Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Speeding Up My Ghost Backup

Files on my C: drive are fairly static, consisting mainly of just the Windows system files, page file and other programs that I may install or upgrade from time to time. All my work files and TV captures go into different partitions - backups consist of just a simple "copy" to a flash drive for these files.

I will initiate a (Symantec) Ghost backup on the C: drive only after when I have installed/uninstalled new/existing programs or after when there are many changes in the Windows registry due to parameter changes in the Windows system or software program settings that I have made.

This is what I do to speed up my the Ghost backup on my C: drive.

Monday, 17 December 2012

V2CRS Does Not Like Windows System Restore

I do not really need a user login account for my Pentium Dual Core computer that I use for TV captures. Security is not a concern as I am practically the only user on this PC. But I have a need to use V2CRS for scheduling my VirtualDub TV recordings. And one of the requirements of V2CRS is that it needs a user login account with a password.

Windows Scheduled Tasks
Windows Scheduled Tasks

In the documentation of V2CRS, there is no mention of what the user login account should be. So I just create an account called "user" (with administrative privileges) that requires a password to login. Since I can use V2CRS to schedule and record without any problems, I did not give much thought to this after that. I thought everything was alright. That is until when I did a "Restore my computer to an earlier time" via the Windows System Restore. Some, but not all, of my scheduled V2CRS task will not launch. A look into the Windows Scheduled Tasks window, which V2CRS actually uses to schedule the task, shows a status of "Could Not Start" next to the task.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Solved: Freezing Problem On Nintendo DS And TTDS/MicroSD

My Nintendo DS Lite (with a TTDS cartridge and a MicroSD memory card) used to freeze a lot while loading. It will either display the happy face MicroSD graphic (and doing nothing else) or the "No Card" error message with the sad MicroSD graphic. It also used to freeze at times if I accidentally touch the TTDS cartridge/MicroSD. A temporary fix for me is to just reseat the MicroSD card. Numerous attempts may be necessary at times. If this does not work, I will try reseating the TTDS cartridge.

As this looks like a contact problem to me, with a tinge of similarity to one of my previous post "Bad Contact In The PC Slots", I decided to coat the metallic pins of the MicroSD card and the TTDS cartridge with some contact enhancer - I use Electrolube's "EML Contact Cleaner Lubricant".

It has been about a year now, and I have not encountered the 'freezing' problem with my Nintendo DS since.


Friday, 23 November 2012

TV Captures On-Demand - An Easier Way

One Touch Recording or OTR. A function on my old VCR that enables me to record a TV program immediately without delay. And with the ability to set a countdown timer, the VCR will shut off once the countdown reaches zero.

I wanted something similar to OTR on my PC for my TV recordings with VirtualDub. There are times when I wanted to start recording a TV program immediately without scheduling a task in V2CRS. Task scheduling is easy with V2CRS but it takes time keying in the parameters. Consequently, there is an undesirable delay when I want to start recording immediately.

Batch Files To The Rescue

The easiest method that I could think of in creating an OTR like function on my PC is to use Windows batch files, that will in turn call the V2CRS program "Scheduler.exe". VirtualDub capturing will start almost immediately plus I will get a countdown timer, courtesy of V2CRS.

A command for immediately capturing TV1 (channel 6 in my case) into the file name "TV1" in the directory "F:\RecordedTVPrograms" for a length of 30 minutes will look like this:

Friday, 9 November 2012

Is Sulfur An Effective Snake Repellent?

I saw a thin green snake in my back garden last Saturday morning - lizard hunting and slithering up and down a tree branch. Its head is about the size of an adult human thumb and it is about 3 feet in length. Immediately after noticing this snake, I went out and sprinkled some sulfur within the vicinity of the back garden thinking that the smell of sulfur will cause the snake to go away. I was careful to leave some space sulfur free so that the snake could escape. Instead, it did nothing. The snake just continued lizard hunting. It seems to be unperturbed by the chickens and ducks walking around its vicinity nor was it threatening them. Likewise when I was standing about 6 feet away from it. It just stared at me and did nothing.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Building My Own UHF TV Antenna

My DIY TV Antenna

I built my own UHF antenna for the TV in my hall by using the plan that I found at http://www.tvantennaplans.com/. The given plan is meant to be an indoor antenna. I placed mine under the front porch away from the sun and rain. With this antenna, I can receive both UHF channels (NTV7, 8TV, TV9 and TV Alhijrah) and VHF channels (TV1 and TV2 and TV3). This is a surprise to me as this antenna design is meant for UHF reception only! I do not have any explanation. Perhaps this is because there are not many high-rise buildings in Ipoh, the place where I live. Irrespective, I am not complaining. It saved me the trouble of building a separate antenna for receiving VHF channels.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

VirtualDub Post Capturing: Deleting Advertisements

There are two things that I do before I start cutting out commercial breaks from my TV captures:

The Problem With VirtualDub

VirtualDub was the first tool that I used for cutting out these ads found in commercial breaks. But AVI capture files that have been resynced (and MP3 artifacts removed) will gradually go out of sync again after cutting out the ads. No matter what I did, I could not cut out ads correctly with VirtualDub.

Avidemux To The Rescue

So, I now use Avidemux to edit out these advertisements from my TV captures.

Avidemux is a multi-platform video editor and it is free and open-source. The version that I have installed on my PC is version 2.5.4 (r7200). I only use 7 keys on the keyboard to locate, mark and cut out advertisements.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Posting Churp Churp Campaigns To Facebook

My first Churp Churp campaign posting to Facebook was a disaster. I have assumed that I could easily do the posting with just a single click of the mouse on the "Like" button (see picture below) but ended up sharing the advertisers site instead - with no URL to my unique campaign link in the posting. Good for the advertiser but not good for me as I will not be paid for the mouse clicks generated from this advertisement.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

TV Alhijrah - Now In Ipoh

TV Alhijrah

I accidentally detected TV Alhijrah in Ipoh airwaves while doing an "Auto Tune" to fix my TV reception problem with RTM's TV2 on 29th August 2012. I am not sure when TV Alhijrah began transmitting to Ipoh. I tried tuning in to this station in April 2012 but could not get any signal back then. TV Alhijrah is transmitting to Ipoh on Channel 55 on the UHF band.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

My VirtualDub Capture Mode Settings

Below are the VirtualDub settings that I use in VirtualDub for all my TV captures (my XVid settings can be found in my earlier post).

My captures are encoded in XVid (for video) and MP3 (for audio).

Sunday, 19 August 2012

VirtualDub Post Capturing: Removing MP3 Artifacts

Annoying Artifacts

When I do TV capturing with VirtualDub, with the KWorld PCI Analog TV Card Lite (PVR-TV 7134SE) hardware device, the only sampling rate that I could choose for audio compression is 32 KHz, irrespective of the audio compression format. As a consequence, I have to compress my MP3 audio with a sampling rate of 32 KHz - in stereo with a bit rate of 96 Kbps.

I do not get any problems with the audio if I were to view my playbacks on my PC. But for playbacks using a media player that is connected to my TV, I can hear those annoying MP3 artifacts - some funny distortion when someone is talking that is audible at certain parts of the playback. I suppose this is because my TV has better speakers compared with my PC.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

VirtualDub Post Capturing: Keeping Audio And Video In Sync

Unless it is less than 20 minutes long, I have a problem with audio and video synchronization in all my VirtualDub TV captures. During playback, the audio and video will start out okay, but after about 20 minutes they will begin to go out of sync. It is only later that I realized that this problem is caused by the audio and video having different length in time. In my case, the length of the audio is always less than the video, causing the audio to be heard first before the corresponding event in the video.

This is what I have to do to bring audio and video back in sync. To recap, I am using the KWorld PCI Analog TV Card Lite (PVR-TV 7134SE) as my capture hardware device. My video captures are encoded into XVid, while audio is encoded into MP3.


Friday, 27 July 2012

TiVme And RAM Slots

The Problem

This is a follow up blog to my previous posting. There were 2 other problems that were not so obvious after the boot failure problem had been fixed. These 2 problems did not occur prior to the PC's boot failure.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Extending V2CRS - Enabling VirtualDub Filters

I have a need to use VirtualDub filters when scheduling TV captures with V2CRS. I always find that with the Sharpen filter enabled at level 17, my playbacks always look better. I also have a need to enable the Denoise filter as for one particular channel where I live, the reception is not that good. But unfortunately, there is no option for enabling VirtualDub filters in V2CRS.

Defining The .BAT Batch File To Launch VirtualDub

By luck I suppose, instead of selecting with the mouse, I happened to hit the keyboard and realised that I could key in into the field "Path:" when defining the file to execute for launching VirtualDub (under Preferences -> Capture application) from V2CRS. A thought then came to me - instead of using a .EXE executable file, using a Windows batch file ("VD.BAT" in this case) to launch VirtualDub will give me the ability to use VirtualDub scripts (and hence VirtualDub filters) via the VirtualDub command-line options.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Opera Version 11.64 On Win98

I previously wrote about upgrading my Firefox(FF) browser from v2.0.0.3 to v3.6.8 because of an "Invalid Title Value" error message that I got when I was creating a blog in Blogger.com.

I was very pleased with FF v3.6.8 after the upgrade. Compared with FF v2.0.0.3, it was very much faster and hardly crashed - only once but I think it was caused by uTorrent v1.8.1. I can login to Blogger.com, upload JPEG pictures and post updates to my blog without any problem. Neither do I have problems in viewing the other pages in Blogger.com.

But problems began to crop up after when I started to use Facebook (FB) and Nuffnang (a blog advertising company). FB pages will display but hard-disk activity will shoot up exponentially. FF response time was not only slow but the sound of hard disk activity was scary. Later, I realized that I had problems setting my Message notification level and other FB security options. Clicking on my selection does nothing. At Nuffnang, some pages will not get displayed correctly. And even if they do, clicking on certain buttons or selecting certain menu drop-down boxes yielded nothing.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Boot Failure - No POST, No Video Signal

I tried booting up my Asus P5G41C-M LX motherboard PC last Sunday afternoon, 17th June 2012, and it failed. There was no power-on self-test (POST) nor any video signal going into the monitor. As I do not have an internal speaker connected to the motherboard, I could not tell if there were any warning beeps coming from the BIOS. The only thing that were running are the CPU chassis and power supply cooling fans. The motherboard standby LED was also On.

I was tempted to apply some Electrolube Contact Cleaner Lubricant to the gold contacts/pins of the RAM module but I was not sure if this would help. I do not want to be blamed as I had a similar problem last year with this PC, and it turned out to be a bad motherboard - the store subsequently replaced it for me as it was under warranty. So all I did in the end was to just reseat the RAM module back into the slot. It did not help. The PC still did not boot up.

On the following day, I took the PC back to the store thinking that the worst had happened. The technician did some troubleshooting; disconnected the hard-disk power and SATA cable. It still would not boot up. He the removed the RAM module, took it to his desk and clean it. He then reinstalled the RAM in another slot and the PC rebooted without problems after that. When I asked him, all that he could tell me was that there were contaminants on the the gold contacts/pins on the RAM module.

Perhaps I should have cleaned it myself with the Electrolube Contact Cleaner Lubricant like I did in this previous post on my PCI card. It would have saved me all the stress and worry. Oh well. At least now I know.

Update: 30th March 2015
PC actually froze on the 22nd and 31st August 2014. I coated the pins of the RAM module and memory slot with Electrolube Contact Cleaner Lubricant and have not had this problem since.


Monday, 18 June 2012

Error While Copying A 5.43GB File To A Flash Drive

Misleading Error Message

I tried to copy a 5.43GB file into my 8GB flash drive and I received this error message:

"The disk in the destination drive is full.
Insert new disk to continue
."

"Copy" Error Message

Followed by another error message:

Thursday, 7 June 2012

V2CRS - A TV Recording Scheduler For VirtualDub

The Main Window Of V2CRS Depicting The List Of Scheduled Tasks

A VCR has a timer that enables the user to set a trigger for recording at a specific date and time. Unfortunately, VirtualDub has none.

Theoretically, we could use the Windows Task Scheduler to schedule a recording. The command to run under Windows Task Scheduler looks something like this:

C:\VirtualDub-1.9.11>C:\VirtualDub-1.9.11\VirtualDub.exe /capture /capchannel 30 /capfile "F:\RecordedTVPrograms\CapFile.avi" /capstart 3600s /x

A bit lengthy, and if we start inserting, deleting and modifying existing scheduled task, pretty soon Murphy's Law will set in and we will miss recording our favourite TV program. Much like writing a computer program, we need to debug our 'code'. Not a very good idea. Definitely not user friendly.

Friday, 1 June 2012

My XVid Configuration For TV Capture Using VirtualDub

Depicted below are the XVid parameter settings that I use for my TV captures with VirtualDub. The XVid parameters have been tuned so that I can capture directly into XVid with reasonable video quality. Capture resolution is set at 720x576 - i.e. a high resolution capture. The frame rate is set at 25 fps. Audio is captured and compressed into MP3 at 96 kbps. I do use the sharpen and dynamic noise reduction filters during capture, but not both at the same time as I do not have enough CPU processing power (see Extending V2CRS - Enabling VirtualDub Filters). CPU usage level is about 90% - 110% on average.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Bad Contacts In The PC Slots - A Solution

I did not encounter any problem when I first installed an analaog TV card into an empty PCI slot in my PC. With the necessary software installed, Windows XP can detect the card and I can watch and capture TV programs on my computer.

The Problem Starts Slowly

However, after about 6 weeks or so, I began to encounter a strange problem - the TV card will become undetectable while in the middle of watching or capturing. Shutting down and rebooting Windows XP did not help. The only thing that works is to reseat the card and it will be detectable again by Windows XP. But the same problem will occur again after about 4 weeks and periodically, like clockwork every 4 weeks or so. Moving the TV card to another PCI slot did not help either - I have tried. Nor did cleaning the PCI slot and TV card's metallic pins (the part that goes into the PCI slot) with contact cleaner and cotton buds.

A Solution

Searching in Google led me to 2 articles about contact enhancers:

18 paragraphs down from the top in Harold Kinley's article describes my problem exactly.

I got myself a 200ml can of Electrolube EML Contact Cleaner Lubricant and sprayed it into the PCI slot and onto the metallic pins (the part that goes into the PCI slot) of the TV card. I then reseated my card into the PCI slot. It has been 7 months now and the problem never occured again.

Update: 30th March 2015: Works like a charm in the PC's memory and in my Nintendo DS Lite expansion slots too.


DeoxITGOLD GN5 Mini-Spray, nonflammable 5% solution 14 g - GN5MS-15 Note: Another notable contact enhancer product that I know of is DeoxIT GOLD. They have quite a good number of user reviews on Amazon with people using it not on just PCs but on digital cameras, cellphones and stereo amplifiers too.





My Only Complain

The only complain that I have about Electrolube is that it is really hard to get their products in Ipoh, Malaysia - the place where I live. I have tried asking some local computer stores and they do not even know what "contact cleaner lubricant" is. In the end, I ordered it online from RS Components Sdn Bhd and they promptly couriered it to me once they received my payment. I did not try looking for Stabilant since Google could not find anybody in Malaysia selling it.



Monday, 14 May 2012

Channel Scanning and Auto Tuning In VirtualDub

With TivMe, the software that came along with the TV card PVR-TV 7134SE from KWorld, channel scanning and tuning is easy. Upon installation of TivMe, a wizard will popup and guides me through the whole process in 4 steps. And if I ever need to do another scan later, I just go to the software setting page and click on the "Scan Setting" button.

Wrong Country Code

When I first started using VirtualDub, I assume that things would be as easy as above. But this is not to be. When I went to the capture window (File -> Capture AVI), and activated the "Properties" dialog box (Video -> Tuner) and click on the "AutoTune" button, all that could be detected was just one local TV station, when there was suppose to be 6.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

My PC - My Personal Video Recorder

I have been using my PC as a video recorder ever since my VCR has been producing jumpy recordings. That was about a year and a half ago. At that time I was thinking of getting a new VCR but nobody sell them anymore in Malaysia. Instead retailers were recommending digital video recorders that costs at least RM1000 each. I find that to be very expensive.

Since I already have a media player hooked up to my TV, and it supports AVI files with XVID and MP3 encoding, I decided to get myself a TV capture card to record analog TV programs on my PC itself. On my PC, what I have is an Intel Pentium Dual Core 2.7 GHz CPU with 1 GByte RAM installed in an ASUS P5G41C-M LX motherboard. As everything was experimental, I chose the cheapest TV capture card that I could find - the KWorld PCI Analog TV Card Lite (PVR-TV7134SE). The price RM99.

I did not use the TivMe software that came with the KWorld capture card as the documentation was poor and not much options were given to set the video and audio encoding parameters. With a background in computing, I would like to have as much control as possible in what I am doing. So instead I decided to use the freeware VirtualDub (v1.9.11) by Avery Lee.

All my captures are in high resolution 720x576 - encoded directly into XVID for video and MP3 for audio while capturing. However, not everything was plain sailing. TV capturing was an entirely new thing to me and I had to rely on Unofficial VirtualDub Support Forums, Doom9 Forums, Lukes Video Guide, VideoHelp Forums and countless Google searches. There were hardware problems, software limitations, and not forgetting inappropriately set XVID parameter.

But all in all, I am very pleased with how things have turned out. I now have very good quality video captures, with no advertisements (as I manually delete them after the captures), no jumpy playbacks and no more mouldy tapes. I don't have to worry about hardware replacement parts as PC components are fairly standard - unlike say a VCR video head or some obscure roller.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

"Invalid Title Value" when creating a new blog

Update 25th April 2014

I think I need to create an update to this blog post. The older blog entry (I must admit, is confusing) is at the end, to anybody who is interested.

To work around this problem, try upgrading your desktop web browser to the latest version of, preferably Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome. If you are getting this error message on a mobile device, do try using a desktop web browser first.

I believe this problem has something to do with newer Javascripts tags being used on the page for creating a blog at blogger.com, that is not recognized in older web browsers. I have had pages in blogger.com that were working properly at one time, but started popping up warning messages months later. The only reason that I could think of is that the code and scripts for that page have changed.


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