Big Screen EPG for Windows 7 Finally Released

If you have been using Windows Media Center for a while then you may remember Big Screen EPG for Vista MC.  If you aren’t familiar with this program, let me first point out that EPG stands Electronic Program Guide.  In a nutshell, this is the guide data that your DVR (in this case your PC) uses for shows, channels, times, etc.  They have been rather slow to get out a version for Windows 7, but it has finally arrived.

Media Center, of course, comes with guide data that updates regularly and, in general, is pretty good.  Big Screen EPG is more of an enhancement than a necessity.  It does add a fair amount of flexibility though.  Per their website:

► Import EPG Data from one or more XMLTV Based Sources

► Comes with an Easy to use Configuration Tool – providing Setup Wizards and intuitive Customization Functionality

► Intelligent Unique Program and Series Detection Features – allows more Reliable and Powerful Scheduled Recording in Media Center

► Automatic Series Matching and Image/Metadata Import – with an inbuilt database of over 20,000 shows

► Import Logos for all your Channels

► Runs when you’re not around using the Inbuilt Scheduled Task Management Helper

As far as price, it’s a great deal at $19.95 for a 2 year license that allows you to install it on up to 5 PC’s.  It’s compatible with IPTV sources as well.  The controls and setup wizards allow for an incredible amount of control.  And, the interface is simply beautiful.

In short, it’s a worthwhile add-on for your HTPC.  Again, not necessary, but, given the price and the great interface and controls, it’s certainly worth the small fee they are asking.

Why Microsoft Needs to Make a DVR…NOW

All of the recent buzz around Google TV has overshadowed a major Microsoft announcement regarding Windows 7 Embedded.  And that’s a shame for several reasons.  First, Google TV, while useful, is little more than a glorified search.  Yes, it’s useful to be able to search for a show, not only through TV channels and on-demand, but also throughout the web.  Second, Windows 7 Media Center is much more powerful and flexible than any DVR on the market, including TiVo.

Yes, Microsoft went down this road before, but they were a different company back then.  They were under investigation by the Justice Department for monopolistic and anti-competitive behavior.  And, by all accounts, when Bill Gates approached the cable companies about putting Media Center on their DVR’s he scared them off by trying to strong-arm them.  This was in the days of XP also, and that took a lot of processor power and would have made the DVR’s cost-prohibitive.

But, now we have Windows 7, which is light enough to run on today’s low end netbooks.  The new embedded is also completely componetized, meaning manufacturers can use only the parts of it they want.  It has Netflix built in, as well as internet TV, pictures, music and a wealth of plug-ins available, including Hulu.  It supports multiple tuners – not just the 2 that cable and satellite providers seem to think is acceptable.  And those tuners work every bit as well at recoding your TV shows as any DVR on the market.

Yes, you can plug a computer into your home theater, as I do, but let’s face it – this is not something the average user is going to be able to handle.  It may not be especially difficult, but it’s not easy enough for my mom and dad either.  There’s tuners to install and setups to do.

So now; with Roku coming on strong (although it’s not a DVR), TiVo’s latest release receiving rather bad reviews, Google TV not yet out, rumors of a new Apple TV, and cable DVR’s being severely underpowered; is the time for Microsoft to build, or hire a third party to build, a DVR.  They need to approach those cable and satellite companies again and have less of an attitude this time around.  Most of all they need to advertise the heck out of it.  They need to show their interface everywhere and let people see just how much their current DVR doesn’t do.

They waited too long to release the Zune and they lost out.  If they want to win the battle for our living rooms, and they’ve made overtures about this for years, they need to act quickly and decisively.

GNC-2007-09-18 #303

Back to normal show lengths here. This show is packed from end to end and I talk a little bit about my iPhone unlocking experience and T-Mobile Edge Slowness

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Show Notes:
Google Presntation
Proxy Server Operator calling it Quits
Vista and 13 Year old Virus
Can you go back to PC Once you go Mac?
Levelator has New Home
Self Chilling Sprite!
Apple Updates iTunes shuts door on one Ringtone Hack
Make a Bootable Mac External Drive
The Moon still holds a lot of Secrets
27 Blog Building Tips
90 GB Limit for Comcast Internet Users
Winamp at 10 Years
EFF Hiring
Apple Checksum Cracked
iPod Touch LCD Screen Issues
15 Free SEO Tools
Microsoft adds Slingbox capability to Media Center!
Sprint Airave
iPod Touch things it is a iPhone
Google Reader Subscribers
WordPress Blog gets Pulled
SightSpeed 6 Review
Miracle at the New York Times
Zimbra sold to Yahoo 350 Million
Do your turn your PC Off?
OpenOffice 2.3 Released
Universal blocks Music from iPod
Space Shuttle Needs Repairs
TSA Improvised Electronics Banned
So Sad Robert Jordan Dead at 58

GNC-2007-06-15 #276

Certain Phone company takes the brunt of the Soap box tonight. Strap in this is a wild ride on this show and congrats to our flag winner and listen tonight to win!

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Listener Links:
Shuttle Images
CNN Shuttle Info
Mars Oceans
Lost Pants Anyone!
Cool Link
SnapZ Pro
Podcast Rigs Great Resource

Show Notes:
ISS – Shuttle
PayPal Bank
8-Step Gadget Cure
How to be a Star =
Yahoo Photo RIP
YouTube = Google Accounts
Congrats Veoh
AT&T Death Star
PopFly Update
Brilliant Engadget Analysis
Does EveryZing Honor New Media Creators Content?
Veoh Traffic Surge
uLinkX Video Search
Comscore Whatever!
Storage for Perpetuity
Justin.TV Rig
TorrentSpy has to Spy
Global Broadband
Spectrum Hearings
85 Killer Resources
Safari Update
Ultimate iTunes Media Center
eBay smacks Google in Wallet
Safari 1 Million Downloads
Awesome Physics Simulators
Energy Hogs Need to Read
Boston U RIAA Battle
Mother Board Manufacture Images
ClearType Tweaks and Info