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Saturday, 27 December 2008

WMP/ VMC Yule Log Visualization for Vista

I spotted this on channel 10 and had to try it out !
I've seen a similar visualization in the past, but it was either a paid one or I couldn't get it working, I can't really remember now.
Anyways this one is totally free and it works in both WMP and Media Center on Vista, yep that's right it also works in Media Center on your TV! It won't work on the extenders obviously but there is also a similar Yule Log effect for the XBOX 360 dashboard, however that is not free read more below, I've not tried the XBOX one out yet.

"Ah, just in time for the holidays! Sean Alexander has released an updated Yule Log Visualization for Windows Media Player. Originally released as a part of the Windows Media Bonus Pack for Windows XP, this visualization is simply a fireplace complete with crackling logs and dancing flames perfect for bringing a bit of holiday spirit to our PCs. "

Full Article

Download the WMP / VMC Yule Log Viz here.

XBOX 360 Virtual Fireplace

"If you enjoyed the Windows Media Player Yule Log visualization but don’t have a PC in your living room, you may want to check out this virtual fireplace instead. As Major Nelson reports, an Xbox LIVE Member SniperED007 used the XNA tools to create this visualization “that has all the sights and sounds of a nice wintery fireplace.”

Full Article

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Merry Christmas everyone!

Just wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 2009 should be a great year for Media Center and our digital homes, I'm really looking forward to Windows 7 like everyone else and can't wait for the final release! Let's hope it's everything we are hoping it will be!

Cheers have a good one!


Saturday, 20 December 2008

First Hybrid Blu-ray/DVD Movie Title Announced For Japan

"Japanese entertainment software developer Pony/Canon will release the first movie title on a hybrid Blu-ray/DVD disc in Japan in February, in an effort to accelerate the transition from the DVD to the Blu-ray format." Read the full article.

Sounds pretty interesting one disc that both DVD and Blu-ray players can read, so I guess you could have the standard definition version of a movie and the high definition version on the same disc! Might be handy if you don't have Blu-ray players in everyroom and want to watch a movie say on a DVD player in the bedroom maybe. Or you might only want to rip the SD version to your hard disk to save space. I can see having both SD and HD versions on one disc coming in handy, whilst we are in this in-between stage, until everything has switched over to the blu-ray format this might ease the transition.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Great video on You Tube - HTPC Build

I was bored looking around You Tube and stumbled on this video, some guy building his HTPC, not that interesting I hear you say?
The video is pretty cool I think and the thing I like the most about this video is the sound track he used which is a really cool track!
Think it's from the 1995 Hackers movie, take a look here.
Think I might just watch Hackers again, great film and have not seen it for a long time!

Zune MixView now online!

When the new Zune 3 firmware was released, one of the coolest new features was something called Mixview, which is a unique visualization of your music. In Mixview, you

can select an artist, album, or Zune Card and see a visual mosaic of related music and listeners. As you click on the mosaic, you’ll be taken in new directions, allowing you to discover music in a visually appealing way.

Of course, if you wanted to see Mixview you had to have the Zune software installed on your computer. But now, you can check out Mixview on the web even if you don’t run Zune software. The feature has just launched over on When you click on the page for an album, artist, or Zune Card, you’ll notice there’s a new link called “mixview” available at the top. If you click
that, the new web-based Mixview will then launch.

If you haven’t yet tried this out, you should give it a shot – it’s a pretty cool way to explore and discover new music.

Via Channel 10

Sunday, 14 December 2008

DIRECTV and Microsoft: What Went Wrong

Chris Lanier has an interesting post here about DirectTV and Microsoft and what went wrong ?

"Now that DIRECTV has suspended development on their HDPC-20 Tuner where does that leave us? There are a lot of differing opinions going around about why DIRECTV canned the tuner, whose fault it is, and where do we go from here. Most people are pointing the finger at Microsoft, and with their history of releases how could you not? This doesn’t mean however that Microsoft is totally at fault, but let’s look at the whole situation to see how we got here. "

Read more

Saturday, 13 December 2008

SlySoft moving to subscription-based upgrade model

It was nice to purchase SlySoft's AnyDVD HD once and let the gurus in Antigua continually re-break whatever DRM Hollywood chose to throw out, wasn't it? After this year, you can kiss that luxury goodbye -- that is, if you continue to sit on the sidelines. SlySoft has just announced that starting on January 1, 2009, it will "change its update policy from free lifetime updates to an annual subscription fee. Full article.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Guide to building a HD HTPC

If your current hardware knowledge and PC building skills are as bad as mine
which I very much doubt!

And when you built PC's on a regular basis, motherboards had
no USB ports and then when they did have USB ports no USB devices existed for two years, floppy disk drives were a must have feature and the latest
graphics cards where either Matrox or Diamond and if you had 128MB of RAM you
were lucky! That's what years of senior corporate I.T. management OEM buying power and
laziness gets you! Then this guide is going to be right up your street.

An extremely knowledgeable chap who goes by the name of Renethx over on the
AVS Forums has a fantastic guide for newbie's like me and seasoned PC builders alike.
Check it out here.
Warning there are 160 plus pages and it will make your head hurt if you read
too much, however the first 15 pages or so and for current specs page 85 onwards are the

His HD HTPC build recommendations cover low end, mid range and high end, Intel / Intel, Intel / Nvidia, AMD / AMD and AMD / Nvidia chipsets, he
also covers building massive terabyte storage servers and home servers and high end workstations.

I think I'm gonna just choose one of this spec recommendations and build away when I have the spare cash that is!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

DirecTV kills its Media Center tuner project

"If you’re a DirecTV subscriber and a Media Center fan, I’m afraid I have some bad news for you: DirecTV has pulled the plug on development of its long-rumored HDPC-20 tuner."

Via Ed Bott, full article can be seen here

Windows 7 Build 6956 - Media Center screenshots

I was reading this thread on the Green Button here page 19, seems there's a newer Windows 7 build doing the rounds and here's some new screen shots of Media Center in that build.

There's an option in the guide to color code shows by category.

Similar movies and future recordings integrated.

While watching a movie you can view the cast, and view other movies they have directed, produced, or acted in.

Check out the thread here on this page where you can view full sized screen shots.

If your wondering where to get your hands on this build take a look see here.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

New Wiki - VMC DVD Library on extenders using Vader's Transcoder

I've written a new Wiki for getting the VMC DVD Library on your extenders and using Vader's transcoder to playback your DVD VOB's on your extenders. You can see it here.

Also check out the Wiki for using Transcode 360 with the My Movies add-in here.

Both methods work well.

Friday, 5 December 2008

AMD Maui HTPC - Video

I really like the look of this AMD HTPC and I really like the motherboard from MSI, it's a MSI 7411 and has the options for either a 5.1 amplified sound card, which you can connect directly to none powered passive speakers, so you would not need an AV reciever. Or a pre amp 7.1 add-in card. Take a look at the Video of the AMD HTPC here

"AMD's "Maui" home theater PC platform consists of a combination of AMD hardware and software. Systems built around the platform feature an energy efficient Phenom or Athlon processor, ATI Radeon graphics, ATI TV tuners, and AMD LIVE! software elements. The current foundation of the platform is MSI's somewhat unique Media Live DIVA 5.1 motherboard, which is based on the AMD 780M chipset, and includes a specialized Intersil D2 Ausio DAE-3 audio chip with an accompanying 5.1 channel amplifier, but a 3.1 / 7.1 pre-amplifier card is also an option."

Check out AVS Forum for the real low down on this motherboard.

Great article - Every video format you need to know

I found a great article all about Video formats and everything you need to know, certainly worth a read!

Once upon time, video codecs and formats were really only the concern of AV nerds, anime freaks and hardcore not-so-legal movie downloaders. Now, even the most part-time of geeks has to deal with them, whether they're trying to stream a flick across their house with an Apple TV, dump some video onto their phone or just trying to grab last night's episode of Dexter because they, uh, forgot to renew their Showtime subscription. It's messy and annoying, but we're here to clean it up. Take a deep breath.

Full article