Saturday, October 1, 2011

Windows Media Center PC (Breaking the Shackles of Cable)

After years of thinking and talking about, I've finally got a Media PC (also called HTPC or Home Theater PC) up and running.  I had been waiting for this and that, but as with all things technology, you have to just jump in the pool at some point.  I went the less-cred/much easier route of building around Windows Media Center instead of building an XBMC box.  Yeah, you can customize the hell out of XBMC, but I know I'm going to be using a Win 7 PC, and I'd like my girlfriend and guests to easily be able to use the system, so WMC it is.

  • MOBO with many internal SATA ports (at least 6), Gigabit ethernet, and many external USB/eSata ports, and I decided on a motherboard with on-board HDMI video instead of an additional video card (one less component to buy and manage)
  • 128GB SSD for system drive
  • multiple 2GB hard drives for file storage (in RAID or just as is)
  • Hauppauge 1250 tuner card with remote (yes it works to control Windows Media Center)
  • As many silent fans as your case will accommodate (I've got six fans in mine, and it's still pretty quiet)
  • BluRay/DVD/CD burner
  • Windows 7 Professional (thus Windows Media Center)
  • AVG antivirus
  • MalwareBytes (anti Malware)
  • Launchy (I don't like shortcut icons cluttering my desktop)
  • iTunes
  • Airport Utility (for streaming audio to a Mac Airport via iTunes or Airfoil)
  • Hulu Desktop (I’ve actually stopped using this, because I like watching Hulu with AdBlock in Firefox)
  • Hulu Desktop Windows Media Center plug-in (again, no longer using because I don’t use Hulu Desktop anymore)
  • Amazon Unbox (for playing Amazon Instant rentals and purchases in WMC -doesn't work for instant streaming; to my knowledge, nothing does)
  • DVD Decrypter I’ve switched to HD Decrypter; it breaks a lot more encryption (for ripping purchased DVD's to my hard drive)
  • AdBlock Video (doesn't work for Hulu Desktop, but it's great for eliminating commercials when viewing browser-based Hulu, NBC, CBS, etc. via Firefox)
  • uTorrent
  • TED (Torrent Episode Downloader)
Why your Hauppauge remote isn't working: chances are the infrared cable's not plugged in all the way. The cable likely has an eight of an inch more to go before it will work.  You'll hear it "click" when it's actually in all the way; it may feel a little like you're forcing it (because you are), but this is the trick!

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