Help-Key: Placeshifting your home TV to work on the cheap

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We’re all news junkies. That’s what the Internet has done to us. You can sit at your desk and watch all the feeds and refresh, but we still like our news in video form, and that’s what we’re doing here today.

Unless you’re working for Ted Turner, you’re likely not in a place to watch TV at your desk, but you need to stay up to date. With a PC at home, your home TV, and a cheap vidcap device, you can watch your home TV news on your desktop at work.

Find yourself a good, cheap video capture device. I like the EasyCAP009 Video Grabber for MAC. It’s easy to use, has decent picture quality, and is relatively cheap. You should be able to find one for about $50, and it works with Macs or PCs.

Take a video out from your TV by either splitting the signal from your cable box (which is easy enough with a $10 splitter from Radio Shack) or running out from a VCR. Conversely, some TVs have auxiliary outs, which works too.

Take the video and audio feeds in RCA format at plug them into the EasyCAP dongle. Then plug the dongle into your Mac or PC’s USB port.

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Now fire up your favorite instant messaging app. I like iChat as it supports higher grade video, but Yahoo! Messenger or MSN Messenger work just as well.

Make a new account. I used “MattsTVFeed”. Don’t use your own, you’re going to want to use it to log in later.

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Connect to the instant messaging network. Go to “preferences” and hit the “video” tab. You should be able to select the EasyCAP as a capture device. Hit the broadcast button, and you’re done.

When you’re at work, add the screen name you made earlier and hit it’s “video” button. It should pop up a window locked onto whatever channel you left your TV on. I like MSNBC. Watch whenever you want. In Yahoo! Messenger, there’s an option to leave the video window on top of all others, pretty handy for this type of fun.

Make sure your work IT staff is OK with you wasting bandwidth all day, and keep it safe for work, and you should be fine.

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