Anyone Else Having Problems Installing Windows 7 on a Virtual Machine?

17 01 2009

I was able to get Microsoft’s upcoming baby, the beta for Windows 7 (build 7000) installed and running smoothly on a 3GHz P4 Dell Inspiron notebook running on 1GB RAM with no problems. Well I guess the only issue I faced was that it won’t let me create another partition so I could get Ubuntu 8.10 installed on a EXT3 disk format. But that aside, worked great.

Then I took the task of porting Windows 7 on my Apple Macbook via virtual machine meaning it would run within Mac OS X. Found a free tool Virtual Box (instead of the $80 Parallels or similarly priced industry leading VM Ware) to create a fake partition on my drive and emulate a system akin to a new hard drive so that Windows could be installed and executed on it.

The installation process was fairly quick and painless. Oh and I had it set it to Windows Server 2008 as there obviously didn’t have Windows 7 on the list and since Server 2008 was the latest one, it was my choice. By default, most new installs of operating systems default to a 4:3 screen ratio depending on your video/graphics card. Mine was on 1024×768 but when I went to switch it to 1280×800, that option wasn’t made available. Infact, there was nothing else other than the tiny 1024×768. My video card was listed as a generic VGA card and the mouse movements weren’t smooth.

I then tried to get onto the internet but my wireless card wasn’t recognized which was fine by me because I have an Ethernet cable (CAT5) to link up to my router and the VBox software was telling me that my LAN (local area network – cable) card was recognized. Too bad. It’s not working now for some reason on VBox. That meant I also couldn’t download and install the “Guest Additions” for Windows 7.

So now I’m stuck with 2 options:

1. Try and find a way to download the “Guest Additions” manually from the Mac OS X interface and then conjure up magic to install it.

2. Remove Windows 7 and reinstall it under the guise of Windows Vista since 7 is essentially built up on the much loathed Vista platform.

You could say I didn’t get the best first hand experience of a virtual machine on the Mac OS X platform but that’s just part of life.

 

When I load up Windows 7 beta on VirtualBox by default, it is set to “Windowed” mode (below).

 

I can scroll up or down but it gets annoying (below).

 

Or I could go into “Full Screen” mode but that’s annoying too with the black bars surrounding the main Windows 7 gui (pronounced: gooey … stands for “graphical user interface”) interface.

… any suggestions?

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RIP (Toshiba) HD-DVD

19 02 2008

Today 02/19/08, Toshiba finally threw in the towel and gave-up their interests in the high definition dvd format war against Sony’s Blu-Ray. Gizmodo covered it up a bit but for the average folks out there, Toshiba and Sony initially developed the high-definition DVD standard but as the two company’s differences grew larger, they decided to split with Toshiba taking the “HD” moniker leaving the more ambiguous term “Blu-Ray” for Sony.

While Toshiba cozied up with big Shao Khan Microsoft and his henchmen in the movie industry, Sony worked hard to ingrain Blu-Ray DVD systems into their next generation gaming platform, the Sony Playstation 3 or PS3. The biggest cosmetic difference between the Blu-Ray and HD-DVD dvds are that the former can hold more than double the capacity of the latter. But to Toshiba’s credit, their disks are cheaper.

So anyway, slowly and steadily, Sony started to garner support as PS3 sales began to drive Blu-Ray player sales and certain notable Hollywood companies switched sides to the benefit of the makers of PrayStation3.

Transformers director Michael Bay made an allegation that Microsoft was simply holding hands with Toshiba to prolong the high-definition DVD war until digital downloads became the acceptable medium for media transfers. Could be saying the truth? It’s true that the add-on HD-DVD player for the Xbox 360 sucks and it can only be used to view HD-DVD movies compared to the PS3’s Blu-Ray player which plays PS3/PS2 games + Blu-Ray movies and doesn’t require you to make an additional purchase for the dvd component. Half-assed work from the big bad MS building credibility to the rumor reported by Michael “awesome” Bay.

So yea, in the end, one must fall. With too many defections from Hollywood studios, it was only a matter of time before Toshiba crumbled saving Sony from an embarrassing Betamax-like failure of the ’80s. To put in the final blow, Sony released an official statement mentioning they were open to the idea of Toshiba joining the Blu-Ray camp. FATALITY!

So what is this High-Definition DVD? Regular DVD videos are formatted for 480p resolutions. On an HDTV, those videos will be stretched to fit and on larger HDTVs, regular DVDs aren’t as impressive. This is where high definition dvds (720p, 1080i, 1080p) come into play as Sony’s Blu-Ray disks let you watch your favorite movies (with huge mark-ups of course) on crystal clear screens. You will require HDMI cables to transmit video/audio from the DVD player to the TV however to get that pristine picture and sound you deserve.





Misconceptions of “High Definition” (Part 2)

15 02 2008

So continuing the “High Definition” misconceptions and some answers from my previous post. We’ll start off with an easy question that might have raised ??? in many consumers.

Question: What do you mean by the “p” and “i” in 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 480p, 480i?
The “p” stands for “progressive” scanning and “i” for “interlaced” scanning. Progressive scanning will scan the entire screen from top to bottom without skipping lines. Interlaced scanning will scan every other line from top to bottom thereby giving you only half the resolution but outputted at the same size. Hence, the blurriness you notice on 480i (aka Standard Definition) screens when comparing them with 480p (aka Enhanced Definition) screens.

What is “resolution” you say? The quality of the video in layman’s terms.

Question: Why are some HD channels clearer and sharper than others?
HD channels are required by default to have a minimum of 720 pixels vertically and in a wide-screen format. The average computer monitor is 1024 pixels wide by 768 pixels tall at a 4:3 format. HDTVs running at 720p resolutions are usually 1388 pixels wide and 720 pixels tall at 16:9 aspect ratio format.

Taking that into consideration, not all video are shot or processed into a widescreen format. So tv producers will take a standard definition broadcast video feed and stretch it to fit 720 pixels vertically but since it’s SD and not a HD broadcast, it will be in 4:3 ratio instead of 16:9. That will explain the borders on the sides of some of the tv shows you see on your HD TV used to fill up the broadcast.

When videos are stretched, the technical term used is “upscaling”. Upscaled high def broadcasts aren’t very clear because they were originally 480 pixels tall and are now stretch to nearly twice their size.

Question: Why can’t I change resolutions in HD channels?
HD channels are already programmed to fit your tv screen. Hence even if there are side borders on some shows, you are unable to stretch it cuz the side borders are included in the broadcast.

Question: Why are larger computer LCD monitors more expensive than equally sized HDTVs?
LCD computer monitors can output higher resolutions than HDTVs. They can easily pack in twice or more pixels than even the best High Def TV.

Question: Are high def TVs and wide-screen computer monitors aspect ratios different?
Yes. Wide-screen computer monitors are standardized at 16:10 ratio compared to HDTV’s 16:9. Not sure why but that’s just the industry agreement.

Finally we end with another question that bothers most people…

Question: Do we have to get satellite or cable to watch high definition channels?
NO. High definition channels are already available over the air with the more spendy tv antennas. Cable tv and satellite providers all have their own plans and rates for what shows you can see on HD but if you just want the basic stuff like ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX, you can get em for free through your rabbit-ears and standard coax cables despite what people or “experts” say.

Cable and satellite tv providers will continue to give out standard definition (or sub-par) channels for now until competition mandates them all to bring out full HD channels.





Misconceptions of “High Definition” (Part 1)

18 01 2008

This topic has been bothering me lately. I have a friend who works in the audio/video department of a company involved with Disney World in Orlando which was why I was surprised by a few comments he made in respects to the popular high-definition (HD) video format market. I tried explaining the difference to him but sometimes it gets real hard to explain when you’d downed 8-9 beers within the hour at a bar and your team’s losing on TV (HDTV ironically) and the screen’s right in front of you.

My sober answers are all based on a summer full of physically experimenting LCDs, CRTs, HD-Ready, HD, and SDTVs with a wide array of cables and a nearly a year of research on them. This is just an attempt to reach out to the masses to clear up some confusion because if a video technician can be so wrong, what about the rest of you out there confused and puzzled about these things. Home improvement through purchasing a screen that can output high definition is what you do these days.

The pictures below from my tv are proof to him that I can see shows on both SD and HD formats through a standard coax-cable. If you’re not sure what that is, it’s the regular kinda cable you plug coming from a tv antenna or the plug-in on the wall.

Friend: HDTVs and HD-Ready TVs are the same. Just different names.
Truth: No. HDTVs come built in with both a digital and analog tuner. The digital tuner is able to output video in the range of 480p, 720p, 1080i, and 1080p. HD-ready TVs only come with analog tuners and would require an external HD-tuner device. Both TVs however can output digital video, but only one has a tuner allows high definition broadcast video through coax-cables.

Friend: Ask any Best Buy employee and they will tell you both TVs are essentially the same because HD-Ready TVs can play 1080p video through BluRay players just like HDTVs.
Truth: Of course. They’re looking to sell their products. Both HD and HD-Ready TVs have digital output and are built like computer monitors and more. They can accept digital and analog signals from dvd players depending on the type of cables used.

Friend: Component cables aren’t high definition compared to HDMI.
Truth: Err sorta true. Component (aka YPbPr or RGB) and HDMI can both channel high definition data. The former is based on analog transmissions and there can be some minor (unnoticeable unless you’re a resolution nazi) loss in quality if the cable is beyond 6ft in length and has a max output of 720p. The latter is full digital so it either makes it to the output screen or it doesn’t and it’s output can be taken all the way to 1080p depending on the data.

Friend: 1080i is better than 720p or 720i.
Truth: Our high definition broadcast standards require “high definition” to be in a wide-screen format and starting at 720p. As far as I know, I haven’t seen or heard of 720i since an interlaced screen is basically halving the resolution leaving it at an unacceptable 360p which is even lower than EDTV (Enhanced Definition) resolution of 480p.

480i or standard definition format could be termed as 240p if you’d like because when standard definition video is being outputted to the screen, it skips every other line. So when you compare 1080i to 720p, remember that 1080i has the same amount of video you could see on a 540p resolution (540p screens do not exist) screen which is obviously lower than 720p.

Friend: You’re not watching REAL HDTV channels.
Truth: WRONG! A high-definition channel is any video feed that is being outputted at a resolution higher than 480 pixels tall or anything higher than the EDTV (enhanced definition) format, 480p. A video may not have to be considered DIGITAL if it’s not being fed through a direct digital physical connection. Just make sure it’s HIGH DEFINITION.

Do note that the above results won’t be possible through an HD-Ready TV unless you buy/rent a digital tuner box which will set you back by around 80 bucks a piece. Also, my TV has a max output of 1080i meaning it should be able to output 480i/p, 720p, and 1080i.





DVI-I to Component (RGB) cable problems

2 09 2007

Last week I wrote about not being able to get my VGA to Component cable on my DVD player working with my new LCD monitor. Alright. There’s many different types of VGA connectors. Makes sense. mmm. The LCD has a DVI-I port which is compatible with DVI-D and DVI-A cables. Bought a new DVI-I cable cuz I thought it was gonna work this time around. Whadyu know? It’s not. WTF dude. Seriously.

Before I end this short post, I want to summarize my findings below.

LCD or CRT Computer Monitors are…
NOT compatible with signals coming from an analog output because it only has digital video inputs. Even if the cables fit right-in the ports, it ain’t gonna happen with your DVD player or other devices unless there is some form of a digital signal passing from that external device to your LCD.

Examples of cables that output analog signals: Component (RGB), DVI-I/DVI-A, VGA

Examples of cables that output digital signals: DVI-D, VGA

TV Tuners cards (computer add-ons or stand-alone devices) can take analog broadcasts and push it to your LCD as digital.

DVD Player —(Analog)–> TV Tuner —(Digital)–> LCD

So if you plan on using TV Tuners to watch tv/cable or dvds on your LCD or CRT computer monitors, remember that even though the signal between the tuner and your monitor is digital, it is coming from an analog source and so the digital image can’t be better than it’s source. DVDs can be played in digital high definition ONLY if you hook your computer directly to your monitor and play the movie through your computer.





VGA to Component (RGB) cable problems

26 08 2007

So I originally bought a cable with male DVI-I (dual-link) and component (RGB) ends to hook up my DVD player to my 22″ LCD flatpanel monitor. This would allow video feed to pass from my DVD player through those 3 RCA-like cables (red, green, blue) to my monitor in high-def format. Unfortunately, my monitor at the time only supported DVI-D (dual-link) so the DVI-I cable had to be returned.

DVI-I cables have 4 additional pins and the DVI-D port on the monitor didn’t have holes for those pins. That was my problem. I was able to do a swap with another cable that had male VGA (HD15) and component (RBG) ends. By the time the package was shipped, I had already moved to a new address blocks down the road. It finally got to my new place after 2 weeks due to the inefficient mail re-routing system in Minnesota.

But while the package was in-transit, I had sold my 22″ LCD and bought a new 24″ LCD monitor. This one had a DVI-I dual-link port meaning it could use both any form of DVI-A or DVI-D also meaning that my old cable woulda worked on this set. DOH! So I got my VGA to Component cable and was looking forlornly at my decision to do a swap. Plugged it in and goddangit. It’s not working. For a component to VGA connection, the end output must also be analog like a TV or a standard projector (not new high-def versions).

So I have a spare component to VGA cable hanging around uselessly. This is dumb.





Gateway laptop with MBR Error – Pt 2

17 08 2007

The laptop worked out fine. All files were backed into a virtual partition. Then the main C: partition was formatted, XP Pro installed on the empty partition, the backed up files moved into a folder on the C: called BACKUP-GATEWAY.

Then I had a noobilicious moment. For some reason the newly formatted laptop wont work on network.

Ethernet cable from wall connects to the hub, my desktop connects to the hub, and so does the laptop. So since the laptop didn’t work and my desktop was, I tried reseating the cable coming from the wall on the end to the hub. That didn’t go it either. Then I noticed that my desktop didn’t go offline. There was only one ethernet cable connected to the hub and it’s linked to my desktop. Weird.

I followed the cables and came to the conclusion that my computer had magical powers. But I was wrong. With the gazillion cables in the back thanks to the dual mounted CPUs, I’d been deceived when I was following the ethernet cable. That came at the expense of moving my desk and computers and laptops etc around. 60 minutes wasted. Office in disarray. Feeling stupid.

And yes. There are no more MBR Errors anymore.