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So You Asked And I Am Responding...

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Hello Surface Geeks.  I listen to your podcast and you asked for people to post what they have from a Windows 8 perspective.  Let me first preface this that I am a Microsoft employee.  I have been with the company for 8 years and may be a little partial if you ask me about things.  I can't give details about futures of Microsoft, but I can definately give you details about experiences and what I see.  Here is the list of my current Windows 8 machines:


  • Surface Pro 128 GB - Primary Work machine (Type Cover) w/ Plugable USB 3.0 Docking station
  • Surface RT 64 GB (2) 32 (2) - Primary Content Consumption Device w/ 64 GB SD and Type Cover
  • Asus ZenBook Prime Touch UX31A - Primary Personal Laptop used for DJing and Lighting Design
  • Samsung DP500A2D-A02UB All-In-One with Touch screen
  • Gateway 23" All-In-One with Touch screen
  • Dell XPS Workstation w/ Dual 22" screens one being a Dell Touchscreen Monitor
  • Samsung Series 9 First Gen Laptop
  • Samsung Series 7 Slate w/ docking station
  • Gateway DX4840-11e Desktop
  • Fujitsu Stylistic Q550 Slate w/ docking station
  • Lenovo W510 Laptop - Old Work Laptop

My current phone is a Nokia Lumia 920, however I have had the following phones as well:

  • Samsung Focus
  • Samsung Focus S
  • Nokia Lumia 900
  • HTC 8X

Other items that might be of interest:

  • (6) Xbox 360 consoles - Used for Media Extenders and Gaming
  • Dedicated Home Made Media Center Machine
  • Dedicated Windows Home Server
  • HDHomerun Prime w/ 6 HD Cable Feeds and (2) Cable Cards
  • Smithson Martin DVS 32" - http://www.smithsonmartin.com/dvs/

I have a pretty elaborate setup for things and have made it quite simple for household activity, but figured that I would see what questions this list of items would spur...


Oh, and for those that are not Microsoft people.  I do keep a stock of other items that I leverage to understand the the competitor solutions such as:


  • MacBook Pro w/ dual SSD drives 13" non-retina
  • iPad v1
  • iPod 4th Gen
  • Nexus 7 32 GB
  • Asus Transformer 16 GB


Ok, enough about the hardware... Questions?



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Ok, 29 views and no questions... let's get the ball rolling on a topic that I think you guys might like...


How I cheat the cable company out of money....

So, I have a ton of TVs in my house and got tired of the Comcast rule that for every outlet that had HD service it was 9.99 plus then they charged rent on a cable box as well.  This added another 14 per outlet or 18 if you wanted a DVR.  This is fustrating as I have 7 TVs in my house that I wanted service for when I wanted it.  As you can imagine this would be massivly expensive to do with the cable company and some rooms I rarely use, but when I go there I want to watch what I want when I want.  The other problem was that when using the cable box I had issues with multi-room viewing.  Example: My wife and I are watching a 2 hour show and simply want to move from the living room to our bedroom to finish it up before going to bed.  All this also had another issue.  As I work for Microsoft as an Enterprise Architect and this causes me to travel a lot, I wanted to be able to take my tv shows with me and watch them on the plane if I so chose.  I wanted things like remote scheduling and other things as well.  Needless to say my wants were many and my ability was far from desirable.


Enter Windows Media Center.  Windows Media Center solved many of thes problems for me, but there was numerous problems.  How do I record enough channels and in High Definition.  This was solved by the HDHomerun Prime.  Then there was the problem of how do I allow each of my TVs to connect to this system.  This is solved by getting WMC (Windows Media Center) remotes for xboxs and placing xboxs around the house.  There have been many promotions for the Xbox 360 like buy a computer at the Microsoft Store and get a free Xbox.  These things help, but even so an new xbox can be found for $199 and pays for itself quickly when you look at the cost of a cable box.  Now add the Xfinity app on the Xbox and you got your On Demand stuff you would have on your cablebox.  Once you pair up the Xbox with WMC you find that you turn on the xbox and just hit the green button on the remote and off you go.  You can only have 4 Xboxs at a time connected to WMC, however you can pair as many as you would like at least I haven't found a limit.  So all of this gives you several things.


  • HD 6 simultanius feeds
  • DVR
  • Multi-Room Viewing (including start watching in one room and pickup where you left off in another)
  • Mobile Content Consumption (simply copy the recordings to a thumb drive or other machine and carry with you)

Now here is where it gets really fun...


How do I do things like remote scheduling and remote viewing in other ways...


So, first get a hold of something called Remote Potatoe (I know it sounds corny) it is awesome.  It will give you remote streaming of content and even streaming and scheduling through mobile and web browsers.


But, that isn't good enough cause you really want to have an app that gives you a better experience.  So then get yourself a copy of My Media Center in the Windows 8 store.  This little app is awesome.  It gives you onsite and remote access to not only remote control not only the media center box, but even the extenders.  It gives you basically the same kind of experience as you would get if you use the Xbox Smart Glass option.


Oh but wait... now I have all this but what else have I done.  Now I have the ability to have a DVD player in every room.  I have Netflix, Hulu, Xbox Music, Xbox Movies, and even a device capable of streaming content from my Home Server (another topic for later).  So, now you even have on demand music assuming you are a Xbox Music subcriber as I am (DJing made cheap... Another topic for later).  Add Kinect to rooms where you wish to have voice control and hand control.  Maybe now you are starting to see some things interesting.


I recently started leveraging the fact that if you buy movies through Windows 8 in the Xbox Video market place that they follow you to whatever room you are in... Add the fact that my parents and others have a Xbox and add your profile there and you get your video collection following you.


So add your Surface Pro or RT into this mix and you have a great movie, music, and remote control to all of this that is beyond compare.  All this and your cable company loving that you have only paid for 2 outlets.  Surface Pro currently is required to natively watch media center files directly, however this can be converted a few different ways (topic for a later discussion).


I hope this can start a discussion as I think I have given you a small glimpse into what is possible with the combination of WMC / Xbox / Surface.


Questions?  Comments?

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Thanks very much for your posts Dewain27; really interesting, especially the 2nd one. Some of the stuff wouldn't apply, because I'm in Canada, but most of it would.


Can you elaborate a little on how your Surface Pro fits into the mix?


BTW, I'm composing this on my new Surface Pro :)

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Sure, when you want to take the video files that are recorded on the go.  Say you want to watch some TV on the plane.  You simply copy the files and make sure you have installed the Media Center components on Surface Pro.  This is not an option on for RT as you can't get the Media Center bits for RT.


I would recomend a piece of software called Audials for converting these to a universal format if you need them, however that is the major difference.


Also the My Media Center app from the app store then allows for you to provide remote control and remote scheduling and such from the Surface Pro.  Add in the Smart Glass for Xbox app and you can pretty much control your entire experience from the Surface Pro or even RT.  Only real difference between RT and the Pro though is the ability to natively play the recordings on the go... Hope this helps with your question.


I am starting an exploration in cord-cutting possiblities and can report back on how to do that later.  This configuration that I wrote up has been something that has developed over the past few years, but I am always looking for ways to improve or keep moving the experience forward while saving money (on cable that is...)

Thanks very much for your posts Dewain27; really interesting, especially the 2nd one. Some of the stuff wouldn't apply, because I'm in Canada, but most of it would.


Can you elaborate a little on how your Surface Pro fits into the mix?


BTW, I'm composing this on my new Surface Pro :)


Congrats on the new Surface Pro... Hope you are loving yours as much as I love mine.

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Ah OK. I was thinking you were doing some crazy MS 'magic' to somehow stream the media to the Surface. Copying the files is, perhaps, a little old-school but it is certainly reliable and proven :)

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No problem.  I figured that I should contribute a little since I listen to the podcasts all the time.  Now if we can just get rid of the Google stuff in lieu of other solutions.  Maybe I will do a post on how to do the stuff needed to produce the podcast in a way that we don't have to have Google IDs.

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Maybe we should start a discussion on what the needs are to do the show and then we can give some Google alternatives...

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