Xbox - media hub

The Xbox 360 has been touted as a media hub for everything – plug in usb sticks and it will play music, films and pictures from it. Plug in mp3 players and they’ll work too – even the iPod. One of the most touted features was that it would work as a Media Centre Extender. So if you have Windows Media Centre the Xbox would connect to the pc and play all content – music, pics, films (including hi def) and recorded tv. Great, but I don’t have Media Centre. I tried it but because I’m not using it to record tv I found it to be a bit clunky compared to using iTunes or other software on the main pc. Meh.

However after doing a bit of digging there is hope for us non Media Centre folk. The 360 will allegedly support Windows Media Connect. This allows other devices to link to a normal XP machine and play music, videos etc in the same way as Media Centre. Looks like the software could be a bit flaky but for me this is great news as I had no intention of setting up a Media Centre machine. I’ll still be keeping the chipped Xbox and accessing media that way as the support for viewing online trailers, playing emulated games etc is superb and will not be do-able with a 360…well not until they are chipped at least. However being able to access all the media from the new machine is really cool – roll on November.

Windows

For once this isn’t about M$ and some guff about windows. No – I’ve put up with three different salesman and last night signed on the dotted line to get new double glazing and front door fitted. The price has shocked me but if we get a quality job I won’t grumble. The thought did cross my mind…lets just get the door replaced and I can get my plasma sorted, especially after watching this 720p video of PGR3.

Anyway – six weeks from now should see us have 13 windows and a front door replaced by Anglian. There salesman wasn’t too bad and at least didn’t start off high and come down to more than half his original price (£22,500 to £9,500 in about 4 steps from the Everest guy) although he did have something that summed up salesman for me. He had the crazy frog ringtone – the bastard. So kids, woman and salesman are responsible for keeping the crazy frog ringtone market afloat. Swines. The new kit should make a massive difference – the front door is very draughty and a few of the windows are in a pretty poor state – old draughty sash windows although the stained glass at the front of the house is nice and we’ll be getting it reproduced. Between this and getting the garden fencing replaced it’s going to be an expensive couple of months – no new toys for me.

Konfabulator - now free

July DesktopJust read on Ricky’s blog that Konfabulator has been bought by Yahoo and is now free. Yippee. Yahoo even. This should give the desktop widget market a good kick. DesktopX has been around for a while but is still too awkward to use and configure. Same for Samurize although you could get some stunning results if you put in the effort. Konfabulator was always nice but cost money and was short of widgets the last time I tried – not any more.

I’ve put up my new desktop which has also taken on a Longhorn Vista look and feel to celebrate the fact we’re a year away from a new Windows environment. So much was promised with Longhorn and on the face of it so much has been stripped out. Here’s hoping there will be a radical yet stable product at the end of it all.

 

MediaMan

dvds movies collection
I’ve always had a desire to catalogue all my media – dvd’s, games, music etc. Every package I tried seem to have some shortcoming – cumbersome to use, costs too much, didn’t look very nice. Then I stumbled on MediaMan. Easy to use, integrates nicely with Amazon, supports custom fields and allows you to scan in barcodes via a web-cam. Also allows you to make up some nice virtual shelves as you can see in the picture (link to big picture on Flickr).

The reason for doing this – I like to keep a track on what I’ve watched and how I rate the films in my collection. The virtual shelf is a really nice idea which I first saw in the Apple package Delicious Library. Thankfully someone made this pc clone which is free.

 

Upgrades

upgrade
Switched on the pc this morning and as I got my AVG updates I thought…that was damned fast. Checked my e-mail and sure enough – my 2Meg upgrade has finally arrived. To celebrate I’m downloading 3.5Gb’s of N64 roms to go with the 2000 SNES roms that I downloaded last week. They’ll live on the Xbox for the odd time I fancy some retro gaming. As Ricky would say…woof!

 

Google Maps API

I registered for a Google Maps API key earlier this week – I’m full of idea’s about how to use the maps, some just for fun but others for (admittedly small) bundles of cash. My first stab was to map out the speed camera’s in Scotland. This looks to be working well although needs some tidying of the shadow graphic. A more complete example can be found here (thanks Henry). Well worth a dabble if you find maps and satellite images interesting.

A decade has passed...

…since I graduated from Uni. A lot has happened in the last 10 years but strangely some things are still the same. Have things turned out as I expected – feck no. But things could have been a whole lot worse so I guess I should be relatively happy with my lot.

The graduations at Glasgow Uni are pretty cool (well I thought so). Bute Hall, quadrangles, nice weather, loads of folk dressed up all made for quite a special day. Photo’s can be found here (although they’ll be moving to a Flickr account soon). We haven’t aged one bit, or put on any weight. Ricky’s take on things here.

PSP Warez

A couple of months ago I posted that UMD’s (Universal Media Disc that games are supplied on for the PSP) had been cracked. Two months down the line not only can all UMD ISO’s be downloaded from the net – they can now be played from a memory stick – PSP Warez is alive and kicking. The hacks that allow this only work on firmware 1.50. Sony has released two firmware patched since 1.50 but they are not compulsory so if you want to play warez, home-brew software and emulated games on the PSP stick to version 1.5. Some games will not play unless the firmware is at the latest version. What’s the betting that GTA:Liberty City Stories will be one of them? But then again – who’ll buy the original if they can download it from the internet and play it for free from a memory stick.

Gutted

Picked up the kitten on Friday. She was a handful and not very friendly – lots of spitting and just unhappy. By Saturday she had really brightened up and was friendly, eating and drinking and getting use to her new home. It was then I realised that I was sneezing quite a bit, my throat was sore and my eyes running. I spent a couple of hours away form the kitten and then went back for another play – same again. Crap – I was allergic to her.

We were both gutted and the allergic reaction to her only got worse. I couldn’t believe it – I’ve always been around cats and pets and never suffered before. We took the decision to take her back to the cat protection league this morning before we got too attached. Although we only had her for two days it was still heart breaking. Hopefully she’ll find a new home quickly as she was a lovely wee cat.