Tag Archives: microsoft

Windows MCE Remote + Windows Media Center + Media Browser

I hooked up my old computer to the TV in the living room to watch downloaded movies and TV. For a very long time, I used it like a normal computer with keyboard and mouse. However the typical computer user interface is not designed for a dad holding a baby. I need a more user friendly solution to use the computer on the TV. I bought this generic made-in-China Windows MCE remote on eBay for $12. Any MCE remote properly works or less the same. I like this one because it is cheap and I can control the mouse cursor and buttons through the remote.

The MCE remote works with the Windows Media Center (WMC) comes with Windows 7 installation. It is pretty much a full screen media library browser and multi-media player. WMC on its own is pretty useless other than showing baby photos. With the help of just a few plug-ins and free software, I can turned my download library into something looks like Netflix.

First, I installed K-Lite Codec Pack, both the 32 bit and 64 bit version, since WMC in runs 64 bits. This Codec allow me to play pretty much any media files inside WMC. Then I installed Media Browser, so WMC can display files in my media library. The WMC built-in movie library only recognize Microsoft file formats and ripped DVDs. However, it can only display the filenames and directory by default. It does not know which file is what movie. To add the final touch, I ran Media Scout to set up the metadata for my media files. It pulls the movie title, description, poster and all sorts of information from imdb.

Now I can sit back and relax in the couch, browse my movie library at ease while holding the baby with one hand.

Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse

My old laptop mouse is falling a part, so I need a new one. A mouse is one small gadget that I use many hours a day and it is not very expensive. I want to buy the best mouse I can find. I have been a fans of Microsoft mouse for many years and actually Microsoft mouse is one of the few Microsoft products that does not suck.

The Arc Touch Mouse is the flagship laptop mouse from Microsoft. There are two unique feature about this mouse. First, it does not have a physical scroll wheel, it has a small touch pad instead. The touch pad supports normal scrolling with sliding, and support page up, page down and middle button with tapping. It has vibration feedback to mimic the sense of a real scroll wheel. No mechanical part means this mouse should be more reliable. It was the the scroll wheel of my old laptop mouse that makes me get a new one. Second, it looks cool and it is easy to put away. I can literally flatten the mouse and put it into my computer bag. The coolness factor of this mouse makes a good conversation starter in meetings. Almost everyone notice I got a new mouse when I walk into the meetings. The curve shape is pretty comfortable and the blue laser tracking is more accurate, but that’s just standard feature of any mouse nowadays.

One down side of this mouse is a narrower than my old mouse, but turns out to be a blessing in disguise. The mouse surface does not fit three fingers. I can’t use my middle finger for scrolling and ring finger for right click. I have to change my habit to use middle finger for both actions. Since the touch pad is flat, I don’t have any problem shifting the middle finger left any right, unlike a scroll wheel. When I was using three fingers, I have to move the mouse with my little finger and that cause stress to my wrist tendon. Now I only use two fingers to control the buttons and frees up my ring finger to hold the mouse, it puts less stress on my wrist tendon since the ring finger is stronger than the little finger.

This mouse is a bit pricy, even when it is on sales, it still double the price of a normal wireless laptop mouse. In my opinion, this mouse worth the extra $25. It is one of the best mouses I have used.