Category: Video

Connecting your Computer to your Living Room

Overview: Learn how to stream Music, Photos, and Video from any computer to your TV using your video game console.

This is the second article in a three part series on Sharing Files Between Any Devices in your Home.

Consoles, Not Just for Gaming Any More

Seeing your vacation photos or your favorite podcast on a 50 inch screen is way more enjoyable than being holed up in your computer room. How about having your favority playlist pumping through your surround sound system at your next party?

There are numerous ways to accomplish this; some complicated and some simple. If you have a Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3, or a Nintendo Wii, you already have the easiest way of getting your media from your computers to your living room. Let’s take a look at how to make it happen.

Xbox 360

The Xbox 360 is a great option for bringing your computer media into your living room.

Xbox 360 to Windows

Right out of the box you can get media from your Windows computer to your Xbox. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Turn on your Xbox 360
  2. Install Windows Media Player 11 on your PC
  3. Turn Sharing on in your Library (Library> Media Sharing> Share My Media> OK)
  4. Select your Xbox from the list of sources.
  5. Go to your Xbox and go to Media> Media Type (Photos, Music, or Video)> Computer> Browse for file

Here is an excellent tutorial from Cnet on using an Xbox 360 to access the media on your Windows computer. Bonus – they also show you how to pull media from your Microsoft Zune to your Xbox (assuming you’re one of the five guys who bought one).

Xbox 360 to Mac

Just because Xbox is a Microsoft product doesn’t mean that you can’t use it with your Mac. You can use Nullriver’s Connect360 software ($20)to do the same thing as Windows machines. Connect360 automatically indexes your iTunes and iPhoto libraries and shares them to your Xbox 360. You can then use the Xbox 360 Dashboard to browse and play your media, organized in the exact same way that it is on your Mac.

Here are two excellent tutorials on using an Xbox 360 to access the media on your Mac.

Mac to Xbox 360 with Connect 360

Xbox 360 and Mac (This one covers a bunch of other cool things between a Mac and Xbox 360)

Cheapskate tip: If you want to save $20, try some of these free alternatives to NullRiver’s Connect360.

Xbox 360 to Linux

You can even do the unthinkable; connect a Microsoft product to a Linux computer. (Somewhere a Linux snob just felt a stabbing pain in his side.)

Here are two excellent tutorials on using an Xbox 360 to access the media on your Linux computer. (One from the command line, the other using WINE.) Enjoy!

How To Share Media Between Xbox 360 and Linux

How to Connect XBox 360 to a Linux PC

Extra Credit – Install XBox Media Center on your Console

Your Xbox does some cool stuff right out of the box, but when you add the Xbox Media Center (XBMC) application it gets really interesting. Here is the description straight from the XBMC.org website:

XBMC is an award-winning free and open source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub for digital media.
While XBMC functions very well as a standard media player application for your computer, it has been designed to be the perfect companion for your HTPC. Currently XBMC can be used to play almost all popular audio and video formats around. It was designed for network playback, so you can stream your multimedia from anywhere in the house or directly from the internet using practically any protocol available. It will even scan all of your media and automatically create a personalized library complete with box covers, descriptions, and fanart. There are playlist and slideshow functions, a weather forecast feature and many audio visualizations. Once installed, your computer will become a fully functional multimedia jukebox.

You can find the installation instructions in the very thorough XBMC online manual.

NOTE: Setting this up can be pretty tricky, so if you’re looking for something a bit less complicated stick with the instructions for your operating system above.

Sony PS3

Sony PS3 is the Cadillac of consoles; BluRay player, stunning graphics sexy piano black finish, you know you want some. Of course it can do more than just play games and DVDs. You can connect it to a computer running all three operating systems too. In fact, DigitalTrends.com has a very thorough set of instructions that walk you through the entire process(es) of using your PS3 to connect to a Windows, Mac, or Linux computer.

Sony PS3 to Windows

The PS3 can act as a DNLA (standard for sharing media between devices) Player that will display media content from a computer set up as a DNLA Server. Windows Media Player 11 will act as your PC’s DNLA Server.

Right out of the box you can get media from your Windows computer to your PS3. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Turn on your PS3
  2. Install Windows Media Player 11 on your PC
  3. Turn Sharing on in your Library (Library> Media Sharing> Share My Media> OK)
  4. Select your PS3 from the list of sources.
  5. Go to your PS3 and click the Search for Media Servers icon with the X button.
  6. You will see your shared media which you can navigate through with your PS3 controller.

Here is an excellent tutorial that will show you how to set up streaming from your PC to your PS3.

Sony PS3 to Mac

You can set up Nullriver’s MediaLink software ($20) to stream from your Mac to your PS3 by installing it on your Mac and going to the System Preferences panel.

mediaLine icon

Click the MediaLink icon to see the configuration options.

MediaLink Configuration options

Set up your sharing/streaming options here and close the window.

Go to your PS3 and click the Search for Media Servers icon with the X button.

You will see your shared media which you can navigate through with your PS3 controller.

Cheapskate tip: If you want to save $20, try some of these free alternatives to NullRiver’s MediaLink.

Sony PS3 to Linux

Once again, you can do pretty much anything on a Linux machine. If you’re willing to get your hands dirty at the command prompt, that is.

Here is a tutorial that shows you how to configure streaming from Linux to the PS3.

Nintendo Wii

While Wii is definitely the most fun video game console, it is also the weakest multi-media device in the roundup. There are, however a few clunky hacks that will allow you to get media from your computers to you TV using a Wii. Still, if your only console is a Wii, then try some of these tricks. If none of them float your boat, head on over to Wii Media Center to see the new tricks that they are constantly devising.


Nintendo Wii to Windows

Lifehacker.com has a set of instructions that will show you how to use internet media sharing software Orb to stream media to your Wii over the internet (not your home network). It’s not the most elegant thing, but watch the video below to see how it works.


Since this really just uses the browser, it would also work fine on an Xbox or PS3.

Nintendo Wii to Mac

Riverfold has the Wii Transfer application available for free that will allow you to stream media to your Wii using the Internet Channel (browser) too.

Nintendo Wii to Linux

MaximumPC has a good tutorial that will help you set up your Linux machine to stream to your Wii.

Extra Credit Connect a Computer to your TV

Sure, you can use your video game consoles to stream media from your computers to your TV, but why not cut out the middle man? You can buy a tiny, silent computer and place it in your media cabinet. Then, hook up Boxee (Windows, Mac, and Linux), Plex (Mac only), or MythTV (Linux only) and grab some popcorn.

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How to Survive a Zombie Attack this Halloween

This Tutorial May Save Your Life

Based on the ridiculous decorations on my street, it must be Halloween season. Halloween means just one thing: ZOMBIES. This might be the year that massive zombie attack finally happens in your town. Facing the horrifying prospect of having my brains eaten by a marauding band of the undead, I decided to prepare.

lego-zombie

Zombies! Is from Flickr user “Dr Doom” check out some of his great work. (Creative Commons License.)

I went out to the internets and researched the subject. My research seemed to point to a few basic steps to improve survival chances.

Keep it Simple

  1. Identify the Zombie – Spot them and keep your distance.
  2. Take Shelter – Find somewhere to lay low, while you make a plan.
  3. Obtain Weapons – Get your hands on some weapons. Guns are best, followed by machetes, axes, or clubs.
  4. Kill Zombies – There is only one way to kill a zombie; kill their brain. Shoot, chop, or bash their head until the brain can no longer control their decaying bodies.

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Distribute Your Videos to Multiple Services at One Time

There is a service called TubeMogul.com that will allow you to upload and describe your video, then automatically and simultaneously post it to all of your favorite video hosting sites.

This tool will allow you to increase your audience by uploading your videos to numerous different services. Uploading to each independent site is a time consuming, manual process. There is a better way. You can do a little bit of up-front work once that will allow you to quickly and easily upload your video to 12 or more sites. You can do all of this in the same amount of time that it takes just to upload to YouTube today.

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Post Secret Short Movie

Got a Secret to Tell?

Post Secret is a project where a guy asked people to write their “secrets” on a post card and mail them to a PO Box. The secrets were to be compiled into a book. Well as the thousands of secrets poured in, the founder discovered that the post cards not only had fascinating secrets, but they often had “soulful artwork” that brought the secrets to life.

The first book “Post Secret” was a brutally riveting glimpse into the secrets that ordinary people carried (and unleashed) around with them. My wife and I have our copy under our coffee table and everyone that comes over can never put it down. I challenge you to read it and not see little pieces of themselves sprinkled all over the pages.


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