If it’s so blatantly obvious now, why didn’t anyone think of it before?

It’s been a few weeks I’ve been playing with the AppleTV. Well not playing anymore but fully integrating it into our lifestyle. One of the nice little easter eggs I found was the “Learn Remote” feature in the menu. It’s not really an easter egg as much as a feature that fills an obvious need.

apple remote

Apple remote

The Apple remote is fantastic. A little sliver of aluminum that is cool to the touch, smooth on all sides and perfectly fits in the hand. But it’s also the thickness of 2 coins stacked on top of one another. I seriously have about 10 “oh shit where did I drop it now” moments a day. It easily gets lost under the couch, in papers, on the counter, and different rooms in the apartment. It’s small, unassuming and easily misplaced.

And that’s where Learn Remote feature comes into play. Traditionally we are used to buying universal remotes, then finding the code, then entering the code and hope all the buttons work, then trying to teach the remote all the buttons it didn’t know.

Learn remote turns that on its head. Since we’ve got all types of remotes rather than adding more remotes and more complexity to the mix it takes the alternative view by saying, this device will use whatever you’ve got. My TV has a DVD functions, but they only work for the same brand of DVD player as my TV, Toshiba. So I set the TV remote to DVD, select learn remote from the AppleTV Settings menu and fire each corresponding button at the AppleTV. Play to play, reverse to reverse, pause to pause, etc.

This is loads easier than the universal remote I do have, where you hold down some combination of buttons, type in a code, hope it works but deep down you know only half the buttons do anything, and fill in the rest manually by pressing a button here pressing a button there. Then if you ever loose the original remote and need to recreate the button map, you’re screwed.

CE manufacturers of the world, are you listening. YOU NEED TO COPY/LICENSE/STEAL THIS FUNCTIONALITY FROM APPLE. This is infinitely better than what you are currently doing.

A week with the AppleTV 2G

While on my trip to Florida I decided to make a stop at the Apple Store like I normally do. I bought 2 things while there: a Magic Trackpad and the new AppleTV.

The trackpad has been everything I imagined and more. It connected to my Hackintosh beautifully and quickly. Then I ran software update to download any libraries and preference panes that it needed. I was quickly tapping, swiping and dragging in no time at all. I was confident that this was truly going to make using the computer better so I shut off my Magic Mouse and put in the drawer (I eventually took it to the office).

The AppleTV was a bit more complicated. It requires an HDMI port and all the HDMI ports on my TV were taken so I got to play with it for a little while I didn’t truly feel like it had found a permanent home. But everything on it worked beautifully. I am weary of Apple’s Homesharing simply because no one has reversed engineered the protocol so it makes it hard to use outside of iTunes. A have a lot of videos that aren’t in iTunes so I thought this would be a constraint. Seriously, iTunes is great but even on the Mac it’s starting to feel a bit bloated. Plus I didn’t upgrade iTunes on my hack to the, now required, version 10.0.0.1 that supports the AppleTV.

But never fear, some inventive developer had managed to successfully port a PLEX client to the AppleTV. It requires the jailbreak so I had to track down the micro-USB cable I let one of my colleagues borrow. None the less, a few minutes with Pwnagetool, some SSH command-lines and a few repository additions and I was in business. I installed Plex Media Server onto my hack, pointed it to the share with all my DVD rips and TV shows and gave it a few hours to update its library. I then fired up AppleTV and bob is your uncle. I watched a few minutes of ripped TV shows and browsed through the catalog. This thing is great!

Then yesterday it just so happened that the Media Center remote for just stopped working. Changing the batteries and cleaning the contacts seemed to make no difference, the LEDs didn’t fire and the damn thing never sent a signal. I took this as a sign that the HTPC was going to be taken out of service. Between the lockups, updates, disappearing devices, and the system maintenance keeping it running was turning into a part-time job. So now the AppleTV has a new spot replacing the buggy (not Microsoft, just a HID device manufacturer that never updates their drivers), loud and large HTPC that currently sits under the TV. I’m contemplating giving it away or turning it into Windows Home Server, putting it out of mind in another part of our apartment.

In the meantime, I’ve given the missus the 1-minute walkthrough of how to browse her TV shows and videos. And I’m seriously thinking of getting klexi which is by the same developer that created the AppleTV client for PLEX.

Yesterdays Lost

I’ve been following LOST on ABC for some time now. It seems to be that it has it’s highs and lows at most point. I thought yesterdays episode was particularly good. Goes into detail about the Korean man, Jin. I assumed up to this point that he was some royal asshole, but looks are more than deceiving.
So Jin is supposed to be the mean husband and Sun is the wife too afraid to stand up to him. To recap so far Jin joins Sun’s father’s company and is basically his enforcer (because that’s how they do business). He started out as a waiter at some restaurant and is now a big dog in South Korea. Later we learn that he comes from humble beginnings, his father is a simple fisherman. Jin carries out one last mission for his father and takes his wife away to America (or so they thought).
Sun is afraid of Jin and wants to leave the marriage. The husband basically sold his soul to marry this girl and she wants to bounce when she figures out what he does for her father.
In the end they both planned on leaving South Korea, but neither knew what the other was thinking. Ain’t that some s!*t