Tag Archive: status

Sep 14

Google Chrome Tip #6: Where’s the Status bar?

Google has really gone to great lengths to try to increase the viewing space in its Google Chrome browser such as moving the tabs into the window’s Title bar, etc. One thing that appears to be missing, though, is the Status bar at the bottom. So how do you see what URL you are hovering over? How do you know what URL is loading? The status bar is there on the lower right of the page, however it’s just not always there. Hover over any link, or load a page, and you will see the Status bar slid in.

Status bar

When you move off of a link or when the page finished loading, the Status bar slides away when not needed. Slick!

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/google-chrome-tips/google-chrome-tip-6-wheres-the-status-bar

Jan 03

SageTV Tip #7: Other SageTV Customizations

The third type of SageTV customization is simply “other” customizations. These customizations vary widely in scope and function, but provide great enhancements to your SageTV experience. From custom channel logos to remote Web access, these other customizations propel SageTV ahead of the competition in form and function. Read on to get a taste of the additional customizations available to SageTV….

For brevity, I won’t detail all of the available other SageTV customizations, but here is a list of the general categories of customizations that are currently available:

  • Automatic Commercial Detection and Advance
  • Channel logos
  • SageTV Web Interface
  • XML File Creation
  • External Status Monitor
  • Directory Monitor
  • Control Applications via Windows Messages
  • SageTV Backup
  • Plugins to Support Additional Media File Formats

All of the above customizations are excellent, but I find two to be most useful to me:

1. Web Interface
This fantastic customization lets you remotely control many aspects of SageTV from any Web-enabled PC in your house or on the Internet. With features like EPG searching, show scheduling, Favorites Management, and a huge list of other features, managing SageTV is now a fun and effortless remote process. Say you’re at a relative’s house and they suggests an interesting show. Simply fire up any Web browser, securely connect to your SageTV PC’s Web Interface, and schedule the show. It’s very slick and easy to use. I highly recommend this one because it really extends the reach of SageTV way beyond the living room.

2. Commercial Detection
This is a very interesting customization. The concept is to install a couple applications that automatically scans a recorded show for commercial content, and then creates a corresponding file containing their locations. Then, an STVi uses these files playback the show without commercials. Amazing! There are several methods of doing this with varying degrees of success, and I won’t detail them all here. But I will say that I installed the DirMon2 application, the ShowAnalyzer application, and the ComSkip Playback STVi, and when I now playback a recording, SageTV auto-skips those marked sections. Watching commercial-free show content relatively seamless. It’s not 100% accurate, but its close–VERY close. And add to the mix BobPhoenix’s excellent “Video Editing for Sage” STVi, and you can easily tweak or fix any of the cut points as needed.

These are just two of the many SageTV customizations made available to dedicated users. The best place to learn about other SageTV customizations is to visit “SageTV Customizations” forum, and notably, the “List of available customizations” page in that forum.

Take the time to explore them, and if you like what you see, please let the developers know. They are always encouraged by your feedback.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/sagetv-tips/sagetv-tip-7-other-sagetv-customizations

Jul 12

Google Notebook Tip #3: Clipping Web Pages

Google Notebook provides an easy and fun way to clip sections of Web page right into your Google Notebook without leaving the page you are browsing. It's the "Google Notebook Internet Explorer Extension" for Internet Explorer, and the "Google Notebook Firefox Extension" for the excellent Firefox browser. Read on to see what the extension does and how to make the most use of it…

When you connect to the Google Notebook site and login, if you have not already installed the browser extension, you will be prompted to do so. Follow the instructions on the screen to download and install it. The installation should be pretty seamless. Once installed, you will probably need to close and restart your Web browser.

I use the Firefox Web browser almost exclusively, so I'll be using its extension as a reference, but the Internet Explorer extension should function almost identically.

The first thing you should notice after restarting your Web browser is a new icon in the Status bar. It's a little blue notebook icon labeled "Open Notebook". Clicking on this opens a small window at the bottom of your browser. It lists all notes in the most recently opened notebook. Here are some basic navigation features:

·    Clicking on the "expand" triangle icon on any of note will expand it for easy viewing.

·    Double-clicking an existing note opens it in the note editor. Like the full-screen version, you can select multiple notes and perform various "Actions" on them.

·    You can also click the "Add note" button to enter your note.

·    Clicking the "expand" icon to the left of the "Add note" button will open a list displaying all of your Notebooks. Clicking on one of these entries will open that notebook.

OK, so now you have the basics, but just how is this any more useful than the full-page version? Well, the first obvious answer is that it is displayable while browsing any Web page. Big deal, right? Well, as the TV commercials say, "But wait, there's more!"

The real power comes while browsing a page. Open up any favorite Web page and right-click on the page. In the context menu, you should see an entry, "Note this (Google Notebook)". Click on this, and the Google Notebook extension will open the notebook window and create a new note for you. The note consists of the words "Empty note" as the title, and a link to the page you are browsing. If you edit that note, you can jot down any notes about that page. This can be very useful for later reference. The handy thing about this is that it automatically maintains the URL of the page you are browsing, so you don't have to mess with copying and pasting. It just works!

There's also another variant that's even more powerful. Ok, so you created a note that points to a Web page, and you entered some textual notes about the page. But what if you want some text and graphics from the page itself in your note? The Google Notes extension lets you clip sections of formatted page content. Navigate to any Web page and highlight any section of it like you were going to copy it. You can include text, links, images, etc. After you highlight a section of the page, right-click the highlighted section. Again, you should see that "Note this (Google Notebook)" entry. Google Notes will create a new note for you with the page URL as above, but this time, it inserts into the note whatever you had highlighted. It's fully editable, so you can add to it, modify it, or whatever you want.

The Google Notebook Extension can add lots of power to your Web surfing experience by enabling you to easily and seamlessly clipping sections of Web pages directly into Google Notebook. The uses are only limited by your imagination!

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/google-notebook-tips/google-notebook-tip-3-clipping-web-pages

May 02

Gmail Tip #51: Keyboard Shortcuts

Gmail’s User Interface is quite usable, but sometimes a mouse just seems to get in the way of efficiency. The Gmail developers have included lots of nice keyboard shortcuts that can really make using Gmail quicker and easier. Read on for a detailed list of Gmail’s keyboard shortcuts….

Gmail offers many keyboard shortcuts. To enable keyboard shortcuts, click on the Settings link at the top right of the screen, and click on the "General" tab. Look for the "Keyboard Shortcuts" entry and click on the "Keyboard shortcuts on" radio button.

Below is a table showing the current list as of 25-Jan-2006. Try ‘em out!

(For the most recent version, click here.)


Shortcut Key Definition Action
c Compose Allows you to compose a new message. <Shift> + c allows you to compose a message in a new window.
/ Search Puts your cursor in the search box.
k Move to newer conversation Opens or moves your cursor to a more recent conversation. You can hit <Enter> to expand a conversation.
j Move to older conversation Opens or moves your cursor to the next oldest conversation. You can hit <Enter> to expand a conversation.
n Next message Moves your cursor to the next message. You can hit <Enter> to expand or collapse a message. (Only applicable in ‘Conversation View.’)
p Previous message Moves your cursor to the previous message. You can hit <Enter> to expand or collapse a message. (Only applicable in ‘Conversation View.’)
o or <Enter> Open Opens your conversation. Also expands or collapses a message if you are in ‘Conversation View.’
u Return to conversation list Refreshes your page and returns you to the inbox, or list of conversations.
y Archive*
Remove from current view
Automatically removes the message or conversation from your current view.
  • From ‘Inbox,’ ‘y’ means Archive
  • From ‘Starred,’ ‘y’ means Unstar
  • From any label, ‘y’ means Remove the label

* ‘y’ has no effect if you’re in ‘Spam,’ ‘Sent,’ or ‘All Mail.’

x Select conversation Automatically checks and selects a conversation so that you can archive, apply a label, or choose an action from the drop-down menu to apply to that conversation.
s Star a message or conversation Adds or removes a star to a message or conversation. Stars allow you to give a message or conversation a special status.
! Report spam Marks a message as spam and removes it from your conversation list.
r Reply Reply to the message sender. <Shift> + r allows you to reply to a message in a new window. (Only applicable in ‘Conversation View.’)
a Reply all Reply to all message recipients. <Shift> +a allows you to reply to all message recipients in a new window. (Only applicable in ‘Conversation View.’)
f Forward Forward a message. <Shift> + f allows you to forward a message in a new window. (Only applicable in ‘Conversation View.’)
<Esc> Escape from input field Removes the cursor from your current input field.

Combo-keys – Use the following combinations of keys to navigate through Gmail.

Shortcut Key Definition Action
<tab> then <Enter> Send message After composing your message, use this combination to send it automatically. (Supported in Internet Explorer and Firefox, on Windows.)
y then o Archive and next Archive your conversation and move to the next one.
g then a Go to ‘All Mail’ Takes you to ‘All Mail,’ the storage site for all mail you’ve ever sent or received (and have not deleted).
g then s Go to ‘Starred’ Takes you to all conversations you have starred.
g then c Go to ‘Contacts’ Takes you to your Contacts list.
g then d Go to ‘Drafts’ Takes you to all drafts you have saved.
g then i Go to ‘Inbox’ Returns you to the inbox.

updated 1/25/2006

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/gmail-tips/gmail-tip-51-keyboard-shortcuts

Feb 07

Gmail Tip #47: Gmail Adds Chat!

Google has just announced that they are adding Chat capability within Gmail! Go to http://mail.google.com/mail/help/chat.html to learn more about the specifics. Over the next few weeks, it will be deployed to all Gmail accounts.

Gmail Chat!

Adding chat to Gmail should be a huge boost for Gmail for several reasons. First, it will be integrated right into Gmail’s Web-based application, so there will be no need to launch a separate application like Google Talk. This is important because it will simplify its use, and nicely integrate Gmail with chat. Second, you will not need to rely on cryptic screen names as is typical with most chat applications. You will be able to use the verbose naming that Gmail’s Contacts uses.

 

Additionally, you will be able to set your availability status, and see when your friends are online allowing you to decide how you will contact them: by Gmail or via IM through chat. You will also be able to optionally maintain a history or log of your chat sessions.

I’ll post additional information as it comes out!

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/gmail-tips/gmail-tip-47-gmail-adds-chat

Dec 02

Moxi Tip #7: Moxi Vs ReplayTV

As a long-time ReplayTV DVR owner, comparisons are inevitable, so here are my rather lengthy impressions of Moxi in comaprison with ReplayTV. This comparison is an enhancement to a posting I made over on the AVS Forum. I have refined it a bit and added some more information, so read on for all you never wanted to know…

BACKGROUND
Before I get into the review and comparison, I want to provide a bit of background and perspective. I have been a long-time proponent of ReplayTV boxes and I have participated on AVS Forum’s ReplayTV forum for a number of years. I have owned three ReplayTV boxes over the past four years, and I run a personal hobby site, JimsTips.com, where I have been providing Tips & Tricks related to several topics that interest me (including ReplayTV), so to say that I’ve had some experience and interest in DVR’s would be an understatement!

As for ReplayTV boxes, I currently own an “upgraded” model 2001, an “upgraded” model 2020, and a “stock” model 5040. For me, the 2xxx models are simply “tanks” that just work. They are solid, reliable, very responsive to the remote, and have proven to be exceptional in their reliability and function. The only downside of them is that they are not “networkable” and require a phone connection to retrieve Channel Guide data and software updates. The model 5040 on the other hand has more bells and whistles, but at the same time, it seems “forced” in many of its design points. Its remote is less responsive, and it has an overall more sluggish feel when compared to the 2xxx series. For a while, it was more prone to lockups than the 2xxx series, but to ReplayTV’s credit, recent software updates have corrected this and a number of other issues.

The one real plus to the ReplayTV 5040 is its networkability: All program data can be received via broadband as opposed to dialup on the 2xxx boxes, and any show that is recorded can be “offloaded” to a PC for playback, editing, and burning to a DVD. This is excellent for building a personal library of favorite shows. You do have to jump through number of hoops to accommodate ReplayTV’s picky MPEG-2 format, but the results are quite good. (See my “ReplayTV to DVD HOWTO” on my Web site JimsTips.com for more details.)

Finally, please don’t think that I am ignoring TiVo here. I think TiVo is very innovative and an excellent product. It’s just that several years ago, I chose ReplayTV, because at the time its interface was more familiar and solid, and it provided a logical and simple transition from DirecTV’s interface. TiVo’s interface was just too different to make an easy transition. Also, ReplayTV just had a “feel” about it that seemed less intrusive. Over the years, though, TiVo has significantly improved things, and they are certainly a fine choice. So much so that if I was starting from scratch, I would seriously consider a TiVo box. I just won’t be covering TiVo here because I have no real experience with it like I do with ReplayTV.

OK, enough background. First off, I’m going to give you my Pros and Cons list about Moxi. These are based on playing around with Moxi, reading data sheets, and my experience with ReplayTV. There may be some bias, and I’m trying to be objective, but when you’ve used ReplayTV for over four years… Also note that I am not focusing at all on the HDTV features of Moxi. While this aspect is huge for many, unfortunatly, I do not have an HDTV nor do I subscribe to any HD channels. I’m focusing here primarily on the “SD” experience.

MOXI PROS:

Low Cost
Charter Cable charges a monthly charge of $9.99, and there are no initial equipment costs. This cost varies from market to market and ranges a couple bucks more or less. Over the course of a few years, ReplayTV would be more cost-effective, but if a new model becomes available, typically Cable companies let you swap them out for little or no cost whereas ReplayTV would require a new purchase and sale of the old box.

Player Bar
AKA, a Status Bar. This is pretty cool. This is something that I wish ReplayTV optionally had that TiVo has had from day-one. It gives you a quick and easy visual cue to “where you are” in a show, live or recorded. It’s clean and slick looking, and at-a-glance, I can really get a good sense of where I am in the show without having to do mental time calculations like I do with ReplayTV.

Buffer Recording
If you decide to record a show AFTER it started, Moxi can record the entire show back to the beginning as long as it is buffered. This is a very nice feature that I wish ReplayTV had.

“Skip” Button
Like ReplayTV, Moxi has a “Skip” button, but depending on the Cable company’s settings (more on that later) how far ahead it skips may vary. Initially, Charter had this configured to skip ahead 30 seconds, similar to ReplayTV. However, they recently changed it to a 15-minute skip. While at first thought this seems like a joke, it means that all “small” navigation forward is done by Fast Forwardin, and “large” navigation can be done with the 15-minute skip. For example, say you record a four hour football game and want to go to halftime. Prior to the 15-minute skip, you woult either hit Skip a couple hundred times or you would have to Fast Forward all the way to the middle. With the 15-minute skip, just a few button presses takes you forward to where you want to be. My only complaint is that you cannot skip back (reportedly, this will be addded in a future software release.

Flexible “Find” Capabilities
Like ReplayTV, you can search by keyword and category (ReplayTV “Zones”), but Moxi has some additional “advanced” search functionality. The ability to search for a show is essential and a very often-used ReplayTV feature, and Moxi doesn’t disappoint here.

Cool User Interface
Moxi’s (award winning) UI is very slick and modern. It reminds me a bit of Media Center PC’s which have very slick UI’s. Navigation is a snap, the response is quick, and the animation is smooth and pleasing to the eye. Just about everything can be accessed with just the arrow and OK keys. I have always considered ReplayTV’s UI to be more “functional” die to its unobtrusive design. Moxi seems to strike a nice balance. I’m ery happy with it, partly because it is so intuitive.

Integrated Cable Box
This is an excellent feature and most welcome. Obviously, this eliminates the Satellite and OTA markets, but consideing that we switched to Cable, it’s an excellent silution for us. It completely eliminates the need for serial connections or IR blasters required of “standalone” boxes resulting in almost instantaneous channel changes. In addition, Pay-per-view and Video On Demand channels are available.

Dual Tuners
This is another huge feature! This virtually eliminates scheduling conflicts, and the ability to record one show while watching another is something ReplayTV could not do.

MOXI CONS:

No “Grid” Guide
I really like the ReplayTV Grid Guide because it really gives you an “at-a-glance” view, especially when you want to visually look for shows. Moxi’s “dual-axis” navigation guide is novel, and I will no doubt get used to it, but I do wish it had an optional Grid Guide. Rumors indicate that an “improved” method of displaying what’s coming up is forthcoming, but it probably won’t be a “grid” guide.

No “Keyword” Themes
ReplayTV lets you create recordings based on keywords, something Moxi doesn’t do. This is nice when you don’t remember the exact name of the show or you don’t know when the show will be on. If a show matches, it will record it. This has proven to be very useful in recording shows that we know get aired occasionally but are not currently in the current channel guide data. I haven’t found a way to do this in Moxi.

“Cumbersome” Interface
While Moxi’s UI is very slick and modern, it is a bit kludgy here and there requireing extra button presses for certain tasks. ReplayTV has some “extra” buttons the let you bypass menus and jump right to specific key functions.

FEATURE-BY-FEATURE COMPARISON
OK, so how does the Moxi compare to the ReplayTV box on a feature-by-feature comparison? I will compare the Moxi to ReplayTV in general while pointing out any differences between the 2xxx and 5xxx series ReplayTV boxes. Note that 3xxx series boxes are similar to the 2xxx boxes and 4xxx boxes are similar to th 5xxx boxes. My intent is not to present a “which is better” review, but more a list of side-by-side features from which you can choose a device based on your needs and wants. As of today, I am running version “3″ of Moxi’s software. Note that software revisions can change these features and specs in a heartbeat, so if things have changed let me know and I’ll update this review.

Recording Buffer
A recording buffer is space allocated by the system where live TV is stored letting you pause, rewind, and resume watching paused TV.

MOXI
Originally, Moxi had a fixed 30 minute buffer, but it now appears that its buffer can grow much larger. The only real “idiosyncracy” to their implementation is that if you are paused for more than 30 minutes, Moxi will resume playback from where it is paused. Initiating a Recording of the current show will also record back to the beginning of the show assuming that the channel was tuned to that channel at the time of the start of the show. This is VERY handy if you missed the beginning of a show and want to retain it for later viewing.

REPLAYTV
ReplayTV’s buffer has a minimum buffer allocation of 20 minutes, with the maximum being the amount of free hard disk space. I know of no real limitations save for the amount of free disk space. I have paused and succcessfully rewound back over 12 hours or more of buffer without issue (tedious, but without issue!) Initiating a Recording of the current show will flush the buffer and begin the recording at live TV. ReplayTV does not back up in the buffer to record the beginning of the show.

Recording Quality
This refers to the quality at which the show is recorded. If you are coming from the VCR world of video tape recording, you will be stunned by either system. No more tracking problems. No more video noise. Just decent to excellent digital quality. There are two types of DVR’s available today: Standalone and Integrated. Standalone boxes have inputs that accept signals from any video source. Integrated DVD’s have Cable or Satellite decodes integrated. These typically cannot record external video sources.

MOXI
Moxi is an Integrated box and records the raw bit stream right from the Digital Cable Box, so how you see it “live” is how you see it recorded. For Digital channels, Moxi does not compress or convert between Digital and Analog because compression is done at the head-end, so the user has no control over recording quality. Overall picture quality is excellent and comparable to “normal” Digital Cable reception. Basically, what you view live is what you see recorded. For Analog cable signals are still received by Moxi and converted to Digital on-the-fly for storage and playback. Users have reported that HD viewing and recording is excellent, Digital Cable viewing and recording is very good, and analog viewing and recording is marginal–worse than ReplayTV or TiVo. Unlike ReplayTV and TiVo, Moxi has no recording quality settings.

REPLAYTV
ReplayTV, unlike Moxi, are Standalone boxes that record any analog signal as input, for example, the analog output from raw Analog Cable or Digital Cable boxes. It records the analog source signal by converting it from analog to digital on-the-fly, compressing it based on one of three recording qualities: Standard, Medium, and High.

Standard Quality rivals VCR quality. I personally think it is better, but it is also somewhat prone to digital artifacting depending on the source content. The reality is that it could be better, but over time, you just don’t notice the artifacting.

Medium Quality is decent quality and is a great compromise between quality and disk capacity. It is, in my opinion, the most “compatible” quality when offloading shows to a PC for burning to a DVD. (See my “ReplayTV to DVD HOWTO” on my Web site JimsTips.com I tend to record everything at Medium Quality for this reason.

High Quality is excellent for sporting events and fast-action movies. If you have a larger TV (and can thus more easily see artifacting) then High Quality is almost essential.

Note that on series 2xxx ReplayTV boxes, audio records at varying levels directly related to the various video recording qualities resulting in better or worse audio quality. On 5xxx boxes, audio is always recorded at the same high quality regardless of video recording quality.

Recording Capacity
Recording capacity refers to the maximum number of hours of show content that you can record. This greatly varies depending on the model of the box and the recording quality used.

MOXI
Currently, Moxi only offers one capacity: 80GB. This lets you record about 50 hours of Standard Definition content and about 10-12 hours of High Definition content. These numbers are rough estimates, but should give you a ballpark idea of total capacity. There are rumored plans for expansion capabilities. As mentioned above, there is no recording quality setting.

REPLAYTV
ReplayTV storage capacity can be approximated by considering the size of the installed hard drive and the recording quality setting. For example, a ReplayTV box with a 60GB drive can record about 60 hours at Standard Quality, 30 hours at Medium Quality, and 20 hours at High quality. Other drive capacities have the same recording capacity ratios. Note that ReplayTV boxes cannot record High Definition recordings, only Standard Definition recordings.

Channel Guide
The Channel Guide is the method by which the system organizes and presents show information on channels over time. This is the way you typically select shows to watch and record.

MOXI
Moxi uses a novel “dual-axis” navigation system. Along the horizontal is a list of “categories” like Channels, HDTV, Favorites, Settings, etc. When you scroll left and right, the available options in each category appear in a vertical scrollable column. For example, if you bring “Channels” into “focus”, all channels and the current show airing on those channels appear in a list running vertically. You just scroll or page up and down to the desired channel. The highlighted channel also displays additional information about the program and pressing the “Info” button brings up yet more detailed information. It also displays the next three shows airing on that channel in an “On Next” section. Pressing the right arrow moves you to that “On Next” section where you can scroll through that sub-list out to 14 days ahead. On any highlighted show, you can record and search for upcoming shows.

If you are used to a typical Grid Guide, Moxi will disappoint. It definitely requires a change in mindset or perspective, BUT it does work well, and is quite effective. The more I use it, the more it works for me. Two quirks: First, the sort order of the channel list is “descending” as opposed to the typical “ascending” list. Not sure why they decided to break with tradition, but this seemed anti-intuitive to me. Second, there are no channel numbers listed in the channel listing, only network logo icons. The channel DOES display on the highlighted item, and I do realize that screen real estate is at a premium, but it seems strange that they would omit channel numbers. I guess a resonable explanation could be that you may be more likely to recognize an icon than a number. If the Cable company changes the lineup, you could still quickly “recognize” the channel. Time will tell if these really are issues.

Moxi provides two weeks of show data.

REPLAYTV
ReplayTV uses a “classic” Grid Guide. If you are used to looking at a paper TV listing, then you will be right at home with ReplayTV. Channels are listed on the left of the screen, half-hour time blocks are listed on the top, and corresponding shows fill the grid. You use the arrow keys to simply move around the grid to view and select available shows. The show that is currently highlighted displays brief information at the top of the screen.

ReplayTV 2xxx boxes store one week of programming data, and 5xxx boxes provide two weeks of programming data.

Info Display
While watching a show, you often want to more information about the show such as description, actors, etc. Both systems offer program information in various forms.

MOXI
When viewing the Channel Menu, a brief show description is displayed next to the highlighted show. Pressing the Info button brings up an extended description screen with full show description, and an extensive cast list. Depending on the amount of data, this can be a multi-page screen providing excellent information. Pressing the Clear button dismisses the screen. While watching live TV, pressing the Info button brings up this screen as well.

Moxi also has a “Flip Bar” that is a small status bar that appears on the bottom of the screen when you press an arrow button. It displays information about the current show and also shows the next three shows airing next on that channel. Pressing the right arrow moves you to the “On Next” section where you can scroll through 14 days of data. Selecting one of these shows brings up options to record. Scrolling up or down in the main part of the Flip Bar will also display the corresponding show information on other channels without actually changing the channel. “On Next” information is also displayed as well. Pressing the Info buton will bring up the extended info screen as well. Pressing Clear or waiting a few seconds will dismiss the Flip Bar.

REPLAYTV
While scrolling around the Channel Guide, the highlighted show’s information displays in a banner at the top of the screen. The number of lines is is adequate, but it is limited, so if there is extended information, it gets cut off. There is no way to view any additional information.

While watching live TV, pressing the ReplayTv’s “Info” button brings up a banner at the top of the screen containing information about the current show. Series 2xxx boxes have “static” info banners while 5xxx boxes have arrow-navigable banners letting you see current and future show information on other channels without tuning to that channel.

User Interface And System Responsiveness
How quickly a DVR responds to remote button presses, and how quickly it processes requests is very important to the overall user experience. If the system is too slow or sluggish, it will turn people off very quickly. Tech saavy people sometimes have more tolerance because they understand what’s going on in the background, but to Joe Sixpack, these are appliances that should respond and operate quickly. You never had to watch an hourglass while programming a VCR, so they won’t expect delays or lags in a DVR either.

MOXI
Version 3 of Moxi’s software improves the interface performance over past revisions. Moxi responds to remote button presses very quickly, and overall, the interface is smooth, nicely animated, and pleaseing to use. Rarely do you see a delay. The only real annoyance I had was that it is painfully S-L-O-W to add and remove channels in the Channel Listing section of Settings. (This is where you can optionally “select” and “unselect” channels to be displayed, for example those channels to which you do not subscribe.) Fortunatly, this is a one-time deal, but unselecting literally a couple hundred channels was less than pleasant. It would be nice if Moxi either had an “auto-unselect” for known, unassigned channels, or at least a faster inerface.

In some cases, Moxie does require some extra button presses to get to “core” functions, but it’s not too bad. Other than that, the overall interface is excellent–probably why it recently won an Emmy award.

REPLAYTV
As mentioned above, the 2xxx series is very snappy and quick to respond. The only time things slow down is during a long search, but there is screen feedback telling you how it is searching. The 5xxx series is more sluggish, but recent software updates have improved the UI overall. It still has the occasional “lag” or “squishy” feel because things just don’t respond as snappy as the 2xxx series, but the added features and capabilities of the 5xxx box typically outweigh any response issues.

ReplayTV has several extra buttons that take you right to core functions with one button press, for example, “Channel Guide” and “Replay Guide” (recorded shows.) While not essential, this is a nice convenience.

Remote
DVRs typically require a remote to do even the most basic functions. Without one, you really can’t do anything, so the decent remote is essential.

MOXI
Moxi’s provides a number of controls on the front of the box itself that you can pretty much control most, if not all functions. This is pretty typical of most cable boxes. Should you lose or break your remote, you are not stuck.

Moxi’s remote is solid, nicely weighted, and has a rubbery backing that gives a good grip. It feels good, and the layout of the buttons is pretty decent. And, because it’s a Cable Company product, if the remote breaks, the Cable Company typically will provide a replacement as needed. I’ve grown to really like the remote.

REPLAYTV
ReplayTV’s boxes have one, yes, one button on the front: Power. All other functions are controlled by the remote. Lose the remote? You better get a new one, because nothing, and I mean NOTHING is controllable without the remote.

ReplayTV remotes have gone through three radical incarnations over the years. While all have their idiosyncracies, they are all are effective. I personally like the most recent version because it fits my hand well, it is compact, and the buttons are in a logical placement. My only issue with most ReplayTV remotes is that over time, the “most often used” buttons do wear out, and I have had to buy several replacements over the years–an added cost I wasn’t anticipating.

Conflict And Space Management
So what happens when two shows you want to record air at the same time? What happens when the networks change the time slot or extend a show (like the “Must Miss..er See TV” shows where they start them 1 minute early or extend them 10 minutes later possibly overlapping another recording.) How a DVR handles these conflicts determines if your show gets recorded or not.

MOXI
Moxi has a huge advantage in that it includes two tuners, so conflicts should be GREATLY reduced. Most conflicts occur typically occur between two shows. Yes, because you now have two tuners, you may have other conflicts, but it’s much less likely with two tuners.

For those times when you have conflicts, particularly with Series recordings, Moxi provides a “piority” method that lets you determine the priority order of selecting series to record. I don’t know how it prioritizes single-show recordings.

Moxi also provides the ability to extend the start or end times of recordings. In fact, once a show has started, you can extend the end time while it is recording–something sports fans of overtime-prone games will like.

Additionally, Moxi provides not only a “Sheduled to Record” listing, but a “Deleted and Cancelled” listing. The first displays everything that is scheduled to record–individual shows and shows associated with a series recording. The nice thing about this is that you can selectively remove shows that you may not want to record–shows that are not repeats (to Moxi) but shows for which you ahve no interest or have already seen.

The second list displays all shows that were deleted, or did not or will not record. More importantly, id shows why the show did or will not record. For future cancelld recordings, you can optionally record them or find upcoming shows. This is very handy and makes recording management a snap.

REPLAYTV
ReplayTV has a single tuner meaning it can record only one show at a time, so conflict management is much more important. For “Single” and “Recurring” show recordings, if the show moves more than two time slots from its originally scheduled time, it will not get recorded. If it is a “Theme” recording, it will still record because Themes are not limited to channels or time slots.

Further, ReplayTV uses a somewhat complex but effective system of “Guaranteed” and “Non-Guaranteed” recordings. Basically, if you flag a recording as Guaranteed, space is “hard-allocated” on the disk. Non-Guaranteed recordings will record if disk space is available. Guaranteed recordings are great for those shows you “can’t miss” and want high assurance that they will record. Non-Guaranteed recordings are great for setting up recurring “filler” shows that you don’t care if you miss an episode or two.

If you want to record two shows that air at the same time, simply put, you are out of luck, but there are several functions to let you find other occurrences of the show. There are a number of other factors that I won’t get into in this review, but ReplayTV’s conflict management isn’t too bad. And the 5xxx series has added several other features to help better manage conflicts. The only major downside is that there is no “ToDo List” showing what ReplayTV actually has scheduled to record. Recordings are listed in the “Replay Guide” but because of the varied nature of different recording types (single-show, recurring, and Themes) Specifics may or may not be available. This is a long-time shortcoming of ReplayTV.

Connections
Like Neo said in The Matrix, “Guns…lots of guns” a DVR needs “connections…lots of connections” to be compatible with the myriad of TV’s and, if applicable, input sources. Both ReplayTV and Moxi offer very comprehensive connectivity options.

MOXI
Moxi’s input is simple. It has a single input: Coax. Given that it has an integrated digital cable decoder, this makes sense. It is not a “standalone” box, so a single input is expected.

Outputs, on the other hand, are numerous. Video options include: Coax, RCA, S-video, Component (YPrPb), and DVI connections providing full SD and HDTV compatibility. For audio, there are standard stereo Left & Right RCA jacks as well as both coax and optical digital S/PDIF connectors. Depending on your cable company’s deployment, some of these outputs may or may not be active, and some may not be active while others are active (for example, if Component or DVI video is active, composite and S-Video are not active.)

Moxi passes Dolby 5.1 through the Digital audio outputs if it is available on the channel.

REPLAYTV
Because ReplayTV is a standalone box, it needs to accommodate several input sources. It has standard coax, RCA, and S-video inputs. You can configure it to utilize all or any combination of these inputs.

For output, all ReplaYTV boxes have multiple S-Video outputs and RCA outputs. The 5xxx series, adds coax output, progressive (YPrPb) video output, and an Optical audio connector. As a side note, though there is no digital audio INPUT, ReplayTV decided that providing optical audio OUTPUT would help provide the best available audio. You will not get Dolby 5.1 audio.

Playback Control
A signature feature of DVR’s is the ability to “pause live TV”. In addition, you can typically rewind back through the buffer, pause, and fast forward through the buffer back to live. Other controls may also be available.

MOXI
Moxi has basic playback functions: Pause, Play, Rewind, Fast Forward. You can also “Replay” which skips you back 7 seconds (useful for replaying a scene) and “Skip” which skips you ahead by a Cable company-determined amount of time. By that, I mean that the Cable COmpany can control the function of this button, and currently it is set to do nothing, skip ahead 30-seconds (useful for skipping past commer…um…I mean unwanted content), or skip ahead 15 minutes (useful to jump forward in large chunks, sat to quickly get to halftime in a football game recording.) You still have full Fast Forward and Rewind control, so how this is set really shouldn’t affect your viewing experience.

There is currently no (or very poor) “Overshoot Correction” so if you hit Play while Fast Forwarding, it stops exactly when you press play, so you may have to rewind or hit Replay to correct if you overshoot. I suspect that this will be correctd in a later software revision.

Missing are “specialty” features like stepping forward or backward one frame at a time and slow motion playback. I am not a sports fan, but I do find this useful with movies, especially the credits. Again, I suspect that these functions may surface in a later software revision.

REPLAYTV
Playback control is a real strength of ReplayTV. Like Moxi, it also has the basics as well as the Replay and Skip buttons. For recorded shows (and live shows on the 5xxx series) you can also skip forward or backward by number. For example pressing “5″ and then “Skip” jumps you forward 5 minutes. Pressing “15″ and “Replay” jumps you back 15 minutes. Pressing “8″ and the “Jump” button jumps you the point 8 minutes into the show. This is very handy for handling long shows like the Olympic coverage.

ReplayTV also lets you step forward frame-by-frame after pressing Pause, and pressing the “Play” button during playback plays in slow motion in variable speeds. ReplayTV’s Fast Forward and Rewind have “Overshoot Correction” where it jumps back (or forward if rewinding) a few seconds to compensate for your hand-eye coordination delay. It works very well.

Parental Control
I do not use Parental Controls, so I cannot speak to them, but suffice it to say both Moxie and ReplayTV provide fairly comprehensive channel and rating controls.

Other Features
In addition, there are other features that are uniquie to each box. Here are some examples of some of these unique features…

MOXI
For an entertainment diversion, Moxi has the capability of providing Games like Blackjack, Solitaire, etc. using the remote. They look great and are quite fun.

For the you information addicts, Moxi has the capability to provide an optional “ticker”. This is a small, user-controllable scrolling banner at the bottom of the screen that can display things like news headlines, weather conditions, stock quote, and sports scores. The TV picture shrinks slightly so you do not miss any content.

If available, Moxi has the capability of providing access to Video On Demand content with full playback control.

Notice that I say, “has the capability.” Moxi, in an effort to attract Cable Companies as customers, offers a very flexible feature set that can be tailored by each Cable company depending on their technical capabilities, economics, and market. For example, one market may enable Video On Demand while other markets may not. As I understand it, these features are typically consistent within a market, but can vary from market to market. However, I could see no real technical reason why specific features could not be offered as “premium” services.

It is important to understand that this effectively means that if you read about a new Moxi feature, that doesn’t mean you will automatically get it. You may need to contact your Cable company to request those features. While that’s a certainly a negative for the viewer, it also helps promote Cable company market share.

REPLAYTV
With some minor exceptions, the ReplayTV 5xxx series pretty much has all the features of the 2xxx series, but it does have some added features.

One significant feature is Networkability. Connect your ReplayTV 5xxx box to a broadband connection or an Internet-connected home LAN, and you can receive all Channel Guide content and software updates over a high-speed connection. In addition, by running some third-party software like DVArchive, you can transfer the shows you recorded on your ReplayTV box to a LAN-connected PC in all its full, digital glory. This is useful not only for archiving to DVD, but if you ahve a capable laptop, you can watch the shows on your commute or travels. Unfortunately, “the industry” doesn’t like this too much, so don’t expect to see this available on Moxi any time soon.

Another extra is “Commercial Advance” that auto-skips commercials. This is technology pioneered on VCR’s except that instead of auto-fast forwarding through the commercials, ReplayTV can “skip” them completely. Again, it’s a controvercial feature that works surprisingly well.

Internet Sharing is another feature that has brought ReplayTV under fire from “the industry”, so much so, that this feature was removed from newer 5xxx models. This feature lets you (in a very controlled and limited way) transfer recorded shows to other ReplayTV users over the Internet. This has proven useful on a number of occasions, but understand that due to current residential bandwidth limitations, it can take many hours, if not days to transfer a movie, so its usefulness is subjective.

The Future
In addition, there are other features that are uniquie to each box. Here are some examples of some of these unique features…

MOXI
Moxi, being a new kid on the block, has had the luxury of learning from the mistakes of its competition. Instead of going after the retail market, they are going after the Cable market. There is a staggering Cable customer base that is ripe for simple, inexpensive, and snazzy innovation, and Moxi may just be the ticket.

In addition to the current box, Digeo is working on a new “remote” version called “Moxi Mate” that provides a second “thin client” box that can be used to control viewing, recording, and playback of the main box from another room of the house. Say you are watching a movie in your living room and it’s getting late. Just pause it, go to the bedroom, and resume playback on your bedroom’s TV–while someone else watches a different program in the living room.

Digeo is also working on the “Moxi Plus” box which is a subscriber-installable box providing additional DVR Hard Disk storage space, and other optional features from card ports for importing photos to audio music streaming to CD and DVD playback and recording.

REPLAYTV
As for ReplayTV’s future, I believe that it is uncertain. ReplayTV has created some very innovative technology, but its financial struggles and failure to capture a larger market share of the DVR market has hurt its innovation. Over the years, ReplayTV boxes end up on retailer shelves, get pulled from retailer shelves, and end up on them again. ReplayTV is currently on its third owner, and it looks like “consumer grade” (read $200-$300 range) offerings will be either limited or non-existent. Dennon, ReplayTV’s current owner, has said that the Program Guide service will continue, but it looks like they are focusing on more higher-end (read $1,000+) offerings. Their technology is ambitious, but not much has surfaced. They are also trying to woo third parties to license their technology.

CONCLUSION
In my opinion, your choice of DVR is a very subjective one. Different people have different needs, so a simple feature list may or may not provide the information you need to make a choice. For example, we have been using ReplayTV boxes for years with DirecTV with excellent results. When we moved to South Carolina, we decided to go with Charter Digital Cable because of the cost savings, but because there is no serial port control capability on Charter’s Digital Cable box, we have to use an “IR Blaster” to control channel changing. Unfortunatly, while this has proven to be about 99% reliable on the 2xxx series, it is virtually useless on the 5xxx series–not something neither my wife or I like. So one of my goals of evaluating Moxi is to provide a less complex and more reliable solution. Having a DVR integrated into the cable box is certainly a step forward.

My recommendation is to give the various boxes a “test drive” and see what features you like and what features “feel good” to you. Be sure to take advantage of free trials–Charter offers the first month for free, and both ReplayTV and TiVo offer 30-day money back guarantees, so you are free to compare as you see fit.

One thing is for sure: Once you get hooked on the DVR concept, the specific make model really becomes almost irrelevent–you just have to have SOMETHING!

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/moxi-tips/moxi-tip-7-moxi-vs-replaytv

Dec 01

Moxi Tip #1: What The Heck Is Moxi?

OK, so I’m providing Moxi information. I’m going to add some Moxi Tips. I’ll be comparing Moxi to some comparable products. So you ask, “What the heck is Moxi?” Read on to find out…

“Moxi” is a Digital Video Recorder (DVR) from Digeo (www.digeo.com) similar in concept to ReplayTV and TiVo, but it goes way beyond them in many ways. Moxi has all the “typical” DVR functions: pausing and rewinding live TV, recording shows, an interactive channel guide to find shows, Parental Controls, and a host of other functions. Its interface is very slick, very fast, and quite intuitive.

But what sets Moxi apart? Well, the “big feature” is true HDTV recording. Yes, that’s right, HDTV. If you have an HDTV and your Cable provider provides HDTV channels and a Moxi box, you can display and record them in all their stunning brilliance! A comparable HDTiVo box costs upwards of $1000.00, while Moxi only costs $10.00 or so extra per month on your cable bill.

But you don’t have an HDTV? I don’t either, nor do I subscribe to the HD channels, but Moxi still provides excellent “standard definition” functionality. And for you “connection freaks” Moxi provides just about any connection you could need to properly hook things up including Composite, RCA, Component, DVI, as well as analog and digital (coax and TOSLink) audio connections.

Another welcome feature is its “dual tuners”. Anyone coming from the standalone ReplayTV or TiVo world will love this one. You can record a show and be watching another show live. You can record two shows at once and be watching something you previously recorded at the same time. It significantly reduces scheduling conflicts and makes the whole viewing experience easier.

And because Moxi is integrated with a Digital Cable box, there is no messing with unreliable “IR Blasters” for connectivity, and channel changes are fast. Because of its integration, it also provides seamless selection and viewing of Pay-per-view shows. A new model is even in the works that will let you “network” a second “thin client” box to remotely watch and control all DVR functions from another room in the house.

Moxi also has the capability of displaying an “information ticker” at the bottom of the screen to help you keep current with things like news, weather, sports scores, stock prices, etc. It also has the capability of providing interactive Games like Video Poker, Solitaire, and a number of others. Finally, it has the capability of managing Video On Demand channels.

OK, that sounds great, but what are the negatives?

First off, it’s not available everywhere. Moxi is being deployed by a number of Cable providers around the United States, and is still in a “Pilot” status in many markets. I’ll be providing more details on how to see if it is available in another tip.

Next, as I mentioned above, unlike RelayTV and TiVo, Moxi is not a “standalone” DVR, but is integrated with a digital cable box. While this has its technical advantages, this means that it is not available for retail purchase, but is being sold as an “add-on” service by the Cable company. The up-side of this is that instead of paying an large up-front equipment cost and subscription fee, you just pay a small “extra” charge on your cable bill. Obviously, this eliminates the Satellite and OTA markets, but for those with cable in serviced areas, this is a God send.

Notice that in some of the above function descriptions, I said that Moxi “has the capability.” To make the Moxi box more desirable to Cable companies, Digeo provides the flexibility for Cable companies to customize many of the functions and determine which functions they will offer to the customer. The consequence of this is that all features may not be available in all markets. For example, you may have Games enabled but not Video On Demand. For the average viewer, this is not a big deal, but for those who “keep up” with the technology, the absence of certain features (or at least the knowledge of the absense) can be frustrating.

Finally, another negative is that it does not provide any facility to “offload” the digital recordings like the later ReplayTV and “hacked” TiVo boxes do. I have been using ReplayTV to record shows and occasionally transfer them to my PC for “archival” to DVD. (See my “ReplayTV to DVD HOWTO” article on this site for more details.) This feature is not available, and my guess is that it never will be. You can certainly capture from the video and audio outputs, but you will not be capturing the true digital recording. Though I am still keeping one of my ReplayTV boxes around for that purpose, but it’s really turning out to be a lesser-used feature.

To say I am impressed is an understatement. I’ve been a huge ReplayTV proponent for many years, and still am, but Moxi has managed to replace our ReplayTV box as our main DVR. And that wasn’t an easy task because we simply love ReplayTV.

Well, hopefully, you now have at least a small understanding of what is Moxi. In my next tip, I’ll provide some additional information and links for you to get the facts, so stay tuned!

Oh, and if there is any question, no, I am not affiliated with Moxi other than just being a very satisfied user.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/moxi-tips/moxi-tip-1-what-the-heck-is-moxi

Jun 29

Gmail Tip #21: Official Features and Bugs Status Page!

Want to know what features and bugs the Gmail developers are currently working on? Read on to learn how to access Gmail’s new “Features, Fixes, & Feedback” page…

First, log into your Gmail account. You must be logged into your account to access the help screens. Next, click on the “Help” link located at the top of any Gmail page. Next, click on the “Send Feedback” link on the left column. You’ll be taken to a page detailing features Gmail is working on and bugs being squashed!

While this may not be a definitive list, at least we can get a better picture of what the busy Gmail developers are working on!

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/gmail-tips/gmail-tip-21-official-features-and-bugs-status-page

Jun 22

ReplayTV Tip #6-Multiple Belkin F5D7230-4 Setup HOWTO

After purchasing a new house, I needed to set up a network. An 802.11g wireless solution seemed to be the best choice, so after lots of research and planning, I purchased three Belkin F5D7230-4 routers and configured them to provide wireless routing, bridging, and access. Read on for what I did, how I did it, and how it has worked…

Multiple Belkin F5D7230-4 Router/Bridge/AP Setup HOWTO:

A Guide to Setting Up Multiple Belkin F5D7230-4 Router/Bridge/AP’s

By Jim Barr

Introduction

BACKGROUND:
My wife and I were fortunate enough to purchase a new-construction house. Unfortunatly, we purchased it just after all the walls were installed, so I was unable to have network cabling installed throughout the house. Bummer! The house certainly has ample attic and crawl space, but the notion of later installing whole-house wiring, though doable, was not too appealing. I tried installing an 802.11b network using some old Linksys equipment I had, but the throughput was simply too slow to stream ReplayTV shows, and for some reason, it wasn’t that stable. Also, thhough I’m in a relativly low traffic area, there are two other 802.11b accesspoints within range of the house, so I decided to go with an 802.11g network. The challenge was to determine how just what equipment I needed.

After pouring over countless posts on the AVS Forum, I decided to purchase three Belkin F5D7230-4 routers. There are many other router solutions on the market, and some offer higher speeds, but the one important feature of the Belkin F5D7230-4 router is that it can be configured as any combination of router, wireless access point, and wireless bridge. As of this writing, most comparable routers either don’t offer the same flexibility or they are priced much higher.

PURCHASING:
Initially, I decided to purchase three Belkin F5D7230-4 routers from CDW because my wife’s company gets an employee discount through them. I figured that $56.00 each was a fair price, so I ordered three. Their site, as well as an account manager, said that they were in stock and would be shipping in 1-2 business days. After about a week of my order status simply saying "Processing", I called them and they said that the Belkin F5D7230-4′s were backordered and would arrive in about a week or two. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy, so I canceled my order with them and placed an order with J&R Music and Computers (www.jr.com) The routers arrived just 4 days later, and they cost under $50 each (and I’ll even be getting a $20 rebate on one–very nice!) I have ordered several products from J&R, and I highly recommend them. They haven’t let me down yet. (CDW, however, is another story–at least they are consistent in their poor service.) OK, OK, this isn’t a "consumer report", so on to the good stuff…

BASIC SETUP:
Setup wasn’t as tough as I expected, but there are some idiosyncracies to work through, so patience is required. Within about an hour, I had everything in place and working wonderfully. Here is a simple block diagram of my setup:

[ISP] <-Coax Cable-> [Cable Modem] <-Patch Cable-> [Router 1] <-WiFi-> [Router 2] <-WiFi-> [Router 3]

DETAILS:

[Router 1]
-IP: Static 192.168.2.1
-DHCP Server: Enabled, range 192.168.2.101 – 192.168.2.120
-Configured as router and bridge
-Set up to bridge, accepting MAC address of [Router 2] only
-Set up WLAN as "56G-Only" and NOT allow Wireless Client access
-Set SSID to NOT broadcast -My wife’s Work VPN PC is connected via cable on a LAN port and gets its IP via DHCP from [router 1]

[Router 2]
-IP: Static 192.168.2.2
-DHCP Server: Disabled
-Set up as bridge only, accepting MAC addresses of [Router 1] and [Router 3] only
-Set up WLAN as "56G-Only" and NOT allow Wireless Client access
-Set SSID to NOT broadcast -My home office PC is connected via cable on a LAN port and gets its IP via DHCP from [router 1]
-My video editing PC is connected via cable on a LAN port and gets its IP via DHCP from [router 1]

[Router 3]
-IP: Static 192.168.2.3
-DHCP Server: Disabled
-Set up as bridge only, accepting MAC addresses of [Router 2] only
-Set up WLAN as "56G-Only" and allows Wireless Client access
-Set SSID to NOT broadcast -My ReplayTV 5040 is connected via cable to a LAN port and gets its IP via DHCP from [router 1]
-My 801.11g laptop connectes via WiFi and gets its IP via DHCP from [router 1]

All routers have the following in common:
-Version on box: 1444
-Firmware version: 4.x
-SSID is set to the same on all routers
-SSID Broadcast is turned OFF on all routers
-Channel was set to a channel not being used in my neighborhood
-I do not have WEP enabled yet, but I will in the near future.

THE SETUP PROCESS:
First off, I used my laptop to configure each F5D7230-4. I connected it with a cable through the F5D7230-4′s LAN port eliminating any need for wireless configuration on the laptop. This significantly simplified the setup. Because the F5D7230-4′s are so portable, if you don’t have a laptop, just use any PC and a network cable.

Setup of the first F5D7230-4 consisted of running the included setup disk on [router 1]. As mentioned above, I connected my Laptop through the LAN port, and the setup was a simple, 2-3 minute process. The end result was that I could connect my laptop to the Internet as well as connect to the Web-based configuration screen on [router 1]. I logged into the Web Configuration screen and set up the IP address, DHCP Server, and WLAN settings. (Note that when you change the IP address, you have to re-connect to the Web Configuration screen with the new IP address. I then enabled bridging and entered the MAC address of [router 2].

Next, I powered down my laptop and disconnected it from [router 1], connected it to [router 2] via cable to the LAN port, and powered on [router 2] and then my laptop. Note that [router 2] was NOT connected to anything else other than my laptop. Specifically, the WAN port was NOT connected. I then opened the Web Configuration screen on [router 2] and set the up the IP address, disabled the DHCP Server, and set the WLAN settings. I enabled bridging and entered the MAC addresses of [router 1] and [router 3] and I disabled wireless client access. I then rebooted [router 2] and the laptop. The end result was I was able to connect to the Internet through [router 2] and access the Web Configuration screens for both [router 1] and [router 2]. OK, I know it’s "just technology", but I have to admit that I found it very cool accessing the Internet connection and seeing no wires connecting the routers!

Setting up [router 3] was basically the same as setting up [router 2] with the exception of setting a unique IP address. Once set up, I rebooted everything for good measure, and was able to connect to the Internet through all three routers.

The only idiosyncracy to be aware of is that DHCP Server is enabled by default on the F5D7230-4, so there may be initial conflicts until you can disable the DHCP Server on all except one router (or wherever you want it set up, if at all.)

FULL SYSTEM RESTART:
At some point, I know I’ll have to do a complete "system" restart. This could be due to a power failure, a system glitch, or something entirely different. A full system restart would consist of: Power everything down. Power up in order, the cable modem, wait for it to sync. Completely power up [router 1]. I can then power up any device that directly connects to [router 1], specifically, my wife’s PC and [router 2]. Once [router 2] is completely powered up, I can then power up any device that directly connects to it, specifically, our home office PC and [router 3]. Once [router 3] is completely powered up, I can then power up any device that connects to [router 3], specifically, my video editing PC (and eventually, my ReplayTV.) If you think about it, the order really makes sense–you just have to look at things logically and understand the dependencies.

(Edit: I noticed after a month or so of use that powering on or off just about ANY device in ANY order "just works". The only exception is that [router 1] has to be on before anything else because it’s my DHCP server. Otherwise, it’s a very simple network to maintain.)

CONCLUSION:
So, what does this give me? Devices connected to LAN ports on each router can access any other device connected to any other LAN port on any other router including the Internet. 802.11g devices can connect via [router 3] and can access any other device on the network including the Internet. 802.11b devices can NOT connect to the network. I did this purposly to help reduce conflicts with neighboring 802.11b access points, to improve my network throughput, and to simplify the overall setup.

Note that I could set up wireless client access to go through [router 1] instead of [router 3] eliminating two hops, but due to the physical location of the routers, [router 3] gives me the best connectivity. Surprisingly, throughput, especially to the Internet, is excellent.

After working with this setup for about a month, I simply couldn’t be happier. Wireless access throughout my house with my laptop is very good, and throughput on all devices is excellent. Devices like my PC and the ReplayTV box simply "think" they are connected to a wired LAN (technically, they are) so there’s no special setups. Further, because I have my two PC’s connected to the same F5D7230-4, the F5D7230-4 is effectivly a 100MB switch which gives me high-speed throughput between the two PC’s.

The F5D7230-4 so far has proven to be an all-in-one workhorse that once configured, just works and works well. The design is excellent, and the configuration is pretty intuitive. Network novices may have some difficulty, but only because they may not be familiar with "routing" and "bridging" concepts. If you have any networking experience, it’s a snap. My only real recommendation is that you spend some time thinking through exactly what you are trying to accomplish before you start configuring. Overall, I highly recommend the F5D7230-4 and J & R Music and Computers as a source.

THANKS:
Thanks to those who assisted me with this setup. For once, a simple project in theory turned out to actually be a simple project in reality! That certainly is not typical! I want to thank "sfhub", "SpaceCadet", and "GooberedUp" on the ReplayTV Forum on the AVS Forum site in this thread for their excellent help.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/replaytv-tips/replaytv-tip-6-multiple-belkin-f5d7230-4-setup-howto

Mar 02

T3 Tip #4: Tap-And-Hold Alternate Digital Input Areas

The Tungsten T3 has several User Interface “enhancements” that aren’t always apparant. One great example has to do with the “Virtual Graffiti” or “Digital Input Area” (DIA). Learn how to change the Digital Input area!

By default, the Virtual Graffiti area on the Tungsten T3 displays the “standard” Graffiti entry area surrounded by four “buttons”. Did you know that you can change the look and function of the Virtual Graffiti area? You probably know that the “arrow” icon on the lower right of the Status Bar controls whether the Virtual Graffiti area is visible or not. This allows you ro “expand” the screen area as needed for those applications that are full-screen compliant. But, did you know that if you tap-and-hold the arrow, a small “popup” will display giving you the option of selecting among three input area styles? This includes the “standard” layout, an on-screen keyboard, and an “enhanced” layout.

We all know what the Standard layout is, and you should be familiar with the On-screen Keyboard layout, but what about this “Enhanced” layout? Well, it divides the Graffiti entry area into three sections: “lowercase”, “uppercase”, and “numeric”. In the Standard entry area, you write letters on the left and numbers on the right. Letters are in lowercase. If you write your letters OVER the line separating the two sections, the letters will be in uppercase. Sometimes, this can be confusing and prone to errors. The Enhanced input area segregates the three areas, each tuned for its type of input. This makes uppercase and lowercase entry more reliable. The only down side is that you lose the four user-definable application “buttons”. It’s a trade-off, but a good example of some of the enhanced built-in flexibility.

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