Friday, October 28, 2011

MyPlex - awesome!

Check out the latest - myPlex - wow, great stuff!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Boxee Remote

Check this out from Engadget, who's going to post a real world review?!

D-Link brings the Boxee Box remote to PC, Mac users

Boxee users on PC and Mac should no longer feel ignored, with promises of updated software on the way and now the option to use a Boxee Box remote from D-Link. The two sided QWERTY design is unchanged and the included RF dongle means your HTPC can stay safely out of sight while you enjoy some branded remote control action without selling out for a one-size-fits-all box. The roll your own media player crowd can pick up the remote at a penny under $50 at a variety of online retailers right now, the long awaited software update is still due this fall.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Plex released

Here is a link to the new features in with the post below.

ow that the latest iOS version has made it into the store (and thank you so much for your feedback on it, you are all very kind!!), we’ve turned our attention to fixing a few issues with Plex. The new releases are available on the Plex home page, and we will enable auto-update shortly.
  • NEW: We display the warning icon on shows/seasons/episodes and artist/album/tracks so that you can see more clearly which media is missing. Also note that if you dislike this feature, you can always disable it in the Library preferences by enabling “Empty trash automatically”. We enable it by default because we never want to delete any of your data without you knowing about it first.


  • FIX: We’ve updated the transcoding engine to fix a number of issues, including 3G video playback being audio only (thanks, Chris!), improvements in threading (1080p content should work more smoothly), and according to one tester, DTS-MA now mixes down correctly. Thanks also to mitch969 and others on the forums for all their help testing!
  • FIX: A few fixes for for the web-based media manager, including a fix for changes to collections not saving, sections not disappearing from clients when deleted via the web manager, and fixes for the “Match using” and un-match functionality.
  • FIX: When an episode is renamed, make sure we reload metadata if the episode or season number changed.
  • FIX: If a slideshow screensaver is active, playing content via the iOS or Android remotes turns the screensaver off (thanks to Man for bring this to our attention).
  • FIX: A fix for Turbo Scanning where if you edited a library section (to add a new directory, or when moving media, for example), you would need to perform a deep scan to pick up the changes.

We’ve also been hard at work at improving the music functionality. Besides support for FLAC, we’ve also added and fixed lots of other things. The really nice part is that the changes were to the scanner and agents, which means that they could be pushed out automatically in micro-increments. I love the thought of our users waking up to new features and bug-fixes without the need to download a whole new version!

  • NEW: Support for scanning OGG.
  • NEW: Improved and enhanced poster gathering from tags in all supported file formats.
  • NEW: Music lacking tags is scanned in as “unknown” artist/album.
  • FIX: Tons of fixes and improvements around reading tags.
  • NEW: Parse track numbers out of filename if they’re not in the tags.
  • FIX: Folders with more than 50 files are scanned.

Barkley is here displaying his affinity for human beds and pillows. Who says dogs don’t have a sense of ergonomics?

And finally a link to my main site, Vesic Photography.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Plex - on the new Apple TV??

Just saw this from Engadget - wow, if this will work, that's going to be really interesting. Right off the bat, you've just beat Boxee by $150. I've played with the new ATV, and the unit is SO small, so simple - anyway - check out the post directly here, or ready below:

Monday, September 20, 2010

Metadata and Plex update

From the Plex Blog here

Plex » Metadata Update

So what exactly is metadata? Defined on Wikipedia as “data about data”, it turns our collection of media from a drab list of files into an interlinked web of facts and pictures, and imbues each item with a rich set of properties. Your files might have structure, but painting them with metadata converts that simple collection into a multi-dimensional universe of relationships. You can now set about answering complex questions like “Do I have any romantic comedies from the 1990′s that I haven’t watched in at least a year, starring Julia Roberts, and not featuring Whoopi Goldberg?”

Everyone loves metadata, and we didn’t anticipate the extreme load the Plex/Nine release would put on a number of sites when we launched. Tens of thousands of early downloaders, eagerly rescanning their huge personal media collections, contributed to massive amounts of traffic to multiple sites.

As a result, we’ve had to spend quite a bit of time since the release focusing on stabilizing our sources of metadata, optimizing the metadata agents (the bits of code that go out and get your metadata), and adding infrastructure to support all of our new users. Here’s a summary of what we’ve done:

  • We’ve brought up a massively powerful machine to serve as our TheTVDB proxy cache. All requests to TheTVDB go through this machine, and it serves over 99% of all bytes out of its cache, which means we’ve reduced the data load on the parent site by a factor of 100x. At peak, we were serving over 500 requests/second, and sending out 320Mbps. Darrin, one of our super-talented Plex engineers, worked literally day and night to get this running after the release, and we also appreciate the help and support from the TVDB guys!
  • For movies, we’ve moved to using data that is accessible with an API or through structured data dumps. Specifically, we’re using metadata from Freebase, Wikipedia, and TheMovieDB (as well as a few others for extra artwork, such as MoviePosterDB). This ensures the best availability and stability of the data.

If you’re not familiar with Freebase, you should check them out. It’s one of the few sites in recent memory that’s totally blown me away. The people who designed it are very, very smart people and the amount of data available is unbelievable. If you check out the page for the movie 300, you’ll see it links to 33 reviews of the movie, 6 other sites (such as Rotten Tomatoes), and then has a veritable cornucopia of data including cast, genres, subjects, filming locations, award lists, and more. All of that data is available via a sophisticated API, or via weekly database dumps.

We’ve processed the most recent Freebase data dump into a form that’s most suitable for our agent to consume. Additionally, we’ve enhanced the Wikipedia agent to support multiple different languages for the summaries. Finally, much more data from TheMovieDB is being pulled in by that agent.

In summary, massive amounts of data, all structured (no more “scraping” sites that can change at a moment’s notice), and all completely up to you as to how you use them. Like TheMovieDB summaries? Drag it to the top of the list of agents. Prefer your summaries in Swedish? Make sure Wikipedia is above TheMovieDB, so its internationalized summaries will take precedence. Have two French movies for your mother-in-law? You can manually set the language preference to French for just those two movies, and she’ll offer to babysit her grandkids while happily reading the summaries in French.

These agent changes have been pushed, and you will have them within the hour, unless you check sooner with Plex Online > More > Check for Updates.

Get your settings exactly how you like them, shift-click the refresh button to get new metadata for all your movies, and then sit back and watch the metadata flow in. (N.B. At this point in time, poster/art selections are “sticky” so once set, it won’t change unless you rescan a section from scratch).

Here’s a summary of what the different movie agents now provide, so as to allow you to prioritize them accordingly, through the settings option shown below:


  • Freebase: Genres, content ratings, studio, directors, writers, actors, tag-lines.
  • Wikipedia: Multi-language summaries, directors, writers, actors, studio.
  • TheMovieDB: Summaries (more plot oriented), content ratings, directors, writers, actors, studio, tag-lines.
  • MoviePosterDB: Lots of movie posters, at lower resolution than TheMovieDB.

So as an example, if you hate the Wikipedia summaries, and prefer English plot summaries, drag TheMovieDB above Wikipedia. If you leave Wikipedia enabled, summaries that aren’t found from TheMovieDB will be filled in by Wikipedia.

If you want your summaries in Swedish, you’ll need to enable Wikipedia and have it higher in the list than TheMovieDB. Note that currently, in order to change languages, you’ll need to create a new section with the new language setting. Alternatively you can “fix match” on an individual item and manually set the language.

Lots of you have asked: How can we help? Luckily this is quite easy; let’s say you have a movie that’s missing data, or has incorrect data. You can head to one of those sites above and add the missing data, and then everyone in the community will benefit, including users of other apps that access those sites. This really is a case where each one of you has the power to help hundreds of thousands of other people!

The most immediate “turnaround” from this data would be through TheMovieDB, which we access through a well-designed API. We cache requests for 4 hours, so if you add data, you will not see the new data for at most this amount of time. (Note that we are also working to improve TheTVDB refresh times, which are now between 24-48 hours.)

Also, if you’re a developer, please check out our repository for agents. They are easy and fun to write, and we’re really looking forward to seeing the creative things you come up with. Oncleben31 has already written an agent for Allociné for French users, and the ever talented Sander wrote one for MovieMeter, for our Dutch users.

In the near future, we’ll allow you to fully customize any of the data for your media and lock it in place, so that it won’t be overwritten by new data from the Internet. So, for example, you can lock all your titles and summaries, but let the ratings and genres continue to expand and improve over time.

Your media has a bright future inside Plex, and metadata is the key.

Friday, September 3, 2010

WOW - Plex is going to be embedded into 2011 LG TVs!

I'm at a loss - this is just beyond impressive, and came out of nowhere:

Plex and the Future of Television


This week has been a big one for TV-related announcements. Apple annouced their revamped Apple TV, and Boxee was quick to reply with their own thoughts on the matter. It turns out that now is the perfect time for us to explain our vision for the future of Plex and television as well.

Today, Plex requires that you have a Mac connected to your TV. As sexy as they are, a Mac Mini is $699. And let’s face it, you probably have a few televisions, so it becomes an expensive proposition to Plex-ify your house, especially now that you can stream your library all over with Plex/Nine. Of course, on the flip side, a Mac Mini is a powerful computer that can be used for other meaningful tasks like 3D modeling, genome sequencing, or World of Warcraft.


Another approach is something like the Boxee Box. It’s $199, which is much better, but still prohibitive for many, and it’s completely specialized. No way you could send your kid off to college with a Boxee Box, although you have to admit, it would probably help his or her social life. Additionally, releasing a custom piece of hardware is not a trivial endeavor, if we even wanted to attempt such a thing. Embedded systems are hard, and the XBMC codebase from which Plex and Boxee are both derived is a large and complex one. And really, at the end of the day, do you want yet another specialized box sitting by your TV?


Even if you get the design right, you have to be able to price it appropriately. With not outrageously different hardware from Boxee, the new Apple TV is half the price. Apple also has a two-fold advantage over Boxee: They are going to be selling their Apple TV in much higher volume (which means lower cost to produce), and – critically – they can subsidize the cost of the device because they make money every time you put your arm around your date and click “Watch” on a movie. Also, let’s face it, it’s a typical Apple product: it works perfectly as long as you don’t stray outside their ecosystem. Your files have to be in their limited range of supported formats, and you only get access to the online content they sanction. It’s not an open platform in any sense of the word, and trust me, I was the first person hoping to be able to run our Plex iOS app on it.


The optimal solution, of course, would be a box that was free, infinitely small, and required no cables. Well, we’re extremely proud to be able to introduce to you, for the first time, the Plex Box, with exactly those characteristics.


How is this possible? Well, we actually have one more “one more thing” to announce: We’re 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. I’ve seen it, and it looks awesome.

I’ve been talking a lot about the importance of getting the architecture right for our platform, and this is a perfect example. Thin clients (LG TV, iOS devices), a smart media server, and plug-ins that can run in the cloud. A single integrated interface to access online content, local content, and personal content.

I can’t even begin to tell you how exciting this is to us. LG chose our platform in no small part because it is OPEN, and that is what makes it special. We have developers all over the world creating plug-ins, helping us evolve the platform, and using it creatively. We wouldn’t be here without them, and it’s been an absolute pleasure working with them over the years. I also have enormous respect for LG, who have great products, massively talented engineering, and forward-thinking management. I’ve been to Korea twice in the last year, and their engineers are super-smart, highly knowledgable, and a delight to work with. They “get” where TV is going, and I have to make a confession – the first time I saw their Plex interface, talking to a remote Plex Media Server and flawlessly streaming content, I had to pretend I had something in my eye. This is a team completely committed to revolutionizing the way we enjoy content, and clearly willing to take chances in doing so, as evidenced by working with a small team like ours.

This is also a massive win for content providers. Yesterday, writing a Plex plug-in would make their content available on a Mac, or a television powered by a Mac. Yesterday, they could suddenly make their content available on 100 million iOS devices. And tomorrow (early next year, technically), they will be able to get their content onto millions of LG TVs and Blu-ray devices. This, friends, is an unprecedented time in history. The distance between content provider and consumer has never been this close or frictionless, and it’s incredible to be a part of.

So what does this mean to you, our dear users? You’ve been so supportive over the years, and this is great news for you as well. It means, first and foremost, that we’ll be able to focus more resources on the development. This will be a full-time job for me and others on the team, which is – honestly – a dream come true. The Plex Media Server is the heart and lungs of the platform, and we’ll be making it rock solid and adding some really, really cool new features. We’ll be bringing it to more platforms, to make it available everywhere. There will be more content providers investing in writing Plex plug-ins, so your online content choices will grow. And next year, if you’re upgrading your TV, or or buying an LG Blu-ray player, you’ll have the ability to get Plex, built in, at no additional cost. Fully integrated into killer consumer electronics gear, exactly as it should be.

And *that* is cool.

It’s been a long journey this past year. Now you finally know all of the cool stuff we’ve been working on, and it’s so great to be able to share it with you. We’ve re-architected our platform for the future, and thankfully, most of that work is behind us. Now we can focus on making Plex more stable, more usable, and overall more AWESOME.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Plex 9, the 24 hour status report from Plex

The official word from Plex on how the release is going as well as some minor issues being addressed:

State of the Release


Just over 24 hours since the release, and this has been an extremely exciting time for all of us. We simply can’t tell you how much we appreciate the outpouring of positive feedback on the release. Over Twitter, Facebook, email, and in the forums, the number of positive comments were astounding to us, and definitely made all the hard work worthwhile. We all want to say, collectively: Thank You.

A few salient things about the release:
  • The demand on our server was completely unprecedented. The OS load went over 30 for long periods of time, and there were HTTP and database issues. Isaac jumped in and quickly and skillfully spread our services out over a few spare slices and was able to return things to normal. Isaac, you rock.
  • Our mirrors (a big thanks to them!) were hammered badly as tens of thousands of downloaders tried to get the latest release, so in the morning we moved the main download site to S3 to ease of the pressure on the mirrors and get the app into people’s hands faster.
  • At this point, all services should be performing well, and we’re continuing to monitor and make adjustments as needed.

We are also tracking at this point a number of issues with the release (nobody’s perfect, right?), and we wanted to give you a quick summary of the more common issues, along with workarounds or resolutions whenever possible. Note that these are not the only issues, just the ones at the top of the list at the moment:

  • CRASHES ON STARTUP: We’re tracking these here. The most common reason (fixed in the next release), is if your computer doesn’t have a name. You can easily workaround this by going to System Preferences > Sharing > Computer Name and put in a clever, well thought out name like “Macadamia”. There’s also a crash we’re seeing on Leopard, which will also be fixed in the next release. Please post your crash reports in that thread.
  • SCANNERS: First and foremost, we’d like to help you get all your media into the library. There were issues with M4V files stopping a scan, an issue parsing date-base episodes, and an issue with .AppleDouble folder which we weren’t ignoring. We’ve pushed bug-fixes for these issues, and your Plex Media Server should update automatically the scanners within the hour. The good news is that you simply have to do another scan (assuming you don’t already have it set to automatically scan). You might be asleep at this point, and you might wake up with a bunch of missing episodes tucked comfortable into your library, and that, my friends, is magic. MAGIC! (If you’d like to track the progress on the scanners, you can follow our Github repository here.)
  • TV SHOW METADATA: Slightly less about magic, and more about laws of large numbers, I’m sorry to report that we, um, melted down TheTVDB today. My sincere apologies to them, and my apologies to you all, as we’ll be without metadata from them until we figure out how to reduce the load. We are working with them as we speak, and hopefully will be able to bring that back online shortly. The good news is that the Alexandria library system has been architected for this exact scenario, and you’ll still be able to scan your episodes into the library, and play them, there just won’t be show and season posters or summary data (until the next time you’re sleeping, when we’ll silently push another update and you’ll wake up with lots of posters). We really like magic, have I mentioned that?
  • LOCAL MEDIA AGENT: This is the one that picks up existing thumbs and fanart and such. There were a few bugs in it, and we think we’ve fixed them, but we need to test more. If you’d like to take the new agent for a spin and know what you’re doing, feel free to check it out here. (Note that you’ll need to remove and add the section to get the new art to “stick”, expect improvements here.)
  • AFP SHARE ISSUE: There seems to be an issue adding folders which live on a remote NAS. A bit baffling, but we’re looking into it.

There are of course other issues, but these are the ones we’d like to get resolved as soon as possible. So, how can you help? Why, I’m glad you asked. If you’re having trouble getting your media into the library, please post in the forum with your exact directory and file layout (screenshot or ls -lR from the terminal).

A few other tips:

  • If you’re seeing pausing when playing video in the iOS app, there are a few simple things you can do. Don’t select “auto” quality setting, and make sure you select a quality that’s appropriate to your network speed. Also, make sure you’re not trying to play 720p content (highest quality) to an iPad/iPhone4 if you have a slow server (less than 2.2GHz). Use this as an excuse to upgrade (“Honey, but don’t you want to watch So You Think You Can Dance without a pause ever time she does a pirouette?”). And finally, if you take the wireless router and tape it to your chest while using the iOS app, this improves reception.
  • If you have a huge library, you might want to let the Media Server take a bit of “alone time” while scanning for the first time. I mean, come on, it’s walking through all your files, computing hashes, extracting thumbnails, generating automatic fanart, analyzing the media, getting it all into the database, talking to the Internet for metadata, downloading that metadata and getting it associated with your media. Multiple agents are working together to contribute data. There are hamsters running around everywhere. So just sit back, work on your golf swing or water the garden or something. Lotus position and staring at the Plex Media Manager works well.
  • A positive review on the App Store directly contributes to Barkley’s diet. Like every time we get a five star review, I walk into the kitchen, get him a delicious venison jerky treat and feed it to him. Literally. Just remember, only YOU can make Barkley gain 10 pounds.

And now, I really need some sleep.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Plex 9 released!

Plex 9 and the iOS app are released! Download them by clicking this link here. Thanks to all the great people at Plex who worked on this massive upgrade!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Oh - One More Thing

Those crazy cats at Plex are really doing it up! One More Thing! Charge up your iOS devices, its sooner than you think. Click the picture:

Friday, August 27, 2010

Plex .9 arrives Sept 1

Here is the teaser photo from Plex! Sept 1 it is. Coincidentally, or not - the same day as the Apple media event. They've also posted a Q&A which I am re-posting here:

Click here for original link posting.

The Road to Plex/Nine

It’s been a long time in development, and we’re finally putting the finishing touches on the first public release. An incredible amount of effort has been spent developing this new version, and I’d like to take a bit of time introducing you to it. I’ll start by answering a few frequently asked questions:

Are you guys being bought by Apple? If you pay attention to how previous acquisitions have gone, you’ll already know the answer to this one. An Apple acquisition is usually followed by immediate disappearance of the service/product in question, sequestered away no doubt to a secret sub-basement in Cupertino. The fact that we’re still here talking and the website is still running is a sure sign that we have not been acquired by Apple. (The date is entirely coincidental, we went “one week out” and ended up there.)

Will my favorite new feature/bug be added/fixed in this release? Probably not. We’ve been uniquely focused (much to the surprise of some, who think we’ve just been playing Angry Birds) on getting the Alexandria library up and running. The only new feature in this release is the official inclusion of Ryan’s hardware-accelerated video decoding.

Can I run the new version alongside the old version? The answer is “mostly”. When you install Plex/Nine it will set aside your old Application Support directories so as not to step on anything. If you hate it and want to go back to Plex/Eight, you can just rename the directories, whack Plex/Nine, and crawl back into that comfortable old pair of Plex/Eight jeans.

Is this new release completely bug free? Um, no. This is the first release of a massive from-scratch rewrite of the library, and it’s safe to say there will be bugs, and even things that used to work that don’t work yet with the new version. However, we hope some of the cool new stuff coming your way will more than make up for it. This release has been through 17 (really!) builds which have gone out to our elite group of super-testers, but there are certainly lots of bugs. Remember what your mom told you: “Hope for the best, expect the worst, and take what comes with a smile.”

Why the @$%#%$ did you guys have to rewrite all that stuff? I’m really glad you asked. Our vision for the future of Plex is a distributed architecture, as opposed to one giant monolithic program. A simple picture might help here:


In order to realize this vision, we had to effectively do two things: (1) rip out massive amounts of code in the client and make it into a “thin client” (essentially just player and skin), and (2) design and build the Alexandria library system into the Plex Media Server.

We consider these major changes to be fundamentally important to the future of Plex. We’re building the foundation for some truly incredible things, and building a strong foundation takes a lot of time and work. Continuing the metaphor, the first release really only shows you the foundation and perhaps a few ground-level floors. However, once you see the speed at which we can add amazing new features, you’ll better understand why we had to take so much time to get this right.

Can you walk me through an example of how this new library is so much better than the old one? One thing I really like is the decoupling of the scanning from the metadata. The scanners are responsible for looking for media, usually on disk, and performing “structural identification” (e.g. Lost, season 3 episode 14″). Media analysis is also performed to get the resolution of the file, pull out a thumbnail, etc. The media is added to Alexandria right at the start of scanning. Note that at no point yet has TVDB or any other Internet site been required. So you can scan new episodes into your library even if the site is down, and see them next to other episodes. What’s more, you can write a custom scanner in a few lines of Python code, which you might want to do if you have a custom filesystem layout for your media. Flexible!


Now the agents, in my opinion, is where things get incredibly cool. They elegantly solve the problem of “how do I bring metadata from the Internet and connect it with my media?”. The agent functionality, along with the other parts of the new plug-in Framework coming in Plex/Nine was designed by James, and I have to be honest, he’s kicked some serious ass.

Plex/Eight used the XBMC scrapers to accomplish that task, and if you’ve ever tried to write one (or even modify an existing one), you’ll know that it’s not an easy task. As Jamie Zawinski once said: “Some people, when confronted with a problem, think ‘I know, I’ll use regular expressions.’ Now they have two problems.” (The only thing worse than regular expressions, mind you, is regular expressions encoded in XML.)

Plex/Nine’s metadata agents use the same (well, an enhanced) version of the Plex Plug-in Framework you’ve come to know and love. This means that powerful XPATH, Unicode, and HTTP functions are available in an easy-to-use manner, and you can write an agent in as little as a few dozen lines of code.

One of the other fundamentally neat things about agents is that multiple agents can contribute to a piece of media. I might want to get my ratings from Rotten Tomatoes and my descriptions from IMDB, for example. The other day Scott said “the movie descriptions on Wikipedia are really good!” and an hour later, this is what my own configuration looked like after I dropped his new agent in:

Info Provider Settings.png

The “Local Media Assets” agent is the one responsible for finding posters, banners, fanart and such sitting around next to your media. The Wikipedia one is the next highest priority agent, which means that the metadata combiner will prefer its summaries over others.

I think I fell asleep during that last answer. Yeah, I don’t blame you.

How open and extensible is this awesome new library? Well, you tell me. The database is stored in SQLite format, and there is a really nice REST-ish HTTP/XML interface for all areas of the library (which is what the Plex client uses). Want to build a dashboard widget which displays your recently added movies? Easy! Fun! And given that the Alexandria scanners are completely written in Python and support custom-written ones, this new library is much more easily customizable and user-tweakable than the old one. We’re really excited to see what interesting agents and scanners you come up with!

I think I’m out of questions. Good, because I need to get back to Angry Birds.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

iTV - We'll find out next month

I believe this is a very high chance of being released next month, and could possibly change things for TV the way iPhone did for mobile phones and touch screens -
SO many possibilities

Kevin Rose, founder of Digg, has heard from sources within Apple that the company will launch its all-new iTV set top box, powered by the iOS operating system, in September for $99.

Rose posted on his blog that he believes the revamped and renamed Apple TV hardware will "change everything" for a number of reasons, including the addition of TV applications written for the iOS operating system. Like the iPhone and iPad, Apple's new iTV will have access to the App Store where users will be able to download software to run on their device, he said.

With these applications, he said, content providers will be able to provide iTV owners "a la carte" stations that Rose believes will change the way people watch content on their television.

"With Apple's iAds, content producers (eg. ABC/NBC/etc.) can directly monetize and distribute their content," he said. "This will eventually destroy the television side of the cable and satellite industry, as your only requirement to access these on-demand stations will be an internet connection. Say goodbye to your monthly cable bill."

Rose also said he has heard that the $99 device will make it easy for users to share pictures and videos "with the push of a button." He suggested the device could include a feature that would notify users when new family photos or videos are available to be viewed.

The Web entrepreneur also said the new iTV will turn Apple's iPad into a remote control, as the "preferred input device" for the set top box. The iPad will also allow users to edit videos, control games, and "extend the interactive television experience," he said. He gave an example of watching football while viewing other camera angles on the iPad.

Rose also made mention of Google TV, the search giant's already-announced Android-powered set top box set to launch this fall. He said that people should keep an eye on Google's product as well. "This is going to be a hot space in 2011," he said.

Rose has reported numerous Apple rumors in the past with varying degrees of accuracy. In 2008, Rose revealed a leaked photo of the fourth-generation iPod nano in advance.

His iPhone-related leaks have been hit or miss, as he correctly predicted the addition of copy and paste to iOS 3.0, but incorrectly said that the iPhone 3G would do video chat. That feature eventually came two years later with the iPhone 4, in the form of FaceTime.

Late last year, Rose also said the then-unannounced iPad would have an emphasis on e-books, and would prove to be a "Kindle killer," referring to Amazon's e-ink device. Apple's iBooks application was available at launch for the iPad.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New IR iPod/iPhone dongle for remote

Check this out - take this, add in a used, cheap ipod touch, and it might just be the perfect "one" remote: (link has more photos)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New Mac Mini Unboxing photos

Drooling! So clean, and look at the back - and the RAM access - makes me want to replace mine!
Click here for official link

New Mac Mini released - with HDMI!

from TUAW:

Mac Mini gets a sneaky update: spec bump, unibody enclosure, HDMI

Amidst all the excitement over iPhone 4 being available for pre-order, Apple also snuck an update to the Mac Mini under the radar -- and it's a pretty big update. The new Mac Mini comes in two flavors:

2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
320 GB hard drive

or the "server class" Mac Mini:

2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
Dual 500 GB hard drive

Both models of Mac Mini have been updated with NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics, the same integrated GPU present in the MacBook and MacBook Pro.

The Mac Mini has received far more than a simple spec bump, however. The enclosure itself has been updated to a unibody aluminum construction similar to the MacBook Pro, and the "server" Mac Mini omits an optical drive entirely in favor of dual hard drives [this was the case for the previous server model –Ed.]. Perhaps more important than that, the Mac Mini is now the first Mac ever to include built-in HDMI. You read that right: the Mac Mini has HDMI. The Mac Mini also has an SD card slot in the back. [Ed: This is one sexy little machine!]

Apple has also addressed the well-known difficulty of upgrading the Mac Mini's RAM. There's now a removable twist-off panel on the Mac Mini's bottom that allows for easy access to the Mini's RAM slots. We're not sure yet if the hard drive will be as easy to upgrade, but at the very least, a RAM upgrade looks like it'll take less than a minute with this new model.

The Mac Mini is available now.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Controllr iPhone App - Best remote for Plex!

There is an iPhone app called "Controllr" for $2.99 and is the best app (that I've tried) for Plex. Check it out in the app store and give it a try!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sneak Peak at Plex 9 Alexandria!

Wow, this just looks amazing. The new media server is going to make things SOO nice.
Click here for the official link, or read the paste below.

I know, it’s been a bit longer than we had hoped (sorry!), but we are super excited to finally be able to share a first look at what we have been building. Our good friend Raindancing (known around here as “Señora Awesome”) was kind enough to put together a great introductory screencast . Yes, there’s a lot more to show (tip of the iceberg!), and yes, you’ll have many questions, but hey, this is a good start, right?

Hope you all are having a great Wednesday (or Thursday)!

Plex/Nine First Peek from Elan Feingold on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

ESPN 360 App now available for Plex

I really wish I had ESPN 360 in this area! Plex just posted this on Facebook:

The World Wide Leader in Sports is now available in Plex! ESPN3 is the online home for live sports. Watch more than 3500 events every year, including College Football, College Basketball, MLB, NBA, Wimbledon, the Masters, International Soccer, Cricket and Rugby. ESPN3 is currently limited to select ISPs, so call your I...SP to request it if it's not available. Special thanks to Dbl_A for working on this!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wanting to connect your MacBook & Plex to the TV - this is what you need! Henge Dock is awesome!

Click here for the Engadget review or read below:

Henge Docks: finally, a well designed docking station for Apple's MacBook line

We'd love to say that many have tried, but really, the bona fide docking station market dried up years ago in every sector save for enterprise, and while a few companies have served up "universal" alternatives, none of them were particularly well-designed. Out of nowhere, Henge Docks has emerged in order to provide a solution to your MacBook docking woes, and we've got to say -- for a first try, the products being offered up here look mighty fine. Designed to work with most modern MacBooks as well as 13/15/17-inch MacBook Pros, these all-white stands hold your machine vertical while providing seamless access to desk-strapped peripherals (a monitor, iPod dock, mouse, heated USB blanket, etc.) It also uses Apple's own MagSafe adapter, and your optical drive is still flipped out if you need to access it. The 13-inch MBP model is available now for $59.95 to $64.95, while every other flavor is available for pre-order; check out a video after the break if you're having issues pulling the trigger.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Plex 9 is almost here!

All HAIL ALEXANDRIA! Plex 9 is almost here! Read this link to wet your lips on all the goodness that is Plex! Click here for the link or read below!

The Road to Alexandria (part 1): Introduction

(First of all, a sincere apology for not writing sooner. Communication is important, and I’ve sorely lapsed in my communication with the Plex community. This may have appeared as a lack of progress on Plex, but let me assure you, it’s entirely the opposite. We have some amazing things to share with you this year, and we’re only getting started.)

As most of you know, for the last year we’ve been working hard on best-in-class support for online media. Since we released the first version of the Plex Media Server with support for plug-ins, there have been hundreds of plug-ins written, and more than 1.4 million plug-ins downloaded from our store. We strongly believe that our platform is the easiest way on the planet to get media from a website to your living room TV.

On the other hand, many people who first see Plex are impressed most by how it handles your local media. To see a file on your hard drive spring to life with posters, fan art, and rich metadata is a wondrous thing indeed. Navigating through your library in various ways, seeing what episodes of a TV Show you haven’t watched, browsing through movie summaries and ratings, these things are all magical compared with browsing a lifeless Finder window.

The success of our platform for online media, coupled with our passion for building the best possible product, led us to focus our attention and energy in the last months on local content. Now as you may know, the library in Plex/Eight is based almost entirely on XBMC code. The XBMC library is quite possibly the best in the world, especially compared with other pieces of media center software. So the first question was: enhance or rewrite? At the end, we decided, just like with our plug-in framework, to throw out the existing code and rewrite it from scratch.

The ground up rewrite not only results in an extremely powerful library for personal content, but also sets the stage for providing many benefits beyond just the library itself. The latest major revision of the Plex Media Server, which incorporates the library, provides many other new capabilities under the hood that will allow us and developers to build some seriously cool new things.

This first post will serve as an attempt to explain the high-level features. Of course, the most important thing of all is its name. We decided to name the Plex Library after the Royal Library of Alexandria, the most famous library of the ancient world. (Naysayers may point out that the library was eventually destroyed, but hey, it lasted for hundreds of years!)

Here are some of the features of the new library:

  • Decentralized: This was very important to us. The XBMC library is coupled to the media center itself. In Alexandria, the Plex Media Server stores all the data, and serves it out via an HTTP/XML interface. In this way, multiple Plex applications can share a library, or multiple libraries. You can do cool things like stop watching a movie on one client and resume on another.
  • Flexible: As opposed to the XBMC library with its limiting Movies and TV areas, Alexandria allows a library to have unlimited sections. For example, you might have a “Documentaries” section, a “Home Movies” section, an “Anime” section, and a “Foreign Films” section, all configured to suit the media.
  • Open: As mentioned before, the data from the library is available via an HTTP interface to the Plex Media Server. In addition, a new class of plug-ins called Metadata Agents have been developed, which are responsible for finding and retrieving information about your media from the Internet. Agents already exist for IMDB, TheMovieDB, TheTVDB, and others. Agents can retrieve any sort of data, such as TV theme music, subtitles, and song lyrics. The agents can be combined and arranged so that the resulting information is a customizable amalgam. We’ve also added a new class of entities called Scanners, which are responsible for identifying media on your drives. This means that even if you have a completely different file system structure to your media, you can write a few lines of Python code and integrate it with Alexandria.
  • Unified: In Alexandria, even if a movie has no entry on IMDB (for example), it still sits alongside those movies that do. There is no more “file mode” and “library mode”. Everything in a library section, regardless of how much metadata it has, is a first class citizen of the library. This also allows content like home movies to live in the library, have their own fan art, posters, summaries, and other metadata.
  • Robust: One of the problems with the old library is that a change to the IMDB site, for example, could cripple the scraper and prevent new content from being added. Since the metadata agents and scanners live in Plex plug-in bundles, they are auto-updated from our site, so we can quickly push a fix. Additionally, Alexandria is flexible enough such that even if a metadata provider like TheTVDB is down, new episodes are still added (and somewhat magically, may even get full metadata!)
  • Developer friendly: The old scrapers were an enormous pain to develop, maintain, and even understand. We’ve built the new agents on top of our proven plug-in framework, which relies on modern features like XPath to make it easier than ever to bring metadata to your media.
  • User friendly: There are a number of features which make Alexandria a pleasure for users. The library management is centered around the Plex Media Manager built into the Plex Media Server, which makes it easy to add library sections. Once added, these sections show up instantly on all Plex clients in the house. The Media Manager makes it easy to maintain your media, correct matches, tweak the metadata, customize the artwork, and more.

This, in summary, is Alexandria. I’m sure the first question will be “When can I have it?” We are quite far along with development, and we have released early builds to a select group of testers, who have been extremely helpful with their feedback and help. I’m using it full-time on my Mini, and used it to watch the latest episode of Lost last night. There are, of course, many things to clean up, fix, and add, but it won’t be too long now before we open up the testing to more people.

Thanks again for your patience. I’ll write more soon, and cover lots more of the details of Alexandria. Until then, I’ll leave you with some quotes from the first group of testers:

“Setting up sources is MUCH MUCH MUCH easier!!”


“This is going to be soooo good!!”

“ho-ly sh*t! I can read and understand this!”

“PC users are going to want a Mac. This is way ahead of XBMC now”

“This is just … WOW!!!”

“That is fantastic! Exactly what we need.”

“This looks amazing…exactly what is missing”

“You guys, this is f**king amazing”

“Whacking sources before used to be such a pain in the ass. Now it’s no big deal.”

“Wow, this is really nice”

Monday, March 1, 2010

Rumored sightings of new Mac Mini's with HDMI!

The link from Apple Insider is here, or read below:

Apple prepping first Macs with HDMI - sources

By Kasper Jade and Prince McLean

Published: 10:45 AM EST

Apple plans to introduce HDMI connectivity on some of its personal computers this year, embracing an emerging trend that has seen the high-definition audio/video interface crop up on an increasing number of systems from rival PC manufacturers, AppleInsider has learned.

HDMI spotted on Mac mini

More specifically, prototypes of a new Mac mini — Apple's smallest and most affordable system, commonly employed by tech savvy Mac users as an ad-hoc living room media server, has been making the rounds with an HDMI port in place of its legacy DVI connector, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The port sits besides mini DisplayPort connector and marks the first instance of full-featured HDMI connectivity on a Mac. It also represents only the second Apple product to feature the port outside of the company's fledgeling Apple TV streaming media device. Cosmetically, the Mac mini is otherwise said to look identical to existing models, with no other visible changes to its enclosure.

A bit about HDMI and Macs

HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is a cabling standard intended for home theater uses, built on top of the computer-oriented DVI (Digital Video Interface) specification. It uses a compact flat connector instead of the relatively large one used for DVI. Because it's backwardly compatible with DVI on an electronic signaling level, computers with DVI output can drive an HDMI display such as an HDTV using only a physical adapter dongle.

Apple's recent Macs all supply either a standard DVI port or a Mini DisplayPort connector that is also designed to provide DVI signals in addition to DisplayPort, a newer, incompatible video signaling protocol. This makes it simple to connect either port to an HDMI display for video output using a simple converter dongle.

However, the HDMI specification also provides support for audio, something DVI does not. Since there are no audio signals presented on Mac (or PC) DVI (or, apparently, existing Mac Mini DisplayPort) connectors, there's currently no way to deliver both audio and video from a Mac to an HDMI TV over a simple, single cable.

Mac mini
Apple's existing Mac mini offers users the choice of DVI or mini DisplayPort for video output.

Only Apple TV provides an HDMI connector capable of delivering both audio and video signals to an HDMI display. Including HDMI video connectors on new Mac models would enable users to connect their computer to an HDTV via one cable, rather than needing a separate audio connection or complex cable.

Mac mini
An unannounced version of the Mac mini has been spotted with an HDMI connector instead of a DVI.

Mac mini prototype with Nvidia's MCP89

At least one of the Mac mini prototypes described by those privy to the hardware is said to include Nvidia's MCP89 chipset, which is the successor to the existing MCP79 (or GeForce 9400M) chipset found alongside Intel's Core 2 Duo processors across the majority of Apple's existing Mac product line.

However, Intel's ongoing licensing dispute with Nvidia will prevent Apple (and other PC makers) from using the MCP89 supporting chipset alongside its latest generation of Nehalem-based Core i3, i5 and i7 processors. Therefore, this suggests that Apple may continue to rely on existing Core 2 Duo (pre-Nehalem) processors as part of its upcoming Mac mini revision.

Alternatively, the Mac mini prototype in question could have been in development before Intel's disagreement with Nvidia came to a head, meaning successive prototype revisions that forgo the new Nvidia chipset in favor of Intel's may have since emerged, though there's no evidence thus far to support that theory.

HDMI for other Macs

While adding an HDMI port to the Mac mini is fairly trivial with few tradeoffs, the same can't necessarily be said in regards to Apple's notebook lines, which sport a much smaller footprint and limited real estate for additions to its I/O port makeup.

However, another product floating around Apple's labs is a proprietary mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter that the Mac maker had originally developed and intended to ship alongside its most recent iMac revision, according to people with knowledge of the situation. It's said to include technology that would allows Macs shipping with an updated mini DisplayPort spec to channel both video and audio through the mini Display port to the HDMI adapter, rather than just video.

Mac mini
One of the various mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapters on the market that doesn't carry audio signals.

Ideally, the adapter was to accompany Apple's move to include Blu-ray drives in the high-end iMac (and offer them as build-to-order options on the rest of the line), allowing the all-in-one desktops to connect to big-screen HDTVs that would leverage their Blu-ray drives and high-def iTunes video content. But a near last-minute decision by Apple to scrap Blu-ray from the iMac line this past fall kept the adapter under wraps. It's therefore possible that it could still emerge as a solution that could accompany a future update to the company's notebook lines.

Blu-ray blues

Apple's move to ax Blu-ray from the iMac line (and several other Macs that were undergoing Q&A testing) was reportedly due to a number of factors. One issue, according to people familiar with the matter, was that Apple management -- including Jobs -- felt Blu-ray licensing fees were too steep for the length of time they believed the technology would remain relevant in the market place. There were also reportedly both software and hardware related issues that would have demanded too much engineer effort to overcome.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A new keyboard for the HTPC

Reposted from SlashGear

I like my Logitech keyboard, but I have wished more than one time that there were a wireless version of the Illuminated Keyboard when I am fighting with the wire to get the keyboard just where I want it. There are some uses, like for a HTPC, where wires simply won’t work. If you are looking for a nice wireless keyboard that is perfect for use from the couch, the Adesso WKB-4200UB may be perfect.

adessowkb4200ub sg

The keyboard uses 2.4GHz wireless tech with 12 channels that it can change automatically to prevent interference. Wireless range is 30 feet and the keyboard has a small USB receiver. The best feature of the keyboard for the HTPC user is that it has a two-button track pad on the right side rather than a number pad.

That means you can type and control the mouse from one device. Power comes from a pair of AAA batteries and the keyboard has a switch to turn it off when not in use. The WKB-4200UB is available now for $119.99.

Monday, February 1, 2010

New Mouse App for the iPhone - could be good for Plex

Courtesy of Engadget:

Logitech app turns your iPhone into wireless trackpad or keyboard

It ain't the first company to do it, but Logitech's new iPhone app is certainly one of the easiest to get into. Oh, and did we mention that it's completely free to download? Available now in the App Store, Touch Mouse transforms your handset into a wireless trackpad or keyboard, and thanks to its reliance on vanilla WiFi signals, you won't need any proprietary equipment to get it up and running. It's fully compatible with both Mac and PC platforms, and it's obviously a pretty fantastic way to control your HTPC without dragging a full-fledged keyboard / mouse into the living room. Hit the source link for more details, and be sure to let us know how it goes in comments once you give it a roll.

[Thanks, Wulf]

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bring me the iPad remote!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Come become a fan of the new Facebook page!

I've made a Facebook page, so if you're on Facebook, become a fan! I think it'll be a good place to chat about things as well.

Click here to go to the Mac Mini Home Theater Facebook page.

New version of Transmission is out and looks nice.

I'll be downloading the update and checking it out...

Transmission 1.8 released, now featuring support for magnet links

Transmission, the venerable BitTorrent client for Mac, has just received an overhaul in the form of a "huge listen-to-the-users release." From the release notes the following enhancements are included:

Added support for magnet links
Added support for trackerless torrents
Redesigned tracker inspector tab
Quick Look restored for Snow Leopard users
According to the release notes there are over 100 changes that have been sourced from the users. Transmission is free and open source and can be downloaded here.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Engadget reporting ESPN 360 coming to Xbox

Wow, that would be a huge move. Read on directly here, or below

ESPN streaming coming to Xbox 360?

As if you needed another impetus to abandon cable and satellite TV, The New York Times is reporting behind closed door dealings are afoot between Microsoft and Walt Disney Company, with order of business being ESPN streaming via Xbox 360. According to the anonymous source, live streams of sporting events à la the now aptly-titled ESPN360 could come to the console on a per-subscriber fee, along with related interactive games. The thing with secret meetings, of course, is that they can never be confirmed and, should talks fall through, amount to nothing in the future -- just keep that in mind before you get too excited and cancel Comcast a bit prematurely.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Intervew with Plex original creator, Elan Feingold

CrunchGear just published a great interview with Elan Feingold, the original designer and current lead of the Plex project. Its pretty interesting to read, and there are good indications that Plex .9 is on the way in the near future. Also looks like the library is being rebuilt from the ground up, so good things to come in 2010.

Click here to read the interview.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

MacMini out of your budget? Look for the new Boxee Box

Finally official, the new Boxee Box is pretty cool. I think it is at $199, and is a self contained media player - with remote. Basically, Plex and Boxee are the two main XBMC ports, and while we're obviously partial to Plex on this blog, that doens't mean Boxee is bad. If anything, I'd love to see more on the remote they have - really nice! I wish Harmony would make a remote like that!
So what do you guys and gals think of it? Comment away!

Click here to read all about it.

Click here for more screenshots of the layouts.

UPDATE - Here is a youtube of the beta:

It is definitely cool that you pick the show and Boxee scans all online sources for the show. The first "con" that comes to mind though, is if you rely on that for new shows (like CSI, in the example), often times networks will only keep an episode online for a little bit of time. But, that's just a thought - what do you guys think?

New Apps released for Plex

Check out these great new apps released today:

Feed Me – Written by Jonny Wray

Create a library of your favorite video and audio podcasts using ‘Feed Me’. This plugin allows you to build and view content from a collection of sources by browsing the integrated podcast directory sites or by entering RSS URLs directly.

feed me.png

Universal Sports – Written by Jonny Wray

Universal Sports is the premier Olympic and lifestyle sports network featuring coverage of the Olympic Games, Paralympic Games, World Championships, World Cups, Grand Prixs and more.

universal sports.png

DR – Written by Nikki

DR is a danish public service tv and radio government owned company.

This plugin supports streaming of videos and audio from and and live streams of DR1, DR2, DR Update, DR K, and DR Ramasjang tv channels. It also supports TV On Demand.


TV2 – Written by Nikki

Streaming of videos from – TV2 is a danish tv channel.


Lens – Written by Elan

Lens is the photography blog of The New York Times, presenting the finest and most interesting visual and multimedia reporting — photographs, videos and slide shows. A showcase for Times photographers, it also seeks to highlight the best work of other newspapers, magazines and news and picture agencies; in print, in books, in galleries, in museums and on the Web.


Live Music Archive – Updated by Billy Joe

This isn’t a new Plug-in, but rather a really awesome update to an existing one. This new version of Live Music Archive supports looking at your iTunes artists and presenting you with concerts for matching artists. This is a really innovative way to find live recordings of your favorite artists.