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Upgrade? Uh, more like downgrade... Plus HTPC stuff. Tim 
Posted by: Tim at 3:04 AM EST on 7/18/2003
File Under: Misc Tech -> Computers

So, as I said in my previous post about my new laptop, I was having some issues with the sound. Namely, it sounded like shit, which put a bit of a damper on my plans to use the machine as a media center for music and movies. Additionally, the function keys on the keyboard that were supposed to increase and decrease the volume just flat out didn't work - and lemme tell you, it's a bitch to open Volume Control and make fine adjustments with a touchpad every time you want to bump the volume up or down a notch.

So yeah, naturally, I couldn't leave these problems unsolved. In my tinkering around, I reverted back to an old set of drivers and, amazingly, the volume keys started working, and sound was about ten times as good as it was before. I hooked the system up to my stereo and I was just like "Holy shit, I hear bass now!" So yeah, I'm happy. I just have to wonder what the hell they fixed that was so important as to make it worth totally crippling the computer's audio otherwise... Or maybe they just fucked up.

Anyway, now that my computer is pumping out some MUCH nicer sound, and I don't have to spend $50 on an external soundcard, I'm enjoying my media PC. Playing emulated games and DivX/XviD movies on the TV, and listening to mp3s on my stereo is some cool shit. To streamline the whole process, I went and got a couple little programs that I highly recommend.

First is myHTPC, a nice interface for Home Theatre PCs. Basically, it gives you a nice menu system with big friendly letters and graphics that are nice and legible on a TV screen. Just point it to your pictures, music, and movies directories and you'll be able to open any number of media files within a matter of a couple clicks. Best of all, it integrates with Windows Media Player 9 to provide you album covers and visualizations for music.

The other program is JoyToKey, a tiny little program that lets you use a joystick to emulate mouse or keyboard input. This is absolutely perfect in combination with my PC Magic Box, which lets me use a PS2, Dreamcast, or Saturn pad on my PC. So, I can just sit back and relax with my Dual Shock and play some SNES, N64, or MAME games without constantly going back and forth between the computer and my chair - the controller acts just like a mouse for me. It's the ultimate in laziness, so, naturally, I absolutely love it.

P.S.: It's my 21st birthday this Sunday. Oh hell yes. I'll be gone for the weekend. Take from that what you will.
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