Domino Effect

Posted by Garth on Monday, June 18, 2007

So I finally got around to installing a 320gb drive I had laying around here in my HTPC. This allows me to make a backup of my boot drive to something other than DVD (of which I only have a 4x burner in that machine that only writes to DVD-R) and triggers a number of things that I've been putting off, namely:

  1. Install 3rd TV Tuner - WinTV, WinTV-PVR 150 (New) and WinTV-PVR 250
  2. Attempt to get Orb and BeyondTV working nicely together using separate tuners - this may be more of a challenge than it seems. BeyondTV lets me select which Tuner to configure, but Orb, according to this post by Orbi-One (is his last name Kenorbi?), just selects "the first card available". However what it uses to determine which is "the first card available" is obviously voodoo... or at least it's not important enough for anyone at Orb to reply to my post.
  3. Test out some new front-ends. Currently I'm using BeyondMedia Basic which ships with the Firefly remote. It's not bad, especially since most of my media is organized by file/directory structure, and a 10' UI for browsing directories is just what the doctor ordered. It also has nice little XML presets for pretty much any application I've thrown at it. Some tweaking was required, but it's a pretty damn good start out-of-the-box. However it is a little archaic, there's no flashy pictures, no animations, no indexing, etc. It does however let me use Media Player Classic as my default video player which makes me quite happy. Current front-ends I'm looking at are xLobby and HouseBot. I really like the looks of 4am, but I think with some custom Flash that xLobby can look just as good or better, and it appears to have far more functionality.
In an ideal world I'd like to avoid Girder, but I think this is just wishful thinking. Not that I don't like Girder... in fact I think it's probably one of the best Windows apps ever written. It's just that it tends to overcomplicate things. In the long run this means more capability and customization, but in the short run it means way more shit for me to figure out and plan.

The really nice thing about xLobby and HouseBot are that they seem to include tools to create UI extensions for touch-screens and other devices. In fact, it's been a few years since I've taken a look at xLobby and it's now been bought out (or partnered) with some company called Calrad Electronics, which makes... you guessed it... touchscreens, A/V hardware, automation hardware, etc. Seems like they're gonna start charging for xLobby, but it also seems like they're building a little empire of installers and resellers. Hell, if I can get certified hardware for an HTPC interface of choice I'm all for it, especially since xLobby appears to extend to standard devices like Pocket PCs as well.

At any rate, I'm in the process of backing up my machine now and when that's done it's on to the Orb config. Probably won't get too deep into xLobby today, but I'm sure it'll be my new project when I get the kinks worked out of Orb + BeyondTV (OrBeyondTV?).


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