The Puzzle’s Stopped Its Puzzling

The pieces are finally in place. Everything will work on both the Mac and the PC. It’s now a matter of setting down some procedures to get various workflows developed. There are also some strange things going on, so some footnotes will have to come out of it. And then there’s the matter of still waiting for the dual-layer blank DVDs to be released.

Yup, I’m being vague here in hopes of being more specific later. Yeah, that’s it.

Oh, For The Love Of …

I’m kind of at a stand-still on some things, but the externalized DVD recorder is recognized by the XP Pro box as another drive. The problem, however, lies with my ProMax 180G external hard drive. It’s an FW800, or IEEE-1394b, drive, while the FireWire card in the XP Pro box is of the older FW400 variety. But try to find one of those cards for PCI! I ran into a Radio Shack-style clerk at the CompUSA in Ann Arbor on this one. He refused to believe the 1394b standard even exists! He said “Well, the A device is the computer and the B device is the outboard device itself”, and when I tried to insist he had some reading to do, all he did was say “Ohhhhh-Kayyyyyyyyy …” and walked away in a huff. Sheesh, I can’t stand when salespeople who don’t know something insist they do, and then get mad when you call one of their bluffs.

Meanwhile, Sonnet Technology’s Allegro FW800 PCI card seems the least expensive of the bunch. There’s a new computer store in Fenton that has offered to order me one. As they’ve only been open five weeks, I think I’ll go ahead and give them some business.

Getting The Externalized DRU-700A To Actually Work

Well, what I’d built last night didn’t work (see yesterday’s post), so it was back to square one.

I went ahead and exchanged the USB 2.0 enclosure for an ME-320X combination USB 2.0/FireWire enclosure, connected it to the G4 PowerBook via FireWire, and fired it up. But this time, I went ahead and also downloaded the beta of PatchBurn II for OS X and installed it. This changed the drive’s Disc Burning status in OS X’s System Profiler from “Not Supported” to “DRDeviceSupportLevelUnsupported”. However, when I tried to record a DVD Studio Pro 2 project to DVD from within the application, I ended up with the same result as last night.

One final try. I then used DVD Studio Pro to write the DVD to the hard drive as an IMG file, then pulled the Video_TS and Audio_TS folders (not the IMG file itself) into a new DVD project within Toast 5.2.3. Not only did the IMG file creation take less time than writing to a DVD from within DVD Studio Pro, but recording the 1.7G DVD project to the blank DVD in the DRU-700A only took ten minutes … which is a whole lot faster than DVD Studio Pro writes to DVD!

So, I now have a portable dual-layer DVD burner that works fine when burning single-layer projects created by DVD Studio Pro. And I don’t need to go back to Windows at all to make it work. I’ll test dual-layer DVD’s once the media’s available.

Tomorrow, I’ll put a spare FireWire card I have in my XP Pro box and see if this portable version of the Sony DRU-700A still works with the drive’s bundled Nero software.

Till then …

A First Look At An Externalized Sony DRU-700A

This morning, even though the dual-layer DVD media isn’t available yet, I picked up a Sony DRU-700A dual-layer DVD recorder. The intent was to externalize it so I can use it with both my Windows XP Pro Box and my G4 PowerBook. The DRU-700UL external version isn’t available for a couple more months, so I also picked up a Manhattan USB 2.0 external 5.25” case for the burner. The case didn’t come with instructions, but putting the two together wasn’t at all difficult. Total cost: $260. Considering the DRU-700UL will be $300, this seems a better solution.

I installed the bundled Nero software that came with the drive onto the XP Pro box without a hitch, restarted the computer, plugged the enclosure’s USB 2.0 and power cables in, and fired it up. The Windows machine recognized the drive almost immediately, as did the Nero software. Apparently, creating a portable version of this drive is a piece of cake.

The real test was next. Various reviews on the internet indicate the DRU-700A may not be recognized by any of Apple’s iApps, but that it is recognized by Toast 5.2.3 and will probably be better off with Toast 6. But my question was how Apple’s DVD Studio Pro might recognize the drive, particularly via the USB 2.0 connection. I safely disconnected the drive from the XP box’s USB connection, plugged it into the USB port on the back of the G4, and turned it on. The OS X 10.3.3 System Profiler showed it as being as a Drive Type of CD-RW/DVD-RW, but under Disc Burning it read “Not Supported”. Even so, I went ahead and opened the older DVD Studio Pro 2 with an empty project and hit Build/Format in the toolbar.

When the Build & Burn dialog opened, the DRU-700A was happily listed in the Output Device dropdown box on the General tab. On the Disc/Media tab, I was able to select 8.54 Gigabytes in the Disc Media dropdown, and Layer Options [Single/Dual], Direction [OTP/PTP], Dual Layer Break Point, and Number of Sides [One/Two] were enabled. When I set Number of Sides to Two, Disc Side [Side A/Side B] was also enabled.

Now that I know there’s recognition from within DVD Studio Pro, I’ll go ahead and attempt to burn a single-layer DVD project from the PowerBook tomorrow from within DVD Studio Pro 2. Even though System Profiler indicates disc burning is not supported, I have a little faith this might actually work. If it does, I’ll take it up a notch later with a FireWire enclosure.

Keeping my fingers crossed …

Subject Changes And A DVD Drive

Ok, I’m just not going to use the word “Help” in every subject line as someone had suggested. It’s too darned difficult!

I was going to head out today to pick up the necessary DVD drive for this XP Pro box, but a massive headache is keeping me home. Maybe tomorrow, if I feel up to it. According to their website, Best Buy has the Sony DRU-700A dual-layer recorder in-stock, so once I head out, that’s where I’ll go.

Getting Help With DVD’s

Well, with a bit of the tax return I’ve received today, I’ll be getting a DVD drive for this XP Pro box so I can install the WinHEC LongHorn bits over VirtualPC 2004. I’m considering Sony’s external dual-layer DVD burner, but only if the School pays for part of it for test purposes. Otherwise, I’ll just pick up an internal single-layer DVD burner.

On Helping

Yesterday was the 16th birthday party for a girl who’s the daughter of one of my best friends. I got there an hour early or so to help out with setting up. This weather we’ve been having made the yard seriously slippery. Ever tried to carry a 6-foot sub across a slippery yard? How ’bout two of the beastly things? Yeah, I caught myself, and the sandwich was saved … but the dog seemed disappointed in that. That little Lhasa Ahpso was chasing balloons around the yard, and every time she’d pop one she’d go five feet straight up! Too bad I forgot the video camera …

Help, With A View To … The Future?

I’ve often thought of developing a Help viewer that could display more than one kind of Help. I’d likely start with HTML Help and MS Help 2.0 at first, especially since I already know how to build the MS Help 2.0 variety. And the related Help Object Library works with both WinHelp and HTML Help. But then I get to thinking about LongHorn.Help and how that would muck up the works, and that we really don’t know how to read WinHelp file internals. Such a viewer to read all four formats would possibly be a serious mess internally.

Or would it?

It’s dificult to say how it would work. It would likely be best to build a viewer that worked more as a foundation, and then build plug-ins to work with each of the various formats. That would seem to make the most sense.

But with COM being possibly on its way out, would that work at all?

I’ll have to think about that …

Help, With Gas

The Help MVPs are now digging into LongHorn.Help as provided in a Windows LongHorn build made available to both the WinHEC 2004 attendees and as available to MSDN subscribers. Unfortunately, as the media is DVD-based I’m as yet unable to participate. I’m looking at DVD drives, but just haven’t picked one up for my Windows box yet. I’m actually looking at the new Sony DRU-700A dual-layer recorder, the first of its kind. For only $200 for the internal version, you really can’t beat it, considering what it’s capable of. Unfortunately for the school the drive is Windows-only at this point. But I’m sure that will change.

As to that so-called nationwide gas boycott the other day … yeah, right! You’re going to have the gas already in the tank that you need, or you’ll just have to get it later. Either way, the oil companies weren’t affected whatsoever. The only way such a boycott would work would be for one to last a week or so, and have it be a REAL boycott, with no “stocking up” before or having to fill the tank afterward anyway. But that’ll never work as folks have things to do, so the oil companies have us over a very expensive barrel.

Gas Station Attendant: “Sir, did you have any gas?”

Me: “Nope, haven’t been to Taco Bell yet today.”