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March 2006

This chapter is from the book

THURSDAY: MARCH 30, 2006

THIS WEEK’S FOCUS: Windows Media Center

USING MEDIA CENTER AS A DVR

Windows Media Center is a fully featured audio/video operating environment. One of the most important features of this environment is the capability to watch live television broadcasts—and record programming to the PC’s hard disk, using the PC as a TiVo-like digital video recorder (DVR).

There are two ways to record a program to hard disk in Media Center. First, all you have to do is watch a program; the hard disk automatically stores a short cache of the selected program, so you can pause and rewind the "live" program. Second, you can set up Media Center to record programs in advance, using the built-in electronic program guide (EPG).

Using the EPG to schedule a recording is a snap. Just press the Guide button on the remote control or go to My TV, Guide; this displays the EPG’s program grid. Scroll down to view more channels, or scroll right to see more of the schedule. (You can also search for specific programs to record—go to My TV, Search, Title and enter the program’s name.) Highlight the program you want to record, press OK on your remote, and then select Record from the onscreen menu.

To play back a recorded program, go to My TV, Recorded TV. This displays a list of all recorded programs; select a program from the list and press OK on your remote. Playback will start automatically.

ON THIS DAY: METER DEFINED (1791)

On this day in 1791, responding to a proposal by the Acadèmiè des Sciences, the French National Assembly decreed that a meter (or what the French called a metre) would be a 1/10,000,000 of the distance between the North Pole and the equator. Now you know.

SOFTWARE OF THE WEEK: TWEAK MCE

I’ve always been a big fan of Microsoft’s PowerToys utilities, and now there’s one for Windows XP Media Center Edition called Tweak MCE. This utility provides access to systems settings and options not normally visible, including remote control settings, user interface options, and the like. Download it for free from http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/powertoys/mcepowertoys.mspx.

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