Thursday, September 27, 2007

Beyond TV 4.7 Released



 Snapstream officially released the latest version of their flagship Home Theater PC software, Beyond TV today - now out of beta.

There are several improvements and some very nice feature upgrades in this version.  Here's a list of some of the bigger ones:

  1. Faster HDHomeRun Tuner - QAM tuning with Beyond TV and the HDHomeRun is now much faster. Before there was a delay when you first started a QAM channel. Now with a setting change in the BTV webadmin, starting liveTV and changing channels for QAM channels are significantly improved.
  2. Enhanced Line-up and change detection/correction.  Ability to edit a custom TV lineup.
  3. Auto Load Shows to iTunes - As Snapstream mentioned on their blog, this might help out those people who were relying on iTunes to get their NBC programming (no longer available on iTunes) You can now showSqueeze to h.264 (this is for all of those Apple iPods and other Apple devices) including a podcast rss feed for iTunes. From the release notes "For you non-apple fanbois, we've also included a 1280x720p h.264 profile that you can send your hd content to and save a ton of space whilst still looking good." Note this is a paid plugin packaged with the DVD Burning plugin (if you already have the DVD burning plugin, you'll get this feature also). btvitunes2
  4. Transcoding Support for iPod and PSP format.
  5. Pool multiple Hard Drives as one - Snapstream calls this feature "drive pooling: Pool several hard drives as one so Say Beyond TV can manage and distribute recordings between each of the drives. It's simple and you can set it and forget it.
  6. Beyond TV Link DVD Burning - you can now burn DVD's right from the 10-foot BTV interface on your extender (Link) manchine. This feature has been available for the BTV server machine but until now you couldn't add this plugin on the BTV/extender machine. Note: This will be a fee-based plugin)
  7. iPhone or Smartphone Remote Control your BeyondTV - Snapstream is calling this feature the firefly nano (named after their firefly HTPC remote). I have more detail on the Firefly nano feature in this post.
  8. Automatic Community Recordings. In other words, it will take the top shows from other Beyond TV users (Beyond TV Buzz) and will then schedule them at the lowest priority on your BTV machine.  You can customize which of these "community" recordings actually record and how many of the top recordings you really want to add each day.
  9. Multiple usb-uirt support - use and manage multiple USB-UIRT's with one Beyond TV machine.
  10. Xbox 360 Streaming fix: Showsqueezed wmv files can now be set as type "video" for your 360 to be able to stream them. This setting is in the Web Admin under advanced settings -> Miscellaneous Settings.
  11. You can now set "record at this timeslot" to set up a show to record only at a certain time slot.
  12. Enhanced Performance of the BTV User Interface (Viewscape) including but not limited to faster switching from screen-to-screen, faster program guide, faster input of almost all of the pages in BTV. 
  13. While a recording is in process, you can extend the recording in progress by "xx" minutes.
  14. Web Admin Upgrades:  There's a host of upgrades to the online, BeyondTV web admin including: 
    1. RSS Feeds - get RSS feeds of upcoming recordings, recent recordings, disk space remaining and recent showsqueezed (compressed) recordings.  These feeds can include the hyperlink to open up a show or the hyperlink can be turned off.- (merged from the "community web admin")
    2. Added a Web User Interface Scheduling Calendar - (merged from the "community web admin") btvCalendar1
    3. Faster start-up and performance for webadmin pages
    4. Addition of Ajax on some of the WebAdmin pages - (merged from the "community web admin")
  15. Added log messages to the BTV Link (extender) machines
  16. Ability to showsqueeze & create smartchapters en masse (batch mode).
  17. Support for AverMedia A180 ATSC Card
  18. MPEG-4 Playback / Transcode support
  19. Support for showsqueeze (compression) from DVR-MS files





There are more improvements included as well, but those are the bigger ones. This is a fairly significant release so anyone with Beyond TV will want to upgrade.

There's no integration of Beyond Media (DVD, Music, etc) features with this one, but here's hoping it is released with the 5.0 version that must be coming before too awful long.

Head over to Snapstream to download and get started with the new Beyond TV 4.7


Related Posts:

Fall 2007 TV Season Premiers: The Ultimate Guide
Control Your HTPC with your iPhone or Smartphone
Integrate Your Netflix Queue with your HTPC
Mass Edit BeyondTV Show Details
Automatic Podcasts on Your HTPC with Podcatcher
How To: Access Beyond TV WebAdmin Over The Internet


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Get Your Free Full Length Movies at Google Video?

moviereel Its not talked about all that much, but for a while now there have been a pretty significant number of full-length feature movies available for you to watch streamed online for free with little or no fear of getting in trouble (like you can with torrents for example.)  Where are these movies you ask?  The answer might surprise you.  Right on one of the most well known and popular video sites called Google Video.



Wired just put out a post that highlights this fact and it has been getting some love too.  So I kind of doubt this will continue too long before Google works a little harder to get these out of reach from their site at least.  Still, as of right now there are well over 300 full-length movies including many feature films just released like The Bourne Ultimatum, Shrek the Third and Knocked Up just to name a few.  To see examples of these pirated movies & tv shows search for "millionmoviesdownload" in the title

If you want to see a long listing of these, check out this PDF put out by the National Legal & Policy Center who is lobbying Congress to get this to stop the movie "sharing."


To take a peek, head over to Google Video while their still there.

You might also be interested in these stories:

MySpace Music Still Being Downloaded
How To Rip A DVD For your PC or iPod with Handbrake
Free Online Movie Trivia Game
Hack iLife HD for Free iMovie HD
How to Find Songs From Commercials, Movies and TV Shows


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Hack Your Wifi Antenna for 5 Cents and Extend Your Range

Today we have an interesting hack that involves taking your standard WiFi antenna and for five cents converts it into something like those $30 range extender antennas you can buy.  It involves the following tools & supplies:  small gauge solid copper wire, a drywall screw a little soldering and a plastic straw (yes like those at your favorite fast food restaurant).

The end  result doesn't look all that bad and he has the following video to demonstrate how he did it and "prove" that it works.  I haven't tried it myself, but it looks like it might just work.  Here's the video:

You can also go through this step-by-step at Instructables HERE


You might also be interested in these posts:

The Ultimate Flickr Tools Hacks and Scripts Database
Wake UP Already - Alarm Clock Hacks for the Sleepy
Extreme Mod: Commodore 64 Movie Server
Does This PC Smell Like Fish? Aquarium PC Mod


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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Fall 2007 TV Season Changes - Already

We've just barely begun the Fall 2007 TV Season and there is already a likely casualty:


Country Music Reality Show, Nashville has been pulled by Fox for the time being after only two shows.  Don't expect to see that one come back anytime soon.

In other TV news, the Eureka Fans will be happy to know it was just picked up for a third season.
Source: TV with MeeVee

Anyone out there want to speculate on what other new premiering shows will not make it to the end of the season?  Regardless, I'm hoping for an early exit for any CBS show to make way for Jericho.  I'm a late one to the Jericho bandwagon, but after watching it in reruns this summer my family is hooked.  It's a quality show that deserves to continue on.


Related Posts:

Complete Fall 2007 TV Season Premiers w/PDF Download

Free Downloads for Network TV Shows

Catch up on the Jericho Shows and be ready for this season's shows


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Good Reads: Recommended Stories For Midweek




It's Wednesday and I'm buried with work so I'll share some of the good reads I've stumbled upon over the past few days.  Enjoy!



Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Amazon Begins War with iTunes with Strong Start

2amazon Do you own a portable media player?  Possibly an iPod, Zune, Zen or whatever MP3 player?  This week Amazon came out of the gates running with a very strong start in the digital tunes store war that pits Amazon vs. iTunes.

Amazon announced their AmazonMP3 beta Tuesday morning and proudly called it the “the world’s biggest selection of a la carte DRM-free MP3 music downloads.”

Why is this significant?  Amazon's store has popular songs that work anywhere in any MP3 playing device.  There's no DRM which means you won't have to worry whether it will work in your device and you won't have to worry about the song "expiring" when the company goes away like is happening with Sony, Virgin Digital and potentially Yahoo Music.  The library includes over 2 million tunes with all of them in a DRM-less, 256 kilobits-per-second MP3 format.  The songs will range in cost from 89 cents to 99 cents per track with the top 100 albums costing 8.99 each.  While you can copy the songs from device to device, Amazon will not replace for free any purchased tunes - you'll have to buy new ones if you lose the ones your purchased because of a drive failure or anything like that. 

To download you can either do a simple download with no browser add-on app or you can download their free app (Windows & Mac with Linux coming soon.)  I tried out the downloader by downloading a free tune (everyone gets a free copy of Energy by the Apples in Stereo).  The app is just an addon to your web browser.  Once installed you simply click on "buy mp3 song" and it automatically downloads and adds the song to iTunes for you.  Yes you read right, it adds it to iTunes so for you folks who are used to the iTunes interface there is absolutely zero learning curve.

Is AmazonMP3 an iTunes "killer?"  No, not today but it is a very viable competitor with Apple's iTunes which should be very successful and popular as the music collection increases.  Amazon is in this game to win and they know their competition - just look at the image on the front page of the AmazonMP3 site.  It's a cascade of mp3 players with the iPod being front and center.


I'll be checking with AmazonMp3 first next time I am looking for a tune.

Check out AmazonMp3


Want to strip your iTunes songs of DRM so you can use that music on any device?  READ THIS


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Mark Cuban on Dancing With The Stars: Will You Be Watching?

mark1 When I heard that Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, founder of Audionet (that company that became and sold to Yahoo and made him $5.9B) Chairman of HDNet and writer of one of the more intelligent and interesting blogs (Blog Maverick) was going to be a contestant on Dancing With The Stars this season, I realized I was finally going to be broken down.  Yes, I will be watching Dancing With The Stars without being tied down or chained to the sofa by my wife and daughter who love the show anyway.  I'll be watching to see how Mark does and probably be voting for him because I respect him and like the fact that while he is very wealthy and successful, he is a "common man's" rich guy.  I don't always agree with him, but always follow his blog because he says what he thinks without pulling punches.

mark2 If you have the chance, check out the show tonight as he'll be dancing his way to fun and fame in front of the TV audience.  Plus, he really needs our support in the voting realm as the competition includes folks like Sabrina Bryan from Cheetah Girls (Popular Disney Channel Movie) - she'll be getting a good number of the tweener vote anyway.

Vote for Mark & Kym - 1 800 Vote411


You might also be interested in these posts:

New Premiers for this week

Free Network TV Episode Downloads

Complete Fall 2007 TV Season Premiers


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Neighborhood Reconnaissance - Two Map Mashups To Find Bad Neighbors

2map Lets say you're planning to move to a new neighborhood and want to know about the bad neighbors before you commit to renting or buying that house.  Or you already live in a neighborhood and want to know about the "bad seeds" nearby.  There are two different maps mashups that give you the tools to do just that type of neighborhood reconnaissance.

The first one is  This one has a database of "bad" neighbors as submitted by others on the net.  What types of bad neighbors are being reported here?  Noisy, mean, destructful, you name it it's there.  I see this site as being a lawyer magnet at some point though as I'm sure there are some inaccurate reports on there by some who might be trying to get back at said neighbor and probably some silly whining as well.  Still, it's interesting at the very least and hey, it might save you from moving into a bad situation.  To use it, you just type in the zip code you want to search and it pulls up a Google Maps with markers showing various "bad neighbors" along with a listing of those bad neighbors below the map.  Here's a screenshot for you:1map

Rotten Neighbors even has a weblog with "helpful" hints on how to tell if you have a bad neighbor and what to do about it.  It has an easy link "contribute to this map" so you can put in your list of "bad neighbors."

Check out RottenNeighbors HERE                                             Found via AppScout


3maps The second mashup is a Windows Live Maps Mashup that takes the registered sex offenders database and shows you where those registered sex offenders live.  If you have kids, this is very good information to know about a neighborhood.

I wrote about this one last month and it is a heavily viewed site.  To use it you just input the address, city or zip code and it instantly shows you a list of names of registered sex offenders with a map of their registered location/s pinned on the map.  It even shows the crimes and a mug shot of each offender.

Check out the Registered Sex Offenders Mashup HERE


For other maps mashups CLICK HERE

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Echostar Acquires Sling Media for Approximately $380 Million

sling dish I learned from Dave Zatz that Echostar Communications Company, the company know for its Dish Network Satellite TV will acquire Sling Media for approximately $380 Million.  Sling Media is the maker of the Slingbox and Slingplayer which allow you to placeshift your TV programming from your home across the internet to allow you to view that content anywhere there is an internet connection.

Any time an innovative company like Sling Media is purchased by a larger media/distribution company there are concerns about the future path of that innovative company and this will be no exception.  Still Blake Krikorian, the CEO of Sling Media said this in an interview with the Paid Content weblog:

“We expect very little change to our business except that we have even deeper pockets, and access to other core technologies.”

Here's what he said regarding why they are selling to Echostar:

“With EchoStar, we’d gotten to know them, to know Charlie. Charlie is one of the real pioneers. He’s a guy who helped build an entire industry, he’s a founder, he’s an entrepreneur. Clearly, there’s a lot I can learn from him. He understands us ... He knows what it’s like to be this passionate about what you do. I’m very confident that the position we’re being put in here, the opportunity being provided us is one that will only accelerate what we’re building.”

Should be interesting to watch.  Its interesting that Echostar is interested in Sling Media and will be even more interesting to see what they plan to do with Sling Media.

Echostar also announced that they were considering a spin-off of their technology and infrastructure assets from the Dish Network U.S. consumer business.  This would leave the pay-tv Dish Network in the existing company and the remainder of the assets, presumably including Sling Media's in a separate spin-off.

Read the official press release at the Zatz Not Funny blog.

Read the interview at Paid Content.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Geography Tetris - United States, Europe, UK France Japan Africa Netherlands South Carolina

Just last month I told you about the tetris game for geography.  Well they are continuing to expand the game into new locations.  Now in addition to the US States version; there are also the following versions:  Europe, France, UK, Japan, Africa, Netherlands and even a South Carolina-pick-the-county version.

This is a fun way to teach or learning geography.   It crosses the game action of tetris game with the geography lessons of the various locations.  Here's some screen-shots for you:

thumbnail-uk thumbnail-usa_sc

 thumbnail-uk thumbnail-europe


Check out all of the games HERE

For more teacher tech articles click HERE

You might also be interested in: Games That Flickr Plays - 12 Cool Games That Use Flickr


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Tivo DVR Alert - New Premiers for the Week

twc Fire up those Tivo's and DVR's. 




Here's a list of all the TV premiers (new and returning) for this week:

Premier Date Day Show Name New? Network
9/24/2007 Monday Dancing With The Stars    (ABC)
9/24/2007 Monday Bachelor    (ABC)
9/24/2007 Monday ** The Big Bang Theory  NEW (CBS)
9/24/2007 Monday CSI:Miami    (CBS)
9/24/2007 Monday How I Met Your Mother    (CBS)
9/24/2007 Monday Rules of Engagement    (CBS)
9/24/2007 Monday Two and a Half Men    (CBS)
9/24/2007 Monday ** Chuck  NEW (NBC)
9/24/2007 Monday ** Journeyman  NEW (NBC)
9/24/2007 Monday Heroes    (NBC)
9/24/2007 Monday Real Time with Bill Maher   (HBO)
9/25/2007 Tuesday Boston Legal    (ABC)
9/25/2007 Tuesday ** Cane  NEW (CBS)
9/25/2007 Tuesday NCIS    (CBS)
9/25/2007 Tuesday The Unit    (CBS)
9/25/2007 Tuesday ** Reaper  NEW (CW)
9/25/2007 Tuesday Bones    (FOX)
9/25/2007 Tuesday House    (FOX)
9/25/2007 Tuesday ** The Singing Bee  NEW (NBC)
9/25/2007 Tuesday Law & Order: SVU    (NBC)
9/26/2007 Wednesday ** Dirty Sexy Money  NEW (ABC)
9/26/2007 Wednesday ** Private Practice  NEW (ABC)
9/26/2007 Wednesday Criminal Minds    (CBS)
9/26/2007 Wednesday CSI:NY    (CBS)
9/26/2007 Wednesday ** Bionic Woman  NEW (NBC)
9/26/2007 Wednesday ** Life  NEW (NBC)
9/26/2007 Wednesday Deal or no Deal    (NBC)
9/26/2007 Wednesday Life    (NBC)
9/26/2007 Wednesday Ghost Hunters    (SCIFI)
9/26/2007 Wednesday Haunted    (SCIFI)
9/27/2007 Thursday Ugly Betty    (ABC)
9/27/2007 Thursday ** Big Shots  NEW (ABC)
9/27/2007 Thursday Grey’s Anatomy    (ABC)
9/27/2007 Thursday CSI: Crime Scene Investigations   (CBS)
9/27/2007 Thursday Without a Trace    (CBS)
9/27/2007 Thursday Smallville    (CW)
9/27/2007 Thursday My Name is Earl    (NBC)
9/27/2007 Thursday The Office    (NBC)
9/27/2007 Thursday ER    (NBC)
9/28/2007 Friday ** Moonlight  NEW (CBS)
9/28/2007 Friday Ghost Whisperer    (CBS)
9/28/2007 Friday Numb3rs    (CBS)
9/28/2007 Friday Deal or no Deal    (NBC)
9/28/2007 Friday Las Vegas    (NBC)
9/28/2007 Friday Stargate Atlantis    (SCIFI)
9/29/2007 Saturday 48 Hours Mysteries    (CBS)
9/30/2007 Sunday Brothers & Sisters    (ABC)
9/30/2007 Sunday Desperate Housewives    (ABC)
9/30/2007 Sunday Extreme Makeover: Home Edition    (ABC)
9/30/2007 Sunday American Dad    (FOX)
9/30/2007 Sunday Brotherhood    (SHOWTIME)
9/30/2007 Sunday Dexter    (SHOWTIME)


For the full listing check out the original post on the new, Fall 2007 Television Season

And if you missed any from last week, you might want to check out this post:  More Free Downloads for Network TV Shows


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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Games That Flickr Plays - 12 Cool Games That Use Flickr

UltimateFlickrTools Flickr is one of the most popular online photo sites on the web.  One of the reasons for that is the incredible amount of free, 3rd party tools that use or run using flickr.  A great example of the variety of different tools available are the many games on the net that use flickr.  Here are 12 of the best flickr games I've been using: 

Flickr Mashup which helps children to learn English Alphabet through photos


Game that shows you photos and you guess the tags before other people do.


Write a story and each word is illustrated with an image from Flickr.


Flickr Sodoku 1
Sodoku using flickr images with lots of options, difficulty settings and a solver


Flickr Sodoku 2
Game that uses sodoku using flickr images


Type your guesses, flickr will listen and help you draw new photos.


Guess the Name
Quicker you guess the title, the more points you earn


Flickr rendition of the old memory game.


Name That Contact
Quiz-how well do you know your Flickr contacts?


Use your arrow keys to move across the gameboard and "munch" photos


Hangman game for Flickr tags.


Daily vocabulary and pictures from Flickr according to each word.





If you enjoyed this post, you'll love the 350+ different flickr tools, hacks and scripts that make using flickr even better.  Check the complete list out by CLICKING HERE.

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Week In Review

Sunday, September 16, 2007

tonic Another Monday is here.  Here's a quick review of the past weeks posts for the Geek Tonic Blog.





  • More Free Downloads for Network TV Shows

    As mentioned before , some of the Networks are releasing a few TV Premier Pilots for download.  There are also rumors that some networks leaked many premiers out on torrents earlier this Summer to create buzz.  To add to that, NBC is now offering free downloads of their popular shows via a new…

  • The Ultimate Flickr Hacks, Tools and Scripts Database

    more than 350 different tools, hacks and scripts to use with flickr.  And when I started gathering this list I was naive enough to think this list would have about 100 tools total...

  • How to Find Songs From Commercials, Movies and TV Shows
  • Resources for finding songs from commercials, Movies and TV Shows so you'll always know the name of that song you either want to get - or the name of the song you hate and can't get out of your head...