Rasberry Pi with Raspbmc and AirPlay Rocks!

Raspberry Pi Logo

I’m very excited to play with a Raspberry Pi and see how a tiny computer the size of an iPhone screen would stream to a HDTV movies and other media using AirPlay. If you do not want to get an Apple TV to have AirPlay this is a good alternative. The actual size of a Raspberry Pi is 85.60 × 53.98 mm (3.370 × 2.125 in). This small computer has 2 USB ports, HDMI for video, ethernet port for network and a SD card slot for storage. It just requires a 500 to 700 mA power source to operate which can be provided by common USB ports.

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Raspberry Pi Features and Specifications

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Raspberry Pi with power and ports plugged in


Raspbmc is a complete installer of XBMC for the Raspberry Pi. XBMC is a free software media player that is available for Linux, OSX and Windows. Raspberry Pi runs on Linux which can be installed with XBMC. Raspbmc made an installer to run XBMC with a Raspberry Pi. It has a Windows and Linux/OSX installer which is very easy to follow.

Installation of Raspbmc

I have an OSX machine so I’ve followed the one for Linux/OS X installation guide from Raspbmc. But there is also available guide for Windows installation here.

Basically from your OS X machine, you need to download the installer and then run the installer (install.py) as root.

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After making sure the SD card is inserted in your OS X machine, you can proceed with the next step which is copying the Raspbmc image to your SD card.

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Configuration of Raspbmc

Insert the SD card with Raspbmc image to your Raspberry Pi and power it on.

Raspbmc will boot and install additional settings so grab a coffee and wait!

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After installation you will see the menu page for Raspbmc.

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Do not forget to enable the “Allow XBMC to receive AirPlay content” option. Go to Settings – Services – AirPlay.

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From your iPad or any iOS device with AirPlay you will now have an option to stream to XBMC.

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Playing YouTube video from the iPad to a HDTV using AirPlay.

iTunes can also stream using AirPlay your videos and podcasts.

Airplay with iTunes

Since my MacBook Pro is not capable of AirPlay (AirPlay only supports Mac models 2011 and up). I’m using Air Video Server App to stream my movies from my MacBook Pro to my iPad and then from my iPad use AirPlay to stream to my HDTV.

AirPlay iPad with Air Video Server

Thank you to Scott Hanselman’s post on Raspberry Pi with Raspbmc for the information and inspiration 🙂 Raspberry Pi with Raspbmc rocks!

The New iPad Unboxing – My First iPad

Retina logo

I’m one of those persons that did not get it when the first generation iPad was launched in 2010. That time I thought why would someone use such a device for computing and daily consumption of media. I really agree back then with the comment that its a super sized iPod Touch! 🙂 I like ultra portable devices which I can carry in my pocket and discreetly use it whenever I need it for email, internet and games – that’s why I have my iPhone. If I want to use a bigger screen there is my ever reliable Macbook Pro, so I do not need an iPad.

iPad 2

When iPad 2 was released in 2011, I considered getting one because of the improvements in its form factor. It was 33% thinner and 15% lighter than the first iPad. The problem is it still uses the same screen resolution from the first iPad. Games and apps will still look the same in the screen with the same image quality. Nice improvements but not enough to snatch my 30K pesos. I decided not to get one.

My First iPad

When the new iPad was launched last month, everyone is expecting that it will have an improved screen resolution. Same as the Retina display used with the last two recent iPhone versions – iPhone 4/4S. Even the invite from Apple indicates that the screen has to be the main feature that will be upgraded. That is how much everyone wants the Retina display to be in a 9.7 inch screen like the iPad, even Apple knows they have to highlight that feature.

The upgraded processor, memory and camera is nothing compared with the upgrade to the Retina display feature in my opinion. What will the iPad look like if no Retina display was used in this version? An iPad 2S!

I was able to get a friend order the new iPad in the States last March 7. It was released and delivered in the States on the 16th. I got an iPad White 32GB Wifi only. I’m not too optimistic that 4G will be “fully” implemented in the Philippines soon. Anyway, I’m so excited that I even made sure to check everyday that the order did pushed through. After waiting for 2 weeks, I got my very first iPad unit!


Ipad box
iPad still sealed in the box

Ipad box cut
iPad first cut through to the box

Ipad lift from box
iPad first lift from the box

Ipad front
iPad front, first hands-on

Ipad accessories in box
iPad accessories inside the box

Ipad plastic peel off
iPad first peel of plastic

Ipad back buttons
iPad usual buttons at the back

Ipad Thank you Setup
iPad after user setup

iPad Retina Display


Some noteworthy reviews from the experts.

The Retina display is worth the wait. I would not want to have anything less than an HD screen on my next tablet for sure. Widescreen resolution next for iPad? There is a lot to look forward to for 2012 as Tim Cook said from his last keynote. Do not worry about me for now, I’m a happy camper with my new iPad.


Kindle Fire Stuck at Boot Logo – Solved!

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My Kindle Fire suddenly went into a loop during boot. It’s just showing the Kindle Fire logo (with animation) at start up and it just stays there. No home screen, no slide to unlock screen. My Kindle Fire unit was not rooted so I was not expecting anything like a boot loop. If anything messed up the firmware it should be the automatic update from Amazon. Kindle Fire Software Version 6.3 as of this writing.

Again my Kindle Fire was not rooted but I know the base system is Android 2.3 so I decided to do some tinkering about Android. I have some knowledge about Android due to past gadgets that I have rooted with the help of the guys from XDA. They have a dedicated section for Kindle Fire Android Development, good news (for my Kindle Fire)!


Android Debug Bridge is part of the Android SDK which is often used for manual rooting of Android devices. I have my Mac and Windows machine installed with ADB so I can switch from either system to connect to an Android device. In this case with my Kindle Fire, I was able to connect using ADB even it is stuck in the boot logo. That is a good sign.

Issuing a adb shell command gives a “$” prompts which indicates that I’m not rooted. I cannot do much if I’m not rooted so I tried the following methods to root my unit.

Methods I’ve Tried

Kindle Fire Utility

Kindle Fire Utility Screen

One of the popular Kindle tools in XDA is the Kindle Fire Utility. The tool is written using Windows batch file which means its a Windows only method. I’ve tried option 3 which is to “Install Permanent Root with Superuser”. No response from my Kindle Fire and the tool seems to be waiting for my Kindle Fire to respond as well. Hmmm, not working!


SuperOneClick Screen

I’ve tried SuperOneClick before to root my Nook Tablet. Since the SuperOneClick tool is a generic rooting tool, I thought I could try using it to root my Kindle Fire. I’ve clicked root, but again no response. SuperOneClick even went to “Not Responding”. Not working.

Kindle Unbrick Utility

I noticed the tools I’ve used cannot even go into the first step of rooting. Which means the loop happens even before the actual system is booted. I tried searching other tools and I found the Kindle Unbrick utility. I like the name, sounds very helpful in times of desperation.

Kindle Fire Unbrick Utility Screen

I’ve tried the “Stuck at Logo” option. No response again. Maybe I’m missing something, so I went digging further to the commands used by the tool. Found that it is using this command:

FilesandTools\adb shell idme bootmode 4000
FilesandTools\adb shell reboot

Since my Kindle Fire is having a boot loop, it just makes sense that I need to change a mode in the way it is booting. I need to change the boot method to go to fast boot.

Fastboot Mode

There is a post in XDA about Fastboot mode without rooting or cables which have the code needed to run to be able to fast boot to a Kindle Fire.

adb push fbmode /data/local/tmp
adb shell chmod 755 /data/local/tmp/fbmode
adb shell /data/local/tmp/fbmode
adb reboot

The problem is when I issue this command, I still get no response from my Kindle Fire. ADB is not responding as well. What to do now?

The Solution

Since there is a boot loop, I need to get ahead of the Kindle Fire boot step where I can issue the ADB commands before it goes into the loop. I restarted my Kindle Fire while it is connected to my machine through a USB. I left the ADB command prompt open and while the Kindle Fire is restarting I am issuing the adb push fbmode /data/local/tmp command. I got several errors that there was no device. On one of my attempts I was able to get a confirmation that the fbmode file was sent to the Kindle Fire (screen will show bytes transferred).

Lo and behold my Kindle Fire is now in the home screen! The key is to issue the adb push fbmode command before it gets into a boot loop.

This is technique is not documented to my knowledge until now. I’m blogging this technique as my contribution to the Android developers in XDA 🙂 Hope this helps!


Kingston Wi-Drive Portable Media Storage

Wi Drive logo

Kingston Wi-Drive Portable Media Storage

I have a Kindle Fire and just recently found the 8GB capacity a challenge in storing media especially movie files. No option now for other higher capacity Kindle Fire model, maybe soon? Well, Kingston Wi-Drive is an option.

It seems Kingston also has the same problem so they created a solution to extend the storage capacity wirelessly of iPad, iPod, iPhone and now recently Kingston released the Kingston Wi-Drive app version for Amazon App store and Android.

Why do you need a Kingston Wi-Drive?

  • need more space
  • need mobile media server
  • need to share media storage up to 3 users

The Kingston Wi-Drive has compatible 802.11 g/n with WPA/WEP security. It supports most of document and media file formats –

  • Wireless Network Interface – Wi-Fi 802.11g/n with wireless security (WPA/WEP)
  • Supported File Formats: tiff Document: pdf, doc, docx, ppt, pptx, txt, rtf, xls
  • Supported File Formats: Audio: AAC, MP3, WAV Video: m4v, mov, Motion JPEG (M-JPEG), AVI Image: jpg, bmp
  • Compatible with Kindle Fire, iPad, iPhone 3G/3GS/4, iPod touch (3G is limited to iOS4.2.1+)

Kingson Wi-Drive Hands On

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Kingston Wi-Drive box on hand

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Kingston Wi-Drive size comparison to iPhone. Kingston Wi-Drive just a bit longer.

Get started

Connect the Kingston Wi-Drive to your PC/Mac using USB cable that came with the box. It will appear as another drive.

WiDrive Copy Files

Copy your files to the root folder.

Download the Kingston Wi-Drive App from Apple App Store, Amazon App Store or the Android Market depending on your device.

WiDrive App Icon

App store logos


A little demo with my Kindle Fire and iPhone

Home screen of the application will show the files you have copied to the Kingston Wi-Drive.WiDrive App Explore

You can see that I’m playing a video on my Kindle Fire and playing a song on my iPhone 4. Both media streaming from the Kingston Wi-Drive. Works smoothly!

WiDrive Media Playback

The Kingston Wi-Drive is really lightweight and can easily be carried in your pocket. I’m just concerned of the way it gets hot when in use. Just do not put it in your pocket for hours when in use.

Now a desktop application for Windows and Mac would be cool. That way you can easily back up your desktop files over wifi (mobile NAS) without the need for USB port or internet access for cloud storage.

I got it for 3,500 pesos for 16GB. There is also a 32GB for 5,000 pesos. Search in sulit.com.ph or other local online stores.