Tag Archives: Media Center

The Death of Windows Media Center

Windows Media CenterThere were rumors this past month that Windows Media Center would not be included in Windows 10. Sadly, this was confirmed this week via a tweet by Gabriel Aul (General Manager of OSG Data and Fundamentals team at Microsoft).

We can confirm that due to decreased usage, Windows Media Center will not be part of Windows 10.

And with that sad news, I can now move on to the planning of my next media management solution for my family. But before that happens, I’ll continue to enjoy the benefits of my WMC until Windows 7 becomes outdated.

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Patch Tuesday Means Extra Work Wednesday

Windows Update IconFor years now, Microsoft has released patches to its numerous operating systems on Tuesdays of each week (when patches are needed). Instead of having them come out on random days, IT administrators liked having a predictable release schedule. This made management of them a little easier (not much, but easier). At least predictable. So Patch Tuesday is when updates come (in large numbers at times).

With me being a developer (and playing video games in the evening), having a couple different computers is not that unusual. Couple that with us home schooling our four children and our demand for computing devices is pretty high. We also have a media center for the living room and a home server for file sharing and computer backups. All in all, it looks a lot like a computer lab around the office. So when a bunch of important patches hit on a Tuesday, my home server starts complaining (raising alerts) that I have machines that need updating. Even the home server (Windows Home Server 2011) needs to have patches installed. By Wednesday, I’m usually trying to tell each of the kids to install updates and reboot their computers.

You would think that it would happen automatically, but that’s not always something that you want. I don’t want anyone to loose school work and I don’t want the media center to update while recording a show. So usually that means checking the server alerts to see which machines haven’t completed the process and manually performing the update (and fixing any issues that might be unresolved). With the slow reboots on the oldĀ machines, it really makes me want to upgrade some hard drives to SSDs.

As much irritation as it creates, the whole process is a necessary one. In many households, updates go uninstalled and this will many times lead to a virus in the environment. The OS bugs need to be fixed, but unless you install these fixes then you leave yourself open to problems. Just remember, Microsoft will never send an update link via email. The only way that you should install updates is through the Windows Update portion of the control panel. To find it quickly, do a search for “Windows Update” from the Start menu. I know it’s a pain (believe me, I know), but you’ll save yourself an even bigger headache later.

Dual Tuner for 7MC

This past week I ordered, installed and configured a new dual tuner for my Windows 7 Media Center computer. The card that I used was a Hauppauge HVR-2250. This replaces my PVR-150 that I purchased many moons ago. The PVR-150 was a single tuner full height PCI card that only supported the normal analog signal (NTSC). The new card is a half height, PCI-E dual tuner capable of supporting two different formats at the same. Each tuner can support NTSC, ATSC (over the air HD) and QAM (HD signal from the cable system). So we have legacy support for the analog portion of the cable (standard cable) and we can also record the unencrypted HD channels on the cable. This basically means that we can record American Idol and Super Why in HD at the same time. It’s also possible to record over the air HD (good old antenna) if it came to that.

Hopefully this brings to a close the waffling over what changes to make to the media center. Since installing Windows 7, there have been some corruptions in recordings. I finally traced them to the outdated tuner hardware and a lack of decent drivers for Windows 7. For me, Windows 7 is definitely the way to go since the HD support is much better. It also has a guide that is easier to configure and maintain. Now hopefully I can get some longevity out of this card before the cable companies kill off analog and move to cable boxes only. One thing is certain, we love the ability to record our TV.

New Weapons in the Console War

PS3 SlimWith the release of the Playstation 3 Slim, Sony has re-ignited the console wars. The newest version of the Playstation family is lighter, quieter and cheaper than its older brothers (of course the price has dropped on the older models as well). It’s now below the $300 mark and more in line with the other consoles in the war, the Nintendo Wii and the Microsoft XBox 360. The product itself is just hitting store floors, but the reviews have been very good for the new model. So what makes this a game changer?

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