Building a Media Center PC – Part 7 – Interfacing your PC media

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Creating a television ready interface for your home theater system would probably take more time than it’s worth. Luckily, a ready-made solution exists in the form of myHTPC. Providing a convenient interface to all the media on your hard drive, myHTPC also bundles some cool plug-ins for an experience that makes browsing your computer via the TV a joy. The software is still considered an alpha product by the developers, but I’ve found it to be very stable.
A configuration wizard quickly steps you through locating the folders where pictures, music, and movies are stored on your computer. On finishing the initial myHTPC configuration, the interface launches, but I recommend further configuration before continuing. The configure application included with myHTPC lets you change the onscreen appearance of the application, define user permissions for each resource, modify weather information settings, and tweak the general display options for sub-menu items.
Not only will myHTPC allow you to browse media on your hard drive, it also launches applications and performs many user definable tasks. This make myHTPC a decent user interface for both multimedia interaction and as a simplified interface for navigating a subset of computer applications, which can be ideal for maintaining control over what small children have access to on the computer.
Movies and music are played through Windows Media Player while maintaining the look and feel of myHTPC, similar to interactions with Windows Media Center Edition. Queues may be created to play entire albums, playlists, or any other combination of tracks. The focus of myHTPC is to simplify all interactions with media on your PC.
To get the full benefit of myHTPC, a computer remote is a must. This allows you to easily browse the menu system, without needing to remain chained to mouse and keyboard. Supported remotes include Irman and the WinLIRC project at Sourceforge, which allows you to use virtually any remote, including the ones that come with your home entertainment system. WinLIRC does require a serial IR port in order to function properly.