Posts tagged ‘XBMC’

Windows as a Stand-Alone Server

I have written before about how much trouble I had using windows as an unattended server for an application -- in this case for the XBMC video system on my TV's around the house.  No matter what I did, how many tweaks I made, how many websites I checked for advice, within a day or two some application or popup would take control of the screen and send my unattended application to the background.  This would not be such much of a problem if it was just me using it, but with a non-tech-savvy family members trying to interact with the device with a TV remote, it was unacceptable.  Eventually I switched to the Linux version of XBMC in a distribution call Openelec and I have had zero problems since.

I was reminded of all this at the San Diego airport.  They have these big beautiful screens with flight and weather and travel information.  But apparently they have problems making the windows popups go away as well (that's some sort of HP registration message in the window):

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The most amazing example I have ever seen was on a giant, giant advertising screen on the front of a casino in Las Vegas, which had a huge windows popup covering whatever ads were supposed to be served up.  I wish I had my camera but I was out jogging at the time.

Update:  A reader sent me this, via gizmodo, from Cowboys stadium

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Cost vs. Value-Based Pricing

Cost-based pricing would say that digital media streamed to the home should always be less expensive than the same media delivered on physical disks in boxes delivered by UPS.

Value-based pricing says that someone with a Roku who wants to see a show right now, not two days from now, and doesn't have a DVD player and doesn't want to hassle with putting disks in and out to get through a whole season of a TV show might pay more for the digital delivery.

Sometimes cost-based pricing rules.  Sometimes value-based pricing dominates.  Sometimes pricing is weird due to temporary scarcity or gluts.  Sometimes pricing is inexplicable.  Which is this (click to enlarge):

Entire Season on physical DVD's with free Amazon Prime delivery:  $13.99

Entire Season streamed digitally:  $22.99

Since I like to buy the disks and then rip them to my video server at home running XBMC, I was happy to get the disks inexpensively.

Using XBMC For A Home Movie System

Because this is a topic that will only be interesting to some, and because it has gotten so long that it fills most of the home page, I am putting the article on how I ripped my home movies and created a video streaming system around XBMC below the fold.  For those who are not sure if they want to bother clicking through, here are some teaser photos of the media center I ended up with:

By the way, I know that in 10 5 years, this will all likely be superseded by streaming accounts.  For the time being, I have fun with this.

Continue reading ‘Using XBMC For A Home Movie System’ »

Network Technology Bleg. Please Be Gentle

OK, this is an incredibly noob question and you will all lose respect for me.  But take this situation:

OK, I am streaming media from the server on the left to the PC on the left running XBMC at my TV.  The data rate is slower than I would have thought over all gigabit lines.  I know there are a jillion things that could be causing this, from software to drivers to, well, lots of stuff.  I have one narrow question.

And this is the embarassingly noob part.  I am presuming that all the data does not actually go through the router, that it can just go from server to switch to TV.  The router is actually on the other side of the house connected by a long line across the roof of questionable quality.  I know the router is involved - I picture small packets of data going to the switch with routing information.

So the question: is there any reason a bad cable from the router to the switch above -- one that still passes data but slower than gigabit speeds -- would slow down streaming from the server to the TV?

Update:  Thanks for the help in the comments.  I am increasingly suspicious I have a graphics driver problem that is causing stuttering on 1080p playback, and I will test that out this weekend.  Turns out there are a lot of XBMC users in the group.  I used to be  a SageTV guy, and I still think their HD hardware streamers were a great solution.  But after Google bought them a couple of years ago they went dark.  There is still an active community but I was ready to move on.  I have switched to XBMC and have been very happy (I never used the TV/recording functions in Sage so the fact XBMC does not have these was no problem, though the OpenElec variant does have them).    I hope to put a post up with my experiences and observations.  I have now done XBMC installations on Windows PCs, an Ubuntu box, using OpenElec (a linux variant), and on an old Apple TV2.  As it turns out I still have not found the perfect installation, but with the right box I may find it with Openelec.

Thanks for the Recommendation

I have been trying to play with Linux/Ubuntu, mainly because Linux seems a much better approach than Windows for dedicated video streaming boxes (e.g. those based on XBMC software).  I also just got a Raspberry Pi, which is a sort of Anduino-like Linux-based small computer project board.

In playing with them, I have been dual-booting, which is somewhat </understatement> of a hassle.  So I appreciate readers who encouraged me to try VirtualBox.  Installed last night and seems to be just what the doctor ordered.

Switched to XBMC

I have written before that I have a large movie collection ripped to a 16TB raid.  In the past I have used SageTV to stream, but Sage was bought out by Google almost a year ago and has gone totally dark since then.  So I switched to XBMC, which given I am not messing around with PC-based DVR, actually turns out to be a better solution from a software standpoint.  I will post on my progress next week. The problem is getting a low cost streaming box to run it, like Sage had with the HD200 and HD300.

Here is the hottest product in the geeky build-your-own end of home theater, the Raspberry Pi.   A tiny computer board that apparently will run XBMC (I presume the Linux version) and stream at a full 1080P and costs about $35.  Right now, XBMC users are using either dedicated PC's or hacked AppleTV boxes.  I have one of each on the work bench -- the dedicated PC is expensive and the AppleTV box based on the old ATV2 won't run 1080p.  The new ATV3 will run 1080p but no one has apparently rooted that yet, and besides it is still a lot more than $35.  So I am on the waiting list for my Pi.