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Pandora on AppleTV via XBMC

Pandora on AppleTV via XBMC


I’m less than a week into my JailBroken AppleTV (black), but thanks to an active hacker community, I think we can continue to expect great things for Apple’s latest hobby.

Tonight I installed the Pandora plugin for XBMC onto my AppleTV — “install” might be a little misleading. More accurately, I copied a folder into a directory in my already jailbroken AppleTV. If you can handle a few basic command line tasks like file copy or ftp, you should be good to go.

In any case, I can now stream Pandora music from my AppleTV without having to initiate the audio from a desktop computer or my iPhone.

Steps to Reproduce:
1) Download the script.xbmc.pandora from http://www.sharefile.org/showfile-3606/scriptxbmcpandora.zip
2) Unzip the zip file and copy the script.xbmc.pandora folder into your computer
3) FTP or scp the folder to your AppleTV
/private/var/stash/Applications/XBMC.frappliance/XBMCData/XBMCHome/addons/.

scp -r script.xbmc.pandora root@APPLE.TV.IPADDRESS:/private/var/stash/Applications/XBMC.frappliance/XBMCData/XBMCHome/addons/.

References:
http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?t=70471&page=34
http://github.com/PromyLOPh/pianobar

The headline pretty much says it all, but the AppleTV just got a whole lot cooler now that it can playback just about any media format!

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iPad Ultimate Home Theater RemoteNow that the iPad is upon is, it is time to let it control every aspect of our lives, not to mention our home theater.  There’s a ton of great apps out already that should make the iPad very comfortable in your theater, but what would it take to make it the ULTIMATE Home Theater Remote?

Check out these thoughts on where we’d like to see iPad development go!

http://lunch.com/t/13am

Elgato EyeTV Software

Elgato EyeTV Software

I picked up the Elgato EyeTV as part of my experiment to see if I could cut out my DirecTV service entirely.  The short answer is… “no”, at least not quite yet.

The Elgato EyeTV 250 is a USB device for the Macintosh that allows you to watch and record TV broadcasts from over-the-air (OTA) or clear QAM (unencrypted digital cable) signals.  Setup was pretty standard fare — plug in USB connector and power outlet, install software, connect antenna or cable source.  I tested the device with both cable and antenna and the results were a bit mixed.  The scanning channels process took quite a while for both sources, but the cable source returned better initial results.  When using a smaller “digital OTA antenna” I wasn’t able to get all of my major network channels (CBS, NBC, ABC, etc).  However, after connecting to a larger antenna which is mounted in the attic, I was able to pull in all the major networks.  While this was great for my Mac Mini media center (which doesn’t really move), it did mean that it wouldn’t be easy to take the USB device as a travel companion and grab TV from different locations while on the road.

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OpenRemote Logo

OpenRemote Logo

OpenRemote is an “Open Source community for Automation”.  They are trying provide a complete open source solution to control the variety of “closed protocals and stacks” from typical home automation companies.

More importantly, they may be the answer to my “One Remote to the Rule Them All” quest!  If you look at my recent article on Controlling The Mac Mini,  I mention that my biggest issue with iPhone apps is that they cannot easily control other components in my system (for example, turning on the TV, changing the volume on the receiver, etc.)  According to OpenRemote’s recent tweets, they have managed to do a simple “proof of concept” test using an iPhone, a Wifi network, and an IR blaster to launch FrontRow on a Mac.  Read on to find out why this is so exciting.

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You’ve gone through the effort of ripping all your CDs and DVDs, you’ve hooked up the Mac to your TV and Receiver, but how do you plan to control the computer now that you’re sitting on your couch?  Below are a few different suggestions for how to control your Mac Mini HTPC (home theater PC).  The “best” option really depends on your needs, but I’ll try to help guide you through the options.

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Roku Digital Video Player

Roku Digital Video Player

I realize this site is about the Mac Mini, but it’s good to keep our eye on what the competition is putting out there.  The Roku Digital Video Player has really stepped up the game with an affordable streaming video device with exceptional ease of use.  As a result, the Roku is getting some great reviews.

Currently, the Roku only streams content from Netflix’s On Demand service as well as rentals from Amazon’s Unboxed service.  However at $99, it’s an easy way to get the average person to start streaming video over the internet to their TV.

Obviously, the Mac Mini still has significant advantages over the Roku in terms of features, but if Roku can start streaming content from your local computers and eventually get upgraded for Hulu and YouTube feeds, it may become harder to justify the cost for a full Mac Mini.  Personally, I hope the Roku really takes off because competition is good stimulate innovation.

Send music to another room with Airport Express

Send music to another room with Airport Express

For most people familiar with the Apple product line, this post is restating the obvious.  For the rest of you:  The Airport Express lets you broadcast your iTunes library to any other room in your house over your wireless network.  I feel like the Airport Express has potential to do so many things, that Apple doesn’t do a good enough job toting it’s ability as a music streaming device.

I recently configured an Airport Express to stream music from a Mac Mini to a stereo receiver on a different floor of a house.  I wrote a review of the Airport Express setup and configuration, and without ruining the surprise, it took quite a bit of patience.

For ideas on how to maximize the Airport Express in your network, click the link to read more.

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M_ymc500blI just came across a new Yamaha product that promises to simplify your home theater.  The new newHD line up acts as the central hub for your audio video components and is controlled by a much simpler remote control — specifically a “20 button remote”.

From the online demo, the interface looks very similar in concept to Apple’s Front Row interface.  In practice, it looks like Yamaha is taking all the logic from the Harmony Remote controls, and using the neoHD as the control center, where the the neoHD sends IR commands to the different components attached to itself.

In addition, the device comes in 5.1 and 2.1 configurations, so it appears that this is the natural step to replacing your AV Receiver.  Everything is already going into the receiver now for HDMI switching, up-conversion, and sound processing, so it is a natural progression for Yamaha to take this next step and put a more polished interface.  I currently use Yamaha’s RX-V1800 receiver (which I love) but my biggest gripe with it is the lack of any sort of on-screen interface when using a High definition source.  The neoHD definitely looks poised to address this issue, but looking at the back of the neoHD makes me question who the target audience is for this product.  The neoHD has the cheaper “spring” lock speaker binding terminals and the number of inputs is on the low side — yet the prices from the website tend to suggest that this will be priced above the “entry level consumer” level.

In any case, I’d love to give the neoHD a test drive and post impressions regarding the user interface, but until then, click on the more link to view the photo gallery.  The connection diagram shows an AppleTV as one of the possible devices, so it’s very likely that the neoHD will play nicely with the Mac Mini.

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When I was a kid, I would collect Star Wars figures and Hot Wheels — Now I try to rack up the ultimate home theater components.  Lunch.com has a new “List” feature which lets you create your list and then share it with your friends so you can compare what’s in your AV rack.

Check out my Home Theater List on Lunch.com

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