Connect360 Version 3.31 ¬

2008-05-05

Also while I was out of town, Nullriver released version 3.31 of Connect360, their Xbox 360 media streaming app for Mac OS X, on April 24th. This new version has the following changes:

  • Added folder support for Movies
  • Made Movies folder rescan interval configurable
  • Fixed size of prefpane in OS versions earlier than Leopard (10.5)
  • Fixed port sharing with MediaLink
  • Added WMA audio streaming
  • Updated ffmpeg transcoder
  • Improved stability for shoutcast streaming
  • iTunes Library is now auto detected
  • Improved networking code
  • Improved activation system
  • Fixed trial mode song counts
  • Fixed a little bug with the prefpane when ports are in use
  • Improved support for multiple Xbox connections
  • iTunes video playcounts are now updated too
  • Stability improvements

Jump Ship or Tread Water?

I was quite surprised as Connect360’s development has been quite stagnant for a while (esp. with the release of their PlayStation 3 media streaming app: MediaLink). I wasn’t sure how long I’d have to wait for an update, if one ever came.

I had been considering1 Cynical Peak’s addition to the Mac Xbox 360 media streaming app market, Rivet, but had turned it away for the time being because it’s Leopard-only. Emily still uses a G3 iBook running Mac OS X 10.3.9—Yeah, I know, it’s well overdue for an upgrade to Tiger—to stream her music to the Xbox 360, so I didn’t really want to be running two different softwares and possibly causing confusion as to why some features work here and others only work there.

Impressions

Here are my initial impressions after the upgrade, feature-by-feature (at least the ones I’m interested in):

Added folder support for Movies

This had somewhat been the bane of my existence, esp. after the Xbox 360 2007 Fall Dashboard Update had changed—for the worse—the way is shortened filenames. One big list of all the movies in my movie folder, including TV & video podcast episodes, was not only completely unruly, but took forever to scroll through.

It’s a little better now, but unfortunately Connect360 only allows one level of folders, so it dumps2 all subfolders (and subfolder’s subfolders) into the main Movies folder and tries to categorize misc. movie files in the various directories. In general it’s more organized, but things still aren’t where you’d expect them.

Two steps forward, one step back.

Made Movies folder rescan interval configurable

This one is useful since I never knew what the rescan rate was in the past. I wish they’d just use launchd to watch the directories in the movie folder you select so that they’d automatically know when anything was modified, but this is better than nothing.

Fixed size of prefpane in OS versions earlier than Leopard (10.5)

While I’ve since upgraded to Leopard, I noted this minor annoyance in regards to their update which coincided with the 2007 Fall Dashboard Update and so am glad to hear that it’s fixed. It was only a minor visual bug though.

Updated ffmpeg transcoder/Improved networking code

I don’t know if this is exactly the feature bullet point that this falls under, but it’s much faster to browse media from the Xbox 360 now and streaming starts faster.

Improved activation system

There was one side effect here, I had to reenter my activation code. No biggie.

Stability improvements

Only time will tell on this one.

The previous version had been pretty stable on my MacBook Pro running Leopard, but it frequently locked up on Emily’s iBook running Panther (requiring a full reboot). Hopefully all that will be solved.

The Not-Nearly-So-Final-At-All Word

It’s great to see that it’s still being actively developed and they’re focusing on significant improvements. Hopefully Nullriver will be able to improve the movie folder hierarchy issues, but it’s still worth the update as-is.

Update: [Later in the day] It’s now been updated to version 3.33 and the change log notes that v3.32 was supposed to fix Mac OS X 10.3.9 support, but it still fails to launch on Emily’s G3 iBook running 10.3.9 with all the latest software updates. It (v3.33) also will not start media sharing on my MacBook Pro running Mac OS X 10.5.1. Doh!

1 See Jared Kuolt’s Rivet; A review. [via Daring Fireball]

2 It doesn’t really move directories, that’s just the way it displays them through the Xbox 360 interface.

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