Sometimes I just don’t know when to shut down. Last night was a good example. I didn’t go to bed before 3 :30 AM. It would not be a big deal if I were staying up for something worthwhile, but last night, after working on a technical project, I stayed up watching a movie to unwind.
Lilliam is usually my governor and keeps my days in order, but she is in Costa Rica and won’t return until next week. When she is not around, I forget what time it is. When I was young, I could go without sleep better than I can now, so I am sure that I will have to have a nap this afternoon.
So what has been going on? I have visited the stroke victim twice this week. The second visit, I spent several hours with him. His caretake’s father has been released from the hospital after they decided they could not remove a tumor. She needed time to visit him in a hospice he has moved to. I hope that she doesn’t give out with all the stress she is under.
I am not satisfied with the stroke victim’s progress, but I have no control over that. I am also not impressed with C&W’s telephone connection at his apartment. He has been without telephone for two weeks. I had to go by the C&W office and submit a second trouble ticket. If it is not up soon, I will have to make another trip to the office. They need to give him a refund for lack of service. Just another thing you put up with living in paradise.
I guess that has me under a little stress and when I get under stress, I tend to dive into technology to unwind.
The other day, there was a thread on UNLOCATOR on one of the local social sites and some people were having problems. Luckily, I am not one of them, because NetFlix is another way I unwind. I am having zero problems and my speed for streaming is greatly improved by not longer going through the encryption required by VPNs.
The thread became the source of my staying up so late last night. One person had raised the question of why Netflix or UNLOCATOR was needed when you could pick up an Android box and avoid paying anything. Since I am not a Google fan, anything having to do with an Android system goes against my grain, but it did cause me to do a little investigation.
These Android boxes have been around for some time in one form or another. A quick search on Amazon came up with several running from around $60 to less than $100. HERE is an example.
As with most things of this nature, I use Amazon to read the product reviews. I then looked at Alibaba and noticed that the latest models being shipped are running a later OS and have much more memory than those currently listed on Amazon. An example is HERE.
There are a ton of these boxes under various names and all from China. I am not in the market for one, but the research was fun.
These boxes are just a small specialized PC running the Android Linux system and for most of the movie and other channel capabilities they use an application called XBMC. This originally stood for Xbox Media Center. I had played with XBMC back when I was into Linux systems, but that was several years ago and the product has come a long way.
The product is in the process of changing its name from XBMC to KODI, as seen in the XBMC website. XBMC is Open Source software and is free.
There is another site called XBMSHUB, which provides some customization and setup support for XBMC. Once XBMC has been installed, then it can be customized to receive movies, and other over the Internet media such as music or TV programs. I will let you read the legal disclaimers on XBMCHUB.
After looking at the current state of XBMS, I decided to download and install it on my laptop. You can see from the download page, that you can install it on multiple types of PCs, including Windows, Linux, Apple OS X, android and even Apple TV, if you are willing to jailbreak your Apple TV (which I am not).
There is a lot of documentation on the download page as well as a lot of YouTube videos that can provide guidance on installing as well as information to verify that that your equipment has the right requirements.
Actually, XBMC is one of the reasons I bought my first Mac Mini, because I thought I might use it as a media center. I see that it requires a minimum of Snow Leopard to do the install, so if you have an old Apple MacMini, you might give it a try.
This is how I spent my day yesterday. Downloading XBMC was a piece of cake. It was a standard download and install. I put it on my OS X Yosemite Beta laptop. Then I got into customizing it using information from the XBMCHUB site and YouTube videos.
My installation on the laptop was a proof of concept. I then thought about the MacMini I have in my bedroom that drives my Security Cameras. I could put it on that PC and then watch on the large screen TV. I started that project late and finished around 1:30 AM. To test it out, I watched The Hunger Games On Fire. That ended around 3:30 AM.
I doubt that I will use it much because I enjoy Netflix on the Apple TV in the living room better, but I did get the satisfaction of proving I could do it.
It certainly isn’t as elegant as an Apple TV or a Roku, but for $0 it is not bad.