Category Archives: how to

HD Homerun Prime CableCard Tuner Installation with Charter Cable

I wanted to get the SiliconeDust HD Homerun Prime Tuner for a long time. The HD Homerun Prime is like a cable box but for your home network. It enables you to watch TV on a computer, tablet, or phone connected that are connected to your network. The tuner is able to produce 3 separate streams to 3 devices. This means that 3 devices on the network can watch and change channels independently of each other. It takes a little tinkering and patience to get everything set up and configured. It’s all worth it in my opinion.

HD Homerun Prime - Front View

The HD Homerun Prime can replace your cable box if you have a home theater PC (HTPC) connected to your TV. For me, Charter Communications charges $6 a month to rent each cable box. The cable card costs $2 a month. The price will vary depending on your cable provider. THe HD Homerun Prime costs $150. But you can get it for $100 when it goes on sale.

There are some good 3rd party apps for your tablet or smartphone. I use the HomerunTV app, which costs $2.99, for my Nexus 7 tablet. The app are a little buggy but works well once you have everything configured. Overall, it’s worth the time and effort to get this running. Any device connected to your network could be a TV.

Let me give you a few warnings about setting it up and using it. You will have to become a CableCard expert whether you like it or not. When you call the cable company, 99% of the representatives will not know anything about the cable card or now to troubleshoot. Most of the time, I’m guiding a representative through their system when something goes wrong.

HD Homerun Prime Setup

I’m going to breakdown the setup process into 3 parts; hardware, installation, and cable company.

Hardware

Obtain a CableCard M-Card from your cable company. You’ll also need something called a tuning adapter. Most of the cable reps don’t know. Just ask them for the box that goes with the cable card. It looks like a cable box. You’ll also need a PC and the HD Homerun Prime. I’m also assuming you have a home network too.

Installation

You need a high performance home network to accomodate the bandwidth needed to stream 3 unique HDTV sources. I have a wired gigabit (10/100/1000) network and a wireless N router. It has to be gigabit and wireless N for a clear signal. I made sure to connect my dedicated HTPC to the wired network to make sure I get the best signal possible. Wireless N is just fine when I watch HDTV on my Nexus 7 tablet.

There are many guides about setting up an HTPC. You have your choice of operating systems and different options of media players. I went with the simplest way possible. I used Windows Media Center on a Windows 7 desktop. Windows 8 doesn’t come with Media Center. It’s a downloadable paid app from the app store. Windows 8 Pro does come with Media Center. So check your computer before doing this.

Windows Media Center (WMC) is fully capable of being your DVR. It downloads a guide for you to schedule all recordings. The first thing you need to do is install the HD Homerun driver and software. In WMC, you need to install the “Digital Cable Advisor” found in the Extra menu. You can’t watch most digital cable channels with the Digital Cable Advisor. It makes sure that your recorded show can only be watched on your that computer.

I’m going to assume you’ll have an extra coaxial cable lead from a splitter. You might need to get a cable guy to come to your house to set up an extra outlet.

HD Homerun Prime

1. Tuning apater – 3 wires; coaxial in (from the cable company), coaxial out to the HD Homerun Prime, and usb cord.
2. HD Homerun Prime – 3 wires and cable card; stick the cable card into the slot, connect the coaxial from the tuning adapter, connect the usb cord from the tuning adapter, connect the cat-5 network cable to your network.

That’s it for the hardware

In WMC, go to Settings> TV> Set up TV Signal. WMC will scan for any available tuners. WMC will give you a screen of different numbers from the tuner. Now it’s time to call the cable company.

Cable Company

Call your cable company and tell them you want to set up a cable card. They’ll ping your cablecard to make sure they can see it on their network. Ask them if you can give them a Host ID. This is important. Without the Host ID, nothing will work. After you they enter the Host ID, you should be all set with the cable company.

Windows Media Center

Now scan for channels again. With WMC, you need a free plugin application called, Digital Cable Advisor. It’s available in your Extra menu. It’s basically for copyright purposes. Some TV shows are locked to that one PC only. That means you can only watch the recorded show on the PC that recorded it. It’s important that you never shut down your PC if you schedule a recording. Instead, set the PC to sleep after 30 minutes of inactivity.

That’s about it. I’m sure I’m missing some minor details. It’s been a while since I set this up.

Auto Reject Calls on the Samsung Galaxy S4

The concept is simple. I just want to block annoying callers like telemarketers. The feature didn’t exist a few years ago. I finally found it on Verizon. However, I could only block 25 callers. I think they designed it for failed relationship instead of persistent calls from telemarketers or collection agencies.

I thought it would be simple for and iPhone to handle a task like that. Nope. I was wrong. I finally found it on the Samsung Galaxy S4. It’s a feature built right into the phone. The feature is located in your phone app -> (hit the menu button) call settings -> Call rejection. The S4 will store a list of numbers to reject. The phone will not ring if you receive a call from these numbers, but will go to voicemail instead. It’s not perfect, but it’s one step in the right direction.

Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Disappearing Playlist

I was scratching my head I discovered my playlists disappeared on my Samsung Galaxy S4. I wasn’t used to the quirks of my S4 yet because I only had it for a few days. The strange part was that I was listening to one of them.

To correct this problem, you just need to update your library. I store all of my music on an external micro SD card. I added a few files the night before by connecting the phone via USB cord. Once you updated the library, the playlist should be restored.

Windows 7 Ultimate Install

My hard drive was failing.  This gave me an excuse to get a new hard drive for a fresh install of Windows 7.  This also gave me an excuse to add more memory  too.

Windows 7 Ultimate Retail Box

Windows 7 Ultimate Retail Box

Parts:

  • Windows 7 Ultimate Retail
  • Western Digital Caviar Black 1 TB Hard Drive
  • OCZ 2x 2GB DDR2 PC800 memory

The installation couldn’t have been easier.  I replaced my old hard drive, remove 2 wires and 4 screws.  I installed the memory.  I already had 2 Dimms in the system.  Adding 2 more will bring my total to 8GBs.

Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB Hard Drive

Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB Hard Drive

After closing everything up, I booted up the system and inserted the Windows 7 DVD.  I chose the 64 bit version because I wanted to take advantage of more memory.  It took my system about 30 minutes to complete the installation.  It found all the necessary drivers and installed them automatically.  That’s kind of nice.

So far, my experience with Windows 7 is pleasant.  There’s a few new things to learn.  The taskbar is a welcomed change.  It lets you dock shortcuts to programs you often use.  The 64 bit version of the operating system is a bit snappier than the 32 bit version.

The one annoying thing is that the Run Command was not enable by default.  To enable it, right click on the taskbar, Start Menu Tab, Customize…, and check the Run Command box located about 2/3 down on the list.

Seagate FreeAgent 1TB Mac Edition does not work with a PC (How-to)

I can always use an external hard drive.  Who can say no to more storage right?  However, my Mac Mini really doesn’t need 1TB worth of storage.  My PC does.  It could use an extra 1TB.  Out of the box, the drive was not recognized by Windows because it has been formatted for Mac.  In order to get this drive PC friendly, you’ll need a Mac’s help.  Disclaimer – Follow these instructions at your own risk.  Popmonkeys.com is not responsible if anything happens to electronics.

  1. Plug the drive into the Mac.
  2. Open up Disk Utility from the Utilities menu.
  3. IMPORTANT – make sure to highlight only the Seagate FreeAgent drive.  You could accidentally format your hard drive if you make a mistake.
  4. Navigate over to the Erase tab.  The drive should be in the Journal Format.
  5. Click on the drop down and select MS-Dos.  This should format the drive to FAT 32.
  6. Click Erase and follow the on screen instructions.

1TB should take a while to format depending on your Mac.  My Mac Mini is pretty lightweight, so it took about half an hour.  The drive will shut itself off when it’s done formatting.  After that, the drive should work work with the PC and Mac.

Asus Eee PC 1000H Hard Drive Swap – Part 1

*DIsclaimer*  Follow this guide at your own risk.  I am not responsible if you damaged your property.

I decided to do a fresh install on the new hard drive.  A fresh start is always better.  The actual swap and installation of the OS only took a couple of hours.  However, typing everything out with pictures is more labor intensive than doing the actual upgrade.  So I’m splitting the how to article into two parts, hardware and software.

This is the hardware portion.

Let’s go over things you’ll need.

Asus Eee PC 1000H Hard Drive Swap - Tools

Small Philips and flat head screwdrivers.  I have another one with a bigger handle for better grip.
Your Asus Eee PC 1000H
A towel to lay your Asus Eee PC on to prevent getting scratches.
Your new 7200RPM Hard Drive

Step 1.  Unplug the AC adapter and remove the battery from the Asus Eee PC 1000H.

Step 2.  Lay the Eee PC on the upside down on a towel to prevent any scratches

Step 3.  Removed the back cover by removing the two screws located near the battery bay and carefully prying the back cover off.

Step 4.  Removed the two screws holding the hard drive cage to the Eee.

Step 5.  Carefully slide the hard drive away from SATA Connector.

Step 6.  Remove hard drive from the cage.  There should be a total of 4 screws, 2 on each side.

Step 7.  Replace old hard drive with your new hard drive in the cage and replace 4 screws in Step 6.

Step 8.  Place the hard drive with the cage back in the hard drive bay.  Carefully align the SATA port of the hard drive with the port of on the Eee.

Step 9.  Firmly push the drive towards the SATA ports once everything is aligned and properly seated.  It should slide easily.

Step 10.  Replace the two screws holding the cage to the Eee in Step 4.

Step 11.  Replace the back cover and secure with the 2 screws in Step 3.

That’s it.  11 easy steps to installing a new hard drive in your Eee PC.  It sounds like a lot of steps but it should only take you 15 minutes at most.  30 minutes if you are brand new to computers.  If you are brand new computer, maybe you shouldn’t do this upgrade.

Asus Eee PC 1000H – Optimize for Speed

I have no complaints with Eee PC 1000H’s performance.  The Intel Atom processor is quite capable of handling heavy loads.  Again, Diablo II runs smootly on my Eee PC.  However, I’m all for tweaking Windows down to the bare minimum to extract every bit of performance out of the Eee PC without sacrificing much.  This will be a series of posts about this subject because there’s always something to change or  tweak to make your Eee PC that much faster.

So for Part 1:  Let’s do the easy tweak.

Disclaimer.  Everything presented on this site is my opinion and my own personal experience.  I am not responsible if you perform any of my recommendations that may result in damaging you or your property.

1.  Click on Start -> Control Panel -> Performance and Maintenance -> System

That should open up the System Properties window.

2.  Click on the “Advanced” tab and click on the “Settings” button under the Performance section.

3.  Under the “Visual Effects” tab, select “Custom”.

4.  Make sure everything is unchecked except:  Use common tasks in folders, Use drop shadows for icon labels on the desktop, and Use visual styles on windows and buttons.

Asus Eee PC 1000H Optimize Performance

More performance tweaks to come.

Asus Eee PC 1000H – Memory Upgrade

The Asus Eee PC 1000H came with 1GB of memory pre-installed.  With today’s memory hungry applications, 2 GB is better for smooth computing.  SInce 2 GB is the maximum amount you can install in the Asus Eee PC 1000H.  I went with a Corsair 2GB module I bought at Fry’s for $25 after rebate.  The Asus Eee PC 1000H can use any memory module 200 Pin So-dimm DDR2 PC5300 667 MHz.  The system will adjust to the right speed if you install a faster module.

Here’s what you need to get this done.

  • Small Philips Screwdriver
  • The 2 GB Memory Module
  • Asus Eee PC 1000H
  • 10 Minutes
  • Difficulty – Easy

Asus Eee PC 1000H

Here’s what you do.

Step 1 – Remove Battery – Just a safety precaution

Asus Eee PC 1000H

Step 2 – Unscrew the two screws on the back cover nearest to the battery.

Asus Eee PC 1000H

Step 3 – Remove Back Cover.  Carefully pry the cover off.  It’s held in place by plastic clips attaced to the edge of the back cover.  Your Eee PC 1000H should look like the picture below.  With the MSI Wind, you have to remove the whole plastic shell of the computer to access these parts.  Asus cleverly placed the two items, memory and hard drive, that most people will upgrade right under a very accessible cover.

Asus Eee PC 1000H

Step 4 – Remove the memory module.  Like most laptops, the module is held in place by two metal clips (red arrows) on two sides of the module.  Carefully and slowly pull the metal clips away from the module.  You just have to pry it out a little bit, maybe 2 mm, and the module will pop up.

Asus Eee PC 1000H

Step 5 – Remove the memory module.

Asus Eee PC 1000H

Step 6 – Insert new memory module at a 45 degree angle and press down until the two metal clips snaps around the module.  Check to make sure the module is secure.  Replace cover and you’re done.

Asus Eee PC 1000H