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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
HOW TO: Using a Harmony Remote to control XBMC, Hulu Desktop and Netflix (Windows Media Center)


I did a lot of research and tinkering to find a way to control a htpc and switch between different media applications only using the remote and trying to make it as user friendly as possible. I needed this to pass the wife acceptance test - W.A.T. for short



Below is a video of the solution I came up with. For the most part, a very seamless integration of XBMC, Hulu Desktop, and Netflix using the Windows Media Center plugin. I also threw Boxee on there after this video was shot.



I only have a dual core Athlon II X2 2.65 ghz so one of the challenges was making sure only one application was running at a time because having two of them running at once really taxed the cpu.


========================================================


Requirements:


1) Software

- XBMC ( http://xbmc.org/ )

- Hulu Desktop

- Windows Media Center with Netflix Plugin

- WinHotKey ( http://directedge.us/content/winhotkey )

- AutoHotKey ( http://www.autohotkey.com )


2) Harmony Remote Control


3) A RC6 capable receiver


========================================================

Steps:

1) Harmony Remote Setup - Im not going to go through the whole setup process for the Harmony Remote. Go here to read full instructions: http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?t=77519 . One caveat, I had to also add a device called "Microsoft Windows Media Center" as a device to get the htpc to turn off and on. I am also posting my button mapping for the Harmony remote. I have found these to be a good mix to allow use in all three major applications. These keys are optimized for XBMC, so some of the special ones only pertain to XBMC. Lastly, make sure to change the power settings on your htpc to sleep when the power button is pushed.











2) Create a bat file to launch directly to the Netflix plugin in Windows Media center. Open up Notepad in Windows and type:


Start windowsmediacenterapp:{e6f46126-f8a9-4a97-9159-b70b07890112}\\{982ea9d3-915c-4713-a3c8-99a4688b7c59}?EntryPointParameters=


Save the file as netflix.bat (or whatever you want). Just make sure it is saved as a .bat file.

3) Create the AutoHotKey scripts. AutoHotKey is a neat little utility that allows you to write custom scripts that do things when executed. I only scratched the surface on what it can do. The idea is to have a script executed that will launch a certain application, maximize the windows of that application, and kill any of the other major applications in the background. For example, when I execute the Netflix script, it will first check to see if NetFlix is already running and if so, focus on it and maximize the window. Otherwise, it will launch the bat file above in step 2 and then look for XBMC and Hulu and see if they are running. If they are, they kill them in the background. The same thing is done for XBMC except it looks to kill Netflix (Windows Media Center) and Hulu. Please note, all examples below also include Boxee in the kill process. All scripts are written in Note Pad and saved as a .ahk file.


Script for XBMC:

Quote:
IfWinExist XBMC

{

WinActivate


}

else

{

Run C:\\Program Files (x86)\\XBMC\\XBMC.exe

WinWait XBMC

WinActivate


}


IfWinExist, Hulu Desktop

WinClose ;


IfWinExist, Windows Media Center

WinClose ;


IfWinExist, BOXEE

WinClose ;

Script for Netflix:

Quote:
IfWinExist Windows Media Center

{

WinActivate

WinMaximize ;

}

else

{

Run C:\\Users\\Jason\\Desktop\

etflix app.bat

WinWait Windows Media Center

WinActivate

WinMaximize ;

}


IfWinExist, XBMC

WinClose ;


IfWinExist, Hulu Desktop

WinClose ;


IfWinExist, BOXEE

WinClose ;

Script for Hulu:

Quote:
IfWinExist Hulu Desktop

{

WinActivate

WinMaximize ;

}

else

{

Run C:\\Users\\htpc\\AppData\\Local\\HuluDesktop\\HuluDesktop.ex e

WinWait Hulu Desktop

WinActivate

WinMaximize ;

}


IfWinExist, XBMC

WinClose ;


IfWinExist, Windows Media Center

WinClose ;


IfWinExist, BOXEE

WinClose ;

Note: Make sure that .ahk files are associated with AutoHotKey. I had issues downloading and installing AutoHotKey so let me know if you need help here.

4) Set Windows to auto start your preferred application. For me that application is XBMC. Go to Start > All Programs > Right click on the Startup folder and select "Explore for all users". This will open a Windows Explorer box of the Startup folder. Copy one of your AutoHotKey scripts to this folder. This way when Windows starts, the script to launch, say XBMC, is triggered.

5) Setup WinHotKey to map a specific keyboard key to launching your scripts. For me I used F8-F11. Make sure you uncheck "When I press these keys:" so that ONLY the F keys are needed to be pushed in order to trigger the launch command. Im not sure if the Harmony remote can do custom key presses like windows key + F10 which is why I have this unchecked. In the dropdown for "I want WinHotKey to:" choose 'Open a Document'. Make sure that whatever keys you select here to launch your scripts is mapped to the same custom keys on your Harmony Remote.

 

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Thanks. I'm going to try it but using the color buttons on a MCE remote to switch between XBMC and Netflix. I don't have a Harmony but may go that route later.

I'm only using Win Media Center so I can get to Netflix. XBMC is my main front end.


Patrick
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by plew /forum/post/19590265


Thanks. I'm going to try it but using the color buttons on a MCE remote to switch between XBMC and Netflix. I don't have a Harmony but may go that route later.

I'm only using Win Media Center so I can get to Netflix. XBMC is my main front end.


Patrick

Cool, wasnt sure you could reprogram the keys on a MCE remote. If you can, those colored buttons will be perfect. Red = Netflix, Green - Hulu
 

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Shaxs, Great write up. It went very smoothly. Only change was where my executables were. I got my MCE remote working with large green button for XBMC, red button for Netflix, and green button for Hulu. Hulu is new for me. Everything is working seamlessly. Thanks again. Patrick
 

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Thanks shaxs this has been really useful. I was using hulu integration before, it would open/close media center/hulu perfectly but it would not focus media center. So when I would close hulu and it would automatically open media center I could see MCE but could also see the taskbar so it wasnt focused.


This has fixed it and I have removed hulu integration. One problem I am having is I have noticed more crashes in hulu. It would happen before when you open hulu sometimes it would crash. I am having this problem but it is more frequent and I am wondering if the batch file is doing it.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by shaxs /forum/post/19632678


Very odd. Im not having any Hulu crashes on two machines. The batch file should only be used for Windows Media Center.

I guess I miss spoke. I meant the autohotkey scripted. I will keep testing it but just seemed like weird timing that it was crashing more frequently all of a sudden.
 

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UPDATE: Working great. I have figured out the crashing, so videos that autoplay are sometimes buggy. I noticed it later on that it would keep crashing until I was able to pick some other video.


Thread deserves a bump.
 

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I know this is an old topic but I have a question regarding Boxee Launching

I created an autohotkey script that launches Boxee but will not kill the other applications running, whether it be XBMC, Hulu or Neflix.

Here is the script:
Quote:
IfWinExist Boxee

{

WinActivate


}

else

{

Run C:\\Program Files (x86)\\Boxee\\Boxee.exe

WinWait Boxee

WinActivate


}


IfWinExist, Hulu Desktop

WinClose ;


IfWinExist, Windows Media Center

WinClose ;


IfWinExist, XBMC

WinClose ;

Am I missing something?? Im not really a programmer so it is very possible
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Humm...


Try this:


IfWinExist Boxee

{

WinActivate


}

else

{

Run C:\\Program Files (x86)\\Boxee\\Boxee.exe

WinWait Boxee

WinActivate
WinMaximize ;

}


IfWinExist, Hulu Desktop

WinClose ;


IfWinExist, Windows Media Center

WinClose ;


IfWinExist, XBMC

WinClose ;
 
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