I've just got a new media center PC connected directly to my television with lots of HD space and so I'm ripping a bunch of my DVDs to the PC so I don't have to fuss with the physical media. I'm ripping with DVD Rip, viewing the results in Windows 7's Windows Media Center after turning on the WMC DVD Library, and using a powershell script I wrote to copy over cover art and metadata.
My powershell script follows. To use it you must do the following:
I just installed vmcNetFlix which lets you watch your on demand NetFlix movies via your Vista Media Center or any Media Center Extenders like the Xbox 360. It works well but fails poorly with some cryptic error messages and long timeouts. Be sure to get NetFlix on demand movies working in your browser before installing this plugin. Once I did that everything worked very well.
To test it out I watched Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior in which Ting must travel from his country village to Bangkok where he works with his cousin in the city to recover his village's stolen religious artifact. Its a mix of Perfect Strangers, Street Fighter and Pad-See Ew. Martial arts movies, like porn and video games, aren't required to have a strong plot but Ong-Bak has a fine plot line and enjoyable Thai martial arts. I saw the Tiger Knee in there several times. An enjoyable movie that reminded me of watching martial arts movies with my friends in high school.
More ideas stolen from me in the same vein as my stolen OpenID thoughts.
Fast Pedestrian Crossing on Four Way Stops. In college I didn't have a car and every weekend I had weekly poker with friends who lived nearby so I would end up waiting to cross from one corner of a traffic lit four way stop to the opposite corner. Waiting there in the cold gave me plenty of time to consider the fastest method of getting to the opposite corner of a four-way stop. My plan was to hit the pedestrian crossing button for both directions and travel on the first one available. This only seems like a bad choice if the pedestrian crossing signal travels clockwise or counter clockwise around the four way stop. In those two cases its better to take the later of the two pedestrian signal crossings, but I have yet to see those two patterns on a real life traffic stop. I decided recently to see if my plan was actually sound and looked up info on traffic signals. But the info didn't say much other than "its complicated" and "it depends" (I'm paraphrasing). Then I found some guy's analysis of this problem. So I'm done with this and I'll continue pressing both buttons and crossing on the first pedestrian signal. Incidentally on one such night when I was waiting to cross this intersection I heard a loud multi-click sound and realized that the woman in the SUV waiting to cross the intersection next to me had just locked her doors. I guess my thinking-about-crossing-the-street face is intimidating.
Windows Searching Windows Media Center Recorded TV's Closed Captions. An Ars-Technica article on a fancy DVR described one of the DVRs features: full text search over the subtitles of the recorded TV shows. I thought implementing this for Windows Media Center recorded TV shows and Windows Search would be an interesting project to learn about video files, and extending Windows Search. As it turns out though some guy, Stephen Toub implemented Windows Search over MCE closed captions already. Stephen Toub's article is very long and describes some other very interesting related projects including 'summarizing video files' which you may want to read.