website hit counter April 2007 - Posts - Chris Lanier

April 2007 - Posts

S1Digital to Ship CableCARD Enabled Media Centers in Early May

April 25th 2007, New York, NY - S1Digital, a leading builder of high-end Media Centers announced they will be introducing CableCARD (OCUR) enabled Media Centers and Servers in early May.

Digital Cable Tuners are the “must have” technology of 2007 and will allow customers to watch and record digital cable programming, including premium HDTV channels, directly from their S1Digital Media Center without the need for a set top box. Up to two Digital Cable Tuners can be installed on each Media Center.

When coupled with Media Center Extenders (such as the Xbox 360) customers will be able to stream live TV, including HDTV, to other rooms around their home via a standard home network, providing an extremely easy to install and use multi-room video distribution solution.

Adding Digital Cable Tuners rounds out S1Digital’s already full featured solutions that include HD-DVD and Blu-ray playback, 1080p HDMI video output, 7.1 channel surround sound, multi-terabyte storage and Intel Viiv Technology. S1Digital Media Centers are powered by Intel Core 2 Duo and Quad processors and run Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate.

“We are excited to offer this new HDTV experience on our Media Centers. The inclusion of CableCARD technology is yet another example of S1Digital’s commitment to bringing the very best home entertainment solutions to our customers,” said Paul Heitlinger, S1Digital CEO and founder.

S1Digital ProLine and Home Series Media Centers with CableCARD are available for pre-order now.

For a demonstration of S1Digital’s Media Centers with CableCARD, visit the S1Digital Experience at 117 E. 7th St or Stereo Exchange, at 627 Broadway, just North of Houston St., in New York City (from the middle of May).

For further information, please visit www.s1digital.com, email sales@s1digital.com or call (888)632-6897.

HiPe PC Launches Driv-N Line of Car-PCs Featuring Voice Control Powered by One Voice Technologies

One Voice Technologies, Inc. developer of 4th Generation voice solutions for the Telecom and Interactive Multimedia markets, and HiPe PC, manufacturer of high performance desktop, notebook, media center and professional workstations, today announced that HiPe PC has launched Driv-N(TM), a new line of in-vehicle devices based on Microsoft Windows Vista Media Center and powered by One Voice's voice control. Starting at $799, Driv-N is the ultimate in-vehicle entertainment experience designed to fit into most vehicles and offers a brilliant in-dash 6.5" motorized touchscreen display (Driv-N I15) and optional 15.3" roof mount LCD for added rear passenger enjoyment. For more information about Driv-N, visit http://www.hipepc.com/store/pc/viewCategories.asp?idCategory=102 or http://www.hipepc.com.

With Driv-N you can watch DVDs, listen to CDs, MP3s, Apple iTunes, enjoy XM online satellite radio, Internet Radio and browse the web, while remaining connected to your home or office PC in ways you've never imagined. Best of all, Driv-N can be controlled entirely by voice! Voice Control for Driv-N, powered by One Voice's Media Center Communicator(TM), delivers high accuracy for a wide variety of accents, operates on simple to use voice commands and requires no voice training.

Driv-N features include:

  • Voice recognition by One Voice
  • Motorized 6.5" touchscreen monitor
  • Integrated GPS navigation
  • High speed mobile internet access
  • AM/FM/XM Radio
  • DVD/CD/MP3/WMA/iTunes playback
  • Bluetooth hands free calls
  • Onboard OBD II vehicle diagnostics
  • Integrated rearview camera control
  • Read and send email
  • Create your own custom voice commands to launch websites and applications

"Driv-N revolutionizes the in-vehicle entertainment and navigation experience by consolidating the functionality of many devices into one affordable package," said Richard Stenlund, Sales and Marketing Manager at HiPe PC. "Our integration with One Voice enables Driv-N users to easily and naturally navigate their digital entertainment while keeping their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel."

"We are very excited about our partnership with HiPe PC and the tremendous potential of the emerging car-pc market," said Dean Weber, president and CEO at One Voice Technologies. "Drive-N represents the most feature rich in-vehicle entertainment and navigational system available today, and at an affordable price. We look forward to a strong and prosperous relationship with HiPe PC."

About HiPe PC
Driv-N is the first of several new lines of personal computers by HiPe PC. HiPe PC offers unique computer technology products that include Home Theater computers, Gaming Computers and high performance Notebook PCs built from top quality components, with a strong focus on silent, high performance computing and superior customer service. For more information on HiPe PC, visit http://www.hipepc.com or call 1-888-602-6960.

About One Voice Technologies, Inc.
One Voice Technologies, Inc. (OTCBB:ONEV - News) is the world's first developer of 4th Generation voice solutions for the Telecom and Interactive Multimedia markets. Our Intelligent Voice(TM) solutions employ revolutionary, patented technology that allows people to send messages (E-mail, SMS, Instant Messaging and paging), purchase products, get information and control devices - all by using their voice. The company is headquartered in La Jolla, California. For more information, please visit http://www.onev.com.

Upgraded to Community Server 2007

Susan and the gang just updated msmvps.com to Community Server 3.0 (2007).  Still a few things to work out (right now part of my AdSense is broken), but this should help with the slowness that I'm sure most of you noticed over the past few months.

Any problems, please let me know. 

Edit: Got AdSense working (Thanks Susan!) 

Posted by chrisl | with no comments
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April 2007 Cumulative Update for Media Center for Windows Vista

April 2007 Cumulative Update for Media Center for Windows Vista | Microsoft has released the April 2007 Cumulative Update for Media Center for Windows Vista. This update contains several improvements, and it resolves several issues. This cumulative update is intended for computers that are running Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate.

Issues that are resolved by this update

In addition to the fixes that are contained in the updates that are listed in the "Hotfix replacement information" section, the April 2007 Cumulative Update for Media Center for Windows Vista resolves the following issues:

  • The video may appear to freeze when the movie begins in some DVDs.
  • When you rotate a picture during a slide show in Windows Media Center, the wrong photo may be rotated.
  • The cover art for recorded TV movies may not appear in the DVD library view.
  • When you delete a picture in Windows Media Center, you may receive an error message that resembles the following:

AUDIO ERROR
The Url contains one or more invalid characters.

  • When you try to play a DVD by using Autoplay, you may receive an error message that resembles the following:

Tuner not installed

Improvements that are in this update

The update also provides the following improvements:

  • Online Media support has been added for Windows Media Center on 64-bit versions of Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate.
  • Video Playlist support has been added for Windows Media Center Extenders.
  • Improvements have been made to Online Media caching.

Download via Windows Update | Download Package Here

Control Media Center with MCE Virtual Remote

Ryan Tollefson over at The Green Button has created my new favorite application for Media Center.  MCE Virtual Remote uses Charile Kindel’s MCE Controller to create a virtual software remote that you can use for basic controller of your Media Center.

If you are like me, and always have a laptop (or a tablet) in front of your face while sitting on the couch this is must have software.  I always seem to lose my actual remotes, and this is the best backup I can have.  Another great use, and while Ryan developed it is to use it with a UMPC.

Ryan released it last night, and after playing with it I suggested that he add a minimize to tray feature for the Virtual Remote so that you could always have it running on the PC.  Apparently Ryan also liked the idea and updated the program an hour or so later with the feature.

Give it a try, free download and very useful.  While you are trying that out, you also might want to take a look at Ryan’s Group Policy for Windows Vista to replace Explorer.exe with Media Center.

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mControl v2.00 Alpha 3 with Vista Support and Conditional Macros

mControl v2.00 Alpha 3 (Registration Required) | If you are an mControl user and you are running Vista you might want to start playing the v2 which is now code complete.  x64 is not yet supported, so only x86 Vista users can try it out.  It will also install on Windows XP, but I don’t believe you get any of the new UI elements (MCML).

Embedded Automation has also added conditional macros which is my top request for mControl.  I don’t see the main one I want yet (automation based on playlist access), but it’s getting there.

Registered users can download the Alpha now, but as with all pre-release software it is not recommended for daily use.

On a related note, you can also check out mControl running on Windows Home Server.

Joost Invite Winners Posted!

If you replied to my post about Joost Invites last week, today is the day you know if you were selected at random!  First, a background on the process.  I deleted a few posts from people who had already got invites from other sources and a few posts on people offering invites to me (keep reading for more on that).  This left a bank of 76 people, and random numbers were drawn out of this 76.  So, without further ado, here are the first three winners.

Post # 14 – eufreka
Post # 18 - Adam
Post # 65 - Frank

Congrats to all above.  I sent out your invites a little bit ago through Joost.  Now, thanks to a few other generous readers I have an additional 6 invites to give out!  The follow people have also won a Joost invite from David Case.  Your invites will be sent by David to your e-mails used in the replies.

Post # 31 - Arvid Palsson
Post # 1  -  Mariano
Post # 4 - Anders

The follow people have also won a Joost invite from Dale (dnr).  Your invites will be sent by Dale to your e-mails used in the replies.

Post # 26 - Rasmus
Post # 32 - Noah
Post # 9 -  dthigpen

Thanks to all who replied and a special thanks to David and Dale for supplying the extra invites!  If I get any more invites through Joost (or donations) I will do another post and you will need to reply again for another chance to win.  Keep a watch out here for any more chances to win and congrats to those who have already won!

Posted by chrisl | 7 comment(s)

The Media Center Show #104

The Media Center Show #104 | 19th April 2007 (61min 11sec) MP3 - 22.9MB (Download Here)

This week Ian Dixon talked with Julie Jacobson Editor-at-large at CE Pro about how Professional AV installers are taking to the Vista edition of Windows Media Center and the Electronic Home Expo show last month.  Also e-mail, a winner of forum poster of the week, and a copy of Vista - Beyond the Manual to give away.

Posted by chrisl | with no comments

Get Your Joost Invite Here!

I’ve got three Joost invites to give out, and since I already know so many people who would like them I figured the best thing I could be is make it a random drawing.

Reply to this post with your e-mail (Note: user [at] domain [dot] com preferred to stop spamming by bots) by Friday for your chance to win.  Winners will be drawn at random and I’ll post the winners over the weekend as well as e-mail you your invites.

Posted by chrisl | 76 comment(s)
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Want to Beta Test the Next Version of Media Center?

I’ve been really busy, but that shouldn’t stop you from clicking here and thus getting a chance to beta test the next version of Windows Media Center!  If chosen, you will be contacting via e-mail by May 31, 2007.  (Via Jessica)

Niveus Media Centers Now Shipping With HD Media Store, Featuring MusicGiants’ HD Music

MusicGiants and Niveus Media become the first to deliver CD lossless quality and multi-channel music downloads directly into the Media Center experience.

Milpitas, CA – April 11, 2007 – Niveus Media, Inc. the award-winning manufacturer of hardware and software digital media entertainment solutions, and MusicGiants™, the leader in HD music downloads, are pleased to announce the availability of high definition 2.0 stereo and 5.1 surround sound music downloadable on Niveus’ 2007 Windows Vista-based media centers!

Niveus’ new HD Media Store provides an intuitive media center interface to access MusicGiants’ extensive network of digital downloads from major and independent labels. Niveus’ exclusively designed media store is the first high definition media portal that enables downloads and purchases through Windows Media Center via MusicGiants. The HD Media Store enables customers to easily browse, purchase, and download music from MusicGiants in the Windows Media Audio Lossless (WMA) format store, and seamlessly access this content from within the Windows Media Center ‘Music’ menu, providing a single location for one’s entire music collection.

“Niveus is excited to bring our dealers and customers into the world of HD Media downloads,” states Tim Cutting, CEO of Niveus Media. “By working closely with MusicGiants, Niveus is the first to launch an integrated music shopping experience that delivers the best in high quality music downloads from the MusicGiants catalog.”

Purchasing uncompromised HD music has never been easier. Niveus’ 2007 Vista-based media servers, including the Summit Series, Rainier and Denali Editions, as well as the Pro Series, n7 and n9, are now shipping [and are a great option for those dealers and custom integrators looking to fill the void from HP’s recent decision to discontinue development of its Media Center Edition (MCE)-based Digital Entertainment Center (DEC)] and incorporate the live HD Media Store software application.

MusicGiants, which launched in 2005, is the only music download service to offer high-definition, digital recordings from the top music companies such as EMI Music, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group. Their downloads deliver full resolution music at up to 1100 kbps for “true CD quality” sound. This WMA format boasts up to four times the sound quality of any other download service, including those expected to be available in May 2007 from EMI through Apple. MusicGiants also offers Super HD downloads (as in re-mastered DVD Audio or SACDs available in either 5.1 surround sound or 2.0 stereo) which play at sample rates up to 11,000 kbps.

“We’re pleased to have Niveus be our first hardware partner to deliver MusicGiants’ integrated premium HD entertainment to their media centers,” said Scott Bahneman, CEO of MusicGiants. “The combination of Niveus and the Vista platform now allows consumers to purchase their entertainment at the highest quality available for home use and also transcode it down for all of their portable devices.”

Niveus customers with Windows XP-based media centers can visit the website for the latest product and software updates, product information, and software downloads, including the MusicGiants portal. Niveus’ 2007 media centers are amongst the first Windows Vista Ultimate-based Media Center systems to incorporate Intel’s Viiv™ technology including Core 2 Duo processors, HD DVD and CableCARD compatibility for premium HD television viewing and recording.

For more information on Niveus Media, please visit www.niveusmedia.com.

For more information on MusicGiants, please visit www.musicgiants.com.

The Media Center Show #103

The Media Center Show #103 | 12th April 2007 (52min 45sec) MP3 - 18.1MB (Download Here)

This week Ian Dixon talked with Francis Hogle, Development Manager for Windows Media Center about Media Center and how its progressed over the last five years, especially for developers. Also e-mail, a winner of forum poster of the week, and a copy of Vista - Beyond the Manual to give away.

Posted by chrisl | with no comments

Need Your Opinions on ContentLink

I’ve had ContentLink running on the site since last week, and most of you have likely have not noticed it.  I’ve only put it on archived help articles and such, but not much on my blog postings.

I know that most of you are not fans of ContentLink, as I have seen your reactions at The Green Button between ContentLink and IntelliTXT.  As I don’t need the revenue to keep this blog going, I wanted to ask people’s opinions before I go any further with it.

Since most people don’t like ContentLink, I’m not planning on enabling it site wide or for that matter, on the front page.  When you come here, my main goal is for you to be interested in the content.  Content always comes first, and when ads interferer with content that’s a problem for me.  I do however have a small interest in advertising, so I would like to explore that here.

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ContentLink Example

My thoughts for ContentLink on this site including keeping it off of the front page, always keeping  RSS ad free, and providing a way for you to disable it if/when enabled.

What I was thinking is that I can use ContentLink to better monetize my traffic coming from Google, so starting this month as posts get knocked off the front page, I would edit them to add the ContentLink code.  You would only see the ContentLink pop-ups when you click back to the old stories, or who I’m really gunning after, when Google searchers find results on my blog.

I’d like to get your opinions on this.  I feel that keeping it off the front page is the best bet for general acceptance.  For those who are not fans at all, I noticed that you can selectively disable ContentLink on a site-to-site basis.  To do this, click the link below to go to an example of what ContentLink looks like enabled.  Hoover over one of the links and then click on the question mark (“?”) in the top right.  Scroll to the bottom of that page, and it says “…if for any reason you would like to disable ContentLink.”  Done, you will never see them again (until you delete your cookies).

So, what do people think?  I’d like everyone’s opinion on this before I do anything else.  You can click here for an example of what a post looks like with ContentLink enabled.

Posted by chrisl | 12 comment(s)
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Apple TV Gets Broadcast Marketing; Microsoft Still Doesn't

Looks like Apple gets convergence marketing for Apple TV (as expected), maybe Microsoft wants to take a hint from this commercial and apply it to all of there offers.

This is, in my opinion, the biggest problem with the platform.  It’s not the lack of SoftSled, it’s not that CableCARD requires you to buy a new PC, it’s not limited codec support on Extenders.  It’s the fact that people don’t know what they have or what they can do.

Missing Remote Reviews PC-Based Placeshifters

Mike has a review up at Missing Remote of the various programs that can stream your video and recorded TV to anywhere in the world.  Orb, WebGuide4, and SageTV's Placeshifter all three that can replace the need for you to purchase a Slingbox, but how do they really stack up? 

Well… I’m not going to tell you, but read Mike’s review to find out.  Complete with pictures, features, and pros/cons.

Posted by chrisl | with no comments

Blockbuster Online Plug-In For Media Center

We have seen NetFlix support in Media Center for years now, but it looks like it is Blockbuster’s turn now.  My Blockbuster v0.1 is a new plug-in for Media Center 2005 that allows you to Add and remove titles from your queue, Browse New Releases, Browse Recommendations, Search, View movie details, Watch movie trailers, and more.  Check it out here.

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Posted by chrisl | 1 comment(s)

Spring Update for Xbox 360 Adds MPEG-4 Decode

Spring Update for Xbox 360 | Among the new features to the Xbox 360 with the Spring Update is this little jewel below.

  • H.264 video support: Up to 10 Mbps, Baseline, Main, and High (up to level 4.1) Profiles with 2 channel AAC LC and Main Profiles.
  • Added MPEG-4 Part 2 video support: Up to 5 Mbps, Simple Profile with 2 channel AAC LC and Main Profiles.

The question now is does it apply just to the Dashboard or does it also apply to Media Center Extender functions?

Notes: DivX and XviD are MPEG-4 Part 2 ASP.  According to the announced support, they are not supported.  It also doesn't say if AVI containers are supported.  There is a lot unanswered at this point about the support, but considering audio support is marked for AAC I assuming that it only supports MP4 containers (meaning not AVI).

Edit: Confirmed that it does not apply to Media Center Extender of the Xbox 360.

Update: Microsoft updated the page.  It used to say H.264 at 15 Mbps, and MPEG-4 at 8 Mbps.  It now says 10 Mbps, and 5 Mbps respectively.

Recording Broker Does Conflict Resolution With Networked Pool of Tuners

Recording Broker - Automated Recording Conflict Resolution over Network | I wouldn’t expect anything other than greatness from the man who bought us DVRMSToolbox, and Recording Broker is no exception.  It is a very neat utility for those of us with more than one Media Center PC.  No longer do you need your single Media Center PC to have six tuners, now you can share the love!

Recording Broker is a simple application and service that runs on your Media Center PC’s.  When you have a recording conflict, it pings the other Media Center PC’s on your network and asks them to resolve it for you.  This means that you can schedule four shows to record on a PC with three tuners, and it forwards the forth recording request to your other Media Center PC, which might have two tuners.

I’ve been playing with it and it works amazing well.  I’ve got a Media Center PC with three tuners, and a second one with two tuners.  An Xbox connects to the Media Center PC with three tuners, and all is happy.  However, there is every so often when you want to record four things at night.  Sure, I could walk to the other PC and schedule it, share the recorded TV folder, and etc.  But, with Recording Broker I just schedule away via the Xbox Extender and Recording Broker distributes the load between the two Media Center PC’s (you still would want to share the Recorded TV folder though).

Free download from Andy’s Blog, but you know with something this cool you want to donate a few bucks to Andy.     Versions for both MCE 2005 and Vista.

Don’t forget to also check out DVRMSToolbox with Automatic Commercial Skip.

Posted by chrisl | 1 comment(s)

Why Media Center Records to DVR-MS

Every time I see a post about what Microsoft should do to make Media Center better it never fails that one of the first replies to “record to something other than DVR-MS.  No matter how many times people request this, it will not happen.  DVR-MS is a necessary format for Media Center for various reasons; the main ones from a user perspective are metadata, content protection, and hardware resources.

  • Metadata – Metadata is very important to Media Center, as with any PVR.  Standard MPEG-2 isn’t going to be able to hold the same amount of metadata (none, actually).  You might be saying “I don’t need to stinkin’ metadata,” and you would be wrong.  Show title, recording date, duration, etc are all part of what DVR-MS brings.  Remember, DVR-MS is really just MPEG-2 within an ASF wrapper, so you can strip the MPEG-2 out easily.  Having the metadata within the file is helpful when converting the format to other formats like WMV, and also when copying the file to other PC’s.  The metadata stays attached in both of these scenarios.
  • Content Protection – You can complain all you want about Microsoft supporting DRM, but it’s not going to change anything.  Supporting CGMS-A in Media Center since the first version can be seen as the first step to CableCARD support.  It can be seen as the first step to DIRECTV/Dish support.  Notice how no other PC PVR has these, and then notice the file formats they record in.  PVR’s that record to vanilla MPEG-2 will be forced to change to a format like DVR-MS to get support for anything new.  Yes, there are problems with CGMS-A, big ones in fact (post on that coming later).
  • Resources – This one never fails too, “I want to record to XviD!”  I say “Why?”  It’s important to remember to recording directly to MPEG-4 means that your CPU is going to be encoding the video on-the-fly.  That means lower video quality, and it ups the system requirements for the PC.  Media Center supports two NTSC (or two CableCARD Tuners) plus two ATSC Tuners.  If you were to record to XviD you are going to be lucky to have support for two tuners.  Even with dual-core and quad-core processors, it is still going to tax the system to much.  When hardware manufactures start including hardware MPEG-4 encoders on their cards, this will change.  However, very few are doing this right now and I don’t expect it ever to be supported in Media Center.  I think we will see the first MPEG-4 capture come with the DIRECTV solution.
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