How to control your amplifier from the MCE IR-blaster

IR Blaster

I just upgraded my home entertainment system with a Pioneer VSX-915 amplifier. Meaning that I now connect my Home Theatre PC to the amp digitally through SPDIF.

To control the volume properly I have to use the volume on the amplifier and not adjust the volume out of my Media Center. The easiest solution is of course to use the remote of the amp, but I don’t want to use two remotes. I only want one remote in my living room and that is the MCE remote.

If you have a relatively new MCE remote you can easily program it to control your amplifier directly. The new MCE remotes has three programable buttons. The TV On / Off and the volume. You program the remote as described here.

But, I have my amplifier inside a cabinet. I could of course buy some kind of IR repeater to catch the remote signal outside the cabinet and beam it out inside to the amplifier.


But hey, the MCE remote reciever can be programmed as well, and it even includes a IR blaster to do exactly what you want: beam out IR signals to control a set top box (…or an amplifier).

This is what you need:
Continue reading “How to control your amplifier from the MCE IR-blaster”

How to control your amplifier from the MCE IR-blaster

Web Browser for Media Center Edition

MCE Browser

Browsing standard web pages on a TV screen with a remote is never very comfortable. Most web pages are made for navigation with a mouse and a keyboard.

Still, if you have a media center and an LCD screen it can be interesting to have a quick look at some news headlines, a couple of blogs or something like that.

Doing that from within media center has been difficult until now. Meet the MCE Browser. An excellent little plugin that gives you a browser with zoom functionallity and easy navigation with the arrow keys, OK and channel up/down for browsing links.

(Via Thomas Hawk and The F-Stop Blues)

Web Browser for Media Center Edition

Thomas Hawk reports from a dinner with Microsoft Exec Jim Allchin


Thomas Hawk has been fortunate enough to be invited to a dinner with Microsoft Exec Jim Allchin and a couple of very interesting bloggers and technologists. As usual he reports with info, thoughts and some excellent pictures.
Not a 100% confirmation, but maybe we will be able to upgrade our Win XP media centers with WMP 11 and get better handling of large media collections?

I also talked with Jim about Windows Media Player. Last April I complained to Jim at our meeting about how slow Media Center handled large digital media libraries. This of course has more to do with Windows Media Player than anything. As I’ve reported previously, Jim also confirmed that we should expect to see dramatic performance improvements for large digital libraries in Vista and Windows Media Player 11 (can I get a “hot donkey” please!).

I also asked Jim if Microsoft would be releasing a standalone version of Windows Media Player 11 for people with XP and he said that they would. Although it may not have all of the features as the player shipped with Vista and although Vista is the priority right now, Jim said that we could expect an XP version of the popular player down the road as well.

Head over to and read the rest. There are some updates and links to other discussions and blog posts at the end of his article.

(Screenshot of WMP11 from

Thomas Hawk reports from a dinner with Microsoft Exec Jim Allchin

Sudoku for MCE

MCE Sudoku

I don’t know how it is for the rest of the world, but in Norway there’s a complete Sudoku craze right now. A craze that’s so evident that I learned to hate Sudoku even before I had solved one single puzzle…

But for you Windows Media Center users out there that has joined the craze, this is good news. KMS Software has made a simple, yet excellent implementation of Sudoku. This is a game that is perfect for the TV screen and the remote control. Simply navigate with the arrow keys and enter numbers with the numeric keypad on the remote.


They have added a possibility to enter numbers as “maybe” to let you draft out as you play. They have also implemented the game so that it will remember your current puzzle until you start a new one. So, you can quit MCE, watch a movie etc. When you start Sudoku again it will present you with the last game you where working on.

I tried to install Sudoku on a computer running standard WinXP Pro and Meedio just to see if this game will work for non MCE users. No success so far.

KMS Software has a little collection of stuff for MCE and quite a bit coming up. Will be interesting to follow the popularity of small time killers like this one for MCE.

Sudoku for MCE

Two good news for the Media Center Community

The Green Button

The green button
is currently the most popular community for Windows Media Center Users. Unfortunately, the web site has performance issues, browser compatibility issues and problems with their search functionallity. That’s bad.

So for the good news:
1. The green button gets competition: Remotely Cool.
– Sounds like a promising project

2. The green button (TGB) gets a performance and functionallity boost
– TGB is a fantastic source of information for MCE users. Firefox support, good search, better RSS support and better performance in the works are lovely!

Seems like remotely cool is gone…

Via Thomas Hawk

Two good news for the Media Center Community