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Saturday, 22 January 2011

MediaTomb library refresh

I'm still searching for the holy grail of distributing all media around the home and still keep coming back to MediaTomb running on my NAS as a music fall back.  But something that always goes wrong is its inability to update the db with changes.  Every time I go through the same hoops of trying to refresh manually, adding/removing directories.  And each time it fails and I check my blog for what I did last time, which I;ve never added ! so here it is

Kill the mediatomb process and delete the .db files, start mediatomb and add the Media directory, wait 4 hours .. Job Done !

855GM Series video driver Windows 7 reverts back to Standard VGA

When installing 855GM Series video driver Windows 7 reverts back to Standard VGA adapter after restart. The problem is that 855GM Series video driver is not native for Windows 7 and it will always choose Standard VGA Adapter as native video driver. A lot of older laptops have this video chipset. Including my Vaio.

Solution - Spend hours looking on google.  Eventually finding a decent blog entry which I am blatantly reproducing here.

So all this is taken from

The only driver that worked is: Intel(R) Graphics Controller . The reason why is that Standard VGA Adapter (Windows 7 native) is the same version ( but it has newer release date. Newest Intel driver 14.19.50 did NOT work. So get yourself the working video driver below. After Windows 7 install you will see that Standard VGA Adapter is installed and there is an exclamation mark on the "video controller". In order to install the driver we need to get exclamation mark on "video controller (vga compatible)". This spot is occupied by Standard VGA Adapter. Even when you unistall Standard VGA Adapter and install new driver after the reboot Standard VGA Adapter comes back. We need to disrupt Standard VGA Adapter from being installed. My way of disabling the adapter is to edit the driver file for it "c:\windows\system32\drivers\vgapnp.sys". There might be another way for letting Windows stop installing Standard VGA Adapter but I did not find it. 


Make sure you unistall video drivers that do not work. If you see exclamation marks on your previous drivers in Device Manager, unistall them. Your Device Manager should say that you have Standard VGA Driver installed under Display category and exclamation mark on "video controller". Make sure you restart PC when asked. 


We will need to edit "c:\windows\system32\drivers\vgapnp.sys" file now, but there is a problem. Windows Vista and Windows 7 will NOT allow you to edit system files even when you are the admin. Changing security attributes of that file did not work either. The file is owned by "TrustedInstaller" service. We will need to own the file and give ourselves the full control to edit it.
Click 'Start' and in 'Search' type 'cmd'. The result will show on top. Right-click on 'cmd' and choose "Run as Administrator". If your account does not have admin rights you might be prompted to enter username and password. I used account that already has administrator priviledges. You should have a command prompt with administrator priviledges. 


Lets say my logged in username is peter

First command you do is: 

takeown /f c:\windows\system32\drivers\vgapnp.sys 

This will give ownship to the current user. You should see a message saying SUCCESS etc.. 

Second command you do is: 

cacls c:\windows\system32\drivers\vgapnp.sys /G peter:F 

There will be a confirmation message so type 'y'. This will change the security attributes to give you ONLY all the permissions for the file. If you are paranoid as me and want original permissions restored, I will show you how to restore the permissions to the previous step later on in this tutorial . If 'cacls' command does not work you can try using 'icacls'. If you cannot edit this file try to boot to "Save Mode" and try it again (Thx to Giuseppe Chill). 


Open c:\windows\system32\drivers\vgapnp.sys in any text editor. Just add any character to the begining of the text. Let's say we will add character x . So the text should start with xMZ and the rest of stuff. Save the file. This edit will render that file unusable. 


In Device Manager uninstall Standard VGA Adapter. It will prompt you to restart so do it. After install you will see a message saying that certain devices did NOT installed successfuly, which is GOOD . Go to Device Manager and you should see the exclamation point next to "video controller" and "video controller (vga compatible)". Right-click on "video controller (vga compatible)" and do update driver. Choose "Browse for the Driver" (or something like it  ). Point to the driver directory that you downloaded and extracted (win2000). Click "OK". Wait for the driver to be installed. It might hang for a little (It will say that window is "not responding"). Do not worry as this is still installing the driver. It will prompt you to restart so do it. (If it does not prompt click anywhere and wait for message). After restart it will finish installing the driver. 

Congratulations!!! You should have a working video driver!!!  


Open c:\windows\system32\drivers\vgapnp.sys in any text editor. Remove the first character you put there which was x. Save the file. Your file will be usuable again . You can stop here if you want, but if you want to restore the permissions for the file to original state go to next step. 


Right-click on any other file in the c:\windows\system32\drivers. Choose "Properties". Go to "Security" tab. Now compare that security tab with the security tab of c:\windows\system32\drivers\vgapnp.sys. Just make sure the security tabs of those two files look the same (all tabs and advanced options). In order to add "TrustedInstaller" it is not the same as regular usernames because it is a service. 
You will need to type "NT SERVICE\TrustedInstaller" (without quotes) when adding it to own the file and to have all permissions. Once you done editing you can delete your account from c:\windows\system32\drivers\vgapnp.sys, because it was not there from the beginning. We took control over and the previous commands added it by default.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

UCS Manager launch error

I've been fighting with JAVA on my PC for a few days. Trying to launch the Cisco UCS manager - JAVA based. Would kick up the error :

JARSigningException: Found unsigned entry in resource: http://{HOST}.{DOMAIN}/ucsm/unpacked/OfficeLnFs_2.7.jar

Nothing on google. Removed the vast collection of JRE versions, reinstalled, blaah blaah blaah. Still fails. Threw my toys out, stomped away in a huff complaining about JAVA failing to live up to its expectations due to inept programmers ..

Then I twigged. I'd been debugging one of our bespoke JAVA apps last week and had disabled the 'Keep temporary files on my computer' JRE setting.

Corrected, problem fixed .. huff gone.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Building a Home Theatre PC (HTPC)

Whilst the PS3 has done a sterling job of being a front room media centre its not perfect and I'd debated building a true HTPC for while.

A certain error whilst watching something on the PS3 kicked started me into investigating alternative options.

Normal requirements. HDMI, decent sound and enough power to run a full 1080p on my TV. I'd had decent success with ITX in the past so quite fancied that route.

After a day of reading I settled on the Zotac ION ATOM N330 Dual Core D-E with 4GB (overkill) of RAM and a Morex Cubid 3688 Silver case.  Ordered and delivered the following day from ITX Warehouse.  Who run a fantastic service.  I already had HDD and cables, no SSD here.

My first intention was just to make use of VLC, web browser, maybe even look at MS Media centre.  But during the day of reading I stumbled across XBMC, something which everyone I spoke to afterwards had heard of and tried.  I must have been under my rock that day.  But the screen shots looked amazing, open source, ie free, live cd, all major OS' supported.  Interesting Mr Bond.

With the hardware assembled, which was the normal breeze I fired up the USB boot key created using instructions from  FAIL.  Maybe the keys, or something else but I couldn't get the PC to boot so ended up creating a XBMC liveboot CD and installed using that.  XBMC installed and started to load but bombed out just at the part the GUI launches.  So I suspect video drivers.  Being LINUX I knew this was a bad road to be walking down, and as this was R&D and I already new wireless mice and keyboards where on the horizon, ie more LINUX driver fun, I opted to fall back on tried and 'trusted' (well, trusted is probably the wrong descriptive) Windows 7. Unconsciously I made a 32bit decision - just habit I think.

Windows installed, drivers updated.  Installed XBMC and fired it up.  Oh I like this, allot. Pretty intuitive, adding the SMB media paths from my NAS all just worked and then I found the Library view which showed all the pretty covers, plot summaries etc .. Movies, TV Shows, Music .. all worked seamlessly.  The 'scrapers' went and matched all the TV shows, music and all but two of the films, which I fixed using NFO files.

The IONITX dealt easily with a local 1080p file.  Not so streaming across the LAN - Homeplugs, nor WLAN, which is expected.  That actually had me delving deeper into my homeplug speed only to discover its crap, seriously so.  I have something in the house which is killing the t/put.  I need to investigate that or hope AV2 resolves it.

I'm still experimenting with the look and feel of XBMC but so far its a hit for video 720p and below and music is fine.

I added a plugin for iPlayer - which works, and TVCatchup, which doesn't.  Although it did once, odd. 

So far so good .. Although I have ordered a new 60mm 'silent' fan.  The one with the case is a little noisy.

EDIT : TVCatchup now working again.  Nothing done.  Also found a great iPhone app which uses the HTML interface to control the server.  XBMC Remote.