Projector used as ONLY video display on a Windows desktop/mini PC says “INVALID FORMAT”

This problem is solved, but since I couldn’t find ANY mention of this specific problem or any solution to it online, I thought I’d share my solution in case it’s useful to anyone else who runs into it in the future. Everything I could find in a search was related to projectors on laptops, which negates the “projector as the only display” option since laptops by definition have a built-in display, and solutions always involved using that built-in display to fix it.

I have a mini PC hooked up to a projector for my home theater, which once upon a time ran Kodi (it’s still there but doesn’t get used much anymore) and nowadays mostly runs Firefox to view sites like Netflix, Hulu, and Crunchyroll. It boots into Ubuntu Linux by default, but it came with Windows 11 Pro on it, which basically got left there on another partition to rot after repartitioning most of the space to be used by Linux.

Well, until my son found a game on Steam he wanted to play that required Windows but performed like crap in an emulator (his laptop is a MacBook Pro). I thought “this little media PC should handle games really well, it was designed for that actually, so let’s reboot it into Windows and try it there.”

Except I couldn’t (apparently) get it to boot into Windows. After I picked Windows off the GRUB menu, the projector would switch to a message saying “INVALID FORMAT” and that was that. I hooked up an additional monitor to the media PC and tried it (the monitor I had hooked up when I initially loaded Linux on it before connecting it to the projector), and discovered it boots into Windows just fine with that monitor hooked up, and it fact, it would even run the projector fine with that monitor hooked up, too. If I did any of 1) unplugging the second monitor, or 2) telling the Displays settings to display only to the projector, then it would immediately go back to “INVALID FORMAT”.

Everything I could find online about that message seemed to indicate that the PC was trying to transmit to the projector on a resolution that it didn’t support. But in the Displays settings, it was set to one that it did support and it worked fine as long as the other monitor was connected. I was pulling my hair out for a bit.

Then as I was talking through it with a friend online, I started to wonder if maybe it was ignoring the existing settings I had for that display (which were set with another monitor present) and going back to the defaults and/or auto-detecting it wrong when the projector was by itself, and maybe those defaults/auto-detected settings were wrong. But how would I even check this if I can’t see the display to fix it?

SOLUTION: What I ended up doing was installing TightVNC Server, and then connecting to it from another computer over VNC. Then I opened the Displays settings window and watched it while I unplugged the external monitor. As expected, it switched to 480p resolution, which this projector doesn’t support (it only does 720p and 1080p). So, over VNC, I switched it back to 1080p, and the projector screen lit up with my desktop. And it survived reboot. Yay.

I did initially try to enable RDP and connect over that, since it’s built into Windows 11 Pro, but connecting over RDP would log out the console user, and wouldn’t let the remote user touch the display settings (the settings the remote user could see applied to the virtual desktop over RDP rather than the one physically connected to the computer), so VNC was the fallback, and worked fine because it mirrored the existing user’s screen instead of creating a separate login session. I just had to remember to turn them both back off afterwards.

How to write a Minecraft/Bukkit Plugin for Spigot 1.14

The Minecraft community seems to have an obsession with doing everything on YouTube.  For some people that’s great, but as someone who is already a coder and I just need to know the environment-specific details for coding for Minecraft I have a really hard time sitting through an hour of tutorial videos just to get the four things I needed to know that I didn’t already know how to do.  This is where having a text and pictures version of a tutorial comes in handy, so you can skim through it looking for the parts you still need to know, and easily skip over the stuff you already know. Another friend of mine was also recently trying to get into writing a plugin for Spigot, and everything I could find to point him at which was text-based rather than a YouTube video was very outdated, had instructions that were no longer relevant because Bukkit and Spigot and Eclipse have all evolved since then, etc.  So I figured I’d write one, and here it is!

Update: since writing this up, I discovered a very nice page on the Spigot Wiki documenting much of this, which seems to be mysteriously absent from the search engine searches I did trying to find this information (or at least ranked low enough that all the YouTube videos and a bunch of forum posts that skirt this issue outrank it). How to create a Minecraft/Bukkit/Spigot plugin on the SpigotMC website. I’m posting this anyway because I do a few things differently. Pick your flavor. 🙂

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Ubuntu is 10

I saw “Happy 10th Birthday, Ubuntu” go by in my feed today…

Today is the 10th anniversary of Ubuntu‘s first release.  This is slightly nostalgic as I was employed by them at the time.  I was actually the very first employee of MRS Virtual Development (the legal name of the entity at the time), Robert Collins (mentioned in the above-linked article) being the second. The first two things Mark wanted in his company were a good bug tracker and a good source control system.  My involvement with Mozilla as a volunteer at the time is actually how I came to be involved with it, as I’d been heavily involved with the Bugzilla bug tracking system at that point. Robert had been heavily involved with GNU Arch, an up-and-coming source code management system which was eventually forked by Canonical to become Bazaar.

The biggest thing I remember about my time working for Canonical (as the corporate entity eventually became known) was that I spent 2 weeks at a time in London approximately every 2 months.  I spent almost a quarter of that year in London.  This, of course, was pretty hard on me since it was hard being away from my family so much.

Although I thought the Ubuntu OS was a fantastic idea, and loved the way it was being built (and I still use it to this day on most of my computers), in the end, I didn’t really fit in well with the other people working on it.  Almost everyone else Mark had hired to work on it came from a Debian background, which I had had almost zero involvement with prior to this experience, and the culture was very different from anything I’d ever dealt with before.  I much preferred the culture among the volunteer community at Mozilla.  Fortunately, Firefox was released about 3 weeks later, and the Mozilla Foundation suddenly had money as a result.  I left Canonical and was hired by Mozilla the day before Firefox 1.0 released, and I am still at Mozilla today.  This means I will also be celebrating my 10th anniversary working at Mozilla in just a few weeks.

The Rainbow Bridge

Reebock: May 1994 - May 26, 2011 (17 years)

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together.

Author Unknown