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Cisco Tuning Adapter Firmware Updated

Sometime in the last 24 hours my Cisco STA1520 Tuning Adapter was updated to the latest firmware. We knew the firmware existed and was out in the wild thanks to Ben Drawbaugh over at Engadget HD but there was no specific release date. Well I finally got my update. For those that do not know I live near Charlotte, NC and I have Time Warner Cable.

It definitely was not an elegant notification on the update though. I read that Ceton had updated the InfiniTV-4 firmware and drivers so I did the update. Everything seemed to be working fine until I woke up this morning. I had an SDV issue with one of my recordings. I checked the Ceton diagnostic web page for my tuners and saw that my tuning adapters were not working properly. I then checked the firmware of the SDV adapters through the CETON diagnostic screens and sure enough the tuning adapters had been updated.

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.

New Logitech Harmony 650

Engadget posted a review on the new Harmony 650 from Logitech.  I have been a big fan of the Logitech Harmony series since my Father introduced it to me a few years ago.  If you know my father that last statement probably took you by surprise and you had to read it twice.

I personally have 3 Harmony remotes: 880, 510 and the Xbox 360 version.  It takes some time to tweek it exactly right for you but once you do it’s great.  The 650 seems to continue the trend but at a lower price.  Hopefully this allows more people to get into the Harmony world of remotes.

Read the review HERE.

Remote Potato v0.85 – Hands On Review

All I can say is Wow!  The latest release of Remote Potato is a huge step forward.  If you are not running this on your media center you need to go install it right now.  Here is the link: Remote Potato

I really thought that Big Screen EPG By Remote was going to make me forget about Remote Potato but I was definitely wrong.  Even though By Remote had some performance issues I thought the features were far enough ahead of Remote Potato to warrant a switch over so I did.  With this latest release I am definitely back with Remote Potato and I may be staying for good (especially since its free).

So let’s get into the good, the bad and the interesting.

The Good

  • Silverlight UI – The new Silverlight UI is amazing.  I say amazing in the context of having used the Silverlight UI in By Remote.  By Remote was slow and a little clunky.  Remote Potato’s Silverlight UI is snappy, looks great and loads the EPG data with great speed which allows you to easily pop in and set a show to record.  If by chance you do not like the Silverlight UI the regular HTML interface is still there. 
  • Custom Guide – I have a highly customized guide and the early versions of Remote Potato could not represent my exact guide in the browser.  I could still record but it was hard to navigate based on what I was use to.  That is no longer the case.  I now have a Remote Potato guide that looks just like my Media Center guide including the logos.
  • Streaming is back! – So most of us know that Windows 7 allows for streaming of content over the internet.  Well I have only gotten it to work correctly once and it also has the restriction of having to have a Windows 7 machine on the receiving end.  Remote Potato now has streaming through the browser enabled which means it works on any web browser with Silverlight.  My first test was a little rocky but it worked!  Of course this is only for DRM free content.

The Bad

  • XMLTV Files – Remote Potato still relies on XMLTV files instead of the native guide data.  It takes some work to get the guide data setup but it can be automated so it’s  one time setup.  It would be A LOT better if it was leveraging the guide data that you already are using within Media Center.  By Remote found a way to do so its probably only a matter of time before Remote Potato does it too.
  • Logos – Remote Potato has support for using your "My Channel Logos” logos within Remote Potato.  It makes the process very easy to get logos in or so I thought.  There were still a number of channels that My Channel Logos had been able to reconcile that Remote Potato did not pick up on like the local affiliates for example.  My Channel Logos assigned the NBC HD logo to WCNCDT but for Remote Potato I had to create a copy of the logo with the filename WCNCDT.png.  Small annoyance but it can grow depending on the number of channels you have to fix.  I tried to use the logo mapping file in conjunction but did not seem to do anything.

The Interesting

  • Mobile UI– The mobile user interface works great on my Blackberry.  It also solves the biggest gripe I had with the WebGuide mobile UI in that it let’s me easily jump to a specific channel.  I am interested to see if there is an iPhone specific mobile UI coming like the one By Remote has.  That one is slick and works great.
  • Streaming – I did not think I would care to have this back after the option to stream from Windows 7 was announced but after having used both I want it back.  This new feature took my surprised as I did not think anyone would invest the time to try to get it working again.  Nice to see that I was wrong all around.  I am definitely interested to see how this progresses.
  • Recorded TV List – The list is sorted based on when shows were recorded.  Why can’t we choose to also sort based on show title?  I use to use WebGuide to clean up my Recorded TV because it was so much easier and I could do it from anywhere at anytime.  I can do that here too but I cannot sort by Series in the Recorded TV section.

Remote Potato Screenshots

That’s all for now.  Look for more info later.

Remote Potato – A Second Look

Today has been the first chance I have had to try Remote Potato outside of my own home network and I must say “What a Difference!”. The app runs at a very acceptable speed. Not sure why its so painfully slow on the home network, but hitting it from the outside provides great results!

We will be keeping an eye on the app and I will work on a video tonight.

Remote Potato First Impressions

I installed Remote Potato this evening to give it a try.  Remote Potato is a utility for Windows Media Center that allows you to do remote scheduling via a web browser.  It also lets you see what you have scheduled  to record and a list of the shows already recorded.

I was not expecting much since its still in Beta and because it does not actually pulling the guide data from Media Center. Remote Potato is using guide data downloaded and saved in an XMLTV format.  This limitation makes the application run extremely slow.  I was accessing the web app on my local network and it would take about 25 seconds for pages to come up.  It’s not ideal but it works and is better than the alternative.

I was also concerned that the application would fail to record shows on my setup because I have remapped almost every channel in my guide and the guide data is not coming from Media Center.  To my surprise the recordings worked just fine.

There are a number things to like about Remote Potato and it’s coming along nicely.  If the developer could somehow figure out the API to get the guide data directly from Media Center then it would be freakin awesome.  At this point its cool and worth watching.  At the very least remote scheduling is back!

Testing the ATI 1.19 Firmware with Cox Cable

Note:  This is a guest post by James from the Media Center Blog.

Now this is how the CableCARD tuners should have been working from the start! After having my CableCARD ready PC for over a year and a half I can finally archive most digital and HD content that I record with the tuners. In a joint testing effort with Andres from My Network Project we wanted to test the firmware update with my Cox Communications cable here in Kansas.  I set out to give it a really good test over night. I installed the firmware on both of my tuners and proceeded to record a large variety of programs on various channels to properly test to see if the protection actually was removed.

Pay Channel Content

I was fully expecting pay channel content (HBO, Showtime, etc) to still be protected and I wasn’t wrong about that. While I would love to be able to burn some of my large recorded HD movie collection to a Blu-Ray disk, I can see why they would not allow me to do so. I recorded Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay first and noticed it was protected so I went ahead and recorded a non-movie and as you can see below, it’s still protected.

hbostillprotected

Analog Channel Content

I recorded a couple of programs in the analog channel range (1-70ish) and as expected, they were not protected. This didn’t surprise but as with most people with CableCARD PCs, I rarely record anything on these channels if I also have the HD channel (which I do for most of the channels I watch). Furthermore, I have an analog tuner in my PC in addition to my CableCARD tuners so I hadn’t really had a problem with it in the past.

Digital and HD Content

I was expecting these channels to NOT be protected and lucky for me they are not. Apparently Cox only protects the programming they are required to. I was able to record a number of programs on my upper digital and HD channels and none of them were protected. I decided to go ahead and test some of these files with some other programs that I use frequently.

First, I decided to see if I could easily convert one of the .wtv files to .dvrms so that I could use DVRMSEditor to easily edit commercials and such. Sure enough, it worked flawlessly and I was able to convert a recording of Golf Central to .dvrms and subsequently open it in DVRMSEditor.

golfhddvrms

Next I decided to see if I could open a file in Windows DVD Maker and burn one of the shows to DVD. I was able to open the recording and see menu previews (which I was not able to previously do with digital content) and it started encoding just fine and prior to that the program would crash. So it appears that Windows DVD Maker will finally work with most programs recorded on the CableCARD tuners…FINALLY!

I was also interested to see if I could put any of these recorded programs on my Zune HD and had no luck with either digital content or HD content. I knew HD content would show up but I was hoping at least the upper digital channel recordings would but the only ones showing up were the programs that were recorded on the analog channels.

In conclusion, the new firmware is working as I had hoped and expected. I had a feeling the pay channels would be copy protected since they always had before and I was hoping all the other digital and HD channels would be unprotected and they were. I was also expecting to have issues transferring videos over to my Zune but that’s a problem that needs to be fixed with the Zune. Hopefully that will get taken care of soon. As it stands now, I’m pretty pleased with the firmware upgrade.

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