Archive

Archive for the ‘media’ Category

HThackintosh Remote Part 2

June 28, 2009 1 comment

Xbox_remoteIn part 1 I looked at using a Logitech Harmony, Manta TR1 IR receiver and software to control my HTPC, which also happens to be a hackintosh. The conclusion was that this method has some drawbacks, with cost and amount of setup required being the main ones. Trying to use a remote on a hackintosh makes the endeavour even harder as many genuine Macs have a built in IR receiver eliminating one of the steps I had to take.

The second approach listed previously is to adapt an Xbox DVD remote for use with Plex. I have several of these remotes in use with my XBMC Xbox’s which are gradually being retired as I go HD. Plex is a development of the XBMC software so already has good support for the Xbox remote, so I went into the second trial hopeful. Read more…

Plex 8

May 12, 2009 Leave a comment

PlexI’ve mentioned Plex before, a branch of the XBMC software on Macintosh. It’s my media centre of choice, running on the Home Theatre hackintosh I put together a few months ago.

Released a couple of days ago is Plex V8, first release of the new stable branch following on from the development seven series. Download the Mac OS Leopard only dmg , release notes and source code from here. There are several new features and lots of fixes so it’s worth giving Plex a try.

Plex_8

Categories: media, movie, music, software Tags: , , ,

Hackintosh HTPC part 4

March 3, 2009 2 comments

In Part 3 I briefly touched on screen settings, and ended up using the analog output of the HTPC at 1920×1080, 59.9Hz. Picture quality was good, and to my surprise the pixels output by the video card were perfectly mapped to the ones on the TV. I used the free monitor setup displays at http://tft.vanity.dk/ for testing, and applied setting for colour and sharpness that had been previously been set using a Home Theatre setup DVD.

The setting that made the biggest improvement here was sharpness. On my TV, a Samsung 46A656, the default setting was 50 on all inputs. I had assumed this meant no sharpening but a quick run through the test cards on the setup DVD showed this to be anything but neutral. A black pattern of lines on a grey background showed very bad white edges around the lines, indicating too much sharpening. Dropping the sharpening to 10 gave a much better image, and the colour setting was dropped to 42 from 50 using other tests. Read more…

Hackintosh HTPC part 3

February 5, 2009 7 comments

In part 2 I detailed the motherboard, processor and ram picked for the HTPC. The plan was to initially use the spare Nvidia 7300GT card and replace this dependant on space available in the final case. I had a spare Tagan 480w PSU and a midi tower case as a temporary home, and the 500Gb hard drive from the hackintosh (replaced with a new 1Tb).

The build was straightforward so I won’t dwell on that. The first choice was how to install Leopard. The 500Gb hard drive had the hackintosh install on it so I chose to boot this first and see what happened. It wasn’t much of a surprise when this started up fine as it had previously been working on an intel chipset motherboard. The only thing that didn’t work was audio, so the next choice was do I keep the install and remove unnecessary software/files or do a fresh install? Read more…

Hackintosh HTPC part 2

January 31, 2009 5 comments

Having decided to build a hackintosh HTPC in part 1, the next step is picking hardware. This would normally include a display and this project is no different. The display this time though is an LCD television instead of the usual LCD monitor.

I had a short list of potential TV’s and the top was occupied by a couple of Sony models, the 40V4000 and 40W4000. The decision on which to go for would depend on what deals were available as the spec is similar, with the 40W4000 being a 10 bit panel (instead of 8 bit) and adding some multimedia features. Next on the list were Samsung’s 6 series models. A local retailer had an older Samsung 46″ 5 series and a Sony 40L4000 (a cut down 40V4000) hooked up to a Vista PC through a KVM switch, running at something like 1366×768 resolution. I increased the resolution to 1920×1080 and to my surprise the Sony showed an unsupported display mode message while the Samsung looked fantastic. Read more…

Hackintosh HTPC part 1

January 21, 2009 4 comments

For the past few year’s I’ve used an Xbox running Xbox Media Centre to play video files on a TV, streamed from first a Windows machine then a Synology file server. This setup is easy to use and picture quality is fine on a standard definition set. Mrs Basshead has recently become a lot more convinced of the need to upgrade to High Definition after watching a 40 inch Samsung 6 series for a while, so the second requirement (after buying a suitable LCD TV) is a HD capable media streamer. Read more…

Going HD

December 3, 2008 Leave a comment

I’ve been thinking about upgrading a lot of my AV equipment for a while now. I had my eye on a Sony 40W4000U LCD TV that just keeps getting cheaper (at least there is one small benefit to the credit crunch) then they had to go one better with the 40W4500U. An even better LCD TV for a little bit more cash. It’s now number one on the wanted list, but that’s where the easy decisions end. Read more…

The moral crossroads

December 2, 2008 Leave a comment

There are two kinds of government. One kind cares about it’s people, and the other treats them as cattle, little more than a resource. I know there are lots of terms for different systems of running everything from a community to a continent, but they all either care or they don’t.

Things have been changing in the UK for a while now, and I’m talking here about the mostly overlooked battle that’s being fought between content providers and anyone with a shred of care for the public. It surfaces occasionally with a sensationalist headline in the media, but the majority of UK citizens don’t realise what the Media corporations are up to. America already has the RIAA pursuing college file sharers and others for ridiculous sums of money using suspect evidence, and just like in many other ways the UK is becoming increasingly like the USA.

I remember having Disco’s and a Headmaster at my senior school, but it now has Prom’s and a Principal. Small changes I would happily live with if we didn’t have to suffer the same shift of power towards big business and the criminalisation of its customers. An article at Ars Technica got my attention and really brings together what’s happening at the moment. It’s a complicated issue that I won’t repeat here, but none of it benefits anyone but the Music corporations and shareholders. Will the artists who create the product see a big improvement in royalties and treatment? By the time the executives and lawyers take their share I doubt there will be much left for those that generate the money.

As the Ars article points out, there are opponents of the Media interests, such as the Open Rights Group. It’s reasuring that someone is fighting for the rights of the public, even if it isn’t our Government. And the question is, why not? Why are ISP’s, Media companies and civil rights groups being left to fight it out? I could almost think ministers don’t want to get involved in an argument that will eventually anger big money or the general public. Or maybe it’s because they don’t really understand this ‘internet’ thing and don’t realise that current teenagers grew up with file sharing an accepted part of social networking.

The thing is, it’s not just the British government that don’t seem to understand the internet. Media companies still try to restrict us with DRM crippled products that are limited to compatible devices and frequently in working life. Some are embracing DRM free media as the way forward, while others desperately cling to the old business models that worked so well before the world got connected. There are new ways of selling content being dreamed up all the time, and some are promising. I’ve written about the subscription model before, where we would all pay a set fee each month and download (and keep) whatever we want from authorised servers of high quality media. Ars mentions the survey where the University of Hertfordshire asked P2P users if they would pay for a legal file sharing service, and 80% said yes. That’s a huge amount of extra legal money for the artists.

The question here isn’t would it work, it’s why isn’t it being worked on now. The UK has the BBC, a corporation that takes our license fee for what now amounts to a much smaller proportion of the total available content. I’m not disputing the quality of content, but if we have an infrastructure to collect and monitor the paying of this fee to one body, why can’t we have one that monitors all content and dishes out the money as appropriate? Would it have anything to do with a loss of power for the few big Media Corporations?

This all comes back to my opening statement that Governments either care or they don’t. They should care enough to stop us becoming a resource for the Big Money’s legal departments. They should care enough to stop our children’s mistakes and habits become obscene legal bills. And they should care enough about the artists to give them a fair deal.

America has a new President Elect who promises a fairer, people centric future. Maybe we could have one of those in the UK.

And a final though. The Federation Against Software Theft is calling for ten years imprisonment if convicted of online commercial piracy. A longer prison sentence for software piracy than rape and murder? Aren’t the priorities getting mixed up here?

SimplyBurns for simple burning

November 27, 2008 Leave a comment

simplyburnsThings have not been going well in the disc burning dungeon at Basshead towers. The big name disc burning/video editing/everything but the kitchen sink software that I have used for a couple of years was struggling with dual layer discs. I tried everything I could think of. Firmware update for the Pioneer 215 drive? Already on the newest one. Burn at 4x or 2x instead of 8x? Didn’t make a difference, discs still either failed during burning or could not be verified. Change disc brand/dye type? No change, still burning coasters. Reboot and close all other apps/startup items before burning? Still no good.

The only thing I hadn’t tried at this point was some different software, and there’s quiet a bit of it available. The first one I tried is SimplyBurns, an oss/gnu disc burning package. It’s not flashy but offers a lot of funtionality. And the best part is that it flies through burning and verifying dual layer discs. These are from the same spindle that previously failed, burned at 8x with not a single coaster yet. Donations to the project are accepted, so give it a try and do the right thing if you find it useful.

iTunes 7.7 available for download, in software update

July 10, 2008 Leave a comment

Following news yesterday evening that iTunes 7.7 was due imminently it’s now available from both the itunes download page at Apple.com, and software update. The big addition is the App store, although this doesn’t seem to be currently available and there’s no software update for the iPod touch yet (v1.1.4 is still the latest). From the notes on the iTunes download page, ‘Access to the App Store requires the iPhone 2.0 Software Update for iPod touch, sold separately.’

UPDATE The App store has now appeared in the UK, and I have browsed and downloaded several of the free apps. Still no sign of the version 2 update at 22:52, so us iPod Touch owners are left staring at all those lovely apps we can’t use yet. Looks like Installer will be serving up software for another night.

Categories: apple, media, music, software Tags: , ,