Archive for June, 2007

Abandonware: What’s all that about?

GTARemember the games and applications we used to use constantly? Many of these have been abandoned by their manufacturer and released to the public domain free of charge. This is because they are no longer making the company any money and the company no longer wants to support the product. The result is that some of these games and applications can be freely distributed.

Because of this, the term “Abandonware” started. There are a whole heap of games that were made before 2000 that can now be downloaded and played for free.

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Windows Software: R4 Visualisations

R4 1

It is always nice to sit back to listen to an album of your favourite band, with a bit of moving visual stimulation added to set the mood. The visualisations that come with Windows Media Player which have not been updated in years, just don’t cut it. There has been one visualisation program which has stood out over the years.

Introducing R4 from Rabidhamster. The effects and colours of R4 are stunning and there are enough transition effects to always use this program as you will always see new combinations, to keep it interesting. The music detection is really solid, you can notice how R4 responds to a drum beats. It is highly configurable and works really well over multiple monitors as you can see from the screenshots. The package runs really smoothly and you don’t need a really fancy video card.

R4 was originally released as a Winamp plug-in, with the addition of a stand alone program to work with other media players. With other players becoming more and more popular over Winamp, this allows it to remain relevant as it will detect sound and music from any media player we have on our computer. There is a minor scroller on visualisations saying that this version is not for commercial use. It is subtle. The good thing about this scroller is that it shows R4 was designed for commercial endeavours such as night clubs.

I installed this in Vista and a few things worked differently to how they did in XP. I was able to run programs over the top of R4 and always have the Start Bar visible. It was working very much as a screen background apart from hidden desktop icons. R4 would be a reasonable Dreamscene replacement if you are not an Ultimate user.

R4 3

Available for free from rabidhamster.org.


How-to: Synchronise your document folders between XP and Vista, using offline files.

Difficulty: 4

Sync centerI am currently working on two machines, one running Windows XP and the other Vista. I want to share documents between these machines, and I also want any changes I make on either one of the machines, to instantly appear on the other. I have chosen to use my Windows XP machine as my main computer because I like the way it is set up. My XP machine has my entire document collection organised neatly. What I want to do is get to these documents from my Vista machine without manually needing to copy them across or constantly mapping network drives. I want to be able to access my documents by opening “My Documents” on my XP machine, and “Documents” on my Vista machine, with both of these folders pointing to the same location.

This article will show you how to synchronise your “My Documents” folder from your Windows XP computer to your “Documents” folder in Windows Vista. Synchronising your “My Documents” is particularly useful if you have a desktop and a laptop. You can take your documents from your desktop with you on the road with your laptop. This is also suitable if you have multiple computers in your home and would like the documents to be the same on all machines, so you are not fighting with your family over which computer you need to use as all the computers will have your documents.

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Windows Software: Media Portal

Media Portal has been around for a few years now, put together by a group of passionate volunteers. Media Portal is an open-source(free) home theatre software solution, allowing you to play music, movies and pictures all from its tidy and easy to navigate interface.

MediportalThe team has come a long way since the early days of coding this program. There are now many more features, support for many more TV tuner cards, as well as being much more stable. In my case, the Media Portal software allowed me to do more with my TV tuner card than the manufacturer supplied drivers and software.

Media Portal is similar to Windows Media Center (WMC), but the coders are striving to make it better and more desirable than WMC. Media Portal has much more to offer than WMC, as it can be customised to suite your needs, allowing you to change the entire appearance to suit your lifestyle. You can also install plug-ins giving you any number of extra features not already part of the Media Portal package itself such as weather reports and stock information. Did I mention, it is free.

A few of the features Media Portal offers are:

  • Fully skinable interface so you can change the appearance.
  • Watch TV, Movies, Pictures
  • Listen to CD’s, MP3’s and many other types of audio.
  • With a TV tuner card in your computer, you can watch TV with time-shifting(pause live TV) and schedule recording of TV shows. You can even watch shows while another is recording in the background
  • Load TV guides
  • Play games
  • Search the web
  • Install plug-ins to do all sorts of fun stuff
  • etc

Inspect My Gadget highly recommends that you get yourself a copy of Media Portal and give it a try. If you connect your television and stereo to your PC, you will be able to take full advantage of this fine piece of software. 

Media Portal is updated frequently and is available from team-mediaportal.com.


How-to: Connect your PC to your television and stereo.

Difficulty: 2

PC to TVFor many years now, I have had my computer connected to my television and stereo so that I can watch films from my computer, sitting comfortably on my couch, or to set the mood with winamp visualisations and music when people are coming around. I have not seen many home setups which take advantage of this. It is so much nicer hearing your MP3 collection, pumping out the big speakers in your house.

It is very easy to set up and it can be done very cheaply, and in some cases free. The cost comes in with cables and adaptors which are cheap unless you need to buy an extra component. It should be possible for everyone to acheive for well under $100.

This article will show you how to connect your computer to your television and stereo. We will cover lots of different scenarios so I hope by the end of this article, everyone will have successfully been able to acheive this.

This theory is identical to if you want to hook your computer up to a projector so if that is what you use, this article is also appropriate for you.

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