Short Bits: Vongo, VistaView QAM

Last a few days ago I talked about the quickly depleting online streaming section in Media Center, and today we officially have another one to go.  Vongo was the Starz-owned subscription download service that will now be history at the end of September (Via Ian Dixon).  A new service called Starz Play appears to be taking its spot, but it is not clear how or if it will integrate with Media Center.  The marketing genius in me questions why Vongo was not branded Starz Play to start with, but I guess catchy names are all the rage these days. VistaView … Continue reading Short Bits: Vongo, VistaView QAM

Music Plug-in Allows for Folder Based Browsing

While ID3 tags generally make the for the best music browsing and collection experience, the lack of ID3 tags in your tracks can do just the opposite.  Now you can get around the need for 100% perfect ID3 tagged tracks using the new Music Browser plug-in for Vista Media Center.  The simple plug-in allows for folder based navigation of your music, ditching the need to have the Artist and/or Album Artist tagged correctly in all of your files.

mControl Adds Text to Speech Driver

Adding to the long list of mControl add-ins, drivers, and plug-ins is their text to speech beta driver that allows the Microsoft Speech API to make your Vista machine speak text as part of a macro.  The speech commands are specific to Windows Vista, so the client will not work on MCE 2005 (the controller part of the driver should work on MCE 2005 however). Source code and documentation are also included in the download.

Open Media Library Beta Released

No doubt one of my favorite Media Center plug-ins to watch has been Open Media Library.  The new MCML plug-in started as a clone of Niveus Media’s Movie Library and then shifted into a huge open source project with several developers behind the effort.  All of that hard work by those developers has resulted in the first beta release available for download now which looks great!  Downloads are available for 32 and 64-bit. Features include… My Movies XML support VIDEO_TS playback ISO using Daemon Tools Codec based playback support DVD Library Manager support Extender support UI based setup (importers, daemontools … Continue reading Open Media Library Beta Released

Heatwave Weather Plug-in Makes a Comeback

Years after developing the world’s first native Media Center plug-in (in MCE 2005 nonetheless, thus using unsupported methods), James at MCExtended is back with Heatwave for Vista.  Just about everything you would expect is included in the new weather plug-in, and it also includes some extras like overlaying a transparent version of the plug-in over the currently playing video just as Media Center does with the Guide. You can download it here.

Microsoft Releases TweakMC for Vista Media Center

One of the most popular Media Center plug-ins has always been TweakMCE, but with the release of Vista the community has been lacking such a tool produced by Microsoft.  That has now changed with the release of TweakMC for Vista Media Center.  The new tool exposes an interface for the various registry settings that control Media Center behavior. TweakMC allows easy access to several dozen Media Center settings including some of the ones listed below.  The UI is hardly pretty to look at, but the good news is that once you change the settings this tool shouldn’t be needed again. … Continue reading Microsoft Releases TweakMC for Vista Media Center

mControl Gets UPB Driver; mPanel Beta Units Out

Last month mControl gained support for CentraLite JetStream, and this month UPB has been added to the growing list of supported lighting and home control systems in Embedded Automations mControl. The beta driver, developed by mControl user Tom Boyce allows control of UPB devices by all of the mControl form factors.   UPB works much like X10 and INSTEON in that it uses power line communication to control devices with ~99% reliability.  The beta driver does have an expiration date (Aug. 31, 2008), however the final version should be out later this summer.  Download the driver here. Embedded Automation has also … Continue reading mControl Gets UPB Driver; mPanel Beta Units Out

Microsoft Starts Media Center SideShow Gadget Beta

Microsoft has finally unwrapped a beta of the long rumored Vista Media Center SideShow control gadget.  First spotted by Stuart, you can apply for the beta on Microsoft Connect and get started starting, but so far it looks pretty much like basic in terms of functionality. The key component currently missing is Media Center Extender control, something we knew Microsoft has said it will be able to do.  Current features include the ability to browse the Guide and schedule recordings, list recorded TV and start playback, browse the music, picture and video libraries, and show “Now Playing” information. Read more … Continue reading Microsoft Starts Media Center SideShow Gadget Beta

mControl 2.1 Goes Final

Embedded Automation has released the final build of mControl 2.1 for download.  The build is actually the same as the previous RCGOLD2 release, and as there were no significant issues reported Embedded Automation has now shifted their focus to the next mControl release. You can download mControl 2.1 here, and of course you get a 30 day trial if you don’t already use mControl.  All current mControl users can upgrade to 2.1 for free.  See the User Manual for more (PDF). Interested to know what other features mControl has?  Check out the updated mControl Feature Summery (PDF).

Media Center Nabs More Online Content: Olympics & Fight Network

NBC has teamed up with TVTonic to provide online coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics via Media Center.  Be sure to watch the ‘Explore’ section of Media Center for more, as well as TVTonic (requires install).  More information at TVTonic. In addition the Queensberry Fight Network has launched an online application available now in Media Center to get your fighting/boxing fix 24/7.  Considering the downfall that has been network TV, Microsoft needs to make sure they are making every effort to get more online content up and accessible via Media Center.  I’m dying for a Hulu plug-in.