5/11/2024

Windows XP Mode on Win7 with VirtualBox

 Windows XP Mode was a freely activated copy of Windows XP from 2001 that ran on Windows 7 Pro and Win 7 Ultimate in the old Connectix Virtual PC. Microsoft acquired Connectix Virtual PC and made it into a a standalone installation package which had to be installed separately from an installer that contained a Windows VHD image of a Windows XP machine called Windows XP Mode.

Windows XP Mode did not need to be activated online, since it relied upon a new version of Activation called OEM BIOS Locking.

The Microsoft Virtual PC software has a form of virtual BIOS which contains the activation key for Windows XP Mode, so after installation was complete within the Virtual PC instance it would autoactivate, or already be activated.

VirtualBox is a slightly more advanced virtual machine kit which comes from Oracle, but also runs on many Windows, Linux and MacOSX and MacOS platforms.

VirtualBox also has a way of loading a BIOS image if dumped from a running systems memory using a tool like SLIC Toolkit. By modifying the dumped image and adjusting the Virtual Machine Settings using the VBoxmanage.exe tool to load it.. the Windows XP Mode image can be loaded into Virtualbox on not only Windows, but Linux, MacOSX and MacOS.. 

The Windows XP Mode VHD must be converted first however using the VBoxmanage tool to clonehd the image and export it as format VDI.

The placement of the BIOS activation string within the modified BIOS dump also moves around slightly from VBox 4.0 to 5.1-5.22 to 6.0 by a single or more bytes. The BIOS is compiled differently for each version of VBox. This technique is known to work on those versions, but the latest version is 7.0 and it is not known if it can still be made to work on that version.

VirtualBox is also know for supporting USB pass thru and offers a more robust long term way of supporting XP SP3 as activated on more varied and modern os platforms in the current year.

3/11/2024

DV 4:1:1 and 320x240 NTSC Video Capture

Sampling 720 x 480 over an actual 320x240 full color picture.

320 x 2 = 640

240 x 2 =480

640 x 480 : 720 x 480 is over fit more than 2:1

Color Alone 160 x 120 : 720 x 480 is over fit more than 4:1

 

(sencore)

320x240 : 160x120 = Luma: Chroma

4:1 from 720 x 480 is a Perfect fit for full color capture

NTSC is field based so has more horizontal than vertical information per unit of time

"mixing" fields to "simulate" Progressive images is incorrect, artifacting is inevitable

DV is frame based storage it "does" compress the interlaced video into progressive frames.

4:1:1 more properly captures 100 percent of the Luma, Chroma and Temporal resolution without distortion

Even if capturing a theoretical 400 or 500 TVL, 720x480 is still over sampling and the increased resolution is in the Luma dimension, not the Chroma, bandwidth allocation is fixed.

 

(sencore)

720 x 480 DV 4:1:1 is still more than enough to capture everything available 

The shape of the pixels captured for an NTSC signal are appropriate for the dimensions of the signal information available and skew more towards the horizontal dimension where there is more information.

The shape of the pixels captured for an ATSC signal are appropriate for the dimensions of the signal information available and skew more towards the vertical dimension to encompass the change in format from interlaced to progressive.

4:1:1 DV is appropriate for 4:3 Aspect and 720x480 digital capture

4:2:0 HDV is appropriate for 16:9 Aspect and 1280 x 720 digital capture

in plain simple language, DV video is appropriate for NTSC 4:3 video capture

in plain simple language HDV video is appropriate for NTSC 16:9 video capture

there is a "Reason" why these standards were developed, they are "overfit" for their purpose


While "live" Broadcast can in theory exceed what can be stored on Video tape in many cases, most of that available on VHS never stored the maximum available and it is already lost.

1/07/2024

Using M4B Audiobook files in Windows 7

Apple basically came up with the MPEG-4 container format MP4 but also came up with the M4B to host audiobooks in AAC format with Artwork and tags of information about the books.

Windows supports M4A format files with basically most of the same functions for storing AAC and Artwork and tags of information, but do not contain the ability to store Chapters or a Bookmark as in an M4B file format.

Within Apple the iTunes program properly handles M4B format and exposes Chapter navigation and stores the last played position as a bookmark.

On Windows the iTunes for Windows program does much the same thing.

However probably the best M4B file format "viewer" or audiobook playback is found with VLC - Video Lan Client 2.2.6 "Umbrella"

In VLC its possible to navigate the chapter marks on the playback timeline as they show up as short vertical grey lines across the bottom of the timeline.

The Playback menu has a complete Chapter menu for jumping specifically to any chapter.

And Custom Bookmarks can be created and written to the M4B file and then referred to so that Playback could jump to a specific Custom Bookmark.



VLC has an xml based Playlist system and a concept for a Media Library that deviates a little from Apple iTunes and Windows Media Player.

First there is the "Media Library" Playlist, disabled by default. It is a special xml playlist stored in the folder with other user interface configuration options; 

Example:

C:\Users\jwillis\AppData\Roaming\vlc\ml.xspf

It gets created by turning on the feature under;

Tools> Preferences >"Show Settings -  [x] All 

Then traveling down to branch [+] Playlist and checking > Use media library

The ml.xspf file gets populated by one of two ways:

1. right clicking with a mouse in the main window and selecting + files or +folders

2. by drag and dropping files or folders on the main window

Then shutting down the VLC client and restarting it will have automatically saved those choices in the ml.xspf file and reload them in the > "Media Library" branch of the [Media Library]

note: VLC will continue to default to loading nothing and focus there on start up, you have to click on the Media Library / Media Library in order to see that it saved your previous media choices.

You can default the Playlist under Media Library / Playlist to refer to a personal xml format .xspf file, but it will not open it.. unless you set the "Default stream" option under:

Tools> Preferences >"Show Settings -  [x] All 

Then traveling down to branch [+] Playlist and filling out "Default stream [ ________ ]

With a specially formatted  "Reverse slash" path prefixed with a file: operator like this -

file:///C:/Users/jwillis/AppData/Roaming/vlc/ml.xspf

And checkboxes that include "Auto start"

But that will also immediately start playing the Playlist.

If you do not it will offer you the choice to open the xspf file to list the choices, but it will not by default display the contents unless clicked upon.

Using the other method with Media Library is frankly closer to what you would expect, you just have to remember to travel to the folder under Playlist to see the most recently saved collection of media.

 




10/29/2023

Getting Intel NUC DCCP 847DY -DYE Bluetooth working with Headphones for Windows 7 x64

This took a long time to figure out. Here are the basics;

The NUC arrives with [ Intel(R) Centrino(R) Advanced-N 6235 ] its a dual Ethernet Card and Bluetooth Adapter.

When you install the Ethernet drivers, it does not install a Manufacturers driver for the Bluetooth Adapter, instead it installs a generic Microsoft driver which does not include Bluetooth Profile Providers for the various functions of the device. Thus you could pair a headset with the adapter, it would show up in the Devices and Printers section, but it would have no profile providers and not appear as an audio device.

The fix is to find a complete manufacturers Bluetooth driver with Profile Providers and then pair the device.


 

TLDR - get the Lenovo 

Intel(R) Centrino(R) Wireless Bluetooth(R) 4.0 + High Speed Adapter Software for Windows 7 (32-bit, 64-bit), XP - ThinkPad T431s, X230s

Its large,  298 MB but its worth it.

It comes from 2013 but it does install, separate and side by side to the existing and working Ethernet driver and it installs a complete set of Bluetooth Profile Providers.

A few tips;

Any pre-existing paired devices will not be "fixed" simply by installing this after they are paired and showing up in the Devices and Printers.. you have to remove them, reboot and pair again.

During the install there is an EXE and an MSI phase.. so it looks like its installing multiple packages using multiple methods.

After package install and pairing, Device Manager will show an anemic looking "Bluetooth Audio" device, which is a little odd for a Bluetooth device the Bluetooth Profile Providers don't usually show up in Device Manager.

All oddities aside this Lenovo driver package seems to follow the Bluetooth design guidelines to a "tee" and integrate with Windows 7 x64 very well.

Final Tip!

When downloading from Lenovo, it will popup a box asking for a Serial Number, lots of text .. ignore all of it. Go to the very bottom and click [Cancel] and a banner will appear over the same page you were launching the download from. It warns this software may not work with your hardware - click the download link again, it will begin downloading.









10/20/2023

Qnap vs Synology - NAS Storage systems

From my perspective; both are based on Linux, both are companies based in Taiwan. The QNAP OS (Qnap Turbo Station) is intuitive for Apple Mac users, The Synology OS (Disk Station Manager) is intuitive for Windows users. 

Qnap is more a build it yourself solution that lets you select from many hardware options and sticks to EXT4, everything is an add-on. It supports more traditional RAID levels and can appear bare bones. RAID drives need to be identical in size.

Synology is more a complete solution out of the box preconfigured hardware with fewer options, with access to BTRFS out of the box. RAID drives can be different sizes and leverage SHR (Synology Hybrid RAID) 1 and 2. So in that way its closer to having Drobo like features.




9/25/2023

Diamond GameCaster 1500 - working with OBS

 

The Diamond GC1500 is a  Fujitsu H5x hardware encoder chip based h.264 video capture device for HDMI and YPbPr video signals and HDMI embedded or Unbalanced Line In RCA red and white input jacks.

It offically comes with an Optical ROM with software drivers and capture software for recording or streaming.

However the Diamond website released a customized version of OBS Studio that supported the device.

When installed the custom driver appears as "HD Video Capture Device" and during install it throws up a warning asking if the signing entity of the device driver "KWorld Computer Co. Ltd" is trusted?

It is a 64 bit device driver and does install on Windows 7 x64 using Troubleshooting Compatibility Mode. It is detected as Window XP SP2 compatible.

The OBSKit.zip has a problem in that it both appears to be a distribution from a GIT hub repository, and has lingering traces of very long filename dot prefix files which interfere with normal installation. Compounded by .DS and other dot prefix files normally associated with Apple Mac systems.. if these are in place the installers will not work correctly and will choke, and when attempting to start OBS64.exe or OBS32.exe it will report .coreaudio or many other dot "prefix" files are not compatible with this operating system. The loaders scan the directories and assume they are all Windows files when they are version tags for other files and meta data for the Apple Mac HFS file system.

These extra files are by default "hidden" by the File view settings under Windows for Folder Explorer.

You open a Windows Folder Explorer windows, briefly tap the [ALT] key to get the old extended menu of options layered above the normal [Organize Open Share Burn New Folder] options menu ribbon.

[File Edit View Tools Help]

[Tools -Folder options...] then [View (tab)]

Under [Hidden files and folders] check the Radio button for "Show hidden files, folders, and drives" and the dot files will appear, you can select and delete them, now everything will pretty much work as expected.

Do Not - install a vanilla OBS Studio install , it will be unable to see the device or make use of its output, the OBSKit.zip is very specific to the Diamond GC1500 video capture device.

When opening the OBS64.exe it may already have a video capture device preconfigured.

Most of the defaults are okay, but the audio settings can make or break a capture setting.

Setting it to - "Use custom audio device" will stop the video

It is not possible that I can see to play audio during capture Preview simultaneous with capture.

This may be a concession however since the device was meant to work over USB2.0 and simultaneous playback and recording with USB2.0 can produce too many interrupts to reliably capture audio in sync and playback in sync without overloading the system and eventually loosing audio video sync.

Instead, use the HDMI pass thru feature to "Monitor" the video on a separate playback device like an HDMI monitor or TV.. and you will be able to experience audio and video in sync.

The capture device however needs to remain in [Audio Output Mode ] -[ Capture audio only ]

Recordings are very smooth over USB3.0 and presumably a USB2.0 port, and will produce flv or mp4 files with h.264 encoding and AAC LC audio.

The documentation on using "Custom" OBS with GC1500 is very sparse.. the reputation of the Game Capture device is not great.. I think because the of the language barrier and poor documentation in bringing this to market. But the device is very good. Several capture devices were built on this framework of chips.

This device seems rather rare compares to earlier EMPIA GC500 models or the similar H5x GC1000 models and very different from the standalone flash and streaming P GC2000 models

9/20/2023

DV and over sampling 4:1:1 is it really loosing color information?

 720x480 is the standard for Standard Definition NTSC signal sampling.

That's 720 samples per horizontal line.

That's 480 samples per vertical line. 


When Analog signals for video are measured they are defined by the number of vertical lines side by side which can be distinguished from one another.

That is if you took a bunch of vertical "bamboo sticks" or "straws" and stood them up on end and lined them up shoulder to shoulder next to one another.. then stood way back from them. How many could you stand up side by side, shoulder to shoulder, next to one another before they appeared to "blur" together and you could no longer distinguish them from one another?

If you have only Five and spread them evenly, again shoulder to shoulder, so there were spaces evenly spaced between them.. you would have a better chance of seeing you have "five" from far away.

But as you stack more and more side by side.. decreasing that even space between them.. they crowd together.. until visually they seem to "blur".

These are called "Vertical Lines of Resolution" or how dense can you stack a forest of Trees (or straws) until its meaningless.

A VHS tape typically can produce a signal with 320 lines of vertical resolution, a Broadcast signal can produce something closer to 500 lines of vertical resolution.

With a Digital sampling of 720 points along a horizontal rod laid across all of those straws, means your over sampling by a factor of 2 samples per each straw.. which can have issues of aliasing.. or interference patterns.. but generally smoothing and anti-aliasing can compensate for this interference.

So basically in a perfect scenario 320 samples per digital horizontal lines is enough for a VHS tape.

DV takes a grid of 4:1:1 or 4 luma points along a horizontal line per 1 color sample on that same horizontal, and 1 color sample per vertical field line

DV is standard video only, so it samples on the field not the frame so its sampling over a tvdl 320x240 with a sample grid of 720x240.

If you convert this into progressive (assuming fields into frames) before digital sampling this becomes

720x480 over 320x480

Scaling 4:1:1 and reducing for redundancy means  2:1/2:1

That means for a 720 dot line, two samples per Luma, and 1 sample  per two chroma, the third is 1:1 so it is loss less.

The actual loss depends upon the signal resolution being near perfect at 320 which includes (overscan) normally not seen because of CRT bezels and thus normally avoided in televised or recorded SD content.

And if not using SP speed but LP or EP speed it can be even worse.

It should also be realized the NTSC signal saved on VHS tape is recorded as a Color Under signal and reproduced from that Compression scheme.. meaning it is already loosing 1/2 the color horizontal dimension.. so 2:1:1 .. it is possible the claims of 320 Chroma tvdl may actually be claimed, but its more likely that is for Luma only.. and the Chroma is actually 160 in a best case scenario.

It may "seem" like a reduction in color sampling from analog to digital, but in reality it is over sampling only the Luma and sampling the Chroma in a 1:1 ratio for available signal from a VHS source.

Sampling a digital conversion from a higher resolution source such as a Betamax Composite or Broadcast signal may reach for up to 500 lines of tvdl on paper.. in a studio.. but in real world scenarios over losses over a transmission line or due to broadcast and reception on less than perfect equipment will bring that down substantially. S-VHS, S-Video and EP speeds may claim to capture more of the signal on tape, but cumulative losses are likely to claim some of that resolution.. some of which must be sacrificed to Timebase Correction and Frame Sync corrective actions from older tapes.

With Color Under NTSC transmission;

If 4 is the Luma for an analog signal and is 320 and we are over sampling by x2 for 720 we have the potential for aliasing and the potential for using the extra information for slight sharpening.

If 1 is the Chroma for an analog signal and it is actually 160 from the Analog signal and its over sampling by x2 - "nothing is being lost" - the capture resolution is actually 1 to 1.

If 1 is the Chroma for an analog signal per "field" and not frame because it is DV and only works on an interlaced signal - "nothing is being lost".

4:2:0 makes better sense when converting a real 4:4:4 situation and favors the vertical dimension, but more over it  compresses pscyhological teasing out intraframe compression opportunities, but suffers from Macro blocking artifacts.

Mosquito noise is an artifact of condensing or composing a Progressive frame from two Interlaced fields with a separation in the temporal dimension and get worse with high motion, or low motion with sharp edges, which is where it is most often observed.

MPEG-2 or h.262 introduced Macro blocking and inter-frame and well as progressive compression opportunities with different complexity profiles.

MPEG4 part 10 AVC or h.264 introduced golden ratio spiral or more complex search patterns of psycho aural visual inter-frame as well as progressive compression opportunities, again with different complexity profiles.

DV was appropriate for its time, but of very low compression advantage, while retaining the best picture available from signals of its time. It would never be appropriate for HDTV or HD signals of today.

But it gets maligned quite often as an inferior capture format, when in reality, considering the signal source, its more than adequate. It was also widely adopted by many of the operating systems of the day and remains a simple format to decode and present.

MPEG-2 was more appropriate for studio film conversions to digital and storage on DVD playback media, it was a little over hyped for its time, but over delivered for systems not ready yet to deal with the format, it was anticipated to deal with the better quality signals available from Component or highspeed Cable or Fiber networks, leaving the SD and S-Video / S-VHS era behind.

Microsoft came up with their own version in VC-1 to circumvent licensing issues, and partially due to those licensing issues Apple chose to sponsor and develop the h.264 MOV/MP4 standards. This bifurcation led to a lot of market confusion. Video format wars of the VHS/Betamax/Laserdisk or Blu-ray/HDVD formats did not help.

The format wars insured that the OS vendors would eventually opt out and natively include neither.. but marginally continue to support DV and the more open h.264/MP4 standards which were not license encumbered.

Microsoft stayed with VC-1, and optionally bundled licensed MPEG-2 codecs and decoders for a fee. Microsoft formerly abandoned the nonlinear editor business after offering Windows Media Encoder 9 and Windows Expression Encoder 3.

Apple went with h.264 MOV/MP4 for free but also offered Professional addon codecs with nonlinear editor suites like Final Cut X.

Microsoft in later versions of windows began including h.264/mp4 as a natively supported codec with little fan fair.. as it offered no competitive advantage.. and withdrew the limited MPEG-2 codec support by withdrawing Windows Media Center from the market. Ceding most nonlinear editor business to Adobe/Premiere and other companies.. such a Grass Valley/EDIUS or Blackmagic/Media Express, AJA/Studio, (former SONY) Vegas .. among others.