Having spent last week with Alex (who is feeling much better now) and using his Media Center box I feel I need one. I can’t afford one, nor can I really justify one since I have a perfectly good (nay excellent) TiVo, but you know, geeks and their toys. I want to buy one that is small, quiet and fits under the TV, so will start investigating. But, in the meantime I borrowed Alex’s Black Gold Digital TV card (he’s still on analogue as digital TV in the wilds of Derbyshire is, err, let’s just say erratic) and intended to install MCE 2005 on an old machine to play with. I want to write some plug-ins.
So I picked an old Pentium 3 box, knowing it would be slow, but it’s only for testing. A dialog saying “you’re graphics card is not supported” put paid to that, until I found details about hacks to get around it. Several hours later and MCE starts, but won’t play videos on TV – just a black screen and a rather pained expression from the machine. So I order a new video card, a relatively cheap one since I don’t need all that gaming nonsense. This is at 10am Monday morning and at 1pm Tuesday the card arrives – wow excellent service (from Scan in case you’re interested). I wait until the evening before trying it, but it doesn’t fit. Apparantly there are different types of AGP slot. Who knew? Lot’s of people it seems, except me in my little dark dungeon. Investigation proves I have an AGP 1x slot (it’s a P3 remember) and the card requires 2x upwards. Sigh. Maybe now is time to upgrade that box with a new motherboard.
The next phase is to try an old NVidia card I have in another machine, but that proves insipid too. So I abandon the P3 machine and try my music box – this is the one I have the guitars and keyboard (of the musical kind) plugged into and is a P4 with a more modern motherboard. In goes the new card, on goes MCE and lo! Success. That was, of course, round about midnight and I’m too busy to spend more time playing, but it works.
Lesson of the day. If you’re a software guy, steer clear of the hardware.