Zack over on the Snapstream blog: Project Hoover: Suck up every TV show in the new fall season, be your own TV critic

I kind of wish we had a way to build Godzilla -- an 11 tuner Media Center PC (but understand why we don't). I'm glad Beyond TV is around to be able to go where we don't (after all, it runs on Windows too).

Check out his synopses on the coming fall TV lineup at the end of the post -- it might help you make good choices on what to record with your single, dual or quad tuner Media Center setup.

Categories: Snapstream | TV | Video | Comments [4] | # | Posted on Friday, August 18, 2006 3:54:21 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

Hi, I'm Peter Dampier a Program Manager in the eHome division at Microsoft. Many thanks to Aaron and Charlie for this blog and the opportunity to post here.  One of the new features in Windows Vista Media Center post Beta 2 is extensibility for adding HD DVD and/or Blu-ray Disc movie playback to Windows Media Center in Vista.   I thought I'd spend a few moments here to explain this functionality...

There are two main features: 

  1. The ability to launch a third party playback application when a HD DVD or BD disc is inserted into the drive and MCE is full screen.  If MCE is not full screen then the regular 2’ Windows auto play is used.
  2. The ability to launch a third party application if a HD DVD or BD disc is in the optical drive and “Play DVD’ is selected from the MCE start menu

 To register your HD DVD or BD playback app there are two new categories for application registration:

 AutoPlay\HD DVD



Two examples are below.  These will register Notepad.exe to launch when MCE is full screen and a HD DVD is inserted and for Calc.exe to launch when a Blu-ray Disc is inserted.  These could also be regular native MCE applications (e.g. HTML/ActveX, MCML or XBAP).  For external .exe's the application developer will need to ensure that they restore MCE to its previous postion after the .exe closes.  A demonstration of how this can be done is available with the MCE games that ship in Vista (check out MCE's Program Library Game content).  Without this the user will be left in a state where they need to reach for the mouse or keyboard after finishing HD DVD playback in the external application versus automatically being returned to MCE. 


To use these samples save the XML below to c:\notepad.xml and c:\calc.xml.  Then register the apps with:


C:\Windows\ehome\RegisterMCEApp.exe /allusers c:\notepad.xml

C:\Windows\ehome\RegisterMCEApp.exe /allusers c:\calc.xml


To un-register:


C:\Windows\ehome\RegisterMCEApp.exe /u /allusers c:\notepad.xml

C:\Windows\ehome\RegisterMCEApp.exe /u /allusers c:\calc.xml


For the applications to show up in the regular MCE Program library they will also need to be registered against other categories with a separate registration.


XML for HD DVD – Launch notepad.exe:

 <application title="Notepad" id="{ABCE8379-F381-47b8-AE3D-EF6ADE750500}" companyname="Sample Company" companylogourl="http://company/icon2.jpg" description="HD DVD App">

    <entrypoint id="{ABCE8379-F381-47b8-AE3D-EF6ADE750501}" RUN="c:\windows\notepad.exe" title="Notepad (Sample HDDVD App)" description="Notepad - a text editor">

        <category category="AutoPlay\HD DVD"/>




XML for Blu-ray Disc – Launch calc.exe


<application title="Notepad" id="{2C5ECB67-E585-4301-BAF4-5380FE6C26AB}" companyname="Sample Company" companylogourl=" http://company/icon2.jpg" description="BD App">

    <entrypoint id="{2C5ECB67-E585-4301-BAF4-5380FE6C26AB}" RUN="c:\windows\System32\Calc.exe" title="Calculator (Sample Blu-Ray App)" description="Calculator application ">

        <category category="AutoPlay\Blu-ray"/>




If more than one application is registered against each category then the user is presented with a page to select the playback app they wish to use.

If no applications are registered the following dialogs appear:





Categories: Sample | Comments [10] | # | Posted on Tuesday, August 15, 2006 4:25:19 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

I saw the initial Engadget reports this morning from the WWDC. A couple of huge banners at the venue tout...

Mac OS X Leopard
Hasta la vista, Vista.

Mac OS X Leopard
Redmond has a cat, too. A copycat.

Free advertising, courtesy of Apple, at their developer conference. Something I doubt you would ever see at PDC. Thanks!

Categories: Apple | Comments [6] | # | Posted on Monday, August 7, 2006 5:50:40 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

I have been working on some debugging topics that will hopefully eventually be included in the Windows Media Center SDK for Windows Vista, and I wanted to put some of these topics together and create an end-to-end scenario demonstrating how you can use Visual Studio 2005 to debug your Windows Media Center application code as it is running within Windows Media Center.

Please note that these instructions require Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition or higher because the lower editions of Visual Studio 2005 (such as the Express Editions) do not include a debugger that allows you to attach to running processes.

As I wrote this blog post, I tried out these steps with the Q podcast and video blog client sample application that is included in the Windows Media Center SDK.  However, the same set of steps can be used for any Windows Media Center application that includes an add-in assembly.

Step 1 - Build and install the Windows Media Center application

The first step to start debugging your application is to compile your code in Visual Studio 2005, install the resultant assembly to the GAC, and use RegisterMceApp.exe or RegisterApplication to register the application so that it can be launched from within Windows Media Center.

Step 2 - Enable Windows Media Center add-in launch debugging

Set the following registry value on your system to cause a Windows Media Center dialog to appear when attempting to launch any add-in. The dialog will display the process name and process ID that you can use to attach a debugger, set breakpoints, and step through the code in your add-in that is executed when Windows Media Center attempts to load and run it.

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Settings\Extensibility]
EnableAddInLaunchDebugging = 1 (REG_DWORD)

Step 3 - Launch Windows Media Center and click on the entry point to start your add-in

After setting the EnableAddInLaunchDebugging registry value, launch Windows Media Center and click on the entry point for your application.  When doing this, a dialog box like the following will appear and you can use it to attach a debugger:

Windows Media Center add-in debugger attach prompt

Step 4 - Attach to the ehexthost process in Visual Studio 2005

After launching your application in Windows Media Cener, leave the Debug Application dialog open and launch Visual Studio 2005 Professional or higher.  Click on the Tools menu and choose Attach to Process...  A dialog like the following will appear:

This dialog lists all running processes on your system.  Locate the process name and process ID that is listed in the Debug Application dialog in Windows Media Center, click on it to highlight it and then click the Attach button to cause the Visual Studio debugger to attach to the process.

Note that if Visual Studio 2005 was already running when you clicked on your Windows Media Center application, you may need to click the Refresh button in the Attach to Process dialog before the process you are looking for appears in the list.

Step 5 - Configure symbol settings for the add-in assembly in Visual Studio 2005

Now that you have attached to the process, you need to configure symbol settings so that you can set breakpoints and debug your add-in assembly code.  Open the Modules window in Visual Studio by pressing Ctrl + Alt + U or by going to the Debug menu, choosing Windows and then choosing Modules.

When the Modules window appears, locate the DLL that represents your add-in assembly, right-click on it and choose Symbol Settings...  A dialog like the following will appear:

Use the new folder icon to add a symbol file (.pdb) location.  Provide the full path to the \bin\<flavor> directory for the built binary for your add-in assembly.  Make sure to choose the correct <flavor> (either debug or release) depending on which flavor of the add-in assembly is currently running in Windows Media Center.  After adding the symbol file location, make sure that the check box next to the symbol path is checked and then click OK to dismiss the symbol settings Options dialog.

You can verify that you chose the correct symbol location by looking in the Module window and verifying that the Symbol Status for your add-in assembly now says Symbols Loaded.

Step 6 - Configure Visual Studio option to allow setting breakpoints in managed code

Go to the Tools menu in Visual Studio 2005 and choose Options...  Expand the Debugging item in the options tree and select General.  Verify that the option named Enable Just My Code (Managed only) is checked.  Click OK to dismiss the options dialog.

Step 7 - Set breakpoints and start debugging

Now you are ready to set some breakpoints in your source code and start debugging.  Open up your source code files in the Visual Studio IDE and click on the line numbers you are interested in debugging to set breakpoints.  After you have set all of the breakpoints you want, click OK on the Debug Application dialog in Windows Media Center to resume execution of your application.  You should see breakpoints hit if you set them in the correct places, and you can use the Visual Studio debugger to step through your code.

Step 8 - Repeat as necessary

If you need to start a new debugging session, you can start again at step 3 of the above instructions.  The process ID in the Debug Application dialog will change each time you launch your application, so you will need to make sure to attach to the new instance of ehexthost.exe in Visual Studio 2005.

Hopefully these steps will be useful to you as you develop your Windows Media Center applications in Windows Vista.



Categories: Debugging | Comments [1] | # | Posted on Saturday, August 5, 2006 10:13:47 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   
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