8/14/2018

How to Boot, Win7 on Braswell N3050 - HP Stream 11 G2

Before this fades from memory, here is how to install and boot Windows 7 x64 bit on an HP Steam 11 G2 netbook in a fairly uncompromising manner.

First a little background.

I like the Intel Atom series of netbooks, they are fast targeted and really light on battery power, they tend to last all day and were made with some really up to date tech until Windows 10. The latter generations included Windows 8 or Windows 10 "exclusive" models with eMMC memory for boot media.

The problem is eMMC is it is low tech and non-standard as in its usually bonded directly in a random fashion on a netbook or phone such that where and how to access it is unpredictable and depends mostly on a vendor manufacturer to provide a custom device driver for the item.

Windows 8 did come with eMMC drivers, and netbooks did come with a Bios or UEFI boot manager which could pick up the threads and load the OS into memory.. but it was "very slow" and prone to wear and nothing like NAND or Flash memory, or an SSD. Typically eMMC is used for storing photographs and has no controller and its just awful in general. It is better off ignored. And when eMMC burns out it can't be replaced.

Later versions of the netbooks included a "standard" USB 3.0 port or all USB 3.0 ports.. which is a lot faster than USB 2.0  Then "Windows To Go" was introduced for Windows 8.. but not Windows 7. And Windows 7 does not have bootable USB 3.0 device drivers.

The "trick" however is to create a "Windows To Go" like USB 3.0 install of Windows 7 on a USB 3.0 or USB 2.0 class flash drive and boot from that.

"Windows To Go" is not like a bootable LiveCD or ISO and doesn't entirely run from a ramdisk in memory, so effectively it is a full resource operating system running from a fast.. not quite SSD flash drive. And since USB 3.1 flash drives are available, even with their own SSD controllers external to the netbook, they can be even faster than the eMMC built into the laptop. The external accessiblity of the flash drive also makes it replaceable / repairable should something happen to the boot media.. and at 128 GB or 256 GB or beyond the hdd of the netbook becomes near infinite.

Samsung, SanDisk, Kingston and Crucial offer some nice "Low Profile" USB flash drives in 128 or 256 GB capacities which barely rise out of the Left side of the laptop and provide a suitable boot target.

In my case I used a microSD card in a chip sleeve to mount it in the USB 3.0 port. The HP Stream 11 does have a microSD slot, but the Bios is unable to boot from it directly.. also though the UEFI boot manager "might" if used in non Legacy mode. That however is research for anonther day. Besides, leaving the SD slot exposed means even more media diversity. There are two USB 3.0 ports, one microSD port and one HDMI port.. sacrificing one USB 3.0 port for a "standard" boot drive keeps many options open.

AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard Demo / Freeware includes a "Windows To Go" creator feature for Windows 7, 8 and 10 independent of the tools available in Windows 8 or Windows 10. It requires a bootable USB target which must already have been formatted with exFAT or ntfs in order to be detected. It can't see the USB drive if its not formatted.. it will wipe and reformat the drive while prepping for the W2G install, but the prerequisite is a quickformat must already have been performed just so the target can be detected.

Once it is detected and selected an ISO or WIM image must be selected as the "source" of the install files. Its important to note that while ISO is "convenient" many ISO images contain more than one Install.wim file source and AOMEI will only use the first one found. Thus for a generic Windows 7 ISO it will install "Windows 7 Home Basic" which may not be the version / edition that was actually desired. Extracting the specific (Install.wim) file for the version of Windows desired using 7Zip or Dism will allow choosing the specific windows version / edition to create W2G media.

Next executing the create function will mount and (very) slowly create the W2G installation, note it is not creating a "boot image" but instead actually going through all the steps of formatting the media and mounting the install .wim file and extracting the files to build a 'Panther SysPrep' preboot installer / WinPE image on the W2G usb boot media.. it can take an hour or longer. The Progress bar will creep along and reach 00:00 minutes left and then Pause for a good while as it completes the SysPrep image and dismounts the install .wim image all of which take a good deal of time (after) all the files have been copied and the Progress meter reaches 00:00 -- it will produce a seperate Pop-Up window that says "Finished" when done and then "Revert" to ( go again.. do not do this.. you are done..)

Once this is done the boot media is complete, but (will not work) on HP Stream 11 G2 Braswell, (until) additional drivers are installed into the "Offline" windows install on the USB flash drive.

The reason is the Braswell generation  has (only USB 3.0 ports) there are no USB 2.0 ports and Windows 7 cannot load an [On Demand USB 3.0 driver] during install or after install in order to retrieve its other Windows operating system files.

Braswell however was made by Intel and they made a NUC Kit NUC5PPYH which used the chipset, and included a USB 3.0 device driver.. as well as Intel Graphics Driver, both will be needed.. but the USB 3.0 is the most important for completing a successful boot.

USB_3.0_Win7_64_4.0.0.36.zip

GFX_Win7_8.1_10_64_15.40.34.4624.zip

Before installing the drivers to the USB flash drive in an "Offline" fashion.

They must be extracted and just the drivers isolated and placed in a directory which can be recursively scanned and then applied to the Offline SysPrep install on the flash drive.

Do this by openning the, with 7Zip and copying:

USB 3.0 driver

\HCSwitch
\Win7

folders to

C:\wim\usb3

then

Plug the USB microSD card into a slot and make sure it shows up as E:\

then

"Remove" the x86 version directories from \HCSwitch and \Win7 (recursion will scan folders and try to install all drivers)

then

"Edit"

C:\wim\usb3\Win7\x64\iusb3hub.inf

C:\wim\usb3\Win7\x64\iusb3xhc.inf

"Seek out" and change (from 3 or OnDemand) the StartType to (0) to make them "boot drivers" that must be loaded by the windows bootloader into active memory before turning over control to the kernel


C:\wim\usb3\Win7\x64\iusb3hub.inf
-------------------------------------
[IUsb3HubServiceInstall]
DisplayName   = %iusb3hub.SvcDesc%
ServiceType   = 1
StartType     = 0

C:\wim\usb3\Win7\x64\iusb3xhc.inf
-------------------------------------
[IUsb3XhcModelServiceInstall]
DisplayName   = %iusb3xhc.SvcDesc%
ServiceType   = 1
StartType     = 0


Then add the drivers to the "Offline" SysPrep Installation (since the folders on the USB drive are not in a WIM file you do not have to mount the WIM file first, simply target the E:\ drive).

The switching from an "On Demand" driver to a "Boot" driver startup type will throw an Error if you don't "forceunsigned" add them, because Normal boot drivers are "boot signed"

If you "/forceunsigned" install the drivers, then they will go ahead an install.

If you "/Recurse" install, the Dism command will search all the folders and subfolders for ".inf" installation instruction files (in-struction f-iles = in-f  = .inf  "files")

C:\>dism /Image:E:\ /Add-Driver /Driver:C:\wim\usb3 /forceunsigned  /Recurse

Installing the Graphics driver is slightly different.

Begin by extracting only the

\Graphics

folder to

C:\wim\Graphics

The Windows system about to install the drivers will detect this as a "foreign" driver and automatically [Block] it from install, attempting to Dism install will result in failure.

The failure will be indicated in the E:\Windows\inf\setupapi.offline.log file

!!!  flq:                CopyFile: FAILED!
!!!  flq:                Error 5: Access is denied.
!!!  flq:                Error installing file (0x00000005)
!!!  flq:                Error 5: Access is denied.
!    flq:                     SourceFile   - 'C:\wim\Graphics\iglhxa64.vp'
     flq:                     TempFile     - 'E:\Windows\System32\DriverStore\FileRepository\igdlh64.inf_amd64_neutral_bfb4178e08406e39\SET893B.tmp'
!    flq:                     TargetFile   - 'E:\Windows\System32\DriverStore\FileRepository\igdlh64.inf_amd64_neutral_bfb4178e08406e39\iglhxa64.vp'

<<<  [Exit status: FAILURE(0x00000005)]

In order to fix this, all the driver files must be [unblocked] which you can do one at a time, right-click Unblock.. but instead you can also use a [Sysinterals] "Streams64.exe" tool do so for the entire directory at one time.

Download

Streams v1.6

Extract Streams64.exe and place it someplace in the path like C:\Windows

This provides a guide:

How to bulk unblock files in Windows 7 or Server 2008

And finally apply the driver

C:\>dism /Image:E:\ /Add-Driver /Driver:C:\wim\Graphics /forceunsigned /Recurse

Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool
Version: 6.1.7600.16385

Image Version: 6.1.7600.16385

Searching for driver packages to install...
Found 1 driver package(s) to install.
Installing 1 of 1 - C:\wim\Graphics\igdlh64.inf: The driver package was successfully installed.
The operation completed successfully.

C:\>

First Install

Booting from the USB flash drive may require "catching" the Bios [Press 'ESC' and then  Press F9]  in order to select to boot from the USB drive rather than the eMMC -- I'm still working on a smoother way to do this.. but for now.. catch and redirect to the USB drive.

W2G on First introduction to a new system "Profiles" the hardware, and essentially performs a complete SysPrep to detect and configure the Operating System.

If the USB 3.0 drivers are Boot drivers the boot loader will load them into memory before turning control over to the boot kernel and the file system on the USB drive will remain available to the kernel and the install will proceed as a normal setup (for the First Time) on subsequent boots this will be skipped and it will just boot from the USB flash drive quickly as if it were a native HDD.

A single reboot will be necessary during which the Graphics driver and the User profiles will be setup and you will be logged into the desktop. Depending on the original [ Install.wim] file used to create the W2G USB drive 'Activation' may require differnt keys and procedures in order to activate the operating system.

WiFi Networking and Audio

the Graphics driver also included directories with Audio drivers to drive the speakers, you could have copied those and installed them at the same time as the Graphics driver or install them post setup

the WiFi networking for the HP Stream 11 G2 requires

AC-7265 driver set

additional device drivers for the NUC can be found here

NUC5CPYH 




7/15/2018

Boot Win7 from eMMC flash, a different approach

Thin PC's or Incompatible PC's since Windows 8 and Windows 10 are sort of the nor these days. The problem usually centers around UEFI vs Legacy boot mode and eMMC driver support. This is a different approach.

One of the reasons a Thin PC is chosen is the low cost and that means cheap memory, eMMC.. and since that didn't standardize until late Windows 8.1 days there wasn't a common denominator to produce a common eMMC driver for boot or normal access.

However there have been LiveCD approaches since Make_PE3 and WinBuilder that booted XP or Win7 from Ramdisk space. Essentially eMMC isn't great for Read and Write cycles and really needs to be cared for by the Operating System or will prematurely burn-out. Windows XP and Windows 7 did not have a great TRIM command for supporting SSD and certainly didn't support eMMC at all. So booting from a ramdisk and "staying" in Ramdisk space will lengthen the life span of a eMMC boot device. Ram is designed for R/W and should last a normal lifespan.

Also there is the updates and virus angle to consider.. Updates are brutal on OS stability and long term they fragment and degenerate an OS until the entire Operating System has to be upgraded fresh.

Its the data that is transient and needs to be copied from one install to the next.

Viruses and malware may insert themselves into boot media and hdd images, but can only temporarily infect or corrupt data while a LiveCD is in memory.. upon reboot the virus or malware will be wiped clean.. and is the strategy of steady state, or powerwash pursued by Microsoft and Google at this time. In a portable device.. this reboot cycle can be quite often and narrow the window of time in which a virus or malware has in which to operate.. and if its airgapped.. narrow it to approximately zero.

Thus one alternative to booting off eMMC directly, is to use Linux grub to boot a LiveCD image of XP or Windows 7 into memory and run exclusively in RAM space and be unable to touch eMMC sd space.. effectively relegating the device into a power compute module which needs supplemental storage.. be that cloud or usb disk space.. which can be attached to after the LiveCD boot.

Turning a disadvantage into an advantage.. and also lessening the urgency of Updates.. until a stellar era in which virus and malware can infect near "instantaneously" upon joining the Net.


6/19/2018

Expandable, Modular, Repairable - Component, HDMI video recorder

A mass produced brand name box is unlikely, S-Video was for SD and a product of its times. Component was early HD and replaced by HDMI. Capturing the SD or HD signal was entwined with a desire for timer or EPG driven schedulers, and multiple digitial Tuners or Cablecard slots.. dumbing that down to Component Input and timer or on-demand is one strategy but the cost and rarity of those connectors is being driven out by the HDMI single cable simplicity. Modern display devices more often have HDMI connectors so that has become the standard.

Up to HD 2K game capture latency has driven the demand for HDMI splitters, which sometimes didn't implement HDCP copy protection, so any HDMI card could be used to capture HD if caught off a splitter, but it wasn't by design and export controls actively work to find and drive those out of business as quickly as possible. Since HD 4K its my understanding that loop hole has been plugged.

Leaving Component input on legacy DVD recorders and some PC capture cards. The quality of legacy DVD recorders with Component input were poor and didn't really suit their purpose, SD video capture. It was overkill bandwdith wise and the cables costs more going from three cables for audio+composite to five cables for audio+component. Only Laser disc could really use the bandwidth and was a niche market.

And that comes to today and the home theatre pc market, also vanishing.. but more from archival apathy.. and an over abundance of trust in the cloud and belief that Copyright will be offset by Lifetime viewer rights.. tho.. if content owners could selectively erase human memories.. I think they would be overjoyed.

IMO.. magewell makes a very nice "tunerless" capture card that works with windows, linux and mac in PCIe and USB form.. it has a well defined built-in full frame TBC, DNR and Y/C comb filter with proc-amp.. full retail is around 300 usd.. ebay sometimes 100 usd. The drivers adopt the most popular api for each platform so it works with virtually any software. But being "tunerless" its not exactly on the typical home theater pc enthusiast radar.. its more "archivist" or content collector targeted.

What made the DVD recorder especially useful in my opinion was the remote, and simplicity of the task.. collect content, permit limited editing and burn to disc. Compressing and moving all those bits, even by ethernet was just too slow, and DVD-RAM never quite supplanted the write-once and done DVD-R backup.

Finding that simplicity on a pc is very difficult, unless you walk a fine line and don't try to complicate things.

The single simplest, familar interface on the pc for manipulating video content is Windows Media Center, deprecated in 2010 its increasingly hard to find.. so it is itself becoming "legacy". However, at least on Windows 7, until 2020 it is still under support and somewhat accessible.. Windows Media Center has a partner remote, and can record "live content" from a tunerless input card if it detects an RC6 WME ir blaster. these get cataloged into its library and can be added to a playlist and burned to DVD and in theory Blu-ray.

That's the theory anyway.. and I'm pursuing it as quickly as I can to confirm.

I really like DVD recorders.. some of the last ones are all linux based and have a lot of upgrade potential.. upgrading to HDMI or component input and blu-ray may be possible, someday, but their time post-burner phase has not yet come. They are too valuable as they are for the moment to the people spending a lot of money for them on the secondary market.

A lot of the lessons learned about VCRs with DNR, line TBC vs frame TBC and frame synchronizers, IRE, proc-amps and more are still applicable to an expandable, modular, repairable - Component or HDMI recorder.. doesn't help with the EPG or Tuner problems.. but for the archivist little is lost from a skills perspective.

ps. One thing to note about Component vs HDMI recording is that there is no known Copy Protection signal mitigation for false positives readily available. In the past Video Filters or something like a Grex could be used to silence the inaccurate signal degredation, whether on purpose or by accident or the result of noise.

" it is also beyond my knowledge to even know if the macrovision I, II signals that effect VBI effectively could be blocked because Components R,G,B is digitial and not analog.. however there are other levels of macrovision and CGMS flags as well now.. and Components digitizing chips recognize and honor these".

A popular method might be to use a Component to S-Video converter, that then runs through an S-Video Copy Protection mitigator, then back through an S-Video to Component converter.. but this reduces the value proposition of using Component by also causing picture quality degredation.

Also Component did not have a WSS or Wide Screen Signal "flag" procedural "standard" for advising the display device when a signal was being output in an anamorphic format (tall and skinny) that "should" be displayed on a widescreen display in an expanded pixel morphic aspect ratio. While one could be added "later" after capture, or with a specific "in-line" box for this purpose it was not "the norm" and complicated the use of Component out from sources or Set Top Boxes capable of outputing an anamorphic widescreen signal. In the beginning this wasn't much of an issue, but as DVD content became increasingly anamorphic and some cable channels would switch between 4:3 and 16:9 it has become an annoyance.

HDMI generally avoided most of the WSS problems by properly supporting it, and since the Copy Protection mitigation was a result of an oversight for lower resolution 2K signal splitter devices with low latency for game play and game recording.. temporarily at least.. HDMI has some advantages over Component recording.

6/07/2018

Waveform and Vectorscope, Bar signal on a Pedestal


I bought a Leader 5860c Waveform Monitor and 5850c Vectorscope from 1989 last weekend. Setting them up was a challenge.. this is that story.

The Waveform Monitor wasn't as much of a challenge.

Basically it has BNC composite inputs, and I had to get some adapters for my composite cables to convert them over and connect a VCR and a Time Base Corrector to its Input.

The Time Base Corrector could also serve up a 75% Color Bar signal.. which could produce the usual Stair Steps seen in so many old black and white photographs. That also let me find and recognize the dual side by side field 1 and field 2 "humps" and the full frontporch and backporch of each in the center. Along with the IRE (set-up) or Pedestal add signal that picks up the Black level in North American Video signals and "sets it" on a Pedestal just above the sync blanking level.

Even though I "sort of had guidance from a PDF manual" it was for the wrong vintage and kind of vague about terms and very short.

I learned I had to DC restore the signal to keep it from drifting up and down because the signal is by default coupled to the Input as an AC signal about a sync level used to represent the center point of the overall video signal.  The Monitor had a simple button for DC restore and focused the signal on its reference point.

I could then move the signal up and down and left and right with some alignment controls, and rotate the "horizontal level" of the scan using a small tool and a trimmer in the upper left hand of the monitors faceplate.

Scaling was automatic (or "Calibrated") or manual (or "Uncalibrated") when snapped into position the scale on the "graditule" represents the signal in terms of IRE units instead of voltages.

Good since most literature concerns itself with IRE units and not actual "voltage units".

I then put a SignVideo Proc-Amp into the signal path and played with its four controls

1. Black
2. Contrast
3. Saturation
4. Tint

The first two (Black and Contrast) allowed me to move the "floor" or blackest black level of the video signal relative to the "center point" sync refernce level. But that also had a slight effect on the top of the signal represented by the whitest "white" or brightest signal on the screen.

While the video signal on the monitor represents "Luma" or Brightness irrespective of Color.. each color bar has a declining "brightness" on purpose to create the stair steps. Left to right they fall off in perfect step with the bars on a normal video monitor.. but do not represent any color information.

This is exactly so that, the Black control only effects the overall video signal blackest black.

But after that adjusting the Contrast raises and lowers the top of the whitest or "brightest" color bar so that it could be set to IRE 100 .. or perhaps lower. IRE 75 is quoted as common, as are IRE 85 and 95 .. as a hedge against signal sources that may "overdrive" or "blow out" the perceived exposure.. loosing details in the "wash". This is called "clipping" and is to be avoided.

Clipping can also occur at the other end of the scale in the Blackest Black floor.. the goal is to keep tweaking to get most of the signal, most of the time to remain between these extremes.. which can depend upon the exact source used.. but the color bars serve as a first approximation and allow for some sand bagging of the range to protect against "clipping" at either extreme.

So the Waveform monitor is for calibrating or setting the "Black and the White" extremes of the signal using a proc-amp. And setting the Black also adjusts the height of the Pedestal for the Blackest black.. which in North America would be IRE 7.5 high (very important for the Vectorscope).

Next was the Vectorscope.

Its similarly easy to connect a video input signal, but it displays its results in a Polar or radial graph display. Magnitude is by Radius from the center, the other coordinate being an Angular value from a Color Burst reference signal.. not unlike the DC restore recovered "center sync" reference for the Waveform monitor..

And like that DC restoration.. the Vectorscope has to "recover" the Color Burst angle and decode the position of all colors from the signal arrayed in a circular fashion around the graditule or "scale" on the Vectorscope screen.

I made a mistake in seeking to set IRE to 0 for my video signal using a proc-amp to generate the Color bar signals. This caused the Vectorscope to "free wheel" or "spin" like a car drivers steering wheel.. or strobe like the struts on the wheels of a car. I couldn't get it to stop spinning, even using the phase angle adjustment control repreatedly.

Once I did try to switch IRE 7.5 (on) the bowtie pattern snapped on and stayed locked.

Also using a proc-amp as a color bar generator is not ideal.. in tiny fine print, it says you should also connect a video signal to the Input to the proc-amp composite input.. so that a "stable" color burst signal will be included with the color bars generated. This turned out to be true.

While acting as a bar generator the proc-amp cannot be used as a proc-amp, it locks all of its outputs to references.. presumably to act as a "standard" rather than a general purpose (much more expensive tool).

Radius of each bowtie, "spot" represents the relative "color saturation" for that color, as color video  has a familar pallete with the bar pattern, each bar creates one spot in the general vacinity of the graditule regions labled for their color. Angular offset from the color burst frequency determines their "color".

So a second proc-amp can manipulate radius by increasing or reducing "Saturation" and this effects the entire constellation and over all "size" of the Bowtie.

While the same second proc-amp can manipulate "angle" by increaing or reducing "Tint" and this "Turns" whe whole orientation of the Bowtie. The optimum goal being to adjust or tweak out common imperfections that lead to a "cast" or "overall" color problem that effects all colors equally.

Individual colors which require specific tweaks to Saturation or Tint requires the use of a "color generator" or "color corrector" but is independent of the video signal itself.. that would be a manipulation to grant false "color" enhancement and isn't strictly a result of the signal path or current video signal regenerator. That would be more akin to using a "paint brush" to touch up a moving picture as opposed to "fixing" a video signal to be within specifications for broadcast. And is usually something more common in film and telecine to add special effects, or add to a scene to enhance a particular emotion or psychological setting than a strictly physical situation.

So I did notice that the arrangement of the proc-amp controls from Left to Right were not arbitrary, as each from

1. Black
2. Contrast
3. Saturation
4. Tint

tends to progress from that a person would notice the "most" if left uncorrected to the one they would notice the "least".

So in this case Black offsets are noticed first, then Contrast problems, followed by Saturation problems and then Tint problems.

----+-- Black (bottom)
Y - | - ----- waveform monitor
----+-- Contrast (top)
      |
----+-- Saturation (radius)
C - | - ----- vectorscope
----+-- Tint (angle)


5/28/2018

Digitizing Analog VHS tapes - to AVI or to DVD


Among "digitizers".. people who want to transfer or convert their VHS tapes to PC files or DVD media there are two camps.

First are the professionals who know every detail about quality and quantity and do it as a business.

Second are the casual users of VHS tapes, who have not used them in years or infrequently and now find they want to perform this quickly and as a means to finally get rid of the tapes.

Among the first category are websites and forums that are mostly going quiet these days, occasionally helping one another to care for the equipment they are using to make these conversions, and answering few questions from "newbies" to the profession or hobbyist who happen to just be starting.

First its important to understand the last VCR was made in 2016 and the tapes are also no longer being made. Every year the tapes get older and degrade and these forgotten memories move closer to oblivion.

Of the remaining VCRs most are not well maintained or cared for and decay from misuse.. or become damaged from being plugged into fluxuating power lines and lightening strikes. If they don't end up being recycled or tossed in the dump.. they are given away.. and a very few end up on eBay or Amazon or Craigslist as "used".

Among the second category users generally start out with a combo VHS to DVD or some USB dongle to perform the "captures" and are sorely disappointed with their results.. they turn to the web and find the "prosumer or professional forums" and discover a new world of choice and information that tends to overwhelm.

There is also almost a "stages of grief" that sets in from the gradual understanding that what they were attempting has many levels of quality and generally the professionals tell them they've been doing everything the wrong way.. so they get their standards wound up and upgraded to "pure" and "archival quality".. seeking legenday and near mythical "unobtainium" in the role of VCRs with digitial noise filters and line and frame "Time Base Correctors"..

Eventually if they don't quit.. or run out of money and hope.. they discover the easier "MPEG2" path.. a lower bit rate and quality that for some is "good enough" and subscribes to a lower spec than "absolute perfection".

In or around 2003 to 2008 there was a fleeting moment in time when $500 to $1500 DVD recorders were "Staged" to replace the VCR as a means of copying broadcast television to DVD discs.

These could also be used to "capture" the VHS tapes being played back to DVD discs.

Unfortunately with success also comes the realization that the DVD could not hold as much per disc.. so people sought to edit out "commercials" or beginning and end credits for seasons of shows. Doing this by DVD recorder alone with no intermediary was "impossibly difficult".. enter the combo.. Hard Disk (HDD) and (DVD) recorder.. which could "Capture" even the longest tapes to its internal hard drive and let the user selectively edit and rearrange material and burn "title lists" to a single disc or break up the list and burn groupings of "title lists" to sequences of DVDs one after the other.

Great in theory and practice with a little experience.

But then all of the major makers of DVD recorders and HDD/DVD recorders disappeared one day.. and the remaining recorders aged and the DVD burners begain to wear out.

So people then looked towards settling for capturing DVD quality to PC files.. but the capture equipment usually (with a few exceptions) would not allow copying the large MPEG2 files used to create DVD discs to a PC.

Which then brings us to the Home Theater PC.. a complicated mix of presentation and workstation editing capability. Generally these are not designed with editing and archiving in mind and support is near non-existent. The standards unlike DVD or MPEG2 for DVD, rove all over the file type landscape and confuse to no end.. mastering or "authoring" a DVD from files captured to a HTPC is a soul crushing exercise.

A single maker of an HDD/DVD recorder lasted until 2017 "magnavox" and then mysteriously did not deliver a set of three new recorders in the last half of that year.. stranding many archivist with no way to finish their conversions.. or soldier on.

5/27/2018

fit-PC2i Atom 510 - Centos 6.9 i386

The fit-PC2i was a low power dedicated server module from Israel with many customizable options, mostly intended for do it yourself custom firewalls running a version of 32 bit linux or Windows 7

It comes from around the years 2008-2010

Many linux distros no longer support something so low power, or exotic.

However Centos 6.9 i386 will install on this device.

The IODD portable combo USB - CD/DVD rom drive emulator and simultaneous USB hard drive is a great way to boot quickly and switch between many ISO images. A special directory on the IODD is labeled ( _iso ) and in this directory .ISO images are placed.. a combo jogwheel and selection button on the side of the drive case allows scrolling between images inside this directory and "mounting them".. the selection is saved to a Fujitsu based microcontroller in the drive case and immediately this is presented as a USB attached CD/DVD rom drive with the selected image mounted as if it were an Optical disc.. no burning, no "actual" optical media needed.

Upon reboot the last selected disc image is automatically presented as a bootable device option. the drive case also simultaneously appears as a seperate USB hard drive, which is very convenient for offloading or onboarding files to and from an operating system that can mount the virtual attached optical drive and virtually attached usb hard drive.

The fit-PC2i has a half height microSD slot for flash media or four USB ports, two Type A and two microUSB ports.. and a drive slot for a SATA drive.

Unfortunately the support site recommended Ubuntu Desktop 8.04 as a boot option.. but this had a "Bug" in that if a SATA drive were installed, it would not be seen by the boot installer kernel.. frustrating to say the least.. the Centos 6.9 kernel correctly "sees" the SATA drive, and using advanced options during partitioning.. even allows checking off drives to use, or unchecking off drives to not use when installing the linux operating system on the device hard drive.

This is a metal case, passively cooled device.. so it generally gets "hot" and a USB powered external fan like the "AC Infinity" line up with inline speed control and rubber shock absorbers makes a very low cost and effective cooling solution.. and is very quiet.

The dual LAN ports make this Ice Cream sandwich sized server a fairly flexible platform.

Toshiba xs54, xs55 - Net Dub (copy) to PC

A random websearch turned up a 2008 blog article in Japanese regarding the xs37 (a model sold only in Japan) with a "Navi from Net" feature called Net Dub.

Net Dubbing is a term for Network Copying or "Duplicating.. hence Doubling.. or Dubbing" a rcording to another xs37 or other recorder.

As a hand held remote "workstation" for mastering and creating DVD recordings..  shuttling recordings before editing from one workstation to the other was taken into account as a desirable feature. The recordings are "not" transcoded but are at the same resolution as they were in when originally recorded.

PCs don't normally participate in Net Dubbing.. however they can with a simple protocol daemon that listens for a Netbios broadcast requesting XS recorders identify themselves with their Anonymous FTP server paths.

A simple systray windows application was created and released as Freeware. I modified the text labels for English and the result was a Virtual RD-XS recorder service for the PC.

Starting this allows you to set a download path for recordings "pushed" to the PC from the Net Dub interface on the XS recorder. The title or name for a recording on the XS recorder is used as its destination filename on the PC. An extra txt file is created with any metadata associated with the recording.