DisplayPort Screen Blank after Boot or Sleep with Asus STRIX GTX 970 Series

By Jake Edwards | Sunday, March 27th, 2016 | Permalink | 4 Comments

Seems there’s an issue with the Asus Strix GTX 970 card when using specifically the DisplayPort (DP) connector on certain monitor models.

Symptoms

I found my screen (Dell U2713H) would suggest there was “No Signal” coming from the PC at certain times. More confusingly, intermittently;

  • Black screen/No Signal when first turning on the PC
  • Black screen/No Signal when resuming from Sleep
  • Black screen/No Signal between the Windows 10 boot screen and the login screen.

Solution

When you finally get it too boot without issue, you need to update the VBIOS of your graphics card.

I believe I was on version 84.04.36.00.AS15, however since updating to 84.04.84.00.AS17 I haven’t had an issue.

You can download the new VBIOS from Asus’ Support Website. It has the description “Fix DP display issue with certain monitors”

There are some older VBIOS versions too; 84.04.2F.00.AS05 & 84.04.1F.00.AS13 & 84.04.1F.00.AS08 though I can’t confirm they had the same issue.

If you need to check the version of your VBIOS, you can use the GPU Tweak II download on the same page (though don’t trust the LiveUpdate as it didn’t pick up this update).

Asus STRIX GTX970 on GPU Tweak II

 

tvheadend, Plex Media Server & Chromecast

By Jake Edwards | Tuesday, March 17th, 2015 | Permalink | 5 Comments

I use my Chromecast regularly for all my media streaming, however it never allowed me to watch Live TV.
Why not consolidate the two? As I was already running a Plex server, adding a Live TV server into the mix would be ideal rather than using another PC.

Plex handles all the transcoding, meaning Live TV can be shown on the Chromecast, as well as any other device that supports Plex channels.

Setup

DVB-T Free-to-Air -> Sony PlayTV -> tvheadend -> Plex Media Server -> Chromecast

tvheadend

The TV server package I decided to use was tvheadend. It seemed to have the best support across all of the options I was able to collate — and it’s regularly updated too.

The server is running Debian, and tvheadend is provided as a package on the following repository. You’ll want to add this to the end of your /etc/apt/sources.list. Note that it needs to be the unstable version as the stable version is quite out of date;

deb http://apt.tvheadend.org/unstable wheezy main

The configuration was straightforward, with documentation provided on their Redmine wiki.

Sony PlayTV

This works reasonable well with a Sony PlayTV (dib0700) dual-digital tv tuner which you usually pick up off Gumtree or eBay for a reasonable price and works well with Australian TV.

You’ll want to put the firmware file (dvb-usb-dib0700.1.20.fw) for this tuner into the relevant /lib/firmware directory on your server;

http://www.linuxtv.org/downloads/firmware/#dibcom

I needed to disable the “Idle Scan” on each tuner through tvheadend as it was causing kernel panics after a few days of running. Power Save and Initial Scan are okay to use.

DisableIdleScanTuner

Plex Channel

To get tvheadend into Plex, we need to use a channel. There have been a few, tvheadend-ng which is available on GitHub. You’ll want to clone this into your Plex channels directory;

https://github.com/realriot/tvheadend-ng.bundle

Configuration was simple, though one notable point is that if you’re using a reverse proxy with tvheadend, you’ll need to put the path after the port in the Web Port field.

TvHeadEndPlex

Channel Images & Icons

The icons for the Plex Channel don’t appear correctly with security enabled on TVHeadEnd.

It’s a permission error. The trick is to whitelist for all users connecting from 127.0.0.1/32 to have full access. This assumes your Plex is running on the same server as tvheadend. You’ll need to amend your IP filter accordinglly. More detail on Gav’s blog.

Permisison Setup TVHeadEnd Whitelist

Dell BIOS Utility Command-Line Arguments

By Jake Edwards | Monday, July 18th, 2011 | Permalink | 1 Comment

Dell BIOS updates have some undocumented command line switches that may be useful for system administrators. These are a few of the notable command-line arguments;

In order to bypass the Battery and AC adaptor check when attempting a BIOS update for a Dell laptop, simply run it with the /forceit command, for example;

  • DELL_BIOS_A10.exe /forceit

You can also extract the actual image using commands like writeromfile, for example;

  • DELL_BIOS_A10.exe -writeromfile

Dell use a variety of update programs depending on the age of the computer, so some commands may be deprecated or renamed. Let me know in teh comments if you find any other interesting Dell BIOS command line switches.

So I was installing my webcam drivers…

By Jake Edwards | Monday, September 7th, 2009 | Permalink | No Comments

My laptop (as most do these days), has a webcam integrated into the screen… On installation of the webcam’s drivers, prompted me with the following message:
Unplug that Integrated Webcam!

Bewildered by this message (which wouldn’t go away until it was ‘unplugged’), prompted me to disable the device in Device Manager… that seemed to fix it… 😉

Intel Turbo Memory Drivers for Windows 7

By Jake Edwards | Sunday, August 23rd, 2009 | Permalink | No Comments

With the release of Windows 7 Beta January 09 and the RC release in May, many hardware developers have actively been developing Windows 7 compatible drivers for their products.

The changes between Windows Vista drivers and Windows 7 drivers are not as involved as the changes between XP and Vista. This means that most hardware drivers written for Windows Vista, most likely work with Windows 7 without any hitches. However sometimes driver installations for Vista can not install correctly. Most ‘driver install problems’ on Windows 7 using drivers ‘made for Vista’, are merely a result of the company blocking installation if the OS is not equal to ‘6.0’ or Vista in other words.

Intel Turbo Memory was affected by this. Intel provided Turbo Memory drivers which were downloadable for Windows Vista however compatible Windows 7 drivers were not to be found until the 17th of August 2009. Visiting the Intel download page for Turbo Memory now reveals a ‘Windows 7’ option in the operating system selection. I have installed these drivers and they appear to work without any hitches, and without any ‘computability’ issues.

The drivers can be found specifically on Intel’s website here.

The musical side of your Operating System

By Jake Edwards | Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 | Permalink | No Comments

Most operating systems, namely Windows and OS X, have a well known set of alert, error and message sounds that have become synonymous with the product…. especially the Windows XP Start-up sound on computers with their volume up to loud >_<

Some users take the time to remix these sounds. As the sounds in the mixes are heard from computers on a daily basis, the song has an odd sense of familiarity, while maintaining quite a unique and catchy tune. Below is a compilation of some good remixes people have posted on YouTube.

Dell Laptop Keyboard: Backlighting Timeout

By Jake Edwards | Saturday, June 13th, 2009 | Permalink | 16 Comments

I have recently read a few posts on other blogs and forums, discussing an ‘annoyance’ of not being able to disable the ‘fade-out’ or time-out period of the keyboard back-lighting after one minute of no keyboard or mouse activity. However, what most don’t realise, is the option is available… just buried.

I am using Windows 7, so I would assume the following steps would be more applicable to Vista, but not so much Windows XP.
This is also based on a Dell Studio 15 and Dell Studio XPS 16 laptops so I can’t guarantee it applies to all Dell Laptops with back-lit keyboards/touchpads.

  1. Open Windows Mobility Center (Just search it in the start menu, it only appears on portable devices such as laptops).
  2. You should be presented with a screen like below. Notice as Quickset is installed, a few extra options have appeared at the bottom of the window.
    If you do not see the Customized section by Dell, download Quickset from the Support and Drivers section of the Dell website.

    Windows Mobility Center: Dell Laptop

  3. While the ‘Keyboard Brightness’ panel only shows a slider bar, notice the small Laptop & Keyboard icon just above the slider is pressable (focused in the screenshot above).
    Clicking this will open a new dialog box like the screenshot below, with more customization options for the keyboard back-lighting.

    Keyboard Backlighting Options: Dell Laptop

  4. You can now adjust the time-out for the keyboard lighting in-activity fade out. Adjust the time interval by selecting it from the drop down menu, or specify “Never Off” to set an infinite timeout period.
  5. Let us know if this works for your Dell laptop.

Apple Tax: The Proof

By Jake Edwards | Friday, April 10th, 2009 | Permalink | No Comments

A recently released white paper titled “What Price Cool?“, sponsored by Microsoft, has provided the proof that Apple Mac’s do in fact cost more to own and maintain when compared to PC’s of the same specification. Throughout the white paper it discusses the “Apple’s premium priced product[s]” and how comparing Mac vs. PC “makes it clear that Mac buyers are paying a lot for cool”.

Along with reporting on the aforementioned white paper, The Windows Experience Blog created a mock-up tax return for a typical family’s Apple Tax, which according to the data presented in the white paper, is a massive $3,367. While that figure may seem unreasonable, the costs are obtained from a table (quoted below) within the white paper, showing a balance sheet over the period of 5 years and the costs associated with upgrading software and general expansion. Many have disputed the results stating many aspects of cost, such as software, were only applied to the sample Mac purchase but not the PC purchase. Regardless of this detail, the price difference would only be minutley less (~$300) than originally stated by the white paper.

The cumulative costs of a Mac and a PC

The white paper concludes these figures by simply expressing the Apple Tax as a graph, of which the substantial premium “is even clearer as a visual”.

Apple Tax: PC vs Max Cost Comparison Graph (from http://www.ndpta.com/files/AppleTax.pdf)

Along with the financial comparison, the white paper also discusses some of the other differences when comparing the Mac vs. PC and why Mac’s are still considered ‘cooler’ than PC.

So, why, again, was the Mac so much cooler? Oh, the CEO was a better public speaker. And? Uh, the system never crashes. Right, Windows has that, and? The plastics are prettier. Have you seen the XPS One? The Mac boots right up. That right? Shall we benchmark?

The variety?

With Windows, you get a vast ecosystem that produces form factors from the Acer Aspire One netbook to the Dell XPS One all-in-one to the HP Firebird low-profile gaming system to the high performance Velocity Micro Signature Edition.

The future?

With Macs, you’re out top dollar, but can’t get a package with all this cutting edge stuff now, nor can you add it later, which means you’ll always be behind. How cool is that? Mac users may be paying more for image than substance and investing heavily in coolness

While some of the prices quoted by the white paper may be challened, the essense of the white paper still remains. The estimated Apple Tax, dismantled pro-Mac arguments, coupled with the recent release of the ‘Laptop Hunter‘ advertisements collectively mounts and supports most of the main points when comparing Mac’s vs. PC, that you do in-fact pay for a brand and something that’s out of date tomorrow and stuck in the past.

Dell XPS M1730 – How to enable Stereo Mix

By Jake Edwards | Sunday, March 15th, 2009 | Permalink | 5 Comments

The guys over at XPS-Wiki have found a way to enable Stereo Mix on a Dell XPS M1730.

Originally, Dell reported that Stereo Mix was not enabled due to ‘hardware limitations’, however this mod provided by XPS-Wiki users (BatBoy & L33) has proved otherwise. The install process is simple too;

  1. Download the original IDT audio drivers (R196492) from Dell.
  2. Download the mod archive from here.
  3. Run the original install from Dell to extract the files, but quit the installer prior to the real installation.
  4. Locate  the extraction path.  The default is C:\Dell\drivers\R196492
  5. Depending on your system configuration, copy the appropriate files from the mod archive (32-bit or 64-bit directory) and overwrite the ones in the extraction path.
  6. Run setup.exe to perform the installation. (C:\Dell\drivers\R196492\setup.exe)
  7. Finally, reboot when the installer is complete.

XPS Wiki reported that there is 100% compatibility, but some elements of the audio driver (such as Jack detection and surround sound) don’t seem to work on my system. However I am not overly fussed, more importantly, Stereo Mix functionality is now enabled on my XPS.

Thanks XPS-Wiki for the mod :D.

PDA/Pocket PC Screen Alignment Woes – Inaccurate Taps

By Jake Edwards | Monday, September 8th, 2008 | Permalink | No Comments

A PDA or Pocket PC screen is most infuriating when the alignment goes ‘out of whack’.

I own a Dell Axim x51 and found after its year of use, the screen started to become unresponsive to my clicks, or click something on the other side of the screen – it was not fun. I used the hardware controls to run the re-allignment program and managed to get the screen in working order however this only lasted about 5 taps before the original problem returned.

After searching and searching, I discovered a well hidden post describing how the touch screen worked and possible causes of screen misalignment. As I use my PDA everyday, it usually sits in my pocket. Over the year since I first purchased it, the tiny gap between the screen and the casing filled up with ‘pocket lint’. It was described on this post that this ‘lint’ can cause the ‘digitizer’ (the hardware that reads the taps) to misinterpret a tap and report it incorrectly to the Mobile OS.

There is a solution!

The post suggested getting a piece of paper, then place one of the corners into the gap between the screen and the case, to literally push out the ‘lint’ that had built up. I was careful not to get the paper caught as a loose piece of paper would just cause more problems. Once I had gone around the entire screen, I re-run the calibration program and it worked like a charm.

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