Geek TV: the Microsoft stack

I mentioned that MediaPortal is open source. Well, there’s some truth to that, but there’s also the fact that what MediaPortal is doing is tightly tied to a big stack of software that isn’t open source.

Microsoft TV technologies forms the bulk of the hard core of the system. Microsoft has apparently spent some significant effort on laying a foundation for TV on their platform; from my look at what’s there, it’s pretty extensive. I’m guessing the effort went into their Media Center Edition and its associated applications, then they distributed the core components for use in XP, allowing various other parties to build user interfaces around the services.

Hauppauge/Conexant supply another bit of closed-source in their drivers. Hard to see what’s going on in there, although maybe we’ll get a peek when Linux drivers come. And I say, they will come. Go Hans!

I started looking into the underlying software as I discovered various problems in the various applications I tried with the card. I figured I might as well see what the effort would be to write my own bits to cover the holes. Some things are not that hard to do. For example, you can grab GraphEdit and build a graph in about two minutes (I mean, after learning some about how DirectShow graphs work, which I did in the process of getting MediaPortal to recognize my card) that will run and give you audio and video.

I used that to verify that it was at least possible to play PS2 again. See, the interesting thing about an MPEG-encoding card is that it takes a couple seconds for the signal to crawl through the MPEG pipe and back out to get to your screen. A couple-second lag makes playing real-time video games rather impossible. But, I was able to configure a little filter graph that bypassed the MPEG encoding/decoding, instead using UYVY format (and don’t ask me what that is, all I know is that it doesn’t have interframe compression and so doesn’t suffer from the time lag), run it, and see no perceptible lag. So, it’s theoretically possible to play PS2 still, and in a pinch I can use GraphEdit to do so, but I’m hoping that MediaPortal or DScaler can be used in that way too.

Geesh, that was a boring post. Sorry.

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