More Problems with MCE

So I’m continuing to have a few problems with my Media Center set up and thoght I’d throw them out there to see if anyone might have any suggestions.

1. I have been unable ever to burn a television show to DVD. I suspect I may need some kind of an encoder that was theoretically included in the MCE 2005 upgrade. HP refuses to give me any such encoder.

2. I frequently get audio drop outs when listening to “my music” in MCE 2005. If I play my music through WMP and have MCE run my pictures in the background then I get less drop outs. But if I run my music through MCE I can get anywhere from 1 to 4 drop outs per song typically — quite annoying. I downloaded the latest audio driver from Microsoft yesterday and still no relief.

3. It appears that MCE 2005 requires you have Windows Messenger loaded up while it is on. I can kill it when MCE’s off but not on. Any way to disable this?

Update: Thanks to Ed Bott, #3 was a quick fix. Under the “More Programs” Menu in MCE you can turn off Windows Messenger. Thanks, Ed.

I’m also increasingly coming to the conclusion that with my large .mp3 library that a bunch of external USB 2 250 gig Maxtors is just not going to cut it. Anyone have any good suggestions on alternative media storage options? Is there some kind of a one or two terabyte server that might work well with my existing PC and Media Center? Anyone have any good experience with an off the shelf product here or have a link to point me in the right direction?