The Guyz at The Global Geek Podcast (along with the rest of cyberspace) have been all over the place about this : "Twitter" is what you could call a micro-blogging service that u can use to tell people what you are doing (in about 200 characters) and see what your friends on Twitter are doing.
The first time I heard about the Apple Tv thing I was a little curious. It had been predicted, or should I say prophesised, as the Airport express with Video. Sure enough : That concept did sound pretty appealing, a way to stream your audio and your video to your tv. Like you could do right now with your Ipod Video. (At least if you bought the expensive apple cable to do just that). But when the whole Apple-Tv thing finally hit the stores.. I was less then impressed. Before I tell you why lets run down the merry list the Apple Tv Brings to the table.
– Play Itunes video's on your Tv. The Appletv is able to play Itunes content (audio and video) from the Itunes collection on your "other mac" to your tv. The apple tv is hooked up using either an HDMI connector or a composite connector. So you can hook it up to both the old-school or the HD-tv sets.
– Syncs playlists from your Itunes on its local hard drive for seamless playback. The AppleTv has a built in 40 gig hard drive that will sync whatever playlists you want to its local drive. That way the bandwith intensive HD movies you stream are already tucked away on the drive for jitterfree movie fun.
Has a funky remote and a pretty front row interface. If you manage NOT to loose a remote the size of an Ipod shuffle (old school shuffle) you'll be able to control your AppleTv when you are in the shower. (should you need to).
And erm .. thats about it. Now in order to get all this from your Mac Upstrairs to your Tv downstairs without making a cat-5e network-cable spiderweb the Appletv has a 802.11N wireless network connector on board. This baby plays nice nice with the new Apple airport express that pumps out the same standard.
Now : As for the downsides of the story.. If you live in the Us, only own macbooks, macbooks pro, new airport expresses, have plenty of movies that you bought on the Itunes Music store AND own an HD tv . You are in Apple-Tv heaven. In this Utopian scenario you can download tons of Video content from the Itunes store, pump this over your lightning fast wifi connection through your Airport express, and use the AppleTv either to stream them .. or sync them up when you are busy doing something else. Then you can play all that goodness on your big ass HD tv.
But even here there is a catch. The movies you would want to "sync up" to your Apple-tv are the ones that are in HD. Now these can go up to 2 gigs or more in size. The 40 gig drive on your AppleTv might just fill up pretty fast.
And what about "the real world". Where our wireless network is mixed, perhaps you don"t own an new Airport express. Or heaven forbid : Don't own an HD Tv nor have movies to buy in your local Itunes store. What does the Apple tv bring to the table for .. me .. for example. I have an 80211.G network (56 mbit) that drops down to 11 mbit when my wife's Ibook joins the party. So no dedicated 100 Mbit wifi for me. No matter, because since I live in Europe, we can"t even BUY movies on the Itunes store. So the only stuff I can play are : Movies I ripped myself, stuff that I recorded with my Eye-Tv and podcasts. That by far justifies the purchase of a 300 euro cupwarmer. (Since I don"t have an HD-tv, why should i even care)
So i'm going to give all of you a nice alternative : Buy a second hand mini ! Seriously !! They are dirt cheap for the moment and the perfect solution.
Hooking it up : The Mini has a DVI output : So you can either buy a dvi-composit adaptor or even a DVI to HDMI output to hook the mini up to your TV.
Operating it : If you buy an Intell Mini you'll even have the little front-row remote to play with. And that gives you most of the multimedia functionality you need. Otherwise, you can use a wireless mouse.
Streaming it : Using Itunes you can play everything that you have stored on your "other mac". Just like the Apple-Tv.
Syncing it : Don't worry bout that. If your wifi-speed is a little slow : SYNC the movies to your mini. Its quite easy : You have an 80 gig drive at your disposal : All you need to do is let the mini boot up at six AM and use your crontab and Rsync to sync whatever directory you need from your first to your second mac.
Playin it ! : There is a little horizontal slot that turns your Mini into a full blown dvd player too. So chuck out your dvd player and enjoy the ride.
No limits : And where the Apple Tv screeches to a non-hacked halt when it comes to "Non-Steve" codecs, Just install VLC media player on your mini and it will play EVERYTHING to your hearts desire.
The Proof is in the pudding. Ok , So next week I'll go out and get myself a second hand Mac Mini and give you the lowdown on how its done. So stick with me and find out that the Apple-Tv is a big waste of money.
I know I never told you guys this, but I have an addition. Its something i'm not proud of and that I do not boast with. Its something I hide away from the world as much as I can. Whenever the crave hits me I just have to get my shot. The only bad thing about it is, that my stash is dwindling away. With only a limited amount of 'the potion' at hand, I have to ration my usage. If that sounds pretty bad, Imagine the lovely Nyana being addicted to all this as well. Its not her fault. I pushed her into it.. Made her … and now she cannot get back.
Yes my friends.. "My name is Knightwise and I'm addicted to .. Battlestar Galactica". And i'm not talking about the old series (who are all pretty fine and dandy) but the new ones. The series that I was very sceptical about when I saw the first reports in the media. Starbuck a woman ? A white Tie ? What a load of "Beverly hills 90210 meets Space above-and-beyond" crap was this going to be ? But I did however get curious and aquired the pilot episode through less then legal means. I popped in the file in VLC Media player and watched in awe for two hours straight.
When the file was done .. I just sat there .. for two minutes straight. Not moving, not uttering a word .. And in my head the quote I heard on some podcast a year ago kept ringing and ringing. "Possibly the best Sci Fi EVER made" I could fill this entire post with praise but let me just dig up this anecdote to prove how good it is. After watching it I went out to the store and BOUGHT (yes , you read that right) season one and two of "BSG" and brought it home. I begged and pleaded Nyana to watch ONE episode with me. After a lot of wining from my part she agreed. (if only to shut me up). And for her the results where the same. After the pilot episode was done .. there was silence in the room. Seconds went by where I expected her to snort dismissively and walk out of the room mumbling it was the biggest load of crap since Close encounters of the third kind. But she said one little word that traveled through the silence . " MORE "
So that first night we watched 2.5 hours of BSG. And now, every weekend at sunday we get our 'fix' of the big BSG. We have plowed through the first episodes in a few weeks. Devoting entire sunday afternoons to watching the series. Loving every minute of it. Since we have hit season 2 we try to ration our passion. Cause otherwise we would run out of episiodes and the box for season three is not in the shops as yet. But suffice to say we have some cash in our pockets jumping to buy that one too. The term "Possibly the best sci-fi ever" does indeed apply, and this coming from a Star Trek fan.. is quite something.
This morning I got an E-mail from good old Sharky , who found this little gem on the net. "BEYOND THE RED LINE" is a shooter based on Battlestar Galactia. Looking at the screenshots its pretty darn spiffy and all that . Now I know what you are saying : "So the Frack what " There has been a BSG game on the Xbox and all that Jazz. That is indeed true .. BUT : This baby is cross-platform ! You can play it on the Mac, on Linux and on the PC. And you know how much i like cross platform software ! There are free demo's to download and according to Sharky the final version is gonna be a freebie too. So this weekend its 'Fracking Showtime' !!! As i pull in the torrent and see if I can give it a spin on my Macbook. Lets see if "Beyond the red line" will add an additional fix on my addiction. Hell , perhaps me and Nyana can even play together 🙂 ..
Thanx Sharky !!! … So say we all !