Set up SoftwareMenu
Copy the file across to your Apple TV, and then type this into your terminal:
sudo cp SoftwareMenu.frappliance /System/Library/CoreServices/Finder.app/Contents/Plugins/SoftwareMenu.frappliance cd /System/Library/CoreServices/Finder.app/Contents/PlugIns sudo chown -R root:wheel SoftwareMenu.frappliance
That’ll put SoftwareMenu in the right place and give it the correct ownership settings. Restart your Apple TV, and when it’s come back up, you’ll see Software Menu listed in the main UI. If not, try again and check your typing.
SoftwareMenu in the Apple TV’s UI
SoftwareMenu’s sub-menus provide some handy plug-in download tools, and the ability to keep the add-ins updated. It also runs scripts, and comes with a pre-loaded one to restart the Apple TV, saving you the need to yank out the power cable every time you want to reboot the box. For the hacker, SoftwareMenu’s worth installing for that alone.
SoftwareMenu allows you to install a number of plug-ins directly, including the useful ATVFiles, which can be used with the regular Apple TV remote to find and play files that the main UI will not allow you to view.
We’ll cover ATVFiles in detail next time, when we’ll also step through the process of adding other codecs, such as DivX, to the Apple TV.
SoftwareMenu has a very useful script runner
Meantime, other third-party plug-ins available include CouchSurfer, a web browser with Flash support. It’s still in development — Register Hardware was not a site it was happy rendering, alas — but it provides a way of getting the web on your telly. Entering URLs with the remote is a little bit of a chore, but with both History and Bookmark menu options, you shouldn’t need to type addresses in too often.
The remaining SoftwareMenu-supported plug-ins all focus on media playback. NitoTV is a bionic front end for the mPlayer media player app that chucks in network sharing, RSS feeds, weather news and even old games console emulators.
Sapphire is an alternative to ATVFiles, presenting internet-sourced album art, video covers and so on when you use it to select files you’ve copied over to the AppleTV that use unofficial codecs.
Install other plug-ins directly
Finally, XMBCLauncher is an open source skinnable-media centre application that provides an alternative UI to the Apple TV’s own. It also runs on Macs, Windows PCs and Linux boxes. Just make sure you disable the Apple TV’s screensaver, which can prevent XMBC firing up correctly.
Next page: How to get a colour picture on an SD TV
Was very happy to see this little gem.
Have been trying to get the Component / Composite malarkey sorted on my old TV so was keen to try this. But I haven't had any luck with the links to the awkwardtv forum or oxfeedbeef for the files to ssh over. any Idea what's going on as both sites seem to have out of action for a while. I cat fine any other sources either.
found a neat HDMI-DVI / DVI-VGA TRICK but I'm not sure if it will out NASC of PAL.
As always some real misconceptions about quality, target markets etc....
AppleTV is a great product, for doing what it was designed to do... sure a Netgear EVA or Popcorn Hour is a great product also, but neither can hold a candle to the UI and ease of sync/use of the AppleTV.... but the AppleTV isn't so hot at networked machine playback, cannot do 1080p files, no divx, mkv etc without hacking it... but again the AppleTV can do movie rentals.
It depends what you need really... but to call the AppleTV shite, useless etc is very naive and bordering on plain old Apple hating... i've recommended and setup several for friends now, as they want a simple interface, that doesn't require extensive setup. If you're techy then fine, but not everyone is.
As for Tom and his comments regarding TV's and monitors, may i suggest a visit to Specsavers if that is your true feeling as you've clearly got some eyesight issues going on... sure there are a lot of lousy TV's around, but for not a huge chunk of cash there are some cracking ones around too!
Good to see some hacking tips on El Reg -though it means that the hackers herd is getting thin... :-( . Anyway, keep it up!
Of course, a "real" hacker can build an amazing set-top box, with a stripped-down GNU-Linux on it, for 50 quids (Yes, 50. Time ain't worth nothing when it's fun, mate. And it ain't reall hacking actually, just a good selection of off-the-shelf stuff).
Well,to be honest a _real_ real hacker would probably find a way to build a state-of-the-art set-top box running OpenVMS for 1.25 quids. But it might take a few years and involve quite a bit of McGyvering...
'I've never met a single person (in the UK) who owns one of these'
I bought the one they sold in the UK.
tbh I think they're a nice bit of kit. Quiet night in on the sofa with SWMBO, nothing on the TV, nothing you fancy from 'other sources'? Fire up the Apple TV. With a US iTunes account the choice of viewing is very good.
For me it was one of those impulse gadget buys that I don't regret.
Geeks vs Public
If the iplayer downloader could run on appleTV; grab the files and store them for future watching using nothing but the remote control then it'd be worthwhile. Otherwise this is still too tech for most people. You might as well use a computer and stream...