Why I Heart Boxee

I heart Boxee because of this Little Blue Trickster dude from an ancient episode (1981) of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. While I reminisced with 80s nostalgia about the episode, my kids not so much. Maybe it was the disco-influenced sets they didn’t like. Most likely the pacing and why exactly did the Zykarians have removable heads? And damn Erin Gray was an 80s hottie.


The kids weren’t into it, so I skipped the history lesson tracing Buck Rogers’s impact on the TV we watched today. Anyway, you can find all the Buck Rogers content and more on Boxee via Hulu, NBC’s on-demand web content portal. That’s good news for sci-fi fans and and opportunity for us to see bike-related content.

Where Apple TV (ATV) is a extension of iTunes into your living room (they should’ve just called it that, like iTunes Extreme or something), it’s limited (some argue restricted) to synced iTunes content. Boxee extends ATV even further by allowing you to stream in web content and play your own media from local shares.

So if you had a DVD library, you could rip that onto a share and and play it with Boxee. You can also load bit torrents, podcasts, and whatever else. Remarkably, you can log into Boxee with a terminal or FTP program and manually transfer files. The issue I have with ATV and syncing content is that I then have it in two places sucking up hard drive space. I’d rather rip it once, transfer to the ATV, and delete it from my laptop.


ATV syncing is done in part for DRM (digital rights management) and does it ever annoy me that I can’t play ATV rented movies on my iPhone and vice versa and they time out in 24 hours – stupid studios!

I don’t know so much about Living Room 2.0 or whatever terms get thrown around, but with ATV and Boxee, I’m more in control of what I want to watch and when and how. Boxee also offers social media favoriting, recommendations, social networking connectivity.

Competitors are rushing new on-demand services and features to market and while I hate the cable companies as much as everyone else, Comcast has built out their on-demand content and finally getting a mostly reliable PVR. But here’s an example, we like to watch the amazing race with the family – creepy brother/sister couple notwithstanding – and I always forget to set the recording or the disc space is full with Stargate reruns. Yesterday, we just turned on Boxee, clicked through to Hulu, and watched the show without Comcast. Yeah!

Technically Boxee is an OSX implementationtion of XMBC, an open source media center application. You can deploy it on a Mac Mini and create your own media center or hack it onto your Apple TV. Hack is probably too strong of a word, but it does require some geekery to install – reference links below.

There are still a few issues that the Boxee team is working on. It is Alpha software (alpha meaning, the 1st, not production release, for testers and enthusiasts) and sometimes doesn’t boot and may just quit. Those alpha issues are offset by the enthusiam of both the Apple and Boxee communities. Like I twitted here

whoa, so I just ripped a DVD, sftp’d into my AppleTV, copied it over to the Movies directory and boom it’s ready to play!

I also heart Boxee because there’s hope we’ll see streaming bike race content soon. Remembering those desperate days when “some dude” had a satellite and you’d get bootleg, grainy race videos in Flemish? Or some weirdo shit like this Burka-backpack race – where yes that technically appears to be a race, but not exactly what I wanted.


Well, Boxee asked us today where the bike content was. I’d like nothing more than to better control TDF content, watch old races, and not have a fucking rodeo pre-empt it. Maybe I could get a Bob Roll free feed!

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