Several years ago a developer by the name of Yaggs started SecondRun.tv, a plugin for Windows Media Center that would integrate online content from Hulu into Windows Media Center. Hulu eventually released their own application which can easily be launched from Windows Media Center, which to an extent lessened the impact of SecondRun.tv. Instead of just throwing in the towel Yaggs decided to take things to the next level, and as of today Version 2 has been released to the public, with a completely unique twist on integrating online content. To better understand what SecondRun.tv is, here is an excerpt from the website:
SecondRun.tv is an add-in for Windows Media Center (part of Windows 7) that allows you to bring together all the different types of media available (Flash based video content, local video files, Netflix instant streaming content, etc…) into one common and familiar interface. Every day more and more TV content is made available online through websites like Hulu and CBS.com but with all these new sources of TV content comes many different interfaces and methods of access to those sources. SecondRun.tv was created to bring all of those sources into one easy to use interface that is fully accessible via remote control.
SecondRun.tv also includes and intuitive and easy to use Channel Builder application that allows you to easily create new channels in SecondRun.tv… You can even download channels that other users have made and submitted to our channel repository!
I have had a few weeks to test out version 2 and must say that it is one of the must have plugins for Windows Media Center. Let’s take a closer look at what it has to offer:
- Windows 7 Media Center
- SecondRun.tv – note version 2 is not free but instead will require a purchase of USD 3.99, no trial is available
Once you have downloaded you will be presented with two Windows Installer Packages, setup and SRChannelBuilderSetup. The first file will install the Media Center addin and the second file will install the Channel Builder. Installation is straightforward, with the typical license agreement as well as specifiying what folder you want the application installed to.
Before you can start using SecondRun.tv in Windows Media Center you must first add channels to your setup.To do so run the Channel Builder application. When it first loads you will be brought to a welcome screen that has two very useful video tutorials (the first is on getting started and the second is on remote control mapping)
You should now see the main Channel Builder. This is where you will manage all your channels and make any changes
The first step will be to bring in some channels. You can either create your own channel or download channels already made available. Since this is the first time setting up we are going to want to bring in channels already available, so click on the “Download Channels” button which will bring up a popup showing a list of all available categories.
Select a category and you can see all channels currently available. If there is a channel that interest you simply click “Download Channel”. Once you are done downloading all the channels you want click the “Done” button.
You should now be back at the main Channel Builder Screen and see all the channels that you downloaded. With each channel you should now see all shows associated, broken out by date (I am assuming Air date). If there is a show you have no desire in tracking simply highlight and remove by clicking the remove button, it is that easy! You can make edits to each channel such as naming and the Channel Icon.
Now before you can start accessing your content in Windows Media Center the last thing you need to do is to run the Guide Processor. Click on the “Run Guide Processor” button to get things going.
Since this is the first time running the Channel Builder we need to process the guide manually. However, going forward we are going to want this to happen automatically. Back at the Channel Builder main menu, click the “Settings” button. Here you can set up the Guide Process to run at a set time. You can also point Guide Processor to output the guide data to other machines (for example if you have multiple HTPCs and you don’t want to have guide processor running on each HTPC, you could just designate one HTPC to run). I asked Yaggs about the possibility of having the Guide Processor output to a shared folder (such as a shared folder on Windows Home Server) for multiple HTPCs to access, and he mentioned that is something being looked at down the road. Even more ideal for us Windows Home Server users would be the ability to install the Channel Builder in Windows Home Server and run from there. Yaggs also indicated that he was looking into the ability to create multiple channel guides so each person in the house could have their own personalized channel guide appear in Windows Media Center!
Once SecondRun.tv launches you will be presented with your custom channel guide listing all shows by channel by date. From this point forward you would navigate around just as you would through any other channel guide, can’t get any easier then that!
Here is an example of House launching from Hulu via my Fox channel (not in full screen for screenshot purposes).
To be honest when I first downloaded version 2 I had no idea what to expect, but must say I was very impressed with the product. The layout is very easy to follow along and very simple to set up. Yaggs has also done an excellent job at providing information/tutorials for setting everything up. This is one add in that I believe will only get better with time, especially as the community around it grows . Stay tuned for future posts that will cover other aspects such as creating your own channels.