Using NTSV TV with PAL STBs in India

25 08 2008

After moving the TV from US to India, I faced the obvious question … how to connect it to the cable box? The TV supports only NTSC and the cable set to box (STB) gives out only PAL. After searching thru several blogs, electronic shops in Bangalore and talking to friends, these seem my likely choices.

  1. Use an STB that gives NTSC. To my knowledege no cable or satellite TV operator has such a box.
  2. Use a signal convertor that converts PAL to NTSC. These come in different prices and quality. They come in different connectors aswell. One popular choice is to take coaxial input and composite or componet video output. Based on most of the reviews, the signal quality seem to suffer on these boxes.
  3. Use a signal convertor that gives SVGA. This is similar to option (1), except that the output is SVGA, meat for flat panel monitors. These boxes come in different output resolutions. I eventually picked one that claims to support 1600×1200. It does the job, quite poorly. Since the output is SVGA, I need to run seperate audio cable.
  4. Use a PC as a convertor. Ofcourse you will need a TV Tuner card that takes PAL input and an external video out from the PC. In my case, the TV tuner card is NTCS only. Someday I will get a PAL TV Tuner card and try this.
  5. Use an STB that gives SVGA. DishTV seem to have such STB. This seem like an acceptable solution. I have n’t tried this yet, since I have already invested quite heavily on the STBs and the convertors.
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Putting the Sansa into Recovery Mode

25 03 2008
While updating mp3 tags with Linux (mp3info), I think I disconnected the device prematurely and it screwed the mp3 ID3 tags and possibly the file system. The player keeps rebooting while refreshing database.
While googling around found this useful (but unsafe) tip.
From time to time there may be a reason to put your Sansa into Recovery Mode. This is one of the four USB modes that the Sansa has, which is used for fixing most problems with the Sansa.
SANSA Sandisk
  • Turn the hold switch so that the orange is showing.
  • Hold the REC button on the side of the Sansa.
  • While holding the REC button, press the power button.
  • After the SanDisk logo appears, it should say “Welcome to Recovery Mode”.
  • After this appears, you may release the REC button. If the Sansa goes to the firmware, it is most likely because the REC button wasn’t held in far enough, and you must repeat these steps.
    Done

File Descriptions

  • Firmware file
    • Often called PP5022.MI4, this is the file that controls most of the Sansa, with the exception of when it turns on.
    • When using the Hebrew firmware, this file must be (re)named to firmware.mi4, which is case sensitive.
    • The latest firmware may be downloaded from the Manual Firmware Download thread
  • Bootloader File
    • Often called BL_SD_BOARDSUPPORTSD.ROM, this is the file that tells the Sansa to load the firmware file. The bootloader file also contains the Recovery Mode.
    • When using the Hebrew firmware, this file must be (re)named to pribootLoader.rom, which is also case sensitive.
    • The bootloader almost never needs to be replaced, and a bad or corrupt bootloader may result in the need to use e200tool, a very low level tool.
  • sansa.fmt
    • This file, though normally not used, can be placed on the Recovery Mode drive to format the main partition, which stores all of the music.
    • This file is often used to fix most problems that aren’t fixed by replacing the firmware, such as a music file that is corrupt, which occasionally causes the Refresh Database ‘window’ to freeze.
    • This file’s extension must be fmt. The full filename can not be sansa.fmt.txt or similar, and must only be sansa.fmt
  • Other files
    • Unless it is noted in the Manual Firmware Download thread that another file must be included for the firmware to work, do not add any other files to the Recovery Mode drive
    • Do not, under any circumstances, place a file ending in ‘.bin’ on the Recovery Mode drive.
    • If in doubt about placing any other files besides the firmware (and possibly bootloader) onto the Recovery Mode drive, PM a Sansa moderator, who should be able to help you.

“Load main image failed, switch to recovery mode” error
This error, the most common reason for using Recovery Mode, happens when the firmware is corrupt. Corrupt firmware can not harm your Sansa. In addition, it is fairly easy to fix:

  • Download a copy of the latest firmware, such as from theManual Firmware Download thread.
  • With the Sansa in Recovery Mode, save the mi4 file to the 16MB-FORMAT drive. Rename the mi4 file to PP5022.mi4, if it is not already.
  • Do not copy any other files over. The 16MB-FORMAT is not for storing music and other files. The only files that can be copied over are the bootloader, firmware, and sansa.fmt files
  • If you are using the Hebrew firmware, you may need to rename the firmware file to firmware.mi4 (case sensitive).
  • Disconnect your Sansa.
    Done

Sansa Freezes on Database Refresh
This problem is also fairly common, and usually occurs when an MP3 file is corrupt, and causes the database refresh to freeze. It also is fairly easy to fix:

  • Turn off your Sansa, if you haven’t already. If needed, hold the power button for 20 seconds to force it off.
  • Place your Sansa in recovery mode by following the steps above.
  • Place the sansa.fmt file in Recovery Mode. Please note placing this file in Recovery Mode will format your Sansa. That means it will delete all your music that is stored on it.
  • Remove your Sansa, and wait for it to format.
  • Turn off hold, restart Sansa (if needed) and
  • Done

__________________
Latest Sansa e200 firmware: http://chrisjs.com/downloads/PP5022.mi4My (Sansa) Rockbox Build:
Site | Download | Old Builds | Thread
My PM box fills up too fast it seems – feel free to email me if you have any questions.




Syncing Google Calendar and Contacts with Thunderbird

29 10 2007

Keeping Google Calendar and Lightening in sync

Thunderbird

This works for both Thunderbird caleder (Lightening) or the standalone Sunbird. The choice is matter of taste, since both offer the same functionality. But I fo

und the TB version more customizable (may be its just that I did n’t look harder on sunbird.

  • New Calendar
  • Select “On the Network”
  • Select Google Calendar (if you don’t see this option,then you don’t have the Provider extension installed right)
  • Enter your Private XML address of your Google Calendar (Under Manage Calendar/Private Address section)

Enjoy the comfort of desktop calendering with the features of Google Calendar!

Keeping Addressbook in sync:

Here is post explaining how to sync contacts. using KolabSync extension.





Media sharing and streaming in Windows

28 10 2007

audioShoutCast NAS Server : streaming server. (icecast equivalent) Download and install this. Edit cfg file (with Edit Config button). Change Port and Password at the minimum. Restart server and make sure the server is up. (check the logs shown on the window / try telnet localhost <port> from command line)

WinAmp: Download and install the latest (5.5 at this time). This is the media source for Shoutcast server (ices equivalent, less customozible though.  This also works as UPnP server (Cool!) and access your media over http at WinAmp Remote via orb. Now thats feature rich! Wow!

WinAmp DSP Pluggin: After installing, rerun WinAmp. Under Options->Preferences->DSP/Effects, select “Nullsoft SHOUTcast Source DSP v1.9.0” and Configure.

  • Select WinAMP for Input Device under Input tab (last tab)
  • Choose MP3 Encoder for Encoder Type and a resonable Encoder settings (64 Kbps, 22 kHz, Stereo in my case) under Encode Tag (last but one)
  • Undr Output tab (2nd tab), select Connection button. Enter IP, port and password info of the Shoutcast server. Under YelloPages button, disable “Make server public” if you want this a private station.
  • Under output tab, click Connect button. Check Status to make sure this is up.
  • From another mp3 stream aware player (like windows media player) try connecting to the URL (http://localhost:port).

TVersity: This is essentially an UPnP server. Any UPnP client (like SMC EZ-Stream) can connect to the server over the network to access and play your music). This has a neat web interface (that gmediaserver lacks) that doubles as media access over http.





Media sharing and streaming in Linux

28 10 2007

audioWith Linux, this is a breeze :
GNUMP3d : provides http listing of music. Very versatile.

Icecast: streaming server

Ices: scriptable client (source) for icecast. Use ices 0.4 to stream mp3s (deprecated for Ogg vorbis in latest). Or XMMS can be used too, but I like the silent servers like ices. (xmms like given here for reference, any decent distro worth its name should pre install xmms, or at least provide a package). Ices, with its script hook, provides infinite possibilities.

GMediaServer: UPnP server





SMC E-Z Stream

17 10 2007

Got this audio streaming device from buy.com (around $20-30 I think). Basically thismcwaa_g.jpgs can act as UPnP Client and also to access internet audio streams wirelessly. A very basic web interface (radio678.com) allows you to add and modify streams, the a/c tied to the MAC Id of the device. … for free for 30 days, then you pay $29.99 (one time fee) to unlock. SUCKS! The device itself does a decent job in audio streaming. Some downsides include:

  • The included remote is slow and has limited band
  • The UI on the device is basic and coarse (4 lines of ugly font), I wish they had given atleast a video out for the interface.
  • I read in TVersity forum that the device can’t handle more than 3 levels of tagging (Genere/Artist/Album/Custom/ for Eg)
  • FF and REW are slow.

Now on unlocking the device to connect to streams bypassing radio678:
Tried GNU media server (linux only). worked ok for local media sharing. (command line only, not a problem) [**]

Tried MediaTomb (linux only). worked great for local media sharing. has a web interface that is functional. Adding a .m3u (playlist) with stream URL didn’t work. The device just locks. [***]

Tried TVersity (Windows only for now)… Works great for local media, streaming and more. This is once nice piece of software. Has great web interface. [*****]





Sharing linux file system on Windows

28 09 2007

Linux Version: Ubuntu 7.06 (server)
Windows: XP Pro (Toshiba laptop)

Samba ofcourse is the answer.

Add these to /etc/samba/smb.cfg:

You can change server_string if you want to.
server string = Samba server on %h

[nram]
path = /home/nram
available = yes
browsable = yes
public = no
writable = no

[tmp]
path = /tmp
comment = /tmp on kanakangi (linux server)
available = yes
browsable = yes
public = no
writable = yes

[music]
path = /media/music
comment = Music
available = yes
browsable = yes
public = no
writable = yes

/etc/init.d/samba reload|restart

Create password for user with
smbpasswd <user> as root

When I tried smbpasswd as <user> it failed.

I also added this to
/etc/samba/smbusers

nram = nram
(format unix user = samba user)

Also on Network changed domain to home.raaga.net

Also tried System -> Adminstrator -> Shared Folder. This is supposed to add the samba file sections to smb.conf ? Not much help.

Tried gsambad … Not sure what it does. There are tons of empty fields. Worse than editing a text file.

Tried TkSmb to make sure Iam able to view the samba share atleast on the local box.

On Windows Box

My Computer -> Tools -> Map Network Drive

Try Explore when the samba server (kanakangi) shows up.

If the dir doesn’t show up on double clicking server name, Just give the path
\\kanakangi\music

That worked

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