After owning a Ouya for a week I’ve returned it to Amazon for a refund. The Ouya had problems that I couldn’t get over. I could have waited and hoped some future update would have fixed those problems, but after dealing with Ouya support and reading their forums I wasn’t confident it would happen.

The Bad

Overscan

I wrote a whole post about my frustrations with overscan. The fact that it had the problem was frustrating enough, the response I received about the problem put me over the edge. This problem and the response is the majority reason I returned my Ouya.

Support

The lack of support is appalling. There are issues, such as the overscan problem,  that make the Ouya unusable for people. The response you receive, if any, is that they’re working on it. In the case of the overscan problem, it’s been about three months and three firmware updates with no fix. I did get a response about my problem with overscan, but I felt the Ouya representative was annoyed I was even bringing it up. It’s a problem with your TV after all.

The touch pad

The touch pad on the controller is an awesome concept. Their implementation is bad and almost unusable. It’s hard to reach and when you do get a finger on it the cursor flies around on the screen almost at random. Also, you have to really give it a good thump for it to detect a click.

Games

I personally didn’t care much for the games. My selection was very limited though because of the overscan problem.

The Interface

The interface was overly simplistic and somehow sluggish. I didn’t like that my side loaded apps were in a different spot than my Ouya Store apps. The store having some options to sort would be nice.

Wifi

The Ouya’s wifi is just plain bad. Side by side with an ASROCK 330 using a no name USB wifi dongle the Ouya had worse reception,  higher ping, and a slower speed. I had to use a wired connection for XBMC to properly play videos on the Ouya.

The Good

I don’t want to come off as an Ouya hating fan boy. The Ouya has some great ideas and some great qualities.

XBMC and Plex ran like champs. They self corrected for my overscan problem. They both played all of my videos without any long buffering or stutters. (once on a wired network)

The emulators are awesome. I tried everything from the Atari 2600 to the PSX, all worked fantastically and corrected for the overscan.

Where it went wrong for me

I have an old XBOX running XBMC I use for emulators, then I have an ASROCK 330 for XBMC. My hope with the Ouya was to combine those into one machine. As an emulator and XBMC box Ouya did well. The overscan and the other problems (especially the overscan) just bugged the hell out of me. I didn’t want to use something I felt was broken.

I think the Ouya as a concept will ultimately be successful. Either the Ouya 2 will correct all of the problems, or a competitor will appear that does. If nothing else, the Kickstarter shows the market for a set top entertainment device that is open and hackable, I just don’t think the current Ouya is it.

I love David Nacho Cheese flavored sunflower seeds. I used to buy them by the case in 5.25 ounce packs from Amazon. Sometime last year Amazon stopped selling them, thinking this was just Amazon being weird I found other website to fuel the addiction. As time went on they too would stop selling the big packs, eventually leaving the small packs as my only option. Something was very wrong in the world.

After a lot of Googling I only found one other person that seemed concerned, complaining and asking questions in an Amazon review to no avail. What was going on with my beloved seeds? Why wasn’t the world in an outrage?

Not being able to find any information online, I sent an email to Conagra, the folks that own David. This was the response:

It’s great to hear you enjoy our DAVID Nacho Cheese Sunflower Seeds!  I’m sorry to say we have discontinued our 5.25 ounce and 1.75 ounce sizes, but we do still have our .8 ounce size available. – Christine

Nooooooo

Sears still sells the small packs of Nacho flavored seeds.  The small packs taste the same as the large packs. For me it takes about two packs to add up to what I’ll eat in a sitting.

 

 

I’m picky about wallets. I always have and still do only keep them in my right front pocket along with my car key fob. I rarely carry cash outside of an immediate need. When it comes to wallets the smaller and thinner the better.

Dopp Regatta Wallet

Dopp Regatta 88 Series Front Getaway Pocket

I’ve had my Dopp Wallet since I was a teenager. It sets the standard by which I judge all other wallets. Its thin, it has more than enough room for all of my cards, and it has an ID window. There is plenty of room for bills.  Your cards, bills, and ID are all easy to get to, but at the same time do not accidentally fall out. My only real problem with the Dopp Regatta is that I’ve used it for 15+ years and I would like something new.

I didn’t think I could get bored with a wallet, but over the last couple of years I’ve found myself buying other wallets and trying them out.

bookbook

Twelve South BookBook

The BookBook is a wallet and phone case combo. I used it for a couple of months with my iPhone 4S. In the end I went crawling back to my trusty Dopp wallet and glow in the dark Gameboy cell case because of the thickness and the mute problem explained below.

Pros

  • It looks good.
  • It makes holding your phone while browsing the web, playing games, or whatever, comfortable.
  • I received lots of compliments from people after they saw the BookBook.

Cons

  • Between my phone and my cards it is just too thick. Depending on my pants sometimes I couldn’t sit with it in my pocket.
  • The 4S version doesn’t have a hole for the camera, I had to slide my phone out of my wallet to take a picture.
  • Whenever I would hold the phone to my face to speak sometimes it wouldn’t detect this motion and turn the screen off. This led to me constantly putting the phone on mute with my cheek. This was beyond annoying.

Russian Mario WalletRandom Russian Mario Wallet

I purchased this wallet off of some guy on the Something Awful forums. The graphic on the front made it a must buy. The wallet is made out of vinyl, the same sort pool toys are made out of. When you put a card in it the vinyl grabs on and never lets go. I had so much trouble getting the cards out of the wallet it has never left my house. Vinyl is not a good material for wallets.

The Rubber Band Method

The ultimate slim wallet is the rubber band. Problem is you look like a homeless person when you try to pay someone. I tried a rubber band out for about a day, felt stupid, and stopped. I can’t give it any technical complaints. I didn’t like for the same reason I don’t turn all of my old jeans into shorts; standards.

 

The Ridge Wallet

The Ridge: Front Pocket Wallet

I’ll confess I have a soft spot for Kickstarters. The number of interesting or just plain unique products being developed through there piques my interest. Luckily I have yet to be burned by any failures. The Ridge is a Kickstarter I funded back towards the beginning of the year and received a few weeks ago. That’s a pretty fast turn around for a Kickstarter.

The wallet is two black brushed aluminum plates held together with heavy duty elastic. It has a nice heft to it. You can buy them with a money clip attached to the side. In a pinch you could cram some bills into the clipless version. This is the wallet I am currently using.

Pros

  • I really like the way it looks. Really do.
  • It’s small, the width/height is just slightly larger than a credit card.
  • You can be all cool and scan your cards without actually taking them out of the wallet.

Cons

  • Sometimes it gets all wobber jobby with my key fob in my pocket and becomes uncomfortable, leaving me to adjust things as if I’m playing pocket pool.
  • The two metal plates that make up the sides are about four credit cards thick. If these were thinner you would have a much thinner wallet.
  • While I have zero indication this will happen after my several weeks of use, I worry about the elastic wearing out someday.

Crabby Wallet

Crabby Wallet

This is another Kickstarter wallet. I have yet to receive it. Its a lot like The Ridge, except made out of cloth. I’m hoping the cloth will improve the pocket feel and thickness of The Ridge. I’ll update once I have a chance to try it out.

Updates!

 9/17/2013: I received my Crabby Wallet and I have posted a review of it here.

2/3/2014: I’ve reviewed the Kickstarter funded Simple Wallet.

 8/26/2014: I’ve found a wallet I really like.

I get asked, and am often in need myself, of sample DICOM files in various formats. By sample I mean no weird private tags and all of the identifying patient information has been removed. The files below are part of the collection I have built up over the years.

These files can be used to test applications you write using my PHP DICOM Class and can be opened in any image viewer, such as MicroDICOM.

Click on the thumbnail to get the DICOM file.

This is a setup I used for a number years before moving to a Sickbeard, Couch Potato, and sabNZBD. In this post I will show you how to use uTorrent to download videos and separate them out by type (TV Shows, Movies) via labels. XBMC will look in the folder uTorrent places the videos in for content to play.

Make Some Directories

You’re going to need some places to store your downloads. Makes these directories on your computer:

C:\Media
C:\Media\TV Shows
C:\Media\Movies

Setting up uTorrent

The goal with uTorrent is to apply labels to the torrents you are downloading so uTorrent will sort the files into directories for you.

The first thing you want to do is set up your labels. In uTorrent go to Options->Preferences->Advanced->UI Extras. Under Persistent Labels type in TV Shows|Movies. The screen shot below is an example.

utorrent_labels

Setting up uTorrent labels

Next you want to setup uTorrent to place your downloads in an easy to find directory, and to sort those downloads into directories with the same name as your labels. With the uTorrent preferences window still open from the last step, click on Directories. Then check mark ‘Move completed downloads to:’ and also check mark ‘Append the torrent’s label’. In the text box below type in C:\Media. The screen shot below is an example.

Setting the download location

Setting the download location

Now when you queue up a TV show or movie in uTorrent, you’ll want to apply a label to it. You do this by right clicking the downloading torrent and selecting the label from the menu.

Setting a label in uTorrent

Now you’re all set with uTorrent. Whatever you download and apply a label to will be sorted into directories for you.

Setting up XBMC

In XBMC we’re going to add

Go to Videos->Files->Add Videos.  Click on Browse and find C:\Media and then click on OK twice. You’ll get to a screen about setting content, just click on OK again.

Click on Add Videos again, then Browse and find C:\Media\Movies. Click OK twice. This time on the Set Content screen, change ‘This Directory Contains’ to Movies and pock mark ‘Movies are in separate folders that match the movie title’. When done click OK and let it refresh.

set_content_movies

Now we’re going to repeat for TV shows. Click on Add Videos again, then Browse and find C:\Media\TV Shows. Click OK twice. This time on the Set Content screen, change ‘This Directory Contains’ to TV Shows. When done click OK and let it refresh.

That’s it, a dead simple setup with uTorrent feeding XBMC. The easiest way to view all of your media is to go to Videos->Files->Media in XBMC and browse from there.

 

Torrents are not safe. Your IP address is visible to all. Eventually you will be caught and copyright infringement notices will be sent to your ISP. Using an Usenet Provider will not only protect you but allow you to download faster. I recommend NewsgroupDirect.

Short Answer: It’s really good.

I’ve been trying out XBMC on Ouya for the last few days. Overall I’m happy with it.

I’m using the Ouya on my den TV, a Vizio WV42LHDTVa, via HDMI. The Ouya is on a gigabit wired connection. XBMC is configured for a shared library via a MySQL server. The videos and thumbnails are stored on a SMB share on the same wired network.

The video quality is good. When using wifi it would take a good while to start videos and occasionally I would get a stutter during playback. Fortunately I already had a wired connection behind my TV and moving to that wired connection solved the problem. The odd thing about this is that the XBMC box that the Ouya is replacing had a USB wifi card that didn’t have those problems.

Sound is good for me, but considering I’m just using the built in speakers in my TV I’m not saying much.

The UI is snappy. Only complaint is that I wish I had a remote instead of a controller. I would bet that we see some strong USB remote support in the future.

What don’t I like? Not much really. I mentioned the remote support. Some of my thumbnail art is not displaying, though I would bet this is because the library is from XBMC 12 and the Ouya is running version 13. I wish the Ouya had a better interface for launching XBMC. Being able to put it in an easy to get to favorites or even the play menu would be nice.

 

I have a shared MySQL database library for the various XBMC installs I have. One of the reasons I purchased an Ouya was as a cheap replacement to an older XBMC box I had. Things got interesting when I tried to edit my advancedsettings.xml file on the Ouya. How to do it? There isn’t a text editor or SSH access. I had to copy the file from the Ouya to another PC, edit it with what I needed, and then copy it back.

Keep in mind that what I’m going to describe below will install XBMC version 13 on the Ouya. If the other installs around your house are not using version 13 this may mess up your database. I had version 12 installs and my DB was fine, good luck!

  1. Backup your XBMC database.
  2. Install XBMC for Ouya. This is a dead simple tutorial that worked for me.
  3. If you don’t have one already, create a shared folder on your PC. This is where we will put the advancedsettings.xml for editing.
  4. On the Ouya, launch XBMC. Go to Settings->Appearance->File Lists and pock mark ‘Show hidden files and directories’.
  5. Go back to the main XBMC menu, go to Settings and then File Manager
  6. Add two sources, one should be the shared folder on your PC, the other should the userdata XBMC folder on the Ouya.
  7. The XBMC folder on the Ouya is /sdcard/Android/data/org.xbmc.xbmc/files/.xbmc/userdata
  8. In the shared folder on your PC, make an advancedsettings.xml file. I just copied one from another XBMC install.
  9. Back on the Ouya, copy the advancedsettings.xml file into the userdata folder. Do this by highlighting the file, then pressing the Ouya button on the controller, then select copy from the menu that pops up.
  10. Exit and then restart the Ouya. You’re done.
Getting to the built in file manager

Getting to the built in file manager

Showing all files

Showing all files

Copying Files

Copying Files

 

 

I recently purchased the retail version of the Ouya console. I had some high hopes of using it as a cheap XBMC box and emulator console. Sadly, as soon as I turned it on I noticed a glaring problem, I have about %5 overscan on all sides of my TV.

Ouya Overscan

Not cool at all

I’m not the only person with this problem according to the Internet. There are several posts on Reddit and the Ouya  forums from others. Ouya originally took the stance that the overscan problem was the TVs fault. Now, I can see where technically it is, but every other device I have plugged into this TV has worked fine. In my opinion, if several other consoles, computers, and DVD players work OK and the Ouya does not, then its the Ouya with the problem.

My TV has no option to turn off overscan, this includes its service menu. Interestingly, I have another, newer, Vizio TV that works OK with the Ouya.

Ouya has made an attempt to recognize the problem. The Ouya has a whole section of the video menu about overscan fixes you can do in your TV. In this menu is also an ‘Overscan Compensation’ setting you can turn on or off that does nothing.

The good news in this situation is that XBMC has its own method for changing the screen size to compensate for overscan.  In Settings/System you’ll find Video Calibration. It’ll allow you to move some arrows around on your screen to fit the video to your display. I really wish Ouya had something like this built in. Several game makers have recognized this problem and have made changes to their games to fix (Bomb Squad for instance).

What to do? I really want to like the Ouya. I’ve followed it since the Kickstarter, looking forward to buying it for almost a year. I’m torn between hoping and waiting for a fix or just sending it back to Amazon for a refund.

Ouya Support thread about Overscan