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More Home Server Storage

The large drive is a 5.25

Image via Wikipedia

About two weeks ago I added another hard drive to my Windows Home Server (WHS).  I bought a Seagate Barracuda 1.5 TB drive.  So now my WHS has 3 drives: the 500GB main drive that came preinstalled, a 1TB Western Digital drive and the new 1.5TB Seagate drive for a total of 3TB (or 2.73TB realized storage).

The HP Media Smart WHS that I have makes it so easy to add a drive it’s ridiculous.  I was up and running with my new storage space in about 10 minutes, if that.  If you are looking at adding a WHS to your setup take a long hard look at the HP Media Smart servers.  Great value and easy to use.  I probably could have built a home server from a spare PC but at the end of the day my time was more valuable and I got a better WHS for buying a pre-built system.

The extra space allowed me to really clean up and organize my drives.  This is what things look like now:  (VectorSigma is my Media Center PC and Metroplex is my WHS)

VectorSigma – 3 Drives

  • 500 GB (OS, Program Files and temp download location)
  • 750 GB (Overflow recorded TV drive)
  • 1 TB (recorded TV only drive)

Metroplex – 3 Drives (WHS creates 1 pooled storage space out of the 3 drives)

  • Movies
  • Archived TV
  • Music
  • Photos
  • Personal Folders (me and my wife)
  • Public Folder (misc dump and share folder)
  • Software Folder (all my media center utilities, plugins and regular software installs live here)
  • Videos (family home videos, viral videos, etc)

I have one more open slot in my WHS and I would like to get another 1.5TB Seagate drive.  Maybe Santa will leave one under the tree for me.

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Restricted Content Bug Diagnosed

I am almost 100% convinced that I know why I am getting the Restricted Content “bug”. I put bug in quotes because I am no longer convinced that it is a Media Center issue. I think Media Center is doing exactly what it is supposed to do which is why I can still record a show that mere seconds earlier was restricted by the content provider.

The root of my Media Center angst is the cable card itself. I am 100% convinced that the cable card I have is bad. Case in point is The Daily Show from last night.

I have a lot of problems recording the Daily Show. This and the Colbert Report give me the Restricted Content error more than anything I try to record. Not because the shows are restricted but because of the channel they are on. My cable cards sometimes loose permission to the channels that are in the same tier as Comedy Central. In order to fix this all I need to do is try and tune is a few channels in the same tier and then Comedy Central will tune in. Once I do that, like magic, I can record what was once restricted.

Since the cable card is loosing permission to these channels, when I tried to record Media Center sees it as restricted content. As soon as I get it to tune, Media Center can now see the channels as normal and records without fail.

The other issue I was able to resolve was around my Series Settings. For both the Daily Show and The Colbert Report I have the series set to only keep 4 recordings of the show (since it only comes on 4 times a week). When I get the Restricted Content issue and then set it to record after resolving the tuning problem, the recording is seen as outside of my regular series recording. Because of that Media Center will not clean it up and I will end up with more than 4 episodes.

To resolve the issue you can go into the guide and find the show that is recording. You will see that it has 1 red dot instead of the 3 red dots. Press the info button and set the series to record. Media Center will recognize that you already have the series set to record and will ask if you would like to make the one time recording part of the series recording. Select “yes” and now you are back in order.

Time Warner should be here soon to give me a new cable card. We’ll see if it works. In the meantime, the HDHomeRun should also be here today. The new dual tuner box will actually be the primary tuners for about 70% of my HD recordings. After evaluating my series recordings I found out that 70% exist on network HD channels that are broadcast in the clear (QAM). The HDHomeRun will only tune those channels so it will record all my network TV which then frees up my main tuners for watching live TV or more recording. The other bonus is that everything coming through the HDHomeRun’s will be DRM free!!!

Another Xbox 360

I have always wanted to add a second xbox 360 to my setup for the purposes of utilizing it’s MC Extender capabilities. When I had originally thought of this plan, I was convinced that I should just go ahead and buy an Xbox 360 Elite. Now thanks to a refreshed 360 lineup, that is no longer the case.

My primary driver behind buying an Elite was HDMI. If I was going to add another xbox I definitely wanted one with HDMI. Just before the holidays Microsoft refreshed the 360 lineup and now all the sku’s have an HDMI port. Great news for me.

So now the plan is to get an Xbox 360 Arcade. A savings of $170. I still get another wireless controller and HDMI. I do not get a HardDrive, but I do get a memory card. This is actually a bigger win for me. The second xbox was always going to be a media center extender first and xbox 360 second so the hard drive loss is not huge. If I really want to later I can always buy a used one (but I doubt I will). Also I have always wanted a memory card to make my GamerTag portable but I never wanted to spend the money on one. Now I get one.

As far as the HDMI goes I plan on putting the new xbox downstairs with the 42″ plasma hooked up via HDMI with the old hard drive attached to it. The current launch (once-refurbished) non HDMI xbox will go to the master bedroom to act as a media center extender to the 19″ HDTV we have in there.

I will probably pick up the Xbox sometime in March if possible. Hopefully sooner.

Harmony Remote for Xbox 360


I finally picked up a Harmony Xbox 360 Remote Control this past weekend in anticipation of the media center’s arrival. This has been on my shopping list for awhile now so I was extremely excited to get it setup and to start using it.

My first experience with the Harmony remote was at my Dad’s house. He purchased one to go along with his home theater setup. I was sold after the first 10 minute demo.

When the Xbox 360 version was released it was a sign that this was the smart remote for me. So far I still agree with that sentiment.

I borrowed my brother-in-law’s laptop with XP Media Center so that I could test out the activity creation with the Xbox 360 actually functioning as a Media Center Extender. Unfortunately since there is no TV Tuner in the laptop I could not test out what I really wanted: launching Media Center directly into Live TV.

There is also the power on issue which I was able to test but not fully due to time constraints. I had the “Play Xbox 360” activity working correctly and the “Start Media Center” activity working correctly. The only thing that I was not able to fully test was going in between activities. That just saves some of the fun for when the media center arrives.