Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Booting Hyper-V created virtual machines with VirtualBox

At work the other day I was trying to run the Microsoft provided Hyper-V virtual machine (VM) demonstration setup for Team Foundation Server 2010 and Project Server 2010 integration and kept getting blue screens over and over again during boot when using the .vhd file as the existing disc in a VirtualBox VM.

I let it keep rebooting but couldn't get the screen to stay up long enough (or get a screen shot quick enough) to determine what the error code was. I figured it had to be a "hardware" related issue between the two VM hosts and played around with the machine settings until I got it to work.

It turns out that the .vhd files created in Hyper-V are created as IDE drives. Using these images in Hyper-V would not cause a problem as that is what it expects. VirtualBox, on the other hand, defaults new machines to use a SATA controller; which was the cause for my blue screen loop. Simply changing the machine settings to use an IDE controller instead allowed me to boot up the machine and now I am able to use the integration demonstration VM.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

NineBall Versus Pythia 2.0: Upgrading a HTPC, Part 1

For a few years now I have been running a home theatre PC (HTPC) as the main component of my primary viewing area. It has served me well and has been well used by family and friends. It has also been a let down in some areas, under utilized in others and simply requires an upgrade in several places. Here is the link to the original build log on a forum I frequent; eventually I will port that log here as I started to do with Project Hydra. As it was built well before I started this blog, I will outline the components used here until I port that log over.
  • Chassis - Antec Fusion Black 430 - $180
  • Motherboard - Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H - $86
  • CPU - AMD Athlon 64 x2 4850e - $105
  • CPU cooling - ThermalRight XP-90 w/ Nexus Real Silent 92mm fan - $48
  • Memory - Mushkin HP PC2-6400 2x1GB Kit - $55
  • OS Drive - Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 500GB 3.5" SATA - $70
  • Optical Drive - LG GGC-H20L Blu-ray/HD-DVD/DVD±RW - $140
  • Video Card - Sapphire Radeon 3450 PCIe Fanless - $51
  • NTSC Tuner - Nvidia DualTV PCI - $212
  • OS - Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit OEM - $103
  • Remote - Microsoft MCE Remote Control and Receiver w/ 2 blasters - $27
  • Joypads - 2x Microsoft XBox 360 Wireless Controller for Windows - $69 (total)
Original Total - $1146

This setup has allowed all the media playback/ripping capabilities you would expect in a HTPC, casual gaming and recording/playback of 2 NTSC channels at a time. Moving forward, I expect to see improved media playback/ripping performance, more serious gaming capabilities and the ability to record/playback up to an additional 3 ATSC channels. As I am replacing the OS already, I will also take the opportunity to update all my software, both of which should add alot of visual appear and usability to the system.

My upgrade path is currently as follows: I will be replacing the CPU, video card and OS and adding the ATSC tuners. A friend has also provided me with a slightly newer motherboard if I can fix it (should be easy from his description) which would also require DDR3 memory. In the next part, I will outline all the new components that will be making up the Pythia 2.0 build.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

NineBall Versus Fatherhood

So, fatherhood has kept me busy and my projects are piling up, with many getting nearer to completion but none being quite there. Below I am including a list of my current projects, almost all of which are being documented and will be posted at some point in the future (another project I'm slacking on...).

  • Project Hydra (NAS) - Has been running smoothly since I first put it together. I have a new 2TB drive to upgrade my array with.
  • Project Pythia (Main HTPC) - Pretty stable but has S3 sleep issues occasionally (not going into it). This box is slated for a major hardware and software overhaul as soon as I have time.
  • Project Hermes (OTA TV) - My antenna is partially built and will be mounted temporarily in the office in front of the window. When I have time in the future I will mount it on the roof.
  • Project Selene (Baby mobile) - For my (currently) 4 month old son and has priority over all other projects. This is a complex one but I hope to have it done before he is sleeping in his bedroom.
The following are future projects that I hope to embark on.

  • Project Kerberos (Router) - I have a VM running Untangle server that I use as a gateway/firewall for all my other VMs to connect to on the internal VirtualBox connection. In production, I would place this in-between my modem and my LAN, replacing my basic aging router.
  • Project Ladon (Home Automation) - In the future I would like to tie all my entertainment, ambiance, security and networking together into a nice whole-home package. Preferably with Android device integration.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

NineBall Versus the CNAME Alias

For as long as I've had this blog (which surprisingly is almost a year although my post count wouldn't indicate it), I've had a domain name; actually longer. Although I did know that I could set up my blog to look like it belonged under my domain name, I had never looked into how to do it. Until today that is.

Following the instructions I found here, I logged into my registrar's control panel and setup the CNAME as directed and then into my blog settings and set the domain name. The steps below are for my registrar,, but as the instructions state, they should work roughly the same for any registrar. And obviously, if you use the hosting provided through Google, it should be even easier.

Step 1) Log into the control panel and navigate to Domain > DomainCentral

Steps 2-3) Drop down the domain you would like to edit, navigate to the DNS tab and select CNAME Alias from the modify drop-down box. Add the CNAME alias that you would like to redirect to your blog. And now the part that made it all work for me when it should have based on the support article: add the CNAME alias again with
 in front of it. Adding the second entry made it work for me but your mileage may vary and this may not be required.

And that's it. Give the DNS entries time to take; you'll know it worked when you navigate to your CNAME alias and get a Google 404 page. Once that happens edit the domain used for your blog as directed in the instructions and you're all set.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

NineBall Versus the Audio Formats, Part 2

For a reminder of the situation, see my previous post: NineBall Versus the Audio Formats.

Well, as it turned out, I was doomed from the start thanks to the "genius" of Apple (see what I did there?). Apparently, DAAP servers are totally cool for transcoding/sharing media with iTunes but you still cannot sync shared music to your iPod as that breaks some magical DRM law. If you want to be able to sync media to an iPod from a central source with iTunes, you have to set each PC's iTunes folder to the same network share. This will mean setting up the same mapped drive on each machine so that iTunes can use a central database and not get confused and will also mean not being able to transcode media, so no FLAC.

All-in-all, Apple really boned me on this one; proving once again why I hate their closed system and always recommend their competitor's product (most recently convincing family looking for an iPhone to get an HTC Android device). The result here being that I will rip all of my audio CDs to AAC for native compatibility with all my devices but the DSM-320 which can be serviced by a DLNA/uPnP server.

As a side note, Firefly worked awesome and did exactly what I wanted it to; transcoding FLAC and allowing it to be playable through an automatically detected shared folder in iTunes. I won't be installing it on my server as I will be using the direct access method through iTunes as noted above but if my main concern was simply allowing shared music on multiple machines through iTunes, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. Subsonic was not what I thought it was although it is pretty cool for what it does; which is to allow you to listen to your music from the server through the internet as a streaming music site. I could not get FLAC to work with it, but since I will now be ripping to AAC this will not be a problem if I decide to install it on my actual server for remote access to my library.

I've gone platinum!

Although that statement would be far more exciting if I was a member of the RIAA, I'm still pretty happy about it. I finally got my first platinum trophy for Prince of Persia this past weekend. I'm also close to The Force Unleashed (only "500 kills with x power" trophies left), Assassin's Creed 2 (only feathers/cape and a couple combat trophies left) and Fallout 3 (only Level 20 neutral and bad karma trophies left) as well. Since the only trophies I need in each of those require grinding, it may take some motivation for The Force Unleashed and Assassin's Creed 2. Fallout 3 will be a given however as I am now just starting to play through the 5 expansions with my (currently) level 16 character.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

NineBall Versus the Audio Formats

The last couple days I have been trying to wrap my head around the matter of audio formats. I have a collection of CDs sitting in boxes in the basement currently and am planning to rip them all to store on the NAS as a central repository that all our devices can pull from instead of having individual libraries. Storage space is obviously not a concern so an uncompressed or lossless format would be ideal, although I understand that I won't be able to tell the difference aurally between those and good MP3/AAC encodes according to everyone on the interwebs but this guy. I just want reference quality because I can.

That would be fine if I was only concerned with playback on our laptops and HTPC and had no interest in embedded information tagging. Unfortunately, I am also targetting iPods, a PS3 and a D-Link DSM-320. This restricts me to lossy encoding if I only want 1 copy of each song. So, seemingly I can rip my CDs to 320Kbps VBR MP3 and be none the wiser when listening (see the first two links above) while having playback support on all my devices. But I will know all the same that it is not reference quality that I have stored. I could also just use WAV files but that is too much space even for me and supports no embedded tagging. I need to find a middle groud.

Now, the PS3 and DSM-320 can be serviced by uPnP/DLNA media servers which can transcode my media on the fly but that's a story for another day and will not work for syncing with our iPods. There are other servers though such as FireFly (not maintained but works) which is a DAAP server and shows up as a shared folder in iTunes and Subsonic which I'm not sure how but apparently works with iTunes. Both servers transcode on the fly like the uPnP servers but since they show up in iTunes allow for syncing to the iPods. This will allow for ripping to a lossless, tagged format such as FLAC while being transcoded for iPods without the required storage.

Ripping to FLAC will also require more software for ripping such as MediaMonkey. Ripping to MP3 or AAC would be easy through iTunes while ripping to WMA-Lossless would be easy through Windows Media Player but that format is not well supported by the transcoding servers.

This brings me to my current dilema. Do I just rip to MP3 for full native support on all my devices, do I rip to AAC for full support on all but the DSM-320 and trash it (have no current use for it but do own it) or do I rip to FLAC for lossless audio but require extra client/server applications for ripping/transcoding to my non-PC devices. I plan to test out how well the various servers work in the near future but I guess in the meantime I'll just keep listening to my downloaded music and wait on ripping those CDs.