0DVB LogicFixed: DVBLink media center playready message

I’ve been using DVBLink to share TV around my home for sev­er­al years. Of all the issues with it, the most dreaded is the “Play Ready” error on Win­dows Media Cen­ter cli­ents. The prob­lem is this error mes­sage is mean­ing­less — it is gen­er­ated by Media Cen­ter, and just means it can’t get a sig­nal from the tuner. The fail­ure could be any­where behind the scenes. Recently my 2 main cli­ents star­ted throw­ing this error com­pletely out of the blue.

Oth­er cli­ents worked fine and the prob­lem cli­ents could access TV through the web inter­face. Fol­low­ing these res­ults I felt con­fid­ent that there was noth­ing wrong on the serv­er end and turned to the cli­ents for the source of the prob­lem.
I inspec­ted error logs on the serv­er, which didn’t show any con­nec­tion even being attemp­ted, and hence showed no errors. After con­sid­er­able dig­ging I loc­ated the cli­ent error logs, but these were also unhelp­ful. I tried all the obvi­ous things — wip­ing and re-set­ting up the TV tuners in Media Cen­ter, rein­stalling the DVBLink cli­ent, check­ing net­work con­nec­tions, fire­walls, etc, but noth­ing worked.
Even­tu­ally, resort­ing to “let’s just try stu­pid stuff that shouldn’t make any sense” I tried copy­ing over the entire DVBLink folder from “Pro­gram Files” on a work­ing PC to one of the 2 failed cli­ents. To my sur­prise this solved the prob­lem!
Not being sat­is­fied with this inex­plic­able solu­tion I checked the sizes and mod­i­fied dates for all the files on the fixed cli­ent, and the one still not work­ing cli­ent. They were all the same! Determ­ined to nar­row the prob­lem down I copied files, 1 at a time, from the non-work­ing cli­ent, onto the work­ing cli­ent. Even­tu­ally, one file “re-broke” the fixed cli­ent. The file was the con­fig­ur­a­tion file — dvblink_configuration.xml
I checked the 2 files against one anoth­er. Both had the same mod­i­fied date, and both were exactly 906 bytes. I opened the work­ing file in tex­t­pad and found a bunch or sens­ible set­tings, and figured that some­how one of them had got changed without the file size or date chan­ging. I opened the non-work­ing set­tings file to com­pare set­tings in an attempt to identi­fy the fault. The non-work­ing file was blank! It seems that des­pite being the right size and date, some­how the file had become cor­rupt and wiped. Rein­stalling the DVBLink cli­ent had failed to fix it (it hadn’t been removed and rein­stalled, nor had it been over-writ­ten. Using the DVBLink set­tings start menu entry also had failed to fix the file.
I scanned the disk but found no oth­er cor­rup­tion. My best guess is that the PC rebooted, crashed, or lost power for some reas­on whilst some­thing was read­ing the file. Unfor­tu­nately noth­ing (win­dows, or DVBLink) noti­fied me about any file cor­rup­tion, which made dia­gnos­is very tricky.
In future, when rein­stalling DVBLink I will always wipe the install­a­tion folder manu­ally after unin­stall­a­tion — I can recom­mend oth­ers do the same!

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