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How You Could Not Replace Cable, If Only This Were Legal

Su­ppo­se you wanted to ha­ve free TV. Su­ppo­se by that you mean se­rie­s, not mo­vies or news (bo­th of whi­ch you can get in other wa­ys).

Al­so, su­ppo­se you want to ha­ve it on your ac­tual TV. Al­so, that you do­n't mind breaking IP laws. We­ll, this is how I would do it, if that was the ca­se.

Firs­t: get har­dwa­re.

You need a ge­ne­ral com­pu­ta­tio­nal de­vi­ce wi­th TV con­nec­tors and lo­ts of sto­ra­ge. Like, sa­y, a Me­le A1000 or A2000 run­ning an­droi­d, and a SATA disk. This wi­ll cost you around $150 or so.

The Me­le has HD­MI, VGA and com­po­si­te, so it can con­nect to pre­tty mu­ch an­y­thing that can dis­play ima­ges. You could even use a 64­GB SD card ins­tead of a SATA dri­ve if you want to go chea­pe­r.

Se­con­d: choose so­me se­rie­s.

You could go to Sho­wR­SS crea­te an ac­count and just choose se­ries you like. Sho­wR­SS would then pro­vi­de you wi­th a ni­ce RSS feed up­dated as your sho­ws are uploade­d.

You could even choose be­tween SD and HD ver­sion­s.

Thir­d: get the epi­so­des.

You would need a Bi­tTo­rrent client that su­ppor­ts this:

  1. An­­droi­­d.

  2. Choosing the des­­ti­­na­­tion fo­l­­der (u­­To­­­rrent for an­­droid does­n'­­t)

  3. RSS Fee­­ds wi­­th au­­to­­­do­­wn­­load

For exam­ple: aDo­wn­loader

If you are using the Me­le and the SATA dri­ve, the­re is a bug in aDo­wn­loader whe­re it can't wri­te to the SATA disk. You can fix it if you ha­ve root and so­me pa­tien­ce.

Four­th: get a good vi­deo pla­ye­r.

You want one tha­t:

  1. Has HW de­­co­­­ding

  2. Has SW au­­dio de­­co­­­ding (a me­­le-s­­pe­­ci­­fic is­­sue)

  3. Su­­ppo­r­­ts many vi­­deo fo­r­­ma­­ts

  4. Su­­ppo­r­­ts su­b­­ti­­tle­s, if you need them

For exam­ple: MX Pla­yer

Fi­fth: get sub­ti­tle­s.

If you ever wa­tch so­me­thing that is not in your na­ti­ve lan­gua­ge, you al­so want so­me­thing that au­to­ma­ti­ca­lly ge­ts sub­ti­tles for your vi­deo­s. For exam­ple Su­bloader

How we­ll would this wo­rk? We­ll, it would take rou­gh­ly 5 mi­nu­tes to do­wn­load a show in SD or 15 mi­nu­tes to do­wn­load it in HD on a 10M­bps in­ter­net li­nk.

It would let you play them in your own ti­me.

It would let you see sho­ws be­fo­re they air in your coun­tr­y, and even if they wi­ll ne­ver air the­re.

It is al­so ille­gal as all he­ll, so do­n't do it.

The Mongoliad: Book Two (Foreworld, #2)

Cover for The Mongoliad: Book Two (Foreworld, #2)


Con­tin­ues the sto­ries of the first vol­ume, of course.

Even if the books are com­ing out at a rather brisk pace, the sheer amount of sto­ry­lines and char­ac­ters made this a bit hard to fol­low, but a fun read any­way.

I pe­cial­ly loved read­ing it on Kin­dle and hav­ing Wikipedia right there for terms, so 'o­h, right, this is in Turk­menistan' and 'so there were on­ly eleven car­di­nal­s, won­der how that works out­...'.

Look­ing for­ward to the 3rd vol­ume.

100 Days With the Mele A1000

I ha­ve been using the Me­le A1000 for a few mon­ths no­w. I thi­nk I ha­ve se­ttled in­to a usage pa­tter­n, so le­t's do a qui­ck roun­dup of what it's good for and what it's not ve­ry good at.

First a qui­ck re­min­der of what it is:

  • Sma­­ll co­m­­pu­­ter run­­ning An­­droid (4.0.4 ri­­ght no­­w)

  • HD­­MI/­­V­­GA/­­Co­m­­po­­­si­­te vi­­deo ou­­tpu­­t, ideal for using wi­­th a TV

  • SATA co­n­­ne­c­­to­­­r, fu­­ll si­­ze SD ca­r­­d, 3 USB po­r­­ts: ba­­si­­ca­­lly un­­li­­mited sto­­­ra­­ge ca­­pa­­ci­­ty.

  • Re­­mo­­­te co­n­­trol that wo­­­rks wi­­th most apps

  • Wi­­fi and Ethe­r­­net

  • It wi­­ll cost you ~ $90 to get one.

  • No noi­se, low po­­wer usage.

I ha­ve it in my be­droom, next to my old CRT TV. I could put it in the li­ving room wi­th the newer LED one, but I ha­ve a Mac Mi­ni I got for wo­rk the­re an­ywa­y.

Ha­ving it plu­gged to an old TV means the vi­deo qua­li­ty su­cks. Ho­we­ve­r, it wo­rks great for wa­tching vi­deo­s, and when con­nec­ted to a mo­dern dis­play it wo­rks per­fec­tl­y.

So, what do I do wi­th it?

I wa­tch mo­vies and se­ries on Ne­tflix.

Ver­sion 1.8.1 of the Ne­tflix app wo­rks fi­ne (la­ter ver­sions do no­t!) and le­ts you see mo­vies and se­ries le­ga­lly for a flat low mon­th­ly cos­t. The re­mo­te pro­vi­ded does­n't rea­lly wo­rk all that we­ll, be­cau­se you can't do "drags" and the­re­fo­re can't scro­ll the mo­vie lis­ts le­ft and ri­gh­t. So, to take fu­ll ad­van­ta­ge of this you need to get a ke­y­boar­d/­mou­se se­t. I use this one.

Ho­we­ve­r, if you know what you want to see, it's just a ma­tter of sear­ching for it.

I wa­tch vi­deos in ge­ne­ra­l.

MX Pla­yer wo­rks ve­ry we­ll, and gi­ves smooth, we­ll syn­ced vi­deo. The Har­dwa­re vi­deo de­co­der wo­rks just fi­ne, but you ha­ve to swi­tch to so­ftwa­re au­dio de­co­din­g.

Ha­ving a plu­gga­ble SATA dri­ve is ve­ry use­ful he­re. Just get any 2.5" SATA dri­ve, plug it in, and start using it.

Fi­le Ser­ver

I us­ed Sam­ba Fi­les­ha­ring and it "just wo­rks". You set it up, con­fi­gu­re user and pa­sswor­d, and your dri­ves are now sha­red lo­ca­lly and ac­ce­s­si­ble to all your other de­vi­ce­s.

I am using it to sto­re ba­ckups from my "rea­l" com­pu­ter­s, created using rdi­ff-­ba­ckup but any ba­ckup tool that can sto­re in a re­mo­te fol­der should wo­rk.

Ra­dio & Mu­sic Pla­yer

The­re are plen­ty of an­droid appli­ca­tions that hand­le mu­sic strea­ming and pla­ying your lo­cal mu­sic co­llec­tio­n. Just use the one you like.

Wea­ther Ga­dget

I like my TV te­lling me the wea­the­r. Uses a ran­dom wi­dget from the play sto­re.

VNC Ser­ver

In or­der to use it mo­re co­m­for­ta­bl­y, or be able to do stu­ff in it when I am on the no­te­book, I am using Droid VNC Ser­ver and that even means I can use my own pho­ne as a "re­mo­te" using the Jump VNC client

Ye­s, that means I am in my bed using my an­droid pho­ne as a re­mo­te to my an­droid TV's screen. If the per­for­man­ce we­re be­tte­r, it would be as cool as it soun­d­s.

I am using Jump be­cau­se it's the on­ly An­droid VNC client I found that su­ppor­ts dra­gging things (and it's not per­fect by a long sho­t).

Po­s­si­ble fu­tu­re uses

  • Sk­­y­­pe box (need to hook a we­­b­­ca­­m. Mi­­cro­­­pho­­­ne?)

  • Ga­­me co­n­­so­­­le?

    I ha­­ve Need For Spee­­d: Shi­­ft and I would lo­­­ve to play it on a la­r­­ge screen, but how would I co­n­­trol it? I need to in­­ve­s­­ti­­ga­­te co­n­­tro­­­lle­r­s, ma­­y­­be jo­­­ys­­ti­­cks or ga­­me­­pa­­d­s.

I bou­ght this wi­th the idea of using Ubun­tu on it, but the la­ck of ac­ce­le­ra­ted dri­vers and Ne­tflix su­pport has ma­de that a no­n-s­tar­te­r. So, I am doing lo­ts of things whe­re An­droid rea­lly has lo­wer qua­li­ty so­ftwa­re than Ubun­tu, but tho­se are for­cing me to stay the­re.

I am qui­te ha­ppy wi­th it, and as a "dum­b-­tv-s­mar­te­ne­r" it's qui­te awe­so­me for its pri­ce.

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