The Future of TV

For long time on Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. you could find me parked on a couch somewhere tuned into ABC to watch my beloved L O S T.

Before I lost myself in “L O S T” it was “Big Brother” on CBS.
We used to pile around the TV set and watch this show.

To this day I cant figure out why, but me and several others used to have Big Brother and Survivor parties and sit and watch these shows. I say I cant figure out why, because after about 5 seasons of the same thing, you grow tired and wonder what the hell you were doing ever watching it past season one.

Back in those days it was a sure fire way to have a social gathering. A very positive thing.

The negative, was that you may have found yourself always having to be in front of the TV at a certain time. These days the entire television frontier has changed.

The future of TV is right now and growing quickly. Right now you no longer have to fit YOUR schedule around your TELEVISIONS schedule.

With the advent of DVR’s (digital video recorders) and other like devices, you can now watch TV when YOU want to watch it.

In this “On Demand” world we now live in, everyone wants to WATCH what they WANT when THEY want to, freeing up their lives to do more, like going to soccer games, no longer postponing dinner engagements, and other things.

Currently there are many devices on the market to which TV shows, Podcasts, Music, even Movies can be delivered to your TV anytime you want them.

We really shouldn’t call these devices SET TOP boxes anymore as its hard to set anything atop a flat screen LCD that is only about 2 inches thick at most. Instead we now call them appliances. Seems like everyone is getting into this game now. Lets see there is the Roku player, the Boxee Box, The Apple TV, heck even hard drive maker Western Digital is getting into the mix with their WDLIVE!

Out of all the appliances out there today, the only one I want you to really meet is the new black Apple TV or as some are referring to it as the Apple TV 2 or ATV2 since its the second generation one that Apple Computer has put out.

Apple TV is slick and tiny. It can fit in the palm of your hand, and is very easy to setup.


You simply just take it out of the box, connect an HDMI cable (not included) to your TV and power it up, then you are quickly presented with a screen to set up a few preferences.



Check out this video about the Apple TV



I purchased one of these for my Aunt and she says its the best gift she has ever received, a truly amazing device.

I highly recommend this device over the other ones for its pure simplistic user interface.


How To Import MP3 Files Into Audiobooks of iTunes and iPhone

Recently I got my hands on a new audiobook and I wanted it to appear in the AUDIOBOOKS section of my iPhone/iPod. At first this was a difficult task. I dragged the folder full of MP3’s into iTunes into the Books Library. It imported them just fine, but it was into the Music Library.

I thought ok, I will choose Get Info and change it to Audiobooks. Well that doesnt exist in the latest iTunes. You can however add the word Audiobooks in Genres, so I did that. I went to sync the iPhone and I chose that Genre on the lower bottom half of the music part of the iPhone sync section in iTunes.

After the sync was complete I checked, and it didnt do much good. It was mixed in with my music. All this had done was, when you click on the MORE section of your iPod on the iPhone, there is a place called Genres, all the mp3’s were in there and mixed in with my music, so this was not acceptable.




Finally! I figured it out.

In iTunes, in the Music Library, I chose the album or selection of mp3’s and right clicked and selected GET INFO and on the OPTIONS tab where it says MEDIA KIND I chose AUDIOBOOK. Next I chose REMEMBER POSITION-YES , and PART OF COMPILATION-YES then it moved into the Books Library.

Next before I synced my iPhone I went to the books tab on the Devices part of iTunes and at the bottom of the page I chose Sync Audiobooks, then chose Selected Audiobooks and finally placed a check by the Audiobook I wanted to sync.

That was it.

After the sync it was under AUDIOBOOKS on the iPhone just as it should have been all along.

Hope this helps.


Megapixels-Do They Matter?

Hey the new iphone 4s is coming with an 8 megapixel camera, but does that really mean its going to take better pictures?

Yes its going to take better pictures, but only because its going to have 5 lenses, better aperture to bring in more light,  and a new larger sensor.

So how many megapixels do you really need?

See in the past, the 2g(first) iphone, the 3g, the 3gs and the 4 were all almost capable of taking fantastic pictures, but they lacked the lens and sensor to do so. Its always been the Lens that makes the difference in good pictures.

Sure having 8 megapixels is nice, but only if you are going to print out 16×20 inch photos for your wall. Let me explain.

The choice of how many megapixels you need on your phone depends on what you want to do with your photos. If you just want to capture life’s memorable moments, send them to friends and family, and post them on the Web, a 1.3 or 2 MP camera will do the job. If you want to take high-resolution pictures, blow them up, and edit them on your computer, then pixel-size really matters.

This guy explains it really well.


So you see you can’t always believe the hype when it comes to advertising megapixels. People tend to go on the notion that more is better. Especially in this case when all the cellphone makers are competing to be the leader. Most people will buy simply based on how many megapixels a camera is cause the average consumer thinks that more is better.

The latest cellphone trying to get the top megapixel spot is the “Samsung’s M8910 Pixon12” capable of 12 megapixels.

Crazy isn’t it?

This is terrible for networks and network speeds. Emailing a 12 megapixel photo from your cell phone? Forget sending that over MMS. Are you serious? That’s going to be 9-10 megabytes in size. Ridiculous!

If you can take anything away from this short article and video, just remember that when it comes to purchasing a Digital SLR camera, a point and shoot, or cellphone with high megapixel camera, just remember its all in the lens and not the advertised megapixel. Please do not believe that the more megapixels the camera has, the better this is. This was not the case with the iphone 2g, 3g, 3gs, and 4.



Make Your Mac Tell You Weather and Time

How many of you saw the part in Iron Man where the girl is awakened in the morning by Jarvis? I thought that it was just TOO COOL!
In case you didn’t, here is a clip.

After seeing that my brain started to click and I though that could easily be done on an Apple Mac Computer.

See the Mac and say out loud anything you tell it to say. All you have to do is type in “Say” and something to follow. The command is simply Say. So if I wanted the computer to say that “I am on the internet” I would type at the cmd line or terminal, SAY I am on the internet and I press enter and it would speak it. Very neat.

I want my computer to tell me the weather forecast and time every morning, or at least on weekdays.

For you Apple Script folk here is the script to do it. Download here

Or you can copy the following and paste it into your applescript editor and save it:

–this is the city code. Search the code for your city on set CityCode to 12774701 –temperature format set t_format to “F” –voiceover format set v_format to “S” –say present condition set a_format to “Y”

set IURL to “” & CityCode

–downloading the file using curl set file_content to (do shell script “curl ” & IURL) –looking for the line with actual condition set theText to text ((offset of “yweather:condition” in file_content) + 1) thru -1 of file_content set sub_1 to text ((offset of “\”” in theText) + 1) thru -1 of theText

–today conditions found set actual_condition to text 1 thru ((offset of “\”” in sub_1) – 1) of sub_1

–looking for actual temperature temperature set sub_1a to text ((offset of “temp=” in sub_1)) thru -1 of sub_1 set sub_1b to text ((offset of “\”” in sub_1a) + 1) thru -1 of sub_1a set actual_temp to text 1 thru ((offset of “\”” in sub_1b) – 1) of sub_1b

if t_format is equal to “C” then set actual_temp to (5 / 9) * (actual_temp – 32) as integer end if

–looking for today forecast set theText to text ((offset of “yweather:forecast” in file_content) + 1) thru -1 of file_content set sub_2 to text ((offset of “\”” in theText) + 1) thru -1 of theText

–maximum and minimum temperatures found set today_min_temp to word 9 of sub_2 set today_max_temp to word 12 of sub_2 if t_format is equal to “C” then set today_min_temp to (5 / 9) * (today_min_temp – 32) as integer set today_max_temp to (5 / 9) * (today_max_temp – 32) as integer end if

–looking for today forecast condition (a bit tricky) set sub_3 to text ((offset of “text” in sub_2) + 1) thru -1 of sub_2 set sub_4 to text ((offset of “\”” in sub_3) + 1) thru -1 of sub_3 set today_forecast to text 1 thru ((offset of “\”” in sub_4) – 1) of sub_4

–looking for tomorrow forecast set sub_5 to text ((offset of “yweather:forecast” in sub_4) + 1) thru -1 of sub_4 set sub_6 to text ((offset of “\”” in sub_5) + 1) thru -1 of sub_5

–maximum and minimum temperatures found set tomorrow_min_temp to word 9 of sub_6 set tomorrow_max_temp to word 12 of sub_6 if t_format is equal to “C” then set tomorrow_min_temp to (5 / 9) * (tomorrow_min_temp – 32) as integer set tomorrow_max_temp to (5 / 9) * (tomorrow_max_temp – 32) as integer end if

–looking for tomorrow forecast condition (a bit tricky) set sub_7 to text ((offset of “text” in sub_6) + 1) thru -1 of sub_6 set sub_8 to text ((offset of “\”” in sub_7) + 1) thru -1 of sub_7 set tomorrow_forecast to text 1 thru ((offset of “\”” in sub_8) – 1) of sub_8

–VoiceOver Section set myTime to time string of (current date) set myParts to words of myTime set mySpeak to (item 1 of myParts) & ” ” & (item 2 of myParts) & ” ” say “Good morning, it is ” & mySpeak using “Alex” if a_format is equal to “Y” then say “Outside it is, ” & actual_condition & “, and ” & actual_temp & ” degrees ” using “Alex” end if if v_format is equal to “L” then say “Today: ” & today_forecast & “. Temperature: between ” & today_min_temp & ” and ” & today_max_temp & ” degrees. Tomorrow: ” & tomorrow_forecast & “. Temperature: between ” & today_min_temp & ” and ” & today_max_temp & ” degrees” using “Alex” else say “Today: ” & today_forecast & “, between ” & today_min_temp & ” , and ” & today_max_temp & ” degrees. Tomorrow: ” & tomorrow_forecast & “, between ” & tomorrow_min_temp & ” ,and ” & tomorrow_max_temp & ” degrees” using “Alex” say “I say again, Today: ” & today_forecast & “. Temperature: between ” & today_min_temp & ” ,and ” & today_max_temp & ” degrees” end if


I later used iCal to schedule it to run on weekdays.
Hope you are creative and have fun with this

Here is a video of me getting the computer to say it.


Enable Airplay on Boxee – XBMC – Plex

I had the chance a while back to play with airplay on the Apple TV in conjunction with the iphone and I quickly saw how wonderful this was and how useful it could be at times. One big drawback was that it was only available on the Apple TV through Itunes and the iPhone….until recently.

First let me remind how AirPlay works by showing you this video.

Ok so now that you are reminded of what it does, some of you do not have an Apple TV and you use XBMC or Boxee or even Plex as your media center.

Thankfully there is a fellow that has coded a way to finally do this. His name is Pascal Widdershoven. Check out his website here for information on what he has done and a video to show you.

He has some great code, and I installed it and all of it went somewhat well, but it took me a long time to figure it out even with instructions. There were a few pitfals so I wanted to write this article to help out some of my freinds and the rest of you out there on the web, so lets get started.

First off download the following files and place them in an easily accesible folder, like c:\apps. If you do not know how to make a new folder under the C drive on windows, stop reading now. Oh and by the way this tutorial will focus on Windows as my Boxee system is running on Windows 7 and most of my friends are doing the same thing.

Files to get:

Install 7zip so that you can untar the file below that you will need to download
This is Pascals hard work right here and there is a file inside install.mdown and I suggest you open it up in Wordpad to read the instructions inside.

Next get Python for Windows and this is the best and easiest version to install so that you will not have to fool with installing PIP or any other special tools. Get the appropriate version for your version of Windows.

Get the Bonjour SDK from me so you will not have to log into Apple to do so.

Ok now install
1. Install 7zip
2.Bonjour SDK
3. Active State Python
4. untar the airplayer file you downloaded by right clicking on it and choosing extract to blah blah .tar using 7zip. After that do it again on the tar file and choose extract to here and it will show the name of the file. Next go inside all that and you should see all the files that are listed here.

Copy the Airplayer folder to your c:\Python27 folder. It can really go anywhere but I like it mixed in the meat where the work is going to be happening.

Ok now we need to open a cmd window and do some work, go to START or the ORB/Pearl thingy on Windows 7, and in the search box or run box type cmd and press enter.
While in here lets start with cd \ and press enter to get to the C: prompt and only the C: prompt.

Now lets type cd python and you can actually just type cd pyt and press the tab key and it will complete it for you and it may say python27 press enter and you should now be at c:\python27.

Type cd scripts and press enter, now you should be at c:\python27\scripts

While here type the following at the command line and press return or enter

pip install -r c:\pyhton27\airplayer\requirements.txt 

Some things will install that you need and you will see lots of text go by.
Before we fire this off and test it all out
edit the to reflect your setup.

I went into the airplay folder (C:\python27\Airplayer\Airplayer\ and opened with Wordpad.
Since I use Boxee for Windows I edited the following:


And thats it, save it and exit.

Now you can test it out right now by opening a cmd window and navigating to your file and make python run it.
At the command line enter the following and press return or enter

python C:\python27\airplayer\airplayer\

You should now see a some time stamps if its connected or if Boxee is closed, it will say it can not connect.
It will run in this window there until the window is closed, and while its running, launch Boxee, now while holding your iphone in hand, go to your pictures and open one and in the upper right hand corner you will see a tv looking icon with an arrow pointing upwards. This odd arrow looking icon means there is has been an airplay device detected. Touch it and you should see your computer name and when you select it, it will put the image or video on the screen. Way cool huh?

Ok that is way cool and all, but what happens on reboot? Do I have to start it up again manually? Well yes, but there is a better way.
Lets make it a system service that starts automatically when the computer boots up.

I  cannot take any credit for this next bit of work either, but to make it a service download nssm2.9 and read this blog on how to do it.

Check that out and it will show you all about how to make a service and make airplayer start up when the machine boots up.

Now if you do not see any video on your boxee box, you will need to go into settings, media, advanced and disable the hardware acceleration.

Here is a video we made today when we made this happen.


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