Showing posts with label Media Center. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Media Center. Show all posts

Monday, March 7, 2011

Parental Controls in Windows 7 Media Center

Our kids are getting old enough to be able to use our Media Center, so I have enabled parental controls to prevent them from seeing content that is inappropriate for them.  When we had used a TiVo DVR, we had used the parental control and were pretty pleased.  The Windows Media Center implementation of parental controls has several peculiarities:

  • With parental controls enabled, every time you start playing content, that has a rating higher than the specified threshold, you will get prompted for the PIN.  This happens even if you press stop, and then play on the same show.  (I like TiVo's implementation, where once you enter the PIN, parental controls will be disabled for a time, or until the DVR is turned off.)

  • While in the PIN entry screen, content is playing in the background.  So if you take a while to enter the PIN, you will have to rewind to not miss any of the content.

  • The parental controls setting is not applied to playing Netflix streaming content, even though Windows Media Center has had support for Netflix content for a while.  So it is possible that inappropriate content could be view through Windows Media Center's Netflix interface.  (One interesting thing is that the Xbox 360's Netflix streaming implementation respects the Xbox's parental controls setting.)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Xbox 360 in bedroom

A while ago, I mentioned that my wife bought me the new slim Xbox 360. I was trying to decide where I wanted to set up the old Xbox.  We have been using Linksys Media Center Extenders on each of the other TVs around the house, to give them access to the content on the Media Center.  But the Linksys extenders do not support other content like Netflix streaming.

I decided to set up the Xbox in our bedroom.  (And got the OK from my wife too.)  I have configured it to automatically start up in Media Center Extender mode when the Xbox starts up.  Since I want to access our Netflix streaming account from the Xbox, I created a Xbox Live Gold account for the Xbox, and associated my Netflix account to this Xbox account.

With this setup, I can access:

  • Live and Recorded TV from the Media Center

  • Netflix streaming content

  • DVD content

  • Content from the Zune Video marketplace

  • Hulu, Youtube, and other internet streaming content through the PlayOn server running on the Media Center


Also, we will be able to play games on this Xbox.  (Most likely only when my wife has her woman's group over)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Xbox 360 "slim"

My wife and kids bought me  a new Xbox 360 "slim" for Father's Day.  So far, I like the hardware, especially how much quieter it is when compared to my older Xbox 360.

The setup/transfer went pretty easy, especially since the software to transfer data from the old hard drive is included on the new Xbox.  (You do need to purchase the Xbox 360 transfer cable.)  All content was transferred, except for the games that had been installed on the hard drive.  Even though the content was transferred, it was still licensed to my old Xbox.  (The DRM on the Xbox licenses content to the Xbox where the content was purchased, and the Xbox Live account.)

Since I want the content to be playable when my Xbox Live account is not logged in, I needed to transfer the licenses to the new Xbox.  Microsoft has a tool where you can transfer the licenses for your content to a different Xbox.  Unfortunately, after you transfer the licenses, you need to redownload the content.  The download manager on the Xbox only allows 30 items to be added to the queue.  So I re-downloaded the games, but haven't redownloaded the Rock Band tracks that I had purchased.

I do like the hardware on the new Xbox, for reasons other than how silent it runs.  Since HDMI and toslink optical are on board, I can now use HDMI and digital audio.  (There wasn't room with the placement of the ports to use both before.)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

HDHomeRun for Media Center

As I have mentioned before, I am looking to cancel our cable TV service.  This weekend I purchased a HDHomeRun Dual network tuner.  The HDHomeRun is an ATSC and QAM tuner that you connect to your network.  You are able to access the tuners with any Mac, PC or linux computer on the network.

I installed it in our attic, where our networking panel is, and the installation was very easy.  All I had to do was connect the antenna cables and connect the tuner to the network.  When I installed the software on one of my computers, I was able to scan for channels and make sure that the antenna was pointed in the right direction.

I was then able to install the tuner software on our Windows 7 Media Center.  The tuners were instantly recognized, and the Microsoft's program guide had all of the data for those channels.  The quality of video is very good.  I can tell that the video is not as compressed as it is through Comcast.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Netflix and Windows Media Center

For some reason, within the past couple of days Netflix streaming in our Vista Media Center stopped working.  The interesting thing is that playback worked from the browser and from PlayOn, both from that computer.  Nothing that I did solved the problem.  I was getting so frustrated that I wanted to just get a Roku HD, so I wouldn't have to deal with software configuration anymore.

As one last ditch effort, I wanted to upgrade to Windows 7 to see if would fix Netflix streaming.  If it didn't, I would go get a cheap Comcast DVR, and a Roku HD box for each TV.

The upgrade to Windows 7 went smoothly, and I am now able to stream Netflix content.  Also Windows 7 Media Center adds other Internet TV sources.  In addition to those things, the redone UI is very nice.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Media Center Extenders?

Now that it seems that support for Media Center Extenders is wanning, I need to figure out what I want to do about our setup.  I have been pretty happy with Media Center Extenders for thing that are recorded on the Media Center.  But, for other things the Extenders don't do that well.

I have not had good luck getting movies to play on our Extenders with MyMovies.  Also, I haven't gotten vmcPlayIt to work, in order to play Hulu and Netflix content on the extenders.

I was thinking ing that what I want is a simple DNLA audio and video player.  This would support playing content recorded via the TV tuners.  Also, since PlayOn is a DNLA server, these players could play Hulu and Netflix content. Also, with Windows 7, other content would be transcoded.

The only problems that I see with this solution are:

  • I don't think that it will be possible to play live TV, or control the tuners.

  • Hopefully it would be easy to configure the heirarchy of the content.  For example, I would want recorded content to grouped by series.  Also, I would want to see the meta data for the content.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Hulu on Windows Media Center

As I have mentioned before, one of the things that I have been working on is to get access to Hulu content on my Windows Media Center computer.  Now with Hulu Desktop being released, there are several potential solutions for getting this to work.

A few weeks ago, there was a special price for the PlayOn media server software.  I had tried this before and decided to jump on this special price.  I installed it and the vmcPlayIt Media Center plugin.  Once I installed the PlayOn software, I was able to play Hulu content on my Xbox perfectly.

I still haven't been able to get the vmcPlayIt plugin to work.  I am able to see the categories, but I am not able to see the thumbnails or play videos from any of the providers.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Netflix on Windows Media Center

Microsoft just released the ability to stream Netflix movies to Vista Media Center.  This is something that Microsoft had implemented in the New Xbox Experience last year.

These implementations allow you to play videos that are on your Netflix instant queue.  It looks like Microsoft did a more functional implementation for Media Center, than what exists on the Xbox .  In addition to letting you play content that is already on your queue, you can browse the whole library of videos available for streaming.  Also, you can manage both your disc and streaming queues.

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