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My wife’s in hospital and the Media Center is filling up!  I can’t risk deleting too many “So you think you can dance?” without her noticing….

It seemed simple enough.  Transfer those annoying recorded TV programs from my Windows 7 media center to a hard drive, which my wife could then view via an old Windows XP laptop.

I did so, even cleverly installing Media Player 11 on the XP computer, just in case…..then I discovered that my files were no longer in “dvr-ms” format, but were in some new thing called “wtv” format.

Guess what?  Can’t play em in XP.

This also explains why the excellent “Life Extender” program no longer works on Windows 7 Media Center.

The solution is an application that comes with Windows 7 called “"c:\windows\ehome\WTVconverter.exe”.  This can be conveniently accessed in file explorer by clicking the right mouse button where you will be given an option to change a wtv file to dvr-ms format.

After following a few leads, I found this WTV Watcher.  This program watches for wtv recordings, then converts them automatically to dvr-ms.

Why would you do this?

So you can run Lifextender of course!

LifeExtender won’t be reinstalled in our household yet however, as it got a bad reputation for clipping the end of some programs and leaving all the Optus commercials……So there you go.

UPDATE:  I’ve just noticed in my travels a reference to a more up to date ad removal and tv program shrinking program called MCEBuddy.  Will let you know more soon.

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I gave the kids a choice, either let their mum have the brand 4Gb, Core2Duo Vista based new computer I bought as our home computer as a media center or suffer her daily shrieks of anger and frustration as the current media center stuttered, failed to record programs and randomly crashed for no apparent reason.

 

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They said they wanted the new computer.  I said I was glad that a family wasn’t a democracy. 

 

Mum got the new Dell Inspiron desktop as the new Windows Vista Media Center.  (I also bought a new remote control from eBay.  It’s brilliant compared to the original DIVCO one I was using)

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The kids got the old media center, which I knew I must cure of it’s unreliable ways, or the kids would start shrieking as well.

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On the old media center (named “Angelica”….the new one has been christened “Lothlorien” due to my daughter’s current Lord of the Rings fad) Vista decided to have a cow. 

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Angelica’s Vista installation decided at this point to refuse to show the Event Log or Task Manager.  It gave an annoying error which of course noone on the net has ever been able to resolve.  Of course. 

mmc has detected an error in a snap-in and will unload it

FX:{b05566ad-fe9c-4363-be05-7a4cbb7cb510}
Exception has been thrown by the target of an invocation.
Exception type
System.Reflection.TargetInvocationException
Exception Stack trace
at System.RuntimeTypeHandle.CreateInstance(RuntimeType type, Boolean publicOnly, Boolean noCheck, Boolean& canBeCached, RuntimeMethodHandle& ctor, Boolean& bNeedSecurityCheck)
at System.RuntimeType.CreateInstanceSlow(Boolean publicOnly, Boolean fillCache)
at System.RuntimeType.CreateInstanceImpl(Boolean publicOnly, Boolean skipVisibilityChecks, Boolean fillCache)
at System.Activator.CreateInstance(Type type, Boolean nonPublic)
at Microsoft.ManagementConsole.FormView.InternalInitialize()
at Microsoft.ManagementConsole.View.HandleInitializationRequest(IRequestStatus requestStatus)
at Microsoft.ManagementConsole.View.ProcessRequest(Request request)
at Microsoft.ManagementConsole.ViewMessageClient.ProcessRequest(Request request)
at Microsoft.ManagementConsole.Internal.IMessageClient.ProcessRequest(Request request)
at Microsoft.ManagementConsole.Executive.RequestStatus.BeginRequest(IMessageClient messageClient, RequestInfo requestInfo)
at Microsoft.ManagementConsole.Executive.SnapInRequestOperation.ProcessRequest()
at Microsoft.ManagementConsole.Executive.Operation.OnThreadTransfer(SimpleOperationCallback callback)

 

See thread’s such as this one for lost of completely useless tips.    The only solution was to “reinstall”.  Sigh.

 

Foolishly I reinstalled using a Vista Home Edition DVD, which would not accept my Vista Ultimate product key.  Of course. Previously was running a version of Vista Ultimate that someone at my work won at a Teched.  No cd.

I took a deep breath, then went to bed.

Next morning I reboot up and then…the power supply died.

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At this point I realised that Angelica was probably trying to commit suicide due to jealousy.  I will NOT leave this till next weekend!

I travelled to Ipswich, bought a new power supply and got her running again.

 

What now?

 

According to the game Movie Director, there’s nothing a prima-donna likes more than a makeover, so I decided to install the Windows 7 Release Candidate.

 

Windows 7 “just works”, quickly prettily.  Love the changing desktop wallpaper, love the new media center (now configured to talk back to Lothlorien’s Recorded TV folder), seems to run everything quickly and nicely.  It’s a beautiful beautiful thing. 

 

Angelica is now working flawlessly (so far).  I know the kids won’t complain.   Will they?

 

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I thought it would never happen, but my wife has finally allowed the switch to Vista Media Center, after many years with XP Media Center.  Hooray!

This happened because XP Media Center started to commit suicide daily, losing channels and rebooting for no reason.  (I hope this wasn’t due to hardware)

Her original objection was that she found Vista too “confusing”.  I worked out this came down to the font size.  Increasing this increased the accceptance level markedly.

Anyway, Vista seems to be behaving itself really well…..so let’s see what happens.

I used the program vmcd to set the video codec to “Cyberlink Video/SP Decoder (PDVD7)” which appears to be working really well.  I’m not game to change it at the moment.

Just briefly I must say that I’m very impressed with Vista and it’s performance (I have done lots of tweaking).  With features such as Readyboost and automatic defragmentation, I hope the future is bright.

Every now and then the DVD drive starts up this awful buzzing sound whilst playing a DVD.  It is VERY annoying.

The “fix”, whilst in mid-movie is to prop the media center on a strange angle, changing the balance and stopping the buzz.

After a while this doesn’t work, and makes the media center look a bit sick.

Anyway, I was talking to a computer technician and he said the that round things that hold the dvd in sometimes get muck on them, which causes the dvd platter to spin unbalanced and thus make the sound.

So cleaning this (a great deal) fixes the problem.

I haven’t ever noticed this on any other dvd drive, so I think it’s a particular weakness of whatever the drive is that came with this HP Pavillion.

My next entry was going to be about my ongoing configuration with Vista, but I’lll have to leave that for another time, as disaster has struck.

Everything was going fine, then Microsoft kindly offered to update me to Media Player 11.  Usually I resist the temptation to update media player, as it seems that every time I do I lose the capability to play older video formats.

Anyway, I did, and paid the price for my arrogance.  (It may have been Google Chrome, but I doubt it)

The Solution

For some reason it appears some “bits” got unregistered for no fathomable reason.  The mymce blog provides some steps that fixed my problem:

http://mymce.wordpress.com/2006/11/30/a-component-registration-failurea-critical-process-failurea-tuner-not-found-error/

Apparently these steps came from Aaron Stebners log here:

http://blogs.msdn.com/astebner/archive/2006/02/17/534559.aspx

Steps like the one’s in this KB article didn’t seem to help at all:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/910905

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The Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) have recently launched an online version of their broadcast television programs.

The site utilises Flash and works quite well on our media center computer.

Sadly it doesn’t seem to integrate with Media Center itself, but this is still a great justification for having a computer in the living room.

Read all about it at the ABC.

http://www.abc.net.au/tv/iview/

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Lifehacker have posted an interesting article about a Media Center utility that “marks” commericals in your recorded video files.

 

Links

Skip Commercials in Windows Media Center with DVRMSToolbox | Lifehacker Australia

Problem

My Windows Xp computer’s (file) explorer crashed randomly (seemingly) if there were AVI files from my Canon A700 digital camera.  This happened in thumbnail view.

Why does this happen?

I discovered this happens because theres  a faulty video “codec” (a type of software that decodes video) on your system.

Workaround

To stop explorer crashing (which is VERY annoying), type this command in the run box:

REGSVR32 /U SHMEDIA.DLL

(This unfortunately disables thumbnail prevew for ALL videos.  To reenable: REGSVR32 SHMEDIA.DLL)

(Microsoft KB Article  555654 discusses this workaround but does not describe this problem.)

Here’s a thread that discusses the problem:

http://www.pcreview.co.uk/forums/thread-121819.php

Solution

I uninstalled the K-Lite Codec Pack (installed previously so I wouldn’t have to install the Quicktime player) and the problem was solved.

Perhaps a subsequent version of the Codec Pack fixes the problem, but this fixed the problem for me.

Because I don’t view MOV files too often anymore I’ll probably install the official Quicktime Player later.

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A computer based Media Center is something you buy, sit back and forget about like a DVD player or VCR. NOT!!!!

A Media Center will rarely sit there and perform it’s duties like an appliance.  It needs attention, feeding and loving care.

I don’t want it to be this way, I’m really sorry, but that’s the way it is.

I have experience with Team Media Portal, GB-PVR and now Microsoft Media Center 2005 (MCE 2005).

I am experienced with capture cards from may vendors including my most recent DIVICO card.

The sorts of problems one encounters with a Windows Media Center (and Windows XP)  with audio and video are many and varied.

Whenever I google for information about these problems I inevitably find that my problem is unique, so usually I have to work out a solution myself.  (Reinstalling the Operating System is NOT an option.  I’m sorry, but to me that is defeat)

I feel a need to blog about these problems and their solutions so that perhaps future searchers who get the problems will benefit from my suffering.

I used to place these things on my main blog (http://anoriginalidea.wordpress.com) but feel that it’s more appropriate to have a seperate place this information.

So intrepid searcher, if you find this information useful, please link back to me to improve the blogs ranking,  leave comments if you find extra information and leave spam links if you want them ignored.

It begins….