Cut the Cable - Resources and Links


Just got a N2820 NUC and deployed OpenElec to it, so I am finally back in the XBMC club.

Word to the wise, those NUC’s can be picky with their RAM. Besides needing to be 1.35v SoDIMMS, the first one I bought (Geil GGS38GB1600C11SC) would not work. And these things don’t even POST in that situation. Left me wondering if I had a faulty unit before doing some google-fu. Second Kingston stick worked, though BIOS reported 0Gb installed memory until a requisite BIOS update, then all good. I’d recommend a quick google on the RAM you are planning on using to see if you get any hits, or just try to get something from Intel’s less than exhaustive official compatability list. Sadly that list contains many vendors not available in my region…

OpenElec was an absolute cinch! Download, run USB key image installer, insert, power on, install, reboot, done. And so far it runs wonderfully, very smooth. Cold boot time is about 15 seconds. MSE remote works out of the box, HDMI passthrough to the AV receiver no dramas as well. 1080p content is smooth and also tried some HSBS 3D. Don’t have any of that new Hi10 encoded anime to test though.

Been looking at XBMChub. Thought about using their wizard install, but it makes some branded and difficult to reverse changes to splash screen and wallpapers, which I was not keen on. Went the manual process to install a few add-ons instead. 1Channel was also a no-go for me on Gotham - tries to download, won’t move past 0% then just seems to fail.

Also got Mashup installed directly from their repos and had a brief look, but need to play around a bit more.

Pretty happy so far!


Yeah, needs to be DDR3L RAM. Happy you’re enjoying it!


Yeah, the first Geil stick was, but the NUC did not like it for some reason. May have been to do with the chip density. I put 8Gb into it and I think it will only likes sticks with 16x512Mb chips, rather than the 8x1Gb on the Geil.


We have 2 “cut the cable” threads going, but this one seems more current…

What are my options for viewing live NFL broadcasts in a post Aereo world? Last season I just recorded CBS while I watched FOX or vice versa via my roku. Any ideas what the options for this are now? (besides an HDTV antenna)


This was discussed on page 1 of this thread, albeit, not with a lot of detail.

There are three principal options:

1-[B] HDTV Antenna:[/B] A decent antenna, with an amplifier, with provide you with an excellent 1080 signal and all the bells and whistles for surround sound. Relatively cheap to buy, it may or may not be practical for you to install (or even possible if you are in an apartment without a balcony/proper window facing).

Given that it also supplies you with live programming for basic channels and access to basic news and live events (Oscars, SuperBowl, Olympics, Major Sports Playoffs, etc.) with excellent picture quality and with solid and consistent reliability, a good HDTV antenna offers great value. Set-up cost is a one-time affair. After that, FREE is as good as it gets.

I have a very good HDTV antenna (Clearstream 4) and I can recommend it without reservation. You probably won’t need as high-end a model as that in Brooklyn - but if you want a recommendation I certainly can confirm it works reliably and VERY well. It gives me 22 channels in Toronto. I linked to the antenna itself, but you will also need a mount, an amplifier, cable, brackets etc. to complete your installation.

There are, doubtless, installers in your area who will, for a fee, show up at your home with all the gear and tools required, crawl around on your roof and just magically install all of this for you. That approach to just biting the bullet and getting it done has a lot going for it as a one-time fee, imo. As I’m not much of a handyman, that’s what I did. YMMV.

2: [B]XBMC Mashup Streaming Live Sports[/B]: (Pirated Signals) Casual sports fans can use XBMC and live streaming services through Mashup and Sports Devil etc. to access live streaming of sports programming, including the NFL. Setting aside the legalities of this approach, I personally have some difficulties with relying on this for far more practical reasons: [I]reliability and quality of picture[/I]. Because the pirated streaming signals for these games degrade significantly in proportion to how many people are accessing the signal at the same time, the upshot is that the more important the game is to you, the less reliable your access to it becomes – and the worse the picture quality is.

As a sports fan, this is unacceptable to me for the sports that I care about. As I don’t care much about basketball, I can go this route for the 5- 10 basketball games I might watch in a given year. Maybe you feel the same way about basketball as I do, or you feel that way about hockey, say. If so, this is an acceptable approach for those sports you are only an infrequent and casual fan of.

As you are asking about the NFL, specifically, and you mention recording a game at the same time as you are watching another, you clearly aren’t a casual fan of the NFL. This issue matters to you and you care about watching your games frequently. As you are probably both a Jets AND a Giants fan, I [I]guarantee[/I] that the problems of relying on streaming pirated signals will prove to be a real issue for you when trying to watch those teams in Brooklyn. [B]A pirated signal approach is just not going to work for you, imo.[/B] Your main options are HDTV antenna or NFL Game Pass (preferably, both).

That doesn’t mean that XBMC isn’t awesome. It is [I]extremely[/I] awesome. But where it shines brightest is in access to streamed pre-recorded programming in a manner identical to Netflix. Live streaming is available over XBMC too, it simply isn’t its forte. You should be able to use it for access to sports highlight shows on ESPN, etc. with very decent reliability so there is value in XBMC for some frequent sports programming.

  1. [B]NFL Game Pass:[/B] NFL Game Pass [B]$220/yr[/B]. NFL Game Pass is a live streaming service officially licensed by the NFL. It has a number of bells and whistles that come with it, but on the whole, what it offers is access to Pre-Season and Regular season games. Playoffs are not offered live in the subscription version. Given that all NFL playoff games are reliably available for free over a HDTV antenna in the USA and where most Canadians live, a combination approach is required here. So yes, you really will need a HDTV antenna.

The main problem with NFL Game Pass is not the quality of the product (it’s pretty good), rather, it’s [I]the cost of the product[/I], especially when compared to MLB.TV and the grey-marketed services Hockeystreams and Ballstreams.

It looks even worse when the reduced number of games are taken into account. MLB.TV is running ~15 live games a day, [I]every day[/I], for six months+. Hockeystreams and Ballstreams offer about half that number each - but it’s still a helluva lot of hockey and basketball (with Hockeystreams, the other league games they offer more than makes up for it).

In contrast, with NFL Game Pass, it’s 16 regular season games for each team and a handful of pre-season games. And that will cost you $220 a year for the basic subscription. So the service that offers by far the fewest games to watch is also, by far, the most expensive to buy. It’s a poor value in comparison to similar services for the other major sports - and that’s why I complain about it.

That said, it’s probably the only real option there is for you if you want a high quality HD picture/sound and reliable access to your games.


NFL Game Pass is not available in the U.S. I don’t really have that option. If I could get it without having to jump through hoops I’d consider it, despite the cost, because the Thursday and Monday night games are cable-only. While $220 is a lot, it’s easy to spend a lot more than that going to a bar to watch those games.

Anyway, it’s mostly academic for me at this point. We get a good deal on cable TV so it doesn’t cost us that much. We get Uverse at half-price due to my friend’s employee discount. We’ve still talked about getting rid of it because $30/month is still $30 and we hardly watch anything besides network TV and Netflix, but she has a 13 year old and kids are into their shows.


VPN: It’s not just for Canadians. :)

Minimal hoop jumping. But as he asked…


I finally ordered the ASUS chromebox and it showed up today. Took less than an hour to get openELEC up and running. I am still amazed how fast it launches from a cold boot and standby with the custom firmware. Way faster than my w7 box.

Power usage was my primary concern here. My old htpc is more of a gaming machine but 95% of the time we just used xbmc. So I just went from an average 150w (yes, just using xbmc) to 15w max. Basically given my electricity costs it should pay for itself in less than 6 months.

I still have to setup flirc which is the part I am dreading the most. IR mappings are so tedious.


That’s the point of the flirc. It’s super easy. You just map the keyboard commands to buttons on your remote.


Just wanted to thank everyone for the XBMC suggestions. I had foot surgery and am off work ( and off my feet ) for 2 months of recovery. XBMC has been a god send during my recovery time. If it wasnt for sports programming I would cut the cable in a heart beat. As it is I am weighing the various costs involved with covering my sports to see if there’s a less expensive alternative. Im sure there is and then its bye bye cable!


If I was contemplating purchasing a Chromebox/NUC/BriX box for steam streaming and possibly XBMC, what box would you guys suggest? Ideally cheap, but not so cheap that the box itself is crap. If it matters, I already have a hard drive, but would need to get RAM, etc.

EDIT: is the Chromebox recommended upthread still the best option?


It’s not the best option for all uses, no. If you need Amazon/Hulu/Netflix the FireTV is a better option, but it won’t do Steam streaming. The Chromebox is the most cost effective no-compromise Kodi (XBMC’s new name) device, and it’ll handle Steam streaming just fine too.

There is no solution that runs Kodi well, streams games on Steam, and offers a great 10 foot Netflix/Hulu/Amazon UI. Best you can do is two out of three.


Flirc itself was pretty easy. The gui is distorted in W8 even with the anti high dpi display setting and it’s impossible? to see what if anything is already assigned to a keypress but otherwise it was pretty nice to work with.

No, the real issue in my case is the multi room URC MSC-400 setup I have. Which actually wasn’t much of a problem, the real issue here was the legacy MS remote setting I was already using for my existing XBMC and Mediaportal setups. Found a very annoying issue with all MS IR codes and the FLIRC, they ignore every other keypress. The suggested methods didn’t work to fix the issue (probably because of my complicated IR relay setup) so I had to switch over to using an LG TV set of IR codes which worked great.

It’s always something with IR, it’s why I hate messing with it.


Flirc UI worked fine in win8 for me, but I don’t have a high DPI monitor.

That’s the beauty of the Flirc, you can pick up a remote in the back of your drawer for a VCR you threw out 15 years ago and use it instead.


I picked up an i5 NUC for these duties, running Win8/XBMC/Steam, etc, but an OpenElec i3 Chromebox seems like a much more economic alternative if you’re going all-streaming. I take it the Linux Steam client works fine on OpenElec?


Yeah the NUC is huge overkill for a streaming box, you could have saved a lot of money.

You can get steam to run on openelec with a bit of effort, but you’re probably better off just installing ubuntu.

Also Netflix now works in Chrome for Linux without WINE. Got it working flawlessly myself with full remote control. So one major compromise of linux vs. amazon firetv is now gone.


I did want more local storage, so the wife and kids could get to shows if there are ever any network issues, but yeah… Ubuntu, w/ Steam and XBMC on an i3 Chromebox connected to the NAS would’ve saved a couple hundred bucks.


The chromebox’s internal storage and RAM are both expandable. You can pop in your own RAM and M.2 SSD, if you want. No particular reason to do so for a streaming box, but it’s an option.


Say, how are you using browser based Netflix via remote? Assigning keyboard commands w/ Flirc?


Using irxevent. Instructions here.

Flirc would work too, but you need to map space to play/pause in XBMC and left/right to skip left/right.

Actually come to think of it, you may not need to do much with the Flirc, since those same buttons should work in XBMC proper. You will need to map a button to “CRTL-W” to close Chrome, but that ought to be it.