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August 29, 2015


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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Boxee to launch social media center software trial Monday

by Brad Linder, posted Jun 13th 2008 10:56AM
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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vmcNetflix goes open source

by Brad Linder, posted Jun 2nd 2008 11:58AM
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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MythTV 0.21 released

by Brad Linder, posted Mar 9th 2008 8:58AM
MythTV A new version of open source Linux-based media center MythTV was released this weekend. It's been half a year since the last major MythTV release, which means there are a ton of bug fixes and new features in MythTV 0.21.

The latest version includes support for ClearQAM recordings using the HDHomeRun. That means if you have the proper hardware you can record unencrypted HDTV streams from your cable company. MythTV 0.21 also includes several new official plugins including MythMovies, which displays movie showtimes based on your zipcode, and MythZoneMinder for monitoring security cameras.

Here are a few more highlights:
  • MythFrontEnd memory consumption reduced by up to 75%
  • Automatic discovery of MythTV servers and frontends
  • Enables multiple recordings with one DVB or ATSC card if the channels are in the same multiplex
  • You can now choose to record main audio, a secondary audio channel, or both
[via Missing Remote]

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Media Portal II Preview released

by Brad Linder, posted Dec 18th 2007 8:57AM
Media Portal II
The team behind the Media Portal have released the first official preview of Media Portal II. Last month, we heard that the developers were planning a complete rebuild of the open source media center application. While users might not notice many new features or changes in the interface, Media Portal II is built to be much more developer-friendly. The new structure should make it easier for members of the Media Portal community to write updates, or create new plugins.

Media Portal II also has anew GUI and skin system making it easier for people to develop custom skins that can completely change the look and feel of the application. This is still a preview release, and lacks some major functions. For example, while you can use Media Portal II to access movies, pictures, weather, or music, there's no TV component right now. You can't watch or record live TV. Of course, if you have previously recorded shows in your library, you can use Media Portal II to watch them. But I wouldn't recommend replacing your current media center software with Media Portal II just yet.

[via floppyhead]

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Neuros offers $3500 in bounties for TiVo synchronization solution

by Brad Linder, posted Nov 30th 2007 5:57PM
Neuros OSDThe folks over at Neuros and DVR Upgrade have an interesting way of adding new features to their flash memory-based MPEG-4 recorder. They decide what features it would be really cool to see and ask the open source hacker community to help them build those features into the device.

Neuros's latest challenge: synchronize recordings between a TiVo and a Neuros OSD recorder. The end result would be pretty cool. Ideally, what would happen is that you'll be able to schedule a recording on your TiVo, and you'll automatically record that program on both your TiVo and your Neuros OSD. That means you'll have a high quality video waiting for you to watch on your TV set using your TiVo, and a lower quality, smaller sized video sitting on a flash card for watching on the go on your iPod, PDA, or other portable media device.

Neuros is putting up $3500 in prize money for this challenge. That bounty is divided into two parts: $1000 for anyone who figures out how to make this work using TiVo's online scheduling capability, while $2500 goes to anyone who can figure out a more direct method using a hacked TiVo running TiVoWebPlus.

[via Dave Zatz]

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Media Portal team announces plans for Media Portal II

by Brad Linder, posted Nov 16th 2007 6:58PM
Media PortalThe folks behind open source media center application Media Portal are preparing to launch the first public alpha of Media Portal II.

The goal is to make the application more open and customizable. In other words, it will be easier for developers to design plugins and it should be simpler for end users to download and install skins, plugins, and other add-ons. The basic system will be pretty minimal, with most of the functionality provided through those add-ons.

Another goal is to add an auto-update feature that will make it easier to keep your system up to date.

Because Media Portal II is still in its infancy, the team will continue to support the original Media Portal application for now.

[via Missing Remote]

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Galleon 2.5 for TiVo released

by Brad Linder, posted Sep 24th 2007 1:30PM
Galleon 2.5Development continues on the new version of the open-source Galleon application for TiVo. The software already let you listen to your iTunes collection on your TiVo, view local weather forecasts, read RSS feeds, and do a ton of other cool things. Now version 2.5.0 is out with a bunch of updates:
  • Display photos from iPhoto
  • Increased album art size for HD displays
  • Added scalable backgrounds for HD
  • Fixed lyrics downloading program
  • Upgraded movie rentals application
  • Added a screen saver to display cover art and track title for music player
  • Bug fixes and HD optimizations
There are a few known issues, including a couple of items that still display a bit funny on HDTV screens, but we're just impressed at how quickly the updates keep coming. This is free and open source software and as far as we can tell, there's pretty much just one guy in charge of development.

[via TiVo Blog]

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Open source developers sue makers of Hava placeshifter

by Brad Linder, posted Sep 20th 2007 5:00PM
Hava Wirless HDIt's no secret that a lot of consumer electronics devices, including TiVo and Monsoon Multimedia's Hava place-shifting device are built using Linux and open source software. It's powerful, stable, and most importantly, available. The open source community has developed a wealth of code that developers can draw from in order to build robust consumer oriented products.

But while the software is often free, meaning you can use it without paying, it's also free as in speech. In other words, once you incorporate code that has been published under the General Public License, you have to allow others to see the source code for your device. And that's not something a lot of companies like to do. You know, trade secrets and all.

So when the folks that developed the open source BusyBox software, which is used in the Hava, asked Monsoon Multimedia for a peek at the company's source code and Monsoon failed to comply, two open source developers filed suit against the company.

This is apparently the first time anyone has filed a copyright infringement suit in the US involving an alleged violation of the General Public License. It should be interesting to see if the case goes to court where it could set precedent, or if Monsoon Multimedia decides to settle out of court.

[via CNet]

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