Why I think I'm switching back to Media Center

Discussion in 'MediaPortal 1 Talk' started by dmeglio, September 9, 2007.

  1. dmeglio

    dmeglio Portal Pro

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    Before anyone yells, I don't want anyone to look at this as a "Media Portal sucks" thread, or anything like that. I really like the product. Unfortunately, I don't think it meets my needs (or the needs of many other people). Hopefully the team will view this as constructive criticism to make MP better. I know I personally hope to come back to MP one day...

    1.) It's too hard for my girlfriend to use. There are just so many little glitches. Things where I have to say "oh yeah, there's a bug, you need to click that twice" or "oh, the external display will say it's on the home screen even though it's really in DVD mode because of blah blah blah." All those explanations are fine for me and my programmer mentality, but she has this crazy idea that she should ask "why?" or say "that sucks." I doubt she's alone. Certain things just have little glitches that I think the technical userbase can ignore, but the mainstream users wont.

    2.) After 6ish months, I still do not have working DVD menus. I've installed, the standard Windows Vista Codecs, NVidia PureVideo, PowerDVD, and WinDVD. None of them work. WinDVD was the closest. It works "sorta." On most DVDs, for whatever reason, the first cursor click does nothing visually (though it does work), but subsequent ones appear visually. However, I just tried The Simpsons Season 3 DVD and it failed miserable. The screen went crazy and froze up right after the 2th century Fox screen. I'd agree with many people saying "it's the codecs" except Windows Media Center and Windows Media Player handle the menus just fine. Why doesn't/can't MP use the same technology MS is using?

    3.) The sorting of the channels by name is just plain wrong here in the US. It needs to be by number, not name. I've yet to find a way to solve this 100%.

    4.) There is no way to record "first runs." Sometimes I don't want to record every single time a show is on. Sometimes I only want the new episodes. My EPG has the info in it, why can't MP take advantage of it?

    5.) It seems more effort is focused on new features instead of bug fixes. I'm a software developer. To me, when I see "RC1" that means "feature complete, just working on some final bug fixes." However, with MP, it seems to mean nothing more than "newer beta" I find new problems between final-pre-RC1-SVN and RC1, and RC2. That shouldn't be. Don't add new features, get the current stuff working extra great.

    6.) The support is horrible. When I first investigated MP, I heard how great the support was. Since then, I've only had a single person ever respond to me on IRC with helpful info. I was told maybe the problem was I'm in the US so timezone differences. However, I came on when it was about noon GMT on a weekend, still no one. Also on the forums, I don't know how many people have posted with me about the DVD navigation issues, still no one has answered the question authoritatively. That thread has existed for months. Someone needs to respond.

    7.) You need a degree in computer science to set it up. This goes with the whole girlfriend argument again. I need to install SQL Server Express to get TV recording??? Am I really the only one that sounds crazy to? I have to deal with all sorts of crazy plugins just to get it to work in the US since Zip2It wasn't supported out of the box. Even then, I have to set up all sorts of account info. And then there's the config program. The install Wizard needs to be expanded a lot to be on par with Media Center. Setup was a nightmare for me and I do have a CS degree!

    I do understand open source software is a pain to develop. I was a lead programmer for UnrealIRCd, an open source IRC server, for many years. You get very little money, spend many hard hours, and you really get very little appreciation. So I do understand the difficultly and I value all the hardwork you guys have put into MP over the years. What I'd just hope you do is look at MP from the perspective of the average user. Not the guy who knows that the DVD navigation issues likely have something to do with window focusing or something like that, the person who's going to say "that sucks" and move on. MP doesn't have to be everything to everyone, it just needs to do what it does well.



    I hope to come back to MP one day, but for now, the hassles it has caused me have made it no longer worth it. I've gotten Media Center up and running with about 90% of what I had MP capable of doing. The difference? I got Media Center up in an hour, MP up in a little over 6 months.

    Cheers and good luck!
     
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  3. gxtracker
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    gxtracker Retired Team Member

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    Excellent post Dmeglio. you made your points very constructive, and I agree with several of the points you brought up. Many of the concerns you have are concerns myself and others on the team have. The biggest problem lies with what you mentioned at the end of your post: MediaPortal tries to be everything to everyone - a concept I have tried to help erase from inside the team since I was asked to join. It is very difficult because so much focus goes into new features that I feel its having a negative effect on the final product. "Keep It Simple Stupid" is a moto I try to live by.

    Agreed. I setup a MP installation for my parents ever since my dad was so impressed by it. Every once in a while I get calls from my mother asking bug related questions that I have to dismiss like, "Oh dont open the video editor twice, if you do you have to restart to use it again."

    You have to turn off "sort channel by index" under the TV configuration, and have the zap2it rename the channels when it downloads them. My point isnt that this is something that can be fixed, but rather that its incredibly difficult for the average person to figure out. You shouldnt have to be working on the project to know what I just said.

    Well said. MP tries too hard to cater to everyone, and isn't very bulletproof with its primary usage. Personally Im actually a little turned off at RC2 right now because I expected a more refined application, only to now have the Alarm plugin not function properly for me, which worked flawlessly in RC1.

    You are NOT alone on thinking this. I feel similar about this too. Setup it way too complex, and I have been pushing for an integrated interface configuration since I joined the team and wrote my initial usability document for them. My personal goal is to get rid of the configuration application and have every plugin setting configurable from the interface from the remote, not to mention a greatly simplified configuration. Less options, greater clarity for users - more focus on the average user.

    I also have enough of a problem with .net, but SQL Server Express compounded on top of that has prevented me from migrating to TV engine 3.

    As amazing as the team of develpers, testers and designers are here, I just wanted to let you know that there are several of us that do feel the same way as you. im sure there are just as many general users within the community that feel the way you do. I've found my parents to be the best usability researchers ever. They have a way of finding issues with the interface and usage that my analytical brain just never notices.

    Hopefully we'll win you back sometime, because your concerns are mine too. I know that we have a long ways to go before I am satisfied with the project, and I know that when i will be satisfied with its state, the dedicated HTPC users will be too.
     
  4. and-81
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    and-81 Retired Team Member

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    I also agree. MediaPortal is great, and it keeps getting better. But it's not there yet.

    Having said that, it is there for me. I have it working and I'm happy. But I know that it can be a pain, and it doesn't work 100% of the time for 100% of the users.

    1. Agreed. My parents struggled with MediaPortal for some time. They use XBMC now as a way of accessing the recordings MediaPortal makes. As long as I keep the Tv engine running they are happy.

    2. Can't comment.

    3. This option is documented, but I agree that it should be renamed and made more prominent.

    4. I believe there is work being done on this as we speak. Maybe this would do it (or will do it in the future):
    https://forum.team-mediaportal.com/rule_based_tvscheduler_service-t26158.html?t=26158

    5. I was a little annoyed to see new features going in to RC2, and I've spoken about it in other threads. I understand it wont happen again. It's a common criticism of MediaPortal that new features are added at the expense of stability, and I don't think we are, as a team, doing enough to break that image.

    6. I think the support is pretty good myself, but it sounds like the issue you've had with DVD navigation is a real show stopper. I'm not using MediaPortal for DVD at the moment so I can't comment, except to say that the last time I did use it for DVD it didn't work properly ... I think you've hit a problem that no-one wants to take ownership of, which is unfortunate.

    7. True. I know that there is work being done to improve that situation as we speak. So expect that to get better soon. I've just done a clean xp install and reinstalled tv server, so I know what you're talking about.

    I hope you keep an eye on MediaPortal because it is getting better. Maybe we'll see you again down the road.

    Cheers,
     
  5. drunkmonkey0

    drunkmonkey0 Portal Pro

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    Read your whole post, yes have to agree on some things, the bugs make it annoying to put into final deployment state but i survive.
    I love fiddling with the software, that was the problem i had with Media Center, not enough to setup, takes care of too much behind my back did 10% of what my MP can now do and you could never do anything about it.
     
  6. iosub

    iosub Portal Pro

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    Hi
    I'm a programer for 23 Years.
    I see MP like a big proyect that never ends... I think you should stop including new features. Stabilize on 0.2.3 version what is allready done, and shipit.

    Them Stop for a couple of weeks, think about what should be the new Featurers and make then on 0.2.4.

    Examples of new features that you have start but they don't finnish is the new TS filter. Or the EVR support.. They work most of the times but are not finish for NON Technical Users..

    MP will be much great that what is already if you keep standard metho on proyects.
    1.- Create a list of this to do.
    2.- Develop the code
    3.- Test the code
    4.- Ship the product

    But NEVER NEVER add new features between 2 and 4

    Just my points-

    BTW, That to all the team for making this Product!!

    Iosu
     
  7. goaltendah1

    goaltendah1 New Member

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    Hi,

    I just wanted to post my thoughts as a new member here, someone who has played around with the product for the last few days, and also someone who has zero knowledge of programming.

    Since I'm not a programmer, have no programming experience whatsoever, and I don't want to be negative, let me say that to set up MP is a huge pain in the ass. There are so many codecs, plug-ins, tweaks, etc that have to be added and then once you are in there is just so many options to sift through that it could be really confusing for a basic user that was trying to figure the whole program out. I have yet to deal with Media Center, but from what I hear, the things you need to download on top of the program isn't as intensive as MP.

    I've been shopping around for a PVR program for the past month or so and from what I have seen MP has the largest user base for Windows outside of Media Center. The reason I steered clear of Media Center is that I'm not a huge fan of DRM, but what I and my family are going to need is something easy and reliable to use (if you can call Windows reliable).

    So, hopefully the group responsible for designing this awesome (but difficult to use) program can take the constructive criticism and get the issues ironed out and make it a little more user friendly. For now I am going to make the step to Media Center, but I will keep an eye on MediaPortal and this Forum and see what changes come.

    Jeff
     
  8. diehard2
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    diehard2 Retired Team Member

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    I agree with most of your points. However, while we support Vista, most of the developers don't actually have Vista. You have to keep in mind that we're not a corporation, and don't have a budget for OSes. As more of the developers get Vista machines, I think you will see Vista bugs decrease.

    As for usability. I just set up MP from scratch on a blanked XP box, and I've noticed that it isn't as easy to use as I would have hoped. A glitch here and there ruins the experience for everyone. For instance, my wife was using the Yahoo music videos plugin, and tried to queue up a bunch of them. this hung MP for five minutes, and the playlist feature of that plugin is horribly broken. Tough to explain.
     
  9. TheGreen1

    TheGreen1 New Member

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    I found it rather easy to set up, if you knew a bit about what was going on. Most of the information is just found in the Configuration folder. The biggest thing was with 2.3.0 RC1 and RC2 with the new Blue Two Basic Home menu thing. There were glitches on that and all, so I messed around and copied the old basichome.xml file from another blue two skin (or Blue Two 2.2.0 if you wish) and boom, it worked great.

    Then I found the my music menu and it did the same thing, so I copied some more xml files all involving music as the title to the newer one and I haven't had any problems since.

    The Menu rotation thing is glitchy, and I say either "fix it" or "get rid of it".

    But other than that, the one thing I like about RC1 over the "Stable" 0.2.2 version is the main menu selection speed. It's slower now than in 0.2.2 and I like that.

    But as for me, visualizations work great, plays movies well (Although I want to see if it will go back to the main screen or something when you hit escape instead of closing it) and radio is great.

    All in all, it's nice to have if you don't have MCE or Vista, and I love it on my laptop.

    But if you're a novice computer user, I don't think you'd like Media Portal for long due to the bugs.
     
  10. infinite.loop
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    infinite.loop Retired Team Member

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    Show System Specs
    yup, the small issues are realy annoying.

    but since we the team is quite small, the developers are all busy with the major issues, so not realy have time to fix the small ones :(

    sadly that wont even work with MCE flawlessly, because of the "structure" of the DVD-menus.
    everyone loves to "tweak" their menu...... :confused:

    thats allready "fixed" in TV-Server.
    you can renamed your channel by SID and / or sort based on sid (wchich is your channelnumber)

    there are only very few providers which privide that info (at least here in europe, we do not get that info :( )
    i would like to have that too. but you need someone with enought time to implement that.
    and we do not have that many developers (even if the users think that).

    since you are a software developer, you might could have a look at that? :)

    the "workaround" is to schedule only the first aired episode.
    i.e. new episode Mo-Fr 14:00 - recurring is aired Mo-Fr 21:00
    then i schedule the edpisode on 14:00 as a series schedule with "Mo-Fr".

    the "main problem" is the core of MediaPortal. too much is handled inside the core.
    so if you change something to fix bug A, this causes features X, Y, Z to break, or introduces 5 more new bugs.....
    its like playing ::mikado::

    there will be a major change in the near future ;)

    well, again... the team is way smaller then the users out there might think. our "long time users" are a great help with support in IRC and forums.
    but we simply do not have the manpower to take a look at every single report.


    there is noone who is dedicated working on the DVD part. and it seems like noone from the team (nor the community ;) ) has the knowledge and the time to take a look at it.

    would be nice if we would find someone for that :)

    a nOOb proof one button click installation tool will be avaivable soon to install TV-Server, SQL-Server, MediaPortal and the client plugin.

    --------------------------------

    the constand crit. that we are only adding new features is simply wrong.
    just read the MediaPortal svn log to find out what is beeing work on. (please dont mix that up with TV-Server, which is not in a freeze. that will happen as soon as 0.2.3.0 is released)
    +90% of all svn changes are bugfixes or changes to improve the useability.

    if we get a working code change submitted from i.e. a new teammember, and pre-testing shows that it doesnt break anything, then it possible that it gets integrated into svn.

    --------------------------------

    again, we can just: call for help!!!

    the term "Team MediaPortal" sounds like there would be a huge team in the background working on MediaPortal, Tv-Server, Deploy Tool, TestTool, MPI and so on....

    the reality is that the team is quite small (or the amount of very active team members that is).

    so if YOU can help us with Testing/Bugreporting, Development, Design or Documentaions PLEASE DO! :)

    :D
     
  11. revs
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    revs MP Donator

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    Just wanted to chime in and agree with some of the OP's points. Overall i think MP is great - have tried other similar products, but always come back to MP.

    The girlfriend likes it, but has a few issues, her main comment is "it does things you dont expect", i.e. these are the small bugs!

    I have to agree with the "lets stop adding features and really hammer out all the bugs" comment.

    I can completely understand how difficult this is though, as I myself am a software developer that works on a HUGE product but the team is tiny! There are two of us!! And guess what... we also fix the major ugs and the minor bugs all stay unfixed.

    I have recently started working with .NET and C# and I really hope I can help MP sometime in the future when my skills improve!
     
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