HMV Digital for Windows Media Center

Please forgive the sales pitch but this project has been a labour of love for us and we are very proud of it.

HMV Digital’s Online Spotlight application is finally live!

From the Media Center main menu, navigate to ‘Spotlight’ and then from the ‘Showcase’ tab select HMV Digital or, if you don’t have MCE, you can browse the store in IE, but like all MCE applications, outside of Media Center the functionality is limited.  Have a look around, it may even convince you to go out and purchase a Media Center PC!

This incarnation of HMV Digital supports permanent downloads as well as subscription steaming and subscription downloads and if you do have an HMV Unlimited subscription then you’ll find this is excellent for parties, leave the remote lying around and let your friends add anything from the 2 million+ track library to the queue and listen for hours!

If you have an XBox 360 or any Intel Viiv device then even better because this HMV Digital is supported on the Extender.

As always with HMV Digital if you have a Plays For Sure Digital Player you can sync up your downloads to your device and take them on road…

The service is not yet part of Spotlight for Windows Vista but you can add it to the ‘more programs’ menu by following the instructions below:

Create an xml file called RegisterMCEApp.xml’ and paste the following into it

<application
      title="HMV Digital"
      id="{B0E0DD28-6C4C-40c4-A8A1-F7B686786940}"
      CompanyName="HMV">
   <entrypoint
          id="{B0E0DD28-6C4C-40c4-A8A1-F7B686786941}"
          url=
http://www.hmvdigital.com/HMV.Digital.MCE.Portal/
          title="HMV Digital"
          description="Digital Jukebox">
      <category category="More Programs"/>
   </entrypoint>
</application>

Next create a batch file with the following in it

c:\windows\ehome\RegisterMCEApp.exe /allusers RegisterMCEApp.xml
pause

Run the batch file from the same location as the xml file and you should see "success" displayed in the console.  If you navigate to ‘more programs’ in Media Center on Windows Vista you should have an icon called "HMV Digital".

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A Meme Experiment

Acephalous is conducting an experiment to track the progress of a meme across the internet.  By asking people to link to his post on the experiement and at the same time getting those that do link to beg their readers to do the same, he hopes to have something of interest to talk about during the Meet the Bloggers panel at MLA 2006.

So, to my limited readership…go blog, oh and chant after me…"By your command" in a really bad 80’s sci-fi evil robot type way.

Windows Vista and Office 2007 avaliable for download

The RTM drop of Microsoft Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007 are now both up on MSDN.  I’ve installed Office a couple of days ago and am almost as impressed as I was with Beta 2.  My biggest gripe is that I’d got used to the ‘Send’ button being on a ribbon in Outlook, but hey I’ll get used to it!
 
Having been stuck on Beta 2 of Vista for too long now I am looking forward to a clean install and to getting the Regatta Manager ported to the release code.  I am also looking forward to doing some new developments under the RTM version of WPF, especially as a couple of people have now said that it’s quite a bit faster than it used to be.  If that’s the case then kudos to the product team for getting some extra performance out of it in the last few weeks.
 
The one downside to all of this is that in about six months time the whole hype engine will start again with whatever the next set of new technologies will be (Orcas? Blackcomb?), there’s never any rest for the bleeding edge developer…I love it!

Team Test

About a month back we had need to do some load testing, and due to a misunderstanding about what exactly Visual Studio Team System for Software Testers included and how that was different to the Load Test Agent, I overlooked it and started looking for a free web load tester. 

I eventually realised we had the tool we needed already, but I am actually glad I didn’t for two reasons, first because it gave me a better appreciation for where VSTS for Software Testers comes from and second as I was new to how load testing works and what tools were availiable I think I came away with a better understanding of why and how it can lead to a better end product.

Whether or not there is a shared code base between the three load testing tools that Microsoft have produced I don’t know, but the similarities and evolution are unmistakeable.  There is a logical progression from the ‘Web Application Stress Tool’ through ATC and then Team Test.  The end result being a finely tuned piece of software with incredible power.  We managed to identify problem areas, bottlenecks, bad data, plus a whole host of other things using it that we wouldn’t have otherwise.

Team Test is an excellent product, but it’s big, so take the time to learn how to use it properly. 

Check out Bill Barnett’s blog as a starting point, and this post inparticular, the ‘Monitoring and Analyzing a Load Test Result’ article on MSDN, plus the MSDN training resources from the Visual Studio Team System Developer Center.

Impatience…

Why am I worrying over a few days wait to get the RTM versions of Vista and Office from MSDN?  It’s been so long in the coming you’d have thought I’d have bored of the hype…

Well I haven’t and that’s mostly because I am still using Beta 2.  Back around april I had to make a decision on which version of Vista and the WinFX (as it was still called back then) I was going to use for the Regatta Manager, at which point my home dev machine became a Vista PC, and as happens in the 6 months since then I’ve got it just how I want it.  Having now backed everything up, made sure I’ve got original media for all the utils, applications and powertoys I use day-to-day, I am itching to blank the machine and stick Vista RTM and Office RTM on there.

Boys with Toys…. 😀

My First Windows Live Writer Post

Well isn’t this just fantastic, I was impressed enough with the blogging tools in Word 2007, but it sucks if you want to do anything more than stick plain text in a post, and I often want to stick screenshots and photos in a blog entry, doing so has been (until now) something of a chore with MSN/Live Spaces.

But with Windows Live Writer it’s now quite easy to say, stick a photo of Archie in…

 

Or maybe even an aerial photo of my house.

So I think I will be making much use of this tool in the future!

Talking about Server-Side Asynchronous Methods for ASP.NET and WinFX

Karl Hulme has published his first article on CodeProject, so go along and give him a 5!

Server-Side Asynchronous Methods for ASP.NET and WinFX

It’s a well explained look at the subject, something I’ve been pushing for us to take advantage of here, but as has been raised, WinFX is another 20meg download, on top of .NET2.0 that’s pushing things…

Although I can definitely see advantages in putting it in place at the backend of the RegattaManager, although, before I rip the data layer out I’d better finish the new UI…