Friday, May 22, 2009

I Hacked a Wii

Last night, I managed to successfully hack a Nintendo Wii for the first time. By that, I mean I installed the Homebrew Channel via the Bannerbomb (google it) exploit. I really underestimated the maturity and sophistication of this hack. Simply loading a few files on an SD card unlocked the full potential of the Wii. The Homebrew Channel has downloadable utilities, homebrew games, emulators, media players, and every other doodad that you wished the Wii legitimately had. It couldn't be easier to use. If you have a Wii, I highly suggest you consider modding it like this. I was so impressed that I might actually have to buy a Wii myself.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Atom/Ion Mini-ITX w/ DC 90W? YEE-HAW!!!

Big news. Hothardware (and others) has a review of the new Zotac IONITX-A Mini-ITX motherboard. This beauty has the Atom 330 and the Nvidia Ion integrated graphics chipset for maximum HD 1080p awesomeness. As of now, this has dethroned the Eee Box B208 as my next PC/HTPC. To summarize, this board will do HD video and audio, 802.11n wifi, and has all the ports you'd ask for. And FANLESS!!! Granted, it'll get pretty hot if not properly ventilated, but still. I read elsewhere that maximum power consumption is < 50W!!! All hail the new king of HTPCs.

Only one question remains: what case do I put it in?

Friday, May 8, 2009

The future of digital content

At this point in time, the Internet is the Wild West of entertainment. Anything goes. There are no real rules to speak of. Anyone with a computer can download any book, magazine, newspaper, software, movie, song, album, TV show, etc. in any quality they want for free. While it's not completely obvious about how to do this, especially for the non-tech savvy laymen and laywomen, anyone willing to put a little time into it can figure out how to get whatever they want pretty quickly. This is a major problem for media creators, distributors, and, yes, consumers, even the ones downloading illegally.

Content owners have no way of policing the Internet for copyright infringement. ISPs (Internet Service Providers) don't either. So, how are the the content owners and creators going to get paid for their work so that they can continue creating/distibuting content if anyone can get everything for free right now? As I see it, there is really only one way: Everyone pays a little. All the digital content owners and creators, from the big guys to the individuals, are going to have to come together with ISPs, world leaders, and consumers in order to come up with a fair way of charging everyone with an Internet connection some small amount, which then gets distributed amongst the content owners and distributors, again, in some fair way. In exchange for this fee, the consumers get to download/keep/stream/redistribute anything and everything out there, sort of like an unlimited Netflix/iTunes/Kindle subscription. We would have powerful devices in our home hooked up to our TVs/stereos, and handheld devices for the road that are capable of accessing every digital anything ever. Storage shouldn't be an issue either, because eventually we'll all be streaming everything live. Imagine if you lost your iPod. Yeah, you'd have to buy another one, but you'd never lose any content. It's always all there. In the clouds.

Unless we all come together to discuss a solution like this, then we'll soon be forced to realize the hard truth that no one is going to get paid what they deserve for the content that they've created.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Eee Box B206 reviewed. Verdict: Meh.

UK site Register Hardware has a review up for the Eee Box B206. Leading up to this point, the B206 was supposed to be the first killer nettop because of its discrete HD graphics. Apparently it handles 720p sometimes and 1080p never. Lame. Asus, why did you ship this thing with an HDMI if you can't play full HD vids on it? Did you not know that the entire geek world has been clamoring for this since forever? To play devil's advocate, VLC and Quicktime do not offload to video cards, so the CPU does all the heavy lifting. If all video apps supported this, we might be saying 720p rules on the B206. Well, hopefully the B208 packs a little more punch when it's released.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Yet another 901 use: HD Audio Recorder

As I've written about many times, my Asus Eee PC 901 is about the best and most useful tech toy I ever bought. I use it for checking email and surfing the web from the road. I watch (standard definition) movies on it in perfect quality. I use XBMC to stream my music collection anywhere in my apartment, including to my bedroom stereo. I play emulated old school video games on it. Recently I found another use for it: recording HD audio. I tested out the line/mic 1/8" input on the 901 for recording audio at 24-bit/96KHz by sending it some high-quality flac recordings I had laying around. The results were so good, I couldn't even tell the difference between the original source and the recording. Even though it might seem like a measly analog stereo input, the 901 is packing the Realtek ALC662 audio chipset. This chipset can capture and decode HD audio like a champ. This is great for podcasting, recording lectures, or for recording concerts, assuming you can get the 901 in the door. If you're considering a netbook purchase and haven't looked at the 901, do yourself a favor and give it a look.