On the Couch: TravisTX
On the couch with us today is TravisTX, or Travis Collins to those of you who are still plugged in. He will be shining some light into how and why he has helped MediaPortal itself, as well as it's community. Most of you are already familiar with him from his work on Moving Pictures, Pandora Music Box as well as follw.it. Let's see if we can get to know him better.
Now some of you might have noticed that I myself am from Texas, and this will be 2 out of the first three people I have put on the couch are also from Texas. I assure you, this was not by design. It is not part of our evil plan for Texas to take over the world. Let's face it... we are just not that clever to have added this in advance. We just got lucky.
Go, Texas MediaPortal!
How did you become interested in HTPCs?
Around 2000, I was experimenting with what was basically a home brew HTPC (although I didn’t know that term at the time). I had my pc connected to my tv via svideo as a second monitor, and I would drag full screen videos over to it. Eventually I wrote my own Visual Basic app to run in a full screen window on the second monitor. It was very rudimentary, basically list boxes with giant fonts, to iterate my mp3 playlists, and a handful of movies. Most movies were stored on VCDs which would auto-play when inserted, because hard drive space was too expensive at the time.
I kind of gave up on this for several years until much more impressive software started showing up.
How did you first find MediaPortal?
I probably came at this from a very different angle than most people. I was specifically looking for a open source project that I could start contributing to. I preferred .NET, and something fun. My research led me to HTPC’s, and MediaPortal specifically.
Chat log from Jul 25, 2008
|TravisTX: so i found a home theater pc front end software that's open source, written in .NET and has a plugin extensibility model. so far it seems like a better fit for me than windows media center. i dont have a home theater pc yet, but i was playing around with the software yesterday, it's pretty cool
davidaredding: why is it better than a windows media center PC
TravisTX: because it's more extensible, and open source
i can add to it using the plugins that ppl have written, or if i really want somethinhg that's not on there, i could write my own plugins in .net
What is your favorite feature of MediaPortal?
The plugin model. I understand the temptation of some other platforms to try to bake everything into the core product, but I really believe the plugin model encourages innovation at a much more rapid pace.
What are some of your favorite plugins?
Fanart Handler Really brings other plugins to life by providing excellent background images, and letting the host plugin focus on things they are good at.
Extensions How cool is it that we can install plugins and extensions from within the GUI.
Pandora MusicBox Listen to the Pandora music service from within MediaPortal. This one is for US only. (disclosure, I helped write that one)
What is your MediaPortal set up like?
Something like this:
What MediaPortal projects have you been involved in?
Moving Pictures: I started out by contributing patches to Moving Pictures, and quickly gained commit permissions. This was a huge deal for me, someone kinda sorta trusted me! I worked on the parental controls, sorting, media info, and some other features.
Pandora MusicBox: I cowrote this plugin with fforde. (he did the hard parts) Pandora MusicBox is for listening to the Pandora music service in MediaPortal.
I have submitted a few patches which have been accepted to the MediaPortal project as well.
What MediaPortal projects are you currently active in?
follw.it pretty much consumes me lately. This has evolved into much more than we imagined, and I’m loving every step along the way. For those that don’t know, the website started out as a social extension to the Moving Pictures plugin. It has since taken on a life of it’s own, with users from Moving Pictures, MP-TVSeries, Media Browser (for Windows Media Center), and most recently, Netflix users. Keeping up with our enthusiastic user-base really is a full-time job!
I also just created a Google Chrome extension for follw.it, which lets you manage your follw.it ratings and wish lists directly from other sites across the web.
What future MediaPortal projects do you have planned?
Deeper integration of follw.it into MediaPortal. So that you can see your friend’s ratings, reviews, site notifications, recommendations, follwing calendar, etc. There is a lot of potential to be had there. The follw.it API is now public, so maybe someone from the community could help out here. ;-)
What do you do for a living?
I am a .NET developer at a mortgage company, mostly focusing on web applications using ASP.NET.
What are your top 5 favorite TV shows of all time?
In no particular order:
It’s a shame that it was cut so short, but at least everything they left us with is pure gold.
Futurama is a very smart and witty comedy. I was so glad when they brought this show back on the air.
This is another smart comedy which isn’t afraid to push the envelope. Community is one of my favorites for sure.
The Office took some getting used to, but once I learned to appreciate the style of humor, The Office definitely earned a spot in my top tv shows. The jury is still out on this series for post Steve Carell, but I’m hopeful.
Breaking Bad is simply awesome. The anticipation built up by this show can be unbearable at times. Probably the best drama I’ve seen, which just keeps delivering very solid seasons.
|Game of Thrones
It had a very strong first season, and I’m very much looking forward to the future with this series.
What are your top 5 favorite movies of all time?
Again in no particular order:
I felt like The Matrix was hugely innovative for it’s time. It really set the bar for all action movies to come after it in terms of cinematography, and blending CG with live action.
I really enjoy this commentary on consumerism and masculinity told through such a dark work of fiction.
This is a classic that you can watch over and over again. To quote the movie, it has “Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles.” What else could you want?
|Star Wars (the original trilogy)
I nostalgia every time i watch it. The Star Wars trilogy still holds up as some of the best sci-fi ever made.
|The first three Indiana Jones movies
Indy is just plain awesome action / adventure. It really keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Tarantino’s dialog writing is always impressive. But top that off with an out of order timeline and some awesome gangster violence, and I’m sold.
Every time I watch it, I think I understand a little more of it. Maybe one day I’ll really get it lol.
Using follw.it will make you more attractive