jack_ryder: (Default)
So... I bought an Apple TV yesterday.

(Why? Because I was tired of hooking up my laptop every time we want to watch Leverage or Bill Maher or[livejournal.com profile] murasaki_1966  wants to watch the Iron Man trailer.)

(But doesn't it only play stuff bought through the iTunes store? And aren't we, in Australia , limited in what we can purchase due to rights issues? And to play other stuff don't you have convert it to the Apple TV format and move it across?)

Well, that's where Boxee comes in.

With Boxee running on the Apple TV, I can access the video files (and audio and photos) on my laptop (and external drives) over the wireless network and stream them across.

Theoretically.

So there were a few issues:

One major thing I didn't realise (because I - gasp! - didn't do enough research) - the  Apple TV is designed for high-end high def tvs (the rest of us apparently deserve nothing but Jobs' pity and scorn) so:

a) it only accepts component video, not composite video

b) it's intended for wide-screen tvs.

c) it doesn't come with any cables.

Fortunately our obsolete Sony Wega does have component inputs. Unfortunately they're being used by the DVD player. Fortunately when I switch our DVD to composite video, I'll be able to run it through my Neuros OSD (which I need to do anyway.)

Fortunately the Wega has a widescreen mode. Unfortunately we have to change the mode everytime we switch to the set-top box (a Toppy 5000, thanks for asking.) Fortunately the update this morning seems to have got rid of the need for widescreen mode.

So not as bad as I thought.

Boxee (and XMBC) is easy to install using a patch stick. In fact I had to reinstall it this morning after the  Apple TV updated itself. Took five minutes.

So  what's the point of all this?

I can now watch Youtube, Comedy Central and various other video feeds through our tv without any further jiggery pokery. I can watch all the tv shows and obscure foreign films (yay Executive Koala) that have somehow wound up on our assorted hard drives without farting around with plugging the laptop in and getting Front Row to run properly.

A few issues:

Boxee automatically looks stuff up, identifies your files and groups them into either movies or television. It doesn't handle individual episodes of tv anthology  shows too well (e.g. it thinks Pigeons From Hell, the notorious episode of Boris Karloff's Thriller is Posse from Hell, a western.)

It doesn't read all my external drives (because one is partitioned - this will be fixed up in the next project - a file server.)

But for the most part it works and it works well. There's nothing like watching a segment of the Daily Show whilst ironing this morning, just because you can.



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jack_ryder: (Default)
I was given a new computer box for my birthday by a friend of mine (which sounds a lot more generous then it was - he had upgraded and was going to get rid of it - still, I'm pretty happy.)

We installed WinXP on it, and I spent last night cannibalising the old computer into the new one. It accepted the hard drive with no problem (still - glad I spend ages backing up all my documents and downloads - not mention [livejournal.com profile] murasaki_1966's precious database) and the CD burner and DVD drive. The DVD drive works more consistantly now, then in the old box, so I'm happy. Managed to reinstall Office and spent the morning restoring my Palm apps.

Apart from a couple of scary moments (thought I'd burnt out the monitor when I'd just knocked out the video card, and couldn't get my Firefox preferences to load until I ignored the advice on their support webpage) it's working great.

So it's ready for [livejournal.com profile] ferkster and I to work on tonight!
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