New TVersity Streams Video to XBox 360

November 28, 2006

TVersity on Xbox 360I loves me some TVersity.

I’ve been using this excellent freeware UPNP AV server for awhile to serve up content to my various digital media players, and frankly, it works better than anything else I’ve tried.

It not only serves up video, audio files and pictures, but it’s quite capable of transcoding virtually any odd-format video to a format that can be understood by your media player (it detects the player type and has a reasonably up-to-date understanding of what the majority of players support).

The latest version of TVersity has now hit the streets, and it includes support for On the fly transcoding of video to WMV for the Xbox 360 (it’s supported audio and images on the 360 for awhile).

Yup, that means you can now watch all of your videos on your Xbox 360 without having a Windows Media Center anywhere in the picture.

(If watching video on an Xbox 360 isn’t your bag, you might want to know that TVersity already supports PSPs, Nokia Internet Tablets, various smart phones and of course just about every off-the-shelf network digital audio and digital media player)

Other enhancements in the new release include a new Flash-based GUI, and the usual handful of bug fixes.

See a whole list of what’s new here, or go download your copy here.

(pic above is of TVersity interface on Xbox 360)

Done with Windows MCE

November 28, 2006

I’ve shut down my Windows Media Center, at least for the time being; it just isn’t what I need it to be.

Don’t get me wrong — I love the interface; I love it more than Tivo, and that’s saying something.

The big problem is HD. As HD becomes increasingly important to me, and as more and more HD content becomes available to me, MCE becomes increasingly irrelevant.

MCE does a good job of recording OTA HD. Unfortunately, two of my majors don’t come in terribly well with my antique OTA antenna. When it rains, most of them don’t come in. I could doubtless fix this, but since Dish now gives me my majors in HD off the satellite, I’m not terribly inclined.

More importantly, there’s the 25 or so channels of “premium” HD I now have available. There’s not a prayer on the horizon that MCE is going to get those, or the satellite based HD locals either.

There’s been a lot of talk about CableCard support in Vista, but it’s become clear that these are only going to be available for “certified” off-the-shelf MCE boxes. The odds of me being willing to a) spend the money for a pre-configured box, or b) being willing to live with that configuration if I did (vs. modding it and possibly breaking the CableCard DRM) are slim and none.

And Slim’s out of town this month.
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Setting up local DNS (BIND) on OS X Tiger

November 27, 2006

Slow DNS servers are one of the banes of my existence. If the DNS server your ISP hands you is slow, then everything is slow — web pages that should come up in a fraction of a second take minutes to load as every little item and doo-dad on them that comes from different domains (ads, google-analytics, flickr pics, etc.) takes its own sweet time to look up.

Normally I don’t put up with it, and I usually have some box or another on my local network running a DNS server to make things come up quick and crispy.

Unfortunately, the other day I ended up re-purposing the current DNS box to do other things, which I immediately regretted once I sat back down at my MacBook Pro.

Around then the clue fairy happened to drop by and remind me that OS X is Unix, and it should be trivial to get a nameserver running on it.

Well, it turned out to be less than trivial, but not by a great degree.
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So Much for Starbucks (2nd Verse)

November 27, 2006

Well, I waved bye-bye to my beloved Barista Aroma today.

It seems that they’ve been recalled, due to a fire hazard of some kind. Starbucks says they’ll send me a check, and suggested I go check out some new DeLonghi brewer at my local emporium of over-roasted coffee and indie xmas music (Starbucks).

Hmph. It’s getting harder and harder to find a decently priced coffee maker that is actually designed to brew a decent cup of coffee. For that matter, it’s getting harder to keep one.

If you’ve bought an 8-cup stainless steel Barista Aroma and haven’t heard from Starbucks, you need to A) unplug it before you burn the house down, and B) call Starbucks and see if it’s one of the recalled units.

Better safe than sorry.

Brugo – double tippy sippy cup

November 27, 2006

If you need a complicated $20 mug to get your coffee at the right temperature, Brugo may be just the mug for you.

Available in about 12 eye-watering colors, the Brugo mug will (if you set the dial on the top correctly) allow you to spill some of your hot coffee into a cooling chamber in the lid to cool down to drinking temperature, while keeping the rest of it toasty warm.

This is all in support of what Brugo calls the “Perfect Temperature Zone”, or “PTZ”. The site is full of multimedia showing graphs of how long it takes properly brewed coffee to come to this temperature and how fast it falls below it.

Or you could just brew (or order) reasonably-sized cups of coffee, which cool down to the right temperature quickly, and drink them before they get too cold.

I’m just sayin…