Category Archives: Windows Media Center

How to display Growl for Windows (CallerID info) alerts within Windows Media Center


I love me my Media Center.  We use it everyday as our main entertainment consumption (read: TV/Movie viewing) vehicle.  However, the HP Media Center m480n, despite many upgrades over time, suffers from from some serious shortcomings; random crashes, WinRot, inconsistent digital audio, and the killer for me, the inability to display HD Netflix streaming titles within MC.

Actually, it’s worse than that; it tries to display HD content within MC but fails miserably yet refuses to fail back to SD.  I could have tolerated it if there was a way to disable HD within the Netflix MC add-in but alas, there is not.  I was forced to use IE to watch Netflix HD streaming content and toggle the HD off.

This was a long way of saying that my frustration level finally exceeded my laziness and I built a replacement MCE machine.  Nothing fancy, in fact I built it from bits I had laying around from previous projects/consulting gigs (Intel DN2800MT, 80GB SSD, 2GB RAM, Win7 HomePrem, 1TB external USB drive).

Finally, To The Point
Growl logo
Growl logo

I use Growl for Windows to display the incoming CallerID information when a telephone call comes in.  I use it on all my desktop PCs and on the Media Center machine.  It works great with the standard bits on desktop machines but because Media Center takes over the display it would not work.  Google made short work of the problem by providing me a link to a solution.  Many thanks to Treas0on, whomever you are.

I have been using that code on my old machine for quite awhile and wanted it on the new one also.  I ran into a bit of trouble when I tried to run the install script for the Media Center add-in portion; it could not find gacutil.exe.  Gacutil is a bit of .NET mumbo-jumbo that is included with old versions (1.x, 2.x) of the framework but not the 4.x version I had installed on my new machine.  Not wanting to install the old versions simply to get that single utility I was able to find a source to download it.  I dropped it directly into the MCE-Install directory within C:\Windows\ehome.

Another key bit of info. that is missing from Treas0n’s original post is that you must run the install script with Administrator privileges.  Selecting ‘Run As Administrator’ didn’t seem to do it either so I manually started a CMD process as Administrator, cd’d over to C:\Windows\ehome\MCE-Install and ran it from there.  JOY!

Asterisk logo
Asterisk logo

For those of you wondering how I get the CallerID info. into a Growl notification I use a bit of custom code running on my Asterisk based home PBX.  What’s that you say?  You don’t have your own PBX running at your house?  It’s what all the cool geeks are doing these days.  😉

Netflix, or, “How not to change your business model.”

TechCrunch published a piece yesterday about the backlash to Netflix’s recent pricing changes.  This chart really brought it home for me.

With that single act, Netfix’s management brought the public’s perception of their company from rating higher than the next two competitors combined down to parity with the lowest sludge filled sub-basement level occupied by DirecTV.  DirecTV was formally owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation; <cough> a model of management efficiency and ethics if ever there was one <cough>.

Personally, Netflix is hanging by a thread in our household.  Their support for Windows Media Center, tenuous as it may be, is enough for me to keep the service for now.  If they should ever drop support for MCE I would drop Netflix quicker than you can say ‘cracked DVD’.

Change Windows XP user password via command line

I found myself needing to change the administrator’s password on my Windows XP machine today. I’ve used that account exactly twice; once to setup the machine and then to create the user account that I use every day. So no, I don’t remember the absurdly complex password I came up with 3 years ago when I built this machine.

Luckily, I’ve ignored my own advice and have granted admin privileges to my user account. Only users with admin privileges can change other users’ passwords. This method will also work to change your own password even if you don’t have admin privileges.

C:\net user administrator *
Type a password for the user: asifiwouldtellyou
Retype the password to confirm: asifiwouldtellyou
The command completed successfully.

You can also change it without being prompted (useful in scripts):

C:\net user administrator thenewpasswordgoeshere
The command completed successfully.