[Problem Solved] Audio Sync issue in WIndows 8.1 with iTunes movies and Hulu

One of the biggest things which has been a constant annoyance for me with a HTPC of late has been the gradual drift of audio getting out of sync with video. The problem always seemed to be inconsistent and I could never narrow it down to one particular thing.

Well tonight it seems like I may have had a breakthrough, and it looks like the culprit was the Realtek HD Audio Manager. It was suggested that you should disable this service starting up when Windows starts, to see if that resolved the problem.

To do this you want to;

1. Go in to the desktop mode

2. Right-click on the taskbar and bring up the Task Manager

3. Go to Startup Tab

4. Look for the Realtek HD Audio service, right click the service and select Disable.

5. Restart the PC

I didn’t think my computer was even using Realtek for the audio as it was running through the ATI card on HDMI, but it was there and it was running. I disabled the service, and then restarted the machine, and everything looked great, and still sounded the same. I subsequently tested multiple video/audio sources including iTunes and Hulu and the sync problem seemed to be solved. I was also previously running the monitor at a refresh rate of 24 Hz as that seemed to have the least issue, but as everything was working ok, I pumped it back to the preferred 60 Hz, and lo and behold the audio and video still remained in sync.

I am going to monitor it for the next couple of days, but for now all seems to be running great… happy days for this HTPC owner.

So if you are running a HTPC with Windows 8.1 and happen to have the Realtek HD Audio Manager running as a start up service, try disabling it and see if that has a positive effect on your setup.


Second screen experiences gaining traction – ideas for Marketing?

I recently received from my wife and children a Sony Playstation 4 for Christmas, well I think the honest truth of it was, I bought it and then everyone claimed it was my Christmas gift, who am I to argue?

Anyway, one of the things that really shone through as I started using and playing, was the idea of how much the “Second Screen” experience had penetrated every element of the primary experience itself. Using this new extended experience, really made me think about how this could translate in to the business sense for B2B and/or B2C marketing disciplines.

The trick here is that the Second Screen experience keeps you engaged with the primary experience, even when you cant be using it, and when you use the secondary experience, it actually impacts what your situation is in the primary experience. Sounds complicated right? Well let me give you the scenario that did it for me.

Assassins Creed 4 from UbiSoft (http://assassinscreed.ubi.com/en-US/home/index.aspx), is a fantastic game full of pirates, action, adventure and intrigue, and great story to boot… but that’s not what we are here to talk about, this ain’t a game review site. What the game actually added to the experience was a companion app that could be run on the iPad or Android devices (An example is the iOS version at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/assassins-creed-iv-black-flag/id692766233?mt=8).

This companion app lets you manage the captured ships in your fleet, send them in to battle, send them on trade routes and essentially earn money, upgrades etc. These items and cash, and the status you left your ships in, would be translated in to the game itself.

The trick with this is that it kept you constantly engaged, when you had some downtime you could always just check on the ships, make sure they are up to scratch and send them off on the next mission, and all that took a matter of seconds. The key is continual engagement, delivered in a way that you want to engage. While that is the key, the trick is the last point, “… in a way that you want to engage.”.

Now if we think about the way we engage in marketing today, we typically engage customers in a series of one off engagements, that feel just like that to the customer, a one off engagement that has little meaning in the scheme of things. What is the interest for a customer to take action on some sort of email marketing campaign, or website? Sure you might have some sort of offer that might encourage a course of action, like a discount or special offer, but its still a one time engagement.

Let’s attempt to drive the comparison here between marketing and the video games. The events or campaigns that we run are the video game on the TV, and the time in between is basically the missing component unmatched by the Second Screen experience for the game on the tablet or phone.

So maybe that’s whats missing? What are the things that marketing can encourage its customers to do between events/engagements, that would influence the next engagement, ensuring that the next experience is a better one.

Maybe what we need is someway to demonstrate the continual engagement we have had with the customer, how its benefiting them, what they can do in between, and by doing so, set an expectation on what the next engagement should be like, ensuring that the customer feels like they are in control.

That I think is key…