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April 23, 2014

Software

XBMC for OS X gets a new name: Plex

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 7th 2008 4:03PM
PlexThe media center software suite formerly known as Xbox Media Center is now available for the Xbox, OS X computers, or pretty much any PC that's capable of running Windows or LInux. But the XBMC name still makes it sound like an application for the Xbox only. So the folks working on the OS X version decided to rebrand their port. Meet Plex.

The team plans to roll out a rebranded version over the next few days, and will set up domains at plex2.com, plexsquared.com and plexsquare.com. Plex.com, like most four letter domain names, was already taken. The new software will also get a new skin soon. In the meantime, all I can really show you is the new logo.See it? That's it in the corner.

[via Automated Home]

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Hauppauge HD-PVR drivers for Linux/MythTV

by Brad Linder, posted Jun 25th 2008 5:57PM
Hauppauge HD-PVRThe Hauppauge HD-PVR may be the first device capable of recording HDTV through the analog hole by basically capturing high definition video from your TV screen and compressing it using the H.264 codec into something you can watch on your PC. But if the box doesn't work with the operating system of your choice, what's the point?

Fortunately, members of the MythTV community have figured out how to make the box, which was designed for Windows, work with Linux. Setting up an HD-PVR to work with Linux and MythTV isn't quite as simple as getting it to work with Windows. You need to compile the driver from source. And the driver is still in alpha, meaning it hasn't been tested very widely yet, so there's a good chance it simply won't work on your system. But if the early reviews are anything to go by, there's a good chance it won't work perfectly with your Windows system anyway.

[via Brent Evans]

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Has Windows Media Center been a hit or miss for Microsoft?

by Brad Linder, posted Jun 24th 2008 4:07PM
Vista Media CenterMicrosoft has been offering Windows Media Center since 2002. But six years later, many PC users don't even know the 10-foot interface for viewing media and recording TV shows exists -- even if it's already installed on their computers.

But does that make Windows Media Center a failure? MSNBC seems to think so. In an article on Microsoft's hits and misses during Bill Gates tenure, MSNBC calls Windows Media Center a miss.

It's true that other products like TiVo and generic set top boxes have been more successful at infiltrating the living room. Not only do these consumer devices let users record and pause television, but in many cases they're letting users access internet services without a TV.

Meanwhile, few people want to stick a computer next to their television set. But that might not be the point. Windows Media Center might not be as familiar a name as TiVo, but the software is powerful and well thought out. And high end home theater PC makers have been designing fancy computers to take advantage of the software for years. And a growing number of companies are releasing Windows Media Extenders that let users access media on a PC connected to a home network without sticking a PC next to the television.

What do you think? Is Windows Media Center a hit or a miss? Keep in mind, MSNBC considers Halo a hit and Clippy a miss. So what I'm really asking is whether MCE fits in the same category as Clippy.

[via Chris Lanier]

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Azureus is now officially Vuze

by Brad Linder, posted Jun 17th 2008 8:06AM
Vuze 3.1
Azureus has officially put all of its eggs into a basket called Vuze. The company has dropped its standalone BitTorrent client as instead focusing on Vuze, which is a combination Bittorrent search engine and desktop video player. Azureus has also officially changed its name to Vuze and yesterday released Vuze 3.1, an updated client with a handful of new features, including:
  • Create user profiles and add friends
  • Recommend torrents you think your friends might want to download
  • Search BitTorrent trackers besides Vuze, including MiniNova, SumoTorrent, and others
You can also add your own BitTorrent trackers to the search menu. The addition of third party trackers is an interesting approach. On the one hand, Vuze becomes much more useful as a BitTorrent client if you can download torrents from a variety of sites. But if Vuze is trying to sell 100% legal downloads of TV shows and movies, the company is kind of undermining its own mission by letting you download those same movies and TV shows for free from other BitTorrent sites.

[via NewTeeVee]

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MyMediaPlayer: Desktop media player for Hulu

by Brad Linder, posted Jun 16th 2008 10:58AM
MyMediaPlayer
Like watching video streams from Hulu, but don't like that you have to open a web browser to do it? Paul Yanez, the developer behind Not Apple TV, Hulu Media Player, and a Flash-based Joost clone is back, and this time he's developed a desktop player for Hulu called MyMediaPlayer.

The program is built on Adobe AIR, which is a platform for bringing web-based applications to the desktop. It provides a user experience that's a lot like browsing the Hulu web site. But it has a few advantages. First, you don't need to open a web browser. But second, you can browse for more shows while continuing playback. Just start a video and then hit the TV or Movies tab to minimize your video to the lower left hand side of the screen while you look for other videos. In order to maximize your vieo window again you need to click on a TV show name.

The one problem with MyMediaPlayer is that it uses embedded videos from Hulu. That means there's no simple way to watch videos in full screen mode. It also means that you don't have the complete Hulu library at your fingertips. You just have the selection that Yanez has manually added.

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Boxee to launch social media center software trial Monday

by Brad Linder, posted Jun 13th 2008 10:56AM
Boxee
Boxee is a media center suite that's a bit like MythTV, Windows Media Center, or Media Portal. It's a computer software suite designed for accessing your desktop and online media on a TV screen. But it's got something that none of those other applications do: a social side.

You can share media with other Boxee users and make recommendations. According to Crave, you'll eventually be able to connect your Boxee account with Facebook so you can access the social network on your TV set (and presumably vice versa to some degree).

The folks behind Boxee based the application on the open source XBMC project. Currently it runs on Linux and Mac, but a Windows version is due out later this year. Eventually, Boxee wants to make the software available for set top boxes so you don't have to go through the hassle of connecting a computer to your television set.

Boxee works with the Apple Remote, supports high definition video all the way up to 1080p, and has an attractive menu structure. On the down side, there's no support for DRM at the moment, which means you cannot use the software to watch videos purchased from online stores like iTunes or Amazon Unbox.

At first Boxee will only be available to a limited group of alpha testers. You can sign up for an invitation at Boxee.tv.

[via NewTeeVee]

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Microsoft releases cumulative update for Windows Vista Media Center

by Brad Linder, posted Jun 12th 2008 5:54PM
Windows Vista Media CenterMicrosoft has rolled out a cumulative update for Windows Vista Media Center that addresses several known issues. The update is available for x86 and x64 systems running Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate. It doesn't matter whether you have Windows Vista SP1 installed or not: the update will work either way.

Here are some of the issues addressed:
  • Improvements for recording teleivion programs on systems with analog TV tuners
  • Fixed a bug that sometimes caused a blank screen to appear when switching between full screen and windowed modes while playing a video
  • Empty removable media devices should no longer be displayed in the galleries
  • Solved a memory leak in extender sessions
  • Regional fixes for Chinese media center users
[via Aaron Stebner]

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Sling Media to demo SlingPlayer for the iPhone

by Brad Linder, posted Jun 8th 2008 10:26PM
SlingPlayer for the iPhone
Sling Media offers SlingPlayer clients for PC, Mac, and a variety of cellphone models. But so far there's been no support for one of the most obvious mobile devices: the iPhone. It looks like that could all change soon. Sling Media will be showing off a proof of concept version of SlingPlayer Mobile for the iPhone at WWDC.

There are no plans to make this version of SlingPlayer Mobile available to customers... yet. You need a jailbroken iPhone or iPod touch to use the player at the moment. But the company does plan to use the iPhone SDK to release a commercial version in the future.

If you want to check out the proof of concept version, and if you happen to be in San Francisco tomorrow, stop by the Starbucks at 120 4th St between 10am and 4pm and look for product manager Vicky Shum who will be demonstrating the application.

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SanDisk pulls the plug on TakeTV, FanFare video service

by Brad Linder, posted Jun 6th 2008 5:01PM
TakeTV
SanDisk has quietly killed off its TakeTV video device and the accompanying Fanfare video download service. The company, best known for making flash memory sticks and portable media players, announced the TakeTV last fall as an off-beat answer to the Apple TV and other media extender devices.

The idea went something like this: Instead of sticking another box next to your TV, why not just copy your movies to a portable USB stick which you can then plug into any TV? Apparently the idea never caught on, because NewTeeVee reports that SanDisk shut down the Fanfare video portal on May 15th. And as far as I can tell, it took a few weeks before anyone really noticed.

If you're one of the two or three people who shelled out a few bucks for a TakeTV, the device will still work just fine. But you'll have to load it up with videos downloaded or recorded from other sources.

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How to boot XMBC from a USB flash disk

by Brad Linder, posted Jun 6th 2008 2:08PM
XBMC
Want to try out XBMC (Xbox Media Center), but don't have an Xbox or a Mac lying around? No problem, because now there's a port of XMBC that lets you run the media center suite from a USB flash drive.

In theory, that means you can boot XMBC on pretty much any computer, whether it runs Windows, Linux, or OS X. In practice, there are a few limitations. First, you'll need to make sure your computer is capable of booting from a USB flash disk. Second, there's a halfway decent chance that your hardware won't be supported out of the box. While this version of XMBC does include support for NVIDIA drivers, if your PC has an ATI or other graphics card, you'll likely have a tough time getting to the main menu.

Creating the bootable flash disk using Windows is as easy as pie though. So if you've got some time to kill and a spare USB flash disk, you can find out whether XBMC will run on your hardware in just a few minutes.

All you need to do is is download the LiveXBMC image and builder files and unzip them to the same directory. Insert a 1GB or larger USB flash drive (it will be reformatted, so back up any data you need to save first), and then click the LiveUSBBuilder.exe file and follow the on screen instructions.

[via Lifehacker]

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vmcNetflix goes open source

by Brad Linder, posted Jun 2nd 2008 11:58AM
vmcNetflix
The developer of vmcNetflix, a Windows Media Center plugin that lets you watch streaming video from Netflix.com in the media center interface, has decided to relaunch the program as an open source project. He's looking for other media center applicationd developers who can help improve the project.

vmcNetflix already include features that other Windows Media Center Netflix plugins lack, such as support for media extenders like the Xbox 360. It'll be interesting to see what other features a community of developers can add.

You can download the latest version of vmcNetflix and check out the source code at its new home page.

[via Ian Dixon]

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VLC media player coming to the Neuros OSD

by Brad Linder, posted May 29th 2008 1:02PM
VLCVideolan's VLC is a cross-platform media player that works on Mac, Linux, and Windows computers. And pretty soon, it could run on the open-source Neuros OSD set top box.

Neuros and M2X are working to port the media player to version of Linux used on the set top box. This is significant because VLC never met a media format it didn't like. OK, that's probably not 100% true, but VLC can handle almost any audio or video codec you can throw at it, including MPEG 1/2/4, DiVX, XViD, WMV, MP3, OGG, WMA, ASF, WAV, FLV, AAC and DVD files. RealAudio and RealVideo are not currently supported.

The port will be based on VLC 0.8.6g, which is the latest stable version of the application, but will include a few additional bug fixes. VLC integration should be complete during the third quarter of 2008.

[via Slashdot]

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aTV Flash makes Apple TV hacking easy, for a fee

by Brad Linder, posted May 23rd 2008 1:08PM

aTV Flash

Wish you could use that Apple TV box next to your TV for web browsing, reading RSS feeds, or even just playing DivX video? You could do a little software hacking yourself, or if you're worried about mucking things up, you could pay $60 for a USB stick from aTV Flash loaded with software that will do all the dirty work for you.

Here are just a few of the things you'll be able to do with your newly hacked Apple TV:

  • Play DivX, XviD, AVi, and WMV files
  • Play uncoverted DVD files
  • Sync and play videos without iTunes
  • Surf the web with a WebKit/Safari-based browser
  • Rent HD movies from Jaman
  • View weather forecasts
  • Read RSS feeds

And best of all, the developers claim the software does not void your Apple TV warranty.

[via TUAW]

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CinemaNow movies now available in Windows Media Center

by Brad Linder, posted May 22nd 2008 6:29PM

CinemaNow MCE

Raise your hand if you'd kind of forgotten that CinemaNow existed. Go ahead, don't be shy. While Apple, Amazon, and Netflix have been making headlines for distributing digital movies and TV shows over the last year or so, CinemaNow's been doing this for ages. Along with MovieLink, CinemaNow was one of the first digital distributors to sign deals with major Hollywood studios. (MovieLink had a bit of a leg up, since it's co-owned by several of those studios).

CinemaNow's not resting on its laurels. The company today launched a partnership with Microsoft to bring CinemaNow content to Windows Media Center. That means you can browser and purchase or rent videos using a remote control and a 10 foot interface. CinemaNow has over 3400 feature films, 3000 TV episodes, and 2900 music videos in its library.

If you don't notice the CinemaNow icon in the "more TV" section of Windows Media Center right away, try going into settings and forcing Windows Media Center to download updates.

CinemaNow isn't the first company to launch an MCE application. MovieLink and Vongo have had a position in the Showcase section of Windows Vista MCE for some time.

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Microsoft begins beta testing next gen Windows Media Center

by Brad Linder, posted May 21st 2008 11:04AM

Fiji

Microsoft has reportedly begun testing the next generation of Windows Media Center, which bears the codename Fiji. There's not a lot of information about the beta test. We can't say for sure how many users are involved, or if and when Microsoft will expand the beta.

It's likely that the update will add support for the upcoming DirecTV tuner. But other than that, it's not entirely clear whether Fiji will sport any new features, or whether it'll just be a refined version of Windows Vista Media Center.

Microsoft is on track to release Windows 7 sometime around 2010. Windows 7 is the codename for the operating system that will eventually replace Windows Vista. Fiji, on the other hand, will be an intermediate update that will basically bring a new version of Media Center to Vista users. There's no official word on when Fiji will be released, but it could be out by the end of this year.

Participants in the private beta are bound by a pretty strict non-disclosure agreement, which is why it's been difficult to get any real information about the beta. But if anyone feels like sharing some info feel free to hit the tips link at the top of this page.

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