About njbetzen

Nathan is the community manager for XBMC, the face behind the XBMC and Twitter acounts, and a web developer (among a ridiculous number of other things). He also slays dragons, when the opportunity presents itself... Which is rarely. Feel free to contact me on my Google+ page or Twitter. You can also reach me at njbetzen AT gmail DOT com.

The last item necessary to fully pull all versions of XBMC into par with AirPlay support has been added in the June dev cycle. Thanks to the work of Memphiz and WiSo, Windows XBMC users can now receive AirPlay video, which has been an option for a while, and music, which has not. This added functionality should already be available in a nightly build, but, unless you are extremely comfortable debugging, at the very least it is recommended that you wait until the June cycle is completed.

Getting to feature complete in this category is a very important step for XBMC in much the same way Addon Rollbacks were a big step. Over time it’s becoming ever more clear that users value easy of use and control over any other thing.

Consider the original Xbox Media Player. Why did people like it? It had attractive menus. It was vaguely reminiscent of TiVo. But most importantly, it did an absolutely amazing job of giving you an easy way to access your movies, pictures, and music in the way you wanted to access them.

As time rolls on, XBMC (or a derivative) remains the single best way to to view your local content on the big screen. But with the passage of time, the innovation comes, not from bigger and better screens or faster and more accurate menus, but from new, alternative (and easily setup) ways to interact with media altogether.

People often make fun of the Nintendo Wii as being a kids toy, but can anyone deny Continue reading


Way back in mid-December 2011, I wrote Behind the Developer’s Curtain, a look behind the scenes at XBMC development, on my personal blog, Hey Facebook. I then casually linked that post to XBMC’s Facebook page, more as an experiment than anything else. I was curious how interested people were in XBMC stories.

That night, I got 350 views on my blog. That’s about 247 better than the average. The next day I posted another story which garnered 850 views. With each new post, the total number of views increased. Finally, on January 11th, I posted a column on Ubuntu TV and got 2,557 views. Over the next few weeks, I posted a few more stories about XBMC, but a nagging voice in the back of my head said it wasn’t really appropriate to keep directing people to a personal blog for XBMC stories (plus, at least one person in the grand world of the internets said out loud that I was displaying impropriety, and we all know that we should always take everything said online at face value). So my XBMC stories mostly dried up.

Since then, we’ve released the final of XBMC Eden. We’ve begun a new program in which we go through a monthly development cycle that promises to both speed up development and make the entire process more stable from the get-go. We’ve looked at FLIRC, went to LinuxTag, and finally got an iOS remote control to match our already available Android remote control.*

*I could link to all that, but seriously, just visit the xbmc.org blog and forum. Almost all of it is there.

FLIRC.TV: FUNCTIONAL AND CIRCUIT-BOARD CHIC!

That’s a lot of news! And that only touches on the really BIG events. Raspberry Pi was released. The new retina iPad was jailbroken… seriously, I could be here a long time listing events that all play on XBMC. And, because the main blog has become more of a place for official and semi-official announcements, it’s been awkward relaying all this news to the casual and hardcore XBMC user. To some extent, I thought it might be worthwhile to mention all these things on the main blog, but it’s remarkably difficult to selectively choose the appropriate news for that blog, knowing that there’s a certain reticence against over-sharing and annoying our users.

I was so irked by this communication malfunction that I decided something had to be done. And from this decision was born xbmc us. The idea behind this site is fairly simple. I believe that users want to hear all this news, along with opinions of people on the front lines of the cordcutting express. And so I’m putting this site together under my own authoritarian editorial rule with the singular goal of allowing all of us to talk XBMC, cordcutting, why I probably need the new Retina Display Macbook Pro, which ridiculous features make for the best home theater room, etc., etc.

Your Job

Your job is simple. Visit the site. Read what you like. Don’t read what you don’t like. If you do read what you don’t like (possibly by accident or because you love becoming enraged), submit a scathing comment. Continue reading


XBMC on the new iPad*

With the recent iOS 5.1.1 jailbreak, XBMC is finally supported on the new iPad.  Unfortunately, for the past few days using the new iPad was an awful lot like using the old iPad. Because resolutions are so uniform on the iOS devices, it was unnecessary to code for imaginary higher resolution devices and so XBMC continued to use the old, ugly resolution on the shiny, new retina display.

However, as you can see from a quick browse of this thread and a casual glance at recent commit history (for e.g. here) by Memphiz, a rapid shift has taken place. As of this writing, both the XBMC interface and video playback should actually support the much higher iPad 3 resolution. Good work Memphiz, and thanks to all the users who contributed to testing.

*Credit to Jordan on Twitter for the Photo.



huge crowd
The first thing I tell people when explaining what it’s like to work with the nice people at Team XBMC is that one guy is a butcher in Germany, another guy is from eastern Europe and lives in Dubai, and the President of the foundation lives in New Zealand.

Needless to say, the organization has an extremely international flavor.

So the decision to make translating XBMC an easier and more collaborative process is, no doubt, a fantastic one in my opinion. Here, at last, is a project that people who don’t know the first thing about coding can actually participate in to make XBMC better.


With a mere 10,000 Raspberry Pis out in the world, actually getting to see them in action can be difficult in the best of situations. Which is why everyone visiting LinuxTag in Berlin this year were so lucky to see Edgar “Gimli” Hucek and the rest of the members of Team XBMC who could make it to the showroom floor, as a demo of the R-Pi in action was readily available to all onlookers. The blog Linux Und Ich were there to catch a quick interview with Gimli, along with video of XBMC on the Raspberry Pi in action.


This post was originally found on XBMC.org.

In a continuation of the series begun with our write-up of the USB-CEC adapter, we would like to take the time today to highlight another adapter out there that makes controlling XBMC dramatically easier. This week, I’d like to introduce Chris (psuedo7 in the forum), who will be telling us a bit about the project FLIRC.  I’d also like to invite any other software writers or manufacturers to contact me in the forums at username natethomas, if you have come up with a new and unique method for improving the usability of XBMC and would like to share your project.

Take it away, Chris.

Hello XBMC.org Readers,

My name is Chris (or pseudo7 on the forums). I’ve been an XBMC user for about 3 years, firstly using my mac then using a shuttle box running Openelec (so I didn’t have to keep connecting/ disconnecting my MacBook Pro).  I love XBMC: the application, the project and everything it envelops.

(Disclaimer – whilst I am “staff” (Read: a forum moderator) on the FLIRC forums I am not employed by Flirc and do not benefit directly, financially or otherwise, from the project I am about to discuss.)

I have recently come across a product which has enhanced my XBMC experience, and I wanted to give back to the community and share my findings about Flirc.

Much like the previous Pulse-Eight article, my intention is to highlight what I think is a great product that many users may not have heard about that dramatically simplifies the process of building an XBMC htpc.

What is Flirc?

Flirc allows you to pair your same television remote to your computer with easy one-time setup software.

Flirc is a small USB infra-red (I.R.) adapter that receives I.R. commands from a remote control. Continue reading


Quick question: Would you rather be good at your job but disrespected, or bad at your job, but respected for your work?
RespectabilityFor example, let’s say you are the manager of a struggling major league baseball team. You just read an article that says that if you get rid of your short stop and center field, and replace those positions with two half-center outfielders who always play close, your defense will improve, automatically, by 75%. Rigorous testing and research back up this statement. The facts are definitely clear. Now, all you have to do is face ridicule if you are either wrong or unlucky, and your team could win 25 more games a year than they otherwise would have.

If you are like most major league managers, you will choose to ignore that article. Sure, you might win more games. But you might also suffer massive shame both in and out of the community and eventually lose your job. The odds are better for the first possibility, but the results are much worse for the second.

Historically, this has happened numerous times. The most famous example in recent years is the decision whether or not to “go for it” on fourth down in American football. In almost every circumstance, statistically, going for it is a better idea than punting. Yet zero coaches are ever actually willing to go that route, due to fear of ridicule.

I bring this up because XBMC is at an awkward stage in its life cycle right now. The program and organization have been around for nearly 10 years.*

*December 14, 2002, y’all!

In many ways, we are no longer the angry kid in his parents’ basement, screwing around with broken Xboxes. Continue reading


Editor’s Note: As always, below is a developer’s diary. All of the opinions found below are only those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the team. Also, sorry for not posting last week. I was just a teeny bit busy.

scalezappyTo say that SCALE this year was eventful would be an understatement. Over the past three days, we performed releases, we hung out with open source hero Jon “Maddog” Hall, and we demoed hardware that virtually no one has seen before.

As is always the case when preparing for Expos, SCALE started for the team several months earlier, during the call for exhibits and speakers. This year, XBMC did not participate in any speaking events, though that’s certainly something I wouldn’t mind seeing change for next year. We did, however, decide to provide an exhibit.

Until fairly late in the process, our plans for this exhibit were reasonably limited. The previous year we’d demonstrated XBMC Dharma on two Zotac Ions, and we saw very little need to mess with a winning formula. Simply put, the NVIDIA ION htpc experience for XBMC is one of the best experiences around. Naturally, we planned on demoing XBMC Eden, but that was the only planned switch.

And then Raspberry Pi emerged on the scene. Continue reading


Let me begin by saying that, to my knowledge, Ubuntu TV contains zero XBMC code. I could be entirely wrong about that. As far as I can tell, Ubuntu TV is based on Unity and not on XBMC at all. If you can say different using actual code evidence, feel free to do so in the comments.

I’ve seen a lot of opinions over the past few days about whether UTV would succeed, and as I read these opinions, the big question in my head was, “What does ‘succeed’ mean, dawg?*” Continue reading


I am a Windows user. There, I said it. For those who must, you may as well stop reading now. Most of the rest you could probably also stop reading, as this is CES week, and there are WAY more awesome things to hear about, including one exciting bit of info that I’m hoping will manage to make its way to SCALE this year.

And that brings me to today’s topic: the Southern California Linux Expo (aka SCALE).

Last year was the first year I’ve ever acted as an exhibitor in an expo or conference. I have certainly BEEN to many Expos…

Nathan and Felicia at Comic Con

Yes, I met Felicia Day, the queen of the internet, at Comic Con. No, I never pass up an opportunity to show this picture off.

But I have never exhibited at one. So I was pretty nervous last year.

I arrived at about noon on Friday. I didn’t know what I supposed to do, so mostly I just brought along laptop-like things and prayed that I was going to the right place.

The first thing I discovered was that a magical rule of tech-heavy expos says we are going to forget at least one major detail. Last year, it was getting awesome content before the day of the show. Friday night and Saturday morning, we were frantically trying to load up content onto our Zotac ZBOX boxes.*

*Which were awesome, btw. Seriously, if you want XBMC on a full HTPC, there are very few boxes for the money that can compete with the ZBOX. Really, really good stuff.

In the end, we grabbed a few kickass trailers and Big Buck Bunny.*

*Fun note. Back when I was originally writing the XBMC Quick Start Guide, I needed an example movie, so I used Big Buck Bunny, because its CC license and multiple formats makes it a perfect example movie in almost every situation. However, I suddenly found myself in need of a SECOND movie. So, Continue reading