Media Center Laptop

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Okotoks Camper

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I saw a previous thread on this topic, but it hadn't been updated since June so I thought I would start a new one to continue the discussion of WMC computers.

We just bought a laptop with Windows Media Center O/S and I'm curious to know if anyone is using this in their RV and how? Our expectation is to use it to reord tv programs/movies etc. and watch at our convenience. How do others to this? Any recorders out there?

One observation from the earlier thread: someone said that Media Center was overlaid on XP Home. Actually on my HP ZD8225, it's overlaid on XP Pro.

 

Steve CDN

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I have a desktop as well as a laptop with Media Center and though they are not identified as XP Pro, they contain many of the same components as Pro.? There are some differences I am told.? You will want to download the Media Center enhancements from the MS Media Center website, as this will allow you to determine where your recorded video will be saved.? Without the enhancements package, your video will be saved in the default C:\My Documents|My recordings folder.

What specifically do you want to know about how to use the Media Center, because the way you suggest its use is pretty much straightforward.? Connect the cable to the input jack, program the recording, and watch it while its playing or playback the recording later or copy it to DVD.

What sound card is in your laptop and which TV receiver does it use??

The receiver in the Dell desktop is an ATI and the receiver in the Dell laptop is an outboard black box with a Dell logo on it.

The HP ZD 8225 is a nice laptop...I was considering it as an option to the Dell 9300, but Dell had a terrific deal a few weeks ago.

 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Plan on lots of disk space to store the videos - a DVD burner is probably ideal.  You can record to disk and do some basic editing, then offload to a DVD. Do the final editting at your convenience.
 

blueblood

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Steve said:
I have a desktop as well as a laptop with Media Center and though they are not identified as XP Pro, they contain many of the same components as Pro.?

FWIW - When SP2 came out I used the download to update one of my XP PRO systems. When it got done, it identifed the OS as WIndows Media Center on the dual boot startup menu. I called MS to ask what was the reason and its impact if any. They couldn't figure out how it happened but advised that it was running XP Pro and I sure can't tell any difference.
 

Steve CDN

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You're right about lots of storage space, Gary.  I've got a 300GB external HD is use to store all the data I record.  That way I don;t have to rely on the laptop HD and I can move the data from one system to the other
 

BernieD

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Steve said:
You're right about lots of storage space, Gary.  I've got a 300GB external HD is use to store all the data I record.  That way I don;t have to rely on the laptop HD and I can move the data from one system to the other

Steve

I don't know what I'm going to do with all that storage ??? ???  I learned on my first computer with a 5 MB hard drive ;D ;D  My desktop has a 160GB Raid setup and I just bought today a 300GB external drive. That'll do all my backups and a Norton Ghost copy, but since I am only using 22GB of my 160 GB internal, maybe I should rent out some space to others ;D

By the way, I use Second Copy to synchronize my laptop and desktop so that I have all my critical data (Quicken, email, Rolling Stock and Organizer) on both machines at all times.
 

Steve CDN

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I use Second Copy to synchronize my laptop and desktop

Bernie,

Would you please elaborate on the process involved?  Does the data reside on each system or on your external HD in real time form?  Or is the external used as a backup?

I need to accomplish the same thing with three systems.  I thought of keeping my data on the external and just plugging into the system being used.

Is there a disadvantage to doing it the way I though of using?
 

BernieD

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Steve said:
Would you please elaborate on the process involved? 

Steve

When we are at home, I use my desktop as my primary PC. But when we are ready to travel, my laptop has to become the primary. With all of our trips, shifting current data to the appropriate computer had become quite an involved chore. Because my email agent's transfer routine was somewhat involved and long, I was looking for a better way and someone on the VA forum pointed me to Second Copy.  Now I only have the 2 computers to worry about, so I am not sure about what you would have to to have 3 in the loop. Sometimes when Marlene takes over the desktop for her projects, I'll also run Second Copy so that I can do "my thing" on the laptop.

With Second copy, I set up a "profile" for each program that I want synchronized on both computers. Second Copy works on one computer so I have it set to run off of the desktop. The profiles define the locations of the folders on each computer and any exceptions (for example, certain formatting files for the specific computer are not synchronized), frequency of synchronization, etc. Thinking about it, if you had 3 computers in the network, you probably could create a separate profile for each of the appropriate programs on the 3rd computer.

With my system, just before each trip departure, or right after each return, I run backups on each of my profiled programs, close them all and have Second Copy run all of the profiles. When I come back to the desktop after Second Copy has done it's work, each computer has the same information on it for my profiled programs. I have the external hard drive for full system backups and don't profile our graphics and archive files, but I'm able to step right in with my laptop for email (VA is an OLR program and I keep all my email downloaded), financial (I continue to use Quicken while traveling), etc. without missing a beat.

Take a look at the program's website, you may find some additional answers. The latest version of the program only costs $30 (download) and, IMHO, well worth it.  http://www.secondcopy.com/index.html
 

Tom

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Bernie

I'm a little off the subject here but, since it's already been mentioned .....

With Second Copy or, for that matter, any backup software, do they truly synchronize the data? e.g. if both computers have had different changes made to their respective data set, are the contents of both sets of updates merged on both computers? Is there a situation where the dates of the respective individual updates result in something being overwritten or lost in the backup process?

Does my first backup need to use one data set on one PC as the baseline data set, or could I create a backup that is a synchronized copy of existing (but slightly different) data sets on two PCs?

For clarification of why I'm asking, I've been making backups for many years but the only true synchronization process I've used is between my PDA and one or two PCs. As a result, the bulk of my backups end up as multiple complete data sets or, for example, multiple copies of some folders/directories that I wish to back up. Clearly, not the most efficient way of doing things, but it's fast when, for example, I merely back up a couple of folders/directories.

BTW I just looked at their web site and it appears that Second Copy runs in the background and continually monitors changes to the original (single) data set.
 

Ned

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True synchronization is something that has to be designed into the database and can't be done by generalized backup or sunchronization programs.  The best they can do is to copy the newer version of a file over the later version.  Such programs can work as you expect, but you can only use one computer at a time for a given program and be sure to copy the newer files back to the other computer before changing computers.

Another option that works for some, but not all, programs, is to keep the data on one computer and access it from other computers over the network.  However, not all programs will support this and unless a program is specifically written for network access, you can only use one copy at a time or risk data corruption.
 

BernieD

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Tom

Last first. You have to tell 2nd Copy to monitor in the background. There are switches to monitor, to run at specific times or to run only when told.

I use SC primarily to synchronize data folders when I am switching between desktop and laptop computers before and after trips. SC does not go into a specific file to update data to the best of my knowledge. It compares file date last modified and uses that to replace the older file in the system. You do have to be careful to close files in the proper order before synchronizing. For example, my Organizer backs up every time it closes, so I have to make sure that I close the version with which I am working after the one on the other computer.

You have a number of choices to make with each profile that you create; you can copy that file somewhere else, you can copy folders (deleting and adding), you can move, compress or synchronize. When you synchronize folders (the procedure I am most familiar with) you select the source (desk top computer folder in my setup) and destination (laptop folder) and specify specific files for inclusion or exclusion only or just the entire folder. The synchronization is based on latest file date, as noted above. When completed, if there were no inclusions or exclusions specified, both folders will be identical. You do have to think a little before running the synchronization and it's a good idea to have a backup of files you don't want to lose in case you set up the profile or closed the files incorrectly. Does this also cover your question re 1st backup?

 

Okotoks Camper

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Steve, sorry for the late response. I'm still working (22 weeks to go!) ;D and the last week has been a humdinger. I will look at the package, but the outboard tuner (dual) is HP and I haven't even looked at the sound card yet. I'll get back to you on that.

Mostly, I'm trying to establish some contacts so that, as I work my way through issues, I can "consult my expert contacts".

Tom, in the computer world it seems to me to be difficult to "be off topic" as everything is linked in one way or another. The sub thread of synchronization hadn't even occurred to me, but will be important. Bernie, thanks for your info too.

I also hadn't really thought about external drive, but I can see that even 100Gig could run out nowadays. I think I may use the external 300Gig drive as my backup.

So far, I've been focussing on getting the wireless network set up and updated, with good security. Currently I'm using 128 bit WEP (I haven't been able to get WPA working yet, although my DataLink DI524 router apparently supports WPA. It doesn't seem to like the key I provided.) I may have some specific questions on WPA next weekend when I take another stab at it.? I also set up MAC filters to only allow my laptop and desktop MAC addresses to be able to use the network. Am I missing any good tricks to improve security?

With regard to Media Center, I will also tackle that again this weekend and will probably have questions coming out of that too. I really appreciate that there are folks on the forum willing to help.
 

Steve CDN

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Calgary John,

Let us know what progress you make.  As for your wireless settings the Forum has some really competent members who can help you, but they may not necessarily be following this discussion thread.  Post a new discussion with your wireless security questions so the people interested in the subject may respond.

Hope your 22 weeks go by quickly! :D

 

Steve CDN

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If you run Windows Media Center Edition, then visit the Windows MCE Homepage, and check for updates.? In addition? Tweak MCE PowerToy  should be downloaded and installed.? This utility allows certain customization settings to Windows MCE not available in the default installation.? Not the least of which is the ability to designate the target folder for TV recordings, especially important if you use a separate hard drive for your TV recordings, thereby liberating your default hard drive.

Download site:

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=3400190A-511A-4A3A-9B89-524511A76F58&displaylang=en
 
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