…or, in today’s installment, I am an idiot sometimes.
We had planned to have my gamerspouse and his wife over to our place today to look at vacation photos, since we racked up about 4GB of photos on our recent trip to Alaska and, well, you need to show them to people to prove you went somewhere and didn’t just sit around the house watching TV all week.
Plan A: We’ll load all the photos on to the Mac mini we have hooked up to the HDTV in the front room, then display them using iPhoto. Great plan. We’ve never used iPhoto before, but it’s a Mac, right? It actually turned out to be pretty easy to deal with, just took a while to import the photos.
Complication: We get a call. It turns out they can’t come over because a family member had to be in the hospital the night before, so they want to stick close to home in case there are any problems.
This throws a wrench in my plans, because they don’t have a handy Mac mini hooked to their TV.
This calls for:
Plan B: We’ll burn them to a DVD-video. iPhoto even has a burn to DVD option. This renders for about two hours and makes a DVD. Unfortunately, it’s really not very useful since all the photos are displayed for 5 seconds and then fade to the next photo – there’s no way to quickly flip through photos. Also, it means that all the nice high res photos are now downsized to DVD resolutions.
This calls for:
Plan C: We’ll put them on the Acer laptop, grab an S-video cable, and hook it in to their TV. I try this at home. It doesn’t go well, but it works… if we don’t mind having the Windows Fax & Picture viewer UI on the screen all the time. If I try to go to full-screen slideshow mode, it forces all the pictures to the laptop display. Also, over S-video, the picture is even worse than playing them off a DVD-video. Not good. But: time is short and it’s taken over an hour just to get this far, so we deal with it and I pack the laptop over and we get on the road.
We get to their house and I start setting up for the photo display session.
Complication: Their HDTV has front composite and component inputs, no S-video inputs on the front. He goes to get a flashlight so we can fiddle around behind the thing and get the laptop hooked up, and I notice the big white box staring us in the face.
Naturally enough, he has an Xbox 360.
…wait… that’s a Media Center Extender…
…I have a Media Center laptop right here…
15 minutes later, I’ve downloaded the necessary Media Center Extensions, the laptop is talking to the 360, and we’re looking at our vacation photos in 1080-lines-of-resolution-glory.
If I’d thought about it, I could have just taken over a DVD-ROM of photos, since the 360 would have happily displayed the photos right off a DVD-ROM… or even a USB flash drive.
Moral of the story: Don’t casually dismiss the extra multimedia functions of the Xbox 360, because they can save you a lot of hassle if you actually remember them.
That’s not much of a moral, I admit. You can probably adapt it to your own circumstances.