"Enough whinging and moaning. Time to get off me harris and do something about it!!" , is what I said last week to myself during a particularly strong bout of taking myself to one side and having a serious word in my shell-like. There was some whirring and clicking and things sort of fell into place which led me to finding this path that I now find myself upon and I'm trudging forward along it to see where it takes me.
As employees within Starfleet we are very lucky to be able to move around to differing roles within the business without too much risk to your career in the longer term. Of course it's never quite as straight forward as that, but in theory it's pretty simple. The long and the short of this means that sometime in the next 3 months I will probably be doing something different. But I won't hold my breath just yet.
OK - that's enough work talk - Let's see what else is going on...
Scobi's looking for some guidance for his Home Theatre setup and managing his media, so I figured I'd share a short write up on the way I've been doing it for the past few years. Any questions, drop me a note or post a comment.
What's the goal? To begin with, the goals were simple:
- Listen to different music in different rooms
- Watch different movies in different rooms
- Watch family photo albums on a big screen
Back in the day when I was a believer of Microsoft, before I moved to the Mac world, the answer for me was Microsoft XP Media Center Edition (MCE). I had a smallish tower PC with a TV card in it that would capture my analogue signal. The MCE front end with associated remote was a nice way to watch, pause and rewind live TV as well as being able to watch DVD's (via the DVD ROM), my own videos from the HDD, listen to MP3 music, and view photos. This after all is what you want your media center to do.
However, back then, the support was patchy, drivers and codecs were a headache and believe me there is nothing quite like a "General Protection Fault" or the "Blue Screen Of Death" during the recording of Coronation Street if you really want to feel the wrath of a woman scorned. On top of this, although it was possible to get it running with Sky, satellite TV could only be view via the analogue port due to tuner constraints meaning is was out of step with HD TV by the time that arrived on our shores.
It was these problems that led me away from the Microsoft solution and into the world of Apple TV. A shame, because there were two killer features, that I haven't been able to replace as yet which I'll come to in a moment.
This is the current setup.
Sky+HD for the main TV in the living room. This takes care of the Corrie recording issue and allows for some decent HD content. There's also a PS3 to provide Blue Ray content.
The media Library sits across 2 Terabyte hard drives (1 Internal and 1 external) on the back of an iMac running iTunes - tucked away in the office. This is the core of the network and stores all of the data. Media that arrives at home get's converted (the geeky phrase is "ripped") to a suitable digital format and imported into an iTunes library. This is then available to Apple TV which sits silently and unobtrusively in the living room connected to the WiFi Network.
All of this is rigged to a wall mounted HD LCD and Dolby 5.1 Surround system which the Apple TV supports nicely.
Other rooms in the house have TV's with iPod/iPhone connectors or the iPod/iPhone Composite AV Cable attached to them. This means that it's possible to stream movies or music from the iMac to a remote iPod/iPhone (should point out we're talking about "iPod touch" in this context, which has WiFi connectivity) and use a TV or other docking station for output. Furthermore if you want to move from room to room, well that just works because you're on the WiFi Network and you can even sit outside with it if the mood takes you and the turbulent weather has subsided. The key to it all, is having the library central and available on the Network - it's that simple.
This all works like a dream at the moment, but I have concerns. The downsides (which are only slight) are thus:
- No true (1080p) Hi-Def support in the Library (Apple TV does 720, but my source is only as good as DVD)
- No Skype in the living room
- No Social media in the living room
- Live TV still provided via Sky
Now, I can hear you saying the HD support is a bit of a bind, but not a problem. Skype & Social Media in the living room!!?@!? What are you on Golfy?
Well, I'm not just running a Home theatre here, this is cutting edge stuff. In the Old MCE world, I have a small camera mounted above the TV and Video Sky calls could be neatly integrated because the whole thing was running on XP. I also had a wireless keyboard and could use MS Messenger for chat while watching the TV.
In the future we'll have something to fix that, be it Google TV, or Apple TV with Apps on it (which I think is highly likely), or something else altogether. But the key piece of technology there is the Internet, and so Internet connectivity to your TV in your living room (at least!) is a must have for future-proofing (or at least attempting to). There are TV's out today with some Internet connectivity already, but this is the new frontier for living room dominance and not (I repeat NOT) 3D-TV. But that's another story.
Any other stuff to get off my chest?
X-Factor! Seriously, What the feck is going on there ?? I'm done with it now that it's been clearly shown up as an advertising campaign thinly disguised as a telent show. Just in case you were wondering where my logic comes from. It's really down to last nights show that selects the final 12. The first seven minutes of this contained nothing but the previous days show. And when I say nothing I mean nothing save one very short voice over to say this would be when we find out who the final 12 are. Other than that it was Saturday nights show in 7 minutes. And this is what really galls me - they then went into an ad break!!! 7 minutes of old TV and an ad break! I'm sorry but you lost me right there.
As I'm sure you've heard me say before it's car crash TV (meaning you don't want to look but you can't take your eyes off it) so I allowed my rubber necking to continue to see who had actually been selected. In short, the judges decisions were simply appalling. And the most blatant of these is the selection of Katie Waissal who it transpires, already had a recording contract which Mr Cowell bought her out of just prior to the start of the series.... Goodnight X-Factor. Info here: Anorak.co.uk
And finally, finally.... What a game of Golf that was!!! Damn close in the end even after all that. Without doubt the Ryder Cup is my favourite competition in the golfing world. Europe v's America is just great fun. Well done all involved and of course Graeme MacDowell for finishing it off. http://www.rydercup.com/2010/
This post originally appeared here: Posterous
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