About the author

My name is David Evans, I live out in CT. I am a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and also carry a few certifcations on Windows Vista Media Center/Home Server. I started with Media Center back in 2004, as a way to not have to pay the cable company for a DVR. It turned into a hobby and a passion of mine.

I run a small business building them and supporting them, as well as one of the top posters on TGB. I started this site to start blogging tips and tricks for Media Center, as well as being a 3rd party site run on my own guidelines.

I’m a Media Center MVP !!!!

by DavidinCT 2. April 2010 01:44

I got the e-mail today ! Am a Microsoft Windows Media Center MVP 2010 ! Glad to be part of it !!!

Tags:

Hidden menu to show status of tuners in Media Center

by DavidinCT 27. March 2010 06:21

This is a nifty little treat while your watching TV and running into issues. You can see what each tuner is doing and what it’s viewing or recording. Also a bunch of other info on it as well. It’s a hidden debug menu. This shows up on the Vista with TV pack and Windows 7

While watching live TV grab your remote and hit 411 then Info the info key. Use the left and right on the remote to move between the info, and 411 info to dismiss it.

In this example, on my office machine I have only 2 tuners and it’s showing the status of the tuners.

w7-debug

 

clubhouse, media center, media center-windows 7, how-to, Tip

Tags:

Why I hate Comcast….

by DavidinCT 3. March 2010 09:53

So, if your in a Comcast area, they are showing all these ads about XFINITY, claiming 100+ HD channels and tons of deals and other stuff. If anyone has been following my posts on TGB or other sites, you would know that my area STINKS for HD with Comcast. According to their site (and I have had them) 6 HD channels besides locals and Premium channels (only 3 that I would watch and 1 that might watch a lot), that is a far fetch from 100, or even 20.

So, now that they are showing these ads every commercial break in my area, I decided to drop them a line and ask them what is up for my area. I used their on-line “talk with an agent”.

.....

You gota love them trying to sell you on something when a client could of gone through a nightmare and canceled their service to move back to them and they LIED to you about what they offer.

Story continued here.... (on a post on my forum)

http://mc.anywherecool.com/Forum/default.aspx?g=posts&t=14

Tags:

An easy way of setting up the Movie Library in Media Center

by DavidinCT 1. March 2010 11:37

Now I am going to go into setting up the Movie Library in Windows 7. Some of this (most) will apply to the DVD library in Vista as well. This looks a little long but, I just went into every detail and once you set it up, it will be very easy to add movies.

With this being said, there are a lot of options and programs to help with this. There are also a lot of options for 3rd party Movie managers, I’m using the built in one. I have chosen one program that I have used from Vista and has worked very well for me. There are other options than this but, I find adding a movie with this, even though I have to do it outside of Media Center, I can get the image and meta-data info, very quickly and edit it to my needs.

My main Media Center system has about 70+ movies on it, most in HD (1080p/720p). I am not going to get into ripping DVDs or blu-ray. There are many 3rd party programs like AnyDVD or DVDfab that do a good job to help in these areas.

In this example I will be using 2 movies on a Computer that does not have any movies setup in Media Center. One Movie is a DVD rip (The Simpsons Movie - VOB files) and the other is a rip to a 1080P AVI file (Crank – High Voltage, entertaining flick BTW). This will cover both types that you can use in Windows 7 Media Center (Vista can only use VOB format, no video files).

To keep everything together (and give MC a place to watch), I keep all movies in a sub folder of a “Movies” folder in the root. This is the best practice to do, when you get a new movie, just drop it into this folder and Media Center will be able to see it. The movies are all stored in E:\Movies\ <movies folders here>

The general rule is for movies is, like above but, for DVD rips, have the VIDEO_TS/AUDIO_TS in the root of your named folder and for video files, just have a video file in the folder named the same as the folder Ex: E:\movies\MyCoolMovie\MyCoolMovie.mkv Each movie has to be in it’s own folder.

movies

I am assuming you are following this format, folder structure and movies are on the local machine in this example.

Open Media Center and open the Movie Library, Right click or hit the “Info” button on your remote and select/Click on “Manage Library

manage

A wizard will come up, Select “Add folders to the library” and select Next. Then “On this computer (includes mapped network drives)” and select Next. Browse to the folder, expanding the drive and put a check mark next to the folder where your movies are located.

mov-select

After selecting the folder, hit Next. Confirm changes window, Select “Yes, use these locations” and click Finish. Now it should drop you back into the Movie Library, with your 2 movies listed by folder name with just some colored boxes (temp covers). Nothing special, so no pic for this one.

Download and install: DVD Library Manager (don’t worry about the version in the first post, it’s always updated with the same name). This is outside of Media Center. This will only work, AFTER you setup the Movie library (it wont’ find anything unless it knows where to search)

We have video files (not just DVD VOB rips) so we need to adjust for that. Open the program and select “Loading options” and check “Include Videos (One per folder) (Windows 7 and up)”. At this point you should see your 2 Movies listed, like in this case.

 

mov-list

Now we have to setup the details of the movies (this will get the cover art and the meta data).

Now double click on a movie in the list and another window will come up (DVD Details), This is where you’ll search for your movie. You can choose from searching Amazon or IMDB for your info. In this case, I will use Amazon to search for my data (if your having problems finding data, You might need to edit the “Movie title” a little for a better search or try both, one might be better than the other). So Click on AMAZON and a “Search Amazon” window will come up.

mov-crank At the top, you can select the movie, in this case, this is a blu-ray rip, so I selected the Blu-ray version. Now notice this window. This is all the data, If you don’t want it to use that data, uncheck the box next to it. You can edit parts as well, The one you will see the most is the “Synopsis” so, if you feel it looks bad, edit it or select another one from the list that fits your needs (IMDB might have a better picture or synopsis). Once you are ok with the data, Click Save from the top left hand corner.

Your now back in the DVD Details window with all the info filled out, you need to save the cover art now.

mov-sav-art

Click the floppy disk and select Save (it will save it in the right folder), Then click Save in the DVD Details window.

Now you will be back in your list but, your movie details will be filled out and your art will be shown ! That’s it, that is all you have to do for each movie you put in there, after you do it a few times, it will take under a minute for each movie. Now do this for the rest of the movies, doing a search, selecting your data and saving your art. Once you are done, close this window and open Media Center, then open the movie library.

mov-final

Now your movies will be listed with cover art and the full Synopsis as you selected. Enjoy !

clubhouse, media center, media center-windows 7, how-to, Tip

Tags:

Scheduled restarts for Media Center (pop up to cancel reboot)

by DavidinCT 23. February 2010 07:55

A lot of what I am covering on this blog is for people who run a Dedicated Home Theater PC. This is one of them.  I always used the task scheduler and batch files to schedule restarts, normally at 3-4am so no one is watching the TV at the time. This will help keep the system running the best possible and keep the system with the best resources. I only reboot the system 1 to 2 times a week, depending on the demand of the system.

The problem is, sometimes I stay up really late and what happens when it runs is it just shuts down the PC no matter what I am doing with no option to cancel it from Media Center.

I was looking for a wile for a option but, Mikinho created this nifty little program and very simple to use. What it does is when it sees a “shutdown” command, it will run and pop this up in Media Center. So if your watching TV, you can cancel it and keep watching with out it rebooting on you !!!!

When it sees a shutdown command, it will prompt in Media Center with this type of window.

abort-system-shutdown-01

Here is the program: Abort System Shutdown

How to setup: Download, Install that Program and reboot the system.

How to setup to do a scheduled reboot:

Browse to Start\Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Administrative Tools\

Open “Task Scheduler” and select “Create basic task” (under Actions on the right hand panel)

Name “ Scheduled Reboot” (and put any details here that you want, it will not effect anything) Next…

Check Weekly Next… Select Day/days you want the system to reboot and what time. In this example, Sunday and Wednesday @ 4:00 AM…select Next

task

 

Select “Start a program”…Next…  fill in below

Program/Script: Shutdown

Add arguments (optional): -r -t 120

 

This will Reboot the system ( –r ) and delay it 120 seconds ( -t 120 ) before rebooting, Select Next and finish.

If you use sleep and you would like the system to “wake up” to restart, In the Task scheduler Library, find your “Scheduled Reboot” task, open it, select the “Conditions” tab, and check “Wake the computer to run this task” and hit ok.

At anytime you can go back to this Task Library and Edit your Scheduled reboot, from days to time, or even on some other options. This will make it flexible to what you need. If you want any more details on how this program works, read the details on the site where you downloaded it (above)

To Test: Have the task scheduler window open so you can see your Scheduled task of “Scheduled Reboot” listed. Open Media Center in a window. So you can see both Windows.  Right click on your “Scheduled Reboot” task, Select “Run”. You should see the popup like below in Media Center after 2-5 seconds, If you select cancel, it will stop, if you hit OK or do nothing, it will reboot after about 2 minutes.

Now you can have your Scheduled reboots with out kicking someone off who is watching TV at the time. Enjoy !

reboot

 

clubhouse, media center, media center-windows 7, how-to, Tip

Tags: , , , ,

HTPC | Media Center | Media Center-Windows 7

Set the root folder of videos and pictures in Media Center

by DavidinCT 19. February 2010 08:09

This was one the little annoying issues I have had with Media Center from the XP days. The Problem is when you use the “Video Library” or “Picture Library” and have all your data on a different drive, you will always have to click a folder when you enter one of these options, even if it is the only folder available.

For Example, I have my Video files stored in “E:\My Documents\My Videos\” not on the OS/root drive but, my Media Drive. So when I go into the Video Library, I would have to click into “My Videos” even though it is the only folder in there. This will happen in Pictures as well. Kind of dumb if you ask me but, anyway…I want to thank Richard Miller for finding this after a long quest for it.

This happens on XP, Vista, TV Pack and Windows 7

NOTE: this is a registry edit, you can damage your computer if you edit the wrong thing, if you are not comfortable doing this, post in my forums and I will create a custom registry file for you.

Start > In the search box type (with out the quotes) “regedit”, RegEdit.exe should show up, right click on it, “run as an administrator”

I will use my example as above for my videos..

In the left hand pane, browse to..

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders

On the right hand side, you will see the listings for My Music, My Video, My Pictures, etc

Double click on the one you want to change (Video, Pictures, etc), in the “Value data” change this info to your folder where you videos, etc are stored

usershellfolders 

After your change, Click OK, Close The Registry Editor, and reboot. When you reload Media Center, you’ll notice that the folder name you put in there will be the root, so you won’t have to click through the folder to get to your Media.

Enjoy !

clubhouse, media center, media center-windows 7, how-to, Tip

Tags:

What are you annoyed with on Media Center ?

by DavidinCT 19. February 2010 07:30

Hey all, I am trying to get this site started and also trying to get towards a Media Center MVP if possible. What issues would you like me to blog about ? What common problems do you run into ?

Just want some ideas to put up here, do you want more advanced settings or the basics ?

Sign up for an account and post here

http://mc.anywherecool.com/Forum/default.aspx?g=posts&m=15&#post15

Thanks !!

Tags:

Welcome

Exit remote desktop with out rebooting

by DavidinCT 17. February 2010 09:11

A lot of us run a home theater PC, a Dedicated PC just for your TV entertainment. Most of us use remote desktop (a nifty built in program that works awesome), the problem is that we have reboot to get media center back or go to the TV to re-logon. This little batch file will help you out.

This will disconnect your RDP session (assuming that it’s the only session), and go back to the console (where it was before), wait 5 seconds (to give the PC some time to do what It needs to do) and then restart Media Center…

Start notepad, copy the below into it….

tscon RDP-Tcp#0 /dest:console
ping -n 5 localhost > NUL
RunDLL32.exe C:\Windows\ehome\ehuihlp.dll,BootMediaCenter

and paste into notepad, save as, “exitremote.bat” (with out the quotes), when your done with what you were doing over remote desktop, double click the file. It should punt you off remote desktop and on your TV it should not be at a logon window and Media Center should start up after a few seconds.

This was something I found to be very, very useful.

Note: For Home Premium and People who want more RDC sessions…Here is the link. I have not used it but I am sure some people are looking for it…

http://thegreenbutton.com/forums/p/79427/393664.aspx#393664

clubhouse, media center, media center-windows 7, how-to, Tip

Tags: , , , , ,

HTPC | Media Center | Media Center-Windows 7 | VMC

Extend Windows 7 Media Center pause buffer

by DavidinCT 17. February 2010 08:54

I’m sure this is everyplace but, this is my easy way to do it. I created a little reg file, so when you install windows and after you setup Media Center, you run this and reboot. It will give you over 6 hours of pause time (I tested it and let it sit for 6 hours before I gave up and hit play).

So you ask, Why would anyone want 6 hours pause time ? Well if your into sports, we all know this one, wife or husband asks you to join them to the store, we’ll be back in 20, so you pause it, your back 4 hours later and you missed your game. We’ve all been there….and also the fact that you can do it…

Open Note pad…copy below…

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Service\Video\Tuners\DVR]
"BackingStoreMaxNumBackingFiles"=dword:00000030
"BackingStoreEachFileDurationSeconds"=dword:00000258
"BackingStoreMaxExistingBackingFiles"=dword:00000030

and paste into notepad, save as, “Extend pause buffer-Windows 7.reg” (with out the quotes). double click on the new file you created and select yes to import then reboot. Enjoy your longer pause time !

clubhouse, media center, media center-windows 7, how-to, Tip

Tags: , , ,

Broke Media Center ? Here’s a possible quick fix

by DavidinCT 30. December 2009 22:48

So you were attempting to tweak MC and something broke. Now when ever you do anything in it, it crashes or even you start it, it crashes. Anyone who attempts to tweak MC has been there at one point or another.

This has saved my butt a few times (the WAF) it is available on all versions of Windows 7 and only a few versions of Vista (Ultimate with MC). It’s called previous versions (shadow copies) and is enabled by default in Windows 7. I won’t get into all the details on how it works (for more info click here ) but, I can tell you in Windows 7, it can help you if you broke some configurations sometimes. This is not the end all be all fixes for MC but, this will help in some cases.

Windows 7 Media Center’s data is stored in a Database, when you do changes, the changes get updated in the database. The Media Center configuration files are stored at “%systemdrive%\ProgramData\Microsoft\eHome” (file name like mcepg*-*.db).

This will restore Media Center back to the date listed, any new changes done after the restore point will be lost. When you need to, right click on this file, go to Properties and select Previous versions, Select the date you want to go back to (before you caused the crash) and hit OK. After the restore, reboot the computer.

shadow

This should take care of most smaller configuration problems but, will not fix everything. If your Media Center is dead and your at a last resort I would really try this before anything major. Also, make sure you still have it enabled, some people disable it to save some space.

clubhouse, media center, media center-windows 7, how-to, Tip

Tags: , , , ,

Media Center | Media Center-Windows 7 | clubhouse | how-to

16:9 Media Center on your desktop

by DavidinCT 29. December 2009 20:55

I’m not sure about everyone else but, I watch Media Center on my Office machine and have a dedicated Home Theater PC. On my office machine, I tend to watch more HD content than SD (isn’t QAM awsome?) but, when you select Media Center from the start menu, it will open the 4:3 screen.

Just right click on the Media Center icon on the start menu, go to properties and add the /widescreen to the end of the “target” like below then hit OK.

widescreen

Now when ever you select Media Center from the start menu, it will open in a 16:9 window. So all your HD content will have no more bars on the top and the bottom. Only problem is you’ll have to zoom for 4:3/SD content(or you get the black bars on the side). There are a lot more switches for MC but, this is one of my favorites for my Office machine.

clubhouse, media center, media center-windows 7, how-to, Tip

Tags: , , ,

7MC | Blog | general

Welcome to DavidinCT's Windows Media Center blog !

by DavidinCT 10. December 2009 02:56

Welcome to the first post and my new site for Media Center tips, tricks and secrets. Please take the time, setup an account so you can reply on topics and in the fourm. I want to hear your thoughts !

At the time of this posting 12/9/09, this site's details are still being worked on but, it should be fully ready in a month or so.

Thanks for visting this blog !

-Dave

Tags:

general