Tinkering at Home Continued

The last time I posted about my home setup, I spoke about Virtual Iron. I went out and purchased a 4GB USB thumb drive and downloaded the Virtual Iron Standalone Edition and set up the USB drive to install.  And then it occured to me....Virtual Iron is great, but the server I was planning on installing on was the same server that I wanted to use for my media server and my asterisk server.  So unless I had another server lying around to display my media, this wasn't going to work.

So I decided to reload my server with Ubuntu 8.10 (intrepid) and install boxee.  I then installed vmware server and set up my asterisk virtual machine with the saved vm from my previous server install and within a half hour or so my phone system was back up and running and I was playing with boxee.

So I have to tell you that I am LOVING boxee.  Even though this is alpha software and gets a bit flaky at times, it is still greatly enhancing my content consumption.  I had a few bumps getting it working, however.

After installation, I pointed boxee at my local USB attached hard drive where my media collection is stored.  I set up a source for my movies, music and pictures.  Once these were set up, I installed the boxee iPhone app and within a short time I was sitting in my recliner and browsing all that the stock installation along with my new local sources had to offer.  I found the TED talks content wonderful as well as the selections from Comedy Central.  If you read some of my other posts, you know I'm a fan of Diggnation and HAK5 from Revision 3.  So it was great to be able to sit and watch my favorite shows on the big screen instead of on my iPhone.

But the one thing I intially encountered with boxee was that the playback was EXTREMELY slow.  After a bit of googling and reading I discovered that the problem was with Pulse Audio.  Once I removed Pulse Audio and set the default sound sources to be alsa, all was good.  For instructions on how to do this check out [all variants] Ubuntu 8.10 (Ibex) Pulse Audio removal.

I must say that the most disappointing thing about boxee is not the fault of boxee.  I was thrilled when I saw the HULU selection amongst the choices.  But I was quickly disappointed to read that boxee is no longer allowed to show HULU content.  Now according to all I've read and heard, the true fault for this lies with NBC/Fox.  I can't comprehend why NBC/Fox would make such an insane decision.  The time is coming when if you are not providing your content via a solution such as boxee, then people simply will not consume your content.  While I may be a bit ahead of the mainstream on this one, I am declaring here that I will no longer watch any form of media that I can't consume via boxee.  I don't want to switch between TV/Cable and boxee.  I don't want to have to sit with my laptop to watch Brothers and Sisters, House, or Gray's Anatomy.  Even if I wanted to sit in my recliner with my wireless keyboard and mouse and switch between boxee and a web browser, I don't even have that option for the content available from the major over-the-air networks.  I use Ubuntu Linux and their players don't work with this OS.  Now that alone is enough to make me boycott them.  But it wasn't until I found out about the HULU/boxee decision that I made the full commitment to abandon all non-boxee content.

This decision has proven to be quite easy to adapt to and I highly recommend it.  The quality of content I'm watching now has greatly improved with such informative offerings as TED and MAKE.  In addition, with Warner Brothers available via boxee, I've gotten hooked on Pushing Daisies.  I used to see commercials for this show and after the cancellation of Dead Like Me, I thought it looked like a worthwhile offering.  It is a great show and one that I wouldn't have watched were it not for boxee.  And I'm also viewing the commercials of course.  So now Warner Brothers is getting my business instead of NBC/Fox.  I hope the executives eventually get it.

Being the geek that I am, I did give the HULU hack from Jake Marsh. But I found it to be not quite as satisfying as consuming the content that is native to boxee. This is not the fault of the hack, of course.

So to bring this post to a conclusion, I highly recommend boxee and I highly recommend leaving NBC/Fox content alone until they realize that resistance is futile.

Until next time...