The state of WMC

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adam1991

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The state of WMC

#1

Post by adam1991 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:57 pm

Maybe it's just me, but.

soapbox ON:

A DVR is not a DVR without a reliable guide service.

We all know that the Rovi guide is virtually unusable, not in any context of reliability. Hence Gary's project.

The last few weeks we've had Schedules Direct problems, plus Gary's latest software seems to be having issues of its own that he's no doubt still tracking down.

Those might be perfectly fixed in the next couple of days, BUT I would argue that this "perfect storm" gives one pause to wonder, just how much life do we REALLY have?

I've heard that Schedules Direct isn't going anywhere. I've also seen "explanations" about how "they're a small non-profit, give them a break". Those seem mutually exclusive. It makes me realize what we all should think about: what happens when Schedules Direct goes away? We've all been there, done that--watched something like that disappear to the mists of memories, for whatever reason. They run on AWS; Amazon could decide they don't like SD and jerk them around. Gee, Amazon would NEVER do that, would they? Nah:

https://www.theverge.com/2018/12/19/181 ... nstatement

That's just one example. We all know the television world is changing; maybe guide service becomes something the entertainment world decides they will NEVER give away for free, and will shut it all down. Wasn't it Rovi who decided they owned the concept of a grid guide? Anything can happen.

And anything can happen with respect to Gary's project. Thankfully, he's not busy chasing after changes in WMC.

Anyway. Right now the guide situation is experiencing some tremors. Will those turn into earthquakes? Nobody knows. But history is full of things that "would never happen", that indeed happened.

Back to my premise: a DVR is not a DVR without a reliable guide service. I would normally argue that we're blessed with TWO choices for guide service, while the commercial entities such as Tivo and Tablo have only their own proprietary stuff. But I dunno if that's as meaningful as it should be.

I'm not worried, I'm not concerned, but I am highly aware of the state of things right now with WMC.

And it's things like this that create threads like "what's next?".

/soapbox

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#2

Post by dkrom » Sun Feb 10, 2019 7:32 pm

A little perspective though... my logs for epg123 date back to 4/21/17. In that time the word fail appears as an [error] entry about 25 times (might have been a password change error, SD not contacted, "the remote server returned an error: (500)", whatever - I still counted it). That's about 635 days of log entries - 25 errors over those days is a failure rate of 3.94%. Put another way - it's up 96.06% of the time. I think we're good...

adam1991

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#3

Post by adam1991 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 7:57 pm

My logs for epg123 date back to October (?) 2017, I think, when the Rovi guide took a swan dive and almost hit the ground. I had been patient up to that point and stuck with Rovi, but that was it for me. I switched.

Until a couple of weeks ago I *never* had a known failure. Ever. Then the first failure I have, it turns out to be a problem with Schedules Direct.

Oooooo, that's bad. Worrisome, actually. Because it's something significantly farther from my control than is Gary's software.

And then the same failure continues to appear. Not good.

Sure, I could amortize my recent failures across the entire time I've used SD and epg123. But that would just be sticking my head in the sand, finding numbers that create a positive, predetermined result.

No, I don't play it like that. My head is well above the sand, and my concern is with the most recent weeks, with SD errors every night or two. Are we over that? I don't know, and neither does anyone else--positive thinking notwithstanding.

Add to that whatever difficulty Gary seems to be having with the last few versions of the software, and there you go. I'm just highly aware of how fragile our ecosystem really is, and am being reminded regularly. I'm also aware that while Gary can and will fix his issues; we really don't know about SD, do we. And one day Gary may just decide to hang it all up. (I still use ShowAnalyzer and think it's the best thing, but look at what happened to that.)

I was involved with a lone developer many many MANY years ago; for awhile we had a blast doing some shareware. (Does anyone remember counterPOINT?) But then the world changed, and his world changed, and...it happens.

Anyway.

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newfiend

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#4

Post by newfiend » Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:29 pm

Lets face facts.. WMC is essentially.. Dead. It has been for a long time.

We just keep on using it because it's the best at what it does as far as being able to build your own DVR.
It's the only software that will allow you to DVR protected content. So since there are serious lack of options on that front we keep finding ways to fix/patch and plug the holes.

Gary created a fix for guide data. I am so thankful he did.. If you haven't tried to reinstall WMC lately you're in for a surprise as a lot of the connected software it needs it won't download correctly anymore.. (Digital Cable Advisor)
You have to track down the .exe for those and do it manually. It's become much more cumbersome to setup.

Now MS is pulling the plug on Windows Media Player so it's ability to download album art and metadata will now be broken..

They are slowly pushing us off old versions of windows.. They want us to ditch WMC and Windows 7/8/8.1 and move to 10 and find a new way to watch TV.

The whole landscape of TV viewing is changing. Most people are so busy working that viewing TV has moved from scanning multiple channels in a grid guide to just streaming the individual shows you're a fan of.

Netflix/Amazon/Hulu/HBO Go etc.. is where things seem to be going.. Streaming content on demand. People are using PLEX and EMBY more and more or cutting the cord and doing a combination of OTA and Streaming to get their TV fix.

For me traditional cable TV has become too expensive. I'm going to have to drop cable TV this year. I'll keep the internet package and do a combo of OTA and Netflix and HULU or YouTube TV and PLEX.

I know I'm going to miss WMC. It's been great. But with no support it's days are numbered. Will it still work for some time? Sure but I would rather move to something that is supported and updated than to continue to patch a sinking ship.

newfiend~

adam1991

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#5

Post by adam1991 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:05 am

Well, there's dead and then there's DEAD. Finding that line can be tricky. It's different for everyone.

But yes, Netflix/Hulu/Amazon is where it's at for an ever-increasing number of people. Those who want the pay TV monster, they can get it from a number of providers--all with some variation of "DVR".

If you're dropping pay TV, it's insanely easy to get a Silicon Dust OTA tuner and just set up your new lineup inside WMC. All of your shows will remain in place, and will record on the new lineup if they're available. I did this a few years ago. Takes but a minute.

When you're ready to migrate, use that Silicon Dust tuner to feed Plex (for example). Or use the Silicon Dust DVR, if you so desire.

And I've found that much of my OTA stuff is available next day, without commercials (for me), on Hulu. That will probably change now that Disney is in charge.

I thought this article was timely, if not exactly relevant:

https://gizmodo.com/how-to-protect-your ... 1832455787

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#6

Post by Scallica » Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:22 am

newfiend wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:29 pm
Netflix/Amazon/Hulu/HBO Go etc.. is where things seem to be going.. Streaming content on demand. People are using PLEX and EMBY more and more or cutting the cord and doing a combination of OTA and Streaming to get their TV fix.

For me traditional cable TV has become too expensive. I'm going to have to drop cable TV this year. I'll keep the internet package and do a combo of OTA and Netflix and HULU or YouTube TV and PLEX.
I cut the cord at the end of last year. WMC with EPG123 was working great, however, all of my Verizon FiOS discounts expired in November and my new bill was $205/month for all three services (phone, 50/50 internet, and the mid-tier cable package). To regain the discounts, I would have to lock in all three services for another two years; no thanks!

For phone, I purchased a used Ooma box on ebay for $15 (it's $99 new on Amazon). Ooma only charges you the tax which is $5/month

For Internet, I locked in 2 years, 50/50, for $39.99 + tax = $42

For broadcast TV, I purchased a decent size antenna ($32) and connected it to a 500GB Tivo Roamio (with lifetime service) I bought on ebay for $220. I had very little expectations with OTA, but the picture quality is unbelievably clear. I get about 62 channels.

For cable TV, I use DirecTV NOW which has ALL the channels I watch (including all the locals) plus cloud DVR for $40/month; no additional taxes and fees. The only negative is the DVR is in beta and only offers 20 hours at this time. I use a Fire TV, but you can use an Apple TV or a Roku or Chrome. I use the Tivo to record shows on local broadcast so I don't waste any of the cloud DVR storage.

The main thing that convinced me to cut the cord was the disgusting amount of additional fees added on to my Verizon bill every month (at least $30) because of the phone and TV service. Those fees disappear if you only have Internet service. In total, I went from $205/month to $87/month....it was an offer I couldn't refuse.

I still use my WMC/HTPC for Plex, Emby, music and pictures.
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adam1991

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#7

Post by adam1991 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:34 am

Around here, broadband service isn't taxed.

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#8

Post by dkm » Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:54 am

Did the post you created about this from 4 days ago not go viral enough?

How about the one from 2 days ago?

SD had a service blip. It was fixed. Compared to Microsoft and Rovi, SD actually did communicate the problems and even an outage to their service from a day or so ago when things went down for maintenance. I'd actually argue it was good to see EPG123 point out there *were* issues instead of having people guess if they were actually missing data or only had a few days left before it was fixed.

Calm down. If you don't like WMC anymore, why are you still here? To say you were the "first" to predict it's demise? C'mon Nostradamus, that's not exactly a hard one to call at this point.

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#9

Post by adam1991 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 2:30 am

dkm wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:54 am
Did the post you created about this from 4 days ago not go viral enough?

How about the one from 2 days ago?

SD had a service blip. It was fixed.
Was it?

I would imagine that even those who implemented the changes don't yet know if it's been *fixed*.

Compared to Microsoft and Rovi, SD actually did communicate the problems and even an outage to their service from a day or so ago when things went down for maintenance. I'd actually argue it was good to see EPG123 point out there *were* issues instead of having people guess if they were actually missing data or only had a few days left before it was fixed.

Calm down. If you don't like WMC anymore, why are you still here? To say you were the "first" to predict it's demise? C'mon Nostradamus, that's not exactly a hard one to call at this point.
Who peed in your Wheaties this morning?

I guess I missed the mandate that you (a) pay attention to this thread, and (b) respond.

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#10

Post by RyC » Mon Feb 11, 2019 5:07 am

Image

I'm sorry I couldn't resist

jachin99

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#11

Post by jachin99 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 3:45 pm

I'll be the bad guy here and defend cable a little bit. I have Cox, and Verizon in my neighborhood but even before that I was always able to talk down my cable prices. Cable seems to be the only option that gives me all of the channels I want at a decent price, and I haven't seen any channels or content disappear. I know some others like scalia are paying a lower price than I am for streaming but being able to OWN my recordings is something I'm willing to pay a few extra bucks for. In order to get a decent price you have to call your cable company and complain, or ask for a promotion. I don't know what this is like for Verizon customers (Do they even have a person you can talk to anymore?) but cox makes it easy. I'm not too concerned about SD issues because most of the time it works just fine. I wouldn't start putting too much thought into it until things have been screwed up for at least a few weeks. WMC still wins in my book but I'm also kicking the tires with Kodi DS because I get pretty crappy PQ from Cox.

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#12

Post by Scallica » Mon Feb 11, 2019 5:11 pm

jachin99 wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 3:45 pm
I know some others like scalia
Who? :lol:
jachin99 wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 3:45 pm
being able to OWN my recordings is something I'm willing to pay a few extra bucks for.
Yes, I value this as well. The TiVo desktop software allows you to download your recordings to your PC if they are not copy protected. There are other ways to preserve copy protected recordings which we really can't discuss here ;)
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newfiend

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#13

Post by newfiend » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:11 am

adam1991 wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:05 am
Well, there's dead and then there's DEAD. Finding that line can be tricky. It's different for everyone.

But yes, Netflix/Hulu/Amazon is where it's at for an ever-increasing number of people. Those who want the pay TV monster, they can get it from a number of providers--all with some variation of "DVR".

If you're dropping pay TV, it's insanely easy to get a Silicon Dust OTA tuner and just set up your new lineup inside WMC. All of your shows will remain in place, and will record on the new lineup if they're available. I did this a few years ago. Takes but a minute.

When you're ready to migrate, use that Silicon Dust tuner to feed Plex (for example). Or use the Silicon Dust DVR, if you so desire.

And I've found that much of my OTA stuff is available next day, without commercials (for me), on Hulu. That will probably change now that Disney is in charge.

I thought this article was timely, if not exactly relevant:

https://gizmodo.com/how-to-protect-your ... 1832455787
Well .. Dead to me is unsupported and when MS keeps breaking the background services that make it work.. :thumbdown:
You are correct that Dead to me doesn't mean "dead" to everyone else.. YMMV
I still use WMC every day. I've been gradually collecting hardware to move off of it though. Already got a SD HD Homerun Quatro and an OTA Antenna up..the problem I have is I'm on the verge of OTA service in my area and OTA channels that come in are probably 3 channels reliably. I could futz with the antenna a bit more and see if that improves otherwise I'll need a more expensive antenna. :thumbdown:
I purchased a Nvidia Shield. I haven't even taken it out of the box yet. I plan on this summer using the HTPC as more of a back end server for PLEX and Gaming. And use the Shield as the front end. It's an experiment I'm still toying with to see what works best for me.
I have setup PLEX for my Movies, TV and Music collections already. I'm hoping I can get the DVR for TV figured out as that for me is the last missing component. I just need it to be as user friendly as possible for the wife. And that's always the tricky part for most of us that are married. :D
I love WMC.. I wish MS had never abandoned it (along with their other ventures and customer base) and continued to update it and supported their products better.
I just got tired of having to continually patch/fix WMC to make work.. I don't want to play IT guy to my DVR constantly anymore, I just want something that works, is supported and updated without me having to hope it keeps working or relying on someone else to constantly fix it for us. Finding a path forward from WMC has not been an easy road.
newfiend~

adam1991

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#14

Post by adam1991 » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:35 am

Well, from what I can tell Tablo's not it--despite the upcoming commercial skip feature.

Many people use Plex--but they count on comskip and MCEBuddy to cut out the commercials and store the result on their Plex server. Um, no.

I've had a good run over the last 15 years with ReplayTV 50xx and WMC/ShowAnalylzer, but I'm afraid like you that run's come to an end--and it's not an easy road to find out what's next.

Frankly, Hulu today show much of what I would be happy with: paying an extra bit of money simply to stream the network shows on demand the next day. I guess I could also do that with CBS All Access, but I refuse to give money to a single network--not to mention they don't even have streaming rights to all the shows they broadcast.

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#15

Post by jachin99 » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:55 am

Honestly, if your going to kind of follow the market for this kind of thing then something android or apple based is probably your best bet or even Tivo if your willing to pay for new gear and the subscription. Scallica, TIVO sounds nice but it has a pretty steep price, and I like to tinker so I'm sticking to PC based PVRs for a while.

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#16

Post by adam1991 » Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:15 am

NextPVR. Myth. Sage. Etc, etc. There *appear* to be many choices out there.

Oh--and there's Channels. $80/year. Well, do the math--it's $55 extra per year if you're already paying for Schedules Direct today. Nifty feature set, though. I remain intrigued.

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#17

Post by jachin99 » Tue Feb 12, 2019 4:10 am

I'm sure I have brought this up before but emby and Plex PAY for guide data and they're cross platform. Screwing little ol schedules direct is one thing but stomping on paying customers who you have entered into legal agreements with is a whole different story. Emby had to close out some of their code to facilitate the movement away fro SD over to their new guide data. It would be nice if TiVo would just publish their app (If I'm not mistaken they're working g on one for TiVo). Either way I suppose it's good to have a plan B but it doesn't appear to me that SD will be losing their guide provider anytime soon. Has anyone here heard anything about Titan TV as a provider?

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#18

Post by Space » Tue Feb 12, 2019 4:42 am

Both Rovi/TiVo (used by WMC and TiVo) and TitanTV pale in comparison to the guide data provided by Gracenote (Schedules Direct's provider) according to my experience.

I used to compare the list of NEW episodes that I record in WMC (TiVo) to the NEW episodes on zap2it (Gracenote) every week, and almost every week I found some issue that needed to be corrected on TiVo. Now that zap2it has changed their website design, it is extremely difficult to get a listing of all new shows airing for the next week, so I am now using TitanTV to do the crosschecking with TiVo data. TitanTV has many mistakes as well, so it it like comparing two crappy guides to each other. It still catches mistakes in one or the other, but I know I am not getting nearly the almost perfect listings I did with Gracenote.

Just as an example for this and next week, both TitanTV and TiVo had the winter premiere of "American Dad" on TBS as a repeat. Gracenote/zap2it has it correctly marked as NEW. It also has next weeks episode correctly marked as NEW, whereas the other two providers still have it as a repeat.

I wish that zap2it would make it possible to get a list of all your favorite shows episodes and list only the NEW ones like it used to. The weekly comparison I do with WMC (TiVo) and TitanTV is not very effective if they are both wrong. I know, I should switch over to EPG123 and then I wouldn't have this problem, I am getting closer to doing that...

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#19

Post by Scallica » Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:07 pm

jachin99 wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:55 am
TIVO sounds nice but it has a pretty steep price, and I like to tinker so I'm sticking to PC based PVRs for a while.
I like tinkering too, but sometimes after a long day, you just want to watch TV without having to tinker :) You can find bargains on ebay if you look long enough. A used Tivo Roamio is comparable in price to a Fire TV Recast ($229) or a Tablo DVR ($194).

I like the Tivo mainly because of the nice interface, ease of use, one button automatic commercial skip on almost all shows. You can also program your DVR remotely using the mobile app or website. The Tivo I have has a 500GB hard drive and 4 tuners. The HD can easily be upgrade to a 3GB drive without any tweaks needed. I think some tweaks are needed if you want to beyond a 3TB drive.
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#20

Post by StinkyImp » Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:39 pm

About 3 1/2 years ago I was getting fed up with the Rovi guide issues and started earnestly looking for a replacement. I agree with adam1991 that...
adam1991 wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:57 pm
A DVR is not a DVR without a reliable guide service.
A few years ago I found EPG123 and haven't looked back because it's a perfect solution. The rest of this post is purely academic...

During the time I was looking for a replacement, I realized that my TV (simply connected to an antenna) was able to provide me with a rudimentary guide with the channel, program name, description, and time/duration.

It kept nagging at me that EPG data was being transmitted right over the airwaves. If I could just get that data off my antenna and into my existing EPG, then it was irrelevant whether Microsoft/Rovi provided EPG data! I learned that this was PSIP (Program and System Information Protocol) data and is transmitted in the broadcast stream from the television station.

I found a program (EPG Collector) that would extract that data and import it into WMC7. I had a Windows 7 laptop I wasn't using so I air-gapped it and waited for the EPG to show "No Data Available" and then started setting it up. It took a few weeks to get it fine tuned because I would wait for the guide to empty before running it again. Bottom line, it worked!

At this point I had it populating the EPG and it was good enough to schedule recordings. I also setup a scheduled task to run daily at 1:30AM and noticed the EPG updated without fail. The program is evidently sophisticated enough to also "pretty up" the guide with channel logos, categories, additional metadata from the TVDB, thumbnails, and more.

RESULTS:
In our house everything has to pass the WAF (Wife Approval Factor) and the EPG Collector guide data did not pass the WAF, or mine.

The reason for this was that the PSIP data wan't really reliable. It's all dependent on the actual channel. Some days some of the channels would have only a few hours of data and some none at all. Other channels might have up to 24 hours of data. There wasn't any consistency... The major networks usually had at least 20 to 24 hours available, but the others, not so much.

In order to "try" to have consistent data for recording purposes, the EPG Collector would need to run every few hours which wasn't feasible because there was never any guarantee that there would be anything to update (plus it used resources that could disrupt other processes).

Who knows what the future holds and how changes (ATSC 3.0 for example) will affect how we do things? All we can do is Roll With The Changes.

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