Wednesday, March 28, 2012

project: HTPC nerdbox - tv shows and anime

BOOOO what a shame! the movie sets feature doesnt work with tv shows. i've also confirmed this on the xbmc forums. i guess i'll have all my anime thrown in with my tv shows if i plan on keeping the library features mentioned in the prevous post.

i've got a separate playlist in the main menu for direct access to anime so that'll have to do. theres a huge thread of requests to have tv grouping but it looks like there wont be anything to do this for a while.

OH well! im going to get my whole library up and running tonight...

then i can finally start to work on remote control access

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

project: HTPC nerdbox - xbmc library limitations

For the last few days i've been loading up my media library onto xbmc. while its been going quite smoothly i have discovered some of the library limitations within xbmc and its skins.

first off, if movies and tv shows are all you need then the library is more than enough to sort you out. but what about sports events and anime ?. i dont really consider these movies or tv shows so where the hell do you put these?

when you load these into your xbmc library you are given a choice of either tv show or movie category. once you do this, the events and anime will crop up under your movie or tv show libraries! though the information is scraped properly and associated art is added.. they just dont belong in these categories!

to solve this there are 2 main alternatives that people seem to use:

Favourite folders - where you add the file folder as a favourite then add this to your main menu. this means that you can separate your movies but a downside is that your restricted to the list view... a view that i dont like using haha

Smart playlists - this is actually pretty cool, you can create a query based playlist that will pickup the movies or files you want which you can then add as a new menu. it will also allow you to use the many views available in your skin.

while these are good solutions there is a problem when using these.. you lose the information and sorting functionality found in the tv and movie menus (probably something only i care about). this means you cant browse by title/genre/director etc. not a huge biggie for most users but i'd like to have the freedom of searching something with a specific genre and see library info shown in the red boxes below.

deciding on the best solution left me with a headache.. until i came across "movie sets" in xbmc! so say you have a collection of movies eg. rocky 1-5. rather than have them as separate movies you can group them together into a set where the movies are part of a parent set. this got me thinking .. why dont i create a set for my ufc collection so that all events are grouped into that set that can be accessed in the movies menu. not only will this allow me to keep the neat movies/tv shows menus and not clutter them with the ufc events but it will also allow me to search it by genre and other categories! I will also create a smart playlist so that UFC can be accessed as a separate menu on the main page.

i followed the tutorial below to create the movie set. I recommend that you also export the thumbnails and fanart. it'll make life easier when you reload your vids back into the library

i then created a playlist to pick up all the ufc vids. (based on the below)

note: on Windows 7, your playlists and xbmc setting files are stored in c:\users\"your username"\appdata\roaming\xbmc

once that was created, i refreshed the library and YOSHHHH!!! i've got the new menu pointing to my ufc collection and still retain a clean movie menu without clutter.
next is to see if the same set will work for TV shows...

while i like this solution there is a drawback (damn why cant it be perfect!). i will need to export the library nfo files for any new UFC vid or new anime series i want to add to xbmc so i can attach them to their respective sets. i think theres some apps that can take care of this in a quicker way .. but i cbf'd looking and testing them.

it's not a huge pain but involves some extra work on my part... being neat sure has its price lol.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

project: HTPC nerdbox - 10bit h264 + xbmc

once again hellsing ultimate seems to put codecs and video playback to the test. this time its the 10bit h264 1080p encode of ova 9. when trying to play on xbmc the video is choppy and unwatchable at times.

heres an example.. (taken from xbmc forums)

looks like the version of ffdshow thats compiled with xbmc is not 10bit compatible. to get around this a guy named bambi73 compiled a version of xbmc 11.0 with newer ffshow codecs to support the encode. i've installed this and it plays perfectly! its not an official release of xbmc so it may contain some bugs.. but so far so good and once again everything plays fine.

i'll install this version on the htpc now.

project: HTPC nerdbox - hmmmm

its going to be an unproductive day today. i've only installed xbmc on the htpc and have started to copy all my media files over to the new machine. one thing i didnt notice before was that xbmc has its own set of embedded codecs so it seems to play everything i want. i'll still need to install a codec pack (probably cccp) if i plan on watching something outside of xbmc.

its going to take 6hrs+ to copy the shit over..

i did however think of a few things i'll need to address

- custom menus for anime + ufc/mma videos
- addins/sources to obtain metadata for these
- custom backdrops for various new menus
- renaming media files into a readable format
- sort out the lcd display on the htpc case
- program logitech harmony to work with htpc

its my gf's bday this weekend so solving these soon ain't gonna happen lol

project: HTPC nerdbox - xbmc fuckaround

added some tv shows to the xbmc library today. i must say its alot easier than media center master... i dont have to rename ALL of my files! it seems to read most things well.. though i've yet to touch my anime collection.

first thing i tried out was the aeon skin, i've seen alot of positive feedback so i had to try it. it looks fantastic and with some addins its starting to look really nice. im pretty decided on using xbmc on the htpc.

i'll get really stuck in the nitty gritty in the next posts as well as testing with the various media files to ensure that they play ... fkn hellsing ultimate! haha

im very interested in getting wireless playback working for the htpc and it looks like xbmc can do it with some addons. awesomeness!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

project: HTPC nerdbox - xbmc

in the quest to find the best media interface for the htpc i'm now trialing xbmc on my testbed pc. once again im using the assassins guides to walk me through this as i've heard that its more difficult to set up xbmc.

first step. download the latest version from their website

its a pretty simple install so i dont need to go into detail about that. open it up and it consumes your screen.. a good ol alt+enter will get it to window size so that you can multitask. the nice thing about xbmc is that everything is done within the program and not external apps like media center master.

under the settings tab you can configure the many functions of xbmc. theres alot so i'll only list the significant ones such as weather. you just type in your city and select the appropriate provider.. i used and whoala ! full weather on display on the default skin. there is an aussie bom addin but i found it unstable.

I wont really tinker with the audio settings since my pc just has your regular 5.1 analog system.

one key thing to note is that you need to use "backspace" if you want to navigate back in menus. i wasnt paying attention and this took yonkers to find out.

anywho, i've installed some recommended cover art addins and will play with it some more another time.

Monday, March 19, 2012

project: HTPC nerdbox - machine built

took a day off so decided to go out and buy the htpc.. finances have been looking good lately and im well prepped for the move next month. the place is coming along nicely and we're hoping to move out over the next few weeks.

as outlined in the very first htpc post i purchased everything according to those specs. one thing that struck my eye was how huge the antec fusion black case is! i knew it was an atx case but didnt expect it to be so big! it barely fits in my tv unit but luckily the unit at the new place is bigger so it should fit no worries.

the case is split into 3 bays which makes it easy to manage and is supposed to keep things cool and quiet.. time will tell on that hahaha. i've installed windows 7 on it and had a play with the lcd display + remote control.. the remote is well... not bad, it does control things well but you need to point it at the unit otherwise it wont respond. i'll now spend some time cleaning up the wiring etc. pics to come soon of what it looks like..

i'll also need to decide if i should get a burner or not, it was a pain trying to install stuff without one.

anywho the machine is built and ready to go.. its now time to finish testing with mediabrowser + wmc and move to xbmc to see which one will take residence on the htpc.

let the competition begin~

Monday, March 12, 2012

project: HTPC nerdbox - music and radio streams

i was browsing through several guides tonight and noticed that you can integrate radio into WMC. this would be a nice feature to have on the htpc when you want to listen to something but dont like the shitty aussie radio stations or want to watch tv.

i downloaded something called radiotime for wmc -

installed the shit.. open wmc and select radiotime from extras
change your local location and a shitload of radio stations will come up.. some you dont want ie. islam radio WTF!

anywho, if you sign up to you can create your own radio station presets to reduce some of the clutter. im a diehard rnb fan so i'm testing with a few rnb stations and the local ones to see how it works. it does seem to take ages for it to flow through on wmc tho!

next up, trying to my music library on mediabrowser!
while wmc already has a music player its nice to be able to access your music through mediabrowser instead to keep it all in a central gui.

so to get this working all you have to do is download the music support addin for mediabrowser. once downloaded you click on configure and add your folders, refresh the library and open wmc.

the music menu will appear and you can then play your music! there is a massive downside tho, its very dependant on your id tags so it'll look like shit if your files aren't tagged properly with albums etc. like mine are :\ oh well at least it works. i'll have to look for a nicer look and alternative to the cover art when i can be assed haha.

fail tagging and cover art :(

Saturday, March 3, 2012

project: HTPC nerdbox - mkv support

solved the crashing issues i had with mkv's. best thing to do was uninstall my existing codecs and install the shark007 pack. The good thing with this is that theres support for 64bit.

i then followed the configuration options from:

opened up wmc and whoala, and it plays mkv + subs perfectly but theres some more settings to play with as i've lost playback on mp4 and certain avi audio.. hmmm!

back to the drawing board it seems! i've also loaded up my entire ufc catalog! looks great and i really love media center master

fuck this isnt working .. dammit need to find a better solution

**UPDATE again!**
after fucking around with all these different codecs.. i went back to shark007 cause it got me close to achieving what i wanted. after playing around and sheer dumb luck i've got it all working! looks like all i had to do was disable Windows Media Foundation which is like microsofts own set of codecs but dont allow the use of other codecs as default (at least thats what i think lol). this was causing media centre to crash everytime i tried to open mkv files which require a codec outside of WMF to play.

Settings i used in shark007 were..

- keep everything as default except tick "Disable Windows Media Foundation"
- Use Haali's splitter
- Use Haali's splitter
- Use Haali's splitter
- Use FFDShows codec
- DirectVobSub

the rest you keep as default, that should play everything with ease!
FINALLY! i can now move on to something else haha