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Pixlr Online Photo Editing - Recommended

Pixlr is an free online photo editor that works great if your not on a pc that has photo editing software or if your restricted on a company computer.

My New Touchpad and Thoughts

Checkout my new Touchpad review.

Baseball Collector's Dream Site - Zistle.com

Great place to keep track of your card collections online.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

For anti-virus I recommend Avast


If your tired of paying for an anti-virus program and want a free one, I recommend Avast. To get the free edition all you have to do is simply download, install and register on Avast.com and they'll email you a key that's good for a year. At the end of the year all you have to do is register for another key. I've been using Avast Anti-virus for several years without any problems. Here is some more info.

All-inclusive and comprehensive protection FREE avast! antivirus Home Edition includes ANTI-SPYWARE protection, certified by the West Coast Labs Checkmark process, and ANTI-ROOTKIT detection based on the best-in class GMER technology. No additional purchase is required.

Simple to use and automated Daily automatic updates ensure continuous data protection against all types of malware and spyware. Simply install and forget. We've made avast! as simple to use as possible.

Tried and Trusted With over 60 million users of avast!, you can rest assured that you are using one of the most tried and trusted products in Windows security. We support more Windows versions (from Windows 95 to Vista 64bit) than any other anti-malware product. No matter what system you have, avast! has it covered.

Multilingual avast! Home Edition is offered in over 30 language versions.

Here is a list of features for Avast:

  • Anti-spyware built-in
  • Web Shield
  • Anti-rootkit built-in
  • Automatic updates
  • Strong self-protection
  • Virus Chest
  • Antivirus kernel
  • System integration
  • Simple User Interface
  • Integrated Virus Cleaner
  • Resident protection
  • Support for 64-bit Windows
  • P2P and IM Shields
  • Internationalization

Avast.com

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My Xbox is on it's way back!

I got the 3 rings of death and now my Xbox is repaired and on it's way back. I can't wait to get it back. Too bad I didn't get it back before Christmas.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Microsoft Launches 'Deal of the Week' and 'Friendship is Free' Promos


Deck your Marketplace with loads of content: This week Xbox 360 is kicking off two global 30-day specials to bring great deals on select Xbox LIVE content and even free multiplayer for a list of great games.

Each week one piece of content from Xbox LIVE Marketplace will get a limited-time only discount in the Deal of the Week. Every Monday this month check out Xbox LIVE Marketplace for the featured piece of content. It could be a movie rental, a map pack or even an Xbox LIVE Arcade game. The Deal of the Week is only available for Xbox LIVE Gold members, so if you aren't a Gold member, upgrade today to the service that brings you online multiplayer, access to Netflix in the U.S. and much more. For only about $4 a month*, Xbox LIVE Gold gives you incredible entertainment for an incredible value.

Are you a Silver member wanting to get a taste of the multiplayer experience before upgrading? This month, we are also offering "Friendship is Free," a free multiplayer trial for Silver members. Over the course of this month, multiplayer will be available for all Xbox LIVE members for eight Xbox LIVE Arcade games. The Xbox LIVE Arcade team will open up the multiplayer functionality for "A Kingdom for Keflings," "Aegis Wing," "Bomberman Live," "Hardwood Hearts," "Hardwood Spades," "UNO," "Small Arms" and "Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix" (regional restrictions may apply).

So what are you waiting for? Both the Deal of the Week and Friendship is Free are going on now and will only last the month of December. Xbox.com will have all of the details and will let you know what the new discounted content is each week.

If you are not an Xbox LIVE member, December is the month to join. For only a few dollars a month you and your family can experience all the best gaming and entertainment available.

Source

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Xbox 360 revamp is good for the bedroom coder

Xbox 360 buyer

Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Last week, amid considerable fanfare, Microsoft released a new design for its Xbox 360 interface, allowing gamers to create their own avatars and browse content via a series of intuitive windows, rather than the drab "blade" menu system of old. It was all very exciting for five minutes - I've managed to create an online visual identity resembling a presenter on a late-night BBC4 arts programme, so I'm happy.

But one of the quieter new additions to the Xbox universe could turn out to be much more important: the Community Games channel. Here, Xbox Live users can browse and buy a range of titles created by bedroom coders using Microsoft's XNA Studio - a cheap, but reasonably powerful, development package. Importantly, Microsoft plays little part in the approval of these games - instead, each project is reviewed and certified by community members.

When a game is deemed suitable for distribution via Xbox Live, it's given ratings for violence, sex and, rather vaguely, mature content. Then it's up online for a potential audience of almost 25 million Xbox 360 users. A reasonable business model means the developers then get up to 70% of the revenue from each download, though Microsoft charges more when games are promoted on Live or Xbox.com.

There are already 20 games available, a mix of casual titles like Word Soup and Brain Party and retro-flavoured action romps, including frenzied twin-stick blasters Biology Battle and Weapon of Choice. The best at present is Blow by Vector2Games, a gentle puzzler where you direct bubbles toward the exit by carefully placing and angling a series of fans.

There are also some weird experiments like Sin(Surfing), which allows you to surf along an oscilloscope wave, and In The Pit, an audio-only horror game in where you control a blind monster, locating human victims via the sound of their breathing. This, it goes without saying, would probably not make it through the approval system of most mainstream game publishers.

All of these games were created using the newest version of XNA, which introduces an intriguing new feature - easy multiplatform development. In theory, users write one piece of source code, which is then automatically configured for Xbox 360, Windows Live PCs and Microsoft's Zune handheld. In this way, a lone coder or small studio can drastically increase the potential audience for a franchise with little addition to the workload.

Add in the already well-established Flash game scene, and the growing Google Android platform (Android Market, unlike Apple's App Store, requires no official certification for applications) and you have a vast network of distribution channels, all operating beyond the control of the orthodox videogame business - or, if you, like The Man. The bedroom coder is dead, long live the bedroom publishing empire.

Source

Monday, November 24, 2008

New Xbox Live Experience Intro

Here is for anyone that hasn't seen the new Xbox live experience intro video. It's pretty neat.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Skyfire - Best Windows Mobile Phone Browser

Here is a great internet browser if you have a cell phone running Windows Mobile. It actually looks the same as a regular website. It's better than Opera Mobil and the i-Phone interface. Check it out.



What is it?

Skyfire is a free, downloadable mobile web browser that allows you to experience the internet on your phone exactly like on your PC. Now, you can use the full web from your mobile phone with unprecedented speed and simplicity – without the typical restrictions and limitations that current ‘mobile web’ efforts offer. It’s “The Web”, not some mobile web.


Skyfire.com

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pandora - free internet radio - highly recomended

If you listen to music on the PC, I recommend Pandora. It's got to be one of the best online radio services. Best of all it's free and I highly recommend you try it out. Besides being easy and free, it's super easy to setup. It's as easy as entering an artist and it make a station with similar artist. Here is more of an explanation of what it is.

When was the last time you fell in love with a new artist or song?

At Pandora, we have a single mission: To play music you'll love - and nothing else.

To understand just how we do this, and why we think we do it really, really well, you need to know about the Music Genome Project®.

Since we started back in 2000, we have been hard at work on the Music Genome Project. It's the most comprehensive analysis of music ever undertaken. Together our team of fifty musician-analysts has been listening to music, one song at a time, studying and collecting literally hundreds of musical details on every song. It takes 20-30 minutes per song to capture all of the little details that give each recording its magical sound - melody, harmony, instrumentation, rhythm, vocals, lyrics ... and more - close to 400 attributes! We continue this work every day to keep up with the incredible flow of great new music coming from studios, stadiums and garages around the country.

With Pandora you can explore this vast trove of music to your heart's content. Just drop the name of one of your favorite songs or artists into Pandora and let the Genome Project go. It will quickly scan its entire world of analyzed music, almost a century of popular recordings - new and old, well known and completely obscure - to find songs with interesting musical similarities to your choice. Then sit back and enjoy as it creates a listening experience full of current and soon-to-be favorite songs for you.

You can create as many "stations" as you want. And you can even refine them. If it's not quite right you can tell it so and it will get better for you.

The Music Genome Project was founded by musicians and music-lovers. We believe in the value of music and have a profound respect for those who create it. We like all kinds of music, from the most obtuse bebop, to the most tripped-out drum n bass, to the simplest catchy pop tune. Our mission is to help you connect with the music YOU like.

We hope you enjoy the experience!


Source

Thursday, November 13, 2008

XM Radio, Sirius unveil new Sirius XM Radio lineups

Sirius XM Radio, the pay-radio marriage of the two former satellite services, formally combined their program lineups Wednesday.

Some channels from each service went away in the merger, with Sirius and XM Radio subscribers each getting new channels from the other service. Some channels will be moved and/or re-named.

Sirius XM said there will be no increase in the subscription fee or need to change or upgrade existing radios for the basic service, but that doesn't include the "Best of" packages.

XM subscribers will have to pay extra if they want a "Best of Sirius" package with such premium draws as Howard Stern, Martha Stewart Living, Playboy, NASCAR and the NFL. Sirius subscribers will have to shell out more for a "Best of XM" lineup that includes Oprah Winfrey's Oprah & Friends, the NBA, the NHL the PGA and The Virus, which is home to Gregg "Opie" Hughes and Anthony Cumia.

Among the Sirius channels going away are Movin' Easy, Punk, Sirius Disorder, The Strobe, Boombox, Backspin and Universo Latino. XM channels being retired include XM Sports Nation, the Weather Channel, XMX, X-Country, Fungus, Rhyme, Raw, Beyond Jazz, Fine Tuning, The System, Chrome, Viva, Aguila, Caricia.

E! Entertainment Radio is going away for each service's subscribers.

New channels for XM include Elvis Radio, Bruce Springsteen's E Street Radio, “Little Steven” Van Zandt’s Underground Garage and Outlaw Country, Jimmy Buffett's Radio Margaritaville, Jamie Foxx's The Foxxhole, Eminem's Shade 45, NPR Now, Blue Collar Radio, Cosmo Radio, Catholic Channel, Doctor Radio, BBC Radio One, World Radio Network, The Coffeehouse, Faction, Jam On, The Grateful Dead, Underground Garage, Hair Nation and, as of Jan. 1, The Bridge.

New channels for Sirius include Sporting News Radio,'40s on 4, '90s on 9, The Loft, Willie Nelson's Willie's Place, enLighten, B.B. King's Bluesville, Escape, Cinemagic and Sirius XM Book Radio ,which XM subscribers have known as Sonic Theater.

Sports talker Chris "Mad Dog" Russo's Mad Dog Radio will launch soon for all subscribers, Sirius XM said.

The new lineup for Sirius can be found here. The new XM lineup can be found here.

Sirius XM Radio Inc., which was created in July, earlier this week said its third-quarter losses totaled $4.88 billion after recording a sizeable charge connected to a decline in its stock.

The company earlier this month said it expects to end this year with 19.1 million subscribers and next year with 20.6 million subscribers. The economic slowdown, particularly its its effect on auto sales, has hurt its growth.

Source

AMD Maui Platform Bundles Hit Newegg

Over the past few months, we have shown you sneak peeks of AMD’s Home Theater PC platform, codenamed Maui, on a couple of different occasions. Essentially, Maui consists of a low-power AMD Phenom or Athlon X2 processor, an AMD 780-series (or higher) IGP, an ATI TV-Tuner and AMD’s Live media center software elements.

Currently, MSI’s Media Live DIVA 5.1 motherboard, that has D2's programmable audio chip onboard to allow 5.1 amplified output, is the foundation of Maui (a 7.1 channel pre-amp output card is also an option).


It’s definitely an interesting motherboard to say the least, and we’ve got a review forthcoming, but we also wanted to let you know that Newegg is already offering bundles with various combinations of motherboard, processor, and MCE remote.

If you’re already familiar with AMD’s Maui platform and want to check out what kind of deals are available on the hardware, you can find Newegg’s bundles right here.

Source

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Allio 42-inch HDTV with PC and Blu-ray Player

It use to be that the big buzz word going around the industry was convergence. In the multimedia living room of tomorrow, a melding of the capabilities of various entertainment center components, along with the computer functionalities, is the end goal that will culminate into a more intelligent, connected entertainment center. Or at least it seems to be. Granted, the HTPC (Home Theater PC) has come a long way at making that goal a reality but you'd have to agree we're not there quite yet.

Interestingly, in a reverse merger sort of fashion, Boulder CO company Silicon Mountain (mountain of silicon perhaps?) steps out today with the first fully integrated HDTV PC product. The Allio PCTV has a lot more going on under its hood beyond 400nits and a 2000:1 contrast ratio...

Silicon Mountain Unveils Allio 42-inch HDTV with Integrated PC and Blu-Ray Player

Product, First of Its Kind in North America, Now Available

Boulder, Colo. & Menlo Park, Calif. -- November 10, 2008 Silicon Mountain Holdings, Inc., (OTCBB: SLCM), a technology company specializing in high-performance interactive computing solutions, today announced its design for a 32 and 42-inch High Definition LCD-TV with an integrated, full-function PC and Blu-Ray/DVD player. Named Allio, this system will define an entirely new category of converged products, where entertainment and instant, on-demand information and productivity blend together seamlessly, in stunning high-definition.

The Allio HD TV / PC is the first product of its kind in North America, and Silicon Mountain is the first company worldwide to develop a converged HDTV / PC solution that includes Blu-Ray. It is available now, in time for U.S. holiday purchases. Orders are being taken now at the Visionman website at http://www.visionman.com/.

Additional information on where to buy Allio will be announced soon.

The flagship Allio model marries a Full-HD 42" LCD display with a combo Blu-Ray/DVD player, integrated digital recorder for PVR and a powerful PC, based on the Intel Core2Duo E8400 processor, 4GB of RAM from Silicon Mountain, a 1TB hard drive and the 64-bit version of Windows Vista Home Premium. In addition to the analog and digital audio-video inputs common to high-def televisions, Allio includes wireless and wired networking capabilities and several USB ports to extend the experience to other computers and peripherals in the home.


Allio 42" HDTV-PC - Click image for high res

Specifications

* Allio 42” 1080p LCD HDTV
* 16:9 Full Screen Aspect Ratio
* 3D Y/C Digital Comb Filter
* 176 Degree / 176 Degree Viewing Angle
* 2000:1 Contrast
* 400cd Brightness
* Built-in 12Wx2 Speakers
* 7.1 Surround Sound w/Dolby Home Theatre
* 2 x Component Video & Audio Connectors
* 2 x HDMI Connectors
* 1 x S-Video & Audio Connector
* 1 x Composite Video & Audio Connector
* 6 x USB 2.0 Ports
* 1 x eSATA Port
* 1 x DVI-I Port
* 1 x HDMI Output Only
* 1 x S/PDIF Optical Audio Out
* Intel Core 2 Duo E8400
* 4GB High-Speed DDR2-800 Memory
* Slim 2X BD-ROM Blu-Ray Player (Play’s DVD’s too!)
* Plays & Burns DVD’s as Well!
* Western Digital 1TB (1000GB) SATA-II HDD
* Integrated Intel GMA X4500HD Video
* Hauppauge HVR-950Q TV Tuner
* Gigabit 10/100/1000 Ethernet
* Wireless 802.11b/g
* Microsoft Vista Home Premium 64-bit
* Logitech Wireless Keyboard & Mouse
* Wall Mountable
* Menu Languages: English, Spanish, French
* Includes A/V Cable, User Manual, Remote Control

There you have it; an LCD HDTV with a fully functional on-board HTPC with 2GB of RAM, a Core 2 Duo processor, Intel's newly released G45 chipset with integrated graphics for full HD offload and a Hauppauge HD TV Tuner/PVR card. The specs list certainly reads like a PC with integrated 42" LCD monitor but with its digital comb filter and reasonably high quality LCD, this just may be one step closer to that convergence nirvana we've all heard about. There are lower cost units but the high-end flagship model shown here lists for $2799.

We may be contacting Silicon Mountain soon to get our hands on an eval unit.

Source

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Microsoft Adds SecondLight to its 'Surface'

Over the past couple of years, gadgets have become much more touchy-feely. Apple's iPhone and Microsoft's Surface (an interactive table) are two of the most celebrated examples. Now, Microsoft has added a twist to Surface that makes for an impressive demo.

Microsoft announced the upgrade to Surface, called SecondLight, at the company's Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday. As the video above demonstrates, in this new version of Surface, a secondary image is projected above the main display. A person views the second image by holding a semi-opaque object, such as a piece of paper above the display. The idea is to provide a second layer of information: labeled constellations on top of photographs of stars or street names on top of maps, for instance.

SecondLight uses a neat trick to produce this second layer. The original Surface used a projector below a glass tabletop to create an image and infrared cameras underneath to detect fingers and objects in contact with the surface. With SecondLight, Microsoft has replaced the glass top with a liquid crystal display (LCD), but kept the projector underneath. The LCD flickers on an off and, during alternate frames the projector sends the secondary image through the display. This happens too fast for your eyes to catch it unless you hold up an opaque object, like a piece of paper.

Source

Monday, November 10, 2008

Circuit City Files for Bankruptcy

America’s third largest electronics retailer with 721 stores in the U.S. and 770 in Canada, has petitioned for Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Richmond. After losing money in five of the last six quarters and announcing last week it would close 155 stores, Circuit City is seeking bankruptcy protection amidst fears that it would not be able to pay its vendors. The company presently owes Hewlett-Packard Co.$119 Million and Samsung Electronics Co. $116 million.

A deal earlier this year that involved Blockbuster Inc. buying the retailer fell through when a preliminary offer was withdrawn.




"On Sept. 29, Circuit City reported a loss of $239.2 million that was more than triple from a year earlier after sales fell for the sixth straight quarter.

Losing Share ~
Circuit City's rivals gained market share by offering Apple Inc. and Dell Inc. computers. Larger Best Buy and discount retailer Wal-Mart lowered prices on flat-panel televisions to lure U.S. customers, who are limiting spending because of higher food costs, further job losses and declining home values.

The global financial crisis is making it harder for the chain to stock its shelves and for consumers to finance purchases.

The company took on more debt this year, increasing a $500 million revolving credit agreement to $1.3 billion in January, according to its most recent quarterly filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. As of May 31, Circuit City said it still had $963 million available to borrow."

Source

MediaStream v0.97 Released (10/11/2008)

Thanks to everyone for their feedback on the last release and in this release you should find fixes for most of the issues raised. Additionally we've added an Episode Thumb version of the Wall Stream view, better watched/unwatched info to the TV Shows version of Media Preview and an option for more configurable Lyrics script handling as well as other stuff detailed below. Enjoy

As usual you can download the skin from our website, http://www.teamrazorfish.co.uk/mediastream.html

The changes since the last release are as follows:
  • Added: Episode Thumb version of Wall Stream view
  • Added: Watched/Unwatched Episode counts to TV Show version of Media Preview
  • Added: Option to change the path to the XBMC Lyrics script
  • Added: Option to hide thumb images in Options Menu (reduces memory usage slightly)
  • Fixed: Vertical position of list in Seasons view
  • Fixed: Vertical alignment of text in buttons
  • Fixed: Vertical aligment of Media Count number text for 4x3
  • Fixed: Width of time labels in Video OSD (so that it works with large times in larger fonts)
  • Fixed: Width of buttons in Media Source dialog so that it also fits with the larger fonts
  • Updated: Widened Context menu for 4x3
  • Updated: Widened buttons in Video OSD Bookmarks
  • Updated: Moved text on Bigger Clock down slightly
  • Updated: German, Spanish, Italian, Greek and French translations

We really need your feedback so please post if you have any comments, suggestions or feedback and we'll aim to deal with them as soon as we can.

PLEASE NOTE: The skin is being developed based on the latest version of XBMC (T3CH release for Xbox and update to date builds for other platforms) so please make sure you have the latest version before posting about any problems

Source

Windows 7 prebeta (build 6801)



Although Windows 7 won't be available until 2010, a prebeta version is available to developers. At first glance, it appears to be a more advanced iteration of Windows Vista. Windows 7 also seems to be geared more toward the consumer with many more user interface enhancements. Windows 7 builds on the internals of Windows Vista. One immediate benefit is that Windows 7 should have fewer compatibility problems upon release. CNET took a look at Windows 7 Ultimate Build 6801 and found it to be a remarkably stable and feature-rich alpha. See these photos for a look inside Windows 7.

Up front we noticed a more intuitive interface within Windows 7. For example, if you drag a window all the way to the left or right edge, it'll snap to fill half the desktop, knowing that you intended to view another window at the same time. Also, the toolbar ribbons available in Office 2007 will be available within Windows 7 accessories, such as WordPad and Paint.

Missing is the Welcome Center in Windows Vista. The sidebar also appears to be missing, although you can simply install gadgets to the desktop. What is seen when you first boot into Windows 7 is Windows Live Messenger.

Another important user interface change from Windows Vista affects User Account Control. In Vista, you could have this protection either on or off. In Windows 7 there's a slider control between "always notify" and "never notify," allowing you to find a personal setting that fits you.

New features include a Bluetooth File Transfer Wizard that lets you share files between two computers. There's also Sticky Notes, similar to an application on Mac OS X, that allows quick notes to be "pasted" over the desktop; there's even a corkboard to post your notes for easy review. A new accessibility feature is the Windows Key: the plus key give the screen an instant zoom, and the minus key returns the resolution to the normal size.

Source

Thursday, November 6, 2008

MediaStream v0.96.5 Released (03/11/2008)

As the countdown to the final release of XBMC Atlantis gets closer and closer we thought it would be a good idea to do a small incremental release to fix a couple of issues in the recent v0.96 release.

As usual you can download the skin from our website, http://www.teamrazorfish.co.uk/mediastream.html

The changes since the last release are as follows:
  • Added: Arial font set options (they do not look good but are there for those who need the extra foreign characters)
  • Fixed: Lyrics script
  • Fixed: Overlapping album and song titles when viewing songs in Coverflow view
  • Fixed: Tidied up System Info screen to avoid overlapping text
  • Fixed: Moved list up the screen on Seasons view to avoid bottom of list being off the screen
  • Updated: Widened Cancel button in Progress dialog
  • Updated: Widend Manual button in Selection dialog
  • Updated: Removed focus highlight from top button in Set Content dialog (was mis-aligned)
  • Updated: Dutch, Swedish, French and Greek translations

We really need your feedback so please post if you have any comments, suggestions or feedback and we'll aim to deal with them as soon as we can.

PLEASE NOTE: The skin is being developed based on the latest version of XBMC (T3CH release for Xbox and update to date builds for other platforms) so please make sure you have the latest version before posting about any problems

Source

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Switch Plus Sound File Conversion Software


Here is a program I recommend if you need to convert audio files or want to fit more music on a mp3 player. It has to be the easiest converter I've ever used.

Switch Plus audio file converter is a sound file converter for Windows or Mac. It can convert audio files from many different file formats into mp3, wav and many other file formats.

Switch is not a simply mp3 converter, it is the most comprehsive and stable audio file converter around. With Switch Plus you can convert your sound files into the formats you need to compress for storage, create ringtones, add to a presentation, listen on your portable device and much more. In fact, the possibilities are endless using this powerful audio file converter. Switch Plus audio file converter is very easy to use. Just add the files you want to convert to the list, select the format you want to use, and then click the convert button.

A full list of the Switch Plus Sound Format Converter features follow but a quick way to try it out is to download and install the demo now. You don't need to purchase to try the demo version and it only takes a couple of minutes to complete the process. (click here to install Switch Plus). You can view pricing and purchase Switch Plus here.

Website


Monday, November 3, 2008

MediaStream v0.96 Released (30/10/2008)

It's been a few weeks since the last release as things have been rather hectic for us but we've still been working away on the skin and have hopefully dealt with a number of the issues that have been raised in feedback since the last release.

The biggest noticeable difference in this release is the addition of the new Wall Stream view (which as the name suggests is a wall style view). It currently works best with portrait aspect thumbs or music album covers but we're planning to add support for episode thumbs in a future release.

As usual you can download the skin from our website, http://www.teamrazorfish.co.uk/mediastream.html

The changes since the last release are as follows:
  • Added: Wall Stream view for widescreen and 4x3 (currently works best with portrait posters and album covers)
  • Added: Option to hide info area in Wall Stream view
  • Added: Chinese (Simple) translation
  • Added: Music Videos link to Home screen (in Music sub-menu)
  • Added: Coverflow and Wall Stream view to Programs screen
  • Added: Coverflow and Wall Stream view to Pictures screen
  • Added: Alternative font sets (Alt Default, Alt Bigger and Alt Massive) which use the old default font
  • Added: Fade on the left hand side of the RSS area (to mirror the fade that was already on the right)
  • Added: Display of the skin version no. (and SVN revision) to the System Info screen
  • Fixed: Missing background in Settings screens
  • Fixed: Alignment and position of larger clock
  • Fixed: Vertical alignment of text in Media Count
  • Fixed: Height of buttons on Weather screen
  • Fixed: Lining up of reflections in Coverflow for 4x3
  • Fixed: Media Count label for 4x3
  • Updated: Colour of text in the RSS feed (to make it easier to read)
  • Updated: Version of included XBMC Lyrics script
  • Updated: Removed the blue AM/PM from the clock (until we can sort out the alignment issues that happen with single digit hours)
  • Updated: File Path in video info dialogs now auto scrolls
  • Updated: Video OSD layout so thumb is shown on right if plot is hidden
  • Updated: Font to work better with foreign chars (thanks to haken)
  • Updated: Path for lyrics script so it should work better on all platforms
  • Updated: Tidied up positioning of star rating image in video info dialogs, TV Wide view and Episodes view
  • Updated: Darker fade behind Yes/No dialog to make it easier to read text in dialog
  • Updated: Skinned the XBMC Lyrics UI to be more MediaStream-like
  • Updated: Overlay for Media screens (default theme) to be slightly more transparent

We really need your feedback so please post if you have any comments, suggestions or feedback and we'll aim to deal with them as soon as we can.

PLEASE NOTE: The skin is being developed based on the latest version of XBMC (T3CH release for Xbox and update to date builds for other platforms) so please make sure you have the latest version before posting about any problems

Source

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Double the viewers, double the TV

Here's a classic dilemma: You are home for the evening. You wish to watch, say, a comedy, on TV, but your family member would rather watch something else.

Texas Instruments, the maker of the DLP Cinema chip, is developing technology that might reduce the common problem by allowing two people to simultaneously view two different programs -- on the same TV.

The company outlined some of its early developments that use 3-D technology for home entertainment, on Thursday at the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers Technical Conference and Exhibition in Hollywood.

One development, which TI expects to begin to preview at year's end, is processing technology that if incorporated in a third-party home entertainment system could allow for 2-D, 3-D or "dual view mode" on the same TV. Dual view mode, similar to 3-D, combines two images, but they are two different images.

TI's Tim Simerly said that each viewer would wear different glasses -- one exposing only program "A," and one allowing the viewing of only program "B."

Simerly added that at least one of the viewers would need to wear headsets in order to get the correct audio.

Source

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

OWC introduces first external Blu-ray drive with quad interface


It's debatable whether or not Apple is losing its touch with FireWire, but you can rest assured that OWC hasn't. Said outfit has just announced the industry's first Blu-ray external drive with a quad interface, meaning you can link it up to your PC or Mac via FireWire 400, FireWire 800, USB 2.0 or eSATA. The Mercury Pro SW-5583 arrives with the capability to toast BD-Rs at a rate of 4x and includes a pair of 25GB BD-R discs for $499.99; the closely related Mercury Pro SW-5583T throws in a full retail version of Roxio Toast 9 Titanium (OS X) and sells for $579.99. Now, if only we could convince Steve that Blu-ray and Macs could indeed get along together, we'd really be satisfied. Full release after the break.
Source

Monday, October 13, 2008

XBMC PC (Atlantis) with Beyond TV demo

Here is a short demo with XBMC PC (Atlantis) with Beyond TV. The skin for XBMC is MediaStream. The skin for Beyond TV is just one I made. Enjoy.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Microsoft reportedly ready to ship Xbox 360 Blu-ray drive

Redmond (WA) – Microsoft still denies that it will be offering a Blu-ray extension for its Xbox 360 game console and gave every indication that it might skip the Blu-ray trend altogether and focus on movie downloads. Not so fast, says Xbit Labs, which learned that an external Blu-ray drive for the Xbox 360 is ready to ship. Guess which company allegedly manufactures this drive.

We will leave it up to you to decide whether this news is actually a surprise or not, but considering Microsoft’s negative public stance against Blu-ray, it is worth the note that the company might ship an external Blu-ray drive with the same strategy as it shipped an external HD DVD drive in between November 2006 and March 2008.

Microsoft repeatedly mentioned that it would consider a Blu-ray drive, but said as recently as this May, that Blu-ray “isn’t taking off” and essentially squashed the rumors about such a drive back then. But if Xbit Labs is right, then the company may have been working a Blu-ray drive for some time: The site reports that Microsoft might launch the drive just in time for the holidays and aim for a $100- $150 price tag – in order to steal some sales from the PS3.

Xbit Labs also said that Toshiba-Samsung Storage Technology (TSST), which is owned by Toshiba (51%) and Samsung (49%) – essentially the same company that previously built the HD DVD drive extension for the Xbox 360. In a global view, Microsoft’s move toward an external BD drive may be viewed as surprising, since Toshiba actually skips Blu-ray in favor of high-priced DVD players.

The argument that an external Blu-ray drive may pull in extra sales from the PS3 is somewhat shaky, as Microsoft learned that the strategy of an external HD DVD drive did not work. Blu-ray still has not significant traction in the market despite the fact that HD DVD is gone and player prices are approaching the $200 mark. Offering an Xbox 360 BD drive may capture lots of headlines, but we believe that selling such a product may be a big gamble for Microsoft.

Source

Cooliris web plug-in. Highly recommended.

This is a neat little plug-in for browsers that allow you to quickly scan photos and videos. I've been using it for a little while now and it just keeps getting better. Here is a better description for what it does.

Cooliris, formerly known as PicLens, is a web browser plugin made by Cooliris that provides interactive full-screen slideshows of online images. The plugin is available for Safari, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. At present, the software is compatible with Google Image Search, Yahoo! Image Search, Ask.com Images, deviantART, Flickr, Facebook, Live Image Search, Photobucket, SmugMug, Fotki, YouTube (for videos), and any web site that implements Media RSS tags in their HTML pages. The software places a small icon in the corner of an image thumbnail when the mouse moves over it, which launches into a full-screen photo viewer when clicked, but without giving an option to save any of the pictures shown. Currently, versions are available for Windows and Mac. Support for Linux is planned for the future.
Source



Get the plug-in here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My Deviantart.com Wallpapers

Here are some of my popular Deviantart wallpapers. If you want to use any of them, just click on the image and go to the download button on the left.






Visit http://dhrandy.deviantart.com/ to view all my wallpapers.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

MediaStream v0.94 Released

The major change this week is to switch around the themes in the skin so that the Richer theme is now the default theme and there's a new lite theme which you can use if you're having memory issues running the default one.

If you're using the Xbox we highly recommend using the lite theme as it'll be more responsive and will work much better with the tight memory constraints that the Xbox imposes

We've also made Media Preview style views availalble for TV media and did a bit of a tidy-up of the skin options. There's been quite a few posts over the last few weeks where users couldn't find relevant options so hopefully it should be a bit easier now.

As usual you can download the skin from our website, http://www.teamrazorfish.co.uk/mediastream.html

The changes since the last release are as follows:
  • Added: Option to hide No Thumb images
  • Added: New lite theme
  • Added: Seek Slider to Video OSD
  • Added: Create Episode Bookmark button to Video OSD
  • Added: Media Preview view for TV Shows & Seasons
  • Added: Media Preview view for TV Episodes
  • Fixed: Music Vis to work in 4x3
  • Fixed: Coverflow view to work better in 4x3
  • Updated: Removed Richer theme as this is now the default theme
  • Updated: Tidied up the Skin options to make them a bit easier to find
  • Updated: Made sure episode thumbs are shown in projector screen area if option is enabled and default tv background is visible
  • Updated: Tidied up height of dialog buttons
  • Updated: Widened buttons in Add Source and Plugin Settings dialogs
  • Updated: Swedish, Portuguese, Greek, Polish and Dutch translations
Source
Download

XBMC ‘Atlantis’ Beta 2 released - added Apple TV support

Team-XBMC is proud to announce the second cross-platform Beta version of XBMC Media Center for Linux, Mac OS X (Leopard, Tiger, and Apple TV), Windows, and Xbox, in preparation for the upcoming point release of XBMC, code named ‘Atlantis‘.

New in this release is multi-core video decoding for Windows users, courtesy of a rebuilt FFmpeg by WiSo and AreaScout, and XBMC now runs on the Apple TV via the easy to use USB installer created by Scott Davilla. We have also updated the skins (PM3.HD, Project Mayhem III, and MediaStream by Team Razorfish) to their latest versions.

With almost 80 tickets closed, and close to 200 commits to SVN since Beta 1 was released, Beta 2 represents a clear step forward in terms of stability. Thanks to all in the community who have made this possible by reporting bugs and suggesting improvements!

Go grab XBMC ‘Atlantis’ Beta 2 and let us know how it goes!

Yours sincerely / Team-XBMC

Source
Download

View Maximum PC for FREE!


Just in case any of you didn't know, you can view the PDF version of Maximum PC for free on there website. This is great for anyone trying to save a little money. Now maybe you can afford that new upgrade. Enjoy.
Link to PDF Archive

Monday, October 6, 2008

New blog and website design

If you've been here before you'll notice a change. You were probably like "Did I go to the right site?" I just did a re-design on my webpage and blog. Hopefully it's a big improvement. I'm not able to do a whole lot with the website since I am limited on how much bandwidth it can use in an hour. Something else new for the website is the HTPC section. It has info on my HTPC and the build. Maybe it'll give some of you some ideas. Hopefully I can get a real web address soon. Hope you enjoy the new look.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

AMD presentation talks about Windows 7 in '09

Could Microsoft release Windows 7 next year? The rumor mill has been grinding away about the possibility these past few weeks, and AMD has just added fuel to the fire. As PC Watch reports, AMD showed an interesting slide during its presentation at the Cutting Edge IT & Electronics Comprehensive Exhibition (CEATEC) event near Tokyo.

Under the title, "What to Expect in 2009," the AMD slide lists a number of items: the move to 40nm process technology, the arrival of the OpenCL general-purpose GPU API, widespread use of GDDR5 memory, consumer GPGPU applications, "HD+" televisions, and... Windows 7. To be more specific, the slide says "Windows 7 and DirectX 11" on one line.

PC Watch doesn't say much on the subject, so it's not fully clear what AMD was referring to there. Perhaps the firm let slip Microsoft's release schedule, or perhaps it's just talking about getting drivers working with pre-release versions of the OS. Judging by the context, though, it certainly looks like AMD expects Windows 7 to come out next year.

A 2009 launch sounds plausible, too. Microsoft has apparently been cutting fat from the OS by removing apps like Windows Mail, Windows Photo Gallery, and Windows Movie Maker. Also, recent reports have claimed Microsoft's internal calendar sets the Windows 7 "gold" date in early June. According to ZDNet's Ed Bott, Microsoft would have to trim the OS's beta cycle to get it out before next summer, but that schedule "would be downright leisurely compared to the one Microsoft followed for Windows XP, which was launched in October 2001, only 20 months after its predecessor, Windows 2000."

http://www.techreport.com/discussions.x/15629

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tutorial: How to use the Hauppauge 45 (or 34) button remote with XBMC or other apps

Here is how to add control for the Hauppauge 45 button remote with remote.ini file. I believe this will also work with the 34 button Hauppauge remote but not tested. This is for Windows only.

First you need to locate the remote.ini file in 'C:\Windows' and open it with you text editor of choice. (ie. Notepad) Backup this file.

Scroll down until you get to the following:

[Applications]
Default=
WinTV Remote=
;Win/TV+=
;Win/TV=
WinTV32=
WinTV32(1)=
WinTV32(2)=
WinTV32(3)=
WinTV32(4)=
WinTV32(5)=
WinTV32(8)=
WinTV32(9)=
WinTV32(10)=
WinTV32(11)=
WinTV32(12)=
FullScreen=
PVRFullScreen=
*task*=
;*suspend*=
EPGdemo=
VTplus=
Create and Receive=
Debug.txt=
hcwGDisplayWindow=
hcwGo=
Windows Media Player=
ActiveMovie Window=

This is where you'll add your application of choice.

For example here is one with some commom added programs:

[Applications]
Default=
WinTV Remote=
;Win/TV+=
;Win/TV=
WinTV32=
WinTV32(1)=
WinTV32(2)=
WinTV32(3)=
WinTV32(4)=
WinTV32(5)=
WinTV32(8)=
WinTV32(9)=
WinTV32(10)=
WinTV32(11)=
WinTV32(12)=
FullScreen=
PVRFullScreen=
*task*=
;*suspend*=
EPGdemo=
VTplus=
Create and Receive=
Debug.txt=
hcwGDisplayWindow=
hcwGo=
Windows Media Player=
ActiveMovie Window=
Beyond TV=
Meedio=
VeohTV=
Joost=
Zoom Player=
Dream Aquarium=
VLC=
InterVideo WinDVD=

Next you'll need to define your controls. Example:

[VTplus]
OLD0={ctrl}n0
0={ctrl}n0
1={ctrl}n1
2={ctrl}n2
3={ctrl}n3
4={ctrl}n4
5={ctrl}n5
6={ctrl}n6
7={ctrl}n7
8={ctrl}n8
9={ctrl}n9
OK={enter}
FULLSCREEN={alt}{space}x{alt}-x
CHNLUP={ctrl}{up}
CHNLDOWN={ctrl}{down}
VOLUP={ctrl}{F6}
VOLDOWN={ctrl}i
NAVUP={ctrl}{up}
NAVDOWN={ctrl}{down}
NAVLEFT={ctrl}i
NAVRIGHT={ctrl}{F6}
STOP={ctrl}s
RED={cmd(501)}
GREEN={cmd(502)}
YELLOW={cmd(503)}
BLUE={cmd(504)}
FULLSCREEN={alt}{space}r

To do this just scroll down to the end of the notepad, press 'enter' a couple times and add the program with brackets and add the controls. Here is XBMC for example.

[XBMC]
0=0
1=1
2=2
3=3
4=4
5=5
6=6
7=7
8=8
9=9
GUIDE=i
GO={home}
NAVUP={UP}
NAVDOWN={DOWN}
NAVLEFT={left}
NAVRIGHT={right}
OK={enter}
BACK={esc}
MENU=c
VOLUP=+
VOLDOWN=-
MUTE={tab}
CHNLUP={pgup}
CHNLDOWN={pgdn}
CHNLPREV=i
REC=r
STOP=x
PAUSE={space}
PLAY=p
REWIND=r
FASTFWD=f
SKIPFWD=.
SKIPREV=,
RED={alt}{tab}

Here is another example.

[Meedio]
0=0
1=1
2=2
3=3
4=4
5=5
6=6
7=7
8=8
9=9
GRNPOWER={ctrl}{shift}{f1}
VIDEOS={F5}
PICTURES={ctrl}D
MUSIC={f4}
TV={}
RADIO={ctrl}A
GUIDE={F7}
GO={home}
NAVUP={UP}
NAVDOWN={DOWN}
NAVLEFT={left}
NAVRIGHT={right}
OK={enter}
BACK={esc}
MENU=g
VOLUP==
VOLDOWN=-
CHNLUP={pgup}
CHNLDOWN={pgdn}
CHNLPREV=l
MUTE=m
REC=r
STOP=s
PAUSE={space}
PLAY={space}
REWIND={ctrl}{left}
FASTFWD={ctrl}{right}
SKIPFWD={ctrl}{up}
SKIPREV={ctrl}{down}
RED={alt}{tab}
GREEN={ctrl}B
YELLOW={ctrl}C

You can change the keyboard shortcuts to your pleasing. Hope this helps anyone that needs help with Hauppauge remotes with the remote.ini file.

Enjoy!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

XBMC Keyboard Controls

Here are the controls for the keyboard with XBMC PC. I thought these would be helpful for some.

p=Play
space=pause
q=Queue
x=Stop
f=FastForward
r=Rewind
period=SkipNext
comma=SkipPrevious
tab=FullScreen
left=Left
right=Right
up=Up
down=Down
pageup=PageUp
pagedown=PageDown
return=Select
enter=Select
backspace=ParentDir
m=ActivateWindow(PlayerControls)
s=ActivateWindow(shutdownmenu)
escape=PreviousMenu
i=Info
menu=ContextMenu
c=ContextMenu
printscreen=Screenshot
minus=VolumeDown
plus=VolumeUp
(0-9)=0-9
backslash=ToggleFullScreen
end=XBMC ShutDown

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

MediaStream for XBMC

MediaStream is a skin for the XBMC media center, which means that users of XBMC can download it and use it as an alternative to the default look and feel that comes with the media center. (If you would like to find out more about XBMC please visit xbmc.org). MediaStream has been designed around a central concept that "Media is King", in other words the reason you are using XBMC is to get access to your media and the skin should make that as simple (and as pleasurable) as possible.

WILL IT WORK ON MY 4:3 TV?
Version 0.90 introduced 4:3 support, so ensure you use a version equal to or later than 0.90 with your 4:3 TV.

HOW DO I INSTALL IT?
To install on your Xbox please unzip the downloaded Version and just copy the MediaStream folder to the skins folder within XBMC. Then activate via the Appearance settings within XBMC.

WHO CREATED IT?
MediaStream was created by Team RazorFish.

SCREENSHOT GALLERY

Latest version: v0.92 (21/09/2008)

For details of changes please see this thread on the xbmc forums.

MediaFire: MediaStream v0.92.zip
MegaUpload: MediaStream v0.92.zip
Rapidshare: MediaStream v0.91.zip

Source

Monday, September 22, 2008

XBMC 'Atlantis' for PC, Mac and Linux




Team-XBMC is proud to announce the first cross-platform Beta version of XBMC media center for Linux, Mac OS X (Leopard and Tiger), Windows, and Xbox, in preparation for the upcoming stable release of XBMC, code named ‘Atlantis’. There are three important news items associated with this release:

1. The first item that is new in this release is the brand new skin “PM3.HD”, a high-definition tribute to Project Mayhem III, which will be gracing screens as the default skin on Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows. Xbox users can, of course, choose to use this skin if they wish as well, and the original Project Mayhem III skin is still packaged with Beta 1 for those who prefer the old-school look. This is in addition to the already awesome selection of skins available for XBMC.

2. The second item is the initial release of “XBMC Live“, a bootable CD which gives users the opportunity to try XBMC on their computer, without touching their harddrive. In addition, XBMC Live allows installation of XBMC, complete with an operating system, onto a USB flash memory sticks for a permanent, fast booting, dedicated set-top-box style installation of XBMC. XBMC Live is designed to support Microsoft’s MCE Remote and USB receiver out-of-the-box.

3. The third item is that the XBMC for Mac release now has initial support for integrating iTunes and iPhoto media into XBMC. For more information on this, please read this developers blog entry; “iTunes and iPhoto integration in XBMC“. The Mac release of Beta 1 also comes bundled with a bonus skin for XBMC, and that is MediaStream by Team Razorfish, (this skin can, of course, be downloaded and installed on all XBMC platforms, like all other XBMC skins).

You should know that XBMC ‘Atlantis’ is still in a feature freeze, the final release of which is scheduled for October, and we really need your help in order to make ‘Atlantis’ as stable as possible. We encourage all users to download and use this Beta release in preference to using SVN or the Alpha builds, and test it thoroughly, reporting all bugs to our tracking system.

We would also appreciate any and all assistance in making sure that the online manual and FAQ are as up to date as possible. Both the online manual and FAQ are wiki based so just register and request write access if you wish to contribute. In addition, translations and updates of XBMC language files is another area where help would be appreciated.

Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to thank the XBMC community for the great feedback in terms of bug reports and usability suggestions. Without your assistance, we would never be able to make XBMC as solid and stable as it is right now.
Source
XBMC Home
XBMC Download

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Navigon 2100 max free traffic

Photobucket
The Navigon 2100 max now offers there Traffic Service for free. Just go to the Navigon website to activate. I wish they would have had this before all the trouble I went through to get the 2100 max with free traffic together.
http://navigonusa.com/

Friday, September 5, 2008

HTPC Software Thread - Overclock.net

I posted this over at overclock.net a while back. I thought I would put this here to help people out.

PVR, DVR, HTPC, Media PC and Media Box is pretty much all the same thing. Here is a definition from wiki.

"A home theater PC (HTPC) or media PC is a convergence device that combines the functions of a personal computer and a digital video recorder. It is connected to a television or a television-sized computer display and is often used as a digital photo, music, video player, TV receiver and digital video recorder."

All it is is a computer hooked up to a TV with additional hardware such as: TV tuners, extra storage and usually a IR or RF receiver with remote control।

SOFTWARE LINKS

DVR - Windows
-Windows XP Media Center Edition link
-Windows Vista Home Premium or Ultimate link
-Meedio 1.41 and Meedio Ultimate (free) (I use this for front-end) link
-SageTV (Windows, Mac, and Linux) link
-ShowShifter link
-SnapStream Beyond TV (I use this) link
-GB-PVR (free) link
-MediaPortal (free) link
-AverMedia Center (for use with AverMedia card) link

HTPC Software (without DVR) - Windows
-Nero Home link
-Xlobby link
-Got all Media (free) link
-Beyond Media link
-WinDVD Media Center link
-iMEDIAN (also known as iMon) link

Linux
-Entertainer (in development) link
-Mythbuntu link
-Mythdora link
-GeeXbox link
-KnoppMyth link
-LinuxMCE link
-MythTV link
-Freevo (Python) link

Mac
-EyeTV link
-Front Row link
-Apple TV link

Video/DVD Players - Windows
-Zoom Player (I use this) link
-VLC (I use this for streaming media) link
-Windows Media Player link
-DivX Video Player link
-RealPlayer link
-Power DVD link
-InterVideo WinDVD link
-TheaterTek link
-AVS DVD Player link
-Media Player Classic link
-The KM Player link
-Gom Media Player link

Blue-Ray and HD DVD Playback - Windows
-Powerdvd 6 link
-Intervideo WinDVD link
-ArcSoft TotalMedia™ Theatre link

IPTV or Internet TV - There are many Internet TV sites out there. Here are the most poplular.
-Veoh link
-Joost link
-Hulu link
-Babelgum link

Other Links
-Unofficial Meedio Thread - by me
-My old HPTC Setup
-My new HPTC Setup
-TV Shows info, coverart and banners
-Movie info and coverart

I will add more as I find them. If you find more I'm not aware of, feel free to post it here and I'll add them. Please report broken links.
HTPC Software Thread - Overclock.net - Overclocking.net
Blogged with the Flock Browser

The Right Lighting for Your Home Theater

August 22, 2008 | by Natalie Hope McDonald

image

Audio and video are usually the first two key considerations most people think about when designing a home theater. But a third and no less integral attribute is lighting. The average home theater enthusiast may do a lot less thinking about lighting than they do the size of their screen or even about acoustics, but the right lighting can transform the most basic to the most sophisticated home theater into an entertainment oasis.

The Big Picture
Just because you watch a movie in the dark doesn’t mean lighting isn’t important to the overall home theater experience. The first step to consider is the range of lighting available and what you’d most like to accomplish with it.

Whether you’ve designed your own home theater in the den or you’ve hired professionals to do the job, the most important uses of lighting are to ensure guests can move safely around the space while not suffering eye fatigue halfway through your favorite flick. You also want to make sure the position of the lighting does not interfere with your viewing screen. Certain flat panels and projection screens can be affected by direct and indirect lighting in different ways, which is why not all lighting fixtures may be suited to your home theater set-up.

You don’t have to limit yourself to only the basic types of lighting (sconce and in-ceiling). There are controls that allow you to customize solutions without tearing into plaster. While traditional lighting can be installed and controlled with remotes, another option is an RF-based system that is flexible and can be expanded down the road with limited impact on the cosmetics of a room. The lighting solution uses built-in transmitters that communicate with signals and controllers within a certain range. Vantage’s RadioLink is a good example. Also check out Lutron’s RadioRA.

Lighten Up
In addition to lighting types (hanging, floor-standing, in-ceiling, in-wall and sconce), lighting can be broken down into three categories: accent, ambient and task. Aesthetically speaking, accent lighting is important when it comes to highlighting details within a room like a favorite piece artwork or architectural element within the d├ęcor, while task lighting can be customized for specific jobs, like reading a magazine or doing homework while someone else in the same room is watching TV or a movie. Ambient lighting, meanwhile, pulls the other two varieties together in a cohesive environment. Most lighting designers implement all three type of lighting to ensure a balanced experience no matter what the activity.

The type of lighting you choose also dictates the design of fixtures. Both recessed lighting and wall sconces and can be enhanced by door seals, automated shade controls, as well as integrated lighting controls that customize the settings depending on whether you’d like to watch a movie or view a photo slideshow. Thanks to the breadth of lighting controls, the home theater doesn’t have to be relegated to a dark basement dungeon. You can turn a cheerful living room into a movie screening room thanks to the push of a button and adding a few of these elements. You can also conserve electricity with control systems in the home theater and throughout the house.

Take Control
Selecting fixtures depends on your personal style and activities planned for the space. Recessed lighting, while more modern in design, is ideal for a multi-use space, especially if you’d like to highlight select portions of your home theater while still maintaining enough darkness to enjoy a flick.

On the higher end, Crestron, a favorite control system for home theater professionals, manufactures a range of touch panels, like the iLux, a multi-zone lighting system, and infiNET with wireless dimmers and remote management options. Like many of these sophisticated control systems, you can actually manage lighting and window shades throughout a home, not just within a home theatre.

Info and Answers: The Right Lighting for Your Home Theater, by Natalie Hope McDonald - Electronic House Info and Answers
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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Comcast’s 250 GB Cap and Some Inside Info on Network Management


Karl Bode at Broadband Reports broke the news this morning (now confirmed) that Comcast will institute a 250GB bandwidth cap starting on October 1st. Nobody likes a cap, but as far as they go, this one’s pretty generous. It’s also far from unprecedented. Time Warner Cable made a lot of (negative) news when it started trialing a 40GB cap earlier in the year. But some of the smaller cable operators have been capping or metering for years. CableOne, for example, limits downloads and uploads during the time period between Noon and Midnight. The base plan allows for 1.3GB downstream and 131MB upstream in a day, and if you exceed those caps, the operator will slow down your connection. Meanwhile Sunflower Broadband appears to offer only 1GB downstream per month in its base plan. On the other hand, you can add extra gigabytes for only a dollar each in advance or the operator will charge you two dollars after the fact.

The one bit of good news around the fact that the big cablecos are getting into the capping game is that at least now we’re having a discussion about what’s reasonable. For example, should network management include caps, or slowed access for heavy users during peak times, or both? (I know “neither” is the ideal answer, but it’s also impractical.)

And, how much bandwidth is really enough? Keep in mind that the operators themselves don’t want to limit bandwidth too much because of the revenue potential from new services. As more IP devices hit the market, there are more opportunities for cable companies to sell broadband apps and even hardware/software bundles. Limitations on consumers are also limitations on cable revenue.

Which brings us around to the most important point. Capping and metering do not increase bandwidth capacity. Even as they set management policies for Internet use, operators still have to work continually to increase overall bandwidth availability. Good for the consumer, good for the cable company. Hell, it’s good for the country too.

Now one little extra tidbit. It turns out, unsurprisingly, that bandwidth management is more important in some places than in others. Apparently network management technology gets turned off by accident on occasion, and in one instance I heard about just this week, a not-to-be-named operator had network management accidentally turned off for two weeks before anybody noticed! I’m thinking the operator is probably not based in a college town.


Comcast’s 250 GB Cap and Some Inside Info on Network Management
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Friday, August 29, 2008

Ad wars: Microsoft takes a bite out of Apple; Hires comedian Jerry Seinfeld to promote Vista - MAC.BLORGE

jerry_seinfeld.jpgTired of taking the beating from Apple in its Mac vs. PC commercials, Microsoft has decided to put on the gloves and fight back. The ad campaign is being created by MDC Partners’ Crispin Porter + Bogusky.According to the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft, the software giant, has a new 300 million dollar advertising campaign and it has hired comedian Jerry Seinfeld to help it take a bite out of Apple. The commercials theme will be “Windows, not Walls” a dig at Apple’s closed environment. At the moment, not too much is known about what the commercials will involve since Microsoft is keeping this information closely guarded. Seinfeld will be appearing alongside Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates in the upcoming ads and he will be paid $10 million dollars for the work. It will be interesting to see what the ads involve.Seinfeld is an interesting choice for the upcoming commercials, Jerry Seinfeld had an extremely popular show named Seinfeld in the 90’s. The show originally aired from July 5, 1989 to May 14, 1998. According to the Arthur Nielsen Media Research Ratings it finished among the top two every year from 1994 to 1998. I think I’ve seen every episode of Seinfeld and one thing that was seen in the far corner of Seinfeld’s apartment was a Macintosh computer. Over the years, it got upgraded to a newer Mac. In fact, at one point during the series he even had a 20th anniversary Mac on his desktop.Seinfeld also appeared in Apple’s Think Big commercials. It sort of makes you wonder if Microsoft knew this before hiring him. Perhaps the angle they are going for is views from a Mac switcher? Then again John Hodgman, the man who plays PC in the Apple commercials, is an Apple user. Hodgman spilled the beans to the New York Daily News a few months ago.Although Microsoft has sold more than 180 million Vista licenses since its release in 2007. Critics claim that it still continues to suffer largely due in part to the perception that its release was a flap. Apple’s commercials which constantly poke fun at Vista just ads fuel to the fire. Microsoft has said that the early problems many experienced with the operating system has been resolved.It will be interesting to see what Microsoft will unveil with the upcoming ads. One of the reasons that the Apple ads have been so popular is that Apple has pointed out the flaws that we as computer owners occasionally experience. I really liked the fact that Apple focused on that the computer can be the problem, not the owner. A lot of Apple’s ads have focused on Vista.It’s not surprising that Microsoft has finally decided to target Apple in its upcoming campaign. Apple’s recent success has been phenomenal and even though Microsoft is still the reigning champ I imagine Apple’s success along with the Mac vs. Pc commercials aren’t so funny anymore. So when will the ads appear? WSJ reports that we can expect to see them in early September. WSJ also stated that Chris Rock and Will Ferrel (Ferrel starred in Mac switcher ads years ago) might also appear in some of the ads.BLORGE writer, John Lister, has covered this on Vista.Blorge.com.
Ad wars: Microsoft takes a bite out of Apple; Hires comedian Jerry Seinfeld to promote Vista - MAC.BLORGE
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Thursday, August 7, 2008

meedioChrome v1.0.7 beta - Added Grid Mode

This is an update to the meedioChrome theme for Meedio. For those of you that don't know, Meedio is a HTPC(Home Theater PC) frontend application. I've been using it for a while now. To me it's the most customizable HTPC frontend out there.


meedioChrome v1.0.7 beta
--------------------------------------------
- added GRID (aka Racedriver GRID) theme mode
- added GRID main menu mode (best used with Grid and Carbon theme modes)
- added Empty Bin in file browser (by Kricker)
- added support for icons set using Icon Manager (by Kricker)
- fixed support for genres fanart images in music library

- fixed bugs
- optimized code

* to promote new menu and theme mode GRID is set as default mode for this release *

INSTRUCTIONS

Be sure to also visit Meedios.com

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

As Long As Today - New Video


"Schizophrenia" - As Long As Today from chris lang on Vimeo.

Here is a new video for my friends band. They play around the Charlotte, NC area. Here is a link to there music. www.myspace.com/aslongastoday

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Run Xbox Media Centre from a USB Drive | Lifehacker Australia

Run Xbox Media Centre from a USB Drive


We've shown you how to turn your classic Xbox and Mac into a super-powered media centre using Xbox Media Centre, but what about everybody else? Well, if you've got at least a 1 GB USB drive and a computer that can boot from it, you're in luck. LiveXBMC, a blend of the XBMC and Ubuntu Linux, lets you do all the same big-screen media playing, file sharing, DVD ripping, and other media centre goodness without installing a thing, but with saved settings. Let's get started creating a portable media monster with XBMC after the jump.


What you'll need

  • 1 GB or larger USB drive—You'll perform a full re-format of this drive, so back up anything you can't lose. Larger drives, like an iPod or external hard drive, will give you more space to store your goods, but LiveXBMC can also save to any USB drive while it's running.
  • PC that boots from USB—It doesn't much matter what OS it's running, but you can create the live USB stick from Windows or Linux.
  • Decent video card, preferably NVIDIA—LiveXBMC can still work with ATI and Intel-based graphics processors, but it's somewhat hit-or-miss support. But, if you can get your card working in an Ubuntu live CD, you might have a shot—more on that down the page.
  • LiveXBMC Image and Builder—Grab them at SourceForge. At the moment, I'm using the LiveXBMCBuilder.20080507 and the LiveXBMCV2.12835 image, but they may update after this publishes, so grab what's freshest. The xbmc.12869.img file seems newer, but also incomplete.
  • 7-Zip—This handy utility unpacks the LiveXBMC image above.

Create your USB booter

In Windows, create a folder right at the root of your primary hard drive (usually C:), and name it something like xbmc—just don't use any spaces or fancy characters. Now un-zip the LiveXBMCBuilder package into that folder, and use 7-Zip to likewise copy the .img file in your LiveXBMCV2 package (the one with the .7z extension) into that root folder. Plug your USB drive in, head into the LiveXBMCBuilder folder, then double-click to launch the USBBuilder. In Windows Vista, you'll likely have to right-click the USBBuilder app and choose "Run as Administrator."

This program is pretty straightforward. Hit "Select Image," and navigate to the .img file you pulled from the LiveXBMCV2 package. Next, select the letter of your USB drive in the drop-down box, then hit "Write Image" to get started.

It'll take a few minutes to format your drive (varying with size), and then watch for a pop-up from the WinImage shareware bundled with the program, which requires an "OK" from you. Once it finishes pressing the boot image into your USB stick, you should be done and ready to boot.

... At least, that's the hope. More than one forum poster has had problems with the program, as I did (until I realised it couldn't deal with folders with spaces in the name, hence the awkward root placement). The creator has put up a blog post explaining how to manually create a booting USB in Windows, but left out an important step near the end—make sure you also copy the restrictedDrivers.img and xbmc.img files onto the drive, or you'll just have a seriously bare-bones Linux desktop.

appletv_scaled.jpgLooking to create the XBMC USB stick from inside Linux? Try this example, substituting the LiveXBMCV2 image in place of the file used there. If you're a brave and willing AppleTV owner, you can get LiveXBMC up and running using the Apple TV bootloader and these very long, detailed instructions. It's not impossible, and it won't harm your unit, but it certainly looks like a weekend project.

Last setup steps

Before booting up, let's talk video drivers. Most modern NVIDIA cards are supported out of the box in LiveXBMC, and some ATI and Intel cards work as well. If you've got an Intel card, rename the restrictedDrivers.img file on the USB stick to anything else, or just add an x somewhere. If you're successfully using Ubuntu, or can get your video card working on a live CD, you can copy the file at /etc/X11/xorg.conf onto the USB drive and get a much better chance at compatibility and correct screen sizing.

Finally, the major drawback to this version of XBMC is its seeming lack of wireless support—at least, it lacked any support for my Intel-based wireless chip. You're going to need to hook up a physical Ethernet cable to your system before booting with LiveXBMC, so get that ready before hitting the power button.

Boot up

Assuming your system's set up to boot from a USB drive, you should quickly boot into Xbox Media Centre and arrive at its main screen: From here on in, your live Xbox Media Centre is going to look very much like its hardware-loaded brethren—check out its awe-inspiring features in Gina's original post (under the wholly appropriate sub-heading "Revel in how much you rule"). Here's a few Linux/live-specific tips on getting the most from LiveXBMC:
  • Turn on Vertical Blank Sync—From what I've read (and experienced), with vertical blank sync turned off, XBMC will try to run videos as fast as possible, resulting in some herky-jerky moments. Fiddle around with the video settings until you find just the right rhythm.
  • Keep your system cool—As noted by commenter jkrell, the Xbox Media Centre runs at 100% CPU usage, even when it's not playing anything, but the developers are working on a fix. Until then, make sure your system isn't wedged somewhere it will overheat, and invest on quieter fans if you're utilizing a spare PC.
  • Store big files outside the USB disk—You'll always be able to access any media you grab with LiveXBMC from inside the system, but finding it in Windows or Linux seems to require decompressing .img files and hunting around for your home directory (unless one of our super-helpful readers knows an easier way). You'd be better off sharing a Windows folder with XBMC, or plugging in another USB device to transfer files off the live system.
I've only scratched the surface of what can be done with a live-booting Xbox Media Centre, so let us know what tweaks, fixes, and upgrades you've found while trying out your own media centre on a stick.

Kevin Purdy, associate editor at Lifehacker, loves free alternatives to costly media centres. His weekly feature, Open Sourcery, appears every Friday on Lifehacker.


Run Xbox Media Centre from a USB Drive | Lifehacker Australia
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