Anybody going to The Connected Home in London?

While I know its not CES, The Connected Home show at Olympia in London (March 5-6th) looks interesting.

In fact it will be the first time IPTV has been shown on the XBox 360 in Europe.
Unfortunately I can’t make it down there but if any readers are going I would be interested to hear whether Media Center is represented and what your thoughts are about the show.

Email ian


Tool for sharing recorded TV with Media Center PCs

There are some great guides on how to share recorded TV between Media Center PCs that walk you through setting up the shares and permissions. I didn’t know that MVP Doug Knox has developed a tool to take care of all the hard work for you. So Doug has very kindly allowed me to host the download on

Due to the whole host of software that can block sharing the application is not supported but Doug would appreciate your feedback to

Download from HERE and please send Doug your feedback


BTW Its not been tested on Vista yet


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The Media Center Show #96 – Doug Berrett – Webguide 4.0

The Media Center Show #96 (MP3 – 19.5mb- 56mins 46secs)
by Ian Dixon

Listen Here

This week on the show is Doug Berrett author of Webguide the remote scheduler application for media center, well I say remote scheduler but it does a lot more that that. Doug will be joining me to talk about version 4.0

I have Email and news plus another mcePhone + Pamela bundle winner

Go to the Media Center Show Community site there are a whole range of forums, blogs and other resources

The Media Center Show with Orb Networks

Send your email to Ian @

Show Times

00:34 Coming up this week
01:10 Mpeg 4 in DVB-T
01:30 Problem with DVB-S channel scanning in MCE2005 (forum post)
04:22 Windows Media Center Tips
04:54 Tip of the week and the winner of Pamela + mcePhone
05:29 Problem with HP Pavilion M7775 and Media Center Extenders
06:40 Webguide Sidebar Gadget for Windows Media Center
07:13 Windows Home Server Beta and it working well for me
08:30 Windows Live for TV
09:47 The pros and cons of upgrading to Vista from MCE2005
11:11 A Message from Onevoice
11:53 Welcome to Doug Berrett
13:00 What is Webguide
16:00 Getting integrated
18:00 Features
22:00 Sporting Events in Media Center
23:10 Search
24:30 Internationalization
26:50 New features of 4.0
30:17 Streaming
31:19 Live TV
37:33 Mobile devices
42:44 Recommendation Service
47:00 Installing Webguide 4.0
49:20 Vista support
51:15 Download link
52:00 New Vista Media Center books
See you on

Technorati tags: Windows Media Center, Podcast, Webguide

Help for MCML Developers

While Media Center Markup Language is very powerful for developers, it does have a steep learning curve so I was impressed to find a project Steven Harding is working on (with help from top Media Center developer Nial Ginsbourg)

Its a projet called MCMLLookalike, an Open Source library of Media Center Markup Language code that emulates the look and feel of Vista Media Center. So its a great starting point for a new project especially as its a full Visual Studio project with installer code as well.

Thanks to Nial for the tip off

Download from: ‘MCMLLookalike’ Open Source library and more details on Steven’s blog


Here are a screen shot of a 10 foot version of mceBackup after 30 seconds of code editing


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Windows Live for TV Beta is live

I blogged about Windows Live for TV a while ago and its now available for download.

I have been playing with it and it quite nice to be able to view Live Spaces from Media Center. Its great to be able to have Windows Live Messenger working on it.

It’s written in WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation) so its a slick UI but not as slick as Media Center Markup but at least the application is there.

Download from, here are some screen shots I have taken.

If you need an invite join the forums on my site and PM me <– UPDATE ALL GONE NOW!

What it is
Windows Live™ for TV Beta is a rich, graphically-driven interface designed for people who use Windows Live Spaces and Messenger and Live Call on large-screen monitors and TVs.

We’re still in the early stages of this beta, so many of the features might not work properly yet. That’s why we really need your feedback! This beta is in limited release, so you must request access to the trial group. After you’re in the beta, come back to this page and let us know what you think.
What you can do with it
• Browse millions of Spaces in rich 3D graphics with new Gallery views and full keyword search
• Find out what your friends have been doing and saying on Windows Live Spaces
• Have real-time text and voice conversations*
• Call your friends’ mobile or landline telephones by signing up with Verizon Web Calling to make affordable domestic and international calls**
• Easily navigate with your mouse, keyboard or a TV remote (remote navigation requires Microsoft Media Center Remote and IR)
• Make free PC-to-PC calls to other Windows Live Messenger users.
*Both parties must have compatible webcams, microphones, and speakers
**Requires voice calling in Windows Live Messenger Client
(Please note that some beta features may not be available immediately.)
System requirements
Windows Live for TV Beta requires a PC running Windows Vista Home Premium RC2 or Windows Vista Ultimate RC2 (or higher)

Using Windows Home Server (Part 1)

So I got my Windows Home Server setup and I thought I would give my first thoughts.

First off I bought a small form factor PC with a 160gb drive in and added a 500gb SATA drive.

This is my box:

it’s a Biostart with AMD Sempron 3400 with 1gb of memory. I think the spec is a bit over kill as the box seems to never break a sweat.

Then I installed the Home server software on the box and the setup looked a lot like Windows Server 2003

Once the server has installed (for more details on the install see this great post) I installed the Connector software on my Media Center PC and Tablet PC

The two areas of Windows Home Server that interested me so start with are the shared storage and the backups. So first I thought I would take a look at backups. This is one area I always feel bad about as I have never had a really good backup solution, I have a external harddrive that I use to backup vital data like pictures etc but no image backup and seeing as my main Media Center PC is critical to a happy family life I was eager to try a backup.

Once the Windows Home Server client software is installed is very easy to take a full backup. Basically you right click on the Home Server icon in the toolbar and select Backup now.

The first backup tool some time (a couple of hours) which is not to bad as I have loads of recorded TV. You can exclude folders too, (some are excluded automatically). Subsequent backups are quicker as Home Server uses an intelligent backup system and knows what has changed on the harddisk and this includes other machines too, so if you have two machines with Vista installed the OS files are not duplicated on the backup. Backups are automatic and and I set mine for 1am

If your hard disk fails you can boot from a recovery CD and restore the whole PC or if you just want one file you can get a single file off any of the automatic or manual backups. The restore function works just browsing a folder, you pick the backup and then browse for the file you want.

One very nice feature is the remote access function. So from my PC at work I can log in to the server via a web UI and then remote desktop on to any machine on the network. In Beta 2 this requires a couple of routes creating on the server.


From the Computers tab I can Remote desktop my to any of my pc’s or I can download items from the shared folders.

Oh and once you have the server up and running you can disconnect the monitor, keyboard and mouse.

There is a great deal of potential in Windows Home Server, at the moment for me its handling backups and shared files. I will do a post on shared folders another time and how to get Media Center working with the shared folders.

Part two will be on managing Windows Home Server using the Windows Home Server Console, which is a very nice tool for setting up users, shares and managing the whole server.

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What are the pros and cons on going from MCE2005 to Vista?

An interesting thread has been posted on forums: Compare MCE 2005 to Vista Home Pro

The poster was considering upgrading from MCE2005 to Vista and asked "What are some Pro’s and Con’s for upgrading to Vista on my Media PC? "

My first thoughts were:

  1. Stability
  2. Stability (so important I put it twice, the WAF and all that!)
  3. The new UI. I love the new UI it’s much more intuitive to use than the XP Media Center UI, oh and the Mini Guide is great too.
  4. The developer opportunity. Big Screen Headlines is a good example of a free Media Center applications that looks great under Vista

I didn’t mention Cablecard as this is not something we can get in the UK

As for cons, hard to say. Vista takes more RAM and you need the correct drivers

Anybody got any thoughts?


Sidebar Gadget for Windows Media Center!

Last week I was complaining about that lack of Sidebar gadgets for Windows Media Center. Well Doug Berrett has filled the void with the Vista Sidebar Gadget for Webguide.

Its a great gadget that sits in the Sidebar and can display the guide, recordings and scheduled recordings, and the best thing about it is that it works on remote machines too. So I can see what is happening on my Media Center PC from anywhere on the web.

Doug will be joining me on the show this week to talk about Webguide 4.0



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