Saturday, October 02, 2010

MediaPortal HTPC Software Updates to 1.1.1

MediaPortal Logo

MediaPortal, one of the more popular open-source and free HTPC software programs released the 1.1.1 version of MediaPortal 1 this week.

The final version of 1.1.0 was released in July and the team now has a little update that offers several bug fixes for users of MediaPortal.

Read more at the MediaPortal Website

TV Series Status – Shows Cancelled and those in Trouble

photo by brykmantra “Lubbock Heart Hospital”

photo by brykmantra “Lubbock Heart Hospital”

As we move into October, it’s time to check the pulse of various TV Series.  Here’s my take so far on the shows that have been cancelled already and those having a rough time of it:


Ratings wise, Fox had two major stinkers in their new show lineup.  “Lone Star” and “The Good Guys” ratings were as bad as they get.  The Fox shows that are excelling in the ratings:  “Raising Hope”, “The Cleveland Show”, “House”, “Family Guy” and “Glee”.  “Glee” and “The Cleveland Show” are even confirmed to be renewed for another season.

Lone Star - “Lone Star” didn’t make it very long – cancelled after only two episodes aired.  I liked what little I saw of “Lone Star“, but the odds were stacked against the show in a tough Monday timeslot.  While it received some positive critic attention, many viewers weren’t impressed.  The premiere brought in 4.06 Million viewers and the second episode had 3.2 Million viewers.  That was enough for Fox to pull the plug for good.  “Lie to Me“ will premiere it’s third season earlier than planned this Monday in Lone Star’s place.

The Good Guys – “The Good Guys“ ratings have been even worse than “Lone Star.“  Which to me signals this show is about finished.

Fringe – One of my favorites, “Fringe“ hasn’t had the best of ratings.  Fortunately it looks like it will survive this season.  Renewal is definitely a question though.

Running Wilde – Much like “Fringe“ this one should make it through this season, but renewal is in question.


ABC – All But Cancelled

ABC has three shows that should be cancelled one of which already has been.  Shows doing well on ABC include: “Modern Family“, “Grey’s Anatomy“, “Desperate Housewives“, “Cougar Town“ and “Private Practice.“  A notch below those are “Brothers and Sisters“, “The Middle“ and “Better with You.“

My Generation – Treated much like “Lone Star“, ABC yanked the drama “My Generation” after only two episodes.  I didn’t see any full episodes, but the clips I did see didn’t impress me.  Much like “Lone Star“, the show averaged 3.9 Million viewers this week.  They haven’t officially declared this one cancelled, but they might as well have.

The Whole Truth – Another new one on ABC, legal drama “The Whole Truth” hasn’t fared much better in the ratings with its first two episodes.  I haven’t heard of cancelation yet, but I’m betting its only a matter of time.

Detroit 1-8-8 – The ratings for this one haven’t been good – but not as bad as “My Generation” or “The Whole Truth” and since ABC has mostly been stinking-it-up in the ratings anyway, I expect this one to make it through it’s full season even if on life support.  Just don’t expect to see a second season.



NBC has some stars – shows like “Law & Order: SVU”, “The Office“, “Outsourced“ (yes it’s doing quite well) and even “The Event” which I’ll now be watching thanks to the ratings.  Also doing pretty well are shows like “Chase”, “Parenthood” and “30 Rock.”  But there are a few on the edge and one cancelled already:

Outlaw – Almost cancelled.  Ratings are terrible and my guess is it won’t last much longer

Chuck – Let me start by saying both MrsGeekTonic and I watch and enjoy “Chuck.“  It’s a fun, not-to-be-taken-too-seriously spy-comedy with some good characters driving the show.  Now for the rest of the story – the ratings… well they kinda stink.  Chuck was on the brink last season but survived to see this season.  This season hasn’t been better – last week “Chuck“ was the lowest rated, Sunday through Thursday scripted show on NBC.  Ratings are holding from episode to episode which may cause NBC to keep it around at least through Christmas and possible even through the spring.  But I give it zero chance of seeing another season ever.  Sorry.

Undercovers – ratings have been disappointing since NBC had high hopes, but they are better than some.

Community – much like “Undercovers”, this series is treading water but hanging in there



On CW things aren’t looking too bad ratings wise.  “Nikita“, “Smallville“, “Supernatural“ and “Vampire Diaries“ are all doing very well.

Life Unexpected – Ratings are going from bad to worse for this series and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one cancelled.


CBS – Crazy But Surviving

CBS seems to be doing well.  Shows I thought were stinkers like “$#*! My Dad Says” and “Blue Bloods” did quite well in the ratings.  “Hawaii-Five-0” is doing very well thank you as are most of CBS’s scripted shows.

Medium – CBS’s show getting the lowest ratings is “Medium” but don’t worry, this shows ratings are still better than the average shows on the other networks and it should survive this season.


That’s my take on the Fall 2010 big network status.  What do you think?  Any surprises?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sonos Updates to Version 3.3

Lost in all of the Sonos iPad Controller news was a little software update for the Sonos System.

Sonos has updated to version 3.3 with the following updates:

  • iPad Controller Support (check out my first look at the Sonos iPad Controller)
      • Control your entire Sonos system from any iPad over your home Wi-Fi network.
      • View your zones, music menu, now playing pane, and volume controls all at once — in landscape or portrait mode.
      • Quickly search for your favourite artists by typing on the virtual keyboard and browse through albums by pointing and flicking.
      • Drag and drop to create playlists in an instant.
      • View full-screen and thumbnail views of album art.
      • Download it for free on the App Store.
      • Available worldwide, in English only.
  • Added support for AAC means more radio stations to enjoy all over the house
  • Tune in to over 1,000 additional stations in the Sonos Radio guide.

I used Sonos last weekend to find a college football game radio broadcast that wasn’t airing in my area.  There were already a huge number of online radio stations supported so an additional 1,000 or so is pretty amazing.

The software update can be done using your iPad controller or computer Sonos app.

Sonos iPad Controller App Available Now

Early this summer Sonos announced they were taking their success with the iOS Sonos Controller and expanding it to the Apple iPad.  Today the free Sonos iPad Controller app is finally ready and I was lucky enough to give the new app a quick try this morning with my Sonos System.

The Sonos Controller for iPad was built specifically for the iPad to use it’s extra screen real estate.  Using the controller you can view your zones, your music and what songs are playing – all at once.  Alll screens work in landscape or portrait mode. Searching for an artist and music with the virtual keyboard works well and browsing through your music collection and the online music choices is simple much like the iPhone and iPod Touch app before it.  You can also browse, search and drag and drop to create your playlist on the fly. Get a complete view of what’s playing in every zone, complete with full-color album art, elapsed time of a song, and more. Group your zones together or play different songs in different rooms – without interrupting music playback.

After I downloaded the free iPad App it required that I update the Sonos System to a new version - 3.3 (more information about this software update here).  I was able to do this right from my iPad though with a one-button update.  It did take a while – probably a couple of minutes, but after the update I was using the new iPad controller app.

Here’s a couple of screen-shots I took using my iPad:

Photo 1 - 2010-09-29Sonos iPad ControllerSonos iPad Controller 2Sonos iPad Controller 3

The iPhone and iPod Touch Sonos controller make using the Sonos easy and honestly a better value – especially for those with more than on iDevice.  Now with the iPad they’ve utilized that extra screen-real-estate of the iPad to make the Sonos controller more jukebox-like.  Check out the video below to see what I mean:

The Sonos iPad app is free and available now in the app store.

Sonos has an Android app in the works as well so stay tuned!

As I use my iPod touch and now my iPad to control the Sonos, I continue to dream of a full-blown, official SageTV iDevice app – one that would stream media to the mobile device.  Now that would really make me happy.

Read more about Sonos with my Sonos S5 review.  I liked it so much I purchased two S5’s after I returned the review hardware.

The complete press release about the Sonos iPad Controller is available at

Monday, September 27, 2010

To the Point – Roku Getting Hulu Plus Streaming

There are rumors and confirmations of various degrees of confidence saying that Roku is getting Hulu Plus capabilities soon.  A coup for Roku for sure and one more online streaming capability they can boast about.

Hulu Plus

I personally didn’t fine Hulu Plus in its current form a very good value, but over time it could certainly become a force.

GigaOM says that it’s confirmed because Roku already has a partner page for Hulu

BusinessofVideo says “While both Roku and Hulu said "no comment" when I asked them about it, I was able to confirm with two of Hulu's content partners that Roku owners will soon be able to get Hulu content.”

I’m guessing Roku probably does have Hulu Plus in the works.  And I expect to see more devices over the next year if things go the way the Hulu team wants it to.  I know Boxee, AppleTV, SageTV and a host of other media player makers that would love to get official Hulu Plus support.

Blackberry Announces the Playbook Tablet

Today, RIM announced their new tablet – the PlayBook.  Its thankfully not going to be called the BlackPad and looks pretty nice based on the specs and first looks I’ve seen.  But there are plenty of things going against it.

Blackberry’s new tablet, the PlayBook will run a Cortex A9, 1GHz dual-core CPU with 1 GB of RAM, a 7-inch screen, multitasking (looks kind of like the way the Palm webOS handles app switching), 1080p HDMI video, HDMI port, USB port, an e-reader, full document editing and it pairs with BlackBerry phones.  Oh and yes it has a front and rear HD camera and is only 9.7mm thick!  Yes that mouthful of specifications makes this iPad owner drool just a little bit.

Now for the somewhat negative news depending on how you look at it:

  • The PlayBook will run on a new platform called BlackBerry Tablet OS.  This could really be good or bad, but yet another platform certainly gives Blackberry some challenges.  Since we don’t have any real hands-on looks at the UI yet beyond demo videos I’ll take a wait-&-see attitude.  We all remember BlackBerry’s last few UI attempts for touchscreen…
  • The planned available date is “Early 2011.”  That’s not that long really, but Apple already has a heck of a head start and will sell tons of iPads this Christmas.  And I’ll be surprised if Apple doesn’t get a hardware refresh for the iPad out before this PlayBook makes it to market.  Add to that the many other tablets coming soon – especially the Android variety and things get especially tough.
  • It’s going to be expensive.  If this thing doesn’t cost more than the current iPad does I’ll be shocked.  I mean look at the hardware specs!  Price will matter when tablets are already pretty much a luxury item.  I think the hardware demands more cash, but I’m not sure how the mass market will see it.
  • They call it a business device – a “professional tablet.”  I know this is to target the existing Blackberry fanbase, but if the focus is on business first that could give the casual users more pause.

All negatives aside, I’m impressed by the PlayBook from what I’ve seen.  It sure looks like it could be a dream tablet for a media enthusiast.  Check out the video below and let me know what you think:

via BlackBerry Blog

Deal of the Day – 2TB WD Green Drive $93


We’re seeing more and more deals on the 2TB drives.  Today Amazon has the Western Digital Green 2TB drive for $93

Western Digital 2 TB Caviar Green for $93 with free shipping.  I have several of these drives and they make a nice, quiet and relatively inexpensive drive for your music, video and other media.

That same drive is $99.99 at Newegg right now.  Looks like under $100 could be the new norm for these 2TB drives.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

MPCClub Reviews the SageTV HD300

SageTV HD300

The enthusiast MPCClub site has a very detailed review of the new SageTV HD300.  They go into just about every detail possible including a very thorough look at the HD300 HD Theater as a standalone media streamer.   They are mostly very positive about the device with praise for the HDMI 1.3 inclusion, the online capabilities, small form-factor and low price.  Here’s a couple of excerpts:

“From initial perceptions the HD Theatre 300 is what its predecessor should have been. It now has the right stuff to truly call itself a FullHD media player. On the surface the player simply looks like a hardware refresh and YES at this stage it is. However the player holds a lot more under its skin and once it loses its current legacy façade and allows its more powerful underlying code to embrace any future UI upgrade being developed, I believe the player will outshine most if not all media players currently on the market.”

“I would unreservedly recommend this player as a must for the standalone enthusiast and the user who would take the time and effort to develop its overall experience by incorporating the backend application aspect."

Definitely worth a read if you’re considering purchasing a media player or extender any time in the near future. 

You can check out the full, MPCClub review of the SageTV HD300 here and the forum discussion of the review here

And head here for the complete GeekTonic review of the HD300

TV Premieres, Finales & Specials This Week 09/26/2010

If you’re like me, your DVR or HTPC drives still have quite a few shows from last week you haven’t watched yet.  Well get busy, because this second week of Fall 2010 Premiere Week is here.  This week is certainly slimmer on new shows and premieres, but there’s still a healthy dose of TV in there.

Each week GeekTonic covers the TV scene with a complete listing of premieres, finales and specials for the week.  This week is pretty much the busiest premiere week of all.  There is a LOT of TV beginning which means this is basically the official start of the Fall 2010 TV Season.

Note:  I’ve added a quick PDF Guide to TV this week for those that want to take it with you.

Don’t miss these other GeekTonic Fall 2010 TV Season Features:

Check out the complete list of finales, premieres & specials below.

No Ordinary Family

No Ordinary Family Premieres Tuesday on ABC

The GeekTonic Guide to TV Premieres, Finales and Specials this Week – 9/26/2010


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

A downloadable PDF  version of this “GeekTonic TV This Week Guide” is available now


Sunday, September 26

America’s Funniest Home Videos (7pm on ABC – Available in HD) Season 21

60 Minutes (7:30pm on CBS – Available in HD) Season 43 of this long-time newsmagazine show begins

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (8pm on ABC) Season 8 premiere with Katy Perry, Shaquille O’Neal and other notables.

Nature (8pm on PBS – Available in HD) Season 28 begins with a look at “Cuba: The Accidental Eden”

The Simpsons (8pm on Fox – Available in HD) Season 22 premiere

The Amazing Race (8:30pm on CBS) Season 17 begins at 8:30pm and then on 10/3 moves to 8pm.  11 New teams head to cold places like the Arctic, Bangladesh, and Ghana.

The Cleveland Show (8:30pm on Fox – Available in HD) Season 2 begins with Kanye West guest starring.

Desperate Housewives (9pm on ABC – Available in HD) Season 7 begins with a new Housewife – Vanessa Williams who should fit right in.

Dexter (9pm on Showtime – Available in HD) He’s baaaack!  Season 5 premiere

Family Guy (9pm on Fox – Available in HD) Season 9 begins with a one-hour premiere with guest star James Woods

Bored to Death (10pm on HBO – Available in HD) Season 2 premiere

Brothers & Sisters (10pm on ABC – Available in HD) Season 5 premiere.  Oh the drama!

Sister Wives (10pm on TLC – Available in HD) A new reality series that I can say based on the title… Gross!  Here’s the synopsis:  Kody, his wives Meri, Janelle and Christine and their 13 kids are a polygamist family in Utah. Koby has decided to add a fourth wife to the family, a woman who is younger than his current wives and three of their children.

Undercover Boss (10pm on CBS) Season 2 premieres at 10 then moves to 9pm on 10/3.  Choice Hotels CEO Steve Joyce is the focus

Eastbound & Down (10:30pm on HBO – Available in HD) Season 2 premiere


Monday, September 27

The Seven (5pm on MTV) – A new “newsy” series MTV style.  Seven stories will be broadcast over a half hour segment ranging from news to the latest fashion trends.

Expedition Wild with Casey Anderson (9pm on National Geographic – Available in HD) Season 2 premiere

Top Gear (9pm on BBCA – Available in HD) Season 15 premiere

Ancient X-Files (9pm on Discovery – Available in HD) A new, 4-part reality/docu series uncovers mysteries by investigating strange artifacts from an ancient world

When Worlds Collide (9pm on PBS – Available in HD) A special history documentary hosted by Rubén Martínez.  A look into the cultural heritage of the mestizo and indigenous populations in the U.S.  Sort of a look at the indigenous Americans hundereds of years ago when that Spanish ship full of explorers arrives.

The Buried Life (10:30pm on MTV) – Season 2 premiere – reality series


Tuesday, September 28

No Ordinary Family (8pm on ABC– Available in HD) A new sci-fi/family drama series from ABC.  It’s sort of a non-animated version of “The Incredibles.”  This one follows the Powell family.  They go on a trip, their plane crashes and they realize individually they have superpowers.  I’m not sure about this one.  The storyline is one that would normally appeal to me, the cast is a good one with Michael Chiklis and Julie Benz.  But the clips I saw left me with a ho hum attitude.  I’ll still record it though just in case.

The Tenth Inning (8pm on PBS – Available in HD) – A new, 2-part documentary series directed by Ken Burns & Lynn Novick.  This is a new chapter in Ken Burn’s “Baseball” series where this time they tell the tumultuous story of the national pastime from the 1990s to the present day.  I saw a couple of early clips of this one and I consider it a must-see for baseball and other sports fans.

Stargate Universe (9pm on SyFy – Available in HD) Season 2 premiere

Billy the Exterminator (10pm on A&E – Available in HD) Season premiere

The Good Wife (10pm on CBS – Available in HD) Season 2 premiere

Weird, True & Freaky (9pm on Animal – Available in HD) Season 3

Lost Tapes (10pm on Animal – Available in HD) Season 3 premiere


Wednesday, September 29

Big Break Dominican Republic (9pm on Golf – Available in HD) Yes, this would be my first entry by the Golf channel for the GeekTonic listings.  Golf channel enters the reality/contest genre with amateur golfers playing against each other for an exemption slot in a championship golf tournament. Each season golfers compete in a different location.

Law & Order: Los Angeles (10pm on NBC – Available in HD) Here we go again.  A new series from NBC with the very familiar Law & Order name – this time in Los Angeles.  This crime & legal drama is set in the elite Robbery Homicide Division of the LAPD and the courts of Los Angeles County.  Cast includes Skeet Ulrich and Regina Hall among others


Friday, October 1

Liquid Assets: The Big Business of Water (6pm & 10pm on CNBC – Available in HD) – A special documentary that takes a look at water.  In the American West seven states compete for the same water from the Colorado River Basin; how the abundant supply of water in Alaska and Wisconsin can be capitalized on; Chile's answer to the public vs. private water debate.Human Target (8pm on Fox – Available in HD) Season 2 premiere

WWE Friday Night Smackdown! (8pm on SyFy – Available in HD) New “sports” series

Say Yes to the Dress: Big Bliss (9pm on TLC – Available in HD) A reality series spinoff where three plus-size brides take part in a bridal show, part bridal story and part family therapy program.

Todd Margaret (10pm on IFC – Available in HD) A new sitcom, 6-episode mini-series where David Cross stars as an American executive who suddenly has to take over the company's UK office.  They changed the name from “The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret” which was a bit wordy. 

Teach: Tony Danza (10pm on A&E – Available in HD) A new reality series on A&E.  This isn’t really my cup of tea, but the clips did look interesting with Tony Danza seeming pretty darn sincere about this project.  The show goes like this:  Tony Danza arrives at North East High School to be an English teacher and assistant football coach.  He realizes this is turning out to be quite a challenge dealing with the school administration and the students. 


Saturday, October 2

Iconclasts (9pm on Sundance – Available in HD) Season 5


Sunday, October 3

America’s Funniest Home Videos (7pm on ABC) Season 21

Ice Road Truckers (9pm on History – Available in HD) Season 4 finale

The Next Iron Chef (9pm on Food – available in HD) Season 3 premiere hosted by Alton Brown

American Dad! (9:30pm on Fox – Available in HD) Season 6 premiere

CSI: Miami (10pm on CBS – Available in HD) Season 9

IRT Deadliest Roads (10pm on History – Available in HD) New reality series spinoff from Ice Road Truckers hence the IRC in the shows title.  Brave drivers tackle some the most dangerous roads on earth in brutal weather conditions.

The Glades (10pm on A&E – Available in HD) Season 1 finale


Monday, October 4

Scare Tactics (8pm on SyFy) Season 5 premiere

Parker Spitzer (8pm on CNN) A new, news talk show on CNN with Kathleen Parker and Eliot Spitzer…

Real Housewives of Atlanta (9pm on Bravo – Available in HD) Season 3 premiere

Disappeared (10pm on ID – Available in HD) Season 2 premiere

Southern Fried Stings (10pm on TruTV) – Season premiere

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