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Important DVB-T tuning Hotfix released for Australian Vista Media Center Users…

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Microsoft released a very (hugely) important hotfix for Australian Vista MediaCenter users yesterday – fixing a ‘localized’ issue that caused channels to completely disappear from the EPG/lineup at unpredictable times. For me this would occur every 1-2 weeks – and was normally only fixable by reinstalling the tuner card drivers , rerunning the entire EPG setup process from scratch and then rescheduling all the series recordings – a very unwelcome event. (although a small ‘trick’ using the miniguide occasionally worked). On quite a few occasions WAF dropped considerably – and MCE2005 was booted instead to restore peace (god forbid should we fail to record desperate housewives – even if the channel disappeared 10 minutes into the recording).

It’s not 100% clear who was at fault for this (or if it was even a ‘bug’) – as a couple of the Australian TV Stations (Channel Seven and SBS) were regularly changing around their subchannel lineup – which even seemed to affect many non Vista MediaCenter DVB-T viewers (ie even those with Set top boxes) . Australia also has a pretty weird/different implementation and set of laws regarding use of DVB-T – so this also makes it much harder for o/s based companies to handle all the subtleties of our systems (ie Commercial stations aren’t allowed to run any additional decent content with their subchannels – so use it for more random things like creating a ‘scoreboard channel’ while televising some live sport – and hence reconfigure them regularly.).

The ‘unreliability’ factor caused by this issue meant that the only real way to ensure you didn’t miss recordings was to doublecheck your system when the show started (so you could actually make sure it was recording) – and you simply couldn’t trust it not to happen if you were away on holidays. This also caused considerable headaches for OEM System Builders wishing to sell Vista Media Center PC’s – as helping a customer re-setup their tuners every couple of weeks would quite quickly drain their profit margin and might have made selling a machine a liability (and a guaranteed way to get an unhappy customer).

So as you can see – this hotfix brings a great deal of joy to us Aussies. Just to give you an idea – the thread discussing this on had a whopping 25956 views (with 579 replies across 58 pages).

There’s a couple of people who stepped out well and beyond the call of duty to make this hotfix available- and I thought I’d pay homage to them here   –

First off is Keith Chambers (a well-know/respected guy in the MediaCenter community) – who initially raised the issue with Microsoft – and then tirelessly monitored machines, kept logs, ran tests and did everything necessary to make this fix a reality (keep in mind this problem could not be readily reproduced locally – as it might have taken up to 7-14 days or so to occur – and AFIK could not be reproduced in the US at all due to different tv standards/systems). Keith did all this in his own time/expense – and showed considerable patience on this – thanks heaps!!

Also on the Microsoft side of things – ex-patriot Mike Hayton – championed the cause well and truely beyond what was considered part of his job. (he’s actually from New Zealand – but generally Australians like to claim any famous kiwis as their own – ie. Rusell Crowe, Mel Gibson, etc).  Not only did Mike get the fix created, tested  + released  – but he also made a huge effort to keep everyone in the loop via the forums – no matter whether it was on the weekend or middle of the night over there. (and this too made a big difference to the community – as many would have switched to other platforms if there had been no light at the end of the tunnel!)..  (Update : Mike Hayton tells me Mel Gibson is not a New Zealander…  Seems noone wants to claim Mel these days..)

So anyhow thanks guys  (and I’m sure a bunch of additional people were working behind the scenes on this too – like the Australian beta testers and devs at Microsoft) – and fingers crossed it brings an end to the problems.

Disclaimer : the author of this article also has a vested interest in having as many Aussies as possible using Vista Media Center (as they won’t be able to run his software – and might end up buying an AppleTv – ouch).  8)



Written by mobilewares

June 16, 2007 at 9:46 am

Posted in Vista MediaCenter

One Response

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  1. This happens in the UK all the time, they disappeared randomly and then when you tried getting them back by doing a "Scan for Additional Services" it would clumsilly overright the settings for the previous clone channel and be a complete abortion and screw teh whole of the EPG up…. When using MCE2005 I used to have use a MCE Reset utility to completely whipe all EPG settings, getting rid of scheduled recordings etc (major pain) and start from factory settings again, having to completely rescan for services. Unfortunately the utility no longer works for Vista as the guy developed it Mark Salloway has not updated the utility and the Beta he did of it has lapsed.….
    Is there anything else out there I can use….. would be great if M$ could build in a reset utility straight into the OS so you need not rely on third party developers to come up with these tools.


    October 4, 2007 at 10:27 pm

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