*********Note From Author*********
First off, want to say sorry for not putting someone on the couch this past Monday. The original guest could not get around to it, and I had planned to put myself on the couch, but to be honest I was not ready to spill my secrets yet. ZealotSix will be on the couch this Monday so be looking for that soon!
I would like to take a moment and explain our "What Sayeth You?" blog. The concept and rules are very simple. A skin, plugin or base MP feature will be detailed in the blog, and the community throws in their "two cents". At the bottom of the blog is a section for you to place your comments and we ask that you follow a very simple pattern. We do not believe in tearing something down, without building it up first so please follow the formula of "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly". Please use this formula to let us know what you like (the good), how it could function better (the bad) and how it might look better (the ugly). At the end of the blog I will place my comments as an example.
Some of you are saying "That is what the forum threads are for!" or "If they want more they need to raise an issue!". These statements, albeit true, can be a turn off. Not everyone wants to post in a thread with 50 pages of posts, and not everyone understand how raising an issue works. Here we are offering and easy solution for you to say what you want without jumping through hoops. I would like to point out that this blog is a courtesy, and if you are serious about your issues, you should raise them in the proper place and not wait for the feature, plugin or skin to be in the "What Sayeth You?" blog.
While You Were Sleeping: Skins #1
*************Note from the Author***************
Here is our first WYWS: Skins blog. First off I want to apologize for being tardy in getting this blog out, but work got in the way (don't you hate that?). I had a hard time figuring out how to best write the blogs on skins. WYWS: Plugins just lists the plugins that are new or updated, but I can't to that for skins as there would be a good chance of a monthly skin blog containing the following info:
"We have skins. No, really, we do."
And that will not cut it, so I will just wing it until WYWS: Skins finds its own natural flow and style. As for which skins and why, it's simple: I will be covering skins that the designer has take time to get with me and let me know what is going on with said skin. I will talk about them in alphabetical order. So here we go...
Dadeo has been hard at work making this skin better in all aspects. Currently a beta version for aMPed 3.3 has been out for over a month and has a revision number of 1636. It contains pretty up to date xmls for almost every plugin and looks beautiful doing it. What you might want to know is that aMPed SVN has a pretty handy MPEI maker and you can currently update aMPed to revision 1674, offering up to the minute support for plugins, even those hidden gems like IMDb+ and mvCentral. A final version of aMPed 3.3 is right around the corner as Migue is working on some Basic Home editor improvements.
With is soft cool blue colors ncoH has made a very nice skin. Recent changes have brought about support for many popular plugins as well as a rework of the hidden menu for playlists.
As a new comer to MediaPortal's selection of skins, Mustayaluca is gaining a fierce crowd of followers. It's light color tones I find to be pretty soothing and easy on the eyes. Psycho Reptile has been making many changes and updates. Way too many to list here, so you will have to take my word for it. Please keep in mind for those of you who wish to check it out, it is in beta format, so you might find a bug or two.
ltfearme and Trevor's little and unknown project named StreamedMP, that is S -t-r-e-a-m-e-d-M-P for those who have never heard of it, has also had a few minor updates. A new release is but a few hours away. It will have updated support for many plugins and some minor bug fixes. It will also make pancakes, bathe your dog (cats are in a future release as it is MUCH harder to bathe a cat) and produce a VERY annoying sound whenever the in laws come to visit.
Sorry for such a short blog this week, everyone. I URGE skinners and developers to drop me a PM, let me know what you have done. Just one PM once a month (hopefully the Monday prior to the blog your project would be included in).
On the Couch: fforde
This week we have John Conrad (fforde) on the couch. Most of you already know him, or his awesome work on the Moving Pictures plugin, but today we get a chance to take a closer peek at Mr. Conrad.
How did you become interested in HTPCs?
I have been interested in computers since I was about 8 to 10 years old and even back then I found media that lived on the PC fascinating. In the early 90s I remember downloading some MIDI files and playing a song by Fine Young Cannibals in synthesized glory. The midi synthesizer was terrible, it sounded exceptionally bad on my tiny computer speakers and the lyrics were replaced with what sounded like an 8-bit choir. But it was in stereo! And it was amazing! Years later in high school it was 128kbps MP3s of The Offspring. In college I had moved on to low quality episodes of The Simpsons. This was the beginning for me. For a long time media on the PC was more of a novelty than anything but around the turn of the century it was becoming more practical. At least for someone a bit computer savy like me.
Once I learned how to rip my DVDs so that I could have all my movies in one place, it was just a matter of time before I started seeking out a nice interface to browse them.
How did you first find MediaPortal?
For a long time I just managed and watched my movie collection via Windows Explorer. I always felt like there had to be a better way but I had a hard time finding anything practical. The most recommended HTPC applications at the time either ran on Xbox hardware or Linux. I had no console to sacrifice and I was not really ready to make the jump to Linux.
Team Update Blog #1
Hello, my friendly MePo fans! Your Team members have been hard at work trying new things, overcoming roadblocks and perfecting the awesomeness that is MediaPortal; and we wish to share them with our loyal and lovable community (i.e. you). We will be breaking down our updates into three sections: Development, Documents and Public Relations/Promotions. There are, of course, other areas of our Team (administrators, moderators, testers...) and you will learn more about them soon in a feature blog called “Unsung Heroes”; but for now…. Onward and upward!
While some things have been slated for 1.3, others are still trying to make the cut. Doing the “Dance of the Forum Threads” can glean you an abundance of information, but let’s try to slim-line it for you:
Videos – A lot of work was done with MediaPortal’s video playback and MyVideos plugin for 1.2, but the work has not stopped there. Here is a link describing what changes are forthcoming as well as screen shots and comments. Be on the lookout for MediaPortal to handle your BD Discs/Rips/ISOs like a champ, along with VC1 & VC-1i codec support comparable to H.264 and extended CC/Post Processing support. Also… don’t let anyone know it was me that told you, but configuration settings could also be riding shotgun soon. No, sir (ma’am?), no more ‘back seat’ driving needed to control your database and shares as these settings will be offered in the MediaPortal GUI.
TV – We are hard at work with trying to come up with a few improvements to our TV-Server. A new setup wizard for a simple, flawless configuration is being worked up, as well as fixing many issues with ATSC/US providers for television and increased hardware support for TV cards. Everyone is very excited about these changes and many are hanging on every word, but the truth is, if we want better support for US cable and ATSC then we could use some more US developers to help. For more information on TV updates, keep an eye for threads like:
And others that will appear in the general development section of the forum.
Codecs – I will not go into what a codec is and why you need it, but suffice it to say that previous versions of MediaPortal, while having support for a lot of your videos, have been lacking in codec support. Well, my friends, I happy to announce that LAV filters are being considered for the next release. Will it happen? I cannot say. But… you can. Try out the new filters here and let us know what you think.
Development of MP2 has come a long way, with tons of steps forward already been completed. As everyone knows, the demand for development of MP1 is ever growing and it hampers the resources for MP2. We need more testers for MP2… plain and simple. With some good testing issues can get identified and corrected much easier. The developers working on MP2 need our help, and I will address that issue a bit later in this blog. For now, let’s move on to what our Docs guys have been up to.
Our Docs group has made some improvements lately and through the grapevine I hear a ‘tell-all’ blog is forthcoming. Should be chock full of juicy gossip! I have been given the Okay to give you all a bit of a teaser though, so let’s start out with the new guys. Wonkyd, Vuego, and Rogerleifert have all been added to the Docs group and they have been a great deal of help with the home page and downloads repository, Wiki and IRC. Additions/Corrections have already been made in guides for:
- Home Automation
- Styling (with help pages)
- TV Server
- Radio Configuration
- Display/Graphics Adapter Setup
- Supported TV Card List
They are also currently working on an improved process for adding, viewing and tracking changes to each release of MediaPortal and have already begun updating pages to version 1.2.x. Remember you can use the ‘Recent Changes’ option on the Wiki menu to see all of the latest changes to the Wiki.
We are about to have some fun! With the addition of new blogs, we are also rolling out some more ways to get the community more active. Contests with prizes, MediaPortal T-Shirts, Trade Shows and more are all headed your way. Our number one goal to promote MediaPortal is not for money, no sir. You can make a donation if you wish, of course, what we want the most from our community is to tell your friends and family. Our wants and needs are different, though. What we need is for a few good testers and developers to step up and lend a hand with making MP1 better and, maybe more importantly, getting MP2 ready to go. MediaPortal is open source, so you can make a difference. The team at MediaPortal is not an exclusive club. We welcome new members on a regular basis, and we would love to welcome you as well. Take a moment and think if there is any way you can help make MediaPortal better. I bet you can find at least one!
Well, I hope this has helped you to understand what we have forthcoming and we are excited for everyone to start using our future releases. We feel truly appreciative that you enjoy using MediaPortal! Thanks, everyone.
FACT: You do not need a parachute to sky dive. You only need a parachute if you plan to sky dive more than once!
******************************Note From The Blogger*******************************
On the Couch will be a weekly blog, each week featuring a different member of the Team/Community. They have a list of questions they can select to answer and a brief section at the end, named Speak Out!, where they can ramble on needlessly if they wish. This blog will be published each Monday (Yes, I am late for the first one, my apologies)
On the Couch: Dadeo
How did you first find MediaPortal?
Google - looking to replace my VCR and no DVR was available here at the time.
**** Note from the MediaPortal Team****
We are proud to announce a new line of blogs from MediaPortal. I know, I know… you have been itching to hear us ramble on, and we are now delivering 4 monthly and 1 weekly blogs to help slake your thirst for not so random or useless information about MediaPortal. The 4 monthly blogs are:
- Team Update
- While You Were Sleeping: Skins
- What Sayeth You?
- While You Were Sleeping: Plugins
The blogs for “While You Were Sleeping” will cover updates and births/deaths of various plugins or skins, each one being covered every other week. The “Team Update” blog is just to keep everyone current with our visions and progress (as well as the occasional failure). “What Sayeth You” will cover a feature, plugin or skin and offer users a chance to speak out on the good, the bad and the ugly.
A weekly blog will also be released this Monday called “On the Couch” where we feature a developer or skinner and get the skinny on their likes, dislikes and history. This week Dadeo will be on the couch, so be looking for that this Monday.
And now… Onto the blog
While You Were Sleeping: Plugins
Hello, fellow MePo’rs! Lyfesaver here, and I just wanted to fill you in on some things that you may (or may not) have missed. What could you have possibly have missed? Oh, I don’t know. Did you know that you don’t have to leave MediaPortal to get new plugins and skins, or update your current ones? Did you know that due to Darwin’s “Natural Selection” MyMusicVideos and mVids are now extinct? Perhaps you have not heard about the new plugin that will fire lasers at any right handed polar bears that invade your home? Okay that last one is not real, but how cool would that be? Okay, okay let’s take a look at them before I let my imagination run away! (Too late)
Youtube.fm – With skin changes galore this plugin now offers a façade view, changed some default images and allowing for image cache remaking, all allowing for a more beautiful plugin. Functionality has also been bolstered with the addition of info from Billboard, updating the YouTube API and many new menu items.
youtube.fm Rev 0.8.0.199 (10-28-2011)
OnlineVideos & SubCentral – These two wonderful plugins have had their integration with other skins and plugins drastically increased offering subs, trailers and even full movies just one or two clicks away.
SubCentral Rev 22.214.171.124 (10-26-2011)
OnlineVideos Rev 0.33.0.1 (9-19-2011)
Trakt - With many bugs fixes, improved functionality and added support for the German language, this plugin should be more popular than ever.
Trakt Rev 1.2.1 (10-24-2011)
Extensions – Now you can browse for new plugins as well as update current ones all from within MediaPortal. The MePo GUI has just got kicked into overdrive with this plugin, giving more control of your choice of plugins and keeping everyone up to date. DO NOT MISS THIS ONE!
Extensions – Rev 126.96.36.199 (10-13-2011)
IMDb+ (Plugin and scraper) – Are you a MovingPictures user? Then you will definitely want to give a gander to this little jewel. This will give many new options to movie lovers like true native language support for many popular languages, grouping and naming of trilogies and other “box-set” releases, true naming rules and many others. While the scraper does the bulk of the work, the paired plugin allows for adjusting of options in the GUI as well as tools like refreshing current movies to the IMDb+ scraper.
IMDb+ Rev 188.8.131.52 (10-24-2011)
mvCentral – OH NO, not another music video plugin? Yes that is exactly what mvCentral will offer you, but with much more functionality and flare than any previous plugin. Using other popular plugins as a base for mvCentral, the developer has taken great strides. Already more functional than any previous music video plugin mvCentral raises the bar. And let’s face it, why look at visualizations when jamming out, when you can watch the video!
mvCentral Rev 0.5.0.166 (10-23-2011)
Around the corner:
Wi-Fi Manager – Now you can connect, reconnect or switch wireless networks all from inside MediaPortal. This handy little plugin will help offer a more “all-in-one” type experience for all users.
Wi-Fi Manager Rev 184.108.40.206 (10-2-2011)
Keep an eye out for changes to the plugins, specially IMDb+, Trakt and mvCentral as they are updated multiple times each week. Also with the release of Follw.It’s API yesterday, a future plugin and increased integration is well….. right around the corner.
I hope you have found this information useful, and I would like to let all our developers/skinners know to PM me so your updates or new plugins won’t be missed in future blogs.
FACT: Did you know that if you rearrange MediaPortal you get “Idea Ram Plot”?
My Films 5 released - a whole new trend for MediaPortal 1.2.0 extensions!
My Films is one of the oldest plugins for MediaPortal. Almost two years ago, many devoted users posted in our forums asking about "The Future of My Films?" Unfortunately, the original developer, Zebons, was unable to complete the new version due to time constraints. Luckily Guzzi took up the torch and carried My Films to the Olympic stadium! Guzzi not only completed the development Zebons had started, but added a host of new features that set new trends for the future of MediaPortal extensions. Now isn't that what open source is all about?
What is My Films?
My Films combines the powerful database management features of movie catalog software with the great media centre features of MediaPortal, offering you the best of both!
The plugin is designed primarily for film buffs who have spent considerable time developing an extensive movie catalog, not only of files stored locally on your PC (server, NAS or client, etc.), but DVDs/Blu-ray Discs as well. Thus, the concept and architecture is entirely different than other video plugins.
Seven different popular movie catalog applications are supported:
- Ant Movie Catalog (AMC)
- eXtreme Movie Manager (XMM)
- DVD Profiler
- Eax Movie Catalog
- Personal Video Database (PVD)
- Movie Collector
Ant Movie Catalog (AMC) "is a free (really free, i.e. the source code is available) program made to manage your collection of movies on DVD, CD (VideoCD, DivX, ...) and tapes." It is the primary catalog supported in My Films because it uses an XML database. Thus, updates in either AMC or My Films are made to the same XML database and automatically display in both applications instantly.
You can continue to use your existing movie catalog in any way you wish, but now you can also use it in MediaPortal with My Films. My Films incorporates many advanced movie catalog features into MediaPortal. Best of all, you don't need to rescan your movie catalog data, or ever rescan it again!
If you would like to try out My Films but have never used MediaPortal, please see the MediaPortal Setup guide in the My Films Wiki. It provides instructions to setup MediaPortal quickly and easily to use My Films, as well as any special setup considerations for the movie catalog you use.
What if I don't have a movie catalog?
You can still use My Films to import all your films and create a movie catalog which you can use either in My Films, or in Ant Movie Catalog as well. Of course, previous experience with movie catalogs or databases is helpful - the better your data - the better your results will be. Do you tag your music? The concept is similar, if you want the best results, you usually need to standardize and customize your data.
See the My Films listing in the MediaPortal Downloads Repository. Find out all the features in the extensive My Films Wiki, or continue reading to learn about the many trend setting features in My Films 5. Press the icon in any section below to access more information from the Wiki about that feature.