audio/video content

1969 Sony ST-80F AM/FM stereo tuner with 1977 Kenwood KA 3500 amp and Select-A-Tenna on top.

Here is a nice way to spend a Memorial Day afternoon:

KGGF-AM 690 is still a very old-fashioned radio station out of Coffeyville, Kansas. No online presence.

Tulsa is within its coverage area, but inside the house, I need a little help pulling it in.

The Select-A-Tenna 541-M has a 3.5 mm phone jack so I can connect it directly to the tuner. (It is capable of working without connection by induction, but this isn’t physically convenient in my setup.) It is a now-discontinued item from C. Crane Radio.

I simply tune to 690 on the tuner, then fine tune on the Select-A-Tenna.

KGGF carries Kansas City Royals baseball games, which is what I am now listening to.

Monday-Friday at 8:35-11 am, OpenLine (“the 4-state regions’ most popular and enduring radio program”) features news and sports plus a call-in show for people to sell stuff. This will really take you back. You could imagine Herb Jepko and the Nightcaps coming on later in the evening.

Feels like the 1960s!

On Facebook, my brother Alan just posted a YouTube of violinist Stephane Grappelli and guitarist Diz Disley with the comment, “Maybe the ultimate Sunday ‘morning’ music for me.” This sent me on a quest yesterday.


Still have it.

One evening in 1979, on or after April Fool’s Day, I tuned in KWGS on my “new” 1969 Sony ST-80F AM/FM stereo tuner and happened onto some great acoustic jazz.

I fired up my reel-to-reel tape deck to capture it.

It turned out to be Grappelli and Disley, plus David Grisman doing the music he wrote for “King of the Gypsies” (1978) with Grappelli and Tony Rice. All but Grappelli were unknown to me at the time.

By June 2, 1984, I had transferred what I had recorded to cassette, editing out the between-song patter.

After seeing my bro’s Facebook post, I listened to my tape again and wondered if that radio show might be available anywhere. No luck commercially, then I found this blog post:

http://arizjones.blogspot.com/2011/03/stephane-grappelli-4-25-1978.html

An entire show was there for download, archived as two .rar files. The description sounded like what I taped:

This is a real nice recording with David Grisman and Tony Rice on the last five tracks.

Stephane Grappelli Group
04/25/1978
Great American Music Hall
San Francisco, CA
Soundboard > NPR radio

John Etheridge – guitar
Brian Toff – bass
Diz Disley – guitar
Stephane Grappelli – violin

Comparing it with my partial recording, the songs, arrangements, and ambience are the same, but the solos are different. Amazing to find an entire show from the same tour.

(By the way, according to Gary Chew, then Station Manager, KWGS’ first broadcast programming from NPR was in early December 1977.)

I used free 7-Zip to extract the 320 kbps .mp3 files from the .rar files.

I retitled each .mp3 with the song name. With free Mp3tag, I gave all the tracks the same Album Artist and Album name (these are key tags for Plex). I added track number tags and brief comments about content.

Mp3tag view after I finished. (Click  to enlarge)

Next I moved all the .mp3s into an “album” folder under a Stephane Grappelli folder for my Plex system, conforming to its naming and organizational conventions. Added art to Plex from the internet.

Live Stephane Grappelli 1978 NPR radio show now on my Plex system. (Click  to enlarge)

Now I can stream it to browser, smartphone, Roku or the Raspberry Pi.


Maybe my frequent playing of the tape in 1979 stuck in my brother’s mind, the sound having seeped through his bedroom wall. I like the result of this 38-year boomerang.

Detail of the “album”. (Click  to enlarge)

Custom “Reptilicus” Green skin for Windows Media Center, still working under Windows 10.

This post will be of use to those interested in Windows Media Center software as a free DVR using a USB TV tuner, HDHomeRun device, or the like.

Microsoft stopped updating their Windows Media Center software after they introduced Windows 7. It is incompatible with Windows 10. Eventually, Microsoft may move that functionality to Xbox.

However, some enterprising hobbyists figured out ways to install WMC and make it run anyhow. As of this date, the free installer program referenced below is the one to use.

The big Windows 10 Creators Update, now rolling out to users, breaks WMC, as did the previous major Anniversary Update.

But afterwards, WMC can be reinstalled, or installed for the first time with the special installer software.

WMC (which includes free program data downloads) hopefully should work until 2023 when Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 support is discontinued. (See previous post RIP Windows Media Center.)


I first used one of these installation methods to Add Windows Media Center to Win 10 on July 23, 2016. A couple of months later, this happened:

 Update, 10/4/2016:

My successful add of WMC to Win 10 was wiped out when my PC automatically received the Anniversary Update for Windows 10 Version 1607 on 9/24/2016. Tried a reinstall, but got an “Installing package failed, reverting…” message.

Using the WMC version 8.8.1 zip file and instructions in this post at MyDigitalLife, I was able to get WMC working again. You would need to create a login there to see the post.

WMC 8.8.1 has worked great.

But I recently got wind of another major Windows Update on its way, the Windows 10 Creators Update (Version 1703). If you want it early, you can make that happen by downloading the Update Assistant.

I checked recent posts on the MyDigitalLife forum and found that Creators Update does indeed break WMC. But the above-linked WMC 8.8.1 version can be successfully reinstalled after the Win 10 update.

Since I have two Win 10 PCs running WMC, I picked the faster quad-core PC for my first go.

No problems at all with the Creators Update. And all the WMC 8.8.1 files from last time were still there.

Here are my relevant notes:


Be current on Windows Update before starting with Creators Update.

If you use ServerWMC, note or take screenshots of your current settings, since you have to set up ServerWMC again from scratch. I had my pre-update PC to look at, so I didn’t need to do this.

If you already have WMC working, no need to uninstall it before Creators.

Also in that case, I recommend saving a copy of your current HOSTS file (C:\Windows\system32\drivers\etc\HOSTS). There are a couple of IP addresses at the bottom that enable WMC to download the free program guide data.

FYI, my HOSTS file contains the following lines that work in Tulsa (and possibly anywhere in the continental US):

2.16.216.176 cdn.epg.tvdownload.microsoft.com
65.55.186.113 data.tvdownload.microsoft.com

After applying Creators Update, you can uninstall/reinstall an existing WMC 8.8.1 setup as follows:

  • In your 8.8.1 folder (mine is C:\WMC-V8.8.1), right-click Uninstaller.cmd and Run As Administrator. Then reboot.
  • Run _TestRights.cmd as Admin. You should see a command prompt window. (If you don’t, reboot and retry.)
  • Run either InstallerGREEN.cmd or InstallerBLUE.cmd as Admin. (Blue is the standard WMC color, green is custom.)
  • Check your HOSTS file and make sure IP addresses are there.

You do have to go through the setup process again for WMC.

If you should have problems with the program data download phase of setup, the IP addresses in your HOSTS file may be responsible. Do a Google search for “data.tvdownload.microsoft.com” to look for other IPs if yours or the ones I gave above don’t work for you.

I again used TightVNC viewer on my laptop to remotely do the update on my two headless (no monitor or keyboard) media PCs running TightVNC server.


No need to uninstall/reinstall any WMC-associated third-party programs such as ServerWMC, My Channel Logos, or Ceton My Media Center as I needed to do for the upgrade from Win 7 to Win 10.

Cribbing my settings from the other PC, I quickly re-set up ServerWMC. (Over there, it enables my Raspberry Pi to communicate with WMC; see previous post Windows Media Center & Raspberry Pi.) The other two third-party programs needed no attention.

Emby is a free application I use with ServerWMC on this quad-core PC to stream live or recorded TV programs to my smartphone or Roku (see previous post Watch live local TV anywhere via Emby app). All I needed to do on the Emby server software was to Refresh Guide Data.


Once I got all that working, I did my other Win 10 PC in blue.

Proving there is more than one way to skin a dinosaur. 😉

I created some of these logos for the Logitech Harmony 890 remote. Note the ancient NewsNow53 logo.

Raspberry Pi TV Time Machine

I just saw this cool little TV Time Machine project for the Raspberry Pi:

“For the innards, Wellington used a cannibalised thrift store Dell monitor, hooking it up to a Raspberry Pi 2 and some second-hand speakers. After the addition of Adafruit’s video looper code to loop free content downloaded from the Internet Archive, plus some 3D-printed channel and volume knobs, the TV Time Machine was complete.”

However, we already have a TV Time Machine that can play anything available on our TiVo Roamio OTA (over-the-air):

Broadcast television today is a retro paradise: MeTV, Antenna TV, GRIT, Comet, Heroes & Icons, GetTV, COZI, etc.

The TiVo also can provide DVR recordings, any show we have on Plex, anything on Netflix or Amazon.

Our TV Time Machine in action:

We run the HDMI output of our TiVo to our big TV in the den.

But a composite output is available as well.

I connected an X10 video sender unit to this output with an RCA cable (red, white, and yellow plugs).

Whatever is playing on TiVo in the den is transmitted via the sender to the video receiver unit in the guest room, which is attached to the 1983 TV set by a standard TV coax cable.

The den TV doesn’t need to be on.

[Above left: video sender unit in den; above right: video receiver unit in the guest room. The little curved rod is an IR extender, not needed here. It can be folded down.]

Control the den TiVo remotely from the guest room with the free TiVo phone app:

I try to keep the sender off when not in use because it jams part of the crowded 2.4 GHz band used by older wifi routers; see previous post Conflict between Wifi, X10 video sender.

The X10 receiver can be on all the time. The old TV is always set on channel 3.

(Video sender/receiver pair in the TTM aStore)

Since these devices are analog, the picture looks especially good on an old analog TV.

Next up: “Police Squad!”… IN COLOR

We have all 6 “Police Squad!” and all 49 “The Outer Limits” episodes on Plex.


The official demo includes a tour of Plex’ “intergalactic headquarters”.
(No, Edward Snowden hasn’t gone to work there.)


The Echo Dot/Alexa, Amazon’s hands-free, voice-controlled device, recently acquired a new skill: Plex.

(Plex is a great, free way to make your own music/video content available on your smart TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, etc.)

I have worked with this skill quite a bit, but it doesn’t seem highly usable for me. Why?

  • You must already have a Plex app up and available for Alexa to control. If I have just used my Logitech Harmony remote to set up our Roku’s Plex channel, then the remote is a more straightforward way to make selections.
  • Even when the Plex channel is up on our Roku 3, Alexa occasionally seems to be blind to its availability. A reboot of the Roku 3 is needed to get Alexa to “see” it. (It may be more a problem with this model of Roku than with Alexa.)
  • If you have more than one Plex Media Server (we do), it’s time-consuming to get Alexa to switch servers. You must listen to a numbered list of available servers before you can respond.
  • Voice control generally works OK for movies. For TV shows, I rarely would remember the specific season and episode number. With a physical remote, you don’t need to recall anything; it’s browsable up there on the screen.
  • Asking Alexa for suggestions, or to shuffle music by an artist, or to play something new works fairly well. But it frequently takes me more than one try to get Alexa to play a specific album. Often, only one song is played from the album (maybe an Alexa bug).

The Alexa Plex skill will likely improve; this is the initial roll-out.

Note: when Alexa is controlling Plex, the music or movie sound issues from the device running the Plex app (e.g., smart TV, Roku), rather than from the Echo Dot. That’s fine if your Echo Dot is located close enough to you.

Alexa plugged into our sound system

But if your Echo Dot is plugged into a sound system playing non-Alexa sound, the Dot may be too close to the speakers for Alexa to understand without you yelling the entire command. (When Alexa herself is playing internet radio, merely the word “Alexa” gets her to mute the sound so she can hear the command.)

Then, you probably would need to use the sound-switching tactic I described in a previous post, Amazon Echo Dot as a stereo component. Or use a long cord to get the Echo Dot away from the speakers and closer to your voice.

Or, get another Echo Dot to sit within arm’s length, and change its wake word to “Echo”, “Amazon”, or “Computer”. They only cost $50.

However, two talking devices in the same room might give you app-o-Plex-y 🙂 .

“A-Plex-a” is cool and fun, though impractical for my everyday use.

If you are a Plex and Alexa user, do go ahead and try it; the price is right: $0.

Alexa Voice Commands for Plex