is Tivo Home Media Engine and what is this web page?
The Tivo folks have basically opened up the Series 2 platform to developers
to allow a variety of PC/Tivo interactions. That broad mission falls
under the name Home Media Engine, or HME. This web page is intended
to clue you in to HME functionality and setup, link some top applications,
and point the programmers amongst us in the right direction. At the
moment HME apps will run off your home computers... getting info off
Tivo and/or sending info to Tivo. Eventually Tivo company servers and
perhaps other companies will host applications. Mac and Linux users
of the world rejoice - HME is platform agnostic. All kinds of cool widgets
are already available such as Google Maps, your Netflix queue, and iTunes
controlled and displayed through the TV screen courtesy of your Tivo
box. Currently, Home Network Applications are free for the taking but
expect this to change as they get more polish and power.
sounds pretty cool, how do I get it?
If you have a networked Series 2 stand-alone Tivo unit (without a DVD
burner) and a computer, you're all set. HME itself is free free free,
though it's currently a hidden beta of system software 7.1 - otherwise
officially known as a Developer's Release. In order to get HME up and
running you need only three small things:
1. Activate HME on your Tivo unit.
2. Install Java on your home computer.
3. Run some sort of Home Network Application.
1. To turn HME with system software 7.1 on you must navigate to Tivo
Central > Setup > System Information and press clear, clear,
0, 0 on your remote. You will not hear any sort of audio confirmation,
but if you go back to Tivo Central you should now see Music, Photos,
& More listed instead of Music & Photos. If your Tivo is rebooted,
you will have to follow these steps again to reactivate HME.
With system software 7.2 navigate to Tivo Central > Music, Photos
& More and Enable Home Network Applications.
2. You'll need to download and install the current runtime version
of Java. Many
computers come preinstalled with Java and many webpages require it
- so you may already have it on your system.
3. Currently you will be hosting HME applications on your computer,
so these have to be run through your web browser or downloaded. When
HME goes live in the near future Tivo, and ultimately other companies,
will also be hosting apps.
If you haven't already enabled transfers on your Tivo for
either Tivo To Go or Multi-Room Viewing (MRV), then you need to Manage
Your Tivo at Tivo Central Online to allow transfers. If you're
already using TTG or MRV, no worries here.
System software 7.2 enables HME on all Series 2 units, including
DVD-burning models. You can sign up for the software priority list
are the good apps?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder! Actually I do have a few HNA's
to recommend and a location to find others.
Matt, over at PVRBlog, has put together a page
where folks can download and rate applications. If you're a developer
looking to share your app, you can add a listing to the site. It's
not a comprehensive collection, but it's a pretty good repository
and the only one we've got until Tivo launches theirs.
The first application, or rather set of applications, you should
start off with is Tivo's
own sample set. This will help you troubleshoot HME with a known
stable, working program. It's also pretty neat. Another stable sample
to test your setup with is PonyPoker
- a simple but addictive 5 card draw poker game built by a Tivo employee.
"TivoPony" has also put together another pretty cool application
which grabs the guests of various late
night talk shows for quick reference on your Tivo.
The dude over at bitrazor.com has put together two very clever and
potentially useful apps. His Netflix
RSS Reader allows you to view various Netflix information including
your personal DVD Queue. TrafficCam
Viewer grabs those traffic camera video feeds from the region
you select and cycles through them.
since renamed AudioFaucet, was the first major application for HME.
Originally designed as a Tivo-based iTunes and AirTunes remote control
while displaying album art on the TV, it is growing to soon play music
directly through your Tivo. Get it while it's still free! Kyle was
Tivo's Grand Prize winner in the developer's challenge and has a spiffy
Segway to prove it. Maybe he'll let me ride it one day since I got
him slashdotted. ;)
Last on my list, but not certainly not least, is Galleon.
Formerly known as JavaHMO, Galleon is like a Tivo Swiss Army knife
- this thing does just about everything. Not only does it integrate
with HMO (serving up photos and music) it is extensible, allowing
you to load up other HME apps. It will even retrieve and display things
like your local weather and email on the TV - how cool is that?
sucks, why won't it work?
Remember... HME is still in its infancy - you're working with an early
release. Because of that there are times when you Tivo or computer
may freeze or even puke. Also many of the current apps are being written
by hobbyists for fun - you're going to experience programs of varying
quality and completeness. Additionally, there are various firewall
and networking issues which may crop up and require some tweaking.
When in doubt... reboot! That goes for both the computer and the Tivo.
is a good start, what's next?
Supposedly in the next few months your Tivo will download a software
upgrade with a fully functional and enhanced version of HME (happened
8/22). Rumor has it that release will also bring both HME and
Tivo To Go support to Tivo models with DVD burners. When released
we can expect Tivo to begin hosting applications and services (hasn't
happened yet). Additionally, programs that were free may require
payment, such as the confirmed AudioFaucet. In general as time goes
on we can expect more polished, functional, and clever applications.
I'm also holding out hope that Tivo servers (via Tivo) or webpages
(via PC) will provide a centralized location to retrieve applications
from, instead of requiring us to scour the Internet for leads. In
fact Tivo is implying they may rent out space on their host computers
to serve up Home Network Apps.
a programmer, how do I write apps?
Heck if I know! My knowledge of HME programming begins and ends with
the word Java. Fortunately A. Cassidy
gonzotek of the TCF, has provided me some very good info which
I probably mangled during editing...
is a freely available development environment, like Visual Studio.
It's primarily for Java development, but can be used for other languages;
since it's extensible and open source it has a lot of features. There's
in the HME Developer's Corner that describes how to set up HME development
in Eclipse, so you can get syntax highlighting, easy compiling and
automatic launching and the like.
is a UI toolkit for HME development, and essentially is source code
and image resources for things like the scroll widgets, buttons, standard
screens, and one of those ouija board text entry gizmos (with an autocomplete
function and a dictionary of common words). To use Bananas in an app,
you would include the relevant class files into your program and call
its methods to create objects for your program's UI. There are Bananas
samples similar to the HME samples in the Bananas distribution file.
So a beginning developer should first install the latest Java
Standard Edition and the Eclipse IDE, then download the HME SDK
and the Bananas toolkit, followed by configuring the development environment
according to the instructions in the developer's corner, and finally
compile the samples from the SDK and Bananas kit to get started.
If you're an experienced Java developer, obviously you can utilize
the environment or editor of your choice with the SDKs and toolkits
provided at Tivo's
home on Sourceforge. There they are maintaining a developer community
which includes the most recent software resources, news, and mailing
lists. A fellow developer known as "F8ster" has posted some
helpful information including a Flash Eclipse
demo and a walk-thru
of building an application.