Sports Bar - New Windows Media Center add-in

leewcraft

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Sports Bar - New Windows Media Center add-in

#1

Post by leewcraft » Sat Dec 27, 2014 4:53 am

It's been a while since we've seen many new add-ins for Windows Media Center, but here's a new one called Sports Bar (since we have lots of sporting events coming up around New Year's). Just so you know, this is far from a polished piece of software...think of it more as a proof of concent app. Basically, this is a simple multi-view add-in for watching multiple games on the same screen like this:
WP_20141115_21_18_27_Pro.jpg
I've been kicking this idea around for several years, but I finally got past a major roadblock a few months ago. Here are the installation instructions:

1. Download the installer from http://www.myownchannels.com/MOCWeb/Sub ... lient.aspx (free registration required)
2. Disable exclusive audio control for your audio output device:
-Right click on the speaker icon in system tray and go to playback devices
-Right click on your audio output device and select properties
-Go to the advanced tab and uncheck "Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device"
-Click Ok

After you launch the add-in (it's hidden in the Extras section), you can type in channel numbers for each of the 4 screens. Once you're ready, press Play and it will launch all 4 of the games you selected. While viewing the games, you can use the arrow keys to select which game audio you want to hear.

Requirements:
-Minimum of Core 2 Quad CPU (it functions on a Core 2 Duo, but has some freezing when playing 4 HD streams)
-Hard Disk space...the games are recorded as they are played, so it takes about 30-40GB per hour of game watching for 4 HD streams


There are definitely a few limitations with this add-in as it exists today, so I'll list them out here so that nobody is surprised by it:
1. This is a hybrid add-in that uses additional software besides Windows Media Center, so it won't work on an extender. I'm investigating whether that could work on an extender, and it's definitely not out of the realm of possibility for the future.
2. It will create four 5-hour recordings for the 4 games you choose to watch. Cleaning up those recordings was not practical for the first run at this application, so you'll have to stop the recordings on your own and delete them from your Recorded TV afterward. You'll obviously need a pretty good bit of hard drive space to accomodate this during a several hours window of watching 4 HD games.
3. The recordings it creates will take precedence over any other recordings you have scheduled. Any other way of doing this made the application extremely frustrating to use (like having to click through multiple pop-up boxes and manage your recordings to get the games to start playing).
4. The add-in has to run in windowed (not full-screen) mode. It will automatically take itself out of full screen mode when you launch it. It's supposed to put it back into full-screen mode when you exit, but that part of the software has been a little buggy. If you find yourself with a windowed Windows Media Center and the window handles are off the visible screen, you can use Alt-Enter to get it to go back to full-screen. This bug is high on my list to get fixed, but it didn't seem likely to happen in the next few days, and I wanted to get the add-in out there before New Year's because of all the sporting events happening then.
5. Because of some Windows Media Center limitations, you can't use sub-channels (5.1 or 5-1). I'm assuming that most people using this will have a CableCard tuner. If that's the case, you can work around it by merging your over-the-air or QAM channels with a cable channel with a standard channel number.
6. You can only watch channels that are flagged as Copy Freely by your cable company or that are unencrypted.

Try it out if you're interested and let me know if you have any issues. I may or may not have time to do bug fixes before New Year's, but if there are major issues, I will try to fix them.

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#2

Post by Ed  » Sat Dec 27, 2014 9:23 am

Damn, no extenders. You tease :P

Either way, great job. Even if I can't use it - I look forward to seeing this develop further. Thanks for putting it together.

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#3

Post by volfan6415 » Sat Dec 27, 2014 8:23 pm

This is awesome I can't wait to try this out and test for u

leewcraft

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#4

Post by leewcraft » Sat Dec 27, 2014 10:34 pm

Yeah, developing for extenders is difficult, especially when you're trying to push the limits of what WMC can do. I do at least think there's a 50/50 chance of it being technically feasible, but will probably take some significant work.

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#5

Post by Crash2009 » Sun Dec 28, 2014 2:49 pm

Yes, this does look like fun. Thanks for developing. Will give it a go next weekend.

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#6

Post by dubzga » Mon Dec 29, 2014 2:55 pm

This looks awesome. I've been trying to figure out a good way to do this for a long time. I've successfully installed and opened it but after i enter in all of the channel numbers i want to watch the play button remains greyed out. I also tried pressing play from my remote. Any ideas?

Thanks again for sharing!

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#7

Post by LuckyDay » Mon Dec 29, 2014 7:40 pm

Looks cool. Would it be possible for three windows of live TV plus maybe a 4th with scores or something for us folks with 3 tuners?

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#8

Post by STC » Mon Dec 29, 2014 7:51 pm

That's what L shaped TVs are for ;)
By the Community, for the Community. 100% Commercial Free.

Want decent guide data back? Check out EPG123

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#9

Post by leewcraft » Wed Dec 31, 2014 12:17 am

That's definitely on my radar. I'm thinking about a scoreboard option as well as streaming a game online or doing fantasy sports info.

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#10

Post by leewcraft » Wed Dec 31, 2014 12:21 am

dubzga wrote:This looks awesome. I've been trying to figure out a good way to do this for a long time. I've successfully installed and opened it but after i enter in all of the channel numbers i want to watch the play button remains greyed out. I also tried pressing play from my remote. Any ideas?

Thanks again for sharing!
Hmmm...it's tied to the Media.PlayPause button press. Do you have something like EventGhost that can show exactly which button is being pressed when you press play? I think it will have to be a play button from a remote and not the virtual buttons within WMC. I'll see if I can get it to detect the WMC virtual button press as well.

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#11

Post by choliscott » Wed Dec 31, 2014 8:28 am

I tried using this also & the play button was grayed out & actually pressing the play button on the remote didn't do anything. However I will admit that I tried on 4 different channels where the show was playing was only 30 minutes or 60 minutes. I also tried where there was 1 game playing & had the same result

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#12

Post by leewcraft » Wed Dec 31, 2014 6:19 pm

Ok, I've updated the package at the download site above. It should respond to key presses of Play, PlayPause, or a lowercase "p" to start playing the games. The WMC button is a different animal, so I'll work on that another time. It will stay grayed out.

Let me know if this works.

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#13

Post by Ylinen » Sun Jan 04, 2015 4:40 pm

I tried your app. It installed fine, I am using a Windows 7 Ultimate with Media Center. When I launch the Sports Bar, the 4 windows come up. I type in channels in the four windows. I am using Verizon FIOS with a Cetron Infinity cablecard tuner. When I press the PLAY button on the remote after a long wait, the 4 manual recordings start. Then one or two windows show the show and the other 2 windows are BLACK. I picked channels and shows that should be free of encryption. They record fine.

After some time, the two windows either 2 top or 2 bottom go away and I am left with either 2 top windows or 2 bottom windows. Those 2 work fine, but can't get 4 to work.

It also then is not able to switch windows with the cursor with the remote. Have to kill the app with task manager.

This is a great concept. Something I have been wanting for a long time. Hope you can work out the bugs.

Also the performance of the APP is very slow. Press channel numbers as a long delay between pressing the number and it showing up. When you press play it takes 20+ seconds for the channel to start to show up.

I have a AMD A6600 processor and 8GB of memory. Also use a SSD for OS and Programs and a 1tb drive for recordings.

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#14

Post by dubzga » Tue Jan 06, 2015 3:40 am

Thanks for the update. I've been away from the media center for the last couple of weeks and will give the new update a spin this week. Fwiw, I tried play from my harmony remote, a rosewill remote and from the ceton android app in the prior version. Looking forward to this new iteration and thanks again for sharing this.

As an aside, I had eventghost at one time but it broke more things than it fixed...another story for another time...

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#15

Post by Crash2009 » Tue Jan 06, 2015 11:15 pm

There must be a way to use Event Ghost safely. Maybe someone knows. All I can think of is to make a Restore Point prior to using it, then go back after your done.

Does Event Ghost mainly change the Registry?

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#16

Post by dubzga » Fri Jan 09, 2015 2:29 am

Hi guys, I gave the latest build a run and it is getting closer...I was able to press play on the remote but the app crashed with a WMC error message saying invalid application. I had to force close but the manual recordings did start so it must be getting close! Sorry I can't be more helpful

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#17

Post by leewcraft » Sun Jan 11, 2015 5:10 pm

Thanks for the feedback everyone.
After some time, the two windows either 2 top or 2 bottom go away and I am left with either 2 top windows or 2 bottom windows. Those 2 work fine, but can't get 4 to work.
Does this happen consistently every time you use it, or just occasionally? I've had issues where a recording takes a while to start, so the app doesn't pick it up and send it to the media player portion of the app. Also, what screen resolution are you using (the desktop screen resolution, not the 1080i/720p setting from within WMC)? Sometimes it's been a bit finicky trying to figure out the sizing of each of the screens.
Press channel numbers as a long delay between pressing the number and it showing up.
Yeah, I've noticed this too, but thought it was related to my remote IR extender. I'll see what I can do, but this may require a re-write of this portion outside of Media Center.

I was able to press play on the remote but the app crashed with a WMC error message saying invalid application
Any chance the add-in installed on something other than C:? Also, do you get a "Details" button during the crash? If so, could you click it and take a screenshot to send? That would be most helpful.

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#18

Post by inzombyac » Fri Jan 16, 2015 12:50 pm

This looks awesome. Gave this a try on 2 Windows 7 machines. The plugin installs fine. When I enter a channel in any window and press play I can see a recording starting, but nothing is played in the window. I saw your question about the plugin installed on the C:\ drive. I have the plugin installed there, but my recordings go to D:\. Could that be the issue? Is there any logging or debugging that I can try.

Thanks for the help.

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#19

Post by leewcraft » Sun Jan 18, 2015 3:14 am

It should handle recordings anywhere in the Recorded TV library in Windows (which should be any place that WMC chooses to record). Do you get any error messages, either when you press Play or at startup? Maybe double-check if the recordings show up in the Recorded TV library when you open a Windows explorer window and click on the link on the left. If they don't, I may need to re-think how it identifies that location. I'll try to test with this configuration as well.

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#20

Post by inzombyac » Mon Jan 19, 2015 3:20 am

There are no error messages. When I type in a channel number, I see the channel's call sign. When I hit "p" to start playing, I see Media Center recording in the tray and the file appears in my Recorded TV folder on D. If I wait a while, the sports bar windows fade and all I see is the background in Media Center. Let me know if there is any type of log/debugging that can help.

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