Raspberry Pi

All posts tagged Raspberry Pi

Windows Media Center running on my PC after free upgrade to Windows 10! Note the logos, some of which I created.

Windows Media Center running again on my PC after the free upgrade to Windows 10.

The free Microsoft offer to upgrade PCs on Windows 7 & 8 to Windows 10 ends on July 29.

I use Windows Media Center as a free DVR. I had planned to skip the upgrade in order to keep WMC, since Windows 10 doesn’t support it. (See previous post RIP Windows Media Center (in 5-8 yrs).)

But last week, as the deadline approached, I got to wondering again if there was any way to keep WMC going under Win 10. Turns out there is!

Look for DavidinCT’s post of 4/8/2016 about midway down this Windows Central Forums page. There is a better WMC installer: see the update just below.

Download the WMC zip file appropriate for your PC, unzip it, and read the directions closely before starting.

Update, 10/4/2016:

My successful add of WMC to Win 10 per the above method was wiped out when my PC automatically received the Anniversary Update for Windows 10 Version 1607 for x64-based Systems (KB3176936) on 9/24/2016. Tried a reinstall, but got an “Installing package failed, reverting…” message.

Using the WMC version 8.8.1 zip file referenced 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.

I upgraded to Win 10, then installed WMC with the download. There were hitches reinstalling the following three WMC-associated third-party programs, which I solved. But all YOU would need to do to avoid these problems is simply uninstall the first two before doing the Win 10 upgrade, then reinstall them afterwards. (As I did on my second desktop PC.)

ServerWMC – feeds data and video to my Raspberry Pi for viewing and control through OSMC/Kodi. In order to reinstall it on Win 10, I was forced to locate its original .msi install/uninstall file. It was in the folder “Windows.old” created by the Win 10 upgrade. (This folder is needed if you want to roll back to the original Win 7 or 8 installation.)

My Channel Logos – a useful program that populates the WMC TV schedule grid with network logos (you can add custom logos, too). Again, had trouble reinstalling because it wanted to see the the original .msi file, but this time, I couldn’t find it. Used the free version of the Revo Uninstaller program to remove the old version of MyChannel Logos so I could do a successful reinstall.

One further tip: my previous custom logos were in C:\ProgramData\MyChannelLogos. I did have the foresight before the new install to change the name of the existing MyChannelLogos directory to MMMyChannelLogos so it wouldn’t be overwritten. Afterward, I moved my custom logos to the new Custom directory under MyChannelLogos.

Ceton My Media Center – allows the corresponding smartphone app to control and program WMC remotely. It took me awhile to realize that it was still there under Win 10, just no icon or program was visible (even in Control Panel/Programs and Features). Found it by typing “Ceton My Media Center” in the new Win 10 desktop search box. Pinned the “app”, as Win 10 calls programs, to the start menu.

Problems like the above (though I haven’t run into any others yet) are why you ultimately might want to do a new clean install of Win 10 after the upgrade. Microsoft allows you to burn ISO image files to a DVD for this purpose, should the need or desire arise. I created DVDs for all three of my computers. The tool is downloadable on this Microsoft Win 10 page. I’m too lazy to reinstall without a compelling reason, but it’s good to have the option.

Other notes:

  • I ran TightVNC viewer on my laptop to remotely upgrade my two desktop media PCs, which were running TightVNC server. No need to attach a monitor and keyboard, even during installation, and the several reboots.
  • WMC programming data for the TV listing grid is provided free by Microsoft from Rovi (also see previous post TiVo to be acquired by Rovi (Tulsa roots) ). My guess is that the data will become unavailable by 2020 or 2023, but if you still have the PC, at least you will be on Win 10, which Microsoft will support through 2025.
  • Personally, I like Win 10 better than Win 7, and much better than Win 8. The app “charms” have been tamed and are actually useful now. But if you dislike Win 10, you can revert back to Win 7 or 8 within 30 days of your upgrade.
  • Some PC models are not approved for Win 10 upgrade. I learned this when I tried and failed with a Dell Latitude E6420 owned by one of our nephews. Here is Dell’s page listing their Computers tested for upgrade to Windows 10. If you have problems, check with your PC’s manufacturer.

Think it over fast, the free upgrade opportunity goes away after July 29!

RadioIDL, a favorite on OSMC/Kodi

RadioIDL, favorited on my Raspberry Pi running free OSMC/Kodi software in our theater room

Home theater isn’t only about electronic and computer gear, and it isn’t only about video.

I found a worthy local online radio station, RadioIDL.com (for Inner Dispersal Loop).

The programming is mostly blues, and includes locally-based artists such as Cindy Cain.

Here’s what I have been listening to for the past 25 minutes:

08:08:34 Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials – S.D. Jones
08:05:42 Sonny Boy Williamson – Better Cut That Out
08:00:09 The Allman Brothers Band – Melissa (live)
07:57:11 Freddy King – It’s Too Bad Things Are Going So Tough
07:53:58 James Cotton – Midnight_Train_w/Gregg_Allman
07:53:51 RadioIDL Tulsa Urban Wilderness Colin
07:51:40 Howlin’ Wolf – Shake for Me
07:48:47 Joe Turner – I Get The Blues When It Rains
07:45:46 Cindy Cain – Papa Let Me
07:42:12 Lonnie Mack; Stevie Ray Vaughan – Double Whammy

RadioIDL also has its own local talk shows: City of Giants with Michael Patton, and The InnerLoopers with Mark Barcus and Mary Morrison Barcus.

Some of the ways to listen:

    Go to RadioIDL.com and listen via browser or pop-out player.

    Set up an account with Tunein and add RadioIDL as a favorite.

    Get the Tunein Android or Apple app.

    On Roku, add the Tunein Channel (free).

    If you have a Raspberry Pi running OSMC like I do (see image at top), get the Tunein add-on, then make RadioIDL a favorite for the device.

    Also, RadioIDL is coming soon to iHeartRadio, which would make it accessible on TiVo’s iHeart app.

If you are a blues fan, you don’t need to be from Tulsa to appreciate RadioIDL!

Give it a try. I find it a refreshing change of pace.

Albert the surf cat

Albert, as seen from above the Laz-E-Boy

Echoes_Waves

Albert, our neighbor’s cat, decided to cool off on my Laz-E-Boy chair in our media room today.

The ceiling fan was on, as was “Echoes of Nature: Ocean Waves”, an environmental recording on CD I had ripped to my laptop Windows 7 PC.

I used the Raspberry Pi computer running free PleXBMC software to pipe it in from the PC, in 6-channel stereo. I also put the album on continuous play.

He really seems to appreciate it.

Windows Media Center's days are numbered

Windows Media Center’s days are numbered

(Update: Yes, you can Add Windows Media Center to Win 10! — 7/23/2016 post)

Microsoft just announced a few days ago that they are discontinuing support for Windows Media Center software in Windows 10.

Windows 7 has WMC as a free feature. Windows 8.1 has it available as a paid add-on. Support for Win 7 ends in 2020, Win 8.1 in 2023.

If you try to run WMC under Win 10, you will get the message above.

I hate this. But Microsoft is planning to make its Xbox their replacement for WMC. Read all about in in this article at TechHive: Windows Media Center is dying. Here’s how the Xbox can replace it.

In the theater room (or maybe I should call it the media room to keep with current usage), I have a Win 7 computer with WMC software recording my shows as a DVR. A little Raspberry Pi  computer acts as my front end to the Win 7 computer to get the shows onto the TV. WMC has been very reliable.

(A Pi or another box is unnecessary if your PC has an HDMI port; just plug your Windows PC directly into your TV to use WMC. The Pi has been a bit flaky, honestly; just today I had to restore it due to its USB stick getting corrupted by a brief power outage from an exploding transformer. However, it launched me into this whole arena of home theater, and I have learned a huge amount by working with it.)

So in 5 years, WMC will no longer be supported on my old PC (it was my mom’s cast-off). I could still run it without support, but the PC would no longer get security updates from Microsoft. I suppose I could also run Windows 7 as a virtual machine under Windows 10, but that might be compounding the kludge factor a bit much, even for me. I also doubt it would be satisfactory, because the program listing data that is free as part of WMC will probably go away, too.

An alternative I tried before getting on board with WMC is the free NextPVR. It runs on Windows and works similarly with the Pi. The downside is that you need a pay subscription to program listing data from Schedules Direct or the like, which as a card-carrying cheapskate, I eschewed.

There are other ways besides NextPVR.

The free TVHeadend software runs on Kodi (the new name for XBMC, the media center software originally created for Xbox). It was the first thing I tried on the Raspberry Pi, but I couldn’t get it to recognize the Hauppauge USB TV tuner I had, so I skipped it. There is also MythTV, which I haven’t tried.

Anyway, 5 years is an eon in computer years, so I won’t worry.

TiVo Roamio OTA

TiVo Roamio OTA. Click to enlarge.

We cut the TV cable a week ago.

(See Cord-cutting status report #1 for our previous cord-cutting actions.)

I had paid attention to how Gaye watches TV in the den, her usual hangout. The main thing she needed was ease in recording, viewing, and instant-replaying network series such as General Hospital, The Bachelor, Modern Family, etc.

A TiVo Roamio OTA 4-tuner DVR did the trick (OTA = over the air). After experiencing the snappy and intuitive user interface for a few days, she asked when we were cutting the cable. I turned in the cable DVR/tuner box a few days later. The WAF is strong!

Another key to success was the TiVo “Peanut” remote. It’s compact, logically laid out and uncluttered. It uses RF (radio frequency) rather than infrared, so you don’t need to aim. It includes buttons for your TV Power, Volume, and Input. There is a 30-second-ahead button and an 8-second-back button for getting through commercials quickly, or rewatching a particular scene.

Setup was easy, though it took 20 minutes or so.

The Program Guide is visually similar to the one on our old cable DVR. But it can also display the data in other useful styles. For example, your favorite channels alone can be displayed, which is helpful when you are looking for shows to record. Program data is downloaded by the TiVo via either wifi or Ethernet connection.

“Season Pass”“OnePass” is the TiVo term for series recording. It offers more options than the cable box did, and they are better organized.

Recorded TV series episodes are grouped in folders by series name. You can display Movies or Sports or Kids or News and Business. There is also a large selection of other categories such as HD, Comedy, Drama, Documentary, Sci-Fi, etc., which can be selected singly or multiply.

The Roamio OTA has 500 GB storage for recorded shows. You can plug in an eSATA external hard drive for extra storage if you wish.

The free TiVo smartphone app shows you what’s on to watch or record, and gives you a second remote.

The cord-cutter’s rub: the Roamio OTA exacts a $15/mo charge for program data and updates. But I find it easy to rationalize:

The cable company charged $12/mo for DVR service. In order to get DVR service, we also had to add “Advanced TV” for $3/mo extra. There’s the $15. That doesn’t even include $8.50/mo for the cable DVR/tuner.

If you were aiming to replace broadcast TV recording with Hulu Plus, you would pay $8/mo. Hulu Plus forces you to watch repetitive commercials, has a poor user interface, and rewinds awkwardly at best. It’s worth $7/mo more not to endure that.

I am a cost-averse cord-cutter, but there is the ideal (no monthly cost), and there is the practical. Windows Media Center via Raspberry Pi works well for me in our theater room, and costs nothing per month, but complex setups can and do have issues occasionally. Microsoft’s commitment to WMC is tepid. I like to tinker, Gaye doesn’t. TiVo is like a reliable car with good cup holders. WMC/Pi might break down and require a change of spark plugs or tires while on the road.

I have the setup I like, she has the setup she likes. Peaceful coexistence at minimal cost.

More to come.