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Quick Link Toss: Martin’s Photos October 11, 2017

Posted by Steven in Freetime.
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Here are the Link to Martin’s Fotocommunity portfolio + website:

Always great places to wander around and check out gorgeous photos. I see a lot of portraits and artistic blacks and whites there.

 

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German consumer advice center offers portal for shipment issues December 12, 2016

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It’s Christmas time and thus the biggest period for retail and online retail. In case of online retail this also means extreme traffic on the logistics and shipment services industry. I myself have experienced an increasing amount of hick-ups even with large companies like DHL. Thus this portal might be a good idea to keep in mind. It promises to analyze and list the issues in a neutral way and also outlines that companies will be approached with the list of issues and a request for comment.

https://www.verbraucherzentrale.de/paket-aerger

Playstation Vita Error C2-12828-1 Help April 2, 2016

Posted by Steven in Freetime, gadgets, The-Web.
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Always on the road I really enjoy a casual mobile gaming experience. Of course a tablet and a smartphone is great for gaming. But I do use a Nintendo 3ds and a Playstation Vita every now and then.

Recently though I ran into a strange issue while playing ‘Uncharted Golden Abyss’ on my Playstation Vita.

While using the game and occasionally while booting up the game I received a tough error and the game would crash.

The Error Code: C2-12828-1

Time to find a solution.

Unfortunately the official Playstation Support Site is not of much help. Really misleading it describes a NAT / networking / demilitarised zone issue: http://community.eu.playstation.com/t5/PS-Vita/Fixing-the-Error-c2-12828-1-issue-on-your-Vita/td-p/15328217
But I don’t believe this C2-12828-1 is a networking issue at all.

From my experience with the issue (very random occurrence, usually involving large chunks of data being loaded, game-brraking) I do not believe it is networking related at all.

I would rather side with the other sources I’ve found on gamefaqs and reddit and the like. There you read a lot of warnings that this bug might get worse over time and it might destroy download data and save data. As in my experience game crashes are mentioned and worse: random shutdowns of the whole system. From all these reports this seems to be a nasty memory/file system error. The Vita uses a proprietary file-system plus heavy encryption. Something along side of heavy use, constant Vita-standby-mode and quick switching between big games may case defects in memory which worsen over time due to read/write activity. Ultimately the whole partition gets damaged and a Vita showing this bug should not be used but rather should be ‘fixed’ quickly. So how could this bug be fixed?

Fix

Based on: http://www.gamefaqs.com/boards/656455-madden-nfl-13/64026055
In short the only known fix is to backup the data of your Vita and then thoroughly wiping and rebuilding the console’s memory and then restoring.

Prerequisites for the fix:

  • Vita System and Data Cable
  • Sony Content Manager Assistant software for Windows or Mac
  • Free space on your PC/Mac (if you have a 16GB memory card the. At least 16GB free)
  • time and patience

 

Steps to fix C2-12828-1 :

  • Delete all games and apps you no longer need
  • Sync trophies / save-data with PSN server and do a full backup of your Vita using Content Manager Assistant. Basically hook up the Vita with a PC running Content Manager Assistant and copy over everything.
  • Remove any game card from the system.
  • Turn Vita off completely -> turn Vita on in SAFE MODE -> using Power button, PS button + R trigger to start it up.
  • At SAFE MODE screen select option (3) to Format Memory Card
  • Afterwards turn Vita on in SAFE MODE again, and select option (4) to Restore PS Vita System
  • Once again, get your Vita back to SAFE MODE and select option (2) to Rebuild Database
  • Turn your Vita on regularly and it should look fresh again. Icons everywhere. Don’t bother with changing any settings as the backup has it all; though you will have to re-arrange icons. At this point, go into Settings -> Format -> Format Memory Card (one last time).
  • Then get back to Settings and connect the Vita to your usual internet connection and sign in to your PSN so that it is authenticated.
  • Open Content Manager application on the Vita and Restore From Backup – connect to where your backup is stored.
  • After all is done, the icons are shufffled so get them re-arranged, make sure your time is set right using the internet

For some games the data was apparently so corrupted so it could not be restored. This happened for round about 5 out 30 games. I re-downloaded these games and downloaded save-data from PSN.

After all that was done, I was able to use my Playstation Vita as expected. The whole procedure especially re-downloading some larger games was cumbersome but in the end I seem to have a stable system now.

Spring Deals Fitness First – The Word is out and it’s Cheaper April 30, 2014

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banner02

Without a long introduction.. as mentioned between 30th April and 8th May there seem to be certain discount code / vouchers available. All details below.

fifis2014-platinum

 

fifis2014-lifestyle

 

fifis2014-women

 

fifis2014-blacklabel

 

fifis2014-kurse

 

fifis2014-detailp1

 

fifis2014-detailp2

 

fifis2014-detailp3

 

fifis2014-detailb1

 

fifis2014-detailb2

 

fifis2014-detailb3

Spring local fitness deals are scheduled: 30.04.2014 April 29, 2014

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ffirst-offerSpring-2014-a001

As in past years.. the local discount dealer seems to have a spring fitness sale and a autumn fitness sale scheduled. FitnessFirst membership accounts may get reduced as much as 30-40%. Usually the process makes you pay in advance and then print out a voucher / Gutschein and then you go into the gym and get your regular contract without any further costs.

I will be posting regular updates regarding the current details and process segments.

 

Picking up on places to go to: Frankfurt Maxie Eisen January 22, 2014

Posted by Steven in Freetime, In-Media, Places.
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Places Illustration

Recently brought to my attention: Apparently the New York Times mentioned in a segment tagged places to go 2014 the NYT mentiones Frankfurt Germany on position 12.

Explicitly they seem to be excited about the renewed trendiness of the “Bahnhofs”-quarter. Maxie Eisen is mentioned as a deli style café and a buzzing bar at night.

https://www.facebook.com/maxieeisen

That place totally seems worth a look. Also mentioned is the Pan-Asian restaurant Moriki and Spanish inspired place Lamoraga. I passed by both of these places recently and they totally seem over-hyped.

Silverlight / AMD Catalyst Issue – Graphics device’s driver certificate is invalid 6036 January 4, 2014

Posted by Steven in Freetime, In-Media.
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Silverlight-Issues

Once again a story of woe. With regards to my secondary PC/entertainment setup I outlined here, that I had basically two important needs: I need to have a fitting picture for my Toshiba HDTV = needing a graphics driver to set underscanning / scaling to 0 and I need a perfect software/driver setup so I can instantly watch DVB-T television. Okay with my very specific setup between the “right” AMD Catalyst Driver and all the other software I have achieved these two needs.

Now slowly a third need emerged. Not quite as high priority but well. I recently tried out watchever.de and now I am trying lovefilm.de. Both are Video on Demand services extremely similar to netflix or hulu plus. Both services use a Silverlight player with heavy DRM measures.

And the basic issue now is: Something is wrong in the setup between Silverlight, my PC, the graphics driver or any other component that has a part in playing a video.

I have tried all the suggested steps to fixing faulty silverlight playback. A lot of websites are mentioning something like this:

Well none of these common techniques helped in my case. I must also mention in Watchever there was no specific error message. But fortunately in Lovefilm something was shown. It reads:

Title not available. System Exception: 6036 An Error has occurred.

Well that is at least something. If you read up on it.. Microsoft is clearly saying something is wrong on the DRM side. In fact the specific description of 6036 on Microsofts Dev Net reads:

Graphics device’s Driver Certificate is invalid.

Oh man. Other people say that the encrypted (HDCP) path between graphics card and Screen/HDTV is not valid or there is something wrong in that line of encryption. I quickly verified that my system is generally fully HDCP compliant by using the Cyberlink BD 3D Advisor. It’s a handy utility which checks pretty much everything related to Blu-Ray playback on your PC (and HDCP and driver stuff is an important part of it). Well no issue here on my PC.

So graphics driver.. I use the AMD Catalyst Package 12.10 for my Radeon HD 6800. Should be okay. Quick web search: I am not the only one having this issue. It really seems some messy dirty corner between the AMD driver and Silverlight. Somehow causing the Silverlight DRM stuff to thing there is something wrong and playback should not start. Absolutely horrible. I poked around tried some stuff (i.e. reinstalling Playready components and reinstalling Windows Media Player none of which helped!).

So for now the only Solution I found: uninstall the Catalyst Drivers for example with the build in installer or with the AMD Cleanup Utility. Once completely uninstalled restart your system and then open Lovefilm Netflix or whatever. Voila the Video plays with no issue. But: of course with no proper AMD driver (maybe Windows picked some generic driver or you are just seeing some sort of 800x resolution). Just for fun I tried a lot of Driver combinations Catalyst 11.5 – 13.3 but none of these would work for me.

So summary: If you have the 6036 issue – All the web seems to know right now is that it’s an issue. If you’re really desperate you can uninstall the driver and the Silverlight DRM videos will play. But with no proper graphics drivers this is not a permanent solution rather a quick fix.

Graphics Driver Woes January 2, 2014

Posted by Steven in Freetime, gadgets.
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I want to properly record my classic “PC” experiences over the last couple of hours.

I have a rather special entertainment setup in my other small city apartment. I use VLC and Windows Media Center on a mid-range Windows 7 PC hooked up to a good Bose soundsystem and a big simple HDTV. So quite coincidentally I was given an even bigger simple HDTV from my family. It happened to be a nice Toshiba -40inch L2 series screen.

This little upgrade meant, that for the first time I was able to hook everything up to the TV using HDMI connections.

And here the trouble started. When I simply plugged the HDMI cable into PC and HDTV I saw an image. So far so good. The PC set the correct resolution but on the HDTV the image did not fill the whole panel. About 2cm on each side of the panel were left black. This also resulted in text being muddy (I guess when the PC generated image is lets say 1920 pixel wide and somehow on the LCD Screen it gets shown only on like 1400 pixels wide things must get muddy).

I was really not satisfied with that and in good old Windows 3.1 manner I poked around and during that poking found out my graphics driver was not up to date. So I updated the AMD Catalyst driver package to the then latest version (13.9). The pure update itself however did not resolve the issue.

I googled around and I found this nice tipp. There it is mentioned that the Catalyst Control Center has dedicated Flat Screen options where you can scale the image and specify desired over / underscan. Indeed I was able to locate this setting and when set to 0% overscan and using the TV’s setting “picture size – native” (not movie or wide screen) then the picture seemed perfect!

HDTV Image scaling / AMD overscan problem solved. But it left me still wondering: who’s fault was it? Is it a strange setting embedded in AMDs graphics cards? Or set by AMDs software i.e. Catalyst Control Center? Or is it the Toshiba TV that somehow reports some strange data and the image gets somehow scaled? Mhh who knows but given my next experience I suspect AMD Software to be the culprit.

So with the one problem solved and with super new drivers installed all should have been well – but I noticed another very strange issue. Again a bit of back-story: In the PC I use a TV card for occasional TV viewing pleasure in Windows Media Center. The model I employ is a Terratec Cinergy PCIe Dual DVB-T Card. Up to now it always worked nicely and Terratec provides simple 32 and 64 bit drivers for Windows 7. In terms of other software I really just use Windows Media Center. It’s decent for quickly jumping into a TV show (with EPG data provided) and to record a movie etc.  So enough back-story. With this setup usually working flawlessly I now noticed, that each time when I open Windows Media Center and turn on live TV then the sound would come on (from the TV show) but there was no image. After about 30 seconds of Audio-Only Playback, the playback would stop completely. The ad-hoc “fix” for this strange issue is even stranger: I just needed to change the channel and then back for example and then there was image and sound for my TV programming. Given that this mid-range entertainment setup really doesn’t have to do much (boot up play a h.264 file, play a tv show, browse the web, shut down) I was disappointed but these new glitches.

I googled around again. Interestingly I found reports that people experience similar issues while just being upgraded to a super new NVIDIA graphics driver. So wait a minute.. didn’t I just update my AMD Catalyst driver? Oh man. So I quickly tried out the driver roll-back Device Manager function on my AMD Radeon HD 6800. And voila the Media Center TV stuff worked again flawlessly. But guess what happened: Windows rolled back to a Microsoft driver and there was no Catalyst Control Center anymore. Meaning: Toshiba’s LCD in combination with the Radeon card would do that nasty underscan thing again and my PC image is not filling the LCD properly again.

Not good.

So I spare you the next 2 hours of poking around. So what I basically needed was: some version of AMDs drivers and Catalyst Control Center where I could set the underscan / scaling to 0 – but the driver must not be so new that it shows the Media Center issue (or TV card driver combination what-not-issue).

My technique to achieve that in short was:

  • making sure that all new / old bits of AMDs software = AMDs CCC were removed from my PC
  • I used AMDs Cleanup Utility – which unlike the regular uninstallers and Windows functions I tried – seemed to fully remove AMDs stuff from my system. Sadly this tool seems no longer actively being supported by MAD. Oh well.
  • Then I installed version 12.10 of AMDs Catalyst package
  • And voila now I was able to disable underscan and I can comfortably watch TV again – weeehhhh what a hassle it’s been

So in short: just plugging in my AMD driven PC into my Toshiba LCD results in a stupid looking image. One needs to flip switches in AMDs software to make it work. However new AMD software breaks features along with my TV card / Windows Media Center. All this causes trouble and long long research sessions jumping from Windows resources to AMD resources to Terratec resources and so on. All that in the light of my really simple consumer goals (watch a bit of TV and use a bigger LCD). Horrible. And an absolute stellar example why I am really moving more towards Apple. This PC and driver stuff is so endlessly complex and even for simple tasks there are so many points where things can go wrong. Drivers, connections, updates and so many different manufacturers. Really bad. I like my Windows stuff but please dear AMD,,, dear PC industry get it together and put functioning well working parts that function as a whole out there!

Excitement x 170.000 July 14, 2013

Posted by Steven in Freetime, In-Media.
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For the first time ever.. I will be attending a big festival.. I will actually camp in site for three full days. Everybody recommended Tomorrowland.. so this is what we will do.

Only two more weeks and round about 170.000 people to go. I am getting excited.

Anyone who has any festival survival tipps.. leave’em in the comment.

 

Skyfall Fever / Royal Doulton Bulldog November 6, 2012

Posted by Steven in Freetime, In-Media, Wishlist.
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Spoiler Alert! Nowadays everyone is talking about “Skyfall” the Sam Mendes incarnation of the 23rd James Bond mission. After some hardships I was able to check out this movie. It is well made and very entertaining. It is not groundbreaking but it is a very nice firework of images and good old cool James Bond wit and action. Whether you expect the shaken Martini, beautiful women or magnificent action scenes.. you will not be disappointed.

With the gifting season upcoming – I would like to focus on a neat little Bond prop that you may want to check out. The vintage Royal Doulton Bulldog.

But first let’s explore how this collectible comes to fame during the movie.

After returning from an important meeting M (played by Judy Dench) and her aide Bill Tanner (played by Rory Kinnear) must stop due to some police action on the Vauxhall Bridge shortly before the MI6 headquarter. In the meantime MI6 is under some sort of cyber-attack and just when M gets out of the car an explosion occurs in the headquarter. The explosion’s focal point is right where M’s office is.

Later in the movie M talks to James in new underground offices of MI6.

During the talk James makes a joke.

J: How come your office gets hit by an explosion and all that survives is that ugly piece. (he points to the bulldog which decorated her desk before and is now present on her new replacement desk as well)

M: I have always appreciated your decorating advise.

Much later during the movie Bond meets Eve somewhere downtown London. Eve mentions that M’s will was read and she hands him a box which M wanted him to have.

Bond opens the box and finds the bulldog inside. He smiles and notes that this does not mean he should work behind a desk. In fact, he supposes it means the opposite.

Now I find that symbolism surrounding the bulldog quite intriguing. And the best part is: It is quite a cute little object and you can order it directly at the Doulton website. So here you find the perfect Christmas present for Bond lovers.

Bulldog at the Royal Doulton Website…

Wunderbar June 29, 2012

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Ouh no! We are back. Back from amazing and wonderful 8 days on Ibiza! And being back doesn’t feel right. This was really one of the best (if not the best) holiday in my life. It was a ride. A rush. Amazing people.. such a good mood.. such a positive spirit. Really everything was perfect.

I am missing the guys I am missing the villa and I even miss our stray cat gavin.

My smile goes down and I am sad when I am thinking about the grey everyday now. I want to be back on amazing Ibiza with my amazing friends. Let’s do this again. Let’s travel together again soon! Lov to you guys!

Tranquil Soundtrack of the Weekend May 25, 2012

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Well we have the long memorial day ahead of us and what better could there be than a good tranquil moby soundtrack to go with it? Here we go:

 

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