Front Row to Play Second Fiddle

Apple’s answer to Microsoft’s Media Center came with the release of OSX Tiger in 2004.  Using your Apple Remote, users could control anything in their iTunes Music Library.  The core animations built into OSX created a beautiful, smooth and friendly interface.  Unlike Media Center, Front Row would only show media it could play.  The caveat being it could only play a small number of media formats and no web media.

Front Row 2.0 added some GUI improvements and YouTube integration but little else, though it was already a polished product no one really knew something was missing.

Now we have example of what Front Row show be and they come in the form of Center State and Boxee.  These programs run on Apple computers running Leopard and Boxee also runs on Linux, sorry Microsoft.  You have plenty of other viable options however.

Both of these programs take over for front row and both have incredible features that neither Front Row nor Media Center can claim.

Center Stage is available for download on their site.  It sports a slick interface with stunning transitions as you move through the levels of your media.


CenterStage UI Demo from Gizmodo on Vimeo.

You really must go to their main page and watch the demo videos to experience how beautiful the system is.

I’m a Boxee alpha user and got a chance to try out their software today. Installation was a breeze, took just a few minutes and 75mb of space.

Installed boxee

I logged in with my Boxee username and was in with no delay.  Typing was a little confusing, you had to select the box you wanted and then press enter, then type your username and then press enter again.  Seems like selecting the box would be enough.

BOXEE

Boxee didn’t pick up any videos it could read off my Macbook Pro.  Not surprised as it cannot read DRM’d media from iTunes.  Unfortunately for me, nearly all of my media, at least 90% of my video, comes from the iTunes Music Store so, unless it’s a DRM free video from ITMS, it doesn’t show up.  Damn the DRM.  Once Apple finally releases their ITMS of music/video DRM, I wonder if these old files will be unlocked as well.  Doubt it.

Anyways, my music did show up, and I got to playing around.  Logged into my Last.fm account and started scrobbling.  Great, seamless integration.  Unfortunately your password is not character protected.  As you type it in, the letters pop up on the screen.  So instead of ******** you see password.  This does not happen when you log into your Boxee account on the login screen.

BOXEE Running

There are lots of settings to play around with though most don’t make too much of a difference; it comes out quite nicely straight from the box.  Navigation with a keyboard is difficult and confusing.  It is often hard to tell where you are and how to get out.  I was playing a Will Young CD, recommended it to two people on Boxee and then tried to get back to the main menu.

It took probably ten tries on the keyboard.  Then, duh, pulled out the Apple Remote, worked like a charm.

As it stands right now, both of these programs whip Front Row’s ass.  They offer a unique set of features such as auto IMDB lookup, a social network where you can recommend media to friends and a wide array of supported media formats.

I love the social networking aspect of Boxee and the fun experience it has plus the slick interface but navigation and some security holes need to be checked out before it’s a solid product.  Of course, this is alpha, not even beta so I say, good job Boxee.

Center Stage wins with the interface, beautiful albeit, a little slow compared to Boxee and not as inviting; the Now Playing in Center Stage fabulous.  No social networking hurts it’s adoption.

Bottom line, check out both of these projects.  I look forward to seeing them come to fruition.  Competition builds improvement!

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Calibrize Isn’t So Dumbassy

I was a little to hard on the Calibrize people… I admit it.  I guess it’s the moodswings I’m getting these days 😉

The creator of the software was kind enough to make a comment regarding why there are macs on the website when the software doesn’t work on a Mac, unless you run Windows on the Mac using Bootcamp or some similar software.

By Igor on Feb 22, 2008

Hi,
I’m the idiot who came up with that software so I guess I should explain.
The pictures is what we have. We use Macs. However, most of our customers use Windows and are therefor missing out on the built in calibration utility that Apple ships with its computers. We simply made a (more or less) similar utility for Windows to at least get our customers in the right color ballpark.
Obviously, because there is no use for Calibrize on Mac, we never bothered to develop it.

So, anyways, they make a great piece of software that is free for those poor unfortunate souls who are stuck running Windows.

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iVista

Wow, onto the new old server at PowWeb.com, 300gb of space and 3000gb of bandwidth. Fabulous. Took a lot of work moving all the files around and actually still working with the domain transferring proper DNS entries from ns1.dreamhost.com to ns1.powweb.com and etc.

But, while waiting for all this to occur, I decided to install Vista on my iMac. It was a painless process using Bootcamp, once I got Kubuntu off.

The first version of Vista I used was Home. I bought Vista Business and it seems to work a good bit better. I actually really love it.

Jeremy gave me shit, told me it was the worst thing I could have possibly done to my computer. Haha, well, not too far off buddy. Just two days into have Vista and look what pops up.

Tracking cookies already! Glad I got Firefox installed on here in a hurry.

Beyond my iSight not working or my number pad, it seems to be pretty much a flawless setup. I’m loving being able to boot up into Mac OSX or Windows Vista so easily. Just fabulous! Now, if they could fix the audio driver so that I don’t get clicks and pops…