Category Archives: television

Miro and the Enabling of Community Media

One of my favorite online video platforms to emerge in the last few years is the open-source service Miro.

Formerly known as the Democracy Player, Miro is an Internet tv application developed by the Participatory Culture Foundation.

I’m a big proponent of open-source.  It drives innovation by allowing developers to build on each others’ work,  and makes creating and sharing content easy for everyone (and to support the service, you can adopt a line of code. How clever is that?!).

You can imagine how stoked I was to find out about  Miro Community, an ancillary service created for publishing videos.

Dubbed “The easiest way to make a video website”, Miro Community provides groups like local media organizations and schools with the templates they need to create their own video-based experience.

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New Music: Nosaj Thing

Nosaj Thing

For this year’s Coachella Music Festival – a holiday of sorts for Los-Angelenos in the music industry – I chose to forgo the long lines, blistering heat and nutty ravers to spend a weekend of leisure in the desert area. And of course hit some pool parties along the way.

I think the decision to sit this years’ fest out was a blessing in disguise. I encountered many up-and-comers at these little parties – too small to hit the festival circuit, but absolutely rockin’ nonetheless.

When I returned to LA a couple of DJ friends at KCRW asked if I had managed to see any good acts. Nosaj Thing immediately came to mind. His glitchy, dub-step, sampled electro groove had the Imeem/Indieoasis party rockin’ and I was transfixed.

It was truly amazing to watch someone so young and forward thinking totally kill it. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

The album dropped Tuesday on Alpha Pup Records.

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Nosaj Thing on Imeem

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A Look at Miro

Note: This article is syndicated at made this for you.

After spending time with Boxee, I decided it was time to explore alternate options for streaming online video to my TV. The back-and-forth between Boxee and Hulu had started to get a little nuts – and ideally I’d like one place to go for all my content without worrying about it unexpectedly going away. In a perfect world, all content owners would offer an RSS feed for me to ingest content wherever I’d like it to go. If the bulk of the advertising lives within the video playback itself, video can freely travel – and the container itself shouldn’t make a big difference.

Cue Miro.

While trolling my Google reader late one night (as nerds like us are wont to do), I discovered the free, open source HD video player that quickly and easily serves up video streams. You can stream videos from sites like YouTube, Comedy Central, CBS, or Hulu (for now); and Miro will upscale to HD wherever it’s offered. The app offers full playback of content from within my media library too; making it a great one-stop for video playback. Very cool. Miro’s real strength though, appears to lie in the ability to host and organize multiple video feeds from a variety of sources.

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The simple layout and navigation process resembles iTunes. A sidebar located on the left allows easy navigation of your content whether it be online or local. You can subscribe to RSS feeds and set them to automatically download new episodes as they become available- just like subscribing to a podcast in iTunes. You can even subscribe to a torrent, allowing you to keep all of your vids in one place (I chose a “Miro” directory under “Movies” to keep it clean).  After Miro grabs your new episodes, you can easily port them to your device of choice.

The open-source nature of the program means that you can participate in the continual build to improve it. The website offers information for those who would like to write code, become a bug tester, or simply help others get started.

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Miro 2.0 is currently free for Mac OSX and created by the non-profit Participatory Culture Foundation. It’s open source and licensed under the GPL (general public license), with the goal to decentralize online video by making it free and open.

Get it: http://www.getmiro.com

Read the blog: http://www.getmiro.com/blog

Unboxing Boxee

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Boxee is an open source media center that allows you to enjoy your movies, tv shows, music and photos in one place and pull more streaming content from the web. You can recommend items to friends – and see what your friends have recently watched or what they recommend.

I installed Boxee on my Macbook Pro running Leopard OSX 10.5.6.  Boxee automatically discovered the music, movies, tv shows, and pictures on my hard drive, allowing me to navigate by format of choice.

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One of the great simple features about Boxee is that I have the option to go online within each category seamlessly. For example, under “movies” I can access my Netflix account and stream movies from my instant queue. Under “music” I can log in to my Last.fm account and stream a station. Also cool is the ability to discover content from CNN, CBS, Comedy Central, Hulu, etc under “television”.

I can set up RSS feeds to add niche-specific shows that I prefer. This is where it gets interesting.  Should I feed in a TED video podcast? How about CNN breaking news clips – or a torrent of Gossip Girl?

Extremely intuitive, sleek design. Awesome. Now how do I get this from my mac to my television?

For picture I connected my laptop to a Samsung 36″ HDTV using a DVI-D to HDMI adapter. For audio I used a basic Y Cable running from the laptop’s digital output to  Onyko 5.1 Surround. Still looks sleek. In settings I can check real-time details to monitor how close I’m getting to 60 Hz.

Pretty cool. Now how can I control Boxee remotely to make the experience akin to watching television?

I discovered that the Boxee remote app is due any day. In the meantime, found an app called AirMote and installed it on my iTouch running 2.2 software.

All of this sounds fine and dandy. But, how does Boxee handle streaming?  I can have access to all the content in the world but if the streaming quality is bad – buffering does not a good movie watching experience make.

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Speakeasy.net tells me that I’m clocking in at a 1.5MB pull. Not bad. I watched a few trailers from the apple site and it looked great. I then went to Hulu to catch the latest episode of 30 Rock. Halfway through I almost forgot that I was watching over the internet. The stream was crisp and there was no buffering at all. The quality was about the same as watching television but higher bandwidth paired with more HD offerings could easily solve that. Streaming a movie from my Netflix instant-queue was different. It didn’t buffer but the video occasionally dropped a few frames.

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I skated over to the music category and streamed music from my library then visited Last.fm. Would love to pull in music from other sources such as Pandora or Slacker, too.

Boxee allows me to friend other users and see what they’re watching. I can recommend programs to my friends and view items recommended to me on the Boxee homepage. At friendfeed, Twitter, and Tumblr I can share my recommendations, what I’m watching, and what I’m listening to.

I like having all of my digital media in one place. It’s fun albeit a little strange to lifestream what I’m watching.  However I can’t multi-task and surf around on my computer while I watch. Time to save up for a Mac Mini! Then I can network all of my media somehow…. Which makes me wonder how I would go about backing it all up…ahh there’s always something.

Anyway, 2 thumbs up for Boxee.

note: thanks to Andy Sternberg for the Alpha version invite.