install a small server application on your home PC which listens for a requested connection from the outside internet world. You can initiate a connection from a remote PC (or your Smartphone) by pointing your web browser to a specific web address that is designated for your computer with a user-defined port access number. This will bring up a special login screen where you can log into your computer system (via the small web server application) to see your current recording schedule and make changes if necessary. I particularly like the fact I can do this using my Moto-Q phone while waiting at the airport or whenever I have some free time on a business trip.

The WebGuide software also has a provision for streaming recorded video to your remote desktop screen, but I found that it works pretty slow and is somewhat unreliable (probably a function of the internet speed).

Since this is all free, it’s definitely worth checking out and playing with if you like to stay connected to your PC and not miss any favorite shows!

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Remote Access Your Desktop PC using LogMeIn

When I’m watching my 4 year-old son downstairs in my family room, I often sit at the kitchen table with my Dell laptop and surf the web or try to get some work done via a wireless connection to our home router. What I find most convenient, is using Windows Remote Desktop to connect to my main desktop PC located in my office upstairs. Using my internal home network, I can “see” and interact with my main desktop PC just as if I was sitting in front of it. Luckily, the Windows Vista Business OS has the option of remote desktop access built-in (Vista Home Premium, however, doesn’t).

Recently, I’ve been using a web-based service called LogMeIn which allows me to similarily connect to my main desktop PC from outside my local home network. For example, I often connect to my home computer while on business travel from my hotel room. Why would I want to do that, you might ask? Well, it’s much easier for me to initiate the remote connection to my home PC and then fire up Outlook to check my emails, or to bring up the FireFox web browser on my home PC to access my favorite links, etc. This is much easier than trying to duplicate mail accounts and web links on my work laptop (which I take with me on business trips), and I can keep work files and business files separate.

What’s nice, is that LogMeIn works very well, and is fast (with a reasonable internet connection). And best of all, it’s free! There’s a version called “LogMeIn Free” which is a freeware version of the LogMeIn application that does everything I need to do.  The only thing it doesn’t have, is the ability to easily transfer files to and from my desktop PC (if you want that feature, you’ll need to get the paid subscription version of LogMeIn). Continue reading

Teenager Sells Zune Forum Site for $60K

If you haven’t heard already, a 15 year old kid who created the Zune forum site called “Zuneboards.com” sold it earlier this year to a company for $60k US. Isn’t that incredible? You can read the Boston Herald online article at this link. His site is essentially a single forum where people post messages for others to read and comment on. I’ve visited this site a few times in the past, but stopped going to it because of all the adolescent posting and drama involved. If I remember correctly, people were posting negative comments about other posters on a competing Zune forum site and I just didn’t want to read about all that junk. Maybe I’m getting old, but that stuff just doesn’t entertain me.

So, I couldn’t understand why someone (or some company) would purchase this forum site for $60k. But then I read that the purchaser (called “crowdGather”) is a marketing company that plans to use this site for advertisement purposes. After learning this, I realized that this does make some sense. The big thing on the internet is “Social Networking” with lots of young people actively involved with sites such as FaceBook, etc. The Zuneboards forums is essentially a similar thing, in forum format. The Boston Herald article stated that ZuneBoards had a membership of 60,000 people, so it probably is a good platform for advertising and marketing to the teen population.

The teen owner stated that he was making about $1,000 per month in advertisement clicks on this site, which seems quite low considering how many visitors he probably had each day. However, that’s pretty good considering his overhead is probably low and the fact he’s not at the legal working age yet. My hats off to him for his ingenuity and I hope he continues in his life with more prosperous ventures.

BTW, is anyone wants to buy Zune Tips Weblog, it is certainly for sale! No bids lower than $10, please. 🙂

Although Stargate-SG1 was cancelled, the DVDs are still coming!

I stumbled on the Science Fiction show called Stargate-SG1 several years ago while flipping through the many channels we have on our cable TV system. This TV Show was based on the Feature movie called Stargate which starred Kurt Russell and James Spader that first premiered in 1994. I remember seeing the movie with a few buddies when I was in college, and I didn’t like it very much. It had a lot of action (military guys, machine guns, etc.) which was ok, but was based on egyptian pyramids, aliens, etc. A little too far fetched and complicated for me to understand and appreciate. Thus, I never paid much attention to the Stargate-SG1 TV show version (since most TV Shows based on movies aren’t very good) when it first came out in 1997 on the Showtime cable channel.

The TV show was moved from Showtime to the SciFi channel (with the rights bought by Parmount Pictures) after about the 2nd season which is where I stumbled upon it. After watching a few of the episodes from the first season I got hooked big time, as the stories were fresh and very entertaining. In fact, I asked my wife to get me the 1st and 2nd season DVD set so I could watch them over my Christmas break. And after hours of viewing the SG1 team visit new planets and battle the various galactic bad guys I began watching the show regularly on the SciFi channel.

After running for 10 seasons, the SciFi channel decided it was time to close up shop with the show. And rightly so, since most of the new episodes seemed to be reincarnations of the previous episodes from the earlier seasons (or duplicate stories from other SciFi shows). It was sad to see my favorite characters fade into TV reruns, but cancelling the show was the right thing to do. Even though Stargate-SG1 was gone, the spinoff show called Stargate-Atlantis was still on the air (currently in it’s 5th season).

Since the last episode of Stargate-SG1 didn’t wrap up show in a nice, bow-tied ending, MGM decided to create a direct-to-DVD movie for the Stargate fans. This DVD (called Stargate: Ark of Truth) was created and released to help conclude the show and wrap up some loose ends. I, of course, bought and watched the DVD and it was nice to see my favorite characters back again for another mission. The story wasn’t the greatest, as it seemed to be of the same quality and content as the final shows of the 10th episodes, but I was expecting that to be the case.

MGM also had in the works a 2nd DVD show called Stargate: Continuum, which was released several weeks ago. I finally got around to ordering it from Amazon.com, and was able to watch it last night. I have to say that the show was very entertaining (and a better episode than the 1st DVD movie), but the story seemed similar to the other previous episodes. Nevertheless, it was a good show and I highly recommend it for all the Stargate fans out there in TV land. Also, this DVD had a few extras including how they filmed part of the show in the Arctic and a Physicist’s explanation of the possibilities of time travel. Again, very entertaining for a Science Fiction fan.

BTW, for you Stargate Fans: I personally liked the Jonas Quinn character and would have liked to have seen him on more episodes (along with Daniel Jackson)! 🙂

Update: I’ve read that Stargate-Atlantis has been cancelled, so the current season will be it’s last. 😦 Apparently, they will be making DVD movies much like Stargate-SG1.

Zune 120 GB Device In the Works

I haven’t posted lately for a lot of reasons. Primarily, I haven’t noticed a lot of interesting activity with the Zunes to mention about. One thing that caught my eye on a forum site, was the talk of a Zune 120 GB model being available soon. It isn’t officially announced by Microsoft, but a few credible sources have confirmed it. I would guess that this “new” device will essentially be a Zune 80 with a 120 GB hard drive.

From the buzz that I’ve read, it seems that a lot of people are excited by this device. I, however, am not all that excited. Sure, it’s a device with 50% more storage space than my Zune 80, but is it going to be more reliable? Will the screen, buttons, hard drive, audio port, locking switch, etc. all work better? A few months after getting my Zune 80 I had to ship it back for repair for a screen issue, and ever since then I’ve really babied my Zune 80 to prevent any possible malfunctions.

So unless this Zune is thinner, has a better screen, longer battery life, fast FlashROM drive, more usable built-in applications, more reliable, etc. I won’t be parting with my current Zune 80.