Microsoft Now Offers limited RAW Camera Support

Posted Posted in Digital Photography, Windows 7, Windows Media Center

Today Microsoft released a Codec Camera Pack which brings (long overdue) limited support for various RAW formats from the major camera vendors. While most RAW shooters use more substantial tools (Lightroom, Photoshop, etc.) for manipulating images, Microsoft has provided a download for both 32 and 64 bit Windows that allows viewing RAW formats in Windows Live Photo Gallery and some basic image manipulation, mostly rotate and resize. You can, however, copy a NEF to JPG format and edit it inside WLPG, but that is not the same as editing a native NEF (or other RAW format file) inside Lightroom, Photoshop, etc. This may be good enough for casual photographers.

Below is a screen shot in Windows Explorer Tile view of some Nikon NEF RAW images which is where I looked first. Note the generic Windows Live Photo Gallery icons, but please read further

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Airplay for Windows Media Center

Posted Posted in Apple, Connected Home, iPad, Media Center, Windows 7, Windows Media Center, Wireless Streaming

It had to happen, and I’m glad it did. Thomas Pleasance has produced a nifty add-on for Windows Media Center that allows AirPlay from an iPad to Windows Media Center. It is currently at beta 1 stage and is documented to work only with videos (and YouTube) on the IOS device.

You’ll need to install Dot NET 3.5 if it isn’t already present, Bonjour from http://support.apple.com/kb/DL999 and finally the app from his home page.

After running the install (it is a little quirky, see the comments posted on his page), I was indeed able to stream from my iPad to Windows Media Center. I fired up Videos on my iPad and selected Avatar (which I ripped from my owned BD Ray movie).

I touched the AirPlay icon to display AirPlay enabled devices

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and sure enough, I could select Windows Media Center!

 

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Both the iPad and the WMC machine were on 802.11n 5GHz wireless and it didn’t take long at all for the movie to start to stream on WMC.

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Interestingly enough, I could drag the timeline with a mouse and playback started instantly from that point. I didn’t have any video or audio issues at all.

 

Even though the app is not currently supposed to work with Photos on the iPad, I tried a slide show, as I see that as a more important application for me than videos. I was able to manually move between 5 or 6 photos before WMC froze, but the potential is there.

 

I’m all for a universal ecosystem of smart, connected devices, and I love seeing apps like this one. I’m not seeing the app show up in the Extra Libraries (it IS registered) so I don’t know if the app can send content FROM MCE to an iPad (but I would really like to see that since that would have more real world use for me).

 

Kudos to Thomas Pleasance for these first steps!

OneShot App Automates & Organizes Screen Captures for W7 PlayTo

Posted Posted in DLNA, Play To, Windows 7, Wireless Streaming

One of the great things about “community” is that you meet talented people virtually who come up with neat ways to enhance Windows features.

 

Jensigner has developed just such an add-on called OneShot which I see all kinds of interesting uses for, such as real time presentation work, education, and more. Basically this app takes screen captures of whatever is on your desktop and sends them to a folder named PlayTo, to enable you to quickly take advantage of a neat feature built into Windows 7. Open the folder, range select the images you’ve just captured and send to your PlayTo DLNA enabled TV.

oneshot

To demo this, I opened my photo blog in IE9 and captured the desktop. Then, I opened the PlayTo folder and sent it to my DLNA enabled Samsung TV. Cool!

Connecting Multiple IP Cameras to Windows Media Center

Posted Posted in Connected Home, Media Center, Networking, Windows 7, Windows Media Center, Wireless Streaming

After publishing a piece on how to connect an Internet enabled camera to WMC, iPhones and iPads yesterday, I received a couple of emails basically saying, “great, but I want to monitor more than one camera in a master view like stand alone IP surveillance software”.

I thought about this for a bit and then tested to see if an HTML page could be hosted locally, placed in the C:ProgramDataMicrosoftWindowsStart MenuProgramsAccessoriesMedia CenterMedia Center Programs folder with the appropriate MCL and PNG file. The answer was yes, and this now opens the door to more customizations.

Further, I thought that the still images needed to be refreshed. Not much value in watching an image on the screen that just sits there. I fired up Microsoft Expression Web and created a page and added in a META REFRESH tag to reload every xx seconds (I used 30 seconds as the interval). While tables should not be used for layout on a page designed to be viewed in a real web browser (a deprecated means of coding), a nested table structure proved perfect for display inside Windows Media Center. I specified the Segoe UI font and ended up with something that looked pretty decent and worked.  Here is the view inside Windows Media Center:

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Sonos S5 Music Players, Connected, Converged, Fantastic

Posted Posted in Apple, DLNA, iPad, iPhone, Media Center, Networking, Software, Sonos, Technology, WHS, Windows 7, Wireless Streaming

I’m not easily impressed, but my jaw is hanging open today after installing two Sonos S5 Music Players to cover my home with end to end music. I’ve used computers, Media Center Extenders and all kinds of hardware and software in the past to move music around my home, but I always had to cobble together pieces and use separate devices and controllers to get what I wanted.  What did I want? Well, everything imaginable. The list below is not in any particular order:

1. The ability to stream from ANY of my computers (using Play To or anything else) to more than one music player/renderer simultaneously.

2. To be able to control the volume above individually or together.

3. Play Pandora Radio and other Internet sourced digital music

4. Use existing/create new playlists

5. Use iPhones, iPads and  iPxxx whatever to control and manage the device as a remote control (including graphical menus).

6. Use the system as an alarm clock with choices to wake from alarm, music, Internet music, whatever

7. Wireless connectivity in my Living Room

8. A system that was upgradeable.

9. Quality sound

10. Expandability

I’m still stunned that I found a system that does ALL of the above. (And I’m betting I discover more features – I’ve only had a few hours experience with this all, so my exploration and discovery has only just begun).

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