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Getting Made into the Crew
15 April 2010 by Rob Spectre

“As far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a gangster.” – Henry Hill, Brooklyn, NY 1955

For the past ten months, I’ve been paying the rent by going gonzo for Boxee.  Developing apps on contract for a great portfolio of customers, I’ve managed to eke out a living working on a platform I adore in a space I love.  Sustaining myself by enabling independent content producers to take their content from the computer screen to the living room has marked a highlight of my career – a true labor of love.

Today that labor took a dramatic and exciting new turn – I got made.

As of 15 April, I’ve joined the Boxee team as their new Lead Application Developer.  My assignment is two fold: 1) work with content producers to create the best living room experience their audiences have ever seen and 2) empower and enable developers to make Boxee the easiest and most exciting platform to deliver applications.  In non-corporate speak, get the best artists and coders on the planet and turn them on to the best media center in the world.

Getting made into the Boxee crew is a real privilege and already in my first day I’ve been impressed by the aggressive, high performance atmosphere.  It promises to be a hell of a ride, but of course it raises some natural questions about this site, the Gonzee portfolio of apps and the fate of the spiky-haired gonzo who made them.

1) Will gonzee.tv stay up?

Yup!  It’ll continue to be available as a gonzo resource for anyone interested in Boxee development.  The guide, sample apps, and tips and tricks will always be available at this address.  I’d love to maintain this site simultaneous to my duties at Boxee, but realistically that is not going to happen.  Going forward my contributions to Boxee documentation will more likely than not be more official than this site.

2) What happens to Auto-Tune The News, FailBlog and my other favorite Gonzee apps?

They are my babies and they’ll continue to stay that way.  The code stays with me and updates will happen even more frequently now that I’ll be more closely involved in the platform they are running on.  I’m committed to maintaining my existing portfolio of apps while employed by Boxee, and will continue to make new apps featuring indie comedy I think is breaking new ground.

3) What about hiring you as a contractor for my project?

Unfortunately, my current slate of contracts will be my last.  However, I was only one of a great many talented freelance developers with Boxee experience.  I am happy to refer from a deep roster of great coders to bring your project to Boxee.

4) So, you’re moving to New York? Does that mean you’re going to become a Yankee fan?

While it’s true I’ll be leaving San Francisco to join the team in New York City, I’m not trading in my crimson stockings for Bronx pinstripes just yet.  You can be assured that the only time this nation faithful heads to Yankee Stadium it will be to root on the Red Sox or relieve myself on one of the pillars.

Very stoked to get going and if you’re a Boxee developer looking for help with your app, be sure to check in at the Boxee forums or hit me up at my new home rob@boxee.tv.

So what your next Boxee app? :)

Resources for Boxee + Twilio Hackathon
10 April 2010 by Rob Spectre

For folks attending the Boxee + Twilio Hackathon, find these resources to help:

Rob’s Presentations (in PowerPoint ick):

You can check out or browse the source code of the demo apps here:

http://code.google.com/p/twilio-boxee-hackathon/

Documentation is here:

http://developer.boxee.tv/Main_Page

http://www.twilio.com/docs/

May the best app win!

We Scare The Hell Out Of ______.
24 February 2010 by Rob Spectre

Amen!

Boxee “The Storm” [Canon 7D] from Kristopher Knight on Vimeo.

New Release – Auto-Tune The News 1.9
18 February 2010 by Rob Spectre

On 2 July last year, fresh from Boxee’s Developer Contest held in San Francisco, I submitted my very first Boxee application.  Auto-Tune The News first got me hooked on developing on Boxee as I originally wanted to be able to watch The Daily Show, Colbert Report and a couple of my favorite web series on my TV instead of at my desk.  Now seven months, seventeen more apps, twenty-five total releases, that move of dorkly convenience has become my full-time job for half a year.  Making television software has become a strong passion, and it is with great pride that I release a new revision for the app that started me down this road.

Same content, just a better look and feel – everything sounds better auto-tuned!

Cuban vs. Ronen – The Tale of the Tape
17 February 2010 by Rob Spectre

Boxee CEO Avner Ronen just announced he is squaring off against HDNet chairman, Dallas Mavericks owner, and sometime-dancer Mark Cuban in a public debate on the future of television at this year’s SXSW.  The bout is the first matchup of the pair since an online exchange from last year where Cuban was critical of Boxee’s open approach to IPTV in favor of the cable industry’s TV Everywhere initiative:

The TV Anywhere solution is the best solution out there. Its the best of both worlds , you just have to subscribe to cable/sat/telco video to get it. Which in fact most people already do. So for most of the US, broadband consuming world, it will be the path of least resistance.

The live rematch will no doubt be a fan favorite pitting veteran blowhard against startup darling, entrenched business models against new technology, and the way things are against the way they should be.  Texas is Cuban’s home turf, but SXSW is an audience heavily favored to Ronen – this bout could easily go either way.

Ronen is willfully accepting the status of underdog for this fight, but how do these two TV warriors measure up on paper?

Let’s look at the tale of the tape…

The fight for the future of television.

Place your bets now!

New Release – Peter Coffin
10 February 2010 by Rob Spectre

Dead excited to announce the latest member of the Gonzee family: Internet comedian Peter Coffin.  I always jump at the chance to bring more indie comedy to Boxee and Peter delivers that with a unique voice, pro production value and gutbusting timing.  Laughs by the pantload for web-conscious pop culture fans, tweaked with just enough twist to appeal to the casually demented.

If you dig on his video work, you should definitely check out his blog, subscribe to his YouTube channel, follow him on Twitter, and grab some quality Peter Coffin gear.  In that order!

BANANAPHONE!

New Release – Ad Blitz 2010
6 February 2010 by Rob Spectre

IAll the commercials from the big game on Boxeet is the biggest athletic contest of the year for America.  Seats start at five grand, networks fight over the rights years in advance, and millions tune in worldwide as the top two teams in professional football face off after a blistering post season.  With all the hype and attention comes unparalleled advertising budgets, making the Super Bowl the showcase for television commercials of the year.

Want a replay of a particularly funny ad after the game is over? Go no further than Boxee with the latest Gonzee app release – Ad Blitz 2010.  Now available on Boxee, Ad Blitz 2010 will have every commercial aired during the big game available to watch immediately following an resolutely crushing defeat to the hated and hideous Indianapolis Colts.

Before the big game, the app is seeded with preview content a-plenty, featuring analysis on the two teams, how-to’s on executing a perfect Super Sunday party and the troubling story of a man auctioning off something very valuable to get a ticket to the game.

All available now in the Boxee App Library.

The best commercials for the biggest game of the year.

The Latest Fans on the Boxee Bandwagon: The United States Congress
4 February 2010 by Rob Spectre

We have some new members of the Boxee community who divulged their fandom in the most unlikely of settings: a Congressional hearing.  Testifying before a House inquiry about the merger of Comcast and NBC Universal merger, NBC chief Jeff Zucker was asked a question about the ongoing Boxee / Hulu controversy by Representative Rick Boucher (D-VA):

Mr. Boucher: The second key question that I have is this: what about Boxee?  Did Hulu block the Boxee users from access to the Hulu programs?

Mr. Zucker: This was a decision made by the Hulu management, uh, to, uh… What Boxee was doing was illegally taking the content that was on Hulu without any business deal.  And, you know, all… We have several distributors, actually many distributors of the Hulu content that we have legal distribution deals with.  So we don’t preclude distribution deals; what we preclude is those that illegally take that content.

Mr. Boucher: Would you be open to negotiations with Boxee or whatever it was?

Mr. Zucker: We have always said that we are open to negotiations.

Did a Congressman just tell Hulu to play nice with Boxee?

Here’s the video:

Update: Boxee CEO Avner Ronen just posted a response to Jeff Zucker’s testimony arguing the accuracy of Zucker’s claim.

Boxee uses a web browser to access Hulu’s content – just like Firefox or Internet Explorer. Boxee users click on a link to Hulu’s website and the video within that page plays. We don’t “take” the video. We don’t copy it. We don’t put ads on top of it. The video and the ads play like they do on other browsers or on Hulu Desktop. And it certainly is legal to do so.

Mr. Zucker says they always said they are open to negotiations. That has not been our experience, but at this point, we will take Mr. Zucker’s offer at face value and will contact him. We are eager to work with both Comcast and NBCU to bring more content on more devices to our users. We believe the Internet represents a great opportunity for content owners and we hope that current artificial barriers put on distribution over the Internet will be taken down.

Does this mean the Hulu experience on Boxee is about to get better? Who knows, but the incident further highlights Boxee’s growing disruption in the IPTV space, a Wild West environment that is turning television on it’s head.

See Avner’s response in its entirety here.

Hello World – In Video!
3 February 2010 by Rob Spectre

Mark Tucker over at shazaml.com has put together a great six minute screencast showing how to develop a quick “Hello World” app on Boxee.  Mark’s video is very detailed and pro-quality, showing how to create a test app on Windows.  Great work here.

Building Your First Boxee App – Now Updated For Beta!
27 January 2010 by Rob Spectre

The popular step-by-step gonzo guide to building your first Boxee app has now been edited to reflect the API changes in the Boxee beta.  Several typographical errors and content applicable only to the Boxee Alpha client has been changed and the guide now produces a working app for the new Boxee Beta.

Enjoy!

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