Windows Media Center

Typecast can display information from your Windows Media Center computer, including programs that are scheduled to be or have been recorded. You can also use Typecast to tell Windows Media Center to schedule recordings of programs or series.

Installation

  1. Download and run the Typecast WMC server installer.
  2. If Windows SmartScreen warns about the installer, click More info and then Run anyway. (The warning is because SmartScreen doesn’t know about new downloads. You can ignore this warning because the installer does not contain malware. Please see the analysis from VirusTotal.)
  3. The first time it runs, Windows prompts you to approve a firewall exception for your private network. You need to approve it for the Typecast WMC server to communicate with Typecast.
  4. Note the machine name Typecast WMC displays. (You won’t care about the port numbers unless you know you need to change them.)
  5. Go to the machine running Typecast and press the Settings toolbar button.
  6. Select the WMC tab.
  7. Tick the Enable Windows Media Center features check box.
  8. The default value for the Typecast WMC server (“localhost”) assumes that Typecast is also running on the WMC machine. If this isn’t the case, enter the machine name of the Typecast WMC server that you noted in step 4.
  9. Press the Configure WMC Server button. (This configures the Typecast WMC server to communicate with Typecast.)
  10. You should see two green check marks indicating that the outbound and inbound connections are successful.
  11. The first time you do this, Windows may prompt you to approve a firewall exception for your private network. You need to approve it for Typecast to communicate with the Typecast WMC server.
    If you don’t approve it fast enough, the inbound connection will fail (because Windows blocked the message from the Typecast WMC server). This is expected and is no problem. (It’s also a great way to see why these firewall exceptions are necessary.)
    Press the Configure button again (after you approve the firewall exception), and it should work.
  12. Press the OK button.
  13. Typecast will then contact the Typecast WMC server and display the recordings information in the main window.

You can enter an IP address instead of a machine name, so this might work when Typecast is outside your private network. (You’d need to also allow an exception for public networks in the firewall and set up port forwarding for the incoming port.) However, I haven’t tested this, nor do I support it (but maybe someday).

WMC “Use the Guide” Setting

In order for an external program (such as the Typecast WMC server) to tell WMC to schedule a recording, WMC must have the Use the Guide… option set. The Typecast WMC server checks for this and warns if it’s not set. (If you don’t want to use Typecast to schedule recordings, you don’t need to do anything.)

Warning: You must enable the Guide in WMC to use the "Record" feature.
Settings > General > Privacy > Privacy Settings > [x] Use the Guide …

Run Windows Media Center. Select Settings > General > Privacy > Privacy Settings. Then tick the first option: Use the Guide and send information … Press Save.

Go to Settings > General > Privacy > Privacy Settings. Tick the first option and press Save.

Understanding the WMC Icons

The Windows Media Center icon indicates a program will be (or was) recorded. The small dot indicates whether it’s the actual recording that will be (or was) recorded or if there was an error during recording.

(future) This specific program will be recorded
(future) This program will be recorded, but not this specific airing.
(past) This specific program was recorded.
(past) This was recorded, but not this specific airing.
(past) This was recorded, but it’s only a partial recording.
A request was made to schedule this program (but WMC hasn’t been notified yet).
An error occurred when scheduling the recording.

More than one airing can be marked as Actual because you can schedule WMC to record multiple airings of the same show. (Maybe the first one had an error, so you want to record it again.)

Recorded programs that aired before the earliest date of listings in Typecast are, of course, ignored.

Programs can be recorded on stations in WMC that aren’t in Typecast. These won’t match anything in Typecast, so they’ll be ignored.

Programs can be recorded before a listings update and if a listings update changes their times, they’ll be incorrect and won’t match. (This is extremely rare, but I saw it happen once.)

In the screenshot, you can see that two distinct airings of The Guest Book “Everybody Loves Clark” were recorded (Dec 11 9:30 PM and Dec 13 10:00 PM), so they both have red dots. There are two additional airings of that episode (Dec 11 11:00 PM and Dec 16 10:00 PM) that have yellow dots to indicate that another airing of this episode was recorded.

Offline Operation

One advantage Typecast has over Ceton’s abandoned My Media Center application is that your Windows Media Center does not have to be running at the same time as Typecast when you issue the Record command. When your WMC resumes from sleep, the Typecast WMC server will read the command from a cached file and schedule the recordings. In turn, it will similarly return responses to Typecast in an offline file. For example, Windows Media Center might wake up at 4 AM to update its listings and go back to sleep, but you don’t wake up the PC running Typecast until 9 AM. Since they’re running at different times, they don’t have a chance to communicate with each other directly. My Media Center couldn’t work in that environment, but it’s not a problem with Typecast.

Typecast solves this by storing commands and responses in files in the Typecast WMC server’s installation folder. To enable this feature, install the Typecast WMC server in a folder, synchronize that folder to the cloud (e.g., OneDrive, DropBox, etc.), and to your PC running Typecast. Then, go to Settings in Typecast, select the WMC tab, and specify your Typecast WMC folder.

WMC Settings

If the Typecast WMC server tries (and fails) to communicate with Typecast, it will save the information in a file named TypecastWMC_Recordings_Offline.xml. Your cloud service will synchronize it to the cloud. When your Typecast PC wakes up, it will synchronize that file locally. When Typecast runs or resumes, it will try to contact the Typecast WMC server. If it fails, it will watch for that offline file to be synchronized, read from it, and delete it.

Typecast also uses this offline method to send recording requests to the Typecast WMC server in a file named Typecast_Requests_Offline.xml. Similarly, the Typecast WMC server sends back responses (e.g., success or failure) to Typecast in a file named TypecastWMC_Responses_Offline.xml.

(Instead of using a cloud synchronization service, you could also use a shared network folder.)

Synchronizing Stations With WMC

If you want Typecast to use the same stations as your Windows Media Center, you can do this in the Stations window.

  1. Ensure your WMC is running. (In a future version, I plan to make this unnecessary.)
  2. Open Typecast and press the Stations button in the toolbar to open the Stations window.
  1. Press the WMC button and Typecast will request all enabled stations from WMC.
  2. Typecast then sets the download option for channels that are enabled by WMC and clears the download option for channels that are not enabled.
Red indicates Typecast channels that are not in WMC.
Green indicates Typecast channels that are in WMC.
  1. You can decide if you like this configuration and change any download options you want.
  2. When you’re satisfied with the configuration, press the Save button, or press the Cancel button to discard the changes.

Multiple WMC Servers

You can run Typecast WMC servers on multiple WMC machines. Each one can communicate with a different Typecast client—or with the same Typecast client. (However, every time one of them sends recording information to Typecast, Typecast will discard any information it received previously from another server.)

You can run multiple Typecast WMC servers on a single WMC machine—as long as you specify different ports for each instance. Each one can send information to a different Typecast client. (Be sure to specify the correct server port when you configure each Typecast client.)

You can use a single Typecast client with multiple Typecast WMC servers by changing the Typecast WMC machine name (in Typecast’s Settings) to the one you want to work with.

Multiple Typecast Instances

You can run multiple Typecast applications (on different machines) and configure each to communicate with the same or different Typecast WMC servers.

Internet Access

Although Typecast doesn’t specifically support this (yet?), you can probably use Typecast over the Internet instead of just on your LAN. You need to be familiar with port forwarding and comfortable configuring your router to open a port and forward it to WMC. Then you will need to enter your WMC’s external IP address and the port number so that Typecast can reach it over the Internet.