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The thumbnail viewer of Windows Media Player 1...

The thumbnail viewer of Windows Media Player 12 in Windows 7 Home Premium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

UPDATE (6/16/2014):  Since this post gets a lot of hits I feel the need to do a brief update.  I do not think that the technique here works any longer with the newer versions of Android OS and Google Music player.  I abandoned using Android out of frustration with this process once my phone updated to Ice Cream Sandwhich.  (Windows Phone does sync natively with Windows Media Player – FYI).  If you are using a version of Android (2.x or 3.x) this process may still work. 

 

I dislike loading extra software onto my PC or phone.  I’m always worried that whatever is being installed will clutter up my otherwise clean OS and create conflicts and performance issues.

Therefore, I use Windows Media Player to organize my music collection and prefer to use the stock music player on my Android phone.  Unfortunately, WMP does not transfer playlists to the Android music player when it syncs the music files.

After much research and experimentation I finally discovered that it is possible to simply cut and paste a native .wpl (Windows Media) playlist into the Android “Music” folder and the Play Music app will see it and play it.  No additional software required.

Google Play Music

This is a nice discovery considering that Windows Media Center is my preferred home entertainment platform.  Thus, you can make a playlist conveniently on your PC, use the same list on your Xbox360 for the home and have that playlist work on your Android phone.

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UPDATE 11/23/2013:  I need to be super clear up front here.  The predictions I made in this article are WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!!  My Xbox One arrived last night and it cannot even stream video or music from a PC without going to the PC and using PlayTo! 

I love my Windows Media Center setup.

WMC

A few years ago my cable company was charging me $15-20/month per HD-DVR for what I felt was an expensive and pretty lackluster service.  The capacity of each DVR was pretty small and they were incapable (at the time) of  sharing content between my DVRs which forced me to have to delete documentaries that I was saving in smug self-satisfaction and to have to decide which TV I would watch a show on before I set it to record .

To deal with these issues I built a home theater PC with a Ceton Tuner that has 4 Terra-bytes of storage space and which paid for itself in 28 months, once I ditched the cable company’s DVRs.  (Not bad!)  The HTPC outputs content, both live and recorded to my XBOX 360s through using it as a Windows Media Extender.  It also pushes movies and music to the Xbox extenders which makes for a great whole home entertainment solution.

Unfortunately, Microsoft has been killing off my beloved Windows Media Center (WMC) and there are numerous discussion boards and articles which discuss and bemoan its demise.

XBONE

Causing even more consternation for those of us in the WMC crowd is the release of the new Xbox One and its emphasis upon home entertainment and TV…yet no mention of its working as a WMC extender.  The existence of HDMI pass-through also seemed to indicate an intention on the part of Microsoft that the new Xbox would only provide an overlay to cable companies’ set top boxes – thus shackling us to their fees and tiny storage capacity.

As fans of new technology what are we supposed to do?  Get a cable box? Not get the latest toy and be an outcast amongst our geeky friends?  Have two devices to do two different jobs? Seriously?  After all we’re not savages!

Then while reading through the “What It Does” page on the Xbox One website, I noticed a footnote leading to the following requirement for TV Functionality:

“1. Supported television tuner or cable/satellite set top box with HDMI output and HDMI cable required (all sold separately).”

What is the most important word in that little footnote?  I’d say it’s the humble little word “or”.

It’s so important that it burst out to me like a ray of sunlight through the clouds.

London to Brighton Veteran Car Run

If I am parsing the meaning of  that sentence properly, it seems to indicate that there will be an option to use a tuner that is not a set top box.  This opens up all kinds of possibilities.

My biggest wish for the previous big Xbox 360 Dashboard update (Metro) was that they would ditch the native music and video players and ‘bake’ the functionality of Windows Media Center straight into the metro-style dashboard.   Hypothetically using something like the Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service to serve up content stored on a PC hard drive (such as music and movies), and then add network tuner support for sending live TV across a home network.  Support for TV tuners MIGHT mean that they are taking a step in that direction.  Additionally, the fact that the new Xbox will have Windows 8 built-in seems to indicate that this kind of integration is at the very least possible.

This is the hope that I am clinging to – but of course, this is all just rampant speculation and wishful thinking on my part.

UPDATE:  As I was reading though some forum posts at “The Green Button” I came across a comment that pointed to the FAQ on the Official Xbox news thread, which read:

Q:    Do I need to have a specific cable or satellite TV provider to watch live TV on Xbox?
A:    Our goal is to enable live TV through Xbox One in every way that it is delivered throughout the world, whether that’s television service providers, over the air or over the Internet, or HDMI-in via a set top box (as is the case with many providers in the US). The delivery of TV is complex and we are working through the many technologies and policies around the world to make live TV available where Xbox One is available.

This seems to me to be further evidence of my aforementioned possibility of having WMC “baked right in” to the new dashboard.

I will continue to update this post as I learn more.

There has been something that has been really rubbing me wrong about the recent revelations that the NSA is tracking our cell phone metadata.  It is in the reactions of some Senators to the news and the public outcry.

Here’s what it is:  The recent gun legislation failed in part because the NRA stoked fears that the government would use background checks to create a national gun registry – even though the creation of such a registry was expressly forbidden in the language of the bill.

Yet, when it is revealed that the NSA is not only tracking who has a phone, but who they are calling and for how long, we are told by the President and members of the Senate to just deal with it because it is necessary and to “relax” .

Here is the rub:  So we can’t have background checks on guns because it might lead to a national registry, but we should just relax about a national registry for cell phones?  Seriously?

Does Congress really think that cell phones are more dangerous than firearms?

Good thing they are keeping track of my cell phone use, otherwise I might go out and commit a mass texting!

#CongressOfIdiots.