Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks

Pursuit Of The Ultimate Media Extender

Posted by tomwiles at 5:05 PM on June 29, 2010

Hacked Apple TVFor some time now I’ve been experimenting with different ways of getting Internet-based video to my widescreen LCD HD televisions.

Often people think, why not simply hook up a regular desktop computer up to the TV. A desktop computer can be set up to play back virtually any video file type. The problem is, desktop and laptop computers are optimized for use on a desktop, not from a living room chair.

Is the ultimate media extender a set top box of some sort? The trouble with most set top boxes is that they are either walled gardens, or they miss the boat in very important ways.

A media extender should be able to play files stored on a home network, as well as be able to easily stream from services such as Netflix, Hulu, etc. Once set up, everything should be accessible through a simple remote control. Also, for my purposes, I’m willing to pay up to $250 for a box for each television in my house. It should also be able to play ripped DVD collection files that have been ripped to a central home server or network attached storage device.

I’ve hit on an interesting combination that seems to do everything I want it to that involves hacking a standard Apple TV and adding Playon TV server software to another computer on my home network. Playon TV software sells for $39.99.

Recently I purchased a commercial Apple TV hack called ATV Flash, which sells for $49.95. You download either the Windows or Mac version and install it on your computer. When you run the program it will ask you to insert an empty USB memory stick that it will write the installation files to. Then you plug the USB memory stick into your Apple TV and power it up. It will upgrade the Apple TV to be able to play a much wider variety of files, as well as adding Boxee and XMBC playback. It also retains all of the standard Apple TV functionality.

Next, I added the Playon TV software to my HP Windows Home Server. It could have easily been any other computer on my home network that meets the software’s minimum performance requirements. Once Playon TV was installed, I added my credentials for my Netflix account, as well as my Hulu account.

Finally, on my hacked Apple TV I simply start the XBMC application and navigate to UpNP devices on my home network, where Playon TV shows up. I now have access to Hulu and Netflix right on my Apple TV.

The Apple TV itself does not have enough processor horsepower to play back Netflix or Hulu Flash streaming without stuttering and freezing. However, playing it through the Playon TV software causes much of the processing to take place on my Windows Home Server machine, which has plenty of horsepower. Playon TV works by converting the Hulu and Netflix Flash streams into UpNP streams that the hacked Apple TV running XMBC can easily play without stuttering.

So, with this setup I’ve got access to all of my regular iTunes material, including HD and SD video podcasts, as well as a wide variety of streaming material from popular services such as Netflix and Hulu. It would be easy for me to buy additional Apple TV units, apply the ATV Flash hack to them, and attach them to other HDTV’s in my house.

Camtasia for Mac

Posted by fogview at 7:55 PM on August 31, 2009

Techsmith released version 1.0 of the long awaited Camtasia for Mac last week. Camtasia is a program that allows you to capture screen videos on your computer. If you ever watched a software product demonstration video, you’ve most likely seen a screencast made by Camtasia if it was for a Windows product.

I’ve used Camtasia for Windows for years but haven’t made the switch to a screencast program for the Mac. There a few Mac programs that do screencast like ScreenFlow and iShowU, etc., but I never got around to trying them.

Over the weekend I decided to downloaded the 30 day trial version of Camtasia. My conclusion is that it’s a very good 1.0 program. There were a few glitches but overall I was able to create a demonstration screencast and add the special effects in post production.

If you have ever worked with video editing software you will be comfortable with Camtasia for Mac. The program doesn’t have all the bells and whistles as Camtasia for Windows, but it has enough to allow you to create a decent screencast video. It has transitions for movement between video clips and actions to allow you to focus in on specific areas of the screen. It uses a familiar timeline that allows you to place and rearrange your clips and even drag in other videos or images.

The one thing I noticed that was different from other screencast software I used is you record your entire screen and crop and position what you want your viewers to see (or not see) in post production. I thought it was a good feature but also a frustrating one when I tried to wrap my head around cropping portions of the screen and trying to fit the remaining image into my canvas size. (You need to set the canvas size before you start recording because that determines the output size.) If you enable the Mac’s internal (or an external camera), it captures that as well as your screen. You can then move and position (or hide) the camera video as needed in post production.

I did find a few problems with the program. First, some of the tool-tips were not correct. The tip for Fly In/Out transition said that it flies in from the left and out to the right, when it really flies in from the top. The text alignment (left, center, right, justify) didn’t seem to work at all.

The major problem was when I tried to split the camera video. In my test video I had myself speaking before showing the desktop with the firefox brower page. The default recording has the video camera in the lower right hand corner of the screen. For the first part of the video I wanted myself centered in the screen and bigger. I split the video where I wanted the transistion and move the clips around so the camera video was visible and the browser video wasn’t. I centered the camera video and enlarged it. When I played back the video, my camera video clip was showing a portion of the desktop instead of me. If I separated the video clip from the following desktop clip, everything worked correctly (except for a gap between clips). My work-around was inserting a static frame between the two clips. I’m sure this will be something they will fix in version 1.01.

Camtasia for Mac sells for $99 and will go up to $149 after the introduction period is over. My recommendation is to download a 30 day trial of Camtasia if you have a Mac, and try it for yourself. I would also recommend checking out the great tutorial videos on the website.

Check out my first Camtasia screencast where I go through a demo of the Blubrry website and show off some of the effects you can do in post production.

73′s, Tom

Final Planning for Consumer Electronics Show

Posted by todd at 2:02 AM on December 27, 2006

Well my final gear purchase arrived today and I am happy to say that I will be 100% wireless both the digital audio recorder and the HD Camera have wireless receivers hooked to them and the Microphone has a wireless transmitter. I will carry a cable just in case but I am pretty happy with the rig.

I have the in room recording tested and packed in a hardened flight case and the really critical items will go with me in my carry on. I moved my flight up and I fly out now on Friday the 5th with a Saturday morning arrival which will give me a little extra time to get all set up.

Jeevan from RawVoice is flying out and will be my camera man plus we are getting info cards printed this year this will help those companies get some ideas on who the show is going to reach and where they will be able to find the finished product.

I have my video production perfected as it is going to get. I am sure a lot of the video we shoot will be released the week following CES but we are going to edit and push as much as we can during the show.

I will be producing a podcast each night that I am their as well so that should be a lot of fun. I’m going to start banking some sleep next week because I know their will be little sleep the week in Vegas.

I must have 50 party invites already and while I am not going to be able to attend them all, I am going to do my best to hit a number of the venues in the evening along with the scheduled dinners I have already committed to.

Should be fun and I am pretty excited about the event.

Vote for Blubrry as Favorite Niche Social Network

Posted by todd at 9:46 PM on December 23, 2006

SocnetawardslogoVote for in the Niche Social Network Category. In the comments of the post say Vote: at []

Thanks for your Support

iBloks Teams up with

Posted by geeknews at 10:09 AM on December 12, 2006

My team over at RawVoice reveals a new relationship we have with the full press release is available at RawVoice with a demo at

The originating press release can be found on the iBloks press page

GNC-2006-12-02 Videocast #2

Posted by geeknews at 5:26 PM on December 2, 2006

Second Videocast I talk about the process that I use here at Geek News Central to create my Podcast, I also talk about and overview the equipment I use. I also show the equipment I will be using at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES).

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Comments to 619-342-7365 e-mail to

Studio Recording Equipment
Rode NTK Microphone
Mackie 1202VLZ Pro
Solo 610 Microphone Amplifier
Marantz PMD-660
Aphex 204
DBX 266XL Compressor Gate
DBX 215 Graphic Equalizer
Aphex Compellor Model 320A
Aphex Dominator II Model 720
Telos Phone Bridge
Furman PL-8

Travel Recording Equipment
Marantz PMD-660
RE-50B Microphone
Sennheiser K6/ME66
Tapco Mixer

Portable Connectivity
Kyocera EV-DO Router
Sprint EV-DO

Software Utilized
Adobe Audition 1.5
Video Editing Final Cut Pro Express

Computers Audio and Video Production
Windows XP Pro PC with Audigy 4 Sound card
MacBook Pro for Video Editing
Travel Recording HP Pavilion ZD8000 with Stock Sound card

One item that I have on my wish list is one of the new microphones that have a digital recorder built into the mic. But until I can get a review unit I am not going to purchase one.


How do you Quickly Submit Videocasts to Multiple Sites?

Posted by geeknews at 1:07 AM on November 29, 2006

As I have been ramping up production for the Videos Andy McCaskey and I will be creating at the Consumer Electronics Show I have been looking for a service that I cannot believe does not exist. With the proliferation of video sites out why is there not a service that will submit a video to multiple sites at once?

Seems like that would make a pretty good service. Submit your Video to one site and then have it pushed to other sites that you have accounts on. This would save you a lot of time and is a service I would pay a reasonable fee for.

CES Podcast and Videocast Interview Opportunities!

Posted by geeknews at 3:02 PM on November 25, 2006

Is your company going to CES? Would you like to reach thousands of early adopters and technical savvy readers and Geek News Central listeners. Send you interview request to and I will get you scheduled for a interview at CES.


Posted by geeknews at 4:03 PM on November 24, 2006

A very short video cast announcing some upcoming events I will be involved in at the Consumer Electronic Show

Sponsor: Save Money with all our GoDaddy Codes see our Promo Code Page
[Try GoToMeeting free for 30 days at No credit card needed.]

Comments to 619-342-7365 e-mail to

VideoCast Link
Consumer Electronic Show

Video Editing Dilema

Posted by geeknews at 3:40 PM on November 24, 2006

Since I have been using the Macbook Pro to edit Video’s I have been using the default iMovie Themes and Editing transitions. I want to kick it up a notch or two and I have the need to create some videos that will be used in a new videocast that I will be doing in January and wonder if it would just be smarter to upgrade to a better video editing suite or just buy plugins for iMovie? So if you are a die hard Apple video editor I would love to get some comments on what you think the best approach is.