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July 28, 2014

Software

A universal remote that can control everything, maybe even the universe

by Danny Gallagher, posted Aug 23rd 2009 9:02AM
An old Zenith remote controlEvery TV addict has that moment when they throw themselves on the couch and muster enough courage to overcome their body fat, gravity and the risk of doing a full sit-up to reach for the remote.

But then comes that feeling of sheer dread when your hand, reaching as far as your arm will allow, grabs nothing but air. Your eyes dart around the room, first scanning the immediate area that doesn't require you to get up from the contoured indent left by your ever-expanding ass. Finally, you find it ... clear across the room. You have discovered the remote control's one and only modern flaw.

Don't fret. Scientists across the globe have been putting their swine flu vaccine and obesity epidemic research projects aside and working on improving TV remote technology. That idea for a miracle virus cure never materialized but, thankfully, they've perfected the remote control.

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Dexter video game won't be controversial at all

by Bob Sassone, posted Jul 29th 2009 4:30PM
A video game for Dexter is being released soon (iPhone and iPod touch only, for now anyway). Here's the promo. A video game about a serial killer? No, this won't be controversial at all.

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Ghost Whisperer gets the video game treatment

by Isabelle Carreau, posted Jul 23rd 2009 8:04PM
Ghost WhispererMid-June, fellow Squadder Danny wrote a list of ten TV shows that deserve to have their own video games. CBS's Ghost Whisperer didn't make Danny's cut. However, the show's premise would provide a good setting for a game. Imagine yourself in Melinda Gordon's shoes trying to help ghosts cross over by finding out who they are, why they won't cross over, and how to make them walk through the light.

CBS and Legacy Interactive thought that it was about time to offer GW fans the chance to step into Melinda's shoes.

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IBM building computer designed to take over Jeopardy!, then possibly the world

by Danny Gallagher, posted Apr 28th 2009 10:00AM
The femputer from Fox's Oh my God. Maybe the Unabomber was right, about how technology could weaken humanity and destroy us all. Not about sending bombs in the mail. That was and always will be a big no-no.

IBM is developing a new computer system that can compete on TV's Jeopardy! by digesting the show's questions, buzzing in and answering in the famous question format.

The system is being developed in the same vein as "Deep Blue," the computer that defeated chess champion Gary Kasparov. The Jeopardy! system nicknamed "Watson" is part of IBM's ongoing attempt to overtake humanity by whooping humanity's ass at their own games. An IBM spokesman estimated humanity's spirit will finally be broken when they perfect a computer system that can beat the world's greatest Chutes and Ladders player.

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Hell's Kitchen - video game review

by Danny Gallagher, posted Mar 6th 2009 3:01PM

If you're a wobbly-kneed, amateur chef with a tendency to wet your pants anytime someone's voice goes a few decibels higher in your direction, a good version of the Hell's Kitchen video game should make you wish you put on your rubber pants before you started playing.

Unfortunately, the real version isn't even worth shelling out for the price of a pair of extra-large Depends.

The game lacks in just about every area imaginable, from gameplay to ambiance, most notably and disappointingly from the angry chef himself, whose mean stare can make puppies cry and anger spittle can burn a hole in your face like hot alien acid.

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Just what does Apple's iPhone app department NOT find offensive?

by Danny Gallagher, posted Mar 6th 2009 1:02PM
I know I've been asking this question a lot, but what the hell is going on here? Have we entered the bizarro world? Is up now down? Has black become white? Did Dr. Sanja Gupta accept Barack Obama's offer to be the next U.S. surgeon general after Dr. Pepper turned him down?

Last week, we reported on Apple's refusal to include a new South Park iPhone app. The white hot anger could be felt from coast to coast. We here at TV Squad were worried that the uproar it could have caused could have landed us in "Enemy Combatant Land" for disturbing the peace and inciting a riot, which technically would be Apple's fault.

Then an interesting little story popped into my view that seemed to contradict the claims Apple had made and as always, television helped show me the way.

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Apple says 'Screw you guys' to South Park's iPhone app

by Danny Gallagher, posted Feb 23rd 2009 7:03PM
Everybody knows an iPhone user who flaunts his phone to the world the way anyone of us would if we owned something that we believed contained the awesome power of God.

They are always checking their emails or giving you weather updates you never asked for. They always let their phone ring longer than necessary with some ridiculous sounds such as one of those dumb novelty "Pick me up!" chimes or the theme to Sanford and Son to make sure it grabs your attention. Pretty soon, every time they stroke their finger across that smirking touch screen, it subconsciously sounds like fingernails across a chalkboard.

Now, you can one-up your personal iPhone a-hole with this comforting fact: Their almighty cell phone from God won't let them watch South Park because it thinks it's too offensive for their delicate sensibilities.

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The Price is Right - video game review

by Danny Gallagher, posted Feb 12th 2009 7:03PM


It's more than a little ironic (or tragic, depending on how much you give a rat's ass) that the most successful game show in the history of American television has never had a truly worthy home game. One worthy enough to give to loser contestants so they can win against their own friends and family at home because God is a cruel comedian.

Seriously, God should get his own Mark Twain Prize.

Now after more than 35 years on the air, there is such a game: The Price is Right video game. And it's so well done and fun that it could crush the soul of a 300-pound linebacker from Obetz, Ohio who lost out on his chance to be the only guy in town who owns a Chrysler Crossfire.

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TiVo and Amazon to let you buy stuff from the comfort of your couch

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 22nd 2008 10:58AM
TiVo Amazon products
Amazon and TiVo are teaming up to make short work of the infomercial. Well, that's not exactly how the companies are promoting the new "Product Purchase" feature. TiVo customers will be able to order items from Amazon using their TV, TiVo, and remote control. No web browser or computer necessary. And no need to place your order in the next 15 minutes to get a free bonus gift.

Users will see links to products popping up in various parts of the TiVo interface. For example, if you're looking at a listing for a late night talk show, you might find links to buy books, CDs, or DVDs from that night's guests.

The advantage of ordering from TiVo is that you can make impulse purchases while watching a program, while recording the rest of the program in the background for later viewing. Of course, as anyone with a penchant for picking up candy and trashy magazines in the grocery store checkout lane can tell you, it'd be nice to have the choice to opt-out of the service in order to avoid impulse purchases.

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Microsoft ships Windows Media Center TV Pack update - to OEMs only

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 18th 2008 9:04AM
Windows Media Center TV Pack
As reported last week, Microsoft has been working on an update for Windows Media Center that adds support for international users and removes the restriction on the number of TV tuners you can use. The update, which has often been referred to by its codename, Fiji, has been veiled in secrecy. Now it looks like there's good news and bad news.

The good news is that Fiji has shipped. A Microsoft knowledge base article refers to a "Windows Media Center TV Pack," which was released on July 16th. The bad news is, the update was released to OEMs, not to end users. In other words, there's no way for you to download and install the update on your Windows Vista Home Premium or Ultimate computer. You'll have to wait until Microsoft either issues a wider release or until you purchase a new computer with the software preloaded.

[via Geek Tonic]

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Amazon to launch video streaming service

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 17th 2008 10:01AM
Amazon Unbox
Amazon is rolling out a new video service today that will either replace or compliment the Amazon Unbox video download store. While Unbox customers have to wait for a video to download before they can begin watching, Amazon Video on Demand will let you begin watching as soon as you've placed an order.

The New York Times reports that Amazon is launching the service for a limited number of customers today, with a wider release scheduled for later this summer. The Amazon Unbox web page has a little button asking for volunteers for a new beta program, so I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that beta=video on demand.

According to the article, videos will be available for rental or purchase. And once you've purchased a video, you'll be able to watch it from any computer. No software installation necessary. In other words, it sounds like the new service is browser-based.

On the one hand, this means Amazon Video on Demand will be compatible with Windows and Mac machines (I'm not going to hold my breath for Linux support), which is great. But it's also nice to be able to save a copy of a movie on your own computer for archiving. What happens if Amazon kills the service in two years. Does that mean you lose your online video library which you've paid for? I'm hoping that Amazon still gives users the option of downloading movies, even if not everyone will need to use that option.

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TiVo rolls out software update, adds YouTube support

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 17th 2008 9:03AM


TiVo has started sending out new system software to Series3 users who signed up for priority updates. The general TiVo using population should get the TiVo 9.4 software soon. And thet means support for:
  • YouTube video playback
  • The ability to play or delete an entire folder (in other words, you can watch programs in order without hitting a button on your remote)
  • Jump forward by 24 hours in the program guide
  • Pull up the program guide from any screen, whether you're watching live, recorded, or downloaded video
  • Easier toggling of closed captioning
  • Review your thumbs up and down ratings
Blogger Dave Zatz (who recorded the video you see above), has confirmed that the TiVo content uses the H.264 codec. That means there's pretty much no chance that TiVo Series2 users will ever see support for TiVo, since older TiVo models can only support MPEG-2 video.

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Gordon Ramsay yells at you in the Hell's Kitchen video game too

by Bob Sassone, posted Jul 11th 2008 2:40PM

Hell's Kitchen gameBut does he swear? If he doesn't, then a big component of the TV show is lost, wouldn't you say?

Yesterday marked the release of Ubisoft's Hell's Kitchen: The Video Game (the FOX show has been advertising the game for the past several weeks). Chef Ramsay does the voice for his character, and the game actually sounds rather cool, if it works the way it's described. Players go through three rounds of cooking (preparing the food, cooking it, and then the service), and Ramsay judges you. He can shut down the kitchen if you're not doing well, and you even get an "Advanced" mode where the customers become jerks and send the food back. Go through certain levels and you get access to special Gordon Ramsay recipes.

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Could the Netflix Player by Roku be used as a MythTV frontend?

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 11th 2008 8:57AM
Netflix player by Roku naked
Roku, the company behind the $99 box that lets you stream Netflix movies over the internet to your TV has released the source code for the set top box. And the hacking has already begun. Some folks have already reported they can access the box via telnet.

MythTV News raises an interesting question: Could the Netflix Player be a cheap frontend for the Linux-based MythTV media suite? MythTV's backend software requires a full computer with a decent CPU, hard drive, and RAM to run. But it might be possibel to shoehorn the frontend software, which lets you access media stored on the backend, onto a less powerful device.

As Dave Zatz points out, the software used on the Netflix Player is signed. What that means is that modified code will not run properly, and the box should automatically revert to the last good version of its software if it encounters hacked or modified code. But it is at least theoretically possible to send software updates to the box, and to update the bootloader. And that means it's possible that someone might be able to find a way to run MythTV or other software on the Netflix Player. Just because a platform is locked doesn't mean it can't be unlocked. Just look at the iPhone.

[via eHomeUpgrade and Hack A Day]

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Windows Media Center H.264, DirecTV support coming later this year

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 9th 2008 10:03AM
Wi ndows Media Center update
There's good news and less good news and then some more good news on the Windows Media Center front. The good news is that Microsoft will be releasing an update soon, the bad news is that it won't include support for things like the H.264 codec or the upcoming DirecTV tuner. The good news (again) is that EngadgetHD reports those features are on their way, they just won't be ready by the end of July, which is when Microsoft plans to issue the next update to Windows Media Center.

A tipster also sent EngadgetHD a few screenshots of the upcoming update, which adds a few new features like the ability to use as many TV tuners as you want, and to use a combination of tuner types such as NTSC, ATSC, QAM, CableCARD, DVB-T, PAL, or DVB-S. The update includes additional features for international media center users, such as support for ISDB-T and BML standards in Japan, and DVB-T and DVB-S in Europe.

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