Monthly Archives: April 2006

Optimising the morning commute

In my continuing search for ways to improve traffic flow (rather ironic, since I’m working from home these days), I came across this analysis of how small variations in departure time for the morning commute could lead to significant time savings.

Friends who commute from North Wicklow to Dublin city centre had told me that there was a narrow window in the morning when you could get a clean run into the city without too much delay – about 10 minutes after the early morning rush has subsided but before the school runs kick in. This article appears to support that theory (albeit on a different continent!)

(Of course, there are the usual Slashdot comments on the article also…)

Maybe one day, I’ll actually get to put all this theory to use…

HAL 2000 smart home technology

Steve pointed me towards an interesting demo video showing off the capabilities of the HAL 2000 home automation system. It lets you control your home using speech commands from any room – quite impressive.

The author has an extensive discussion of the technology involved (speakers, distribution amps, microphones, etc.) along with some comments on the limitations of the system.

Startrek’s onboard computer suddenly doesn’t seem quite so far away…

WinAmp, Quicktime and Internet Explorer

I use Winamp as my default MP3 player for Internet Explorer. Every now and again, Apple’s Quicktime player seems to hijack the file association, so that when I download MP3 files off the web, they play using the Quicktime embedded media player (which I dislike).

None of the obvious ways of undoing this hijacking seemed to work. Today, however, I came across a method that does work:

  • Load Microsoft’s Windows Media Player
  • Under Tools -> Options -> File Types, select MP3 Audio File as one of the filetypes used by WMP and hit Apply. This does some magic that unhooks Quicktime from Internet Explorer and replaces it with Windows Media Player.
  • Now if you re-run WinAmp and tell it to reregister its filetypes, it will subvert the Windows Media Player settings, and it will once more become the default MP3 player for Internet Explorer.

Simple when you know how…

Accessing shared drives from Media Centre Extender

Having recently bought an XBox 360 to use as a Media Centre Extender with my main MCE living room PC, I was dismayed to find that my network drives were not accessible when using the extender.

A bit of research showed that this is a consequence of how the MCE Extenders connect using the Remote Desktop capability of Windows XP – mapped drive letters are only accessible under the username they are created under, and the extender has its own separate user account (usually MCX1).

Unfortunately, the password for that account is not available. However, there is a simple workaround. The original description came from Chris Lotter’s Blog, but I’ve reproduced the important details here for easy reference.

To make mapped drives visible under Windows Media Centre Extender, you need to follow these steps:

  • Map the drive as usual on your main Media Centre account, and configure Media Centre to search for media on that drive
  • Create a new folder called C:\Netlogon
  • Share that folder publically with the share name “Netlogon”
  • Create a file called LOGON.BAT in C:\Netlogon which looks similar to this:
    @echo off
    echo Mounting remote network drives...
    net use m: \\\MP3     /user:world\eddy.carroll mypassword
    net use p: \\\PHOTOS  /user:world\eddy.carroll mypassword
    net use v: \\\DVD     /user:world\eddy.carroll mypassword

    Replace ‘world’ with your workgroup name, ‘eddy.carroll’ with your server account name, and ‘mypassword’ with your server account password.

  • Finally, go to Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Computer Management and open the Local Users & Groups -> Users folder. Double-click the MCX1 user, select the Profile tab, and set the Logon Script name to ‘logon.bat’.

You’re now done. Simply disconnect and reconnect your Extender, and it should now be able to see all the media on your mapped drives.