Figured out why the wireless keyboard wasn't working: with the Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop, you plug in either the PS/2 or the USB connector, not both [unless you use the green USB to PS/2 adapter to plug the USB adapter into the mouse port]. D'oh! It's working now.
The Windows Media Center remote arrived Thursday. As it's a grey market OEM-only deal, it came in a box with no documentation. It came with an IR blaster which I don't know what to do with. Hm.
Backed up all of my old files and settings on the PC. Rebooted into the BIOS to disable the built-in sound. Turned the PC off.
The Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS card arrived Thursday - it's the first Creative product I've bought since the original Multimedia Kit from the fall of 1991. I stuck it in the PC and started it up.
Ran the downloadable driver install from Creative's Web site, but that didn't go well; it kept asking for the location of a bunch of files that I couldn't find. Canceled the install, installed from the CD that came with the card... somewhat better, but the FireWire port just can't find its drivers. They're not on the Windows XP install CD, they're not on the Creative install CD, and there's nothing on the Creative Web site. Hm.
Maybe it'll magically fix itself when I wipe the hard drive and install XP MCE 2004 next week.
One more thing about the Creative card: it theoretically has digital out and 7.1 support, but there are gotchas. The digital out port is a headphone jack, so you need to go to Radio Shack and pick up part number 42-2444A: a 1/8" mono miniplug to RCA phono plug cable. If you're lucky, your receiver will have coax [non-Toslink] digital inputs. As far as getting 7.1 analog out, good luck. There are three things that look like headphone jacks on the card; one is stereo, the other two are apparently quad [who knew?]. As there don't appear to be cables for 1/8" quad to 4x RCA cables available, the best you can get is Radio Shack 42-4551 1/8" stereo phone plug to two RCA phono plugs, which at least gets you 5.1 out - which is exactly what my setup is here at Salmonberg.
All of this cable nonsense is necessitated by the fact that I can't mess around with DVD audio formats without doing the decoding on the PC and sound card itself. I can pass through the digital audio from the DVD itself directly to the receiver, which can decode Dolby and dts, but if I want to muck around with DVD audio, I gotta decode that on the PC, hence the analog 5.1 out. If and when I get an HDTV tuner card in the PC, it seems probable that the only way I'll get surround sound from HD broadcasts would be to do the same thing.
In the meantime, Dan's ordered a 200GB Maxtor ATA-133 drive with 8MB cache; that should arrive some time next week. We're inching ever closer to getting this beast up and running; the ATI E-Home tuner card is due in on Tuesday.
OK, that's all for now. In the meantime I'm tracking what's going into this system and how much it's costing me: