Thursday, April 30, 2009


We moved to Australia from the USA and shipped all our belongings from there including our 42" LCD HD TV. I was under the impression that I would be able to simply buy an external TV tuner that would enable me to watch Aussie TV. Was I ever WRONG!

There are three main analogue television systems throughout the world, PAL, NTSC and SECAM. After the introduction of High Definition TV, the old standards didn't simply go away, they influenced the new HD standards. I found this nice article about why NTSC and PAL still matter in the digital TV world. Basically, the main difference is the frame rate. HD signal based on NTSC (ie. HD in the USA) transmits 30 frame-per-second where as HD signal based on PAL (ie HD in Australia) transmits 25 frame-per-seconds. So, converting a PAL based HD signal to NTSC based HD signal is not trivial, as the missing frames have to be invented.

After painstakingly trying out different a number of set top boxes (external TV tuners) and returning them as they didn't work with my TV, I searched the web for answers. There was very little useful information out there. I decided to experiment. My TV has a PC-in VGA port. I manage to connect my old PC to the TV using a VGA cable and use the TV as a monitor. That's when it occurred to me that there should be external boxes that are capable of turning an ordinary PC monitor into a TV.

I found a couple of units that were capable of turning a PC monitor into a TV without need for a computer. One was Compro VideoMate W800F and AVerTV Hybrid STB9. As none of the major computer retailers in Australia were selling these, I didn't have the luxury of returning any of them. So I was thorough on my research. I finally bit the bullet and bought the Compro VideoMate W800F, which works perfectly with my USA TV.

A happy ending after a lot of hard work. I can now watch live games on my TV that was shipped over from the USA. TVs are very cheap over there in the US. May be, I should consider shipping a a bigger better TV from the USA in the future...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Formatting a large partition in FAT32 with Vista

Microsoft has imposed an artificial restriction in Windows Vista that prohibits formatting a disk partition of size greater than 32GB in Fat32. This is very annoying to say the least. For people like me, who would like to have the best of both the Windows world and the Linux world, dual boot is a cheap option (in comparison to buying two machines). It is common in dual boot machines to have a common drive formatted in Fat32, that can be shared between the two operating systems.

After a little googling, I found fat32format , a nifty tool that quickly formats a drive in Fat32. Simply download the zip file from here and unzip the contents to some folder on your local drive. Then open up a command prompt as Administrator (find command prompt under Run->All programs->Accessories and right click on command prompt and choose run as administrator). Then go to the directory where the unzipped fat32format.exe file exists and execute fat32format.exe .

Its not all doom and gloom with Vista. It does provide the functionality to resize partitions. This is very useful, if you are trying to install a second OS on an existing machine. To resize a partition, simply go to
Control panel-> Administrative tools -> Computer management
Navigate to the Disk Management under Storage in the left panel. You can simply right click on any of the drives and select "Shrink volume.." to resize a partition.