Welcome to my blog. I created this site because every now and then I have something I want to put online for others to see. I never know when or what it will be but this is where you can find it. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know how you found my little piece of the internet.
Strap in, buckle up, and come along for the ride… if you dare.
One of the most powerful things with XBMC are the add-ons. Everything from Youtube to various cable channels are available to watch from right within XBMC. Many add-ons are built into XBMC and others have to be installed manually.
To find add-ons built into XBMC by default, you can either go to the section in question (e.g. videos, music, etc0 and choose the Add-ons option from thos menuse, or you can go to the System menu and choose Add-ons from there. Specific instructions with screenshots available here.
I’ve only tried a few add-ons, but here is a list of the ones I find extremely useful.
- Free Cable – Streams shows from cable websites through XBMC
- IceFilms – View movies and TV shows over the internet
- Save this repository file to the XBMC machine
- Same steps as above
- Wimp.com – View videos from the Wimp.com website (awesome site)
- Included with XBMC. Install from the XBMC.org Repository.
- The Trailers – View current movie trailers
- Included with XBMC. Install from the XBMC.org Repository.
A full list of all the included add-ons can be found here.
Once the media scanning is done, you are able to start watching your videos through XBMC.
Choosing where to view your videos
If you are just watching the videos on a PC, then you can run XBMC and follow along below. If you are connecting the XBMC PC to a TV, you will need to make sure you have a video card with the proper outputs to connect to the TV. I chose to use an HDMI connection because it handles the video and audio all on one cable. I purchase a video card from Newegg that was $10 after a Mail in Rebate. Since this is just for playing back videos, you don’t need an expensive video card at all.
This is the card I got so you can compare to others you find: ZOTAC Synergy Edition ZT-60602-10L GeForce GT 610 1GB 64-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16
Watching some videos
If you are using the default skin/theme, and have setup a source for Movies and TV Shows in the previous step , you should now have items across the menu for both of them, as well as Videos, Music, Photos, etc. If you don’t see an item for TV Shows or Movies, you may find them under the Videos section. You can change this behavior in one of the settings areas within XBMC.
Navigate to Movies and open it up. You should now see a list of your movies. You can pop out the menu bar, from the left side, to change the display. You can view icons, lists, icons with media info, etc. When you have a movie selected, you can press ‘i’ on the keyboard to bring up the info about the movie. Or you can just click it to begin playing.
If you are connecting your XBMC PC to a TV, you probably don’t want to be using a keyboard and mouse to control everything. Good News. You can control your XBMC via some remote as well. I have an old Streamzap remote that works fine for me. Lots of people use Logitech Harmony remotes as well. Some people prefer to just use a mouse so it’s up to you. You can also use an Android device as a remote control as well. Last I checked this only worked well with version 11 of XBMC. If using version 12, the official remote program doesn’t work quite right.
The next thing you need to do is play around with the interface and see what you can find on your own.
Once you’re comfortable with the XBMC interface, you might want to look into some Add-ons to make it even better.
Once you have run MediaCompanion to get the images setup for your movies, you can then have XBMC scan your library.
To do this, use the following steps: to see screenshots of these steps, click here.
- Launch XBMC
- Go to the Videos area
- Choose Add Videos or Add Source
- Browse to the location of your movies (if you movies are on a different PC, find the option for Windows Network in the list in the right-hand box)
- Give the folder a name
- Choose the type of media you are using (TV Shows, Movies, etc).
When you select OK, you should be prompted to scan the location for all the information on the movies. This can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours depending on how many movies you have and if XBMC has to go out and gather the data or if MediaCompanion already did. Just let it run and come back later to check the progress.
If you also want to add TV Shows, follow the same instructions above. I recommend doing one at a time. Let the movies finish updating/scanning before you add the TV Shows, etc.
Once your files have all been scanned into the system, you’re ready to start watching some videos.
One of the best things about XBMC is how good it makes things look on the screen. When you add your file location to XBMC, it will scan through the files you have, and then go online to try to download the movie poster/cover and some fan art for each movie. If you let XBMC do this, you don’t have much, if any, control over what it finds, and it can be difficult to fix any errors. This is where the MediaCompanion program comes in handy.
MediaCompanion is a program that gives you complete control over the information associated with your movie files.
Download the MediaCompanion program and extract it to your computer (it doesn’t have to be on the one running XBMC). Follow the directions on the website to have it scan your movies. For each movie it will go out to IMDB and other places and download all the information, cover/poster art, fan art, etc.
With MediaCompanion, it shows you everything it downloaded and you can edit any information that you want to change. If you want a different cover or different background artwork, you can simply choose something else. If it happens to incorrectly identify a movie, you can change it to the right one. You are in full control. MediaCompanion saves the info in a file for each movie. This is why you want to have each move in its own folder.
MediaCompanion also works for TV Shows but I find that XBMC is fine for that as I don’t care as much what artwork is used for TV Shows.
Once you have your movies showing up the way you want them to, continue on to the next step.
To have the most flexibility with how XBMC displays your media, you should setup your movie files to each be in their own folder instead of one folder with all the videos. It also helps to put the year in the name of the folder so it can more easily identify the specific movie in case there are multiples with similar names
- C:\Movies\Avatar (2009)\avatar.avi
- C:\Movies\Batman Begins (2005)\Batman Begins.mkv
If you currently have your movies all in one folder and want to change, you can use a batch file to create a folder for each one and movie the file in. Let me know if you need assistance with that and I can go find the file I used.
For TV Shows you can have a single folder for each show, or you can have subfolders for each season. You wane to be sure the file names have the Season and Episode number in them as well.
- C:\TV Shows\Big Bang Theory\Big Bang Theory S01E05.avi
- C:\TV Shows\Big Bang Theory\Big Bang Theory S02E03.avi
- C:\TV Shows\Big Bang Theory\Season 1\Big Bang Theory S01E05.avi
- C:\TV Shows\Big Bang Theory\Season 2\Big Bang Theory S02E03.avi
If you already have a large collection, it may take you a bit to get the files organized, but it’s definitely worth it in the long run. See what you can do with your newly organized files in the next step.
I will be focusing on the Windows install but the steps are similar for some other installs
PC running Windows 7 (XP will work but without all the features)
Relatively current PC. I have a Dell 745 with a Core 2 Duo chip and it works great.
Video card with proper outputs to connect to your HD TV (I use HDMI)
MediaCompanion (Optional program that gives you full control over images and artwork I will touch on later)
You have two options when you decide where to install XBMC.
- You can run XBMC directly on the PC that has all your video files
- You can have your videos on another PC and connect them over the network. You can also have multiple instance of XBMC running in your house and they can all pull from a central location.
I recommend installing XBMC on a different computer than where your videos are and using a fresh install of Windows 7. Installation of XBMC is about as painless as is possible. Simply head to the Downloads Page, download the installer for your Operating System, and run it. You’ll click next a couple times and it will be done within a matter of seconds.
If there’s a prompt to run the program right when it’s done installing, I recommend NOT running the program until you have completed the next step to get your files properly organized.
So I’m going to try my hand at writing a tutorial series. I’ve done some small things before but this one will span 7 or more posts. See how you like it.
If you’re like me, and you have a huge collection of DVDs, you don’t want to have to keep finding the DVD you want to watch each time you feel like watching a flick. You also don’t want the kids to have to keep putting them in and out of the player and risk scratching them up. You can easily convert your movies to a digital format and store them on your computer, which is great, but then how do you organize them and view them on your big screen TV?
(So as not to have this post be many pages long, I will be breaking this up into a bunch of smaller posts. One will post each day. Read them all in order, or skip ahead to just an area you are having trouble with.)
So what is XBMC?
Originally made for the first generation Xbox, XBMC stood for XBox Media Center. These days XBMC can run on the old Xbox, a PC, Raspberry Pi, Apple TV, Linux, and more. It gives you a fantastic interface for viewing your digital movies, TV shows, pictures, etc right on your TV or computer. It can be used with a remote control or with a keyboard and mouse. It also supports hundreds of add-ons to further enhance the power of the system.
And best of all, it’s TOTALLY FREE!
There are many walkthroughs and guides for installing XBMC that you can find on Youtube and other places. In the next few posts, I’m going to go through a high level overview of how XBMC works and some things you can do with it.
Here is a pretty nice Overview video that shows a lot of the various parts of XBMC:
A few years ago, Colleen found a recipe for these cookies and they have been a hit ever since. Every Christmas these get made and they don’t tend to stay around real long.
The only problem is they are so good, you’ll be disappointed with all your other cookies.
- ¾ cup butter or margarine, softened
- 1½ cup brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoon water
- 2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 eggs
- 2½ cup flour
- 1¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- About 3 – 8.5 oz bags Andes mints
Melt first three ingredients over low heat, or in microwave. Add chocolate chips and stir until chips are melted. Cool 10 minutes. Add eggs, flour, baking soda, and salt and mix well. Chill dough for 1 hour or overnight.
Unwrap mints and set aside. Preheat oven to 350°. Roll in small balls and place on cookie sheet. Bake 8-9 minutes. Cookies will appear soft (almost not done). Do not over bake. Remove from oven and immediately place one Andes mint on each cookie. When mint is melted, spread with knife like frosting. Remove from pan and cool on cooling rack.
Makes 4-5 dozen cookies.
So my wife is a Pampered Chef consultant and made this recipe from the Pampered Chef a few times. That recipe is completely done in the microwave with specific Pampered Chef products and is very good. However, she adapted it to a standard stove top recipe and it’s still just a good, if not better.
This is a soup I could eat every day it’s so good.
Adapted from the Pampered Chef “Loaded Baked Potato Chowder” recipe…
|3 baking potatoes (about 2 1/2 lbs.), organic||3 1/2 cups milk, divided|
|4 oz. cream cheese, softened||2 tbsp. butter|
|2-3 green onions with tops (1/4 cup sliced) (optional)||4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated|
|1 1/2 tsp. salt||1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper|
|Optional toppings such as chopped cooked bacon, shredded cheese sour cream or steamed broccoli floret|
- Wash potatoes, poke several holes in each and bake in the oven until soft (about an hour).
- When done, remove from oven. Let cool until you can handle them.
- When cool enough to handle, remove skins and set potatos aside.
- In large stockpot, heat about half of the milk and all the cream cheese.
- Whisk until cream cheese is mostly melted.
- Add potatoes and mash potatoes with Mix ‘N Chop.
- Add rest of milk and heat and stir until it is the desired consistency.
- Grate cheddar cheese over soup; add green onions (optional), salt and black pepper and mix until cheese is melted.
- Serve and add any desired toppings or crackers
This soup is truly amazing, but it one of those dishes that is better the next day. The soup will thicken up a lot in the fridge over night and can be reheated the next day. It will heat up fine and will keep the thicker consistency that I love.
The original microwave version can be found here.
If you read Part 1 of the Kitchen Island series, you’ll know that I am in the process of taking an old dresser and converting it into a kitchen island for us to you. If you didn’t read Part 1, go do so now.
At the end of part 1, the structure was built but it needed to be painted and finished. I bought a Wagner paint sprayer form Menards when it was on sale and had a rebate. This was a great purchase. Instead of taking an afternoon to paint the dresser, it took about 15 minutes. And that includes painting other large items that needed to be painted as well. I used 2 coats of primer and 1 coat of paint. I probably only needed 1 of each but wasn’t sure.
Pics of the paint setup:
Paint in Progress: (and the other project I was working on
Finished painting and in the house:
With the top:
Unfortunately we hit a hiccup when we got to the end. We bought the stainless steel top piece from Ikea. However, when we opened it up we found a big dent in one of the sides. It’s not noticeable in the pictures as it’s on the far side, but it’s very noticeable in person. Unfortunately, Ikea is 2+ hours away so we’d have to plan an entire day trip to go down there to replace it. I’ve contacted Ikea to see if they offer me any other suggestions on how we can get it changed out.
The final steps will be:
- putting the drawers back in
- putting the shelf bottom in and attaching it down
- attaching the counter once we get it replaced
More to follow…