News

Road Trip GPS plugin now available

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on October 11, 2007

roadtrip available Road Trip GPS plugin now available

Brandon Holland has made available Road Trip, a GPS plugin for Apple TV.   This plugin was featured in our previous post on Brandon’s mod to put his Apple TV in his car as an in-car entertainment system.

From Brandon’s email:

“It is currently sitting at version 0.2 and I am hoping to finish it all off into a finished product very soon. At the moment, Road Trip has the ability to detect any serial devices connected to the system (gpses) and allows you to connect to it, read the status, speed, longitude, latitude, ect. It can also show your location on a map fetched via expedia.ca which uses the mapblast servers. It can then track your location in realtime on the map that it downloads. Road Trip automatically figures out whether your in Europe or North America and loads the correct map from expedia. Next feature on the list to get done is map caching and auto loading when the location tracker goes out of the maps lon, lat range. I’m hoping to get it done very soon so that map packs or trips can be cached for a trip.”

Road Trip is currently in its very early stage of development.  If you have any suggestions, bug reports or donations, you can send it to Brandon at bholland@whatanutbar.com.

Thanks, Brandon.

Apple TV as an in-car entertainment system

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on October 5, 2007

appletv gps2 Apple TV as an in car entertainment system

Brandon Holland, the Canadian dude that gave us the wireless keyboard hack, is determined to get the most out of his Apple TV. So he turned it into an in-car entertainment system, complete with a custom GPS plugin that he wrote himself.

His email wrote:

I just recently finished putting an Apple TV into my car which is a 1990 Eagle Talon nicknamed “The Zapper” (Watch Futurama). The component output of the Apple TV is converted to composite using SVideo.com’s Component to RCA convertor. The output of the convertor is then displayed on my in-Dash 7-inch LCD. The audio is plugged into the aux of my deck. The Apple TV and video convertor are both run off of my 300-watt invertor hidden beneath the dash. The screen and the Apple TV are powered on and off using switches. I also wrote a GPS plugin for the Apple TV called Road Trip. It uses my USB GPS device to display its current location on a map. I am hoping to have the plugin online very soon. All of the media content on the Apple TV gets synchronized to my iTunes via wifi as soon as I park my car in the drive way! Everything works great!

Thanks, Brandon. Now, don’t you be watching any shows while driving, you hear?

JamanTV: a sneak preview

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on September 27, 2007

jaman appletv JamanTV:  a sneak preview
Introduction

Are you just bored sick waiting for iTunes to offer movie rentals? Yes, you’ve probably been hearing about it for weeks (months?) that Apple is going to offer movies for rent via iTunes soon. I guess, it is just not soon enough. It was a rumor then it STILL is today. Meanwhile, subscribers of services like Amazon Unbox, Movielink and CinemaNow are already enjoying their rented movies on their PCs, Xbox 360′s and Tivos. Yeah, I know, you’re contemplating listing your Apple TV on Craig’s list and trade it in for an Xbox 360 (Halo 3, anyone?).

But wait, there is still hope. OK, not just hope. It’s a soon-to-be reality. You WILL be able to watch rented movies on your Apple TV very very soon.

Jaman, a movie download service featuring some of the top movies from all over the globe, is gearing up for the release of their JamanTV player. You might have heard about this application when it was featured on gigaom back in June. In that post, Om Malik wrote about an application that allowed rented movies from Jaman to be viewed right on the Apple TV. And, boy, was he excited about it. However, since then, there had been no update on that news.

Then, it happened. Last week, I was given the opportunity to preview the upcoming JamanTV application when the company contacted me to take a look at it. Of course, I jumped on it. I couldn’t have waited another day to be able view rented movies on my Apple TV.

How it works

There are two components to getting Jaman movies to work on the Apple TV: the Jaman Player for your PC/Mac and JamanTV player for your Apple TV. The computer-based player behaves similar to iTunes, in which it manages the downloaded movies and also keeps track of external devices allowed to sync with it. Once the JamanTV player is installed on the Apple TV, it can then be added to the device list to be synced with the computer-based player.

player1 JamanTV:  a sneak preview

The Jaman Player for your computer is publicly available from the site and is actually required to view movies from the service. On the other hand, the yet-to-be-released JamanTV for the Apple TV has to be installed via a PatchStick.

For those not familiar with a PatchStick, it is bootable USB flash drive that contains scripts for enabling SSH and installing other 3rd party components on to the Apple TV. You can read more about it at awkwardtv.org.

Installation

Installing the Jaman Player on the computer was a no brainer. It installed just like any application out there. With the player installed, you can log in to the service and start renting movies right away.

Installing JamanTV via a PatchStick was relatively simple too. However, there was one major requirement: an Intel Mac. This is needed to run the script for creating the PatchStick. I am confident that this requirement will go away in the future but for now, this is the way it is.

A Jaman representative gave me a zip file called Patchstick.zip, containing applications and scripts to create my very own PatchStick.

patchstick content JamanTV:  a sneak preview

The Patchstick.zip file contains the main install script, createPatchstick, 2 instruction files in PDF and two folders caled “Patchstick” and “root”.

The install script needed the following:

  • Admin privileges
  • Apple TV 1.1 software update (found here)
  • USB flash drive with at least 128mb capacity

Before the install script could be run, the Apple TV 1.1 software update had to be extracted and mounted first. Opening it would mount a volume called “OSBoot” in the Finder. The script needed some files from the “OSBoot” mounted volume to be copied to the Patchstick.

I found the two instruction files to be very detailed and informative. Following the instructions in the “ModifyAppleTV2.pdf” file, I managed to run the install script with ease.

The install script partitioned the USB drive into two partitions: an Apple TV Recovery partition and a regular OS X partition. All the tools and software resided in the Apple TV Recovery partition to be copied to the Apple TV.

Just to be sure that the install script was solid, I ran it through about 10 – 15 times. On certain occasions, I ran into a minor glitch in the script. The script used the command “diskutil unmountDisk” to unmount the USB drive. This was not always successful. After changing it to “disktool -u”, the problem went away.

terminal JamanTV:  a sneak preview

Once the Patchstick was created, I plugged it into the Apple TV and booted from it (“menu” and “-” buttons). With the Patchstick connected, Apple TV booted from it and the install script copied necessary components to the Apple TV. After a couple of reboots, my Apple TV now had a new entry on the root menu called “Jaman Movies”.

jamantv JamanTV:  a sneak preview
At this point, there was just one more step left: adding the patched Apple TV to Jaman Player’s list of devices to sync with. The player required the serial number of the Apple TV for this. The serial number could be obtained from the following sources: iTunes, Jaman Movies menu and Settings menu.

add device1 JamanTV:  a sneak preview
Once the Apple TV was added, the player immediately started the syncing process to transfer the downloaded movies to the Apple TV. It couldn’t be any easier than this.

Depending on your network speed, each movie should take only a few minutes to be transferred. However, some movies might take up a few gigabytes of storage. My network runs on Airport Extreme (802.11n) so transferring a few gigabytes of movies did not take long at all. On the other hand, downloading a movie from the service via the Internet took about 40 minutes to an hour.

configuration screen1 JamanTV:  a sneak preview

Conclusion

Overall, I am very impressed with the JamanTV software. Hats off to the developers for keeping the install process simple and making the players well-polished.

The only thing I would like to see in the future is maybe the ability to preview and rent movies right from the Apple TV without syncing with the PC.

Last I heard, Jaman is ready to get the JamanTV out to the public any day now. Once it is released, you can finally enjoy rented movies on your Apple TV too.

Update

I was given the permission to go ahead and post the Patchstick file for download. It is available here.

Enjoy.

Sapphire Beta 4 plug-in coming in early October

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on September 18, 2007

sapphire beta4 Sapphire Beta 4 plug in coming in early October

It’s been a while there was any update to the Sapphire Plugin. We even thought that there wasn’t going to be any more updates from the Sapphire development team.

They sure surprised us when we saw the update on AwkwardTV.org’s wiki page. And the new version promises to bring oodles of new features to an already excellent plugin.

For those who are not familiar with Sapphire, it is a media browser plugin used to identify media files from multiple collections. With only a filename to work with, it can intelligently display cover art along with movie/show information related to the file.
Among the new features are direct volume access, music playback and on-demand browser switching.

Say it isn’t so!

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on September 18, 2007

awkwardtv Say it isnt so!

Our “partner in crime”, awkwardtv.org, is down. We could only hope this is temporary. We checked the main web site and the wiki pages and nothing was up.

A refuge for Apple TV modders, awkwardtv.org, is home to numerous Apple TV-related forums and wiki pages. Mods like the patchstick, enabling ssh, adding more codecs, upgrading hard drive and numerous plugins could be found on the site. In fact, many of our articles contain links to awkwardtv.org.

Come back, awkwardtv.org. Don’t abandon us.

Upate:  The site is back up.   Phew, and we were worried.

MAJOR Apple TV Update in the works?

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on September 11, 2007

itunes store appletv MAJOR Apple TV Update in the works?

Many Apple-related rumor sites are reporting that Apple TV will be updated to include the iTunes Store very soon. This stemmed from last week’s announcement of the Wi-Fi iTunes Store for the iPod Touch and iPhone.

While Macrumors and The Mac Newb Tube only speculate that the iTunes Store will be coming to the Apple TV, LoopRumors has received information from “very reliable sources” that a MAJOR update is coming to the Apple TV. (We sure like the word “MAJOR”.) Actually, we can already see a hint of the future iTunes Store integration in the current version from the iTunes Store setting in the Settings menu

We can’t wait for this to happen. An update for the Apple TV is long overdue. Youtube integration in the last update was a nice touch but hardly useful. At least with the iTunes Store embedded into the Apple TV, we can finally be able to sit in the comfort of our own couch to browse through the iTunes catalog. Hopefully, bluetooth dongle support will come too because browsing through a catalog that big with the Apple Remote is going to be a pain.

On the other hand, the last update took out many useful tools used for hacking. Some of the files were even encrypted, making hacking the Apple TV harder. Hopefully, with this update, Apple will just leave the tools intact.

Only two new features we would like to see in this update would be looping support and movie playlist. That would be huge.

Thanks in advance, Apple. (though it’s only a rumor.)

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