Micro-management just isn't Microsoft's thing. Why do we say that? It's because the folks from Redmond are regular Babe Ruths when it comes to coding an OS and knocked the ball out of the park with Windows 7. But when it comes to integrated apps -- all those things we would expect Microsoft to excel at -- the software giant is more like Casey at the bat and we're all just a bunch of Mudville suckers wondering how Microsoft manages to whiff it at the easy pitches. Internet Explorer? Most of us are rocking Firefox or Chrome. And while we don't want to be too hard on Windows Media Player, there are certainly better media frontends out there.
One of them is XBMC, an open-source project formerly known as Xbox Media Center. XBMC was originally developed for the first Xbox console, and through the years, it has evolved as a fully fledged, cross-platform media hub with a rabid following and plenty of user-created plugins and scripts. It's also given birth to more familiar projects like Boxee, Voddler, and others, all of which initially borrowed from XBMC's source code.
If you've never played with XBMC, it's time for a test drive. To help you kick the tires, we've assembled 12 terrific tips and tricks so you can spend more time cruising the media byways and less time fumbling with the controls.
Have you heard of XBMC, the open-source, multi-platform media frontend? If not, you soon will as we put the finishing touches on a related how-to guide with plenty of advanced tips and tricks, but in the meantime, check out what resourceful modder Richard Wileman managed to do with his old Xbox.
We're talking about the original Xbox here, the little black box that most of us have long since retired. But rather than toss his up on Ebay or Craigslist, Wileman pretty much redesigned the unit from the ground up, sticking the Xbox's guts into an aluminum chassis and giving it a few other upgrades.
There's a full size 2.5-inch hard drive, a new DVD drive, an IR port, and even a little LCD to help keep tabs on the playlist.
Stop surfing the internet for a minute (we know, a tall order) and go get your last cable or satellite TV bill. Back? Good. Now skim to the bottom and look at the total amount of money you paid for TV last month. Do you feel like you got a reasonable amount of entertainment for that $60, $80, or even $100-plus? Are you happy about the money you spend for the privilege of watching TV? We’re not. The vast majority of TV we watch is available for free, over the air. Sure, we’ll occasionally watch an episode of Flight of the Conchords on HBO or a documentary on Discovery, but most of the TV we watch is on one of the big over-the-air networks—ABC, CBS, Fox, the CW, and NBC. So we started looking for alternatives.
It turns out that the vast majority of new TV shows are available online, either as part of an ad-driven website like Hulu or TV.com, or available for sale on iTunes or Amazon’s Unbox service. However, having a PC in the living room has traditionally sucked. After all, you don’t want to hear a big, noisy PC when you’re enjoying a movie or a TV show, and using a mouse and keyboard as the primary interface just doesn’t cut it when you’re kicking back on the couch. But times have changed. These days, it’s easy to build a PC that’s quiet enough to be virtually unheard, yet powerful enough to play all the high-definition video that’s currently available.
And making the proposition even more appealing, there are software frontends like Boxee and the new Hulu Desktop that let you harness all that hardware power in an easy-to-use, remote-friendly interface that combines the massive library of streaming video on the web with the DRM-free content you rip from discs or purchase legally on the web. We’ll introduce you to a couple of the options, then help you configure our favorite. By combining a few hundred bucks’ worth of hardware with a free software app and your broadband connection, you can reduce the money you spend on entertainment from $100 a month to $100 a year.
Today's batch of awesome open-source (or freeware) applications centers on a single word: wow. No, they don't help you level up in that MMO. We're going to show you a batch of free programs whose features are cool enough to make your jaw hit the floor, a small puddle of drool to escape from your lips and into your keyboard, and your twitter to light up with all messages you'll be sending your friends about these must-have applications.
We're serious. Prepare to be amazed. But if you haven't checked out the twentyotherthemedapplications we've hit up in our last four open-source updates, now's the time to fill in the backstory! Once you're ready for greatness, hit the link below. And get your bib on standby.