The blogs of Black Marble staff

Vista media center update

In my last post I covered my woes with my upgrade from XP MCE to Vista Ultimate. Well here is an update......


After contacting Hauppauge I could not get a date for a HVR 1100 Vista driver. I managed to wait a week with my reduced set of digital channels (less than on analogue!) but could not put up with it any longer; so I decide to buy a new tuner card.

I had been reasonably happy with Hauppauge so I decided to get Nova T 500 (dual digital) model (also called the NOVA DT), I thought I might as well upgrade from a single tuner if I am buying a new card. I checked the Hauppauge UK Support Vista page and it was on the supported list. I also checked with a collegue that he had no problems with his NOVA single channel card. So I bought one.

I installed it using the CD provides (which had the right version numbers from the support page) and all was OK it seemed until I did a rescan for channels - it took forever and found no channel. So back to the forums, and I was not alone. Everyone seemed to have this issue, the site 'lied' there was no support for this card under Vista. The forums are actually full of people saying 'I bought this in good faith because the site said it was support.......'.

However I notice that there were beta drivers for the NOVA DT at (and some other card driver there too at I downloaded these, delete the card from the device manager and reinstalled with these drivers. After a rescan I had all 71 channels and can actually watch them without a problem - thus far

Other bits

Thus far I have not managed to address any of my other issues:

  • AVG fails on startup but is OK after that
  • I have disable sleep on the PC - seems to have addressed USB and screen restart issues
  • I had to reinstall the beta ATI driver to play a new DVD - I suspect that WIndows upgrade downgraded a driver.


I am sure there will be more to follow

Feel my Vista pain.......

I have posted in the past on getting my XP Media Center PC running - not really a product for the novice. So it was with high hopes I decided to upgraded to Vista - Media Center functionality is now standard, it must be easier!

The initial update was fine, I ran the upgrade advisor and it told me to remove Nero and Mcafee which I did, it then took about an hour, but asked no real questions after the license key. It seemed to pick up my old XP settings OK, it then got a few newer drivers from Microsoft update site and I thought great it has all worked.

Then I started to find the issues:

Digital TV

My  Hauppauge HVR 1100 TV Digital TV card is meant to be supported (the newest driver is pulled down from Microsoft Update), it detects all the channels I should see (about 70) but there are problems with the driver. It only allows me to view a few channels, thus far only BBC1, 2 or 3, I get no signal on anything else. On checking the newsgroups it seems that there is a problem with any channel that is on Mux C (which seems to be most of them in my region) - there is a new Vista driver promised by Hauppauge but no date as yet.

It is a good job my TV has a digital tuner built in as well. Lets see how long I last before I buy a replacement card.

DVD Playback

If a put a DVD in to play there is about 50% chance it will work. If it fails I just get a blank screen and my TV says unsupported format (the PC is not generating the message). If a try to play the DVD in Media Player in a non full screen window, I get a message box that the DVD digital rights management is not support but either the codec, DVD hardware or display driver. It seems it is an issue to do with Blu-ray digital rights management. The message box recommended I updated the display driver.

I checked at the ATI site and found I have 7.x Radeon drivers but there is an 8.x beta. Once I updated to the beta the DVDs that were failing work - at last a success!

Aspect Ratio

On XP I ran everything at 1280 by 768 and widescreen TV fitted OK. On Vista I was getting a thin black band at the top and bottom of the screen. This was fixed by leaving the PC set to 1280 by 768 but in Media center TV setup setting it to 1152 by 648. Maybe XP did this behind the scenes.

USB Keyboard

My USB based Microsoft media center keyboard and remote seem to just go to sleep and the base unit has to be unplugged and plugged back in again to get any activity lights on the base station - this might be my hardware but never happened on XP.


By default Vista sleeps the PC after an hour, but will restart to do recordings - nice idea and the recording wake up bit works. The problem I had was that if the PC is in sleep mode it does not restart when you press the on button. PC PC seems to start but the screen remains blank. However, but this might be due to my USB keyboard issue or ATI drivers - I will monitor this.

Anti Virus

I installed AVG as my anti virus (one of the few with Vista support), but when I boot the PC I get an AVG kernel cannot initialize message. However I can start it manually OK. So guess there is a timing issue, it has been mentioned to me that it might be trying to poll the Internet for possible updates and times out waiting as the network layer is not up. I tried setting the AVG services to delayed started but it did not help - Other people have reported it on the AVG forums, so lets wait for an update I suppose.

DVD Noise

I might be imagining it but when I play a DVD it seems to sound louder spinning than it did on XP.



So what do I think of Vista, well it would be nice is all the drivers did what they said on the tin. I think is could the the big issue across the board - getting the right driver and/or hardware support. Then again XP media center was very driver specific. Vista is certainly easier than that and does look nicer.

So now I am certified!

I am now a certified Scrum Master having completed a course with Mike Cohn in London. I have read about Scrum a good deal in the past, and it turns out I had not been that wrong in the way I had tried to implement it.

So was it a good course, I certainly think so, Mike leads the class well. As with most project management (and IT I suppose) the course shows you that communication is the key, you can get so much information from the discussions the class has as opposed to a more traditional 'taught class' approach. But this is at the core of Scrum where the team should be a team of equal not a manager and staff.

So if you have not already read up on Scrum please have a look, I am sure you will find it interesting.

Slide stack for DDD4

This is the first time I have got Internet access since DDD4 on Saturday.

You can now get my DDD4 slides about continuous integration. I have edited them a bit from the version I used at the weekend, as the session was very demo lead I have dropped in main configuration samples I used as slide notes. I hope they are useful and not too cryptic.

So what did I think of the event - for me it went well I was happy with my session, lets see if the feedback says others were. As usual after my session I did not feel up to attending much more. Is this common does any conference divide into attendees and presenters?

Anyway must go now, lunch is almost over, others want this Internet connection, I must get back to my Scrum Masters Certification course - more on that later

Fun with Installing a Dual Server Team Foundation Server

I am convinced that the TFS install has an hidden registry entry that counts the number of time you try to install it, only allowing success after some random number has been reached. The number of blog post you see around the ' I tried and tried and on my X attempt it work".

The problem  is you seem to have to have all your ' ducks in a row' else there is no hope of success. This seems a common pattern on many current Microsoft installation process, they are large and monolithic with little progress information and if you go get a failure you really need to dig into long log files and then flatten the boxes before trying again.

The key points I have learnt over the past two days:

  • Follow the walkthrough documents on the product DVD religiously
  • Make sure there are no domain/group policies you have forgotten on default user accounts
  • If the reporting service configuration stage fails make sure you drop the DB files and that the underlying DB and log files are deleted (the error message you get of the files are present is less than helpful being about incorrect passwords)
  • I suggest building on a VPC so it is easy to roll back each stage of you have a problem then move the image via SYSPREP to real hardware