Updating MetaData for Windows Media Center

With Windows Media Center and all of the nice add-ins that I have installed, they don’t do much with just an ordinary file.  To get the pizzaz needed I user a couple different programs for keeping the MetaData up to date.  MetaData is details regarding the media (actors in a movie or artist in a song) either built-in to the file or saved as an XML file in the same folder location.  Be prepared to spend a few hours, like I did, on a collection of media that hasn’t been kept up even when using these time-saving tools.  Here are the different programs I have used after trying the many that are available on-line…

MetaBrowser
I use this application for gathering Movie MetaData.  It worked very well with my bulk collection and I start it up every time I get a new movie.  I use version 1 even though version 2 is out because version 1 is free and I can’t justify the cost for the rare occasions I use it.
http://themetabrowser.com/

Media Center Master
I use this application for television series.  It can scan a folder, move the file to the correct location, rename the file however you like it then download all of the data automatically.  I use the older version 1.25 as it was free and for the same reason with MetaBrowser, I can’t justify the high cost for the infrequent use.
http://www.mediacentermaster.com/

MusicBrainz Picard
I use this one for music files.  It was a little more challenging as I had more music than other media.  This handled my large collection with no problems and it even listened to the song to try to determine the artist/name of the track.
http://musicbrainz.org/

Manage your finances

I found a new FREE web services for managing your finances.  This is new to Canada so I have been actively telling everyone I know.

www.mint.com

This site is very visually appealing and easy to setup.  I had it synchronized to my bank accounts and providing useful reports in under 15 minutes.

The first comment I always get is “do you think that’s safe?”.  Well yes, otherwise I wouldn’t have signed up.  Not that isn’t always reassuring to everyone I know so I tell them what I have found out:
I have been using Quicken for some time to manage my finances.  Quicken is made by Intuit which is also makes QuickBooks.  There has been a Quicken On-line version for a while but I never could justify upgrading from the perfectly working version I had already paid for.  Well for whatever reason Quicken On-line became Mint.com and was made free.  They are free because they have advertising and offer suggestions for other services based on your banking that could lower service fees and interest payments.  Anyways, I am sure that if there was some malicious activity going on this site they would likely prefer to steal some business’ financial information more so than seeing how much I paid for groceries last month.

My only complaint was that I could not import my years of Quicken data.  I figure that I will use both for a while until I have built up enough history in Mint.

My Add-ins for Windows Media Center

Windows Media Center is a very cool product.  It does need some fine tweaking to get it working “extremely cool”.  As I have previously mentioned I use “Media Center Extenders” for viewing my content around the house so having add-ins that work with extenders are a must.  Here are my “must have” add-ins for every new install…

Media Browser
This has got to be the best TV & Movie navigating addition.  It adds a visually cool interface that blows away other media players like PS3, WDTV and similar.
http://www.mediabrowser.tv/

MacroTube
This is the only YouTube players that works within Media Center and on Extenders.  It is a great little add-in and that also introduced me to some other on-line streaming content.  It is a bit slow and YouTube content looks pretty bad but it does the job.
http://thegreenbutton.com/forums/t/86771.aspx

Media Center Studio
I use this tool for customizing the user interface.  It’s not that it looks bad, it’s just that it is fun to change the text, re-arranging icons and customizing backgrounds.  Once I found the option for “Entry Points” that would link directly into Media Browser folders, I was then complete.
http://adventmediacenter.com/

Shark007
Not all file formats play properly but I still think that Media Center has the most options of playable content compared to other media streamers.  To fill in the gaps I use this collection of codecs to get almost anything to play.  I have found one issue with MKVs on the XBox, where it will not play properly if they have sub titles or DTS sound, but I can work around this for now.
http://shark007.net/

My Channel Logos
The TV Guide and PVR features with Meida Center are where I think it stands out the most.  The Guide data however has poor labels for channels such as Fox29 shows as WUTV.  I can’t remember the call letters for all the channels.  This tool replaces those plain grey call letters with the proper colourful logo for the channel.
http://www.mychannellogos.com/

If you want some specifics on how I set any of these up, let me know.
For more reading on your own and other options I frequently watch these sites…
http://www.hack7mc.com/
http://thegreenbutton.net/forums/

Windows Media Center

For anyone not using Windows Media Center, try it!

I am a big fan of this product and have been using it since Windows XP Media Center came out.   I have a main computer in my basement where Windows 7 Ultimate is installed as well as a couple tuners.  We don’t really use Media Center here and the computer is use more for web browsing and the like.  I then have 2 Xbox’s and until recently use them strictly as “Media Center Extenders” in the bedroom and family room.   This has been the best setup I have been able to put together and keep finding myself less than impressed with other home theatre setups.

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-media-center/get-started/default.aspx