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Recording Broker - Automated Recording Conflict Resolution


I have two Media Centers, each having one tuner.  Most of the recording requests are submitted on the main one (in the living room) and I often wished there was an automated way to detect the recording conflicts and submit them to my other Media Center to better take advantage of it's tuner.  Recording Broker is just that...

Recording Broker is an application that detects recording conflicts and submits recording requests to other brokers configured in the application.  It is only available to Early Access members right now; don't worry it will be release publicly at a later date (publicly released 3/27/07) .

The solution is contains two applications, RecordingBroker.exe and RecordingBrokerService.exe.  After installation Run RecordingBroker.exe and click Save to write the settings to the registry, then start the service from the Service MMC.

RecordingBroker.exe is the settings tool, use it to add brokers and configure how the service behaves. 

Port - the the port the server binds to
Poll Time - how often, in seconds, WMC is polled for conflicts
Secret - because this application could theoretically be used across firewalls (if you wanted to create a relationship with a friend's WMC); this secret is used to hash a portion of the request to verify that the other broker is trusted.  This must be set to the same value on all brokers.
Connection Timeout - how long the broker will wait for a server to respond before failing
Other Brokers - is a list of all the brokers that this machine has a relationship with; to add a broker enter the hostname (or dns name) of the other machine in "New Broker" and click Add.

Settings must be "Save"d before exiting.  After saving settings, restart the service to have them take effect.

RecordingBrokerService.exe is a windows service that acts as a tcp server so other brokers can communicate with that machine, and also polls WMC for recording conflicts so it can send requests to other brokers. 

MCE (XP) Download

WMC (Vista) Download




randyharris said:

Andy, this is fantastic! It makes me wish I had multiple MCE's to take advantage of it. Why oh why doesn't MSFT include this type of function into MCE.

February 27, 2007 10:29 PM

babgvant said:

That's a good question.  I would think this would be an easy way for them to add some value to the platform; from a feature $ perspective it would cost them almost nothing to implement.

The next rev is going to be a bit more challenging; in this rev it just tries to schedule the conflict on the other WMCs if it can't it just stops trying.  Ideally, it would figure out the show that was causing the conflict and see if it can schedule that show on the other WMCs, and if it can cancel it and let the conflict have priority.

February 28, 2007 7:02 AM

ddman said:

Just for clarification, is there any reason why this wouldn't work if one machine is running the VISTA version and the other is running the MCE?

February 28, 2007 7:06 AM

babgvant said:

That is exactly (one Vista - one MCE) how I have it running.

February 28, 2007 7:11 AM

onlydarksets said:

This is really huge - I wish I had come across it before I purchased my Xbox.  I still might use it on my second Vista PC as a guest bedroom PC.  Thanks (once again)!!!!

February 28, 2007 9:00 AM

onlydarksets said:

To clarify - I meant that had I not already purchased an Xbox 360, I would probably use this solution instead, since I never play video games and only bought it as an extender.

My guess is that MS wants to pump up the 360 as an extender.

February 28, 2007 9:03 AM

DFu said:

I think it's really amusing that the first comment said that they only have one MCE machine, but they couldn't understand why Microsoft wouldn't build this functionality in.  Uh, dude, you only have one MCE and so do 99% of other MCE owners - that's why.  As Vista becomes more common, that hopefully will change.  At that point, it's worth asking again if Microsoft would build something like this in.

March 5, 2007 10:22 AM

babgvant said:

I think if MS made it easier to connect multiple media centers there would be more multiple media center households.  It would be a quick value add feature that make the product more flexible.

March 8, 2007 2:35 PM

onlydarksets said:

Especially with Vista bundling Media Center in the Home Premium version, which is what I imagine most people will have on their laptops and in their studies.  If they get a dedicated Media Center PC, then they _will_ have multiple MCE PCs.

March 9, 2007 6:41 PM

babgvant said:

technically (I haven't tried it yet) this should work across the internet too, so you could setup a network of MCE's (with your friends for e.g.) to ensure that your conflicts got resolved.  

March 9, 2007 9:30 PM

jelwood said:

I just found out something interesting...  As you know, I've been working to add dvr-ms support to the ffmpeg/MPlayer demuxer.  I compiled MPlayer just to see what it looks like when it plays dvr-ms files and I discovered that it will play files that are still recording.  Since you use two MCE machines I'm sure you have seen this problem, but with DirectShow you can't play a dvr-ms file on another machine while it is still recording (at least I’ve never gotten it to work).  If you use MPlayer to play that file, it doesn't have the same problem.  I thought this was interesting...and may compliment your idea.  I’m sure with a little tweaking we could also get it to play the Live TV buffer.

Is this possibly the beginning to a third party PC based Extender (Since Microsoft never delivered SoftSled)?

I know that WebGuide 4 comes really close to this, but the thing I didn’t like about his solution is you have to do a real time conversion (which is a heavy strain on the MCE box).  With this, no re-encoding would be necessary.

March 23, 2007 8:57 AM

babgvant said:

That's very interesting... I wonder how hard it would be to host MPlayer in a MCML application

March 23, 2007 10:24 AM

jelwood said:

I don't know anything about MCML, but MPlayer comes up in a frameless window.  If someone knows something about MCML and would like to play around with MPlayer let me know and I'll build a version for you.  I think you're right, hosting this with MCML would be the best way to do it.

March 23, 2007 10:53 AM

andy vt's blog said:

I haven't had any issues with it , so I'm going to let it out into the wild... enjoy.

March 27, 2007 7:20 AM

Chris Lanier's Blog said:

Recording Broker - Automated Recording Conflict Resolution over Network | I wouldn’t expect anything...

April 8, 2007 1:37 PM

Chris Lanier's Blog said:

Recording Broker - Automated Recording Conflict Resolution over Network | I wouldn’t expect anything

April 8, 2007 1:37 PM

The Digital Lifestyle Media Center Expert Blog said:

All I can say about this blog from the creator of the DVRMS Toolbox and particularly this entry - is

April 11, 2007 4:12 AM

My News said:

Recording Broker Does Conflict Resolution With Networked Pool of Tuners Found over at Recording Broker - Automated Recording Conflict Re ...

April 17, 2007 1:36 AM

My News said:

Recording Broker Does Conflict Resolution With Networked Pool of Tuners This looks awesome. If only I had extra tuner cards and a spare PC with a media centre license! Recording Broker - ...

April 25, 2007 12:28 AM

tomb said:

Just a thought, would it be possible to designate a client to always resolve a conflict.  Say I had a small box with one tuner on my TV, and had a machine with four tuners.  I would like to check a box and be able to never record locally, even if it is on my schedule.  This would free the tuner for live TV.

May 2, 2007 7:38 PM

babgvant said:

Good idea, it would certainly be possible to build that capability in.  I've got some enhancements I've been meaning to do; I'll see how hard it would be to implement.

May 3, 2007 7:05 AM

TDave00 said:

I second tomb's request.  I am on the verge of buying a hdtv home run networked tuner and I "think" you can register the tuner on multiple pc's, so I would like to install and pull an analog tuner to get the "my tv" functions as well as being able to add the hdtv tuner.  If your program works I could send all the recordings to the main mce machine.

May 9, 2007 1:55 AM
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