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Deck Hazen's Archive

A computer user since 1976, Deck enjoys testing new software and reconfiguring his equipment to squeeze the most out of it. "Computing has come a long way since those early days" Deck recalls "I get a real kick out of watching the industry grow - getting paid to write about it is just icing on the cake!"

Deck Hazen's website.

Ninite, in spite of its “special needs” name is a great program that installs many of your favorite applications for you — automatically.

02a ninite setup 650x367 Ninite Helps You Effortlessly Install All Your Favorite Programs on Your PC

Step 1 - pick your applications

Ninite got a quick mention on our forum pages from “ha14″ back in November, but after using it just now to load nearly 20 of my favorite free applications I think it deserves a lot more attention.

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Windows Media Center – One Remote Control, Many Uses

Posted by Deck Hazen On August - 24 - 20101 COMMENT

There were a number of surprise benefits I found upon making the conversion to Windows Media Center.

They don’t hype this much in the Microsoft literature on WMC, but I find the switch from 6 remote controls to just 1 a huge benefit. No more flailing around to set the TV to the right input, and the DVR to the right mode, and Sky box to the right channel etc. etc. It’s all right there on my new remote best friend.

The “Before” and “After” shots are below.

remoteBox1 Windows Media Center One Remote Control, Many Uses hpRemote1 Windows Media Center One Remote Control, Many Uses

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Update: More information on RAID can be found here.

And who wouldn’t put their hands up for RAID? The Redundant Array of Independent disks can improve your disk performance, or give you data integrity, or both.

Windows Media Center provides an excellent home for your digital entertainment — and like any excellent home you want to pack more and more into it. Take a look at your physical collections — photos, albums, CD’s, DVDs, video tapes, etc. If you are into home entertainment then you’ve probably collected plenty of good stuff. The same thing will happen to your digital collection. Before long you will outgrow a single drive, then two. Around the time you get your third drive and file searches need three separate operations you’ll start looking around for a better storage system.

Adding a RAID Controller card and an array of 3 or more hard drives will combine those separate drives (minus a bit of space for safe data storage) into a single virtual drive that is easier to manage and provides protection against a single disk failure. It may improve your disk performance, depending on how you configure it.

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Windows Media Center – Adding a TV Series

Posted by Deck Hazen On August - 10 - 20102 COMMENTS

tvSeries 03 220x220 Windows Media Center Adding a TV SeriesGot a “love-hate” relationship with your TV?  Love the shows, but hate the commercials? Viewing your favorite TV Series on DVD is an excellent way to watch TV.  Dropping those DVD’s down to your hard drive makes the experience close to perfect.

There are several ways to get  TV shows on to your PC – the most popular is probably downloading the shows from a bit.torrent site – another way is to buy the series on DVD and then make a backup copy (where this can be done legally of course) on your hard drive.

Many current TV series are available on iTunes, and even YouTube is getting into the act.  Here in New Zealand our national broadcasting networks (we have two!) started “On Demand” services a year ago and a clever user might find a way record the material fed by their streaming media.

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Windows Media Center – Recorded TV 

Posted by Deck Hazen On August - 7 - 20101 COMMENT

In our last post we looked at the TV Tuner part of Windows Media Center (WMC). Adding  a TV Tuner card turns your PC into a very respectable DVR (Digital Video Recorder) rather like a TiVo box. Individual shows and indeed, an entire series can be tagged for recording.

This short post will look at the “play-back” aspects of the shows you’ve selected to record.
Recorded programs are kept in a user-selected folder on disc and made available for viewing through the “Recorded TV” icon.

saved TV 00 650x403 Windows Media Center  Recorded TV 

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Windows Media Center – TV Tuner

Posted by Deck Hazen On August - 4 - 20101 COMMENT

tuner card Windows Media Center TV TunerThe addition of a TV Tuner card turns your PC into a full “DVR” – a Digital Video Recorder. For those familiar with it, your PC becomes just like a “TiVo” box providing high quality record and play-back options from broadcast TV.
This tuner card also brings in all the available FM Stations.
In the US there are a wealth of stations to tune into and each of them has an Electronic Program Guide (EPG) transmitted along with the picture and sound and picked up by Windows Media Center for presentation in WMC on-line TV Guide.
The EPG is an essential part of a recording system because it provides a schedule of up-coming programs and allows you to schedule the recording not just of the show itself, but every show in the series (like all the episodes of “Family Guy” ) – you can even instruct the guide to record episodes of the show even if they are seen on different channels and at different times.

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