One of the most exciting ideas put forth at this year’s devcon was a concept called the XBMC Mesh. It was a natural extension of Alcoheca’s GSoC project and is slated as a potential feature for the version of XBMC that comes after Frodo.*

*Somebody seriously needs to come up with a good ‘G’ name.

Today, we have software that works like XBMC, where there’s a database and a player all built together in one piece of software. We also have software like Plex, where the database has been pulled out and acts as a central server, and each instance of player software acts as a mindless drone being controlled by the all powerful server.

But what if there was a third way? What if a system were developed where each software instance was intelligent and could communicate with other software instances? For example, you set up XBMC for the first time on your tablet, then when you are done, you receive an Android set-top box in the mail with XBMC pre-installed; you plug that box in, and it announces itself on the network.

Mesh systems are pretty awesome.

Your XBMC tablet sees there is a new instance of XBMC on the network and asks you, “Would you like to add the set-top box to the mesh?” When you say yes, your XBMC tablet tells your XBMC set-top box where all of your shows/movies/pictures/music are and what addons you have installed. Rather than relying upon the tablet or other server for this information, the XBMC set-top learns where everything is located itself, so that it can always find it if the tablet has been turned off or taken out of the house.

Now, because these devices can intelligently communicate with one another, every single one of them can act as a remote control for one or all of the others. Your tablet can watch a show or tell your set-top to watch a show (along with play, pause, fast forward, record, etc.). You could theoretically start a whole-home audio session. You could, naturally, start watching a show in the living room, continue the show on your tablet in the bathroom, and finish the show in your bedroom.

And the crazy thing about this network is that it would be incredibly easy to set up. You tell one device where your content is, and all the rest of the devices know. You turn on your set-top for the first time, it sees the network, and it asks if you want to join. Heck, each device could even be smart enough* that if you, for example, took your tablet to your sister’s house, it could ask if you’d like to switch networks and keep a memory of multiple meshes.

*Eventually, of course, it would become so intelligent that it would decide to destroy all humans. Hopefully that won’t happen until we finally find out who the mother is on How I Met Your Mother.

An important aspect of this mesh system would be in playing nice with devices that exist outside the mesh. For example, the set-top box would likely need to interact with IR remotes and communicate with the CEC of your TV/receiver. Naturally, each device (particularly, each non-mobile device) would need to act as a uPnP server (given that most of the communication would be done via JSON and extended uPnP in the mesh in the first, this should be quite natural) for legacy devices that can only act as DLNA/uPnP clients. Given the cost-effectiveness of ARM hardware and (thanks to Sigma Designs) now MIPS hardware, it would arguably even be possible to set up an inexpensive router with headless XBMC software that not only acted as a mesh base, but also behaved like a simple router for the home network.

Of course, there are some challenges that would need to be ironed out with this idea. Would you still have to share your local content over something like SMB, or would you install XBMC on your local content server(s) and make it(them) act as uPnP servers for the mesh? Would it be better for there to be a shared database that each software instance latched onto while it was in the network, or would it be better for each instance to write to its own database? Or could you do both, so that the library immediately appears on your device via the shared database, but a redundant local database is written in the background while your CPU is idle or you are watching a movie or something? How would you deal with new binary addons like PVR backend addons that are entirely separate programs?  Would each device have to install the binary addon to be able to make use of it, or could you stream from the XBMC instance that has the PVR addon installed and simply communicate with that server via JSON? In fact, would it be possible to abstract out nearly everything to do with XBMC and connect it all together into this mesh, so that, in addition to the normal library, addon settings and other personalized aspects could be shared along the mesh.

Needless to say, something as massive as this idea isn’t going to happen over night. It might not happen at all. To put an idea as huge as this together would take a lot of smart people and a lot of man-hours. But my God, would it be awesome.




At this point, OpenELEC is very well branded and somewhat unsynced from the XBMC dev cycle. There’s a question about whether we should push to pull OpenELEC fully into XBMC and call it XBMC powered by OpenELEC or OpenELEC powered by XBMC, or something.

At the moment, an idea is that OpenELEC could act as a sort of XBMC Stable or LTS branch, where both XBMC and the underlying OS are rock solid. Fully integrating OpenELEC and standard XBMC is looking like a long term project that may never actually happen, in the sense that we may always do something like releasing Frodo, and then intentionally hold OpenELEC back until 3 or 4 months later to ensure stability.

What ends up happening remains up in the air.

New Project Managers

Keith and Jim have agreed to become additional individuals who will be available to answer contact emails and work with businesses interested in working with XBMC, in addition to Cory, Pike, and myself.


The TVDB recently lost much of its free internet hosting. Now, they need ~$500/month. The TVDB is massively critical for XBMC, so we need to review how we can help. One suggestion is to overhaul our UI so that when users add shows or movies or whatever, the scanner actually displays our scraper site (e.g. TVDB, MovieDB,, etc.). In theory, the more other people actually SEE where their info is coming from, the more likely they are to get better donations.

Alternatively, any sites that we absolutely depend on we could work on trying to offload some server time. This is less easy to accomplish, but at least worth looking into.

Meanwhile, I need to do a post about all of the sites that we absolutely depend on a daily basis.


Internal Discussion

4:30PM Vienna Time


Current code stoppers: Code generation, PVR, Raspberry Pi are the three big pending changes.

Arne (aka Spiff) will be acting as the Frodo release manager. This is a newly created position that essentially says, “Beta 1 happens on this day. We are now ready for RC1. Time to release.”

Other discussions during this period include how to better manage the way XBMC deals with addons during the Beta period and how to handle skins that are missing certain xml pages and links. The typical question is, “Do we let a skin into Frodo, if it doesn’t support PVR?”


Lars is now Skyping in to talk about PVR. Right now the primary issue is that we need more people to work on PVR. In the past, the largest problem has been binary plugins. The first suggestion is simply to drop binary plugins. That’s possible now.

So… there’s really no other stopper. Without binaries, PVR is possible now. The September Cycle is going to be an exciting one!

One important issue is that PVR is the first bit of XBMC code where we don’t provide all the software to make things happen. That means that those users not directly plugged in to the XBMC blog/forum/wiki are going to be very confused when they click the PVR button and nothing actually happens, because they don’t have a TV tuner or TV decoder software. The currently accepted solution to this issue appears to be to create a pop up that says, “You don’t have a TV tuner and TV decoder software connected, and you need them. Please visit (or something) to learn more.”

3:00PM Vienna Time

Monthly Merge Window

We are now reviewing the monthly merge window. As you recall, each month we have 10 days to merge, 20 days to clean code. There is a debate whether to increase the merge window, whether to set aside a portion of the merge window for big updates, or what.

The primary issue is that code change is difficult to manage. While Mozilla has the resources to employ 20 or 40 builders and testers, 30ish people is our entire dev team.

One solution to breaking is to try to break up big commits into small packages that each get pushed in, so we can know which small portions appear to be breaking and which aren’t.


Possibly somebody else can fill this in. I pretty much blanked out for this entire section. Mostly, it was Github = not everything we want. We have a ton of open bugs that are probably super old and out of date. Many don’t actually look at Trac.


Ned Scott explains mediawiki! In particular, we learn about python scripts, and templates.



Jonathan summarized GSoC by saying that GSoC is awesome. We had four projects that we semi-called for at the beginning of this year’s project and they’ve done a great job greatly improving our library. It’d be nice to have more mentors this year and also a GitHub admin whose whole job was to harass students to make sure they were doing weekly code.

We’d also like to better work with the team calendar so we have a better chance of making sure we actually get into GSoC every year.

Amejia’s project comes next. The goal for Amejia’s project was to create a series of tests to make sure various aspects of XBMC work underneath the hood without needing error reports. For example, archiving within C++ does not appear to have been working for the past 10 years, ever since it was first written into XBMC.

Montellese came first. The situation that his GSoC was intended to deal with was users with huge video and music libraries and very little way to to easily get to each item.

His solution was to use Smart Playlists (essentially smart filters to narrow video and music lists). Unfortunately, Smart Playlists have not been very easy to use.

His plan was to speed up these SPs, integrate them into the library, etc.

First, he had to refactor sorting and limiting functionality. Then he added the ability to short or limit by artist, in addition to albums.

Then, he wanted to extend rule searches. For example, after his work, you can do a search for a list of movies of Nic Cage and Bruce Willis.

This is only available in Library mode, as it depends on the database functionality in the Library. Filters differ based on type. So you could sort by type of instrument in music, but you wouldn’t get to sort by type of instrument in movies, because that wouldn’t make sense.

You can actually see Filter in current nightlies.

Topfs2 (aka Tobias) came second. His GSoC was a Clean Scraping API. Tobias has put together an information extraction program called Heimdall with the goal of not worrying about content type (movies/music/tv/sports/whatever). Additionally, both outside scrapers and XBMC could potentially use it together. Finally, scrapers typically work right now by first looking for a title, then looking for built-in metadata, then reading the stream, then finally visiting a scraper website such as TheMovieDb. With Heimdall, we can perform the scrape on the computer separately from scraping on the website, so scrapes can perform faster and more efficiently.

There are no plans to fully integrate or replace any current XBMC scrapers at this point, but future potential is high.

Alcoheca has updated the latest UPnP server, started cleaning up code, etc. He’s now added a port for media control, so if you have 2 XBMC devices in your home, you can watch a percentage of the show on one device, then send the rest of that show to another device. Additionally, the XBMC device essentially acts as a remote control for another XBMC instance. In essence, this works somewhat like AirPlay, but with more extensive possibilities. Additionally, the uPnP client is being extended to better show metadata.

This isn’t available yet, but it is on the horizon in the near future.

Company Presentations

11:15AM (Vienna Time)

AT-Visions (the primary host of this year’s DevCon. Thanks guys!): They use XBMC as their frontend for Hotel IPTV systems. It actually looks quite a bit like XBMC, except with extended functions that work more with Hotel systems.

They’ve moved from NVIDIA ION to AMD Fusion chipset (Linux-based). Install base is approximately 150,000 machines. They are looking into ARM boxes to reduce cost, but so far they really don’t seem to be up to speed for business services. Their primary ARM testbed so far has been the Raspberry Pi, but they’re interested in taking look at the Pivos box.

Technical issues with the current version were discussed from video playback to mysql database problems to multiple different fonts running on the screen at the same time. Occasionally there were between 3 and 5 conversations happening at once. It was exactly like watching 5 different IRC chats happening at the same time!

10:45 (Vienna Time)

JetStream: A company who sells media servers to very high class yachts has incorporated XBMC into their service. JetStream uses ViaSat to stream video content over satellite to boats. While it’s a pretty great service, the latency is fairly high (as is only natural for satellite)… so probably no gaming.

JetStream acts as a placeshifting service, essentially like Slingbox, except instead of placeshifting to your work, you placeshift to your yacht anywhere around the world. Everything works simply and in full time. To be legal, everything requires access controls. A yacht owner buys a satellite (or, typically, numerous satellites throughout the world) which is then placed in the appropriate region of the world. For example the owner actually buys a lot in the UK for SkyTV. Then JetStream takes in that content and sends it directly to the owner.

For those of you interested, while the presenter didn’t give us a ballpark price, he said he himself could not afford it. Essentially, this is a service ONLY for those who can also afford yachts that cost more than the respective homes of possibly every single XBMC dev combined.

10:00 (Vienna Time)

Seagate The Seagate presentation is still very much in early stages. For now, they’re mostly interested in potentially using XBMC as a headless uPnP solution or something similar. More conversation is definitely necessary.

9:00 (Vienna Time)

Sigma Designs: As you may be aware, Sigma has been working with a few developers to make XBMC available on their SMP8656 (available now) & SMP8672 (port in progress, being demoed at Computex 2012) chipsets. Because these chipset CPUs are so limited, Sigma had done extensive work to totally separate the video decoding process from the CPU, so now any video playback XBMC lose hardly any CPU cycles. To put it simply, XBMC’s UI running on top of video playback works pretty well. Adddons (particularly scripts like PseudoTV) tend to be fairly slow, but to some extent that’s because Python in XBMC is always fairly slow. Plugin Addons (i.e. addons that let you watch online video and listen to online music) work well.

Where these chipsets get really exciting is in two categories. First, they’re MUCH cheaper than x86 processors and easy to implement in just about any system. Second, because the player is totally separate from XBMC, the Sigma player can do fully licensed DVD and Bluray navigation.

8:45AM (Vienna Time)

Nathan (me) sent around a form for XBMC Foundation members to affirm the Foundation By-Laws. This is the last step in joining the Foundation.

Ned Scott is doing his best to record a video of all the proceedings. With luck, we might be able to upload that somewhere for everyone to see.

3:30AM (Vienna Time)

You may notice that we don’t have any live blog info from Friday. I’ll try to go back and fill in, but long story short, Ned Scott, Cory, and I were stuck in the Frankfurt Airport for 8 hours right in the middle of a labor dispute, and after getting on stand-by with a guarantee of definitely not getting to DevCon on time, we tried to get on a train (none were hitting Vienna until an hour from now today) and finally, we managed to rent a car and drive the whole way. So much fun!


8:30AM (Central Standard Time, Kansas, U.S.)

To avoid excessively clogging the various XBMC social networks with news about this year’s devcon, I plan on exclusively liveblogging what’s going on using this post. There may not be many updates today or tomorrow, but I’ll do my best to cover as much of Saturday and Sunday as I can. So check back here on those days for more interesting material on this post.

Right now, we’re working out the details for how we’re all going to meet up tomorrow and various other last minute prep items.

Those of you interested in the meetup, I’m still trying to work out details. One user has suggested the Schweitzer Haus, and I’m trying to get one of our local people on the case of either confirming that location or resolving on something slightly closer to the conference center.

Team member keith has just arrived in Frankfurt, a hub many of us are passing through, and has informed us that Frankfurt has no free wifi.

10:30AM (Central Standard Time, Kansas, U.S.)

On the plane bound for Atlanta, where I will be meeting Cory (aka TheUni). Only like 15 more hours!

2:16PM (Eastern Standard Time, Atlanta, U.S.)

I’ve arrived in Atlanta. Unfortunately, there’s still no update on the Meetup. Flight leaves in approximately 4 hours. Here begins THE GREAT QUEST TO ENTERTAIN MYSELF!!!

Somewhere over the Atlantic.

Midway through the flight, the video system reset itself, and Cory and I discovered that the system was based on a 2002 version of WindowsCE. It’s really remarkable how much better XBMC is than a custom embedded Windows build from a decade ago. Anybody know any higher up from Airbus or Lufthansa? We’ve got a suggestion for them… ūüėČ


Working as the primary blog author for XBMC can be a very humbling experience, particularly for a non-developer like myself. ¬†As the person who sums up for users the work done by much smarter people than myself, I get to go through a process that I call “Putting on my stupid hat.” I begin by reviewing at the various Pull Requests for the month on Github or in some other way finding a topic that I’d like to describe to the user base. Then I ping the author of the pertinent code on IRC and have a conversation with him about whatever it was that he wrote.

Sometimes the results of this conversation get included in the monthly write-up, sometimes they don’t. ¬† Typically, I try to only include oft requested features or other new additions that I think the majority of regular folk will be excited about. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what will or will not be interesting though, and on those occasions I’ll need to delve deeper into the topic.

Typically, it is these moments where I need to delve deeper into a topic when the putting on of the stupid hat occurs.

For example, when we announced XBMC for Android, a critical sticking point had to do with something called Neon. For several weeks prior to the announcement, a spirited debate was going on in internal discussion about whether we should or should not focus on Neon, whether focusing on Neon would kneecap us in the future, etc. etc. I’d tell you more about these debates, but honestly, they all pretty much blew right over my head.

When you are a non-dev working with devs, you very quickly learn to just accept that they are going to say hundreds of sentences that mean absolutely nothing to you. Heck, you also learn that software development can get so specialized that the guy working on database stuff can have absolutely no clue what the guy working on video decoding stuff is talking about. It’s little wonder that the history of software development is one constantly marred by a lack of communication. Simply entering a specific section of C++ coding is like training yourself in an entirely new language.

Anyway, what I knew was that Neon was important. I didn’t know why or what it was, but I knew it was important. After the announcement, only a few people in real life seemed to worry very much about Neon, but it nagged at me that I didn’t understand what it was. So I pulled my stupid hat out and went searching for Scott Davilla,* one of the major players in the XBMC for Android space.

*I should take a second to talk about Davilla. If you’ve been paying any attention to XBMC over the past 4 years, you know that Davilla is a smart dude. He was the main guy behind our iOS port. He’s big on OSX. The fact that he ported XBMC to iOS (i.e. the first ARM platform) laid much of the groundwork for porting to other ARM devices, like the Raspberry Pi and now Android devices.¬†

Scott, and, honestly, pretty much the entire rest of the team, can be very patient with the uneducated. So long as you keep following the explanations and can ask questions, he’s often willing to explain in great detail something as intense as why cross-platform cross-building is magic.

So I asked him about Neon. He told me it was a vector processor. I did not understand. He asked if I’d ever heard of mmx or sse, which are x86 (aka Intel) instructions sets. I said yes, guardedly. He said that Neon is simply an ARM instruction set which allows an ARM processor to work faster and more efficiently without needing more ghz. On a very basic level, all Neon does is allow the CPU to do a calculation on four variables at once, rather than doing 1 variable at a time. So instead of requiring the CPU to do 32 operations, it can perform the same function in a mere 5 operations.

This can be incredibly powerful on low power systems. For example, when converting 1080p yuv to y,uv (honestly, I have no idea what that means, but I guess its pretty critical for image and video display and playback or something), a typical ARM processor without Neon can perform the function in about 16ms or more. An ARM processor that has access to the Neon instruction set can perform the same conversion in less than 1ms.

This means two things. First, ARM processors that don’t have access to Neon (like the Tegra2) are almost certainly going to be slower than those that do have access. Second, ARM processors that do have access to Neon (like Tegra3) will not have to ramp up the CPU nearly as much to perform the same task, so in addition to being faster, they will also be more efficient in the battery department*.

*Curiously enough, another topic came out of this conversation. It’s somewhat ironic that we announced XBMC for Android a mere month after announced AudioEngine for XBMC, because the Android port is all about making XBMC as light on the CPU and battery as humanly possible, while AudioEngine, to some degree, is about taking maximum advantage of the CPU to output glorious HD sound with nary a thought for battery life. Those two endeavors are like oil and water and – much like any other polar opposites – require a constant, delicate tug of war within the XBMC codebase between efficiency on the one hand and performance on the other.

I learned all that about Neon, and the crazy thing is, I ultimately decided not to include it in any write up at all, because, while undoubtedly there would be numerous people interested in the explanation, the vast majority would mostly just say, “So… you’re saying I should buy a Tegra3 Android device?” ¬†Or even better, there’d be users who would blame us for not working hard enough to support outdated hardware.*

*That’s probably my favorite thing of all!

Anyway, I’ve learned a lot of things in my time with XBMC. I learned what Neon was. I’ve had extensive explaining of json and parameters and API calls and databases sent my way. I learned that a Playlist is not the same thing as a Queue (I may write about that at some point). But most importantly, I’ve learned that the project is more important that pride.

I can’t code,* and I don’t especially want to learn to code. The typical method of making XBMC better is closed to me. But I can write and evangelize and tell the rest of the people of the world, most of whom are also not coders, just why XBMC and the XBMC Team is so awesome. And if doing that means periodically admitting to being sorely uneducated, then I guess I’m willing to hang on to my stupid hat and bear that burden.

After all, even the most refined among us are allowed to look stupid every once in a while!



User Ferdi-T from the XBMC Forum asked how the community behind XBMC works. Specifically, how do we decide what goes into the final build, what doesn’t, and who makes the call. Ditto for addons. Since I imagine this is a fairly common question for XBMC users, here is the response.

Hey Ferdi. Good questions, and quite possibly questions not answered anywhere officially. Because XBMC is open source, you can actually branch Team XBMC’s source whenever you want, make whatever changes you like, and then release those changes yourself, so long as you abide by the GPL. Likewise, you can always make your own addons to be sideloaded and even make your own addon repository to be added to XBMC, as many developers have done.

To add code to Team XBMC’s “proper” version of XBMC, initially you must submit code to official members of Team XBMC using Github. That code is then typically reviewed by members who are familiar with that portion of the codebase. For example, Jonathan Marshall would likely review any code you submit related to databases. If he deems your fixes as being useful, non-redundant, well-coded, and ready to be merged, he’ll push the code into the master version. If he spots errors, he’ll send it back with suggestions.

If you submit enough quality code, you will likely eventually get invited to join Team XBMC and be given write access to the code base. At that point, you will actually be given the reigns to make changes following our pull request rules. Those rules are pretty relaxed, and we try to give each developer as much free reign as we can. However, even after you have write powers, it is considered polite to have somebody else in the field sign off on the code to make sure no mistakes were made. We get pretty sad when code is pushed into master that breaks XBMC!

As far as addons go, for the most part we try very hard to let as many addons as possible through. The most likely reason for us to hold an addon out of the official repo is because it might be broken in some way on submission or otherwise cause XBMC to fail. For that review process, we have a dedicated group of Team members who spend WAY TO MUCH of their free time accepting and reviewing for major faults. It’s a thankless job, and they are superstars for willingly taking on the task.

Thanks to user Ferdi-T. If you have any questions about the background workings of XBMC, feel free to ask in the linked forum thread or in the comments below.

There you are. You’ve got a bunch of media on your server in your home office. You’ve got XBMC on the AppleTV in your living room. And you want to know the best way to connect your copy of XBMC will all your awesome content.


I’m going to assume you know how to share your content. If you happen to be running Windows 7, you could always use this guide to share your files. If you have your media hosted on a NAS, everything should be ready to go in the first place. And if you are attempting to share using an Apple or Linux server, I’ll trust you to find guides for sharing plastered around the net.

Likewise, this guide assumes you’ve already figured out how to install XBMC onto your device and got it running on your TV. This guide picks up after you’ve got XBMC up and running, but before you’ve added any videos.

Let’s get going!

Above you will find a video that walks through every step that I describe below. So if you feel more comfortable following along with a video, definitely do so! If you’d rather have a written description, read on. Continue reading

Imagine a console that never used physical media. A console that could play the best games at the highest possible graphical settings. A consoles that was constantly upgradeable, that could be navigated by controller, remote, keyboard, or mouse, and that could play all your music and video content on demand. Imagine a console that was social AND open with an OS that was entirely free to upgrade. Imagine a console that could accept all of your old PC controllers and could deal with any future controllers with similar ease. Imagine a console with a dashboard that looked… however you wanted.

That’s the future that could be made possible by Valve and Steam’s transition to include Linux. For the past 17 years, the frustrating truth about PC gaming has always been that Windows is a truly awkward bottleneck.

The Windows Bottleneck

As anyone who has tried to replace the Windows shell with XBMC will tell you… it really sucks to try to replace the Windows shell with XBMC. Microsoft prefers that users start with Microsoft’s home screen before navigating to whatever they truly wanted to accomplish. As a result, the guy who wants to spend a few hours blasting (actually, let’s be honest, hiding from) zombies in Day-Z will see the very same boot up screen as the guy who needs to write a contract for a large publishing firm.

How absurd is that dichotomy? Is it really any wonder that console gaming, with UIs totally dedicated to games and entertainment, is demolishing PC gaming? Continue reading

The Pivos XIOS DS – The revolution starts here

When XBMC shifted to Linux, OSX, and Windows, it took with it video playback, music playback, and pictures from the Xbox. And it left behind games and opening other applications. With the announcement of XBMC for Android, we finally get all that back again.

Let me back up a moment.

In all this excitement about XBMC for Android, I get the impression that most authors are pumped about the possibilities of XBMC on cheap devices, but are missing out on something much more fundamental. ¬†XBMC can provide the best 10 foot user interface for Android… in the world.

Android UI Realities

To put it simply, Android sucks on anything that isn’t touch based. You are presented a huge list of items in a grid with maybe a few widgets littering the screen. You have to navigate using a mouse or some other alternative to ¬†your finger. And from 10 feet away, you have to somehow see what all those app icons mean without any hope of en-biggening embiggening*¬†them.

*Thanks to user gilles_duceppticon for providing the correct way to spell this made up word!

On top of that, the standard Android UI acts as if everything you might like to do in front of a TV on your couch is of equal importance. You don’t have quick access to a list of your TV shows or movies or TV guide. You don’t have easy access to your music¬†catalog. It’s all just indistinguishable app after indistinguishable app. One of the great moves made by MS with the Windows Phone 7 was to present ACTIONS on the home screen, rather than apps. They called them tiles, but the idea was to let a user click on an action he wanted to perform, rather than clicking on the app he wanted to perform the action in.

It’s a minor distinction, but an important one to make, because that’s exactly how XBMC works. The XBMC home screen presents actions. We don’t ask, “Do you want to open DVDPlayer?” We ask, “Do you want to watch a movie or view live TV? Do you want to listen to music or view a slide show or open an application that doesn’t neatly fit into one of our built in Media Center categories*?”

*At this very moment, Jonathan Marshall is working on a new way to come up with new user created actions for the home screen called “nodes.” As of the May dev cycle, if you are handy with xml files, you can already create new nodes for your video files. ¬†With luck, we should see this new power extended to home screen nodes in the next few months.

The XBMC Switcheroo

XBMC is simply 100% better at the 10-foot UI space than stock Android. So from a user perspective, wouldn’t it make sense if we could drop the Android UI altogether and replace it with the XBMC UI, the same way you could replace the default Xbox 1’s dashboard with XBMC? Of course it would. Which is why, on the Pivos XIOS DS at least, that’s exactly what you will be able to do. Continue reading

I swear it’s not as awkward as it looks!

I’m typing this¬†in the kitchen on my iPhone with my bluetooth keyboard, several rooms away from my laptop.

How crazy is that? I graduated from high school in 1999, and I occasionally like to imagine conversations with my past self where I simply describe what I’m doing at a given moment. I have a feeling my past self would be absolutely bewildered by the above description.

And that, in a nutshell is what the Nexus Q represents. It’s a device that is looking at the world of today and saying, “Y’know what? Let’s just skip to the end.”

A few weeks ago, I wrote about why it was so important for XBMC to become Airplay compatible across platforms. The reason it was important (in a nutshell) was because the world is finally taking its first big step away from using an IR remote and an interactive television guide as the means of navigating to video/images/audio on a living room screen.

Today, I can control both XBMC and my A/V Receiver with an iPhone app. If I wanted to go through the hassle of buying the necessary accessories, I could also fully automate my home and turn on my car in the morning with an iPhone (or Android) app. I could open my garage door and listen to music on my car stereo with various mobile apps. I am a Kansas City Royals baseball team fan, and I live right in the heart of Royals nation. Yet it is not a terribly uncommon thing for me to listen to a Royals game using my MLB iPhone app sending audio to my car stereo over bluetooth, rather than listening to the game on FM by simply switching a few dials on my car’s receiver.*

*Admittedly, I’m a pretty weird dude.

Here’s my point: your mobile device, whether phone or tablet, is purpose built for interacting with content. It is specifically designed to make getting to your media (whether written, audio, or video) a simple process that takes, at most, only a few taps. And the best part is, if you don’t like the interface that comes with your mobile device, you can completely replace it with another interface (for Android via skinning, for iOS via installing XBMC).

And that’s awesome, because the reality of the situation is that, unlike your iOS or Android phone or tablet, your television is, not to sugar coat it too much, TERRIBLE at presenting a way to get to your media. Continue reading

One of the most frequently asked questions, once people get XBMC set up and all the media is imported, is how to stop XBMC from always displaying subtitles on every single movie by default.

While the XBMC player does not give more granular control by movie language, it does allow you to globally turn on and off auto-subtitling. By default, they are turned on. To turn them off, one can simply start playing any video, open the menu (if you have a keyboard, you can do this by pressing the ‘m’ key), and navigate to the audio submenu.

From there, simply navigate down to Enable Subtitles, untick the box, and navigate down to Set As Default For All Movies.  That button, simply enough, sets your current settings as default. For a visual run through, see the video below.

Thanks for watching! And if you happen to have a question or tip, feel free to tweet me @xbmc or simply write in the comments below, and we’ll see if we can’t feature you next week!

The ZOTAC ZBOX ID41 Plus Linux (and XBMC)

As most of you know, XBMC began as a hackers project for the original MS Xbox way back in 2002. It’s now 2012, and in all that time not a single major manufacturer has ever shipped hardware that came with XBMC pre-installed. Until 2008, that was virtually guaranteed, as the only way to run XBMC was to have a modded Xbox, which was debatably legal at best. I STILL remember nervously looking around the guy who offered to solder my board, waiting for the feds to show up.

It wasn’t until fairly recently that the idea of “jailbreaking” hardware was deemed legal under the DMCA by the Library of Congress¬†and even that was exclusively targeted at wireless telephones. Most people would find themselves hard pressed to argue that the original Xbox was, in any shape or form, a wireless telephone.

With that said, much has happened since 2008. XBMC is now on numerous platforms beyond the original Xbox. Indeed, Team XBMC no longer recognizes the original Xbox as a valid modern platform. Honestly, the only way to to make an original Xbox really GOOD at modern tasks is to do a full on hardware revamp.*
*Speaking of which, how many people have seen the below video? It’s absolutely incredible. ¬†I deeply, deeply want to do something like this. Anyone know anybody at Newegg who wants to sponsor an XBMC on the NEW Xbox 1 rebuild? I have an old, broken Xbox lying around just begging to be put to use for a project like this.

Today, XBMC is on OSX, Windows, iOS… It’s running its own version of LXDE Ubuntu. And, of course, it works on a traditional version of Ubuntu.

That last bit is crucial. Continue reading