Control Your Mac With a iPhone or iPod Touch

February 26th, 2008

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I ran across this over at Gizmodo but on the off chance anyone missed it the first go-round, I thought it was interesting enough to share again. In a nutshell allows you to use your iPhone or iPod touch as a touchpad to control a networked windows/linux or mac computer, since phones have incredible way of connecting now a days, and you can even track a phone by his phone number with services as Yournav that you can find online.

I’d love to try this out but as I don’t have a iPhone or iPod touch; I’ll just have to live vicariously through you, in comments, below, go ahead, I won’t bite. btw be sure not to miss the “detailed mac instructions


XBMC for OS X Updates

February 19th, 2008

XBMCWell things are really progressing nicely on the XBMC for Mac front, it was just a week or so ago that we first got word of the project and they’re already on version 0.1.2 of the software, and custom Apple TV’esque skins for the project have already surfaced.

First about that 0.1.2 update, it includes better dual-core support allowing for much smother 1080p playback with MPEG4 sources and various other bug fixes. Head on over to XBMC on OS X for more on the project.

The Apple themed skin for XMBC on OS X can be found here. From the screen shots it really looks like the artist did a great job on the skins, be sure and let us know how they look once installed. Oh and if you’re having trouble installing the skins on your freshly update XBMC on OS X; this post in the Xbox Media Center forums should help.


Perian 1.1 Released

February 13th, 2008


Just a quick update for you codec freaks today, Perian (The Swiss Army Knife for QuickTime, not to be confused with the St. Bernard for Windows Media Player) released version 1.1 of their handy dandy little video codec application last week, some of the improvements and or additions to Perian 1.1 included:

• Major performance improvements
• TrueAudio, MP1, and DTS audio support
• Slice-based multithreaded decoding for MPEG-1/2/H.264
• Apple H.264 now handles AVCHD/interlaced video
• Compatibility fixes for QuickTime 7.4 and Leopard
• Objective-C GC compatibility
• Fixed a crash in Toast
• Better subtitle rendering
• Subtitles play during MKV loading
• Snow support
• Miscellaneous bug fixes

Excellent news on the performance improvements and DTS support as well as AVCHD/interlaced video, sounds like a nice addition to the arsenal, swing on by and check it out.


XBox Media Center coming to a Mac near you?

February 11th, 2008

XBMCYeah I was just as surprised to read that as you likely are. According to an interview with one of the projects programmers an early demo is already available for download and already supports MP3, OGG, AAC, FLAC, MPC, Project M support for audio visualization and playlists on the audio front and full-screen 1080p pass through with AC3/DTS digital pass through.

Some of their goals for future updates include: Port of Python scripting support, adding official OS X port remote control options/support, AC3/DTS mix-down support and a Port of XBMC Virtual File System features (SMB, FTP, UPNP, etc.). I’m not sure where all this will lead but the project does appear to have the kind of community support a media center front-end needs to be successful, with the Official XBMC OS X user and developer forums receiving over 50,000 page views since mid December of last year; it’s clear we’re not the only ones interested in the project.


Say it Ain’t so Steve

May 25th, 2007

miniSo by now I’m sure many if not most of you have read AppleInsider’s pontifications on the possibility that Apple may be about to shelve the mini, color me unconvinced. Obviously anything can (and usually does) happen with regard to Apple product cycles but I believe there’s a little life left in our favorite miniaturized desktop, but of course I/we can’t discount the possibility that Cupertino may not share our enthusiasm for the mini, AppleInsider cites lower margins from the units compared to iMacs and MacBooks.

If and I do stress if Apple decides the put the mini out to pasture; that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I firmly believe the mini fills rung on Apple’s product ladder that isn’t likely to disappear even if the mini proper does. Perhaps the mini could be combined with the A/V centric AppleTV transforming it into a TV Plus or maybe even a completely different, slightly more powerful SKU altogether. Who knows, but I would be surprised if Apple abandoned the $599 to $799 market altogether, we’ll see.


Further Thoughts on AppleTV

April 4th, 2007

appletvsmEver since AppleTV shipped a few weeks ago, reports of hacks, un-hacks, and opinions of downgraded HD, have been circulating. Some of the comments from consumers regarding the hacks range from, “Why would I want to spend $300 for something I need to hack to get it the way I want?” to, “This is exactly what my home theater was missing”

One of the bigger stories surrounding AppleTV is the record time hack made on its operating system so it can now run a full version of OS X. The guys over at AppleTVHacks have posted a step by step on how-to on turning the media hub into a cheaper Mac mini, but with only 256MB of RAM you probably will only use the modified AppleTV as it was intended, only with a few more apps than before. The TV hacks don’t stop there, you can also boot from that USB “service port only” as well. Apple disabled the port in the software but that didn’t stop others from enabling it.

There have been some accusations that Apple has removed these new hacks through the internet connection to make sure your AppleTV is being used “correctly”. These accusations and rumors are just that, since hacks are not 100% fool proof anyway and who really thinks Apple (anti-DRM) would be big brother all of a sudden.

Some other questions regarding these hacks have been on different ends of the spectrum. For example, why should the consumer spend $300 for a machine that needs to be hacked to do anything useful? If you really wanted to run OS X applications with a keyboard and mouse in your home theater, wouldn’t it be more sensible to buy a Mac mini? Is Apple killing off high-end audio and home theater?

All of these are good questions but the last one I had to ponder on for a bit. The low resolutions available for download on iTunes and the audio quality are generally not what home theater enthusiasts are about. They prefer the 1080i/p and lossless sound options available with the latest advancement in HD technology, but is Apple going to eventually kill off the higher end market because of the way they market the iPod and now the AppleTV?

Maybe Apple is just getting started, it could be that they are going to expand on what they have created or let us do the “hacking” for them so we, the consumer, can decide what we want and how we want it. That could be why Apple has been so successful with the iPod, even though there are better technologies available it doesn’t mean the consumer is ready to buy into them just yet. I’m sure if we give it a few more years, we could be raving about the HD AppleTV next.


Apple TV Arriving Soon

March 20th, 2007

The newest addition to the Apple family is finally being shipped today to those that thought ahead and pre-ordered. The media hub Apple TV, which was unveiled in January, was originally scheduled to be released at the end of February but had a few delays pushing the availability back till mid-March. For those of us that did not plan ahead, you can pay the $299 through Apple’s online store and should be able to receive your Apple TV within 3 to 5 business days.

Here are some of the specs:

Intel processor
40GB hard drive for storing content locally
Up to 50 hours of videos3, 9000 songs4, 25,000 pictures5, or a combination of each
HDMI (video and audio)
Component video
TOSLINK optical audio
Analog RCA stereo audio
10/100 BASE-T Ethernet
USB 2.0 (for service and diagnostics)
802.11n wireless networking*(compatible with 802.11a/b/g)
Built-in IR receiver (works with included Apple Remote)

Video formats supported: H.264 and protected H.264 (from iTunes Store): 640 by 480, 30 fps, LC version of Baseline Profile; 320 by 240, 30 fps, Baseline profile up to Level 1.3; 1280 by 720, 24 fps, Progressive Main Profile. MPEG-4: 640 by 480, 30 fps, Simple Profile. Audio formats supported: AAC (16 to 320 Kbps); protected AAC (from iTunes store); MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps); MP3 VBR; Apple Lossless; AIFF; WAV.

But what good are specs without user reviews! Oh Apple what would I have to do to receive an Apple TV for evaluation purposes? I draw the line at washing cars.


AppleTV and the iPhone

January 9th, 2007

itvSo I’ve been watching the keynote (along with many of you I assume) and I’m more than a bit awestruck here, AppleTV the iPhone; its obvious Apple is moving way beyond personal computers as evident by dropping the “Computers” from the companies formal name.

As utterly cool as the iPhone is I’m actually more impressed at the breadth of products announced today, the iPhone extends Apple’s reach from the desktop to everyday devices like cell phones, while AppleTV may very well bridge the gap between traditional home theater PC’s and stand-alone consumer electronic devices.

Kudos to Apple for continuing to innovate and refine existing products or should I say redefine existing products. The one thing I didn’t catch from the keynote is whether Apple plans to up the resolution of their video files to match AppleTV’s 720p maximum resolution, either way the hardware is in place, let’s just hope the media catches up.


Apple Turns to Hollywood

September 12th, 2006

itvHaving already conquered music downloads in the U.S (and abroad) I suppose it was just a matter of time before Apple offered movies via iTunes. Apple did just that today and while I’d like to get excited over the premise of streaming movies from my desktop to the mini, I cant say as the idea of “near DVD quality” really excites me, especially when I have HDTV sources on-tap.

No I cant say as 640×480 has me ready to box up all my physical media just yet but the big announcement of the show (as far as I’m concerned) could have much bigger implications. Apple’s iTV set-top box with 802.11(?) wireless networking, USB2, ethernet, HDMI connector, component video and digital audio outputs could signal even higher resolutions for movies from iTunes, or perhaps something even more compelling.

The iTV set-top box would seem to indicate Apple is taking a wiser, dare I say safer path to the digital living room forgoing the very un-consumer-friendly, HTPC route. While I would have preferred a max-mini I can definitely see the logic with a move like this.


Apparently September 12th is Showtime

September 6th, 2006

showtimeRumors of an impending update to iTunes for movie support just gained a bit of steam with an invitation to select members of the media to attend a special event, scheduled for September 12.

Obviously the invitation doesn’t spell out any specifics on what will be presented but the header image of the flyer might be telling as to the presentations subject matter.

The invitation displays a white Apple logo with the words “It’s Showtime” underneath. A dark gradient background descends from black to navy, with crisscrossing white rays evocative of the spotlights often used to draw attention to Hollywood movie premieres.

Interesting stuff, while I can’t say as I’m totally disinterested in full-length movies from Apple (especially if they look as good as the 480p movie trailers) I cant help but wonder if something along the lines of a beefed up mini to go along with this announcement isn’t in the works as well. You know my line, time will tell.


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