Windows 8

Win 8 Photo’s App and incomplete Facebook and Flickr Albums

 

There have been multiple user questions and complaints in the Microsoft Community Forums about displaying large cloud based photo collections – Facebook, Flickr, and SkyDrive – in the Windows 8 Metro Photos App.

photosappcloud

User complaints range from not being able to display albums with over 100 pictures to 500 pictures and/or not being able to display when there are a large number of albums themselves.

photsappcloud2

 

There has finally been an explanation for this poor performance from William Sproule, MSFT":

 

The Photos app will attempt to sync a preview resolution copy of your Flickr, Facebook or Skydrive photos onto your machine.  It attempts to pull down the preview file up to 3 times before giving up in most cases.  If you come back to the app more than 15 minutes later and navigate into the folder again (both 15 min and navigate in are required), it should try again.  Repeated attempts like this may enable you to get your full collection cached on your Windows 8 machine.

You can determine the space used by the Photos app (and all modern apps) in modern PC Settings – General – View app sizes button.  If you feel an app is consuming too much space, you can decide to uninstall it to reclaim that space (deletes app data which could include what you might consider documents depending on the app).  For photos, since the app only stores a cache of your Flickr, Facebook and Skydrive files, you can always get to those files again on those services or reinstall the Photos app and cache them again at a later date.

In effect, it would seem a slower speed Internet Connection would mean lower capabilities to pull down these preview files, which might explain why users seem to find different limitations.

Sadly, not a good experience.

Keep Media Center on top in Windows 8

 

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.

Using An Old Non MSFT Certified Legacy DMR with W8 Device Charm

 

My last post detailed the process to add Microsoft non certified devices to the list of supported “Play To” devices in Windows 8 Modern UI Start Screen Apps so that they appeared in the Charms/Devices menu. Once again, if you experiment with this, you will need to verify that your device is a DMR (digital media renderer) that works from the classic desktop explorer/libraries interface by right clicking an asset and verifying Play To appears and that you can successfully send the media to the device).

I already knew my circa 2009 Samsung LN52B750 series TV was not the greatest Play To client (which is why I have been using the WDTV LIVE Hub) but I wanted to enable it to see what kind of results I would get. The LNB Samsung TV series is neither certified by the DLNA.org folks or by Microsoft (just as my Sonos speakers are not certified by either organization).

In DLNA years, 2009 is ancient, and in TV cycle years, prehistoric. Samsung stops issuing firmware updates after 9-12 months so there was really not much hope of improving the DLNA experience after that time. Aggravating, but true. So for most people, the iffy DLNA experience (due to codec and transcoding support) the Microsoft decision to not show these uncertified devices is justified. It would be a support nightmare. But, if you are a geek and accustomed to tinkering with the registry, etc., once again, enabling these devices let you experiment.

Again, this is for geek enthusiasts only and unsupported. Backup your registry and the subkey before you begin. Proceed at your own risk.

Note: I performed this exercise on my Surface Pro and Surface RT with success.

To add the TV to the whitelist, once again, from the Network window, I right clicked the media icon for the TV and accessed the properties.

samsung

Since the DeviceShims registry already listed Samsung Electronics,all I needed to do was add the subkey for Samsung DTV DMR and the 32 bit dword IsLegacyDMR and set the hex value to 1. I did have to take ownership of the Samsung Electronics key and give local users full control in order to perform this modification.

Next step was to reboot.

Concurrent with my experimentation with non MSFT certified DLNA DMR’s, I also was looking to be able to play MKV files and had downloaded the trial of Cyberlink’s Power DVD Mobile from the Windows 8 App Store. (I’ll have more to say about this app soon, but I had a WOW experience; it’s one awesome program).

I opened  my Avatar MKV and it played beautifully on the Surface Pro. Now the moment of truth, could I send to my Samsung TV through the Devices menu. You can see in the screen capture below that both my TV and WDTVLiveHub are available from the Devices charm.

cyberlink1

The answer is a big YES. My Surface Pro displayed the following:

cyberlink2

 

And the output to the TV worked perfectly.

on-tv

The picture looked great and there was no lagging/glitching (and sound was in sync – I run audio from the TV out to a home theater system via Digital Optical SPDIF). I won’t say it was a good as watching the original Blue Ray, but close. This same TV has had trouble with mp4’s using Play To where it doesn’t correctly handle the aspect ratio at times. And when I set still digital images via the Device charm, they displayed beautifully.

Using MSFT Uncertified Play To DLNA devices with W8 Modern UI Apps

 

Today I’m one step closer to giving up my iPad as my Surface RT can now perform one more task on my must have list. Full DLNA Play To sharing from the Charms bar/Devices for non Microsoft certified devices was a biggie on my list.

A little history: In Windows 7, Microsoft introduced Play To which used the DLNA spec to let me send media from my computer to a DLNA DMR. I had so so results with my 2009 Samsung TV due to poor transcoding support, but great results with my WDTV Live Hub and my SONOS speakers. The so-so experience on my TV and the not wonderful experience on other device by many many people caused Microsoft to rethink their strategy for Windows 8 and come up with their own certification process for devices to “insure” a good experience. This translated into a restrictive policy for Windows 8 Start Screen/Metro/Modern UI Apps where only MS certified devices would appear in an applications Settings: Devices menu. What this meant for me was that I could no longer send music to my SONOS speakers from these Apps, although I could do so from the classic Desktop-Explorer-Libraries view. I certainly was annoyed and disappointed. To me, this meant that Microsoft was going down the closed eco-system route and emulating Apple. DLNA is an open standard, and there are tiered requirements. MS was seeking to bulletproof the experience, but in the process left many of us hanging. I certainly wished for, and expressed my desire for, an advanced user setting to “Show non MS certified devices”, and I still think that is the necessary change that Microsoft needs to make.

Others in the geek world wanted a way to use their non certified devices and Rafael Rivera came up with a way for x86 based Windows 8 computers to do just this. He didn’t find a way to do this on Surface RT. And that’s where I most wanted this functionality. Note: The information that follows applies to Windows 8/Windows RT and I have tested on my Surface RT, my Surface Pro, and a Windows 8 desktop.

So I started looking at the registry. What I am about to describe works on both my Surface and Surface RT tablets but it is the only way so far to enable this functionality on RT.

Before you start,verify that your device supports Play To in the classic desktop/explorer/libraries interface. To do this, right click a supported media file in a classic library and verify the Play To menu appears and that you can successfully send to your target device and it plays the media you selected.

There is an interesting key in the registry:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Device Association Framework\InboxProviders

\DAFUPnPProvider\Plugins\DlnaMetadataProvider\DeviceShims]

When expanded, it shows devices from just a few companies.

 

providers

Why only five vendors?

If you export the DeviceShims reg key, things get interesting. For example, specific vendors and specific devices have entries, such as:

 

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Device Association Framework\InboxProviders

\DAFUPnPProvider\Plugins\DlnaMetadataProvider\DeviceShims\ONKYO]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Device Association Framework\InboxProviders

\DAFUPnPProvider\Plugins\DlnaMetadataProvider\DeviceShims\ONKYO\HT-R690]
"IsLegacyDMR"=dword:00000001

 

Do you find the IsLegacyDMR an interesting dword? If you look at the entire exported key, it is one of those AHA moments.

What follow is for geeks only. Use at your own risk. Back up your registry and back up the specific key. And use what follows entirely at your own risk. Obviously you will want to at least use the touch/type keyboard for this process.

First, the DeviceShims key is “protected” and you will need to take ownership and give yourself full control.

1. Right click the DeviceShims key, then click Permissions.

2. Click the Advanced tab, then click the Change hyperlink next to the Owner. You can use your Microsoft account for this.

3. Apply

4. Give users (pcname\username) full control

5. Reboot

Second, you will need to determine the exact information on the device(s) you want to empower to use the Start Screen Play To functionality.

1. Go to the classic desktop and classic explorer

2. Find your device in the network list

3. Right click the device and select properties

4. You will need the Manufacturer and the Model, case sensitive. In the example below, the Manufacturer is Sonos, Inc. and the Model is Sonos Play:5

 

devprops

Third, You need to create the registry values for your device(s).

1. Create a new key under DeviceShims with the manufacturer (Sonos, Inc. in my example)

2. Under the just created key, create a new subkey for the model (Sonos Play:5 in my example).

3. Create a 32 bit dword IsLegacyDMR and set the HEX value to 1

 

If you export the key, the newly created value would look like

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Device Association Framework\InboxProviders\DAFUPnPProvider\Plugins\DlnaMetadataProvider\DeviceShims\Sonos, Inc.]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Device Association Framework\InboxProviders\DAFUPnPProvider\Plugins\DlnaMetadataProvider\DeviceShims\Sonos, Inc.\Sonos PLAY:5]
"IsLegacyDMR"=dword:00000001

 

4. Reboot

End result:

success

Here’s my Surface RT happily sending the output of the PRadio App (Pandora) to my Sonos.

Photo tagging or editing metadata in Windows 8 and RT

 

 

There have been several folks in the Microsoft Answers Forums complaining about not being able to add keywords, or other information using the Photos App in Windows 8/Windows RT. In fact, you can’t even display this info in the Photos App. The Photos App is a light consumption app and other than being a place to consolidate images from various sources, has no other functionality. If you want to VIEW existing metadata like tags, and have a little more control, there’s a great app called Gallery HD in the Windows Store that works on Windows 8/RT.

 

If you want to edit/add metadata like tags, author, subject, etc., this can be done from the classic desktop libraries explorer interface. For Windows RT, there are not a lot of other options to manipulate meta data, but for x86 versions of Windows 8/Pro, there are third party programs you can download and install.

For anyone looking for a simple built-in way to add this kid of information, this is pretty simple.

 

1. From the classic desktop, navigate to the Library.

2. Select the View tab

3. Insure that the details pane is selected (if you don’t see the ribbon and menus, hit the ALT key on your keyboard and enable the items you need).

images1

4. Navigate to your Pictures library

5. Extra Large Icons and Details Pane should be selected in the View tab (select if needed)

images2

6. Click or Tap an individual image.

7. The details pane will display all the metadata and allow editing/adding of tags, author, subject, etc..

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