Gotta Love Vista… not!

For some reason, the Zune software on my Vista desktop PC wouldn’t connect with my Zune 80. I know that my PC sees the Zune 80 because I hear an audio tone when I connect it to the USB port, however, the Zune software ignores it. Now, I’ve been fiddling with my system settings and services, so I thought I may have turned off an important system service that caused this connection problem. After several different reboots, the Zune software still didn’t see the Zune 80.

Finally, I went into the Services control panel and started re-enabling the handful of services that I turned off yesterday. Finally after turning everything back on, the Zune software recognized the connected Zune. I then went in and began turning off each of those services on-by-one, and after turning off everything again the Zune software still found the Zune! So what was the problem? I don’t know. Maybe turning on and off a service got everything working again… ugh. Let’s hope everything stays connected from her on.

Update: ( 8 Feb 2009 ) – I’m still having sporatic issues with my Zune 80 not connecting with the Zune Software. I’ve tried using differnt USB ports, but it seems that I need to reboot my Zune and my Desktop PC to have the Zune software recognize it. Coincidentally, my wife recently has been having the same problem with her Vista Desktop PC and Zune 8 GB. Sometimes the software will “see” the connected Zune, and sometimes not. I suspect it might be a automatic Vista update that was installed recently that is causing the problem, but that’s my paranoid side talking. 🙂

The Rise of The Netbooks

mini9Since it seems we just can’t live without the Internet these days, it’s no wonder that consumers want to be “connected” while on the go. For most, that means having a smartphone device that can download email or browse the Internet. The bad thing, is that most smartphones have limited screen size so the Internet browsing experience just pretty bad. In addition, I’ve noticed that a lot of people in the local coffeeshops have their laptops out and connected browsing the Internet via a free WiFi connection. So, it certainly makes sense that computer manufacturers want to fill the niche between smartphones and traditional laptops by creating a new device that is very portable but can allow for Internet activities. Thus, the birth of the Netbook devices.

The Netbooks are basically small laptops that have a 7 to 10-inch screen. These devices are usually the size of a hardcopy book (about 1-inch thick), and have a touch-type keyboard (although small). The goal is to have the device last for more than 3 hours on a single charge, and to do so required the use of a low-power processor called the “Atom”. These devices also have built-in WiFi for Internet access, with some having Wireless Cellular cards.

Recently, I got caught up with these Netbooks, and decided to get one for use with daily activities. I purchased a Dell Mini 9, which has 1 GB RAM, WiFi, Webcam, and Bluetooth transceiver, and is running Windows XP. The main storage media is not a traditional hard drive, but rather a Solid State Device (SSD) which is similar to a Flash USB drive. The size of this drive on my Dell Mini is only 16 GB, so I need to be careful about what I install. I made my purchase through Costco.com online, so I won’t actually get the unit for 2 to 3 weeks (bummer). Continue reading

Some Zune Humor…

rockRead this link for a strange story. It seems that someone is doing the old switcher-roo at a Wal-Mart in Nebraska, by exchanging an iPod box filled with a rock for a new Zune. Sounds like the Wal-Mart employees are the ones with rocks in their heads! The funny part, is that someone bought one of these returned iPod and was surprised to find a rock inside of it instead of the iPod they purchased. I wonder if that guy was someone named Charlie Brown? 🙂

Will I Be Screwed on February 17th?

February 17th is when television stations will switch off their analog signal and go to all digital. Since I’m currently a Comcast cable subscriber, I’ve been told not to worry since Comcast will continue to transmit analog signals through my cable line. However, I already have digital cable service through Comcast (with requires a special set top box for each TV in my house), and from what I’ve read the new analog signals after February 17th will only be for the lower channels. As of today, I can receive up to channel 99 using my TV Tuner card, but I believe I’ll be limited to channels 1 through 39 after February 17th. Since my favorite channel is number 59 (SciFi Channel), I may be screwed when the analog-to-digital switch over takes place.

I suppose one option will be to get a set top box for my PC and use it with my TV Tuner card, but there’s no way for my PC and Tuner Card to “change” the channel of the set top box. I’ll probably need to get a new TV Tuner card to accommodate the digital signal, but I’ll wait until after the 17th and readup on how others in my same situation have resolved the problem. Stay tuned for more…

The Mid-Season Hiatus is Now Over!

tv_setA lot of my favorite shows are now coming back online after a long hiatus, and my TV Tuner card is working overtime recording and converting my shows to WMV format for my Zune 80. I’ve got Battlestar Galactica and 24 already back, and I’m waiting for the return of Lost, Life on Mars, Fringe, Terminator:SCC, and Heroes. It’s a good thing I have a big hard drive, but with each 1-hour show taking up about 5 GB of disk space, I many need a new hard drive soon due to fatigue failure! 😦

Should I start a forum section for this web blog?

I asked this question about 6 months ago, but at that time decided to not pursue it because of the minimal response. But, I thought I’d ask again since it is the new year. I don’t want to go through the expense and time to adding on a forum if very few people will be using it. The main reason why I’m even considering this, is the amount of comments posted for my various topics and pages. A lot of them are questions which I respond back as another comment posting, but it might be more appropriate to do so in a forum setting. So, if you’re interested in actively participating in a Zune forum, please vote!

Purchased Videos from the Zune Marketplace

videosIf you’ve read my previous postings, you should know that I use my Zune 80 specifically for watching TV shows that I record on my Vista PC and convert to WMV files. For those who do not have a TV Tuner card as I do, you can also purchase and download video files from the Zune Marketplace. There are a wide variety of videos available, ranging from TV shows to music videos. You can purchase individual episodes of a TV series or buy all the episodes for a specific season. Since I do have a TV Tuner card, I never had a need to purchase videos from the Marketplace.

Now, the Zune 8 GB Christmas gift that I bought for my wife seems to be a big hit, as she was very surprised and happy to get one. I thought she would want to use it for mainly music, however, it seems that she’s been using it more for watching videos such as I do. Of course, she’s not the geeky sci-fi person or history buff that I am, so she certainly wouldn’t like the shows that I typically record and watch. Instead, she likes watching “Ghost Hunters” on Wednesday nights, but, she is often interrupted by my 4 year-old son or simply falls asleep from getting up so early in the morning. Fortunately, she discovered that the Zune Marketplace offers episodes of Ghost Hunters for download to the Zune. Continue reading