Aug 20 2008

News - Running an E-mail server from your home network

If you are interested in running email from your server, you should check out the New England Digital Media User Group's live meeting on Ustream. They will fill you in on all the good information including anti-spam, webmail and all that other fun stuff.

The Ustream page is here.

The New England group page is here.

They have been behind some recent efforts to get training in WHS and Media Center out to the community.

Aug 19 2008

Review - AVerMedia Bravo Hybrid TV Tuner

TV tuner evolution has finally crept to the point where we have combo cards that can tune unencrypted QAM and analog cable at the same time. So why would AVerMedia introduce a hybrid software encoding TV card onto the market? Let's see if this card, associated features, and price point make sense for the HTPC market of today.



Aug 18 2008

News - SageTV 6.4

SageTV keeps the development train moving forward with their release of SageTV 6.4. This is the software you want if you want to use Hauppauge's new HD-PVR (record HD from component source and encode it to H.264). Whats new in 6.4? Look below for your answer.

SageTV 6.4 announcement thread

-Support for the Hauppauge HD PVR (Official on Windows, Experimental on Linux)
-Automatic STVI Generation in the SageTV Studio
-EXIF metadata/thumbnail support for JPEGs
-new file system & network browser
-H.264 videos from YouTube
-High definition photo display on the STX-HD100
-File transfers to/from Placeshifter clients
-editing of aspect ratios on the fly for the STX-HD100
-lots of bugs fixes & performance enhancements

Aug 15 2008

Blog - Good Times with Blu-ray on AGP and an Athlon 64

The past week I've been playing around with a an Asus AH3650 512MB AGP Card. I have to say, it's been fun. It continually surprises me by how low spec a system I can use to play back Blu-ray. So let's take a direct approach to this little write-up. Right now I'm watching Super Bad (AVC ~30 Mbps, Dolby TrueHD 5.1 ~1.3 Mbps) on an Athlon XP-Mobile 2400+. Freaking ridiculous. That really pretty much sums it up. Below I'll go through the graphs and measurements of different software on different hardware configurations. I've selected a few films that push the bit-rate boundaries to see how things perform. 


Software Titles Used

  • 27 Dresses - 20th Century Fox - AVC @ 34 Mbps
  • The Orphanage - New Line Home Entertainment - VC-1 @ 27.9 Mbps
  • Dream Girls - DreamWorks Home Entertainment - MPEG-2 @ 30.8 Mbps

Bitrates above are average bitrates. Bitrate average for 27 Dresses is per back of disc case. Seems pretty accurate, based on where the actual overhead while watching it. I would have guessed 32 or 33 Mbps instead. Dream Girls and The Orphanage average bitrates are per this resource at The interesting thing about The Orphanage is that while the average bitrate is 27.9 it has peaks in the low 50's at times, if only for a couple frames. These titles all represented some of the highest video bitrate material available for each of the three encoding formats per the prior mentioned list of flims and bitrates.

Now let's move on to the different hardware configurations tested and see how they fared.


Aug 14 2008

Blog - MSN Remote Record Being CLOSED!

Long time MissingRemote readers will remember the 7th Life With a Plugin episode covering Remote Recordings in Media Center, which covered the only two options for remote scheduling shows: Webguide4 and MSN's Remote Record.

Remote Record has always seemed to play second fiddle to Webguide, simply due to it's lack of features. But if there is one thing it dominated, was simplicity. No port forwarding, no configuring...and FAST since it relied on MSN's web server instead of using your PC as a server. If you needed quick scheduling of a show or series, Remote Record was the answer. And best of all, it was free.

So imagine my dissapointment today when I saw the following announcement:




This is dissapointing on SO many levels. First, this is a terrible time to lose ANY Microsoft offered plugins--with all the negative publicity surrounding the various Online Spotlight applications which have mysteriously and without warning dissapeared--the last thing Media Center needs is a useful tool like Remote Record biting the dust (especially as it was offered by Microsoft itself). Secondly, the only comparable replacement is Webguide, but since Webguide is now controlled by Microsoft, its future is just as clouded (I'm praying it does not follow the Yahoo! Meedio fiasco). Add to all this the fact that the upcoming TV Pack Update will most likely break Webguide anyways, and Microsoft has now singlehandedly taken away all abilities to remotely schedule shows for your Media Center; a feature which has been around since the beginning.

I have no idea what's the plan, but I must believe there was a better way to go about this. Especially for a division as large as MSN TV, the bandwidth for this app must have been minimal. Even if they are developing a replacement, why not keep Remote Record alive on a backup server somewhere until it's ready. It's the type of feature which everyone takes for granted, until you are at work all day and realize that the season premiere of LOST is on tonight!


Aug 14 2008

News - The Connected Home Day Training

Fellow MVP Pete Stagman has been working hard on bringing us the very first Connected Home Day Training, up in BOSTON. If you're eager to learn more about the world of Media Center and more, then head on's free after all!

{joomsay link= [HTPC User Group] }The event is called “The Connected Home Day”. It’s a full day training for novice computer users who want to learn how to build and secure a home network, use Microsoft Media Center to it’s full potential and use Windows Home Server to store and backup their important documents and precious Digital Photos and Videos. We will also be covering the Analog to Digital conversion in Feb 2009 and what it means to the average person.{/joomsay}

Aug 13 2008

News - Sorta Kinda Daily Button

I wanted to catch you guys up on a few things before I forget :). Oh, be sure to check out Mike'stour of Disney's Innovations Home of the Future .


Chris Lanier, Mr. how the heck does he stay up with the news, has a few bits you should know about.


VistaView has released QAM support!

Music plugin allows for folder based viewing

Big VMC TV Pack discussion at TGB Its only 15 pages or more.. Get reading!

There is a decent article at Engadget that talks about living room PCs that is worth a read as well. I couldn't disagree more with his comments and will elaborate further tomorrow.

Matt will be releasing a new guide tomorrow :). Again, another great informative guide! Then on Monday my AVerMedia Bravo review will be posted :).

Aug 13 2008

News - Fluid Digital Integrates Additional TV Functionality in Windows Vista Media Center

The Woodlands Texas-August 13, 2008– Microsoft OEM Gold Partner and authorized digital-cable media server OEM Fluid Digital is proud to announce the integration of Microsoft’s Media Center TV Pack to enable an enhanced TV viewing experience.

“We’re excited about delivering even more value to our customers with native support for four digital cable tuners, an enhanced electronic program guide, and the ability to share non-protected digital cable content across PlayReady-enabled PCs and portable media devices,” says Chris Morley, Executive Vice President, Fluid Digital.

Fluid Digital Media Servers will begin shipping with the Media Center TV pack in Q4 of 2008. In addition to four digital cable tuner support, Fluid Digital will be able to integrate additional Clear QAM tuners in a heterogeneous manner, with the ability to remap channels to various tuners within the system.

“In my 32 years of designing and integrating home theater solutions, I have never experienced a technology progress so far and at such a rapid pace,” said Kevin Buchanan, President of Fluid Digital. “What Microsoft has been able to accomplish in the living room has been awe inspiring and we are pleased to be a part of the story.”

Fluid Digital Media Servers are sold through a vetted dealer network and are professionally installed to ensure years of hassle-free TV and media enjoyment. Fluid Digital Media Servers are a perfect combination of technology, art, and experience in the audio visual industry.

About Fluid Digital

Fluid Digital is among a handful of Microsoft Partners authorized to integrate Windows Vista with Digital Cable support. Fluid Digital was the first to market with AMD’s 780G chipset integrated in a digital cable media server. Fluid Digital is the only media server company in the business that is wholly owned by a custom A/V hybrid (retailer/installer) that enables them to have the fastest response time in the industry.

For dealer inquiries, please contact Kevin Buchanan at 281-298-8778. For technical and capabilities inquiries on Fluid Digital media servers, please contact Chris Morley at 512-535-2659. Please visit our website at

Aug 12 2008

Blog - Tour: Disney's Innovations Home of the Future

Disneyland--the happiest place on earth--and the home of some of the most cutting edge in technology for the home? Apparantly so! I recently was invited to tour the brand new attraction located in the Tomorrowland of California's Disneyland Theme Park.


According to the webpage :

Experience how incredible your family's life can be with the latest technologies in Disneyland's unique Tomorrowland interactive exhibits. Don't miss:

  • The Innoventions Dream Home, where the Elias family invites you to enjoy their digital lifestyle, with exciting innovations from Microsoft, HP, Lifeware and Taylor Morrison Homes
  • Project Tomorrow, a hands-on experience featuring the digital wizardry of Body Builder, Power City and more presented by Siemens
  • An ASIMO running robot, the world's most advanced humanoid robot, showing off its remarkable abilities in a 20-minute show
  • Five interactive areas, including the Xbox Experience and other multimedia games as well as St. Joseph's Healthy University
  • Tom Morrow, one of the wittiest Audio-Animatronic® hosts ever imagineered
Not exactly an awful lot of content devoted to the wealth of technology being shown, right? Well, that's why we blog. To give you the full disclosure with the good and the bad. If you want some more facts about the home, there was a lot more detailed information at , so check it out to find out what inspired the design, how many cast members, etc.

Take this as more of an opinionated tour guide, hopefully with some pictures that give you an idea of the attraction. So let's see what this home really had to offer.
Aug 11 2008

News - Our condolences to AVS Forum -- looses 10s of 1,000s of posts

Long time home theater information staple Audio Video Science Forum just suffered a massive setback today:

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