- Install OEM Windows 7 software
- Install 3rd-party drivers
- Setup TeamViewer
- Setup FTP server
- Check Windows Firewall Settings
- Install Microsoft .Net framework
- Install Firefox
- Configure Firefox (Adblock)
- Install XBMC
- Setup remote control
- Install Google Music Manager
- Install Deluge
- Configure XBMC Add-ons
- Install and configure LCD drivers
- Program LCD drivers for XBMC events
- Add Netflix and Hulu to XBMC
Building Project Magnavox into a genuine all-in-one entertainment system is more than just being able to access all my videos, music, and streaming media on one device. To round-out the feature set, we need to take a page from Microsoft’s playbook and add videogames to the mix. Granted, I could install all my game consoles underneath the television, but that takes up more room than I actually have in my small apartment. Besides, outside the aesthetic benefits of having a veritable museum in my living room, it’s frankly more trouble than it’s worth to rig the wiring, route the cabling, and squint at a screen stretched beyond its original aspect ratio. As awesome as James Rolfe‘s basement is, until I have my own library, I’d like to keep my setup as space-efficient as possible.
This leaves me with one of the most polarizing concepts in classic gaming: emulation.
Now, I’m no stranger to the debate, and let me first say adamantly that it is the opinion of this reporter that, legally speaking, you may make backup copies of software that you have legitimately obtained for personal use [emphasis added]. This is the only application that we will be dealing with here. Secondly, I advocate for emulation in this sense because it does make playing the games much easier and convenient, contributing to my own enjoyment. Thirdly, the so-called “collector’s market” has driven the prices for games through an unsustainable ceiling, and because young millennials would like bragging rights by being able to “own” a copy of a particular game, all the carts and discs worth playing have been bought up only to appear on eBay at ten times or more their original price. Much like the market for vinyl has all-but ruined the casual collection of original-run albums, the market for cartridges and discs has similarly eroded the enjoyment from the hobby.
Enter Libretro, a handy piece of software that seeks to pull as many different emulator “cores” into one central application, running almost any classic game as close to original quality as possible in a convenient package. The Libretro API uses a custom front-end called RetroArch to set up and run the roms for each emulator core. The pair are installed simultaneously as a package, and each core is installed as an add-on from within RetroArch itself.
To install RetroArch in Windows, simply download the latest stable RetroArch build from the website, then unzip the downloaded file to the location of your choosing. If you’re still running Windows 7 (because fuck Windows 10), you may run into a missing file error. Specifically, you may be missing d3dx9_43.dll from the DirectX runtime, so you should follow my instructions for fixing that error here.
That’s it! RetroArch is completely self-contained and should run without incident. Use the arrow keys, Z, and X for most of the navigation (you’ll see a control map on first run), download an emulator core from the Online Updater menu, open your freshly-dumped roms, and get playing!
Now, you have to specifically research every update that gets pushed to your Windows 7 or 8 machine before you install it to make sure it doesn’t contain
malware new features!
“I have altered the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further.” –Darth Nadella?
“There is no such thing as a free lunch” has been the mantra of those cynical about the true cost of ‘free’ Windows 10. But as Microsoft increases pressure on users to upgrade, it turns out the real cost of Windows 10 lies somewhere far less expected…
The biggest problem with an HTPC is tinkering around “under the hood” as you generally have to crane your neck and strain your eyes to read the teeny-tiny type that is intended to be seen on a desktop monitor. Windows was never intended to have such a 10-foot interface, but you can build some resemblance to it using standard controls built into the OS.
In the Control Panel, choose “Appearance and Personalization”, then click “Display”. Here you can set the standard size for all objects within Windows, including icons and text. I like to use a custom setting of 175% as it is slightly clearer and far more comfortable to read than the text at 150%. Click the “Apply” button when you have the settings the way you like them, then click the back button to return to the Appearance and Personalization section of the Control Panel.
Now, choose “Personalization”, then click “Change mouse pointers” from the left sidebar. The dropdown menu in the Mouse Properties dialog allows you to select from different pointer schemes that will prove to be easier to see from across the room. I like the “Windows Aero (extra large)” scheme as it matches the rest of my OS setup and is available by default. Click the “OK” button, then close the Control Panel window.
I’ve been using this setup for a few weeks now, and it has at least saved me the headaches that come solely from eye strain when working on the VCR. Now, if I can get that IR issue worked out….
I did a dumb thing the other day: I was playing with a new Bluetooth headset on the VCR and trying to set up the sound output so I wouldn’t disturb a sleeping Barbie with some late-night A-Team viewing. To get the sound pushed through to only the headset, I opened the playback devices dialog under the sound options and disabled the HDMI out.
POOF! The device disappeared from the list!
Now, I admit that I’m not the savviest person when it comes to Windows 7 (I write a lot of these how-tos as a guide to myself–“I scour the help fora so you don’t have to!”), but this had me boggled; I could not figure out how to reactivate the device! A quick DuckDuckGo search revealed the answer, though.
In the device list, right-click the blank space in the panel and choose the “Show All Devices” option.
Whoomp, there it is.
EDIT 1/16/2017: Commenter Anony Mous (haha, well done) has confirmed that the HP drivers work with the Insignia Bluetooth adapter as well. I have both the Lenovo and the HP copies of the drivers mirrored here.
EDIT 12/29/2016: Commenter Angry Dude has found a mirror for an older driver at Lenovo’s website. Give it a try for now until a proper solution is found.
EDIT 12/13/2016: It seems that Broadcom has pulled the Windows 7 driver for this device. I will investigate and update as I find more information!
This is more for future reference than anything considering it comes with paper instructions to download some software and does not come with a disc. Welcome to the future!
- Plug the adapter into a free USB port.
- Download the driver and software from
- Install the driver and restart the computer when finished.