WMC

All posts tagged WMC

Browser view. I was able to fix the database’s misspelling in Track 3’s title with Mp3tag. (Click to enlarge)

I probably was drawn to listen to the original “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” soundtracks this week due to my last few posts subconsciously reminding me of that 1964 spy show’s gadgetry.

Some time back, I bought the three U.N.C.L.E. soundtrack packages (2 CDs each) from Film Score Monthly. They were compiled by Jon Burlingame, who also wrote the detailed booklets included in each set. The scores by Jerry Goldsmith, Morton Stevens, Walter Scharf, Lalo Schifrin, Gerald Fried, Robert Drasnin and Richard Shores still sound great.

I can hardly stand to put CDs into a player at this point, preferring to rip them once to my Plex server for anytime, anywhere use with Plex apps in Roku, my smartphone, or the Raspberry Pi/OSMC. My mental set has changed, as when TV came in and altered peoples’ relationship to radio.

Plex Chromecast’d from phone app to the big system.

It’s especially difficult to physically handle these sets, as 2-CD jewel boxes seem prone to breakage and droppage. Also, the fat little booklets (important for full enjoyment of the music) do not enjoy being extracted from or replaced in the cases.

I had previously ripped these CDs with Windows Media Player, but the result was a mess. WMP’s tagging of the .mp3 files was inconsistent, possibly due to the sets being limited editions. This made them poorly organized under Plex.

By now, I know about Plex naming conventions, and use a free tool, Mp3tag, to add/change the tags embedded in each .mp3. So I was ready to try again.


The first problem is with Plex seeing each CD of the pair as a separate album. To solve it:

  • Rip the first CD of the set. Then open up Mp3tag and display the folder containing the .mp3 files. Mp3tag shows you a tag called “discnumber”.
  • Select all the tracks, make their discnumber=1 and save.
  • Do the same with the ripped tracks from the second disc, making those tracks discnumber=2.
  • Then you can move all the .mp3s into a single folder, and Plex will see it as a single album with 2 CDs.

In addition, Plex needed a couple of tags to be fixed:

The “Album” and “Album Artist” tags are key.

I had to experiment with the “Album” tag. Windows Media Player had tagged it “The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Vol. 1 [Original Soundtrack Album] Disc 1” (and then Disc 2), which confused Plex, even after removing the “Disc 1/2″ part of the tag.

Ultimately, in Mp3tag, I changed all the tracks to Album=”The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Vol. 1″ and Album Artist=”Various Artists”. The latter is a catchall solution for compilation albums, and soundtrack albums not entirely composed of tracks from a single artist.

Windows Media Player had also filed the album folder under Music/Soundtrack. To correspond with my retagging, I moved all the tracks to a folder I named “The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Vol. 1″ (same as the Album tag) under the already-existing Music/Various Artists folder.

Mp3tag revealed that the music already was tagged Genre=”Soundtrack”, which is good enough for my purposes, so I deleted the now-empty Soundtracks folder.

I repeated the above for Volumes 2 and 3.

Using Mp3tag free software to fix tags for Vol.3. I dragged the key tags into view. (Click to enlarge)

The album art Plex selected for each album was a bit grainy. If you can find (or scan) a higher-resolution version, you can edit the album in Plex and add the new art under “Poster”. I also added a landscape-oriented Background image of the U.N.C.L.E. logo for each album.

(FYI, most CDs rip correctly with no alteration needed. These were exceptions.)


Not yet content, I wanted to keep all the album booklets together for use while listening.

I repurposed a UPS mailer, printing and gluing on an image found via Google.

(I always wondered why Napoleon Solo’s badge was #11, while Illya was #2. No mystery about Mr. Waverly being #1. If Solo ever complained, maybe Illya pointed out in mock solace that “11” in binary is 3 in decimal.)

Back in the dot-matrix printer era (the 1990s), I printed out an excellent online U.N.C.L.E. TV episode guide, written by Bill Koenig. At that time, I went so far as to bind it into a homemade U.N.C.L.E. folder. With the new packet,  I have a dossier.

(This guide is available at SpyCommandFeatures.wordpress.com with additional articles about the show. I added a shortcut to my phone for even easier reference.)

Homemade episode guide and CD booklet folder


Heroes & Icons (Tulsa channel 41.4) has been playing “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” I have recorded all but 4 of the 105 episodes to hard drive with my Raspberry Pi/OSMC/Windows Media Center setup. The remaining 4 should be coming up within the next month.

My next project may be to remove the commercials and convert them to .mp4 format with MCEBuddy.


Previous U.N.C.L.E. research from Tulsa TV Memories:

The T-Town Affair

U.N.C.L.E., SAGE, SABRE, Strangelove & Tulsa: Connections

And, U.N.C.L.E. HQ in the TTM aStore

Emby Live TV 4

Watching Gilligan's Island on Android phone Emby app. (Click each pic to enlarge.)

Emby Live TV 1Emby Live TV 2Emby Live TV 3

A nice benefit of knowledge gained through cord-cutting:

Watching our own over-the-air (OTA) TV and DVR recordings on Roku at home, or on a phone or tablet anywhere in the world.


I recently upgraded a quad-core Windows 7 PC in our home office to Windows 10, then added back the now-unsupported Windows Media Center. (See previous post Add Windows Media Center to Win 10!).

We had an extra USB TV tuner from a past attempt to give Gaye the ability to watch OTA TV on her work PC. It proved too big a hassle for her to both do work on the PC and have the TV window up. The tuner had been unemployed for a few years. (She has a now-cheap LCD TV in her business office.)

Over-the-door antenna, attached to USB TV tuner plugged into PC

Over-the-door antenna, attached to USB TV tuner plugged into PC (click to enlarge)

To test Windows Media Center on the Win 10 PC, I had attached an unamplified Winegard antenna to the USB TV tuner, placed the antenna on top of our home office door, then plugged the tuner into the PC.

I first set up Windows Media Center, then ServerWMC, free software that allows other computers and apps to see program listings, live TV and recordings from the WMC PC.

(I have been doing this for the last two years in our theater room with another PC; see previous post Windows Media Center & Raspberry Pi.)

Seven local stations (including MeTV, Gaye’s go-to) came in strongly with this hastily improvised setup.

I didn’t diddle around with placing the antenna for better reception of the other channels. Maybe later.

Update, 10/6/2016:

WMC disappeared when my PC received the Anniversary Update for Windows 10 on 9/24/2016. I was able to get WMC working again; see my notes added to previous post Add Windows Media Center to Win 10!.

However, the driver for the old USB TV tuner is no longer supported, so I just ordered a $20 Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-950 from eBay to replace it. In the meantime, I can still see and play any shows I had previously recorded with Emby.

(Update 10/17/2016: The Hauppauge tuner worked great for all local channels! See the comment I added for this post.)

As long as you have WMC on any version of Windows, you should be able to get Emby working with WMC as follows.


Emby (formerly known as MediaBrowser) is a free media center program with its own Roku channel and smartphone app.

I remembered that Emby was supposed to serve up live TV, unlike its otherwise similar competitor, Plex. I had previously installed Emby as well as Plex on the PC (they don’t interfere with each other).

With all the pieces in place, it was a good time to give live TV a try.

Using the Emby server’s browser interface on the PC, I activated Emby’s own ServerWMC plugin. It enabled the Emby server to talk to ServerWMC on that PC.

(Nice setup guide: Stream Live TV with Emby and ServerWMC)

Thanks to my previous experience with both ServerWMC and Emby, it was not difficult to get all this working.

I went to the Emby channel on one of our Rokus, and found that the seven stations looked so good, you couldn’t tell they weren’t coming in via direct antenna. Likewise with WMC DVR recordings: perfect.

The secret of this perfection is in Emby’s transcoding.

Broadcast TV is in the MPEG-2 format, which is bulky and unforgiving of internet streaming. Emby automatically transcodes (converts) the video to .MP4, which Roku and most apps of all kinds have no trouble dealing with. That’s where the powerful quad-core PC shines; it has the processing power to do this conversion on the fly. (Our theater room PC has a weak though adequate-for-its-purpose Celeron 450 processor.)

I tried the Emby app on my wifi-only smartphone. Worked great. I ultimately restricted Windows Media Center to only the seven good stations, since trying to stream the poor reception channels tended to hang ServerWMC (and bad channels are no fun to watch anyway).

I set up WMC to DVR “The Bob Newhart Show” on MeTV, and “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” on Heroes and Icons, so we would have something to watch on the bedroom Roku if nothing good was on.

Then I wondered how it would work on a smartphone outside the range of our wifi router.

At a party last Friday, I tried it on Gaye’s iPhone. It failed, due to not being able to reach the server on our home PC.

To fix this, I set up port forwarding on our router to allow external connectivity to our Emby server.

“…you’ll need to open the web interface for your router, and forward TCP Port 8096 on your router to port 8096 on the Emby Server machine.” (see Emby Setup Port Forwarding note).

After I texted Gaye this week to give it a try when she had a chance, she reported that she was watching “Gunsmoke” while driving!

Obviously, watching TV while driving is not a good practice, even though we once played “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (downloaded to phone via Plex) during a round trip to OSU to visit a nephew.

Our timing was great; as the final credit rolled, we pulled back into our garage.

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.

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.

More about this particular Unofficial Windows 10 Port at Wikipedia.

Was the Windows 10 upgrade worth it in retrospect? Probably not, except as a learning experience, which it certainly was. Here’s to the next big Windows 10 update, if there is one, not creating quite so much labor. 😉

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!

OSMC 15.2

The free Open Source Media Center software installing on my $35 Raspberry Pi in the theater room.

Goodbye Raspbmc and XBMC, hello OSMC and Kodi!

I’d held off on the free software upgrade due to not wanting to lose my PleXBMC installation on Raspbmc “Gotham”, the last version of that software before it was superseded by OSMC this year. But some SD card/USB stick corruption issues suggested to me that the time was right to overcome my laziness.

The transition went smoothly yesterday. I again have access to all my DVR’d shows on a Windows Media Center computer by reinstalling the free ServerWMC add-on software. I also have a nice Plex client again on the Pi with a more recent version of the free PleXBMC add-on. (See previous post Windows Media Center & Raspberry Pi.)

By now, I have other well-functioning Plex clients on Roku boxes and Chromecast, as well as on smartphone and tablet. So it wouldn’t have been a crisis not to have Plex on the Pi; I just like the slick Raspbmc/OSMC interface that brings together TV, movies, music, internet radio, photos, and even a news crawl and Yahoo local weather.

Valuable and unique free TV content available through OSMC includes ESPN3 in HD, and CBSN, CBS’ new 24/7 online HD news channel. (Later note: the latter is also available on Roku, I discovered.)


Raspbmc was an adaptation of the Xbox Media Center (XBMC) software for the little Raspberry Pi computer. It was done by Sam Nazarko, then an 18-year-old student in the UK.

From http://kodi.wiki/view/OSMC:

“OSMC (short for Open Source Media Center) is a Linux distribution based on Debian that brings Kodi to a variety of devices. It is the successor to Raspbmc and Crystalbuntu.

“OSMC is an embedded, minimal, self updating Linux distributing which ships a Kodi front-end for a variety of devices. The project was founded by Sam Nazarko in 2014 and is maintained by a group of volunteers in their spare time.”

(For my own future reference, my Raspberry Pi 1 Model B is now on OSMC 2015.09-3 running Kodi 15.2, kernel: Linux 3.2.3-3-osmc Linux 4.2.3-3-osmc; PleXBMC 3.6.1, PleXBMC Helper 3.4.2, and ServerWMC 0.5.8.)


Sam Nazarko

Sam Nazarko

Back in July, I commented on TTM@Facebook: “Sam resembles Dr. Sheldon Cooper in appearance, but both Sam and OSMC are a lot more stable.”

Sam replied: “That.. made me laugh so much. Unfortunately you’re not the first person to suggest the similar appearance either…”

Congratulations, well done, Sam and company!

(Added 10/22/2015: See my new comment on previous post The missing context button for a new and easier way to restore that function to your remote.)

In the year+ I’ve been writing this blog, we’ve tried a lot of cord-cutting measures. It might be useful to review the ones that were less than totally successful.

Most of the following items could work for others; here’s why they didn’t for us (links to relevant past posts are in parentheses).


1. Mediasonic HomeWorx Digital TV Converter Box with PVR (see Eliminate a cable box)

We bought our 36″ tube HDTV new in 2002 to use with cable. It does not have a built-in TV tuner, so in order to cut the cord, we needed a converter box to get digital TV with an antenna. This particular box cost only $35, and also had the capability of recording shows on a USB drive. I delusionally dreamed this could replace the cable DVR service.

But it was simply too clunky and kludgy as a PVR (DVR) to inflict on my wife. Doing so would probably have dealt a fatal blow to my cord-cutting ambitions. So it moved to the bedroom to serve as a digital tuner only. The price was still good for that use only. I finally traded it to a friend when we replaced the bedroom TV.

2. Cheap Component-to-HDMI converter (see Replace the old TV?)

We had already cut the cord with a TiVo Roamio OTA, but were watching the 36″ tube TV using the lower quality composite input (yellow, red, & white plugs) with TiVo. That was because the TV has only composite, component and S-video inputs, rather than the HDMI needed for the best quality TiVo connection.

I ordered two different HDMI-to-component video converters in succession from Amazon, but neither worked worth a hoot. I learned that the cheapest one on the market that would totally work was the HDFury Gamer 2, and it wasn’t that cheap.

Most people would probably be better served by getting a new TV, but I wasn’t ready to tote that still-working 217 lb. TV to Best Buy for recycling (see Best Buy accepts 3 dead electronics items per day).

3. Raspberry Pi/Windows Media Center PC as DVR (see The Life of (Raspberry) Pi)

I hardly attempted to get my wife to use this; the Pi/Windows combo is not casual user friendly, and is prone to periodic hiccups of various sorts. But I’ve learned a lot from it, and WMC captures TV shows reliably in a format that can be converted to .mp4 (unlike TiVo See JJ’s comments and links below; you CAN pull videos from TiVo with the free pyTiVo program!)

If you have a PC with an HDMI output, you could plug it directly into the TV and use WMC without the Pi. But Windows 8 is the last version to support WMC, so you would be out of luck by 2023, 2020 for Windows 7 (see RIP Windows Media Center (in 5-8 yrs)).

4. Roku Highlights online document (see Our post-cord-cutting TV menu)

This is a list of all the Roku channels with the content of current interest to us. It is in the form of a Google Doc, so I can look at it and update it from tablet, smartphone or browser. The idea was to remind us of all the shows we might watch, and which device or channel they’re on.

It’s fine as MY doc, not so much OURS. Gaye just doesn’t approach TV that way. I do, so I serve as the TV butler, verbally reading from the list when needed.

Since my original post, I have periodically updated the doc and added the content available via Chromecast and Raspberry Pi as well. All to aid my own memory.

5. Antenna placement (see Mohu Sky 60 antenna review & The Riddle of COZI)

(Click to enlarge)

I had the Video Revolution installer place the outdoor antenna on the highest, easternmost point of our house, in hopes of getting the best all-around signals. (He found the height daunting, but if it hadn’t been, I would have tried it myself.)

As it turned out, reception was generally very good. But a few of the higher frequency stations suffered when spring brought foliage and wind. Our street is downhill from the affected stations, so there was no way to put the antenna high enough to avoid the trees.

One other corner of our house might have had a better shot at less obstruction to the east (where a majority of network stations are for us). We don’t know. But it may well have had problems with other stations, even if it slightly improved the Coweta stations.

Ideally, I would have experimented a bit more. But due to the sheer height/steepness of our roof and the lack of attic access, that would have been difficult. With the installer’s meter running, and seeing good reception on all stations that day in March, I locked it in.

This summer, all channels have been consistently good.

6. A|B switch with set-top antenna (see Mohu Curve 50 antenna & COZI in the den)

(Also tried in the spring) The switch selected between the roof-mounted Mohu Sky 60 antenna, and the Curve 50 sitting on the TV. The idea was that when one station’s reception suffered due to the usual factors (wind, trees blocking the signal), another antenna sometimes did a better job.

In practice, it just didn’t work well enough or often enough to mess with it. Not the Curve’s fault; there was just no consistent good placement for it within the space restrictions imposed by the den TV’s location.

7. Hulu Plus (see Streaming video as cable substitute)

In short, we love Netflix, and Amazon Prime to a lesser degree, but Hulu Plus not at all. We dropped it.

After going with a TiVo Roamio OTA as our DVR, Hulu Plus would have been almost superfluous anyway.

A major key to cord-cutting success was reliably delivering daily episodes of “General Hospital” that could easily be rewound, jumped-back, and reviewed, and Hulu wasn’t it.

I found Hulu’s interface poor and the commercials annoying.

8. Powerline to connect a TiVo Mini to the TiVo host box (see The fruits of cord-cutting: new TVs, TiVo Mini, comments)

I successfully used a long Ethernet cable to connect the TiVo Mini in the kitchen to the TiVo Roamio OTA in the den, as recommended. (The other recommended way is MoCA, multimedia over coax.)

I then replaced the cable with a Powerline adapter, a way to send data packets over your house wiring (see Powerline vs. Ethernet wiring). This was an attempt to eliminate the wire.

It worked for a time, but started taking too many errors to be acceptable. I returned to the long Ethernet cable, and did the same when we added another Mini in the theater room.

A Powerline adapter effectively delivers internet access to the Roamio, and thus to the Minis too, but it isn’t quite up the job of moving the video data.

9. Finding ways to provide the cable shows my wife can’t live without (or just wants)

I was really worried about this, so I tried a number of things:

— Plex channels (see Free Plex channels = cable substitutes? and NBC/msnbc discontinuing video podcasts)

— VCRing  a lot of “Survivorman” before cutting the cable.

— Plex personal media content (see  007 24/7 on Plex Media Server) such as my wife’s favorite Sunday night shows, “Keeping Up Appearances” and “Fawlty Towers”, and Saturday fave, “The Outer Limits”. I also ripped our favorite movies from DVD for Plex.

Of those three items, only the latter proved to be of use to her.


The things that DID work will be in a future post. A high wife acceptance factor (WAF), as always, is primary.