Installing & Configuring WebGuide

Installing & Configuring WebGuide

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In the last WebGuide installment, we gave an overview of the rich feature set that allows users to remotely access content. This installment covers the installation process, including how to configure WebGuide so users can access their Windows Media Center PC from outside the home and you can easily set everything up for them.

Installation

If you visit http://www.asciiexpress.com/webguide/default.aspx and click on the download button you will be directed to another page where there are three download choices. You can download WebGuide 4.1 for Media Center 2005, WebGuide 4.1 for Windows Home Server, and WebGuide 4.1 for Windows Vista. Once you choose the appropriate button and click on it, a window will pop up and ask you if you want to save or run WebGuide. Choose run, then the guide will automatically install and place a WebGuide folder inside the computer’s Program Files. Then open the folder and click on the WebGuide Configuration icon to open the program. When the program is opened, it automatically starts the configuration process. Then after a few minutes you are able to further tweak the program to the customer’s needs. By clicking on the Configure Tab you personalize it using the different sections titled General, Users, Network, Media Sharing, and Localization. Below are the different sections and what each of them can do so as an installer you can set the program up with your clients so they can access their Media Center content from outside the home.

General Configuration Tab


In this tab you can set how many rows of the guide you want displayed at a time, and how many recorded shows you want highlighted on your home page. There are also three features that enhance the WebGuide experience. It automatically colorizes the guide into different categories like movies and sports, it includes a remote control add-in allowing you to access Media Center from the WebGuide interface, and it shows the most popular programs scheduled to be recorded in your area. This last feature, however, allows WebGuide to share anonymous data about your viewing habits with a central server. It is the only way it can compile what the most popular shows are in each local area.

Users Tab


WebGuide offers multiple user accounts all with different levels of permissions, so family and friends can be given different levels of access to the content stored in Windows Media Center. For example, you can allow remote family members to access personal media, like your pictures, and videos, but prevent them from recording or watching TV. A user that is an administrator can change permissions for other users, deciding what users have access to and what they do not. By simply checking boxes in the various categories the administrator can decide who can access recorded TV, live TV, music, and pictures.

Network Tab


In order for WebGuide to access Windows Media Center content from the Internet, the router will need to be modified. Luckily there is the Universal Plug and Play protocol which allows Media Center and WebGuide to automatically detect the two ports and router needed. The WebGuide configuration tool automatically scans your network, looking for a router supporting UPnP, and if one is found, WebGuide will display it and offer to automatically configure it. This will create two port-forwarding rules to forward requests to your Media Center PC. In some cases you will need to manually configure the ports and router and the next section explains how to do that.

Port Forwarding / Router Configuration

WebGuide uses two ports, one for the web and one to stream video. At first install, WebGuide will pick a random port (although you can change it to port 80, which is most commonly used port by the web). The Video port is only used when a request for a streaming Video is made. Most of the time users will never need to manually set the router’s port forwarding because of WebGuide’s use of Universal Plug and Play, however, occasionally it is necessary to do so.

Port forwarding is the act of forwarding a network port from one network node to another. This allows an external user to reach a port on a private IP Address.

First you have to determine your router’s static IP address. To find the machine’s address, open a command prompt on the PC ("cmd" from the start menu), type "ipconfig" and the PC will list the network address. The IP address for the router is commonly the “Default Gateway” and usually looks like "192.168.?.?".

Open this address a browser to the address and you will be asked for a username and password. All routers have different usernames and passwords so check the router’s documentation to make sure.

Once you are inside the site, look for a Port Forward or Port Range Forward icon on the web page.

Enter the specified web port and the IP address of the Media Center PC, and click the Save Settings button.

Each brand of router is a little different, so consult your manual on port forwarding before installing WebGuide. This is a straightforward task in most routers, but if you have more questions about this step, please consult your router’s manual or search for more information.

With media sharing you can further choose what you want available and what you don’t want available with WebGuide. This way if you have seven folders of videos but only want five available, then it is easy to do that. In the Localization Tab you can select from 11 different languages and on the web interface, all text is translated into that language.

Media Sharing Tabs and Localization


Media sharing allows you to further choose what you want available and what you do not want available with WebGuide. This way if you have seven folders of videos but only want five available, then it is easy to do that. In the Localization Tab you can select from 11 different languages and on the Web interface, all text is translated into that language.

Network Address Tab


When you select the Network Address Tab, WebGuide displays a personal web address to access the program, and WebGuide is ready to use. Enter in the private IP address, and sign using the username and password you created. Once you are logged in, you have access to the content on the Windows Media Center PC.

Conclusion

WebGuide is simple to setup and is a great way to extend a Windows Media Center based home entertainment system beyond the home. Enabling customers and their family & friends to remotely access personal media presents a good opportunity for happy customers, additional installation margins and a better overall service offering.

More information on WebGuide installation: http://www.asciiexpress.com/wiki/webguide_configuration.ashx
WebGuide Download: http://www.asciiexpress.com/webguide/default.aspx

Comments
  • If your thinking of installing Webguide and want some assistance checkout the guide on Microsoft CE Installers

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