Actor Lookup

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Actor Lookup

Post#1 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 6:19 pm

I have no idea if this is related to EPG or not but I've seen issues over the last few years (?) with respect to looking up Actors and the movies they are in. As an example;

I go to My Recordings, add recording, search by actor name. I then punch in the actor name and often I will get no results. Here's an example I just noticed 5 minutes ago.

I looked up Daniel Craig and nothing came up. Nothing at all. (There are no items in this library yet...bla bla bla). But here's the thing, If I hit the back button and choose Daniel Dae Kim it pulls up all the movies he's been in. So I try out Daniel Cosgrove (whoever he is) and it pulls up his movies. So I go back to Daniel Craig and what do I get? Nothing.

I see this behavior fairly regularly. I assume Media Center is doing lookups over the Internet. This is why I chose two other actors, to see if it works for them, and it does. What's the issue then with Daniel Craig?

This always brings me back to, is EPG 123 now totally independent of Rovi/Microsoft? Ie, is it 100% using only SD ? Or are we still dependent on MS/Rovi for things? Is there what's causing the issue?
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Post#2 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 6:44 pm

The only part of Microsoft that epg123 is dependent on is WMC as a method to display the guide and whatever you select therein to watch. Guide data comes from Gracenote via SchedulesDirect.
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Post#3 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 6:56 pm

Actor lookup results will only be for actors in your current guide. Evidently you don't have any Daniel Craig movies on any channel in the next few weeks. When you select an actor that is in your guide, then it will show you first all the movies that actor is in that is also in the current guide. If you have the automatic download option for WMC enabled, it will then call out over the internet for more movies where you can select one for future recordings. This is all a function of WMC and not controlled by EPG123.

The interesting part is, in the old days that additional information would be from AMG (All Movies Guide), who changed their name to All Movies when they were bought out by none other than Rovi Corp. It believe that division is called something else now, but can't seem to find any reason to care. This functionality still works, and Rovi hasn't broken it or screwed it up too bad ... though the poster art is pretty bad.
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Post#4 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 7:42 pm

garyan2 wrote:When you select an actor that is in your guide, then it will show you first all the movies that actor is in that is also in the current guide. If you have the automatic download option for WMC enabled, it will then call out over the internet for more movies where you can select one for future recordings. This is all a function of WMC and not controlled by EPG123.


It doesn't seem to be following that logic. When I search for other actors it will show movies that they are in that are not in the guide so that you can record them in the future. This is not the case with Daniel Craig. I have the option selected for retrieving album art and movie info but not the one for Media Center data between the following times.

An actor search for Daniel Cudmore shows all the movies he was in, but none are in the guide. A search for Daniel Craig turns up nothing at all. Therein lies the rub...
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Post#5 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 7:54 pm

So if you disconnect your network cable, and try to search for actor Daniel Cudmore, his name does not show up?

Note: technically, it just has to be an actor in the database, meaning that actor could have been in a movie (or TV show) that is no longer in the guide to show up in the search.
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Post#6 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 8:12 pm

Interesting....my reply did not post....

When I do an actor lookup on Danial Craig the following (successful - 200) connections are made;

Code: Select all
POST http://movie.metaservices.microsoft.com/movie/WMMovieMetadataProvider.asmx
POST http://movie.metaservices.microsoft.com/movie/WMMovieMetadataProvider.asmx
POST http://movie.metaservices.microsoft.com/movie/WMMovieMetadataProvider.asmx


A Search for Daniel Cudmore results in one query and then each movie he has been in, none of which are in the guide. It looks like this;

Code: Select all
POST http://movie.metaservices.microsoft.com/movie/WMMovieMetadataProvider.asmx


My guess is that there are 3 queries for Daniel Craig because it's not getting a timely reply whereas with Daniel Cudmore it's getting data back, hence, only one query required.

I've noticed this behavior for at least a year now. Just to be clear, the machine in question is able to go out on the Internet and post queries to Microsoft when I do an actor lookup.
This is one of the reasons I was wondering just how dependent on Microsoft we still are. It seems that because it's still going to MS for lookups such as this, we're still very dependent on them. Is there no way to achieve a proper divorce?
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Post#7 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 8:44 pm

I'll have to dive into this a little more. But I can say, as far as the guide goes, we are completely divorced of MS/Rovi. For the extras (extended movie info, actor films, ...), those features are outside of the guide but complement it and can disappear any day.
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Post#8 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 8:52 pm

garyan2 wrote:I'll have to dive into this a little more. But I can say, as far as the guide goes, we are completely divorced of MS/Rovi. For the extras (extended movie info, actor films, ...), those features are outside of the guide but complement it and can disappear any day.


It seems pretty clear to me what's happening. Queries to MS for Daniel Craig are being sent properly and nothing's coming back. Queries for other actors are being sent to Microsoft and information is coming back. Given that this specific issue has been going on for hours the problem would have to be with....Microsoft. I'm very surprised no-one else has reported this (I assume) as I've been seeing it for at least a year.

I'd love to see a complete and full divorce from MS. Clearly being dependent on them (still) is causing issues :D Bottom line, we are still dependent on Microsoft even with EPG 123
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Post#9 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:06 pm

I think your definition of dependent and mine are a little at odds here. If you disable the automatic download in WMC for movies and CDs, you will lose these added features but the guide will be untouched. The guide with EPG123 is completely independent of MS/Rovi.

Features that are dependent on outside sources (MS/Rovi):
Movie full plot synopsis
Movie reviews
Movie similars
Actor filmography
Actor character names epg123 does this as well

Nothing to do with the guide listings, schedules, or recordings. Note that none of the above features are stored in any metadata of any recordings either.
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Post#10 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:11 pm

Yeah....it just seems stupid to me that we're still dependent on Microsoft when we have an alternate guide source that has all this data on tap anyway. It's like we're just asking for it at any point in the future when we already have a separate, and much better, source on tap. All that needs to be done is to tap it.

Either way, the issue still remains. An inability to pull up movie info on Daniel Craig, with almost 100% certainty, because we are still dependent on Microsoft even though we have a better solution on tap.....
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Post#11 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:51 pm

I agree with Gary we're not dependent on Microsoft any more for guide services. Microsoft was/is providing additional services that you should probably expect well not be robust or even provided in the future since they long ago effectively abandoned WMC. e.g. I was very disappointed when they killed their Netflix functionality. I doubt anyone is going to step up to provide the additional services as Microsoft loses interest or ability to provide them as in this case of the additional actor lookups beyond what is in the current guide.
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Post#12 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:59 pm

stuartm wrote:I doubt anyone is going to step up to provide the additional services as Microsoft loses interest or ability to provide them as in this case of the additional actor lookups beyond what is in the current guide.


That's unfortunate as it spells the continued dismemberment of Media Center something I thought an SD subscription and EPG was there to hedge against. On the positive side, SageTV is getting traction once more with several updated releases and it's open source. SageTV was always Media Center on steroids so perhaps as Media Center slowly dismembers itself Sage will continual to grow out even further. Native SD support is back and Google allowed it to be given away for free! :thumbup:
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Post#13 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 11:20 pm

It should be possible to replicate/replace this service if it is not encrypting the communication in some way.

All you would have to do is monitor the connection between the WMC box and the movie.metaservices.microsoft.com server and set up your own mini-http server on the local box that is able to get the needed info from SchedulesDirect and return it in the needed format.

Then you just update the hosts file to point movie.metaservices.microsoft.com to localhost and you are done.

This is what WiRNS did for the ReplayTV service and it is still working today even though the official service has been gone for a while now.

The important part is to capture the session between your WMC box and that server before it goes away. Once it goes away, it might be difficult to determine the exact format needed for communication between the two systems.
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Post#14 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 11:26 pm

That assumes the data is available from Schedules Direct. Microsoft is obviously using some other database to get the information and it may have capabilities that SD does not have.
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Post#15 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 11:32 pm

garyan2 wrote:I think your definition of dependent and mine are a little at odds here. If you disable the automatic download in WMC for movies and CDs, you will lose these added features but the guide will be untouched. The guide with EPG123 is completely independent of MS/Rovi.

Features that are dependent on outside sources (MS/Rovi):
Movie full plot synopsis
Movie reviews
Movie similars
Actor filmography
Actor character names epg123 does this as well

Nothing to do with the guide listings, schedules, or recordings. Note that none of the above features are stored in any metadata of any recordings either.



Space wrote:It should be possible to replicate/replace this service if it is not encrypting the communication in some way.

All you would have to do is monitor the connection between the WMC box and the movie.metaservices.microsoft.com server and set up your own mini-http server on the local box that is able to get the needed info from SchedulesDirect and return it in the needed format.

Then you just update the hosts file to point movie.metaservices.microsoft.com to localhost and you are done.

This is what WiRNS did for the ReplayTV service and it is still working today even though the official service has been gone for a while now.

The important part is to capture the session between your WMC box and that server before it goes away. Once it goes away, it might be difficult to determine the exact format needed for communication between the two systems.


Is this something that epg123 can do? I'm not too concerned as I rarely use these features but others may use them extensively.

Recall many had no guide with WMC/Rovi/TiVo last week so be happy with what epg123 does do and don't be surprised if it does more down the road either. After 15 months I've seen it grow into the product it is today and it is a great product.
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Post#16 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 11:45 pm

stuartm wrote:That assumes the data is available from Schedules Direct. Microsoft is obviously using some other database to get the information and it may have capabilities that SD does not have.

Yes, at the very least it would have to allow you to query movies and actors/directors, etc. and return the needed information about them in real time. I am not sure if it supports that. But you don't have to use Schedules Direct, you can use any database on the Internet that is able to provide this information.

Sammy2 wrote:...
Is this something that epg123 can do? I'm not too concerned as I rarely use these features but others may use them extensively.

Recall many had no guide with WMC/Rovi/TiVo last week so be happy with what epg123 does do and don't be surprised if it does more down the road either. After 15 months I've seen it grow into the product it is today and it is a great product.

There is no need for it currently, since Microsoft still provides the service (and it works just fine with EPG123), but in the future, this server/service might go away.

This service is not directly related to the functionality of EPG123, it is more tangential. It would probably not make sense to make it a direct functionality of EPG123 but could be a separate project if someone chose to work on it (or it could be part of the "EPG123 suite" :-)). Like I said, for now it would be a good idea to make captures of the sessions to this server just to have in the future in case someone wanted to tackle the project.
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Post#17 » Tue Jul 11, 2017 2:14 am

Space wrote:There is no need for it currently, since Microsoft still provides the service (and it works just fine with EPG123), but in the future, this server/service might go away.


Don't know how you can come up with that conclusion. I just posted about not being able to get any data about Daniel Craig and even definitively diagnosed it to the point that the issue is with Microsoft. I think I also mentioned that this has been happening for at least a year and probably more. So your assumption seems to be based on not reading what I was describing. It is an issue, has been for more then a year, and it's still a dependency on Microsoft. So we are still not free from MS and never will be until SD is used for everything. At that point, and only at that point, the divorce is complete.

As mentioned, SageTV is rapidly gaining momentum (again) and I suspect that it will eclipse what's left of Media Center. It was always much more powerful then Media Center but it cost $$. Now that it's been turned over to open source the remaining Sage community, and these people are very bright, are actively supporting it once more. It has native support for Schedules Direct and a lot more. Native support for multiple Colossus (important to me) along with a lot of other stuff.

Don't get me wrong, I love Media Center, I love EPG123, I think it's one of the greatest and best implemented software programs out there, but if Media Center relies on Microsoft for anything, then we are still dependent on Microsoft, period.
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Post#18 » Tue Jul 11, 2017 2:50 am

Just did an experiment here by wiping out the database on one of my machines and did not import any guide data, Rovi or EPG123. I activated the guide using the registry entries and tried to search for actors. I tried a search of "John Wayne" and got 0 results. Not only did I get 0 results, there were 0 names displayed as I was typing (no autocomplete). I then imported guide data but did not assign any listings to any channels and did a search of John Wayne. Though I had no programs in my guide, actors names were autocompleted and John Wayne was available... click him gave me his filmography.

So, I was wrong about 1 thing ... the actors names don't have to be currently in your guide. All it needs is to have been in your guide at some point in the database's life. I think this may also explain why after years the database just gets larger and larger. The actors names are not being cleaned out by the garbage collector. They remain in the database to be available for actor searches.

... AND I got nothing for Daniel Craig as well. I do get his name, and I do see the 1 movie in my guide that he is in, but no filmography.
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Post#19 » Tue Jul 11, 2017 3:09 am

I think I went over all of this a few posts back. It seems like I'm repeating myself. The problem with the Daniel Craig query is Microsoft. I think that's pretty clear. MC queries the MS dB 3 (?) times (see post above). When I queried the other guy, that did return data even though I have no idea who he is, the query was issued once. To me, that's pretty conclusive that the issue is with MS. As mentioned, I have seen this behavior for more then a year when doing actor searches.

As far as I can see, bottom line, we need a complete divorce from Microsoft. We're not really stamping out the Rovi disease until we are 100% SD. But I do wonder if it can be done or if it's even worth it. But, at least you're seeing the same issue with Daniel Craig. It would not surprise me if everyone here that tested it would see the same thing (provided it's hitting the same server at MS). It's the dependency on MS that is causing the problem.

I don't know much about the dB but I suspect your conclusion about it growing may also be incorrect. When I watch the firewall data stream, each time I do an actor search, whether I've done it before or not, it's going off to MS. This tells me it's not storing the data. Checking twice on any actor, consecutively, shows it's still going to MS. This would make sense as otherwise it would be seeing stale data. If it cached the data in the dB then 5 years from now you would not see all the movies the actor made in the interim....

As for dB growth, I've always assumed it was attributable to two things, one, the guide data, and two, the recording history it needs to keep in order to prevent recording repeats. This might make too much sense, but, like I said, I don't know a lot about how the dB functions.
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Post#20 » Tue Jul 11, 2017 3:14 am

marvin-miller wrote:
Space wrote:There is no need for it currently, since Microsoft still provides the service (and it works just fine with EPG123), but in the future, this server/service might go away.


Don't know how you can come up with that conclusion. I just posted about not being able to get any data about Daniel Craig and even definitively diagnosed it to the point that the issue is with Microsoft.
...

I just meant that in general, it works as designed.

Yes, it may not work with that one actor (and perhaps there are other things it doesn't work with), but for most things it still seems to work as far as I can tell (I don't really use it much, so it may be more broken than I am aware of).

By the way, I tried the "Daniel Craig" lookup on WMC with Rovi data and it only lists the movies that are currently in the guide. I agree that the query to the Microsoft server is not working for this particular actor.

marvin-miller wrote:...
The problem with the Daniel Craig query is Microsoft. I think that's pretty clear. MC queries the MS dB 3 (?) times (see post above). When I queried the other guy, that did return data even though I have no idea who he is, the query was issued once. To me, that's pretty conclusive that the issue is with MS. As mentioned, I have seen this behavior for more then a year when doing actor searches.
...

That alone is not enough to come to that conclusion, it could be that EPG123 is adding something to this actors name that makes the query not find anything. But since this problem also happens with Rovi data, I think your conclusion is sound, if not conclusive.
marvin-miller wrote:...
I don't know much about the dB but I suspect your conclusion about it growing may also be incorrect. When I watch the firewall data stream, each time I do an actor search, whether I've done it before or not, it's going off to MS. This tells me it's not storing the data.
...

I think he is saying that the names of the actors are being stored in the DB, not all of the other metadata. This is so it can do the "autocomplete" when you are typing a name in the search field.
Last edited by Space on Tue Jul 11, 2017 3:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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