Author Archives: Jon

Hey, look! It’s a post!

So, it’s been a really long time (again) since I’ve posted, and I’m mostly bored and just felt like putting something up here, so, here’s what I’ve been up to as of late.

I just received a new Asus Nexus Player, which is based upon the highly anticipated Android TV platform.  Why I think this is awesome is mostly due to the super-secret Media Browser 3 app that will be coming for it (very early alpha stage right now, but it will be great).  It also is supposed to have CableLabs certification, which means Windows Media Center will no longer be the only thing on the planet capable of tuning in copy-protected channels.  I have an HDHomeRun Prime and while I have no premium content, having a device that can natively tune all the channels and provide a nice EPG (which it does), is awesome.

Today, I have an Amazon Fire TV Stick being delivered.  With the Media Browser 3 Android developer going on hiatus, I don’t know what I’ll ultimately be using this for.  The Android 10ft interface client was never released and that’s what I had been hoping to use it on.  I’m confident it will still eventually show up, but with all the new clients and lack of developers, it may be even longer than I expected.  Oh well…if you’re a developer and need something fun and worthwhile – join the MB3 team!

Finally, yesterday, I replaced the glass and digitizer on my oldest son’s Dell Venue 7 tablet.  It got dropped before Christmas and cracked.  Wasn’t terribly complicated, but I was not expecting the amount of glass dust that exploded from this thing when I started peeling away the broken digitizer.  It was everywhere.  In the end, he had a nice new screen and everything worked, so that’s all that mattered.

Well, that’s it for me.  I may try and hop on here a little more frequently as the Android TV has really made me excited about home theater devices again.

I did what?

It’s true, I have let this site fall to the wayside.  The truth is, I just don’t have the time to put into the site anymore, and I’ve lost a lot of interest in HTPCs altogether.  Home theater PCs will be around for some time to come, but I do believe they are also quickly becoming a dying breed.

Over the past few months I’ve seen myself replace my bedroom HTPC with a Roku.  Yep, I had just had enough in fighting with dropped audio issues that results in improper EDID handshakes when starting everything up.  My bedroom setup was always my most reliable.  When it stopped working right, I had finally had enough.  The Roku MB3 client (I use official release) had been working in my daughter’s room for quite a while without many issues.  I have absolutely no regrets in moving to it in my bedroom after nearly 2 months of heavy use now.

I get direct play on just about all of my new MKV HD movies.  Those with subs are also not transcoded.  For the ones that are transcoded, I’m not unhappy with the quality.  They were all mostly sketchy quality to begin with (older AVI files and whatnot).

The Roku interface isn’t the greatest in the world, but it’s also not all that bad.  I was trying to hold out for the Android client’s 10ft interface release, but it’s just taking too long (no offense, Red).  I’m sure I’ll go for a Fire TV or something at some point once it’s finally released.  As for right now, I just want something that works well and the Roku is doing that for me.  My living room HTPC will be the next one to get replaced.

This morning I was able to get Live TV working.  I haven’t tried it on the Roku yet, but I received many more channels than I expected via the web client.  Channels like IDHD, ESPNHD, H2HD, TruTVHD, DiscoveryHD, etc. were all cable channels I didn’t expect to work…but they did.  I don’t have HBO or anything, so I can safely assume all the higher HD channels I watch are good to go in Live TV.  That was the final nail-in-the-coffin for my HTPCs.  I no longer need Windows Media Center hooked up to all my TVs to watch cable.  The quality, of course, is not quite as good since it is transcoded, but it’s good enough.  I’m going to stick my unused bedroom HTPC in the basement this week and configure it as a ServerWMC server for guide info.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at in the HTPC world.  I’ve simply found that, for me, simpler means better.

So, what have I been up to?

Four months…give or take.  I didn’t even bother to look at the last time I posted as I know it’s been forever and this site is pretty much used like that old dusty dictionary left high on the shelf for those of you still clinging onto Windows Media Center.  That’s OK…at least it has a purpose.

Well, in the past four months I’ve mostly been busy with…life.  The new job does not allow me to do anything but actual work, so I don’t even look at this site during the day.  My evenings are spent with my family, doing family stuff.  Any extra time I have is usually spent on homework as I’m at about the 2/3 mark of getting my Master’s degree now.

I have been keeping up with Media Browser 3, although I don’t really test or play with any of the new features unless they’re something I can directly use in my home.  I recently consolidated some servers in my basement as power outages were picking apart the oldest running ones.  I think I’m down to three now (Windows Server, MB3 Server, and unRAID).  Just waiting on some replacement batteries for an old 1100VA UPS I have to arrive.  They were supposed to be here yesterday…anyway, I don’t want to talk about it.

Not a whole lot else that’s gone on in my HTPC world.  I’d like to say I won’t be such a stranger, but I’d be lying.  One day, maybe I’ll have some additional time.

Stupid updates.

So, the latest update of the theme I was using apparently broke everything.  Not sure if it’s a specific plugin incompatibility or the theme itself, but other themes work with all plugins enabled, so I blame the theme.  Until it gets fixed, things are going to look uglier than normal.  I don’t have the time to rearrange everything right now, but access to articles and whatnot should be fine.

As I said…busy, busy, busy.

When I said I didn’t know how much I’d get to post due to starting a new job, well, I wasn’t real sure what I was in for.  It’s been busier for me than expected.  My commute pretty much sucks as I have to do my training period at a location that takes me 2 hours to get home due to rush hour traffic.  My work day is always hectic too…not much chance of me ever posting while at work.  Weekends aren’t much different as they’re now about the only time I have to catch up on my Master’s projects for the week.  However, I have had to keep things going in my HTPC environment and it has led to a few new toys.  Unfortunately, most have been maintenance-related, as I’ve had a few things kick the bucket.

First, it was my Windows 2012 Server system, which was primarily my WINS, WSUS, and Usenet box.  Not quite sure what went wrong with it, but it just wouldn’t boot anymore.  It was old, so I couldn’t really complain.  I hit eBay up and found a suitable replacement in a used Dell SC1435 1U system.  It had dual Opteron 270 quad-cores and 8GB DDR2 in it.  No drives, but I popped a leftover SAS 5/iR in it and had a spare 10K 146GB SAS drive for the OS and a 320GB SATA drive for storage.  It’s been working quite well and it was super cheap.

I also had to replace the SSD in my bedroom HTPC.  It was one of the cheap Microcenter rebranded ADATA drives that many had issues with.  Mine worked well, but after 2 years of reliable usage, it started to show signs of what plagued that drive in its infancy – not showing up at boot and dropping completely offline out of the blue.  I replaced it with a 64GB Kingston drive and it’s been working great.

Finally, I went to Microcenter yesterday and purchased two new Toshiba 3TB drives for my unRAID,  One will be used to get the last three 1TB drives out of my system, consolidating all that data, and then adding the second to give me additional storage.  I’ll probably stick the leftover drives in something else, despite being pretty old.  They won’t be counted on for keeping anything critical anyway.

I barely get to participate on the MB3 site anymore and that’s probably the hardest thing.  I do keep up with what’s going on, but it’s just from an outside-looking-in perspective.  Better than nothing, I suppose.

Well, for now, that’s about it.  Hopefully I can find some time to drop back in and leave something of more worth, but in due time.