Viewing posts tagged tech

Tech Adventures: Thunderbolt 3 External Graphics

Our desktops at home, Alexstrasza and Keristrasza, have seen little use Β in the past years. Firstly, because the room they’re in got messed up by our cats. Secondly, because we’ve primarily moved to mobile and console gaming. Lastly, because lounging on a sofa or bed is much more comfortable than sitting in an IKEA work chair. πŸ˜›

Seeing how we prefer working on laptops instead of desktops nowadays, I shifted our future PC landscape plan to replace the obsolete PCs with laptops and some accessories to help them out. One of these accessories is an external Thunderbolt 3 GPU enclosure, to give our slim laptops a boost when playing games or rendering video. Essentially, I wanted to have a single portable device that I’ll bring to work and everywhere, while having the ability to hook it up at home and play AAA games on it.

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Still connected.

When you want something done, you gotta do it yourself.

When you still want to build a website over your holiday.

Greetings from Phuket! Tis officially the first day of our vacation here and we’re totally taking it easy by lazing around the pool/beach. While last year we spent most of the time reading and sleeping, this time I have my laptop along for the possible office emergency (hope they don’t call *crosses fingers*).

So here I am, as long as I can stand the screen glare, updating my WordPress JetPack settings (we have Publicize now!), and building an event registration site for our upcoming musical.

Yes, we’re in a musical. Don’t ask me how, but it’s been an enjoyable experience getting ready for the show. If you’re free on the 2nd or 3rd of March, 2013, please come and support us! Link to the Facebook event here. We’re doing RENT in Concert. RENT is a rock musical set in NY city about a group of poor artists trying to get by under the weight of HIV/AIDS. It’s pretty awesome for a musical. We’ve got profanity, homeless people, gay people, lesbians (one of which is played by my wife), drug dealers. I think the younger group would love it. πŸ™‚

Going back to the event registration site, I’m now looking at possible plugins that allow payment via PayPal (that seems to be the only option readily available). The two that I’ve found, Event Planner and Event Registration, both have free integration to PayPal but Planner doesn’t seem to have MYR listed as a currency, so we’re left with Registration. If that doesn’t work, then I’ll have to temporarily shut this site down and run Magento or Spree which should have everything we need. We’ll see how it goes.

Anyway, it’s getting a little hot. Time for a dip in the pool.

ABAP: Stay logged into SAPGUI indefinitely

Sometimes you’re doing something midway on your system, and you’re interrupted for a meeting or lunch or whatever. You come back and you’ve been automatically logged out, losing whatever you were working on earlier.

Prior to our upgrade to ECC6, you can simply keep yourself logged in by making timed calls to function module SAPGUI_PROGRESS_INDICATOR. Once upgraded however, the code has changed, causing it to no longer extend your GUI session.

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avisynth/mencoder transcoding for ps3 media server on windows 7

Finally managed to get CoreAVC + Subtitles + Avisynth/Mencoder working for the PS3 Media Server on Windows 7 RC.

By right, the default usage of just Mencoder for transcoding with subtitles is just fine. However, I have some anime files that don’t size/zoom just right on the TV (i.e. there is no Zoom screen mode on the PS3, instead Normal mode displays like Zoom mode). AviSynth/Mencoder displays them fine though, with all 3 screen modes available, but of course, no subtitles. And since I have CoreAVC with CUDA acceleration, might as well make use of it for the other 1080p files.

So yes, follow the instructions for CoreAVC in PS3 Media Server’s README/FAQ files.

Then implement this hack to stop Windows 7 from using its built in DTV-DVD filter:
Replacing the Default DTV/DVD Decoder without Breaking Live TV Playback
(Take note of the different registry path for 64-bit in the comments)

Now, you should be set. I’ve tested this so far with MKV files that have built in subtitles. With vsfilter.dll in the Avisynth plugins folder, I’m expecting double subs to appear for movies with external subs (this is my assumption by logic, but might not be the case), so removing vsfilter.dll from the plugins dir might help with that.

the karaoke trail

Initial plan was to stream karaoke files as video to the PS3. Hardware needed: PS3 (got it), mics with echo chamber (got a pair lying around in the old house), AV receiver & surround speakers (not really needed for this particular use, but you know.. we must have them!).

Forgetting about hardware for the time being, we need to do a POC.

PS3 Media Server does not show CDG files on the XMB, so that’s off the table. TVersity shows them, but requires a DirectX filter to play them. A free DirectX filter available on the net can’t work, because it’s too old and missing some tech. There’s a paid one available from Power Karaoke, but I can’t get the trial version to work (no audio in WMP, slow load in PS3 and hangs after about 5 seconds of play).

Another issue: English CDG files are usually paired with an MP3 file for the audio, so they’re usually zipped together for distribution. We assumed that they should be unzipped to be played, but apparently most karaoke players can play them zipped (in fact the free karaoke filter I mentioned earlier can do that using a bundled unzip filter). The IRC channel that we hang out in to get new English karaoke songs also requires our files to be zipped for sharing. Seems like a waste to keep 2 sets of the same files for different purposes (1 set is currently 7GB).

Both PS3MS and TVersity don’t show ZIP files on the XMB. PS3MS has an option called Browse ZIP/RAR files, but that doesn’t help in this matter.

The next idea that we had was to instead stream the karaoke playlist from the media server as a webcast. We can then configure PS3MS to grab it as Internet TV. It’s better than the original idea whereby we can browse for songs and add them to the playlist while people are singing.

Problem is, we can’t find any webcasting programs that simply supports DirectX. None of the karaoke players have a webcast function either. Windows Media Player has a media sharing function, but you can’t drag zip files into its playlist.

I’m currently attending a C# .NET class. Kinda tempted to just code one someday. πŸ˜›

But anyway, that particular alternative is a dead end. The last choice that we have: use a dual-screen notebook. A notebook would be better than a desktop because 1) we already have two, and 2) we’re trying to keep the number of running machines in the house to a minimum. Besides, having a full tower that generates enough heat to power the Matrix in a living room without A/C isn’t generally a good idea. πŸ˜›

So we have Faizah’s Powerbook G4: it’s nice and small, but it needs a proprietary AV out. It also has an overheating battery that was recalled in 2006 but we’re still using it. Contacting Apple now to see if we can still get it exchanged. πŸ˜› Available karaoke players are also not free.

And then we have my HP Compaq 6910p: new and tons of RAM, but it’s the office notebook. πŸ˜› Only needs an S-Video out, so we’re set! For software, we’d use Karafun, which is free and simple enough to use. We’d just mount the karaoke folder from the media server and use Windows Search to search for music and drag them to the Karafun playlist.

So that’s settled mainly. Just need an S-Video cable to complete the POC.

Then we moved on to looking for Japanese karaoke files. Scoured IRC for a few days but couldn’t find any. Searched the web but nothing in English. Enabled Japanese IME to start doing Japanese language searches, which finally shed a little light.

There was one major source for Japanese karaoke: Club DAM, a website for the makers of a line of Japanese karaoke machines. At 1035円 a month, you can download all the DRM10-encrypted karaoke videos you’d want. But my Japanese is rusty, so I’m not sure if the files expire after you terminate a subscription.

Today, I managed to find some videos on YouTube (search カラγ‚ͺγ‚±) but it’s definitely not comprehensive. It’s a start. Most are high quality and downloadable using DownloadHelper. Playing them back, however, was another problem: the FLV splitter that comes with K-Lite does not play the HQ35 Youtube format (which is essentially AVC/H264 and AAC in an FLV package), but I fixed that easy by downloading a newer version of FLVSplitter ( to replace the K-Lite one (

But now I’m stuck with the fact that Karafun can’t play FLV files. O.o I’m pretty sure there’s another player that does, but I can’t remember which one. Or I could just convert it to AVI or whatever.

I’m still tempted to sign up for a karaoke@DAM subscription. Might acquire Tunebite Platinum for DRM removal.

windows 7 first impressions

Build 7100:


Love how I can have two sound systems, and the OS will automatically switch outputs depending on which sound system I plug my headphones into.

Internet Explorer 8 corrupts downloads like a runaway train. True to tradition.

NVidia drivers need to be installed manually from the Device Manager.

Everything else seems to work: Firefox, WoW, SecureCRT, Proxifier, Steam.

Things left to try: Install PS3 Media Server, TVersity, CoreAVC, AviSynth, any Karaoke MP3+G filter to work with TVersity. Test CUDA acceleration. Play Portal, Left 4 Dead, CoD4. πŸ™‚



Did a CMOS jumper reset and the compie works fine now.

Was finally able to install Windows 7 RC thanks to Merv’s friend. Had to actually get a physical copy of the original disc rather than downloading because all the downloads would be corrupt regardless of what method I use. Shiny! Now installing drivers and all that before the ultimate test: to see if WoW works. πŸ˜›

weird news

Found that the issue was insufficient power supply, so upgraded to an 850W Coolermaster Real Power Pro.

But now my computer won’t shut down. :O

I’d shut it down, and 5 seconds later it wakes up again. Creepy! I checked my BIOS APM settings, XP Recovery settings, XP NIC WOL settings, updated my BIOS, but to no avail! I even unplugged everything except power and it still restarts. I unplugged my casing power switch and it still manages to stay alive. :O :O


good news:

Ran Heroic Naxxramas, Plague & Spider Quarters last night with the guild plus a few pugs. Picked up Leggings of Colossal Strides and Fool’s Trial. Continuing tonight for the other quarters.

bad news:

My graphics card might be faulty. PC kept shutting down and refusing to boot up until after a few minutes, only to die again. Each time it recovers I need to reconfigure my BIOS. A quick google search showed a huge failure rate on GTX 280 cards, with them hitting 110 degrees only after a few minutes of use. I need to go back home and verify that my card is indeed hitting those temperatures, and if it is, see if I can mitigate the problem by improving airflow. Anything to avoid sending the card back to the US for RMA and possibly getting another defective card anyway.

Ended up having to raid on my notebook last night. πŸ™

wow is pretty

Picked up all the components I needed for a new PC on Friday. Machines page updated to reflect the new hardware. Spent pretty much all of Saturday installing a temporary OS (XP 32 SP3) and some essential software (WoW. not a proper install either, simply a copy from my notebook). Watched The Day After Tomorrow (not bad) and 30 Days of Night (sux nuts) while the OS install was running. Took a breather and went out to catch Star Trek with the gang. Star Trek was really refreshing. πŸ™‚

Continued installing stuff on Saturday morning. Started downloading Windows 7 x64 RC as well, which will probably be my permanent OS till Windows 7 proper is released. It’d be great to utilize 6GB of memory goodness. πŸ˜€ It’s also awesome to be finally be able to use my GTX 280.

WoW in Ultra settings is gorgeous. The biggest improvement is the frame rate; character and pet actions are so smooth, it’s surreal. Fai is now tempted to upgrade her PC as well. πŸ˜€ DaLAGran still hits the card hard on busy days, with frame rates going to about 15fps sometimes. Perhaps SLI might be a good idea after all. XD

Dungeon update:-

  • Tried pugging Hall of Stone, but we kept wiping on Maiden of Grief. The DK Tank didn’t kite her as he should.
  • Did a Violet Hold guild run last nite. Wiped on trash. >.<

After the wipe, we were hanging around in Dalaran when someone advertised a SG/MY guild called BoJ. Msged the guy for more info and he was pretty insistent that we join, saying they’re already super-geared and help us gear up.

BoJ stands for … Blowjob of Japan. Seriously. I kinda had a bad feeling about it, but was willing to try and see if the guildies are great and their raid times suitable. The only other SG guild that I know of is Merlion Cubs; tough choice of guild names eh? πŸ˜›

In any case, once we joined, they started harping about needing more tanks and healers. Hey, don’t look at us, we’re hunters for life! πŸ˜› I kinda miss Wad De Kao already. q.q


We’ve purchased dual talent specialization. Survival seems pretty nice with plenty of burst damage. I might respec my BM spec to something more pet-focused for future soloing of old raid instances. Next thing to do is grab glyphs for the SV spec and continue trying to hit heroics for gear.