After months of deliberation, Robert and Maryam Scoble plunked down a few g’s and nabbed a Sony SXRD 50-inch HDTV set. I won’t mention that this set was recommended to them in October. Really. I won’t say a word. Anyway, it turns out that Robert’s "brain is rotting" with the stellar HDTV programming; so much so, that he isn’t even reading his RSS feeds. Of course, there’s a mobile technology solution for just about everything and I provided one to Robert last night. Well, some things are too good not to share, so this is for everyone else out there with HDTV or even a regular TV: consider using NewsGator Online’s plug-in for Windows Media Center called NewsGator MCX.
Since I read feeds and blog from multiple locations on multiple devices, a web-based RSS reader appears best for me. After previewing the new version of FeedDemon, I ended up just sticking with the free NewsGator Online version; while not perfect, it does the trick for me. What many people don’t realize is that not only can you read your feeds on multiple devices, but you can also download the free NewsGator MCX plug-in.
NewsGator synchronizes all of your feeds, a must for me wherever I am, and the MCX "version" is no different. If I read a feed in the on-line version, it won’t show up on the MCX application and vice versa. To get the MCX plug-in, you can just direct your Windows Media Center PC to this link and grab the small .msi file.
Once installed, you simply fire up the WMCE interface, navigate to "More Programs" and look for the NewsGator icon as shown below:
There’s no need to configure or add feeds since the plug-in reads your subscription list via NewsGator Online. Of course, there are recommended feeds to add including Robert’s old one before he moved his blog to WordPress.com last year. ;)
I like the ability to have your feed headlines show in a scrolling ticker down below:
Ok, so now we’ve got some feeds in a new interface, but how does this solve Robert’s problem? Well, he could hook up his WMCE computer to brand-spankin’ new HDTV set, but I can’t. See the WMCE desktop is on the second floor in my office at the house. One of my HDTVs is also on this floor, but on the opposite side of the house and our main HDTV is downstairs. This is where the Windows Media Extender functionality of the Xbox and Xbox 360 should enter…but does it?
I have a separate 802.11a wireless network in my home just for the WMCE machine and the Xbox360. I use this to stream free HDTV local channels that I get over-the-air. That’s another story for another time, but suffice it to say, I’ve got the WMCE machine and the Xbox 360 connected.
So what happens when you fire up the Xbox 360 attached to an HDTV set after installing NewsGator MCX? Unfortunately for me, the NewsGator icon doesn’t show up in the More Programs listing when using Windows Media Extender. I’ll be opening up a support ticket to see if NewsGator MCX supports this since according to the NewsGator CTO, Greg Reinacker, it should work. I’ll get an update once I find out, but suffice it to say that with a direct connection of a WMCE box, Robert could use the split screen function of his new Sony HDTV to watch HD on one side and read RSS feeds on the other. Don’t worry Maryam, I’m sure he’ll only do that during commercials! ;)