Thursday, July 19, 2007

Tip: dodgy artwork ? Fix it with AVSoft's Album Art Fixer

Link to product on AVSoft's site 

I had forgotten just how good this product was until I had to reinstall my Media Center last week (yes even 'expert's' have to do reinstalls). It basically scans all your music and prompts you where there are problems like missing artwork or Album Artist entries. It then allows you to fi them in a very easy and intuaitive way.

 Very highly recommended and if you use it and like it can i encourage you to donate.

Sorry no 64bit Vista decoder utility

I've tried valiantly. I've scoured registry dumps that readers have kindly sent in. I've analysed all the relative entries - I've even worked out where a 64 bit version of my decoder utility should post the entries. The only problem is that my current 32 bit app is posting in the right place. Unfortunatley the issue is not in this case getting the entry in the right place its the fact that the decoders themselves are not installing properly for 64 bit operation. This is not easilly worked round if possible at all.

So I'm very sorry to disappoint you 64 bit users - I did try...

Monday, July 09, 2007

Neat Vista Trick: Listening to Radio 5 commentary whilst watching TV (BBC2 Tennis)

One thing that happens quite often in the UK is that sporting events and some concerts are covered simultaneously by TV and Radio.

This has led to quit a common scenario where people will mute their tv and watch the pictures whilst listening to the radio commentary however there is an issue with this since digital tv came in.

Basically DVB-T TV signals require a finite amount of time to process so the image is delayed slightly in appearing. Of course this means that Radio and TV are out of sync which is very annoying at sporting events where you can see what has happened before the commentary catches up.

With media center the obvious thing would be to listen to the freeview DVB-T radio 5 source whilst watching the images from another tuner but unfortunately Media Center doesn't let you do that.

This all came to light for me when the friend I recently built the Media Center for,asked me if she could watch the Wimbledon Tennis coverage whilst listening to the BBC Radio 5 commentary.

At first I couldn't see a solution but then it struck me that Radio 5 has an internet stream on the BBC website and I wondered if she could make use of that.

Well she tried that and yes she could play the internet stream at the same time as watching tv but the stream was now slighly delayed over the tv image. She came up with a brilliant work round for this - Pause the tv until the sound was in sync.

Having got that worked out we still had the issue that she was getting both the radio audio from the web stream and the tv audio from media center.

Now Vista's new sound architecture came to the rescue. Opening the sound mixer in Vista shows independant volume controls for each program playing sound. In this case it was simply a matter of muting the Media Center sound source and hey presto Radio Five commentary on the BBC TV Tennis coverage.