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This definition is written for novice users since it is assumed that advanced users will already understand what services are, what they do, and how they work. In the interest of comprehensibility, much detail has been omitted or abridged to present only concise information. Besides, the service has been written to be as easy to use as possible, so no user will be hampered by dozens of incomprehensible settings.
To the Administrators and Generous contributors: My contribution here is specific to Windows/Windows Media Center since I have no experience with any other Media Player platform or OS that may host Media Browser as a plug in or service. For this I apologize, and appeal to users experienced with other platforms to edit and update this article as necessary. Every user that can enjoy Media Browser on any supporting platform should be able to do so, and have adequate help available.
What does the Media Browser Service do?
The Media Browser service is part of the Media Browser package working “behind the scenes” as a “Service” application.
Service applications, or “Services”, are programs that commonly run in a “program space” that is closely tied to the operating system. Services are usually configured to start whenever the operating system starts, or when called upon by programs that require their services. They are rarely started, stopped, or controlled by the user.
Services often provide very limited access to the user because their main purpose is to “serve” other programs. Most of the time, user access to server application windows or dialogs is provided only for basic configuration of the desired functions and services for which the service is designed.
The Media Browser service provides the automatic functions that monitor your media collection folders for changes and additions, functions that look-up and download meta-data and images, and functions that update the Media Browser information and artwork within the Windows Media Center program. The Media Browser service also performs many other functions related to “housekeeping” and database maintenance that relieve you of the tedious details involved with typical system maintenance activities.
Media Browser provides several Windows Start Menu items for user access to its various parts including the Media Browser service, as well as a tool-tray icon that may be right-clicked to display a menu offering access to the Media Browser service configuration window, as well as other interface and command options.
Note: The Media Browser Service configuration window is NOT where you will set your monitored folder paths, podcast reception, plug-ins, display/playback, parental control, extenders, or external player options. These settings are not part of the Media Browser service and are handled by a separate application called the Media Browser Configurator which is accessible from the same menu or tool-tray icon as the Media Browser service.
You will usually access the Media Browser service configuration interface from two different places; its tool-tray icon, or from the Windows Start/All Programs menu.
The Windows tool-tray is the area on the toolbar usually located on the extreme right-hand side, and is usually occupied by small icons that offer shortcuts, menus, or interfaces to various programs running in the “Background”. If your tool tray is not located there, then the Windows desktop has been modified for different user preferences and you will have to locate the tool tray before you can use the Media Browser icon for selecting the configuration options.
You may also launch the Media Browser Service configuration window by clicking “Start/All Programs/Media Browser/Media Browser Service”.
If you have installed Media Browser and these options are unavailable for some reason, please check the knowledge base or log on to the user forums to request help.
The Media Browser service configuration window provides uptime and refresh information about the Media Browser service, and allows you to set your preferences for the media collection refresh schedule and options controlling various other functions when you choose to command the Media Browser service to perform a manual refresh.
In the upper left-hand portion of the Media Browser service window is the “Service Uptime” information panel. It displays the date and time that the Media Browser service was last started, and the number of days, hours, and minutes it has been running since then.
Just beneath the Service Uptime panel is the “Service Status” panel. This panel displays the time-stamp of the last successful refresh, and the date and time of the next scheduled refresh.
Just beneath the Service Status panel is the “Media Collection Refresh Schedule” configuration panel. The text and check-boxes in this panel are used to set the automatic refresh schedule.
In some instances, meta-data providers may be slow to respond with the data that the Media Browser service requests. To the left of the “Interval” text box, is a check-box labeled “Allow Slow Providers”. Selecting this box will cause the Media Browser service to allow additional time for the data to arrive before it gives up on that query.
Beneath the “Allow Slow Providers” check-box is another check-box labeled “Sleep After Refresh”. Selecting this box will cause the Media Provider service to suspend activity unless it is re-activated by a manual refresh command, or by the launching of the Media Browser front-end.
Be advised that when the Media Browser service is suspended, it will NOT process the addition of new media into your collection folder/s until it becomes re-activated.
What is “Refreshing?”
When you first set up Media Browser to examine certain folders on your drives, Media Browser read each title, and then queried various services on the internet for “meta-data and images”, and used the data and images to populate your Media Browser interface in Windows Media Center. Most of the information related to titles, synopsis, actors, genre, etc. is relatively complete and accurate, but with the vast number of new or newly available movies, TV shows and other media appearing constantly, quite often some of this information will be incorrect, or incomplete. But the community of people who provide media information and sharing services is continually growing as well, and these generous groups and individuals are constantly updating, completing, and improving this information. This is where Media Browser “Refresh” becomes important.
“Refreshing” is a function that reads each of the files in your media collection and then requests updated information, and the Media Browser service will do this for you automatically as you schedule it, or immediately when you command it.
The “Media Collection Refresh Schedule” panel allows you to set the number of days between refresh cycles (Interval in Days), and the time you wish it to commit the refresh (Refresh Time, 24hr).
Be certain to remember that as your media collection grows larger, the time required for Media Browser to refresh your collection information will grow as well; keep an eye on the Service Status panel since the first entry in the “Last Successful Refresh” item will tell you in Hours, Minutes, and seconds just how long it took Media Browser to complete its last refresh. This will prevent you from wondering why you may be seeing old information or cover art, for example, when you know new information or art is available, and a refresh cycle just started; be patient because if your collection is very large, it may take some time before Media Browser gets around to updating the specific item you are looking at.
Also, keep in mind that “Refresh” does absolutely nothing to your media files themselves, but only to the external data related to them.
The bottom panel, “Manual Refresh Items”, and its sub-panel “Include Images”, are populated with check-boxes allowing you to enable or disable some of the items that would be updated when you command an immediate “Manual” Refresh.
As covered above, the larger your collection, the longer the refresh cycle can take to complete. The manual refresh options check-boxes allow you to select ONLY the items you want to update. So, as in the scenario above where you know there is updated information available on one or more specific items, you can check only the items you wish to update allowing Media Browser to complete the refresh in significantly less time than a full update would.
Once these option check-boxes are set, the Media Browser service remembers them and will use them any time you commit a manual refresh cycle.
Finally, at the bottom right-hand side of the Media Browser service window is a button labeled “Refresh Now”. Once you have set your manual refresh options, clicking this button will start the refresh cycle.
How it works
When Media Browser is started, or if the Media Browser Service is configured to start upon system startup (boot), the Media Browser service begins scanning your media collection folders as set in the Media Browser Configurator application. When it discovers a new title, is calls to the internet for information such as synopsis, actors, air dates, etc, and images such as backgrounds, cover art, etc, and then updates the Media Browser database which becomes available for view within the Media Browser plug-in running on Windows Media Center.
Since the Media Browser service can run in the “background” whether the Media Browser “front end” is running or not, it can provide full-time automatic indexing and retrieval of meta-data and images, as well as scheduled refreshing of existing data.
This becomes very useful when the user has set up a “torrent scraper” or other automated media downloading program that will populated the media collection folders with completed media, titled and labeled in such a way that the Media Browser service can understand it. This way, whenever the Media Browser service finds a new item, it will automatically download and add the new media to the Media Browser front-end.
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