Microsoft has a technology called Media Center Extender that basically allows you to use your XBOX 360 as a media center. All that’s required is that you have a computer connected to your XBOX over a network with the Media Center software installed (it comes standard with Vista Premier) and turned on. The XBOX can then be used to play movies and music files located on your harddrive.
I haven’t looked at this much until recently, when I found out about vmcNetFlix. vmcNetFlix is one of those great ideas. The developer saw that NetFlix was allowing subscribers to download movies to their desktops, and that Microsoft was allowing people to stream movies to their TV’s through an XBOX, and he put in the final pieces to connect all of this together. vmcNetFlix has its issues at times, but hey, it’s one guy providing a solution on his own time and it’s free.
Before I could get any of this working, however, I had to get my very sweet HP entertainment laptop to talk to my XBOX, and kept running into the same issues with the XBOX complaining that it could not connect the media center extender to my laptop, despite my repeated attempts to reboot both systems and clear out caches and certificates and blowing on both ends of my ethernet cable for no particular reason except that some guy on some newsgroup told me to.
Finally, based on another internet tip, I uninstalled the nice biometric software that came with my laptop and everything started working. For whatever reason, every piece of biometric software, which allows you to scan in your fingerprint to identify yourself to the operating system rather than type in a password, interferes with Media Center. I was using DigitalPersona, but it appears that the problem is not unique to them.
So now the fingerprint scanner on my laptop doesn’t do anything. This is because it turned out to be a technological bottleneck. On the other hand, I can now stream movies, including BlueRay movies, to my HD TV anytime I want using free technology built in someone’s basement that removes bottlenecks. Is it worth it?
Well, yes. Not only can I watch any episode of Buck Rogers in the 25th century whenever I want, but I’ve also got most of the Werner Herzog and Rainer Werner Fassbinder catalogs ready for instant streaming. That’s hot. That’s Erin Grey hot.