Saturday, May 19, 2007

Placeshifting Over the Internet for BeyondTV is Here

I along with other BTV users have been testing a new user-modified version of the BeyondTV webadmin being developed by ccarlin - a Snapstream forum member who has done some great customizations with webadmin. The latest feature he is working on is Placeshifting content over the internet. Placeshifting is basically watching or listening to recorded or stored media on a remote device via the internet or over a data network.

ccarlins latest development for BTV Webadmin is to streaming recorded shows from Beyond TV over the internet by transcoding the video via VLC on the BTV server PC and streaming that transcoded (smaller) video over the internet onto the webadmin page. This is for recorded shows only and isn't configurable, but could be a great, new feature for BeyondTV users. I use Orb occasionally, but it is very CPU intensive and can cause problems on your BTV server PC so this would be a good alternative. Kudos to ccarlin for his work on this.

For now this alpha version works in Mozilla Firefox only (EDIT: it is now working with internet explorer also) and you must forward port 8120 on your router. To adjust the video quality of the streamed content, you need to go to BTV's webadmin and then select Settings-Advanced-StreamingServerSettings and adjust the settings from the various presets available there. I have mine set to Cable/DSL-Medium and it works well within my home network using wifi. Your experience may differ based on the CPU of your BTV server PC and your internet/network connection.

If you want to test his alpha of the new webadmin, go to this snapstream forum thread for the download and the latest instructions. I'm pretty excited about this new functionality to replace the need for Orb or even Slingbox someday.

Note: You will need to enable access to BTV webadmin from outside your home network. Here's how to access BTV across the web.

Future improvements I can think of include:
  • Compatibility with Internet Explorer (for those that use it) (EDIT: now working with Internet Explorer)
  • Streaming of LiveTV
  • Auto-detect connection speed and recommend a proper transcoding/streaming quality
  • A simple mobile-friendly webpage of the webadmin so you could stream easily to your mobile device.

If you try this out and have success, be sure and report back to ccarlin and also be sure to thank him for all of the work he has done on the webadmin. He continues to make a great Webadmin (created and continually improved by the guys at Snapstream) even better. I should note that you can still placeshift across the internet using BTV if you have a software-encoding tuner card (here's a post on how to do that), but most of us use hardware-encoding cards.

Listen to Radio over the Net using NetRadio Plugin for Beyond Media

Do you want to play radio stations from around the world on your HTPC and be able to control that stations with nothing more than your TV remote? Do you have your HTPC in a room that gets a bad signal from your local radio station? Beyond Media has a plugin that does this and makes your Home Theater PC even more functional.

Back in February of 2005 a plugin called NetRadio was created by dkj1000 for Beyond Media. Since that time, the plugin was abandoned by the original developer with no further development. Since that time, snapstream user "radnelac" took the code and improved the interface including allowing the Beyond Media volume and playback controls to work from anywhere in Beyond Media. I began using the plugin and it is now one of my favorites.

You can add any number of online radio stations such as, and shoutcast. You can also add any radio station that broadcasts on the internet which means almost any radio station in your area and the world. To find a broadcast radio station, I recommend The Stream Center. With The StreamCenter you can search for radio stations by callsign or station name. Once you find a station you want to add, just copy the hyperlink to that station and follow the instructions in the video to add it. To find thumnails to use with the plugin, I just used google-image-search and searched for the name or callsign of the station.

You can read more about the plugin and download it from the snapstream forums. For a walk-through, click on the attached video file - you'll have to survive my narration but it will give you a general feel of this excellent plugin:

Friday, May 18, 2007

Heroes Marathon All Day Saturday

If you haven't seen this years hit show Heroes, the SciFi channel is running a Heroes marathon starting at 9am Eastern. As any good Network TV exec would require it, they are NOT showing the episodes in order So record them all tomorrow and watch them in order after they air the original pilot at 11pm Eastern. The season finale is Monday night. Heroes is an excellent show for all ages. Watch it.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

7 Stories I'm Reading - Recommended Reading

Friday Links:
1. Hitachi Desktar 1 Terabyte Hard Drive Reviewed - I'll be getting one of these to use as my BeyondTV Recording Drive, but I think I'll wait until the price ($400 or so) goes down some more.
2. Do CableCARD PC's Really Matter? - from Zatz Not Funny
3. Media Hard Drive Storage that you plug into your TV (not PC) - Looks interesting for those folks who don't want to mess with an HTPC, but want to store their movies on a Hard Drive.
4. replaces your FM dial - this is something I'll be checking out. Good writeup from a site with very good content that I check regularly.
5. Top 10 Things to Do with Your Wii Game Console while your waiting for New Games to be Released for the Wii.
6. Moody: Mood Tag Your iTunes Songs - Mac only unfortunately.
7. TV Viewers Bill of Rights - A spot-on commentary by zack of Snapstream

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Are You a Couch-Potato Pioneer?

The NY Times seems to have discovered HTPC's today on their technology page. In an article titled "Internet Meets the Large Screen", the NY Times highlights those who use an HTPC to view the internet from their TV. MCE, Front Row, WebTV and even Apple TV are mentioned. Snaptream gets mentioned for it's firefly remote control, but Beyond Media, Beyond TV, Sage and Media Portal are all left out. I personally don't use my HTPC's to view web sites very often, but I do stream video from Netflix's Watch Now, Joost and other online video sites.

Are you exploring the couch-potato frontier as the NY Times puts it?

DRM-free MP3's from Amazon!

Yet another place to find DRM-free MP3's is coming from according to Engadget. " is set to strike a potentially major blow against DRM by launching a download store later this year that will offer millions of songs in unprotected, MP3-only format." Their initial DRM-free catalog offerings look to be pretty sparce for now, but it is another very important step in the right direction for music sellers. DRM-free is the future - and this is important because DRM cripples the mp3 file so it can't be used on all devices and can't be exported to other music players and/or CD's.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

ProjectHTPC's New HTPC Client

Grant over at ProjectHTPC has built a new HTPC machine using a Silverstone LC10 case and it looks very nice.
I read this comments about building it
"Everything installed fairly smoothly with the exception of a bit of cable management issues due to the layout of the case. I crossed my fingers, turned it on, the PC started up, and I heard nothing but silence."
When I first read that I was thinking, oh no it didn't work, but it was actually a good thing. Silence is golden in building HTPC's you know.Check it out on ProjectHTPC

7 Stories I'm Reading - Recommended Reading for You

1. Are Paid Movie/Video Download Services destined to fail? This research says free, advertising-supported sites will win over AppleTV and Itunes-type pay-per-download services business in the long run
2. Your HTPC Network - This is a branch of the Home Theater Network site। It's fairly new, but has some good content
3. EStarling WiFi Photo Frame - If you don't want to make one like I did, you could always buy one of these digital photo frames.
4. Facing the Full Horror of Windows Vista - Some are having problems with Vista these days. Early adopters always get to deal with incompatibilities and problems like this.
5. How Not To Ship a Plasma TV - If you haven't seen it yet, check out this amazingly bad packing job for a TV.
6. Wireless USB Hub - I think I might have to check this out when it is available. Could be useful for a printer for instance to make the printer a networked, wireless printer.
7. Vista MCE's Webguide is Amazing - Okay, I'll admit it. I'm extremely jealous of the MCE users mostly because of this $18 add-on made by Doug Berrett. Webguide is of course an online TV guide where you can record shows on your MCE from an online TV guide. It also now allows you to stream TV, videos, music and DVD's from your MCE across the internet and to your windows mobile device – Very cool indeed. Ccarlin of the snapstream forums is working on some similar functionality that will transcode recorded TV shows from your BTV server across the internet, but it’s not quite ready for us to try out yet.

If you have any ideas of good links, let me know.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Watch TV on your PSP using BeyondTV and LocationFree

A snapstream forum member "acegolfer" has discovered how to watch TV on a PlayStation Personal - PSP real-time anywhere in the world! He uses Sony's locationfree software, BeyondTV and of course a PSP. Watch the video below and read about how he did it in this post on the snapstream forums.

Another option for watching recorded TV shows or movies on your PSP is to convert recorded shows and transfer them to your PSP. Here's an article on how to do that.

How are PVR's affecting TV Networks and Advertising?

If you've followed this weblog, you know I'm a big fan of Home Theater PC's and therefore Personal Video Recorders (PVR's). Other than with sports, my family rarely watches any shows live. My wife, daughter and I tend to wait for at least 15 minutes after a show has begun before watching so they can skip over the commercials - even for reality programming. This is made easy with BeyondTV because it has built-in the ability to detect the commercials of a recorded show. So you can skip the detected commercial simply by hitting the channel-up button on your remote. Because of this, my family simple does not see most commercials on television today.

I think our TV watching habits are becoming more of the norm now that so many TV watchers have a PVR of some kind be it a Tivo, Cable box DVR, or an HTPC PVR.

How is that affecting the TV Networks and TV Advertisers?
1. More product Placements and advertising somewhere on the screen during a show.
2. Reality TV and Sports Programming are becoming more-and-more important to the TV Networks and their advertisers.
3. The Networks and Advertisers are struggling over how to measure the who is watching what and when they are watching it. Even more important to them is who is watching the commercials?
4. Internet-Streamed Content has a chance to become mainstream. Providers like Joost are getting tons of attention from the content providers. One of the main reasons for this is they control the commercials shown on your TV. No skipping commercials or striping the commercials from shows.
5. Syndication of reruns are becoming less valuable. With DVR's, you already see all the shows you want to. No need to see a rerun of a show that you missed from earlier in the season.
6. Advertisers are simply not going to pay TV networks as much for commercials because the audience watching those commercials is quickly shrinking.

For a great overview of the current environment as the TV Networks are seeing it, check out Aaron Barnhart's article in the Kansas City Star newspaper editorial called Television, the case of the disappearing viewer
Aaron Barnhart is a writer for the KC Star (my local newspaper) and also has an excellent TV - blog called TVBarn.

Itunes 7.1.1 With No DRM - get it while you can

For those of you who use Itunes and Windows, Crunchgear is reporting that the latest version of Itunes (7.1.1) has been cracked allowing you to strip the annoying DRM from your purchased Itunes songs. This will of course allow you to use your Itunes purchased songs on other devices however you please. My guess is that Apple will come out with a 7.1.2 that breaks this crack, but its there now.

For the full story, go to Crunchgear and BoingBoing

For the QTFairUse6 program that does the work for you, go to the hymm project