New Windows Home Server

After becoming increasingly frustrated with the Tranquil Home Server, I decided to de-commission it. The drivers required at install time didn’t work, and Tranquil technical support (online and via email) just didn’t work. #epicfail

Old Tranquil PC in Pieces

There is a motherboard configuration called Mini-ITX where the dimensions are 170mm x 170mm. Intel have a great board with 1Gb Ethernet, 4 USB and a PCI connector. Adding memory, a SATA HD and case: and you have an instant Windows Home Server. I used the Windows Home Server media and serial number from the Tranquil.

What I purchased:

Stuff Price
Aywun A1-8989 Cube Mini-ITX Case with 150W PSU 67.10
Western Digital Caviar GP WD10EACS, 1TB SATA HD 180.40
Intel D945GCLF2 Motherboard, Integrated Intel Atom 330 1.6GHz 128.30
Kingston 2GB PC2-6400 (800MHz) DDR2 240-pin DIMM 39.99
Total 415.79


The case:

New Server in its New Home

Building the hardware took less than 10 minutes, and the software install time (fresh) was less than an hour, including formatting the drive.

Now installed at home, repopulating the data and getting on with life. I feel way better having built this myself.

Oh, and the kittehs like the box the case arrived in:

Kitteh in Server Case Cardboard Box

Lost in FileSpace

It has been a little blogging quiet of late. Partly due to preparation for demonstrations in the next few weeks, and other email tasks.

Two major events have clouded out-of-hours productivity: The Windows Home Server crumpled with a BIOS booting error. This required getting a special USB re-setup key from the UK from TranquilPC.

Windows 7 rocks. Still cannot believe how much I can do with this beta operating system. However, the choice of partitioning the hard disk was not a wise move. Especially if you mix up your partitions the wrong way. I blame my choices, certainly not Windows 7


Windows Home Server Power Pack 1

windowshomeserver 019

Windows Home Server Power Pack 1 is now available.

Power Pack 1 fixes the data corruption bug as well as delivers significant new functionality including:

· x64 support for home computers running Windows Vista

· Home Server Shared Folder backup

· Improved remote access experience

· Improvements to power consumption and performance

· Localization support for Japan and China

Double check Tranquil PC’s web site. They say its all good-to-go

Install, restart the server as instructed.

Back on General Melchett, Install the new x64 Connector. Done.

It all works!

Windows Home Server team just ROCK!

The Windows Home Server team absolutely rock. OK, I work for Microsoft and am paid to say that.

Well, today I am on holiday. So, I am saying this as private citizen Nick Hodge.

Listening to users, researching and fixing bugs quickly; and adding requested features in an open and rapid way. This is the way to make software.

Watch Todd provide an overview of the forthcoming Power Pack 1:

Windows Home Server Power Pack Announced

My personal thanks for popping x64 client support in there.

How Windows Home Server Saved My Sanity


The recent installation of the Windows Media Center has been an ongoing major project. Apart from the physical install, there has been a a few ongoing issues:

  1. High-Definition TV “green screen of death”.
    Thanks to the Vista and XP Media Centre forum, this is a known and fixed issue. The Microsoft Hotfix is available here.
  2. Electronic Program Guide
    Attempted to install epgStream. Will install ICE.TV instead (giving a referrer to PMM!) as epgStream isn’t working the way I expected. Could be user expectation error.
  3. Noise
    Once the processor gets going, fans go on. And never seem to turn off. This is probably a BIOS tweak fix, or turn down the processor a little. A PATA drive vs. SATA drive may also be an issue, too.
  4. IPtv
    So, where is Australian IPtv? What about Australian video downloads? For that matter, what’s the story behind episode guides? This should just work.


During tweaking the server on Tuesday, I de-installed Windows Live Onecare Family Protection. Installing it in the first place might have been my error. From what I can discern, after de-installation, the remnants of a firewall was left around. 6 hours of troubleshooting later, I decided to restore a previous working version of the Media Center setup.

Thankfully, Windows Home Server had an image of an automatic backup from Monday. Process to fix:

  1. Make a Restore CD from the supplied .ISO file
  2. Reboot with Restore CD
  3. Log into the Home Server
  4. Select the image to restore
  5. 18 minutes later, reboot
  6. Back to Monday night’s Windows Media Center

Rather than stuff around for another 6 hours, restoring a known-good backup saved my sanity.

Weekend Project: Windows Media Center

Yes, I know that the correct english spelling of Center is Centre.

Windows Media Centre

Thanks to the generosity of Jeffa, I scored an old Mini-ATX case with power supply. Yeah, being the junior on the team – I get all the hand-me-downs.

Some hundreds of dollars later from AUSPCMarket, and I have my first ever:

  1. AMD based PC (AMD Athlan64 x2 6000+)
  2. Gigabyte Motherboard PC (GA-MA69GM-S2H)
  3. Self-constructed PC (only a screwdriver required)
  4. Media Center PC (Vista Ultimate)
  5. Microsoft Wireless Keyboard 8000

Not being a hardware type, the moving of cables, CPUs, fans, more cables and stuff made the physical construction a little longer than an expert. There are still some internal wiring bits to complete: hard disk light at the front and CD audio. Also missed that the our Acer LCD TV has VGA and PC Audio. The cables I purchased were not correct.

The toughest part was installing the power to the SATA DVD/CD drive, and ensuring the CD eject button had enough clearance to work.

The first PATA (this was a surprise!) hard disk was stuffed, so off to plan B with a 500Gb PATA and we’re away. The motherboard would not boot up with this hard disk attached; so the old disk is a throw away.

Using the onboard graphics and USB based TV tuner is probably sub-optimal. Need to fix these.

To add/change

  1. Dual channel PCI DVB-T card
  2. DivX support (complete at 9:40pm)
  3. TV Guide so I can record TV successfully.

Oh, and the cats love the extra space. The case and CPU are quiet and relatively cool. The cave aspect of the case make it a perfect hunting spot:


Windows Home Server. @aeoth rollies FTW!!1

@aeoth wins the small competition: Melbourne Windows Home Server-install off.

Don’t know what he’s going to win yet. Maybe a new circular saw?

Well done, dude. Good server name, too

Like to make your own Windows Home Server? David Flynn from APC Magazine in Australia has some local colour on how to. Even the Windows Home Server team have found the Aussie love for a bargain and rolling your own.

Update 15th October 2007: Ars Technica Review

I just missed out on Halo 3: 7 days in Seattle.

Qantas QF11 747-400

Rundown of a week in Seattle, and sadly a week too soon.

Halo 3 ships this week world-wide, and I missed it. However did buy some Halo 3 T-Shirts for the family.

Mushroom and Tree

Meeting up with my fellow Enthusiast Evangelists, prodding VP’s and seeing all sorts of cool things almost made up for the lack of Halo 3. Almost.

Full flight to LAX, and I think I slept most of the way. Two Arrigo-nauts collected me at SEATAC and dropped me off at the hotel in one of the new Arrigo-mobiles. Cost: two jars of Vegemite. Goes well on bagels, evidently.

Sunday: a quick shop and eat with Paul Foster. I can has iCat! Lego store Bellevue!

Frank Arrigo Signed Bear looks out the window

Monday morning on-campus. Nic Fillingham and I jumped on those shuttle buses, building to building and generally found ourselves lost on campus. Microsoft is big.

Paul Foster gets to Fry's

On the Monday afternoon before the internal meeting, Nic, Paul and I visited Best Buy, Circuit City and Fry’s (Renton). Retail therapy works on men, too. As long as it is a quick visit, quick browsing and immediate purchasing. All hunting, no gathering. Fry’s had a collection of WiFi antennas that will augment the home network through 100 year old walls. Halo 3 advertising everywhere.

Second only to Halo3 in Seattle are Starbucks. I lost count of how many I saw during the week. Starbucks is so ubiquitous, it is tough to find/get real strength coffee.

This week, it’s OJ on CNN and FOX News early in the week, drifting to Jena and Ahmadinejad in latter part of the week. It seems that these channels have hyper-competed themselves into a corner. At least CNBC and Bloomberg seem to have cool stuff on. Even a Microsoftie in Japan talking Halo 3. I knew I went to the wrong country! Oh, and the History Channel is just like Australia.

Internal meetings are usually "not my thing". I either go postal/have a brain fart (this time I reserved this for a VP) or start thumping the table. This 3 day meeting, I managed to get that out all on the first day. And seem to be keeping my job.

I have not watched Iron Chef, but did see a cook-off show in Japan. There is a restaurant in Seattle where it is a battle of the bands. Our team of EE’s lost due to the use of a former professional chef (Miel) on the other team. I must admit, the steak was almost as perfect as my mashed potatoes.

Paul's Windows Home Chocolate

Thankfully, the PopFly, Visual Studio Express, Photosynth and Windows Home Server guys all had chats with us on Days 2 and 3. The volume of cool looking and working things at Microsoft is increasing.

I have note worked out the story as Benjamin is being cagey:

News: Australia is one of the largest markets for Windows Home Server. Time to Pimp My Server, too. 🙂

I applied and was rejected from The Geek Squad

Highlight of the week: Microsoft’s Home of the Future.  Flora escorted and presented many concepts that will appear in future homes. Having been setup for some time, does the Home of the Future really foretell the future? Well, originally the Home contained a microwave oven that could scan barcodes. That product now exists on the market in the US$170. My feeling is that technology will slide into the home’s we live in today. Less Jetsons and more Smiths/Jones.

The next 6 months is going to be a little of a consolidation of my first 6 months of work. More hints/tips/howto and a fewer interview style videos.

Interestingly, I could get my phone data-synching in LAX ok via T-Mobile but AT&T in Seattle sucked. The connection kept timing out, so I was relegated to SMS/TXT. How 1997. Due to roaming costs, Windows Mobile 6.0 smartly does not automatically synch and prompts you prior to connecting. The last thing I need is an angry cost centre owner asking why my bill is thousands.

Cashed in all my QFF points and upgraded myself home. Probably not the best use of points, but I needed the sleep.

Next trip to the US: MIX08 in Las Vegas.

Other stuff I missed out on:


Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Keyboard 8000 ships this week in the US. iPod Touch not in stock at the Apple Store, Bellevue. Yes, I believe I am going to buy one as the WiFi and form-factor for browsing is intruiging.

Rock on Halo3. I’m sorry I missed you!

… oh, and I missed my cats, cars, TV and family too.

And now to lose these 2kgs I’ve seem to put on. Even eating 50% of normal volume.