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November 20 2011

Building the Ultimate Media Center PC – Software Setup

Here is the collection of applications that I installed on my media center pc.

November 14 2011

Building the Ultimate Media Center PC – Software Setup

Media center pc software setup

Software Makes a Computer into a Living Room Centerpiece

The thing that turns your computer into a powerful media center is the right software.

Here is the collection of applications that I installed to do more.

 

I have the software grouped into the following categories:

  • All-In-One Media Centers Apps
  • Software for Watching Video
  • Software for Viewing Pictures
  • Software for Acquiring Media
  • Miscellaneous

All-In-One Media Center Apps


There are a few apps that handle just about everything you need on your media center. They organize and play your local media files and download other audio, video, and pictures from the internet.

BoxeePrice – Free

Boxee is a media center for your home theater PC. It compiles media from your computer and on the internet into a simple, remote-control friendly user interface. Boxee includes built-in social media features, so you can see what your friends have watched and recommended. You can also integrate Boxee with services like Twitter, FriendFeed, Tumblr and Netflix. Operating System – Windows, Mac

This is one of the most used apps on my media center pc.

MiroPrice – Free

Miro is a free, open source internet TV application that will play virtually any video format. It integrates a bit torrent client, a RSS aggregator, and a media player.

You can subscribe to any RSS feed, podcast or video blog and explore hundreds of free channels with the built-in Channel Guide. It is fully BitTorrent capable, but also allows you to subscribe to videos from YouTube, Google Video, Yahoo Video and many other sites. The program furthermore makes it easy to browse your collection, make playlists and stay organized. Operating System – Windows, Mac, Linux

See how Boxee works in the following video.

Software for Watching Video

VLCPrice – Free

VLC is a powerful media player, playing most of the media codecs and video formats out there. Operating System – Windows, Mac, Linux

Hulu Desktop PlayerPrice – Free

Hulu Desktop is a lean-back viewing experience for your personal computer. It features a sleek new look that’s optimized for use with standard Windows Media Center remote controls or Apple remote controls, allowing you to navigate Hulu’s entire library with just six buttons. For users without remotes, the application is keyboard and mouse-enabled. Hulu Desktop is a downloadable application and will work on PCs and Macs. It will initially launch as a beta product during which we plan to gather and incorporate user feedback to improve the service. Operating System – Windows, Mac, Linux

Browsers

If you’re going to get media from the internet, you’ll need a top notch browser. These two should handle any need you could possibly have.

ChromePrice – Free

Google Chrome runs web pages and applications with lightning speed. Operating System – Windows, Mac, Linux

FirefoxPrice – Free

ozilla Firefox is a free and open source web browser descended from the Mozilla Application Suite. As of Dec 2010, Firefox has 31% of the recorded usage share of web browsers, making it the #2 browser in terms of current usage (1) and the #1 browser independent of any operating system. Firefox is highly extensible, with thousands of third-party add-ons available. Operating System – Windows, Mac, Linux

Software for Viewing Pictures

PicasaPrice – Free

Picasa is free photo organizing, viewing, and editing software from Google that makes your pictures look great. Sharing your best photos with friends and family is as easy as pressing a button! Operating System – Windows, Mac, Linux

See how Picasa works in the following video.

Software for Acquiring Media

In addition to the numerous streaming sources available on the internet, you will need a good Bittorrent client to supplement your media downloading capabilities.

uTorrentPrice – Free

uTorrent (a.k.a uTorrent or MicroTorrent) is a lightweight BitTorrent client that includes standard features such as bandwidth prioritization, scheduling, RSS auto-downloading and Mainline DHT. Additionally, uTorrent supports the Protocol Encryption joint specification and peer exchange. Operating System – Windows, Mac, Linux

See how to use uTorrent to automatically download TV shows.

7-ZipPrice – Free

7zip is an source and free archive utility that runs on Windows. 7Zip is the smallest, fastest, free-est archive tool available, Period. Operating System – Windows

Miscellaneous Apps

Application Launcher

RocketDockPrice – Free

RocketDock is a very nice Mac OS X dock clone. It provides a clean interface for shortcuts to launch apps and files. Each item is completely customizable allowing for better productivity and accessibility. Operating System -Windows

Stream Media to Other Places

PS3 Media ServerPrice – Free

PS3 Media Server is a DLNA compliant Upnp Media Server for the PS3, written in Java, with the purpose of streaming or transcoding any kind of media files, with minimum configuration. Its backed up with the powerful Mplayer/FFmpeg packages Operating System – Windows, Mac, Linux

Communication and Social Media

DigsbyPrice – Free

Digsby is a multi protocol IM client that lets you chat with all your friends on AIM, MSN, Yahoo, ICQ, Google Talk, and Jabber with one simple to manage buddy list. Its also a social networking tool that alerts you of every update imaginable. Operating System – Windows

TweetDeckPrice – Free

TweetDeck is your personal real-time browser, connecting you with your contacts across Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Google Buzz and more. Operating System – Windows, Mac, Linux

View the Rest of this Series

This is part 2 in a four part series on Building the Ultimate Media Center PC on a Budget. View the rest of the series:

 

 

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October 29 2011

Building the Ultimate Media Center PC on a Shoestring Budget

 

Super Cheap Computer for your Living Room

Overview: Learn how to build an amazing Media Center PC on a shoestring budget in this series of tutorials.

 

Building media center pc

Every day there are more and more sources of amazing media content available over the internet. This is great if you don’t mind sitting alone in your computer room watching a monitor, while listening to some tinny little speakers. What if you want to settle into your couch with your friends and family and watch on your big screen TV and house shaking surround sound system?

Well, I’m going to show you just how easy it is to get all of your favorite Video, Music, Pictures, and Social Media out of the computer room into the middle of the living room. Best of all, you’ll see how to do it for as cheap as possible.

What We Will be Doing

My goal is to build a small computer that can handle all of your home media needs for Less Than $400. (Much less in some cases.)

This little workhorse needs to meet a few very important requirements:

  • Small – It should make your Nintendo Wii look like a big fat fatty.
  • Low Energy Consumption – Since it will be on all the time, it has to be efficient. (10 – 20 watts)
  • Stream 1080p HD Video – It has to be able to handle full-HD video with no lags or stutters.
  • Surround Sound – It has to be able to take advantage of a modern 5-1 (or better) surround sound system.
  • Expandable Storage – Our libraries of Music, Photos, and Video are constantly growing, so we need enough room to hold it.  (See backup server below.)
  • Function as Backup Server – Since it will have all of this storage, it should function as a backup destination for the computers the house. (Windows, Mac, and Linux)
  • Remote Access – I should be able to securely access and control it from other computers inside and outside of the house.
  • Power to handle other stuff – There are a bunch of other cool things that can be done with a little home media center. This machine has to have enough power to handle them too.

Selecting the Hardware

You can use anything from a full-blown new computer that costs $1,000 or more on down to an old laptop that you have lying around to build your media center pc. The goal of this project is to have a small, inexpensive system; so that rules out the high-end new stuff and a lot of the old stuff. However, one of the ways that you can bring this project in cheaply is to reuse some parts that you may already have. (More on this later.)

The best choice of a small inexpensive machine is one of the net-top computers that have come out recently. You can find dozens of them for a few hundred dollars.

My Build

Asus EB1021 Nettop PC

I went with an Asus EB1021 net top pc, which cost $309. It has a relatively new AMD E-350 processor that runs circles around the current generation of Intel Atom processors. The onboard video card also outperforms the Intel Ion video cards.The case is about the size of 2 or 3 DVD cases stacked up. While tiny,  it is jam-packed with a boatload of ports:

  • 6-in-1 Memory card reader
  • 4 USB 2.0 ports
  • 2 USB 3.0 ports (very fast)
  • Gigabit Ethernet port
  • 802.11 N wifi
  • HDMI &VGA video ports
  • Digital S/PDIF & RCA audio (7-to-1 surround sound)

Choosing an Operating System for your Media Center PC

This is a big choice for setting up your machine. Each OS has its pros and cons, so the choice is entirely up to you. Here are some of the pros and cons of each OS:

Windows – You will have the widest choice of apps to pimp out your system. Con – it’s expensive (over $100).

Mac/Hackintosh – If you want to run OSX on your machine, you can look around for instructions on the web. Pro – It’s free and it’s a Mac. Con – It’s tricky and quasi illegal (you wouldn’t let that stop you, right?).

Linux –  It’s free and reasonably easy to use now. Con – Not as many cool apps as Windows or Mac.

I went with Windows 7 Professional (64 bit) because it was already installed on my machine and it met my requirements.

Going with a Fully Built System

Media center pc assembled

Most people will not want to assemble their PC and install the Operating System, so I picked a couple of fully functioning systems that you can use if you want to skip over a few steps. Here are a few recommendation for very nice prebuilt nettop PCs.

 

If none of these strike your fancy, choose from even more options. Nettop PCs at Amazon

Next Up – Assembling the PC and Installing the Operating System Now that I have my shiny new machine it’s time to get it up and running. Stay tuned for the next part of this series.

This is part one in a six part series on Building the Ultimate Media Center PC on a Shoestring Budget. View the rest of the series:

Make Sure that you Don’t Miss Anything

Sign up for free updates from VitaminCM.com Subscribe to VitaminCM.com via RSS Reader Sign Up for the VitaminCM.com Newsletter VitaminCM on YouTube VitaminCM on Twitter See some of the other places where you can connect with me out there in the wilds of the internets.

 


October 17 2011

Internet TV in 2011 – Guest Post

Internet TV 2011

There was a time when everyone in the family fought for the remote control to watch their favorite show because if missed they would hardly get another chance to watch it. Internet was a substitute for passing time then and the concept of internet TV was not as common or affordable for everyone. But when everyone got hold of desktop computers and laptops they began watching videos on the net and there was no one left to sit in front of the TV except the grandparents or youngest members of the family.

According to surveys, internet TV is most popular among the youth because of the options and flexibility it offers. For both the genders, for mom and dad and for grandma and grandpa, there isn’t one thing that is not available on internet TV. If one does not have an allowance for a Linkin Park concert, internet TV will surely not let them miss it.


With its increasing success, companies introduced smart TVs that connect to the internet and one can watch anything on it the way they do on their PCs. Television sets that run through the internet will give families a chance to sit and watch shows of their choice together. As the younger generation today prefers more privacy and wants everything of their own, they find freedom in the changing face of internet TV. From classroom projects to selecting an appropriate makeover for the prom, all the information is available online.

Information available is still the same, only the mediums keep on changing since in every era a new mode of technology is available for its present generation. In the previous times people used to have one tool and more than one user. For instance a newspaper was read by more than one person of the house, a radio came in use for more than just one person. But now everyone has their own separate internet TV, people just select their own medium, whether they prefer to watch it on their desktop, on a laptop or on their cell phone.

Technology brings a new gift for every generation, this time it’s something even beyond the expectations of the new generation. The intention of internet TV is not to kill other mediums of watching programs, but instead providing users with another option.

During the time when internet TV managed to tighten its grip on the market, many other options in the television category were introduced. Satellite dish users had the option to record their favorite shows and watch them later, but even there the access and the number of shows that could be recorded was limited.

With internet TV one does not need to record or even download anymore. Just type in what you’re looking for and you’ll get countless options, click and watch. All one will need is a good internet connection, which is no feat anymore. Even a common man can afford an internet connection that will work while watching their favorite show.

About the Author

The article is contributed by Calvin Scott. Calvin is tech blogger and loves to write review on expensive gadgets. Visit his site for kpn interactieve tv and interactieve tv hd.

August 16 2011

iPhone Quick Tip - Shutting Down Background Apps

Use this quick tip to shut down the apps running in the background on your iphone. Save memory and battery life with this video tutorialhttp://vitamincm.com/iphone-shut-down-running-background-apps/

August 12 2011

Ultimate Google Android Phone Tutorial

learn how to do several basic and advanced tasks with a mobile phone running Google’s Android Operating System

July 18 2011

Save Tons of Time Using Automator for Mac – Video Tutorial

Learn how to create sophisticated workflows using the Macintosh Automator tool in this step-by-step video tutorial.

June 20 2011

How To Set Up a #WordPress Blog #video #tutorial

Step-by-Step Instructions with Video Tutorials learn how to perform every single task involved in creating, configuring, writing, and maintaining very own fully customized blog.

How To Set Up a WordPress Blog

How To Set Up a #WordPress Blog #video #tutorial
how to perform every single task involved in creating, configuring, writing, and maintaining very own fully customized blog

May 31 2011

Supercharge your WordPress Blog with Plugins

Supercharge your #WordPress Blog with #Plugins - http://su.pr/2FzjPi #video #tutorial

April 29 2011

February 21 2011

RedBox – Another Pretender to the Netflix Throne

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

Dont bet against netflix

Big news leaked out this week from all of the usual tech luminaries. (TechCrunch, CNET, SlashGear, ReadWriteWeb) See the news here.

RedBox is Planning a Video Streaming Service to Compete with Netflix.

Redbox

Is this it for Netflix? Is this the threat that will finally topple their video empire? Have the finally met their match?

Probably not.

I have been a Netflix customer and evangelist for over six years now. Forgive me if i don’t get all excited when I hear about yet another entrant into the “We’ll just take all of Netflix’s customers” game. It all seems so easy; just throw up a store, run a few commercials, and start counting all of their (Netflix) money. Not so fast.

You probably don’t need some boring history lesson here, but since I actually do have a degree in history – why not?


Just A Little Bit of History Repeating

Where have I heard this whole story before?

Netflix would never be able to stand up to move rental giant BlockBuster, right? (They’re Chapter 11 now. Their DVD-by-mail service lost so much money that they just gave it away to Walmart.)

Blockbuster

Wow, that must have been a tough adversary. Netflix could never withstand the might retail giant Walmart, right? Remember when they were going to just steamroll poor, little Netflix? They had their own DVD-by-mail service to go along with the wreckage that they got from Blockbuster. Kaput!

Walmart

Oh crap, here come the content owners (Fox, NBC, and ABC) with their own “NetFlix Killer” in Hulu.

Comcast NbcFox logo

Abc logoHulu

Now there’s just no way that Netflix could never withstand the undisputed king of ECommerce - Amazon. Surely they can figure out how to just steal away all of Netflix’s customers and money right? Yeah, exactly.

Amazon

So I guess that this vending machine company is the “Real Netflix Killer” that’s going to jump in there and show those clowns how it’s done.

Since late 2008 Netflix’s stock (NFLX) is up over 1,200%.

Let me spell that out for your. ONE THOUSAND, TWO HUNDRED PER CENT!

Take a look at that Stock chart at the top of the page and see how the rest of the companies mentioned here have fared over that period.

Pardon me while I call that Etrade baby and ask him how to place a Buy Order for some Netflix stock.

What Do You Think?

Does RedBox stand a chance against Netflix? Will they finally be the one to knock them off their video high horse? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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No related posts.


September 16 2010

How to Create an Interactive YouTube Video

Let your Viewers Create their Own Journey

OVERVIEW: You will learn how to Create an Interactive Video using YouTube’s Annotation links.

What are Interactive YouTube Videos?

YouTube has a feature called Annotations which allows you to create links from one video to multiple others. You can use this feature to create a sort of interactive navigation path through a series of videos. The whole process allows for a lot of interesting possibilities; such as interactive games, story telling, training sequences, or product overviews.

Creating an interactive video series in YouTube is actually pretty simple. You need to break the process into the key parts:

  • Sketch out a Story Board
  • Create your videos
  • Upload all videos to YouTube
  • Create Annotation Links between videos
  • Take viewers to your Starting Video

How Do Interactive YouTube Videos Work

Watch the video below to see a quick overview of the entire process.

Planning Everything Out

Before you create or upload any videos, you need to lay your navigation path out. I just start with a piece of paper and list out my individual videos. Then I decide where the Navigation Decision Points are located. For instance, when I get to the end of video 1 do I want to go straight to video 2 or give the viewer multiple choices? Do I want to let the viewer go back and review previous videos? What do I want viewers to do at the end (if there is one)?

Here is a typical Navigation Path drawing that helps me understand how my videos are going to work together.

interactive video navigation path

Notice how I show where I want the viewer go at the end of each video.

Creating the Videos

Now that you have your series all planned out; you’re ready to create your individual videos. Just remember to leave a "Decision Period" or 10 second block of time at the end of each clip. This is where you will place your Annotation Links that direct viewers along your path.

video decision time

Upload All of your Videos

When you are all done creating your individual clips, just upload them to YouTube. After all of your videos are uploaded and processed, you can see them on your My Videos page. Go to the top, right corner of the screen and click on your User Name. Then, select My Videos from the dropdown list. You will see all of your videos. (Newest to oldest)

I like to open all of the videos in the series in their own browser tabs and arrange them in chronological order. You are going to need the URLs from each of your videos to create the Annotation Links. I find it’s helpful to paste them all into a text file for quick copy and pasting later.

video url list

Creating Annotation Links in YouTube

Now you’re finally ready to link up all of your videos in YouTube. Go to your first video and click the Annotations tab.

youtube annotations tab

When you see the Annotations Settings screen, click the Add Highlight icon. This will place the Annotation Link tool on your video. Drag the larger, top box over the "click" area of your video. Then, populate and position the Enter Text area.

Adjust Annotation Link

There are yellow calipers along the timeline below your video. Adjust these to control the stop and start time of your Annotation Link. You will also need to put the URL of the video that you’re linking to into your Annotation. Click the Link icon on the link toolbar to enter your link.

Insert Video URL

Paste the URL of your destination video into the URL field and click the Save button. Your annotation has been added. You can add additional Links by repeating the same steps. When you have all of you links added, click the Publish button to make your Annotations live. Now, when your video gets to the point where your link is added, users will be able to click it and jump to the next video.

Publish Annotation Links

Just repeat this process to make your videos match up to your Navigation Path and your done. Now you can direct viewers to the first video in the series to let them start their own interactive journey.

See the Process in Action

Launch the following videos to see how to create your own interactive YouTube video.


See the Finished Product

If you would like to see the series of videos that I created while documenting this process, play the beginning video in the series below


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July 19 2010

Major Milestone – One Million Views of VitaminCM.com Video Tutorials

One Million Video Views

That’s a lot of eyeballs

I use a service called TubeMogul.com to upload and track my videos on multiple video sharing services. Two of my favorite stats are which services get the most views and of course, how many Total Views all of my videos on all sites get. Well Sunday morning I woke up to check my stats and saw that I finally passed the ONE MILLION TOTAL VIEWS mark. Wow! It’s hard to imagine that my silly little video tutorials have been watched over a million times.


Let’s take a look at how those numbers break down:

My Most Viewed Video

How to Control Multiple Computers with Single Mouse Using Synergy had a hair under 150 thousand views. Here are my most viewed videos in order:

Video Site Serving the Most Views

5Min.com is my biggest video sharing service by a mile. That makes sense, since they are a site that specializes in instructional videos. Here are my video sharing services in order:

Most Commented Video

The video that received the most comments was

How to Configure Your XAMPP Server with a total of 38 comments.

My Favorite Video

My favorite video by far is How to Create a Web Operating System Today . Sadly, it only received about 5,000 views. Well, here is its big change at redemption. See why it’s my favorite video.

If you want to see the full Create the Web Operating System Today article, take a look, I think it’s some of my best writing.

Where to find my Vidoes

In addition to subscribing to my RSS feed below, you can follow me on:

5Min.com

or

YouTube.com

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April 17 2010

April 16 2010

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