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Xbox 360 Freezing When Using the Network Connection

The Simpsons Special Edition Xbox 360

Doh!  My Xbox hates the internet.

The title pretty much says it all.  I have diagnosed my Xbox 360 freezing problems down to the network connection.  Any activity that uses the network connection will freeze my Xbox.

At first I thought it was Xbox Live activity that was freezing the Xbox since I am always connected to Xbox Live.  I tried going offline and it seemed to be ok.  As soon as I tried Media Center it would freeze.

I tried clearing the hard drive cache based on what I found online and what Xbox Customer support emailed me.  That didn’t work either but the Xbox worked great as long as the Cat5 was not connected.

I then tried removing the hard drive and playing games.  That worked great so I connected the cat 5 and tried to connect to Media Center and it froze again.

So basically the Xbox works great with no Cat5 connected and freezes consistently with Cat5 connected.  If I cannot get on my network and on Xbox Live this thing is basically a paper weight.

There has to be something that can be done.  I am going to test my friends Xbox on the network tonight to see if it is my network or the Xbox.  There has to be something that can be done to fix this that does not involve me spending any money or sending it to Microsoft.

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My Xbox 360 is dying

A XBOX 360 showing the Ring of Death.

Image via Wikipedia

I do not know what happened to my Xbox 360 this past weekend.  On Friday it just started acting up and freezing on me.  It did not just freeze once and then start working again.  It is now freezing up every time I turn it on after about 5 minutes of ANY activity (playing games, Netflix streaming, navigating the dashboard, Media Center).

This Xbox is actually a refurbished Xbox after my original Xbox 360 that I camped out for on launch day back in 2005 died with the dreaded Red Rings of Death.  Its showing all the signs of another red ring but has yet to actually red ring.  Because of that it is not covered under the extended warranty and would actually cost my $100 to get it repaired.  $100!  A new arcade unit cost $200 and would have HDMI and a better motherboard.

I wish I could just go to Best Buy and pick up another one but I just can’t afford to do that right now.  My other option is to use a Linksys DMA extender but I only have two and they are in use in other rooms.  I guess I may have to hit up eBay and Craigslist to find an extender.  Of course what I really want is a working 360!!!

This blows……..

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Tuning Adapter Operational

My tuning adapter is finally operational.  I tried changing the configuration of my cable splitters and that seemed to have no effect.  I have been getting very frustrated and now all this morning my tuning adapter is working again.

I think I know what the solution was but I am cannot say with 100% confidence until I do some more tests.  Thanks to a comment from John on my last post I tried changing the USB cable.  The USB cable I had on there before is a long one that I just had in my “box of cables” that allowed me to put the tuning adapter where I wanted it to go.  Based on John’s suggestion I swapped the USB cable for a few others I had laying around and the last one seemed to work.  I am not sure what’s special about it either.

So I am going to run some more tests to try and get a definitive answer.  In the meantime, if you have a tuning adapter that looks like it’s close to working try a different USB cable and even a different USB port on the PC to see if it helps.

Stay tuned.  More to come.

My Tuning Adapter Got Mad and Left Me

I have had two tuning adapters working perfectly for about a month now and in the past few days one of my tuning adapters decided to call it quits.  I am not sure what is going on since almost all of the appropriate status indicators are correct in the diagnostics screen.  Unfortunately it will still not go through final authorization and become operational.  This is what I see on one of my tuning adapters now:

TA Error

It used to say: Tuning Resolver is operational.  Not sure what happened at all.  The TA is on a splitter with the other adapter and it’s still working fine. 

The TA’s usually either work or do not work so I went to my local Time Warner office and switched it out today to see if I could get one working.  I came home and hooked it up only to see the same result.  I’ll keep working on this as I know that some others are having the same issue.  As soon as I get a repeatable resolution I will post it for everyone.

TV Tuners have gone missing! (Or have they?)

Over the past few days I have had a very strange occurrence.  I would try to tune in Live TV and instead of live TV I would see the following screen:

Searching for TunersFor some reason Media Center could not find my tuners.  I checked my tuners to see if they were still listed in Device Manager and they were.  I tested my HD Homerun tuners and the TV signal was still coming in.  So what could be the problem?

Next I checked my history  under recorded TV for the shows that did not record and saw the following error message: “The Windows Media Center Receiver service stopped responding.”  Now I had something to go on.  I tried restarting the service and it would not restart.  I then killed the process and restarted the service and like magic everything was working again.

I have no clue as to what happened.  There is nothing that I can point to as recent software install/update.  Looking at Windows Update there was an update on October 21 that may have something to do with but I am not sure.

I searched on the Green Button and it looks like I am not the only one seeing the problem.  There is a possible solution in the post.  I tried it out and not it’s just a wait and see.  Anyone else seeing this?

UPDATE:  Looks like I forgot to include this link in my original post: http://thegreenbutton.com/forums/p/78070/390896.aspx

Windows Update May Have Killed My Tuners

Last night before I went to bed I noticed that there was a new Windows Update waiting for me.  It was KB974431.  I installed it and woke up to a Media Center that had now idea that TV tuners were attached.  I tried uninstalling the update but the problem continued.  The only way for me to fix it was to redo my TV setup which was not ideal since I have really customized my guide and I did not want to set up all of my series recordings again.  Of course without TV tuners I cannot record.  Very weird!!

Mencoder Proper – Encoding Quest Over

For the past few weeks I have been posting about “My Encoding Quest”.    The genesis of the posts was my desire to re-encode HD MKV files into native Media Center DVR-MS files while retaining the same video and audio quality.  Well the quest is over and the result is a program that I wrote called MencoderProper.  This post is a history of everything that led to this point while a cross post over on EngadgetHD will show you the best way to use it.

I originally had a multi-step manual process that used Transcode360 and MKV2VOB.  I would convert the MKV to an MPG using MKV2VOB, then play the MPG in Media Center using Transcode360, and  finally converting the Transcode360 cache file to DVR-MS using VideoRedo.  If it sounds complicated its because it is complicated.  At the end of the day though it worked.

After updating to Windows 7 I found that Transcode360 was no longer working and therefore neither was my conversion process.  I had always intended to find a better way of converting my MKV’s and now I finally had the proper motivation.

After doing some research into trying to get Transcode360 to work, I realized that I really did not care for the streaming capability of Transcode360.  I only wanted the encoding portion which Transcode360 offloaded to Mencoder.  The key that made Transcode360 work where other options had failed was that it had programmatic way to determine the best Mencoder command line options for the particular video you were trying to encode.  Luckily for all of us, Transcode360 is open source and the code is available.

So inspiration hit and I thought, “Why don’t I just modify the portion of the code that calls Mencoder for my purposes.”  It was also during this time that Ben Drawbaugh from EngadgetHD posted his tutorial explaining how to get MKV TV shows into Media Center.  I read the instructions and tried to use the same steps for my MKV files instead of going down the longer road of writing my own code.  Unfortunately it did not work and created files with incorrect aspect ratios.

After that failure MencoderProper was born.  I wrote a wrapper application that calls Mencoder properly (hence the name).  Originally it was built to use from the command line but the fates aligned and Ben and I actually started working together and merged both of our projects.  Now MencoderProper is built into and distributed as part of latest release of DVRMS Toolbox (1.2.1.8) and I finally have the 1-click conversion process I have always wanted.  Point DVRMSToolbox at any MKV and it will convert it to DVR-MS at full resolution with the correct aspect ration and perfect AC3 5.1 surround sound.  No problems with extender support and you have full rewind and fast forward capability.

Ben has a post on EngadgetHD with a great “how-to” guide.  Go read it and enjoy what I think is the solution for converting MKV’s for Media Center.  If readers are interested in the details of MencoderProper I will write the post.  Also please provide any feedback or issues that you find in the comments section.  Now that this is finally out I can get back to a regular posting schedule.