Have I had fun in the last couple of days! I had a great kick off user group meeting in Fort Myers on Thursday with over 50 folks and they really seemed to enjoy the preview of the sessions coming up starting in April on Web Services and Click Once. But the focus of this blog is not about the user group, but rather what I did the night before it, namely staying up to 6am playing with my new Personal Media Center. Let me tell you, this thing is incredible. I am ripping my complete personal Audio Collection and then synced it thru Media Player. Finally, I have my own personal Juke Box and it is always alphabetised! I am copying just the songs I really like from each CD. I got that idea from the juke box at Club Bourbon Street.


I started organising all of my digital photos. I did a little testing with it first… just loading all my pictures in for example. I found out it is very helpful if you have unique folder names, starting with a date for the older scanned in pictures. The new digital ones you don’t need a date in it, because you can sort by date which is accurate from the file system or by folder name. It does not handle folder in a folder… so I had a lot with disc 1, disc 2, and so forth, so I deleted everything and am in the process of renaming folders and have reloaded over 1800 photos at this point.


As for the audio, this is what I am the most excited about. I ripped in a few different formats to test out the size and quality. I did not like the default of the windows media player for Windows Media Audio set to about 75 percent on the quality slide scale. In fact, I did not like the 100 percent there either. I thought when I played it thru a quality stereo system the highs and lows were compromised and either weren’t clear or it was muffled. So, I experimented with Windows Media Audio (variable bit rate) and Windows Media Audio Lossless. Personally, I found the variable bit rate the best compromise for quality and size. From what I understand it does not record at the same level for the whole song. If there are highs and lows it compensates for it.  I liked the file size as it was somewhere between the default setting and Lossless. The size went from 2meg (regular) to 5meg(variable) to 16meg (Lossless) on one of my test songs.


I am looking into to ripping, a few of my favorite personal DVD's as well. If you have any suggestions for software here, please let me know. I tried avsvideoconverter and it didn’t work for me (unless I didn’t have it setup right). I am gong to try WinAVI next. I believe what I need to do here is to convert the DVD to a wmv format… are any other formats that are better and take up less space and good quality that Media Player takes? This is new to me. I have all of my .NET Pub Club Club Videos and my New England Tool Shed send off party in 2003 on it and ‘The Code Room’  . By the way, over 300,000 have watched this pilot episode and it looks like we have a second one approved! It will most likely be another one of the MSDN Events Presenters doing this one as will most likely rotate. But I got to do the pilot and it was fun!

In the car? In the home?

So then I started thinking, it would be great to play this in the car. So I went to Circuit City and picked up the Belkin TuneCast II Mobile FM Transmitter. I am very pleased with it. It has no limit on the number of stations not in use that you can tune into and it is all digital with a battery for when not plugged into the lighter. If you know of a better one (broader range, etc)… please let me know. But this one is not bad. Then I hooked it up to my stereo and TV… just set the output display setting to TV to do this and the red and white RCA cables to my receiver. Piece of cake! It is so easy to use in that everything automatically syncs up thru Windows Media Play 10. There is a firmware update for this model and it wipes every thing clean on the device, I installed it yet and am resyncing while I am writing this blog, but it should be no problem to re-sync it up. Just thought i would mention it before you load a ton of stuff on it as the sync will take longer. Now all I got to do is rip, rip, rip and scan in those old photos and I will have all my pictures, Audio and videos on me at all times. It has 20 gig of storage, but i think it shrinks every thing down somehow. I have not confirmed this yet but just have a hunch as i load large items and it doesn’t put a dent in the room available figure when I sync. I’ve seen another brand out there with 40 gig. Oh ya, I ordered the remote and docking accessories already as well. This way I can run my PMC thru my TV and receiver without getting up off the couch. Why is it that I think my productivity will go down this month? I have never been this excited about a device! BTW, the battery lasts for 22 hours of continuous audio play or 8 hours of video. This is long enough for all of my trips.

Also, I am looking for a way to display the PCM  on my laptop. If you have any ideas here, please let me know as well.

BTW.. if you attended or are attending a MSDN event this quarter (Winter Series Jan-Mar), don’t forget to load your MSDN Content DVD and click on a chance to win a Personal Media Center. it might save you about 500 bucks!

That’s it for now. KNOW THE CODE and pictures, and audio and video! Oh ya, do you think we should get Ozzy to demonstrate this on a commercial? I think he would be perfect.