WIN1200 Phone – Doesn’t work under Windows Vista

So, we've had a Uniden WIN1200 VOIP phone for a while now, and it's really handy to use for web calling via Windows Live Messenger. (Yeah, this is starting to sound like an advertisement — it's not)

I upgraded the home laptop last week to Windows Vista RC1, and now the phone doesn't work. I found this blog entry with a comment written by someone at Uniden that says we can send in our phones for re-flashing. Excellent! Kudos to Uniden.

Oblivion: Achievement Unlocked

So, last night I finally beat Oblivion on the Xbox 360. I started gameplay on May 19th, and finished on September 7th (all according to achievement tracking). 91 hours and 34 minutes of game-time.

That's a long time. I can't think of another game that's kept my attention this long — over 3 months. I definitely got my $60 out of that game.

I do, however, admit to being bored with it in the last week or so of gameplay. It gets pretty predictable at the end. Oh well, now to consider what to play next: Test Drive: Unlimited or Chromehounds… Decisions, decisions.

Problem with the RIAA and Recording Industry

So I've been following all the Engadget and Gizmodo posts about the rumored Argo and Zune. One of the things that jumped out at me was this Engadget article that talked about the possibility that Microsoft would be allowing people to download whatever music they've purchased in iTunes for free — but that “Microsoft will still have to pay the rights-holders for the songs”. (Note that this was later refuted here on Gizmodo)

Whether or not it's true, I do think this points out a serious flaw with having multiple formats of proprietary DRM: you've paid for the song in one, but you can't get it in the others — even though you paid for the license to the song! I guess what you're paying for when you pay $0.99 in iTMS or any of the other content providers is a license to that song, using that service. Makes the “buy this song” links seem kind of like false advertising.

I've said before I have no problem with the concept of DRM, so long as it's done right; the current ways, however, aren't. This is one aspect that I think a unified approach that would work on multiple platforms would be a boon to consumers. I'm having this problem currently with the music that I've bought from iTMS since I sold my iPod in favor of a Toshiba Gigabeat S60. So far, I'm leaning towards (and have been checking out) for two months MTV's URGE music store subscriptions – so I can just re-download what music I had previously encountered in iTMS.

OpenSearch

So, today, I enabled the OpenSearch spec on my blog. I doubt people come here to search, but it's good technology that I think should be out there more often.

If you're using IE7, you'll notice that when you're here, your search drop-down has an orange button next to it (details on IE7's auto-discovery implentation can be found here).

IE7 Autodiscovery

Unfortunately, Firefox doesn't support OpenSearch yet (that I can find).

The way I got this working was really to read the OpenSearch spec on A9's OpenSearch How-To page. Pretty simple, actually. I created the opensearch xml file, and added the following to the header of each page on my blog:

 <link rel="search" 
        type="application/opensearchdescription+xml" 
        title="marius dot org Search"
        href="http://www.marius.org/opensearch.xml" />

Simple as that.

[Update: Confirmed that Firefox does not currently support OpenSearch, but it looks like Firefox 2 will]

Kameo Co-Op on XBL

Ok, grievance with Kameo on the 360 – why can't co-op games be done on Xbox Live? I suspect it was going to be, but was dropped to make the game ship:

  • The manual, when talking about setting up a cooperative game, talks about logging into Xbox Live profiles.
  • The game, has a menu to choose the cooperative game mode. The only option presented is split-screen.

Seems odd that the manual talks about Xbox Live profiles, and there's a menu for cooperative mode in the game with only one option.

I want XBL-based cooperative modes for Kameo. That, and a fixed multiplayer mode for Call of Duty 2.

Sharing iTunes Libaries with Multiple Users in Windows XP

Diann & I have both had our iPods for quite some time now, and I've always had it setup where the iTunes libary is stored within my home directory. Kind of irritating, especially when she needed to update her iPod, I'd have to log in as me.

I realized today that someone out there must have solved the problem, and some quick searching on the Internet led me to this site. I'm not a big fan of the font they used (yeah, it's a normal font, but with so much text I found it hard to read!), so I'll replicate/paraphrase what they've written up here (names changed to make it more akin to my situation, some file locations changed to more adequately reflect how my system is setup, if you want the original, well, the link is just above):

Which means now we have two users on a Windows XP computer, both of whom want to use the same music library and such. So for folks in a similar boat, here's how you do it.

Note that I'm assuming you have Administrator rights on the computer (so you can get into everyone else's My Documents folders) and you know how to work command prompts and stuff…

  1. Go to SysInternals and download a copy of junction if you don't already have it. Put it somewhere in your path; you're going to need to use it from the command prompt later.
  2. Your music library (the file iTunes 4 Music Library.itl) is stored in your My Music\iTunes folder. Your actual music might be too. Point is, if you look in the C:\Documents and Settings\username\My Documents\My Music folder, you'll see a folder iTunes that contains all of that stuff. We need to centralize that. Move that folder to the Shared Music folder: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\My Music
  3. You now have all of your iTunes stuff in C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\My Music\iTunes right? Cool. Now you have to link to it.
  4. Open a command prompt in your My Music folder.
  5. At the prompt, execute: junction iTunes "C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\My Music\iTunes"
  6. You now have a hard link to the iTunes shared folder instead of a physical folder in your My Music folder. (Junction makes a sort of “shortcut” to other folders, but Windows thinks it's the real thing. That's how we're going to fool iTunes into allowing everyone to use the same iTunes library.) Repeat that command prompt “junction” action in all the other users' My Music folders who are going to share your iTunes library.
  7. Everyone who's sharing now has a junction to the shared iTunes folder, right? Now, have each user log in, one user at a time (not “switch users,” but actually have only one user logged in at a time) and open iTunes. They will all have to set up their own preferences (like their iTunes account, their shopping preferences, etc.) but they will all have access to the same music library and the same playlists.

That's it! You're done!

There are a couple of interesting caveats to note when working in this scenario. Some good, some not so good.

Since you're all sharing the same library and ratings are stored in the library, if one person changes ratings, they get changed for everyone. If you're anal like me, that means you'll tell everyone else not to rate anything. Hopefully Diann won't make all our U2 music 5 stars anytime soon.

This setup does allow all of you to automatically sync your iPods with individual settings. So I can sync my iPod with playlists X, Y, Z and Diann can sync hers automatically with playlists A, B, C. No problems there.

You can't have multiple users simultaneously logged in and using iTunes. That includes the “fast user switching” thing Windows XP provides. If one person is using iTunes, no one else can be using iTunes on that computer.

Important Note: These instructions are for Windows XP. If you're on a different OS/version, you're going to have to adapt paths accordingly. Also, I've only ever run any of this with an account that has Administrator privileges. If you're trying to get this working with limited accounts, you're on your own. All instructions here are provided for your unsupported use and at your own risk. Because, well… “it works for me.”

Regarding that last note, it seems to work as a standard user account as well. That's because the Shared Music folder has Everyone/Everything permissions by default. Ahh happiness, now I can just plug in an iPod and get it to sync without worrying about who is logged in!

UPDATE: Updated to reflect that you do have to put quotes in the junction command.