Microcode: Windows PowerShell, Windows Desktop Search & Problem Solving

In the pursuit of my passion of media (specifically, trying to prune my DVR collection in a more flexible way than Windows Media Center), I started getting curious about how I could get the same kind of data that Windows Explorer has about some RecordedTV.  Since I could find it using the Search dialog in Windows, I thought that Windows Desktop Search should have some way to get at it as well.  After a number of searches, I ran across this little snippet from Greg Stemp’s “Hey, Scripting Guy!” column.  It walks through how to extract out the DateTaken information from a JPEG.  This article provides valuable code snippets from VBScript that I used to create a Windows PowerShell function (Search-WindowsDesktop).  The article also contained a small link to a reference of almost every special query field that Windows Desktop Search provides.

That reference is the backbone of a number of scripts that I will post about here, but, in the interests of keeping it simple, I will post the final scripts in a later post.  It’s also an example of how I go about solving problems.  When faced with a problem, my passion for programming partitions the problem.  I break each problem into a smaller set of individual problems with independent solutions.  This has a number of side-effects:

  • Increases the possibility that I might have a or know about a solution to a problem similar to the smaller problem

  • Forces the mind to think of independent solutions to parts, which helps you build a number of reusable components instead of one throw away script

  • Allows me to search for the answers to the unsolved problems more flexibly

  • Opens the possibility to finding better answers for the independent problems later on, which can improve the flow and performance of the entire system

  • Exposes me to potential other problems I could solve at reduced cost

In the case above, I broke the original problem into a few problems:

  • Where can I find RecordedTV Metadata?

    • Where can I find the most metadata? Answer: (Windows Desktop Search)

    • How do I get at it from scripts?

    • How can I display the data? (Answer: Tediously, or I can use Windows PowerShell, which will display the properties on the object for free)

Since the example that I have searches for Photo Metadata, which might be fun to script, Instead of making a function that just gets my recorded TV, I’m going to make a function that can query Windows Desktop Search for any field that I want and can come back with data.  Then I will write a script to get out my DVR metadata, but I can always build more interesting stuff from this core component later.  By building many things that depend on this core script, and ensuring that they all continue to work, I can make a flexible solution that can be extended upon and improved later.

Here’s my function to pull data out of Windows Desktop Search:

function Search-WindowsDesktop($fields, $filter)
    $connection = New-Object -comObject “ADODB.Connection”
    $recordSet = New-Object -comObject “ADODB.RecordSet”

    $null = $connection.Open(“Provider=Search.CollatorDSO;Extended Properties=’Application=Windows’;”) > $null

    $ofs = “,”
    $query = “SELECT $fields”
    $query += ” FROM SYSTEMINDEX $filter”
    $null = $recordSet.Open($query, $connection)

    if ($recordSet.EOF) { return }

    while (-not $recordSet.EOF) {       
        $result = New-Object Object
        foreach ($field in $fields) {
            $result | Add-Member NoteProperty $field $recordSet.Fields.Item($field).Value

    $null = $recordSet.Close()
    $null = $connection.Close()

    $connection = $null
    $recordSet = $null

Here’s a a few quick samples of using it that I’ll expand upon later:

Search-WindowsDesktop “System.Title”, “System.RecordedTV.EpisodeName” “WHERE System.RecordedTV.ChannelNumber IS NOT NULL”

Search-WindowsDesktop “System.Contact.FullName” “WHERE System.Contact.FullName IS NOT NULL”

Search-WindowsDesktop “System.Photo.CameraModel”, “System.Photo.ProgramModeText”, “System.Photo.OrientationText” “WHERE System.Photo.DateTaken IS NOT NULL”

Hope this helps,

James Brundage

Comments (5)

  1. In a previous post, I introduced Get-RecordedTV , which was built upon another function, Search-WindowsDesktop

  2. In a previous post , I showed you how you can debug Windows PowerShell cmdlets and providers in Visual

  3. One of the coolest new features of Windows PowerShell is PowerShell modules.  I’ve just written

  4. The other day, a friend over in Microsoft Research wanted to figure out how to get out the width and

  5. The other day, a friend over in Microsoft Research wanted to figure out how to get out the width and

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