Wednesday, March 26, 2008

my favorite TV is called miro

in the beginning there was something called "democracy player" - an open-source TV application way back in 2006. i tried it, and it was dogg $#!t slow, klunky and an overall experience of: "this is so useless, compared to my wget scripts, no one is ever going to use this."

fast forward a year later, early 2007, democracy player was renamed to miro -- with all kinds of updated code and what not. but that first experience i have had with the original democracy player was enough for me to skip it and continue using my shady scripts to download all video podcasts i was just getting into. i was behind on piles of new shows that i have never seen before and wanted to watch them all from the beginning.

fast forward another year, early 2008, miro version 1.1 comes out -- i see it all over the blogs, articles on a heap of web sites and a pile of the shows i watch started to put the little miro icon next to the itunes subscribe buttons. what's this? is miro that good to be placed next to the itunes jaggernaut? so i decided to download the latest miro and try it out again.

holy $#!t, everything that was broken on the previous versions has been fixed and it's very zippy. i likey.

miro is so easy to use, that it has become my de facto standard media downloader, podcatcher, podshow aggregator and media player for all of those files downloaded from it. the one feature that totally retired my shell scripts was how torrent files was completely integrated with miro. click on a torrent file from your web browser (or on your local file system) and miro automatically goes into action downloading the file with practically zero user intervention. and the torrent files do not have to be just media files. i have used miro to torrent iso files, zips, distros, you name it -- it'll grab them.

the user interface (which hasn't changed much since the democracy player days) is very intuitive, clean and simple. with the application speed improvements, making it my primary media file and torrent downloader was a no-brainer.

and finally, the best part of miro is the HUGE number of "channels" it knows about to make your online "DVR" completely replace any need for keeping your traditional broadcast television connection. i have been living without cable or satellite television for more than a year and am perfectly fine with all of the online alternatives. there are still a bunch of shows not available for miro to grab - but that's for another article.

miro has replaced the following for me:
  • text file for keeping track what shows i have been watching
  • the giant list of what episode i was on for which shows
  • the script file that automated the shows i was downloading

and miro offered these additional features:
  • keeping track of what i have watched
    • any new episodes available are downloaded automatically
    • any new channels i add to it, knows to start grabbing the files i haven't watched yet (three at a time)
  • keeps track of where i have "left of" since last playing the file -- and automatically plays from that point when going back to that file (most favorite feature)
  • has a nice visual representation of all of the files in the middle of downloading
  • also a nice way to see more details about the media file you are looking at, including a link to the source/web site where the file is from

if you need any ideas on what to get started with, here are a few of my current channel listings:

play with miro, i'm sure you are going to enjoy it.

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