Archive for the 'Windows Media Center' Category

Ripped DVD’s + WHS + Extender + DVD Library = Greatness!

The holy grail for many of us Media Center enthusiasts has been to be able to play our DVD’s on an extender. Up until recently this has been a pipe dream because of DRM restrictions. Now, using a combination of programs this is entirely possible and quite painless. 

First off here is what you absolutely need – DVD Transcoder 

Now here are the other things I will be using in this tutorial that just make things easier – WHS Machine, My Movies for WHS 

I know what some of you are thinking, “I have seen the transcoder file for free online, why should I pay $40″? Trust me on this, just pay the money and make your life easier. So on to the tutorial: 

First off download and install DVD Transcoder. You should now have the option for DVD Library next to Recorded TV. When you first go in you will not see any movies, you will need to hit “More Info” on your remote and Click “Add Movies”. 

After this you can choose to add movies on the Media Center PC or from another computer. I keep all my DVD on my WHS machine so I chose another computer. On my WHS machine the DVD’s are stored in a folder called DVD’s that resides in the Videos folder so on the next screen this is the folder I told DVD Library to watch. 
After this your movies you have stored in the location(s) that you have told DVD Library to watch will automatically show up and are available for viewing the only problem is that they do not contain the cover art or metadata about the movie, this is where My Movies comes in. 
I downloaded and installed My Movies for WHS on my WHS machine. The nice thing about this program is that it will automatically find and import the album art and metadata for any movie in the folder you specify that it should watch. The one thing to note is that you will have to register for the My Movies Forums to get a username and password to access the online service My Movies uses to retrieve the movie information. Once you have registered and activated your forum username and password simply put them in where the program asks for the “Web Service Account” and click Login. To get to this screen you will need to open your WHS console, click settings and select My Movies in the left hand pane. 
Next you will need to enable folder monitoring. While still in the WHS settings screen click My Movies Monitor from the left hand pane. In this screen you can tell My Movies what folder to monitor (Videos\DVD’s in my case) and start the monitoring service. Once you click “Start” and the monitoring service starts you can close out your WHS console, we are done here. 
Sweet, so now anything that was already in the folder where your DVD’s are stored will automatically be found and anything that you copy over to the folder will be automatically added. Great stuff, but why is the information not showing up in DVD Library? Well we need to install the My Movies connector on the Media Center PC. To do this open up the Software folder on your WHS machine and navigate to the My Movies folder, there you will see the My Movies connector. Copy this to your desktop (you can’t run it from the WHS folder) and run it. You will have to put in the name of your WHS machine and then choose if you want a local copy of the metadata or if the Media Center PC should look at the WHS machine for it. In my case I told the connector to look to the WHS machine. That’s it, now all your existing movies will have cover art and metadata and any new movies you copy to your DVD folder will also automatically have this information found and added. Pretty slick if you ask me. Except for one thing, the metadata is not yet showing up on the extenders. To fix this we need to create symbolic links. I could explain this but instead I will provide a link where it is already explained, simply follow the following link and scroll down to the section labeled “Automated: Create Symbolic Link(s)”. Thanks to Ian Dixon for explaining this. 
Now after all our hard work (not really, but you can make your significant other think so and get some lovin) we end up with this on our extenders, and the best thing is when you click play the movie will actually play! 

posted by Jeff in Media Center,WHS,Windows Home Server,Windows Media Center and have Comments (6)

What are your TV tuners doing?

Sometimes you have a problem tuner other times you may just be bored and curious, but either way here is how you can pull up “debugging” info on your tuners in VMC or Windows 7 MC.

While at your computer and watching live TV simply hit the “H” key.

While watching live TV through an extender or when you don’t have access to a keyboard type in the sequence “4, 1, 1, More Info Button” on your remote.

Either way you can then go left or right to see all the various debugging info, very useful for troubleshooting a particular tuner.

posted by Jeff in Hardware,Media Center,Tuner,Windows Media Center and have No Comments

FM Radio Works Again

One thing I was really disappointed in when I picked up my Cable Card Vista Media Center system was the fact that when you use the ATI DCT’s FM Radio in MCE no longer worked. TV Pack fixed this so if you have a DCT machine and miss FM install the TV pack, slap an old analog tuner with a FM input in the machine and get ready to be able to Rock & Roll again.

posted by Jeff in Cable Card,DCT,Digital Cable Tuner,Media Center,Tuner,Windows Media Center and have No Comments

A Dirt Cheap QAM Tuner For Media Center

I picked up an ASUS Combo 210e tuner card for $38. Out of the box it does not support Clear Qam in MCE but all you need to do is use the VistaView drivers and patch available at the following link:

Sweet! I can pick up 4 of these for the price of a HD Homerun.

posted by Jeff in Hardware,Media Center,QAM,Tuner,Windows Media Center and have Comment (1)

Why I Love The Media Center TV Pack!

There have been many people not happy with this release but in my opinion it is a nice incremental release.

First off QAM is big. Add to that the ability for MCE to FINALLY realize that Fox through my DCT is the same thing as Fox through ATSC is the same thing as Fox through QAM and map them all to the same channel. Now instead of having Fox as channel 4, 804 and 1004 and having to set a recording to one of those channels only if I wanted it to be in HD I only have channel 4 and I can even set the tuner preference so it uses QAM before using one of my DCT’s.

Speaking of HD I love the "HD Only" and "HD preferred" options when setting a series recording. I always set to HD preferred because then if I am setting a series recording on a channel that I currently only get in SD and my cable co. adds a HD version it will automagically switch over.

Finally FM Radio works again. When I set up cable card tuners before the TV Pack it broke FM but it is back!

Is there some "missing pieces"… Yes, but I still firmly believe that MCE is the best DVR out there.

posted by Jeff in ATSC,Cable Card,Media Center,QAM,Windows Media Center and have No Comments

So you need more options…

If you are like me and have been wanting more options in the MCE SDK it appears your requests have been answered. The new SDK for Diamond (MCE in the vista timeframe) which is available on MSDN now offers developers the chance to leverage the same rendering that MCE itself uses. Check out the sandbox for more info.,guid,817c2b05-2a9e-47ac-80c9-1c4db5b26c18.aspx

posted by Jeff in Media Center,Programming,SDK,Windows Media Center and have No Comments

Cable Card Tuner

It looks like digital cable withouth a cable box is almost here. ATI’s OCUR was demonstrated at this years CES show working with MCE. I am a DirecTV guy myself (I refuse to have anything to do with Comcast) but for others this will be the end all be all of tuners. Now where is my DirecTV tuner….

posted by Jeff in Cable Card,DCT,Digital Cable Tuner,Media Center,Windows Media Center and have Comment (1)

Bill’s Keynote At CES

Looks like some really cool things are coming down the pike. Cable Card support, new SKY stuff as well as a whole lot more. Check it out at the link below.


posted by Jeff in Cable Card,DCT,Digital Cable Tuner,Media Center,Windows Media Center and have No Comments