website hit counter December 2004 - Posts - Chris Lanier

December 2004 - Posts

MCE Customizer - A Preview Of What's Next

From Olcay with a little help from Danee comes a preview of MCE Customizer!  This time there is something new about it however, and MCE Interface!  The screenshots and the name of the program basically tell the story about what this is and does.


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Responce To Sean, WMP Team vs. MCE Team

Sean Alexander responds to my post entitled “Why Can't the WMP Team be like the MCE Team?”, and first off I would like to say thanks to Sean!  I have enjoyed reading his blog for some time now, much before I came across the chance to have this blog hosted by from Susan Bradley.  Maybe “blogging is a bit like speaking on-stage”, as Sean notes.  I have never been one to shy away from getting up in front of people and speaking my opinion or just making a complete and total fool of myself.  Maybe the WMP team just doesn't have people that with this type of personality.


Now in the past day the members of the MCE team that blog has been a great job addressing a few issues brought up in the media.  Just check out Matt's posts from yesterday, Michael's response to Thomas about “My Pictures” and of course Sean's reply to me, reply to Thomas, reply to Matt and so on.  On the flip side, Thomas has brought up a few WMP issues; we can't get the same type of feedback about those issues as we do from the MCE bloggers!  To most consumers having an issues addressed by anyone related to Microsoft is almost better then it getting fixed or changed!  The fact that they know someone inside Microsoft knows, even if they are not directly connected to the product, is something people want to see!


Much of my wanting the WMP team to be more open has to do with the major disappointment that was the WMP 10 beta period.  Product feedback was not taken from the consumer and limited feedback was taken from MVP's in the private beta.  The release was directly driven by the release of Portable Media Center's and MSN Music.  Fixing bugs from WMP 9 was not really done.  There are dozens of bugs from WMP 9 that are still present in WMP 10.  Without going into great detail the MCE 2005 beta was much better in comparison to WMP 10.  Newsgroups filled with discussion, Chris Hill and others there to reply to posts, suggestions, and more!  Getting a reply to a post in the WMP 10 beta Newsgroups was hit or miss.  Once again, just the simple addressing of issue counts.  :-)


P.S - Zach is most likely the reason I'm an MVP and a large percent of what I have learn about WMP and Microsoft has been through Zach's Newsgroup posts and e-mails.

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Improving Media Center's "My Pictures"

Via Thomas Hawk (and eHomeUpgrade) he blogs about what could be done to improve “My Pictures” in Media Center 2005.  All of his suggestions seem great!  The largest one in my opinion that needs to be fixed is the current issues with random photo process in MCE 2005.  The same image will always appear first, that's not very random! ;)

Sean Alexander and Michael Creasy of Microsoft also blog about Thomas' comments.

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Windows Media Player KB Articles

FIX: "0x8004020D - The buffer is not big enough" error message when you play back or to convert a WAV file that is larger than 2 gigabytes in your client application that uses Microsoft DirectX;EN-US;889136

FIX: The audio is temporarily lost for some items in the playlist when you play streaming content by using the RTSP protocol;EN-US;884267

FIX: Starting Windows Media Player with a skin parameter changes the default skin preference;EN-US;888407

You receive an "Error number 80004005" error message when you try to copy an audio CD or add a playlist to Windows Media Player;EN-US;888020

FIX: Windows Media Player 9 Series for Windows frequently accesses the registry and may affect performance;EN-US;886423

FIX: Windows Media Player does not restore backed up licenses;EN-US;886610

FIX: Windows Media Player 9 Series for Windows may prompt you for your credentials when submitting the client log;EN-US;885353

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MCE To Flop In 2005? Don't Count On It!

As noted on many different sites by now, Phillip Swann of is saying Microsoft's Windows Media Center Edition 2005 will be the biggest flop of 2005.  The first thing I decided to do after reading this guys "Predictions" was to see what he predicted last year in terms of DVR/PVR's.


Amoung his top Predictions for 2004 was that TiVo would be sold to DirecTV (He also predicted that in 2003 also), that it would be the "Buzz Year” for DVD/DVR's, ReplayTV would fold or die, and DVR's would experience "Moderate Growth".


Now, the TiVo thing didn't happen, after he "predicted" it would for two years in a row.  The ReplyTV thing just about everyone saw coming.  We all knew that TiVo would over power it.  I guess DVR's did experience "Moderate Growth", but that really depends on your definition of "Moderate Growth" and he didn't give any context.  Not sure what he meant by "Buzz Year" for DVD/DVR's, but how does "Buzz Year" then relate to the "Moderate Growth" of DVR's that he also predicted?  TiVo is the “Name” for PVR's.  You hear it in TV, Radio, Etc.  DVD Recorders have yet to hit the big time, and are just now starting to be priced correctly, so they could experience "Moderate Growth" in 2005!  BTW, I just purchased a DVD Recorder for my mom from Sony.  So far, it's great!


In terms of 2005 and MCE, I don't think Phillip has taken all the factors into account.  His whole reasoning for MCE big a flop is based on the average American not wanting a PC "as an entertainment device".  Okay?!?


I would call myself an American, let's see how my PC functions in terms of media. 

(1) DVD Player and Jukebox

(2) MP3/WMA Player and Jukebox

(3) TV Viewing and Recording

(4) Editing Home Movies

(5) Internet Radio/Video

(6) DVD Burner

(7) I'm sure there are more. 


My PC is my entertainment device.  The average American has loads of digital content on their PC.  PC's now ship with 160GB+ hard drives just for the storing of digital media!  Music Services offer streams only so you can listen on your PC, is that not “entertainment“?


Screw the MCE angle for a second, what about Windows Media Connect and the half-a-dozen other UPnP type devices and protocols that are specifically meant to send digital content from your PC to set-top devices in your home?


Back to MCE, Media Center Extenders (MCX) get the content off the PC and stream it to your Living Room.  You will see new TV's ship with MCX Technology inside in 2005! (Thanks for the catch, getwired)  The average American uses their PC for "entertainment".  MCE 2005 brings Media Center Extenders to stream the content from the PC (Your Digital Media Hub/Server) to a more "Family Friendly" device with a sweet interface.  I 100% do not buy the fact that the PC is not an "entertainment device", do you?


The PC is a Hub for Digital Media content and will continue to grow in 2005.  While this might not be the “Year of MCE”, it will be far from the “Year MCE Flops”.  That's my Prediction, we will see who is right.

Posted by chrisl | 8 comment(s)

Media Center Communicator In The Works

Via eHomeUpgrade One Voice Technologies' will be introducing Media Center Communicator at CES 2005.  Enabling Voice Navigate for Media Center, E-mail, SMS Texting, Text Messaging, PC-to-PC phone calls, Video calls, and more!

One Voice Technologies

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Want To Beta Test Upcoming Media Center Products/Versions?

Microsoft is looking for prospective candidates for an upcoming beta program. The program will introduce you to a set of technologies providing new digital media experiences on Windows consumer PCs.

Please respond to this invitation using the registration instructions below.  Eligible beta testers will be selected based on data collected from those who fill out the questionnaire at Microsoft BetaPlace.

The beta testing process is very important because it helps ensure that we release the best possible product.  If you are selected to participate in the beta program, you will be asked to install the product and report your testing experiences to Microsoft. Reporting will include installation surveys, bug reports, and other means as required by Microsoft.

To RSVP and become a candidate for this beta program, go to and sign in using a Passport account and the Guest ID below.

If you are new to BetaPlace, you will be asked for a beta ID or Guest ID after logging in with Passport.  Please log in using the Guest ID below.

If you are a current Microsoft beta tester, you will be taken to your personalized Microsoft beta web site after logging in with Passport. On your personalized site, click on the link "Sign in as a Guest" in the upper right side of the page.

When you are prompted for a Guest ID enter the following:

Guest ID:  MS_BetaApp

Please note, if you are currently an active tester on other Microsoft beta programs but have received this mail, you still need to go to the site and RSVP by filling out the entire survey to be considered for this new beta program.
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Web Media For MCE 2005 RC1 Released!

Did you like Web Radio for MCE?  Then you are going to love Web Media for MCE 2005!  Not only will this plug-in help organize your favorite online radio stations, but will also allow you to organize your favorite video streams from the web!  All this is viewable directly inside Media Center and controlable with your MCE Remote.

Web Media Release Candidate 1


While checking out the download above, notice the new website geared towards Media Center plug-ins and applications!  Yet another great resource for finding new and interesting things to do with your Media Center!

mce soft

[PlugIn] Web Media Release Candidate 1 (was Web Radio)

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NVIDIA DVD Decoder Gold and Platinum Editions

New versions now allowing Dolby Digital 5.1 decoding and DTS looks to have made the way down to us.


Media Center Extender Updates with CGMS-A Support

Update Rollup 1 for Media Center Extender contains various updates for the Windows XP Media Center Extender and includes CGMS-A protected TV content playback support. (HBO and Cinemax)

This update is recommended for all Linksys Media Center Extender and HP Media Center Extender customers.

For a complete list of changes included in this update see KB890924

System Requirements

  • Supported Operating Systems: Windows XP Media Center Edition
  • Required Software: Media Center Extender software v1.0, Update Rollup 1 for Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 with HDTV Support
  • Required Hardware: Linksys Media Center Extender; HP Media Center Extender

Update Rollup 1 for Linksys Media Center Extender with CGMS-A Support

Update Rollup 1 for HP Media Center Extender with CGMS-A Support

Description of Update Rollup 1 for Microsoft Media Center Extender for Windows XP Media Center;en-us;890924

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Why Can't the WMP Team Be Like the MCE Team?

What do Michael Creasy, Ed Rich, Matt Goyer, and Sean Alexander (and more) all have in common? They must love the product they help put out.  All of these guys work on the Media Center Team at Microsoft and take a very active role in supporting and developing their product outside of work.  The list people on the Windows Media Player Team is quite a bit smaller, and basically consists of one person.  Zach Robinson is basically the only person working on the Windows Media Player Team who seems like he really cares about the product.  The problem becomes that Zach can’t handle all of the issues that are brought up, nor should he have too!


Why is it that the Media Player guys don't seem to care about their product?  A basic theory about judging the product by its team seems to be somewhat true.  If the Media Center guys see a problem or issue with Media Center they look to be much quicker to either fix the issue, or address it.  Addressing an issue is just, if not more, important then fixing it in many cases.  With Microsoft Bloggers gaining in numbers everyday, the Media Center Team has a large number of people blogging about their product!  Taking a role in your product out of work is a very nice thing to see and reflects the overall product.


Now, a rather large problem with one team not caring as much as they could about a product and another team giving their all is that the products mix!  Media Center uses Windows Media Player for music playback.  The failures in the Media Library directly relate to the problems in Media Center’s My Music and in the Portable Media Center’s.  The fact that Windows Media Player doesn’t support the ability to bypass K-Mixer means Media Center users also suffer.  No matter what the Media Center guys do, their product is now limited by the Windows Media Player Team!


You don’t want to force members to care, that leads to more problems.  The team members should “just care”!  Kind of a prerequisite to getting a job, right?  Sounds good to me, you want a job, you better care enough about it to warrant the pay check.

NVIDIA DVD Decoder Update Released Version: 1.00.67

After much wait NVIDIA has uploaded there new version of the popluar DVD Decoder to their FTP Severs.  In addition to the new version NVIDIA is now offering a trial of the decoder!

NVIDIA DVD Decoder 1.00.67

Webcast: Using Media Center Extender Networks in MCE 2005

You can now enjoy media content in new ways in your home with Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, Media Center Extender, and Windows Media Center Extender for Microsoft Xbox. Whether it is live TV, recorded TV, or digital music, you can broadcast digital entertainment throughout your home. Media Center Extender devices connect a Media Center PC with TVs and monitors in the home so that you can enjoy TV, photos, music, and movies on any TV in your house. Expert Zone columnist Barb Bowman explains how to set up and use these new technologies at home and how to obtain help from the online community when you need it.

Expert Zone Support Webcast: Using Media Center Extender networks in Windows XP MCE 2005;en-us;890080

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Build Your Own Windows MCE 2005 PC

Looking to build a Media Center machine for yourself?  Have questions about good hardware to use?  ExtremeTech might just be able to help you out with their “Build Your Own Windows Media Center PC” guide!

Build Your Own Windows Media Center PC,1558,1741030,00.asp

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InterActual Content In Media Center 2005 Fixes

Via Matt Goyer

Having problems playing DVDs that contain Interactual enhanced content on Media Center 2005? DVD won't play?

You have several options:

To disable Media Center from launching the Interactual player when the DVD is inserted go to Start > Run and type in regedit. Edit the reg key HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\MediaCenter\Settings\Autoscan\ _autoPlayMCLEnabled and set it equal to 0.

If you are in the Interactual experience but want the native DVD experience press the DVD menu button on your remote.

DVDs affected by this:

  • Butterfly Effect
  • Elf
  • the Haunted Mansion
  • Laws of Attraction
  • Lord of the Rings Return of the King Extended Edition
  • Secondhand Lions
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Skin Your MCE 2005! Coming Soon?

Check out the thread below for a project that is currently looking to allow you to skin Media Center 2005 to have it look the way you want it!

MCE2K5 Skinner: MCE Splendor!

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Back At Home Again...

Yesterday I drove home again for my Christmas break. Posts should pick back up in a day or so. :)
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Winter Fun Pack 2004 for Windows XP

I have already told you about TweakMCE from the Winter Fun Pack, but what else do you get in this free download?  Let's see...

Holiday Vizualizations for Windows Media Player 10

  • WhiteCap Holiday
  • Ice Storm
  • Yule Log

Holiday-Themed Skins for Windows Media Player 10

  • Frostbite
  • Ice
  • Ginger man
  • Ginger woman
  • Halo 2

PowerToys for Windows Media Player 10

  • Holiday Auto Playlists (Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Christmas)
  • Song Signature Plug-in
  • Media Info Exporter

Tweak MCE 2005 (Read Below)

Wallpaper Changer

Add-ons for Photos, Media Center and More!


TweakMCE for Media Center 2005 Released!

TweakMCE is a new PowerToy that is currently part of the Winter Fun Pack for Windows XP and will be available as a seperate soon.

Notable features of TweakMCE...


    * Disable autorun of Interactual content
    * Change the DVD notification timeout


    * Change the skip back interval (2 min skip anyone?)
    * Change the storage location for recorded TV
    * Change the watched folders for recorded TV
    * Change the length of time a notification appears before a recording starts
    * Change reaction time compensation
    * Change the more info panel timeout
    * Change the seek bar timeouts


    * Turn off that annonying add to notification
    * Make the pivots in the music area sticky

Remote Control

    * Set your remote control ID so you can have multiple MCE's in one room
    * Enable a universal remote control by turning off debounce


    * Turn off the TV skin
    * Turn off network congestion dialogs
    * Turn off IE warnings

Winter Fun Pack 2004 for Windows XP

A big thanks goes out to Matt Goyer and the other people on the MCE Team for making this!

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Real HD Movies That Look Real Good! In WMV?

Over at AVSForum there has been a discusson for some time about true Hollywood Films being released in HD.  The wait seems to be over with several movies being released in Germany in WMV-HD.  Titles such as Underworld Extended Edition, Timeline, We were Soldiers and Italian Job.  These are not IMAX films, they are true Hollywood Films, in HD, that you can really buy!

There has to be a catch, right?  Right.  For people in Germany this is not bad, however since I live in the US it will cost over $50 with shipping just to get it here!  The specs for Underworld are below and the screenshot (AVSForum Thread) of movie looks great.

UNDERWORLD Extended Edition

Video :1280 x 544 Pixels
8.94 Mbps 7.82GB in size
1. English, Windows Media Audio 9 Professional 5.1 (440 kbps)
2. Deutsch, Windows Media Audio 9 Professional 5.1 (440 kbps)

Check out the AVS thread below for a wole lot more information screenshots of current releases.

WMV-HD titles (Underworld, Timeline, Italian Job, We were soldiers etc.)

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