Leopard, Boxee Impressions

So I was able to get Leopard installed on my HTPC. I had a ~7GB dmg on my Tiger setup, which I restored to an external drive with the Disk Utility, then proceeded to boot from it and install the OS.

Leopard runs pretty smooth, I guess just getting into it at its fifth (10.5.5) iteration means all of the major bugs have pretty much been squashed. Plex… it was just OK. It was no real improvement over my previous configuration really, and it crashed a few times trying to do basic operations.

I decided to give Boxee a try, as was recommended to me. Man this thing is slick! I added my media sources and it recognized 2/3rds to 3/4ths of my media automatically, providing more information about each episode or movie. Upon watching the media, it “scrobbled” (like last.fm) what I’d done to my profile. After watching, I applied a rating to what I had just watched, also put on my profile. How neat is that, as a concept? This is exactly what I was looking for months ago, but didn’t even think to look for an existing solution, I just assumed it didn’t exist.

I love how it integrates with other social media applications. Twitter (if I didn’t hate it) can be setup to have all of my updates tweeted to it. Last.fm can be setup to have all music I listen to scrobble to my profile. You can view your Flickr photostream and watch slideshows directly from the app. There’s more, it’s so cool.

Boxee takes over your apple remote (universal remote in my case), so when pressing Menu it takes you to Boxee instead of Front Row. This is not a problem for me, because everything Front Row offers is contained in Boxee — and that is a VERY small subset of Boxee’s operations. After using it a bit, I’m really happy with the fact that it takes over the remote, it removes the requirement upon Sofa Control (as I used to use), or Remote Buddy (a similar product). Boxee even has an option for you to suspend the system, a feature which I use very often.

Boxee is still in “alpha” stage, but I’ve only come across a few bugs. I plan to contribute as much as I can to this project, because I think it’s really cool. It currently runs on Intel OS X 10.4/10.5 and Ubuntu. If you want an invite, let me know.

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Ram: Success; Leopard: Not so much

Upgrade, minutes:

7:42 pulled up the guide, starting opening process
7:46 ok this putty knife is not going to work, going to use a small flathead screwdriver instead
7:50 ok got it open with combination of the putty knife and flathead, minor scratches and bends on the bottom of the case, not a big deal
7:55 removed top slot of old 256MB ram stick and put in the new 2GB stick
7:58 why won’t this frickin tiny plug fit back in
8:05 k got the plug in, moment of truth
8:07 FRICK ON A STICK. back to the drawing board
8:10 took out both sticks, put the 2GB stick in the slot closest to the motherboard.
8:13 great success, time to put it all back together
8:20 ok, let’s see how the leopard install goes
8:37 “cannot be installed on this computer“, oh poop. Guess I should get a non-MacBook-specific Tiger disk

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Back when I ran a modded Xbox, XBMC was the coolest software around. It turned a $150 game console into a fully featured media center, it played everything and it was fast and seamless; not to mention the fact that it made the system into a better game playing machine, utilizing an upgraded hard drive mod to more quickly load games and system content.

At some point in the past, XBMC was ported to Linux, and later OS X. It was called OSXBMC, then later changed to Plex. It became a great front-end for OS X HTPCs, specifically Mac Minis or Apple TVs, as an alternative to Front Row that plays more formats, and apparently is the only way to have the Mac Mini play 1080p content with its weak onboard graphics. Of course, it only works on Leopard (Mac OS X v10.5), Intel based Macs — another reason for me to upgrade.

I plan on giving it a try as soon as I upgrade. So hopefully it will make it so I no longer require SofaControl or VLC.

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Found a deal on a G3 400mhz 128MB ram slot loading blueberry iMac. Something cool is bound to happen, I’ll either upgrade it and put OS X or linux on it, or worst case use it as an aquarium. It’d be a shame though, this system is pretty sweet looking.

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Mac Mini + Teon DVD+Rs = phail

So I’ve been playing around with some burned media on my HTPC recently, and I’ve been having a little trouble with videos burned to Teon DVD+Rs. Now it probably has to do with the fact that these are the cheapest DVD+Rs around, but the Mac Mini is treating them weirdly.

At first, it will read the disc fine, for about a half hour. Then it will stop spinning the disc up, and say that the disk is perhaps scratched — even on a fresh burn. Eh, I dunno. I hope it’s a media+drive incompatibility issue. Typically, if I knew the make/model of the DVD drive in the Mini, I’d look it up on Videohelp.com to see if anyone else has this same issue.

As a side note, today I just found a pretty active a Mac Mini HTPC forum at 123macmini.com. Who knew so many people were using their Minis as HTPCs; I guess my idea wasn’t as unique as I thought.

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