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Know How... 59

Video Game Front Ends

September 5 2013

Today we're going to show you how to watch videos from your local network on your video game system. We used the PS3 Media Server, which is a UPnP media server written in Java, so it's cross platform.

Know-It-Alls

We asked Steve Gibson about using UPnP. He said that UPnP on the router level is where the trouble is. Here's his full e-mail.

"Hi Iyaz!

The main UPnP concern has been that the user's router on the border of their network, connecting them to the outside world, and being a NAT, inherently also being relied upon as a hardware firewall appliance... can be silently programmed to admit UNSOLICITED outside traffic into the user's private network.

The XBOX, famously, uses a consumer router's UPnP interface for exactly this purpose to map a whole collection of ports through to itself in order to allow external Internet gaming. It IS possible, however, to manually setup the same port mappings... and that's generally regarded as much safer.

So the problem I've always had with UPnP is that it is ENTIRELY absent ANY security model. That was just never a consideration. So any appliance inside the network can silently and surreptitiously command the router to open itself. And.... there HAS BEEN malware that HAS used UPnP in just that way. Botnet malware will open UPnP so that other bots can connect incoming.

So while it's "easy" to use UPnP, I would never do so. It can be disabled in the router... and then whatever configuration the user needs -- typically just port forwarding -- can be done by hand for full control. :)

Best luck with the show!!!"

If you want to check if your router is secure, check out GRC's Universal Plug n'Play Internet Exposure Test

Setting up the PS3 Media Server on your PC

Download and install PS3 Media Server on your computer. The software is free and works on Linux, Windows, and Mac. For Iyaz's machine, he found that PS3 Media Server version 1.82 worked the best. All the older versions are available online.

When you launch PS3 Media Server, go into the General Configuration tab. Then head to the Network settings. You'll have to pick the network interface card your computer tries to use. We picked en0 (you should look for your local IP address). Then you should pick what you want to share to your devices. Go into Navigation/Share Settings then choose Shared folders. Pick the folders you want to share.

If you're not a subtitle fan, go into Transcoding Settings and select "Definitely disable subtitles."

For our demo, we showed how to access your videos on a PS3. The PS3 Media Server pushes video to anything that can receive video and audio through UPnP (so your Xbox 360, AVR, and maybe even TV can playback your video). You'll see the available devices to stream to from the Status tab of the PS3 Media Server.

Setting up your video game system

On a PS3, go to the video section, then choose "Search for Media Server." Assuming your PC and PS3 are on the same network, your PS3 ought to find your PC. From there, pick the movies you want to watch and have some popcorn.

Alternatives to PS3 Media Server

We did some research and found people who had trouble with PS3 Media Server might have had better success using an application called Universal Media Server. It is based on PS3 Media Server, is cross-platform and is free.

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