Category Archives: Streaming Media Applications

Boxee – The Open Source Software, Not The Box

image

I don’t watch much TV. No, that’s not some kind of elitist remark – you know, the type of comment thrown about by some who consider themselves a step above the rest. From my perspective, television actually sucks.

I’m tired of the fact that the History Channel rarely runs anything that’s remotely concerned with history. I’m tired of the fact that the Learning Channel long ago stopped pretending “learning” had anything to do with its mandate. And, that’s the short list.

Not only is television a vast wasteland, it’s become a toxic dump where morons like Charlie Sheen, and other emotionally unwell idiot actors (I’m trying to be kind here), set the standards for what supposedly passes for real life. It’s definitely not where my head is at.

Thankfully, the Internet with it’s virtually unlimited selection of educational, informational, and entertainment packages to choose from, helps to fill the “wasteland” gap admirably.

Generally, I find myself watching Internet entertainment on my wide screen LCD display, which is in reality, a high-definition display. Sitting at my desk however, is not quite as comfortable as I’d like – so for months, I’ve been on the hunt for a free application which will seamlessly connect Internet output to my television. Gotta sit in that easy chair – don’t ya know.

I think I’ve finally found it in Boxee. Boxee is an open source social-media application (Windows, Linux and Mac compatible), which allows users to stream content from both the Internet, and their personal home media, to a TV – from a simple package.

Step One:

image

Graphic courtesy of Boxee.

Step Two:

image

Graphic courtesy of Boxee.

Step Three:

image

Graphic courtesy of Boxee.

Firing up the application:

On first launch, you will have to set up an account and sign in. Here’s why, according to the developer –

Boxee is meant to be social – not just with friends online, but also with people in your house. With this in mind we designed Boxee with multiple user accounts so that your social network, favorite TV shows and apps remain personalized and accessible only to you.

OK, that sounds sensible.

All of the following screen captures can be expanded to their original size by clicking.

The interface could do with a “facelift” – if you’ll pardon the expression. Nevertheless, it’s relatively functional, straight forward, and simple to use.

image

Changing the settings is fairly simple, and the user can easily customize the application to meet specific needs.

image

Adding apps to the application couldn’t be easier, and it expands the range of possibilities dramatically. The apps (for my purposes), are a lifesaver.

image

In the following illustration, I’ve clicked on the installed CNET app.

image

The video output from CNET (screen shot from my Monitor), really is 1080 HD. Crystal clear.

image

The CineTrailer app (installed for this test), is illustrated below.

image

Screen capture (in 1080 HD), from the Green Lantern trailer. Impressive.

image

Shakira video running through the YouTube app. Love Shakira!

image

Since I missed the national news last night, I added the CBC News app in order to catch up.

image

Screen shot from the news showing the turmoil of the Vancouver riot.

image

A very handy File Browser is part of the package.

image

System requirements: Windows, Mac, Linux

Download at: Boxee

So that you can get the best out of this free software, I recommend that you checkout the Boxee Software User Guide.

Perhaps the most important Boxee software question – are there monthly fees to use Boxee?

Boxee does not charge you any monthly fees, but some premium applications accessible through Boxee require a fee.

I’ve been using Boxee for only a few days (I haven’t run an HDMI cable yet – maybe this weekend), and I’m sure I have much more to discover – but, to this point I’m liking what I’m seeing.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

7 Comments

Filed under Digital Media, downloads, Freeware, High Definition Video Players, Interconnectivity, Internet Radio, Internet TV, Linux, Mac, Multimedia Tools, Software, Streaming Media Applications, Video Apps, Windows Tips and Tools

Extract Audio From YouTube Videos With Free YouTube to MP3 Converter

There are any number of ways to extract audio from YouTube videos, but many are cumbersome and time consuming. There is a solution thought that’s neither cumbersome, or  time consuming – Free YouTube to MP3 Converter. Once the application is configured, it’s one click simple – more or less.

The interface is definitely bare bones, but self explanatory.

Getting started:

The default setup requires you to paste a YouTube URL into the application….

image

but, by selecting “auto-paste from clipboard” in the options menu, you can save yourself from this copy and paste process.

As well, I suggest that you choose the “accelerated download” method, which in testing, cut the download time by more than half. For example, I found that the average download time was reduced from approximately 2 minutes, to well under a minute.

image

Once you have pasted the YouTube URL, or it has been entered automatically, simply click “download” to start the process.

Note: You may want to specify a particular output (save) folder, rather than accept the default location – the application’s folder in My Documents.

image

By default, the output file name is the same as the YouTube video title. You do however, have an option to change this.

image

image

You should be aware that every time you close the application, you will be presented with the following invitation to install the search bar.

image

I’m certainly not an audiophile, but I found the sound quality to be quite good at the default (standard quality) setting. Optionally, you have a number of quality choices ranging from “economy” to “insane”, and beyond – WAV (lossless audio).

image

Fast facts – YouTube mp3 converter downloads mp3 from:

A single YouTube video;

Complete YouTube playlists and show lists;

All video from YouTube charts;

All video responses to a YouTube video;

All videos of a selected YouTube user or a channel;

All video from the user favorites.

System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7

Download at: Download.com

Note: My onboard AV applications (including Microsoft Security Essentials), did not “see” the audio download as a “download”, and consequently, did not check for malware. If your AV operates similarly, then be sure to check each download manually.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

4 Comments

Filed under Audio Applications, Digital Media, downloads, Freeware, Software, Streaming Media Applications, Windows Tips and Tools, YouTube

Download Free Orb – Stream Your Media to Any Internet Connection

My good buddy from the Pacific Northwest, and popular guest writer, Glenn Taggart, is excited about the freeware web based media streamer Orb.

Have I mentioned I have a large music collection? For the past year, I have managed to convert my hundreds of CD’s to digital format so I can preserve them and of course listen to them with my computer. I have also bought Western Digital’s WDTV Live so I can wirelessly stream them from my computer to my stereo system so I can rock the house!!

The last remaining task that I have recently accomplished is to be able to stream my music collection through any internet connection.

Enter Orb.

Orb is a web based media streamer that is so simple to set up, a caveman can do it. An added bonus with Orb is to be able to remotely access your computer folders and files as well.

The process is very simple. You install the client side software on your home computer, go to settings and set up the drive(s), folder, and file access you want. For Orb to work, you have to make sure your host side computer is on.

Once you’ve downloaded and installed Orb to your home PC, login to mycast.orb.com, using any internet-connected device with a streaming media player (mobile phone, PDA, laptop) and start MyCasting all your digital media anywhere anytime.

ORB

Your music – at the office, in the hotel, at the Wi-Fi hotspot.

  • You can stream music to your laptop.
  • Select songs, make playlists, right from the laptop.
  • ALL your music is available (and internet radio, podcasts, and videos).

Turn your laptop into a movie screen.

  • Play any movie or video that you have on your Orb PC.
  • Watch from the hotel or coffee house – anywhere you have an internet connection.

Don’t miss your favorite TV shows while you are away.

  • Watch live and recorded TV shows on your remote computer.
  • Watch from the office, hotel or coffee house – anywhere you have an internet connection.

Photo collections should be seen

  • You can enjoy your photos on any remote computer.
  • It’s easy to watch – or send – slideshows with photos stored on your PC or on the internet.
  • You can even set up a desktop photo widget with photos from your home computer.

Share your media with your friends

  • Your friends receive an email: with their Orb FREE account, they are the only ones to see what you shared with them!
  • Your media is served by your PC: safe, secure
  • No more big file attachments hassles!

From a security standpoint, be very careful how you set this up. I recommend you create a public folder and copy any media files or other files you want access to to this folder. I’m always a little paranoid about making my root directories available to a 3rd party website. If you need to be able to access your root directories, I suggest setting up a virtual private network or FTP.

Orb works great with mobile phones as well. I currently have my HTC Incredible hooked up to Orb and can watch videos and listen to music from my own computer!

System requirements:

Windows 7, Vista, XP with Service Pack 2 or later, Mac OS X Intel 10.5 or later.

AMD Athlon 3200+ processor or 2.4Ghz Intel Pentium IV processor or equivalent (a slower processor may cause “stuttering” when streaming TV or videos)

512MB of RAM

Broadband connection

Download at: Orb.com

Guest Writer: This is a guest post by Glenn Taggart of The Crazy World of G, one of the hardest working people I know, who brings a background as a high level super user, to the Blogging world.

Drop by Glenn’s freeware page.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

9 Comments

Filed under Audio Applications, Cloud Computing Applications, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Multimedia Tools, Software, Streaming Media Applications, Video, Video Tools, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP