What's Up With Xbox Media Center

January 21, 2005

Audio Comments

Ok, this is a super experiment. I've taken a few resources and combined them to enable audio comments on the site. You can now call the number listed on the right and leave a comment, question, flame, tip, or anything else you feel like contributing. Check it out, and leave your name and location so we know who you are!

I'll add the rss feed for the comments later on as well as a page to access older ones. We'll see if its worth it though ;)

For now.. its 3:43a on the east coast, and time for sleep.

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January 16, 2005

New CVS Build Features Increased Video Quality

This new feature/improvement to Xbmc basically went right over my head but was pointed out via a reader in the comments.
The new render methods (YUY2 overlay), greaty improve the video quality.

After reading about it on the X-S thread I've seen the light. I was going to post some before and after shots, but you can't take shots while in the overlay mode, it gives you a black screen. Definatly upgrade and check it out though. It looks great. Just remember to go to Settings > My Video > Filters to change the renderer from Pixel Shader to YUY2.

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January 15, 2005

New CVS Build (1-15-05)

A new CVS build has been released. Its mainly bug fixes rather than new exciting features. Go grab it at the usual places.

  • [ 1097753 ] Updated XBMC masterlock/share lock code (Thanks to slacker)
  • Third rendering method using overlays. Added purely to help find the reason behind the quality improvements gained from the previous overlay method. This new method is identical to the previous overlays method, except it uses mplayers builtin YV12->YUY2 fast convertor. Further info will be available later today in this thread. NB: This output looks identical to my eyes as the output from the pixel shader.
  • Second rendering method using overlays. Renderers can be switched from the GUI (Video Settings->Filters).
  • Known Issues:
    • 1080i may not be 100% in terms of Aspect ratio - it hasn't been tested
    • Renderers cannot be switched on the fly - change will take effect at next movie play.
    • Overlays method is much slower than the pixel shader method - reason is mostly to do with the software YV12->YUY2 conversion done by mplayer.

  • Album thumbs don't show as icon for folder in listview
  • [ 1039490 ] Fan speed reset to full speed on exit on 1.6 Xbox
  • LPCM audio from ex. Music Video DVD's would only create static.
  • Button scroller issues on homepage.
  • [ 1059668 ] OSD and scene skip bug.
  • Slideshow info shows part of directory instead of filename in osd
  • subtitles wouldn't display if on CD/DVD
  • fullscreen video view mode info, soften setting for video was not displayed
  • Pathes in progress dialog where not correctly shortened
  • scanning smb shares the second time doesn't show the add/rescan dialog
  • audio skips once on startup of videos
  • fixed [ 1090730 ] Playback Of MP3 Files With @
  • playlist windows, current playing item disappears after using the context menu in it
  • thumb cache was not cleared
  • music playlist, all cue items show the tag info of the first file
  • filemanager, lock mode wasn't updated in both panes
  • filemanager, "Please insert disc" message on local shares
  • [ 1088812 ] Onscreen Keyboard fails when editing shares.
  • [ 1094724 ] Fan speed display bug
  • IMDb didn't filter HTML codes if a single match was found.
  • Texel alignment in video playback.
  • default.tbn sometimes did not get generated in proper directory.
  • [ 1094725 ] Getting stuck on system info screen
  • possible problems with progress dialogs
  • slow startup with DVD in drive
  • music/video info hang
  • [ 1092849 ] Cancel saving profile freezes the xbox
  • [ 1092854 ] Music slide/shutdown menu freeze
  • play a song in a folder, goto videos, start a movie, when movie ends the songs is played again

  • extended asx parsing to support entryref tags and different tag-casing
  • Webserver authentication now defaults to BASIC instead of DIGEST. Solves Firefox issues.
  • minor GUIThumbnailPanel performance tweaks
  • video/music info, smoother update of icons after getting information
  • minor GUIListControl performance tweaks
  • minor guiImage & xprfont performance tweaks
  • Removed TITLE mapping to playlist view in My Music and My Videos - it's on the context menu anyway.
  • cdrip encoders moved into dll's, this should result in a smaller executable and a bit faster cd ripping (don't forget to copy the new system folder!)
  • New pixel shader output does YV12->RGB in one pass (using Butcher's old code).
  • modal dialogs are completely rendered by the window manager now
  • my music, background scanner can be canceled during its first operations

  • Finnish, Norwegian, Greek, Chinese (Traditional), Chinese (Simple), Spanish, Italian, Polish language file
  • sqlitedataset to 0.60 (now in namespace dbiplus)

  • guide mapping from MCE remote in keymap.xml - was an unnecessary double up.

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Mac Os X Kai Update

As an Os X user myself, its exciting to see that developments have been made for the Os X version of Kai. It's packaged with the Java Kai Gui, which isn't half bad. I haven't used the new package yet, mainly because I run Kai on my PC media server along with all my other work horse, 24 hours a day, apps. Thats what its there for, to do my dirty work :)

If anyone has any comments on the new Os X version, feel free to comment.

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Major Development Slows

Major development of new, ambitious features have slowed since the holidays. A bug bash is surely to follow in the next few weeks that will lead to a 1.2 final release. What a great accomplishment by the Xbmc team. We all know what happens after a final release! NEW INNOVATIVE FEATURES! I'm hoping for Dvd menu support to finally beta in the next build cycle, but that may be just wishful thinking.

If anyone has any insight on the road map of the 1.3 dev cycle, feel free to enlighten us :)

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January 06, 2005

Gates Calls Patent Reformists "Communists"

Ok, as an addendum to my last post, I had to follow it up with this. Not only is Microsoft not going to ever do any of what I proposed in my last post, their CEO is calling anyone with the Free Culture attitude a "communist". Read it in plain english in c|net's article.

While Gates may be using the word "communist" in its loose form that is closer to the meaning of "community", its a poor choice of words, and I'm sure this site is just one of a thousand that will be commenting on it today. Bill, you sir are the communist. You are the one that wants to control ever aspect of computing, even if it takes you years to catch up in certain markets you thought to be non-important. We are just consumers, what do you expect. We don't like the route you are taking us on, and we don't like you in cahoots with the content controllers. You're supposed to be on our side, you're supposed to fight for us. It used to be us Vs them. But you know where the money is. We're tired of it, and we won't be a part of your movement.

Viva Xbmc!

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Gates' CES Keynote

Ol' Gates just gave his traditional keynote at CES with help from the funnies man on television. It primarily dealt with Media Center Edition and what their plans are for the future. There wasn't much ooohs and ahhhs, or announcements. He reiterated the portable media centers and their role in MS's whole scheme as well as had someone come out and demo what would be IPTV. One of the main features I find attractive is the extra content that goes with Xp Media Center. Streaming content from BBC and Discovery is pretty neat, but not worth the lock in that MS provides.

Microsoft is really on track with their Media Center except one problem, the cost. They need to stop requiring everyone to buy into new technologies like this. They need to make this part of their operating system, not make it into a new product. I find it very rude actually. Its just another way for them to scrape money from your wallet. Where Apple provides features for its users, Microsoft provides new revenue streams for its stock holders. Their media center encroachment has all to do with money for them and not for what they can do for the consumer. Its quite typical of them.

The other problem I have with this is that when its all said and done, all you can use this with is television. Whoop de doo. Broadcast quality WMV encoded television with commercials. They do their best to make the consumer believe they can use this technology to watch movies, and while they can, the law stops them. The law prohibits a consumer from ripping his own movie into a media center and playing it back on any tv in the house. And there is no method to buy movies in a digital file format. You can rent, but you can't buy. In a way, MS is pulling a fast one on the consumer. I'd like to see MS put movie ripping into the next iteration of Media Center Edition. Someone needs to challenge the DMCA and why not an 800 lb gorilla. C'mon MS, let us rip movies. Just do it and tell the MPAA to try and stop you. Let us all have our rights back. Will they do it? Probably not, they want a piece of that recurring revenue of digital movie rentals and whatever other subscription model we get forced to use.

In the end, their product is not bad, its just extremely closed off and supports what they provide. Meanwhile there are tons of formats that are not only better, but open and free. Let us play them. Ensure we can use our products like WE want, not how you tell us to use them. Hello? MS? Can you hear my consumer voice, or should I buy stock first and knock on the door.

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January 02, 2005

New CVS Build

Huge new build out today (January 2nd). Some highlights include:

  • Xbox Media Center Extender Remote support
  • Multiple subtitles using language extensions (filename.eng.sub)
  • Context menu for My Music & My Videos
  • Password protectable shares
  • Auto detect for F and G drives
  • 12hr clock option
  • <home> tag directs to E:\Apps\XBMC, E:\XBMC, F:\apps\XBMC, F:\xbmc if it's broken
  • IMDB fixed

Here is the full changelog since 11-30-2004

  • my music, tag loader thread for playlist
  • my music, cache for unscanned directories, to allow faster browsing
  • adapted keymap.xml to take full advantage of the media center extender remote
  • support for xbox media center extender remote (page+/-, vol+/-)
  • [ 1092220 ] Fix an exception for DLL Loader
  • aiff audio playback to mplayer
  • XLink Kai(info) app specific fail-safe mode, delete kai-vectors.xml in XBMC dir to enable.
  • support for multiple subtitles, with language extension ie: filename.eng.sub (needs new mplayer.dll)
  • full subtitle/audio translation database for both iso639-1 and iso639-2 language codes
  • alternate subtitle support. add a file named subtitle.[langext].[subext] in the alternate subtitle directory, and it will show up as an alternate subtitle for all movies.
  • If the <home> tag does not work, XBMC looks in: E:\Apps\XBMC, E:\XBMC, F:\apps\XBMC, F:\xbmc to find it's home dir.
  • Auto-detect of F and G. <useFDrive> and <useGdrive> should be no longer needed (and are now ignored)
  • Settings option for skin shows all skins, regardless of version. Old version skins (which are incompatible with XBMC) are shown greyed out, and do not load when selected. Message is shown on the bottom of screen.
  • Context menu to My Music
  • Scan for music info in the background, diabled by default, to enable use settings
  • Context menu to my videos.
  • Off mode added to LED colour options.
  • dialogButtonMenu.xml - currently used as a shutdown menu. id is 111. Assigned to Right Thumb Button.
  • [ 1079275 ] Add share locking ability, thanks to slacker.
  • New dialog GUIDialogButtonBar for a graphical button bar with optional label
  • XBMC.ActivateWindow() can now activate dialogs.
  • [ 1063544 ] Full LED Controll within the xbmc GUI, thanks to GeminiServer.
  • [ 1067203 ] GUI Contrast Control for Xenium-LCD, thanks to GreenGiant.
  • [ 1065952 ] Disable Internet Lookups option, thanks to kraqh3d.
  • [ 1081938 ] Updated strings.xml files to single-line format, thanks to slacker.
  • Skin language version. Currently set at v1.2. XBMC will not load any skin that doesn't have a <version>1.2</version> tag in it's skin.xml. It will also not allow such skins in the settings spin control. If a current skin is not of the required version on bootup, it will use the default (Project Mayhem) skin, and if this is also not suitable, it will invoke the Fatal Error Handler.
  • SF patch for mouse + keyboard in gamecontroller ports
  • option to show time as 12 hour clock
  • option to swap day and month in home screen
  • option to autoshutdown xbox while playing
  • extended memory tracking for dll's + added dll tracking for dll's
  • [ 917706 ] Extra OSD Info (estimated end time & movie filename)
  • Finnish, Polish, Danish, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Norwegian, Korean, French, Romanian, Portuguese (Brazil), German, German (Austrian), Hebrew language file
  • SQLite to version 3.0.8, File Format changed, all databases have to be recreated

  • scan of the shoutcast top 500 directory was possible using the context menu
  • shoutcast top 500, first stream disappears when Hide parent folder items is enabled
  • [ 1090394 ] Autoswitch FIX for "ByFiles" type (Thnx to kraqh3d)
  • shoutcast playing hangs when cd+g is enabled
  • language code expansion didn't work if running as dash
  • [ 1087503 ] DVD XBE Title being cached in database.
  • Audio cache was always set to 0.
  • [ 1089975 ] Hebrew language file broken
  • reciever looses ac3/dts sync and gets it again when starting playback
  • lock of a share can't be removed if maxretry is set to 0
  • locked shares can be added to the playlists
  • thumbnailcache broken
  • music scanning and reading from database broken (database has to be rescanned)
  • incorrect imdb plot due to imdb url changes.
  • imdb thumb not always saved due to imdb url changes.
  • Button Scroller Mouse bugs
  • Video Database bug introduced in the last update(s).
  • IMDb changed their site + urls today. XBMC updated to suit.
  • serious bug in HTTP requests that result in XBMC ignoring some responses without Content-Length header.
  • Crash in Pictures context menu.
  • Text glitches in some IMDb lookups
  • buttonscroller - some images were shown when they shouldn't have been.
  • Some of the timings for the slideshow weren't quite accurate
  • Runtime is saved to the video database.
  • Password could not be set blank for webserver
  • Karaoke background alpha
  • Corrupt picture files could cause endless loops in slideshow/picture viewer
  • background media scanning was not canceled on shutdown
  • modeless dialogs are not rendered when modal dialog is shown
  • id3 tag reading broken, when file has no genre
  • autoswitch view, last control isn't remembered when pressing B on controller
  • Strange pause thing shown during slideshows.
  • View as method was loaded incorrectly in Videos->Files.
  • Karaoke display should be nicely up to speed again. Not sure about A/V sync (though it stays in sync once set).
  • Rendering of dialogs in Full Screen Video.
  • 12 hour LCD related crash
  • Vis crash + keymap.xml (white button) problem
  • center for labelcontrols.
  • Couple of issues with the buttonscroller.
  • Bug in custom window code (custom windows persisted when changing skins)
  • Various bugs found here and there :)
  • Various settings screen issues (including http proxy, hopefully!)
  • LCD time and date obey the GUI settings.
  • Various settings issues (subtitles etc.)
  • [ 1080520 ] web interface: unqueing doesn't work - thanks to re.solve + BombrMan
  • [ 1069833 ] white no longer triggers osd.
  • Issue with autorun videos/music (strings mix up)
  • Small graphical glitch in the Fatal Error Handler (it wasn't rendering all the text available)
  • my pictures, View by button broken
  • Upscale to GUI res should now be working.
  • Various settings options weren't being displayed correctly.
  • LCD Off mode was missing.
  • Problem with Autoswitch to Big Icons in Video Files view.
  • LaunchXBE/Reboot XBMC didn't work.
  • my pictures, recursive slideshow was played unsorted
  • my videos, items where added unsorted to the playlist
  • my music albums, music.jpg is not shown when no thumb is available
  • removed old memorytracker since it had lot's of issues (this should fix the problem with AQTBrowser)

  • removed specification of first subtitle to allow new mplayer.dll to function properly
  • new subtitle name interface for xbmc, will fallback to old style if missing (support old dlls)
  • Incremented video database version number.
  • Image loader now scales jpgs while they load (Now uses only the memory needed for the screen image). Only working for jpgs.
  • skin version to 1.22
  • Small nicety Navigate left to menu then immediately right and it remembers the control you were at.
  • Settings menus: Categories change on focus, rather than on click.
  • GUIMessages to controls have changed - all messages from windows to controls on that window use OnMessage() rather than g_graphicsContext.SendMessage(). This should stop the clashes between controls with common ids on different windows.
  • Behaviour of icons/thumbs in listview. Only use thumb if it's a real thumbnail.
  • Skin version incremented (as dialogNumeric.xml and dialogGamepad.xml are necessary skin files)
  • Slideshow now uses the video filters settings instead of the GUI settings. (for sharper pictures)
  • various strings to make them more obvious.
  • settings, added category "View Options" for my programs
  • a dummy time is displayed in the video osd when calibrating
  • my music albums, recent albums can now be displayed
  • playlist windows, items are now played shuffled instead of shuffleing playlist items
  • settings, made units in spin controls localizeable

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