May 30, 2010

HD on the Xbox port of XBMC

There was a discussion on Lifehacker about the end of life for XBMC on Xbox support this past friday, and a discussion was raised about HD on your XBMC enabled Xbox.

I for one want to make the most use out of my HDTV without having to spend a lot on a PC that just does media playing. There's cheaper ways, and having a softmodded Xbox also provides disk-less gaming, whether it's actual Xbox games, or emulators from past consoles. Last summer, I was poking around eBay and saw auctions for component cables for the original Xbox. I knew nothing about the capabilities of the Xbox, as I had a generation gap from the Dreamcast until I played a PS3.. Been out of the loop! I saw that some games were HD capable.

How this relates to XBMC: I started seeing things about how Xbox can't handle HD movies, and I know in it's raw form it cannot. Hell, you need a semi-decent machine (plus VLC) to handle a raw MKV Blu-Ray rip. So my first thought was, how then do I convert my *obtained* rips to a format that will work good on the Xbox? I found out about Handbrake, and continued to Google along trying to find the best settings. Here's my older blog post relating to this. In short, you crop off the 1280 width to 960, while keeping the height the same. You also knock the target file size to 3/4 of the original. Less data to send, but the video quality stays virtually untouched. Be sure 2-Pass encoding is also selected! Obviously I had no clue at first, and now it's still a little trial and error, but it's generally relating to the audio stream and passing it through to the receiver.

The cables on board:

I purchased Psyclone's Component cables for the Xbox, which also features a Optical out. This runs directly to my 5.1 capable stereo receiver. I also kept the Audio RCAs plugged into the TV so that I could still have audio if the Toslink was being used by the HD cable box (only one optical input)

Picture settings:

I kept the TV in frame for a few pictures to prove the concept here. I'm also running an Xbox-Optimized Confluence theme which was missing from the Xbox ports. That and other Xbox friendly HD-ish themes can be found here. As you can see, once the cables are plugged in, you should be able to go into the Unleash X dash and change your resolution, as well as in XBMC. 1080i is NOT recommended, as it does not seem to play nice with the RAM. Notice my TV says the output is 720p.

What are your thoughts? Yes, it's not TRUE HD. As in, not what a Blu-Ray can do. But this is darned near close to it. Think of it as the Xbox friendly skins are, but for your video files. Everything still outputs at 720p, plus I get 5.1 surround! These video files have been tested on both a wired connection and wirelessly via an Airport Express. It can be done via wireless just fine, but I always recommend a wired connection.

Mar 6, 2010

DD-WRT, we meet again...

Long time no blog eh? It's been busy since graduation has kicked in, but only lately have I had a ton of work to do. Most notably, I've done a revamp on my whole server setup. The old media server that has been on this blog for a long time has been re-purposed into a Hackintosh. This still has some bugs to fix, but I'll explain it in a later post when I finally get everything worked out.

This morning, I woke up to the equivalent of a nuclear holocaust on my network. Everything was down, nothing was connecting to nowhere. Eventually, I tracked it down to my old Buffalo router which I've had running for 3 years with DD-WRT. I gave it a hard reset, and it seemed to do, but it seemed like there was still something not right.. I updated it from v24 to v24 SP2, and it was nice to upgrade it but I was still missing my WDS with the ASUS router I have in the basement.

Then I googled upon this: and the solution at the bottom pointed exactly to what I had going on. I was using WPA2 Mixed Personal, but it seems there's a bit of a connection issue with that and WDS. Once I changed the settings on both routers to WPA Personal, they saw each other again, and all is well in the world... mostly.

I also now need to etch in stone some static addresses, namely for my Server and Desktop!

Sep 27, 2009

Obsessed with USB,1

I was browsing Lifehacker today and found an inspiring article. I'm going to totally make a few USB accessories ASAP. Progress to follow

Aug 6, 2009

Upcoming Projects

I may not have things to post all the time, but stay tuned.. In about 2 weeks, I'll be moving back to school for one more semester, and the apartment will be a media heaven by the time I get done with it :-D

Also, I'm currently trying out the MobileNavigator iPhone app, and comparing it to xGPS. So far it has some ups, but there are still some small things that xGPS does better. I'll have my final thoughts real soon.

Jul 7, 2009

Trying to conquer the stream!

After getting my music library all sorted out, I've now moved on to fixing my movies to have them all stream smoothly and of the best quality possible. I recently acquired some component cables for my X(bmc)box and the quality is AMAZING! So now, how to carry that HD-ish quality over the network without the choppy-ness I've been accustomed to dealing with so far?

Obviously I can accomplish this with the ever popular Handbrake. If you don't have this software installed you're missing out. So far, I've been a retard when it comes to encoding videos properly. I've never taken the time to sort it all out and put two and two together, until now.

Best forum post I could find was this:
HandBrake • View topic - XBMC on Xbox: optimal HB settings to convert 720p x264 mkv?

Most of my HD quality videos start off as .mkv (Matroska) files. While it's a great format for high quality movies, it's a bitch for Xbmc to decode. Hell, anything besides an avi is chancy ;-) I've started to take notice of which encoding to use, and what seems to work best is Xvid/MPEG-4, with a slightly dialed down resolution from the 720p standard. Mix in the audio right (for those pesky DTS audio codecs, use the mp3 to at least salvage 2ch stereo, otherwise use AC3) and voila! In some cases, Xvid was still sloppy, so I tried FFmpeg. I'm giving the Xvid another shot with the dialed down resolution and see if there's still chop. I can't fast forward on the FFmpeg videos!

Your mileage may vary, but I am enjoying Transformers and other 720p/1080i movies on my Xbox currently :-D

Mar 15, 2009

Fixing the Notes app on the iPhone

When I upgraded my iPhone to 2.2.1, I did a full restore on my phone. I backed up everything and wiped the phone clean. Man, it was fast! Check out this link to keep your iPhone in top shape:

How to have a blazing fast jailbroken phone

Anyways.. after I did this, my phone was indeed fast. However, all my notes that I had in the Notes app was un-editable. In fact, I couldn't create any new notes, or delete the current notes. 2 weeks later, I finally get time to fix the issue. Here's how you fix it: (Thanks to the MMI forums)

SSH into your iphone go to /private/var/mobile/Library and change the owner to the Notes directory and it's files:

Open up terminal in WinSCP, and type:
chown -R mobile Notes

and test if you can save or modify any note.

Feb 28, 2009

PS2 Softmod.. Whew what a mindblower!

So 2 months ago roughly, I acuired an Xbox and a PS2 off my cousin-in-law Billy while my father and I were up in Detroit. Both were in decent shape, and the first thing was do XBMC with the Xbox. That has been a killer softmod, and the guys and I love it here at the apartment for movies.

It's only been until recently that I went through with softmodding the PS2. I bought an 80GB Maxtor which is the recommended HD to use for the Network adapter. This weekend I did some research, and with limited places to look, I ended up with an OLD school Gameshark 2 to use as the swap disc initiator. After much researching, it seems that there was only certain USB drives that could work to swap data from the USB to Mem Card. Without the data on the Mem Card, nothing will work.

After much consultation with my work buddy Josh, we found a burnable install disc (Here: that would work with the Gameshark to get the data onto the Mem Card. Everything went through, and now we can harness the power of the 80GB HD and HDLoader!

Follow what both guides have done, the only variance is the cheat system you use (Codebreaker, Action Replay Max, Gameshark, etc)

Use a PS1 game that you never use! The game will have to stay in as the trigger if you run the PS2