Tag Archives: ps3

How To Stream Rhapsody On Your PS3

Update 4/3/2010:

First, you should go to http://getsatisfaction.com/rhapsody/topics/playstation_3_issue and vote for PS3 support for Rhapsody. That’s Rhapsody’s official support site where they admit the PS3 is not supported. You don’t even need an account, you can sign in via OpenId, Facebook, etc. If everyone who visits this page votes for it, it will be their top priority in no time.

Second, Orb doesn’t seem to work anymore. I am now running on a new machine with Win7 x64. I grabbed the latest (2.50) Orb and after installing it, my PS3 couldn’t see the Orb media server (but WMP could). I backed down to 2.0 and the PS3 saw it, but complained it was unsupported media. I then tried going to the mycast.orb.com website (on my PS3) and signing in, which is the current recommendation for PS3 users, but the player plugin doesn’t work. (On Firefox on my PC there is no plugin, rather it tries to download the .asx file which only WMP can play.) So at this point it’s simply not working and I don’t know if it’s Rhapsody’s horrid DRM or Sony’s lousy PS3 browser or Flash support. I filled out a tech support ticket, maybe I’ll hear from them on Monday. But note that recent commenters have gotten it to work, so YMMV.

OK, this is big. Well, to some people. I’ve wanted to get Rhapsody on my PS3 for a while now, but it doesn’t support the Plays for Sure DRM. I’ve shared my Rhapsody library via the Windows Media Player streaming media server, but although I can see the files, I always get an error that the media is unsupported.

Enter Orb. This is yet another streaming media server. It appears that its main purpose is to share your library across the internet, so when you’re not at home you can still access the files on your desktop by visiting your personal Orb web page.

However, it also offers a UPnP server that allows you to browse shared directories with gaming consoles like the PS3. Unlike other UPnP servers (like the ones that come with Rhapsody and WMP), this allows you to play DRM-protected tracks. (As panarican mentions below, this includes subscription tracks. In fact, I’m a Rhapsody To Go member with a Sansa e280 so I haven’t purchased any tracks from Rhapsody.)

Here are the steps:

  1. Download Orb
  2. Run the installer. When it asks you if you want to set up support for gaming consoles like the PS3, say yes (duh). You must also sign up for an account that you won’t use, but oh well.
  3. Find the Orb icon in the task tray. Right click and select Configuration. Under the Media tab, choose the directories you want to share. Initially, I went to the web page and got rather frustrated when I couldn’t find a way to include/exclude directories.
  4. Fire up your PS3 and browse for your the Orb media server. You should see your folders and files. If you don’t, don’t panic! When I first visited my collection, the folders were there, but the files didn’t show up. I assumed it just didn’t work, or that I needed to change the transcoding format (somewhere along the way I chose Windows .asx; I think that was on the web page). A couple hours later my housemate was browsing through again and the files were showing up! When he selected one, it took a few seconds (buffering?) but it actually played!

I haven’t tried playlists yet, and I’m a little curious if it will go from track to track without a long load time.

So there you have it. Yeah, it’s not as good as a true Rhapsody client like the Sonos system or a Tivo HD XL. With those, you can actually browse Rhapsody as you do with the desktop client or their website. The Orb method isn’t much different from loading up your Sansa and connecting it to your receiver, which I’ve also done. But this way you don’t have to worry about batteries going dead or even transferring tracks beforehand. It’s much nicer for impromptu playing.

If this stuff interests you, you might also want to learn about my troubles with HDCP and the PS3.

HDCP Was Created By Satan

This is the story of how to waste an afternoon.

My housemate and I were trying to hook up his HTPC to our home theater system, as an internet search suggested that the PS3 couldn’t play MKV files, so it seemed streaming was out. The home theater is built into the wall (not my doing, we’re renting), and working on it is a tremendous pain in the ass. It already had an HD DVR and a PS3 connected to a 6.1 Onkyo receiver, which outputs to a TV. Both the receiver and the TV are 6+ years old and don’t have HDMI; heck, the TV is only 720P. However, the HTPC outputs via HDMI. We figured the only way to do this would be to swap in his newer HDMI-capable receiver for the old one. Then we hook up everything and output to the TV via component. What could go wrong?

I change out the receiver (again, huge PITA), and while I’m doing this, I decide to change the PS3 connection from component to HDMI. See, the PS3 will output HD through component, but won’t upconvert normal DVDs to HD unless you output via HDMI. HDMI requires HDCP, or high-bandwidth digital content protection. Apparently, they’re afraid you’re going to upconvert your legal/legit DVD of Spiderman to HD, then run it through an HD recorder/digitizer that has component inputs1, then… destroy all of Hollywood! Yes, it stops you from doing even fair use copying. And yes, you can pop that DVD into your computer and do the same thing, only way, way easier. So anyway, if you want your old SD DVDs nice and sharp on your HDTV, you gotta use the HDMI connector. No problem!

After all is hooked up, I test out the DVR – component in, component out – and it looks fine. I then try the PS3, and I’m getting no video. Audio yes, but no video. I connect it to a TV that has HDMI, verify it works, set HDMI to the default output, and hook it back up to the receiver. Still no dice. Perhaps the receiver is not HDCP compliant? The PS3 no likey da Onkyo? With a heavy heart, I read the manual for the receiver.

Turns out, the receiver is HDCP compliant. In fact, it’s so fucking compliant that it refuses to output video from an HDMI input to a component output! It’s essentially saying, “Your TV isn’t good enough to date my video signal.” Well my TV may not come from the best side of town, but your video signal is a whore! A filthy, corporate whore!

Sorry, where was I? Doesn’t matter. At this point, there appeared to be only two solutions:

  1. Replace the TV. There is some merit to this idea, but that would cost me $2,000 and it’s not even my TV.
  2. Buy an HDMI to component converter with an HDCP stripper. At first blush, this sounds great, due in no small part to the word stripper. It would make the PS3 think it was connected to an HDCP display, which is just what we need. Unfortunately, these cost $200-300, which is almost what I paid for the damn PS3. It’s also the cost of an actual stripper. Gotta think about that one.

Sadly, I went with Option C: go back to the all component setup and forgo dreams of sharper DVDs and HTPC goodness.2

Then, just for shits and giggles, my roommate downloads and configures TVersity on his desktop and shares a few MKV movies. We point the PS3 at his server and voila! the movies play! Now, they seem to be maxing out the wifi connection, so we may need to lower the quality to optimize for speed. And I’ve been hearing more good things about PS3 Media Server than TVersity, so perhaps we’ll give that a try. But the bottom line is, we never needed to swap anything out for this to work. And if I had just read the fucking Onkyo manual, I never would have bothered. But really, if Satan hadn’t invented HDCP, everything would have worked perfectly.

  1. Which are rare, but the Hauppauge HD-PVR looks interesting. []
  2. Note: since I had just set the PS3 to output via HDMI, I had to keep my finger on the power button for 5 seconds on startup to reset the display settings. Then reset them to match the TV, etc. []

Street Fighter IV Fight Sticks (and X-Arcade Modding)

This past weekend I got to play Street Fighter IV on an Xbox 360. I only played two matches before deciding I must get this for my PS3. It also seemed like a good time get my X-Arcade stick out of hiding for this. For some ridiculous reason, though, I thought I’d see how the old stick stacks up against the new crop coming out. I learned a lot and I’m sharing it here before I forget it all.

The following is a summary of the sticks to buy for fighting games and the parts to use to mod/upgrade your X-Arcade stick for SF4. At the end, I’ll list any references that I don’t link in-line.
Continue reading Street Fighter IV Fight Sticks (and X-Arcade Modding)

The PS3 Purchase Roller Coaster

As you might have read, I want a PS3 real bad. Well, I ordered one today, paying more than I wanted to. Here’s with how it happened:

  • About a month ago I learn of the PS3 MGS4 bundle and verify it’s a good deal at $500. The guy at my local GameStop says the demand won’t be huge so I should have no problems picking one up when it comes out on 6/12. I didn’t detect any sarcasm.
  • Shortly after this, I register with Amazon to notify me when they’ll be getting it. I really don’t want to get it from Amazon because of shipping and waiting, but I figure this couldn’t hurt.
  • Amazon sends me an email yesterday stating that they’ll have limited quantities on 6/6 at 10am. Wow, I can get one early! I call up a few GameStops who unequivocally tell me they will not be getting any early, and hint that even if they did they wouldn’t sell it to me. Bastards. Clearly, they’ve bought them all and have them at home already.
  • I get ready to buy from Amazon, setting up One Click to use standard shipping. I see there’s a notice on the product page that there will be limited quantities and great demand across the country, so it will sell out quickly. Huh. That’s not good. Still, I’m ready get buy it tomorrow and receive it 6/12 the latest.
  • 9:30am. I’m online and ready to buy, refreshing every few minutes. Computer clock is synchronized with the government’s atomic clock. I see comments popping up in the review section and product forum. Somebody brags that he pre-ordered it from GameStop. Pre-order? What a fool! Doesn’t he know Amazon will have them on sale today?
  • 10am. After a few more refreshes, the page changes. “You can preorder this item for $499 and get Super Saver shipping.” Preorder? You didn’t say preorder, you said order! WHAT THE FUCK?!?! HULK SMASH!!!
  • 10:02am. I check GameStop. As the braggart noted, they have it for preorder, but it’s $560. Someone in the Amazon forum notes the free shipping gave him a ship date of 6/17. I don’t want it to take forever to get here, and I don’t want a markup. This sucks.
  • 10:05am. On Amazon, I click preorder. “The item you have chosen is no longer available from that seller.” You’re that seller, asshole! Aaaagh! It’s sold out. From the forum posts, it looks like it took maybe 2 minutes.
  • I check Circuit City, they don’t even have it listed. Time is running out and GS is my only option. I call up the local GS again: can I order it in store to avoid shipping charges (and ensure it isn’t stolen off my front steps)? No, online only. I bite the bullet.

So I went from paying $500 plus shipping and getting it before 6/12 to paying $630 and getting it on Friday the 13th. I thought GS was price gouging with the $60 difference, but it turns out they forced customers to also buy the MGS4 bluetooth headset. While I’ll soon need a bluetooth headset for the California hands-free law, I was not planning on getting one that looks like it belongs in some little kid’s playset:

Metal Gear Solid Bluetooth Headset

While I would have gone with something from Jabra or Plantronics, this is made from some company I’ve never heard of. On the plus side, I’m all set to play Buck fucking Rogers with the neighborhood kids.

Still Hating Sony

So I want a Blu-Ray player, and the PS3 appeared to be the logical choice. After considering the setup and looking at the features, I’m not so sure.

The house where I’m staying has the TV (a 70″ Sony LCD rear projection) set into the wall. The A/V components are above it on a shelf also set into the wall; it’s a sort of cubby hole. There is a hole between the components and the TV where wires are fed. It’s the kind of setup that, when you have to modify the wiring, you start by staring at the system for five minutes, mutter “Fuck me,” and then try to find a way to not do that.

I thought I had accomplished that. There’s an existing DVD player, and it’s connected with component cables, so it thought I could just do a drop in replacement with the PS3.

Not so fast. The PS3 does not have direct component out. It has a proprietary analog A/V connection, which forces you to buy a special cable for $20. You can’t just use your existing cables and plug them right in. If you’re in my situation, or the cable is too short (which it might be since they don’t tell you how long it is!), you need a component video coupler. This is a set of 3 RCA female-to-female connectors, known amongst electrical engineers as a lesbian 3-way adapter. Luckily, it’s only $4 at Radio Shack. So I gotta shell out another $24 bucks I shouldn’t need to, but I can live with that.

What I can’t live with is the PS3 Blu-Ray remote. It’s Bluetooth, not infrared. Yes, this means you don’t need need to point it at the console – but who isn’t trained to do that anyway? I already shelled out $160 for a Universal Automator remote with macros, volume punch through, etc. The BR remote isn’t even back-lit. And there’s no one-touch power off, meaning that even if it did have infrared support, you couldn’t use macros to turn it off.

So as much as it pains me, I think I’m going to have to pass on the PS3 and go with a straight up BD player. Hopefully they have some that fully support BD-J. For me, that was the big selling point for the PS3. Of course, the games wouldn’t hurt, assuming it gets some good ones.