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Thread: Revisiting Windows Media Center as a front end...

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchjs View Post
    virtual drivers ?!!? to make a driver that is BDA compatable is WAAAY over my head
    It's not THAT bad...lol, but I hear you.

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchjs View Post
    in any case you could write a WMC add on that controlled the HD Radio
    that prob isnt that hard
    That's an option, but then you'd have to create your own radio management UI in MC, rather than use the existing one, which is excellent. All it needs is a driver that translates standard radio framework commands to our own for interfacing with these external radios. While not simple, I think that would be the "elegant" solution.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by RipplingHurst View Post
    ehshell.exe /addinfallbackpath:<path>
    This parameter starts Windows Media Center and causes it to use to locate and load add-in assemblies. This location is only used after Windows Media Center attempts to load add-in assemblies from the global assembly [COLOR=blue ! important][COLOR=blue ! important]cache[/COLOR][/COLOR] (GAC) and %windir%\ehome. This switch can be combined with the /entrypoint switch described above to allow prototyping of Windows Media Center [COLOR=blue ! important][COLOR=blue ! important]applications[/COLOR][/COLOR] without needing to install an updated assembly to the GAC each time you rebuild your project in Visual Studio.


    ^^^^ WTF? No idea what that means...LOL
    lmao, I guess you're not a .net programmer? the GAC (Global Assembly Cache) is a common repository in windows (specifically the .net frameworks) where any assemblies can be loaded, and then references by all applications in the current namespace. For installation/setup projects, the apps will often load their referencing assemblies into the GAC, so the applications don't need to track the .dll files themselves... if they're in the GAC, they're always available.
    (I'm sure you all really wanted to know that...)


    In regards to using MC as a front end, I don't see what the issues are. If you have the PC, with WMC on it, and tied to the car's electronics correctly, why wouldn't it work? (I'm assuming Win7 w/ MC supports touch screens... if it doesn't, obvious problem).

    I can easily see the lack of plugins for logging/ecu, and some of the more car-specific features (not that you couldn't write the plugins, but...), but basic media functionality should work.

    There are SDKs for WMC as well, you've got to know .net instead of java, but you can do a lot.

    With that said, I think the custom/open-source community generally avoids MS development for many reasons... and there is a LOT more customization available there, then in the MS space... and you've got a ton more support (ie community).

  3. #13
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    A few thoughts:

    first, BMW's Audi's system are all developed with big budgets by a closely knit team of engineers and designers. They also have a narrow scope, aren't skinnable, pluggable, or anything else that we enjoy in modern frontends. While this does not appeal to the hacker ethos, it does to the average consumer who doesn't care about anything other than it working as expected. If effort were to be put into limiting the functionality and making everything just work we'd have an equal system. I doubt any of the current frontends have professional human interface designers (save maybe CF, maybe). Furthermore, if any 3rd party develops any UI it may or may not be consistant with the rest of the interaction rules defined by the original developers.

    That said, some systems in this community do have a set of rules/guidelines that 3rd party developers are expected to understand. It also helps when you own the entire platform and not just the frontend software :P. I can't really imagine being able to alt-tab out of Audi's interface into XP's explorer shell. It's completely unprofessional for a product to have two conflicting interfaces.

    I also wrote a blog on why interfaces like WMC/android/mythtv are a bad idea in the car. It's a short read, but an important concept.
    Former author of LinuxICE, nghost, nobdy.
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  4. #14
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    alt-tab hehehe...

    you shouldnt have a "KEYBOARD" in the car anyway
    not one that you can do alt-tab on

    and all this fun stuff "COULD" be done
    its just daunting task, and getting it started is the hardest part
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  5. #15
    Mod - iPad Forums RipplingHurst's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapone View Post
    This part is intriguing. Why do you think so? Is it controllability, skinning, transport mechanisms, viewability, ???
    Well, it was designed for a remote control input. So the transport buttons (play, pause, etc.) are minuscule on the bottom right of the screen, and they disappear from view all the time. It pressuposes hard buttons. On the main menu, to go up and down, left and right, there are arrows, but they only appear in sight when you move the mouse or touch the screen somewhere, and they're tiny, compared to the rest of the interface. Often than not, you actually click on the closest function (radio/settings, whatever) than on the arrow.

    Now, I have disabled Win7 native touchscreen capabilities, and installed Touchkit drivers. Maybe if I enable that the arrows grow bigger, etc? Hummm.

  6. #16
    Mod - iPad Forums RipplingHurst's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dease42 View Post
    lmao, I guess you're not a .net programmer? (I'm sure you all really wanted to know that...)
    Heh, yes, not a programmer here. But I'm trying to learn how to!


    [/quote]




    In regards to using MC as a front end, I don't see what the issues are. If you have the PC, with WMC on it, and tied to the car's electronics correctly, why wouldn't it work? (I'm assuming Win7 w/ MC supports touch screens... if it doesn't, obvious problem).
    [/quote]

    It does work, that's why I use it when I'm running CF3.0 (3.0 has no playlist support whatsover, so I play music/videos using WMC). Thing is, once I click on the playlist, I don't change anything, cos' the interface does not work for me on the touchscreen, specially when driving. That's why more often than not, I'm running Ride Runnerīs Carwings (best skin ever).

  7. #17
    Mod - iPad Forums RipplingHurst's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchjs View Post
    in any case you could write a WMC add on that controlled the HD Radio
    that prob isnt that hard
    HD radio on WMC would be great. I don't think the WMC radio supports HD radio.

  8. #18
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    I've decided on XBMC

    I just completed my CarPC installation recently, but after examining the options such as Ride Runner and Centrafuse, I believe I have decided to use XBMC as my front-end. I've installed a launcher plugin for it, which gives me accessible buttons inside of XBMC to launch the HD Radio application, Firefox and Microsoft Streets GPS software.

    Also, I'm hopeful that I will be able to get my steering wheel controls working with it. The only keyboard controls that XBMC really needs are the up and down arrows, Enter, ESC and + and - for volume control.

    The thing I like about XBMC is that, not only is it skinnable (and looks incredible), but it also has a Python interpreter built into it, so that you can extend it anyway you like. I've already written an HD Radio interface for it, in order to control my DMHD-1000 directly inside of XBMC. I still need to write a small proxy-type application that will reside in memory and pass the radio commands from XBMC to the HD Radio, but I'm hopeful that I can figure it out.

    Anyhow, just thought I'd share my thoughts on this, since using Windows Media Center will likely bring the same sort of benefits and integration issues as using XBMC.

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by RipplingHurst View Post
    Well, it was designed for a remote control input. So the transport buttons (play, pause, etc.) are minuscule on the bottom right of the screen, and they disappear from view all the time. It pressuposes hard buttons. On the main menu, to go up and down, left and right, there are arrows, but they only appear in sight when you move the mouse or touch the screen somewhere, and they're tiny, compared to the rest of the interface. Often than not, you actually click on the closest function (radio/settings, whatever) than on the arrow.

    Now, I have disabled Win7 native touchscreen capabilities, and installed Touchkit drivers. Maybe if I enable that the arrows grow bigger, etc? Hummm.
    Valid points. As I said, it was never for that as such. Some of the things CAN be customized though.

    The lil "chevrons" (as MS calls them) that allow up/down/left/right movement during the "2 foot mode" i.e. not using a remote, but using a mouse or touchscreen...can be made visible all the time. Simple registry change.



    And the volume/seek bar can be made to be visible all the time (it is set for that, in the picture above), BUT, it will go away, anytime a full screen item is playing, but that seems logical. Touching the screen brings it back.

    As far as the "size" of those chevrons, I guess we could muck around in the resource bitmaps, but I haven't found a way to change their size. However, in a typical 800x480 screen, I think they are big enough, and if they are overlaying another button (something below them), the chevrons always take priority, so it's not too difficult to click them.

  10. #20
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    btw, for anyone interested, embedding an "ActiveX" control in Media Center is a complete no no, since the language it uses for the "pages" (called MCML), does not support embedding ActiveX controls, and Mappoint uses an activex control for its display.... BUT, Mappoint has a couple of nifty methods that can potentially be used. The "active" map from the activex control can always be processed as an "image", externally.... hmm....

    I think I'll have to write a wrapper around Mappoint, that consumes the ActiveX control and churns out an image that is fed to an MCML plugin in MC. And it will have to do that "almost" in real time, or as quickly as the image changes in Mappoint.

    Here's a quick app I wrote to test the concept, and it works. What you are seeing is a simple C# form with a picture box and a button. The "image" to that picture box is retrieved at run time (in real time) from Mappoint, which is running as a background app.



    Will do a test app for MC next.

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