Sunday, May 22, 2016

TiVo Features

In late 2015 TiVo pushed out the Winter 2015 release of their TiVo software. It took a while to get to all devices. My TiVo Minis didn't get it until early 2016.

This release had several new features;
  • HD Channel Notification
  • QuickMode
  • SkipMode

HD Channel Notification - With this feature if you are viewing a standard definition channel that is also available in high definition, pressing the"D" key will switch you to the HD channel. I understand that as an option Xfinity's X1 system will do this automatically.

QuickMode - This feature allows you to watch a recorded or time-shifted program at 130% speed without distorting the sound.

SkipMode - For recorded programs, this feature allows you to automatically skip to the start of the new program segment skipping the commercials. Previous to this feature you had to repeatedly press the "Jump" key to skip 30 seconds at a time. You could queue these up, e.g. 10 times for 5 minutes, and the TiVo would fast forward over the commercials. If you overshot the start of the program, pressing "Play" would back up a few seconds and usually put you close to where you wanted to be.
The SkipMode feature is available on the top 20 most-watched networks and more channels will be added in the future. The shows that will be SkipMode-enabled are those that appear during the most common recording hours: seven days a week, between the hours of 4:00 pm and midnight (12:30 am for late night talk shows airing on ABC, NBC and CBS). Recorded shows with the SkipMode feature appear in your MyShows lists with a SKIP icon.
Here's how this worked previously.

And now with SkipMode.

Love my TiVos!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Storage Spaces

When I was building "The Trump" I wanted to RAID-1 my internal data drive. I was hoping that the Asus motherboard supported RAID but that was not to be. As I Googled around looking for that answer though I came upon lots of discussions of "Fake RAID". This is one example:
Fake RAID is essentially software RAID provided by the BIOS on the motherboard, however, it has none of the benefits of Software RAID and none of the benefits of Hardware RAID...
And it went on:
[I]f your motherboard dies, your data is probably lost unless you can find another identical motherboard.
So I guess it was good that my motherboard didn't support RAID. But what to do?

What I found was Windows' Storage Spaces. Windows Central has a really good article on it.

I used 2 2TB drives and created a mirrored Storage Space as drive D:. To prepare the drives I used diskpart and cleaned the drives.

Storage Spaces can use Microsoft's Resilient File System (ReFS).

The features compared to NTFS are:
  • Improved reliability for on-disk structures
  • Built-in resilience
  • Compatibility with existing APIs and technologies

In this BetaNews article, the author performed the ultimate test.
I shut my Dell 840 server down, pulled out the drive caddy, and connected one of the mirrored drives into my Thinkpad X230 laptop for some spot checks on my data.

What did I see when I plugged it in? Exactly what I wanted to see.
Nice. But keeping my fingers crossed.

By the way, to migrate the data from "Big Honker" to "The Trump" I used Drive Snapshot. I think that I have mentioned that you ought to TEST restoring your backups. I practice what I preach.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

The Trump

No, this isn't a political post. It's about the successor to "The Big Honker" purchased on Christmas Eve 2009.  I'm calling the new tower PC "The Trump" because it's HUGE!

Newegg had an Asus M32BC-B01 for $400 (incidentally the same price as "The Big Honker"). It came with an 8-core AMD processor, 8GB of RAM and a 2TB HDD. I wanted something that would go up to 32GB, hold an SSD to boot from and a second 2TB HDD for mirroring.

I researched the Asus as much as I could but couldn't find the answers to the RAM and disk bays. I finally signed up for a free trial of Newegg's Premier to get no restocking fee returns and ordered it.

I wasn't disappointed. There were 4 DIMM slots with one populated with an 8GB DIMM so it would hold my desired 32GB. There was an internal 3 1/2" bay and one external facing 5 1/4" bay. I added 8GB of memory, found a 250GB SSD and had a spare 2TB HDD sitting around so I was ready.

The Asus came with Windows 8.1 Home. I upgraded it to Windows 10 Home but wanted to go on to Windows 10 Pro. I had a Windows 7 Pro key that had not been used.

This post explains how to do that but it starting with "All you need to do is swap your current Windows 10 Home product key for the default Windows 10 Pro one..." is a little misleading. Who has ever heard of "the default Windows 10 Pro key?" That's just the start of it. The upgrade process took about 15 minutes, most of that after the screen said "100% complete." But it worked and I was on the way. When it finished it complained that it wasn't activated and asked for a Windows 10 Pro key. I input the Windows 7 Pro key and it worked.

Working with the UEFI firmware was new to me. After I had upgraded to Windows 10 I used diskpart to "clean" all the drives (knowingly wiping all the data) and converted the SSD to GPT. (The "clean" drives will come up again in a later post.) Then I installed Windows 10 on the SSD from a USB drive created from Microsoft's Media Creation Tool. Windows 10 retained its activation and Pro upgrade.

Sunday, May 01, 2016


Now and then I need/want to download a YouTube video, especially when I've used the YouTube Editor to crop/combine videos.

The best tool I've found is

Go to and enter the viewing URL for the YouTube video. Click on "Continue".

On the next screen, chose what resolution you want and click on "Start".

When the conversion has completed, click on "Download".

Realize that downloading from YouTube is just a little bit shady. Beware of unwanted pop-ups/-unders.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Windows 10 Metered Connection

We all know how aggressive Windows 10 is on applying updates. One of the tips is to set your network connection to "metered."

That works.


This disables all updates including Windows Defender's signature updates.

So if you use this tip, don't forget to force Windows Defender to update every day or two to get fresh signatures.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Google Street View

Have you been wondering where all the Google Street View car goes? Normally you can only see whether they drove down the street you're interested in by dragging the little man over the street.

But I wanted to see its route through an entire neighborhood or shopping center.

Here's how.

In Google Maps, position the map to where you want to start. Drag the little man onto the map. Notice that the routes the Google Street View car has mapped are highlighted with blue lines. But these lines are not persistent. They're only presented while you are dragging the little man.

Now drop the little man anywhere you want. That takes you into Google Street View.

Here's the fun part.

Now click the "-" in the lower right corner. This takes you out of Google Street View but leaves the routes highlighted in blue.

Some of these routes are interesting. Look at the outlots of Wolfchase Mall.

The Google Street View car drove through ALL the aisles of the Bed Bath & Beyond parking lot. Was he looking for his girlfriend's car or what?

I'm Not Strange (I'm Just Like You)

Sunday, April 10, 2016


If you don't know what your Windows "certificate store" is just quit reading and go back to Facebook.

Now since you know what your certificate store is, I'm sure that you've had a couple of sleepless nights over it.

Here's how to get back to those restful nights.

Or you might not close your eyes until you've reformatted and reinstalled Windows.

Go to Microsoft's Sigcheck page and download

Extract sigcheck.exe somewhere convenient like your desktop.

Run the command prompt. Navigate to where you saved sigcheck.exe. Run "sigcheck -tv".

It'll take a couple of minutes.

The results will determine how (or whether) you sleep tonight.

Note: This doesn't check Firefox's certificate store.