Friday, October 28, 2011

Version 2.0 Released

Version 2.0 is finally out the door.  Here are some of the new features:

Channel Rules

This is the big feature for this release.  You're now able to customize every channel with a set of (currently) 12 different rules.  Here is a quick rundown:

Scheduling - Want to watch The Daily Show every night at 7:00?  Schedule your channel to play it.

Don't play this channel - Since some rules use other channels as modifiers (scheduling and interleaving), you may not want to actually play your channel that only has dozens of Battlestar Galactica episodes.  Hide it with this rule.

Don't play a show on this channel - I want to watch my episodes of Alias in order, but they keep showing up on my ABC channel.  Excluding them is only a rule away.

Force Random / Real-Time / Resume - While most people use Real-Time mode (as recommended), you can now have a channel be different from the rest.

Rename a channel - Don't like the default channel name?  Rename it to "Chick Stuff" to show that only your wife wants to watch the crap that plays on this channel*.

Interleaving - Are you one of those people that likes bumpers?  Then just create a channel that has only the bumpers and use this rule on your main channel to interleave those bumpers in between your shows.

Only play unwatched shows - If the channel contents change a lot, there's no reason to watch the same shows over and over.  Hide things you've watched from this channel with ease.

Only play watched shows - Don't want to spoil a movie by accidentally seeing part of the middle?  Hide shows that haven't been watched yet.

Play shows in order - Now you can make sure that when you're watching Top Chef, the next episode that comes on will actually be the next episode in the series.

Always Keep Paused - Don't want to miss an episode of The Big Bang Theory?  Make sure that if you're not watching it, it stays paused.  This rule goes great with the "Play shows in order" and "Force resume" rules!

* this is really the channel name I have for where my wife's crappy shows play.

Channel Sharing

I'm an old man, so my bed time is 10pm.  If I'm in the middle of a show at 9:15 and want to go from downstairs to upstairs, I just turn off the TV and turn on my system in my bedroom.  The channels are shared between the two so I can keep watching where I left off.  Huzzah!

Setting this up is a simple matter of pointing each computer to the same directory in the addon settings:

Background Channel Loading

As someone without patience, I want everything to start as quickly as possible.  Can I get rid of the loading time all together?  No...sorry.  I can cut it down, though.  As long as at least one channel is ready to go, that channel will be started.  Every other channel will be updated and added to the system as soon as they are ready.  A little notification will be given to show that channels are loading:

And another is shown when a new channel is available:

Other Changes

There are some other new things going on, although they may not be as obvious.  Here's a quick rundown:

Directory-type channels are supported now.
The EPG clock can be set to use a 12-hour or 24-hour clock.
Channel creation for first-time users has been significantly improved.
Time accuracy between restarts is essentially perfect now...or close enough for government work.
The EPG should function a bit quicker now.

I hope you enjoy the changes.  There are still a couple of bugs to be worked out (IceLibrary doesn't work, yet) and a couple of features, but this version feels pretty solid to me.

As a side note, I've created a little Windows program (Vista and Windows 7 only) called the "Simple Range Compressor" that tries to maintain the same volume between shows by performing some dynamic range compression using the Windows volume slider...wacky, but it works:

Download it here, discuss it here.

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