Friday, February 01, 2008

SageTV Releases Fix for HD Extender IR Problems

SageTV is fixing the most complained about issue with their new SageTV HD Extender - poor IR reception from different angles.  When I reviewed the extender, I noticed some line-of-sight issues, but nothing too severe.  Unfortunately, many others have experienced worse line-of-sight issues and have asked for a solution for the remote control problems.



SageTV has come through in the customer-service department and has released a new front panel for their HD Extender that corrects the problems where the STX-HD100's original front panel reduced the unit's IR sensitivity for remote control.  SageTV says this from the SageTV forums:

"If you have one of the original STX-HD100 units ordered in December 2007 and you would like a replacement front panel, please send an email to orders at sagetv dot com with the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your STX-HD100 order number
  • The number of panels you would like (this cannot exceed the number of units you ordered)

Your replacement panel should be shipped to you within a week of receiving your request. The time to receive it after it is shipped depends on how far it has to travel. There is no charge for ground shipping.
Instructions for replacing the front panel are below.
This topic may be discussed here: STX-HD100 IR Receiver: info from SageTV."

To replace the panel you need to pry off the old one with a screwdriver, but it doesn't sound too difficult.



The end result looks much like the old version, but sounds like SageTV has corrected the IR issues with a simple fix of a replacement panel.  And that panel will be included with future shipments of the HD extender.


Read More at the SageTV forums

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Lost Without New TV Shows? Some New Ones You Should Watch

Writers Strike TV "Alternatives": Part 2 New Shows on TV to Watch

(Part 1 of this series was about Netflix Watch Instantly)

As many of you know, I've been maintaining a listing of TV shows and the episodes each of those shows have remaining.  I'm updating that list each day and then separate any shows with no episodes remaining into a "deadpool" list.  While that list is a bit depressing if you like TV, there is still plenty of good TV left to watch.  Earlier this week Zatz addressed "what to watch" and with the new season of Lost beginning this week, I wanted to follow up and mention my list of shows worth watching.


Lost - Lost returns for a new season this week.  ABC is rerunning last season's two-hour finale Wednesday night (January 29th) at 9pm Eastern, in "enhanced" format (think of VH1's Pop-Up Video) with text and other sorts of info on part of the screen.  Then on Thursday night at 8pm Eastern, there will be a one-hour review of all past seasons called "Lost: Past, Present & Future" that is supposedly going to enlightened even fans of the show although I kind of doubt that...  Then, Thursday at 9pm Eastern, finally a new episode of Lost.

Eli Stone - a quirky lawyer drama that looks interesting - especially with not much else on these days.  It premiers Thursday on ABC right after Lost at 10PM Eastern.

Monk - If you aren't bored with the excellent show Monk yet, there are plenty of fresh episodes of Monk running.

Psych - While you're at it, USA has plenty of new episodes of Psych running as well.  Yes its a little hokey, but its a fun and entertaining show and... well their new episodes.


Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles - I've watched the first two episodes of this one and it's good - real good.  Especially if you were a Firefly fan (Summer Glau) or a Sci Fi fan.  The next episode airs Monday, February 4th at 8pm Eastern.  If you missed any of the first three episodes or so, watch Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles online at Fox's Full Episode Player.

Jericho - Jericho returns for a second season and if you watch nothing else, watch this one.  You can catch up from the first season by watching it online at CBS, renting the DVD's at Netflix, Blockbuster, Amazon Unbox, Apple iTunes, .  Alternatively, the Sci Fi Channel bought rerun rights to season one and two of Jericho and will air four episodes from the first season on February 11th.  Then on February 12th, the second season of Jericho Begins.

You can check out the full list of Winter 08 TV Premiers I compiled at the beginning of January.  And don't forget to go outside or read a book.  Stepping away from that TV or computer once and a while is a good thing :)

Gemstar - TV Guide Enters Multi-Year Patent License Deal with Snapstream Media


Business Wire has released an announcement that Gemstar- TV Guide has entered a multi-year patent license agreement with SnapStream Media, Inc. for certain software products, including its Beyond TV offerings.  Regular readers of this Geek Tonic Blog know that Snapstream is the company that developed the popular HTPC software programs Beyond TV and Beyond Media - Relevant Posts regarding Snapstream at this blog can be found here.  The agreement includes patent license rights for Snapstream in support of interactive program guides deployed on personal computers



I spoke with Rakesh Agrawal, CEO of Snapstream Media about this this morning and he clarified that this is simply an intellectual property rights agreement between the two companies related to Snapstream's use of the Snapstream television guide.  No significant changes will be noticed by consumers and users of the Snapstream products.

Story Source:  Yahoo Business News & Gemstar Press Release


Gemstar-TV Guide International, Inc. (NASDAQ: GMST), a leading media, entertainment and technology company, has signed a patent license agreement with SnapStream Media, Inc. for certain software products, including its Beyond TV offerings.
The multi-year agreement includes patent license rights for SnapStream in support of interactive program guides (IPGs) deployed on personal computers.

Samir Armaly, executive vice president, intellectual property and licensing, Gemstar-TV Guide, said, 'We are pleased to have this patent license agreement in place with SnapStream Media, Inc., as it represents another example of industry innovators recognizing the value of our intellectual property on emerging media platforms.'

Specific terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

SnapStream Media, Inc. is a software company best known for its Beyond TV PC DVR.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Supercharge your HTPC with SageMC - Part 2 Custom Menus in SageMC 6.3.7


In my last post "Supercharge your HTPC with SageTV's SageMC Part 1", I covered the basics of SageMC along with install instructions, plenty of screen-shots and a video walk-through of the SageMC interface.  While I covered many of the great things you can do with SageMC , The most recent version of SageMC adds skinnability aka custom menus that you to make yourself, export and share with other SageMC users and import from saved menu layout files.  This means we'll be seeing tons of new, menu screens that are simple to create and can be shared with the entire SageTV community!

This weekend, Dirk and Mike released the latest version of SageMC (6.3.7) includes the following improvements to make SageMC even more configurable (from the release notes of 6.3.6 & 6.3.7):

  • Almost total control over what you see on your main menu screen.  You can now move, enable, disable and/or scale almost all buttons and menu items to make the menu look the way you want it.  This includes time/date display, Info/Conflict/Record Icons, Recent & Upcoming Recordings, Diskspace Bar, Shutdown Icon, etc.
  • Added SageMC properties backup/restore buttons to SageMC Options >> Main (.sagemc files)
  • Added automatic SageMC properties backup at application start and exit. (application_start_backup.sagemc and application_exit_backup.sagemc)
  • Added a compatibility check of  Java, SageTV, and SageMC jar version
  • Added display of aspect ratio mode in OSD
  • Added video thumbnails in MyTV (can be disabled in MyTV options)
  • Added "ImportScript" theme property that allows theme designers to import and run STVi code when the theme gets loaded
  • Added ability to define a main menu item to play all music albums in random order
  • Use icons for menu items with or instead of text menus
  • Arrange menu items horizontally or vertically
  • Edit menu animations start and stop point and how long those animations move
  • configuration of double-click delay for use with popup menu items
  • Fixed Focus - this addition gives you the ability to make your menu work much like "Front-Row" works so that the ‘focused’ icon never actually receives focus. It just displays the icon associated with the focused item in the text menu
  • Addition of new objects to the main menu (only one recording shows at a time to conserve screen real-estate)
    • Recent Recordings (the four most recent recordings)
    • Upcoming Recordings (the four upcoming recordings)
  • Ability to Import and Export your menus into .layout files.  This is an important feature as it will lend itself to more and more people posting their menus on the forums and giving users some very cool menu layouts to try without even having to toy around with configuring menus.
  • Added menu and object cloning in dynamic menu mode.
  • Added undo for object editing. (pressing undo will revert the object to its state when the configuration menu was first opened)  This feature was designed with someone like me in mind.  Now I can play around and know I can hit the undo in case I messed things up :)

To try out the new features of SageMC 6.3.7 follow the installation steps outlined in part one of this post

and then before importing/exporting, be sure you shut down the SageTV Service.  Now you can import and export menu layout files to your hearts content.

This is a short walk-through video I made of how the custom menus work.

Here are a few sample menu included with SageMC 6.3.7 that you can import and try out for yourself.  Below are some screenshots of those menus:


13 Vertical


12 Text


11 Horizontal


10 Circle


14 Customize Menu


To get to the customize screen you simple hit the right-mouse button (options menu button) and you'll see the menu customization options as in the screenshot above.  From there you can import/export a layout, clone a submenu, clone a menu item, move menu items, change the way the menus work etc.

If you're interested in SageMC Custom Menus, the following SageTV forum threads might be of interest to you:

SageMC Screenshot Thread - see screenshots that other SageTV users have made using SageMC

SageMC Menu Layout Repository - This is where forum members can upload custom SageMC menus they've created to share with other SageTV users.

SageMC Official Forum - The latest information on SageMC and a place to post your questions regarding SageMC

SageMC Full Version Download - If you don't already have an older version of SageMC installed, download the full version.

SageMC Update Version Download - For current SageMC users, this is the place to get the latest SageMC update download


Kudo's to Dirk and Mike who did a great job making an excellent SageTV add-on even better!

To view part 1 of this post click here

There will be more SageTV content to come here so be sure and subscribe to this blogs RSS to stay up-to-date.