DigitalOutbox Episode 172

DigitalOutbox Episode 172
DigitalOutbox Episode 172 – Doug Engelbart, Three and EE

Playback
Listen via iTunes
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Shownotes
0:57 – Doug Engelbart, American inventor and computing legend, passes away
1:46 – Facebook to stop ads running next to offensive material
4:34 – UK to crack down on online piracy and counterfeiting with new government unit
6:31 – AutoRip comes to the UK
8:28 – Samsung buys set top box maker Boxee
11:15 – BlackBerry Misses In Q1 2014
13:34 – 3 mobile slashes pay-as-you-go costs
17:46 – EE doubles 4G speeds this week and offers UK’s first shared data plans
22:07 – Ubisoft website hacked, usernames and encrypted passwords exposed
23:40 – Zynga Confirms Xbox Head Don Mattrick as New CEO

Reading List

Unfortunately we aren’t able to bring you a podcast this week. Instead, here are the stories that caught our eye and are well worth reading. Normal service will hopefully resume next week.

Gary McKinnon’s U.S. Extradition Blocked On Human Rights Grounds
http://techcrunch.com/2012/10/16/uk-government-blocks-hacker-gary-mckinnons-us-extradition-on-human-rights-grounds/
In a surprise to many the Home Secretary Theresa May blocked Gary McKinnon’s extradition on health grounds.

Gov.uk is live
http://www.gov.uk/
Gov.uk has moved out of beta to a live service. Really impressed with the look and feel of the site. More impressive is how open the development has been. Good job.

Xbox Music launched
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-19948100
Microsoft launch a streaming music competitor to Spotify et all. Launching first on the new Xbox dashboard and coming soon to Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. More interesting is the Android and iOS clients coming next year.

Surface priced and dated
http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/oct/16/microsoft-surface-price
Microsoft price and date the Windows for RT Surface tablet. Similar to iPad pricing but watching the ad for the Surface makes the keyboard cover the USP – so why doesn’t every Surface come with one? Microsoft also haven’t done a good job explaining Windows RT – http://www.winsupersite.com/article/windows8/windows-rt-redmond-problem-144554

Apple loses Samsung Appeal
http://techcrunch.com/2012/10/18/apple-vs-samsung-u-k-appeal-court-upholds-galaxy-tab-not-cool-enough-to-copy-ipad-ruling/
Apple lose their appeal in the UK and will now have to run adverts saying that Samsung didn’t copy Apple…in a font no smaller than Ariel 14. Weird specific ruling.

Kindle PaperWhite hits the UK
http://www.engadget.com/2012/10/12/kindle-paperwhite-uk/
Amazon bring the PaperWhite Kindle to the UK…but some people aren’t happy with uneven lighting issues – http://techcrunch.com/2012/10/13/amazon-acknowledges-uneven-lighting-on-the-kindle-paperwhite/

Raspberry Pi gets an update
http://www.engadget.com/2012/10/15/raspberry-pi-model-b-512mb-ram/
Double the RAM for the same price – bargain.

GoPro’s new Hero3 is lighter, faster, higher res and has WiFi, comes in three flavors starting at $199
http://www.engadget.com/2012/10/16/gopro-hd-hero3/
One of the best action camera’s gets a great update.

Boxee TV
http://blog.boxee.tv/2012/10/16/boxee-box-past-present-and-future/
New direction for Boxee, releasing a TV tuner that is US only and stopping updates to it’s Boxee Box. Shame and a poke in the eye for anyone outside the US.

Pirate Bay moves servers to the cloud
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-19982440
Pirate Bay is moving much of it’s infrastructure to the cloud to stay ne step ahead of any future legal battles.

Unmasking the worlds biggest troll
http://gawker.com/5950981/unmasking-reddits-violentacrez-the-biggest-troll-on-the-web
A must read story on how Reddit’s biggest troll, responsible for posting some vile material, was unmasked and outed. There has been much fallout including question marks on how Reddit is run. The troller known as Violentacrez has lost his job and now appeared on American TV to apologise for his actions.

Skydiver Baumgartner sets YouTube live view record
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-19947159
The world watched Felix Baumgartner skydive from the edge of space setting many records including the most watched YouTube Live record with over 8 million viewers. The previous record was 500,000 for the London Olympics.

Google Data Centres
http://www.google.com/about/datacenters/
Google released lot’s of information about it’s secretive data centres which helps YouTube allow for 8 million continuous streams. SOme of the pictures are amazing – have you seen a data centre look so clean and colourful?

DigitalOutbox Episode 66

DigitalOutbox Episode 66
In this episode the team discuss Back to the Mac, Google and Apple quarters, Amazon Kindle and those pesky Canadians.

Playback
Listen via iTunes
Listen via M4A
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Shownotes
1:21 – Google Profits
– http://mashable.com/2010/10/14/google-mobile-display-youtube-business/
– Third quarter revenues jumped 23 percent to $7.3 billion. Net income was up 18 percent to $2.2 billion. On a non-GAAP basis, earnings per share rose slightly faster to $7.64. This blew away the consensus estimate of $6.67 among Wall Street analysts.
– Google ended the quarter with with $33.4 billion in cash and 23,300 employees (300 of those came from acquisitions). Paid clicks were up 16 percent on an annual basis. Cost per click was up 3 percent.
– Non-search revenues for the quarter (which includes Google Apps for Enterprise) were $254 million, up 35 percent for a year ago, but slightly down from $258 million in the second quarter.
– Display advertising: The company’s annualized run rate for display ad revenues is approaching $2.5 billion, according to Rosenberg. Google called it its next billion dollar business, and that it’s already here. Much of Google’s display ad business comes from its $3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick.
– YouTube: While Google didn’t reveal specific revenue numbers for YouTube, the company did say it is monetizing 2 billion views per week, up 50% from last year. Recent reports suggest that YouTube is approaching $1 billion per year in revenue.
– Mobile: The annualized run rate for Google’s mobile business is $1 billion this year. That means, if things stay on track, mobile will become yet another billion-dollar business for the search giant. As a note, this is really more about Google’s mobile ad business and less about Android, which is free for companies to use.
8:05 – Plan to store Britons phone and interned data revived
– http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/oct/20/internet-phone-data-plan-revived
– The government is to revive a plan to store every email, webpage visit and phone call made in the UK, a move that goes against a pledge made by the Liberal Democrats ahead of the election.
– The interception modernisation programme, proposed under Labour, would require internet service providers to retain data about how people have used the internet, and for phone networks to record details about phone calls, for an unspecified period.
– The government says police and security services would be able to access that data if they could demonstrate it was to prevent a “terror-related” crime.
– The revival of the programme is buried in the strategic defence and security review, which was published yesterday. The review says the programme is required to “maintain capabilities that are vital to the work these agencies do, to protect the public”.
19:45 – Back to the Mac
-Headlines:
– Updates across all iLife products. Free on new Mac’s. Upgrade about $50
– iPhoto upgrade looks very nice
– Facetime available in OSX
– A seperate desktop app for iChat – can now chat phone to Mac – Had serious security flaw which is now fixed
– OSX Lion announced (release next year Summer)
– Desktop App store (will also be avail in Snow Leopard soon) – 90 days
– Controversial
– Many dev’s can’t afford to avoid
– Another goldrush
– Flight Control already announced
– So many limitations
– http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/apples_guidelines_revealed_apps_you_cant_sell_in_the_mac_app_store.php
– Mission Control (icon grid for desktop) – Combines existing expose/spaces/dashboard as well
– Full screen apps
– New Macbook Air(s)
– 13” model updated + new 11” version
– Unibody design – wedge shape.
– SSD drives only.
– 5 / 7 hour battery life (11” / 13”)
– Also mentioned:
– Tweak to Macbook range – updated clock speed.
– Bla bla bla sold frickin gergillions of products.
– So, OSX is getting a fusion of some iOS features.
35:09 – Windows Phone 7
– First impressions appear to be positive start.
– Fun and slick to use.
– Minimal interface
– Some good features
– Gripes being
– App store is too busy (includes music in searches)
– Sometimes minimal interface gets in way of achieving goals
– Early days mean missing key apps.
– Definitely behind the curve – better than early Android and iPhones BUT we’re a long way beyond early versions of these platforms now. How long will the version iterations happen and how advanced will point releases be in catching up?
38:56 – Nokia N8
– First phone to use Symbian 3
– Unfortunately, doesn’t seem up to snuff
– Good enough hardware – responsive and good 12mp camera
– Sounds like operating system is main drawback with difficult to use and understand – clunky
– Is Nokia losing the battle?? Are they still king in the standard handeset market – and just not relevant in Smartphone market now…? (Nokia cutting 1800 jobs)
41:05 – MS Office 365
– Microsoft have officially announced their web based office product as Office 365.
– It’s a subscription based service. For consumers, the base product is $6 per month.
– Enterprise will have options from $2 – $20 per month.
– Distinct push to the cloud in everything MS is announcing at the moment. Also, a subscription based model is also a new step for consumers. Are we ready? How does $6 per month sound?
43:42 – Ray Ozzie Resigns
– Ozzie became an employee of Microsoft in 2005, following its acquisition of Groove Networks. He became the company’s chief software architect in 2006, after Co-founder and Chairman Bill Gates stepped down from the role to spend more of his time on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — which he began doing full-time in 2008.
– In October 2009, he founded the FUSE Labs (Future Social Experiences) division within Microsoft to develop more social, web-based products, such as social aggregation tool Spindex. He also been credited with driving many of Microsoft’s software products, such as Microsoft Office, to the cloud.
46:08 – Boxee Box
– Nov 12th in UK
– £200
47:29 – Fable 3
– Fable III will feature a one off redemption game card in each game box to unlock DLC…
– Essentially, you need to buy a new game in order to gain all features of game… In this case, they seem just innocent, non-game changing features and additions.
– However, with EA also releasing game codes that are designed to scupper 2nd hand game sales, are we seeing a worrying trend?
– PS looking forward to it anyway 🙂

Picks
Chris
Kindle 3G

– Purchased on the spur of the moment… it’s just about in the price range to do this.
– Only had it a few days – but glad I got it! Plenty of free “classics” available. Prices seem to have settled down and you can get some good deals.
– Button only navigation feels old fashioned but seems well laid out.
– Has in-built browser, although very clunky, might work ok for simple RSS feed type websites. Does try with more complex websites but essentially won’t offer any compelling browsing experience.
– Allows you to play MP3 files – podcasts/songs if you want.
– Reads books out loud (if publisher licences this) and computer voice is acceptable… but I imagine would detract from anything other than blog reading.
– Possible to import your own PDFs.
– Screen is great. Love the fact that when you turn it off, it displays a picture – and it’s kind of spooky at how much it looks like paper and ink… I’ve become so used to seeing screens with a viewing angle – that when you don’t have one, it feels alien!
– Problem of DRM and lack of EPUB support are biggest downsides.
– Tiny keyboard is not ideal.

DigitalOutbox Episode 61

DigitalOutbox Episode 61
In this episode the team discuss Google Instant, Apple U Turn, iOS 4.1, Boxee Box and Halo. Woot.

Playback
Listen via iTunes
Listen via M4A
Listen via MP3

Shownotes
2:16 – Google Instant
– In past few months have passed over 1 billion users on Google each week
– It takes a user on average around nine seconds to enter a search query into Google. Serving results takes around 300 ms from Google, plus 800 ms total in Network time. Takes around 15 seconds to select a result. A search takes 25 seconds.
– At Google we think we have a faster way. Google Instant Search. And that’s what we’re launching today. Gets search results as you type so search is interactive the whole time you’re typing. Google Instant looks like normal Google search. But as you start typing, you see results — you don’t have to hit enter. You can hit ‘tab’ to complete a word.
– Type w – Glasgow 5 day weather forecast appears, first link is mountain weather forecast, second bbc, third met office – impressive
– We estimate this will help Google users save two to five seconds per query. That adds up across all users. “11 hours saved. Each second.”
– Instant results, Scroll to Search, Predictions.
– Only on google.com web page – browsers, mobile – next few months
– Instead of making first page, now about making first letter!
– End of SEO? Does being on page 2 or lower half of page kill your brand?
– Here’s what this means: no two people will see the same web. Once a single search would do the trick – and everyone saw the same results. That’s what made search engine optimisation work. Now, with this, everyone is going to start tweaking their searches in real-time. The reason this is a game changer is feedback. When you get feedback, you change your behaviours.
9:07 – Apple U Turn
– https://developer.apple.com/appstore/resources/approval/guidelines.html
– http://stadium.weblogsinc.com/engadget/files/app-store-guidelines.pdf
– Short statement from Apple – we are relaxing all restrictions on the development tools used to create iOS apps, as long as the resulting apps do not download any code. This should give developers the flexibility they want, while preserving the security we need.
– In addition, for the first time we are publishing the App Store Review Guidelines to help developers understand how we review submitted apps. We hope it will make us more transparent and help our developers create even more successful apps for the App Store.
– Now, was that so hard? Dev’s crying out for this for a couple of years now
– So Flash could be used to create app’s.
– Why now? Android? Realising they were wrong? Pressure from dev’s and large dev studios? FTC probe?
– Most interesting – the guidelines
– Written by a human, almost common sense text – Steve?
– We have lots of kids downloading lots of apps, and parental controls don’t work unless the parents set them up (many don’t). So know that we’re keeping an eye out for the kids.
– We have over 250,000 apps in the App Store. We don’t need any more Fart apps. If your app doesn’t do something useful or provide some form of lasting entertainment, it may not be accepted.
– If your App looks like it was cobbled together in a few days, or you’re trying to get your first practice App into the store to impress your friends, please brace yourself for rejection. We have lots of serious developers who don’t want their quality Apps to be surrounded by amateur hour.
– We will reject Apps for any content or behavior that we believe is over the line. What line, you ask? Well, as a Supreme Court Justice once said, “I’ll know it when I see it”. And we think that you will also know it when you cross it.
– If your app is rejected, we have a Review Board that you can appeal to. If you run to the press and trash us, it never helps.
– This is a living document, and new apps presenting new questions may result in new rules at any time. Perhaps your app will trigger this.
– Lastly, we love this stuff too, and honor what you do. We’re really trying our best to create the best platform in the world for you to express your talents and make a living too. If it sounds like we’re control freaks, well, maybe it’s because we’re so committed to our users and making sure they have a quality experience with our products. Just like almost all of you are too.
– Adobe – great news for developers – http://blogs.adobe.com/conversations/2010/09/great-news-for-developers.html
– Adobe’s Packager for iPhone – The feature is available for developers to use today in Flash Professional CS5, and we will now resume development work on this feature for future releases.
– This is great news for developers and we’re hearing from our developer community that Packager apps are already being approved for the App Store. We do want to point out that Apple’s restriction on Flash content running in the browser on iOS devices remains in place.
– Another developer that has been affected by the rule change is Google. The search giant’s advertising arm, AdMob, was another part of development that was banned back in the original April rule set, but has now seen those rules relaxed. Writing on the AdMob blog, vice president of product management Omar Hamoui says “We’re pleased that Apple has clarified its terms,” adding: “Users will benefit from more free, or low cost, apps that can now more readily be supported by advertising.”
17:24 – iTunes 10
– Faster
– Cleaner
– Ping
– horrible
– feels old
– invite by e-mail
– no Facebook/twitter integration
– drive sales for Apple?
– Where’s my wireless syncing? iOS 5?
– If I search for artists I want links to listen to their music not their muesli. Should be like Spotify/Lsst.fm
20:44 – iOS 4.1 is Out
– Gamecentre
– HDR photo’s
– bug fixes
– anything else?
– MDM – enterprise feature to manage various aspects of the left to 3rd parties to implement. As consumers we might not care, but as more and more enterprises are not just allowing employees to use their own smartphones, but actively encouraging it as a cost cutting exercise, managing those devices is an IT managers nightmare and this is a welcome addition.
26:43 – Amazon hit back
– Not just apple except
– This is for download, not streaming – same content, same price, one you own, one you stream for a limited time
– Cable/sat providers…your time is up
– available in the uk?
30:47 – Plex comes to LG
– Plex – needs a mac to run
– Potentially expensive
– working with LG Electronics (the second largest TV manufacturer in the world) to integrate the Plex platform into their 2011 lineup of Netcast™ connected TVs and Blu-ray devices. So early next year, when you buy an LG Netcast™ TV or Blu-ray player, you will have Plex functionality built-in. Specifically, it will connect to a cloud version of the Plex platform for online content, and, if you happen to have a Plex Media Server running anywhere in your house (after all, who doesn’t have a computer in their house?), you can access your local and online content, in a rich interface, with full metadata
– This is a BIG deal
– My new Sony comes with iPlayer, 4OD, Youtube, podcasts etc
– But a tv with plex built in is a seriously powerful device
35:27 – Boxee Box
– Pre-order in America
– Out in November (UK too)
– Now with Intel inside, not Nvidia
– $229, not $199 although Amazon selling for $199
– UK Price £199
– http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/361132/boxee-arrives-in-europe-at-twice-the-price-of-apple-tv
– The UK version of the Boxee Box will include
– free and paid-for TV content from a number of local broadcasters, including the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV.
– V-friendly access to services such as Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.
– Intel Atom CE4100 processor]
– 802.11n wireless and Ethernet connections
– HDMI port to deliver Full HD video
– 2 USB ports
– SD card slot
– offers support for Flash, MP3 and Divx formats
– Full Qwerty remote control
43:52 – Twitter for iPad
– Twitter for iPad takes advantage of the iPad’s fluid touch interface, letting you move lots of information around smoothly and quickly – without needing to open and close windows or click buttons.
– Panes: Tapping on a Tweet opens a pane to the right. Depending on the content in that Tweet, you’ll see a video or photo, or maybe a news story, or perhaps another Tweet. You can continue tapping on Tweets, opening new panes, and getting new content as long as you’d like to.
– Media: When you tap a video link or open a web page with an embedded video, you can play that video inline. And, let’s be honest, video is great but sometimes it can take some time to load. The panes in Twitter for iPad let you look through your timeline while a video is loading, and then you can just swipe back to the video when it’s ready to play. You can also pinch on a video to watch it fullscreen.
– Gestures: You can pinch on a Tweet to quickly view details about the author and to take actions on a Tweet, such as reply or retweet. Put two fingers together and pull down on a Tweet to peek at the replies, showing the entire conversation leading to that Tweet.
– Bold and unexpected – eats the other twitter clients
– Wheres Tweetie 2 for the Mac! Hibari is nice, but tweetie still feels better but missing new functionality of twitter – http://hibariapp.com/
44:54 – Samsung Galaxy Tablet
– First true iPad competitor
– the GT-P1000 model has a 7-inch TFT-LCD WSVGA screen (with 1024 x 600 pixels), and is powered by a Cortex A8 1.0GHz processor and a PowerVR SGX540 GPU—the same one used in their Galaxy S phone-and runs with 512MB of RAM.
– As expected, the back-facing camera is a 3MP affair with auto-focus and an LED flash, and the forward-facing one (for video conferencing) has a 1.3MP sensor.
– Two storage capacities are on offer, either 16GB or 32GB, with both models allowing for a further 32GB memory expansion via the card slot.
– Wi-Fi 802.11n and Bluetooth 3.0, and 3G support (Vodafone has been signed up from the get-go, Three from October but unsure if right away)
– As we saw in the leaked video last week, there’s a 30-pin connector port, similar to what Apple uses for its gadgets.
– It’ll run Android 2.2 (Froyo)
– Rumour – Samsung Galaxy Tab reported to retail at €699 and €799 in Europe – iPads offer double the storage for same price
48:29 – Everything Everywhere
– Orange and T-Mobile to offer customers access to both networks at no extra cost as first benefit of newly merged company Everything Everywhere
– Orange and T-Mobile customers invited to sign-up to get access to both networks to make calls and send texts in more places at no extra cost
– As well as continuing to benefit from their existing network, Orange customers will be able to make calls and send texts on the T-Mobile network and T-Mobile customers will be able to do the same using the Orange network
– Customers who sign up for access to both networks will benefit free of charge, with no changes to their existing tariffs or call or text charges. Once registered, should a customer lose signal on their existing network, they will then automatically pick up the signal from the other network where it’s available, meaning that they can make and receive calls and texts in more places than ever before.
50:24 – Bloglines to Close
– Will finally close Oct 1st
– Killed by Google Reader and switch to twitter/facebook – realtime streams
– Sad in some ways but it quickly fell behind Google
– and it was a bit broken
– Off course, many say that RSS is dead etc
– Really – http://googlereader.blogspot.com/2010/09/welcome-and-look-back.html

Picks
Chris
TechSmith Camtasia Studio
– The ultimate screen recording, editing and distribution product.
– Millions of options. Easy to use and control. Plenty of output options. Record your mic, webcam, screen, specific application, video, pictures, title-screens. Stitch them all together on the timeline. £220

Ian
Withings Scale
– Wifi scale
– Expensive
– Can set up to tweet your weight
– Supports up to 5 users
– Love it – very geeky but awesome

Henry
Monkey Island 2
– Awesome game originally on PC now for iOS
– Only £0.69

Mac Mini Media Centre – Boxee

Boxee is a media centre application again based on XMBC but more focussed on the social sharing of media. In this, our fifth part of an ongoing series of Mac Mini Media Server articles I’ll review Boxee Beta which is the latest version of the well known software. Boxee, unlike Plex, is available for Windows and Linux as well as Mac. There is also a version of Boxee that can be installed on a flashed Apple TV.

Creating a Boxee Account
One of the first differences with Boxee is to download the application you first need to create an account. The account you setup isn’t just for downloading the application – it’s the key to sharing your media likes amongst friends. On the website you can add friends who already use Boxee, see what your friends have been watching and recommending and also link your account to other services.

At first I dismissed the services as a gimmick but thats not the case, well not for all of them. Twitter and Facebook linking allows you to post your shares to those sites or indeed everything you are watching. One to watch is Twitter – you could easily annoy your friends with continuos tweets from Boxee. You could also embarrass yourself with some of your viewing habits. You have been warned. Of more use is Flickr and Digg which allow you to connect to your content and access them from within Boxee. One of the better services is Netflix which alas isn’t available in the UK. Yet. Enter your account details though and you can browse your queue, recommendations and start watching films from within Boxee. One day maybe. one day.

Boxee Install
Once the software has been downloaded, installed and launched your presented with the login screen. You only need to do this once as Boxee will remember your details. One nice feature to note – Boxee supports multiple users so for families who want to watch and share out to different friends Boxee is ideal. Once logged in your presented with the home screen which has been redesigned for the beta.

I found the design of Boxee Alpha was cluttered and quite weak. Boxee Beta has addressed this with a clean and simple user interface that makes navigation easy and content quickly accessible. The home screen gives quick access to the various content types, your app’s and also three socially driven streams – Feed, Featured and Queue. This is something that really makes Boxee stand out. Launch Plex and you need to add local content, scan folders or install app’s to play media. With Boxee the Feed is showing content watched or recommended by friends or intially the Boxee staff. Featured is content that is promoted by Boxee. Queue is populated from two sources – you can add content from within Boxee to the Queue or via a bookmarklet installed on your browser. If you find a video online, add it to the queue via the bookmarklet and you can watch it back via Boxee at a later date. Simple but effective. So from first install you have media to play. On first launch of Boxee the queue features a how to video to get you started.

The Global Menu seen above has been added to the Beta which allows for quick access to content and settings. The bottom of the menu also includes a customisable shortcuts menu which means app’s or a favourite TV series can be accessed with ease.

Adding Content
Lots of internet video is all well and good but my main interest is in my locally stored content. Boxee makes it easy to add content compared to Plex. Visit the Settings screen, Media and then you can browse to a local drive or a network share or enter the source manually. Like Plex when entering a source you select a content type – video, music or picture. You can then alter how often the folder is scanned for new content – private, once, daily or monitored which means newly acquired content should be available quickly from within Boxee.

Boxee uses IMDB for it’s scraping and I found it to be good as long as my content was named properly. I keep my naming simple and follow this format for movies:

IMDB Movie Title (Year of film).video extension

For example:

Batman Begins (2005).avi
District 9 (2009).mkv
Slumdog Millionaire (2008).mpg

and this format for TV:

TV Series Name
– Season 1
– TV Series Name – S01E01.video extension

were S01 is Season 1, E01 is episode 1. You can also add episode title in there but I find less is more. Keep the naming simple with the season and episode number and the scraper is far more reliable.

For example:

Battlestar Galactica
– Season 1
– Battlestar Galactica S01E01.mkv
– …
– Season 2
– Battlestar Galactica S02E01.mkv
– …

One issue I did have with Boxee is that there is no obvious way to tell if it’s finished adding content. Visiting the Movie or TV folders showed only some of my media. Going back to Setings and Media and selecting a local folder showed it was still scanning. It would be better if there was a indicator that scanning was taking place – a status window or icon in the top right corner for example.

Another shortfall is that Boxee doesn’t integrate with iTunes unlike Plex. With Plex you can access all your playlists from within the tool itself. With Boxee you need to scan your music folder and there is no playlist support. The dev’s have acknowledged the problem and say it is being worked on for a future version.

Playback
The home screen allows you to access Pictures, Music, Movies and TV as well as app’s. Leaving pictures to one side Music allows you to browse your collection by artist or album. You can also filter by genre and sort to see your latest music. The screens are clean and functional but the lack of playlists really hurts especially with a large music collection.

Movies make the most of the IMDB scraping and present either a poster list of your movies or a list. Again the cleaned up UI is noticeable here with scrolling quick and movie selection easy. However compared to Plex it lacks a certain impact. The lack of fan art and other information is disappointing. You also don’t get the variety of views seen in Plex that allow you to browse a wall of images, cover flow type views etc. While not entirely necessary it’s these touches that impact the most in Boxee.

One feature that is good to see is resume from last playback position across all movies and TV shows. The playback screen also allows you to share the video with your friends including adding a comment, see further information on the movie and also change audio and video playback settings for the individual movie or across all of Boxee. One other playback feauture of note – Boxee played back all my content, even those movies that I had issues with in Plex and VLC. Very impressive and makes for a great first impression.

TV Shows are similar to Movies. Boxee groups your TV Shows by programme, then lists then in season order. Again the presentation ‘wow’ is missing in Boxee. No fan art, no theme tunes and very little info on each series and episode. It’s not a deal breaker but if your used to Plex it feels a little empty.

One big difference in TV Shows is the availability of online content…for some of us! In the left hand side panel instead of My TV Shows which displays local TV content only select TV Show Library. This will refresh and display TV series that are available for free in your region.

As you can see in the screenshot above there is a lot of content available…if you live in the US. In the Boxee settings there is an option to show or hide network content depending on your geo-location. With this enabled you get a slightly different set of series in the UK.

Yes, South Park. Thats it. The sooner we lose geo-locked content the better although it’s always been this way if you think back to the region locks on DVD’s. Of course there are series available in the UK via iPlayer and 4OD for example but they aren’t hardcoded in to Boxee. Something to raise with the developers.

Applications
Despite the lack of online content in the TV section there is a vast array of applications that can be installed to help. Similar to Plex you can access iPlayer, Revision 3, Wired and a whole host of other internet based TV and video. There’s also some great photoblogs like The Big Picture which looks great on a large screen.

You can install from over 150 app’s with more being added all the time. I’ve found them to be generally stable and like Plex a great addition to my locally stored content.

Niggles
Boxee, considering it’s free, is a great piece of software. However note that it’s called Beta for a reason. I’ve had it crash three or four times in the last couple of weeks. Twice during the cataloging of content and twice during playback although one of those was a plugin which I’m sure will suffer from a higher level on instability than the main Boxee program.

Although the UI is clean and simple I prefer Plex simply due to the additional data that Plex will scrape. Boxee can feel too clean at times although I’m sure the tool of choice will come down to individual preference. Boxee does come with some customisation options which can be used to spruce it up. You can set backgrounds and if you use some of the images from this Flickr set or the XBMC website you can create a very individual player. It doesn’t support skinning like Plex but it’s at least something.

Final issue is the iTunes integration, or lack off. Browsing music in Boxee is painful with large collections. Fixing this would be a great step forward.

Future for Boxee?
Boxee like Plex is based on XBMC but Boxee has big plans and a lot of funding behind it. Not only is it available on a variety of platforms but this year will see the launch of the Boxee Box.

This will be a relatively cheap under the TV device whose sole purpose is to run Boxee. I think the hardware looks great and it should mean great things for the Boxee platform going forward. They have also announced Boxee Payments coming soon. While this is controversial it’s probably the only natural step to grow Boxee. Content providers want people to pay for their content. Boxee want to be a viewer for the content so payments is a natural step forward.

Overall
Boxee is a great media centre application that will only get better with time with a large and ever growing community supporting it. At the moment I still prefer Plex but both have their idiosyncrasies so it’s really personal choice that will decide which app is for you. Boxee is easier to setup than Plex but gives you less overall control. Plex isn’t as obvious to setup but I think usage is easier once the effort has been made and it’s certainly a richer environment. I’ll shortly be looking at XMBC but the next post will look at a variety of remote control options for your Mini as there’s some great options out there for your Mac.

DigitalOutbox Episode 32

DigitalOutbox Episode 32
In this episode the team discuss Nexus, Apple Tablet and some CES discussion.

Playback
Listen via iTunes
Listen via M4A
Listen via MP3

Shownotes
2:21 – London Datastore
– More than 200 data sets detailing life in London are to be put online by the capital’s governing body.
– Opens on Jan 29th
– Information about planning decisions, crime rates, abandoned vehicles, house prices, road accidents and many other metrics will form the London datastore.
– Those who come up with the most innovative ways to harness the data could get a substantial grant to help them bring their idea to life.
– 4iP, Channel 4’s Innovation for the Public Fund, said it would back the best ideas with a £200,000 cash pot.
– Data list – http://data.london.gov.uk/datastore/data-packages-launch
5:13 – Project Canvas Approved
– Internet access for the TV via set top box
– BBC Trust has given the go-ahead for the corporation to push on
– The consortium of six firms is now looking for “expressions of interest” for other partners to join the platform
– Project Canvas now includes the BBC, ITV, BT, Five, Channel 4 and Talk Talk. Sky is likely to vocally object to the Trust’s apparent approval – its press office was unavailable at press time.
– “By seamlessly converging broadband and broadcast content, Project Canvas can help secure the future of free-to-air broadcasting and create an open platform that gives online services a route to the TV set.
6:57 – Videogames Bigger Than Film
– More money was spent on video games than on films – including both trips to the cinema and films on DVD – figures compiled for The Daily Telegraph indicate.
– In the twelve months to the end of September 2009, £1.73 billion was spent on video games, according to the data company GFK Chart-Track.
– According to the UK Film Council exactly £1 billion was spent at the British box office during the same period, with a further £198 million spent on film titles released on DVD and Blu-ray
– Only television – including DVDs of television shows, along with the cost of the license and satellite subscriptions – and music are bigger forms of entertainment.
– Industry figures show there the number of games consoles being used in Britain has shot up from 13.5 million in 2008 ago to well over 25 million earlier this year, with enough consoles for nine out of every ten households in the country to have one.
9:32 – Orange to launch HD Calls
– Orange will begin trials of the new and improved, 3G-facilitated service early in the new year
– fully roll it out along with a “range of handsets” before the end of the year.
10:27 – Nexus One
– Jan 5th launch
– http://gizmodo.com/5436673/rumor-nexus-one-will-be-530-unlocked-180-with-t+mobile
– 3.7-inch OLED display, HVGA (480 x 800) — deep contrast. 1GHz Snapdragon
– Trackball with multi-color notification LED
– Ah, so those contact points enable inline remotes and mics. Inline noise cancellation: two mics, front and back, which enables nose suppression. Custom engraving on the lower bezel!
– Live wallpaper – looks pretty junky to be honest
– Voice – any text box – demo – spoken english, server based translation to text – it worked! Voice looked amazing, as do all voice demo’s
– Google Earth demo
– www.google.com/phone – buy Nexus 1 plus other devices ‘soon’ – was this really the big announcement?
– Nexus One unlocked and without service: $529. Buy it with service from T-Mobile for $179.
– Will be shipping to UK from today + Singapore & Hong Kong
– On Vodafone in the UK in a ‘few short weeks’
20:03 – Apple Tablet
– Apple has reportedly scheduled a media event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco on Wednesday Jan. 27, 2010, for a major product announcement.
– Selected app developers asked to make sure their app’s work…full screen
– 10″ screen is seemingly the size but lots of sites reporting 7″ too
– APple have owned iSlate domain since 2006/7 – iSlate?
– Is it tablet or high res iPhone?
– 5MP camera’s also rumoured
24:08 – Microsoft at CES
– Power cut – classy start
– Lame introduction – Crazy Steve Balmer ain’t no Steve Jobs
– Xbox – first up and sales looking good
– Bing – good year, growing market share – can’t argue
– Car – growing market
– Zune doing well, Windows Mobile – more next month
– Windows 7 – fastest selling OS in history, 94% satisfcation rating, 300M pc’s shipped, 4 million windows applications – there’s an app for that
– Some of the laptops looked…interesting
– Software – Blio, e-book reader, Office demo – snore, Bing maps again, Recording 4 HD streams – demo, Media everywhere – nice demo of media on tv, comp, phone, xbox – Microsoft Mediaroom – demo’d and talked about IPTV so many times – still not taking off
– Slate pc’s – ugggghhhhhhh – would Steve have said slate if the Apple rumours weren’t so rabid?
– Touch demo on slate fails 🙂
– Xbox – Mass Effect 2 – Jan, Splinter Cell Conviction – Feb, Spring – Mod War 2 expansion packs exclusively first on Xbox, Fable 3, Crackdown 2, Alan Wake – physiological action thriller – episodic with more episodes on Xbox Live, Halo Reach – demo not streamed due to intellectual property – Fall 2010, multiplayer demo in Spring
– Game Room – Personal Arcade, games in original cabinets, 30 original arcade classics from Spring, invite friends to custom arcade and let them try your collection, 1000 games coming!
– Natal – coming this year, holiday 2010, works with current 360, uses 10-15% of 360’s processing power
35:18 – Sony at CES
– 3D TV’s a go-go – top end come with two glasses and transmitter
– Using SD in camera’s!
– BDP-S770 – 3D blu-ray player, wi-fi, netflix and a free iphone app controller
– Sony Dash – 7inch, $199 running Chumby OS, not portable
– 24.5 inch OLED…getting bigger
– PS3 will play 3D movies through 3D Bravias
– PS3
– Heavy Rain – Feb 26th
– God of War III – March in Japan
– No mention of GT5!
40:54 – Skype goes HD
– 720p from Windows
– HD Camera’s coming
– Directly form TV’s – LG and Panasonic
42:21 – Boxee
– Plays everything the normal Boxee software does
– Under $200
– Powered by the Tegra 2 (T20) — a dual-core ARM Cortex A9 CPU
– NVIDIA Graphicsthat can play 1080p video from locally stored content and stream HD content
– Utilizes Adobe Flash 10.1, meaning HD and web content should play back smoother and require fewer resources
– RF remote (so you can hide the box behind a cabinet)
– 802.11n
– No hard drive, no IR
– Remote looks great with chatpad on the back – I want for my Mac Mini
– Boxee Beta software now available to download – http://blog.boxee.tv/2010/01/07/boxee-beta-goes-public-download-now/
44:29 – Kindle DX On Sale Worldwide
– On sale on 100 countries
– $489, ships Jan 19th
– Includes wireless deal, get content wirelessly wherever you are
45:03 – Chrome OS Netbook Specs
– According to IBTimes, the Google netbook will house an Nvidia Tegra platform with an ARM CPU. If the rumors hold up, it will also have a 10.1″ multi-touch screen that supports HD, come with a 64GB SSD, 2GB of RAM, and other standards like Wi-Fi, 3G, Bluetooth, a webcam, and so on. Not surprisingly, the netbook will run Chrome OS and come pre-installed with a suite of Google Apps.
– The rumors also indicate that the netbook will be available by holiday season 2010 for a subsidized price of under $300, which is impressive for the type of hardware they’re talking about. It would sold directly from Google’s website, and they may partner with a network operator to sell it as a bundled 3G plan. – If previous experience is anything to go by, the data-bundle costs will no doubt be pretty crippling – especially for a device that is online only. Does the device need all the power to simply run web applications…
46:11 – iMac Woes Continue
– Resolves graphic card flicker
– The 27-inch iMac Graphics Firmware Update applies to the graphics firmware on ATI Radeon HD 4670 and 4850 graphics cards to address issues that may cause image corruption or the display to flicker.
– If your screen remains black after applying the updater or if you continue to experience image corruption or display flickering after successfully completing this update, contact AppleCare or an Apple Authorized Service Provider
– So not only does Cupertino seem to be blaming ATI for the issue, it’s not actually promising to necessarily fix anything with this update, either
– Couple of days after the firmware release, the flickering still continues for many – OUCH!
47:42 – Unreal 3 Engine on the iPhone
– It’s using a modified Unreal Tournament level previously shown off at GDC. A virtual thumbstick on the left side of the screen controls your movement, while tracking your thumb in the lower right corner of the screen controls the camera. Just tap the screen to shoot. Mark said this is a tech test bed and they’re experimenting with several different control schemes including ones with tilt.
– OpenGL2 only so 3GS or 3rd gen iPod touch
48:03 – AppStore – 3 Billion Downloads
– From 2-3 billion downloads in 3 months, 1 week
– Wowsers
48:22 – Apple Store Madness
– Apple stores don’t have “no smoking” signs. Legally they need them but they “ruin the design of the store”, so for every apple store in the UK they pay £50 a day to keep their windows sign free

Picks
Ian
Unison 2
– newsgroup app for mac
– looks amazing

Chris
Beautiful People
– The 5000 people who were kicked off of beautifulpeople.com for getting too fat over Christmas!
– To you I say… WAHHHHHHHHHH!