Archive for the ‘mac’ Tag

Internet Television Test, Week 38: Using an iPhone 3G as my TV remote [Updated]

My Mac doesn’t have a remote control. It predates the Apple Remote by a year (and even if it didn’t, towers don’t have IR sensors).

I could buy a USB IR sensor and an Apple Remote, buy I’d also have to buy software to make the IR sensor work. Total cost: $50+

For $30ish, I could just buy a RF remote with a USB dongle, but then I wouldn’t have the sleek Apple Remote. Instead, I’d be controlling my Mac with something that looks like a garage door opener.

Eight months have passed. IR remotes got worse and RF remotes got better, but I never bought either one.

Instead, my wife got an iPhone.

[She’s nearly got me convinced that I can’t live without one, but I’m holding off as long as I can. My trusty Nokia 6102i is barely two years old, but is breaking. Scotch tape has been holding it together for almost two months, but the other day a small metal piece popped out of the hinge and disappeared into the fourth dimension. Now, every time I flip it open it gets a little worse. I just need it to survive until June/July when the new iModels come out.]

On her phone we have VLC Remote, Remote, and Rowmote.

Currently Rowmote is getting the most use. It integrates directly with Front Row and behaves exactly like an Apple Remote, but Remote’s new iTunes DJ integration looks like fun.

The only problem is: When she’s not home, I don’t have a remote controller!

UPDATE: The guys at Boxee shot out an e-mail letting me know that they have a remote in the App Store, but until I get a new Mac or Boxee shows some PPC love, I’ll have to admire from a distance.

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Replacing Television with The Internet, Part 2: The Sound [UPDATED]

In Part One, I bought the first part of my new system: A screen. Rome wasn’t built in a day and nine-fifty per hour only buys so much. I had to build my new “Internet Entertainment Center” one piece at a time, and Frankenstein parts of my old AV system and computer to fill in the gaps.

I brought along my Mac (current eBay value: $355) , 5.1 AV Receiver (current eBay value: $0), and sundry cables and cords.

Yes, my “Media Center PC” is my primary machine. The trusty Dell (running gOS) is literally falling to pieces and only gets booted for web browsing. My TV is my only computer, more or less, and vice versa.

How I set it up in my new place is enough for a post of it’s own.

If my computer is going to be my primary entertainment machine, it’s going to have to be capable of more than just Stereo Sound, even if the majority of today’s net-video is only 2.0.

The first thing I did was connect my ten-year old Sony 5.1 amp (model STR-DE835) to my Mac. Every Mac has Optical Out, but the towers have Toslink ports so I didn’t even have to buy a converter and could use the same cable I used on my last three DVD Players.

Once the cable was in place, I made a few adjustments to my Mac.

First, in System Preferences->Sound-Output I changed it from “Internal Speakers / Built-In Audio” to “Digital Out / Optical digital-out port”. As soon as I did this, all system sounds and iTunes played out of my amp. As a side-bonus, whenever I turn my amp off, it reverts to the built-in speakers, so I’m never without audio.

I then made two other changes.

First, to DVD Player. In the Preferences, under Disc Setup/Audio I changed it from “System Sound Output” to “Digital Out-Built-In Audio”

Second, to VLC. Under the “Audio” Menu, choose Audio Device -> Built-In Audio (Encoded Output).

Now I can play Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 encoded files and discs in my Mac. Cool.