website hit counter August 2006 - Posts - Chris Lanier

August 2006 - Posts

Why I Don’t Cover Zune

Several people have asked me why I have not covered any of the Zune leaks and stuff.  The main reason that I don’t cover it is because their isn’t much to say and the last thing Microsoft needs is yet another device over-hyped (read: UMPC) and then it doesn’t sale well.

I’ve always been under the impression that Zune is more like Portable Media Center v2.5.  This has been showing more and more by the latest news.  It’s made by Toshiba who currently makes a Portable Media Center (Gigabeat), it’s UI mockups look like Portable Media Center that I have in my hands right now (Creative PMC), and so on.  It’s just a PMC with what Microsoft considers a “catchy name” and a few new cool features (social networking, WiFi, etc).

I’m not saying it’s not going to be a cool player, but don’t over-hype another product just to see it fail or not live up to what it once was considered to be.

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Home Automation and mControl Post Coming Soon

For those of you who had interest in mControl and Home Automation I'll have a good post about setting up INSTEON switches/dimmers with mControl later this week.  I got a dimmer and controller in yesterday, and setup it up with mControl.  It's working great and I'll have a full review and helpful getting started information to follow.  If anyone has questions about mControl, feel free to post and I'll try and field them in the post or comments.  Now, back to learning Pre-cal (I hate calculus/algebra, give me some geometry or something to do already).  =)
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Vista Will Support HD DVD Playback on 32-Bit Machines

Don't have time to write much, but the stories about only 64-bit is wrong.
Posted by chrisl | 7 comment(s)

Busy, Busy, Busy

Lite posting until I can figure out how-to keep up with my new class load.
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The Media Center Show #71

The Media Center Show #71 | 17th August 2006 (46min 18secs) MP3 - 15.9MB (Download Here)

This week Ian Dixon talked with Christoph Buenger CEO and Founder of Scendix Software, the developers of applications like mceWeather, mcePhone and the award winning application mceAuction.

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Schedule Recordings And Get Recommendations From Your Cell with UGuide

UGuide has launched in beta for Media Center users to try out.  UGuide can be used to view your program guides directly from Media Center on your cell phone (Java-enabled only).  Not only can you view it, but UGuide also can send daily personalized recommendations to you and allow you to remotely schedule recordings!

Search: Find exactly what you want to watch or record
Recommendations: Receive daily recommendations for programs that closely match your TV viewing preferences
Remote PVR Recording: Schedule recordings on your Windows Media Center PVR... from another room or another city
TV List: Quick and easy navigation that helps you find out what's on at a specific time, on a specific channel
TV Grid: A standard program guide, tailored to your mobile phone
Favorite Channels: Store your favorite channels and personalize your program guide

Check out the forum thread on The Green Button for more.

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Yougle: YouTube Meets Google Video

Yougle | Google Video and YouTube Via Media Center | You should already know that you can search and browse YouTube via Media Center, but the developer is not stopping there.  Currently in beta, Yougle from Push-A-Button Software combines YouTube and Google Video into a single Media Center interface.  Free software, but please donate if you like it.

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Slickest Media Center Plug-In Yet; HeatWave!

Nearly a year ago I blogged about a James @ MCExtended tapping into a whole new style of Media Center development.  No Hosted HTML here, James was using undocumented features in a few of Media Center’s dynamic link libraries that allowed him to integrate the plug-in directly using the true Media Center interface/rendered.  The project died out only a few weeks later after James had talks with Charlie Owen about the downsides of using his new development methods.

Anyway, HeatWave is now back and just as cool as ever.  This weather plug-in uses Managed DirectX to present it’s UI and looks and performs nicer then HTML.  Looks great, although doesn’t work on Extenders just yet.  Check out the forum thread at The Green Button for more.

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View IP Based Cameras With mceNetCAM

mceNetCAM (The Green Button Community) | Another great plug-in for Media Center has been updated, mceNetCAM which allows you to view IP Based Network Cameras within Media Center.  Be sure to check out the list of currently supported cameras on the developers website.  It can be downloaded here.

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S1Digital and Autonomic Controls Partner to Provide A/V Integration Support for Media Center

S1Digital LLC, a leading manufacturer of Media Servers based on Windows Media Center Edition, and Autonomic Controls, Inc., the exclusive provider of AV integration software for Windows Media Center Edition, have entered into an OEM agreement to provide custom installers with a two way control protocol for S1Digital Media Centers.

New York, NY. June 30, 2006. S1Digital LLC and Autonomic Controls’ have partnered to provide custom integrators with two-way, IP based control of S1Digital Media Centers. The control protocol is now available as a pre-installed option across the range of S1Digital’s Media Centers and is designed to ease the integration efforts for custom A/V installers.

Residential and commercial A/V installers can utilize S1Digital Media Centers with Autonomic Controls’ technology to provide a cost effective yet hyper-functional whole house Media Server for use in multi-zone audio and video applications while providing a robust touch panel interface for browsing and managing the Media Center’s content library.

Pre-built modules and touch panel interfaces for Crestron control systems is available for download on S1Digital’s website, and an AMX module will be available by September.  The companies will also be demonstrating a UMPC interface to S1Digital’s Media Centers in the Intel booth at CEDIA this September.  After the show, installers and customers can see a demonstration of the touch panel interface at S1Digital’s new showroom in New York City.

S1Digital’s Media Centers provide users with the ability to maintain and enjoy a large media collection of music, movies, pictures, and recorded TV, in a single box. The diverse functionality far exceeds any other media hardware and software currently available, and now S1Digital and Autonomic Controls’ announcement eliminates a major barrier when installing S1Digital’s Media Centers with 3rd party home control solutions.

“Media Center PCs optimized to run as a hub of a home entertainment center--for storing, managing and distributing digital files--can cost $2,000 to more than $7,000, depending on the configuration, whereas [dedicated] music servers typically range from about $5,000 to more than $25,000.”, said Jeff O’Heir, a columnist for Computer Reseller News. “And while those systems are strictly designed for audio, media-oriented PCs can handle music, photos, video games and other files. “

Autonomic Controls’ OEM product, Media Center Edition Control Server (MCECS) acts as a bi-directional communications gateway between the Media Center software and touch panel remote control devices such as those made by Crestron, AMX, and Control 4, or other systems capable of IP communication. The technology will also be used with web tablets, ultra mobile touch screen PCs, and Windows SideShow devices.

Company Information

is a premier builder of high-end, digital entertainment solutions. S1Digita’s Media Centers, based on Microsoft Media Center Edition, capture, store and distribute content including HDTV, movies, music and photos. Optional home automation add-ons enable seamless integration with A/V equipment, lights, HVAC and security systems. The company offers complete digital media solutions and works closely with custom installers to make available the most complete digital entertainment technology to customers. The S1Digital Experience showroom located in New York City showcases the latest digital media technology platforms and their applications in the home. For additional information, visit , email or call (888) 632-6897.

Autonomic Controls, Inc. creates software to help computer and device OEMs, software developers and custom installers integrate Media Center PC’s into today’s automated home and business. The company is focused on extending the functionality of Microsoft Media Center hardware and software to provide real time interaction with control systems and remote controls that integrate with audio/video, security, environmental, and lighting devices.  In addition to MCE control technology, the company provides consulting and software development services to its partners in the A/V and computer industries. Autonomic, Inc. is based in North Salem, NY. For more information on MCE Server, the Autonomic Control System or other inquiries visit or send e mail to

Blogging from Live Writer Beta

Test post using Live Writer Beta.

Posted by chrisl | 1 comment(s)

DVRMSToolbox: The Ultimate DVR-MS Tools Package

DVRMSToolbox (Downloads | andy vt's blog) | DVRMSToolbox is a free set of tools that have nicely been wrapped in a single package to help you work with DVR-MS files. 

Using DVRMSToolbox you can….

  • Convert DVR-MS files to MPEG-2
  • Convert DVR-MS files to MPEG-2 without Commercials
  • Convert DVR-MS files to WMV (audio and video)
  • Convert DVR-MS files to WMV without Commercials
  • Convert DVR-MS files to WMA (audio only)
  • Edit DVR-MS files and save directly back to DVR-MS
  • and much more!

Just install the program and launch DVRMStoMPEGGUI for basic functions.  One of the great things about DVRMSToolbox is that it can be as simple or advanced as you want it to be.  For example, you can use the included DVRMSFileWatcher to convert recordings on a daily basis, or you can do it yourself for select recordings.

See the current DVRMSToolbox Forums if you have any troubles or want advice on how-to do something specific.  Basic help can also be found at the DVRMSToolbox User Guide Wiki (and Here)

It’s a free download, and be sure to check out the developers (babgvant/andy vt's) new blog!

The source code can also be found from the DVRMSToolbox homepage for developers or just the knowledge of those who like to use open source software.

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Cannon PC Releases Core 2 Duo Rack Mount Media Center PC

On Thursday, Houston based Media Center PC Company, Cannon PC, released its much awaited RX Series Rack Mount Media Center PC. Powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and the ability to house 2 terabytes of disk space in 6 hot swappable SATA II drives, the RX series offers serious home theater customers the ability to store their CDs, movies, and photos in a highly available and reliable system.

“We saw a need to build a media center that would allow customers to store vast amounts of digital media in a unit that is built for 24 x 7 availability.” said Gregg Cannon, President of Cannon PC. “With the new RX series we are able to do that. With 6 hot swappable SATA II drives controlled by a 3Ware 9550 SATA RAID controller, if any drive fails the customer simple slides out the bad drive and slide in the new drive without ever having to shutdown the system. The process only takes a couple of minutes. In our competitor’s systems, this can’t be done. Their systems must be shut down and opened up in order to replace the failed drive. This can take hours and if you are not a computer person this can be a daunting task” said Mr. Cannon.

“More and more people are realizing the potential of a computer in the home to do more than just play games, check email or pay bills online. They are learning how Media Centers can record TV, store movies, CDs, and photos and distribute them through out the home. Combine this with software like Exceptional Innovations LifeWare product and the media center allows them to control the entire house including lighting, security and HVAC all from their couch. The high availability design behind the RX Series gives our customers the assurance that their media center is always available” said Cannon.

If you are looking for the latest technology you will find it in Cannon PC Media Centers and the RX in no exception. The standard configuration contains an Intel 975XBX motherboard, Intel 2.4 Core 2 Duo processor, Seagate SATA II NCQ hard drives (configurable in RAID 0, 1, 5, 10), 2 GB high speed RAM (expandable to 8 GB), NVIDIA 7900 series GeForce video card, 8 channel high definition digital audio, dual layer DVD drive, 12-in-1 media card reader, 1 HDTV tuner, 2 NVIDIA Dual TV tuners, gigabit Ethernet, 8 USB ports, 2 Fire Wire ports, wireless mouse and wireless keyboard. Because each system is completely customizable online, the customer can choose to add more memory, hard drives, or increase the size of the processor for more power and storage.

Like all Cannon Media Center PCs, the RX is designed to be very cool and quiet by utilizing high volume very low noise fans and strategically position vents on the case to ensure proper airflow. The RX series case is constructed of high grade steel and will fit nicely into a standard A/V or network rack. It is available in silver and beige upon request.

Cannon PCs line of Media Centers is completely customizable and is available in AMD and Intel platforms. To learn more Cannon PC Media Centers and Media Center accessories or to become an authorized dealer, visit them online at

The Media Center Show #70

The Media Center Show #70 | 10th August 2006 (55min 23secs) MP3 - 19.0MB (Download Here)

This week Ian Dixon talked with Ted Singh from Embedded Automation for the latest news in home automation and home theater PC’s.

Use Windows Movie Maker To Edit DVR-MS…Natively

There has been a very long standing hack on The Green Button for opening DVR-MS files in Windows Movie Maker for direct editing and compressing to WMV.  When it was first posted almost two years ago I tried a few times and had no luck with it.  Recently Bryan posted it in a thread and I tried it again to see if I could get it to work.  What do you know, it did this time! 

Here’s what you do to get it working.

Open Notepad and paste the following in it.


Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

"FriendlyName"="WMT MSDVR 2 Dexter Filter"


@="C:\\Program Files\\Movie Maker\\wmm2dvr.dll"




Save the file with a .reg extension (example: MM2.reg) and then double click on it to merge it with your existing registry.

A reboot is always a good idea, and then just open Windows Movie Maker just import the DVR-MS of your choice.  Edit and compress away.

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Buy a DQ Blizzard on August 10th; All proceeds donated Children's Miracle Network

I’ve been seeing commercials for this for the past week and I hope everyone will try and get out to your nearest Dairy Queen, Thursday August 10th and purchase a Blizzard.  All proceeds will be donated to your local Children's Miracle Network hospital as part of CMN and DQ’s Giving Never Tasted So Sweet! promotion.

Mine will be going to Texas Children's where I had a VSD Repair nearly 20 years ago.  Without it, I wouldn’t be alive to be typing this today.

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Opinions on mControl and Home Automation?

I’ve been fooling around with the idea of playing with mControl and was wondering if anyone out there has played with it before?  I’m not looking to do a full house, maybe a room or two just seeing what it’s all like.  I’ve looked at several other home automation packages for Media Center, but mControl seems to be the cheapest and has more than enough features for just playing around.

Anyone out their using Media Center with mControl, Homeseer, or like?  What do you think of it?

If you have not looked into home automation, any reasons for holding back?

Intel Releases Digital Home Capabilities Assessment Tool

Digital Home Capabilities Assessment Tool (DHCAT) | Intel has released a tool that will evaluates a PC’s capabilities in HTPC areas such as video playback, recording, and streaming for all the popular formats.  It’s a “task-focused” tool and thus can look at software and hardware on your machine and determine stats WMV, MPEG-2, DivX, H.264, etc.

It runs on Microsoft Windows XP or Windows Media Center Edition 2005.

A free DVD can be ordered with here.  It’s 1.5GB, so Intel isn’t releasing a download just yet.  I’ve ordered one and will have a review once it arrives.

Posted by chrisl | 2 comment(s)

Okoro Media Systems Now shipping Core 2 Duo Based Digital Entertainment Systems

Okoro Media Systems, manufacturer of digital entertainment systems for the high end audio video market, is excited to announce the availability of digital entertainment systems based on the Intel Core 2 Duo processor and DTS Connect technology. The TH550 and TH540 models will feature cool and quiet operation with excellent multimedia performance using the Intel E6400 and E6300 processors while the GX300 will maintain its status as the fastest HTPC available with the Intel X6800 at its core.

Okoro Media Systems chose the Intel Core 2 Duo processor because it was designed from the ground up for energy efficiency. Thus, allowing us to create high performance, ultra-quiet, sleek, and low power digital entertainment systems.  Its dual core design allows our customers to transfer their music collection and record their favorite TV shows in the background, while enjoying their home videos or pictures.

“Our new digital entertainment systems run up to 40 percent faster and quieter than our previous generation. This allows us to provide an unrivaled multimedia experience to all of our customers.” said Christopher Curry, VP of Sales and Operations.

The OMS Core 2 Duo models also feature “DTS Connect” technology for 7.1 HD audio, HDCP compliant video playback, and ATSC recording capabilities.

For more information about Okoro Media Systems and our digital entertainment systems, please visit

OMS-TH540 Specifications:
667Mhz Memory
Analog ATI TV tuner
HDTV tuner
ATI X1600 Pro HDMI Video card (HDCP Compliant)
250GB Storage Upgradeable to 1.5 Terabyte of HD Space
Dual Layer DVD Burner
8-channel HD audio with Dolby Digital Live and DTS Connect technology

OMS-TH550 Specifications:
667Mhz Memory
Dual analog ATI TV tuners
HDTV tuner
NVidia 7950 GX2 Video card (HDCP Compliant)
400GB Storage Upgradeable to 1.5 Terabyte of HD Space
Dual Layer DVD Burner
8-channel HD audio with Dolby Digital Live and DTS Connect technology

OMS-GX300 Specifications:
800Mhz Memory
Dual analog ATI TV tuners
HDTV tuner
NVidia 7950 GX2 Video card (HDCP Compliant)
1TB Storage Upgradeable to 3 Terabyte of HD Space
Dual Layer DVD Burner
8-channel HD audio with Dolby Digital Live and DTS Connect technology

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Embedded Automation Introduces mServer (Residential Edition)

Embedded Automation, a leading provider of digital home automation systems, announces the release of mServer (Residential Edition), the latest addition to the mHome product line. mServer provides a centralized home management platform for lighting systems, security systems, HVAC control, IP cameras, irrigation controllers and IR messaging. mServer can be connected to any home network, allowing real-time monitoring, status and control from any connected computer, including home theater PCs. At the core of mServer is mControl, Embedded Automations software application for home automation, which has thousands of users world wide.

"mServer (Residential Edition) follows our principles of being reliable, accessible and affordable. As an embedded system with no moving parts, mServer is an extremely robust platform for digital home management. And as an appliance on the digital home network, your homes information and control is securely accessible anywhere via the user-interface of your choice, including browsers, media centers, ultra-mobile PCs and touch screens." said Ted Singh, Business Development Manager for Embedded Automation.

"In addition to the benefits for end-users, System Integrators will be pleased with the integration options and ease of deployment. mServer comes standard with a remote configuration tool, software development kit (SDK), interfaces to leading protocols like Z-Wave and INSTEON, and support for technologies provided by Elk security systems, Axis cameras and Global Cache network adapters."

mServer (Residential Edition) is available from leading retailers such as Contact Embedded Automation for dealer and OEM inquiries.

mServer (Commercial Edition) is available for commercial applications and provides support for leading building automation technologies including EIB, LON and direct digital/analog I/O. Contact Embedded Automation for mServer (Commercial Edition) inquiries.

For complete specifications and additional information on mServer (Residential Edition) and mServer (Commercial Edition) please visit:

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