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Beware the Creeper!

Iain's life as a psychotic crimefighter

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New toy (warning - geek stuff ahead)

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 ormurasaki_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.


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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Come on. Admit it. This is just something else to keep you from writing.

what, like replying to lj entries?

(BTW - I've only watched part of the Crime Investigation Australia on the Birnies and it looks like they've... glossed over some things. Also they say David Birnie was married with kids before he hooked up with Catherine a second time - I thought it was only Catherine who was married.

It was unclear, the show stated they'd married and had families. It was classic bad writing.

That's what I said. He's never going to write the great Australian crime/sf/fantasy/industrial play/novel/screenplay/ at this rate.

We have a laptop hooked up to our TV and a cheap video card. It's okay...the laptop is about 5-6 years old now (still, games are coming out that can run smoothly on it though! and the video card I had bought for like $40 around the same time. This is just till we can afford a HDTV set top box with a hdd (I only need a little harddrive, I usually only miss out on a few shows a week because of other scheduled tv, but they don't come with little hdd - only massive big ones that I don't need!)

After the iMac fiasco I vowed I would never ever buy anything from Apple again. I'm done with Apple.

He's trying to convert me.

Don't listen! ;-)

The iMac comes with a DVD drive with region coding that can't be defeated. So you only get to watch the movies that Apple, acting as digital policeman, thinks you should be allowed to watch. Not that it matters, because it plays DVDs so badly anyway. Multi-tasking? Forget it. And the interface is horrific.

The one advantage Macs have is not being subject to viruses. In every other respect they're hopelessly inferior to the most cheap and nasty PC. I wouldn't take any Apple product as a gift.

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