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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.


What’s Been Going On

Things have been awfully hectic and busy with work and personal things.  I am still here and I am still very much onboard with Media Center.  So here are a few things that I have been working on.

  • Writing an article for Residential Systems Magazine:  This past spring I went to the Electronic Home Expo down in Orlando, Fl.  While I was down there I met Gordon van Zuiden from Cyber Manor.  Cyber Manor is the custom installation company that won Micrsoft’s Media Center installation of the year contest in 2008.  Gordon also writes a regular column for an industry trade magazine titled Residential Systems.  Based on a conversation we had over lunch on what we thought the future of Media Center was he offered to give up his regular monthly column to me to get my two cents published.  It was a very generous offer that I accepted and the article is now being published in the July issue.  Here is the link to the online version and the link to the unedited submitted version.
  • Being a guest on the Media Center Show:  Back in early June Ian Dixon from the Digital Lifestyle put out a call for guests for his weekly podcast The Media Center Show.  I contacted him and we recorded an interview on June 15th for use in a future show.  The show has not been posted yet but when it goes up I will definitely post a link.
  • Building a dedicated HTPC: I have kind of hinted around at it but not really talked to much about it but I have moved away from the Dell XPS 420 that was my original Media Center and built my own dedicated HTPC in an HTPC case.   Over the next few weeks I will be posting details on the build including photos. videos and lessons learned.
  • Starting a second blog:  While it seems like I have been writing less around here I am actually working on a writing schedule to post articles on a regular basis on this blog and restarting my second blog.  I still like writing about the content that I watch on my Media Center but I think those posts are better suited for a different blog.  More on that with an official link as it grows.

Well that’s all for now.  I still believe we have an exciting year ahead for Media Center and that the end of 2010 is going to position Media Center to be a great platform for more people in 2011 and beyond.

Internet TV showcased during Windows 7 launch

Man what a bad day to be busy at the 9-5.  This was waiting in my inbox from Microsoft.

Today during the keynote at the Windows 7 launch event in New York, Brad Brooks, Corporate Vice President, Windows Consumer Marketing and Product Management, joined CEO Steve Ballmer on stage to demo key Windows 7 features. As part of that demo Brad shared the news that Windows Media Center in Windows 7 will now include Internet TV featuring content from a variety of providers. Now in addition to live and recorded TV, you can also watch TV from the Internet through Windows Media Center in Windows 7 so you can get the shows you want to watch in one place using one easy-to-use guide.

Below are details about the Internet TV content available today in Windows 7, as well as highlights of the Windows Media Center experience in Windows 7 which is available for free in most versions of the operating system (Windows 7 Home Premium, Ultimate, Professional and Enterprise).

Internet TV Content Available TODAY in Windows Media Center in Windows 7:


· CBS Audience Network: Featuring a variety of shows from CBS Primetime, Daytime, Extras, and TV Classics, including full-length episodes of current TV shows, CBS Classics TV shows, short clips, and Web originals.

· Full Zune Video Podcast Library: Thousands of hours of entertainment with full TV episodes, webisodes, clips, and videos from providers including ABC News, CBS News, CNBC, CNET TV, Comedy Central, Current TV, The Discovery Channel, Fox, G4 TV, HBO, MSNBC, NBC, Showtime, and Revision 3, along with some of the best user-generated videos on the Web. Some video podcasts are also available in HD.

· MSN and msnbc.com: Clips as well as full length episodes from TV shows such as Arrested Development, news and weather from MSNBC, editor picks and most popular videos, five day weather forecasts, news, video playlists, music videos, movie trailers and more.

· Netflix: The updated Netflix experience available in Windows 7 lets you instantly watch a growing catalogue of thousands of Movies and TV episodes from Netflix directly in Windows Media Center.

Other Windows Media Center Features in Windows 7:

· Watch Live TV on Your Windows 7 PC: By adding an inexpensive TV tuner to a Windows 7 PC, you can use Windows Media Center to watch, pause, and rewind live TV directly on your PC. There is no additional service charge to watch over-the-air channels in standard or high definition. You can also use your PC as a DVR to schedule recordings of TV shows and movies.

· Stream Digital Media from your Home PC: Never miss your favorite shows. With Windows 7 you can now access your Windows Media Center digital media even when you’re not at home by using Remote Streaming.  Simply log in using your Windows Live ID to get your TV shows, movies, music, and pictures streamed to you over the internet – no matter where you are.

· Watch Recorded TV Shows on your Zune or Windows Phone: Watch your Windows Media Center recorded TV on-the-go. Just sync your recorded TV shows with your Zune digital media player or Windows Phone, and watch what you want no matter where you are.

· Access all your Personal Media in One Place: Windows Media Center brings in all digital media stored on the PC – photos, movies, music, and recorded TV shows – into one place. And new with Windows 7 you can use Home Group to access digital media in Windows Media Center from other PCs in your network.

· Digital Cable Enhancements Now Available (announced at CEDIA this September):

· New Digital Cable Advisor tool will soon be available in the “Extras” tab in Windows Media Center, making it possible for you to add a digital cable tuner with CableCARD to your PC by running a test to check whether your PC meets the basic performance requirements.

· Windows Media Center now provides support for switched digital video (SDV).

· Enjoy more portability for your digital cable TV that is marked as “copy freely” using your existing digital cable tuners.

Windows Update May Have Killed My Tuners

Last night before I went to bed I noticed that there was a new Windows Update waiting for me.  It was KB974431.  I installed it and woke up to a Media Center that had now idea that TV tuners were attached.  I tried uninstalling the update but the problem continued.  The only way for me to fix it was to redo my TV setup which was not ideal since I have really customized my guide and I did not want to set up all of my series recordings again.  Of course without TV tuners I cannot record.  Very weird!!

Media Browser 2.1.3 Released

The latest version of Media Browser has been released just ahead of the Windows 7 launch as promised.  You can download it here and check out the main website here

I used an earlier version of Media Browser as my main movie library plug-in but performance issues led me away from it.  I have had a lot more luck with movie libraries that have a database in the backend (My Movies and OML) vs. a file based cache system (Media Browser and native MC Movie Library).  I will give the new version a try to see if the performance is any better but it’s going to be hard to bump My Movies 3 off of my Movies strip.  Look for my My Movies 3 review to be posted tomorrow.

Media Center Cumulative Update for Media Center

This is a repost from Chris Lanier’s blog:

October 2008 Cumulative Update for Media Center for Windows Vista (KB955519)

  • Fixes an issue in which you cannot seek through recorded TV shows on Windows Media Center systems that have digital cable tuners. Additionally, the recorded TV shows display the incorrect length.
  • Fixes an issue in which Windows Media Center Extenders cannot re-connect to a host computer after the host computer resumes from the suspend mode or the sleep mode.
  • Fixes an issue which is introduced by KB950126. In this issue, a video that is paused may resume if you minimize or maximize the Windows Media Center window or if a screen saver starts.
  • Implements support for Digital Rights Management (DRM) free copy for digital cable tuners that have the latest digital cable tuner BIOS that support DRM free copy.
  • Expands the solution that was introduced in KB950126 to improve the experience of recording analog TV broadcasts to include set-top box scenarios. Previously, some analog TV broadcasts were blocked with the "protected content" message.

I only posted the non-TV Pack Update information since I do not have TV Pack.  It’s almost the same thing anyway.  I highlighted two of the updates that I am excited for.

The first item in bold just hit me last night.  My wife and I were watching Ugly Betty and tried to fast forward during the second commercial break only to find out the recording was only listed as 7 minutes instead of 60 minutes.  I wonder if this fix will be retroactive and fix this recording or if it will only remove this from happening again in the future.  I will post my results later today.

The second item is very interesting.  The one thing that annoys me about the cable card tuners is that EVERYTHING has DRM on it.  This really should not be the case.  If I record the local news because my nephews’ football game is highlighted I should not be restricted as to what I can do with that.  Other content I can understand but it should be selective.  So the next question after reading about this update is":  When will the Tuner firmware update be released!

Whoa! EngadgetHD hands on with Media Center TV Pack Update

Ben over at EngadgetHD has gotten his hands on the elusive and ever-so-secret Fiji/TV Pack Media Center update. He just posted a hands-on report.

The features that he highlight would improve my TV functionality and make it an all together better experience so I am very excited to get the update.

The only question is whether I will actually be able to get the update. RUMOR says that the update will be OEM only. I’m ok there since I bought my PC from Dell to take advantage of CableCard. RUMOR also says it will only ship on NEW OEM PC’s. If this is true then this BLOWS!!! I am not giving up yet on Microsoft because these just seems like a slap in the face to their hardcore customers that champion the platform.

CEDIA cannot get here fast enough!