Archive for December, 2010
And we can look forward to roughly the same shit in 2011. Funny how that works.
On the upside, we’re one year closer to every 2012 nut job being proven wrong. In fact, I encourage you to make a nice list of everyone around you who buys into the nonsense so that when nothing happens you can tell them, “Hey, you are really fucking gullible.”
Who knows, maybe it’ll convince them to look at every other nonsensical thing they believe in a little more skeptically.
Personally, I’m looking forward to the 2013 ass bug plague. And the next installment of The Walking Dead.
Hurray winter is here! It’s already snowed twice, the days are short, and it’s indescribably cold outside. But why?
The Earth rotates on a tilted axis as it orbits the sun.
It’s that tilt that causes the seasons. How? The Sun puts out a lot of energy. A whole lot. Those rays heat things up. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, when we are tilted toward the Sun those rays ten to strike directly and more energy (and thus heat) is absorbed. We call that time Summer.
As we cruise through space on our journey around the sun we transition to a point where the Northern Hemisphere is tilted away form the Sun. The rays only hit at an angle, resulting in less energy and heat absorption. We call that time Winter!
Mankind has been going through this process for millions of years. We’ve built all sorts of monuments to track this phenomenon, to mark the solstices, and basically understand how much longer one was supposed to freeze one’s ass off until it was warm again.
Accordingly celebrations to mark those times followed. Those celebrations have mutated over the thousands of years that have come and gone, but the function usually remains the same. Get together with friends and family and have fun.
So remember this holiday season to raise a toast to the axial tilt. Without it, life would be so much more boring.
As the story continues to unfold, some rather disappointing facts are coming to light that are quickly cheapening the calls for Net Neutrality.
Comcast’s toll that Level 3 so publicly and vociferously decried actually is turning out to be the blow-back from an existing peering arrangement between the two.
Peering is when two entities allow each the use of the other’s broadband infrastructure at significantly reduced rates or for free. The catch is that the bandwidth usage needs to be about even on both sides. Given Level 3′s deal with Netflix, Comcast was going to find itself overly burdened carrying the extra traffic.
So, it appears Comcast wasn’t wholly out of line in asking for some compensation from Level 3.
Level 3 has cried wolf on a very sensitive issue. This will undoubtedly be fodder for those against Net Neutrality.
Regardless, things still stink. One thing we have learned from all this is that the concept of the open Internet hangs in a fragile balance. Comcast has shown how easy it would be for them to effectively turn-off Netflix for their subscribers.
While Comcast may be in the right on this particular issue with Level 3, there is still the elephant in the room. The broadband infrastructure in the US is shit. Telecoms and Cable companies were given over $200 billion dollars throughout the 1990′s, as well as having the FCC reclassify the Internet from phone to information service (which removed many restrictions and regulations) in exchange for what was supposed to be massive broadband build-out.
That build-out never appeared. The telecoms and cable companies got everything they wanted.
The consumer got nothing.
Today we’re effectively held hostage inside each fiefdom the ISPs have built for themselves. Even though I pay monthly for a connection to the internet who knows what my ISP will decide to block tomorrow – and no one can stop them.
Many years ago I cut the cord on satellite TV. I was paying far too much for the two shows I regularly watched. Since then it has been a snipe hunt trying to find the perfect internet solution for watching television shows that mimicked the cable/satellite experience.
My current set-up includes an HP Mediasmart server where my video collection lives. It’s accessed by a 2007 Macbook Pro, running Boxee which in turn delivers the video to 37″ Vizio LCD TV via an DVI-to HDMI converter. The sound comes from a headphone to RCA splitter. It works, but it’s not very wife-friendly.
The ante had been uped since I started using Amazon’s Unbox service to watch new shows (Sons of Anarchy and The Walking Dead). Now I had to reboot my Macbook Pro into Windows to run the Unbox software which isn’t Mac-friendly.
Recently, a new XBox 360 slim came into my possession. Here, I thought, was my chance to cut out a lot of wires and headache. The XBox 360 is well regarded as a competent media extender. I could, in theory, stream everything directly from my Mediasmart to the Xbox and then to the TV. It’d be an ethernet cord and one HDMI cord, all managed by my Harmony 880 remote. One button to turn everything on and off. Much more wife-friendly.
Tossing my Amazon Unbox videos on the Mediasmart and accessing them directly through the XBox gave me the licensing-error page. Searching the internet produced two solutions. The dodgy solution was actually installing Unbox on the Mediasmart itself along with Media Player 11. Success varied among users. Given the amount of data that I have stored on my Mediasmart I didn’t want to risk breaking something.
The other option is to stream the Unbox videos from a Media Center PC to the Xbox. Luckily, I had just built a brand new rig complete with Windows 7 64-bit Pro. It should have been a cinch. I’ve got a fully wired system running Cat5E across a Netgear Prosafe GS108 gigabit switch.
After syncing the XBox’s Media Center to the Media Center on my PC I was able to see the Unbox videos stored on my PC and on the Mediasmart. I fired up a video and after a few minutes of buffering it started to play. Three minutes later it froze. Meanwhile, the lights on my switch were flashing like mad. Data was streaming, but nothing was happening. This repeated multiple times to mounting frustration.
Finally I found a solution that worked. I shut down the Media Center on the XBox and choose the the plain old video library menu. I choose my PC off of the menu, which had access to the Amazon Unbox videos on my Mediasmart server. Viola, it streamed with no issues.
I have to assume that Media Center is just clogging my pipes with so much overhead that it kills HD video streaming.
While this isn’t as nice as accessing it directly from the Mediasmart server itself, I’ll live with my PC being the middleman in the equation. It still allows me to keep all my videos in one spot on the Mediasmart.
What boggles my mind is that after a few weeks of searching for a solution nobody out there had written this down. Surely I can’t be the first person to make this combo of hardware work, but here it is for posterity. Hopefully it’ll help some frustrated individual in the future.