Thursday, February 07, 2008

Hauppauge Component HD Encoder for HTPC's - UPDATE

Rakesh from Snapstream Media has the latest scoop on Hauppauge's soon-to-be-released HD PVR device that will receive HD from a cable or satellite set-top box component video output and encode the HD channel into H.264 at up to 25 Mbit/s.  I first mentioned this device back on January 10th when it was being demo'd at CES.  This device is exciting for HTPC users because it provides a way to get true HD channels (all of them - not just the unencrypted QAM ones) from the cable/satellite boxes without needing a CableCard tuner.  If it works as expected it's going to be huge for SageTV, BeyondTV, Media Portal, GBPVR and even Vista Media Center users that don't have access to a cablecard tuner.


Rakesh visited Hauppauge in November 2007 and has since been in communication with Hauppauge regarding the device.  He doesn't yet have a test unit although he mentioned in the Snapstream Forums that he expected to get one within the next few weeks.  Here's a few tidbits of information he mentions:

  • Includes Hauppauge's IR blaster with code library
  • It accepts component video up to 1080p
  • The hardware is "basically done" and simply waiting for the final case design!
  • It's based on a chip from Ambarella
  • It will require a "relatively powerful PC to playback the recordings from this device.
  • Estimated shipment is expected before 3/31/2008

For more details and information on the device check out Rakesh's post at the Snapstream Blog HERE


UPDATE:  I now have photos of the Hauppauge HD-PVR device here

Coverflow Style Flickr Slideshow

Are you a fan of the cover flow browsing you see in Apple's iTunes and iPhone?  Well so am I and I've stumbled across two sites that let you make your own coverflow-type slideshow using either your Flickr or Picasa photos.


The first site I found has a nice interface to customize your slideshow based on a photoset id, username etc.  You can also customize the interface to work as an automatic slideshow or just a photo browser.  Photo size can be large, medium or small and you can customize the number of photos in the show as well.



The resulting slideshow is very nice.  You can let the slideshow run automatically with a configurable delay between photos or use your arrow keys to move left and right between photos.


To set up your own Coverflow flickr slideshow, head over to for the coverflow slideshow.



Another site that does a nice coverflow-type slideshow is Guckn.  Guckn is a site that displays recent uploaded photos from Flickr in cover flow style. Use your arrow keys to browse the photos in coverflow style.  To customize with your own flickr photosets, click the "?" button on the right top hand side of the page to add the bookmarklet to your browser. Than, browse other flickr album, click the bookmarklet and it will be in cover flow style, too.  I couldn't seem to get the bookmarklet to work, so alternatively, you can substitute for the in your photoset url like this:

original photoset url

new photoset url

Your new photoset will look like this

flickrcoverflow guckn

Instead of the standard flickr slideshow like this one below.



You can do the same thing with your Picasa photos using the Guckn site.  Read more about the Guckn Flickr Slideshow at the blog.


Check out my listing of Flickr Hacks if you are interested in Flickr Tools, Add-ons and scripts

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Super Bowl Party Disaster - Lost TV Feed

tv When I host a Super Bowl party the things I usually worry about is having enough food, making sure my TV and audio are in working condition and there is enough seating.  What else could go wrong???

Picture this.  You have a group of people coming over to watch the most watched game of the year - the Super Bowl game on your home theater, projection screen system.  Everything is going well, the pre-game is on in the background as people are arriving and all of the sudden the channel goes black.  No picture, no sound nothing.  You frantically check all the other channels and they are all fine.  After almost an hour a message finally appears on the screen telling you they are experiencing technical difficulties.....

That's pretty much as close to a Super Bowl party disaster as you can get and it really happened to thousands of viewers in Northwest Arkansas and Southeastern Oklahoma Dish and DirecTV subscribers due to a software glitch at a local Arkansas TV Station KFTA


My Dad called me from his home to ask me if I was having problems in KC (which I wasn't.)  DirecTV put up a message for subscribers to turn to an alternative channel where they were broadcasting the channel from an alternate "local channel" for the game, but Dish Network subscribers like my Dad were out of luck.

The outage lasted until just before the end of the third quarter.  For those that waited that long, they did get to see the most exciting quarter of the game (the fourth of course), but there will be a LOT of unhappy people around those parts.  And Arkansas people weren't alone, looks like Nevada had some problems as well.

The local Arkansas channel had a blip about the outage in this story

Week in Review: 2 Weeks Ending 2/2/08

The Geek Tonic blog covered the following topics this past two weeks.  Stay tuned for more this week.

SageTV Releases Fix for HD Extender IR Problems

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

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

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Supercharge Your HTPC with SageTV's SageMC - Part 1

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

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Another Beautiful DIY Photo Frame - Pico Bayard

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Writers Strike TV Alternatives Part 1: Get Your TV From Netflix

You're running out of new television shows to watch with the writers strike leaving us with mostly reruns and reality programming .  Its cold outside and you're looking for some cheap entertainment for your TV.  One way to solve this problem is using Netflix.  I'm going the cheap…