What's Up With Xbox Media Center

February 28, 2005

Native Dvd Support

Dvd support with menus has gone alpha and has been placed into the public CVS. I honestly thought this would have waited after 1.2 went final, but somethings aren't worth the wait! This is huge deal, and hopefully it will get stable very quickly.
As you may have heard, the initial version of our new DVD-player core code with menu and navigation support has now been put into the public CVS on SourceForge, it's still in an very early alpha stage and thus is not enabled by default, please note and respect that we will not yet accept any bug-reports from non-developers for this core at this stage, (as for now there is still plenty of things still to be worked out and enough bugs left which we know of to keep us busy for a good while), in fact; we do not recommend you even try to use it at this point if you are an end-user, (we will let you know when that time comes). The only reason we moved it to public CVS now is that we feel it's time to get more developers involved in this sub-project, we hope that with your assistance the development may progress and mature more quickly. So please, get stuck in there and give it a go, please submit patches the usual way.

OOPS! I forgot to post the link to the thread/announcement

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RSS + Bittorrent

Hey guys. This was originally posted on my main site. I thought I'd modify it to post it here as well, since it pertains to Xbmc and news has been so slow. I hope you find it helpful.

I wanted to take a second and explain exactly how I'm using RSS and Bittorrent to download the television shows I watch. I use a combination of Azureus & an RSS plugin to download the shows, and Xbox Media Center to watch them. My current setup consists of a PC running Suse 9.2 that is strictly used as my Media Server. It has two storage drives, one for movies and one for tv seasons/episodes. All of my content is kept on this computer. I have an Xbox running Xbox Media Center downstairs in my living room and another one in my bedroom. Both Xboxs play the content off of my Media Server through SMB shares. All of my content is centrally located and accessible from each television in my home. No media is needed, and no media is used. Between this and my iPods, I don't use media anymore, just mass storage. All of my DVDs serve as backups after I rip them into my Media Server.

So lets get on with it.

Safe Keeping

Tv FolderFirst off, I'd like to go into some detail about the directory structure I use for my setup. I have an entire 100 gig drive dedicated to television in my Media Server. At the root of the drive I have three directories. Downloading, Torrents, and TV. The Downloading folder is my default download folder for Azureus. The Torrents folder is where I have told Azureus to put all the torrent files it captures. And my TV folder contains everything that I actually share to my Xbmc. Tv ShareIt contains three folders. Full Seasons, Now Playing, and Specials. Full Seasons contains folders for each show that I archive. Now Playing is where all my new shows get moved to once they are done downloading. Once I've watched them, I archive them to Full Seasons. Specials contains random shows and content that are not affiliated to any kind of series.

A Few Options

There are 2 RSS plugins for Azureus. The one I use isn't available for download for some reason. And the one that IS available stinks, so I'm going to provide you guys with the plugin I use.

Azureus OptionsAfter installing Azureus there are a couple options I set to make my system more user friendly. Open up the options and choose Files. From here I set the default download directory. All files that are downloaded to this directory will be moved to another directory once completed, if the option is set. Next, I set the directory for Move Completed Files To. Full Seasons FolderThe reason I use these options is for usability. When sharing to my Xbmc, the directories Now Playing and Full Seasons are both available. I set my Move Completed Files To directory to the Now Playing directory inside my TV share, and the default download directory is the Download folder outside of my share at the root of the drive. The point of all of this is so my incomplete televisions shows are not available until properly completed. What happens is that Azureus begins to download a show and puts it into Downloads, once its done, it gets moved to Now Playing, and is then available to my Xbmc.

Usability Sidenote
Each show can be set to download to its own directory, but I like to seperate my new content from my old content. By creating a Now Playing directory, I know that everything inside of this folder is new. Inside my Full Seasons folder I have a folder for each show that I archive. So instead of having to check each folder for new content, I only have to check one. Once I've watched the shows inside of Now Playing, they're old and I manually archive them into the Full Seasons folder.

Feeds and Seeds

Once I have Azureus setup and the RSS plugin installed, I choose RSSfeed from the Plugins menu. This will bring up a tab dedicated to the plugin. I choose this tab and it will display multiple tabs below it: Status, Options, Download History, and Help.

  • Status - Lists the RSS feeds and their respective items
  • Options - The meat and potatoes of the plugin. Here is where shows and feeds are added.
  • Download History - This pane will show all of the shows that have been picked from the feeds to download.
  • Help - This gives a little info on what RSS feeds are and how to use this plugin.

RSS StatusRSS Options

RSS HistoryRSS Help

First let's go to the Options tab and add an RSS feed. Feeds can be added from any torrent site that I'd like, and as many as I want. I add a feed by clicking the Plus button. This prompts me for a few options on the right. I name my feed, set the URL for the feed, and set the path for where shows pulled from this feed will be downloaded. Here I choose the same place I set as the default download directory. That way, when shows are downloaded to this directory and completed, they will be moved. Next I choose accept and my feed is set up and saved.

Time to add some shows to download. The RSS feed plugin uses Regular Expressions to search each feed for the shows I am looking for. Regular Expressions can be tough to wrap your head around, but I'll keep it really simple, and you'll just need to use about one type to get the shows.

By clicking the Plus button, I add a new filter. There are quite a few options I am able to set here, but I'm going to just go over the ones that are important.

Name: Set the name of the filter, I like to just use the name of the show.
I leave this blank and the download directory will be inherited from the feed the show is downloaded from.

Show OptionsFilters: Here is where I add the regular expression to use to search the feed for this particular show. Basically, all I do here is place the name of the show into this field. The plugin then searches each item in the RSS feed for this name, and if it contains it, it will download the torrent and start the download. If the show has more than one word, I place the characters ".*" in between the first and last words. For example, Will & Grace (will.*grace). What this does is tell the RSS feed plugin to find an item in the feed that starts with will and ends with grace, with anything else in between it. So it is able to find Will & Grace. If an item in the feed happens to be something like Will Builds a House For Grace this too will be downloaded, but there isn't much of a chance that this will happen. You may find that some shows' words will overlap as is the case for Mr. Las Vegas and Las Vegas, I will correct this later with excludes.

Feed: Choose the feed to use while searching for this show.
Active: Check this box to make this filter active.
Mode: Set this to pass.

Choose accept and the show is now added.

No, Not You

Now that I have added a show, I want to assure I don't download extra shows, or the wrong format. One of the best features of this plugin is that it allows you to set a Pass or Fail flag for each filter. So if I add a filter and set it to Pass, it will be downloaded, if its set to Fail, it will be skiped. This comes in handy with VCD or HDTV rips. Instead of searching specifically for HDTV rips for each show, I have instead excluded all VCD rips. By having a whole filter named No VCD that searches for the word "vcd" and mode set to Fail, the plugin reaches an item in the feed that matches this filter and skips it. This keeps it from downloading any vcd rips. The only thing left is HDTV rips.

Excludes also work well when TV shows' names overlap. In the case I explained earlier, there is a show called Las Vegas as well as Mr. Las Vegas, I added a Pass filter for Las Vegas(las.*vegas), but had to add a Fail filter for Mr. Las Vegas(mr.*las). One last Fail filter I've added is to keep Azureus from downloading full seasons of shows I have set to download.

Finishing Up

Now that my directories are setup, my shows are added, and my excludes are in place, I'm pretty much finished with the configuration. Now all I have to do is wait. Azureus will check the feed every 60 mins, and as soon as my shows wind up in the feed, the torrent file will be downloaded and automatically started. It will be placed into my default download directory, and once finished, will be moved to my Now Playing directory.


With Xbmc in the equation, all my downloading happens on my Media Server and is totally transparent to me. I just kick on my Xbmc and navigate to my Tv section and check the Now Playing folder. Bam...there are all my new shows. If I want to watch an older show, I go to the Full Seasons folder, and browse for something to watch.

Xbmc TvXbmc Full Seasons

So as you can see, this system can be a very powerful one. I've been using it for quite some time now, and its great. I love it. I've given up my Tivo for the great quality of these formats. You just can't beat it.


RSS Feed Plugin

UPDATE: A reader brought to my attention, that while not only does the RSS Feed plugin that I provided not work, its still available. Its not supported anymore, but it IS available for download here.

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February 11, 2005

Xbmc Script Highlights

As Xbmc news slows a bit I thought that I would take the time to highlight some of the better scripts out there available for Xbmc. These contributions are a piece of the heart and soul that is the Xbmc community. They extend Xbmc in tons of ways and in the case of the Apple Quicktime Browser, they put content where it belongs.

AQT Browser

aqt scriptThe Apple Quicktime Browser was one of the first impresive scripts that really showed us that great content could be pulled from the web and placed right on our televisions.

The script allows you to browse 5 different ways:
  • Now Playing - Lists movies currently in theaters
  • Exclusive - Lists movies that are exclusive to Apple's site
  • Newest - Lists some of the newest available trailers
  • Distributor - Lists movies by their distributor (Dreamworks, Paramount, Disney)
  • Show All - Lists every available trailer

The script is pretty solid but it does have its quirks. Every once in a while you may find that the script is unable to retrieve the link to a movie's trailer. This can be overcome by finding the trailer in another section or even waiting a few days for the Apple site to change.

Overall, if you don't have this script installed, you're missing out on a ton of great free content. As we move into the summer movie season, this is a MUST have on anyone's Xbmc.

Gametrailers Browser

gametrailers scriptGametrailers.com has become quite a source of content over the last year. They've gone from a hacked up site with videos, to a real player with tons of traffic. It was only a matter of time before someone created a script for them.

The Gametrailers script is set up a bit like the AQT Browser, except it looks a bit nicer. You are welcomed with featured content at the home screen of the script. The trailers are then broken down into sections available for browsing a bit like the AQT Browser.

The script allows you to browse 5 different ways:

  • Featured - Highlighted new games
  • Newest - Newest available trailers
  • Coming Soon - Highlights of games soon to be released
  • Most Popular - Trailers viewed the most by visitors
  • List All - Lists every available trailer

Along with the different viewing options, Gametrailers Browser allows some downloading options as well. You are able to either stream the trailers or download them completely and then watch. This is for our slower bandwidth users. You are also given the option to save the trailer to watch later.

Overall, the Gametrailers script is great. The website provides some pretty good content including a currently running awards show. This is another script that is a must have on your Xbmc setup.

This is just a sample of what is currently out there. Skins for all scripts are of course available from Chokemaniac. Stay tuned for more scripts.

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February 10, 2005


chokemaniac.netChokie updated his site along with a new domain name. Not only does it have a great design, it has a great new gallery to see all of his great work. And the popups even work in Safari now!

He's also updated the skins to take use of the Microsoft Media Center Extender remote that I'm not much of a fan of. But if you have one, you can get some more functionality out of it, including the ability to bring up the Submenu anywhere in Xbmc.

Along with and update to his site, he also updated a ton of skins along with completing the collection with PM II skins. Go here to grab the new skins. They look great as usual.

Heres a summary of what was updated:
  • Project Mayhem II Ava
  • Project Mayhem II Evox
  • Project Mayhem II AQT Browser V2
  • Project Mayhem II KML Browser
  • Project Mayhem II Holywood Showtimes
  • Project Mayhem II Gametrailers V2
  • Project Mayhem AQT Browser V6
  • Project Mayhem KML Browser V3
  • Project Mayhem Gametrailers
  • Project Mayhem Holywood Showtimes V2

Told ya I was still here... ;)

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