MythTV library on Apple TV without a jailbreak

[Dan] wrote in to share a link to his MythTv to Apple TV setup. He found a way to make the recordings he made on his Linux box available on the 2nd Generation Apple TV. Our first thought is that he would use XBMC on a jailbroken device  but that is not the case. The secret is to roll iTunes into the mix.

Take a look at the diagram above. The system starts with an Arch Linux box that runs MythTV, an open source program which allows you to record from tuner or encoder hardware. But actually watching those recordings on an iOS device is difficult for a couple of reasons. First, Apple likes to keep their devices locked up tight in hopes that you buy your entertainment rather than watching over-the-air records. Second, if you’re recording ATSC channels the files may be 1080i or 1080p, neither of which can be handled by the Apple TV 2. [Dan] gets around this by first using the command line version of Handbrake to transcode the recordings to an h264 format. He then uses iTunes running on an Windows 7 virtual machine (on the Linux box) to host the transcoded files in a library the Apple TV can access.

Monitoring batch jobs the Cylon way with Python and a parallel port

parallel-port-trigger

If you happen to do a lot of video encoding, you know that your computer can really drag while the process is carried out. Our own [Mike Szczys] transcodes videos at home fairly often, and because the process is automated, he doesn’t always know if a conversion is taking place in the background.

He has been tinkering with Larson Scanners recently and thought he could put everything he’s learned along the way to good use by using the scanner as a “busy” indicator for his PC. He hooked the scanner up to the computer’s parallel port, and took a few minutes to bang out some Python code that would alert him when his PC was busy.

He set his notifier script to launch along with FFMPEG, whenever his MythTV setup had something ready to convert. The Python script drives a pin on the parallel port high, triggering the Larson Scanner’s animation. Every minute, the script checks the status of FFMPEG and continues to hold the pin high until the application exits. Once the conversion is done, the scanner goes back to sleep, letting [Mike] know that the coast is clear.

Continue reading to see a video of his parallel port trigger in action.

[Read more...]

MythNetVision to cure borked MythTV hacks

Another group of developers has stepped up to the plate in the never-ending attempt to integrate online streaming video with MythTV. The new plugin is called MythNetVision and aims to bring streaming and downloading video functionality both easily and legally. That means without violating the terms of service of the providing website.

We’ve seen so many attempts that fell short it’s easy to be skeptical about the chances of this plugin actually working. Plugins like MythStream and MythVodka worked only temporarily before breaking and never seemed to provide a reliable option. Many people have tried adding Boxee, Hulu Desktop, or XBMC integration by launching these separate packages via the MythTV UI but that’s far from a clean solution.

It looks like MythNetVision is taking a slightly different approach. Although not yet available, the designers have built the plugin in two parts. The frontend is a fully skinnable user interface that parses RSS feeds to provide the hooks needed to browse, search, and view video. Depending on the content, a browser may be spawned to play the video, it may be played within MythTV’s normal player, or a separate download thread can be launch with video following after the appropriate buffer level is reached. The RSS feeds come either directly from the provider, such as the Revision3 feeds, or a scraper can be written to provide custom RSS feeds from sites that don’t have them.

We’ve seen a glimpse of the progress and we’re optimistic that we’ll see a reliable plugin. Early adoption and user script contribution are the best way to help ensure this so keep an eye out for the public release of this package.

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?

Media streamers: buy or build?


The market is flooded with new media streamers, but which one is for you? One of the cheapest and easiest options is the unambiguously titled Netflix Player. With an active account, the Netflix Player streams movies and television shows from their online library (currently around 10,000 videos). It connects to the internet via 802.11b/g WiFi or ethernet, but delivers low-quality video if your connection speed is less than 1Mbps. It costs $99 plus at least $8.95/mo for a Netflix subscription. It runs Linux so hopefully we’ll see some hacks for it soon like we did with previous Roku products. A fine device, if you want to stream movies and nothing else, but if you want to stream data from other sources, like a network, usb hard drive, or (gasp) bittorrent, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

[Read more...]

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