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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I still do not have an htpc (or even a DVD rom for that matter), but that's gonna change in the near future.. as such, i have not used any software players. from what i see here, windvd and powerdvd (i think) are the most used players.. i also see a whole lot of people complaining about different things...

now here is my question/proposal for all of you. I am a programmer and have some free time, so i wouldnt mind writing some utilities to make life easier (no i wont write a whole new dvd player program :)) ... what i could do is write some sort of program to make macros, react to certain events and wahtnot .. i havent played with any pc remote control packages but I've seen a bunch where you can emulate keyboard strokes with remote.. so essentially fully programmable.. so if you could have some convenience features on your HTPC, what would it be?

(did I mention the software will be free?)
 

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That element of HTPC use has been pretty powerfully (if not user friendly) covered with Girder ( www.girder.nl )...


I think SW to provide the audio features of a pre / pro via the newer mulit channel soundcards is a likely future project / hot topic...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
well good to know that someone out there already wrote something .. i'll have to check it out when i get an HTPC .. as far as the whole pre/pro thing.. that goes beyond my current programming knowledge ... :)
 

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Free time? Wow. What a concept :D.


You know, Girder is great, but it sure could be a little...um...easier to use. Maybe efforts expended towards this oft-requested goal would provide maximum benefit for the good of the community.
 

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...or a software HDTV player...
 

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Mark,


Please do exert yourself in the Girder direction. Anything you write would be so much more user friendly and bullet proof.


BVH
 

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How about a front end for EASILY building an web based remote control.


Or even make it the complete web server?


Drag and drop of buttons, right click to set all of the properties ( like which IR code to fire, which X10 code to fire... ). A database of MP3's, DVD, CD's with artwork that connects right up to this server. Everything in the HT controlled from a remote web page, with the interface pages designed by the software...


I am working on a web based interface for the 3Com Audrey, and figuring out all of the back end stuff is really taking the fun away from designing the interface.:D


Brian
 

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This would probably cost something but...


How about a digital encoder? Like a DD5.1 encoder. It would sit between your soundcard and other programs and turn stereo into 5 channels and subwoofer. I'd be pretty happy if it just virtualized it so all channels were relatively the same power, but you could do more complicated things.


Basically:

I've got a Herc Game Theater XP hooked up only via the digital output to my receiver. Normally when I'm doing stuff like watching a Divx, playing a Dreamcast game, watching something on DScaler or playing an MP3, I get only stereo sound. Only when I watch a DVD or something else with AC3 sound do I get all the speakers working.


What I'd like:

Software took analog inputs, wave input, directsound input and made it something that went out over the digital out and was picked up by a receiver as multi-channel.
 

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Quote:
that goes beyond my current programming knowledge
May I suggest that this is exactly what you should be working on? Take advantage of your free time to try something beyond what you have done before, increase your skills, and make yourself more capable and marketable in the future.
 

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Namlemez, I know you've heard about the nForce possibly doing this, but the question is how real time?


It doesn't make much sense to encode something which can be more easily sent out through the analog out.


EDIT: But I agree just basic 5.1 utilization over digital out would be nice. Not meaning DD or DTS but just something.


I think the better way to go would be to basically use the HTPC to decode everything and send it to the amps. We're very close to this. Even with a "cheaper" than high-end GTXP.


The only thing that is missing is EQ functions, better bass management, distance settings, etc. I think that this method could achieve the same quality and results as the external method, and much quicker. If your receiver has 5.1 inputs, try running some good analog patch cables from your GTXP into your 5.1 inputs and see what you hear. DD5.1 passthrough is not a problem for me anymore with software DVD players, but DTS remains very troublesome unless I use WinDVD. It will be much easier to decode DTS and send analog channels out than try and pass it to an external receiver.


The GTXP was a pain at first because I used digital output to my receiver for most everything except games. Then with the new drivers and new Power DVD XP coming out, I don't have to switch from one ouput to the other. Everything uses the 5.1 outs on the back of the card to their fullest.


Apparently Cliff Watson has something in the works for preamp software, I don't know whether it will be for the Midiman cards only. If it is the I will have to buy one of those bad boys.


I just have too many headaches figuring out where to run this input or that output or have this switched on, etc. We need cards with more inputs, and we'll be set. The HTPC was a great add-on to the HT but now, with this step the shelves are getting fewer and fewer on the rack.
 

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I'm going to have to plug Dean's CQC control software. It's pretty slick and polished. I have been playing around with the QuadScan driver, and it works quite well. There are some timing issues I'm still working on, but I believe that is a QuadScan problem. With Dean's software, I can control every function of the QuadScan through a nice UI, plus I have defined CQC macros that I have programmed into my Pronto to perform more elaborate source selection and aspect control.


In comparison, I spent weeks and weeks trying to get this stuff working under Girder. I finally got the QuadScan working after discovering the Serial driver for Girder didn't work. After the developer fixed that problem, things worked a lot better. I will skip the rest of the ugly story. IMO Girder is much harder to use and not near as powerful as Dean's control software potentially is. That being said, I believe with some work, Girder could be much improved and be more useful.


I think for automating HT components, Dean is on exactly the right track. I'm anxious to try out my next device (projector probably) with CQC.


Chris
 

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hmcgrath,


Help me understand why you're so hot on an audio card that passes multichannel analog out, a pre-amp on a card, so to speak? I would never want such a thing. I would much rather pass multi-channel digital from a single digital cable to a consumer pre-amp that is designed to accept multiple digital inputs.


Is it cost? Is it DVD-Audio? What's the attraction?


Chris
 

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there are sound cards perfectly capable of doing what you speak of. The Delta Theatre should be out soon.:) see the thread on the front page.


I have never been able to get a reliable DTS stream to fly over digital out.


The external video processors/scalers have already been brought inside the HTPC, now we are looking at bringing the sound decoders in as well.


Most of the applicable cards are external for the most part.


speaking of 5.1, we just had a 5.1 earthquake. I should stop saying 5.1 now.
 

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Quote:
I have never been able to get a reliable DTS stream to fly over digital out.
I've been doing this for a while with WinDVD and PowerDVD under Win98SE.


Sorry I still don't see the point in such a card. But I also think it's cool they're building it. Enjoy!

Quote:
we just had a 5.1 earthquake
That's a good one, I didn't feel it up north.


Chris
 

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I take the DTS part back. WinDVD 3.0 is rock solid, but it has inferior PQ IMO and I don't like its feature set. Every other player I've tried can't make it stick. Maybe its my sound card.


I just feel that taking sources originating from the PC and sending them out for processing is unneccesary and a step backwards.


If I had tons of money I would ignore this, and get the best consumer equipment that money could buy. Ease of use and setup.


its a good thing I wasn't talking 7.1!!!!!! 22 miles away.
 

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Hey ! Announcing you have some free time and coding knowledge is very risky as, by definition, the htpc is an evolving thing. That's part of why we all chose this way among others.


But most of things we want are not easy and/or quick to do.


My (reasonable) suggestions ;
  • try and use Girder. If you think the tool is cool, then come and talk on the Girder developper forum and look for areas where things can be done. Girder uses plugin so third party developement is easy to do. Support for grab-card based remote controls is not good today. Sure some work on this and would allow the growing number of grab card users to use the associated remote with Girder
  • learn about DScaler, use it some, and if you think it can be useful to you and interesting, join the team, there's plenty to do also
 

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I have to agree with the main sentiment here...Help with Dscaler or Girder.


Girder developers are looking at adding an http daemon to girder to handle better web-automation, inclufing hooks for php and perl. This will be cool.


Dscaler could really do with some work on the tuner section, and the sound support there. As it was originally designed as a scaler/de-interlacer for use with a composite or svideo card, the tuner support is still basic.

Features that I'd like to see are channel-list support so that I can name channels, and a sound mixer interface that the average user can understand...(me included ;))


A third option that would be really cool would be to try to hook Dscaler into the Zoom player front-end GUI. Zoom player currently deals with DVDs and media files, but AFAIK has no support for input cards. Obviously the support would have to be modular as they are 2 separate projects from 2 different teams...
 

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Thanks for the good words, Chris. Your $20 is in the mail :) I think that one big difference is between having a program that can be made to talk to a device, and have a program that has a specific device driver for that device, that knows about that device's issues and limitations. It becomes much more of a plug-n-play proposition in that case.


I should have a few more device drivers here soon, and I'll make a new release available. This will include an X-10 controller, so hopefully I'll be able to get a few more testers.
 

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Hey Dean,


I am interested in testing your software but I dont fit your current evaluation requirements equipment wise.


My setup:

Electrohome M8000

Extron DVS150 Scaler

X-10 CM11A

NT 4.0 server with 4 Win98 workstations


Please let me know if you will be adding these drivers soon.
 
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