Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Blu-Ray vs HD DVD: The wrong format is winning.

It's a tough time to be a consumer and an even tougher time to be a movie fan. With all the recent announcements from both sides of the format war the dust is beginning to settle and the battlefield is looking awfully grim.

I find myself dumbfounded by Sony's ability to convince consumers that their Blu-Ray format is truly better than HD DVD. This feeling is further exacerbated with every bit of new information that is released about the format. For example, Blu-Ray still faces manufacturing problems while HD DVD does not. The most challenging and simply maddening new revelation of the Blu-Ray format however is Sony's continued indecision with regard to the format specification. There are presently three specifications to the format: BD Profile 1.0, BD Profile 1.1, and BD Profile 2.0 (BD Live). The irony with this is that each of these profiles are all an effort to bring Blu-Ray to the same level of standard as HD DVD. What makes the problem worse is that due to this early adopters will be left completely in the cold. When the Blu-Ray camp was asked if they were worried about a backlash from consumers they simply replied
"They knew what they were getting into."
Meanwhile HD DVD owners are assured compatibility with any and all future releases because the HD DVD specification was feature complete when the first players were brought to market.

So then why are businesses like Best Buy and Netflix pushing Blu-Ray?

Well the answer is simple. Blu-Ray is great for business. If early Blu-Ray discs are no longer playable then consumers are forced to re-purchase movies. When new discs that come out are not playable on BD Profile 1.0 players consumers are once again forced to buy the newer players. Lastly, why sell HD DVD players at $150 when you can sell a Blu-Ray player for $450 and have a much larger profit margin.

HD DVD on the other hand has a feature complete specification, cheap players, media that allows consumers to play the same movie in both HD DVD and regular DVD players, and even the ability to use standard DVD media for HD DVD movies. HD DVD may be great for consumers but Blu-Ray is great for business.

However, all is not lost! There is still hope for consumers. Universal, Dreamworks and Paramount have maintained their position to support HD DVD despite rumors saying otherwise. Many reviewers and enthusiasts are voicing themselves as still supporting HD DVD, including Electronic House. And finally, HD DVD disc sales still have a chance to improve as many new owners of HD DVD players bought over the past holiday season will be looking to make their collections.

So. Sony, if you're reading this, we consumers will not tolerate your tyranny.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Moving your data where you want in Windows Vista

Microsoft has graciously decided to get rid of the Documents and Settings folder in favor of the new Users folder in Windows Vista. This is nice because not only is it faster to type but its a little more familiar for Unix/Linux users. The one thing I still would love to see in the Windows installer, however, is the ability to choose the location of this Users directory (and heck even rename it). Unfortunately MS does not provide us that ability by default. To get that ability you have to modify the actual Windows installer.

So what if you don't want to have to re-install the operating system? Maybe you just want to move your data to the place of your choosing without any serious modification to your system. There are a couple solutions out there people have already written about.
They are:
  1. Change the location of each data folder (i..e Documents, Pictures, Music) individually using Windows explorer settings.
  2. Modify the Windows registry to reflect the new folder location
There are a couple of problems with these two solutions. The first solution means that you can only change specific folders such as Documents, Pictures, Music, etc. It doesn't solve the problem of moving hidden application data or other folders to the new location. It also becomes tedious to do so. Finally, if you want to move all of your user profiles to a new location each user must move the data their self. All in all its not really a solution to the problem.

While the second solution will work it is very dangerous to edit the Windows registry. Making even minor changes to the registry can render your entire system useless. I actually tried this method on Windows XP and was unable to get it working. The problem with editing the registry is that there are hundreds if not thousands of references to the profile folders within it and you may not find every one. Missing even one will prevent Windows or your software from working properly or even at all.

Thankfully I found an easier way.

This method requires that you use the Windows installation disc or use a WinPE 2.0 boot disc. To learn how to create a WinPE 2.0 disc go to Regardless of your choice you will need to get to the command prompt. If you are using the WinPE disc you should be immediately given a command prompt once it has finished booting. If you are using the Windows installation disc you can find instructions how on how to get to the command prompt at

WARNING: The following can be dangerous to your system. As with any hack you should always fully back up your entire hard drive just in case anything goes horribly wrong. If something bad happens to your system don't blame me... I warned you ;)

For this example I am assuming that you want to relocate your Users directory to your D:\ drive. If you want to place it elsewhere, just change the commands accordingly. Now that you are at the command prompt, type the following commands followed by enter for each:
  1. xcopy /E /H /O /X /Y /I C:\Users D:\Users
  2. rmdir /S /Q C:\Users
  3. rmdir "C:\Documents and Settings"
  4. mklink /J C:\Users D:\Users
  5. mklink /J "C:\Documents and Settings" D:\Users
What you've done here is copied everything in the Users directory to the new location and then created an NTFS junction to the new location. You might also notice that Documents and Settings showed up again. You thought Vista got rid of it for good didn't you? Many applications are hard coded to use the Documents and Settings directory and do not know that Vista has changed this. To make sure these applications still work under Vista Microsoft cleverly created their own junction from the older Documents and Settings to their new Users. You might ask why is it necessary to do change the existing junction then. Well as I discovered myself NTFS for some reason has a bit of trouble with accessing a junction of a junction. So when I first attempted this hack I encountered problems.

You may now restart your computer and you should have successfully moved your entire Users directory to your new location. Congratulations!

Update: After some further testing i've discovered something interesting. When using xcopy to move the data files to a new location the special folder icons for Documents, Pictures, Searches, Music, etc. appear to be lost. Also, performance when booting up again may seem slightly slower at first. So instead of using xcopy I tried using a backup program like TruImage to backup the Users directory and then restore it in the location I desired. Using this kept all the special folder icons and the system appeared to be a bit more snappy at first bootup. So while the method described works just fine, for performance and aesthetic reasons I would say backup/restore your Users folder instead. Thus the steps would be as such:
  1. Backup C:\Users using a backup program
  2. Restore the C:\Users to your new desired location (example: D:\Users)
  3. Start WinPE or Windows Installation disc command prompt
  4. Using the command prompt
    1. rmdir /S /Q C:\Users
    2. rmdir "C:\Documents and Settings"
    3. mklink /J C:\Users D:\Users
    4. mklink /J "C:\Documents and Settings" D:\Users
  5. Restart

Oh no! I've created a blog!

I never would have thought i'd create a blog for myself but here I am typing away in one. Why did I start this you ask? Well the idea first came to me as I was hacking away at my computer and was unable to find any good information about what I was trying to do online. I thought to myself 'hey, you should write an article on how to do this to help people out.' But where do I write such articles? Where can I submit my random thoughts and ideas that may actually help people (or confuse and frustrate them terribly =) ). Right here is where i'll do it! So stay tuned! Maybe i'll actually write something interesting.