Zap2it option ?

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Zap2it option ?

Post#1 » Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:38 pm

Someone else posted this... and I looked into it.

http://zap2xml.awardspace.info/

This will allow you to download your local Zap2it data with a Free account for free. And the app will convert it over the XML, so it can be imported in. Can EPG123 work with the data that it provides ?

I did a check with myself logged into the website and it's got 2 1/2 weeks of local guide data AND accurate data !!!!!

This would bring WMC back EXACTLY how it was prior to the ROVI move...and for no monthly or yearly charges. Free ! (Zap2it was the original data provider for WMC in the US)

Might require a few batch scripts with the task schedule to kick everything off but, it would be a sweet option.
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Post#2 » Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:17 pm

I had given zap2xml a try about 2 years ago and it does work. The problem is when you get down to the nuts & bolts, it is really no more than a web scraper. The free account you set up was not created for this purpose and may violate the terms of use by Screener/Zap2it. Also, because it is a scraper, it takes a ridiculous amount of time to build the resulting xmltv file since getting details of each program/movie requires an additional http call. I believe you need 1 more additional call to get the image as well. I didn't use it for very long so I can't speak to how well it keeps up to date ... does it detect when a program description has changed?

That being said, I have volunteered to add code to EPG123 to accept any XMLTV file, convert it to MXF, and import. There were some that showed interest, but not enough for me to pull out the old code and bring it into EPG123. I of course recommend Schedules Direct, but if someone brings their own XMLTV files then the quality of the content will be on someone else. I can just provide the mechanism of getting it into WMC.
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Post#3 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 7:47 am

Personally, now that I've had it I couldn't live without series/episode information in program titles and detail info, accurate original air date, etc. I don't recall Zap2it having that information back in the day (certainly not consistently or reliably), although it might have changed in the past 2 years.

I also enjoy 21 days of Guide data provided by SD, again something that didn't exist with either Zap2it or Rovi. Not to mention that I've not ever had any of the infamous twice-yearly DST/STD time change Guide update outages which seemed unavoidable before EPG123/SD.

And my own attitude is that I have no problem "rewarding" a quality vendor, paying a reasonable price for a quality product that I use by choice and get great benefit and satisfaction from. Everything doesn't have to be free in order to catch my interest. That's why I typically opt for the "pro" versions of phone apps and PC software products, in order to pay the software developers for the products and services they provide, same as anybody else who works for a living.

I could not be happier with EPG123 and my annual SD subscription.
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Post#4 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 11:04 am

DSperber wrote:I also enjoy 21 days of Guide data provided by SD


um, yeah, about that....it's not very good data, from what I can tell. OTA here, but seriously, more than a week out is a pure crap shoot. Very often I see generic descriptions. And in fact, just last week I popped open the Big Bang Theory recording right after it recorded and saw a generic description for the episode.

People may want to believe in SD data being some super-duper high quality stuff, but it's like the tooth fairy.


DSperber wrote:And my own attitude is that I have no problem "rewarding" a quality vendor, paying a reasonable price for a quality product that I use by choice and get great benefit and satisfaction from. Everything doesn't have to be free in order to catch my interest. That's why I typically opt for the "pro" versions of phone apps and PC software products, in order to pay the software developers for the products and services they provide, same as anybody else who works for a living.


100% this. Couldn't agree more. Quality does cost money. Yes, you can overpay--but you can also underpay. Many people think that "value=price", which couldn't be further from the truth.

For example, I live in a small community with small businesses. I can go to big places, but I do use the little guys that have proven themselves time and again. I don't even price shop them. I pay them a fair price for a good service. If I don't, then they'll go out of business and I won't have them as a choice--I'll be stuck with the big guys. And frankly, the small local guys provide the service that I want. The big guys don't. Many people would look at the raw price and compare and go to the big guy who has whatever for a dime less, and focus only on that dime and not at all on what that extra dime to the local guy gives them in the bigger picture.
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Post#5 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 1:11 pm

I've been on EPG123 ever since we got back from our holiday in Ireland this past July right at the time of the big Rovi meltdown. SD has been a very reliable provider of station data and I too have set my HTPC for 21 days of data. IMO $25/year is a pittance to pay. On a yearly basis I'm paying more for my Cable Card from Verizon FIOS than the schedule service (I need the card for premium content). We have become so accustomed to 'free' stuff from the Internet that when someone charges money for a service the first reaction is to complain.
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Post#6 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 1:56 pm

garyan2 wrote:I had given zap2xml a try about 2 years ago and it does work. The problem is when you get down to the nuts & bolts, it is really no more than a web scraper. The free account you set up was not created for this purpose and may violate the terms of use by Screener/Zap2it. Also, because it is a scraper, it takes a ridiculous amount of time to build the resulting xmltv file since getting details of each program/movie requires an additional http call. I believe you need 1 more additional call to get the image as well. I didn't use it for very long so I can't speak to how well it keeps up to date ... does it detect when a program description has changed?

That being said, I have volunteered to add code to EPG123 to accept any XMLTV file, convert it to MXF, and import. There were some that showed interest, but not enough for me to pull out the old code and bring it into EPG123. I of course recommend Schedules Direct, but if someone brings their own XMLTV files then the quality of the content will be on someone else. I can just provide the mechanism of getting it into WMC.


Fair enough. Thanks for the detailed reply. So, if I can generate a XML file for guide data from this, just to try. Is there a way, in it's current form, to pull down a XML file from Zap2it and import it in to try...

I am interested to see if this is a 2nd possibility here...use it for a few weeks to see if it is a viable option for people here.

I guess in terms, as long as I am only using it for PERSONAL use, I cant see any terms being cut up but, that is for the lawyers to look over.

Do you have a old test version of your software that will import it at a time, or something I can setup via command like so I can batch it all out ?
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Post#7 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:57 pm

Could you get EPG123 to pull in Rovi data?

I'm sorry.... :oops:
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Post#8 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 5:24 pm

adam1991 wrote:
DSperber wrote:I also enjoy 21 days of Guide data provided by SD


um, yeah, about that....it's not very good data, from what I can tell. OTA here, but seriously, more than a week out is a pure crap shoot. Very often I see generic descriptions. And in fact, just last week I popped open the Big Bang Theory recording right after it recorded and saw a generic description for the episode.

People may want to believe in SD data being some super-duper high quality stuff, but it's like the tooth fairy.

SD's data is not perfect, but it's better than Rovi's sludge and well worth $25/year compared to $14.99/month for Tivo or whatever Cable/Verizon charges a month for DVR.
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Post#9 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:14 pm

Scallica wrote:SD's data is not perfect, but it's better than Rovi's sludge and well worth $25/year compared to $14.99/month for Tivo or whatever Cable/Verizon charges a month for DVR.


OTA Tivo doesn't have a monthly fee.

My entire point was that while what you say is true, SD's data isn't what I've seen people here spending the last couple years describing it as.

My sole reason for moving to SD was that during that last go-around, I was convinced--on Saturday, when I saw that the MS guide data was going to end on a Monday night at 8pm--that we had finally hit the point where guide data ran out. I had zero confidence that the guide data would be sorted out before the Monday/Tuesday overnight feed, at best.

And of course, MS surprised everyone by fixing it on Sunday afternoon--an unheard-of situation. Does anyone want to roll those dice again? I certainly don't, and have no regrets moving to SD.

But that doesn't make their data all that and a bag of chips. Shoot the messenger if you want.
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Post#10 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 8:06 pm

adam1991 wrote:
Scallica wrote:SD's data is not perfect, but it's better than Rovi's sludge and well worth $25/year compared to $14.99/month for Tivo or whatever Cable/Verizon charges a month for DVR.


My entire point was that while what you say is true, SD's data isn't what I've seen people here spending the last couple years describing it as.

The two examples I saw you post about the questionable quality of SD/Gracenote/zap2it data was:
1) Episodes of shows over 1 week out have no episode specific information.
2) One episode of "The Big Bang Theory" had no episode specific information after it recorded.

For number 1, the problem is that NO guide provider can have detailed information about a schedule if they are not notified by the various networks of what that information is. I don't think the networks give detailed info regarding their schedule, in some cases, until about 10 days or so ahead of time, but this can vary widely. I don't think it is fair to penalize Gracenote for this.

In my experience, Gracenote tends to update this information many days before Rovi does (except on very rare occasions).

As for number 2, this may not be a problem with Gracenote. WMC has bugs that can cause updates to the schedule to not occur. This is a WMC issue, not a Gracenote/EPG123 issue. You would have to look at the XML file that is generated by EPG123 to see if the detailed episode information is missing to know for sure.
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Post#11 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 8:23 pm

Sure, "no guide provider can have detailed information if they are not notified". So CBS didn't notify. While that's not SD's fault, don't make SD out to be some glorious thing that completely fixes everything about WMC guide data. That's been the message since day 1, and it simply isn't true.

I also got caught up early on with generic guide data that stayed generic after later updates despite SD having newer data the next day (as verified by other sources). This is a known issue inside the EPG123/WMC system, as you point out; Gary admits it. Newer guide data don't get put into the WMC system under certain circumstances. The solution is to wipe old data and start fresh with new guide data, which has the unfortunate side effect of disassociating existing recordings from the series, turning them into standalone recordings that have to be managed manually with regard to deletion.

It's not a huge issue--but many MANY people here talk about needing the most up to date info so they can schedule their lives. If that latest up to date info comes down from Gracenote but never gets put into the guide because of this WMC bug, and/or the user is forced to do the "wipe clean" thing with the consequences that come from that, then EPG123/WMC isn't the best servant to these users.

You must have missed my posts about this.

So, as you point out, "WMC has bugs that can cause updates to the schedule to not occur. This is a WMC issue, not a Gracenote/EPG123 issue." But that doesn't change the fact that EPG123/WMC--as a system--is not the lord and savior that many have expressed it to be, no matter how much better it may be than Rovi.

Don't shoot the messenger.

And btw, my discussion here is purely about SD within the context of integrating it with WMC. If you want to talk about the quality of SD data outside of this context, purely on its own merits, that's fine--but it's not relevant to a WMC discussion.
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Post#12 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 8:55 pm

I don't think anyone has ever said that Gracenote data was perfect (and if someone did, they were wrong). I'm just saying that the examples you provided are not necessarily good examples of the "poor quality" of the source data. And you said it is not "very good" data, which I disagree with. It is not perfect (what is?) but it IS very good, in my opinion. That is without even comparing it to Rovi (TiVo) data. When you compare it to Rovi, it is way better on things that count (like having the correct OAD).

No matter what data provider you use, you will have to deal with the WMC bugs that cause that data to not be imported properly (unless someone develops a tool that fixes the bugs in the import tool provided with WMC). So in regards to WMC, talking about one episode missing ESI when trying to show examples of the poor quality of SD does not make sense, since that same issue would happen no matter which data source you were using (Rovi, SD, zap2it, etc.). If you were comparing it to the quality of data on another platform (like TiVo boxes) then it makes more sense. I suppose it also makes sense if you are comparing it to some perceived "perfect solution" which you appear to think the WMC/EPG123/SD combo was claimed to be.
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Post#13 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 10:00 pm

This being a WMC forum, I was specifically discussing SD data in context of what it can do for me as a WMC user. EPG pulls it all together as a system.

I'm not interested in what SD data is or does outside of WMC. In this forum, for a long time now, EPG123 and SD have been presented as the Jesus solution. Better than Rovi? Yeah. Jesus solution? No.

Find a way to "fix" WMC so that the best and most complete current SD data will always be presented, and EPG123/SD/WMC would be that much better.
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Post#14 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 10:12 pm

adam1991 wrote:Sure, "no guide provider can have detailed information if they are not notified". So CBS didn't notify. While that's not SD's fault, don't make SD out to be some glorious thing that completely fixes everything about WMC guide data. That's been the message since day 1, and it simply isn't true.

I also got caught up early on with generic guide data that stayed generic after later updates despite SD having newer data the next day (as verified by other sources). This is a known issue inside the EPG123/WMC system, as you point out; Gary admits it. Newer guide data don't get put into the WMC system under certain circumstances. The solution is to wipe old data and start fresh with new guide data, which has the unfortunate side effect of disassociating existing recordings from the series, turning them into standalone recordings that have to be managed manually with regard to deletion.

It's not a huge issue--but many MANY people here talk about needing the most up to date info so they can schedule their lives. If that latest up to date info comes down from Gracenote but never gets put into the guide because of this WMC bug, and/or the user is forced to do the "wipe clean" thing with the consequences that come from that, then EPG123/WMC isn't the best servant to these users.

You must have missed my posts about this.

So, as you point out, "WMC has bugs that can cause updates to the schedule to not occur. This is a WMC issue, not a Gracenote/EPG123 issue." But that doesn't change the fact that EPG123/WMC--as a system--is not the lord and savior that many have expressed it to be, no matter how much better it may be than Rovi.

Don't shoot the messenger.

And btw, my discussion here is purely about SD within the context of integrating it with WMC. If you want to talk about the quality of SD data outside of this context, purely on its own merits, that's fine--but it's not relevant to a WMC discussion.


Hmmmmm. I’ve never had most of the issues you speak of. I find the data to be highly accurate and in all of this nothing has been said of all the other epg123/SD benefits. I now have correct images, reviews of shows and movies are much better, the categories work again, and the speed... the speed of loading the guide on my extenders is GREATLY improved over the ROVI data.
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Post#15 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 10:28 pm

adam1991 wrote:
DSperber wrote:I also enjoy 21 days of Guide data provided by SD


um, yeah, about that....it's not very good data, from what I can tell. OTA here, but seriously, more than a week out is a pure crap shoot. Very often I see generic descriptions. And in fact, just last week I popped open the Big Bang Theory recording right after it recorded and saw a generic description for the episode.


If you're in the US you should have at least 13 days of good data (depending on the provider), going out past 21 days (again, depending on the provider).

If you're only seeing 7 days of "good" data for a station, please open a ticket at the Schedules Direct website with the stationID and the first "bad" date so that we can determine if it's a provider issue or an upstream issue.
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Post#16 » Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:12 am

dkrom wrote:and the speed... the speed of loading the guide on my extenders is GREATLY improved over the ROVI data.


That doesn't make sense, because EPG123 does nothing more than grab the SD data and transmogrify it to be used with WMC, and install it into WMC.

When you're on an extender, you're purely inside WMC, using guide data from inside WMC--data that had been formatted for being used by WMC--that is being presented to you by the WMC infrastructure.

I don't see how the data itself can have anything to do with how WMC presents it within its internal systems.
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Post#17 » Thu Nov 16, 2017 1:34 am

adam1991 wrote:
dkrom wrote:and the speed... the speed of loading the guide on my extenders is GREATLY improved over the ROVI data.


That doesn't make sense, because EPG123 does nothing more than grab the SD data and transmogrify it to be used with WMC, and install it into WMC.

When you're on an extender, you're purely inside WMC, using guide data from inside WMC--data that had been formatted for being used by WMC--that is being presented to you by the WMC infrastructure.

I don't see how the data itself can have anything to do with how WMC presents it within its internal systems.


It’s also faster on the PC, but I notice it the most with the extenders. The main reason I’ve gleaned from all the posts about how it works is that ROVI downloads ALL possible channel data no matter what and the the extender (or WMC PC) picks through all the data to display only the channels selected. With epg123 I’m only downloading the channels I subscribe to, so the extender only has to pick through a smaller set of data. I can confirm that before epg123 I’d wait approximately two minutes for it to load the guide after the extender got to the main screen. After epg123 it’s now seamless, after booting I can press “guide” and it’s immediately on screen and useable.

Also, from what I’ve looked into I don’t believe that extenders just interface and display the WMC PC. They have a thin operating system that runs as a user on the PC and it even creates a profile on the main PC. It’s like a mini PC that runs only the WMC program and uses the PC for any data storage or retrieval. So the limited processing power of the extender is taxed when it’s trying to process all the extra ROVI channels that aren’t being used.
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Post#18 » Thu Nov 16, 2017 1:39 am

We do know that the size of the poster art images can greatly affect the speed of the extenders and to a lesser extent the speed of the WMC GUI on the server itself. When the Rovi transition first occurred, there were lots of complaints about the larger images making extenders slow. Rovi did fix that by making the images lower resolution and therefore smaller. It is possible that the images from Gracenote are even smaller than the current Rovi images.

Also, with EPG123, you control what channels are downloaded in to your guide, so you may only actively watch 50 channels, but with Rovi you need to download all (for example) 800 channels worth of guide data. With EPG123, you can specify that you only want the 50 channels you watch. I don't know for sure, but having a smaller guide overall can make the system faster.
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Post#19 » Thu Nov 16, 2017 2:19 am

dkrom wrote:ROVI downloads ALL possible channel data no matter what and the the extender (or WMC PC) picks through all the data to display only the channels selected.


Well, think about it: yes, if you use Rovi data, it only knows about the lineup you've chosen. The base WMC system has no mechanism similar to EPG123, where you can pick and choose what individual channel data to download. So the Rovi data is everything for every channel, even the ones you have chosen to uncheck for display in your guide.

But that being said, you're wrong about "the extender picks through the data". The extender does no such thing. The extender does one thing: display a special remote desktop session that's being run and drawn on the PC. If your guide is unavailable for two minutes, that's because it's not available to the extender user's remote desktop session that's running on the main PC.

dkrom wrote:I can confirm that before epg123 I’d wait approximately two minutes for it to load the guide after the extender got to the main screen.


Ummmm...I can confirm that never happening to me. I could hit the guide right away (Rovi data) and have whatever performance the system is able to give. The guide on extenders is always slower to scroll than on the main PC, but that's common sense given how the entire extender remote desktop session is drawn on the PC and delivered over the network to the extender. It takes an extra beat or two to get the remote "page down" signal to the main PC, to have the main PC's extender user session draw that page down, and for the network to deliver the results back to the extender for viewing. (I equate that to talking with someone on the moon; it's not an impossible delay, but it's still there and noticeable, every time.)

Hence my question.


dkrom wrote:After epg123 it’s now seamless, after booting I can press “guide” and it’s immediately on screen and useable.


Could that have been more the result of your resetting things to do EPG123, and less about the data itself? Did resetting everything wipe away some sort of crud that caused the issue you describe?

That's the question I would ask myself.


dkrom wrote:Also, from what I’ve looked into I don’t believe that extenders just interface and display the WMC PC. They have a thin operating system that runs as a user on the PC and it even creates a profile on the main PC. It’s like a mini PC that runs only the WMC program and uses the PC for any data storage or retrieval. So the limited processing power of the extender is taxed when it’s trying to process all the extra ROVI channels that aren’t being used.


Actually, everything about the extender session is being processed on the main PC. The extender user is another user on the PC, but it's a special user that can run in the background simultaneously with the logged in main user. Similar to a standard user remote desktop session (but not exactly the same) its video is "drawn" on the main PC, and the extender merely displays it. (Because the digital video file never leaves the PC, but instead is unlocked and rendered on the PC, that's how content owners are content with WMC delivering DRM videos to extenders.)

While of course the extender has SOME kind of operating system on it, it's not running any component of WMC per se. It's just doing a special remote desktop session that allows you to see WMC on a remote TV.

No, I think you had crud in your system that went away because of the clean reset you did. That's my theory, anyway.

Or did you at any time delete and re-create the extender user? That would have cleared up any crud, too.
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Post#20 » Thu Nov 16, 2017 2:25 am

Space wrote:We do know that the size of the poster art images can greatly affect the speed of the extenders and to a lesser extent the speed of the WMC GUI on the server itself. When the Rovi transition first occurred, there were lots of complaints about the larger images making extenders slow. Rovi did fix that by making the images lower resolution and therefore smaller. It is possible that the images from Gracenote are even smaller than the current Rovi images.

Also, with EPG123, you control what channels are downloaded in to your guide, so you may only actively watch 50 channels, but with Rovi you need to download all (for example) 800 channels worth of guide data. With EPG123, you can specify that you only want the 50 channels you watch. I don't know for sure, but having a smaller guide overall can make the system faster.


sure, but his having to wait two minutes to see the guide on an extender meant that something in his rig was broken. It wasn't a matter of data size. When he changed to EPG123, he made at least two changes: the quantity of data being used, plus the rest of the guide system.

This was clearly a matter of a corrupt/broken guide setup on his system. Think about it: if it took 2 minutes to display the guide on an extender, we would have heard about that LONG ago. I've never heard of it, and more importantly never experienced it. Not when I had cable, not when my guide data switched to Rovi, nada. And I have three extenders--one of them a Ceton Echo. Neither XBox nor Echo has ever behaved like that.

I guess an alternative would be a horribly bad network, but that would exhibit itself in more ways than just this, I'd think, and he'd be off to fix it.
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