66% or better

Rant: Why I love what the Chromecast stands for

chromecast-and-box

I’ve had my hands on this Chromecast for almost a week now and I love it. Years ago I hacked my first Xbox after seeing [Kevin Rose] do it on The Screensavers (I did the hardware mod but that’s inconsequential). Why did I do this? So that I could run Xbox Media Center, the predecessor of XBMC. Since then I’ve dreamed of a device which can be hung on the back of the TV with Velcro and run XBMC. We basically got there with the Raspberry Pi, but the Chromecast is the form-factor that I had always envisioned. This lets me watch Netflix, while the RPi runs XBMC. The two are match made in heaven for under a hundred bucks.

That’s why I love the Chromecast device itself, but the bigger picture is that I love what it stands for. Keep reading to see what i mean.

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One remote to stream them all

We’d bet that most readers stream video as the lion’s share of their entertainment consumption. It’s getting easier and easier thanks to great platforms like XBMC, but not everything is available in one place, which can be a bit off-putting. [Tony Hoang] is trying to simplify his viewing experience by creating one remote to rule all of his streaming software. He’s got an HTPC connected to his entertainment center, and used a bit of scripting to add some functionality to this Lenovo N9502 remote control.

The hack is entirely software-side. The remote already works quite well, but he remapped the home, end, and page up buttons, as well as the mouse controller. The three buttons will launch XBMC, Hulu, and Netflix respectively. They are also set to kill the other applications before launch so that one button will do everything needed to switch between one another. The mouse remapping takes care of up, down, left, and right keys for navigation in the UI and control of the playing videos. See a demo of the setup after the break.

Everything was done with autohotkey scripts for Windows. But this should be easy to code with other OSes as well. If you’re prone to have a slip of the finger you might want to work out a double-click to launch the applications so you don’t accidentally hit a key in the middle of your favorite show.

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Hulu Desktop for Linux . . . finally

hulu

The folks over at Hulu Labs have been busy it seems, as they have just released a version of their desktop client for Linux. Windows and OSX versions of the desktop client have been out for some time now, but Linux has been left in the dark. Functionality wise, it operates and plays videos identically to its counterparts. The Linux version can also be controlled via an IR remote. We certainly are excited to add this to our entertainment systems. The release is a bit of a surprise, but a welcome change to the usual treatment of Linux, and it’s nice to see the mainstream start to recognize it. Plus, this is just more ammunition for getting rid of those monthly cable/satellite subscriptions.

Boxee and Apple TV

boxee

We’ve been following Boxee (not Boxxy) since its public alpha debut last Summer. We were captivated by it. Who expected a project built off of code originally intended for hacked Xboxes would be shown on NBC’s Today Show? We’ve been promised internet connected set top boxes for years, but it seems like Boxee is here to stay for two solid reasons: 1. It’s free. 2. Major content providers have finally figured out how to publish online and Boxee supports them. You can replace your network television with on demand content from Hulu, ABC, and the like.

One of the most affordable platforms currently supported by Boxee is the Apple TV. Lifehacker has a guide for installing Boxee on an Apple TV. You prepare a USB flash drive that is then used to patch the stock firmware. Once installed you can take advantage fun features like downloading torrents directly to the box.

Coin slot detector


Wow, how quickly the wearable electronics world has slid into the gutter. They’re now resigned to watching our nations finest natural resource, the butt crack. This project by [semiotech] uses a LilyPad Arduino to monitor the exposure of the wearer’s coin slot. It detects the presence of light with a photoresistor and alerts the user with the vibrations of a pager motor. This breakthrough in coin slot technology will prevent dryness and certainly reduce our exposure to domestic terrorism. We see plenty of room for future development; the Arduino is already capable of logging exactly how often your coin slot is exposed. Even if you feel this is more protection than your coin slot needs, we recommend Neutrogena’s Coin Slot Cream for general upkeep.