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Welcome

Welcome to assassinhtpcblog.com. This is the most comprehensive and most detailed tutorial on the internet in regards to how to setup and use your HTPC.

Miscellaneous

Table of Guides (with quicklinks):

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Harmony One for the HTPC

The Logitech Harmony One is one of the best (and most expensive) remote controls on the planet. While I created this guide using the Harmony One you may be able to use a less expensive Harmony remote as well.

The great thing about this remote is how versatile it is in controlling your AV equipment. You also can perform macro button commands easily by pressing 1 button to turn on and set your AV equipment up exactly how you want to use it for your home theater.

For those of you not familiar with the Harmony products the setup is done on a computer and then you sync the setup to your Harmony remote control via an included USB cable. This makes it even more powerful in what we can program it to do.

As a disclaimer I have been somewhat reluctant to create this guide as remote controls have so many possible settings and options (plus the possible settings of your AV Receiver, HDTV, type of IR receiver, etc) that trying to troubleshoot remote controls is almost impossible as there are so many variables that could be causing errors. But with this being said I think this is a great guide to get you started. I am not going to go over “advanced” options of the remote control as this would take many guides to do so.

Note: If you want to use XBMC instead of WMC/Mediabrowser follow the steps of this guide and then follow the steps of the previous guides to launch and control XBMC instead of WMC/Mediabrowser.

Your IR receiver may or may not be compatible with the Harmony One and this guide. I can confirm that IR receivers listed in Device Manager as –> Human Interface Devices –> Microsoft eHome Infrared Receiver will work with the Harmony One. There are hundreds of IR receiver options out there and other options may or may not work with the Harmony One. If the IR receiver you currently has does not meet this criteria make sure its replacement does.

So let’s get started. If you haven’t already done so download and install the Logitech Harmony software from here

Create a new account or sign in to an existing account. This account will be tied to your remote and will save your settings.

This is the main screen of the Harmony software. This is where you will add your devices and add your activities. Let’s select “Devices” to get started

Under “Devices” you can see the devices that I have already added. As this is completely dependent on your particular Home Theater you will need to add all the specific devices (AV Receiver, HDTV, Directv/Tivo, etc) that you have with the specific make and model number.

Here you can see my devices as well as my HTPC (bottom left). I am going to leave these but add a HTPC so you can see how its done.

Let’s click “Add Device” to add a new HTPC

Choose “Computer” and “Media Center PC”

For the manufacturer choose “Microsoft”

For the “Model” type in the following exactly like this

Windows Media Center SE

(Please note that another option for the “Model” is “Windows Media Center PC”. I have used this option in the past but have now discovered through research for this guide that “Windows Media Center SE” is a better option. I will discuss this in more detail in a bit.)

Once you are finished click “Next”. You can confirm that Logitech found the correct WMC codes if “Windows Media Center SE” is listed like it is below.

Now I am going to switch gears briefly and discuss a really cool feature I discovered with this remote and these specific Logitech Windows Media Center SE codes. With these codes Logitech added a bunch of new powerful mapping options for the remote. Included in these is control for a mouse. So by using the next steps I will show you how to also add mouse control to your HTPC remote control!

Also there are many other options which I will not cover in these guides but that you can add to a specific button on your remote control and test them out.

Some of the options that Logitech has included in this specific set of commands (all or any of these can be mapped to any button that you choose on your remote control should you want these commands). For example you can map Alt+F4 which closes the current window on your HTPC to any button on your remote control :

Win + – (plus or minus key) Zoom in or out.

Win-

Win+

Win+Up: Maximize

Win+Down: Restore / Minimize

Win+Left: Snap to left

Win+Right: Snap to right

Win+Home: Minimize / Restore all other windows

Win+T: Focus the first taskbar entry

Win+F: Open Windows search

Win+E: Open Windows Explorer

Win+Space: Peek at the desktop

Win+G: Bring gadgets to the top of the Z-order

Win+P: External display options (mirror, extend desktop, etc)

Win+M: Minimize all open windows

Win+1 / Win+2 / Win+3 etc (Hotkeys for programs added to the Quicklaunch)

Win+M: Minimize all open windows

Win+Tab: Flip 3D

Win+Shift+M: Undo all window minimization

Win+Home: Minimize all but the current window

Win + L: Lock the computer

Win + R: Open ‘Run’ command

 

Alt+1 / Alt+2 Alt+3 etc (Hotkeys for Video card display settings)

Alt+Esc: Cycle through all open windows

Alt+Tab: Switch to previous active window

Alt+Enter: Display properties for the selected item

Alt+Space: Pop up window menu

Alt+F4: Shutdown current window

 

Ctrl+A: Select all items in a document or window

Ctrl+C: Copy the selected item

Ctrl+X: Cut the selected item

Ctrl+V: Paste the selected item

Ctrl+Z: Undo an action

Ctrl+W Closes the tabs for most web browsers

Ctrl+Shift+Tab: Left Navigation through the web browser tabs

Ctrl+Tab: Right Navigation though the web browser tabs

Ctrl+ESC: Opens the Start menu

Shift+Del: Permently deletes an item and bypasses the recycle bin

Shift+F10: Opens Shortcut Menu

To start adding mouse control from the main screen select “Add Activity”

Next select to manually add the activity

Select “Utility”

Select “Generic Activity”

Next select only your newly added HTPC that we did above

We don’t need or want our HTPC to be on a particular channel or input for these steps

Select the first “Yes”

Click “Done”

Now let’s change some “Settings”

Rename the activity

Change it to “Mouse” or “Mouse Cursor” or whatever you want it to be labeled as

Now select to “Change Options”

Change to these settings. The most important of these is to “Leave On” the unused (HDTV, AV Receiver, etc) devices

Now click “Done”

Now comes the fun and really cool part. Let’s “Customize Buttons”

These are the settings you need to use to turn your Harmony One into a mouse. Make sure that you select the appropriate option from the pull down menu for each of these buttons

As with anything in this guide you can map these commands to any button on your Harmony remote control. This is what I have chosen as how my remote control will be used as a mouse. A visual overview of how these buttons will work as a mouse after making the setting choices above:

Now that we have our mouse control setup as an activity for the HTPC let’s set up the HTPC to be used with one click of the button

First click on “Add Activity”

This time have the Harmony software automatically add activities that use your devices

Tell your remote how you use your HTPC. If you use it for just movies select “Watch My Videos”. If you use it for TV or Music add those as well. This is completely dependent on your setup and how you use your HTPC. For this guide I will select only “Watch My Videos”

Tell the Harmony that you use the HTPC (ignore the DVD part. That is not important at this point)

Tell the software what display device you use for your HTPC. This should be one of the “Devices” that you added at the beginning of the guide. Mine is my Samsung HDTV so I will select this option.

Next it wants to know what controls the audio of your home theater. For me its my Denon AV Receiver. Again, this will be a device that you added at the beginning part of this guide

This is a very important screen and I have highlighted it to emphasize this point. If you want your HTPC to start in WMC then select the “MCE Startpage”. If you want it to start somewhere else then select that option. For people using WMC with Media Browser select “MCE Startpage”. Once on the Startpage (main screen of WMC) its just a few simple button presses to select and start Media Browser.

Select what input your HDTV needs to be on. Again, this is completely dependent on your setup and yours may be different than mine.

Now select what input your AV Receiver (if applicable) needs to be set on. Again, this is completely dependent on your setup and yours may be different than mine.

Review your settings and confirm that everything is correct

Select “Done”

Now plug in your Harmony remote control and update it to load these settings!

So now you have your HTPC remote control setup.

The “Watch My Videos” activity can be changed to “HTPC” if you want. This will be used for general control of your HTPC and home theater.

When you want/need mouse control from your remote control simply select “Mouse Cursor” from the activity menu and your remote is now a mouse! When you are finished simply select “Watch My Videos” to return to the WMC control.

The end result:

Optional Tips:

One other really cool thing you can do with this remote is adding custom button icons to your favorite TV channels. You can do this whether you use your HTPC for Live TV or whether you use Cable or Satellite for Live TV.

First let’s download some of these fantastic icons from the following website:

All Harmony models (if applicable): LINK

Harmony One Icons: LINK

Select the icons that you want and the website will download all of them into 1 zip file for you. I chose 12 as an example for this guide. You can select up to 24 icons (6 icons on each of 4 pages).

Here are a few ESPN icons that I chose as just one example

Here is what the icon selections look like before you download them from the website

Once you have them downloaded unzip the folder and remember where it is located

Now you go to the activity (i.e. “Watch TV”) in the Harmony software and hit “settings”. Then you choose “Setup Favorite Channels and Icons”. Press next. Now add your favorite channel and the corresponding channel number. Now choose the “Select Image” button.

Navigate to where you saved the icons you loaded from the link above. Unzip these icons in the folder and add them to your Harmony remote.

When you are done select “Save” and “Done”.

The finished product:

(Page 1)

(Page 2)

Optional Power and Timing Settings:

Here I will show you some other settings that I have in my Harmony One remote control. These are optional and I would suggest only using these if something isn’t working exactly like you want.

Again, using a remote control like this may require you to do some tinkering with the settings. There are literally hundreds of thousands of possible remote control options given the number of variables in home theater and HTPC setups.

First you may have to change the power settings if you are having issues with getting your HTPC to come out of sleep hibernate (there are many factors here as well and this can be difficult to troubleshoot)

Tell the software that you want to shut down (or sleep) your HTPC when not in use

This how I have my power button programmed

I have it selected to “power toggle”. Again, this may or may not work for you

Click “Done”

The next thing I changed was the timing of the signals being sent from the remote control to my devices. The AV Receiver wasn’t receiving all of the signals being sent because the timing was off. Again, if your HTPC and Home Theater is working well and you aren’t having these issue then DON’T change these settings. But if you are having issues then these setting changes may help

Let’s “Adjust the Delays” between each signal being sent from the remote

These are the settings that I am currently using

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Plex Server For Your HTPC

I originally created this guide for the XBMC section of my guides but this is such an awesome way to access your media that I wanted to also make sure those of you using WMC were able to utilize this great piece of software for remote access of your media. You don’t have to be using XBMC to be able to use this program.

This guide will show you how to use Plex server to stream your media stored on your HTPC (or server) to any wireless device in your house. If you have an iPad or Android tablet or phone you now can watch, view and/or listen to anything and everything at your fingertips.

Plex server allows you to playback ANY of your media on any device. So no longer are you confined by specific operating systems, file types, codecs, etc on these devices (which can be quite limiting and restrictive).

For this guide you will need 2 pieces of software.

1. Plex Media Server for Windows (free)

2. Plex Media Player for iOS (Apple iPad and iPhone) and Android (tablets and Droid phones)

First let’s download the Plex Media Server (note: Do not mistakenly download Plex Media Center) here. Now install the program. You may be asked to install Bonjour which is a group of Apple based network discovery items.

Install Plex Media Server and okay the installation of Bonjour

Click to run Plex and Exit

Now in the bottom right of your desktop locate the Plex program running in the “Show Hidden Icons” area be the date and clock. Click on this and choose “Media Server…” to open the main screen

I installed Plex on my server running WHS. Since I don’t have my preferred Chrome web browser installed Plex had to install the “Google Chrome Frame” to run. So if you are prompted here to do this install this extension. Otherwise if you are using Google Chrome already this step likely does not apply.

Now we can see the main screen of Plex Server. Let’s click to add Movies

Add the directory or directories where you have your music stored and when finished select “Add Section”

Let’s do the same thing for TV Shows, Home Movies, Pictures and Music if applicable. Notice below you can start to see where Plex is building the Movie library I added in the step before this one.

I will show you some of the changed I made under the “Preferences” menu. If I don’t mention something then I have left it at default.

First, I changed my server name to one that was easy to associate with Plex. Something like “Plex Server” sounded appropriate to me.

Next I changed the “Library” option to update my library when changes to my folders are detected. I also asked it to update my library hourly — you can change this time interval to whatever fits your needs the best. Finally I told it to empty the trash after every scan.

Under languages I chose to prefer audio tracks in English. I chose to manually select subtitles as I don’t use subtitles often. Again, choose whatever suits your needs.

Under transcoding select to Offer higher bitrates over 3G connections

Next navigate to “My Plex”. Here I made a myPlex account to make it easier to sync between additional Plex clients in the future.

One thing I discovered is that after you sign up myPlex will send you an e-mail. You then have to activate your account via the e-mail before signing in.

You can now minimize or close Plex and let it run in the background.

Now let’s grab the mobile device that you are using and set it up to receive the stream of your media. For this guide I have chosen an iPad.

First download and install the Plex app for your device

As soon as you open the Plex app you will notice that some of your media is already starting to appear. There is no other setup required which is a very very nice feature.

Let’s click on “Movies” to see what’s listed

Here you can see my movies that I have shared from Plex Server located on my WHS Server

Clicking on “Settings” brings up a few options. The only thing I did here was sign into my myPlex account

So let’s play a movie. Here I chose “Drive”. Plex Server will now stream the media to your device. Just wait a few seconds while it buffers

And then plays…

If you fast forward the device will stop and buffer. And then play again…

I also have had no issues with streaming a HD rip that is very high bitrate and uncompressed over my wireless network. Here, for example, is Wall-E

So there you have it. Now you can use your HTPC (or server) as a central hub for not only all your other HTPCs but also your tablets and smartphones.

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Accessing Your Media From Anywhere in the World Using Plex Server

Another great thing about using the Plex Server is that you can you watch, view and listen to any of your media anywhere on your local network and also anywhere in the world.

This means that when setup correctly you can watch movies, listen to music, view pictures, etc from your smartphone, tablet, or other device wherever you are. This is best done when wireless internet access is available (and reliable) but can also be done using a Smartphone using your data plan. So whether you are at the local coffee shop, stuck in a hotel room or airport on a business trip, or on the other side of the planet you can now easily access your media from your HTPC or server at home.

To enable these setting first open Plex Server from the “Show Hidden Icons” area on your desktop (bottom right corner near the date and time). Click “Preferences” to open the submenu

Now select “myPlex” from the submenu

Here you will need to sign into your Plex account that we created in the previous guide. Next click to “Publish server to myPlex”. Plex will now attempt to map the server to a port on your wireless router or other network device.

If your router supports NAT-PMP and uPnP protocols make sure these are enabled in your routers settings and Plex should be able to map the port without any additional setting changes. Otherwise you will have to manually setup a port forward. More information can be found here

When you open the app on your mobile device and go to settings you should see your myPlex server and log-in information. The following is a screenshot from my smartphone

Now use the Plex app that you installed in the previous guide the next time you are outside your network and it will automatically detect your Plex Server and you will have access to all of your media whenever and wherever you are!

Here are some example pics of Seabiscuit streaming over a cellular network to my 4.3″ Smartphone

Screenshots of movie playing over a cellular network on my smartphone (very good quality if you ask me considering the source, the way the data is being transferred and the display device)

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Remote Potato Setup (Part 1)

This is another guide written and compiled with the help of cburbs. Remote Potato allows you to watch your media wherever you are. Videos, recorded TV, music, pictures — it’s all instantly accessible over the Internet, streamed live from your home.

Requirements:

We need to download the “Remote Potato Server” from here.

Installation:

1) Unzip the RemotePotatoSetup.zip file then go ahead and run the setup.exe file.

2) Note if you don’t have Net Framework 4.0 installed already you will be prompt to install it. Download it and install it.

Then rerun the setup file again.

Now in this screen enter the username and password that you use to login into your Windows user account.

Continue installation

Setup Wizard Port Settings, Firewall Settings, Port Forwarding, DNS,
1) Once the install is done the “Setup Wizard” will start. The first screen asks if you want to “Enable Security”. I checked Yes and in my example used Username:Test and Password:Test and also checked “Show expert options while running this wizard”.

 

3) Port Settings – Here you can leave these at default or change them to something else if the ports are already being used by something else.

4) Firewall Settings – Here you want to click on “Yes, add windows firewall rules now”

5) Router setup -this would allow you to access from outside your network. But in this example we are not going to cover that yet.

3) Remote Internet Access – In this window we will choose the 1st option which will allow us to access Remote Potato from within our network.

4) All Done – This shows you your “Local Network” and “Anywhere” connection. If you scroll down it also shows you how to access Remote Potato thru the web and from an Iphone.

Server Settings for Remote Potato:

Now we can go ahead and look at the server settings. A few things to note if the red circle to the right is red the server is “stopped” and green it is “running”. In order to configure the server you need to stop it. As you can see it is stopped. So lets go ahead and configure the server.

1) So click on the “Gear” icon and you will see the following.

If you would like to donate to the developer go ahead or skip (not right now).

2) Now you should see a window like the following.

3) “General” tab – Here you can decide on what media you want to share, startup options, and Appearance. For now I left everything as is.

4) “TV Guide” tab – Here you can decide on what the TV Guide will show. Again I left this with all defaults.

5) “Channels” Tab – Here you can add/remove channels and logos.

Using Remote Potato from a PC on your network:

So if you recall from the link above it showed us what IP had to be used to access your Home Network.

1) So go ahead and type that in from your favorite browser and you should see something like the following. If you setup a userid/password like I did above type that info in.

2) Screenshot of main menu

3) TV Guide – from the menu you will see your TV Guide info.

4) Search Guide – Here you can search for a specific show if you want. In my example I searched for Modern Family.

5) Recorded TV – Here you can see a list of my recordings I have.

6) Scheduled Recordings – Here you can see what I have scheduled for Today and Tomorrow.

7) Manage Series – Here you can manage your series recordings if you want to.

8) Movie Guide – This shows you a list of upcoming movies(date/Channel)

9) Music – Here is a list of my Music Library. As you can see you can browse by Artists, Albums, Genres, and songs.

10) Pictures – Here is a list of my shared Pictures.

11) Movies – My movies is empty since I use Mediabrowser.

12) Videos – My video library is also empty due to mediabrowser.

13) Remote Control – Here you can use this remote to control your system if you wanted to.

14) Settings – Brings up some settings that can be adjusted if needed. Mine are all at default. General/streaming/tvguide

15) Exit – will exit you out of Remote Potato

Mobile Apps for Remote Potato

For a list of Mobile apps go here.

For my example I will be using the android app. So go download the app from the above link.

1) Then go find “Remote Media Center”

2) Select the Settings option and you will get the following window. Under First Remote Potato server you need to put in the URL/Port/Security/Login info from your setup from the “Setup Wizard” above. Once setup you should see “ remote potato server ready: Logged in successfully” message.

3) There are different UIs available by selecting

and then “Setup UI”

Shots of the all the UI screens available.

4) I am using the last UI and so now if you go thru each option from this app you will see the following

Browse EPG Grid – this is a listing of what is on Live TV .

Browse Channels – this gives you a list of the channels you have available.

Browse Schedule Recordings – This shows you what is scheduled to record for the next few days.

Recorded TV – This shows you my shows that are recorded.

Watch a Video – I have no data in this share so it has no data found

Listen to Music – Here you can browser your music

Browse Pictures – Here you can browse your shared pictures.

Search EPG – Here you can search the EPG guide for a certain show.

Server Options – Here you can decided on how you want to connect.

Remote Control – Here is a remote you can use if you want to control your setup.

We will soon be covering how to setup/access this from outside your network. (See below)

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Remote Potato Setup (Part 2)

Part Two: Setting up Remote Potato and Remote Access

1) Forwarding Ports on your Router

2) Changing settings in Remote Potato Wizard

3) Dynamic DNS – Choosing your service

Forwarding Ports on Your Router

1)The first step is to configure the PC running Media Center & Remote Potato with a static IP address. Example

2) You’ll need to forward a couple ports on your router. By default, these will be port 9080. In this example we’re using a Netgear 3800 router, however, the steps for port forwarding will vary from router to router. Other Examples of port forwarding on other routers from No-IP.COM.

3) On the Netgear configuration page, click on the “Advanced” tab , and then the Advanced Setup and select “Port Forwarding/Port Trigger”.

4) Then select service type “Port Forwarding” Fill in the Service Name, Server IP Address = IP of PC running Remote Potato and click Add. Then select the new service added and seled Edit service. In both the Start and End boxes, type the port number 9080. Enter the local IP address of your Media Center computer in the IP address column.

5) When finished, click the Save Settings button.

 

Changing settings in Remote Potato Wizard

Go into Remote Potato, stop the server, and from the General Tab select “Run Setup Wizard”

Click Next, Next and then on the “Remote Internet Access” Page we want to change some info.

In my example I am not using Dynamic DNS so I selected “I will use another Dyanamic DNS Service” and then put in my URL from what I created with no-ip.

With everything set up a handy summary screen will appear showing your settings and the address you need to use to access Remote Potato. you scroll down the wizard will show you what the web address should look like.

Dynamic DNS:
Here is a list of available DNS services- Some service are free.
http://www.dyndns.org
http://freedns.afraid.org
http://www.zoneedit.com
http://www.no-ip.com
http://www.easydns.com
http://www.tzo.com
http://www.3322.org
http://www.dnsomatic.com
http://www.tunnelbroker.net, i.e., http://dns.he.net/
http://www.dynsip.org
http://www.sitelutions.com

In this example I am going to use no-ip.com You’ll need to register and confirm by email.

Then login to there web page and under “Host/Redirects” select “Add Host”. You should see
the following page where you can create your hostname.

Then you can create the your hostame by filling in the name followed by the ending you want.

In my example I chose hostname of “htgear” and ending of no-ip.org.

Then select “Create Host” to create your hostname.

Now if you verify that your Remote Potato is running and then you should be able to access your setup from outside your network by going to “hostname+ending:9080”

EXTRA info

No-IP offers a piece of software that will Keep your current IP address in sync with your No-IP host or domain. Our dynamic DNS update client continually checks for IP address changes in the background and automatically updates the DNS at No-IP whenever it changes. DOWNLOAD

Also note most routers offer the same type of above service with DynDNS which allows your home router to be up to date with hostname and new IP address by your ISP. This is great so that you don’t have to look up and remember your IP address and you also don’t need to be running a piece of software on a PC.

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Adding Music in Media Browser

Music support is now available for Media Browser. To use Media Browser for your music collection you will need at be using at least Media Browser 2.5.3 (see below) as well as the MBMusic plug-in ($6).

To use MBMusic you have to be running at least Media Browser 2.5.3. A direct download to MB 2.5.3 is located here. If you are using an older version update to this version — you may have to re-install your plug-ins but your settings should remain unchanged.

First let’s go to the Media Browser Store and purchase MBMusic here

If this is your first purchase from the Media Browser Store you will need to go to the e-mail that was sent to you and copy and paste the Supporter Registration Key into the “help and about” area of the Mediabrowser Configurator.

If you have used the Media Browser store before and used the same e-mail each time then you shouldn’t have to update this area

Now let’s install MBMusic in the Media Browser Configurator. First go to the plug-ins section and install “Music Support”

Once finished select “Done”. Now configure the “Music Support” plug-in

This will open the MBMusic setup screen. First select the ( . . . ) area to select where your music is stored

Once you have located your folder select OK (for this guide I have created a very small sample folder)

You can now see you directory. As with standard Media Browser you can add multiple folders to the directory and they will all show up under the music section in Media Browser

Now click “Add” and the folder will be added to the “Music Root Folder” directory. You can change the Media Browser folder name to whatever you want as well. I will leave it as “Music”. You also can add playlist folders if applicable

Under the “Views” tab you can select which view you want to enable

Under the “Library Maintenance” tab you can tell MBMusic to refresh your library. If you have a very large library then you will probably want to do this sparingly as it will take a long time to refresh for very large libraries (remember that unlike videos and tv shows there may be dozens or hundreds of songs in your library for just a single artist or entry).

Once finished select “Done” and the library will refresh

Select “Yes”

You can monitor the progress of the refresh here. Once finished exit out of MBMusic and the confogurator

Now let’s open Media Browser and locate the “Music” folder

Select how you want to view your music. I will select “By Artist”

Scroll over to an artist or band and select them

Once inside your artwork will start to appear. MBMusic is heavily dependent on your music being tagged correctly so you may need to spend some time to tag everything correctly if you have not already done so

Open the folder to see the song tracks. Select one to play

When you select an individual song you will be brought to this screen

Selecting play will start the song and bring up this screen

If you have multiple albums listed they will be displayed like this

Finally, if you want to use this plug-in just like this it will work well to display your music and play it like I have shown you above. But to fully unlock the potential of this plug in will take a lot of time and hard work — especially if you have a very large library.

To do this you will have to follow the developers instructions located here under “Tips and Tricks” to change some of the appearance and to add custom artwork.

For example this is one example that I tried. I had to search for the artwork and add it manually. Unfortunately I do not have the time to do this for the amount of music that I had. But if you had a relatively small library or even used MBMusic to play a few dozen of your “All-time Favorites” then I think this would be a really great finished product.

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Adding Backdrops Automatically to Music in Media Browser

In the previous guide I showed you how to enable and playback music in Media Browser using MBMusic. The one visual drawback to this approach is the lack of background artwork that is automatically added. Thankfully there is a solution to this drawback.

Radeon has created a group of very slick scripts that will automatically download backdrop artwork for you entire music selection. These scripts cost £1.99 for just the music category of scripts or £5 for all of his scripts. As I appreciate his hard work I donated to him twice for all the scripts.

This is how it works. Once you follow the instructions to pay for the scripts you want by following the links here. For the music scripts we need the following scripts

After you follow the instructions to pay for the scripts the developer will send you an email with the License for each script type that you purchased

Once you download the file from the link I posted above move it to your music directory

Once you open the application for the first time you will be prompted to enter your license key. Copy and paste this from your email and the application will be registered and active.

Now double click “Music Backdrop Downloader” and the script will automatically start to download artwork into your music album folder.

Let’s take a look at a sample folder and the result in Media Browser. Prior to running the script I had no Led Zeppelin backdrops and would have had to manually search to add one or more. With just a few clicks the script has automatically downloaded and added 7 backdrops automatically

Let’s see how this look in Media Browser with the scrolling backdrop artwork

I think this is a fantastic solution for just a few bucks.

BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS

Foobar2000 for the HTPC

This guide is a three part guide created by cburbs:

1. Installing Foobar2000

2. Installing Bitperfect

3. Setting up Remote Control

Part 1: Installing Foobar2000

foobar2000 is an advanced freeware audio player for the Windows platform. Some of the basic features include full unicode support, ReplayGain support and native support for several popular audio formats.

Foobar 2000:

1) Download the latest stable foobar from the following link: Foobar

2) Save it to your pc

3) Run the foobar2000_v1.1.11.exe

4) Click “Next”

5) Click “I Agree”

6) Standard Installation, Click “Next”

7) Click Yes if you have UAC enabled on your PC you will get this.

8) Select where you want to install this but I leave it at default. Click “Next “

9) Click “Install”

10) Uncheck “Run Foobar” and “Click Finish”

11) Open up foobar from your desktop

12) On the “Quick Appearance Setup” select a layout from the Main Layout window and then select “OK”

13) Now with Foobar still open lets add/remove your Music folders.

Go to File, Preferences, Media Library . Note: If for some reason your music doesn’t scan in this way then go to File, Add Location and put in the name of your location. So an example might be \\server\music\flac.

14) In my setup I removed the default C: drive folder and added my NAS path. Then Click on “Apply”.

15) This could take a while depending on how big your library is.

Part 2: Installing Bitperfect

Configuring Wasapi for Foobar

General Info:

Bypassing Windows Mixer
Wasapi Support

Step 1: Go to the Foobar2000 components page here and click the link for WASAPI output support. Then download the latest file from the Download button.

The following dialog is displayed.

Click Save file and save the zip file to your hard drive. Then unzip the file and copy the file foo_out_wasapi.dll into your Foobar2000 component folder. Mine was located at “C:\Program Files (x86)\foobar200\components”.

Step 2: Open Foobar2000 and select File, Preferences. In this window select “Components” from the list to verify that WASAPI output support is available.

Then go to “Playback” and “Output” and Select the appropriate WASAPI device in the Output Device drop down list. This is how it looked for my setup when I first went in.

Then I selected Wasapi:AMD HDMI Output (2-AMD HDAD)

Then select “Apply “

Notes: If you experience choppy playback try reducing the Buffer Length to 250ms.

Part 3: Setting up Remote Control

Now onto the Remote App for your Android device to control this all.

Now lets go grab a remote app from the android market . Here is a list of some. I am using the Foobar2000 Controller in this example. If you have an Iphone here is an app .

Step 1: To install and set up the Foobar2000 Controller App.

Download and install the Foobar2000 Controller App from the app store for your device’s platform. NOTE: The App will only be available for download there if it is supported by your device.

Step2: Download files needed for Foobar2000 on the PC to talk with the App.

1) Unzip the foo_httpcontrol file. In the unzipped folder there DLL file (” foo_httpcontrol.dll”). Copy this file into your FooBar2000 components directory (default:”C:\program files\foobar2000\components\”). \”). If running Windows 7 it may be under Program Files (x86).

2) Unzip the Playback Statistics component. In the unzipped folder there DLL file (” foo_playcount.dll”). Copy this file into your FooBar2000 components directory (default:”C:\program files\foobar2000\components\”). If running Windows 7 it may be under Program Files (x86).

3) Unzip the Foobar2000controlller file. Then Copy the “foo_httcontrol_data” folder to “C:\users\yourusername\appdata\roaming\foobar2000”. So it should then be “C:\users\yourusername\appdata\roaming\foobar2000\foo_httcontrol_data”

4) Once that’s done, run Foobar2000. At this point you may get a firewall warning asking if you want to let Foobar2000 access the network. Let it through – we need it to be able to communicate over the network for what we’re doing. To verify the component loaded correctly, go into Preferences (Ctrl+P) > Tools > HTTP Control. You should see something like this. In the Listen on put in the IP address of the pc that is running foobar. Also make sure “Start Server” is checked and it should say Open http://youripaddress:8888 ignore what my setup says.

Setting up the Android Remote Control Client

Now, make sure that your android device is on your WiFi run foobar2000 Controller.

Step 1: Setup the Server

You will be greeted with a configuration screen. Click on “Add new server”

Then you will see the following screen popup. We need to select the paper/pencil icon to add a new server.

Now you will see the “Server Management” screen. Here we need to “Name” the server, Fill in the “IP(*)” Address of your PC running foobar, and fill in the “MAC” address info of the PC running foobar.

Then click on “Save Changes” which will bring you out to the following screen.

If you highlight the server “Fooserver” in this example then select “Check Connectivity” you should get “Conntected Successfully” message at the bottom of the screen.

Now you can go back to the main screen and you should see something like the following once you select the “Play” button

Step 3: There are two other views

If you select the drop down arrow you will see a 3 bar window which changes the view like this.

Otherwise the long bar/short bar/shorter bar gives you this look.

Step 4: There is also a few different ways to playback files

Looking at the main screen the third button from the left allows the following:

Default

Repeat Playlist

Repeat Track

Random

Shuffle Tracks

Shuffle Albums

Shuffle Folders

Step 5: You can manage any settings while foobar2000 is playing select the toolbar icon and then “settings” icon. This allows you to add/change servers, and other items to customize if you wish.

Also the seekbar/volume bar work for controlling your music playback which I find a plus.

Enjoy your Music Playback!

BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS

Squeezeplay with Tablet Control for Music and Internet Radio Playback (with Sqeezeslave)

This excellent guide was completely compiled by user cburbs for the guides. This is an excellent way to control and play your music from your HTPC using an Android tablet. (At the end of the guide I will also show you how to use Squeezeslave)

SqueezePlay is the desktop version of the Jive / Squeezebox Controller software. It provides an audio player with roughly the same look and feel as Squeezebox user interfaces, for browsing and playing music and internet streams on your personal computer.

OS Supported: Mac, Linux, Windows

Step 1: Now we need to go grab a copy of the SqueezePlay(7.7 Current Version) & Logitech Media Server(current version 7.7.1) from HERE. We need the Squeezeplay file and the LMS file as highlighted. In this example I am installing both the Squeezeplay and the LMS on my PC. There are options of installing LMS on a NAS(WHS/unRAID/Freenas/Vortexbox) but that won’t be covered here.

Select the LogitechMediaServer v7.7.1

Then select LogitechMediaServer-7.7.1exe

and save the files.

Step2: Now go find your LogitechMediaServer and run the EXE setup file.

Step3: Now we need to do a few things within LMS. The Control panel should be up and you should see something like this:

Step4: Setup your music library – So while still in the control panel select the “Library” tab. Under Media Source you can delete anything in there. Then click on “Add” and browse to where your music is located. In my example I have it z:\music\flac.

Step5: Next click on the “Account” tab and if you have a squeezebox account you can fill in your info here. If not you can set one up by going to Squeezebox.

Step6: Click on the “Advanced” tab and then select the “Web Remote Control” and you should see a window similar to the following. This is where you can get into more settings for your LMS. There are some links at the bottom for more info.

Step 7: Go back to the Status tab and scan your music in.

Now while we wait for that to scan we can install Squeezeplay.

Step 1: Install Squeezeplay on your PC.

Step2: Choose your Language – English

Step3: Welcome Screen …choose Continue

Step 4: Libraries – Select the correct name of where LMS was installed.

Step 5: Now you should see the following window.

Step 6: If you click “Artist” then you should see the following

Also note you need to have squeezplay running so you could have it autostart when your PC starts up.

1. Click the Windows “Start” button and select “All Programs.” Right-click the “Startup” folder and select “Open All Users.” This option opens the start up folder for all users on the computer. Choose “Explore” to open the folder for the currently logged-in user only.

2. Now go to the folder where Squeezeplay was installed and copy the exe file and paste this shortcut in the startup folder which you opened in first step.

Now next time when you boot Windows 7, the file or folder or program which you had added will be started automatically while booting.

Now onto the Remote App for your Android device to control this all.

Now lets go grab a remote app from the android market

Here is a list of some. I am using the Logitech Squeezebox Controller in this example. If you have an Iphone here is the same app .

To install and set up the Logitech Squeezebox Controller App:

Step1: Download and install the Logitech Squeezebox Controller App from the app store for your device’s platform.

NOTE: The App will only be available for download there if it is supported by your device.

Step 2: Launch the App and Click on “I Agree” for the software agreement

Step3: At the next screen enter your MySqueezebox.com credentials when prompted. If you don’t have one then select “Need an account? Create one here”.

Step 4: Select a player from the list of those displayed as available for you to control. In this example it is “Squeezeplay”

Step 5: Start enjoying your music Select “My Music”

Select “Artist” from your screen

Select an artist to start playing

Step 8: If you want you can also playback Random by going back to the “My Music”

And selecting “Random Mix” and choose song mix, album mix, artist mix, year m ix.

There is also Internet Radio available for playback. So go back to the “Home” screen

Select “Internet Radio”

You can choose from Staff Picks, Local

As well as music(Alt. Rock, Electronic, Hip-Hop, etc)

And even Sports Radio –

The next item to look at is “My Apps” from the Home screen.

These are apps that you signup for from the mysqueezebox.com. They include Rhapsody, Shoutcast, Slacker, Spotify, Live365, etc). I have Mediafly, Pandora(which only works if you have an actual physical device w/mac address. If you have a paid account then I was told this will work.)

There are many other options available that I didn’t cover but for more info/help see below.

General info regarding squeezplay & Squeezebox

Beginners Guide to Squeezebox

For more information on Logitech Media Server go here.

For more information see SqueezePlay – SqueezeboxWiki

TIP:

SqueezeSlave is a software music player that allows you to play music streamed from Logitech Media Server. SqueezeSlave has no graphical interface (GUI), but rather is run from a command line. There is wasapi, aio support for it as well. For more information see Squeezeslave Wiki.

OS Supported: Mac, Linux, Windows

Notes: Squeezslave is an alternative software player that can be used in place of squeezplay. Just replace the following setup in place of squeezeplay and follow the rest of the guide “Squeezeplay with Tablet Control for Music and Internet Radio Playback”

Step 1: Download/Setup Squeezeslave file

Go download the version you need of squeezeslave here. I chose the windows one that has Windows ASIO-Direct Sound-WASAPI All-in-one.

Go unzip the squeezeslave-1.1-311-win.zip file. I created a folder called C:\Squeezeslave and unzipped the files there. I am only going to be using the squeezeslave-wasapi.exe file in this setup.

Step 2: Find audio output.

To force SqueezeSlave to use a specific audio out, you need to find out how it “numbers” the audio devices on your HTPC. All you need to do is run squeezeslave with the -L option in a command window. In my setup I have the main file stored at C:\Squeezeslave. So open up the command prompt window by going to run, type “cmd”. Then I need to get to my folder so I typed “C:\squeezeslave” in the dos prompt.

Then type “squeezeslave-wasapi.exe –L” so we see the list of audio out available.

So in my case I selected output “1”. Rember this value as it is needed for the batch file we will be creating.

Step 3: Create batch file for Squeezeslave. Squeezeslave command line info

Squeezelsave can be run by itself as a command or you can create a batch file to make things easier. Here is my batch file (copy it and save it as squeezeslave.bat). Here it is as a .txt file for you to download.

@echo off
:start
echo “Launching SqueezeSlave”
“C:\PATH_TO_SQUEEZESLAVE\squeezeslave-wasapi-0.9-184.exe” –o1 -D -m00:00:00:00:00:ff –retry IP_OR_HOSTNAME_OF_SERVER
echo “Warning: SqueezeSlave exited…”
echo “Sleeping for 10 seconds”
rem sleep 10
ping 127.0.0.1 -n 11 >NUL
goto start

The batch file is pretty simple, but you will need to edit a few things:

  1. Be sure you have the correct Path setup – in my example it is “C:\squeezeslave\-wasapi-0.9-184.exe”
  2. Change “N” value in the -oN to the device that you want to use so in my example it is –o1 as I want to use the AMD HDMI WASAPI out.
  3. Change the macaddress -mXX… to a virtual MAC address you want to be assigned to your player. This can really be anything unique.
  4. Where is says IP_Hostname_OF_server this is the IP address or hostname of your Logitech Media ServerNotes:The -D option enables a text interface that emulates a squeezebox display.The –retry option and batch file loop insures that if there is a problem, SqueezeSlave will keep trying or restart. I’ve found this handy (see below).Also for WASAPI, make sure that your audio device supports exclusive mode and the 44.1Khz sample rate. You can check this under Audio Properties in Windows 7 as shown below:

Here is what the command window looks like when running SqueezeSlave:

Step 4: Automatically start Squeezeslave on boot

1. Click the Windows “Start” button and select “All Programs.” Right-click the “Startup” folder and select “Open All Users.” This option opens the start up folder for all users on the computer. Choose “Explore” to open the folder for the currently logged-in user only.

2. Now go to the folder where Squeezslave was installed and copy the batch file and paste this shortcut in the startup folder which you opened in first step.

Now next time when you boot Windows 7, the file or folder or program which you had added will be started automatically while booting.

BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS

Launch XBMC Seamlessly From WMC

This guide will show you how to launch XBMC from WMC. So if you want to use WMC for live TV but XBMC for everything else you now have that option. You also can have both WMC+Media Browser and XBMC installed and use each one depending on what you are trying to do.

First download the XBMC launcher here:

Install the program

Now open WMC. Look for the XBMC icon and select it

XBMC will now launch

When you want to return to WMC simply shutdown XBMC

And now you are back in WMC! So now you can toggle between WMC and XBMC depending on what you want to use!

BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS

Installing and Using CrashPlan

Hard drives fail.  Computer hardware gets lost, damaged, or even stolen. So Assassin HTPC has created a tutorial on how to use a program called CrashPlan.

There are many online options for backup storage of your critical PC files but one of our favorites is CrashPlan which is an online cloud service that offers different options for automatically backing up (and encrypting) all or some of your data to one of their servers if you create a paid account with them for as low as a few dollars a month. The program can be downloaded to Mac, PC, Linux and Solaris.

For this guide we have created an account for a single Computer with Unlimited Storage which is what we recommend for most users but explore the different account types and how much storage space you might use. Please note that while some may use this service for backup of their entire HTPC including media files (not recommended as a viable option for those with extremely large libraries) what we really recommend is to backup your irreplaceable files such as family photos, family movies, personal documents, etc.

To begin, go to their site www.crashplan.com and download the free backup software (Windows 7 64 Bit link here)

Once the application is finished and installed you’ll start to create your account using the on-screen prompts

Then click purchase

Again for this guide we chose the Unlimited Storage Space option for One computer (e.g. a HTPC server), but depending on your personal needs you may need to chose another option. You can always go to the account settings and change your account type later

CrashPlan gives you the option of creating a yearly or month-to-month account if you want to try it out for a bit. You’ll save a little bit of money by purchasing a longer account, and they also give you the option to auto-renew if you would like.

A few other options to consider are their restore plans. If you don’t want to wait to download all your data in the event that you need it (which is free but can take many days or weeks depending on the size of your data) they also include additional plans in case you need your data restored faster. In one plan they will ship you a blank hard drive with information on how to download your data back to the drive which by the looks of it is essentially using a torrent file to re-download your information to your computer.

The other option is that they send a hard drive with your information already loaded on it, which costs more and could take a little bit more time depending on the shipping rates you choose.

Once you’ve completed your purchase you’ll get your receipt that will review your purchase and show your license key. If you purchased your account using the same steps we show in the guide your license key should already be copied to the program, but if not, you’ll have to copy and paste it from your receipt.

Once your account has been verified it’s time to configure the program itself to schedule backups, set bandwidth allocation and so on.

First, let’s set the folder that you want to backup. Remember that once these are setup its is “set it and forget it” and CrashPlan will automatically update and upload whatever is placed in these specific folders. So make sure you set exactly what you want CrashPlan to upload.

Here I have selected some Administrator files from my server, data from my desktop PC, family camcorder movies, and of course family pictures

Next, you’ll need to set your idle timers. Personally I chose to set the idle timer to Three Hours (180 minutes) that way the program won’t be using resources while you’re trying to stream a movie from your HTPC to another device or downloading files, for example.

Under the Backup tab you can also schedule when CrashPlan will automatically upload your files. I recommend setting a time when you know you won’t be using your computer for streaming, downloading or uploading so CrashPlan won’t use additional resources you may need for playback and so on.

I personally chose to have the program run from 1AM to 6AM, everyday.

Under the security tab you can require a password to view the files under CrashPlan. This is completely optional as CrashPlan will already be encrypting the files while they upload to their online servers

If you do decide you want to add another computer you’ll have to do so in your account settings and then go to Destinations in the application itself (on the newly added computer) and follow the on-screen instructions to add it to your account

Once you’re ready to start your first back up (which will take quite a while depending on your total amount of data. For my home server it took almost 2 weeks for me to back up about 100GB of data) go to the Online tab within Destinations and click Start Backup. If you set up your backups to run at a scheduled time, they will automatically start at that time

You can always check the status of your backup by bringing up the CrashPlan application by right clicking on the tray icon by your clock and selecting “Show Application,” and then go to the ‘Backup” tab on the left-hand side of the application.  The first backup will take a very long time because it will be backing up all your data that you selected.  Subsequent updates will be much quicker because it will update only the changes but prepare for the first update to take a long time.  As you can see below, it took us about 21 hours to run our first backup at our office

CrashPlan is great in that after you set the folders that you want to have backed up it will automatically backup your data on the schedule you selected above. So, for example, when you come home from a family vacation and drop the pictures from your digital camera into your “Family Photos” folder CrashPlan will automatically upload these the next time it runs.

Another great service they offer is that every week they will send you a CrashPlan report showing you what is backed up, what new data was received, etc since your last weekly report. An example from my home server is below

BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS

CrashPlan Mobile App

Crashplan also has a mobile app that you can download for iOS, Android, and Windows Phones.

The app allows you to access your backed up files so you can view, edit, and download the files to your mobile phone so you can have all of your documents on the go!

A Crashplan+ Account is required to use the mobile app, so unfortunately you will NOT be able to use these features with the free trial version. The apps are free for all platforms.

Once you download the app (Which you can find at their website http://www.crashplan.com/consumer/mobile.html, the Amazon App Store, Google Play Store or the Apple App Store), all you need to do is log in to your account to gain access to all of your backed up files.

Once inside your account you can easily navigate through your files and choose to download them to your mobile app as shown in the example which is located in the Desktop folder for this example: Shipping Label.gif

If you edit the file on your mobile device it will automatically be uploaded back to CrashPlan with the changes intact and according to their site it will only upload the CHANGES made to the file itself. For instance, if you download a text document and edit it on your mobile device by adding a new paragraph it will upload the file with the changes intact!

Depending on which version you are using (iOS, Windows Phone or Android) if you delete the CrashPlan App from your phone the files may or may not still be on your device.

For more information, or to find out even more features that can be found in the mobile app please refer to the Crashplan Mobile App website: http://support.crashplan.com/doku.php/mobile

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©Copyright 2011 by assassin @ assassinHTPCblog. All rights reserved. This guide and its contents are copyrighted by assassin @ assassinHTPCblog.

This may be used for personal use by the purchaser only; users are forbidden to reproduce, republish, redistribute or resell and material from this guide without the permission of assassin @ assassinHTPCblog.

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