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Media Center Madness

 

I built an MCE05 (SP2 and Rollup 2) machine quite some time ago. It had been Chaos getting it to be stable but I think, given time,  I have it now performing miracles. I have it just where I want it. Some of the faults I have found are common issues others are seeking advice about on the internet. Some of this is due to Antenna selection, Bad choice of DVD-R media and some due to EPGuide data for South Australia. I thought that I would put some information up on the web to help others.

 

Firstly, I am using an indoor Antenna for my area (North Eastern suburb of

Adelaide, 15 kms to Adelaide CBD, no view of Mt Lofty TV towers).

 

Dick Smiths Electronics: DSE L4074

Check out my Post under mickyj (Jan 5 2008, 02:26 PM) This goes through the Antennas I have tried, why I ended up with this one and the thread has some cool tips for your choices. Whilst this is the best unit I have tried for my location, it is extremely directional.

 

I pick up all channels in my area in Adelaide, South Australia.

 
Channel Name MHz
03 SBS 564
30 SBS HD 564
33 SBS NEWS 564
31 SBS 2 564
138 SBS Radio 1 564
139 SBS Radio 2 564
02 ABC TV Adelaide 226
20 ABC HDTV 226
21 ABC2 TV 226
22 ABC TV 226
300 ABC dig radio 226
301 ABC dig jazz 226

Channel 7 can be found on 104/140/177/88/48/59/66/97 MHz

Channel Name MHz
13 7 Guide 177
07 7 Digital 177
71 7 Digital 1 177
72 7 Digital 2 177
73 7 Digital 3 177
70 7 HD Digital 177

Channel 9 can be found on 104/191 MHz

Channel Name MHz
09 Nine digital 191
90 Nine HD 191


*Rescan your channels to pick up channel GO! (99) - August 2009

 
Channel Name MHz
01 Ten HD 219
10 Ten Digital 219
12 Ten HD 219


 

Secondly my hardware (Nothing over the top, a basic PC)

 

 

Thirdly my online resources, forums and references

Media Center Extender support

 

Then my software

 

First the base software

(WindowsXPMediaCenter2005-KB900325-usa.exe and WindowsXPMediaCenter2005-KB919803-ENU.exe)

 

Secondly the add-ons

Some of the tweaks above were downloaded from

http://www.salloway.org.uk/MediaCenter/util/index.htm

 

Diagnostic software

Last but not least the Drivers

Obviously I have the latest drivers and the latest firmware for everything installed.

 


Files to backup
when installed and configured

  • BladeRunner.xml (Your Epg software settings) (C:\WINDOWS\ehome\BladeRunnerPro)

  • Recordings.xml (Your Scheduled recordings - This is a system hidden file) \Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Microsoft\eHome\Recordings\

  • OzTivoExtreme.xml (More Epg software settings) (C:\WINDOWS\ehome\BladeRunnerPro)

 


The story and timeline

 

The first bit of advice I have for anyone traveling this road, do backups.  It only takes small things to upset MCE and then you spend hours pondering solutions to fix minor issues that could have been avoided. Get it working to a base line and then you have something to fall back on.

 

The second piece of advice, install the MCE05 Rollup 2. .NET 1.1 and 2. You will need it for most of the add-on's you can download.

 

The initial install of MCE disk 1 and 2 went smoothly for me. I installed my MCE ATI video drivers, WiFi card, got the sound working and the HDTV Dvico USB Nano.

 

My first issue came about when I actually tried to run the MCE interface.

 

 

"Your Video Card Or Drivers Are Not Compatible, with Media Center"

 

"VIDEO ERROR Files needed to display video are not installed or not working correctly.  Please restart Media Center and/or restart the computer."

The interface is slow and clunky. Not appealing at all. We all know that there are a limited number of video cards and Digital TV tuners supported by MCE, but is mine one of them?

No. I have a 256 Mb ATI. It is not only compatible, it easy exceeds the minimum onboard memory of 32 Mb ram for MCE05.

MCE2005 has a hard-coded limitation so that it will only run on systems with more than 32Mb of Video RAM.

I don't have to look further down the ram limitation as my issue, but for completeness there is a non Microsoft solution for those folks with Video cards with very little onboard ram.

 

I do not recommend this. I am not even sure if this is legal as it involves decompiling Microsoft code. It is defiantly not supported and all I will do here is paste blurb from someone else. I am not condoning it, it is just out there everywhere on the internet if you Google it so I thought for completeness I would paste it here.

 

Most of the instructions are found with this link. The process involves decompiling the exshell.exe, replacing one of the lines of code, and recompiling it.

 

Here are the steps verbatim

 
1) Install the .NET Framework 1.1 SDK (and the .NET Framework 1.1 itself from WindowsUpdate if you don't already have it from here

2) Copy the "ehshell.exe" file from "C:\Windows\eHome" to a temporary directory.

3) Run "ildasm" (under "C:\Program Files\Microsoft .NET\FrameworkSDK\v1.1\bin").
Open the "ehshell.exe" file from wherever you put it. Go to File > Dump and in the
options dialog that appears afterwards make sure only 'Dump IL Code' and
'Expand try/catch' checkboxes are checked. Click ok and save the resulting IL file in
a separate directory (resources will fall out hence the new directory) and call it
"ehshell.il". It should be a whopping 20-30MB.

4) Open the "ehshell.il" file in a text editor (Wordpad or Notepad if necessary, but preferably something a bit better - Wordpad/Notepad may take a LONG time to open the file!). Search for the string "get_UsableVideoMemory". Just below that, you should see a value of "0x2000000". Change this value to "0x1000000", so that you see something similar to the text below. Save the file and close your editor.


      IL_003d:  call       int32 [EhCM]eHome.UI.Drawing.Dx7OutputDevice::get_UsableVideoMemory()
      IL_0042:  stloc.1
      IL_0043:  br.s       IL_004b
      IL_0045:  call       int32 [EhCM]eHome.UI.Drawing.Dx9OutputDevice::get_UsableVideoMemory()
      IL_004a:  stloc.1
      IL_004b:  ldloc.1
      IL_004c:  ldc.i4     0x1000000
      IL_0051:  bge.s      IL_0069
 

5) Delete the "ehshell.exe" in your temporary directory, and recompile the file by bringing up a command window, going to your temporary directory, and typing "C:\WINDOWS\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v1.1.4322\ilasm /resource:ehshell.res /exe ehshell.il". If this fails, try replacing your "ehshell.res" file with Turge's version posted at 12/8/2004 6:17 PM under the following link

6) Rename the new "ehshell.exe" in your temporary directory to "ehshell16.exe" and copy it into the "C:\Windows\eHome" directory (renaming it stops Windows File Protection from overwriting it with the original version).

7) Allow the unsigned package to be executed by running the following in a command window: "C:\Program Files\Microsoft .NET\FrameworkSDK\v1.1\bin\sn -Vr c:\windows\ehome\ehshell16.exe".

8) Add a shortcut to ehshell16.exe to your desktop and try it.

 

Another suggestion was to locate 'VideoMemoryTotal' in the ehshell.il file, you'll see it followed by an instruction with 0x2000000 in it (32Mb). If you change the value to 0x1000000 it will allow it to run on a 32Mb card.

 

 

You can try to turn off the Video card validation with one of the following:

  • \Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v1.0.3705\CasPol.exe -s off

  • \WINDOWS\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v1.1.4322\Caspol.exe -s off

I did try this with my 256 Mb card but it did not work.

 

 

Get the correct and latest Video Drivers for MCE and your card

 

To fix my issue, I downloaded the ATI Omega Drivers and it worked fine, once I turned on WMP acceleration. They can be found on http://www.omegadrivers.net/.
 

After playing with numerous other video speed related issues much later on, I managed to get my Omega drivers to the point of no return (MCE no longer recognized them) and I came full circle back to this fault. I then downloaded the latest Catalyst video driver from AMD/Ati and it fixed the problem.

 

Take a look at other peoples suggestions here

 

 

Orange WinDVD playback


I then proceeded to install my copy of WinDVD6. A program I have grown to love over the years. I needed a DVD decoder to decode DVD as there is not one in MCE by default. Unfortunately, everything I played in MCE had a tinge of Orange to it. In Windows XP it looked fine.

 

This can be fixed with a Registry tweak.

 

Warning: Incorrect use of the Windows Registry Editor may prevent the operating system from functioning properly. Great care should be taken when making changes to a Windows registry. Registry modifications should only be carried-out by persons experienced in the use of the registry editor application. It is recommended that a complete backup of the registry and workstation be made prior to making any registry changes. In cases where you're supposed to delete or modify keys or values from the registry it is possible to first export that key or value(s) to a .REG file before performing the changes.


Run regedit and go to:


HKLM\SOFTWARE\InterVideo\MCE\VideoDec\Dxva


Then change the registry key from a 1 to 0 .


That will fix the color problem.

 

 

No tuner found

 

Ok, this one had me scratching my head. I had to manually uninstall and reinstall the MCE decoder that came with my HDTV card. I also got the latest version.

 

 

Too many channels

 

It would seem that every time I tell MCE to detect my channels, the list gets bigger when I go to select what Channels I want. It started at 300, went to 600 etc. It seems to have retained the old channel selections and added more on top.

 

I fixed this using the tool MCE Configuration Reset

 

This restarts MCE as if it has never been used. Tuner data, region code, guide details, network details, screen settings, sound and settings controlling automatically downloading CD covers etc are all reset. You get to elect to join Microsoft's experience program and much more. It can do a full reset.

 

After a full reset, I needed to re expose "My Dvd's" using TweakMCE. I had to reconfigure my Recorder location details (And other settings) then restart MCE to make the changes take effect.

 

After a reset, My Internet Radio remained, Video / Music and Picture locations remained. All my "More Programs" are there.

 

(Don't forget to put back Recordings.xml (Your Scheduled recordings - This is a system hidden file)

 \Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Microsoft\eHome\Recordings\)
 

 

Not enough Disk space left for Live TV

 

I then had an issue running live TV where it said it had no hard disk space left (I had 10 Gb's free). I found that Microsoft had a patch for this so I auto updated my MCE machine (I had not done this for about 6 months so it was about time).

 

This fault occurs because Live TV is written to disk before being replayed. This allows the trick play features such as pause and rewind live TV.

 

I also found after modifying the Recorder Settings in Media Center, they don't take effect unless you kill the EHREC process. A simple restart of the PC will do the job. Best to check this before all your scheduled recordings start to fail.

 

If you use an external USB disk for Recorded TV, make sure it is there after a reboot or the recorder settings will reset back to C:\ (no matter how much is free on C:\)

 

 

Live TV blanks out

 

Since doing the Microsoft update, when I booted my MCE machine and selected live TV, it went to a dark grey/black screen with no TV, the remote became unresponsive. If I used the keyboard to bring up task manager and kill the MCE shell, manually restarted MCE from an icon on the desktop, choose live TV, it worked every time.


I could reproduce this every time. I killed the MCE software with Task manager and then when I am back at the desktop, restarted MCE and watched live TV fine.

I read on Microsoft's site that the normal reason is the Mpeg 2 decoder.

 

This is where Microsoft Windows XP video decoder checkup utility (DECCHECKSetup.EXE) came in handy.

There are no errors in any sections under the event log.

I tried leaving the grey screen for hours, it never started up the Dvico TV and the remote never responds.

 

In comes a new HDTV driver http://demod.dvico.com/user/FusionHDTV3.65RC.exe

 

I uninstalled FusionHDTV3.63.01Web.exe and installed FusionHDTV3.65RC.exe . After a reboot I had exactly the same issue. If I killed the MCE centre with Task manager (End task) and restart it, it all worked fine. The first time around the screen goes blank and the remote does not function (indicating MCE is stalling). I knew the remote sent a signal as the IR sensor flashed when I hit the buttons. If I tried channel up/down, the IR led flashed but the popup indicating channel change did not come up. This is when I used task manager to kill MCE and then manually restart.

 

I found a work around. I removed the Fusion HDTV agent from auto-starting in the registry on boot. Now MCE seems to react and not go to a grey screen every time (Maybe 1 in 8 times this failed)

 

MCE05 was also slower to start than normal, clicking live TV started the round circle and it stayed for longer (Almost like it can not detect or bind to he Mpeg stream or decoder), the preview window did not start just before full screen started.

I also noted that since FusionHDTV3.65RC.exe, when I shut down Media centre and restarted it, Live TV would tell me another user is already watching the selected channel. This is impossible so a temp file somewhere must get locked. (Maybe the Tuner locks ?)

 

Since installing this new driver the system resources seemed to be bogged down when I used the TV. The remote functions (like volume up/down, channel +/-) take 2-3 minutes to be recognized between button press. Pushing the MCE button on the remote did not pop me back into the menu and the system was so busy I couldn't bring up task manager.

 

I also had the Live TV just lockup. According to Microsoft this is normally an Mpeg codec or HDTV driver issue.

I then removed my ATI drivers and installed the latest Omega Drivers. It appeared that this issue went. Another issue started where starting live TV would occasionally reboot my PC without warning.

 

Using the Dvico software, I changed the video decoder to Zulu HDTV Video Decoder + VMR renderer (On advice from Dvico). It actually got worse.

 

This is when I went back to the latest Ati video drivers and everything worked fine again. The Microsoft original update must have changed an Ati driver. (Latest Ati driver "8-1_xp32_dd_ccc_wdm_enu_57717 (mce).exe")

 

Guide out of whack

 

Now I had a new issue. I discovered the titles in MCE that came up for each channel, did not match the channels. I decided the best way to fix this was to rescan all the channels.

I did this and it found 23 channels. Every single one of the comes up "No Tv Signal". Now I lost my Live TV. The Dvico software external to MCE still found and showed me all the channels. In MCE, every channel now failed.

I tried uninstalling the Nano drivers and reinstalling. It made no difference.


Sure poor signal could do this but I have excellent signal.

Corrupt drivers and Mpeg decoders can also cause this.

This issue can occur because the TV channel is encrypted.

For me, I had to uninstall my guide (Blade Runner pro), clear my channels and uninstall all my Dvico software and start from Scratch .Then backup.

 

I was told I could also reset channels by deleting the EPG folder

 

C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Microsoft\eHome\EPG


Then run the guide setup, the EPG folder you deleted will come back with
the right guide info.

 

 

Agghhh, Can't record

 

It goes through the motions of setting up for a recording (In the guide) but the red dot does not appear and the program does not record. Believe it or not, a simple reboot can fix this.

 

 

 

Australian EPG

 

As I am in Australia, and have no real access to an EPG, I had to use a tool to get around this issue. A tool that can download the EPG, dump it into a folder and trick MCE into getting the data from the folder as if it was a real EPG source. BPR, Blade Runner Pro, does just that. I installed it and it worked like a dream. I followed the instructions, selected the channels I wanted to export as XML and it all worked.

 

Another option to BPR  is QuickGuide (Listed above in my web resources)

 

Until mid 2007, when selecting the ABC2 data for the Guide in Australia from

TWikiRegistration, it caused my entire guide to become a mess and not function. I could not get Bladerunner to work. It kept telling me my xmltv.xml was corrupt. This is gladly no longer an issue.

 

Here are my steps for BRP

Register on this wiki at TWikiRegistration.

Once registered and logged in, navigate to the preferences page and set:

"My preferred download format" to XMLTV.

Select all the channels (stations) you want listings downloaded for, in the "Stations Preferences" part on the left.

(ABC, ABC2, SBS, SBS-News .... etc)

 

Download and install BladeRunner Pro v3.5. If you have an older version installed, uninstall it and remove your BladeRunner Pro directory (in Windows\ehome).

Download the OzTivo Extreme grabber . Extract the OzTivoExtreme.exe file from inside this zip to your C:\WINDOWS\EHOME\BladeRunnerPro\ directory.

Now run the Bladerunner Pro Configurator. Set up a new grabber with the following configuration:


Name: OzTivo

File: C:\WINDOWS\EHOME\BladeRunnerPro\OzTivoExtreme.exe

 

Select "Add" to add the grabber, then save the configuration (Menu: File > Save) and exit.

Run BladeRunner Pro - this will launch the OzTivo Extreme executable and will prompt you for your Twiki username and password then click "Save" (this information will be saved for future downloads). The listing will then begin downloading, and once that's done BladeRunner Pro will convert the xml listings to a .bin format file that MCE can import.

Go into MCE, and select "Settings" > "TV" > "Guide" > "Set Up Guide Listings". Go through the set up process, entering your postal code as "0000", and your listings data should get imported. While in MCE's Guide settings section, select "Edit Channels" > "Edit Numbers". Change the channel numbers here to the ones your TV requires.

 

Update

I am now using epgstream (Free *EPG) as per my news section at the end of this page

Timezone - ABC2

Ok, next issue. ABC2 and TEN HD are in EST and I am in Adelaide. Everything is wrong by 30 minutes. My Scheduled recordings are off by 30 minutes and I have things there I want to record. This is where TimeOffset comes into play.


As ozxmltv only has 1 version of abc2 for all states it is up to the grabber to change the timing of abc2. For Adelaide you need to put abc2 forward 30 minutes and adjust it for all other time zones.

 

Extract this program to your BladeRunnerPro folder, then run BRP Configurator. Choose PreProcesses in the Sections frame, then enter the following information in the Item Info frame:

Name: OzTivoTimeOffset
File: C:\WINDOWS\ehome\BladeRunnerPro\TimeOffset.exe
Arguments: /o:-30 /f:GuideData\xmltv.xml /c:ABC2


Click on Add, then select File - Save and exit BRP Configurator.

 

Update

I am now using epgstream (Free *EPG) as per my news section at the end of this page

 

 

Internet connection failure

At this point I thought I had a slick little MCE machine. I installed so RSS feeds, weather links, surfing tools on the big screen and even web radio. They all worked first time, Even Game Ex with all it's emulators. then I got internet connection failure.

You may receive an "Internet connection failure" error message when you try to download the EPG listings in Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005

Get your MCE to update it's time from a time server.

 

 

Manual Recording Meta Data

 

Ok so I now have lots of these DVR-MS files building up. These are the Mpeg 2 streams I have recorded with Meta data attached. Unfortunately a lot of these flicks are called Manual Recording. I need to change that. Along comes "edit DVR-MS Metadata".
(EditDvrmsMetadata.zip)

 

 

Right now it only supports adding and editing metadata (you can't delete), and you can't manipulate metadata fields that contain binary blobs.

 

Burning DVD's

 

Now my media collection is in order. All the Meta data is edited. How do I get it onto a DVD disk? I am only offered the choice of making a data disk !

 

When an OEM buys a triple they get a system builder disk. On the disk is the Sonicencoders.msi Sonic encoder.

 

A quick search of Google finds sp30294.exe on HP's site which contains what you need to complete the MCE masterpiece.

 

Now I can burn disks

 

 

 

 

Sonic Burn engine fails

 

Event Type: Error
Event Source: SonicMCEBurnEngine
Event Category: None
Event ID: 0
Date: 26/01/2008
Time: 9:55:47 PM
User: N/A
Computer: MCE2005
Description:
Exception occurred:
excp'n type: Microsoft.MediaCenter.AddIn.ListMaker.ListMakerException
excp'n msg:
No stack trace available.

For more information, see Help and Support Center at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/events.asp.

 

 



Event Type: Error
Event Source: SonicMCEBurnEngine
Event Category: None
Event ID: 0
Date: 26/01/2008
Time: 9:55:48 PM
User: N/A
Computer: MCE2005
Description:
Exception occurred:
excp'n type: Microsoft.MediaCenter.AddIn.ListMaker.ListMakerException
excp'n msg:
StackTrace
at Sonic.MCE.PlugIn.SonicListMakerApp.ThrowLMException(ExceptionType inExceptionType, Exception inInnerException, String inExceptionMessage, String inDevComment)
at Sonic.MCE.PlugIn.SonicDiscWriter.Burn()
at Sonic.MCE.PlugIn.SonicDiscWriter.ProcessList()

For more information, see Help and Support Center at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/events.asp.

 

I can't burn disks. The process ends at 30%. For me, I found out it was the actual media. A change of media fixed the issue.

 

I then found out how to get Sonic CD/DVD burning software to create a log file for debugging


Click on the Start menu, choose Run and type notepad %windir%\ehome\createdisc\soniclog_mce.log
 

Click Yes to create a new file in this location
 

Close Notepad and click Yes to save the file
 

Once you have created this file, any subsequent times that you use Sonic burning functionality inside of Media Center, it will write to this file. This file has to already exist before Sonic will write to it however, so it will not log any error information until you manually go and create a new file with the expected name in this location.

 

If you need help with this one:

 

In Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, you receive a "Create Failure" error message when you try to burn a recorded TV broadcast to a video DVD
 

There have been some information to suggest the drivers for some TV tuner cards can cause this. There can be problems with the dvr-ms files they create.


 

Edit DVR-MS

 

Now I would like to edit DVR-MS files. How? Use MovieMaker. Associate the data streams with a registry edit (follows) and all is smooth.

 

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{083863F1-70DE-11d0-BD40-00A0C911CE86}\Instance\{A4F9C3BA-A68F-4942-8152-B783CF89193F}]
"CLSID"="{A4F9C3BA-A68F-4942-8152-B783CF89193F}"
"FilterData"=hex:02,00,00,00,00,00,20,00,04,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,30,70,69,33,\
00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,01,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,30,74,79,33,00,\
00,00,00,b0,00,00,00,c0,00,00,00,31,70,69,33,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,01,00,\
00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,30,74,79,33,00,00,00,00,d0,00,00,00,c0,00,00,\
00,32,70,69,33,08,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,01,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,\
30,74,79,33,00,00,00,00,b0,00,00,00,c0,00,00,00,33,70,69,33,08,00,00,00,00,\
00,00,00,01,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,30,74,79,33,00,00,00,00,d0,00,\
00,00,c0,00,00,00,76,69,64,73,00,00,10,00,80,00,00,aa,00,38,9b,71,00,00,00,\
00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,61,75,64,73,00,00,10,00,80,00,00,aa,\
00,38,9b,71
"FriendlyName"="WMT MSDVR 2 Dexter Filter"
@=""

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{A4F9C3BA-A68F-4942-8152-B783CF89193F}]
@="MSDVR"

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{A4F9C3BA-A68F-4942-8152-B783CF89193F}\InprocServer32]
"ThreadingModel"="Both"
@="C:\\Program Files\\Movie Maker\\wmm2dvr.dll"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\MM20\MSDVR]
"MSDVRMinimumVersion"=hex:43,21,00,26,05,00,05,00
@=""

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\MM20\MSDVR\MSDVRExtensions]
"dvr-ms"=""
"ms-dvr"=""
@=""

 

Add EPG guide channels

 

I actually got to this point and realized in my original selection of Guide channels, I omitted some channels. I went back to the web and signed up for some more. The guide data in MCE did not show them.


I ended up uninstalling blade runner, reinstalled it and all now works with the additional channels.

 

 

Guide corrupt or channels corrupt

 

Reboot and try again. No channels at all? reboot. It seems a reboot does wonders. If that does not work, try MCE Configuration Reset.

 

This restarts MCE as if it has never been used. Tuner data, region code, guide details, network details, screen settings, sound and settings controlling automatically downloading CD covers etc are all reset. You get to elect to join Microsoft's experience program and much more. It can do a full reset.

 

After a full reset, I needed to re expose "My Dvd's" using TweakMCE. I had to reconfigure my Recorder location details (And other settings) then restart MCE to make the changes take effect.

 

After a reset, My Internet Radio remained, Video / Music and Picture locations remained. All my "More Programs" are there.

 

(Don't forget to put back Recordings.xml (Your Scheduled recordings - This is a system hidden file)

 \Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Microsoft\eHome\Recordings\)

 

 

 

Time running out

 

Now I find some of my recordings have not finished properly, loosing the last few minutes of a program.

 

First is to go to Settings > TV > Recorder > Recording Defaults and set the default end time to +4minutes (that seems to be the maximum) - so every show will record 4 minutes after the scheduled finish time - that's not always enough for the aussie channels though

When browsing the Guide, instead of simply pressing the record button, press OK (or enter) instead, you then get a few options - selecting "Advanced Record" lets you set the finish time to +5, +10, +15 minutes etc.

 

TWEAKMCE from Microsoft's download site will let you easily extend recording times.

 

Channel 10

On My MCE machine and my TV set top SD Digital box, I get a small white dotted line at the bottom of the screen, that appears about a third the way across when viewing channel 10,12 in SD or HD.  This happens when viewing a show in either 4:3 or 16:9

It's called wide screen signalling (WSS). Channel 10 (Australia) are the only ones who don't mask it. It's to do with automatic switching TVs/displays/STBs that are triggered to go to widescreen when they detect it.

You can't really do anything about it. Some set top boxes have had a firmware update so that they don't show that line, but I'm not aware of a way of doing it in MCE.

Channel 10's argument would likely be that that line isn't meant to be displayed, so it's up to the TV/STB/PVR/MCE to not display/hide it. You don't see it on a 16x9 screen.

 

 

Cutting DVR-MS

 

Ok, in my perfect little world I have an issue. My recordings have Ads in them and some of them have a few minutes of leader footage from another film. I want to edit my Video but not in movie maker. I need something quick where I can splices things up a bit and do it with the MCE remote. Enter the Scene - Dcut.

Dcut is great. It does exactly what I want. I get to keep my film and my metadata and cut out the "boring bits"

 

Now that I have used Dcut for a while there are a few things I have learnt.

If you want to start your recording at 00:00 (The beginning), I have been pressing stop, marking the end of the flick, then starting the flick and marking the end. Otherwise depending on your reaction time, you loose a bit.

 

At the end, if you have missed your end point and the video has stopped, press rewind twice and you can start playing back from the end of the film and mark your end point.

 

If the playback preview window shows no video, press the MCE button, flick back into the MCE interface then press the back button. The video comes back.

 

Update 10 February 2008

I have now burnt a number of Dcut files with the Sonic Encoder and discovered the ends of the Video have been cut off. When I first started using Dcut, I would line up, cut and let the process finish before proceeding to the next file. Now I simply batch the whole lot and come back later expecting all will be ok.

Update 29 March 2008

The chopped up and early ending clips seem to be caused by telling Sonic it is ok to compress the video to make it fit. Now I aim to always only burn 79 minutes maximum and the issue has gone away.

 

I also note that using Dcut on HD video is a bad idea if you are then going to use Sonic to burn it. It does not work very well.

 

To join DVR-MS files I am now using DVR-MS Editor.

 

Joining Dvr-ms files

On a few occasions I have recorded a film in two sections and I want a simple splice to pout them back together again. I see from Google there are some items out there do this but a yet, I am still looking. Any advice would be great.

It is a little harder to work with these DVR-MS files.

 

Update 4 June 2008

Using Stephen Toub's DvrmsEditor tool included in the sample code installer on
the "Fun with DVR-MS tool" on MSDN I can join SD video and use Dcut to cut, then burn using the Sonic tools.

Simply load your first DVR-MS file, select start and end times, press Add, to move
cut points to file list below.

Repeat with second DVR-MS file, then select
output > concatenate and save joined files as whatever format you need.

 

Why Media Center Records to DVR-MS

DVR-MS is a necessary format for Media Center for various reasons; the main ones from a user perspective are metadata, content protection, and hardware resources.

  • Metadata – Metadata is very important to Media Center, as with any PVR. Standard MPEG-2 isn’t going to be able to hold the same amount of metadata (none, actually).  Show title, recording date, duration, etc are all part of what the DVR-MS standard includes.  DVR-MS is actually MPEG-2 within an ASF wrapper and you can strip the MPEG-2 out easily.  Having the metadata within the file is helpful when converting the format to other formats like WMV, and also when copying the file to other PC’s.  The metadata stays attached in both of these scenarios.
     
  • Content Protection – Supporting CGMS-A in Media Center since the first version can be seen as the first step to CableCARD support.  It can be seen as the first step to DIRECTV/Dish support.  
     
  • Resources – It’s important to remember to recording directly to MPEG-4 means that your CPU is going to be encoding the video on-the-fly.  That means lower video quality, and it increases the system requirements for the PC.  Media Center supports two NTSC/PAL (or two CableCARD Tuners) plus two ATSC Tuners.  If you were to record to XviD you are going to be lucky to have support for two tuners.  Even with dual-core and quad-core processors, SCSI AV hard disks and fantastic video cards, it is still going to push the system to hard

 

 

White line on my final DVD (After Sonic encoder and Dcut)

 

I have two disks I just created with the MCE Sonic encoder that have a white dashed line at the top of the image. Just above the widescreen image in letterbox format. I did not find anything in Google but I figured it was time to give my MCE some TLC and refresh it a bit. Clearing temp files seems to have fixed the line. It was gone. Maybe Sonic was playing up?

 

Regardless, I now have a 4 am scheduled task on my MCE.

DEL "C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\Recorded TV\TempRec\*.*" /q
DEL "F:\temp\*.*"/q
rmdir "F:\temp\Microsoft Windows MCE.Sonic" /q /s


shutdown -r -m \\mce2005

 

I have my Windows Temporary files in F:\Temp and the Microsoft Windows MCE.Sonic directory is left over after having burnt a DVD disk. The machines name is mce2005 hence the shutdown and reboot command. This should keep things running smoothly.

 

 

 

 

DVD playback on Xbox

 

I am now at the stage where I am happily watching and recording TV. I have found on slow LCD screens that HD has lines in it and looks awful. I also noticed that the Sonic encoder final DVD product are getting rippling lines in my video when I uses the pan and zoom feature or playback on my Xbox. It seems only to occur with fast motion.

 

A problem to solve another day.

 

 

 

My Recorded TV list is wrong

 

It has files in it I deleted ages ago. No amount of clearing temp files or restarting services seems to clear the wrong information. I can't seem to force it to refresh. I checked the watched folder in the registry and it is definitely the right one. My final effort was to change the location of the Recorded TV and move it back. All fixed. Weird.

 

There must be a cache in Tmp files somewhere as some of the flicks I deleted through Explorer, are still in the list and still play.

 

 

 

Compressing DVR-MS to Divx and Wmv

Using the built in DVR2WMV in Dcut is not working for me. I get the following error

 

DCutService Starting...
Remote Object Initialized, waiting for calls
17/03/2008 7:41 PM: Added new job ID 88cd84e3-4c3a-4b62-8b40-29dd8fbe2372 for file G:\Recorded TV\Play School_ABC1 D_17_03_2008_09_28_23.dvr-ms
17/03/2008 7:41 PM: Staring Worker process for file G:\Recorded TV\Play School_ABC1 HD_17_03_2008_09_28_23.dvr-ms, Job ID 88cd84e3-4c3a-4b62-8b40-29dd8fbe2372
17/03/2008 7:41 PM: DCutWorker started...
17/03/2008 7:41 PM: Job path is c:\program files\dcut\Jobs\88cd84e3-4c3a-4b62-8b40-29dd8fbe2372.job
17/03/2008 7:41 PM: Parent process specified, Process ID 251217/03/2008 7:41 PM: Begining work for file G:\Recorded TV\Play School_ABC1 HD_17_03_2008_09_28_23.dvr-ms, Job ID 88cd84e3-4c3a-4b62-8b40-29dd8fbe2372
17/03/2008 7:41 PM: Performing compression of job 88cd84e3-4c3a-4b62-8b40-29dd8fbe2372 with profile c:\program files\dcut\vbrNTSC.prx
17/03/2008 7:41 PM: Error encountered in DCutWorker processing job 88cd84e3-4c3a-4b62-8b40-29dd8fbe2372: System.NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object.
at dvr2wmv.CCDvr2WMVClass.set_TraceLevel(UInt32 )
at DCut.Core.DvrmsCompressor.Initialize() in C:\Documents and Settings\Daniel Giambalvo\My Documents\Visual Studio Projects\dCut\dCutCore\DvrmsCompressor.cs:line 301
at DCut.Core.DvrmsCompressor.Start() in C:\Documents and Settings\Daniel Giambalvo\My Documents\Visual Studio Projects\dCut\dCutCore\DvrmsCompressor.cs:line 256
at DCutWorker.DCutWorker.WorkerThreadMethod() in c:\documents and settings\daniel giambalvo\my documents\visual studio projects\dcut\dcutworker\main.cs:line 312
17/03/2008 7:41 PM: DCutWorker exited with error System.ApplicationException: Error encountered in DCutWorker. Exiting...
at DCutWorker.DCutWorker.Main(String[] args) in c:\documents and settings\daniel giambalvo\my documents\visual studio projects\dcut\dcutworker\main.cs:line 121
17/03/2008 7:41 PM: Worker process failed for job 88cd84e3-4c3a-4b62-8b40-29dd8fbe2372.
17/03/2008 7:41 PM: No more jobs. Worker thread exiting

 

So I downloaded and tried DVRMSToolbox1107, AutoDVRconvert_1.3 and DVR2WMV. None of them work. I thought it might be my WMV encoder so I installed WMEncoder.exe and mpeg2decoder.exe. Still no Joy.

 

I downloaded Dr Divx and started converting DVR accross to Divx. I found three glitches. The video and audio went out of Sync, ABC1 video simply would not convert and sometimes Dr Divx was unstable.

 

MCEbuddy

Finally something I found that works. A tool to convert my obscenely large HD DVR-MS files into a 700 mb Divx watchable 1hr flick. MCEbuddy can convert when it really counts. Give it a try.

 

 

 

Ponderings

 

If anyone has any advice, here is what I am working on at the moment

  • The lines on playback with fast motion of a DVD created with Sonic in MCE, played back on an Xbox. (Above reference) - I suspect it is when Sonic compresses to fit more than 75 mins to a 4.7 Gb DVD

  • Using Sonic to create a DVD of Xvid and Divx videos leaves you with weird letter box results in the final DVD. The Film is at the top of the screen with a bright green bottom filling more than half of the screen. - Suspect the codecs

  • Using Dcut on HD Recordings leaves the resulting file unstable on playback (Fast forward seems to hang the system). using Sonic to make a disk from this image will cause bizarre results.

  • Using Dcut/Sonic on HD recordings and then burning a Widescreen flick to DVD produces a wide screen flick compressed into 4:3 ratio squishing everything. - I suspect this is related to the above issue.

  • My EPG is about to end support. I am looking at other grabbers. - I am now using epgstream.

  • White line after putting flicks to DVD. - This seems to happen when Sonic compresses the footage.

  • Flicks missing the ends after using Sonic and Dcut. - This might be my original poor use of Dcut.

  • How to join two DVR-MS files? I tried DVR-MS editor and whilst this does allow you to join DVR-MS files, you loose lots of meta data and Sonic can not make a DVD from the resultant file.

 

 

 

 

 

 


My next challenge is to do all this under Vista. I have started and was surprised to see all the negativity about Dvico Nano USB under Vista. Most people say it does not work. Initially I would have to agree. It did not work. I now have it working but my hardware is not acceptable enough to drive it under Vista. My Graphics is not up to is and using FusionHDTV3.65RC.exe took too many resources.

 

 

My experience with this same hardware under Vista Ultimate (Hardware as above)

 

Vista with Nano USB - yes, it works.
 
My first problem was it said "No Tuner" (When I open MCE and try to configure the TV signal or use the Nano in anyway it tells me that "Tuner not found" and refers me off to buy one).

I had the latest driver (Fresh install of Vista ultimate Retail ver 6000 and FusionHDTV3.60.01_Web.exe). The Dvico application FusionHDtv worked fine and pulled in channels. This was fixed with FusionHDTV3.65RC.exe and I noted you did not need the special MCE decoder. You need to leave Vista do what it does without any help from Dvico.

 

I believe the FusionHDTV3.60.01_Web.exe driver failed because of the media center receiver.


http://www.fusionhdtv.co.kr/Eng/Support/FAQMCE2005.aspx?act=RD&id=331&pg=0&CATID=9&SCATID=41

 

(Under Vista this is actually called the "Windows Media Centre receiver service")


I had this set to automatic and I still got the "Tuner not found" message. Microsoft Autoupdates were applied and I still had "Tuner not found".

 

I upgraded to the FusionHDTV3.65RC.exe offered by Dvico.

 

I did find with the FusionHDTV3.65RC.exe I could not find any channels. Even though Vista did not need the MCE decoder, I went into the Dvico folder and ran the executables to manually uninstall and then reinstall a decoder. This worked, MCE now detected 17 channels (Of 23). I then rebooted, on reboot the Windows Media Center receiver service and windows media center service launcher refuse to start.

 

I got to a point where the windows media center service launcher refused to start. I got the receiver service to start but by exiting the Fusion IR receiver.


When I opened MCE, using live TV, took forever (With the blue circle rotating for about 5 minutes) and then a black screen with the channel number, no image and then everything froze.

 

Using Microsoft KB Article Hotfix ID:936229 I have had some success.

 

Error message when you start a Windows Vista-based computer: "Windows Media Center Receiver Service stopped working and was closed"

 

Hotfixes

  • Windows6.0-KB936229-x86.msu

 

I now had a tuner detected and could get it to work however since installing this the system resources seem to be bogged down when I use the TV. The remote functions (like volume up/down, channel +/-) take 2-3 minutes to be recognized between button press.

Time to wait for the RC software to go gold and be fully released or upgrade my

Vista Box :)

 

 

This now just leaves media extenders to play with.

 

 

I have started looking at media extenders with my Xbox Classic. Click here to read more

 

Blog post 2nd January 2009

 

When is UDF not UDF ?
Keywords: Sonic, MCE, XBMC, Xbox, UDF

On my Media Centre 05 machine, I can easily record 4 gb of video footage. This comes out as a single DVR-MS file. If I burn this to a DVDR disk, I need to select UDF format to allow a file larger than 2 Gb to fit into the partition. If I do this, my PC and MCE05 PC can read back the file but my Xbox running XBMC can't. It can't work with UDF. The solution has been to use the Sonic encoders to encode the large file into a DVD PAL video and onto the DVDR disk. This takes ages (overnight) and sometimes glitches the video or Audio. If I tell sonic to just burn the file to the disk, it does. As one single file. It does not ask me if I want UDF. Then my Xbox can play the large file fine. So what's the deal? I need UDF to put a large file on a DVDR, I can't read UDF in my Xbox (Classic) but using Sonic I can ? Using Nero to read the properties of the disk provides no specific answer. Regardless, I am happy this works (If not slightly confused).

 

 

Latest News

6 Feb 2008

My OzTivo Guide data is disappearing ?

 

I downloaded the guide and in the programs information blurb it says

 

"The xmlguide.pl service will be discontinued on March 31, 2008. Please ask the author of your XML data grabber to update it to use the new API. Details can be found at http://minnie.tuhs.org/xmltv/api.html"

 

More information at:

(You will need free registration for minnie.tuhs.org)

 

Agghhh, I have only just got my MCE05 working as I want. Now my grabber in Bladerunner Pro is going to be useless? No more EPG? ... No! we are safe.

They have developed a new ozTiVo XMLTV grabber for the general community to use

 

"xmltvDownload is a command-line application that will download XMLTV guide data from a specified channel URL. Used in conjunction with other XMLTV applications, this application can help automate various XMLTV or EPG generation functions."

 

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

 
  • Framework: Microsoft .NET Framework Version 2.0 Redistributable Package (x86)
     
  • Supported Operating Systems: Windows 2000 Service Pack 3; Windows 98; Windows 98 Second Edition; Windows ME; Windows Server 2003; Windows Vista Business; Windows Vista Enterprise; Windows Vista Home Basic; Windows Vista Home Premium; Windows Vista Starter; Windows Vista Ultimate; Windows XP Service Pack 2

DOWNLOAD

Zip archive contains three (3) files: "xmltvDownload.exe", "xmltvDownload.exe.config" and "ChannelSettings.xml"

xmltvDownload_0_99_12.zip

 

I edited the xmltvDownload.exe.config" Application Settings file and put in my logon details for http://minnie.tuhs.org/xmltv/.

 

I edited ChannelSettings.xml for my area.

<?xml version="1.0" standalone="yes"?>
<xmltvDownload>
<!--
          xmltvDownload.exe - Download XMLTV remote guide service.

          Copyright (c) 2008 epgStream.net

<channel> "id"
         - Channel ID of channel to download. Check your XMLTV guide Channel List for ID's.
         (TYPE=String)(REQUIRED)

<channel> "days"
- Maximum number of days to download.
            (TYPE=String)(OPTIONAL)(DEFAULT="5")
-->
            <channel id="ABC-SA" days="7" />
            <channel id="ABC2" days="7" />
            <channel id="Nine-SA" days="7" />
            <channel id="NineHD" days="7" />
            <channel id="SBS-NEWS" days="7" />
            <channel id="SBS-SA" days="7" />
            <channel id="Seven-SA" days="7" />
            <channel id="SevenHD" days="7" />
            <channel id="Ten-SA" days="7" />
            <channel id="TenHD" days="7" />
</xmltvDownload>


I removed my old OzTivo command and inserted xmltvDownload.exe as my grabber.

As the grabber dumped the xmltv.xml into C:\WINDOWS\ehome\BladeRunnerPro and not C:\WINDOWS\ehome\BladeRunnerPro\GuideData, I created a batch file and run this as a pre process. It moved the file for me.
 

The Batch file contains (This is one line in a batch file)

"move C:\WINDOWS\ehome\BladeRunnerPro\XMLTV.xml C:\WINDOWS\ehome\BladeRunnerPro\GuideData\XMLTV.xml"

 

Then I ran all my other processes after this ( TimeOffset etc).

 

It all works. I just hope my TimeOffset is running correctly :)

 

Update 10 Feb 2008

Ok, I am  not having fun. My ABC2 and Ten HD times are wrong again. I tried to get TimeOffset to work with xmltvDownload but instead, I think the EPG data is corrupt. Now I simply have

"No Guide data available"

in my Guide. I tried to start again with fresh data (Redo the guide setup and locate channels) but all I get after a guide update is data for Channels ABC2 and ABC2  HD.

 

I have tried killing the guide (Removed the following folder)

C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\ehome\EPG

 

I have also uninstalled and reinstalled Bladerunner Pro. I ran MCE Configuration Reset.  I have gone back to Oztivo Extreme until things are properly sorted. (See 16th Feb below)

 

Whohoo! www.epgstream.net have released their latest tool out of Beta.

 

Update 16 Feb 2008

epgstream (Free *EPG) - New EPG with the new API and correct timezones

 

I have downloaded and installed this software from their website (Uninstalled Bladerunner pro). You need the free registration to be able to use this as the software checks your eligibility during install. Unlike the Bladerunner MCE settings and the epgstream captured images in the PDF manual, when you get into the MCE guide download, do not tell it your postcode is 0000. This will just make everything fail. Put in your real postcode.

 

This EPG is awesome. Not only does it work for me in South Australia, All the correct channels and correct timezones (Including ABC2 and Ten HD) but it automatically assigned the right guides to the right channels. It is a thing of beauty. The guide is at least 7 days of data and looks very full. Way to go !

 

New Channels, Added Channels

 

Now is a great time to redetect channels. ABC is now ABC1, there is now not only ABC2 but an ABC3. I also have some other weirdly named channels appearing that I am choosing to ignore for the moment :)

 

TimeZone Changes and error 23 with EPG download

Hmm ....  Daylight saving snuck up and then my EPG died. It appears if you do not sync your MCE machine with a time server with all the correct Daylight saving patches installed, you can get error 23. Correcting it is as simple as a time sync, patch and reboot. Then try and get your guide information again. Before I did the time sync it was dying at

26 % download.

 

Update 1 Apr 2009

epgstream (Free *EPG) - correct timezones

In Adelaide, I have found I need to configure the Timezone offsets back to Zero. Currently 7,9 are set to -30 (30 minute offset). I have had to reset back to 0 to line the EPG up with the channels.

 

Update 5 Aug 2009

New Channel,

We welcome Channel 99 - Channel9's - Go!

A rescan of the channels and setting up epgstream allows me to view the EPG and channel for Go.

 

Update 9 Aug 2009

Adelaide - Channel 9, 90, 99 all gone - no signal

I am not sure what Channel 9 are up to. My "Go" - Went. After a rescan all channels are back. I know the fault was not my end as my settop box also lost all channel 9 channels. You might find you have to factory reset your Settop box. You need to remove and redetect the channel identifiers.

 

Update 15 Aug 2009

Adelaide - Channel 9, 90, 99 all gone - no signal - Now I have no channels !

Hmm, gone again. I rescanned and lost all of my channels. Fearing I would loose all my scheduled recordings etc I have been looking for a solution to fix this and restore my schedules.

 

I had tried to rescan my channels about 10 times with no success. I had zero channels. I need a full Channel reset.

 

Using the "MCE reset tool" and doing a full reset (tick the box to do a Recording schedule backup) I reset MCE back to default. I re ran the MCE setup and then detected the channels. The reset had cleared the registry and xml files and this allowed me to redetect the channels. Running the MCE reset tool - restore. I brought back my recording schedules.

 

Whilst I am now happy, I want an easier way to backup my settings and restore. That is where MCE Backup 2.0 comes in. It has a simple backup and restore method and extracts your preferences and recording schedules. I agree with the author on this site so here are the comments form the site

 

"This is a very cool app - and provides some really useful management/backup features for those of you playing with Media Center (and invaluable if you are migrating/upgrading machines from MCE2005)."

 

Features:
  • Backs up TV channel assignment
  • Backs up Scheduled recordings and series recordings
  • Backs up recorded TV to local drives, or networked drives (via UNC paths)
  • Backup up an additional folder
  • Has its own schedule engine for automating backups
  • Displays the status of critical Media Center services
  • Command line and GUI version available, 10 foot version coming soon
  • Works with Vista and XP
  • Can be used to transfer settings from one Media Center PC to another

Requires .net framework 2.0 to be installed

 

 

Click Here to Download the  .MSI Installer

 

Update 1 Jan 2010

I am loosing channels again. I went into the TV channel setup and selected every channel at every frequency. Suddenly after a rescan, everything works again.

As a result of a recently released security update for Windows Messenger, those of you using Media Center 2005 may run into an error message similar to the following:

"Media Center was unable to open Messenger. Please make sure that Windows Messenger is installed on your system."

There are two ways that I know of to fix this, and they are as follows:

Method 1 - Disable Messenger functionality in MCE2005 (per user)

   Go to the registry key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media   
   Center\Settings\IMSettings

Under the fEnableIM DWORD value, change that value from '1' to '0'

    Note that this fix is 'per-user' so you have to apply it for every user that is affected.

Method 2 - Exempt the Media Center 2005 from the security update (per-machine)

Go to the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths\
Create a new key called 'ehshell.exe' if it doesn't already exist.
Create a new DWORD value called 'AllowMessengerExecHandleFailure' and assign it a value of '1'

The new update removes the UI choice as to whether or not to enable Messenger functionality, so if you want to turn on/off Messenger functionality in Media Center, you can also use that method.

To obtain the latest version of Windows Messenger, see the following kb article,

How to obtain the latest version of Windows Messenger 5.1 (KB899283)

 

 

 

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