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.
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!
I’ve never had a CE device that exceeded my expectations. Until now. My Connected Home includes devices that enable me to stream media between devices on my network, but which also provoked frustration because of half implemented codec support and DLNA protocols. I thought I had true DLNA love back in July 2009 with a Samsung TV, but the lack of firmware updates for DLNA compatibility (such as support for WMA music) eventually caused me to realize it was just a summer romance. Samsung seems to abandon devices after 6 months or so, and concentrates on newer products.
Like many others, while I’d love a new DLNA certified Home Theater receiver DMR, the price range for these is currently $900+. And the Samsung TV is relatively new.
Enter the WD TV Live Hub. This >$200 little box does it all. Like many Home Theater enthusiasts looking for optimum solutions that provide Windows 7 Play To functionality, I’ve been frustrated and was not looking for an expensive solution. This is a very small box with gargantuan capabilities, including a 1TB hard drive to store your favorite media on.
Yes, you read that correctly. The iPxxx devices don’t natively support DLNA functionality, which rules out using Windows 7 Play To”, so I decided to see what could be done, at least as a proof of concept, to try to get this working.
The secret sauce was finding an app called PlugPlayer and installing it on my iPhone and iPad and seeing my iPxx devices show up in the Network Window .
I was intrigued, and not expecting much success, used Windows Explorer, right clicked a music file and saw not only my TV and Sonos Players listed, but my iPhone (via PlugPlayer) as well.
Then, the next task was finding which file formats would be supported.
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: