DOS and the Attrib Command

Today I was working on a problem that seemed to have no easy answer other than using a VB script of a batch file. Yet I found one in lowly DOS commands. 

The issue that I was having we as that I had a large number of directories that I need to change that attibutes on.  The folders all had the hidden and system attribute and I wanted to change it so that they could be seen.

I started working on a batch file to run the attrib -s -h on each folder but was having a probelm that, even though it seemed to process the command correctly, it failed to actually change the attibute.

Then as I was looking at the switches for the attrib command I found the /S /D switches that I never knew about.

So my long batch file that I was creating and testing for 90 minutes was simply replaced by this:

attrib -r -s /S /D

Voila!  Done.

…Just in time to go home for lunch!

Western Digital TV Live Plus….$100 well spent!

This post is long overdue.

There are some technologies that fundamentally change the way we consume media in home entertainment.  The DVR and TiVo were one.  I remember my wife scoffing at the need to use a DVR with our Dish Network system.  She thought it was a waste of $200.  Now both of us get extremely frustrated when we cannot pause or rewind television.  I think if it were a choice between me or the DVR, I might get the short end of the stick.  My youngest daughter has never known a television where she could not pause or rewind the show.  When she was younger, the concept of “live television”  (or at least television being shown as it is broadcast) was an enigma to her.   The DVR truly changed the way we watched television.

Likewise the Western Digital TV Live Plus has changed how we watch our videos and DVDs.   Having young children and a DVD player in the car equates to having a lot of missing, scratched, and damaged discs.  We were constantly finding empty cases and wayward DVDs destroyed beyond the point of ever being able to be played again.  I personally have purchased “Cheaper by the Dozen” at least three times. So when a friend described the WD TV Live, I knew I had to try one and see if it would resolve my DVD woes.

The WD TV Live plus is a multi-function media player.  It connects to a home network via Ethernet cable and connects to your TV via HDMI, Composite Video, or Composite A/V.  The full specs can be found here.  I attached my WDTV up to a 3 TB WD My Book, fired up Handbreak on the macbook and started ripping my DVDs and uploading them to the 3 TB Hard drive.  I was hoping 3 TB would be enough.  So after ripping all 120+ DVDs I am left with…yikes!  2.7 TB free space left….talk about overkill!  Now with the touch of a few keys I am watching any movie in my collection.

I would recommend categorizing the films by some method and putting them into folders on the hard drive.  Then an image can be uploaded into each folder and renamed folder.jpg.  This will become the image for that folder.   I recommend Xzener’s Icons for this.  A Google search for this will turn up several sources, but I would recommend this one.  It makes for a nice tidy little interface that looks kind of impressive.

It has a pretty good selection of Internet media, for me the most notable being Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, and Pandora. The streaming of Netflix quality is very good and the interface is easy to navigate.  However the search capability is hampered by the poor input method of entering text.  The resolution and buffering were at least on par with the better streaming devices I have used like Roku and some embedded players. 

Hulu Plus, which never really impressed me before, has piqued my interest again and I am taking a second look at their offering.  I’m not sure if I will subscribe, but the offerings seem to have gotten better.  The quality seems at least as good as a normal HD broadcast and with less commercial interruptions, it seems like it might be worth it.  I am on a one-week trial right now, which seems kind of short for a decent evaluation.

I purchased the WD TV Live Plus in October 2011.  Shortly afterwards, Western Digital released the WD TV Live Streaming.  This newer device has an app in the iTunes store that allows you to control the WD TV Live remotely.  Additionally the new WD TV Live also has the Spotify app.

Another current offering from WD is the WD TV Live Hub which, in addition to that way cool iPhone app that I can’t get, has a built in 1 TB Hard Drive and UPnP capability.  While this was available when I purchased my WD TV Live Plus, I didn’t think it made sense  to purchase it.  The WD TV Live hub was running $229, but I could purchase a WD 2TB drive for $120.    So for $9 less I could get 1TB more storage!  But in retrospect, I wish I would have gotten that one instead for the iPhone app and the uPnP.

But at the end of the day there is no buyer’s remorse here.  I am still very pleased with performance and capabilities of the WD TV Live Plus.

Top Ten (Free) Touchpad Apps

I have been playing with the HP Touchpad for a few months now and there are quite a few good (free) Touchpad apps that I thought I would share with you folks.  So here they are in no particular order:

1)  USA Today– The iconic newspaper has done a fine job exporting their site/app to the Touchpad.  Easy to navigate with a clean, crisp look.  A very nice job.

2)  Zite Personal Magazine– The “Flipbook” of the HP Touchpad, this app aggregates many other sites and puts it into a “personalized” magazine.  Sadly it does not allow the user to select which sources it pulls the RSS feeds from.  But still a nice job all the same.

3) Zinio – The magazine app makes an appearance on the Touchpad.  It is version 1.0 and missing some fairly obvious functions (like being able to delete a magazine is one that comes to mind) but I am hopefully they will get the bugs worked out soon.

4)  Rev3 webOS – All the Rev3video podcast in one single location.  Now I can watch Cali Lewis, Veronica Belmont, Patrick Norton and the rest of the Rev3 kingdom in one easy location.  Nice Job, folks!

5) TechTV – Being a fan of the old TechTV, I was very excited when I saw this app.  Like the Rev3 app, it has a bunch of tech video from various source and present them very well.

6) VPN – Holy Cow!!!  HP created the app that allows me to VPN into my network on the Touchpad.  I was simply amazed that this worked after having little to no success getting my Cisco 3005 to connect with any android product.  Works very well.

7) NPR Reader– Being a fan (and supporter) of NPR, I am always impressed with the quality of apps that NPR puts out across all platforms, and they did not disappoint with the Touchpad’s NPR reader.  Clear, concise, and easy to navigate.  Well done!

8) Robotek HD – Just a cool little game.  You have a robot and you must battle another robot using various weapons, shield, and effects.  Simple yet addicting.

9) TuneIn Radio – Like NPR, the folks at TuneIn don’t disappoint.  Navigate local radio stations or listen to radio from half way around the world.

10) AccuWeather – A very nice weather app.  Not much more to say other that it is simple to read and use.  Live radar, weather alerts, allergy information, and more, it is an “all-in-one” weather stop.

If you have any more free apps that you would like to recommend for the touch pad, please let me know.

 

**Edit**  Late Entry:  Facebook now has an app for the Touchpad.  Very nice export but lacking one fundamental thing:  you cannot logout, allowing anyone that picks up the touchpad be able to post as you.  Not good.  Major oversight.  But still, it is functional and looks great.

Coffee Time!!!!

As a long-time drip coffee maker user, I have always been a little dissatisfied not only with the taste of the coffee it produces but in the waste that is associated with it.  That’s why I am considering getting a  Kuerig Coffee maker.  I like the idea of being able to make a single cup off coffee at night without having to waste all that coffee or water.  And the selection is pretty good.  My one concern thus far was that the company would go bottom-up and I’d be stuck with a $150 appliance that I could not get the k-cups for.  But now with the wide variety and the increase market demand for the k-cups, I think it is time to put that fear away.

So I am probably going to buy one of these beauties in the next few weeks.  Anyone got any experience or opinions on these, please feel free to chime in.

Finally….streaming MY media to my iPad from my WD TV Live!!!

One of the “Holy Grails” of the iPad for me has aways been to be able to view movies I already own to the iPad.  But  the ability to do this has always eluded me.  Like Ford Prefect looking for a S.E.P., I could almost get it to work but not entirely.

I am using the iPad 2 and the Western Digital TV Live Plus

The issue always came down to one of two things:  either the player couldn’t navigate the wireless network correctly, it could navigate to the the fomat couldn’t be played on the iPad (.mkv or avi).

In early attempts I was able to browse the wireless and get on the WDTVLIVEPLUS using the File Browser App, so I knew what I was trying to do was possible.  But I was only able to view and stream those media types that iPad could natively, which limited me to .mp4, .m4v, and .mov.  This left me in a rut, since most of my 100+ movies were in .mkv format.  But as I said, at least I knew that it was at least possible to do as the File Browser app let me test the wireless streaming and I knew that part would work.

So I was left with the choices of either converting all those movies to a format that could be played by the iPad, of find another app that could both see the WDTV live box on the wireless network and p[lay the right format.

I tried several apps and finally found one that met both conditions:  GoodPlayer .  GoodPlayer plays AVI, Xvid, Divx, DAT,VOB,FLV,WMV ,MKV,MP4,RM,RMVB, and AC3 file types.

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GoodPlayer

To connect it to my WD box, I simply went to the SMB/CIFS Client and added the IP address of the WDTVLIVEPLUS box.  (One important thing here is to make sure your WD Box has a static IP address on your network.  It will work with a dynamic address, but you’ll have too re-add the box everytime the WD Box gets a new address from DHCP.)

Once it was added, the WDTVLIVEPLUS was easily navigatable.  It now gives the choice of, once a file is selected, downloading the file and playing it or “play this URL” which will stream the movie from the WDTVLIVEPLUS attached hard drive to the iPad.

GoodPlayer also allows various other sources such as a UPnP and DLNA Client, WebDAV, and direct streaming from a URL.  The quality of streaming via Wifi ranges between acceptable to what I would consider to be pretty good.  As and oddity, the higher the quality of encoding, the worse it seems to look on the iPad.  I think this is due to the limitations of the data rates of the wifi.

Of course, not being satisfied with getting my movies to stream to just one iPad, I wanted to see if I could stream to two iPads at the same time because you never know when I want to watch TWO movies at the same time.  For those curious, yes, it does work.  Two seperate movies can be watched from two different ipads at the same time.

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I have only been using GoodPlayer for a few hours now and already it seems to be a great solution for all the streaming I want to do.  I have only begun to scratch the surface about what this awesome app can do, but at $2.99, it is already paying itself off.

So if you are a WD TV Live user and have wanted to stream to your iPad