a pup named boxee

general — avner ronen on December 29, 2008 @ 9:52 pm


Boxee

Originally uploaded by netposer

from Twitter:

@netposer: @film_girl How’d you get a boxee t? Order it? My new pup is named boxee

early access to future boxee releases

general — avner ronen on December 23, 2008 @ 11:53 am

as we move towards an open-alpha and beta we will still want to retain the ability to give a limited number of users early access to boxee releases, so we can collect bugs and feedback before we make the release available for the general public.

if you’re interested in taking part in testing (and providing feedback) of these early versions please fill this form.

opening up the alpha

general — avner ronen on December 21, 2008 @ 10:32 am

we’ve been in closed alpha for a long time. after Jan 8th are going to open up the alpha, and work diligently on getting the beta out. the number of users who signed up for the alpha has overwhelmed us (over 150,000), and went well beyond our original expectations.

we get asked frequently about why we keep it closed, especially given the fact that it is open-source. the answer is that the product is still very much alpha, and we wanted to scale our servers gradually. but the demand is overwhelming and we don’t want to have users wait for months for their invites, so we decided to open the Jan 8th release of Mac and Ubuntu to everyone.

our small contribution to the holiday season is that by Dec 25th we’ll try to clear the entire backlog of invites (with the exception of Windows users) and get ready to open it up completely on Jan 8th.

the product will still be alpha, but our server should be ready to handle the load.

boxee @CES

general — avner ronen on December 18, 2008 @ 12:39 pm

Jan 6th-11th we’re going to be in Vegas for the CES show. even though we’re a hungry little start-up we’re actually going to have two locations at the show:

  • demo station: a small pod in the Innovation Pavilion - Sands IP204
  • boxee cafe: booth space we won at i-stage in the TechZone - Sands 73839

we’re going to use the pod to give demos of boxee (we’re releasing another version of the alpha on Jan 8th), and the TechZone booth as a place to meet and have a cup of coffee.

at the boxee cafe we will be serving organic, shade grown, fair trade, ground on location, espresso and cappuccino. gidon and i will be your baristas.. (wish they had Best of Show in the coffee category, i think we could have been serious contenders)

like to schedule a time to meet? please send us an email to ces@boxee.tv and tell us how you like your coffee (espresso or cappuccino, skim or whole milk, with or without sugar, strong or weak).

from alpha to beta (help needed)

general — avner ronen on December 17, 2008 @ 12:26 pm

over the past few months we released several alpha versions, introducing new features, fixing bugs and making user interface changes. now we need to digest the feedback and insights we gathered and take the product to the next level. beta.

for us beta means that the user experience needs to be adjusted and optimized for the way people are actually using the product, that the user interface needs to be much more polished, and that the overall stability and usability need to improve.

we reached out to Whitney Hess to help us out in this process, and we are glad to announce that she has agreed to work with us on the project. Whitney brings a rich and diverse experience in the field of user experience design, she is a fellow New Yorker, and she has the type of energy and enthusiasm that should mesh well with ours.

the process is going to be:

  1. talk with existing boxee users about their experience. what you like, don’t like, what is missing, how are you using boxee, when and where are you using boxee, why are you using boxee, etc. many questions… (if you’re interested in helping out please reach out to Whitney on Twitter, or by emailing whitney [ a t ] whitneyhess d0t com we have started to collect feedback in a more organized fashion. please post your ideas, suggestions here)
  2. compile a list of personas, scenarios, features and prioritize them
  3. create wireframes and corresponding visual designs
  4. code, code, code
  5. test, test, test
  6. release to a select group of users for feedback
  7. repeat steps 4-6 till we’re ready for release
  8. launch beta

once we come up with initial conclusions, usage scenarios most important to support, features with highest priority, etc. we will share them with you so you could be part of the process and provide your feedback.

by taking this type of open, collaborative approach we hope to give our users a real say regarding the future of boxee. it also means we’ll be able to release a product that better matches your needs. should be fun!

UPDATE: Whitney received an overwhelming number of responses. thank you all! we have set up a boxee page in getsatisfaction, so you can post your feedback there)

a boxee you can wear

general — avner ronen on December 17, 2008 @ 6:34 am

we are attending CES this year and needed some sort of boxee “uniform”.. after looking at several build-your-own t-shirt stores we chose to go with spreadshirt.

there are a bunch of t-shirts and hoodies that we’re going to wear during the show, but figured it makes sense to open it up, so users will be able to order stuff as well. check it out at boxee.spreadshirt.com (the prices are without mark-up).

let us know what you think of the designs, or better yet, if you’re the creative type you are welcomed to come up with your own designs. attached to this post is a PDF file with high-res version of the graphics. you can design your own t-shirt, button, sticker, etc for non-commercial purposes. if you’d like to make millions of dollars selling boxee schwag lets talk about it.

fixing bugs

general — avner ronen on December 16, 2008 @ 9:00 am

we have released a minor bug fixing version (available for Mac, Ubuntu, Apple TV & Windows). we’re going to spend the next few weeks coding/testing a version that will come out at CES on Jan 8th, 2009.

the bugs we tackled in this latest release include:

  • great improvement to Netflix streaming - it should perform MUCH better. we’d even say it will outperform Netflix on Firefox (btw, make sure your browser is closed when you’re running boxee, since these browsers are a resource hog, like boxee…)
  • skip forward/backward, pause in Netflix - the basic stuff and greatly missing especially when watching movies
  • playing R-rated content on Hulu - should work in all cases of r-rated content. some of the best, most popular videos fall under this category.. (you need to login to hulu for it to work)
  • clicking Menu = Back on Apple TV - after the last update some user on Apple TV complained that pressing the Menu button takes them to the home screen rather than going back to the previous screen
  • TV Shows scanning is working again - your TV Shows should start showing up again. we fixed a bug with local tv show database
  • missing thumbnails on friends activity, recommendations - items from Hulu, Netflix appearing on the friend activity, recommendations should all have thumbs
  • video calibration settings not being saved - was reported by several users on Apple TV. we fixed it, so you only need to calibrate once
  • trailers not showing up for many movies - after installing this version you should see the Trailer option for a good portion of your movie library.

if you’re using boxee on Apple TV and suffering from a black-screen-syndrom (i.e. when you launch boxee you only see a black screen). Scott and Stephan are working on a new launcher that solves the problem. you can give it a try (requires SSHing into your ATV

if you’re using boxee on Ubuntu the repositories have been updated, including support for Intrepid. Gutsy is no longer supported..

68% of Lifehacker readers say xbmc & boxee are the best

general — avner ronen on December 10, 2008 @ 3:28 pm

Lifehacker has asked their readers to vote for the Best Media Center application. The nominees were boxee, MythTV, SageTV, Windows Media Center and XBMC.

the final tally gave xbmc 43% and boxee 25% of the vote (~ 10,000 people voted). since boxee is xbmc-based this is a very strong endorsement of xbmc as the best media center platform out there. when we started boxee and partnered with xbmc we did it because we believed it was the best, so it’s great to see that Lifehacker readers concur.

it is also a great vote for open-source entertainment, while Apple’s FrontRow was not on the list the fact that Microsoft’s Media Center got less than 20% of the vote is telling. we believe people prefer a product designed with them in mind (rather than a product promoting a specific OS or store), and that we all want to be free to decide about the entertainment options in our living room, rather than replace one closed system (Cable, Sat) with another closed system (Apple, Microsoft).

thanks again for voting for boxee & xbmc!

week of Dec 15th - bug fixing version

general — avner ronen on December 7, 2008 @ 5:38 pm

we’re going to spend this coming week fixing bugs being reported on the latest version.

we are going to try and fix the following issues:

  • Netflix performance - some users are complaining of stuttering of certain Netflix movies. we’re going to try and improve the performance of the player
  • Netflix missing pause, ffwd, rewind - basic stuff. we know. fixing.
  • Hulu not playing R-rated content - lots of good content is R-rated.. and we have a bug that even though you login to Hulu you can’t view these videos
  • TV Shows disappearing - for some users the TV Show library has been erased, and never comes back.. which could be very frustrating. we’re on it.
  • missing Trailers - you should be able to watch trailers for many of the movies you come across, but for some reason they are not showing up
  • missing thumbnails in homescreen - some items in the homescreen are missing their thumbnails (events from Hulu, Netflix)
  • spinning circle of death - in some cases when boxee tries to stream a video and fails there is no timeout, which unless you are using a keyboard and can click ‘x’, you’re stuck
  • screen calibration - you matched boxee to fit perfectly to the last pixel on your HD TV, only to find your calibration is not saved in next session. not cool.
  • secondary screen - when connecting to a secondary screen and going fullscreen, the window comes back to the primary display.
  • crashes - depending how many of them we can consistently reproduce (if you have a consistent, reproducible crash please send us the details to support@boxee.tv)

there are other smaller bugs that we’re going to take care of. and release the Ubuntu version, as well as an updated Windows pre-alpha version (you can request to join the limited release for Windows here). busy week.

please let us know if you think we’re missing a biggie (i.e. something that is not working properly that really hurts the user experience)

vote for boxee or xbmc as Best Media Center on LifeHacker

general — avner ronen on December 7, 2008 @ 1:26 pm

LifeHacker is asking users to vote for the Best Media Center.
cast your vote for boxee/xbmc. thanks!!

UPDATE: boxee and xbmc are currently taking #1 and #2 spots!! help us widen the lead. go vote :)

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