Blog Archives

Hush Automatically Mutes Obnoxious Commercials on Hulu [Video]

Mac: Hulu has changed the way we watch TV, but it hasn’t changed the way advertisers blow out our eardrums and drive us crazy playing the same obnoxious ads, over and over again. Hush is a free app for Macs that automatically mutes your computer during Hulu commercials and restores your volume when the commercials end. More »







Fanhattan Is a One-Stop App for Finding Streaming TV and Movies for the iPad [Downloads]

iPad: The free Fanhattan app is a really well executed all-in-one solution for finding movies and TV shows you can watch on the iPad. The app integrates with Netflix, Hulu Plus, iTunes and ABC Player, and also pulls in related content from Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon, and YouTube. More »







Set Up a Geeky Media Center that Non-Geeks Can Actually Use [How To]

I love messing with settings and geeky file-sharing programs. My spouse doesn’t, but digs Hulu and appreciates free. So I set up a media center that satisfies my geek cravings but is actually easy-to-use for non-nerds. Here’s what I pieced together. More »







StreamTransport Grabs Hulu Videos for Offline Viewing [Downloads]

Windows: It may not stick around that long once the powers that be find out, so if downloading and watching Hulu videos offline could help you out, grab StreamTransport. The tricky little app provides full-quality captures of streaming shows and movies. More »






My iPad Wish List: 10 App Requests

Watching the iPad’s first television spot on the Oscars Sunday night, I got giddy all over again in anticipation of getting my hands on this hot new product. Though it’s still a few weeks away, I’m even more excited for the applications that will be coming to the platform. Here’s my top 10 list of apps that I want to see developed for the iPad.

Coda

As a graphic designer and web developer, Coda is a staple in my workflow. It features a built-in FTP system, which could be problematic to port to a mobile device, considering there isn’t a traditional file structure to store data. However, perhaps the iPad’s new file storage system will provide an adequate solution. Regardless, as someone who codes, it would be awesome to sit next to a client and modify code and push changes to a site all from my iPad while they load and test the revisions on their own desktop.

Photoshop

Before you laugh, remember that Adobe has already released Photoshop Mobile for the iPhone, and all things considered, it’s not such a bad application. A larger iPad version could allow support for opening and manipulating native Photoshop files as well as working between multiple files. CS4 introduced a new tabbed approach to viewing multiple documents at once. A similar setup could easily be implemented on the iPad.

Katamari Damacy

What’s a fun touchscreen device without a fun game? Katamari already exists as an iPhone app so it’ll scale up decently on the iPad. But given the advanced graphics of the iPad and the larger screen, a native iPad version is a must. If you’ve never played Katamari, check out this clip below.

iMovie

Call me crazy (it doesn’t hurt to be wishful) but the feasibility of an iMovie-like app is certainly within the realm of possibility. I would have never expected Apple to introduce video editing on the iPhone. Nevertheless, along with a video camera, the iPhone 3GS allows for simple video edits. Why couldn’t we have a larger implementation of this on the iPad, provided it gains a video camera at some point? With the larger screen, there’s plenty of room to view a larger timeline, add transitions or effects and with one tap, upload your masterpiece to YouTube.

iChat

I’m actually quite surprised this app still hasn’t made it to the iPhone yet, but as a platform that’s designed to be “the best way to experience the web, email, photos and video,” the iPad seems like the perfect device for iChat, especially if a future model gains a video camera.

Screen Sharing or Remote Desktop

There have been a number of third-party developers that have created similar apps for the iPhone, but I’m honestly shocked to see that Apple hasn’t implemented its own solution yet. With a larger screen and almost full-size keyboard, remotely accessing and interacting with other Macs on my network would be a breeze on the iPad.

Preview

While the iBooks application will open books that are in EPUB format, I’d love to see a more robust implementation of Preview available on the iPad (and iPhone). Specifically, an app that is capable of annotating PDF files and provides support for links within PDFs. Since I’m also an academic, some of the journals I read (as PDFs) contain bookmarks to other articles or chapters and currently, none of the built-in applications on the iPhone support interacting with them.

Hulu

I don’t care how it has to happen or if it involves Flash or not. Who doesn’t want Hulu on the iPad? Even if it required a small subscription, I would love to be able to access my Hulu queue on the go. Better yet, since the iPad is a closed system, the app could download and cache content so it wouldn’t necessarily have to be streamed in real time. This could be a great solution to save AT&T’s crowded bandwidth for 3G models and allow WiFi-only models to still play even if a network isn’t around. I’d pay for that; would you?

Bento/Filemaker

Now that we have iWork, how about a real implementation of Bento (or FileMaker if that’s not too much to ask)? The current iPhone version is pretty pathetic and really hard to use to manipulate larger databases. While FileMaker may be a stretch, I’d put serious money on seeing an iPad version of Bento before the year is out.

An Improved iTunes App

It looks as though the new iTunes app represents a step ahead of the current iPhone version, but there are still some missing features that would make this app a rock star on the iPad. Adding support for Internet radio, browsing my other libraries by Home Sharing or support for iTunes Extras and LPs would be amazing. Honestly, why hasn’t Apple announced support of iTunes Extras and LPs? The specs call for a viewing area of 1280×720 (the 720p high definition standard). They also call for building your iTunes Extras with what’s called a bleed graphic, or a graphic that can “fill in the extra space” if you’re viewing it at a size greater than 1280×720. Now given that as a way to compensate for a difference in aspect ratios, if you were to scale down an iTunes Extra for the 1024×768 display, wouldn’t it just make sense? Come on, if the Apple TV can do it (and we all know how excited Apple gets about that product), shouldn’t the iPad as well?

What are your thoughts on apps you’d like to see? Share your thoughts in the comments below. The great thing about Apple’s developer community is that they keep up with what’s discussed in the blogosphere. You never know; a developer might see your suggestions. So, share what you’d like to see on the iPad!

7 Ways to Watch TV Online For Free

Post by David Pierce. Find me on Twitter.

I’m a senior in college, and for the first time since I was about 6, I don’t have cable TV. Who knows why: some combination of cheapness, laziness, and some subconscious desire to actually do productive things sometimes. If you know me, you know that’s a bit of a problem: I have approximately 59 shows I must watch every week always, or people start losing limbs.

Believe it or not, though, I don’t miss cable. Thanks to these seven websites, I can waste every bit as much time watching TV, and never (ever) miss an episode of my favorite shows.

Here’s where I get my fix:

Network Websites

ABC, CBS, NBC and many other networks all have their own websites, where they put up recent episodes of most of their shows. The upside of these sites is that they’re usually the first to have the show, it’s usually great quality, and it’s a decent way to support the shows you like. The downsides: the websites are usually ridiculously slow, and you’ll probably see a lot of ads.

sunny

Hulu

Unless your favorite show is on CBS, it’s probably on Hulu. Hulu’s got deals with most major networks, meaning the shows it has are good quality, and they’re supporting the show and network. Hulu’s also an excellent website, and full of content—it’s where I look first for any show I want to watch.

Fancast

Fancast is a lot like Hulu—except nobody knows about it. It’s a Comcast website, and has a huge number of TV shows and movies for you to watch—including CBS, for some reason. There’s basically no difference between Fancast and Hulu, except the Hulu interface is better and the videos are slightly higher quality. Between the two, odds are great you’re going to find what you’re looking for.

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Justin.tv

Justin.tv is tough to navigate, but awesome when you get it working. I can’t tell you a lot about it, because I only really use it for one thing: live sports. Sports were, for a while, the only reason I still had cable, but now I can mostly do without it. When there’s a game on that I can’t get on TV, odds are great that someone’s streaming it on Justin.tv—just search for what you’re looking for, and enjoy!

SideReel

SideReel’s a combination of information, reviews, and discussion about TV shows, all alongside links to episodes. No videos are actually hosted by SideReel—it just keeps links out to tons of shows and movies, including every episode, ever, from a lot of TV shows. It’ll often point you to slow, crappy-looking videos, but it’s as complete a database as I’ve found, and works great in  a pinch, even offering links to buy from Amazon or iTunes if you’re really in need.

Surf The Channel

Surf The Channel’s basically the same as SideReel, except it’s better at letting you pick which site you want to go to, and prioritizing the best ones. If the episode’s available on Hulu, STC will tell you to go there first—it also indexes the network websites and a few others, meaning its got an enormous world to search through for episodes of your favorite shows.

southpark
South Park Studios

South Park Studios does only one thing, and does it mind-blowingly wonderfully: it plays South Park episodes. Every single one. From every season. In all their poorly-drawn glory. I’m just getting into South Park recently, and I can safely say it’s the greatest thing in the history of the universe. No exaggeration.

Where do you watch TV or movies online? Movies, in particular, are harder to find for free—where do you look?

Liked the post? Read more from The 2.0 Life

7 Ways to Watch TV Online For Free

Top 10 Apps that Boost Your Media Center [Lifehacker Top 10]

Streaming video, digital DVD backups, DVR recording—it's all possible from your TV-connected media center, and you don't need a system administrator to pull it off. These 10 apps make filling and controlling your media center PC even easier.

Photo by William Hook.

10. Give your tunes the covers they deserve

Your favorite band, assuming it’s not Motörhead, probably spend a good bit of time thinking about their album art. Pay credit to their creative indulgences, and give your media center something to show when their tracks are playing, by embedding album art in your MP3 collection. Rick Broida ran through the basics in his 2007 guide to whipping your MP3 library into shape, and I revisited the best sources and tools for Windows, Mac, and Linux systems in a 2008 album art guide. Whatever tool you use, having album art consistent across your library might feel a bit obsessive, and it is—but there's a certain reassuring payoff when your TV displays the same art as your iPod.

9. Remove ads automatically from recorded TV

Some commercials are worth their short time commitment, but sometimes you just want to watch exactly 24 minutes of condensed television. Windows Media Center plug-in Lifextender does the job inside your hooked-up PC, while DVRMSToolbox runs through Media-Center-recorded files independently, and can then export them to more generally usable formats than Windows’ somewhat locked-down system. (Original posts: Lifextender, DVRMSToolbox)

8. Boost Boxee with repositories and feeds

Boxee is basically the XBMC media center app with a different look and a more social flair. It also supports a lot of independent content creators and independent developers, whether through the official App Box, through adding repositories of new apps, or through stand-alone RSS feeds. We’ve covered some great sources for Boxee apps and content in a quick Boxee guide. Looking for even more app repositories? Check out Boxee’s list of known repositories and see what strikes your fancy.

7. Rename files for easier detection

Media player apps try their best to figure out exactly what TV shows and movies you’ve got loaded into storage, but they often have a hard time keeping up with the naming schemes used by a variety of applications and fallible humans. Grab an app like MediaRenamer (for movies and television) or TVrename (for shows alone) and whip your files into a shape that XBMC, Boxee, Windows, Plex, or any other media center can easily figure out. For a quick read on what media center apps like to see—XBMC in particular—read Jason's guide halfway through his XMBC add-on guide.

6. Plug Hulu into Windows Media Center

It’s not an officially supported streaming site, like Netflix or CBS, but Hulu’s own Hulu Desktop can be worked into Windows Media Center with a clever little back-and-forth plug-in. Install Hulu Desktop Integration, and you’ll get an icon for Hulu among your video options. Click it, and Windows Media Center closes down, opens up Hulu Desktop; when you’re done watching Hulu, the app shuts that down and re-opens Media Center. Clever, helpful stuff.

5. Rip DVDs the easy way

Rather than find out halfway through the final disc of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles that your Netflix disc is scratched beyond repair, you could rip the suspect DVD to a digital file and play it from there, with just a minor skip. Adam’s built a tool called DVD Rip to make it a dead-simple process in Windows, but it’s fairly easy to pull off with HandBrake or VLC Media Player on Windows, Mac, or Linux systems.

4. Schedule TV recording from any browser

With a TV tuner installed, Windows Media Center or Home Server makes for a pretty hardcore DVR device, without the monthly fees. Make it easier to catch good TV when you think of it at work with Web Guide, a free scheduling program that shows you what’s on in the future, streams what’s on now, and otherwise delivers your media center’s TV experience to wherever you happen to be at the moment. (Original post)

3. Media center remotes for your phone (or iPod touch)

Sure, you could go the easy route and buy an infrared-based, media-center-friendly physical remote for your TV-attached setup, but if you'd like a bit more functionality—and, more importantly, actual typing input—there's probably a free or cheap remote for your Wi-Fi powered phone or iPod. Gmote turns an Android phone into a multi-system remote, assuming you don’t mind a quick software installation. iPod/iPhone owners have their pick of many XBMC-compatible remotes in the App Store, the free Boxee remote, and MediaMote (iTunes direct link) ably handles your Windows Media Center remote.

2. Make your router more media-friendly

Your standard off-the-shelf router treats all net traffic the same, can’t tell you exactly how much you’ve downloaded this month, and is fairly difficult to turn into anything other than an agent of your cable modem. Install DD-WRT or Tomato on your little antenna box, however, and it can be a wireless bridge for your entertainment center, as well as ensure that Hulu and Netflix get all the bandwidth they need with quality of service rules. (Installation guides: DD-WRT, Tomato)

1. Convert and transfer tracks to your portable player

The best media centers can play just about any video or audio format out there, but even the coolest phones and media devices have a fairly limited format range, and only so much space. Among the five best media converters we rounded up, Super and Format Factory can match most devices and file types, while MediaCoder and HandBrake get the job done on any platform. Need help getting the file onto your phone or device? The doubleTwist media manager is the easiest drag & drop solution we've seen.


What helper applications make your digital entertainment experience that much more enjoyable? How do you smooth the kinks out of your admittedly geeky setup? Tell us all about your tricks in the comments.




Hulu Desktop Integration Brings Hulu to Windows 7 Media Center [Downloads]

Windows only: Free application Hulu Desktop Integration brings Hulu’s remote-friendly desktop app to your Windows Media Center.

Whether or not you’re a fan of Windows operating systems, there’s no denying that Windows has one of the best media center apps available (especially if you want to turn your PC into a media center powerhouse on the cheap). It’s got its problems (TV recordings are encoded in an absolutely irritating DRMed file format), but it ships with Windows (so in a sense is free) and it can extend to common hardware like the Xbox 360 with aplomb (see the media center powerhouse link above).

Now that sites like Hulu have become a viable destination for free TV, Hulu integration seems only natural, and Hulu Desktop Integration makes it simple for users to jump between Windows 7 Media Center and Hulu Desktop.

When clicking on HULU in Windows 7 Media Center, the software automatically closes Windows Media Center, Starts HULU Desktop Maximized in full screen. When you are done with HULU Desktop, click on Exit in the main menu, the software will automatically start Windows Media Center back up in full screen mode.

Hulu Desktop Integration is freeware, works with Windows 7. Unfortunately it doesn’t work with extenders.






Hulu Video Downloader Saves Your Favorite Shows for Offline Enjoyment [Downloads]

Windows only: Hulu Video Downloader is a free application that saves Hulu videos to your desktop and converts them to virtually any popular, device-friendly format you might want—at least in theory.

Just copy and paste the URL to any Hulu video you want to download into the Hulu Video Downloader application and click Add. The application itself is kind of horrendous in the looks department, but you shouldn’t judge a software by its chrome. Unfortunately I had some trouble getting the actual application to work in my tests (kept sticking at the Please Wait notification); I decided to go ahead and post it with a your-mileage-may-vary disclaimer, since it would be a great app to have on hand if it did work, and you may have more luck than I did.

Hulu Video Downloader is freeware, Windows only. If you want to download Hulu videos in “high quality,” you’ll need to upgrade to the pro version. Name aside, the pro version of the downloader is also supposed to work with most popular online video sites, including YouTube and Vimeo. For our money, the free version will suffice, especially since there are already plenty of similar apps that support YouTube. If you had more luck than I did with this app (it seemed to work for Nirmal over at Life Rocks 2.0), share your experience in the comments.





Watch Full NBC Videos on Your iPhone [Streaming Video]

Until the game-changing Hulu app drops, fans of 30 Rock, The Office, and other NBC shows can catch them full-screen on their iPhone or iPod touch, as well as on a few other mobile phones.

It’s probably not a new feature, but none of the Lifehacker editors ever thought to surf over to m.nbc.com and see if they offered full episode videos in streaming QuickTime for iPhones until we were tipped off. The episodes (broken into three or four parts, in some cases) look pretty crisp on the iPhone/touch, and while the show and episode offerings aren’t as robust as on Hulu, the quality is definitely there. It would seem to work over either Wi-Fi or 3G/EDGE, too.

Testing it out on an Android-powered G1, the videos were still there, but the video was noticeably chunky while playing, even if there was no lag. If you're finding NBC's mobile site decent on any other phones or mobile devices, let us know in the comments. Oh, and as Liz Lemon would say, it's not product placement—we just like it. Thanks, Isaac!





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