Media Center

 

There have been a lot of Windows 8 users looking for a solution to keep Windows Media Center on top of other applications. Here’s a quick and dirty registry setting. Use at your own risk, back up your registry, etc. etc.

 

First, find this key on the registry:

 

 

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Settings\MCE.PerUserSettings

 

Right click and edit – change the Value data from 0 to 1

always on top

Reboot and enjoy.

I mentioned viewing my cameras in Smartvue for iPxxx devices in a previous post. I actually posted some details on how to do this and determine the right syntax for your particular camera some time ago. This includes a link to the iCam web app that interactively helps you determine the syntax. Thought it was worth mentioning in this series on DIY Home Security. I also wrote about viewing my cameras from inside WMC.

The components I used for displaying the output of my cameras in the Windows Media Center interface are:

  1. an MCL file
  2. a PNG file for the Extras Tile
  3. an HTML file
  4. a background image file for the HTML file (I used a PNG file)

I’ve updated the MCL file and the PNG for the camera and authored an HTML file that I’ve copied to C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Accessories\Media Center\Media Center Programs. For the background color, I added a PNG file that I created. Now I can see the output of my four cameras on a single screen inside the Windows Media Center interface. You’ll find sample source code at the end of this post.

My Cameras on the main level Extras Menu is shown in the following screen shot:

wmc.cam1

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Yesterday (see previous post) I wrote a little about the newly released Microsoft RAW Codec. One of the first things I did was try my latest batch of Nikon RAW NEF files from a balloon festival earlier this month. I had so-so results, especially inside Windows Media Center, where thumbnails appeared, but after selecting an individual image file, WMC could not display it. This set of images was shot with a D7000 DX camera, in order to take advantage of the longer reach of FX lenses used with it. I normally carry both a D700 and a D7000.

As it turns out, for whatever reason, the Microsoft RAW Codec does not support the D7000. I’m not sure why, since Adobe and others now support it, and the D7000 has been available since mid October 2010.

Anyway, if you have a supported camera, the new codec most definitely is supported inside Windows Media Center if you want to view your RAW images there. You won’t get detailed EXIF info in View Details, but you certainly can display your images on a large screen. The screen capture below shows one of the folders (highlighted) from an Orchid Show I attended in 2009 where I shot with my D700 and the Nikon 105mm Macro lens. Thumbnails appear as expected.

mce-RAW-1

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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

airplay3

and sure enough, I could select Windows Media Center!

 

airplay4

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.

airplay3wmc

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!

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