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  #1  
Old 06-23-2008, 09:35 PM
snapdaddy snapdaddy is offline
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How I got Netflix Watch Now on my HD Extender.

So, my wife really liked being able to use the Netflix Watch Now stuff on the plasma when we had a client PC next to the TV. Needless to say, she was disappointed when I replaced the PC with a HD extender, and that feature went out the window.

This is how I gave her back that ability.

Setup:
Headless server in closet, (was) running Sage as a service, with 1 HD extender. (And other client PCs that don't matter for this thread.)


I had read previous posts that mentioned when you run an external program from the extender, it launches on the server. I decided to use that to my advantage. I configured the Netflix plugin for SageMC and when I launched a watch now feature from my extender, sure enough, I saw a new IEXPLORE.EXE process on the server...but it had no UI. OK - that's probably service mode messing me up. So, I disabled Sage as a service, and fired up the UI, sleeping it to the tray. Fired up Netflix again from the extender, and there was my IE window, with the movie, on the server.

My server has an old Nvidia Geforce 5200 video card in it with s-video out. I piped the s-video out to one of my PVR-150s, along with the audio out of my server motherboard.

Next, I set up a new video device for the s-video input of that 150. I told Sage to not use any tuning or any guide data. I then added a single channel (999) called "Netflix". Tuning to channel 999 on my extender now showed me the server desktop.

Time to test again - I selected Watch Now, and then changed to channel 999...and there was the movie. Since it was coming in as a program stream, I also had full navigation controls (which is actually better than I had with the client PC.) Nice. But...it wasn't full screen.

I'd already worked around that when I was using the client PC. I picked a program called AutoIT which lets one script events and compile them as EXEs. I created an EXE that basically jumps the mouse to the location of the Full Screen button and clicks. I added a new menu item called "Netflix Fullscreen" which points to that EXE. I also created a CMD file that uses the WinXP "taskkill" command to terminate the IE window, and put it on a menu called "Close Netflix".

So, I have a sub-menu called "Netflix", with items of "Netflix Main", "Netflix Fullscreen", and "Close Netflix".

The end-user process is:
  • Select Netflix Main, pick your movie, Watch Now.
  • Change to channel 999. See movie start.
  • When the movie starts, go to menu and select Netflix Fullscreen.
  • Enjoy movie.
  • When done, go to menu and select Close Netflix.

It's a couple steps, but we've been very happy with the results. I could probably make it easier if I had any spare remote buttons, but the Tivo peanut we use for everything is maxed out at the moment.

Watch Now on the extender, with full transport control!

Maybe everyone already figured this out, but if not, hope it helps someone else.

Robb
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  #2  
Old 06-23-2008, 10:52 PM
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Addict Addict is offline
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Holy crap dude, you're a GENIUS! Seriously?!

Any chance of you packaging up everything you did so we can all enjoy your genius?? How incredibly creative. Nicely done, sir.

<-- Has a spare PVR-350 now that I have my HD-PVR.
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Last edited by Addict; 06-23-2008 at 10:55 PM.
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  #3  
Old 06-24-2008, 04:30 AM
bcjenkins bcjenkins is offline
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What resolution are you running on the server 640x480? Are you using VNC for admin? I would assume this precludes you from using RDP.

If you're using the latest beta, you can export the menu options as an stvi or did you create with dynamic menus?

Thanks!

B

PS - Presumably, you could continue down this path for Hulu, etc. as well.
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  #4  
Old 06-24-2008, 07:56 AM
Brent Brent is offline
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I'm interested. I fear the steps required and locking up one of your tuners for this might scare some away though.

That being said, I'm glad to see the brainstorming on ways to get Netflix Watch Now, Hulu and other online video content onto the extenders.
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  #5  
Old 06-24-2008, 08:52 AM
CollinR CollinR is offline
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Just to add to this, you can do this with basically anything. Rather then Autoit I use EventGhost (it can do eveything discribed thus far) and in addition to using dynamic menus I have basically pleaded with a few developers to create an on screen remote.

You can try here:
http://forums.sagetv.com/forums/showthread.php?t=29930

This will allow you to have the number pad and disk controls all on a single menu.

You can also use it with AutoIt so no need to change anything.
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  #6  
Old 06-24-2008, 09:58 AM
deanm deanm is offline
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I used to do something very similar to watch Divx files on my MVP. I use to play the file in Sage on the server. Then feed the output into my PVR 500. The server uses less overhead then when it tries to transcode the Divx file. The only thing I never really sorted out was how to control the starting of the Divx file.

This has now got me thinking of what else can this be used for.

Dean.
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  #7  
Old 06-24-2008, 11:56 AM
CollinR CollinR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent View Post
I fear the steps required and locking up one of your tuners for this might scare some away though.
Keep in mind SageTV can use the inputs on the encoders independently so you will only lock a tuner while you are actually watching. Just having it mapped makes no difference.

This is also why the PVR500 is so nice, it has so dang many inputs for SageTv to use.

Each PVR500 provides:

(1) Modulated RF input for normal Cable TV
(2) One S Video input on the board
(3) One Composite video on the board.

Thats 3 but it also has an onboard header for more cool factor.

Each header has another S Video and Composite (4 and 5) plus the board has 2 headers on it so yet another set of S Video and Composite (6 and 7).

Plus both encoders can access the modulated input so thats really 2 in one for 8 total available sources.

Granted you run into audio issues tring to use all of the inputs but I don't use audio with my CCTV now and as such just run them over the composites and a DVD changer over the S Videos.

You do need to be through with your mappings in sage to make it all work, each source needs to be mapped to each encoder on the board in order for it to switch inputs as desired.
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  #8  
Old 06-24-2008, 12:06 PM
electron electron is offline
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I was considering doing the same thing, but how do you deal with 'searches'? This also could probably be applied to the Hulu service.
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  #9  
Old 06-24-2008, 12:47 PM
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mikejaner mikejaner is offline
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This would be even better when you connect a PC with Component Outputs to an HDPVR, through a switched reciever and automate this all, so that when you hit 999 on your remote the Component output of your reciever switches to the incoming signal of your PC, then when you switch away or hit stop, it switches back to whatever cable box you have for watching TV.
That's the easy part. Like others have said, the hard part is controlling the PC, with a 1-2 second delay of course, after it comes on the screen.
I believe all of this could be done with Girder etc... but probably am too lazy to figure it out, hehe. I would just plug it up the one night we want to do something like that, and set up a bogus channel.
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  #10  
Old 06-24-2008, 01:02 PM
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evilpenguin evilpenguin is offline
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Wow, that's a super crafty use of a headless server. I wonder if you could use a screen capture program like this...

http://www.hmelyoff.com/index.php?section=8

to do the same thing without needing to go through a tuner?

Edit: I've been doing some more research. It sounds like we would be able to make a tuner out of this just like we would for recording over firewire. I'll have to give this a shot over the weekend and see what the quality/cpu load is like.

Last edited by evilpenguin; 06-24-2008 at 04:27 PM.
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  #11  
Old 06-24-2008, 04:17 PM
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Enormous Enormous is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evilpenguin View Post
Wow, that's a super crafty use of a headless server. I wonder if you could use a screen capture program like this...

http://www.hmelyoff.com/index.php?section=8

to do the same thing without needing to go through a tuner?
This thread is very exciting, and the mention of this (FREE!) software really got the wheels in my head spinning!
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Last edited by Enormous; 06-24-2008 at 04:21 PM.
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  #12  
Old 06-25-2008, 08:23 AM
snapdaddy snapdaddy is offline
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Exciting new stuff from Morgan...

FYI - I'm going to try the new plugin with this hack tonight and see how everything works. If the new viewer app works out, I might not need my custom menus or AutoIT scripts anymore, which makes things MUCH simpler.

I knew I shouldn't have turned off that SSH tunnel I had going from work to home!

BCJenkins: I am currently running the server at 640x480. I had it at resolutions up to 1440x900, and the output looked the same over s-video (to be expected), so I just dropped it down for simplicity. And yes, I am using VNC for remote control. My laptop is a Mac (well, an IBM Thinkpad running OS X anyway) and I don't like the RDP client for OS X, so I've always just used VNC.

If I have time, I'll try EP's suggestion to use that virtual driver as a UNE, and see how that works.

(Parents and In-Laws are coming in for our baby shower this weekend, so my tinkering time will be slim. Hopefully I don't blow up the TV while they're here!)
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  #13  
Old 06-27-2008, 09:38 AM
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bialio bialio is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CollinR View Post
Keep in mind SageTV can use the inputs on the encoders independently so you will only lock a tuner while you are actually watching. Just having it mapped makes no difference.
CollinR - on the PVR500 that I have, I'm currently using just the coax in, as a dual Cable TV tuner. What will sage do in this scenario :

One encoder is recording CableTV (recording a favorite).
One encoder is recording from the SVideo in (watching netflix).

So then if someone at another TV goes and tries to tune into a CableTV channel that is only available on the PVR500 - what will happen? All the encoders are busy - will they get a "tuner not available" message?

btl.
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  #14  
Old 06-27-2008, 10:04 AM
CollinR CollinR is offline
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It has 2 encoders and in that example both would be busy, so it would give the tuner not available message.

However just having the S video input mapped has no effect on SageTV you have to actually be capturing from it at the time to have it actually lock the tuner.

In my case my CCTV input and DVD changer input are used very rarely in comparision with the actual tuner. I also have more then one client so I have more then one PVR500 as well.
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  #15  
Old 06-27-2008, 02:36 PM
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Morgan111 Morgan111 is offline
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Lightbulb

Ya know this workaround may actually let you listen to the SlimPlayer from the Extender as well since I assume the audio would be played on the server if you try to start it from the extender. Although it may not be the ideal solution it may be a temporary one. I need to get the NetFlix thing tried out first though.

Last edited by Morgan111; 06-27-2008 at 02:42 PM.
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  #16  
Old 06-27-2008, 02:54 PM
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MeInMaui MeInMaui is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Morgan111 View Post
Ya know this workaround may actually let you listen to the SlimPlayer from the Extender as well since I assume the audio would be played on the server if you try to start it from the extender. Although it may not be the ideal solution it may be a temporary one. I need to get the NetFlix thing tried out first though.
Sorry to keep running off topic with this, but I did some playing around to try to get slimplayer playback on the extender. I found out how to set up a fake podcast for the slimserver stream. The problem I ran into was that after I set up the podcast in the online services menu and started playback, sage indicated that it had to download the whole file before it could start playback. Obviously this wouldn't work with a continuous stream.

In the latest SageTV beta, core support was added for a circular buffer. I haven't had the time to play with this, but it seems like it might have potential.

Aloha,
Mike
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  #17  
Old 06-29-2008, 08:08 AM
briands briands is offline
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Wouldn't my suggested feature request simplify getting the encoder display onto the screen.
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  #18  
Old 07-10-2008, 03:12 PM
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Morgan111 Morgan111 is offline
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Question Version for Test

Yo, SnapDaddy, until I order another PCI-e video card for my server for the S-Vid out, could you try out the attached NetFlix import file and see if it works well for you? I have tested it with using the live Svideo from my DTV and I think it would work fine with the looped back video.

Assuming you have NetFlix 2.03b installed:
  1. Import the attached NetFlix xml file. (after going back to the stock SageMC or before NetFlix was loaded)
  2. Go to the NetFlix Setup page (now can press options from the main NetFlix page) and go down to "Server Loopback Channel" and enter "999" for the channel you assigned to your server capture.
  3. Make sure "Watch Now Enable" is set to "Enable" on that page.
  4. Go to view a Watch Now movie like you would on any client.
  5. Controls should work as normal (probably delayed reaction).
  6. Pressing "Stop" on remote should return to NetFlix page as usual.

On my Hauppauge 500 for channel setup there is a channel 1:
1 - S-Video
Hauppauge WinTV PVR PCI II Capture S-Video


So I am able to enable and just use that channel 1 instead of adding a new channel, like 999 for you. Do you have a channel 1 like that?
Attached Files
File Type: zip NetFlix_SageMC.zip (36.3 KB, 462 views)
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  #19  
Old 07-10-2008, 03:25 PM
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Enormous Enormous is offline
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I haven't had a chance to set this up yet, but I want to say THANK YOU to Morgan for making progress on this.
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  #20  
Old 07-10-2008, 08:07 PM
snapdaddy snapdaddy is offline
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Absolutely!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Morgan111 View Post
Yo, SnapDaddy, until I order another PCI-e video card for my server for the S-Vid out, could you try out the attached NetFlix import file and see if it works well for you? I have tested it with using the live Svideo from my DTV and I think it would work fine with the looped back video.

Assuming you have NetFlix 2.03b installed:
  1. Import the attached NetFlix xml file. (after going back to the stock SageMC or before NetFlix was loaded)
  2. Go to the NetFlix Setup page (now can press options from the main NetFlix page) and go down to "Server Loopback Channel" and enter "999" for the channel you assigned to your server capture.
  3. Make sure "Watch Now Enable" is set to "Enable" on that page.
  4. Go to view a Watch Now movie like you would on any client.
  5. Controls should work as normal (probably delayed reaction).
  6. Pressing "Stop" on remote should return to NetFlix page as usual.

On my Hauppauge 500 for channel setup there is a channel 1:
1 - S-Video
Hauppauge WinTV PVR PCI II Capture S-Video


So I am able to enable and just use that channel 1 instead of adding a new channel, like 999 for you. Do you have a channel 1 like that?
Yes, Yes, Yes! I'll test this as soon as my wife goes to bed tonight. Thanks so much for even attempting to do this. As everyone else has said, very well done.

Not sure about having channel 1, I'll see what I see.

Robb
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