Blogs

Nov 13 2011

Blog - MythTV Reloaded - Day 2

As recently noted, I have decided to document my MythTV upgrade.  To start things off, I will be upgrading my main MythTV server.  The current system is running MythTV 0.21 on Fedora Core 7.  The current version of MythTV is 0.24 at the time of this writing.  This time around I will be building the backend around CentOS.  The most recent version of CentOS is 6.0 at this time.  The main reason that I've gone with CentOS is because both it and Fedora are based off of RedHat Enterprise Linux so the interaction is essentially the same between them.  The other popular distribution these days seems to be Ubuntu and I considered going with it but that system is based on Debian Linux and there are a few nuances that I would have to learn.  So I will be sticking with what I am familiar with.

Nov 12 2011

Blog - MythTV Reloaded - Day 1

Earlier this summer my MythTV server died.  After spending a bit of time getting the basics back up and running I've decided that it was time to also get things up to date again.  Thus far my plans have been limited to only software upgrades but I may do some hardware upgrading along the way as well.  With this in mind, I have decided to do a series of blogs detailing my plans for the upgrade as well as progress made and bumps that I've hit along the way.

This first entry will describe my current setup as well as my migration plan.  Some of this has already been accomplished but I want to get it all written down.  So here goes.

Oct 31 2011

Blog - Blu-ray Releases - November 1, 2011

Boy did I struggle this week. Partly due to a busy schedule, but I'm sure partly due to just a terrible overall week of picks. Bunraku is one of the few that I saw, and it was pretty bad, simply tried to be too many things. I think I saw part of Water for Elephants, but I'm not a fan of Vampires who try to eat elephants (read: joke).

MissingRemote's Pick of the Week

I haven't seen this movie, so I know it's an odd recommendation, but everyone I've talked to has mentioned it was easily worth watching. Then again...everyone I asked was a female, and all of them said the same thing--"Ryan Gosseling was in that, right? Yeah, I saw it. Good movie. He's hot." So...I'm going to base my recommendation on the fact I enjoy Steve Carrell instead.

Oct 28 2011

Blog - The Importance of Backups

Comic

I recently had the opportunity to utilize my extensive (though, not bullet proof) backup regimen and it managed to save my bacon in a fairly substantial way.  While this certainly is not isolated to HTPCs, I thought it might be a good idea to remind people of the importance of regular, reliable backups.

As everyone surely knows by now, SageTV was purchased by Google.  Those who are running it have been guaranteed a year of guide data and alternatives have already been developed to continue receiving guide data beyond that.  However, there is no way to purchase additional hardware (i.e.  HD300s) or licenses.

Can you see where this is going?  Click the "Read more" link to come along for the ride...

Oct 24 2011

Blog - Blu-ray Releases - October 25, 2011

Oh how I wanted to pick Wrong Turn 4 just to get a reaction from you guys, but alas I played it conservative this week. Jurassic Park Trilogy, just in time for the holidays...although you can save some money and watch Terra Nova that is basically the same thing, right? Dazed and Confused is a classic if you've never seen it. And Attack the Block was mildly entertaining, a UK film of a gang who gets attacked by Aliens...okay, it was kinda dumb, but I've seen worse.

MissingRemote's Pick of the Week

Really a no brainer given the competition this week, but I'll admit that my expectations were quite high going into Captain America, and it did somewhat disappoint. The first Avenger, I honestly was not a fan of these comics growing up so the story was new to me. The movie is quite long, but I found it to be entertaining. Although I didn't buy the CGI for one second when he was a whimpy kid, his head was WAY too big for the body. The action sequences were decent, but I think he's just not as compelling a superhero as some of the others. Just my opinion...

Oct 21 2011

Blog - Win a Fractal Design Core 3000 by Showing Off Your Case in Need

Core 3000

CONTEST HAS ENDED! STAY TUNED!

As you all have noticed, we've been making a much more concerted effort to give some attention and focus to chassis for use in your home theater. But as we've learned in the past, the home theater is often one of the more neglected locations for financial investment. So Missing Remote is teaming up with our friends at Fractal Design (check out their Facebook page) to try to help you out, and are giving away a Core 3000 chassis!

We want to make sure whoever wins this chassis really needs it, so to enter is simple--reply to this thread and attach a picture of your case. We'll filter down to what we feel are the top 10 cases most in need of an upgrade, and then let the community decide the winner!


You have 30 days to enter, with the only restriction being that you must include a card or sign with your Missing Remote user name in the picture.

 

RULES/TERMS

Entries will be accepted from 12:00AM PDT on Wednesday, September 28, 2011 through 11:59PM PDT on Monday, October 31, 2011 . Top 10 will be voted by November 5th, and subsequent poll will be submitted for public voting (1 vote per user) for time of 2 weeks.

Oct 18 2011

Blog - Blu-ray Releases - October 17, 2011

Sorry for the hiatus, had a busy travel schedule recently, but I'm back on the regular now! And what a...decent week to return to. A couple good animated films are out there. Fans of the TV show V will be happy to see that released. Most interesting of the week was Red State from writer/director Kevin Smith, from Jay & Silent Bob and Clerks fame--an interesting film with a ton of subplots and even more violence, about a religious group bent on killing a few folks--it's out there, I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. Which leaves....

MissingRemote's Pick of the Week

I didn't have the highest expectations for this one, starring Cameron Diaz, Jason Segal and Justin Timberlake, but maybe that's why I was pleasantly surprised by it. Of course it's entirely predictable, but there were definitely enough funny parts for me to make it a recommendation...again, just temper your expectations beforehand.


Oct 05 2011

Blog - What's on TV?

The fall season of 2011 has begun and we already have the first casualty in Playboy Club.  This is the first time I decided against recording any new shows that simply sounded interesting.  Normally, I queue them up and watch them at some point later on, often after the first season is over or the show has even been cancelled.  This time, I decided I already have enough backlogged TV to watch.  So, I'm waiting to see which shows get renewed for a second season and people are still talking positively about towards the end of their first season.

Here's what interested me, but I'm also curious what everyone else is watching...

Sep 20 2011

Blog - Blu-ray Releases - September 20, 2011

After a couple good weeks it's calming back down a bit. A couple great TV shows on Blu-ray, Mike & Molly and season two of Modern Family, two of my favorite comedies on right now. Breakfast at Tiffany's is a classic for some, I wasn't all that impressed with it.

MissingRemote's Pick of the Week


Pretty easy choice given the other options--starring what felt like most of the Saturday Night Live cast, this raunchy (and I mean RAUNCHY) comedy about a group of bridesmaids as they prepare for their friends wedding day. This is from Judd Apatow, the same director of SuperBad and Knocked Up, so you know there is some great humor although some of it is quite bad. Think Super Bad but with an all girl cast instead, but using the same number of profanity and dirty jokes. I heard some people didn't approve, but I laughed through a lot of it!


Sep 17 2011

Blog - Turning My Unfinished Third Floor Into Our New Family Room: The Purchases

If you’ve been reading my previous postings here and here, you’ll know that I am in the midst of turning an unfinished room (~600 sq ft.) into a family room. This project has a limited budget so improvements like a projector didn’t make the cut. But I have bought items that will allow me clear up a lot of clutter and improve performance, particularly as it relates to my network. Before I share my list of purchases, let me list the items that I had already.
 
TV: Samsung 40” LCD 60Hz
Receivers: Onkyo TX-SR607 (hooked to the TV), Onkyo HT-SR800 (will go behind the bar)
Speakers: the ones that came with Onkyo HT-SR800 (2 front, 1 center, 4 rear, subwoofer)
Networking: Linksys WRT610N wireless router
Other: PS3, Wii, HTPC, Apple Airport Express
Remote: Logitech Harmony One
 
If you look at this post, you can see a rough sketch of how I intend to set everything up. Once I get the paint and the flooring put in, I’ll give you guys plenty of pictures of everything as I install it.
 
Here is a list of the things I bought for this project. I’ll put notes next to each item explaining why I bought it.
 

Sep 14 2011

Blog - Cedia 2011 Roundup

If you at all interested in anything Home Theater related like I am, you will want to check out the Cedia 2011 Roundup that Andrew Robinson compiled over at HomeTheaterReview.com. Some of the big takeaways that I found was 4k, 4k and more 4k. 4k seemed to be the highlight of the show, from projectors to ultra wide screen HDTV's, you name it Cedia had it this year.The one issue Andrew brought up was that not all 4k displays were a true 4k (4096 x 2160) instead they were coined "faux k" or 3840 x 2160. So just as tall as true 4k but not as wide as true 4k. Kind of interesting on that aspect.

Andrew has a nice break down of some highlights for equipment that is definitely worth checking out. Andrew covers everything from projectors, to loud speakers, and sub woofers. So if you want a really well written recap of Cedia 2011 head over to Home Theater Review and check out Andrew's article.

Home Theater Review

Sep 12 2011

Blog - Blu-ray Releases - September 13, 2011

Poor Thor, if it was most any other week you would have been the easy pick, but alas not this one. For those not in the comic book "know," Thor is a movie based on the same-titled comic book about a guy who's a god in his world but gets shipped off to Earth as punishment (is it that bad?!) where he gets to date Natalie Portman, poor guy. Then battles ensue--it was a fun movie and will look awesome on BD. Then the other notable one is Spartacus--Gods of the Arena, the prequel to the Spartacus TV series which was just awesome.

MissingRemote's Pick of the Week


Probably the easiest pick in the history of these weekly blogs. If i have to tell you what Star Wars is...then you probably are between the ages of 0-2, or just came from a rock. While I don't agree with all the changes Mr. Lucas has made to the originals, and I wasn't a huge fan of the new ones, it's hard to argue that this isn't a must have in anyone's Blu-ray collection. I mean, it's Luke "friggin" Skywalker people!


Sep 10 2011

Blog - Back Again....

Well I've been on a hiatus for a while and thought I would update everyone on my status. I've had some issues come up that took me away from regularly posting on the site that has now been put behind me. I am looking forward to writing some new articles and guides for the site so stay tuned for those.

I am still big into Home Automation and still plan on doing a multi-part series on the intricacies of creating a system and having a life style around that system. Windows Media Center (7MC) is still a huge part of my every day living. I am now running a Ceton Quad cable card tuner, two Silicon Dust HD Homerun tuners for ATSC over the air for a total of 8 HD tuners, you can never have enough tuners Wink

Anyways stay tuned for great things to come. Any feedback on the topics please let me know, if there are any specifics in guides or setups you want to see lets us know and I will try my hardest to keep the content flowing this time around.

until next time,

-Josh

Sep 10 2011

Blog - I Believe that Introductions are in Order

Hello Missing Remote readers. As this is my first blog posting, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Zach Christiansen (those of you who are observant already knew that) and I am a third year law student at Tulane University, with an undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering from Georgia Tech.

I have always been "Technical Support" for my family and friends. My first experience with anything resembling a home theater PC (HTPC) was when I convinced my parents to buy the first ATI All-in-Wonder for our home computer. We bought the card because my mom had made a slide show on the computer for my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary, but didn't have a great way to share it with family and friends. Using the All-in-Wonder, we were able to output the computer display through a VCR (I still find it funny to think that at the time a VCR was cutting-edge technology) and record multiple copies for my aunts and uncles. Since that first experience, I have built several HTPC's for myself as well as family members. My youngest sister’s favorite part about her Windows XP Media Center was showing her friends her free "TiVo" that her big brother had built for her.

But enough about me… lets take a look at my HTPC setup:

Currently I have an HTPC as well as a home server. I alsohave two netbooks (ASUS 1000 HA) that my wife and I each use for light computing (general web surfing, IM, email, etc.), as well as a Macbook Pro that my wife uses for photo editing/blogging <shamelessplug> (http://www.newlywedinneworleans.com </shamelessplug> The HTPC is directly connected to my main TV which is an LG 32FZ4D-UA (older 1080i, HDMI capable CRT display that must suffice for the time being. I use RDP from the netbooks to access the HTPC and WHS to perform maintenance/updates etc. Before I get to the pics, I thought I would lay out the basic specs of the HTPC and WHS.

 

 

Sep 06 2011

Blog - Correcting HDMI Handshaking Issues with Windows Media Center and Onkyo Receivers

I don’t  know if anyone else has experienced this annoyance, but whenever I switch to the input on my Onkyo receiver (TX-SR607) associated with my HTPC and Windows Media Center is already running, the resolution and aspect ratio get fouled up. Everything is  much larger than I want it to be and  TV playback from my Ceton Infinitv4 does not work. Previously, the only fix was to close Media Center and open it back up.  I needed a cleaner solution.
 
Fix:
 
- Turn off HTPC. Shut it down and leave it turned off.
 
- Go to the input on  the Onkyo for your HTPC
 
- Press the Receiver button then the Video button on the Onkyo Remote,
 
- Change Resolution to Through (this will pass signal as is from HTPC to TV)

 


What you should see on your Onkyo receiver when you are changing the resolution

- Turn back on HTPC

Now the resolution and aspect ratio are correct when you switch to this input and WMC is running.

Sep 05 2011

Blog - Blu-ray Releases - September 6, 2011

Scarface was an easy pick so I wanted to change it up, but it really is one of the great movies of all time, with a young Al Pacino as Cuban druglord. Fringe and The Office are great TV shows of course, and then a few decent films sprinkled throughout as well. Everything Must Go stars Will Ferrell but there was not many moments of humor in this dark comedy.

MissingRemote's Pick of the Week


I was not sure what to expect going into Hanna, but I was pleased with the results. Hanna is the story of a man raising his daughter to be essentially a spy from the get go, and it takes time to develop and explain why exactly so many people are after them. If you like watching 13-year old girls kick some serious action then you will love this movie. She's no Hit Girl, but it's still fairly entertaining although the plot is a bit thin and the acting is not stellar, but there were some nice twists and I was enjoyed throughout.


Sep 03 2011

Blog - Blog - Migrating Data from one Hard Drive to Another

A short while ago I had a failure in my MythTV server.  Luckily, all of my data was ok so I just transplanted the hard drives and tuners into my development system and was on my way again.  While I had everything open it quickly became obvious exactly how loud my OS hard drive had become.  I knew that it was noisy but the P180 case did a good job of keeping things quiet.  So I figured that now is a good time to replace it as long as I had everything all strewn about anyway.

To give you a bit of background, the OS hard drive that I am starting with is a 10GB PATA drive that is about 10 years old.  The "new" drive is a 250GB drive that is only a couple of years old.  The utility that I used to image the drive is called Clonezilla.  This is a tool that you load on to a bootable drive (i.e. a CD or a USB flash drive).  With both the old and the new drive installed in the PC you boot into Clonezilla, select the drive or partition that you want to back up (clone), select the new drive or partition and wait till everything is copied.  Depending on the amount of data being copied this can take anywhere from a couple of minutes to a couple of hours.

Aug 25 2011

Blog - Turning an Unfinished Third Floor into a TV Room: An Introduction

Let me paint a picture for you. Imagine a room that is 12ft x 10ft. You might be thinking to yourself that this room would make a nice guest bedroom. I’m sure that’s what the builder thought when he designed the house. Now I want you to fill that room with a love seat, an oversized chair, a coffee table and an entertainment center that houses a 40” LCD TV, PS3, Wii, Surround receiver, a sub woofer and of course, my home theater PC (HTPC)--my rear speakers are actually hanging from nails. Nails. But there is hope.

Ever since we moved into the house I have been waiting for that magical confluence of money and spare time that would free me from this claustrophobic impostor of a TV room. Well, that time has finally arrived and I am in the process of building out an unfinished third floor for this purpose.

Aug 22 2011

Blog - SageDCT Updated For SiliconDust & Hauppauge DCT

SageDCT 1.5It just took a couple tweaks to get SageDCT working with the Hauppauge and SiliconDust Digital Cable Tuners previewed last week.  With all the testing we've been doing to evaluate the tuners in their "native" environment (Windows Media Center) there hasn't been much time to really guarantee 100% support in SageTV, but it does work and with the Prime starting to show up on your doorsteps I thought it best to keep the torch burning by releasing this tonight.

Aug 22 2011

Blog - Welcome SageTV and CableCARD Forums

If you've been perusing the Forums today you will notice a couple of new additions. The first is probably an obvious one, a CableCARD forum. With the growth of number of tuner devices being released we want to make sure there's a clear home to ask any and all questions you may have about this technology.

The second is actually a group of forums, specifically for SageTV users. With the acquisition of SageTV by Google earlier this year, we saw the request for a new permanent home from its users. We have launched the SageTV Forum group with 5 sub-forums, and will expand as needed. We hope everyone finds this useful, knowing that MissingRemote is not going anywhere!

More improvements coming in the near future, so hope everyone is enjoying them!

Aug 22 2011

Blog - LG BD690 Blu-Ray Player OOTB Install

So my wife took the kids to grandma's and I finally had some time to open and install the LG BD690 she'd given me for my birthday. I had my eye on the LG BD590 for a while because of the built-in disk drive. IMHO, it just makes it a more functional and hackable device in the long run, and being able to pre-download a movie helps avoid any possible network hiccups. But, I'd been holding off since the BD590 didn't support Amazon, and with the Amazon Prime free streaming option, I wanted to find something that could stream HD video. Unfortunately, due to ridiculous copyright restrictions, Amazon/Vudu/etc.. can't stream HD movies to any PC, including an HTPC. That, and the fact that my experience with ArcSoft TMT has been less than stellar, I've been looking to pick up a standalone player that can do both Amazon and Vudu. I was very excited when I saw the BD690 make Amazon's VOD list of compatible devices. The fact it can also do 3D is meaningless to me, since my Pioneer Kuro 141FD isn't going anywhere soon, and it's still hard to find anything out there that beats the 2D picture. But the 3D feature does increase the resell-ability when it's time to move on.

Installation

So let's start with the obligatory box shot:
Hmm..  it says it's a BD player...

Aug 21 2011

Blog - CableCARD Installation: It's Getting Better

CableCARD

Having just installed my second CableCARD product, I thought it would be good to share my experience. Last December, I posted about my experience installing the Ceton InfiniTV 4. Back then, I had to pay a $75 installation fee and schedule an installer to visit my home only to hand me the CableCARD and call in to have it activated. Meanwhile, set-top box users had the less expensive option of self-installing which hardly seemed fair.

Fast-forward to today when we now have a mandate from the FCC that has brought the self-installation option to CableCARD users. A quick call to my provider, Cox Cable, had a self-installation kit drop-shipped to my front door the next day. I am now required to pay a $20 activation fee which is fair and reasonable. For $20, I get the kit shipped to me and a free return shipping label is included. All the cables needed for installation are also included along with the CableCARD, tuning adapter and installation guide.

Tuning Adapter

The installation guide (attached) is straight-forward and easy to follow. I am positive that even technology luddites could successfully follow the guide. That said, I did run into some snafus in the process.

Aug 11 2011

Blog - Intel i3-2100T and i3-2100: Heatsink and Fan Differences

In many cases, it may not make a lot of sense to purchase the 35W Intel Sandy Bridge T-variant parts because they are typically more expensive than the slight power savings and heat differences can justify in real-world usage. One aspect where the parts shine though is in small form factor (SFF) installations. When it comes to SFF, the height of the heat sink-fan (HSF) is often a concern and an aftermarket solution is typically sought. 

I recently put together a system with an i3-2100T and was pleasantly surprised by just how slim the HSF is. Unfortunately, back when Andrew reviewed the i3-2100T, he did not have access to the retail HSF so you can see it in all of it's glory here. Note that this is not the HSF Intel is working on for SFF installs that we learned about from the DH61AG board review.

The measured height from the top of the board to the top of the HSF is 1-7/16" for the i3-2100T whereas the i3-2100 is 2-1/8". The AA cell pictured is 2" in height. You'll also notice the fan design is different with the i3-2100T fan being slimmer with 11 blades compared to the i3-2100 fan with 7 blades.

Hopefully, you'll find this information useful if you're planning out an installation in a tight space. Photos after the break.

Aug 10 2011

Blog - Catching Up with SiliconDust: A Q&A with President and CEO Theodore D. Head

SiliconDust

With the introduction of the SiliconDust HDHomeRun PRIME digital cable tuner (DCT), there are a good number of questions both from the Missing Remote staff and more importantly, our readers. Thus, we took the initiative to seek answers to those questions in an effort to clear up as much uncertainty as possible. Thanks to Theodore D. Head, President and CEO of SiliconDust, for taking the time to respond to our queries.

 

Q: For those unfamiliar with SiliconDust, tell us a bit about the company. When was it established & what have you made your mark on the market with?

 A: Silicondust USA Inc was established in 2007 with the consumer launch of the HDHomeRun Dual Digital Network Tuner - taking the TV tuner out of your computer and putting on the home network via your router. Allowing the freedom to watch pause record Digital over the air or unencrypted cable anywhere in your home on any windows, mac or linux device - we are the innovators of the Network attached TV Tuner for computers.

 

Q: We saw an announcement from Elgato on Mac compatibility, how did that come about? How's the feedback been so far? Is this any indication that Mac support might come to your CableCARD tuners?

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