Category Archives: Technology

Linux on USB

I got a little bored yesterday and stumbled upon USB installations of Linux while browsing. I decided to give it a try and went down to Fry’s to pickup a fresh USB stick. I installed the Slax version of Linux because it seemed the quickest and easiest and I just wanted to see if it worked. The installation was as simple as they explained and after restarting my PC and modifying the BIOS to boot from the USB drive I watched as my laptop booted up with Linux. Pretty cool! It didn’t do too much, I wasn’t able to connect to my wireless network here at home so I could use the browser or anything but that needs a bit more configuration that I didn’t feel like putting into this first test. Now I will go back and try installing KUbuntu on USB and see how that goes. Not sure what I’ll end up doing with this but I find it pretty interesting being able to have a bootable OS on a flash drive. You can find various Linux distros and installation instructions at http://www.pendrivelinux.com

Network Blu-Ray Players and Netflix

In my previous posting I was considering the LG dual format player which can play both HD-DVD and Blu-ray formats. I am now swaying toward one of the new network-able Blu-ray players which allow users to stream movies directly from Netflix. I am a huge fan of Netflix and am glad to see that they are creating strategic partnerships with Samsung and LG.

Samsung offers two Blu-ray player models which support Netflix streaming, the BD-P2500 and the BD-P2550. LG offers the BD300. The Samsung models appear to also provide the ability to stream music from Pandora.

Ever since The Death of HD-DVD I’ve been waiting to replace or supplement my HD-DVD player with a Blu-ray player. One of the above models may make it under the Christmas tree this year.

Netflix, Inc.

How To Disable Hibernation Mode on Windows XP

My laptop became very sluggish recently and I found I was getting very low on disk space. So I began the cleansing process looking for unused applications to uninstall, cleaning out my downloads folder, and finding some rarely used files/folders that I could compress to free up space. I stumbled upon a large file in the root of my C:\ drive named hiberfil.sys which was approximately 2GB in size. I didn’t know what this file was for but I figured it had something to do with my operating system. A quick Google search on the file name and I found that it is a system file which is used by the operating system to persist the current system state, including all applications and files residing in memory, to hard disk when the machine goes into hibernation mode.

The next question was do I need hibernation mode? There are two power saving modes (three if you count Shut down): Hibernate and Stand by. As mentioned above hibernation mode saves memory contents to disk, then power downs system components into low-power mode similiar to Stand by mode and can even safely shut down completely. Stand by mode does not persist memory contents to disk, all active programs and unsaved work remains in RAM and then powers down system components ( hard disk, monitor, etc)  into low-power mode. All data remains in memory as long as the system has some power. Which means, if your laptop battery dies while in Stand by mode, you’re going to lose any unsaved work.

If you decide you would like to disable hibernation mode here are the steps:

  1. Open the Control Panel. ( Start -> Settings -> Control Panel )
  2. Double click the Power Options Icon.
  3. Click the Hibernate tab.
  4. Uncheck the Enable hibernation check box.
  5. Click the Apply button.

You’ve just disabled hibernation mode on your system. You may need to restart your system for the hiberfil.sys file to be removed. In my case, it disappeared immediately.

Two benefits of disabling hibernation mode:

  1. I regained much needed hard disk space. The hibernation file is the same size as installed RAM.
  2. My system comes out of Stand by mode much, much faster than hibernation mode. I sometimes had to wait 10-15 minutes for my machine to come out of hibernate mode. It was very frustrating.

The Death of HD DVD: A Bunch of Burned Consumers

I believe it is pretty well known that Toshiba has announced they will no longer manufacture HD DVD players and are giving up on the format war with Sony. I’m kicking myself for not waiting this war out and buying into the cheaper HD DVD format in December. But, at that time HD DVD players were half the price of the Blu-ray players and I received two free HD movies in the box with the Toshiba HD-A3 player I purchased along with a mail-in rebate to receive five more free . These marketing strategies helped push me in the HD DVD direction when I decided to upgrade my home entertainment system to high-definition. Although I knew the format war was going on I never thought the HD DVD technology would come to an end in such a short timeframe. Wow! Was I ever wrong.

Just three short months after my purchase the war is over and HD DVD technology is declared dead. Sony Blu-ray has won and I’m left with empty pockets, a feeling of defeat, and an embarrassing collection of HD DVD movies that says “I chose the wrong technology”.

It’s unfortunate so many consumers have to take the loss on this industry decision. The major retailers have declared they will no longer carry HD DVD movies leaving owners of HD DVD players empty handed. Amazon.com has cut prices on all movies in this format by 50%, but you won’t find me buying any more HD DVD formatted movies no matter how cheap they become.

In addition, both Netflix and BlockBuster are discontinuing distribution of HD DVD formatted movies in their online rental services. I received an email notification from Netflix on February 11, 2008 stating the following:

We’re Going Blu-ray

Dear <Member>,

You’re receiving this email because you have asked to receive high-definition movies in the HD DVD format. As you may have heard, most of the major movie studios have recently decided to release their high-definition movies exclusively in the Blu-ray format. In order to provide the best selection of high-definition titles for our members, we have decided to go exclusively with Blu-ray as well.

While we will continue to make our current selection of HD DVD titles available to you for the next several months, we will not be adding additional HD DVD titles or reordering replacements.

Toward the end of February, HD DVDs in your Saved Queue will automatically be changed to standard definition DVDs. Then toward the end of this year, all HD DVDs in your Queue will be changed to standard definition DVDs. Don’t worry, we will contact you before this happens.

You can click here to change your format preferences.

We’re sorry for any inconvenience.

-The Netflix Team

Imagine my disappointment. I just bought this thing damn player in December!

In the end, I am glad a single format has been selected for the consumer’s sake. No more head scratching decisions while standing in front of a salesman at your local electronics store weighing the pros/cons of each individual format and gambling on which technology the “industry” will choose. I put my money on the underdog (unknowingly) and lost the bet. Now I am stuck with an HD DVD player which is only good for up-converting my old DVD’s and playing the seven or eight HD DVD movies I already own. What a waste of money for a device that was supposed to be leading edge.

However, there’s still an option. Seems LG will continue to support the HD DVD technology with its dual format players.

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