Saturday, February 27, 2010

Personal Rating Store

This week I installed the Slacker Android application on my phone.  This version gives the user the ability to "cache" stations so you can listen to them when not connected to a network.  I really wasn't using this functionality to handle lack of service coverage, but to save battery, since my phone's radio doesn't need to turn on while playing a station.

While setting up and listening to the Slacker stations, I had to mark songs that I liked and didn't like.  This is the same thing that have done on my Pandora and stations.  Unfortunately, Pandora and do not let you export your ratings.

The same problem also exists for video.  For example, Netflix has a list of ratings that a user has given to DVDs, and Flixster has ratings that users have given to movies.

This got me thinking that there could be a be a better solution for the user.  A user should be able to delegate a "preference service" to maintain their ratings.  When a user signs into a service that would like access to a user's ratings, like Pandora or Netflix, they are prompted to grant permission for the new service to access the user's ratings.  If the user agrees, the user's ratings can be imported into the service.  The user could also grant the new service the ability to update their ratings, so for example if a user gives a rating to a movie in Netflix, it could update the users rating in the rating store.

Since we would want this connection to be easy to setup, the user shouldn't have to manually setup this linking.  One way to solve this is to extend the frederated login services to contain the uri for the user's rating store.  For example, this could be easily added to the OpenID record for the user returned when the user authenticates.

We would have have to agree on the name space for the rateable items.  I propose using Freebase ids as the unique identifiers.  Then services that use the ratings can map these ids to its own name space.

This idea would allow the user to quickly train new services with their ratings, as well as the ability to export their data.

Friday, February 26, 2010

CloudBerry Backup for WHS [updated]

HP appears to have dropped support for their online backup add-in for Window Home Server, HP created their online backup software for the ex47x and ex48x MediaSmart servers, but now are promoting other backup services for their current line of servers.  Their add-in used Amazon S3 for storage.  I have used JungleDisk on my desktop machines to backup, so I am pretty used to that storage system.  But since it that HP probably not continuing development, I wanted to find a solution to have an offsite backup for some of the files on the server, that would continue to be supported.

I am trying CloudBerry Backup for Windows Home Server.  This is very similar to HP's online backup add-in and the old JungleDisk Windows Home server.  CloudBerry lets you pick any share or a connected drive to backup.  Also you can set a time range when backups can happen.

I did have a problem after setting this up.  I has some paths on some of the shares that were too long for Windows (These were copied from my linux computer).  When CloudBerry encountered this error, it listed the error in the error email that was sent.

I will probably pay for CloudBerry Backup once the trial is over


A few weeks ago, I installed our networked ATSC tuner, and I disconnected our Comcast cable feed.  This has been working great, as we are able to get our network shows over the ATSC tuner, and movies and older shows over Netflix streaming.  The one thing that was missing is recent shows on cable channels.

I mentioned before several solutions on getting access to Hulu content in Media Center.  vmcPlayIt allowed you to play content from a PlayOn media server, but the UI didn't look good at all.  Then there are solutions that let you launch Hulu Desktop, like HuluDesktopWMC and Hulu Desktop Integration, but those have problem when switching back and forth between the applications.

tubeCore appears to be the best solution.  It is similar to vmcPlayIt, where it connects to a DNLA server like PlayOn, but the UI is a lot better.  The other good thing about tubeCore is that it is compatible with Media Center Extenders

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

HDHomeRun for Media Center

As I have mentioned before, I am looking to cancel our cable TV service.  This weekend I purchased a HDHomeRun Dual network tuner.  The HDHomeRun is an ATSC and QAM tuner that you connect to your network.  You are able to access the tuners with any Mac, PC or linux computer on the network.

I installed it in our attic, where our networking panel is, and the installation was very easy.  All I had to do was connect the antenna cables and connect the tuner to the network.  When I installed the software on one of my computers, I was able to scan for channels and make sure that the antenna was pointed in the right direction.

I was then able to install the tuner software on our Windows 7 Media Center.  The tuners were instantly recognized, and the Microsoft's program guide had all of the data for those channels.  The quality of video is very good.  I can tell that the video is not as compressed as it is through Comcast.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Android Apps

This post has a good list of Android applications. I think that ecosystem of Android application is really doing well.

Here is a list of the third party Android applicaitons that I have installed:

Setting up D-Link DAP-2553

Our Airport base stations were starting to die.  Every once in a while, the basestations would still broadcast the SSID, and wireless devices could still connect to them but wouldn't transmit any data to our wired network.  Since this was happening to both our Airport Express and Airport Extreme base stations, I assume that there was something, either on the wired network, or some RF interference that was causing them to lock up.

I took this opportunity to upgrade to a 802.11n base station, so I bought the D-Link DAP-2553.  This was one of the few dual-band, non-router, base stations.  Once I set it up,  things have been working a lot better than they were with the Apple base stations.