Firewatch

Firewatch hut overlooking forest

It’s not often that I purchase a computer game spontaneously, certainly not one that I’ve never heard of. But on Friday I did just that.

On Friday I bought Firewatch on Steam.

It was the artwork that first grabbed me, stylised and beautiful. Then I watched the trailer…

Who is the guy in the other tower?! Who are the girls who’ve gone missing?

And that was me hooked!

I finished the game on Sunday evening. But this week I’m going in again…

Stream Planet Rock radio in MusicBee on your PC

Pure Evoke-1XT Marshall edition
Pure Evoke-1XT Marshall edition

I wake up most mornings to Planet Rock radio on my beloved Pure Evoke-1XT Marshall DAB radio. But that’s in my bedroom, I don’t currently have a DAB radio in my study and Screamer Radio no longer works for Planet Rock.

Which got me thinking: could I somehow convince my digital music player of choice, MusicBee, to stream Planet Rock? It seems to handle pretty much everything else I throw at it.

The answer is yes; this is how in three easy steps.

1. Find the Stream URL

The first thing to find out was obviously the URL to stream Planet Rock. Thankfully that is displayed very prominently on their listening online page. This is what they currently are (although I guess, they may be subject to change):

  • http://www.planetrock.com/planetrock.m3u
  • http://tx.sharp-stream.com/icecast.php?i=planetrock.mp3

Both work, depending on the player you use, e.g. iTunes, Windows Media Player, MusicBee, etc; I use the first one.

2. Play the stream in MusicBee

Next, we need to tell MusicBee to use that stream.

Screenshot of MusicBee menu
File > Open Stream

That’s as simple as opening the menu and selecting:

  1. File > Open Stream.
  2. Then paste in the URL and click OK.
Screenshot of dialog to enter URL
Paste the URL then click OK

This may take a few seconds while MusicBee connects to the streaming audio feed and then BINGO! you’ll suddenly be listening to Planet Rock on your PC.

Don’t go setting your watch, though, to the streamed version. It can have a few seconds delay between broadcast and it emerging from your PC’s speakers. (My PC stream is currently 1 minute 25 seconds behind my DAB radio broadcast.) This is due to the software buffering enough data to ensure continuous playback, so that if some data goes missing and has to be re-requested from the server or if there is a local data bottleneck the audio doesn’t suddenly drop out.

What’s nice is if you use the first URL (the one ending /planetrock.m3u) then MusicBee will also display the name of the track currently playing:

Screenshot showing the name of the track currently playing: Iron Maiden—Wrathchild
Now playing…

3. Save the stream as a playlist

The final thing we need to do is tell MusicBee to remember this station. It would be a bit of a hassle to have to find, copy and paste that URL every time you want to listen to the radio.

Again, that’s simple.

  1. Right-click the name of the track
  2. From the context-menu select: Send To… > Playlist > <New Playlist>.
  3. A new playlist will be created in the Playlists panel, with the edit caret waiting for you to give it a name.
  4. Enter a meaningful name, mine says Planet Rock DAB.
  5. Then press Enter to save it.
Screenshot showing how to save the playlist
Send to > Playlist >

Conclusion

That’s all there is to it.

While I usually listen to MusicBee using the compact player view, when listening to streamed radio I prefer the mini player view which also pulls in the current track’s artwork.

Screenshot of mini player view
MusicBee mini player view

Getting my Logitech F710 wireless gamepad to work with Windows 10 (and 10.1)

Logitech F710 wireless gamepad
Logitech F710 wireless gamepad

UPDATE: I’ve updated this post a little to also include information about getting this to work in Windows 10.1.


Last night I took the plunge and upgraded my desktop PC from Windows 8.1 Pro (64-bit) to Windows 10 Pro (64-bit).

The whole process took less than an hour, and as far as I could see most of my peripherals were still working after the upgrade: laser printer, scanner, webcam.

Of course, the one thing that I forgot to test were my pair of Logitech F710 wireless gamepads, which my three boys use most to play LEGO games. The controllers couldn’t be detected.

I downloaded the latest drivers from the Logitech website, which they claimed were Windows 10-compatible. That didn’t work.

There are instructions below for both Windows 10 and Windows 10.1.

F710 not working Windows 10

Here’s what I did to get them to work; I found the official Logitech forum to be very useful when I originally encountered this issue with Windows 10.

  1. Remove both nano receivers from the PC (I have mine marked 1 and 2, so I know to which gamepad they belong).
  2. Switch the gamepad to D mode.
  3. Insert the nano receiver.
  4. Windows 10 installs drivers for Rumblepad 2.
  5. Remove the nano receiver.
  6. Switch the gamepad to X mode.
  7. Insert the nano receiver.
  8. Windows 10 installs drivers for Wireless Gamepad F710.
  9. Press Windows key + Pause/Break to open System screen.
  10. Click Device Manager.
  11. Locate Wireless Gamepad F710.
  12. Right-click and select “Update Driver Software”.
  13. Click “Browse my computer for driver software”.
  14. Click “Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer”.
  15. Select Xbox 360 Peripherals.
  16. Select Xbox 360 Controller for Windows.
  17. Click Next.
  18. On the Update Driver Warning dialog, click Yes.
  19. Allow the driver to install. You should now see Xbox 360 Controller for Windows listed.
  20. (Optional: if you have more than one controller, keep the working one plugged in but now do the same, starting at step #1, for the other controller.)
Device Manager listing the Xbox 360 Controller for Windows
Device Manager listing the Xbox 360 Controller for Windows

The controller now works perfectly for me in the LEGO games. Obviously, I’ll report back if there are any further issues.

F710 not working on Windows 10.1

I also found this post, “Logitech Wireless Gamepad F710 Not Working with Windows 10“, on Superuser to be useful when trying to get this working on Windows 10.1. Their advice was as follows.

Make sure your controller is turned off and the wireless receiver is plugged-in to your PC before proceeding with the steps below:

  1. Press Windows key+X (or right-click the start menu icon).
  2. Click “Device Manager”.
  3. Find any listings of “Unknown Device” in the list of devices, likely under Human Interface Devices or Other Devices, or devices that have a yellow “!” warning icon on them.
  4. Right-click each unknown device device and select “Scan for hardware changes” and then “Update Driver Software” > “Search Automatically for Updated Driver” options before the next steps, especially if you have more than one “Unknown Device” listed.
  5. Right-click on “Unknown Device” and click “Update Driver Software”.
  6. Click the option “Browse my computer for driver software”.
  7. Click the option “Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer”.
  8. Near the bottom of the list, select the option that looks something like “Xbox 360 Peripherals” and click “Next”.
  9. From the list, select the driver option “Xbox 360 Wireless Receiver for Windows” and click “Next”.
  10. A warning will appear about the possibility of the device or your computer not working properly and likelihood of system instability. Disregard it and click “Yes” in the bottom right corner of the panel.
  11. A message should appear within a few seconds saying that the device has been correctly installed. Click “Ok” and exit out of all device manager windows.
  12. After performing these steps, power on your controller if it is not already powered on.
  13. Then press Win + R to bring up the run dialog and type in joy.cpl and click OK.
  14. This brings up the Game Controllers control panel applet. You can use this to check whether the game controllers have been identified, and if you select the game controller and click “Properties” you can test it: it will demonstrate which joysticks and buttons are being pressed.

Good luck!

Making scrollbars wider in Windows 8.1

Windows Explorer, now with wider scrollbars
Windows Explorer, now with wider scrollbars

Since last year’s dalliance with meningitis, which damaged my eyesight a little, I’ve found the standard Window scrollbars just a little too narrow for my liking.

It may only take a second or two more to adjust my mouse so that they are hovering right over them but those additional few seconds all add up. “Mony a mickle macks a muckle”, as we say in Scotland.

So last week I went looking for a way to increase the scrollbar width.

Windows 7 offers an easy way to do this within the Control Panel > Personalisation interface. Windows 8.x, however, doesn’t. You need to guddle about in the Windows Registry.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Win + R to open the Run dialog box.
  2. When the User Account Control dialog appears, click Yes.
  3. Type regedit, then click OK.
  4. Navigate to: HKEY_CURRENT_USER / Control Panel / Desktop / WindowMetrics
  5. Locate the two keys: ScrollHeight and ScrollWidth. These will both be set to -255.
  6. Change both to -375 to make them a little wider. (One site I visited recommended between -100 for thinner, and -1000 for thicker).
  7. Exit Registry Editor.
  8. Either restart the Explorer process in Task Manager, or log out and back in again, or reboot.