Television

XBMC Partnering with Sony, going closed source

Oliver Brown
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I figured any effort to get back to regular posting would only be helped by starting on today of all days… XBMC have announced a new partership with Sony. It will include the assimilation of the XBMC team into Sony’s Home Theatre and Console division and the closing of the XBMC source. Presumably a PS3 port will be forthcoming…

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Sky Player coming to UK Xboxes 27th October

Oliver Brown
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Some time ago (at least a year or so) Sky launched Sky Player. Similar to iPlayer, it allows Sky subscribers to watch Sky content online.

As of October 27th Sky Player will be available to UK Xbox 360 owners. This seems only slightly useful at best. If you already have a Sky subscription (and an Xbox Live Gold account) then Sky Player will be free. With it you’ll be able to view some of what is available on your Sky subscription with live as Video-on-Demand. Except for the possibility of getting Sky in another room, I don’t really see the point.

If you don’t have a Sky subscription, things seem a little more worthwhile. Until you see the price*. The cheapest is £15 a month for a basic entertainment package. Adding Movies and Sports will set up back £41 a month. At those prices you might as well get a normal Sky subscription. The only other difference is at least you only have a month-to-month contract. There are some screenshots from Colin Jenson.

*The pricing hasn’t been confirmed. The prices I’ve quoted is for the web based service. I can’t imagine the Xbox price being much different but I’d guess Microsoft might negotiate something a little less…

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Stargate Universe coming soon - complete with Robert Carlyle

Oliver Brown
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Stargate Universe

October 2nd sees the launch of the third Stargate series, Stargate Universe.

The basic premise is very similar to Star Trek Voyager. A crew find a nine chevron gate address which takes them not to a planet, but instead to the Ancient ship Destiny in another galaxy. And then they can’t get back.

It will apparently be darker and edgier than previous Stargate series (which makes the casting of Robert Carlyle - most famous for Trainspotting and The Full Monty) seem a little more sensible.

One final interesting bit is that Amanda Tapping, Michael Shanks and Richard Dean Anderson all guest start in the first episode.

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GMyth - a MythTV frontend on a Nokia 770?

Oliver Brown
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Someone on the MythTV mailing list recently announced GMyth, a library based on ANSI C and GObject to provide access to Myth backends in a GTK environment. Their ultimate goal is to have MythTV accessible from a Nokia 770/N800 complete with live transcoding. You can find lots more info over on MoRpHeUz’s Blog.

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I Finally have MythTV

Oliver Brown
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After talking about for quite a bit, I finally have a computer setup running MythTV :) I decided to go for MythDora. It has the advantage of being straight forward to use and still leaves me with a fully functional desktop computer (which KnoppMyth doesn’t really do. It did leave me one slight headache - I didn’t have a spare DVD drive (MythDora is 1.2GB) so I had to borrow the one from Windows desktop). The hardware I have is pretty moderate (well, really low end for most applications - a Sempron 3200 and on board GeForce 6100 with a Hauppauge HVR 1300) but it runs as a combined backend/frontend without any problems, even when recording, transcoding and viewing TV (an “advantage” of living in a country where HDTV is still not an issue). On the subject of transcoding, there was one stumbling point - specifically it just didn’t work at first (I got the illuminating error message “Failed with error code 0”). After posting the output to the MythTV-Users mailing list someone pointed out it was a MythDora packaging problem - libmp3lame hadn’t been installed. The only thing that isn’t working now is the MCE IR blaster for controlling my Sky box (I’m just using Freeview though the DVB tuner on HVR 1300). lirc seems to be setup right since when I run irw and press buttons on my remotes (either the MCE remote that came with the HVR or the Sky remote) it detects them properly. Running irsend doesn’t do anything though (there’s not even an error). But at the moment I’m recording more than I can watch with just Freeview anyway… Next time, less rambly :P

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The future of Stargate

Oliver Brown
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In case you didn’t know, Stargate SG-1 has been “cancelled”. To be specific the Sci-Fi channel in America has decided not to pay for another series after series 10. But all is not lost. According to Wikipedia they will be making two straight-to-DVD movies by the end of the year (filming in April and June). The first will wrap up the Ori storyline and the other will be unrelated (check Wikipedia for some spoilers). Also another completely separate Stargate series is planned to start in 2008 :o)

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Some progress with MythTV

Oliver Brown
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I finally (technically) installed KnoppMyth (a Debian based Linux distribution designed just to run MythTV) today. I say technically since I installed it somewhere where I couldn’t connect any sort of TV signal up to it. So, although it works fine, I haven’t actually managed to test any of the important features. The only part of the installation that was a problem was that the hard drive KnoppMyth uses must be the master device on the primary IDE channel. I had it on the secondary and it was not happy…

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Zudeo and the BBC

Oliver Brown
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Apparently the BBC will begin offering programmes for download though Zudeo, a movie sharing service similar to YouTube, owned by Azureus, the developer of a popular BitTorrent client. Although the downloads will contain DRM, the very fact that the reputation of BitTorrent for illegal downloads hasn’t put the BBC off partnering with a company that relies on it says a lot about them.

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The future of television

Oliver Brown
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I just found an interesting document released by the European Broadcasting Union (their most prominent activity is the Eurovision Song Contest) regarding the future of television, specifically relating to PVR systems. Free-to-air Television and other PVR Challenges in Europe. It’s quite long but definitely good. Suggests revolutionary ideas like broadcasters making EPG and programme meta-data publicly available and that they should embrace “new business models” relating to content viewed through a PVR since traditional advertising is far less effective. At no point by the way does it endorse DRM or content protection and even speaks of “the offensive use of patents” in rather negative terms…

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Cards and cards and cards…

Oliver Brown
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We are long time Sky customers and recently ordered Sky Multiroom so I could connect Sky up to my new Media Center PC. On Thursday they sent us two new viewing cards. I knew we’d need a new one but I didn’t expect two - I just figured that the change in our subscription meant the old one needed changing. Except on Friday they sent us another one. So now we have four, our old one and the three new ones. This could lead to an interesting possibility since we actually have a spare Sky box. So we’ll have three Sky boxes (two normal and one Sky+) and three new cards. That’s a total of four signals required - exactly the amount that a single minidish can handle. Unfortunately after looking around the Sky site I found out that you need a seperate multiroom subscription for each additional box. So why did they send us three new cards? digital TV, Sky, Sky+ Sky Plus, multiroom

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