I’ve been spending every spare moment lately working on Pod TV. I was bound to burn out on it at some point and it happened Saturday morning. I got home from running my weekend errands, brewed up a pot of organic Sumatran coffee, and sat down at my desk fully intending to work on Pod TV. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I just didn’t want to look at it. I needed a break. The fact that my desk looks out into the courtyard and it was a gorgeous spring day didn’t help matters either. I took my coffee, grabbed Kindle off of the night table, dug a cigar out of the humidor, and headed for the patio.
A few hours later, I had burned through the cigar as well as the latest editions of Time, Newsweek, and the Phoenix New Times. I sat there for a while sipping my third cup of coffee and watching the neighbor walk her senile old dog and the local kids skateboarding along the green belt and letting my mind wander. Now that I had become intimately familiar with the ins and outs of programming the Roku box, what could I make it do other than play podcasts? There are already projects out there aiming to make it play movies from a media server on your local network, but they require a lot of manual setup and maintenance. I’m all about set-it-and-forget-it.
What do I watch most often? Stuff I’ve recorded on the DVR. And when I say DVR I mean EyeTV running on my Mac mini. Could it be possible to build a channel for the Roku so that I could watch those recordings via the box with its simplified interface? At the moment it’s a silly thing to want to do since the Mac mini and the Roku are connected to the same TV. But the Mac now has four hard drives hanging off it, which makes for a lot of flashing LEDs and a less than attractive aesthetic. Imagine if I could have the DVR in a completely different room than the TV. Moreover, what if someday I wanted to get a TV for the bedroom and rather than drop the cash on another Mac mini for it, just get a second Roku box and save several hundred bucks? Watching EyeTV recordings on the box would make such a proposition much more attractive.
EyeTV has a built in media server that lets you watch recordings and even live TV via Safari on your iPhone or iPod touch. After poking around at that server a bit I decided that it would be too much work to try and reverse engineer that mechanism. It does a pretty good job at obfuscating access to the actual media files. However, I could still make use of the mechanism. In order for its iPhone viewing features to work, EyeTV must create an mp4 version of any recording it wants to make available to an iPhone. All I had to do was hack a quick and dirty PHP script that hunted down all those mp4’s and relayed their locations to the box. An hour later I was watching Friday’s Charlie Rose on the Roku box. And it requires no manual maintenance. New recordings appear to the box automatically.
What’s even more tantalizing is that if I wanted to take the time to pick apart EyeTV’s built in server, it’s very possible that I could be watching live TV on the Roku box streaming from EyeTV on the Mac mini.