Posts filed under ‘Connected Home’

Microsoft RAW Codec and Windows Media Center

Yesterday (see previous post) I wrote a little about the newly released Microsoft RAW Codec. One of the first things I did was try my latest batch of Nikon RAW NEF files from a balloon festival earlier this month. I had so-so results, especially inside Windows Media Center, where thumbnails appeared, but after selecting an individual image file, WMC could not display it. This set of images was shot with a D7000 DX camera, in order to take advantage of the longer reach of FX lenses used with it. I normally carry both a D700 and a D7000.

As it turns out, for whatever reason, the Microsoft RAW Codec does not support the D7000. I’m not sure why, since Adobe and others now support it, and the D7000 has been available since mid October 2010.

Anyway, if you have a supported camera, the new codec most definitely is supported inside Windows Media Center if you want to view your RAW images there. You won’t get detailed EXIF info in View Details, but you certainly can display your images on a large screen. The screen capture below shows one of the folders (highlighted) from an Orchid Show I attended in 2009 where I shot with my D700 and the Nikon 105mm Macro lens. Thumbnails appear as expected.

mce-RAW-1

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July 27, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Airplay for Windows Media Center

It had to happen, and I’m glad it did. Thomas Pleasance has produced a nifty add-on for Windows Media Center that allows AirPlay from an iPad to Windows Media Center. It is currently at beta 1 stage and is documented to work only with videos (and YouTube) on the IOS device.

You’ll need to install Dot NET 3.5 if it isn’t already present, Bonjour from http://support.apple.com/kb/DL999 and finally the app from his home page.

After running the install (it is a little quirky, see the comments posted on his page), I was indeed able to stream from my iPad to Windows Media Center. I fired up Videos on my iPad and selected Avatar (which I ripped from my owned BD Ray movie).

I touched the AirPlay icon to display AirPlay enabled devices

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and sure enough, I could select Windows Media Center!

 

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Both the iPad and the WMC machine were on 802.11n 5GHz wireless and it didn’t take long at all for the movie to start to stream on WMC.

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Interestingly enough, I could drag the timeline with a mouse and playback started instantly from that point. I didn’t have any video or audio issues at all.

 

Even though the app is not currently supposed to work with Photos on the iPad, I tried a slide show, as I see that as a more important application for me than videos. I was able to manually move between 5 or 6 photos before WMC froze, but the potential is there.

 

I’m all for a universal ecosystem of smart, connected devices, and I love seeing apps like this one. I’m not seeing the app show up in the Extra Libraries (it IS registered) so I don’t know if the app can send content FROM MCE to an iPad (but I would really like to see that since that would have more real world use for me).

 

Kudos to Thomas Pleasance for these first steps!

May 29, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Dock an app group folder on your iPad

A quick tip for those of you that haven’t figured this out yet. First, you can drag any individual app icon to the dock so that it shows on every screen, But did you know that you can also drag a group/folder to the dock?

group4ipad

I’ve dragged my Social Network photo my my dock. I’m busy re-arranging to speed up access to the apps I use the most. This was an ah-ha moment for me. Just sayin’…

April 18, 2011 at 2:35 pm

WX Channel iPad App Interacts with TV While You Watch

I’ve just had a game changing entertainment experience. I love watching shows in HD about nature, geography, especially those that feature striking photography that adds to my knowledge of the physical world around me. The Weather Channel has launched a show called From the Edge with Peter Lik and it is available both in HD and SD. And  WX has simultaneously launched a companion iPad app (FREE) that, like some of the music apps previously available that can listen to music that is playing and identify it, listens to each show as you watch it (Live/Recorded/On Demand) and then download and displays related content to augment the viewing experience.

 

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Tuned in and watching the first recorded episode of this show on my TV.

 

 

edge-listening

the iPad app is listening and syncing/downloading content. Note that other info about the current show and the upcoming episode in the series is also available.

 

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The app is a great education experience for kids and adults alike with instructional quizzes and FAQs.

 

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Notes from the field about this episode showed the dangers of producing a show in an unpredictable environment.

 

Kudos to everyone at the Weather Channel for the vision to offer a multimedia experience spanning devices in real time. I hope this is the beginning of a new era. We’ve come along way since Former FCC Chariman Newton Minnow’s famous “Vast Wasteness” 1961 speech.

April 1, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Xfinity for iPad VOD Streaming Launches

Quality Video on Demand content (as opposed to live streaming of on air shows which may be coming down the road), including HBO, Cinemax, Stars, and a few other networks is now available for Comcast customers. It’s really a ton of content, and it looks incredible and works perfectly. To get the premium content, you need to subscribe to those channels, obviously.

Comcast promised this was coming, and they’ve done a great job. This really rounds out my options for viewing content wherever I am.  Does it replace Netflix on my iPad? Not yet. But the two complement each other nicely. Comcast promised more and better “TV Everywhere” and they are delivering on that promise.

I fired up the updated Xfinity app that showed as an update and here is a walk through:

First, iPad users will see a new Play Now button. This is the key to streaming to the iPad.

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After selecting Play Now, you can filter by Network, Genres, Titles, Movies, Series.

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Parental Controls are available (but you can elect to not show again)

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Once an asset is selected, it is fairly quick to load (about 37 seconds over my home 802.11n WiFi)

 

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I’ve selected a Harry Potter movie available on HBO. Note the HBO GO logo

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And here is a shot showing the movies running on my iPad. Slick.

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I now have multiple sources for entertainment on my iPad and a larger choice of content. I’m hoping that Live TV streaming is next.

February 2, 2011 at 9:46 am

Is that router you want for the holidays ready for IPv6?

Some of you might be saying, “huh?” and wondering what I’m talking about.  If you are a geek, you probably know that the IPv4 universe of addresses is shrinking and latest estimates are that the IPcalypse will occur in about 3 months. You can follow this on Facebook.

What does this mean? At some point in time, a new web site you want to visit or new web service you want to use may not have an assigned IPv4 address and be reachable over IPv6 only.

Is your ISP working towards insuring that  you can connect to these sites? Mine sure is. Comcast has been working on this for a long time. Of the available technologies, 6 to 4 and native dual stack seem to me to be the most robust. But the catch is that in your home, you need equipment that has implemented one of these technologies, starting with the router at the edge of your network.

I look around and I see a sorry state of affairs for the home user, where there are so few capable devices (let alone firmware upgrades for top of the line dual band wireless routers) that it would appear that the router vendors are planning on forcing consumers to buy entirely new products, most likely to be announced at CES2011.

  • Apple’s Dual Band N Airport Extreme seems the farthest along in out of the box features with firmware 7.5.1,and it is a great performer, provided you are willing to forego things like MAC address cloning, and can limit yourself to 50 clients and not being able to manage via a web browser.
  • D-Link’s flagship DIR-855 has no apparent support for configuring IPv6 features (although their DIR-825 B2 hardware is rumored to have some IPv6 support, but I’ve ordered and returned 4 of them, having received the initial hardware version each time).
  • Netgear’s flagship WNDR3700 (I believe it has recently been rebadged with a new product number)  also shows no sign of IPv6 support.
  • Linksys’s  E3000 (rebadged WRT610N) also shows no signs of official IPv6 support (and it is the worst performer of the bunch).

So, yes, there is open source firmware for some router lines, but the typical home user shouldn’t have to deal with a geeky upgrade and the quirks.

My advice if you are in the market for a new router? Don’t be pulled in by those door buster holiday specials.. You are going to need to purchase a new router in the next 18 months or so unless the vendors ante up and do the right thing.

November 27, 2010 at 1:48 pm

HP ePrint is disappointing

When my older low end downstairs printer needed all ink cartridges replaced at the same time, I realized that buying a new printer would actually be cheaper.

HP has been trumpeting its latest crop of ink jet printers that feature ePrint, a technology that assigns an email address to each printer and enables you to send mail via a HP web service that is supposed to print documents to your printer from anywhere in the world using email.  I had a $50 BestBuy gift card and they (and HP) are selling the D110 ePrinter for $70. That was a no brainer for me.

Too bad ePrint  needs constant care and feeding by the end user to actually work. Here’s my quick review:

The Good: Printer setup over 802.11n was a breeze, as the printer includes WPS. The printer immediately discovered an available firmware update and I applied the update (and had to reconfigure). I setup the ePrint mail list (which lets you restrict who can send jobs to the printer) and added the email address to my contacts. Next, I used my iPad and was easily able to discover and print a page in Safari.

The Bad: Normal TCP/IP network printing works as expected, except for buggy 64 bit drivers that need to be reinstalled after a computer restart.  This has existed for at least a year and HP thinks reinstalling every restart is an acceptable solution, apparently. Many of their printer support pages all point to the same KB/FAQ so stating. Also,  HP is using the Bonjour protocol on the printer, which enables the IOS functionality. (It is too bad that Apple decided to use their own proprietary protocol, but it is good news for folks like HP who hope to sell new network printers. I assume that the reason that printers connected to local computers work with the new iPxx print function is that Bonjour is installed (and required) on the host computer.

The Ugly: The real travesty is that the ePrint functionality that links the printer to the HP Web Service is badly broken and these printers lose their connection to the Web Service (but ALL other functions continue to work) and that HP has been aware of this since at least August, as evidenced by this 18 page (and growing) thread. HP interns patrolling the forum have marked “power cycle the router or the printer” as an acceptable solution, but there has been no official reply from HP tech support OR a commitment to fix this.

In Conclusion: I suspect that HP needed to release and promote a not ready for primetime function to coincide with the launch of IOS 4.2.1 which enabled printing from an iPxx device. HP’s current list of ePrint enabled printers as of 11/22/2010 includes:

•HP Officejet Pro 8500A e-All-in-One Printer series – A910  for customers worldwide
•HP Officejet 7500 Wide Format All-in-One Printer Series- E910  for customers worldwide
•HP Officejet 6500A e-All-in-One Printer – E710
•HP Photosmart D110 series for North America customers
•HP Photosmart B110 series for Asia and Europe customers
•HP Photosmart B210 series for customers worldwide
•HP Photosmart Premium C310 series for customers worldwide
•HP Photosmart C410 series for customers worldwide
•HP Photosmart Ink Advantage K510 series for Asia and Europe customers
•HP Photosmart eStation e-All-in-One Printer  C510 series for North America and Europe customers
•HP Envy eAll-in-One Printer D410 series for customers world wide

Recommendations: If you need a replacement printer or especially in you want iPxxx print functionality, and can live with having to reinstall drivers on 64 bit Windows at inconvenient times, check out one of these printers. If you are looking for ePrint, it isn’t ready for prime time.

November 26, 2010 at 2:24 pm

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