Hackit: Boxee now on Windows

Boxee, the free media center management and streaming application, is now available for Windows platforms. We’ve been following the developments of Boxee since we first announced its alpha this time last year. At that time, it was only available for OSX with promised Ubuntu support. We were a bit skeptical about the interface noting, “Unfortunately all the dynamic resizing, animated, sliding, floating info boxes make it behave like the zooming user interface’s retarded cousin”. Our interest in Boxee was almost entirely based on it being a fork of XBMC, the media center project developed for initially for hacked Xboxes. It was interesting to see Boxee become the interface of choice for hacked Apple TVs and then go mainstream with a big push at CES.

Have you been using Boxee as your media center? What do you love/hate? What about alternatives like XBMC, Plex, or MythTV?

EVIC engine

evic

The EVIC is a computer controlled internal combustion engine, utilizing a cam less solenoid actuated valve system. In addition to intake and exhaust valve control, the processor also handles ignition timing. With dynamic valve timing, it is possible to make an engine more efficient. Where a classic combustion engine would wastefully burn fuel, the EVIC can skip power cycles which are not needed. By increasing the valve duration, the CPU enables easy starting. The latest is the EVIC Mk3 which adds an exhaust valve sensor, and 3:1 solenoid leverage. There is a photo gallery with several EVIC engines. The Mk2 Twin is demonstrated in the video embedded below.

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Wireless Arduino cat food dispenser

catfooddispenser

Reader, [Andres Leon], has two adorable cats with very specific dietary needs. Instead of altering his schedule, he donned his hacking hat and designed a very solid cat food dispenser. The dispenser consists of a rotating drum with a slot in it and a PVC pipe Y-fitting to distribute the food evenly. The brains of the machine is an Arduino Deumillanove and an XBee module. The unit can be controlled by a web interface or it can run completely standalone. [Andres] ran into a problem where the drum’s resistance to turning varied based on how much food was inside. He solved this with a clever laser position indicator. A piece of plywood is lined up with the slot at the top so that whenever the slot is facing up it keeps the laser from shining on a photoresistor. The cats were afraid of the servo noise at first, but now they run to their bowls whenever they hear it.

Magic Lantern for Canon 5D

[Trammell] has released a new firmware for the Canon 5D Mark II DSLR geared toward film makers. The stock firmware was very limited on the audio side. This firmware adds features such as live VU meters, reduced audio noise, and crop marks for filming in different formats. The firmware is written in a manner that it can be extended fairly easily. Hopefully this will turn out to be as helpful as CHDK has been for point and shoot cameras.

Lexlrie

Lexlrie is basically a feed display. It can connect to twitter, facebook and we feel fine for its updates. What makes this project different is that it is supposed to alter its lighting based on the mood of the updates. The system looks for words like “better” and “sorry” and displays color patterns based on those. We have no idea what “better” should look like, but it’s a cool idea. You can get more details of its construction here. This project vaguely reminds of Pulse, which intended to show the emotion of blogger.com updates.