Switch Between XBMC and WMC with Harmony One Remote - AVS Forum
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Old 02-04-2013, 09:47 AM - Thread Starter
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I am trying to find a way to seamlessly and more important, reliably switch between XBMC and WMC. I want to use XBMC for all my movies and ripped tv shows, and WMC for live tv and recorded tv (from a Ceton Infinitv).

I am using a Harmony One remote which I set up per Assassin’s guide with an activity (Watch HTPC) that only gives me the option of starting at the MCE Start page. However, I want XBMC to be the default program so I installed the XMBCLauncher (again, per Assassin’s guide). The problem with this though is that it doesn’t seem like I can get into WMC at all anymore. If I try to open WMC, XBMC launches.

I tried using Autohotkey and winhotkey to create scripts which I then linked to F10 and F11. The plan was then to create custom buttons on the remote (Watch XBMC and Watch WMC) to map to these keys. Again, both hotkeys launch XBMC. I tried uninstalling the XBMC launcher to test the theory and it sort of worked. Occasionally, it would get hung up and I’d get nothing but a black screen. I run into more trouble when I switch activities (to Play Playstation for example) and then switch back. The remote wants to restart the MCE startup page. Sometimes it would work, but then it wouldn’t recognize the F10 or F11 commands. So, I’m not sure this is the most reliable method.

In short, this is what I would like to do:

-Launch XBMC by pressing the Watch HTPC activity button on the remote
-Have a custom button that will close (or minimize) XBMC and open WMC
-Have another custom button that will close (or minimize) WMC and return me to XBMC

I’m looking for something simple that my wife and kids will be able to use without help from me.
Any help would be appreciated.

ASRock Z77 Extreme4-M motherboard; Intel i3-3225, 3.30 GHz, HD Graphics 4000 processor, Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit; Ceton InfiniTV 4 PCI; Pioneer PDP-5080HD 1366 x 768 Plasma Display; Marantz SR5009; Logitech Harmony Ultimate; XBMC Frodo 12.0; Aeon Mq3
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Old 02-04-2013, 09:59 AM
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In my experience it is really hard to get the remote to send a computer command at the right moment. But it is very easy to implement custom buttons to close, activate and maximize different programs. My recommendation would be to get that working first. If you search there was a thread with step by step instructions on xbmc and switching to Netflix, same idea but different programs. Let me know if you have trouble finding it
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Old 02-04-2013, 10:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Is it this one?
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1295315/how-to-use-a-harmony-remote-to-seamlessly-use-xbmc-hulu-desktop-and-netflix
That's the one that I used to write the scripts.
The difference is that I want to launch directly into XBMC when I press the "Watch HTPC" activity button so I used the XBMC launcher. This won't allow WMC to open. Maybe there is another way to do this.
I tried to follow the setup the OP referred to at he top of the post,but it's old and the screenshots have been removed so I'm not sure how it's actually set up. When I set up the device, I used Windows Media Center SE as the model. When it came time to set up the activity I chose MCE Startpage when I was asked what input or channel does my Microsoft Media Center PC need to be on. All the other options seem to be different menus within WMC. Again, maybe something different I could do here?

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Old 02-04-2013, 10:39 AM
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I know that pressing either GUIDE or LIVETV will trigger WMC. I use MediaPortal and WMC (for CableCard) and found this out. I also have sacrificed the "0" button and reassigned "Alt""F4" to close any application in view. I open MediaPortal by Pinning it to the 1st position on the taskbar and have assigned "Win""1" to trigger it... I suppose I could do the same for the WMC but why when GUIDE and LiveTV do that already!
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Old 02-04-2013, 10:51 AM - Thread Starter
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I didn't know you could do that with pinning. I'll have to give that a shot.
I think I would still need a way for the activity to open XBMC instead of WMC without using the XBMC launcher. The launcher seems to make WMC unusable as it opens XBMC instead

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Old 02-04-2013, 11:56 AM
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Have you tried installing the XBMC Integration app? It allows you to initiate XBMC from within Media Center. When you exit XBMC it returns you to WMC. I know there are options within WMC that allow you to specify which part of WMC you want to access by default when WMC starts up, but I don't recall if you have the option to access everything from the menu that's in addition to the stock WMC options. You may be able to specify XBMC from the startup options if it's included. Here's the link:

http://xbmcwmc.teknowebworks.com/
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Old 02-04-2013, 01:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Maybe somebody can confirm this, but I believe that just starts you at the desired menu option within WMC and you would still have to select it to launch XBMC. I know it seems like a small detail, but I'd like to have XBMC launch without that additional button press/click. Also, I believe that was one of the times the system would choke a little. Say I launched XBMC from WMC and left it, then switched over to a different activity. When I want to come back, the remote wants to restart the WMC start page even though the PC is already open to XBMC.

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Old 02-04-2013, 02:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpercival View Post

Maybe somebody can confirm this, but I believe that just starts you at the desired menu option within WMC and you would still have to select it to launch XBMC. I know it seems like a small detail, but I'd like to have XBMC launch without that additional button press/click. Also, I believe that was one of the times the system would choke a little. Say I launched XBMC from WMC and left it, then switched over to a different activity. When I want to come back, the remote wants to restart the WMC start page even though the PC is already open to XBMC.
I believe this is correct if using the XBMC Integration app. You get into WMC and then select XBMC from the main menu. However, when you exit XBMC it takes you right back into WMC. I'm not sure you can exit XBMC and switch to another activity without going through WMC first. I believe what the app does is exit WMC when you select XBMC and gets you into the XBMC UI. When you exit XBMC, it completely shuts down XBMC and restarts the WMC UI. WMC is still running in the background to allow any scheduled recordings to take place even while in XBMC.

You can't have them both open at the same time when using the integration app. The only way to have them open simultaneously is if you aren't using the integration app. You simply minimize WMC and start XBMC from the task bar, start menu, or desktop shortcut. When you exit XBMC it will then take you back to the desktop where you can maximize the WMC window.
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Old 02-04-2013, 02:14 PM
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I was using this tool recently

While running the integration app, you can leave XBMC and launch a new instance of WMC (and do other activities)

When I went back to XBMC and clicked "exit" the running "new" WMC instance was brought to the front. If there was no "new" WMC instance then presumably the old one was re-launched. Everything else is relegated to the back either way
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Old 02-04-2013, 02:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok, so maybe the integration app is messing things up. I'll try disabling that and using the launch XBMC and WMC Autohotkey scripts again.
I still need to figure out a way to have XBMC launch when I hit the "Watch HTPC" activity button on the remote. Is there a way to disable WMC from starting when I enter the activity? It would help if it just left the computer focused on whatever it's focused on instead of forcing it to go to the WMC start page, one of its submenus or the desktop.

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Old 02-04-2013, 02:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Dark_Slayer,
I'm trying to follow your post and I apologize, but I don't quite understand what you're saying.
You start the activity which launches WMC. You then launch XBMC through the integration app in WMC. Then you switch to another activity (Play Playstation for example) and when you come back to this one, another instance of WMC automatically launches. So you now have XBMC and 2 Instances of WMC running. You then launch XBMC again and close it which brings you back to the second instance of WMC. Is that what you are saying? From what captain_video is saying, it doesn't sound like XBMC and WMC can be open at the same time if the integration app is installed.
I feel more confused

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Old 02-04-2013, 03:15 PM
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Apologies, I never really read the OP

A very easy way to launch multiple programs from any remote that can send keyboard commands is just to pin their shortcuts to your taskbar (keep them in order though)

For instance . . . Pin WMC to your taskbar and move it to position #1 (far left) then pin XBMC to your taskbar right next to that (position #2)

Now map win+1 to whatever you would like to launch WMC and win+2 to whatever you would like to launch XBMC. Both programs should run just fine at the same time

Quote:
Originally Posted by cpercival View Post

Dark_Slayer,
I'm trying to follow your post and I apologize, but I don't quite understand what you're saying.
You start the activity which launches WMC. You then launch XBMC through the integration app in WMC. Then you switch to another activity (Play Playstation for example) and when you come back to this one, another instance of WMC automatically launches. So you now have XBMC and 2 Instances of WMC running. You then launch XBMC again and close it which brings you back to the second instance of WMC. Is that what you are saying? From what captain_video is saying, it doesn't sound like XBMC and WMC can be open at the same time if the integration app is installed.
I feel more confused

The only time WMC launches instantly from the integration tool setup we were discussing is when you EXIT from the XBMC. If you Alt+Tab out of it to do something else nothing happens. If you were to Alt+Tab then launch WMC, and then go back to XBMC and THEN exit, the previously launched WMC would be brought to the front. It sounds more confusing than it is, bottom line it will keep WMC open whenever XBMC is closed and doesn't prevent you from alt+tabbing and launching (or shortcut launching like win+1) another instance of WMC
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Old 02-04-2013, 03:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok, this makes more sense. Sorry about that. I'm going to play around with everything when I get home. I think I'm still missing a way to make xbmc launch automatically when I press the watch htpc activity button on the remote without any additional remote button presses, but still also allow wmc to function.

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Old 02-04-2013, 08:24 PM
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Hi cpercival,
I just finished setting up my HTPC that uses the exact setup you are looking for: XBMC for all media and WMC for TV and recording and also using a Harmony One remote.

What I did is setup three activities on my remote:
1. XBMC
2. Live TV
3. Recorded TV

I pinned XBMC to the start bar so by using Win+1 I can launch the app.

In the activity setup on the remote, I have the following (going by memory as I don't have it in front of me)
XBMC: Send Win+1 command (I think that is using the SE device)
Live TV: Send "Live TV" command (using MCE remote device)
Recorded TV: Send "Record TV" command (using MCE remote device)

One issue you might encounter is related to sound.
WMC, as a Microsoft app, hijacks the sound so that when switching over from WMC to XBMC you still hear the sounds from WMC (unless you close the app).
If you mute WMC, it'll mute your whole PC.

For my needs, I wanted both WMC and XBMC to always run and not launch on demand (WAF).

This can fixed pretty easy, but it does require a bit overhead.
This is what I did:
1. Install the NirCMD tool (http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/nircmd.html)
2. Create two batch scripts:
a. WMCSound with the following two commands:
nircmd setappvolume xbmc.exe 0 (sets the volume for XBMC to 0)
nircmd setappvolume ehshell.exe 50 (sets the volume for WMC to 50)
b XBMCSound (same as above but WMC to 0 and XBMC to 50)
3. Pinned both scripts to the windows bar
4. Change the activities in the remote to first execute the script and then run the app.
With XBMC is was simple: Command will be first Win+2 and then Win+1.
With Live TV/Record TV it is a bit trickier as I am using the MCE remote built in commands and the activity requires you to select an input source. What I did is to create a new input called NOOP that does nothing and that is the first command that the Live TV/ Record TV executes. Then do the Win+3 to run the script and then the Live TV/Record TV MCE command.

This works almost perfectly and the only issue is that when switching between apps you see a glimpse of the OS and batch window. It's very quick and passes the WAF, so not a biggie, but still annoys me.

Hope this helps and let me know if you have any more questions.

BTW, this my first HTPC and first time I'm using WMC and XBMC (was using Boxee Box until now), so I don't know a lot more then I know.

Cheers,
Eran
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Old 02-05-2013, 06:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Thought I'd report in-

So I think I got it working. I did as suggested and pinned XBMC and WMC to the taskbar and created buttons on the remote to fire Win+1 and Win+2 signals. I didn't give it a very thorough check, but it does seem to be working. To have the "Watch HTPC" activity button on my remote start in XBMC I just added another IR command at the end of the macro that fires the Win+1 signal. By the time my display has turned on XBMC is already up and running so I never even see WMC.

I did notice the WMC audio priority. I was testing out the live TV and switched over to XBMC and could still hear the audio from the tuned channel. I ended up switching back and just hitting stop on the remote and it seemed to take care of the problem. I think I will try the scripts to do it automatically as I want my setup to be as wife and kid friendly as possible.

Thanks to everyone who contributed an opinion or thought. You all were a great help.

I will post back if I run into more trouble, but hopefully you won't hear from me again- at least not in this thread;)

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Old 02-05-2013, 10:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpercival View Post

I did notice the WMC audio priority. I was testing out the live TV and switched over to XBMC and could still hear the audio from the tuned channel. I ended up switching back and just hitting stop on the remote and it seemed to take care of the problem. I think I will try the scripts to do it automatically as I want my setup to be as wife and kid friendly as possible.

Glad things are ~working

This audio "lock" is only in effect when media is playing (from your test that happened to be live TV, but could be music or a recording from WMC). When you stop it, XBMC audio will work just fine (even with WMC in the background)

If you add Ctrl+Shift+S to the beginning of whatever macro starts XBMC from WMC then it will always stop (that's the keyboard shortcut for Stop in WMC). Fortunately, it's a combination that shouldn't cause any adverse action if you were to press it from anywhere else (once it's programmed it will run whether or not WMC was open)

The only thing to be careful of is watching live tv and pressing record. I think that pressing stop at that point would stop the recording, but none of this ever affects a "scheduled" recording only if you ask WMC to record the live buffer you're tuned to
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