Boxee at CES

I’m a huge fan of Boxee, I use it for my home theater PC’s front-end. I was excited to see news from the Consumer Electronics Show about Boxee, as covered by Hak5, I show which I support.

The Boxee Box — an Apple-TV like embedded set-top-ish device. Under $200? Amazing. I am buying one asap.

The coolest thing out of the Boxee booth was the keyboard/remote combo. Assuming it’s reasonably cheap, I’m getting this for sure.

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JVC RX-6030VBK 5.1, I hate you.

OK, so the first and only stereo receiver I’ve ever had is the JVC RX-6030VBK 5.1. Now I openly admit I’m a noob at anything audio, but this thing is harder to program than something unmentionable. The instruction manual (pdf) sucks too. The best I can do right now is either always blasting out of two of my channels, or sometimes blasting out of all, sometimes blasting out of the center only, depending on what format (???) is being played. For instance, 720p mkvs on my HTPC play music out of all 4 surround sound speakers, but regular voice and sound effects (95% of the movie) only comes out of the center channel. A standard xvid avi will play out of all four channels, however. Tell me that’s not stupid. And of course, the manual tells nothing of this.

So if I can’t figure it out after much more time, I’ll have to replace it. I’m getting fed up.

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The TV, it Flickers

Crap. Intermittent slight but noticeable flickering on my HTPC TV. No clue what I’m going to do about it.

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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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