Saturday, June 27, 2009

GeekTonic Week In Review - June 27

Below is a quick summary of the past week's news and stories on GeekTonic.


Next week will include the interview of Jeff Kardatzke, the CTO and founder of SageTV on GeekTonic so stay tuned for more in-depth content for Media Gadget Fans at  If you’re in to the Twitter thing, be sure and follow me on twitter under the name GeekTonic.  Thanks for Reading GeekTonic!

Friday, June 26, 2009

SageTV 6.5.18 Beta Release Candidate Arrives

It's time for the homestretch for the SageTV beta.  SageTV has announced the release candidate for SageTV 6.5.18 with mostly bug fixes and other improvements.  And as of today there is also a HD Extender firmware update (version 20090626 0) available as well.


This release is 99% bug fixes and improvements so not a lot to talk about here.  But there are some more significant improvements to the channel lineup setup process.

The full list of changes and bug fixes is very long and gets pretty techy.  For a full detailing of the update, check out this thread at the SageTV Forums

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Media Gadget Showcase - MythTV, VMC, GB-PVR and SageTV Oh My!

The ninth submission for the GeekTonic Media Gadget Showcase Series is here.  Today's submission is from Clift, the winner of the SageTV HD200 giveaway.  Clift shows us his HTPC setup and tells of the pains to get from standard definition to HD on his HTPC setup along the way.  Lots of great information in this guest post and a fairly simple, but powerful setup that should help give others ideas on how to best set up their own HTPC.
NOTE:  This is a guest post by Clift.  To read more about how to submit your photos and/or write-ups for the GeekTonic Media Gadget Showcase Series, read this.  Basic guidelines for writing and submitting a guest post at GeekTonic can be found here.

I started using windows media center edition in 2006 because I wanted a way to record my TV shows and I didn’t want to pay for a cable TV DVR or a Tivo.  At that time they were charging quite a bit for HD DVRs through the cable company and I felt that I shouldn’t have to pay more than just the box rental fee in order to record to a local drive.  I had heard there were ways to set up your own “Tivo” using Linux but I never really knew much beyond that.  I remember seeing a website that listed how to use FFDshow to upconvert DVDs.  I’m sure we’ve all seen it.  It’s the one where they show a comparison picture of Yoda (I believe it was on HTPCnews, RIP).  After that I was on the hunt.  I knew I wanted to build a PC based DVR.  But where to start?  I believe that same site had some basic information.  So without too much research I jumped in.  I remember going to and specing out a relatively decent machine for that time.  I had it set up with a 3 GHz processor, 1 GB Ram, 250GB Hard Drive and an ATI Radeon All-In-Wonder x800xt.  I also bought the requisite HTPC case: a Silverstone LC11m, which I still use.
When I got everything in, I carefully put it together.  Then I loaded Windows XP MCE and started messing around with it.  At that point I remember being very lost.  I could not understand why I couldn’t get high definition.  After countless hours on AVS Forums and TheGreenButton Forums I learned all I ever wanted to know about how ridiculous it is trying to High Definition into a PC Based DVR/Media Center.  But at the time I had Comcast and a Motorola cable box.  Turns out I was able to get FireSTB and MyTray to work alongside MCE and get HD recordings.  On top of that, my box was not 5C encrypted.  So that means I got TNT-HD, ESPN-HD and even HBO-HD.
Eventually we bought a new house and the cable provider there only had Scientific Atlanta boxes.  Not only were these 5C encrypted, but the firewire ports did not even work at all.  This drove me to have to do even more research.  I found the HD Homerun, which was a nice solution and also allowed us to use the HTPC as a DVR and less like a VCR since we could actually watch live TV in HD.  But still, I knew this wasn’t what I wanted.  No Monday Night Football in HD?  Fast forward to August 2008 when I first learned about the Hauppauge HD PVR.  I knew this was what I wanted.  But it didn’t work with MCE.  Well, it took me all of about 3 seconds to decide to buy one and switch.
Now I had used SageTV, MythTV, VMC, and GB-PVR, over the years to try them out and always went back to MCE.  It was comfortable and had taken me a long time to dial in just right and I didn’t want to mess with a good thing.  But to be able to get all my HD channels in HD was just too good of a prospect.  I would have even gone Linux only if that was the only way.
Well it wasn’t easy to set up and get it going…  I had to upgrade my system to take advantage of DirectX Video Acceleration for H.264 video.  And I battled and battled through using overlay, video demux issues and general HD PVR driver/stability issues.  Through browsing the SageTV forums I learned about Geektonic.  The blogs here were a gold mine of information.  Through here I learned about SageMC.  That helped the WAF tremendously.  Then babgvant, developer of DVRMS Toolbox came over from TheGreenButton and made a few apps that made my life easier; namely, the SageTVLauncher and the DVRMS migrate tool.  SageTV has been relentless in its updates.  From there I moved over to Vista to take advantage of the EVR renderer.  This made the video a lot better.  I got a Blu-ray drive for Christmas so I upgraded to that and the TotalMedia Theatre plugin using dynamic menus in SageTV.  Seemed like I was tweaking the HTPC a LOT more than ever, but then again, I was getting my channels in HD and getting more functionality with all my tweaks. And on top of that, the system was fairly stable.  I started using comskip And comskip monitor in part due to a tutorial that was posted on Geektonic.  I even made contributions and started using comskip early adopters with H.264 support.  Things were really humming along and I was happy with my system.  Don’t get me wrong, I had my fair share of issues from time to time but I felt I was getting where I needed to be and I was confident as the product matured things would only get better.
And boy did it!
On February 7th I the following email showed up in my inbox:
    “Guess what?  You won the GeekTonic giveaway of the SageTV HD Theater!  So I need you to send me your name and address where you want me to ship the HD Theater to.  I'm hoping to get it shipped out Monday and will provide a tracking number as soon as it ships.”
Well this changes EVERYTHING.  I quickly moved to change my entire setup and outlook on HTPC and the media center.  I had the family room and office wired already on account of my HD Homerun, so moving the HTPC to the office was a matter of about 30 minutes.  But it was still in its HTPC chassis and was not built to be a server.  So I had to make some upgrades.  I moved the hardware into a proper tower where I could get better cooling and more space.  I repurposed the HTPC into a less powerful system that I could use in the bedroom.  I did a little attic diving to wire the Master bedroom with CAT5e.  Things were definitely moving in the right decision.  I ran into a few hiccups here and there and pinpointed the issue.  Notably I was having bandwidth problems: 2 recordings from the HD Homerun and 2 clients accessing the server maxed out my 10/100 NIC, not to mention taxed my wireless router.  I decided it was time for an upgrade, so I went to the “bank” to ask permission.  The current state of my system can be seen from the diagram below.

SageTV HTPC Setup Diagram

My setup is comprised of
1 HD Homerun tuner on QAM 
1 HD PVR capturing an SA4250HDC 
1 D-Link Gigabit Switch 
1 TB Hard Drive formatted for the OS on one partition, Recorded TV and media on another 
1 250 GB Hard Drive for additional space for media and recordings 
3 GB Memory, up from 1 GB 
AMD Phenom X3 8450, up from an Athlon BE-2400 
Gigabit Ethernet 
Radeon HD3200 IGP, which has lower power consumption than the dedicated GeForce 8600GT 
Blu-ray drive 
Built in firewire, so I can save an additional PCI slot (Although I don’t know why I even need it) 
Rosewill “Green” 80-Plus 430W PSU 
Windows Vista Premium 32-bit
Here you can see the setup as it appears in the office.  I have strategically placed the printer and fax machines in front of the “sensitive” equipment and disabled the power button on the server on account of my 17 month old daughter is a curious one and loves to push buttons.  I also keep all my movies in the cabinet.  They are double stacked so they’re not easy to get to, but I have been archiving/ripping them to the hard drive.  I figure I’ll need another TB drive soon.
2 Media Cabinet

Here is another view where you can see what everything looks like from the top as well as my spaghetti of wires.  I do have that 17” monitor sitting on the floor waiting to be mounted, if I ever find the time.  Right now I use the other PC in the office to catch up on recorded TV when working out.  I may just leave it that way, who knows?  You can also see in the picture a mod I made to the HD PVR.  I have a rev C2 system that I had to reboot daily and getting some random lockups as I mentioned earlier.  I opened the unit up and saw the pathetic mounting of the fan.  So I removed it, cut a hole on the top and placed the fan directly over the Amberella encoding chip.  I also disconnected the “Bling” lights (yuck, no thanks).  Obviously this voided my warranty and I wish I could take it back, but my HD PVR is very stable.  This may be due a few factors such as the drivers, fan placement, locked STB output and RCA/stereo audio.
3 Clfit's HDPVR

I did manage to arrange the wires coming out of the wall pretty neatly, though.
4 Wires

Here is my family room, which is really where we mostly watch TV.  For now it’s just my wife, me and our daughter so we’re good with the number of tuners we have.  Rarely do we run into a conflict from only having one HD PVR.  In any case, the TV just about plays children’s shows most of the time.
5 SageMC

And here is our master bedroom.  I’m hoping that I’ll be getting a 32” or so LCD for Father’s Day.  Hey, one can hope, right?

As you can see, my old HTPC case has been repurposed into a new SageTV Client.  Right now I keep the specs just about right for what it does.  I have it driving the 25” tube through composite and stereo output jacks.
AMD Sempron 3100+ 
NVIDIA GeForce 8600GT that used to be in the old HTPC setup 
80 GB Seagate HDD 
2 GB Memory 
DVD ROM Drive 
Soundgraph iMon Remote 
Windows XP SP3
I use Neilm’s web user interface from my laptop or from my Windows mobile phone.  I use it to check the health of the system, scheduled recordings, rebooting the extender, etc.
7 Windows Mobile

So there’s my setup and long winded write up.  I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed putting it together these past few years and tweaking it constantly (that’s not always a good thing).  I do have future plans, though.  As I mentioned, I would like to get an HD set for the master bedroom.  I would also like to pickup an HD100 extender and move the HTPC into the spare bedroom.  I would like to fiddle with S/PDIF audio on the HD PVR but I’m still skeptical or what stability I may give up.  And, besides, I don’t have a spare cable so it’s easier to just be lazy and not do it for now.  Come Football season though, I may have a change of heart.  But by far the biggest thing I would like to do is move the system over to Windows Home Server.  I figure, one day when it’s cold in heck and my wife and daughter are out of town for 3 years I may do it.  For now, the system is pretty reliable and I’m not going to mess with it… too much :)
About Clift:  I am married with a 17 month old daughter and live in Homosassa FL.  We moved here about a year ago from Palm Beach FL.  I am originally from Haiti and I have a Bachelor's of Science in Aerospace Engineering.  I am currently a working at a Nuclear Power Station as a lead quality assurance auditor.  My family and I enjoy spending time together no matter what we do.

If you'd like to have your setup or media gadgets highlighted, and want a chance to win some spending cash via gift certificate read the guidelines for submission here.  We're looking for things as simple as a few photos of your favorite media-related gadgets or as elaborate as the the HTPC setup outlined above or any of our past features like:
Either way, join in on the GeekTonic flickr group and upload your media gadget photos!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Placeshifting With The SageTV HD Theater

SageTV HD Theater

The SageTV HD Theater (HD200) is best know for its ability to act as an extender for the SageTV HTPC software and secondly as a stand-alone media player.  One capability that is less often talked about is it's ability to placeshift.  In other words, take your HD Theater with you on the road, plug it in to the web and placeshift (think Slingbox) the SageTV media from your home server across the internet onto the TV in that "remote" location - all with the same familiar interface and with the infrared remote control controlling everything.  I personally haven't tried this yet, but hope to over the Independence Day Holiday.

Fortunately we have a guest post by Dave who walks through the steps involved.

NOTE:  This is a guest post by Dave, a GeekTonic reader and SageTV user.  Basic guidelines for writing and submitting a guest post at GeekTonic can be found here.

Summary: Setting up and using the HD200 as a placeshifter.

Scenario: Vacationing in a location with Highspeed wireless only.

Server Setup: WHS, Q6600, 3gigs Ram, 20m Cable Connection with 1.5 up, HDPVR, HD-HomeRun, Sage 6.5.9 (yes I know it's old).

HD200: Wireless connection through laptop with 1200Kbs down through Internet Sharing Services on Vista.

Description: Leaving for vacation I brought the HD200 with me in order to watch my "local" channels back home and our recorded TV.  I have also brought a USB drive filled with recordings.  I have found that the HD200 does work as a Placeshifter, but the quality is comparable to a YouTube video, pixilated.  There also appears to be issues with comskip enabled on some shows.  I had to turn "global" comskip setting to off.  The quality also means that I will just watch the shows on the USB drive as they are all "HD" and just watch the "news" and listen to music.  The kids, however, won't mind and can still watch their cartoons.  One issues, seems to be that the newer firmware 6/11 doesn't like to send audio through with the older 6.5.9 version of the sagetv server.  I will be updating my sage server when I get back from vacation to test if this is resolved.

Setup Steps for the Server:
  1.     Enable Place Shifter on The SageTV Server (one-time setup)
    1. Detailed Setup>Server
      1. Media Extender and PlaceShifter Server: Enabled
      2. Manage Placeshifter Users: Configure
        1. Add New User

        2. Enter a New Placeshifter Name

        3. Enter a Password
        4. Confirm the Password
      3. Verify the users is "enabled"
  2. Enable WHS Firewall (Or your own operating systems firewall)
    1. Start>Control Panel>Windows Firewall
    2. Click on Exceptions
    3. Locate all SageTV services.
    4. Click Edit for each SageTV service.
    5. Click Change Scope
    6. Verify the scope is set to "Any computer (including those on the Internet)"
  3. Enable your "Internet" Firewall on your router.
    1. Port 31099 tcp/udp forwared to your sage box.
    2. Forward to the internal IP address of your internet connection.
  4. Note the IP address of your internet connection.
    1. This can usually be found in the "status" section of your router.

Setup Steps for the HD200
  1. Download the latest/Beta Firmware.
  2. Enter your EXTERNAL IP address.
  3. Enter Your "Locator" address if you have this information.

ICS - Internet Connection Sharing.
    Since the place I'm staying at for vacation only has Wireless internet for a fee, I have enable internet connection sharing in Vista and run a cable from the laptop to the HD200.
    The download test for the wireless connection are in the range of 1200Kbs up and down. (screen shot from DSLReports.)

Enable ICS

  1. Enable ICS (Allow other network users to connect through this computer's Internet connection) then click on the "Settings" button.
  2. ICS Settings
    Once at this screen hit "Add"
  3. Add TCP port for Sage, click OK
  4. Click Add again, and enter settings for UDP

    HD200 Start:
    1. Load the sage server you setup with the "external" IP address.
      1. Enter Username:
        1. Hint: Press the pause button to bring up the standard sage text entry menu.  use pause to toggle between capital/lowercase/numbers menu.
      2. Enter Password:
      3. Select: Login
      4. You are now at your server.  Load any themes etc that you normally would.

    Note from Brent:

    That's it.  The instructions above go into more detail then you will need after the initial setup, but hopefully provide everything you need to know to get HD Theater placeshifting running.  A few things you'll want to remember if you plan to take the HD200 with you on the road:

    • Remember to take your HD200 remote control
    • Also remember to take an extra network cable and an A/V connector to connect the HD200 to your TV.  Hopefully the HD200 will get the ability to use WiFi via USB adapter (hint, hint) so you'd want to remember that too...
    • As Dave mentions above it's important to set up placeshifting on the SageTV server before you leave for your trip.

    I can't wait to try this on my next vacation just to see how it works - my biggest problem is I'm dealing with a slow connection where I'm going...

    About the author:  Dave who goes by the screen-name "hugenbdd" on the SageTV forums is a reader of GeekTonic and SageTV user.  He's been involved with home theater issues for over eight years.  Dave started using HTPC's with Windows MCE 2005 with two Xbox 360's as extenders and says "I finally saw the light with SageTV this February."

    If you would like to write a guest-post for GeekTonic, please read these  basic guidelines for writing and submitting a guest post at GeekTonic can be found here.

    Have questions about the HD200 placeshifting process?  Ask Dave or I in the comments below.

    Control Your HTPC With EventGhost

    Controlling your HTPC with the 10-foot interface (aka remote control) is one of the first things you need to figure out when setting up the HTPC.  Some HTPC programs have built-in ways to deal with this, but even then you might need a little more power or control.  EventGhost is a very nice freeware that helps you do this and ZetaVu has written the following guest-post explaining how he set up EventGhost to control his HTPC.  Read on for a great how-to article:

    NOTE:  This is a guest post by ZetaVu, a GeekTonic reader and frequent guest-blogger on GeekTonic.  Basic guidelines for writing and submitting a guest post at GeekTonic can be found here.

    I had been an avid user of Girder with my remotes on my HTPC. My main programs are Snapstream Beyondtv and Media Portal, but have also used Beyond Media when it was actively supported. My goal was to program the same remote buttons to have similar functions in either program (as well as Firefox Keyconfig shortcuts). The remotes I use are an ATI All in Wonder RF remote, and the Hauppauge IR remote that came with my HVR 1600 capture card. The reason I used Girder was that it let me assign custom actions to any button on my remotes. The reasons I stopped using Girder were 1. it was proprietary, not open source, and 2. I could not get a decent plugin for my Hauppauge remote, not all the functions worked.

    Then along comes Evenghost.  Eventghost is an open source application, free to use and supported by a decent group of developers. Since it is open source there are no limitations to creating plugins for it. Looking through the EventThost plugin directory, I was able to find input plugins for both my remotes, as well as output plugins for Media Portal, Sagetv, PowerDVD etc. I had thought about writing a plugin for Beyondtv, however since I did everything in Girder using keyboard shortcuts, I decided to stick with that. This is my step by step instructions on getting Eventghost to work with my HTPC. Other remotes could be substituted as well as other programs.

    First off, you will need to download one of the nightly builds to get full Hauppauge support. I started with build 3.6.1487, there is a more recent one I haven't tested yet. Get the EventGhost builds here . You will also need the drivers for your remotes. I installed the ATI remote-wonder-2-5-0-0-english.exe program normally (having it launch on startup) and the Hauppauge ir32_257_26021.exe program, but disabled the automatic launch in the startup folder. (don't need it) Then I installed Eventghost. Now, Girder had a feature to have it launch minimized, I did not see this in the Eventghost options, so instead I made a shortcut to launch it in my Startup folder, and told the shortcut to launch the program minimized.

    Now comes to the fun part, customizing Eventghost. First thing is to add the plugins for the remotes.

    Adding Plugins to EventGhost

    In the right pane, under Configuration Tree, right click Autostart, and select add plugin. Here choose the remote plugins you will use (I added The Hauppauge, generic X10 for the ATI is there by default). Next step is to add all the commands you are going to use. There are sample commands further down in the right pane under Content Folder. Since I am doing keyboard emulation I selected that folder. Under there are various Macros such as Up Down, Play etc.

    Adding commands and Macros to EventGhost


    You can add additional Macros by right clicking the Keyboard Emulation folder and selecting Add Macro. You can also copy and paste macros, which will give you all events and actions under the macro. Likewise, you can add events (commands from remotes, etc) or actions by right clicking the macro

    Adding Macros to EventGhost

    To make things simplest, I copied one macro over and over and then renamed the macros to get my full list of commands. The following table lists all the commands I send to both Media Portal and Beyond TV. These are default settings for Beyondtv, however in Media Portal I changed several of the shortcuts to be consistent with Beyondtv. To do this, you need to edit the Keymap.xml file in the TeamMediaPortal folder. Alternatively, you can assign specific commands for each program (to do this you will need to read the short manual – but I like to keep things simple.

    Keyboard Shortcut Beyondtv Media Portal
    P Play Play
    S Stop Stop
    space Pause Pause
    ' (apostrophe)   Fast forward
    ; (semicolon)   Rewind
    . (period) Skip Forward Next
    , (comma) Skip Backward Previous
    Up Up Up/Big Jump Forward
    Down Down Down/Big Jump Backward
    Left Left Skip Backward
    Right Right Skip Forward
    Enter Enter Enter
    Home Menu Parent Directory
    Esc Back, Exit Back
    O Options Menu Toggle Playlist/Menu
    R Record Add/Remove Playlist
    Alt-F4 Shut Down BTV  Shut Down MP
    ] (end bracket) Channel Up Page Up
    [ (open bracket) Channel Down Page Down
    #NAME? Volume Up Volume Up
    #NAME? Volume Down Volume Down
    Alt-Tab Switch Between Programs  
    F Fullscreen Visualizations  
    Start Program Btvd3dshell.exe Mediaportal.exe

    More keyboard shortcuts can be found here:


    I name the macros with both the general function and the keyboard function, So Play->P is Play, shortcut P. Under the macro I create either an Emulate Keyboard or Start Application action

    Then I edit the action as needed, either entering the shortcut or the path the the program to launch.

    Last step is to add the events to each macro. The easiest way to do this is to just press a botton on the remote you want to assign to the macro. The event appears in the left pane when you press it. You can then drag this event to the macro you want to assign it to. For most commands, I have two events, one for each remote (some of the ATI commands don't need eventghost, such as the button keys, etc).

    Now, I don't use my Hauppauge remote itself, instead I use a universal learning remote that's programmed for my entire home theater. The Hauppauge remote keys are available as one of the Toshiba VCRs (trial and error to find one that works the best). I use a Universal RF10, so I just learned the keys so I could put them wherever I wanted. With the Hauppauge, since the remote program is not running in the background (just the dll) you will need to assign all the keys, including the numbers.

    And that's about it. Once you've assigned all the macros, events and actions just save the config file and you should be ready to go. Mind you, this is just scratching the surface of what you can do with Eventghost. You can link it with a UsbUIRT to control all your devices, set it up with an X10 or Smarthouse control, have it launch events and respond to events, etc. You can also program different commands based on running applications. Like I said, I like things simple so the keyboard shortcuts works for me. Now I have the option of controlling my HTPC with my home theater universal remote, or using my Remote Wonder as a remote and wireless mouse. I also have some interactive remote control programs that I run through my PDA, but we'll save that for another article.


    About the author:  "ZetaVu is a frequent commenter and Guest-Poster at GeekTonic with a great deal of knowledge with HTPC's and other media gadgets.  I've gotten to know him from the many hours spent on the Snapstream, MediaPortal , AVS and other Forums where you'll often find him (under the same online name).  His past guest posts include iPod Without iTunes, Video Editing Power Tools, and MediaGadget Showcase for his setup all of which are great reads.

    Boxee for Windows Goes Live - and Adds MLB, Digg, Tumblr & Current

    Boxee Logo

    Boxee had it's "Boxee Event" in San Francisco Tuesday night.  They declared the winner of it's App Dev Challenge, announced the official Windows version of Boxee, MLB, Digg and more.  Read on for the details.


    Boxee App Dev Challenge Winners

    Winners for the Boxee App Dev Challenge include:
    Video Winners:
        Popular Choice- BBC Live (Ian Tweedie)
        Judge's Choice - Open Course Ware (Roshan Revankar)
    Music Winners:
        Popular Choice - Drop Boxee (John Steinberg)
        Judge's Choice - We Are Hunted (Nick Dima)
    Photo Winners:
        Popular Choice - Facebook (Junda Liu)
        Judge's Choice - Facebook (Junda Liu)
    Each of the judge's choice winners will receive a Sony Bravia 46" TV and the Popular Choice winners will receive a 4TB Drobo courtesy of Data Robotics and Seagate - very cool.


    Boxee for Windows Beta Now Public

    Boxee released their windows version to public beta which means anyone can download and try it out.  If you haven't already give it a test drive.


    MLB.TV Premium on Boxee

    Boxee added MLB.TV Premium, MLB.TV is's online streaming service with high quality video streams of live games with premium features like DVR functionality and HD Video when available.

    Boxee MLB.TV


    Other New Apps for Boxee

    Also announced was the addition of Digg video content where Boxee users can view those videos and eventually digg the items right from Boxee.

    Tumblr support was also added to Boxee.  This allows you to stream music shared by people on tumblr.  Photo slideshow via Tumblr was also added.

    Finally, CurrentTV was added for news and entertainment streaming.


    New Version Changes:

    Changes/updates to the Boxee program include:

    • A new navigation layout.  The changes here are pretty minor, but some streamlining has taken place such as a more clear separation of internet and local media for instance.
    • 1080P for Ubuntu users running NVidia
    • Improved playback of Internet streams.
    • Introduced VDPAU hardware acceleration on nVIDIA GPUs under Linux (major kudos to Team XBMC for this one).
    • Fixed M4A and M4V playback support.
    • Fixed low volume during video playback under Mac OSX and AppleTV.
    • Performance improvement and lower CPU usage under Mac OSX.
    • Enhanced codec support, improving overall playback of all media.
    • Improved DVD playback.
    • Official Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jacklope support.
    • PulseAudio support under Linux (shaky, but works).
    • MP3 files indexed based on id3 tags.

    Read more at the Boxee Blog

    Monday, June 22, 2009

    The Only Reason I Might Add HBO for a While

    I've had HBO and other cable pay channels off and on over the years but several years ago came to the realization that it was mostly a waste - especially since I had my own movie jukebox via HTPC.  I do have a few series that made me want to pay the ridiculous money for pay-tv including "The Sopranos" and my personal favorite Pay TV series of all time, "Band of Brothers."  I just learned of a new reason HBO might pry a little more cash from me so read on for the reason.

    Follow-up to "Band of Brothers": "The Pacific"

    Next year HBO will be bringing a TV series called "The Pacific", the follow-up to "Band of Brothers" by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.  I'm a big fan of history-related flicks and series and I'm very interested in this one.  Check out the trailer that was just released for "The Pacific" and see what you think.


    The series has a huge budget and looks to be along the same vein as "Band of Brothers."  If it comes even close it will be a good one.  So come 2010, I might just bite the bullet and add HBO one more time.


    Deal of the Day - Seagate 1.5TB Drive $99

    Seagate 1.5 TB SATA Barracuda 7200.11 Internal Hard Drive

    I just purchased my first 2TB SATA drive but happened to notice this deal for a 1.5TB for $99 at  Those large capacity hard drives are really getting cheap.


    Seagate 1.5 TB SATA Barracuda 7200.11 Internal Hard Drive $99 (after $40 instant rebate)

    Blu-ray Managed Copy Explained & Cost Discussed

    Blu-ray Logo

    You may have heard a couple of weeks ago that Blu-ray has plans to get managed copy - the ability to make a copy of your Blu-ray disk within limits as defined by the studios.  That's a great step in the right direction but there are many negatives to the way it will be implemented.  Ben Drawbaugh at EngadgetHD has the scoop on how it will work and the possible uses for this type of functionality.

    We'll get out the bad things we know about this first:

    The Bad:

    • Will require new hardware - yes all that money you dropped on those shiny new Blu-ray players won't get you managed copy ever.
    • Not free.  It will have some cost as defined by the studio.  Not a surprise, but still, do we really want to pay for the same movie over and over and over???
    • Apple hasn't joined the group of studios for the finalized AACS license so it's unlikely we'll see support for putting that copy of Blu-ray onto your iPod or iPhone.
    • You'll need an internet connection to copy the disk so it can check with the DRM server
    • There's already an excellent (if not a bit of a stretch of the rules) way to do this called AnyDVD HD

    The Good:

    • They are at least trying to answer the need for more portability of the media albeit in the typical imperfect way
    • According to EngadgetHD's interview with the chair of the AACS business group, managed copy was designed with the "movie jukebox" use concept in mind.  So the use in a HTPC-type scenario just might work.
    • The concept is a good one.  One that has a lot of potential and at least acknowledges the studios know (or are starting to understand) how its customers want to use their purchased media.
    • Apple could still get on board by the time managed copy goes live in 2010.

    If you're at all interested in Blu-ray, be sure and read the article on EngadgetHD - it's a good one.

    DVBLink 1.0 for Hauppauge HD-PVR Released

    DVBLink for Hauppauge HD-PVR

    At the beginning of this year we told you about an application that brought unofficial support for the Hauppauge HD-PVR (access all channels from cable or satellite TV including digital) on Windows Media Center.  Now DVBLink for HDPVR has been released as version 1.0 with many improvements.

    DVBLink for HDPVR uses DVBSBridge to connect the Hauppauge HD-PVR to Windows Media Center.  It allows the HD-PVR to work on any Windows MediaCenter device that support h.264 including the Xbox 360.

    Hauppauge HD-PVR


    Here is a list of the improvements offered by DVBLink for HDPVR over DVBSBridge for HDPVR:

    • Removed dependency on mc2xml for Guide data, replaced by the full Microsoft guide
    • Added Idle mode to avoid streaming when HD PVR is not in use
    • Added support for stand-by/sleep
    • Improved support for Microsoft Media Center Compatible IR Receiver/Blaster
    • Added Media Center notifications for important information about acquisition lost/resume
    • Generally improved stability
    • Improved documentation: step-by-step installation instructions and FAQ

    Here is a list of the improvements offered by the DVBLink framework over DVBSBridge framework:

    • Support for multiple DVBLink sources (same or different types)
    • Support for up to 4 virtual tuners in Media Center
    • Up to 2000 channels per source available in Media Center
    • Subscription to the full Microsoft Guide service for DVBLink channels
    • Works for all Media Center regions. No need to set country to Germany anymore
    • Scan-less channel configuration. All channels are directly available in Media Center after setup
    • Automatic and Manual channel merge of DVBLink and non-DVBLink tuners

    Read more about the DVBLink for HDPVR

    Sunday, June 21, 2009

    TV Premieres: What To Watch 6/21 - 6/27

    This weeks list of premiering summer TV shows includes Secret Life of the American Teenager, the Philanthropist, and a few returning shows like Better off Ted and Samantha Who among others.  Read on for all of the details.

    Note:  Download the free, PDF of all summer 2009 TV premieres


    The Philantropist

    The Philanthropist Premieres on NBC Wednesday Night

    NOTE: All Times are Listed for EST

    Sunday 06/21/2009

    Merlin (8pm on NBC - Available in HD) - A 13-part drama series telling the story of the sorcerer, Merlin. Set in the mythical City of Camelot, this series retells the story with a bit of a different spin.

    Impact (9pm on ABC- Available in HD) - Scientists (Natasha Henstridge, David James Elliott, Benjamin Sadler) have 39 days to prevent the moon from colliding with Earth.

    Monday 06/22/2009

    Secret Life of the American Teenager (8pm on ABC Family- Available in HD) - The Secret Life of the American Teenager centers on the topic of teen pregnancy. Band geek Amy discovers that she's pregnant after a one-night stand with Ricky Underwood, the school's player. Meanwhile, devout Christian cheerleader Grace promises abstinence to her parents.

    Make it or Break It (9pm on ABC FAM- Available in HD) - Set in the realm of competitive gymnastics, this ABC Family drama project follows a group of teen Olympic hopefuls in training for the big event.

    Tuesday 06/23/2009

    The Superstars (8pm on ABC) - Based on the ABC classic series Wide World of Sports, this new offering pits athletes from a number of different sports against each others in order to determine the world's best athelete.

    Better of Ted (9pm on ABC - Available in HD) - Returns from hiatus

    America's Got Talent (9pm on NBC) - 2 Hour Season Premiere.  But not important enough to broadcast in HD so...

    The Cleaner (10pm on A&E- Available in HD) - The cleaner tells the story of William Banks, a recovering addict who struggles to maintain his own rocky personal life while he helps others get clean by any means necessary.  This is the season 2 premiere

    NYC Prep (10pm on 10pm) - Take the Gossip Girl concept and mix it with realityTV and you have this show.  Watch as 6 "real" Manhattan teens cope with a life of wealth and privilege.

    Wednesday 06/24/2009

    The Philanthropist (10pm on NBC- Available in HD) - New series that stars James Purefoy and Neve Campbell.  Teddy Rist, a successful tycoon, decides to use his power and money to help those in need.

    The Real World (10pm on MTV) - Season 22.  Nuf said.

    Thursday 06/25/2009

    Samantha Who? (8pm on ABC- Available in HD) - Samantha Who? returns from hiatus to show it's last 7 shows ever.

    In the Motherhood (8:30 on ABC- Available in HD) - Returns from hiatus to air its last 3 episodes before death

    Pen & Teller (10 on Showtime)

    Friday 06/26/2009

    Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader (8pm on FOX)

    Virtuality (9pm on FOX -Available in HD) - Virtual-reality technology endangers 12 astronauts as they embark on a 10-year mission in outer space.  This is a 2-hour "premiere of Ronald D. Moore's new sci-fi drama (Trial Run)

    CMT Crossroads: Bryan Adams & Jason Aldean (9pm on CMT)

    Let Freedom Hum: Martin Short (10pm on TBS)

    Doctor Who: the Next Doctor (9pm on BBCA)



    Season Finales this Week:

    • 6/24 8pm "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here" on NBC


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