website hit counter November 2004 - Posts - Chris Lanier

November 2004 - Posts

Web Radio 1.0 For Media Center

Web Radio for Windows Media Center Edtion allows you to nicely tune Streaming Radio within the MCE Interface.  Version 2.0 is already in development

Web Radio 1.0 Released

Posted by chrisl | 2 comment(s)
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dCut For Windows Media Center Edition

Q: What is dCut?
A: dCut is a program written for Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition (MCE). dCut was written to make it easier to compress and cut the DVR-MS files which are created by MCE.

Q: What makes dCut special?
A: dCut is unique in a few ways. First, dCut combines the tasks of cutting out only the segments you want from dvr-ms files, and compressing dvr-ms files into a smaller format (Windows Media 9.) Second, dCut allows you to do all of this from your couch, utilizing the a 10' UI which integrated directly into MCE. dCut works via a hosted HTML App, and uses the MCE remote control.

Q: How does it work?
A: When you load dCut, it provides you with a list of available dvr-ms files or wmv files. Using your MCE remote control, you choose from this list the file you want to work with. After you select the file, dCut will play it for you and allow you to denote the start and stops of segments you want to keep. After you have choosen all the segments you want, you then tell dCut to compress the file.

Welcome to dCut for Media Center Edition

Posted by chrisl | 19 comment(s)
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Sherlock - The Codec Detective!

Fellow Digital Media MVP Marc Liron has written a nice and simple application to display what audio and video codec's you have installed on your machine and even to detect if they are broken!

High points for the project included...

  • Determine the codecs installed on a Windows XP computer
  • Check to see if any of the codec's were "BROKEN"  (will be highlighted in RED....)
  • Export the data to a text file for technical support!
  • Was FAST to run on a PC and did NOT require installing...
  • SMALL enough for download by modem!

SHERLOCK - The Codec Detective Download

HomeSeer Windows MCE Home Control Released

From eHomeUpgrade


HomeSeer Technologies, a home automation software and system developer, has announced the release of their Windows Media Center Edition plug-in that allows HomeSeer product users to control lighting, security, and thermostats throughout the home using Windows Media Center's 10-foot TV UI and remote control. Also included in the plug-in is a scripting interface (programming languages: VBScript, JavaScript, and Perl) so one can add custom functionality or compatibility support for 3rd party products.


Compatible Products
HomeSeer system software is compatible with wired and wireless protocols for easy adaptation to new construction or retrofit installations. State of the art Z-Wave wireless devices are fully supported as well as conventional powerline-based solutions (like X-10). An ever-growing range of software modules are also available to allow direct integration with devices from vendors such as ACT, Aprilaire, Applied Digital, Global Cache, HAI, HomeVision, Leviton, Lightolier, Lutron RadioRA, JDS, Napco, OnQ, RCS, Smarthome, Sylvania, WGL and many others.


Read More and Screenshots: Here

Posted by chrisl | with no comments

My Movies For MCE 2005 Released!

My Movies is the new version of My DVD Collection for Windows Media Center Edition 2005. This is a DVD indexing application that gives you a great on screen interface for either DVD's ripped to your hard drive, or just your DVD's right from their original disc.

My Movies is for Windows Media Center Edition 2005 only and can be downloaded from free below!

My Movies and My DVD Collection Downloads

"My Movies" Final Release 1.00 Available

Posted by chrisl | 2 comment(s)
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At Home For the Holiday

Taking a little break with my family for the holiday.
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MSN Remote Record Beta is Accepting Nominations!!

Public Beta of the MSN Remote Record Service. This service enables users running Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 to remotely schedule TV shows to record on their Media Center Edition-based PCs.

Note: This beta is for US and Canada MCE users only.  To officially join the MSN Remote Record Service Beta, here are the
instructions to sign up via Beta Place:

Go to

a.. Sign in with your Passport ID
b.. At the top of the Beta Place page you should see:

If you were issued a Guest ID by Microsoft, you can sign in by clicking here.

a. Click on "clicking here"
b. Sign in with guest ID: myshows (all one word, all lower case)
c. Click on "MSN Remote Record Service Beta"
d. Click on "survey" on the left side of the MSN Remote Record Service Beta Program page
e. Click on "MSN Remote Record Beta Nomination Form"
f. Fill out the form and submit.

All valid nominations will be approved. Once approved, it takes about 24 hours for the information to get through the Beta Place system and testers to have access to the Beta program.

Have fun!

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NVIDIA DVD Decoder Update Due After Thanksgiving

MCE Specific

  • Added MCE decoder extensions package install support to allow for decoder controls from MCE 10ft UI
  • Added install of MS VMR9 QFE Hotfix for 1080i smooth playback
  • Improved buffer management performance and handling for MCE HD playback (especially for 128MB cards)
  • Re-enabled support for VMR9 procamp color controls for MCE playback on NVIDIA GPU cards
  • Fix issue with aspect ratio handling with certain content on MCE

Video Decoder

  • Work around for problem with VMR9 procamp causing out of order de-interlacing on 1080i contest with MS Quartz.dll v2058
  • Fix for crash in WMP10 when opening the decoder prop page icon while trans-coding an MCE file to Portable Media Center device
  • Fixed issue with decoder output crushing blacks on some display driver versions.
  • Fix for potential deadlock during stop/pause/play transistion under MS stress test
  • Fix for NVVPP support where interlaced video was being double de-interlaced
  • Fixed a color banding or solarizing affect on software decoded "Video" mode material (Shrek2 for example)
  • Added DXVA Smart mode support for all 2-2 NTSC cadences including those sequences that have progressive_frame = 1
    (Fixes GalaxyQuest main menu, Cable Guy fight scene, and Looney Tunes Vol2, Disk 4 chapter 4).
  • Fix for Multiple decoder task tray icons when using WMP10 in a playlist or repeat mode.

Audio Decoder

  • Changed to allow MPEG audio decode on non-Dolby certified applications
  • Changed default Dolby Dynamic Range Compression mode from Late Night to Normal per MS MCE logo requirements
  • Fixed transcoding of mult-channel audio to WMAPro 5.1
  • Fixed transcoding of ATSC content to Portable Media Center device

Video Post Processor

  • Fix for red chroma problem on Raiders of the Lost Arc

Multi Source Transport Reader

  • Added a function to the interface to allow the filter to recalculate the duration list

Transport Stream Info Parser

  • Fix for divide by zero error on certain transport streams
  • Fix to restore to desired program selection after a seek

nstant Media Application

  • Updated translations for all 15 languages
  • Added support for VMR9 (Requires WinXP SP2 or MCE 2005)
  • Changed to from 10% to 5% for FF and 10% to 1% for FR for music and videos for better navigation and instant replay behavior
    Added support for VMR9 and PureVideo playback (Requires DX9.0c and SP2) (MS QFE 888354 recommended for best 1080i playback)
  • Added fix to free video file playback resources when leaving video mode
  • Added support for browsing by year and month in "Organize Album" in photos
  • Added support for handling of invalid EXIF dates in photo JPEGs
  • Added support for DVD Fast Rewind across chapter boundary if "Title Repeat" mode enabled
  • Added support for DVD playback from the hard disk with and without a VIDEO_TS directory present
  • Added support for unencrypted .VOB file playback
  • Added support for allowing progress panel during DVD trailers
  • Fixed potential hang when quitting a slideshow DVD

FIX: The TransferCount Property Decrements By Two

Microsoft Windows Media Digital Rights Management (WMDRM) offers enhanced protection for your content when you transfer content to a portable device by using WMDRM. However, when you transfer content, the TransferCount property on the content may be decremented by 2 instead of by 1.

FIX: The TransferCount property decrements by 2 when you transfer content to a portable device in Windows Media Player 10

Posted by chrisl | with no comments

Zen Portable Media Center Has Horrible Audio Quality!

First flaw found in my Portable Media Center, the Creative Zen has horrible audio quality in comparision to my iRiver H120.  Testing is being done with 192kbps MP3's encoded with LAME and with a pair of Sony MDR-EX71SL Earphones.  The quality is just not what I expected from a Creative Product!  I am very much assuming that this is a flaw in the hardware used and not the Portable Media Center OS.  Using the supplied earphones (Which I think I now have 3 pairs of them from Creative) the sound quality is okay.  But spend $50 on a set of new earphones or headphones to go with it and it's not that nice to listen to.
Posted by chrisl | 6 comment(s)
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Portable Media Center's = Cool Portable Devices

I got my Portable Media Center (PMC) today and I have to say it's much more then I expected! I hooked it up today, installed the software, and then started to sync. Windows Media Player 10 did a great job moving all the content directly to the device.  I moved a few movies, TV shows, and a bit of music to the PMC just to test it out. I have got to say, it's very cool.

Many people have said (Including myself at times) that a laptop beats the need for a Portable Media Center. Not true at all here. I can't see picking my laptop over the PMC in most of my uses, and I have a small laptop to start with. First off, the PMC is as thin as my laptop. It's lighter then my laptop. I can keep 5 PMC's in the space it takes just for my laptop! Quality on the device is fine for normal use. It gets bad if you want to use TV out since the resolution of the content is so low. That's the only reason I would use my laptop (Except my X40 doesn't have S-Video out).

Control of the PMC could not be easier. The interface mocks Windows Media Center Edition with additions to make it very easy to use with your hands. I just love this device, and I'm sure I will be posting more about it as I spend more time with it!

Posted by chrisl | 2 comment(s)

Introduction To GraphEdit

GraphEdit is a simple tool that will give you a visual for building and testing filter graphs. This is part of the DirectX SDK but can be found on may websites (However, it's not exactly legal to redistribute it). A Filter Graph is basically a collection of filters used to either render, compress, or convert media files. If you are interested in troubleshooting DirectShow playback in Windows Media Player, this is the best and coolest thing you will ever find. This is a very simple introduction to view a filter graph being built, GraphEdit is so powerful that I could not start to explain all of what you can do (And I can't even do that much). To really understand this you will want to grab a copy of GraphEdit, either from the DirectX SDK or from the web. I have tried to get Microsoft to post just GraphEdit in the Download Center, but that never got anywhere.

So, here's a basic start to using GraphEdit. We will be looking at the filter graph for a DivX encoded video with MP3 audio. To view the graph just open GraphEdit and drag your AVI into the window. You will see a graph created. If all goes right, mots people will see the audio and video stream being spilt by AVI Splitter. From here you will have the video out of the AVI Splitter go to whatever video decoder you have installed and registered. Mine, for example, connects to ffdshow. That will then goto your default Video Renderer. That's just the video however. Now you have audio to deal with. Since my video just has an MPEG-1 Layer 3 stream (MP3) the audio splits off to default MP3 decoder in Windows then to DirectSound. This is the process used by Windows Media Player, Zoom Player, and just about every other media player in Windows.

Now, the fun part! Say you don't want ffdshow to decode the video stream, you would rather give that to DivX 5 decoders. You can change this in the graph by deleting the ffdshow filter and then inserting the DivX decoder from Graph | Insert Filter | DirectShow Filters. Now connect the AVI Splitter to the DivX decoder and then the DivX decoder to your Video Renderer. Render the file. It will still playback, just using a different video decoder. You can change up the audio too. Maybe you want the Ac3Filter to decode the stream.

This is very basic, you can really get into much more interesting stuff! I will likely write about a few of those things later. You can do things like convert DVR-MS to other formats (DivX, XviD, 3ivX, etc), you can capture streaming video and audio and save it, capture FM radio from a TV Tuner card, capture video, and so on. All of this and more!

DivX AVI Decode Filter Graph

WMV Decode Filter Graph

Posted by chrisl | 15 comment(s)
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Transcode To WMV

Faster is better!  For the past 2 days I have been encoding all of my ripped content to WMV to go on my new Portable Media Center that I will get in the next few days.  I have a few dozen DVD's that I have ripped to XviD over the past few months.  Generally I would just rip the DVD with DVD Shrink, but my dorm does not exactly have a monitor/TV that would make that worth while.

So, my task has been to transcode these XviD encoded DVD Rips to WMV to go on my Zen Portable Media Center.  Two computers are being used for this.  Number 1 is my Thinkpad X40.  It takes about 2 hours to transcode every hour of content.  Not that bad for 1.2GHz Pentium M.  The second computer is a 3.2Ghz Pentium 4 HT.  For a 1 hour and 30 minute movie this PC takes about 45 minutes to transcode the file.  Not bad at all on that one.

Instead of using the Windows Media Encoder directly, I am using M2PMCEncoderZX from  If you have a PMC you will want to grab this tool.  You still need to install the Windows Media Encoder, however this program makes it a simple 2 step process for transcoding content.  Since I don't have the Zen in my hands yet, this is good.  Windows Media Player 10 will transcode for you upon syncing, but I need the device first.

So far I have transcoded 15 movies equaling 4.15GB, which is not bad either.  15 full length movies on 4GB leaves tons of room for music, pictures and TV on the Zen.  While transcoding formats is not a good thing to do in terms of quality, I have to say that viewing them in WMP they look rather good.  And when you consider the screen size on the Zen, it should equal out to look great.

Posted by chrisl | 14 comment(s)

Testing BBCode From FF 1.0 pages use IE specific tech. to display a text formatting box. This can not be seen in Firefox, which is the only reason I still use IE. Both this blog and TGB are running on So, via a right click, I can format text. Such as bold text, hyperlinks and others. This is done using XHTML Code. If Thomas Hawk is reading this you are about to sh** yourself if you have not already found this. You can download it via Mozilla Extensions page, once installed you will want to enable XHTML. Tools | Extensions | Options | BBCode. Enable XHTML. Any formating in this post was done with FF 1.0 and BBCode. I'm about to post this to see if it really works.

Let's hope so.

It works. Only problems seems to be that wen you press Enter it does not really get you a line down. :( The trick for that is to add (yourself) [p]xxxxxlineoftextblahblahvlah[/p] for every paragraph. And you use < and > and not [and ] I'm hoping there is some reg entries that I can add that to the right click menu.

...It looks like not. :( However, it's on the list of To Do's for the Extenstion. Along with "Possible toolbar a la ImageToolbar"

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Firefox 1.0 Released. Download Now!

Still using Internet Explorer?  Why?  Download Firefox 1.0 and see what you have been missing.  More secure, more features, faster, and good 101 more good reasons to leave IE behind.  There are only a handful of times you should be using Internet Explorer, and for those times, make sure you have ieView installed in Firefox to make it easy.

Firefox 1.0 Download

Firefox 1.0 Release Notes

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$100 Million First Day For Halo 2!

First-day sales of Microsoft Corp.'s new video game "Halo 2" will reach $100 million, a senior Microsoft games executive said on Tuesday.

"I'm calling a $100 million day on 'Halo' today," Peter Moore, a corporate vice president in Microsoft's games division, said at a Harris Nesbitt investment conference in New York.

The game, in which a super-soldier called "Master Chief" must save the earth from aliens, went on sale around the world on Tuesday, with thousands of stores opening their doors to eager customers just after midnight last night.

In addition to 1.5 million pre-sold units, Moore said one retailer sold 8,500 units in the first 11 minutes of sales, while another sold 200,000 units by daybreak Tuesday.

Analysts expect "Halo 2" to sell a total of about 10 million units, with some projecting up to half of those sales coming in November. The original "Halo" sold 5 million units and remains the best seller on the Xbox to date. (Additional reporting by Franklin Paul in New York)

Source: Reuters

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Home or Professional? Which One Is Media Center?

Windows Media Center Edition has always been built on Windows XP Professional.  We like to call this a superset.  Windows XP Tablet PC Edition and Media Center Edition are the two big supersets, both built on Windows XP Professional.


Does that mean Media Center Edition 2005 is XP Professional?  Kind of.  Here’s the tricky parts, new to MCE 2005 is the ability to use Media Center Extenders.  These Extenders use Fast-User Switching (FUS) to basically create concurrent sessions on your MCE PC.  FUS will not function correctly in a Windows Server Domain, so in MCE 2005 the ability to join a Domain is no longer supported.  Now, my use of supported is based on what is truly supported by Microsoft (What the official FAQ's and such say).


During a clean install of MCE 2005 you can join a Domain.  If you upgrade from MCE 2004 that is set in a Domain you can also keep that.  But, remember you will not be able to use a Media Center Extender.


As Michael Creasy says, Media Center should now be thought of as another version of XP just like Home and Pro”.  Just as Home and Pro offer different features, so does Media Center.

Posted by chrisl | 17 comment(s)
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It's Time For Digital Joy With Microsoft and Intel!

What Is Digital Joy?  I'll let you click the link to find out more about this.  Hint: Windows Media Media Center is a key part. ;-)

Digital Joy

Posted by chrisl | with no comments

The Green Button (TGB) on TV! Yep

Do you have MCE 2005?  Want to view the TGB forums via your remote on your TV?  Sounds like you are in luck! 

The Green Button - MCE Version

TGB on your TV. You knew it would happen.

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What Is a Container Format?

One of the most confusing things in digital media playback on a PC is the use of Container Formats.  This is to be expected as the average person should not need to know what a container is or why container formats are used.  But, in today’s world that is not true, so here is some very basic information about Container Formats.


To start off, think of a Container Format as a standard shipping box.  You get a box in the mail and you think, “Cool!  What’s inside.”  The fact that you got a box means little to nothing in the minds of most normal people.  You don’t really care about the box itself, you care about what’s in that box.  The problem?  You can’t see into the box.  So, what do you do?  You get a knife and cut it open, right?  Then you get the goods inside!


Container Formats follow this same basic idea.  A few common containers are AVI, ASF, WAV, MP4, Ogg, and Matroska.  For the rest of this post I will use AVI, as this is the main problem out there for most people.


So, now you have your AVI (i.e. a Box).  You want to play this file, but before you can do that you have to “open the box”.  You might think this is talking about going to File | Open in your favorite media player, but no!  Way off.  You need to get your knife and open it.  Please don’t take a knife to your PC, in this example the “knife” will be called DirectShow for short.  The magic of DirectShow “cuts open” your AVI and allows you to get the goods out.  In the case of an AVI you have Audio and Video in there most of the time.


From there, DirectShow takes over again when and if you have the correct decoders installed to decode the Audio and Video that was/is “Inside” your AVI (Or box)  At this point your box is open and you are enjoying what is inside!  This can turn out to be another problem, however.  The audio and video inside a container can be encoded with any codec.  Windows Media Player supports playback of AVI files, but if the video is encoded with a third party codec (i.e. DivX) you must first install the DivX Codec from DivXNetworks (Or a compatible decoder) for Windows Media Player to truely “play“ the file.  Without the correct decoders Windows Media Player will just error out, and the video and/or audio might not be ouput.


This is a very simple explanation of what a container is, I could go in much more, but the average person does not need to know anymore then that.

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