Mod Your TiVo, VideoLAN, Internet Microwave

Episode #2574


Top O’ the Show

On last Friday's episode devoted to Star Trek, The Screen Savers crew dressed up in their finest Star Fleet uniforms. Taking on the persona of Mr. Spock, Kevin dared to reveal his naturally pointy ears. Alex lured Kevin into a close-up for the camera, and an alert viewer sent us a screen grab of this spectacle -- which we uploaded for all to download for their own personal use. Shockingly, many viewers took this opportunity to place the alternate-universe Kevin into all sorts of compromising positions a la Photoshop. Here are the most interesting/disturbing creations.

In entertainment news, it was announced today that John Woo will be directing the movie version of 1980s cartoon He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Yes, the legendary filmmaker who gave us Hard Boiled and Face/Off will now create a movie about a big, blonde superhero who wears Depends. There’s no word on casting yet, though Alex is available. But can anyone top Dolph Lundgren’s passionate portrayal in the 1987 version? “That’s probably Dolph Lundren’s low point,” sniffed Alex.

Meanwhile, one of our producers (let’s call him “Sean”) has been griping about the latest self-help book to get an Oprah-boost – it’s about why men leave women. (These things can always be boiled down to specific reasons applicable to everyone, you know.) Anyway, the guys polled female staffers around the office to come up with the flipside:

The Top 5 Reasons Why Your Girlfriend Left You

5. Massive pr0n collection crashed her computer.
4. Missed her birthday while leveling your Jedi Knight.
3. You look like Bill Gates -- but with no money.
2. She doesn't like the Chocolate Jubbly Slide.
1. Too much time playing with your Xbox instead of with her Xbox.

TSS Live Calls

Call #1: Ryan from Batesville, Ark. wanted to know what “warspying” is all about.

Warspying means tapping into a wireless, streaming video feed – typically, somebody else’s. “So you can monitor other people’s babies – great!” said Alex. Kevin insisted this can be more interesting when you drive around, say, downtown San Francisco. “I don’t know if it’s legal, but it is fun,” said Kevin. Read this article explaining warspying from the TechTV Vault – be sure to look for the related videos on the same page for more info.

You can buy warspying hardware at x10.com and rhizome.org, or at eBay (for example, here’s an auction going on right now for a full-featured warspying kit).

Call #2: Reed from Northridge, Calif. wanted to know what the best gaming microphones are, both headset and stand-alone.

Kevin explained that he prefers headsets to isolate the sound. Managing Editor Robert Heron said that his favorites are the Logitech Extreme PC and the Logitech Internet Chat headsets. For a stand-alone clip-on mic, he likes the Labtec 2.

Mod Your TiVo

WeaKnees.com co-founders Michael Adberg and Jeff Shapiro dropped by to show us a great mod they offer for the TiVo. They’ve manufactured a rugged polycarbonate frame that can hold two hard drives, expanding your storage to up to 700 hours. Although the TiVo casing is a bit tight, it still has room for a couple of 300 GB Maxtor Quickview hard drives (made especially for PVRs) – provided you add a fan for extra cooling.

WeaKnees.com has created special site showing you how to DIY this mod. Answer a few questions about your upgrade, and upgrade-instructions.com will provide customized instructions, including links to the software required to perform the upgrade. The site includes complete instructions for creating a .6 terabyte high-definition TiVo.

TiVo products & upgrades at weaknees.com

TiVo Upgrade Instructions at upgrade-instructions.com

Buy upgraded DirecTV and TiVo units directly from weaknees.com

The  Archos Gmini400

A new toy arrived today at The Screen Savers, and both Alex and Kevin were especially delighted by it: Archos’ latest stab at a portable multimedia player, the Gmini400. “This is awesome!” declared Alex. “This thing is an MP3 player, a video player, a CF reader, and a 20 GB hard drive. The good thing is that it does all these things fairly well.”

“The previous Archos models – I didn’t like them,” said Kevin. “But this is a really cool device.”

Much more compact than previous models and endowed with a high-quality screen, the Gmini 400 might just be the multi-player that people actually want. Some drawbacks include no encoding abilities and no FM tuner. For a preview of the specs, read this article by Robert Heron.

This Isn’t Your Mother’s Microwave

Kevin and Alex demonstrated the Beyond Microwave, a new oven equipped with a bar-code reader. This means you can scan in items like frozen dinners or popcorn packets and the oven will consult its library of 4,000 cook times. Despite the minor hiccup of confusing the actual time with the cooking time, the guys did manage to get it working. The oven can connect with the Internet for more downloads, and it can also learn cooking times for dishes not in its library. “At $180, it’s a little pricey,” said Kevin. “But it also functions as a microwave!” noted Alex. For another viewpoint, read Sean O’Rourke’s review.

Sarah’s DOD: VideoLAN

Yesterday, Sarah noted the big improvements in Microsoft’s Windows Media Player 10. But forget all that, because the VideoLAN project kicks its butt with the VLP Player. “I can’t think of a file format it doesn’t support,” said Sarah – a decided difference from the non-AAC supporting WMP10. “The coolest thing is you can stream media from one computer to another on your network,” she added – and there’s a version for every OS. Plus, it’s free. Read Sarah's comments here.

Mystery Bag or Webcam

Yep, the adventure that is Mystery Bag or Webcam returned as the guys plucked lucky 11-year-old Thomas from the audience to play. For some reason, the “bag” in the Mystery Bag portion of the contest has devolved somewhat. “It started out so nice,” said a guffawing Alex. “And now, it’s just a trash bag!” Indeed, but a lumpy, well-filled trash bag. Thus it was no surprise that young Thomas chose the Mystery Bag – and received a rad RoboSapien robot. Ah, it could’ve been yours if you had only joined our studio audience.

Parting Email Questions

Tom wanted to know where he should download Linux: find distributors at http://www.linuxiso.org/.

Chris wanted to know what the best P2P software is: try Kazaa Lite, eMule or eDonkey.

Mike wanted to know how to get his website publicized without spending much money: simply submit it to Google (and be patient), or try a submittal service like submit-pro.com.



Photoshop Shenanigans

Armed only with their PCs and an already embarrassing photo of Kevin, our viewers reveal the shocking truth: Kevin Rose is Batboy!

Sarah Lane
Sarah's Download of the Day: VideoLAN

Want to do your cross-platform media streaming for free? Visit the VideoLAN project.

beyond microwave
Is This Microwave Hot or Not?

Does it really help to have your microwave oven connect to the Internet? Sort of.