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September 2008 - Posts

  • LcdWriter for Sage (and Media Center)

    Just uploaded a new version of LcdWriter updated for SageTV.  The installer includes both writers for Media Center and SageTV, there weren't any major changes for Media Center so if you already have the Vista rev working there's no need to install this one.

    In addition to the basic writing features the SageTV implementation LcdWriter can also reset the display timer (for those who use agressive power management setttings) and monitors the SageTV service via the webserver on resume from standby to ensure that it comes back up properly.  For those who want these features and don't have a display, this version also includes a "NullWriter" which doesn't require an actual VFD.

    x86 | x64

  • Tuners

    I have a bunch of tuners laying around and I'm too lazy to ebay them. 

    • ATI HD Wonder
    • Hauppauge MCE150
    • Avermedia M150

    Let me know if you want one; $10 each (shipping included).


    Posted Sep 30 2008, 05:19 PM by babgvant with 3 comment(s)
    Filed under:
  • Watered down?

    I've never owned a Tivo, so I'm not that familiar with it's unique "value add" to the PVR.  But I have a hard time seeing how putting Tivo on a PC (Nero's LiquidTV) and charging $100 for the application ($200 if you don't BYOT) and $100 a year in service fees can be sucessful.  What's even more surprising is that anyone can state with any awareness "LiquidTV is a very affordable contender in the home theater space".  Is Tivo's brand of TV recording that much more special than Media Center (free*) or SageTV ($80), especially considering all the other things that they do like DVDs, music, pictures, and video OOTB?  Unless I'm missing something (am I?) natural selection will take care of this one.


    * it's not really free, but since it's baked into the OS that you already paid for rational choice allows us to consider it as such

  • Remote Suggestions?

    I need to replace my remote, the buttons are sticking and last night my son "modified" it in a way that required duct tape to fix.  As much as I like the 680, Logitech's support for the device is lacking; which makes getting another one somewhat painful .  The activity based design of the remote makes it very easy for others to use, getting to far away from it will make SAF suffer, so whatever I get will need to have a similar function.

    The recent deals for the 880 are very tempting, but I'm curious what others are using. 


    Ended up grabbing a Harmony One.   Thanks jakewill.

  • DVRMSToolbox - x64 (EA Release)

    This is an Early Access release.

    - Fixed proppage.dll registration crashing dvrmstompegsettings on x64
    - Added MceState registration check when launching dvrmstompegsettings, should address mcestate not registering properly on x64

  • Replay2DVRMS

    thejez has released Replay2DVRMS, a command line utility based on ToDvrms that converts ReplayTV files (along with their metadata) to dvr-ms files. 

    Full details can be found on the Replay2DVRMS blog.

    Binary and source are available in the downloads section of the site.

    Thanks thejez!

  • DVRMSToolbox - Public Release

    - Fixed some bugs in condition testing routine
    - Changed delete file handling to use video types instead of watched types
    - Added file ext substitution for meta data retrieval
    - GetVideoInfo will ignore non-SBE files
    - FW can watch multiple directories
    - Added FileSize minimum (most effective when used with Queue Updates) to limit files that get queued by the FW
    - SAV1 integration
    - Changed PC Editor to display PC name
    - Added continuation functionality to PC
    - Updated ConvertToMatroska action to work with non-dvrms file types
    - Added logging and metadata display to PC Editor's "Test Condition" dialog
    - Fixed a bug in settings base class that caused installation issues when arrays are used (caused an install issue in R1)
    - Fixed a bug in the settings tool where the addin process profile value was not handled properly
    - Added RunExternalNostatus action, same as RunExternal but the output stream of the executed process is not hooked
    - Fixed a problem with parsing Sage metadata
    - Added isHDTV tag to Sage metadata
    - Fixed Webserver test method
    - Added additional logging/error handling to the FW
    - Stopped embedding SA in DTB msi, option now downloads SA on demand
    - Added FileSizeWait action, waits until the file size has not changed for a configurable amount of seconds
    - Added logging to autozoom function
    - Added Yes/No to disable proppage nag
    - WM/WMRVContentProtected will be set to false on all spliced files

    x86 | x64 | Source

  • SageTvTray

    Uploaded a new rev of SageTvTray (note the new name).

    UPDATE 9/12/08

    - Chaged the name to SageTvTray, there is already an application called SageTray
    - Made the important bits configurable so it should work with the Sage Client application if configured properly.


  • 5 Blocks

    Andrew > I recently signed up for HD service based on reports that FX HD would be available in Chicago, but it's not listed in the lineup.
    COMCAST* > Hello Andrew_, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is COMCAST. Please give me one moment to review your information.
    Andrew_ > ok
    COMCAST> Good afternoon. I'll be more than happy to help you with that today.
    Andrew_ > thanks
    COMCAST> I don't see it in your line up.
    COMCAST> I know that the new HD channels are only available in the city for now.
    Andrew_ > you mean only within the city limits? so anyone in the suburbs is excluded?
    COMCAST> That's correct.
    COMCAST> We haven't added it outside the city yet. Also, solid details regarding when it will be added in your area is still not available.
    COMCAST> On a more personal level, I'm waiting for this too to hit the suburbs.
    Andrew_ > wow, I didn't realize Chicago != Chicagoland
    Andrew_ > that's pretty harsh
    COMCAST> I know. 

    * The CSR's name has been replaced.

    Posted Sep 12 2008, 12:10 PM by babgvant with no comments
    Filed under:
  • What's wrong with this picture?


    Yep, 740x480 is not 16x9.  Seems there's a bug in the HD PVR driver that incorrectly assigns anything over 480i a 16x9 AR.  I sent it to Hauppauge but haven't heard anything back yet.  480i over component still looks much better than over s-video  :)


    Posted Sep 11 2008, 05:24 PM by babgvant with 3 comment(s)
    Filed under:
  • ToDvrms -

    ToDvrms is a command line utility that converts files to dvr-ms.

    syntax: todvrms.exe [-m -g <pathtogrfstub.grf> -v -d -t "The Title" -r "10/30/2008" -y "10/30/2008"]

    developed for mpg/vob, but other formats may work.

    -m: optional, write WM/MediaIsMovie tag to output file
    -g: optional, path to a grf file that contains encoder (or other filters) that should be used for the conversion process
    -v: optional, enable verbose mode
    -d: optional, enable debug mode
    -t: optional, add Title attribute with the specified value
    -r: optional, add WM/OriginalReleaseTime attribute with the specified date value.
    -y: optional, add WM/Year attribute with the specified date value.
    -w: optional, how long to wait for writes before considering the conversion finished.  Default is 30

    Please post support/enhancement requests in the transcoding forum.

    - Inital release

    - added m arg optional, write WM/MediaIsMovie tag to output file
    - added g arg optional, path to a grf file that contains encoder (or other filters) that should be used for the conversion process
    - added v arg.  optional, enables verbose output
    - added d arg, optional, enables debug mode
    - some structural changes
    - added a GUI tool
    - added WTV support
    - added t, r, y args
    - fixed GUI
    - some GUI enhancements
    - added w

    Binary | Source 

  • The Yellow Button

    I've been trying to figure out how to invoke the extra info dialog (the one that pops up when the esc key is pressed) in SageTV.  During my weekly check to find out if Logitech had fixed my Media button, I found out that they have extra color (yellow and blue) buttons that can be mapped to empty [or soft] buttons.  I was going to link one of those buttons to the info command, but as it turned out TYB worked without doing anything.
    Posted Sep 07 2008, 07:13 AM by babgvant with no comments
    Filed under: ,
  • ToDVRMS -

    ToDvrms is a command line utility that converts files to dvr-ms.

    syntax: todvrms.exe [-m -g <pathtogrfstub.grf>]

    developed for mpg/vob, but other formats may work.

    -m: optional, write WM/MediaIsMovie tag to output file
    -g: optional, path to a grf file that contains encoder (or other filters) that should be used for the conversion process
    -v: optional, enable verbose mode
    -d: optional, enable debug mode
    -t: optional, add Title attribute with the specified value
    -r: optional, add WM/OriginalReleaseTime attribute with the specified date value.
    -y: optional, add WM/Year attribute with the specified date value.

    Changes for

    - added a GUI tool
    - added WTV support
    - added t, r, y args

    Binary | Source

  • DVRMSToolbox & the TV Pack

    One of the first things I learned [the hard way] when I started writing software was the real difference between the public API (objects, methods and functions documented in the SDK), private API (undocumented but accessible objects, methods, and functions) and implementation details.   Of the three, only the public API is guaranteed.  It is a contract between the developer and the platform, like all contracts there are some grey areas, things that are open to interpretation or purposely left vague to allow some wiggle room as the platform expands, but the promise is still valid.  The platform and its support structure stands behind the public API, if it breaks - it gets fixed

    Of course in the real world it's often difficult to meet requirements using only the public API so you cheat a little, peak under the covers (dumpbin, reflector, hex editor, etc) take on the risk that what your application is using isn't documented or supported.  Trusting that changing the private API or implementation is costly enough to the platform that it won't happen that often.  Sure it's annoying when that stuff changes but you have no right to complain when it does.

    So what does all that mean for DVRMSToolbox (DTB) and the TV Pack?  Some changes were necessary to make WTV work properly inside the application.  Most of DTB uses DirectShow to interact with the files so that aspect of the transition was relatively painless.  Some things, like the metadata parser, are based on implementation (DVR-MS is ASF), so branching was necessary (DirectShow for WTV, ASFParser for DVR-MS) but for the most part everything in DTB that runs outside of Media Center that worked with DVR-MS should work with WTV.  There is one major exception, the RecComp object (edits DVR-MS files) does not work on WTV.  Not a huge issue, as we've already discussed how to convert/change the file format into something that can be edited (and there is an update to ToDVRMS that supports WTV).

    Other applications that provided native DVR-MS support (SA, Comskip, Mencoder, etc) will need time to provide the same kind of support for WTV that we enjoyed with DVR-MS.  These tools are all based on implementation so this outcome was not unexpected, even if MS provided container documentation (which they haven't, and may not) it would take a while for tool support to catch up.  I'm confident that over time these tools will get modified to provide the same level of support.  If you were one of the original DTB users, you'll remember that there was a time when DVR-MS had to be converted to mpeg for commercial scanning so this is nothing new. 

    The story inside Media Center is different however.  Anyone who's installed the TV Pack and DTB should already know that automatic commercial skipping inside Media Center doesn't work.  While there are aspects of the DTB Addin that rely on unsupported features, the part that does the skipping isn't one of them. 

    When a recorded TV file is played back the addin receives a notification from MSAS to start monitoring the position within the file and checking that position against the known list of commercials.  These public API objects uses to determine playback state and position (MediaExperience and therefore its child objects) are not populated (null) during playback, a state that should never occur.  This is a blocking bug in the public API. I have examined other approaches to making the addin work during playback, but because of the breadth of this issue it would be very difficult to make anything work that would be anything close to stable.  At this time I do not plan to pursue a technical solution further.

    Personally I find it appalling that the pack would ship with a bug of this magnitude.  Either testing was so cursory that it wasn't discovered, or it was a known issue and the decision was made to ship anyway.  It's hard to say which is worse. 

    Microsoft has confirmed that the issue exists, but they do not plan to develop a QFE or even publicly document it via a KB article.  At this point the only option that I have been provided is to write a business impact statement in the hope that the effected population is big enough for MS to care about.  DTB doesn't have any kind of tracking mechanisms to determine install base so determining the effected pool will be difficult.  If you are a TV Pack and DTB user let me know.  Hopefully there will be enough of you to get noticed.

    UPDATE - 9/4/08:

    While I classified this as a rant (because some parts of it are), please understand that I want to get this fixed and I need your help to do that (if you work at, or run, a major OEM even better). 

    As Charlie mentioned below, trashing MS isn't helpful and more importantly this isn't the forum to do that (that's what TGB is for ;)); if you are effected let me know with a comment or an email (avantil at gmail period com); and since not every TV Pack user reads my blog get the word out (thanks to all those who have).  

    Also, I should have made it clearer that while I don't agree with MS' process for getting a QFE(business impact and all that); I understand why that is their process and playing by their rules is the only way this is going to get fixed.

  • BackupFiles

    BackupFiles copies a configured set of files to a subfolder (in a directory that you tell it) based on the time it runs.  It will automattically clean up old backups once they age out (you tell it how many days to keep a folder around).  It was written because I couldn't find a backup solution for Sage's wiz.bin and properties files that kept a running archive, but it will work with any file (well not SQL server mdb ;)).

    It's most useful when run using a scheduled task.  To configure the application run BackupFiles.exe -c from the command line.


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