Thursday, August 19, 2010

SageTV Project Phoenix – More Screenshots

A little update to the info I shared about Project Phoenix a few weeks ago.  The project team has added a few additional screen-shots that should give you a feel for what things will look like.  Note that there is a lot of flexibility to customize and the project isn’t quite complete yet so things can and likely will change a little before it goes public.

What is Project Phoenix?

Phoenix for SageTV is yet another combination UI system and feature-set add-on being developed by a team of developers for SageTV.  This one includes developers of the well-loved SageMC add-on.


TV show list view

More on the above screenshot From the Project Team Leader:

“Here's a little bit of background info on the screen shot above. The screen is what we have called the Universal Media Browser (or UMB). It is used for the display of all your media using our own implementation of a virtual file system. The View (media content, filtering, sorting, and grouping) is defined in an external xml file. To invoke the UMB with a specific View, you would set up a dynamic menu item (again our own implementation) that calls that view and then loads the UMB menu. There is a view selector from within the UMB to switch views and we are working on a menu to allow you to modify views from within the UMB as well.”

Weather Screen

The weather screen below is close to final, but has some changes coming:



Imported Video

To illustrate that all media is using the UMB (see description of UMB with first screenshot above) - here is a shot with the View being imported video.



Home Screen

From one of the team developers:

“Every UI needs a home menu right?
That's actually somewhat debatable, however we of Phoenix decided that to NOT have one would be too much of a paradigm shift for most folks. So we will likely have 2 or 3 different ones. This is my favorite of the bunch. If you have ever used Boxee you will notice some similarities right off the bat.....”


More information to come.  If you haven’t figured this out already, this Project Phoenix isn’t just a “modified look.”  It’s a unified User Interface with some significant functionality changes/additions.  Stay tuned for more information.

To follow the continued information about Project Phoenix, check out their SageTV forum thread.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Books versus eBooks

I’ve been thinking about the rapid move towards eBooks we’re witnessing right now and last weekend came across a pretty interesting graphic/chart by Newsweek titled: 

“Does one have to win? Books vs E-Books”

Newsweek Books vs eBooks

Here’s a few snippets from the comparison:

  • $4.05 Ave Production Cost for $26 Hardcover
  • $0.50 Ave Production Cost for $9.99 eBook Download


  • $3.90 Average Author Royalty per paper book
  • $2.12 Average Author Royalty per eBook download


There is plenty of additional, interesting statistics.  Head over to Newsweek to see the complete comparison.

I personally don’t see traditional paper books ever going away completely, but I do see a continuation of this shift towards eBooks for many purposes as the cost of eReaders continues to decline.

HTPC Build - Under Cabinet Mini HTPC

UnderCab HTPC

I’ve always been a proponent of extenders for getting media to your TV.  But for a full-blown HTPC the bigger and sometimes noisier desktop works pretty good.  That isn’t always the case though.  Sometimes you want a smallish HTPC server that can still handle TV recording. 

At the UsingWindowsHomeServer blog, Timothy chronicles the build and results of his new mini-HTPC that fits nicely under a cabinet or desk.

From the article Timothy describes his reasons for going this route:

“The issue that I have is that this PC is not very energy efficient and the garage gets to over 100° during the summer months when I am at work. In addition, if I want to watch TV in the garage (assuming a tuner is free) and I am recording then my performance drops.

Build a dedicated PC to record those wonderful HD streams that SiliconDust provides me of course! “

COOLER MASTER Elite 100 RC-100-KKP3-GP Black Computer Case

For a case he used the COOLER MASTER Elite 100 which he bought for $70 at Fry’s, but I also found online at Newegg for the same price after shipping.

He added an Intel Celeron E3300 2.5GHz Dual-Core Processor $52 at Newegg, a Zotac Zotac Board for $80, and CORSAIR 2GB DDR2 SDRAM Memory for $65 at Newegg.  The hard drive he already had and added an under cabinet LCD mount he found on eBay.

Most importantly the SiliconDust HDHR Tuners (Currently $145 at Amazon) allowed TV Tuning over the network so he didn’t have to have the tuners inside the tiny case.

An interesting read and a unique HTPC server especially since he’s using the Windows Home Server with it.  Check out the entire build log with photos and more explanation at UsingWindowsHomeServer

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Deal of the Day – PogoPlug $48


I’ve been meaning to do a writeup on how I use my 1st Generation Pogoplug here at the GeekTonic Home and just haven’t gotten around to it.  Basically PogoPlug handles some of my backup tasks, random media sharing and other tasks with my external USB hard drives  I keep it in the basement out of the way while it keeps those extra hard drives connected to the web & network for me.  In the meantime I came across a very good deal on the PogoPlug at Amazon.

What does PogoPlug do?

  • Pogoplug lets you connect to any external hard drive and then access and share content through the internet
  • Stream videos, music and photos directly to your iPhone, Blackberry, Droid and other mobile devices
  • Works with Safari, Firefox 3, IE 7, IE 8 and Chrome Web Browers. MS Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Mac OS X 10.4 and above

Pogoplug Multimedia Sharing Device $47.99 at Amazon &  Typically sells around $100 which is what it costs at NewEgg right now.

More info on PogoPlug is available at their website

Sunday, August 15, 2010

CableCard Likely Coming to Non-MediaCenter HTPCs

Ceton CableCard

HTPC Enthusiasts, listen up.  TheDigitalMediaZone broke some pretty exciting news Sunday afternoon for all Home Theater PC users!

CableCard for all HTPC

The first of this is important to SageTV, MythTV and many other HTPC software users because it opens up CableCard to non-Microsoft MediaCenter users to an extent.  I’ve been hearing talk of this for a while from different people so it’s not a total surprise except I didn’t expect it so soon.

As described by Adam at DigitalMediaZone:

“What this means is that other HTPC software will be able to utilize CableCard tuners for Copy Freely content.  While this won’t get you HBO or Showtime in SageTV or Myth, it will get you any content that your cable company has not flagged with copy restrictions.”

Actually the channels flagged as do-not-copy will likely vary from one Cable company to another, but I would expect to see the pay channels like HBO blocked eventually if they aren’t already.  But getting channels like ESPNHD, USAHD and many others would satisfy many.  SiliconDust had been asking for this and reportedly had meetings with CableLabs just last week since this ability was key for their networked CableCard tuners to work. 

Watch for more information about CableCard developments related to SageTV and MythTV.  I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t see some sort of CableCard support to MythTV & SageTV before 2010 is over!

UPDATE:  Mike from MissingRemote notes that this is important to many MediaCenter users as well because as more Media Center users get rid fo their old extenders and replace them with multiple HTPCs, they can easily share Recorded TV with the copy freely channels.

CableCard Tuner Sharing

The other CableCard news from DigitalMediaZone is big as well.  MediaCenter users will rejoice to hear that CableLabs has approved Tuner Sharing in OCUR devices.  So you’ll be able to install multiple tuners in a single, MediaCenter PC and use those tuners on other MediaCenter PCs in the home.  This one will be available to Ceton CableCard users via firmware update according to Jeremy Hammer, VP of Systems Integration for Ceton. 

Really exciting news all around for HTPC enthusiasts.

Full story at theDigitalMediaZone

TV Premieres, Finales & Specials This Week 08/15/2010

Each week GeekTonic covers the TV scene with a complete listing of premieres, finales and specials for the week.  As we slide through the end of summer there are still a few finales and some premieres to so check out the complete list below.

 Melissa & Joey

          Melissa & Joey Premieres Tuesday on ABC Family

NOTE: All Times are Listed for EST – TV schedules subject to change

Sunday, August 15

Scoundrels (9pm on ABC – Available in HD) – Season 1 finale

The Next Food Network Star (9pm on Food) – Season 6 finale

Dora: The Girl Heard ‘Round the World (9pm on Nickelodeon) – A special10th anniversary special for the animated series

The Great Food Truck Race (10pm on Food) – New food/travel series.  A reality contest show where the the “best 7” food trucks compete to make the most money.

Top Shot (10pm on History – Available in HD) – Season finale

The Real L Word (10pm on Showtime – Available in HD) – Season 1 finale

The Comedy Central Roast of David Hasselhoff (10pm on Comedy) - Special


Monday, August 16

Weeds (10pm on Showtime – Available in HD) – Season 6 premiere

The Big C (10:30pm on Showtime – Available in HD) – New comedy/drama series.  Woman (played by Laura Linney) diagnosed with melanoma tries to juggle life's demands.

Hardcore Pawn (10pm on TruTV) – Season premiere of a reality series focused on a pawn shop

Animal Planet Investigates: Gang Dogs (10pm on Animal Planet – Available in HD) – Special


Tuesday, August 17

Melissa & Joey (8pm on ABC Family – Available in HD) – A new sitcom with Melissa Joan Hart & Joey Lawrence.  Plot goes like this:  A female politician (Hart) takes custody of her sister’s 2 children & seeks help in raising her niece and nephew by hiring a nanny.

Gates of Hell (8pm on History – Available in HD) – A special where we visit the six locations believed to be entrances to hell and discuss the concept of hell as described throughout history.

Big Lake (10pm on Comedy Central – Available in HD) – A new comedy central series with Chris Gethard, Chris Parnell & Horatio Sanz.  Plot:  3 buddies struggle to save their hometown called Big Lake.


Wednesday, August 18

Live From Lincoln Center – South Pacific (8pm on PBS – Available in HD) – A revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “South Pacific.”

LA Ink: Fresh Ink (9pm on TLC – Available in HD) – New spinoff series

Surviving the Cut (10pm on Discovery – Available in HD) – New reality series.  US Army Ranger School replicates the nonstop stress of war to train elite combat leaders.

Hot in Cleveland (10pm on TVLand) – Season finale


Thursday, August 19

Pitchmen (9pm on Discovery – Available in HD) – Season 2 premiere of the reality series where we see how an invented product becomes a hot item to buy.

NightlinePrime – Secrets of Your Mind: Why We Do What We Do ( 10pm on ABC) – New primetime news series spinoff from Nightline – their first foray into primetime TV.  Nightline’s anchors & producers explore the mystery & science of the brain.

You’re Wearing That?!? (10pm on WE) – New fashion series

Blog Cabin (10pmn on DIY) – Season 3 premiere

Run My Renovation (10:30pm on DIY) – Series premiere of a new House Renovation How-to show

Left at the Altar (10pm on TLC – Available in HD) – New reality series

WCG Ultimate Gamer (11pm on SyFy – Available in HD) – Season premiere


Friday, August 20

Twisted (10pm on Investigation Discovery – Available in HD) – Season premiere begins with Jeffrey Dahmer


Saturday, August 21

Garbage Moguls (8pm on National Geographic – Available in HD) – New reality series that follows a quirky group of young “eco-capitalists” at TerraCycle, Inc. who take “trash” and recycle it into something useful.  Yes this is a little geeky but should make for an interesting show for those that like to make stuff.  I’m recording the first episode to check it out.  NOTE: It was pointed out to me that this is actually a marathon airing with three brand-new episodes airing back to back then repeating through the night.  So I’ll be recording the 1st three episodes ;)


Sunday, August 22

Family Style (10pm on Food) – A new cooking/reality series.  It follows an Italian family of restaurateurs (the Maggiores), with the brother and sister competing to open the most successful new restaurant in San Diego.

Swamp People (10pm on History – Available in HD) – New history series.  History Channel follows the people by America’s largest swamp in Louisiana through a time of year that is crucial to their survival: the 30-day alligator hunting season.

Keeping Up With The Kardashians (10pm on E!) – Season premiere

Army Wives (10pm on Life) – Season finale

The Spin Crowd (10:30pm on E!) – New reality series following an entertainment PR agency.


Monday, August 23

Head Rush (4pm on Science – Available in HD) – New science series

WordGirl (4:30pm on PBS – Available in HD) – Season premiere childrens/educational series

Dance Your A… Off (10pm on Oxygen) End of the series.

The Real Housewives of New Jersey (10pm on Bravo) - Season finale

The Hard Times of RJ Berger (10pm on MTV) - Season finale


If you follow GeekTonic for the TV Premieres and news, you’ll want to click here if you would like to get a regular e-mail for GeekTonic TV Premieres & News.

I have the core of the Fall TV season ready for the periodic Fall TV Season Premiere Guide, but I’ll be waiting until mid-August to publish as the TV networks tend to change their mind about things.