Having decided that it’s a pain having a ethernet cable trailed across the living room to get on Xbox Live I’ve been looking at wireless connections for the Xbox 360. Microsoft have one, obviously, but it’s around £60 in Game or £50 on eBay. I also have an Apple Airport Express that I use to stream iTunes music to my stereo. This has an ethernet port built in but just simply plugging a cable into it and the Xbox didn’t do anything. Several searches on Google and up came a lot of info on how to use a Linksys WRT54G with a third party firmware in client mode acting as an ethernet bridge. I have one of those sitting in a cupboard but it just seemed too much like hard work and would be another box sitting with the TV etc. A bit more searching and I find that the Airport can use WDS (Wireless Distribution System) to extend an Apple router based wireless network but it’s hit and miss with other routers. Setting it up was a little tricky but in the end it connected to the network, the BT hub say it as a WDS enabled device and lo and behold it worked! Xbox Live connected fine and downloaded an update for the game I was playing. The acid test was that iTunes still worked – and it did !

Buoyed by this success I then pushed my luck and tried to setup streaming from my Vista desktop to Media Center running on the Xbox. Setting up the connection between the two machines was pretty straightforward but then I hit a snag. Streaming DivX isn’t supported…but there’s a neat extension to Media Center at http:\\www.transcode360.co.uk that adds an additional option to the menu for video files – it transcodes DivX on the fly to a format supported by Media Center and it works a treat.

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…and I thought the graphics were good on my “normal” TV ! On an HDTV set they are amazing, so amazing that I was suddenly looking online at HDTV reviews and working out how soon I might be able to afford one.

Xbox Live is interesting – not played anyone online yet although the idea of the system being able to find someone matching my own talent level (or lack of it) makes me feel a little happier. I was dreading the idea of being completely rubbish and being flamed for my trouble. Being able to download demo versions of games is a great idea and the Arcade section with all the old favourites from my teens is both nostalgic and disturbing – did we really play games with those rubbish graphics? and to think they were cutting edge in their day.

Xbox 360

July 20, 2007

I “accidently” bought an Xbox 360 on ebay this week. Accidently in that I put in a bid not expecting to win (what’s that about!) and then won. First impressions are that the graphics are stunning but it’s very noisy…and then I found out the wireless controllers both start the console and shut it down – very cool ! I compared the graphics with the PS2 and they are in a completely different league. The wireless controllers are fantastic (no more trailing wires) and the next thing is to hook it up to the ‘net and try Xbox Live.

Why do we do it? Drink heavily that is. Company dinner, average food but drinkable wine. An iPod provides background music whilst we all chat. Then the food gets cleared away, the iPod gets turned up and the “dancing” starts. For dancing read “blokes in their 40s who should know better drinking too much and playing air guitar to Mr Brightside”. The night gets later, the wine flows faster, music gets louder, dancing gets more erratic…….following morning, a couple of us are nursing heads that seem to be occupied by small marching bands. Tiredness is endemic. Best part of an hour asleep in the car with the seat reclined turns out to be a wonderful experience!