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Auto Rip n Compress

logo I was very excited to share my new method for ripping my DVD’s into my collection, but it has just not worked out.  From timing issues to things just mysteriously not working anymore.

I installed and setup a Media Center plugin called Auto Rip n Compress.  I actually ripped a few movies and it was great.  It took more than a few steps to setup, but once it was working it was a one button solution.  One Button!!!

If you feel like trying to get it to work follow the link above.  I am going to try to get my installation working again so I can post a video of how great the solution when it does work.  Oh and it supposedly works for Blu Ray discs too but I never got that far.

We’ll see after I download the latest version from the Green Button.

Getting TV DVD Box Sets into Media Center

Here is a video I created for MNP reader Dave on how I get my TV DVD box sets into Media Center.  I am currently looking to remove VideoRedo from the process.  I think DVRMS Toolbox finally has a good way to go from VOB to DVR-MS or WTV.  Once I perfect my new method I will update the video.  Until then here is my current process.

Original ScreenToaster Link

Screencast: Change WMC Menus with Media Center Studio

I have had a few requests for this so here it is.  A quick 8 minute video that shows how to do a number of things in Advent’s Media Center Studio.  In this video I create a new “Movies” strip to replace the default movies strip that ships with Media Center. Download the app here: http://www.adventmediacenter.com/

The changes will show up on the PC and on extenders.

MencoderProper and x64

I was just informed by one of my readers that they were able to get MencoderProper working in an x64 Windows environment.  Reader smcdonald248 wrote:

I Found a solution that allows me to use mencoderproper on my Vista x64 machine. A post on babgvant.com suggested using corflags.exe (a component of the Microsoft .Net SDK) to force mencoderproper.exe to run in x86. Worked like a charm.

Check out the forum over at Andy’s website: http://babgvant.com/forums/p/2785/14615.aspx#14615  If you have success, come back and let me know.  Especially if you get it working under Windows 7.

Thanks for the tip!!

Hands-On Videos: TV and Guide Setup

Here are the first in a series of videos that I have planned.  The focus of this series is on TV Setup and Guide customizations in Windows 7 Media Center.

TV Tuner Setup: Setup of 2 Cable Card tuners and 2 Clear QAM tuners.

TV Setup

Merge channels:  Merge the same channel from multiple tuners that show in the guide as different channels.

Merge Channels

Add missing QAM channels:  Add channels that were not picked up in the scan for Clear QAM channels.

Add Missing Channel

Add channel logos:  One of the best and simplest updates that everyone should do.

Add Guide Logos

Remove channels: There is no need to keep channels in the guide if you never watch them or do not get them.

Remove Channels

clubhouse, media center-windows 7, dvr

Cable Card Works on My Old Laptop

Now that Microsoft has opened up the flood gates on Cable Card usage in Media Center there are a lot of people that may be wondering if that old PC could be repurposed as a Media Center.  I have thought about it as well as I talk to friends about adopting Media Center so I decided to run a test.

I took my almost 5 year old laptop which is currently running Windows 7 RC and setup Media Center on it.  Since the tool to enable Cable Card has not been released yet I used the Cable Card hack to get my ATI Cable Card running on my laptop.  Here is the equipment list for the test:

  • HP Pavilion dv4000 Laptop running Windows 7 RC (1.73 GHZ Pentium M, 1 GB Ram, 1.0 System Rating)
  • ATI Digital Cable Card Tuner (1.17 firmware)
  • Linksys DMA2100

Step 1 – Install the TV Tuner:  The first thing I did was install the Cable Card hack which worked like a charm with no hiccups.  I think unplugged the ATI DCT from my main Media Center PC and plugged it into my laptop.

Step 2 – Run TV Setup: The next step was to run the TV tuner setup.  I only setup the one ATI DCT so the test was with a single tuner.

Step 3 – Test HD TV on an extender:  My laptop does not do well with HD video.  I know this from testing Home Group in Windows 7 with HD recordings from my main media center PC.  Because of this I used the extender as part of this test.  The extender was connected wirelessly while the laptop was hard wired via Cat5 to the network.  Below is a picture showing system resources while watching Hellboy on HBO HD.  There is also a YouTube video demonstrating the performance.

Low Power Media Center

Not bad huh?  This should definitely give hope that the cost of entry into Media Center is going to be low.  Of course you can buy a cheap desktop PC that blows this laptop out of the water and just add a cable card tuner to it.

Screencast: Swap SD for HD in your Media Center Channel Lineup

I have been wanting to really clean up my guide for awhile now.  I figured now was the best time to do it before the new fall lineup got kicked into high gear.  I don’t know about your channel lineup but the one provided to me by Time Warner Cable is a mess.  There are duplicate channels all over the place such as:

  • Noggin (47, 177, 623)
  • Disney Channel (54, 623)
  • Food Network (55, 631)

On top of that there are now a lot of HD versions of the same SD channels so they appear in the guide twice and I get twice the guide data when searching for a show or looking at what movies are on TV.  It also annoys the hell out of me when my Wife and/or Mother-In-Law tune into watch American Idol and turn to channel 11 instead of 240 and soil my HDTV with unnecessary SD content.

DirecTV has a nice feature on it’s box where it shows all of the HD channels right next to their SD counterpart.  So instead of HBO on 300 (SD) and 318 (HD) like I have with Time Warner they have HBO as channel 501 (SD) and 501 (HD).  Easy to find and easy to see the difference.  You can then further clean it up by hiding all of the SD channels that have an HD counterpart.  Unfortunately it is not that simple in Media Center, but it’s still pretty easy.  I created a video to show how you can do this through the Media Center interface.

You could probably accomplish this a lot faster with one of the new tools like Big Screen EPG or Guide Tool but I wanted to show what can be done from the normal UI without the need for installations or a keyboard and mouse.