This had me banging my head for ages today. On the design I am implementing there needs to be both a “Best Seller” panel and a “Latest Products”. There is no latest product module as default and I refuse to pay for a third party one when I can just make my own. The problem I ran into was that no matter what I did the internal products array would only ever show four products. This was driving me crazy until I finally took a step back and thought about what was happening. I think the home/welcome page is actually using its own fake category called “Featured Products”. So even though my module was supposed to pull the entire product list it was only actually pulling items from the featured products category.

In the end I decided to ditch my “Latest Products” module and just use the “Featured Products” one instead. That led me to the next problem, how do I change which products are set as featured? Turns out it is well easy. Just head into the admin section and then on the main menu Catalog->Categories. At the bottom of the page you can add and remove products from the featured category. That mostly handles my problem, the final step was to modify the featured_products template file and impose a static limit to the number of items visible. The most we want to show are 4 as more will break the tile wrapping we’re using for displaying them.

So after all the hassle I went through to finally get Bad Company 2 working properly AMD have gone and done it again, they spoilt my game!

I had it all tweaked out and running smoothly, the last big hurdle for me was the screen going black during game-play which obviously, totally kills things as you can’t see what you’re doing. Yesterday I upgraded to the new 11.3 AMD Catalyst drivers. What a disaster. The game will no longer load at my 1920×1200 60Hz resolution. Instead it keeps forcing itself into 59Hz mode. No biggie on its own but for some reason when the level starts loading the screen starts to shake. It makes the game totally unplayable.

I spent a few hours testing out various setting combinations to find something that works and as usual, I thought I’d post my findings here for others to check out.

Continue reading “AMD Catalyst 11.3 Kills Bad Company 2”

This is a post to a quite small group of people. Those are the people that use the Funambol service to sync their data amongst multiple systems. I use it to sync my Calendar, Tasks and Notes between Outlook 2010 and my Android phone. It works just as it should except that if you enable the scheduling option within the plugins config application you will be hit with an Outlook popup window every time the scheduled sync fires off. This only happens if Outlook is not currently open. This is pretty much the same issue as the official Google sync application has.

I am using v9.0.2 of the Funambol Outlook plugin. I downloaded the source so I could take a stab at fixing the annoyance but I only had a few minutes to chew through it before I had to move onto some actual paid work. One thing I did notice are some short cut keys that I had not seen mentioned anywhere. As long as you have Outlook open and it is the window with focus then you can use these keys.

CTRL-F7 – Opens the plugin application and starts the sync process. You then have to manually close the plugin app.
CTRL-F8 – Opens the plugin application but does not sync.
CTRL-F9 – Opens the plugins applications config page.

So what I do now is have the scheduled sync turned off, then I just tap CTRL-F7 whenever I change my calendar, note or task entries. In reality I only change those a few times a week so this is a fine workaround until the Funambol team sort out the plugin or I get around to doing it myself.

I switched to VNC over remote desktop a few weeks ago as the RD connection kept playing havok with my dual screen setup on the remote target. VNC seems fine and I really like the way that I can be logged in on the remote machine locally as well as remotely. One thing that has bugged me is that it doesn’t seem to save my password. I’ve got it sorted now but it was a bit of an accident!

Continue reading “Saving Passwords with the UltraVNC Client”

Previously I have described how I got my AIM RC118 MCE remote working with XBMC and my Harmony One. Today I decided it was time to put the final touches on it all.

A few things have been bugging me so I made a list of what I’d like sorting out:

  • The top row of buttons does not work, Pictures, Radio, Music and Video.
  • The color buttons seem to be doing the job of the 4 buttons just mentioned.
  • It would be nice to have a button to go back to the home screen.
  • Have a button that when pressed would shut down XBMC and reload it again. I noticed that playback performance would suck when I tried to view a video after leaving XBMC running for a few days. A quick app restart sorted it so it’s this kind of functionality I want to bind to a single button press.

So it doesn’t seem like a lot to ask but it just took me over a couple of hours to sort out.

Continue reading “Final touches of my XBMC Setup”

I switched from using a crappy D-Link WDTV-Live to using HDMI over ethernet with IR pass through so that I could use XBMC. Bought an AIM RC118 MCE remote from Maplins that works fine with the system. It is very responsive.

I tried to set it up on my Harmony One remote as I have with other remotes but this one was undetected. Well it was and it wasn’t. The Harmony software didn’t recognise it at first and asked me to input a few buttons from the original remote. After about 4-5 buttons it then said it knew the rest already and that was it. When I tested it though the remote was extremely sluggish slow. It would take 3-4 button presses to get a response. I’ve tweaked it as much as I can and have reached a point where I am moderately happy with it. I thought I’d cover what I did here so others can try it out.

Installing the Aim IR605A/Q Receiver
To be honest Windows XP actually hated the AIM remote receiver and refused to install it. Out of the box the receiver works fine with Vista and Windows 7 as it is supported natively. Not so in XP. I downloaded the Update Rollup 2 for eHome Infrared Receiver for Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 (KB912024) and tried to install that. After unpacking the files it would close saying that I had the wrong version of Windows as it was looking for the Media Center edition.

The simple fix is to cheat and manually grab the drivers out of the installers temp directory. Run the installer again and when you get the error popup, don’t click OK. Instead open My Computer and go to your C: drive. You will see a directory with a long alpha-numeric title. That is the temp one used by the eHome installer. Inside there is a directory called SP2QPE, copy that to your desktop. Now when you connect the MCE receiver and it prompts you to install drivers just point it to that directory and let it install the uncertified drivers. You will now have the device installed on the system.

All is still not well though as for me, nothing would happen when I’d press the remote buttons whilst XBMC was loaded. I got around that by using MediaPortals IR Server Suite. It auto-detected that I had an MCE remote hooked up. You can test the remote out by using IR Server Suites debug client utility and it’s Listen then Learn options. In the MCE plugin settings for IR Suite I told it to override the hardcoded buttons as without this the number pad and directional controls would not work.

Tweaking the Aim RC6 RC118 remote settings for the Harmony One
I’ve done a bunch of searching and it seems the Harmony One remote has a few short comings, one of these is that it has a minimum duration of 300ms for each transmission. On top of that it adds several user configurable delays as well as a repeat frequency. It took quite a bit of testing to get something workable, around 4 hours went into this and a lot of running up and down stairs!

The first step after the initial setup is complete is to re-learn the directional buttons. In XBMC you will be using up and down a lot to navigate. I read that if you do RAW learning then you will have an extra delay added onto the command that you can do nothing about. Just use the normal learning option. So on the Devices tab click Settings on your remotes tile menu. Then choose “Learn infared commands”. On the next page scroll down to DirectionLeft, DirectionRight, DirectionUp and DirectionDown, tick them all and then choose to re-learn them. Follow the onscreen process. Once that has completed just ok your way through all the confirmation screens, leave the remote connected. The way I see it is that at the start the software said it did not recognise the remote. Later it suddenly decides it does recognise it and you are supposed to trust that it will pick the best profile. By learning these keys myself I know for a fact that they are correct.

Now it’s time to adjust the repeat value. We do this before changing the delays as a side-effect of changing the repeat value is that the Harmony app automatically adjusts the delays without telling you. So start on the Devices tab. Select the “Troubleshoot” option for your remote control, then “Server responds to some commands either too many times or only occasionally.” on the next page. I set it to 3. Run through the “Update Device” procedure to get it onto the actual Harmony Remote. Again though, don’t bother disconnecting it yet. Using values of 4 or 5 meant that it would jump to many times. So I would scroll up once and it would actually scroll up twice.

Now back on the Devices tab choose the “Settings” option for your remote and then the “Adjust the delays (speed settings)” option. I set “Power On Delay”, “Inter-key Delay”, “Input Delay” and “Inter-Device Delay” to 0.

Now you can do the “Update Remote” option and disconnect it. The Harmony One still has a slow responce compared to the AIM RC118 remote but it is usable. I read that some other universal remotes don’t have the bad response time and that Logitech have stated that they can’t do anything about it with this remote. I’m not sure if the problem exists with their newer 900 model but I’m not going to spend £200 to find out 😆

Edit: The proper solution!
So this is actually the second edit I’ve made in two days. Last night I posted that I had given up and reverted back to the original remote instead of the Harmony One. The delay was to random and sometimes it would seem to of stopped responding. I thought I’d filled the remotes command buffer and was freaking it out. So today I spent an hour or two searching for a better remote and to be frank, I couldn’t find one. I checked out Sonys lineup and Philips range and nothing seemed as good. They sure look nice but when you start googling “Philips Pronto Problem” you start to find lots of complaints and people saying how happy they are they switched to a Harmony One.

I decided to edit the Harmony settings and remove the MCE stuff since I wouldn’t be using it, but then I stopped myself and decided to have one more go. Repeat value wise I went with 1 as anything higher or lower meant it jumped to far or not at all. Once that was settled I then changed all my delays to 100. Too many people reported problems with 0 and since my main problem was that it was too slow I didn’t want to go higher like 500 which was the default. 100 seemed the most responsive without the buttons over-reacting. That pretty much got me back to the state I was in last night.

That’s when something interesting happened. I decided to break it all down into chunks. My media server is upstairs and my TV is downstairs. I use HDMI + Optical + IR over ethernet to send and receive signals in both directions, well video and sound down to TV and remote IR back up. I have the little IR broadcaster from the HDMI/ethernet extender sat about 10cm away from the AIM IR receiver dongle in the back of the server. So back to the interesting bit. I tried using the Harmony directly aimed at the AIM receiver with XBMC open and it worked. As in it worked flawlessly. When I tried that at the start it didn’t work properly at all and showed the same behaviour as I saw downstairs. My hunch at this point was that the delay and repeat values were incorrect to start with and really did require tweaking. This meant I had actually been struggling with two problems but not realised it. Now the first problem of the settings was sorted out it meant I was left with the second problem. If the remote worked upstairs but not downstairs then it indicates a problem with the IR over ethernet part of the equation.

I started searching for problems with IR extenders and slow responsiveness in general. A couple of times I found references to the signal strength sometimes overloading the receivers. Do you see where I’m going with this? I hope so! Remember earlier when I said “I have the little IR broadcaster from the HDMI/ethernet extender sat about 10cm away from the AIM IR receiver dongle in the back of the server” well it turns out that 10cm was the cause of my second problem. I think the Harmony One is sending a much stronger signal than the AIM RC6 remote. Because I put the extenders transmitter so close to the servers receiver it was getting overloaded. Well that was my hunch so I moved the two as far apart as I could (about 50cm) and went to test it. Awesome response time now. It does flid out if you go nuts and tap the button like 20 times quickly but I normally use Page Up and Page Down for navigation and then just a few Up and Downs to finish my nav.

So there you have it, a combination of the Harmony remotes delay and repeat values along with the IR receiver and transmitter being to close together. Now I’m a happy chappy. Tomorrow or later tonight I’ll start customising the button setup. Very happy chappy 😀

Up until recently the only Battlefield game I had played was 2142, definitely one of my favourite games. I was persuaded to give Bad Company 2 a go and safe to say that is now also one of my favourite games. Some things are quite different than 2142 and will probably trip up other people as they did me. I thought it would be handy to make a guide of the differences that have stumped me so far. I’ll add more as I come across them.

Continue reading “Battlefield 2142 to Bad Company 2 Migration Guide”

So I’ve been a long term Battlefield 2142 player and recently switched over to Bad Company 2. It is well nice but there are quite a few things that are different than 2142, I’m talking in both a game play sense and a game engine sense. I made a post about migrating from BF2142 to BFBC2 as it might save someone from a lot of mistakes that I made. Anyhow, today’s post is about how to get Bad Company 2 running awesomely with an Ati 4870 X2 graphics card.

Continue reading “ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2 and Battlefield Bad Company 2”

So the long awaited third and final release of my Stargate Atlantis Computer Simulator is out today. I worked like a dog all this week to finish it off in time for New Years. All the files are up on sourceforge now and the new site has been updated. Might do some more work in the future but for now I’m closing this chapter of my life.

Project Started: Tuesday 9th November 2004 23:44
Project Completed: Saturday 1st January 2011 08:32
Over 20,007 Lines of code.

Keep the lights on. I’ll be back.

So I started work on my first two Facebook applications this week. They are both Flash Christmas games I’m making for Creative Lynx Ltd. They designed and planned them and I’m putting the mechanics into place. When we started testing both the apps certain people where getting an error message popping up in their virus scanners:

Error: Permission denied for <[Server Path Edited Out]> (document.domain has not been set) to call method Location.toString on <[Server Path Edited Out]> (document.domain=<[Server Path Edited Out]>).

Took a while of searching before I got to the solution. It seems to be down to the crossdomain.xml file we’re using on the server. The whole thing including the solution is written about here on Perone’s Programming Pad. In case the page ever goes down I’m making a copy of the before and after XML files that are used to sort this out.

Here’s the XML file as it stood when we were having the problem:

<site-control permitted-cross-domain-policies="all" />
<allow-access-from domain="*" />

Here’s the XML file that fixes the problem:

<site-control permitted-cross-domain-policies="all" />
<allow-access-from domain="*" />
<allow-http-request-headers-from domain="*" headers="*" />

He talks about it showing up in Firefox’s error console. I’m guessing that Trend Antivirus is keeping an eye on the error console and flagging it up due to that. All the people that reported the problem work in the same office and have a network install of Trend i.e. they are all using the same version.

I don’t think it’s nice, you laughin’. You see, my mule don’t like people laughing. He gets the crazy idea you’re laughin’ at him. Now if you apologize, like I know you’re going to, I might convince him that you really didn’t mean it.

— Joe, A Fistful of Dollars