Watching MythTV recordings on AppleTV with Boxee

A few weeks ago I decided to get an AppleTV to use as a mythtv frontend, as my current backend freezes up while playing back recordings. While the Mac OS X version of mythfrontend runs fine on the AppleTV, the playback performance is a bit choppy and the Apple remote does not work. I rent movies and watch podcasts through iTunes, so I didn’t want to give up the ability to play back iTunes purchases by formatting the AppleTV and installing linux (which would resolve both of the mythfrontend issues).

Instead, here’s a much better solution: Boxee. Boxee is a media player based on XBMC, and it runs on Mac OS X, AppleTV, and Linux. There are two ways you can access your mythtv recordings through Boxee, UPNP and SMB. There’s a third way, the xbmc mythtv plugin that communicates directly with your myth backend, however I was unable to get this to work with my backend on my AppleTV.

Browsing your recordings over UPNP is easy, simply select “Network Sources” from the Boxee video menu, wait a few seconds for UPNP to discover the backend, then go back out of the network browser and back in (there’s no option to refresh the list here). You should now see “Recordings” as an available source, which will give you access to all your mythtv recordings. I found this to be very unreliable on my MythTV 0.21 backend, streaming over UPNP would cause the mythbackend process to hang after several recordings. But I was determined to get this working!

Enter and samba! mythrename is a perl script that is included with mythbackend (it’s available in /usr/share/doc/mythtv-backend/contrib/ on Ubuntu) that will either rename or symblink your mythtv recording files, which are normally just a bunch of numbers, to whatever format you specify. I’ve set up a cron job to run the following command every 30 minutes:

/usr/share/doc/mythtv-backend/contrib/ –link –format %T/%m%-%d%-%Y\ %S

The command above symblinks my recordings inside the mythtv recordings folder to show_names/(show name)/(month)-(day)-(year) (episode title). For example, last night’s episode of Life is available at /share/MythTV/show_names/Life/10-17-2008 Crushed.mpg. I simply export this folder over samba and add it as a source in Boxee (set as private to avoid indexing, which will fail because MythTV does not keep track of the season / episode numbers required by Boxee’s tv show detector).

I can now watch all my MythTV recordings on the AppleTV, controlled with the Apple remote, and without any choppiness during playback, while still having access to all my iTunes content through the AppleTV menus. for iPhone and iPod Touch 2.0 Released for iPhone and iPod Touch version 2.0.0 is now available on iTunes. Here’s what’s new:

• Streamlined user interface
• Tagging
• Personal tag radio
• Common artists when viewing a profile
• A brand new calendar-based events view
• Support for firmware 2.1
• And much, much more!

To install the update, click “Check for updates” at the bottom of your iTunes Applications list, or tap the Updates tab of the App Store on your device.

DCSquares: GOAT Games Edition

Several years ago, GOAT Store Publishing contacted a bunch of homebrew Dreamcast developers about putting together a commercial disc with homebrew games on it. DCSquares to be included on GOAT Games, Volume 1, and I started working on several improvements to the game, improving single player mode by adding challenge levels, and adding multiplayer support.

GOAT Games Volume 1 was never released, but below is a video showing off the updated DCSquares. The sound effects were not working on this Mac build, as it was only tested on the Dreamcast. Multiplayer is also difficult to demo on the Mac, as it requires multiple controllers.

Random Stats

Two years ago I gathered some interesting stats from the DCSquares score database. Here’s an updated version of those stats using the data as of today:

General Stats

* Total users that have submitted a score: 457
* Total games played: 54,132
* Total squares collected: 1,564,992
* Total time spent playing: 38 days (note: scores entered through the website do not record a time, so this is actually higher)
* Average games played per user: 118
* Average number of squares collected per game: 48
* Average score per game: 30,556
* Average combo per game: 47
* Average game time: 61 seconds
* The most users that have scored the same score is 74. They all scored 1,080 points.

Players by platform

* Windows: 55%
* Mac: 43%
* Linux: 2%
* Dreamcast: 0% (only 23 scores ever submitted for Dreamcast)

Hall of fame:

* Highest score: Harryfronman scored 677,472 points
* Highest combo: captain collected 354 squares in a row
* Most squares: Harryfronman collected 731 squares
* Longest time: jason survived for 16:47 minutes

Hall of shame:

* Lowest score: runkennyrun scored 1,000 points (scores below 1,000 are rejected)
* Shortest time: Baphmomet survived for 2.3 seconds

16 players only collected 1 square but managed to score more than 1000 points.
99% of players use the in-game score client, only 1% of scores were entered through the web.

DCSquares for iPhone

I’m putting the finishing touches on porting DCSquares to the iPhone. I’ll have more info soon, but in the meantime here’s a teaser: for iPhone and iPod Touch version 1.0.2 Released for iPhone and iPod Touch version 1.0.2 is now available on iTunes. Here’s what’s new:

* Bug fixes and stability improvements
* Defer error popups until device is unlocked
* Disable auto-lock during playback
* Improve playback of tracks while device is locked
* Start buffering the next track near the end of the current track
* Fix display of events for non-English locales
* Properly display ampersands in radio station titles

To install the update, click “Check for updates” at the bottom of your iTunes Applications list, or tap the Updates tab of the App Store on your device. for iPhone and iPod Touch version 1.0.1 Released for iPhone and iPod Touch version 1.0.1 is now available on iTunes. Here’s what’s new:

  • Better recommendations
  • Support for multiple playlists for subscribers
  • Support for My Library
  • Song name on lock screen
  • Less buffering over 3G
  • Retain the search results if you come back to them
  • Bug, stability and performance fixes

To install the update, click “Check for updates” at the bottom of your iTunes Applications list, or tap the Updates tab of the App Store on your device.

Also, we’ve set up an official group for support requests and feedback here: