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Thursday, 31 July 2008

Samsung Media Live Extender

Samsung Electronics America Inc., the leader in the U.S. digital television market, lets consumers view PC-content on a Samsung HDTV with the retail launch of the company’s MediaLive adaptor. Samsung’s MediaLive delivers digital content (including HD content) in real-time from Windows Media Center on a PC running Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate operating systems to the big screen of a Samsung HDTV via a wireless or wired home network. From photos, music, feature films, home movies, and live and recorded TV programs, Samsung’s MediaLive is the ideal plug-and-play complement to most 2008-model Samsung HDTVs.

Full story here


Samsung Press Release

How To Set Up Your Samsung Digital Media Extender

Samsung TV Models with Anynet + / HDMI-CEC

Open Media Library Public Beta

Finally, an open source solution for viewing and organizing your dvd library with Vista media center. This add-in allows users to browse their movie library all in one location. The titles have associated actor, producers, summaries, runtime displayed. The main layout of the project was designed to work through an extender such as the xbox360.

Project hompage

Features: All requested, refused, and current features are listed here. Each item should contain a status.
DONE: these items in in BOLD
IN DEVELOPMENT: these items are in italics
REJECTED: these items are strikedout
ON HOLD FOR FUTURE DEVELOPMENT: these items are normal

(DONE) Mymovies Xml support (one single file)
(DONE) VIDEO_TS playback
(DONE) Image file playback with auto-mounting/unmounting using Daemon Tools (iso, bin, cue, img, udf)
(DONE) Codec based playback support
(DONE) DVD Library manager support
(DONE) DVD Profiler Xml support (one single file)
(DONE) Movie Collectorz Xml support (one single file)
(DONE) Image caching for speed in loading images (using VirtualList class)
(DONE) Command Line app to import data into OML database
(DONE) multi-file (single movie in multiple files) playback support (auto create playlists)
(DONE) Extender support
(DONE) Support for Blu-Ray/HD-DVD ISO files
(DONE) Triple tap: jumping to movie by using letters on remote control
(DONE) Filter by genre, rating, date, runtime, year etc
(DONE) UI based setup (importers, daemontools settings, etc)
(DONE) Metadata editor
Top Requests from 0.1b
Nicer/Better quality thumbnails on menu page
Folder view option
Recursive folder support for mymovies.xml files
(ON HOLD) Support for Blu-Ray/HD-DVD (50% Complete)
(ON HOLD) Movie bookmark features (20% Complete)
(ON HOLD) Movie trailer support (80% Complete)
(ON HOLD) Using 3rd party programs as datasource (10% Complete)
(ON HOLD) Search functionality (0% Complete)
(ON HOLD) DVD playback (actual discs in a real drive, see mounting/unmounting for images of discs) (0% Complete)
(ON HOLD) Define OML xml scheme for 3rd party export/import
(ON HOLD) Option to omit "The" in movie sorting and displaying
(ON HOLD) Native VMC UI controls design
(ON HOLD) Movie Label 2009 Xml support
(ON HOLD) Ant Movie Catalog Xml support
(ON HOLD) Mymovies Xml support (one file per folder)
(ON HOLD) DVD Profiler Xml support (one file per folder)
(ON HOLD) Movie Collectorz Xml support (one file per folder)
(ON HOLD) Boxset and season support (group multiple titles on the main menu into a single boxart/season shown)
(ON HOLD) Releated movies on the movie detail page
(ON HOLD) Parental filter with password
(ON HOLD) Selection of audio track from eg. dvd and mkv
(ON HOLD) Selection of subtitle track from eg. dvd and mkv
(ON HOLD) Multiple right-click options
(ON HOLD) View: Instead of moving a cursor around the screen, the cursor is frozen center and instead the movie rows move
(ON HOLD) Movie queue
(ON HOLD) DVD changer support
(ON HOLD) Windows Home Server support
(ON HOLD) View: File/folder view
(ON HOLD) Autoupdate feature/automatic information of new build
(ON HOLD) Delete movie feature, deleting everything releated to the movie (metadata, moviefile, moviefolder, covers etc)
(ON HOLD) "Mark as watched" feature
(ON HOLD) Ripping DVD's to local/server harddrive
(ON HOLD) Automatic metadata/cover art retrieval
(ON HOLD) Support of other languages
(ON HOLD) Holding down the down button on the movie screen resolves in stopping scrolling and instead displaying letters changing up the alphabet. Stopping scrolling takes the user to the first movie starting with the letter chosen.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Three Cool SideShow Gadgets from Ikanos

Ikanos Consulting have released 3 rather cool Windows Vista SideShow Gadgets. AccuWeather, Live Messenger and System Health. Ikanos Consulting were the first company to enable Windows Mobile devices to use the Windows Vista SideShow Gadgets with their Windows Mobile Connectivity Framework beta.

James Woodhall AKA SideShow Jim is one of the lead developers at Ikanos click here for his blog.
You can download these Gadgets free from the Windows Live Gallery here.
You can click the images below to make them appear larger.
AccuWeather: Displays 5-day weather for multiple cities on your Windows SideShow device

Live Messenger: Provides basic remote control functionality for Windows Live Messenger

System Health: System Health allows you to monitor your PCs performance and check up on basic system stats.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Tweak Media Center with TweakMC

Source via Ian Dixon's blog. Microsoft have released TweakMC.

Download from MSDN here

TweakMC is a set of useful commands for Media Center Edition, adding additional flexibility to various areas of Media Center. The source code is included and can be used as a reference to create additional custom TweakMC settings.

Fiji Released?

It seems that there is a lot of confusion at the moment, over the suspected (Fiji) Windows Media Center TV Pack release on the 16th of July. Two Microsoft Knowledge Base Articles 955485 and 955486 mention the Windows Media Center TV Pack.

However no official word has been given by Microsoft to the various Media Center community websites, if Fiji has been released or not? And who will be able to get it and from where?

And speculation is in the general opinion that the new Windows Media Center TV Pack will be OEM "Original equipment manufacturer" only or initially anways.
What about the Media Center community of self builders or people that upgraded to Vista ?

We are discussing this issue here on a very heated thread over at The Green Button. I'm as confused as most people and don't know what is going on yet?

More here on Engadget HD

Thursday, 17 July 2008

BBC Radio plug-in for MCE

A BBC Radio plug-in for MCE has been released by Damian Mehers. It enables you to play the BBC Radio streams in Media Center. It has some ristrictions:

Your need Real Player installed
You need version 3.5 of the .NET framework installed. It is available here if you don’t have it (or if you are not sure).
It will not work with Extenders, since the BBC streams using Real Audio.

I've personally been doing this for some time now, using the Web Media plug-in to stream the BBC Radio channels and it does work on extenders for me and I don't even have to have Real player installed on the PC which is a good thing in my opinion. So I would say my solution works better for me anyways.

You can download BeebMC here

Monday, 14 July 2008

Using Transcode 360 with My Movies and Vista MCE

I just saw a great guide on setting up Transcode 360 with My Movies for MCE. Enables movie play back on the Media Center Extenders of DVD VOB's, DivX and XVid etc.

It includes some of the pitfalls that took me a long time to work out, such as the Transcode 360 registry change that is required.

See the guide here on Toby's blog.


My main reason for using Transcode 360 is the ability to watch movies (movies I have backed up to hard drive and watch through the Vista Media Center) on my Xbox 360. The Xbox 360 is a Media Center Extender device, but it does not support playback of ripped dvds (.vob files), Xvid, Divx, and other formats for that matter. It does support WMV. I could transcode movies into WMV to watch them on the Xbox 360. I prefer to skip that step - it takes too long and will use up more space.

WebGuide option

Before using Transcode 360 (referred to as TT from now on) I used WebGuide. WebGuide is accessible through the Media Center interface on the extender device. We had problems though. Even though the server and extender are both connected to a 100Mbps LAN, trying to watch the movie on the extender at 8Mbps (Ultra) quality level always led to skipping and other issues. We would then try to watch the movie at 2000Kbps (High) and even then we would eventually have some kind of problem while watching the movie (usually freezing or skipping). Also, the quality level was awful when watching on a large screen.

Transcode 360 option

Next I explored TT as an option for watching movies on the extender. At first I had some problems with TT and gave up on using it. But, the inability to watch movies on the extender was a major loss. Later, I again tried TT and this time was able to get it working. Below I will try to describe briefly how to get TT up and running with My Movies and Xbox360.

These instructions are for Vista MCE 32-bit Since I use Vista Ultimate 32-bit, Xbox 360 as extender, My Movies 2.42 and 2.44, and Transcode 360 1.6.3 I am limited to my experiences with the given versions. I will not have information on XP MCE, or other versions of these apps.

How you should already be setup I will assume you have a Vista MCE running My Movies. You have movies ripped, and added to your My Movies database. Using My Movies on the MCE box, you can successfully watch ripped DVDs.

Transcode 360 download

On the Vista MCE machine, install Transcode 360 Version 1.6.3. Since the website has been down for weeks, I have an alternate location the file can be downloaded from:

(keep in mind I've only tested this with Vista 32-bit). In case that location is no longer available,
here is an alternate download location.

Installing Transcode 360

During the install the first decision you will need to make is 1) to run as a Service 2) to run as a tray app. I recommend choosing Service. Click Next. On the next screen you decide whether to run with local system permissions, or run service under dedicated accounts permissions. I recommend choosing the first option (if you want to change this for network file access we will do that later). Click Install. When the install finishes choose to manually reboot later. Click Finish.

If you will only be accessing movies stored on the Vista MCE machine, follow the instructions in the paragraph below titled registry update. If you need to access movies shared on another computer follow these steps: click on Start>Right click on Computer>click on Manage>under Computer Management at the bottom click the triangle next to Services and Applications>below click on Services>in the right pane scroll down to Transcode 360 Transcoding Service>right click on Transcode 360 Transcoding Service and choose Properties>click the Log On tab>put a dot next to 'This account:' In the first box have access to the other computer. In the next to boxes type the password. Click Ok. Now follow the instructions in the paragraph below called registry update.

Registry update

I am providing a batch file that will do this change for you, or you can manually do it.
To do this automated, download this file to your computer. Browse to where you saved the file, double click on it. Inside you will see the TT_Network.reg file. Double click it. When prompted, choose 'Run'. On the 'sure you want to continue prompt choose yes'. You here is an alternate download locationtype a username that is an administrator on the MCE machine, and is also configured to this file should then get a message that the keys or values were successfully added.

To manually do this, browse to C:\Windows and double click regedit.exe. Next expand HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software and click on Transcode360. In the right pane double click on InstallationType. In the Value data box remove the existing value and type in Network. Click Ok. Close the Registry Editor window.

Whether you did auto or manual go ahead and reboot the computer.

Update Mencoder.exe

After the computer reboots we want to update the version of the mencoder.exe used by TT. On the Vista machine you may want to enable viewing file extensions for this part. It will make things easier. To enable extensions go to Control Panel>Folder Options>View Tab>uncheck the box next to 'Hide extensions for known file types'. Click Ok.

Now go to My Computer and browse to C:\Program Files\Transcode360\Wrappers\MEncoderTranscoder folder. Right click on the file mencoder.exe and choose rename on the menu. Rename it to something like mencoder.exe.old.

Go to and get the latest version of MPlayer for Windows (you do not need the GUI version). At the time this is being written the current version is MPlayer 1.0rc2 Windows. The download is a .zip file. Save the .zip to your computer. Open or extract the .zip when the download is done. Inside you will see a file called mencoder (mencoder.exe). Right click on the mencoder.exe and choose Copy. Now browse to C:\Program Files\Transcode360\Wrappers\MEncoderTranscoder and paste the file here (Edit>Paste or right click and choose Paste). Now we have updated the version of mencoder.exe we are using compared to the one that came with Transcode 360.

Go to Start>All Programs>Transcode 360>Transcode 360 Configuration Utility. On the menu on the left click on Advanced. Under Profile Name you should see Xbox 360 - Mencoder. That's what we want. Some have solved problems with TT by checking the box at the bottom 'Downmix multi-channel AC3 to stereo MPEG audio'. I am running with that checked. Click Exit.

You may need Microsoft Hotfix

If you run antivirus software on your Vista MCE machine you will want to apply this MS hotfix (SP1 users should not need this hotfix). If you do not, you may experience a problem with movies freezing when your try to watch them on the extender. This hotfix is for Vista x86 only. Click here to download. If you want to see the MS KB doc it is here Microsoft Hotfix KB933049

Adding Guest account to network movie folders and sharing themIf you will be accessing movies from an extender(Xbox 360), we need to alter permissions setting on the shared movie folders computer. The bottom line is 'Guest' account needs to be enabled on the other machine, and 'Guest' needs to have Read (Read and List) to the movie folders. On Vista Ulimate and Vista Enterprise Enabling go to Start>right click on Computer>choose Manage>expand Local Users and Groups>Highlight Users>in the right pane right click on Guest>choose Properties>on the General tab make sure that 'Account is disabled' is unchecked. Click Ok.
In Vista Home Basic and Vista Home Premium editions go to Control Panel > User Accounts > Manage Accounts, and Turn on Guest Account.

To give Guests access to the movie folders go to Computer and browse to the root folder containing all of the movie folders. Right click the folder and choose Properties. Click the Security tab. Click the Continue button (if UAC is enabled). Click the Edit button. Click the Add button. In the 'Enter the object names to select' box type Guest. Click Ok. Click Ok again. Click Ok.

Share the movies folders, if not already, and everyone should have read.

Add the guest account the the movie folders. Give Guest account Read access.

I intend to come back and give instruction on the above two sentences.

If the above is not configured, when you go to Watch Stream on your extender, you will get a 'Path not found ' error message.

To sum, enable Guest account, give guest account read to movie folders (do this by giving read to the parent folder (or drive) and the permissions will propagate down. Finally, share the folders so the UNC path matches the path you specified for the movies in My Movies.


Bring up your Xbox 360, connect to the Media Center, go to My Movies, pick a movie and choose 'Watch Stream'. If you click Watch you will get an error. So use Watch Stream. You should see 'Loading' for a short period, and then you should get the spinning circle in the middle of the screen. The spinning circle may stop spinning for a short period before the movie starts. If the spinning circle stops and you wait, and wait...and no movie, then something is wrong. The xbox may be frozen at this point. I'll get into some troubleshooting below.


The two versions of My Movies I have used TT with are 2.42 and 2.44.

It may be beneficial to disconnect from the Media Center on the Xbox 360 if the permissions changes were made while connect from the Xbox. I always do this when I make a change so I can't really so if it is not necessary. From the extender, close media center. Then reopen media center on the extender.

Valuable information will come from the TT log file. These are located at C:\Users\Public\Transcode360\LogsIf you tried to watch a movie on your extender using Watch Stream in My Movies and it did not work, look at the log file with the most recent 'Date modified' value. This should be the log created when you tried to stream the movie.

The error message you get when you try to stream the movie is important. Depending on what happens, you may not get a message.

The event viewer on the Vista MCE machine will also give valuable information. Go to Start>right click on Computer>choose Manage>expand Event Viewer>expand Applications and Services Logs>Click on Transcode 360 Service>in the right pane events will be listed. Looks for events that are 'Error' and 'Warning'.


The path [some path] was not found when trying to watch a network movie-> give 'guest' account access to the network folder

After doing the above try to watch the network movie and get 'Transcode failed transcode was unable to transcode the file [some path].
-> this could be that the service is running with an account that does not have permission to the remote computer-> this could be the mencoder.exe file is not updated

If in the log file you see:

*ERR* Transcoding error:*ERR* This codecs.conf is too old and incompatible with this MPlayer release! at line 6
-> you can delete the codecs.conf file located in the C:\Program Files\Transcode360\Wrappers\MEncoderTranscoder\mplayer folder

If in the Event Viewer you have a message that includes 'Cannot open file/device.
'->it might be a permissions, network access, firewall type issue.

Make sure your movies are stored in a separate folder for each movie. Inside the movie folder there should be a Video_TS folder and within it the movie files (.ifo, .vob). Transcode 360 looks for the Video_TS folder and the movie files within. If the folder and file structure described above is not used, the movies will not work.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Subscribe to The Media Center Blog RSS Feed

If you haven't done so already? Why don't you subscribe to The Media Center Blog RSS feed below or beneath The Green Button logo on the right of the home page, to keep up to date with any new posts here on the site!

Subscribe to the RSS feed

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Microsoft to purchase The Green Button

Daniel Sterling the current owner of the largest Media Center community website on the net, has announced that Microsoft are to purhase the website. His announcement can be read here. I have mixed feelings about this but I'm sure it will be a good thing, closer communication with the eHome team at MS can only be a good thing but I have reservations about the move and hope that it will not restrict the topics of conversation and the current openness and free speach on the site.

Have your say post your feedback here

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Windows Media Center SideShow Gadget beta1

I've been talking about this for months now over on TGB and the potential Windows SideShow holds and that this was indeed coming. Released today at long last, is Beta 1 of the Windows Media Center SideShow Gadget.

I've had a very quick look at it and done some screen shots. I need to play around with it in much more detail and do a full write up about it soon.
Also released recently was the Windows SideShow for Windows Mobile Developer Preview v0.01 enabling Windows SideShow Gadgets to run on the windows mobile platform, so the two together are definately worth looking at. Using your Windows mobile phone or PDA to control your Media Center system sounds pretty cool to me and it's what we have been waiting for!

Now Playing Controls

I've opened a new thread on TGB here to discuss this new SideShow Gadget.
Download issues?
If your having problems downloading this from Microsoft connect:
"Clicking on "click here to download" = Page Not Found The content that you requested cannot be found or you do not have permission to view it."
You need to look for the Windows Sideshow Connection at Microsoft Connect.
Media Center Gadgets - General Information and Known Issues There are 4 Media Center gadgets: Download and install the Beta Media Center Gadgets: Click here to download

Browse TV and schedule recordings. Browse the TV program guide, view metadata on upcoming or current shows, and pick shows to watch and record (single showing or series), without interrupting the TV viewing experience. Recorded TV. Select a previously recorded program to play back, without interrupting the viewing experience on the TV.

Play Music. Browse the media library, control music playback on the PC by using the remote control device instead of the primary display, such as a TV. Play radio presets. Browse your radio presets and playback that station through your Media Center.

Pictures + Videos:
Browse the picture and video libraries. Make a selection on the remote and that picture or video will be displayed on the TV.

Now Playing:
Provide "now playing" information. The remote control device shows information about the currently playing medium, such as the track title or the time elapsed. Known Issues: Enabling the Gadgets on more than one SideShow device to control the Media Center PC is not supported for Beta Enabling the Gadgets for more than one user session on your PC is not supported for Beta