Technology: The gift that keeps on…taking.

Amid many of the bits I am juggling at the moment, I was gifted with a new Blu-ray drive to add to the video server here at the Helgren household. My son, Jonas, who has done some work for Sony and has seen some pretty nice High Definition video, said that the Blu-ray standard was awesome.  Unfortunately, the video server is low in the pecking order in the rack so I knew it would be a job just to get to the server, let alone replace a drive in the case.  But, I went ahead and pulled the thing, added the drive, got it back in the rack, fired it up and booted back into Vista Media Center.  No joy! No new devices found!

So I pulled out the server again, opened the case and was told by my son to put the SATA cable on the S-O connector and then fire it back up.  Having dutifully done that, returning it to the rack and then firing it up again, no joy!  So my son took the matter into his own hands that inexplicably lead to the dreaded “No Post” condition.  After considerable trial and error, research and diagnostics, I determined that the CPU (Xeon) had given up the ghost, based mostly on the clogged condition of the cooling fins and the diagnostic LED that indicated a power or CPU error.

So, off to ebay to find and order a CPU replacement and, of course, this being a holiday weekend, nothing would ship until Monday.  The CPU arrived Tuesday ($100 including shipping and handling).  I popped it in and….no joy.  More grousing, researching and diagnosing ensued.  Finally, taking the power supply failure route, which was counter intuitive since all the fans spun up and MOBO lights lit up, I noticed that the cooling fan in the power supply wasn’t running.  A clear sign of a power supply failure.  Some frantic, end of day calling around located an acceptable power supply for *only* $175.00!  Granted 850 watts was overkill but it would at least get this monkey off my back.

After installing the new power supply and successfully booting the server, still no Blu Ray device.  Rats!  After much trial and error and some counter intuitive settings in the BIOS (Set the IDE channels to PATA ONLY and suddenly the SATA channels appear! Whoda thunk?) the Blu Ray device is found and configured by Vista.  Hooray Blu Ray!  Fired up the copy of “District 9” that Jonas has also gotten me and it began to play!  No sound but I didn’t have speakers plugged in.  So, shut down, back in the rack, an hour or so getting it to recognize the HDMI video again and Voila!  I have a Blu Ray ready video server!  Fire up District 9 and ….. no sound!  Rats! Whats up the THAT!?

A little more research and then a 75mb update to PowerDVD 9.  Now PowerDVD won’t even start !  Going backwards!   Futz around with that for a few hours and admitted defeat last night at midnight.

This morning is a new day, new possibilities but everything I try won’t get the latest version of PowerDVD running on Vista!  Finally, in desperation, I uninstall everything and reinstall the “old” version from the supplied CD.  Now the Blu Ray video plays again with no sound.  More research, which basically confirms that PowerDVD is a POJ, but a couple of posts point to changing settings in the PowerDVD audio setup.  It is set to HDMI but that doesn’t work.  Recommendation is to set it to s/pdif which also doesn’t work but, when I change it back to HDMI (not the default HDMI) it begins to work! Dumb luck wins again!

So it only took 12 or so hours of my time and $300 to get it all working.  So simple!  Technology gifts are just the thing at Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

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