Saturday, December 05, 2009

WDTV Live Media Player Firmware Bricks the Players

If you own one of those Western Digital WD TV Live Media Players, read this:  Do NOT do a firmware update to 1.01.12.  It apparently is causing the units to brick and as of tonight there isn’t a fix.  Western Digital is telling those who have experienced this to RMA their box!  Here’s the official notice from Western Digital via their blog:

“A small percentage of our users are experiencing a problem with WD TV Live Player when they update to the newest firmware release (version 1.01.12). We’re investigating the issue and until we identify the root cause, we’ve removed these updates.
If you’ve successfully updated to version 1.01.12 there’s nothing further you need to do. If you are experiencing any problems with your WD TV Live player, contact our customer service.

As soon as we learn more we’ll post the information here. Should you find any other issues that you feel have not been addressed with this update feel free to leave a comment or tweet us @WDTVLive. Thanks for all your input and know it is always helpful to hear from our users!”

WD says “a small percentage of our users”, but it seems like a pretty large group according to these forum posts.  Regardless, WD has pulled the firmware for the moment and I’d be very careful of any updates until they give the all-clear.

Lots of anger and upset folks at the Western Digital Forums Here

via WDTVLive Blog & Engadget

Compare eBook Prices & Selection with Inkmesh

As we prepare for the Barnes & Noble Nook eBook Reader review I’ve been doing some research on eBook pricing for the various eBook readers.  My favorite tool for this by far is

Inkmesh 3

Inkmesh combines information from ebook and audiobook sites and makes it searchable and comparable.  Sources include:


Inkmesh lets you search eBooks, audiobooks, newspapers and magazines or browse them by subject while filtering by price and content.  It’s best function is to price compare for the various eBooks and other content on different platforms such as the Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble, but also includes public domain books and some not-as-known eBook stores.

Here’s a screen-shot of a search for a silly mystery novel – you’ll notice both Amazon and Barnes & Noble matched prices here.


And here’s an economic-centric book where the search shows Amazon at bit over a dollar cheaper.

Check out InkMesh for yourself – it’s a great way to get a feel for the pricing at the different eBook stores.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Deal Watcher

While Black Friday and CyberMonday is over, Tis the season for deals – especially for gadgets.  Below are a few highlights of the ones I posted this past week, but check GeekTonicDeals Saturday and Sunday as I have a ton of nice ones coming up for the weekend.

Recent Deals

  • Logitech Alto Cordless Notebook Stand w/ Wireless Keyboard $24.99 Shipped
  • ESPN WiFi Color LCD Universal Remote Control $99.99
  • Zune HD 32GB $260
  • Flip Ultra Camcorder 2Gen $90
  • 40” 1080p LCD HDTV $500
  • Samsung 2494SW 24-inch 1080p LCD Monitor $234
  • Samsung 24.6” LCD HDTV Monitor with speakers $340
  • Dell Alienware m15X 15.4” Core i7 Quad-core Gaming Laptop $1379
  • Asus Eee PC Win7 Netbook $342
  • Logitech MX Air Remote $70
  • Enermax SLI Modular Power Supply $50


    Free Stuff

    • Holiday Greeting Cards Free From Google – I’m going to try this out over the weekend.  Kind of funny to see google doing snail mail as a “feature” isn't’ it?
    • Free Holiday MP3s (non-Holiday songs too) from Amazon MP3 – I’ve found some gems on Amazon’s “free MP3” listing over the past year and they have some decent ones now too.  Here’s a few on the list as of this weekend:
      • Tori Amos – Snow Angel
      • Lady Ga Ga – Christmas Tree
      • Sixpence None the Richer – Silent Night
    • Free Holiday Song Each Day – from Amazon’s 25 Days of Free special, they’re adding a new, free Christmas song available each day.
    • Free Burn-in CD/DVD from – I haven’t tried this one, but I respect the AVSForum.  The thread is a good read regarding burn-in since that seems to be a common topic again with everyone and their dog buying new HDTV’s.


    Again, don’t forget to check back to this post – or better yet subscribe to GeekTonicDeals to keep up on this weekends special deals.  The online stores are really discounting this week as they see it as one of their final opportunities to catch the online shoppers.  Watch for more deals this weekend…

    Handbrake – My Favorite Video Transcoder Gets Updated

    Handbrake as been my favorite video transcoder for quite a while now.  It’s price (free) along with being pretty easy to use and quite powerful made it the go-do program for most of my video transcoding needs.  Last week Handbrake received a nice little update:

    About Handbrake:

    Handbrake is a free, multi-platform DVD ripper and video transcoder.  It takes a DVD or video file and can transcode that file into various formats you might want to convert it into such as an iPod readable video file or perhaps just to make the file take up less space.

    Handbrake Screen-Shot

    What’s New in this Update?

    This update should offer improved picture quality, faster processing and expanded support.  Here’s a few of the highlights from the update:


    • 64-bit support -  Handbrake now works with 64-bit builds and they say it performs approximately 10% better than the 32-bit variety.
    • x264 – Better picture quality, smaller file size, faster etc.
    • Soft subtitles – HandBrake can now include subtitle tracks that can be turned on and off, instead of rendering them onto the video track permanently (which also reduces video compression)…
    • Live preview – You can now test HandBrake settings before spending hours on a full encode.
    • Better DVD Reading Library - HandBrake now uses an improved DVD reading library called libdvdnav. This means it can now read some DVDs it had trouble with before, and can select different angles on a DVD.
    • Improved TS Support - For non-DVD sources, HandBrake now offers improved transport stream support, especially for high definition sources.
    • Constant quality encoding – No more looking for the perfect bitrate for a source–HandBrake is migrating to quality-based encoding. This means that instead of telling encoders to use a specific size and vary quality to meet it, we tell the encoder to vary size to meet a given quality level. Overall quality improves, since bits are spent only when they are needed, and are saved when they are not.   This should output much improved picture quality.
    • Audio-video synchronization has been further improved.

    There are many additional improvements.  Check out the full list at the Handbrake Website

    Wednesday, December 02, 2009

    A Guide to Troubleshooting Standby – MissingRemote

    HTPC blog MissingRemote has a nice guide to troubleshooting computer “Standby” to make your HTPC work more like a consumer electric device instead of a cranky computer.  It’s written by Andy Van Til (babgvant), author of DVRMSToolbox and is a must-read for anyone who uses HTPCs.

    Check it out at

    Tuesday, December 01, 2009

    Deal of the Day – SiliconDust HDHR Dual Tuner $124

    Amazon (affiliate) has my favorite tuner of all time, the SiliconDust HDHR dual QAM tuner for $124.

    SiliconDust HDHR-US HDHomeRun Networked Digital Dual TV Tuner $124.37


    Thanks to Stephan for the Tip!

    To follow deals just like this one, subscribe to GeekTonicDeals

    Want to Share? Guest Blog at GeekTonic To Enter Media Player Giveaway

    GeekTonic Logo

    While I do have a lot of ideas and thoughts to share with all of you on GeekTonic, it’s always nice to hear from others to get a little different perspective, knowledge or experiences.  That’s where you come in.  Read on for some ways you can join in with the GeekTonic community and even for some ways to be rewarded (read below for info) for participating and making GeekTonic better.

    Make a Comment – Follow on Twitter

    The easiest way to share is to comment on the posts here at GeekTonic.  I use the Disqus commenting system which has been working very well for the most part and hopefully makes commenting painless.  I like all constructive comments that contribute to the topic at hand – pretty much anything as long as it isn’t “spammy.”

    GeekTonic also hangs out on Twitter so follow me there.  I don’t tweet every post, but I will link to the big ones on occasion as well as share other stuff on occasion.

    Send Me a Note

    Do you have an idea for an article?  A question I might be able to help with, a tip on a story or deal?  Complete the “contact me” form and I’ll receive an e-mail.  As long as I know it’s not from a “spammer” I’ll respond to your e-mail of course.

    Write a Guest Post – be a Guest Blogger of GeekTonic

    For guidelines on writing a guest post at GeekTonic read this.  It has all of the details you need – it talks about the types of topics, how to send it in etc.  For examples of guest posts, click here to check out a bunch of guest posts from this past year.

    What do you get out of it?

    Regular Readers of GeekTonic Know:

    If you’ve been hanging out around GeekTonic long enough you know I give away free stuff.  Not engraved pencils or silly stuff, but very valuable electronics and useful items for your media setup.  Usually these giveaways are related to a review I’ve written (from free items I received for a review) although there have been other items I’ve given away as well and all that is usually required to win is to comment here on GeekTonic or on twitter.

    Those Who Have Published Guest Posts this year (1/1/09 – 12/11/09) could win a Media Player

    Writing a guest post has its own rewards – like knowing that thousands of people are reading and enjoying your writing for instance or just knowing you were able to share with others with like interests.  But I wanted to give back more to you this year…

    The GeekTonic blog has been blessed with many great guest posts this year and I’ve been thinking about how I could thank all of you who have contributed with your writing.  Well, I won’t be able to directly reward all of the guest bloggers, but I have a special gift for one and even a couple of smaller ones for a few others.

    SageTV HD Theater

    One lightly used (but in great condition) SageTV HD200 Media Player/Extender will go to one guest blogger from this year. 

    I’ll be selecting the winner based on all guest blog entries submitted to me (including those already published this year) by the end of day, December 11th – it doesn’t necessarily have to be published by then, but at least received by me.  Shipping will be paid for by GeekTonic within the U.S.  Anything beyond the U.S. we can work out the details on.

    The winner will be announced the following week and will receive the media player by Christmas!  There will be a few other, much smaller prizes as well which will be announced soon.  Disclaimer:  Not all who guest blog will win

    Don’t think we’re making tons of money with GeekTonic or anything – far from it.  It’s just that I like to put most (if not all) of what is earned at GeekTonic back into the blog and back to you, the reader. 

    One last thing - remember that your online shopping done via clicks through GeekTonic affiliates or GeekTonicDeals affiliates all provide the cash to make these giveaways possible and pay for the costs of running the site and are always appreciated.

    Monday, November 30, 2009

    Barnes & Noble Fumbles with the Nook e-Reader Launch – Delays Shipment Stores 12/7 Delivery 12/9

    The new Barnes & Noble Nook e-Reader was announced with fanfare and seems like the first valid competition to the Amazon Kindle.  So as can be expected they were inundated with pre-orders and lots of press.  Unfortunately, today we learned that the Nook wouldn’t be available in stores this week as expected and then those of us who have pre-orders received this e-mail:

    So basically, they are saying the nook will should be delivered by December 9th next week instead of being shipped today as my delivery status still says on

    Nook Ship Date

    And we also learned that there should be Nook e-Readers available for purchase in certain Barnes & Noble Stores on December 7th!

    Maybe they put the 9th as a fail-safe date on the e-mails but if those Nook e-Readers make it into stores before my pre-ordered Nook arrives at my house, I’ll be pretty ticked.  And I might just pick one up in the store and cancel that pre-order after all.  I can’t see how Barnes & Noble could fumble a launch much worse than this unless they don’t get them shipped at all before Christmas…

    They are giving those of us who pre-ordered and were told our delivery date was 11/30 a free $10 gift certificate.  They’re also giving an upgrade to overnight shipping although I already paid for that so we’ll see what they do for that…

    I’ll have a first-look & review of the B&N Nook e-Book reader as soon as I have it.  By the way, you can order one online, but they won’t be available for shipment until mid-January now.  The Kindle Global in the meantime is flying off the “shelves” & is supposedly Amazon’s hottest item this year and especially this November.

    Related Stories:

    Holiday Buying Guide – eBook Readers

    Barnes & Noble Nook e-Book Reader Announced

    Kindle Reviewed: from a geek’s perspective and one by my wife from a hard-core reader’s perspective.

    Smart Sports Recording with Sage Recording Extender

    Sage Recording Extender logo

    Home Theater PCs, DVRs, TiVos pretty much all enable your TV to “be smarter” by allowing you to time-shift your TV viewing.  But what about sports?  Read on for a great guest-post by “wayner” outlining one of the more creative and useful HTPC plugins available to SageTV users.

    NOTE:  This is a guest post by wayner.  To read more about how to submit your photos and/or write-ups for the GeekTonic Media Gadget Showcase Series, read this.  Basic guidelines for writing and submitting a guest post at GeekTonic can be found here.

    Sage Recording Extender

    Using PVR software like SageTV to watch sports is a huge productivity enhancer since sports games have so much “dead time”.  Zipping through commercials or stoppages in play means that you can watch an entire hockey game in 60 minutes or NBA game in 48 minutes.  But if you have PVRed sports for long enough you will come up a situation where the game runs a little bit late, or goes into overtime, and your recording stops causing you to miss the climax of the game.  D’oh!

    Sports on HTPC

    There are a couple of ways to try to avoid this – with Sage, like most PVRs, you can “pad” the recording time by adding an extra 15-30 minutes to your recording.  But that doesn’t always work, particularly if the game goes well beyond its scheduled time slot which is not unusual for Stanley Cup playoff games.  SageTV addin developer Slugger has come up with a much more elegant solution – Sage Recording Extender (SRE).  This add in monitors websites such as to determine whether a game is still in progress. If so then it keeps extending the recording until the game ends.

    How does it work?

    SRE monitors your upcoming recordings in SageTV and tries to determine if they are sports games.  If they are it then parses out the team names and matches it up with a game on the website.  Unfortunately this means that SRE can break when websites change their format.  Luckily Slugger is on the ball to make changes when this happens.

    SRE uses the Jetty webserver for configuration – Jetty is now becoming very widely used for many Sage addins such as Sage Job Queue, Sagealert, Batch Metadata Importer, and an updated version of Nielm’s Sage webserver.  SRE also can work in conjunction with Sagealert to send you Tweets, IMs or emails to indicate that SRE is monitoring a recording.

    SRE is configurable via a web interface but it should work fine with the default settings.  With the web interface you can ensure that SRE has recognized sporting events and you can set options such as the maximum extension time in case SRE loses track of an event – this is normally only caused by your internet service going down.  Assuming that you properly configure your router you can even access SRE over the internet to check that everything is going well with your system.

    Sage Recording Extender

    What sports does SRE work for?  Currently SRE is able to monitor the following sporting events:

    · NHL Hockey

    · MLB Baseball

    · NBA Basketball

    · NFL Football

    · College Football (Division I-A and Division I-AA only)

    · College Basketball (Division I Men's only)

    · Women's College Basketball (Division I only)

    SRE is a fantastic addition to your SageTV arsenal if you are a sports fan and is highly recommended.  The development of such a tool, which I believe is unique to SageTV, shows the creativity of the Sage development community.


    To learn more go to the SRE user guide.  You can download SRE here and discuss SRE in this thread of the SageTV forums

    About wayner:  "Wayner resides in Toronto, Canada and is a frequent commenter on GeekTonic.  I've gotten to know him from the many hours spent on the SageTV Forums where you'll often find him (under the same online name)  Be sure and also check out this guest post outlining Wayner’s media setup.

    CyberMonday Shopping at GeekTonic


    If you're like me, you skipped the Black Friday madness and decided to see what kind of deals you could get online instead.  Even last Friday there were some good online deals, but today, CyberMonday (the online equivalent of Black Friday) arrives for the really smart shoppers.

    I'm seeing free shipping deals across the board including Amazon, Apple, Buy, ZipZoomFly, Dell and HP.  Beyond that there are plenty of small discounts and even a few really good ones.  If you're looking for the best deals, watch for the HDTV's, cameras, video game machines and even a few of the MP3 players.

    Rather then throw too many deal links at the GeekTonic readers (GeekTonic will still have a few of the best HTPC & Media Gadget Deals), I'll refer you to our for all of the CyberMonday Deal Listings.  Here's the ones I've posted so far for CyberMonday:

  • Dell CyberMonday Deals – Full Listing
  • AccessoryGeeks CyberMonday – up to 80% Off
  • CyberMonday Deals
  • Sony CyberMonday Deals include Free PS3
  • Amazon CyberMonday Deals - Amazon keeps throwing the deals out faster than a person can keep up.  But there are definitely some gems in there in the electronics section.
  • CyberMonday – great deals on some laptop/netbooks, MP3 accessories, server PCs and electronics 
  • CyberMonday Deals
  • Walmart Sony Vaio CyberMonday Deal Vaio 15.5” $698
  • CyberMonday 25% Off or 20% Off & Free Shipping
  • Amazon MP3 Deals – Free MP3s and $5 MP3 Albums
  • Lite-On 4x Blu-ray SATA Internal Player $49.99
  • PlayOn $19.99 Through Monday
  • HP Cyber Monday Sale

    All click-throughs are affiliates which bring in a tiny bit of cash to GeekTonic to support the costs of running the blog and is very appreciated!

  • Sunday, November 29, 2009

    Week in Review – November 29, 2009

    Below is a quick summary of the past week's news and stories on GeekTonic.
  • Boxee Mac Remote Control
  • Happy Thanksgiving From GeekTonic
  • Black Friday – Where are the Deals?
  • Holiday Buying Guide – eBook Readers – The Kindle (2), Sony’s newest 3G eReader and the Barnes & Noble Nook are in contention for the go-to eBook reader.
  • Kindle 2 gets native PDF Reader & Longer Battery Life – a very nice firmware update for Kindle (2) owners
  • Stop PowerDVD Autoplay – how to eliminate bad behavior by Cyberlink’s PowerDVD
  • Vudu Streaming Service Adds Wikipedia to the 10-foot Interface – Vudu keeps pushing forward with new features
  • Premium Vidabox HTPC Case Review – and $50 Off Coupon
  • Commercial Skipping With SageTV – Comskip and Dirmon2 

      Watch for the best CyberMonday deals at GeekTonicDeals 

  • This week will include a guest post about an awesome HTPC add-on that automatically extends your sports recordings when they run over the scheduled time, a how-to on firewire tuning with SageTV, a first-look at the Barnes & Noble Nook eBook reader and a few more gift-guides.

    More in-depth content for Media Gadget Fans at  If you’re in to the Twitter thing, be sure and follow me on twitter under the name GeekTonic.  Thanks for Reading GeekTonic!