Summer time is here! But not for Kiss…

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Summer time is here. At least for your clock.
Up north in Stockholm, Sweden where I live, there will be at least two more months before summer. We have had a very short winter this year and the last snow melted away a couple of weeks ago. Today the sun came out and it’s about 10 degrees celcius – if not summer then at least spring is here!

But no summer time for Kiss DP-558, my favourite piece of hitech equipment 😉
You have to manually go into setup and change time zone from CET to CEST. New this time however (maybe thanks to firmware 1.1.7?) is that I don’t have to reschedule any recordings, they change automatically.

Testing the new Kiss PC-Link 3.0

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Kiss have released PC Link 3.0 for Windows (previous version was 1.30) which I just installed and tried out for the first time. PC-Link is the piece of software that you can use to stream media files from your computer to your Kiss player/recorder. New features include Live Folders and Picture Scaling.

Live folders is adding a folder to PC-Link and whatever updates you do to that folder, ie adding and removing files, will be reflected on your Kiss DP-558 (or whatever player/recorder you have). In previous versions you had to manually update PC-Link whenever you made any changes to a folder.
The first time I tried to play some audio files from a Live Folder my DP-558 hung, but after power off/on it seems to work fine.

Picture Scaling as I understand it lets you choose what format your TV screen is – 4:3 or 16:9 – to scale your pictures to fit the screen. Funny thing is that on my 16:9 TV, when I choose the 16:9 setting it shows as a 4:3 picture and vice versa. When I try to change the setting while showing the picture on my TV screen PC-Link crashes on the PC and gives “an unhandled win32 exception” and when I restart it all settings including the files and folders I’ve added are gone.

Another new feature seem to be the New Folder button which I understand as creating a virtual folder which is only used for presentation in your Player/Recorder, where you can drag and drop folders and files without them actually being moved on your hard drive.

For some reason I couldn’t get an added .wmv video file to even show up on my player but other video formats seem to work fine, I tried vob and avi. And yes, wmv is added as an extension in the extension settings in PC-Link, another new feature which allows you to set what file extensions you wish to make visible to the player.

Be aware that the install program does not remove your old PC-Link 1.30. It removes the icons from the Start menu but does not actually uninstall it, the files are still left on your hard drive and in Add/Remove Programs in the Control Panel.

Some previous features seem to have been removed in the new version, for example: sort button, the search wizard (to find media files on your computer), displaying what Kiss-players are connected (the Info tab is gone). The Move Up and Down buttons are also gone, but you can use drag and drop to change the order of files.

Another “funny” thing is that Kiss has implemented two different user interfaces for selecting files and directories. If you press the Add Files button you get your standard Windows XP “Choose a file” dialog where on the left hand side can select Desktop, My Documents, My Computer etc but if you press Add Live Folder you get a Windows 98 style dialog where you have to work your way thru C:\Documents and Settings\Max\My Documents to get to My Documents.

These are my findings after setting it up and testing it for about 10 minutes. As usual Kiss’ product documentation sucks. And as usual Kiss don’t seem to be doing a great job at testing their software before release. Maybe they should try what most other software companies do these days – public betas.

Flight Mode, Kiss Firmware Update and a House

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Qtek 8500 Flight Mode
I just found out that my Qtek 8500 phone actually does seem to have Flight Mode (contrary to my previous post).
On the Home Screen simply navigate to the Operator and Time bar and click it. This takes you to the Comm Manager where option 1 allows you to turn off the Phone. Do I feel stupid… but happy!

Kiss DP-558 Firmware 1.1.7
After checking the Hi-Jack forum for pitfalls I upgraded my Kiss DP-558 to the new 1.1.7 firmware the other day. Seems to be working fine, I have not found any improvements or bugs. Of course the (too) superfast Fast Forward is not fixed yet 🙁

A House!
We bought a house yesterday! Of course it cost too much money and after living in apartments my whole adult life something tells me this is the beginning of a new era of constant fixing things on the house. We’re not moving in until February 2007 so I have time to adjust to that thought…
Now, anybody interested in buying an apartment?

Kiss Recording Blues

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I’m home on a quick pit stop on the six week family road trip here in Sweden. I had set my Kiss DP-558 recorder to record all my favourite shows – Rome, Into the West, 24 – while I was gone. Of course nothing got recorded, for some reason the recorder has not downloaded the recording schedule 🙁
Several weeks of episodes lost. My guess is that the recorder has lost its internet connection and I don’t think it even tries to re-establish it…

When recording a series the recording schedule is downloaded 24 hrs prior to each episode. Also the EPG only have programming available for the coming week, so the recording schedule needs to be updated several times during a long vacation. This is usually done every 15 minutes.
You can schedule recordings manually without using the EPG but for some reason repeating schedules is not a feature available on the Kiss recorder – you know the thing that’s been available since the dawn of VCRs – “record this every thursday”.

Just when I thought I had figured this machine out and even started to like it, this happens…
Well, weather is great and I still have another week of vacation, off to the island of Gotland before I’m getting back to work 🙂

P.s.
Rumour has it a new firmware – 1.1.7 – is in the works and should be available in September.

Kiss DP-558 Firmware 1.1.6 Upgrade

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The last few weeks my Kiss DP-558 video recorder has told me that I should upgrade to the new firmware 1.1.6 (1.1.5 was apparently never released).
Since my previous experiences with Kiss has been so-so, I’ve been reluctant to do this upgrade. But after spending about an hour in the Hi-Jack forum and reviewing the worst bugs (makes you wonder what kind of release testing Kiss do on their firmwares…) I decided to go for it. I’ve been running it for a few days now and so far all seems well.

Most important Good and Bad with this new firmware:
The best thing I’ve found is that the recorder now updates the EPG Web interface (EPG = Electronic Program Guide) with scheduled recordings. This means you can not only schedule new recordings from the web or your cell phone but you can also view a listing of all future recordings. Another thing I found out by accident (not sure if this is new in this firmware or if it was always there) is that if you press the Store button on the remote, the player will immediately go out and do an EPG check (no recording data is pushed to the player, it normally goes out and pulls this every 15 minutes).

Bad thing is that fast forward and rewind is broken. It used to be that you pressed fast forward once and you fast forwarded at moderate speed, press twice it got a little faster etc. up to four different speeds. This worked well. Now however fast forward and rewind is always superfast – you press once and *swish* you’re half a minute or more ahead or back in the film you’re watching. So, no more “What did that guy say? I’ll rewind and listen again”. I hope this is not a feature but a bug so it will be fixed in a future firmware release…
According to the forum there are worse bugs but I have not encountered them in my Recorder-TV-Home System configuration.

By the way, it was a long time since I had any serious problems with recordings and I’ve figured out most of my Kiss recorders peculiarities so I’m actually liking this machine more and more each day! But I’m still not ready to revise my previous “warning” post 😉

Public Warning: Kiss DP-558 Video Recorder

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I bought my Kiss DP-558 video recorder late in December last year and so far it has been a frustrating experience, even though I must admit it has not been all bad.

I made the decision to buy this player because
1) I wanted a home unit, i.e. a unit that is not noisy and always “on”, and a form factor that fit with the TV and my other VCR and Home theatre system. I did look at Microsoft Media Center that had just been released with Swedish EPG but there was no good hardware available.
2) I wanted the EPG. EPG is short for Electronic Program Guide and basically gives you the TV-listings and lets you easily program your recorder. This ruled out recorders from Sony, Pioneer etc. because none of these have EPG.

I’m not going to go thru all the problems I’ve had and still have with this machine but to sum up: It’s just not consumer ready. (If you’re a “hacker” you will probably love all the stuff you can do with it)

You don’t even get a proper manual on how to set up your machine and the on screen user interface and the remote control is all but intuitive.
Kiss has just been acquired by Cisco (and is now part of the Linksys division) so hopefully this will change in the future. And in all fairness I have to admit that when it does work well it has made my recording life much easier.

I would recommend that anybody thinking about buying this machine carefully search the net for more info on what does and does not work well with it. One good place to start is Hi-Jack’s Kiss DP-558 Forum. This forum has also helped me with figuring out a lot of issues, bugs and how to work some features.