Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Finally Fixed My HDMI Audio

In case you haven't heard, I'm a geek. I love gadgets. I bought myself a blu-ray player for Christmas.

Back at the end of November I put together a computer to watch streaming video on. Basically, it's a computer that sits in the living room next to my TV and streams movies from Netflix, Bones & House episodes from Fox, etc. If you can stream it, I watch it there. I even use it to listen to Pandora while showing slide shows. It's been quite handy.

I purposefully bought a motherboard that had HDMI output for video and audio. This makes it easier to select which device I want to watch using my new Onkyo SR606 receiver. It has 4 HDMI inputs and 1 HDMI output (for the TV).

I could not get the digital audio to work. I've been reading stuff on the Internet and trying different things for a month now and yesterday I finally got it working and I give 90% of the credit to the avs forum site. It's got an incredible amount of good information. Just search for your problem in detail and you'll find help. I actually found it by googling for "Onkyo 606 hdmi audio vista". I had to do a lot of reading, but I finally found the silver bullet.

The Solution

I read on the site where the display driver should be detecting your display device as HDMI. I opened my ATI Control Panel, went to advanced settings and sure enough. Mine was being detected as DVI.

Then I read how there is some communications going on between devices. The Onkyo Receiver should be telling the computer what it is. Onkyo is blaming ATI and ATI is blaming Onkyo. There are some interesting fixes involving messing with EDID settings in the registry. I chose to ignore these. Some other folks talked about changing which HDMI Input port the computer is plugged into. For my particular receiver, I should be using port 1. I was currently in port 4. This seems to be a problem with Onkyo. Why would 2 HDMI ports behave differently?

So, I plugged the computer into port 1 and rebooted. Miraculously, the ATI Con
trol Panel now showed my monitor as an HDMI device. I switched the audio settings over to HDMI and now I have sound and audio going over HDMI. Incredible! Just for a sanity check, I moved the HDMI back over the port 4. It continued to work until I rebooted the computer. Then, it quit again. There must be something mis-communicated during initialization on port 4.

I reprogrammed my receiver so that port 4 is now DVD and port 1 is now computer. All works well and I can stream audio/video from my computer digitally using one hdmi plug. I'm quite happy.

First image is my TV in the fireplace. I don't understand why all homes in Texas have fireplaces. It never gets cold enough long enough to enjoy them. I turned mine into an entertainment center. This might be future blog fodder.
2nd Image (on the left) is the back of my TV Computer. It's hard to see, but the big black cable directly above the green one is my HDMI cable. It runs to the TV. The green plug is actually analog audio that I was using up until now!
3rd Image (on the right) is back of my receiver. It was dark back there and I was lazy and the picture is blurry. I was trying to show the 4 HDMI Input ports. The white one is port 2. The one all the way to the left is port 4. I basically switched port 4 with the hdmi plug directly to the right of the white one.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Nicole Johnson, Former Miss America and Diabetes Advocate

I normally don't like berating individuals. But, I was at my parents and my mom was showing me this brochure from TCOYD (Taking Control of Your Diabetes). They were going to have a big shindig in Amarillo this year and she thought I might be interested. I was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes so long ago I don't remember the date, but I think it was January, 1980.

The big "whoopee" picture in the middle was of Nicole Johnson's luncheon. You can actually see the brochure here. Let me talk about the good stuff first.

Nicole has taken a lemon and made lemonade. She's written books and she speaks at these conferences to educate people on living with diabetes. More power to her. I got the picture from her website.

But this write up in the brochure irritates the heck out of me. Maybe the writers of the brochure snuck this stuff in without letting her read it. Or perhaps as well as having diabetes she also has drama queen syndrome (DQS).

It starts like this:
Nicole Johnson was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1993. A sophomore in college at the time, she was told she would never have a career, be a mother, or continue with her blossoming interest in pageants.

Now, I was diagnosed in 1980, she was diagnosed in 1993. I was 11, she was 19. No one ever told me never. What the heck? When I was 11 I wanted to be an astronaut. They told me that was unlikely, because the military doesn't accept diabetics, but they expected it to be cured soon. After I talked to the doctors for a while I started reading (they didn't have easily accessible Internet back in 1980). But, I read about how the pancreas works, what they think causes diabetes, how I was going to have to eat differently, how to count meal exchanges, what happens when you get too much insulin, what happens when you get too little and how I can expect to live a normal healthy life.

Never have a career? Get over yourself. I mean really. Never be a mother? It's true that pregnancy causes strain on the kidneys and diabetics have to be careful of things like that. But, who would tell someone that? You can adopt. And I'm sure with the right care and modern science, it's not as big as risk as it once was. Not be in pageants? You must be joking. Is she just fear mongering to sell tickets? Or did she leave out some important details? The wording implies that it's because she has diabetes. If I had read this kind of crap when I was diagnosed, I would have harpooned someone.

I'm sure she hopes millions of children diagnosed with Type I Diabetes will read her new book, "Living With Diabetes", but I hope they read my blog first. Maybe since she's so happy to write and share with the world she should interview and write a book about someone that is almost 92 years old and was diagnosed when they were 9. They'd probably have a happier outlook and have some really useful tips.


I've always thought of myself as a positive person. A "glass is half full" kind of guy. A lot of times when you look in the mirror, you apparently see through rose colored glasses.

In the past couple of years I've been called pessimistic and a control freak. Talking to people that have known me for a while, I've apparently always been a control freak. I used to be more subtle in my manipulative ways, but they were always there.

But, the pessimistic negativity was just recently brought to light. I've got all these ideas for starting businesses, software ideas, inventions, etc. I always shoot them down before I even start. I think it stems from being overly careful. I don't like failure. With little risk, I can try stuff all day long, but when you start talking about risk, I start thinking of why things will fail. Or reasons not to risk it.

I want to be filthy rich before I die. I don't care if I'm only filthy rich for a year or even a month. I just want to see what it's like. Perhaps I should start playing the Texas Lottery. It's minimum risk, but also minimum hope of success.

So, anyway, this starts sounding like New Year's resolution material. Obviously, you can't make a resolution to become rich. I can make a resolution to try. Or perhaps I could make a resolution to do something (like implement an idea) that may lead to riches. So, I did a quick search on resolutions to see if I could find some guiding light. I'm so afraid of risk, that I normally don't make resolutions.

Someone wrote these for Obama. He's already filthy rich. One of them is: I will let Sean Hannity and anyone else who wants to, regardless of political persuasion, buy me a beer.

Here are 5 "easy to keep" resolutions. Read "low risk". One of them is: Carve out 15 minutes for quiet “me” time. I think I can do that one! But why stop at 15?

Here is this one for entrepreneurs. This might be right up my filthy rich alley. I think I'll do number 7: Read more, learn more.

The guy that said my haircut was bad 7 or 8 years ago has mentioned I should read more history books.

Maybe I should just make a resolution to take more risks. Worst case, I won't have to make resolutions for 2010.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Alliterator Animal Sh*t List: The Letter 'C'

As most of you know I normally do these on Thursday, but since tomorrow is Christmas, I'm going to post the letter C a day early and withstand the temptation to use the word Christmas anywhere in the alliteration.

C's are not one of my favorites.

Chewy Cheesy Cheetah Chocolate Cheek Chunks

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"Hard Hitting in the Lion City"

I normally don't have a lot of time to read other blogs. I spend too much time leveling my characters in Age of Conan.

I posted a while back about the possibility of a server merge in Age of Conan (something still "in progress") and an entity with the handle of "Ghost" posted a comment. Anytime someone leaves a comment I always go check their blog.

Ghost's blog was called "Hard Hitting in the Lion City". Apparently this entity lives in Singapore. At least if you believe everything you read in someone's profile. There is no picture for the profile and not a lot of information.

But anyway, today, I finally broke down and spent about 30 minutes perusing some of the posts. There are no pictures anywhere, but the topics go largely political with some comics and video games stuff thrown in for good measure.

Thus far, it's the closest match to what I do here. Except it's supposedly in Singapore and according to the dates this person has been doing it for a lot longer. It may just be that I get a kick out of reading an "outsider's" opinion of USA politics and also see some of the issues they are facing in their locale. It's always an interesting perspective. If you find one that's not by a professional journalist (read by millions), then the syntax may not be polished, but it adds a personal flare.

I don't have the readers to make a difference to Ghost's blog, I'm thinking I'll add it to my list. What do you folks think?

Extending XP Out of Vista Ignorance

Normally, I'm not a big supporter of big business. I buy AMD processors to keep Intel honest. I use Linux whenever possible to keep Microsoft honest. Competition leads to better prices. In my small way, I feel that I am feeding the competition by going with the underdogs whenever it is feasible to do so.

Having said that, I believe Microsoft is getting a really bad rap over Vista. Corporate America is not using it. Information Week reports that only about 10% of American businesses have made the switch and perhaps 4% of UK businesses.

What does this say? It says that 90% of American businesses and perhaps 96% of UK businesses are completely ignorant about Vista.

I've been running with Vista for over a year now. I've even made the jump to Vista 64 on one of my systems at home. Aside from a few hiccups when trying to do some pretty interesting customizations, it has been flawless. In my opinion, it's even better than XP. Once you get over the 2 hour learning curve, things are easier to get to with less stuttering. In other words, it's more intuitive and runs smoother.

It's kind of ironic at the company where I work (we also have not made the move to Vista and have a most aptly ignorant IT department), they are implementing all kinds of spyware/anitvirus software to cut down on the Internet traffic. Incidentally, most of these antivirus packages are more of a detriment than the actual viruses they supposedly protect you from. Vista has things built into it to protect from this kind of stuff. One of IT's complaints is about Vista's security features that are "built into the kernel". Apparently these features break some older software. I don't even feel the need to comment on that logic.

Microsoft has said they will continue to sell XP until July for certain vendors. It was set to cutoff at the end of January. They have a new Windows 7 coming out in 2010. That'll be about a 6 month window where the big PC manufacturers may not have the OS inventory to sell to their corporate clients with ignorant IT departments.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Restraining Reward Cards

I hate reward cards. I tell you this because I moved last summer and the closest pharmacy to my house is a CVS Pharmacy. The closest grocery store to my new house is a Krogers. The 2nd closest grocery store is a Tom Thumb. All of these places have something in common. They all offer you "special" savings and "rewards" if you have their "Reward Card"!

This is basically a card you display each time you buy something so that you can pay $2 for that gallon of milk instead of $5. Of course, you could go to Wal-Mart or Target and get it for $1.50 without a freaking card, but who wants to drive that far. And by using your card and spending over $100, you get a "reward". Normally, something mundane like 10 cents off per gallon on one tank of gas.

In my area we have a history of reward cards. It started with Tom Thumb I think. It was such a smashing success at Tom Thumb, that eventually Krogers followed suit. Krogers used to be my favorite grocery store. I quit going there when they introduced their card. I called their headquarters to voice my complaint. "We'll still have low prices, " they promised, "Even without the card." So, I went in one last time. When I saw the milk I used to buy for $2 a gallon was now $5 a gallon, I walked out and have never returned. I switched to Albertsons.

Albertsons and I had a good relationship for a long time. Then, one day, they introduced the card. The guy at their headquarters was a little more honest. "We did a survey," he explained, "And our customers said that they wanted a rewards card." The survey probably said, would you like to be rewarded with frequent flyer miles and gas discounts for shopping at our grocery store? Who, in their right mind, would say, no? Of course, they left out the part of the shopping card that goes along with it.

Albertsons was the first store to face a "Rewards Card" backlash. They've since abandoned the card.

CVS Pharmacy has a Rewards Card. I've only made the mistake of going in there once.

I honestly don't want some marketing guy at corporate headquarters for Tom Thumb monitoring my shopping habits and noting that I bought 2 six packs of beer and a Barbie Doll on Saturday night.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Shoe Throwing Crime

In case you've been living under a rock (which I didn't see you there if you were), some guy in Iraq threw his shoes at George.

I'm thinking this is pretty funny. But then I was reading about how much trouble this shoe thrower is in and I'm thinking, he should have aimed better and threw harder and accounted for elderly politician duck rate (EPDR).

So, anyway, to amuse myself I was checking to see how many people have been killed or seriously injured by a thrown shoe. I came across this:

On the night of the murder, Zassoukhina had yelled and kicked at Kiseljev's bedroom door for 40 minutes before he opened it and they started fighting.

Justice Dunford said that during the fight Kiseljev hit Zassoukhina over the head a number of times with the shoe's heel before realizing she was dead.

But this wasn't good enough for me, so I searched some more and found this:

A 200 pound woman in New York has been charged with manslaughter. She allegedly sat on her boyfriend and beat him to death with her size 12 high-heeled shoe. Anna Rhinehart, 40, was also charged with criminal possession of a weapon - her shoe.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Alliterator Animal Sh*t List: The Letter 'B'

I've been waiting for this moment now for 7 long days, but it has finally arrived. Today's letter is: "The Letter B". It's like Sesame Street! Here's last week's entry if you missed it.

I had a crazy guy who calls himself Ed chime in with an entry for the B list. I'll put the historical entry first and then follow up with Ed's. He didn't include a picture. Sometime probably in June I'll post all 26 alliterations. When there are choices I'll go with the ones with the most votes. Since millions of people come tracking through here daily it may be difficult at times for me to keep a running count.

But, without further nonsense we have:
Boundless Buckets of Buzzard Bowel Bullets

I couldn't find a good picture...

Ed's entry:
Boatloads of Baleful Brown Buffalo Butt Boogers
I may have to change Butt to Bowel. It seems like, although I will have to verify, that back when this list was written there were certain rules as to which words one could use. As in you can't use the word Sh*t. There might have been another rule regarding common synonyms for butt or ass. Generally, they should all be tame enough that a 1970's 6 year old could read them and not get the big eyes that say, "I'm not supposed to say that". It's all about getting kids to talk about animal feces without saying anything "naughty".

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Life's A Game

A hypothetical situation for you.

You are given an opportunity to play a game. The rules for the game were written over 2000 years ago in a language you don't understand. However, someone has translated the rules for you. Actually, they've been translated into English several different times in various forms of readability and credibility. There are thousands of interpretations of these rules.

In the last 2000 years or so a small percentage of people in the world have followed the rules correctly. The majority of people have either misinterpreted the rules or failed to even try and interpret the rules.

However, if you follow the rules correctly, you will get to live forever in peace and happiness with no worries. If you follow these rules incorrectly, you live forever in pain and torment. Forever is a long time. It's a huge risk. Do you play?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Financial Packages and Bailouts

A while ago I did a post about what I thought of the bailout.

I've changed my mind a little bit. Well, I haven't really changed my mind, but at some point you have to quit fighting the herd head on and just assume some things are going to happen no matter how hard you push.

We, the people, are bailing out huge companies to save the jobs of thousands. Unfortunately, the top execs of these companies still get to live a life that most people in the world can't even imagine. They take their 10 billion dollar loan and give themselves a 10 million dollar bonus for getting the loan. Or perhaps take their 10 million dollar bonus after saving the company money by laying off 20,000 employees.

I've decided that if we, the people, have to bail out these companies, then we, the people, should get stock in the companies we bail out.

If there are 200,000,000 taxpaying Americans and we gave the banking industry $700,000,000,000, then we should all be getting $3500 in these company's stocks. Merrill Lynch is around $10 per share. That's quite a few stocks. If the company turns around like they are supposed to with this great bail out plan then we can all cash in on it.

Now they are talking about bailing out the auto industry. General Motors is asking for about $20,000,000,000. That's only about $100 per taxpayer, but their stock is trading at about $4 per share right now. That means I should be getting 25 shares of GM stock if they get my "loan". If they really, "turn things around" like they are promising, then I should be able to sell those shares at some point. Earlier this year their stock was selling for around $30 per share. So, when they "recover" I can sell my stocks for $3250! It would almost pay for the banker bailout!

Of course, I'm simplifying. If they had to give up that much stock for the loan then their stock price would tumble. But, it doesn't sound to me like any of these companies are taking much risk.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Alliterator Animal Sh*t List: The Letter 'A'

I think every Thursday, I will try and entertain you with a list that my dad started some time ago. Feel free to help out as we go along. Some of them are better than others.

Basically you go down the alphabet and think of an animal and a creative descriptions of its shite.

The first one is:
Atrocious Amounts of Alligator Anal Algae

You get extra points for finding an almost equally disgusting picture.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Vista Running Slow and Locking Up Computer

I'm a freelance computer support guy. So, today, I am going to bore the lucky readers who are entertained by my mindless meanderings and try to help some people out.

My brother recently built a new system that I recommended. He also installed Vista 64.

It ran for about 2 weeks and then after an automatic update and some various software installs it started to "lock up". He'd have the hour glass (which, in Vista, looks more like the glowing spiraling circle of doom) and windows that were "not responding". He'd spent a couple of days cruising online forums trying to figure out what was wrong, but to no avail.

I have a theory that Windows Vista is a pretty nice operating system, but it's geared towards pre-built systems (like the Dells, HP's, Gateways, etc.). When you build a system yourself, you have to take the extra step to enforce Vista compliance (like chipset drivers).

Your custom built machine might have an NVIDIA chipset or a VIA chipset or an AMD chipset, etc. In my brother's case, it was NVIDIA. I told him to go to NVIDIA's website and download all the latest drivers for his chipset. Then, you do Windows Update from within Vista, but you tell it to "Check for Updates" (link in the upper left corner I believe). Instead of doing the express update, you tell it you want to pick. Generally, driver updates are considered "optional". There might be a way to change this. I'm not sure. Long story short, make sure you periodically go through your "optional" updates to make sure you don't need them.

After my brother did all of this, his Vista 64 system has been running fine.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Holiday Season Degrades Into Smudge

When I was a kid I liked Christmas. I think it started going down hill when I was 11. When I was 11, I had Type I Diabetes although I had not been diagnosed yet. It would be diagnosed in January.

I didn't enjoy that Christmas. My parents always overspent on us kids so the gifts were quite nice, but the memory that always haunts me is having to get up every hour to go to the bathroom. I'd try to time it so that my mom and dad had time to secretly arrange all the gifts without me "accidentally" seeing them while sneaking in to the rest room to relieve my strained bladder.

Then, a few days before Christmas 9 years ago, my ex-wife told me she wanted a divorce.

I think she was mad at me because I never put Christmas lights on the house. "It's too much trouble", I would tell her, "and I don't want to end up in the hospital after I fall." I have little dexterity and heights make me extremely nervous.

Ironically, her first Christmas with her new husband was spent paying hospital bills after he fell off the roof and broke his arm. I normally don't get joy from someone else's pain. But that made me smile.

Anyway, now Christmas time is just a time to avoid disappointing anyone. I don't expect any gifts. I'd feel better if no one bought me any. I always buy myself something. This year I bought myself a Blu-Ray player. I can hardly wait to unwrap it!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Confessions of a Sinner

I have a confession to make. I like Obama. I went to the Libertarian election watching party on election night. It was an interesting event.

I try not to watch commercials or listen to any of the rhetoric leading up to the election. I don't believe you can know a person based on what you see on TV. It's too greased up by the public relations people or skewed for optimum drama by the news.

I've never liked George W. Even when he was governor of Texas, I didn't like him. However, if he ever invited me to have dinner at his ranch, I'd probably be left with a different opinion. It would be something fun to blog about regardless.

I always liked Bill Clinton. I've lied once in my life that I can remember. And I did it because I was too ashamed to tell the truth. Getting a hummer in the oval office by Monica would be embarrassing for me to talk about or admit.

Maybe I am a Democrat disguised as a Libertarian. I've had Type I Diabetes for 27 years and socialized medicine scares the hell out of me. Losing my job and therefore my insurance also scares the hell out of me. I talked about my health care solution before though. I'll probably never live long enough to retire and yet I put a big chunk of money into Social Security every year. I should be able to use that money to cover my expenses for diabetes since diabetes will prevent me from retiring anyway.

But, I'm rambling again. Obama seems smart. I watched him with Bill O'Reilly and he was impressive. Is it because he's taken speech lessons and knows how to communicate in a seemingly ligitimate, caring fashion? Can he really do the things he has said he will do? Can he go through government spending line by line and really eliminate wasteful spending?

I've decided I'm going to like him. I've tried really hard not to. But, it makes me happier when I decide I like him so I like him. I can only be negative for so long. If he fails on the budget cut backs and messes up my health care, it'll make the disappointment all the more severe. Is there such a thing as a Democratic leaning Libertarian?