Sling, the makers of the Slingbox, which lets you watch your stuff--cable TV, recorded programming--anywhere you can hook up to a broadband connection, has announced a slate of new products. As cool as they are they aren’t for us, but instead are intended for “television service providers and consumer electronics manufacturers” so they may “acquire new customers and delight their current ones.”
The Slingbox 700U is an updated Slingbox, and takes on the chore of streaming media, once connected to the Internet via a USB port. The Sling Receiver 300 allows streaming to televisions through a home network. The Sling Monitor 150 is a portable flat-panel display that combines a display and a receiver. And the Sling Touch Control 100 is a “next-generation”, touch-screen remote with the SlingGuide interface.
Sling doesn’t mention cost or availability. But, then, these aren’t for us, so why should we be told?
Some product announcements are self-contained. Others, like D-Link’s of the Boxee Box, come in chunks, with this one, timed for the start of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, offering (some) specifications and pricing info, with both looking pretty good.
The idea behind Boxee is straightforward--software that brings together the myriad of media options available on the Internet so you don’t have to catalog that ever-changing, ever-expanding universe. Boxee also nicely adds connections to social network services, such as Facebook and Twitter, so you can make your viewing experience a collective, rather than solitary, one.
Boxee is tied to your computer. Boxee Box, however, lets you move to the living room, and take advantage of that really nice LCD HD TV you got for Christmas, connecting together all your diverse media, from the internet and your home network, while keeping your social networks in play. In addition, the Boxee open app platform promises the possibilities of additional content: plug-ins, add-ons, and games.
There’s no hardware data yet available, but the Boxee Box will come with 802.11n Wi-Fi, and supports a load of video (including Adobe Flash 10.1), audio, and image formats. Access to all your media library, and online content, will be through a single remote control.
Best yet, D-Link is promising the Boxee Box to be priced under $200.
“To xfinity, and beyond!” No; doesn’t work for me either. But it probably doesn’t matter, it’s the name of Comcast’s new “TV Everywhere” service, like it or not, that lets some Comcast subscribers access extra TV programing, streamed from the Internet.
Xfinity, which is presently in beta, is open to customers who subscribe both to digital cable and broadband. If you qualify, head on over to Comcast.net, login in, and look for the “Fancast Xfinity TV” logo. Comcast will ask you to download a movie player and an Adobe AIR app, and afterwards authorize your computer. (You can authorize up to three computers.) Then you’ll be good to go.
There are some limits at present. First, you can only access the service on a Comcast network, although Comcast says that restriction will be lifted at some later date. Second, you can’t use the service internationally. Third, no mobile devices for now--maybe next year. But, for the time being, the service is offered at no additional cost.
With this new service could it be that Comcast is signaling a recognition that cable is no longer a standalone necessity? The Internet, while in its media streaming infancy, is offering potential to undermine cable’s entertainment dominance. As Comcast delivers both, it makes sense for Comcast to take advantage of both, giving customers who dump one (cable), a choice of another (Internet). And, as a business model, it beats out Hulu or Boxee and their ilk, because Comcast can make you pay for what you get.
Information on the new product suggest it to be a device for streaming video from your computer to a television--with the biggest hint being an unreleased “FlipShare TV” manual. The device comes with three parts: the remote, a box to attach to your TV, and a transmitter for your computer. Video on your computer can be accessed with the FlipShare software and streamed wirelessly from the transmitter to the TV box. (Doesn’t AppleTV already do this, and much more?)
Little else is know about FlipShare TV. Does it, for example, do anything more than stream Flip videos? And information on pricing or availability is not yet known. But the picture sure does look nice.
It's all fun and games until the prank backfires, spreads like wildfire thanks to the advent of social media, and ends with felony charges and a PR mess to clean up. Or at least that's how it went down for Kristy Hammonds and Michael Setzer, a pair of Domino's Pizza employees who filmed a prank in the restaurant's kitchen and posted it online.
The pranksters will be hard pressed to find any sympathy for the fallout, as their antics included filming an employee "putting cheese up his nose, nasal mucus on the sandwiches, and violating other health-code standards while a fellow employee provided narration," according to a report by The New York Times.
In just a matter of days, the video received over a million views on YouTube and was spreading nearly as fast via Twitter. After being identified, Hammonds and Setzer, who maintain that they never actually delivered the sandwiches, have been charged with delivering prohibited foods.
"We got blindsided by two idiots with a video camera and an awful idea," said a Domino's spokesman, Tim McIntyre. "Even people who've been with us as loyal customers for 10, 15, 20 years, people are second-guessing their relationship with Domino's, and that's not fair."
McIntyre also said the company is also preparing a civil lawsuit.
These days, most people have at least one computer and a large collection of media files. The conventional practice for most people has always been to have redundant copies of their media collection on their various computers. While this system technically works, it is highly inefficient and creates the unnecessary task of keeping the media collection on each computer synchronized and up-to-date with the others. A far better solution is to keep all the media on one computer and stream it as needed to the other machines over the network.
Streaming technology has been around for over a decade and is something that most people are at least a little familiar with. (Youtube uses streaming flash-based video to work) In the past, playing large files over the internet was usually pointless due to the fact that the software of the time required the whole file to download (often on slow connections) before the media could be played. With streaming media, the remainder of a file is fetched as the first part it is being played, so there is no need to wait to get the whole thing before watching it. The video quality on early streaming media was often quite bad, (a trade-off between quality and speed was necessary when most people were stuck on dial-up) but with the near-ubiquitous availability of broadband in most urban and suburb areas today, high-quality streaming media has finally become practical.
We have assembled this guide to help you set up a cross-platform media streaming service using a Linux computer as a server. With our guide, you will be able to stream media to any other computer you own. Other guides on the subject discuss how to set up a Samba-based solution, but we feel that our solution is simpler and easier since you only have to install and configure one program instead of several. For this purpose, we use GNUMP3d. GNUMP3d is a program that makes media available through a web-based interface. Instead of using the Samba protocol, GNUMP3d uses ordinary HTTP to get the job done.