Google Search

Custom Search

Powered by...

Find us on Facebook

Friday, 31 October 2008

How to set your default album cover art images in ngRC

One of the things I was looking forward to with the release of ngRC RC1 was the ability to set my default cover art images. As I am using the "URL to Cover Art" program to make Media Center use my downloaded hi-res album covers and not the default low-res 200 x 200 ones that WMP11 creates.

ngRC by default just looks for and displays whatever is the largest image file in the albums folder.

So in ngRC using the previous beta version, it was showing some front covers but also back covers, inlay's and inside images, if they happened to be the largest image in that folder.

Now in ngRC RC1 you can edit the settings.jsp file in notepad to specify what your front covers are called? In my case all my high-res 600 x 600 album cover images are called Folder.jpg

Here is an extract of the original code from the settings.jsp file located in the C:\Program Files\ngrc\tomcat\webapps\ngrc\skins\pspiphone directory,

highlighted in bold is the section we are interested in.

<%@ page import="agorum.mce.ngrc.*"%>

<% //set the name of the default Image to look for (uncomment, if you want to change the default name)
//can be for example: f*.jpg

//default settings for filters
//defaultMaxItems (values are: -1 means all, 20, 50, 100)
request.setAttribute("defaultMaxItems", "50");

Simply remove the comment // and specify the file name of your album cover images. So after I edited the file that section for me looks like the below.

//set the name of the default Image to look for (uncomment, if you want to change the default name)
//can be for example: f*.jpg

I could not initially save the settings.jsp file in notepad, due to not having the correct permissions on the folder.

So I closed notepad re-opened it with the run as administrator option on the right click menu and then I was able to save the changes to the file without problem.

I also stopped the ngrc.tomcat service at the same time, so that might have helped as well, after restarting that service I was then able to open ngRC in Internet Explorer using the address shown below. Also you need Media Center up and running at this point as well.

http://IP Address of your computer:8080/ngrc/skins/pspiphone/index.jsp

I am very happy to report that all my album's front covers are now being shown correctly in ngRC!

The next thing I need to look at is the defaulMaxItems in the settings.jsp file, as the Sony PSP has problems displaying long lists on one page, if you have a large music library like me, you end up getting memory errors.

Album Details View with Cover Art

Song Details View with Cover Art

next generation Remote Control RC1 now out!

next generation Remote Control (ngRC) Release Candidate 1 is now available for download.

The following is from the Developers site:

"It’s done, the new Version of ngRC 2.0 is available now… Here is a list of improvements towards the beta Version of 2.0:

  • fixed play all Problem (double added)
  • fixed settings page display error
  • implemented amount reduction of lists (let choose amount to display)
  • implemented prefered coverArt Image Filter (e.g. folder.jpg)
  • implemented default setting for maxAmount for lists
  • removed auto-refresh in actual playing, now refresh button instead
  • fixed ch+, ch-, vol-up, vol-down and mute button on extenders
  • made keyboards bit larger for better handling
  • Enhanced XML-Api for better using
  • Implemented Volume Feedback Display on Keyboard
  • Fixed actual playing List problems
  • some clean up and other small things
The new version can be downloaded on Sourceforge:
Have a look at the settings.jsp in the folder InstallDir/tomcat/webapps/ngrc/skins/pspiphone. There you can set the coverArtName-Filter and the defaulMaxItems, have a look in the file for a detailed description.
Have fun using ngRC, looking forward for feedback!"

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Is Microsoft finally coming to terms with the codec issues?

This is the biggest thing that annoys me about Microsoft and their claim about delivering the whole home digital eco-system dream to the masses. Codec support it sucks, it's a problem for most of us in one way or another. There is nothing worse than wanting to play your digital content than having the dreaded Codec message appear that says your device or MCX cannot play your video file.

I'm sorry but like it or not the main stream codecs that are out there are here to stay and Microsoft need to open up and support what at the end of the day their users want to play.

There maybe some light at the end of the very dark tunnel in the form of Windows 7. It's far too early to say but initial readings sound positive.

I stumbled across a few articles about Windows 7 from a media playback perspective some of them are quite intriguing.

"Windows Media Player has the most significant changes, with support for new codecs including AAC, H.264, DivX and Xvid, and support for the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) 1.5 media streaming standard, including transcoding where necessary. Under the covers lie more multimedia features, including a new animation framework and DirectX 11."


This is good news, you can get AVI and MP4 movies for example now in to your media library with WMP11 via registry hacks but native support is always desired and preferred.

DNLA is also good news, fancy streaming music directly to your Onkyo amp for example? Now you can in Windows 7.

"H.264 playback is now supported out of the box with Windows 7 -- including on Media Center Extenders – both standalone hardware implementations AND on the XBox 360 when in Extender mode. I know a few people on who will rejoice"


H.264 in some form was always expected in Media Center due to the fact HD TV really requires it. What is not clear at this stage is what containers we can use such as MKV.

The most intriguing thing I have read about Windows 7 from a media playback perspective is this:

"Multimedia routing. Windows 7 adds features for shuttling media files from PCs on your home network to streaming devices such as the Sonos multi-room music system. Microsoft says the OS will transcode files as necessary to make your entertainment play on gadgets regardless of whether the gadgets support the file format in question. Sounds intriguing; I look forward to trying it out."


Transcoding files as necessary? Could this be the start of the end of the codec compatibility issues we know of today?

So where's the AVI love?

Microsoft recently announced native H.264 support for Media Center and the XBOX 360 MCX. Well that was a no brainer as HD TV in many countries requires H.264 support.

So my question or half of it anyways still remains, when will we see native support in the XBOX 360 MCX for DIVX / XVID / AVI ?

Your guess is as good as mine but I now feel this won't be happening and I will be ditching my XBOX's in favour of Sony Playstation's for games and V2 extenders for MCX.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Windows 7 Media Center Revealed

Another new article revealing a few more details and screen shots on 7WMC via We Got Served

"Over in Los Angeles, attendees of Microsoft’s Professional Developer Conference will today hear about the features planned for Windows 7, and receive a pre-beta version of the software for testing and feedback.

Here at WGS, we’ve had a copy of that build (Build 6801, or Milestone 3 for you build geeks) for a little while - today our NDA is lifted and we can bring you a sneak preview of some of the features planned for Windows Media Center in Windows 7."

Read the article here

What do we call Media Center in Windows 7?

Ian Dixon just raised a good point on his blog, what do we actually call Media Center in Windows 7 ?

7WMC (7 Windows Media Center)

W7MC (Windows 7 Media Center)

SWMC (Seven Windows Media Center)

SMC (Seven Media Center)

7MC (7 Media Center)

Media Center in Windows 7 - News for Developers

If your a Windows Media Center developer, you may also find this article by Charlie Owen of interest where he talks about the Windows Media Center platform changes.

"The Windows 7 release of the Windows Media Center platform focuses primarily on small, targeted improvements to the Windows Media Center Presentation Layer and additions to the managed code object model to make all applications (with greater emphasis on the web paradigm) a first class citizen in Windows Media Center and help them act and feel more like locally installed applications in terms of perceived performance. I'd like to take a few minutes of your time to outline some of the new platform features you will find in this build."

Media Center News from PDC

Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference running on Oct 27-30.

Charlie Owen from Microsoft has announced on his blog, details about Media Center in Windows 7 talking about some of the new features.

  • The Start Menu gets a slight update, I have seen this in action a few weeks ago and it’s not a massive change but it does look better and it remembers where you were last
  • The now playing thumbnail is bigger
  • Music performance improvements
  • Much better details view and improved now playing
  • Improved Ratings
  • Turbo Scroll, this is something that you have to see in action to get and if you have large libraries you will love this!
  • Improved Picture library including new slideshows, and Shared Libraries
  • TV Feature Pack is including in Windows 7!
  • New clickable seek bar in TV and videos
  • Online Media replaced with “Extras”
  • New text entry screen
  • New gadgets for the sidebar

This looks familar, looks like the Zune Album wall!

This is good news and was expected with HD TV in many countries now requiring H.264 support

"H.264 playback is now supported out of the box with Windows 7 -- including on Media Center Extenders – both standalone hardware implementations AND on the XBox 360 when in Extender mode. I know a few people on who will rejoice."

No mention of Divx however ?

This was also expected for Media Center on Windows 7

"For starters, you get all of the enhancements made available with the TV Pack (including those for United States customers). For more information on the TV Pack check out this post at The Green Button: If you recall, the TV Pack was designed to enable TV standards in Asia and Europe. There are some nice additions in this area for Windows 7..."

Overall I'm very impressed with how this is looking and with some of the new features, I really can't wait for Windows 7. Well done eHome team!

Some of my favourite video games

Not media center related but hey this is my blog! I'm getting excited about two new games that are being released, Tomb Raider Under World which is released on the 21st of November 2008 and Resident Evil 5 which I think is due for a release on March 12th 2009, which is quite handy as that's a few days before my birthday.

I've played and completed every single game in both these series, since the Playstation One.
Excellent games if you like these types of genres.

I'm still actually playing GTA4 think I'm about 74% in to it now, I've completed a few games in between playing it, so that's why I've still not finished it, again the GTA series is amazing and I have completed every GTA game Rock Star have made.

I wouldn't say I was a massive gamer however but these games are the ones I really like, and the Call of Duty series rocks as well!

Resident Evil Zombie

Tomb Raider in Thailand !

What other games similar to these would you recommend?

Media Center in Windows 7

A user on the Green Button found this Russian website which has a comprehensive selection of Media Center screen shots in Windows 7. Some very interesting new features and settings. With the screen shot below it looks like Microsoft have resolved the issue of the media library being merged in Vista by now having respective media libraries. So hopefully that will mean no more music album covers appearing in your pictures library!

Other new feature is the ability to rate your music and photos in Media Center and to then create playlists and sideshows based on those rating. Take a look at the many screen shots to get an idea for yourself what's new!

Monday, 27 October 2008

New Feed address for this blog

I have a new Feed address for this blog which is:

Feed XML:

If you subcribed to the original Blogger feed address that should still continue to work, however you might want to change it to the new address above.


Thursday, 23 October 2008

XBOX 360 Codec Support Petition

I'm not normally down with petitions but I think this one should be looked at and signed if you agree. So sign it already !!! These people have signed already

Petition HERE

MolsonFLMCE on the Green Button has started the petition, below is what he had to say:

"Ok, so the petition is online and available here. I'm not the most eloquent writer in the world but I think I've covered the core issue. If you agree with what I've said, I encourage you to sign it. If you don't like what I said but agree with the petition itself, please consider signing it and leave a comment as to how you would re-word things. 16,000+ views on this thread. I doubt the petition will get numbers that high but I intend to blog it today as well as post it on the Xbox boards in the correct board.

Thanks for your support."

If you want the full history look at this thread here on TGB.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

ngRC Release Candidate 1

It looks like my favourite MCE application next generation Remote Control (ngRC) is getting some more love from the developer, it sounds like an RC1 version is due out soon and here's a list of some of the issues that have been addressed:

"Made some more changes to ngRC, at the moment the development version contains following fixes:

* fixed play all Problem (double added)
* fixed settings page display error
* implemented amount reduction of lists (let choose amount to display)
* implemented prefered coverArt Image Filter (e.g. folder.jpg)
* implemented default setting for maxAmount for lists
* removed auto-refresh in actual playing, now refresh button instead
* fixed ch+, ch-, vol-up, vol-down and mute button
* made keyboards bit larger for better handling
* clean up

a bit more to do:

now I just have to look after the playlist behaviour and some smaller changes in the XML-API, and then I think, I will release a first Release Candidate…"

The Digital Lifestyle website has been updated

You have probably already noticed that The Digital Lifestyle web site has been updated with a newer version of community server, check out the new wiki's and help contribute to the community. We need to build up the MCE addin's reviews section which can be found here. You can see some of the reviews I have added on there.

This was the email Ian sent out to the website's users:

I just wanted to update you on the site update

After an hour or so of IIS/Application pool issues I have got the updated up and running. The site has been upgraded to the latest version ofCommunity Server and it has a new look that should make navigatingaround the site much easier. All the content from the old site has beenported over which includes all the forum content, the forum layout is a big improvement and I am looking forward to getting more content in to there.

One new area for the site is the Wikis, there is a wiki for Windows Media Center, a wiki for Windows Home Server and one for Media Center Addins. Having a wiki for addins means that the community can contribute to the addin review section,which I aim to build up in to community created and maintained databaseof Media Center addins. It’s open to all users for contributions on anyMedia Center application.

The site also has a new social aspect ,once you are signed in youcan Friend Request other users and then from the home page you get aFriends’ Activity list, so you can keep up with your friends on thesite (and via RSS). Hopefully this will increase the sense of communityaround the site and help build some relationships.

Also joining is UK blogger Simon May,I will be working with Simon on some community project in the comingmonths and Simon will be blogging and reviewing Media Center addins. Socheckout Simon’s new blog and first addin review

The is going to be a new podcast called “The Custom Installer Show”and you will be able to find out more details in the coming weeks.Another new section of the site is the Groups section and I willexplain more on that over the next few weeks.

So take a look at the new content and please contribute to the Wikisespecially the addin Reviews. Let me know what you think about the newsite and if you have any suggestion for other new feature let me know.

The newly released MCE Sideshow gadgets and the TV Pack

I did wonder about this and Ian has just reported on his blog here that the newly released version 1.0 of the MCE Sideshow gadgets still does not work on the TV Pack version of Media Center, which is a real shame.


To get the Media Center Sideshow gadget working on TV Pack you can change a setting in the registry, edit the registry at your own risk!

1. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center
2. Change the Ident version to 5.0 from 5.1
3. Run the Sideshow install
4. Change the Ident value back to 5.1

There is also another way to get the MCE SideShow gadgets installed on a TV Pack version of MCE, you need to modify the MSI files in a certain way and then they can be installed as normal. This has been tested and works, however you might as well just use the reg edit work around shown above instead.

MCE SideShow gadgets released on Live Gallery

The Microsoft MCE Sideshow gadgets have now been released on to the Live Gallery website,

There are 4 gadgets in the download available in 64bit and 32bit versions from Windows Live Gallery which include:

  • TV: Browse the program guide, schedule recordings, and browse and play back recorded TV shows
  • Music: Browse and play music
  • Pictures + Videos: Browse pictures on your device and play slideshows and video
  • Now Playing: Provides information on what is playing in Media Center and provides playback controls like those on your Media Center remote

Monday, 6 October 2008

My Movies for Windows Home Server

I saw this on Ian's blog, sounds very interesting can't wait for the podcast show about it.
More details and screen shots here

Sunday, 5 October 2008

A look at the new ClipShow MCE add-in

Project Description
clipShow is a Windows Vista Media Center application that provides the ability to view a personal video collection in a slide-show type fashion. It features a "clip" capability that can play continous random clips of video media (customizable by 30 seconds, 60 seconds, 90 seconds, or the entire video). It also provides the capability to create custom playlists from the Media Center video library. In addition it also can organize a video media collection by common tags stored in the video file metadata, and allow clips to be played by those tags.



This sounded like an MCE add-in that was worth a try, I have several short Video clips in .MOV format that were taken on my Nikon digital camera. I never really knew what to do with them as far as my media center setup was concerned. So I just left the various .mov files mixed in among my photo folders and photo files.

I had to install Quick Time alternative to get .MOV to play in WMP11 / VMC but other than that they play and I currently access them (If I remember they are there) in VMC in the Picture Library, if I am in a certain folder that also has some movie clips in there as well, I see a Related Videos option. If I click this I am taken to the Video clip(s). This kind of works for me as is but I cannot create a playlist and play each .mov one after the other!


When ever I install a new VMC add-in I open MC Menu Mender first to see where the applications Icon has been placed and if I want to move it, first thing here, what's with the big red stop icon for clipShow in MC Menu Mender?
Answer: In the VMC UI there is no icon visible for clipShow.

No icon:

Upon launching clipShow I got two messages about having to create a playlist and another about Clipshow crawl execption, see screen shots below.

I eventually found a clipShow playlist creator entry in the Program Library area of VMC, again no icon showing for this plug-in.

I had to give the new playlist a name and the only locations I was given to "browse" for media was the Recorded TV or Video Library. Does that mean I am restricted to just those two locations? Neither of these locations are the current location of those short movie clips in .mov format I mentioned earlier.

So I selected Video Library and when in to a folder I have called home movies where I have larger DVR-MS clips from my Samung Mini DV digital camcorder. I selected all movies in this folder and saved the playlist.

I then got three critical errors see screens, I clicked OK on the final error and that just took me back to the program library, so not a good start at all with this application.
I closed Media Center and tried the same steps again same deal again.

So I tried to select a different folder with MP4 files in it instead this time the Burn progress thing said 100% complete, but then I got the Media Center Extensibility Host had stopped working message. Why does it say Burn progress anyways? I thought I was creating a playlist!

"Copy is progressing" so it's copying my movies from their original location to where exactly?

Followed by another clipShow has stopped responding message and then another Burn Failure.

At this point I am getting bored now and this really isn't turning out to be the kind of review I was hoping to give you.

Keep in mind this is a Beta, give it a go and let me know if you get any further with it? Maybe it's just my machine or something who knows!

Now where is that uninstall option?


OK so I gave it one more try, I copied all my small .mov files in to a folder in the VMC Video Library. I then tried to create a Playlist again in clipshow, upon clicking save playlist I still get all those errors and the playlist is never created.

Do let me know if you get this working for you?