The news that Samsung has acquired Boxee caught me a little by surprise. Boxee is software that I don't use much anymore, but it changed my life. Back in 2009 I first started using Boxee, which was then a fork of XBMC. Initially I was interested in the social aspects of the software, the ability to share and recommend content, but what became increasingly important to me was the presence of web content as a central feature of the user interface.
Imagine a situation where you are sat on your sofa using a laptop to find interesting videos on the web. The laptop is great for this as it is close and you can get a lot of information onto the screen, you also have the keyboard and mouse so navigating options is very useful. Now you've found the video you might hit a snag, what happens if you prefer to play it on that nice big television that is only a few feed from you, instead of the smaller screen of the laptop? Sadly there is often no easy way to do this, but the team over at Ericsson Labs have been working on a solution: Web Device Connectivity (WDC), a solution designed to bring media devices in the home closer to the web by combining the power of the DLNA standard with a web API.
Back in August last year I wondered aloud whether it was time for a remix of Ubuntu aimed at media centres and set top boxes. I was not the only one thinking along these lines it seems! In April 2009 “Element” was founded by Kevin L. Thompson with the aim of producing an operating system specially designed for media centres. They have just released version 1.0 of Element OS, a new Linux distributon based on Ubuntu designed around the concept of the ten foot user interface (a user interface you can see and operate on your TV from across the room). It was time to make myself comfortable on the sofa and see what this new remix is all about.
In many houses the TV and broadband line can be found only inches apart and in most cases no connection is yet made. The Internet had the power to bring about a revolution in the choice of programming available, instead of scheduled streams of programming that we have no control over we will be able to pick and chose what we want to watch from thousands of producers.