Archive for the ‘Software’ Category

Google TV – An Initial Revue Review

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010
RevueI’ve been playing around with the whole ‘HTPC’ thing for a few years now. I’ve had my go at MythTV, XBMC, Windows Media Center, MediaTomb, Ubuntu, etc. There were always hurdles to jump and integration was too expensive or just wasn’t possible. When GTV was introduced, I had high hopes of an elegant solution to a TV connected media box/PC and wasn't let down after recently receiving my Logitech Revue.

The initial reviews of GTV, from reputable magazines and blog sites, have deemed the Revue/GTV as sub-par. I’ve read the following ‘cons’:

  • -- Setup takes too long
  • -- Only integrates with Dish Network
  • -- Too complicated
  • -- It won’t replace your existing television provider
  • -- You can’t enter in a URL to go directly to a web page (you can only search)

Issues that were resolved in one of the first updates:

  • -- immovable picture-in-picture box
  • -- outdated Netflix app

- The setup probably takes about 15-20min (you are warned in the beginning). You have to realize what is going on in this initial setup: an initial software/firmware update, screen/resolution adjustments, the IR setup of your AV equipment so that you can control it all from the keyboard/remote, etc. The AV integration setup is similar to that of other Logitech Harmony devices and it’s all done on the TV screen through menus (MFR and model # is all that’s needed).

- I actually believed that it only integrated with Dish Network. I have DirecTV and after entering the model number of my satellite box, GTV was able to change channels, run the guide, menu, etc. Here’s another example of its integration:
‘Judge Judy’ was on CBS and I was watching ABC. I pulled up the search box and typed in ‘judge judy’. Several result options were displayed and the first one was ‘judge judy - now playing - WBBM’. After choosing this result, the channel was instantly changed to CBS.

- GTV is far easier to operate than any previous solution that I’ve used. It was never meant to replace your television provider. I read in Maximum PC: ‘If you wish to navigate directly to a website, you must type the URL into a search box and then pick out the link from the results’. This is false. Maybe this was an issue resolved in the latest update... The only issue that I have so far is the inability of switching the content of the PIP window.

The best part about GTV is that it overlays the current display on your TV. This just isn’t possible with other solutions. Whenever you wanted to use your HTPC, you’d have to switch video inputs on your TV; ugh, what a hassle. Another notable feature is that it seems to 'pause' the Flash player when you switch between web content and TV!

I think the GTV is excellent as it is and it’ll only get better with updates. I believe the networks that are currently blocking GTV (ABC, CBS, NBC, Hulu, etc. - via Adobe Flash signature/version) will smarten up and unblock in the near future. Why would they not want more content viewers? More people to sell ads to?
Currently at $250, you aren’t going to put together an HTPC with the same features and level of integration!

Test With IE On Your Mac OS X

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

Requirements:
- Mac OS X (Snow Leopard was used for this article)
- XAMPP/Apache or Mac webserver of your choice
- VirtualBox
- Windows XP, Vista, or 7 install disk
- IETester
(allows for testing in multiple flavors of Internet Explorer using tabs)

We've all seen this show before. The tricky part is finding your way back to XAMPP (Apache) from IE Tester while maintaining a consistent base URL. This isn't important when running a few static websites, but many frameworks have this value stored in its database. When you view your site using a different URL, links to static files (CSS, images, etc.) and other pages become broken. In a few easy steps I'm going to show you one method to resolve this issue.

Go ahead and install the above applications and OSes if you haven't already. Use the default network mode of "NAT" for VirtualBox. I'm going to assume that you can access your local sites (from your Mac) using - http://localhost/sitename/

- Step 1: Boot up your Windows install and use ipconfig (Run -> cmd -> ipconfig) to get your gateway IP. It was 10.0.0.2 for me.

- Step 2: Add the following lines to both system's (Mac and virtual Windows install) hosts files (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hosts_file). 'localhost.com' can be replaced with a URL of your choice.

# Mac:
localhost.com 127.0.0.1

# Windows:
localhost.com 10.0.0.2

- Step 3: Be sure that all of your web frameworks (WordPress, Magento, etc.) are aware of your new base URL 'localhost.com' (or whatever you chose in step 2).

- Step 4: Access one of your sites from each of your operating system's browser using - http://localhost.com/sitename/

PHPBB3 – Upgrade Your Modified Files

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

I recently installed the popular forum software, phpBB3(RC7), on my server. I knew that I wouldn't get a ton of traffic at first, so that's why I decided on the release candidate version (RC7) vs. the stable phpBB2. After a week or two, the stable version 3 (Olympus) was released and I was very interested in upgrading. At this point, I had made a ton of modifications to the many files contained in the phpBB3 directories. I was worried that if I upgraded, my files would all be replaced with the new ones from the stable version. My solution was to set up a "non-production" server to test out the upgrade.

I downloaded the upgrade package from phpBB's (3.0.0) download page. After uploading the /install directory and it's contents to the server, I pointed my web browser to http://myserver/phpBB3/install/ to begin the process. The current version of phpBB is checked and then the database is updated. This portion of the upgrade took only a few seconds.

The next step is what I was waiting for:
phpBB3

The upgrade scripts check for file differences.
phpBB3

After the differences are collected, the option to merge, existing and new files, is given.
phpBB3

It gives you the option to:
Merge, Use The New File, or Keep The Old
Merge is selected by default.
phpBB3

The script can use the File Transfer Protocol to upgrade/merge your files. This was very easy. Just enter your username, password and path.
phpBB3

All of my files were successfully merged, which preserved ALL of my previous modifications. I am now fully upgraded to phpBB version 3.0.0/Olympus.
phpBB3