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Big Screen EPG Renewals system is Live..

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It’s been almost 2 years now since Big Screen EPG for WIndows 7 Media Center went on sale for the first time– and that means the first batch of paid/subscribing users are almost at the end of their 2 year subscription period.

Up until now there wasn’t any easy way to resubscribe using the same serial number (as of course no one needed to yet) – so I spent a bit of time upgrading the purchase system to handle this functionality.

The Renew feature has been added to your bigscreenglobal.com account page (just click on ‘Account’ once you’ve logged into your account) – so just click on the appropriate link (next to the subscription you wish to extend) – and it will take you through the purchase wizard with that subscription selected.

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Discount for Early Bird Re-Subscribers (+ a small discount for those who aren’t as quick)

As a reward for those who’ve gotten behind this product and previously purchased it – I decided to offer a special discount to those who are renewing (applicable when you renew an existing Big Screen EPG license).

First up there’s an Early Bird discount – which gives you 25% off the original RRP (USD$19.95). This discount will be automatically applied when you go to renew your subscription from now up until 14 days past the expiry date (for example : If your license was due to expire on 1st August 2012 – you have up until 15th August 2012 to get this Early Bird discount)..

If you miss out on the Early Bird discount – then a smaller discount of 10% off the original RRP will be automatically applied to your purchase.

Note that you don’t need any special discount code for these – assuming you’ve clicked on the Renew link – the site will work out which discount you are eligible for and apply it.

Once you’ve renewed – don’t forget to load the Big Screen EPG configuration tool and re-activate your product so that it picks up the new expiry dates.

 

Notes on Windows 8 support

For those that missed it earlier – there is now a Windows 8 specific version of Big Screen EPG (released along with the v1.5a windows 7 version update back in March of this year) – and available for download right now on the Big Screen EPG product page.  If you’re not sure if you are going to upgrade – or you’re running the WIn8 CP (Consumer Preview) – and you might go back to Windows 7 – the good news is the Big Screen EPG license is allowed to be used on both WIndows 7 and Windows 8 (no need to purchase a separate license). As it’s a family license – the main rule is still you can run Big Screen EPG on up to 5 pc’s inside your house – and it doesn’t matter if they are Windows 7 or 8 versions.

Thus far although the Windows 8 version is officially considered to be an unsupported beta product (as is Windows 8 CP) – it appears everything is working as it should – I’ve been personally running Big Screen EPG on Windows 8 CP for over 3 months now and it hasn’t missed a beat.  Further good news is that all indications from Microsoft are that what you see in the Windows 8 CP is the exact same build/version of Media Center that you will see available with the final release of Windows 8 later this year (so nothing is expected to break or require further work in Big Screen EPG when that does happen).

The bad news of course (for HTPC enthusiasts) is that Microsoft is all but strangling the Media Center platform to death with their recent decision to remove it from the intended Windows 8 o/s SKU’s and make it an additional addon only (which also requires you update to the Professional SKU of Windows 8 before you are eligible).  For this reason it’s entirely likely many of you who are giving Windows 8 CP a spin on your HTPC machines may revert back to Windows 7 if you are forced to pay a whole lot extra for it at release.

 

 

So anyhow that’s the news on Big Screen EPG – so don’t forget to go and renew your subscriptions before they expire and you lose your ‘Pro’ features from the product (or do so within 14 days post expiration to get the Early Bird discount).  Also don’t forget to re-activate your installed versions to pick up the new subscription expiry dates if you renew!

Written by mobilewares

May 29, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Launched: Big Screen byRemote 1.0a (Final Release)

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The final version (v1.0a) of Big Screen byRemote has now been made available and is now available for download for all registered bigscreenglobal.com users.

This final release comes in two flavours –

  • A *FREE* “Basic Edition” (which never expires) – and offers the majority of the functionality you’ve so far seen in the beta versions (with a few minor limitations on the Silverlight client – and with no restrictions on the Mobile XHTML client).
  • A “Pro Edition” ($TBA) – which will in future offer some additional/new functionality – plus remove any restrictions/limitations of the Basic Edition. Note that the Pro Edition is not yet available for purchase – and will be made available sometime in the future (when this new functionality is added).

Note that users who download/register byRemote on their PC’s will be automatically given ‘trial’ access to the Pro Edition (Currently hardcoded to December 1st, 2010 – but will likely be extended) – and when that expiry date is reached the software will drop back to the “Basic Edition” – which will never expire.

Additionally – those who purchase the Windows Phone 7 native client (available soon via Windows Marketplace) – will only need to use the free “Basic Edition” to get the full functionality from the native client (so no purchase beyond Windows Marketplace will be required).

The new version contains a few improvements to the previous beta version (v0.6x releases) such as :

  • Enhanced Silverlight UI with numerous bug fixes and some minor visual enhancements to the existing functionality.
  • Extended Support for the Windows Phone 7 client (which will be available soon via Windows Phone Marketplace).
  • Enhanced support/fixes for those using reverse proxies (and other more complex networking setups where IP Address/URL is remapped/routed)
  • Note that the IUI (IPad/iPhone) specific browser experience has been dropped for this release and most users preferred the XHTML client anyhow on these devices (and the IUI based client will be rewritten in future).
 
byRemote 1.0 Silverlight v4 client

 

Now that the final release milestone has been reached – I’d like to again say “thank-you” to all those who participated in the beta of this product (and provided tons of great feedback, bug reports and suggestions) – and helped make this final version possible – and for part of this thank-you I’ve made this Basic Edition product free forever (so hope this keeps many users happy!).

I look forward to further enhancing this product in future..



Written by mobilewares

October 24, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Annoucement : byRemote WP7 Launched + FREE byRemote Server (Basic Edition)!

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I’m proud to announce that the final version of Big Screen byRemote for Windows Phone 7 was submitted to the Windows Phone Marketplace this morning for certification – and should hopefully be available for Trial and Purchase in time for the global Handset launch next week (Oct 21 in Europe/Asia/AU/NZ).

Secondly – I’m also happy to announce that the v1.0 ‘Basic Edition’ of Big Screen byRemote (the bit you install on Windows 7 Media Center) – to be launched shortly – will be made available completely FOR FREE with no expiry date! (as in free beer, free food etc).

The ‘Basic Edition’ will contain most of the functionality you are getting right now in the Beta version (with a few minor limitations/exclusions – but no show stoppers) – and will be all that is required if you want to run the Windows Phone 7 client (or other native mobile clients which may appear in future) – plus will offer the Silverlight 4 browser client and XHTML Mobile editions. Over the coming months – I also intend to launch a ‘Pro Edition’ for purchase which will contain some new and exciting features (plus no limitations) – and will be optionally available for purchase . 

  Pictured Above : Big Screen byRemote for Windows Phone 7 Main Hub…
 
 
 
 
 

 

Pricing Information

As mentioned – since the Host Server (Basic Edition) is going to be made available for free (and all you require to run the WP7 client) – it’s intended that users will be asked to pay a small amount for the native mobile clients (when purchasing via the Windows Phone 7 App Marketplace). The initial price for the Windows Phone 7 version will be set to be USD$4.99 – which can be installed on up to 5 devices which share a Windows Live account (note : the 5 device per login limitation is that which is enforced by Marketplace).  I’m still getting my head around how the pricing gets converted to other currencies – but I believe this is around EURO4.50. 

A (non expiring) Trial version will also be available on Windows Phone Marketplace – and will allow you to preview all the functionality you will get (but restricts what channels you can view / and limits the scheduling capabilities to your first 3 channels).

Also – for those who haven’t been keeping up with the WP7 press launch – when purchasing from Windows Marketplace (on WP7) – you should be able to either use your credit card (and will be processed by Microsoft) – or you can charge the purchase directly to your phone bill (nb: this second option is carrier dependant – so may not be available in some cases).

Pricing for the ‘Pro Edition’ of the Server will be decided at a later date as feature set is finalized (but should be a very reasonable/cheap price).

 

Enhanced Windows Phone 7 features (since the previous video)

The actual WP7 client has been substantially improved/reworked since the video I posted a couple of weeks ago (of it running on the prototype Samsung Taylor device which I’d only had for less than 24 hours at the time). This ranges in changes to the look and feel of the UX (including flows such as what information is presented where) – and was made to feel more like the other bundled apps you get with your WP7 device. Some of the major changes in the final version include the What’s On tiles on the main hub, grouping of the child pages (like now showing/by channel) into single pages with Pivots and single data fetch (and similar for most of the other functionality), jump lists in results (similar to the a-z indexing you get in WP7 contacts view) – plus a substantially improved data fetching and tombstoning mechanism.  I also realized I’d gone a bit overkill on some of the page flipping animations (which was out of kilter with the other WP7 apps) – so this has been santized somewhat too (and works much better).

I’ll get around to posting an updated video over the next few days of the final client (probably running on the emulator as I now need to wait until I can buy a launch model next week) – but please find some screenshots below to get a better idea of what the final version looks like :

              

 

           

I’ll also post some more information on the Big Screen byRemote  Host Server final version – when it’s available for download (coming very shortly)!…

Written by mobilewares

October 13, 2010 at 11:51 pm

Enable unlimited number of tuners in Windows 7 Media Center (with Big Screen EPG)

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This feature has been often requested by Windows 7 users (who want to configure more than 4 tuners in Media Center) – and although I figured this out a while back (during Beta2) – I wasn’t allowed to reveal/share how this was actually done.

Since the cat’s now finally out of the bag – I’m happy to finally be able to reveal the ability to do this has actually been built into Big Screen EPG for probably 1.5 years now – since v0.2beta (and I previously couldn’t reveal it due to it being a secret – but given this other tool has now been released – it’s no longer the case).

I’ve been personally using 6 x DVB-T tuners on my own system for a while now – and although it was a little flakey in the past (with some tuners having signal strength issues – probably due to my booster/splitter not being good enough) – the June/July Cumulative updates seem to have stabilized it somewhat.

To utilize this feature – you need to have v0.2beta (ie. Feb 2009 release or later) of Big Screen EPG (v1.0b final is latest version) – and do the following –

  1. Install all the tuners you wish to use on Windows 7 (so drivers etc are installed in Device Manager).
  2. Do an initial Live TV Setup in Media Center so the country defaults are loaded in (so go to at least the point where you start scanning for stations – and you can stop the scan straight away if you want).  Don’t setup any epg’s etc at this point – it’s just important that the database is initialized.
  3. Open a command prompt (preferably run as administrator).
  4. change to the Big Screen EPG Install Directory :
    ie. ‘cd %Program Files%Big ScreenEpg’
  5. Run the bsetool.exe using the –pimptuner command line option (as follows ) :

    Syntax : bsetool.exe –pimptuner:<numberoftuners>:<vss-locale>

    ie.    To Enable up to 32 tuners for Australia (locale = ‘vss-au’)

    bsetool.exe –pimptuner:16:vss-au

    image 

    Note: For other countries – find out the correct iso country code and insert it there –

    ie..  

    vss-gb : UK
    vss-nz : New Zealand
    vss-no : Norway
    vss-de : Germany
    vss-dk : Denmark
    vss-ca : Canada
    etc..etc..

    Note that for the USA – it’s a little different and I think you can just use ‘vss’ by itself (although doing same command line with ‘vss-us’ won’t hurt either).

  6. Now go back into Windows 7 Media Center and run the live tv setup again (run the setup tv signal so it wipes your existing configuration) – and presto – all your additional tuners will be available in the list (where normally it would only show you the first 4 tuners at most in the past).

That’s it – enjoy – and now there’s absolutely no reason not to upgrade to Windows 7 Media Center (I know a bunch of you were sticking with MCE2005 and Vista RTM for this reason)…

 

Written by mobilewares

August 13, 2010 at 6:01 pm

Posted in Windows 7

Big Screen EPG wins ‘Best Commercial Application for Windows Media Center’ at TDL Awards 2009

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I’m pleased to announce that Big Screen EPG has taken won the “Best Commercial Application for Windows Media Center” category in The Digital Lifestyle.com 2009 Awards (Click link for podcast).  

A huge thanks to everyone who voted for this product (I’m humbled)– and even bigger thanks to all the beta testers out there who have helped shape this product into what it is today (by providing your feedback, bug reports).  As many of you know – the actual paid version of this product is not yet actually available – however the beta is available for everyone to try (with current expiry of 1-May-2010) – so click here for more information on how to get registered.

I won’t put any spoilers on this blog post – but you can see the full list of winners/runners up for all the TDL 2009 Awards on this blog post  (if you don’t want to listen to the podcast) – congratulations to all the other winners (and nominees).

 

Written by mobilewares

February 11, 2010 at 10:58 pm

Posted in Windows 7

Windows Media Center SDK v6 (for Windows 7) RTM Released ….

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The final version of the Windows Media Center SDK for Windows 7 was released on MSDN yesterday and is available for download from the following link :

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=542fc60e-f3c4-43a0-8dad-b8f14a485a74

There’s pretty much nothing new to see, do or use (except some updated/finalized documentation) – if you’ve already downloaded the pre-release versions (which came out initially at PDC along with the M3 release of Win7 back in Nov’08 – and then was later updated for Windows 7 Release Candidate in January this year). Please see my previous posts Media Center SDK v6.0 (for Windows 7 Build 7000) and iTv Applications + Media Center SDK v6.0 (Windows 7 M3) First Impressions for more information there.

In fact – unless your after some pretty specific (and less than useful) changes offered in the Win7 incarnation of this SDK – my best advice to developers would be to completely give this SDK a miss – and instead revert back to Vista Media Center SDK /along with Vista Dev platform (if you do plan on persisting with Media Center development).

The reason for this is that while you’ll get pretty much nothing to shout about in this new SDK over Vista, the big downside is that your app’s created with this SDK (and compiled against WIndows 7 Media Center API’s) will not work in Vista.  Whereas – if you develop against the Vista API’s – and tweak your Installer’s accordingly – your apps should work fine on Windows 7 (nb: if you’re developing against the ehRec dll’s or some of the other “non MCPL” functionality this may break on TVPack or Windows 7).  At the moment (and at least for next 6-12 months) – the market for Windows 7 Media Center users would be pretty small (well even smaller than Vista that is) – so you’re better off ensuring you’re supporting both these platforms.

All in all – this SDK is a big disappointment for developers – as while the Windows 7 platform and new versions of Media Center are great products (and a big improvements over Vista) – the minimal API changes completely missed out on taking advantage some of any of great new features (ie. no support for Multi Touch, no support for the new EPG database, etc and the list goes on.. ). It’s a laundry list of what ‘could have been’…

While MCPL (Media Center Presentation Layer) started off looking like a very promising dev platform (when it appeared during the Vista Beta) – the enthusiasm from Microsoft (and along with it the support and follow through you’d expect from a dev platform) – died a quick and sudden death pretty much after Vista was released. This is very apparent when you look at the lack of changes/enhancements for MCPL offered in this new SDK (most of which are simply ‘quick win’ helper classes offering no more functionality than what was already possible), the death of Media Center focused developer blogging, and the complete lack of support being offered by MS on their dev sites (while you can get some answers for some of the non MCPL API’s – getting an answer beyond ‘go look at the sdk’ is a real challenge). 

So … some wise(?) advice to those wanting to creating 10 foot applications (with a UI – as opposed to a background addin or desktop utility) – is perhaps you’d get a lot more mileage looking at some developer options other than MCPL.

Instead – the majority of alternate options for development are enabled via the support for IE browser hosted addins – which in turn allow you to use Silverlight, Flash and even WPF/XBAP applications (which can still be used in the browser ‘host’ – regardless of whether they have token ‘native’ support by Media Center). All of these alternative platforms seem to go the full 9 yards and the whole dev and release cycle seem to have been properly thought out and followed through (wheras MCPL offered very raw dev support with no WYSIWYG designers, poor documentation – and as mentioned the ‘actual’ developer support was non existent – and any hope of future enhancements or improvements looks extremely bleak). 

The news isn’t all bad for Media Center dev’s on Windows 7 though if you look beyond the SDK – as the functionality offered by the new MXF spec and ‘loadmxf’ functionality (documented in a different place on MSDN altogether) – have enabled a bunch of cool stuff to be done with the new Media Center EPG database – like my own app ‘Big Screen EPG’ … 8)…   As mentioned above though – don’t expect the actual SDK to give you any more bling in this area – as there’s no decent API hooks into the new EPG database or TV/PVR functionality to take advantage of this (ie. the recording/pvr hooks seem to still be written based on functionality introduced in the 5 yr old MCE2005 EPG and are severely lacking , and the complete lack of ‘more with this’ extensibility hooks to the new EPG and TV Series related pages in Media Center). 

Anyhow – going forward – I’m not sure where things are heading for Windows 8 with Media Center Development as a whole – and it’s looking unlikely that MCPL will ever be touched again with the new ‘TV on your PC’ push (rather than ‘PC’ or ‘Extender on your TV’ line) – and almost complete lack of engagement with the community of MCPL developers from the Extensibility team (who seem to have so far completely ignored ‘misplaced’ all the suggestions/feedback and requests for developer enhancements on MCPL made by so many of us – after being asked to spend loads of time doing so). 

I hope I’m wrong – and that things will all get better – only time will tell (and perhaps if I received some replies to my emails I’d be better informed too – but for now it’s the ‘mushroom treatment’ for all of us)…  I do hope Microsoft’s MC Extensibility team make some actual decisions one way or another on all this (rather than sitting on the fence and not doing anything properly) – and I’d be happy if they would focus on a smaller subset of enhancements and do them ‘properly’ – such as real extensibility and hooks  into the Media Center internals – and leave the UI stuff to the pro’s (ie. Silverlight, WPF or XNA teams) – who do understand the whole end to end cycle of developing UI centric API’s.

Written by mobilewares

August 16, 2009 at 7:22 am

Posted in Windows 7

Updated: Big Screen EPG v0.4e Released

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On Friday (to coincide with the RTM release of Windows 7 to Technet and MSDN) – a new update for Big Screen EPG (a 3rd party EPG Importer for Windows 7) was launched – v0.4e. Registered users can download it now from http://bigscreenglobal.com – or if you want to sign up (its free) – please see the instructions as per previous post.

The changes in the version include a full/comprehensive Windows HTML Help File (as full docs have been missing in previous v0.4x releases), reinstatement of the ‘Rescan Providers Wizard’ and ‘Toggle Channel Logos in grid’ functions (also missing since v0.3x), some fixes – and some new new features for Auto Mapping of imported EPG Listings to Media Center Channels. (which will make things a lot easier for UK and DVB-S users with loads of channels).

Additionally (available via same download page) – v0.7 of a new utility BSXFix (Big Screen EPG XMLTV File Fixer) was released. This utility (as the name suggests) – will auto-repair/fix up XMLTV files that contain invalid/undeclared ‘XML Entities’ – so they can be imported into Big Screen EPG (or another XML parser) without errors. This was developed as many ‘xmltv’ online sources have been generated via ‘scraping’ HTML based web sites – and hence carried through metadata which was invalid in the context of XML (ie. usage of HTML only entities such as ‘&pound; ‘ etc which haven’t been properly ‘declared’ in the XML file header).

The ‘fixed’ expiry date for the ‘trial version’ has also been extended to November 1st, 2009 (about a week after the launch of Windows 7 to retail) – which gives you an extra 2 months to play with the ‘full features’ of Big Screen EPG.  Users who have already installed a previous v0.4x release can simply run the ‘reverify registration’ function to pick up the new expiry date (v0.4e release is not required to enjoy this). 

Please also note  – once your Big Screen EPG ‘trial period’ expires this product will still continue to work – in a reduced *free* mode. (ie. it does not ‘stop working’ as incorrectly reported in quite a few blogs/forums – just to reiterate – the ‘trial’ mode is a trial of the ‘paid version’ which provides numerous additional features over the free version.)

Please see below for some more information on the Big Screen EPG v0.4e release (taken from the release notes).


Release Notes for v0.4e :

  • FYI: The download size for the installer has now jumped from 2.5mb to 6.5mb. This is due to the new help file being included (which is around 4mb compressed due to it containing a lot of screenshots/diagrams and text).
  • Added: Added full documentation for v0.4x (in form of Windows HTML Help File). This documentation can also be downloaded seperately.
  • Added: Added ‘Auto Classification Mapping’ tab on Channel Configuration – allows similar concept to the ‘Auto Genre Mapping’ – where Classifications can be automatically assigned on a ‘per channel basis’
  • Added: (Experimental) Advanced EPG Channel > Tuned Channel mapping functionality (currently testing against DVB-S UK sources) – for users with tuner types who can’t utilize ‘auto’ channel number or callsign matching (and needed to manually add listing to each channel in 7MC). Note that this is not available for STB’s (not possible with mxf functionality provided with RC or RTM releases) – but instead is for DVB-S (and DVB-S2/C/T… I think) – and uses the actual tuning locator info for matching (ie. ‘DVBx:xx:xx:xx:xx:etc’). For those that use DVB-S and have loads of channels – this will make you very happy campers (I think) – and probably save you 1000 odd remote control clicks.
  • Enhanced: Reinstated/Added ‘Rescan Providers’ function so that new Channels, Genres and Classifications can be picked up from existing configured providers. For Australian users – this is important due to the release of new FTA Digital channels – which will appear over time in your XMLTV Sources (Channel Nine’s GO! is being launched today, Channel 7 will release their new channel in next 2 months and ABC will release ABC3 in December).
  • Enhanced: Reinstated the ‘Toggle Channel Logos in Grid’ (due to some users wanting to be able to turn of Logos in Grid – and have them appear in info/details area only).
  • Fixed: V0.4a-d was ignoring the TimeZone shift minutes setting for providers.

 

Written by mobilewares

August 9, 2009 at 2:12 am

Posted in Windows 7