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Wednesday, 2 December 2009

How to launch a command file from within MCE

I saw a user on the Green Button asking this question the other day and as I had a method of doing this I thought I’d write a post about it.

There may well be different ways to accomplish the same thing, but this is what works for me and the way I get an icon into the Extra’s area of 7MC and when I click on it, it runs a command line in the background. (This also works on Vista)

First you need to download this little add-in here, then extract / save it to the C:\Windows\ehome directory.

This is a single .dll file that was written for me by Andrew Cherry so credit goes to him.

Next you need to create an XML file.

Below is an example of one of my XML files, that when registered in to Media Center, allows me to click on an icon in Media Center and have a VPN connection command run in the background.

<application title="UK VPN-1"
<entrypoint id="{58267566-672b-4b1d-812a-fc46d728d073}"
addin="MissingRemote.AppLauncher.AddIn, MissingRemote.AppLauncher,Culture=Neutral,Version=,PublicKeyToken=391ca93ec5a00478"
title="UK VPN-1"
description="Connects the UKVPN1"
imageUrl="C:\Program Files\RasDialPro\Images\Connect-UK.png">
<category category="More Programs"/>

Open notepad and copy the text below in to it:

<application title="The title text that appears below the icon in Media Center"
<entrypoint id="{58267566-672b-4b1d-812a-fc46d728d073}"
addin="MissingRemote.AppLauncher.AddIn, MissingRemote.AppLauncher,Culture=Neutral,Version=,PublicKeyToken=391ca93ec5a00478"
title="The title text that appears below the icon in Media Center"
description="Description text that appears below the icon in Media Center"
context="%ProgramFiles%\foldername\name of your.cmd"
imageUrl="C:\Program Files\foldername\Images\your icon image.png">
<category category="More Programs"/>

You need to change the items in red to suit your needs, my paths for this point to C:\program files, you can probably change the path to what ever you like and point it to the location of your .cmd file.

The icon images I use are 122 x 122 .png files.

Once you have finished editing your XML file give it an appropriate name and save it in to the C:\windows\ehome directory ensuring it has a .XML extension and not .txt.

Note: If you want to register more than one icon into Media Center by creating a second XML file, you will need to ensure you change the GUID ID’s on the id= and entrypoint id= lines. I normally just change the last two numbers to something else, for example:

id="{25e1993f-a9d8-4251-871c-0bf84c6d6e29}"> change to id="{25e1993f-a9d8-4251-871c-0bf84c6d6e30}">

<entrypoint id="{58267566-672b-4b1d-812a-fc46d728d073}" change to <entrypoint id="{58267566-672b-4b1d-812a-fc46d728d074}"

Now you need to register your XML file in to Media Center, open a command prompt (Run as Administrator), make sure you are in the C:\Windows\ehome directory then type registermceapp /allusers name of your.xml

Where name of your.xml is the filename you gave your xml file that you saved in the ehome directory earlier. Hit enter and you should see Success


Open Media Center go to the Extra’s library and your new icon should now be visible, click the icon and test that your command file is run?

To remove the icon you can use the command registermceapp /allusers /u name of your.xml


Well I think that’s everything, hopefully it will work for you as well.

Phaze1 Digital

Thursday, 26 November 2009

DVD -> DVR-MS - How to video

This is a how to video for beginners, using VideoReDo you can easily and quickly convert DVD movie rips VIDEO_TS to .DVR-MS files.

DVR-MS is the Microsoft format for recorded TV for Windows Media Center in Vista. They also play fine on Windows Seven however.

The advantage of using DVR-MS files is you can play them natively with full FFWD functionality on Windows Media Center extenders such as the Linksys DMA and XBOX 360, say bye bye to transcoding on the fly with Transcode 360 and the likes.

Monday, 16 November 2009

My Shark 007 Win7 Codec Configuration

Update: As of Shark 007 pack version 2.28 for my configuration to work as described below, I now also have to "Disable the DMO codecs on the SWAP TAB"

I’ve been in Codec hell again lately, ever since first connecting a Windows 7 Media Center PC to an AVR and wanting to get 5.1 surround sound working. Previously I was in bliss with a 2.0 speaker setup on my Media Center at home and had no codec / playback issues what so ever.

I also wanted to make my MKV’s look better on the XBOX 360 MCX, as with the Shark 007 codec pack and the native Windows 7 transcoding of MKV’s to the extender the video quality looked pretty bad.

First thing I tried was the DIVX Tech Preview, however I was unable to get anything other than 2 channel PCM on the HTPC when it was installed and my MKV’s didn’t really look any better on the extender, not sure why? I also found the DIVX Tech Preview pretty unstable for me. Allot of people have been raving about this Tech Preview, I guess I must be missing something.

I then tried just the Haali Media Splitter Alpha for Windows 7 and I was able to play my MKV’s and get 5.1 audio pass through to the AVR but on some of the MKV’s I would get bad pixelated blocky pictures, I also get the same thing happening when using Shark 007 but I have a fix for this which is covered later on.


In the end I’ve gone back to using Shark 007, however initially with Shark when using the AC3Filter I was unable to get 5.1 audio on AVI files (XVID) that had AC3 in them, in fact Media Center would not even play these movies and would error. I was able to get 5.1 audio however on MKV’s with AC3/DTS.

If I un-checked the Use SPDIF options in AC3Filter settings, my AVI’s with AC3 then played OK, but I lost the 5.1 audio on the MKV's so at this point I was going around in circles.

I finally cracked my configuration and below is now how I have Shark 007 configured under Windows 7 (32 bit). My system is based on a Gigabyte GA-MA785GPM-UD2H motherboard which has an onboard ATI Radeon HD 4200 graphics processor. The PC is connected for video and sound via an HDMI cable to a Harmon Kardon AVR 255 which in turn is hooked up to the HDTV via HDMI.

The PC has the latest drivers installed from ATI and also from Realtek for the audio devices both the Digital Optical (Not in use) and the HDMI audio device.

The first setting I changed was a newish setting on the Realtek / ATI High Definition Audio Device properties on the custom tab. Ticking this option allows audio pass through.


I then installed the Shark 007 pack with the full installation option. The following screen shots show the options I have changed, if you cannot see a particular tab from the Shark 007 program that means I did not change any settings on that tab and used the defaults.

  • TV/Projector
  • No Subtitles
  • Disable AC3Filter


  • 5.1
  • FFDShow – Use passthrough
  • Enable Audio normalization


When the Use Microsoft codec (default) option is selected some of my MKV’s don’t play properly and I get the blocky pixelations as shown in the screen shot above. Enabling Use FFDshow’s codec option sorts this right out and cures the problem. Worth noting however I don’t have any live TV on this Media Center due to my locale so something to keep in mind?


I found that MKV’s with AC3 audio were crashing Media Center so I had to go in to the FFDShow audio configuration and change the decoder for AC3 to liba52.


Finally click on Output at the bottom and ensure AC3 and DTS are checked for pass-through.


With this configuration I am finally able to play all my files in Windows 7 Media Center connected to the AVR:

AVI's (XVID) with AC3 (Dolby Digital)

AVI''s (XVID) with MPEG (MP3) (2CH PCM)

MKV's with AC3 / DTS

MKV’s with AAC (2CH PCM) *

DVD rips VIDEO_TS (VOB's) with AC3 / DTS

Blu-ray ISO's with AC3 / DTS (PowerDVD9)

* The only thing I’d like to be able to do is encode on the fly MKV’s with AAC to AC3 but I haven’t figured this out yet. What are you doing with MKV’s that have AAC audio tracks?

I’ve set this up on two different PC’s and so far it seems to be working well, I’m not saying this is the only or best way to do things as I’m not a codec guru but it’s the way I was able to get my files all playing with audio pass-through in 7MC.

However my MKV’s still look bad quality on my XBOX 360 MCX, so I’ve started converting all my MKV’s to WTV using DVR-MS Toolbox, so maybe then I won’t need any codec / packs installed Amen to that!

Some related forum threads.

Shark 007 - Cannot play AVI's with AC3 audio - Using AC3Filter
How to configure AC3Filter with DIVX Tech Preview?

Phaze1 Digital

Friday, 6 November 2009

How to launch 3rd Party MCE add-in with a Logitech Harmony remote

Following up on my recent post entitled How to launch Media Center directly in to a 3rd party app, I’ve been looking at how to launch My Movies and RadioTime MCE using a Logitech Harmony 550 universal remote control.

Searching on the internet it seems some people on Vista Media Center were using macros to move the cursor up / down, left /right on the MCE menu to click on the My Movies icon, which is not ideal and wouldn’t work on 7mc anyways.

Others were using software such as Intelliremote or ControlRemote however I did not want any additional software installed and running in order to achieve this.

So I have used a keyboard shortcut method, however there is one issue with this, you need a Microsoft MCE 2005 IR keyboard to teach the Harmony the IR codes of the keyboard shortcuts. Luckily for me I had one of these MCE keyboards kicking about the place.

First thing I did was to create two new shortcuts for Windows Media Center one to launch My Movies and the other to launch RadioTimeMCE. I used the method I described in my last post here to create these shortcuts. I didn’t want them on the desktop so I created a folder in my Start Menu called MCE Custom Shortcuts.

In this folder are my two Media Center shortcuts:

Windows Media Center – My Movies

Target: %windir%\ehome\ehshell.exe /entrypoint:{8984aed5-7c9d-42f0-b2ad-c39bbcf04a25}\{810d7b87-1300-4aed-a700-1c6179f8f14b}

Windows Media Center – RadioTime MCE

Target: %windir%\ehome\ehshell.exe /entrypoint:{4c36cf23-bf48-4f93-86c5-78009734d21a}\{4c36cf23-bf48-4f93-86c5-78009734d21b}


Now we need to assign some keyboard shortcuts to these Windows Media Center shortcut icons.

Note: Important, only create your keyboard shortcut key after you have moved the custom shortcuts to the start menu. As the first time I created the icons on the desktop, then set the keyboard shortcut keys and then moved them from the desktop to the start menu, however I found the keyboard shortcuts then did not work so I had to remove them and add them again.

Creating the keyboard shortcut keys:

Right click on the first Windows Media Center shortcut from the start menu as shown above in this case the My Movies one. Select properties from the menu.

Click in to the Shortcut key field with your mouse and then enter a key combination on the keyboard. You can probably use any thing you like here I used Ctrl + Alt + M

Click Apply and then OK.


Now repeat this process for any other icons you are setting up, in this case the RadioTime MCE one.

For this one I used Ctrl + Alt + R


Test that they work by entering the newly created Keyboard shortcut keys and ensure Media Center is launched into the correct 3rd party add-in.

Ok now our Media Center PC is configured we need to use the MCE 2005 IR keyboard and the Harmony software.

I am presuming your have already added your Media Center PC so just click the Learn IR button under the Media Center PC device.

Click for larger image


Scroll down to the bottom of the list and in the Learn a New Command type “My Movies” and then click the Learn New Command button.

Click for larger image


Now this is where the MCE 2005 IR keyboard comes in to play, line it up with the Harmony remote control and then enter the keyboard shortcut key you setup earlier on the Media Center PC. In this case it was Ctrl + Alt + M

It should then say Key Detected, the Harmony software will ask you to confirm this key again and hopefully after that it has learnt the new IR code.

Click for larger image


Click for larger image


Once you have successfully learnt the IR code repeat the process for any other shortcuts you are setting up, in my case I got the Harmony to learn another command called RadioTime using the Ctrl + Alt + R keyboard shortcut key.

Finish the wizard and click Done

Now you need to assign your new commands, in the Harmony software go back to the Device tab and click the Settings button on the Media Center PC device. Then select Adjust Inputs from the list and click Next.

On this screen I chose to delete the My DVDs and Radio inputs as these are for the inbuilt DVD / Movie Library and Radio area’s of Media Center which I won’t be using.

I then added two new inputs one called “My Movies” and one called RadioTime”

Click for larger image


On this next screen you assign the new inputs to your newly created commands that will now appear in the drop down list.

Assigning My Movies input to the My Movies command

Click for larger image


Assigning RadioTime input to the RadioTime command

Click for larger image


Finish the wizard and click Done.

Now save the changes to the remote control.

On my model the Harmony 550, I click the Devices button on the remote control, select Media Center and I can then scroll through the pages on the screen and see the new options My Movies and Radio time, when I press either one Media Center is launched in to the correct 3rd party application. Job done!

In addition you could assign your new commands to a custom button such as A or B for example.


I think this wasn’t such a bad way to set this up as you don’t need to install any additional software, the only downside is you need an MCE 2005 IR keyboard which you might not currently have.

Next I need to figure out how to change the page layout and item order that shows up on the remote controls LCD screen and bring my new entries to the first page.

Monday, 2 November 2009

HeatWave makes a come back for Seven MC

One of my favorite little Media Center add-ins HeatWave has made a come back for Windows 7 Media Center in the form or version 1.2


The author James aka MCExtended posted details on the TGB thread here.

You can download HeatWave from the links below:

32 bit

64 bit


Clubhouse Tags: clubhouse , story , media center , heatwave

Sunday, 25 October 2009

How to launch Media Center directly in to 3rd party app

These command line switches have been covered before but I’ve seen a few posts recently with users asking how can I launch Media Center directly in to this or that third party Media Center add-in or into a particular area of media center itself.

I’ve just tested this out and I was able to launch 7MC directly in to Media Browser, My Movies 3 and TunerFree MCE, but this method should work for any third party entry point.

You can see a list of some of these command line switches here.

A new one for 7MC for example is: ehshell.exe /nostartupanimation which will launch 7MC without the fan fair start up animation.

Ok back to launching directly into our third party apps the command is:

ehshell.exe /entrypoint:{application_guid}\{entrypoint_guid}

So in this example I will show you how to look in the registry to find the application and entrypoint GUID’s for My Movies 3.0. but you can apply this method to any media center applications you have installed.

Open up the registry editor by running regedit

Navigate to the following area in the registry:

Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Extensibility\Entry Points

In here you will now see a list of entry point GUID’s down the left hand side, as shown in the screen shot, click on each entry on the left hand side in turn and look in the right hand pane until you see the Media Center application you want to launch into. In this case My Movies.

Click the image for a larger view:image

Make a note of the entry point GUID value in this case it was:



Now on the right hand side make a note of the application GUID value in this case it was:



Now I have all the information I need to launch my Media Center directly in to My Movies 3.0 and my finished command line is:

ehshell.exe /entrypoint:{8984aed5-7c9d-42f0-b2ad-c39bbcf04a25}\{810d7b87-1300-4aed-a700-1c6179f8f14b}

So now I can either just create a new desktop shortcut for Windows Media Center and include my /entrypoint switch or perhaps create my own .cmd file to launch media center.

Creating a new shortcut to ehshell.exe in the C:\Windows\ehome directory


Copy and paste your entire /entrypoint switch after ehshell.exe as shown below.


Now when I double click this new shortcut for Windows Media Center I am always taken straight into My Movies 3.0 or any other third party Media Center application of my choosing.

And as a bonus tip, run this command to launch 7MC straight in to Netflix:


I’m assuming these are global GUID’s and will work for all users? Let me know.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

How to move the Netflix & Internet TV 7MC start menu icons

Using Media Center Studio you can edit the Media Center Start Menu strips and icons. If you want to move the new Netflix and Internet TV icons to a custom menu strip you can!

Create a new custom menu or use an existing custom menu such as the one My Movies creates.

In this case I just created a new custom menu called custom menu.

Then move Promo (Movies1) for Netflix and Promo (Browse TV) for Internet TV to your custom menu strip. Save the changes in Media Center Studio.


Open Media Center and the Netflix and Internet TV icons should now appear on your custom menu strip.


Thanks to Advent for the tip about using the promo tiles.

Media Center Studio

One of my favorite Media Center related applications has to be Media Center Studio which is the replacement of MC Menu Mender. Media Center Studio allows you to customize your Media Center setup by adding new themes and editing the Media Center start menu. The application is free and is developed by Advent from the Australian Media Center Community forums. You can download Media Center Studio from the website here.


Media Center Studio is a free application for Windows Vista and Windows 7 that enables you to customize Windows Media Center. It is the successor of MC Menu Mender, bringing it up to date for Windows 7 and adding support for theme application and editing.


  • Edit your start menu - rearrange or disable native menu items
  • Create your own menu strips, and your own items to go in them
  • Monitors your application and returns to Media Center when it exits
  • Set up a button on your remote to exit your application
  • Create menu items that take you to native Media Center pages, or start media
  • Apply themes to Media Center
  • Create new themes or edit existing ones




Start Menu:


7MC Netflix – Screen shots

WThe new Netflix application has changed from the Vista version and looks more integrated in to the Windows 7 Media Center overall style with the overlays.

Also there are 13 genre pivots along the top, I seem to think this is more than was visible in Vista? Search looks the same to me.

Click the images for larger views:






7MC new Internet TV with wait for it…. Flash!

I’ve just installed the new update for Internet TV which has replaced Internet TV beta 2 in Windows 7 Media Center and it’s a brand new UI and looks pretty slick, one massive surprise is that I was prompted to install an additional update for flash support inside Media Center, I’m still in shock lol and very excited I never expected to ever see native Flash support in Media Center.

That’s the good news the bad news is that Internet TV is now locked down again and cannot be accessed by any old region as was the case with Internet TV beta 2 on the RTM.

Click the images for larger views of them:


OMG Flash inside of Media Center, Christmas has come earlier this year!


Native Flash playback inside Internet TV - 7MC.


Brought to you by CW Kid

Netflix released for Windows 7 Media Center

Looks like Netflix has been pushed out for 7MC, my machine has just picked up the icon and I was able to install the Netflix add-in software.


Friday, 16 October 2009

MCE Plugin’s index

I just stumbled across this on the Green Button forums and thought it was well worth a mention. A TGB user called JonL has created a newly updated index / list of MCE plugin’s and related utilities.

I can imagine it must have took some time to do but it’s great to see a new list being managed and maintained.

You can check out the index on here

Thursday, 15 October 2009

My Movies 3.0 – It’s finished!

My Movies 3.0 is done and dusted it’s shipped already to the custom installers yesterday and is due for public release on October 22nd.

I was involved with the beta testing and if you haven’t seen me on the Green Button forums for a while, I’ve been hanging out over at the My Movies forums for the last few weeks instead.

Congratulations to Brian the developer of My Movies, I think we are all very pleased with how My Movies 3.0 has shaped up and he’s not finished yet, the development cycle will continue with My Movies 3.1 or 3.5 on the horizon. So lets hope our wish list items make it!


ASRock NetTop packs a punch!

On the bench today we have an ASRock NetTop, I have the ION 330 BD model.

Product Home page


  • Intel® Atom™ 330 (Dual-Core CPU)
  • NVIDIA® ION™ graphics processor
  • BD combo

    After disappointing results with a Zotac ION motherboard I had high hopes for this little machine and I have to say it seems to be spot on. I gave it a fairly quick grilling running Windows 7 RTM with My Movies 3.0 PR11, PowerDVD9 Build 2201 with the Shark007 Seven Codec pack.

    Supports 1080P video playback and it played my Blu-ray rips and MKV’s in Windows 7 Media Center / PowerDVD 9 without even breaking a sweat, the CPU usage always remained low around 10% peaking at maybe 17%


    DSCN3921 ASRock NetTop next to an Acer One NetBook.

  • DSCN3922

    This unit is not fan less but is pretty quiet and would be ideal for bedroom usage. Sporting Digital Optical (SPDIF), Analog audio jacks x3, Gigabit NIC, USB 2.0 X6, HDMI, VGA.


    You can see just how small the NetTop is when compared to the diNovo Mini keyboard from Logitech.



    I need to do some more testing but at first look this little NetTop is the small form factor Media Center PC we have been waiting for, overall I’m very impressed with it so far.