Blogs

Nov 29 2010

Blog - Re-Launch Giveaway #6 - Arcsoft Total Media Theatre Platinum

THIS CONTEST HAS ENDED!! THANKS!

Hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving weekend and that everyone has enjoyed our contest so far. Just a reminder, we still have many more prizes to give away so keep the faith if you haven't won yet. The prizes will only get bigger as we continue!

 

If you missed out or didn't win from our first day, we have another from Arcsoft, giving away ONE copy of their awesome Blu-ray playback software for Windows, Total Media Theater 3 Platinum!

 

This fantastic Blu-ray playback software allows you to play high definition movies from Blu-ray disc and even stored on your hard drive. We haven't done a review of this latest software, but our editor Matt did a thorough job on a previous version if you want to get a refresher course. This has a suggested retail price of $90. If you've been waiting to jump aboard the Blu-ray bandwagon, maybe this can be your chance to do so for free!!

HOW TO ENTER
To enter to win, the easiest and required way is to simply respond to this post with the title of your favorite movie on Blu-ray.

That's it, just responding with the answer above will enter you in the contest!!

For this prize, we'll also allow additional entries (not mandatory but only if you want a better chance to win) via Facebook and Twitter.

Nov 24 2010

Blog - AO Install Same Trip? Don't trust Comcast billing with CableCARDs

AO Install Same Trip

Just a friendly reminder to not trust Comcast billing when performing CableCARD self-installs.

I've had my InfiniTV4 setup since day 1 of release (well a couple days before) and two ATI DCTs before that.  Each time my wife went to the local Comcast office and picked up a CableCARD for a self-install.  She even did the initial pairing with Comcast over the phone.  My Comcast bill would increase by $1.50 for each additional CableCARD past the initial one (here in Houston you get one “free” Digital Cable box and one “free” CableCARD per account.)

Nov 24 2010

Blog - Overwhelmed lately but getting back on track...1st up is Yammm v2

It probably comes as no surprise to many that I am long overdue for updates on many of my Media Center add-ins.  It has been a hectic year trying to juggle everything that life has thrown at me, but things are finally starting to settle and I am ready to get back to my partially complete projects.

Nov 24 2010

Blog - WHS Drive Extender Alternatives?

With yesterday's announcement that MS is killing off DE in the next version of WHS (Vail), I'm on a quest to find a replacement.  What I'd like to get from everyone is what they would replace DE with.

Obviously, the first option is RAID.  Personally, I'd go with RAID6 for the added safety net.  I have considered this many times in the past and I just can't bring myself to go back to it, due to the possible migration issues if the RAID card fails.

The second option would be unRAID, but I have two issues with it.  First off, it's built on Linux and I'm no expert with Linux, so I'd prefer not to have to struggle with a lack of OS understanding when I'm troubleshooting something.  Second, I would need the PRO version (due to my 13 hard drives) which costs $119 and that seems a bit steep to me.

I just stumbled onto Greyhole today, which is billing itself as a free, open source, Linux alternative to DE.  So far, the issues with it are, once again, Linux, and the fact that it's not in a stable state yet (according to the author).

My last known option is a return to FlexRAID, which I had been considering, anyhow, even before MS made this announcement.  Previously, FlexRAID showed issues under WHS and the system load, which does seem to speak to the issues MS was having with DE.  Currently, this is my first choice, but it will require some investigating on it's current state.

Any others?

Nov 24 2010

Blog - Just been one of those weeks

As the title says it has been one of those weeks. Between having a sick daughter all weekend, getting into a small accident in my car due to an ice storm we had Saturday night into Sunday and then my HTPC decided to die on me Sunday night in the middle of a football game.So needless to say I've been a little on edge all week. Monday night I was finally able to settle down, collect my composure and actually spend some time diagnosing my HTPC issues.

Nov 24 2010

Blog - Re-Launch Giveaway #5- Nvidia Geforce GT 430

THIS CONTEST HAS ENDED, THANKS TO ALL FOR PARTICIPATING!

Is everyone still enjoying the contest?? I surely hope so, because we still have a TON of prizes! Given the upcoming holiday weekend upon us, we decided to have a special prize and make it last longer than the rest.

Thanks to our friends at NVIDIA, we have up for grabs a brand new EVGA GT 430 Video Card with 3D & HDMI 1.4a support!!!! While it's not exactly the same, you can get an idea about the bit streaming support of these new awesome 4-series graphics cards from Andrew Van Til's Review of the GTS 450 card.

The EVGA GT 430 has arrived. Tap into the horsepower of the GPU for a visually-charged boost on your favorite applications. Edit your photos & HD videos and push the limits of your Web experience with a new generation of GPU-accelerated browsers like Internet Explorer 9. Boost your gaming performance with the next generation gaming architecture built from the ground up for DirectX 11 and take 3D home with the latest Blu-ray 3D movies.

EVGA Geforce GT 430

Nov 23 2010

Blog - 24p: What You Should Know

Background

Long ago, filmmakers decided to standardize shooting film at 24 frames per second (FPS) primarily due to the high cost of film and state of the technology at the time.  Film became popular worldwide and every piece of production and distribution equipment was made to support this frame rate.

When television came into existence, the cathode ray tube (CRT) display technology was used.  CRT design at the time used a multiple of the power line frequency which is 60Hz in North America and 50Hz in Europe. The National Television System Committee (NTSC) standard developed in the United States in the 40’s and 50’s actually ended up slowing down the CRT refresh rate by 0.1% to 59.94Hz to compensate for some distortion that occurred due to the nature of the way NTSC transmits information.  Later, the Phase Alternate Line (PAL) standard was developed in Europe and had no such anomaly.

It should be noted that the refresh rates of PAL and NTSC are field rates because PAL and NTSC transmit frames using interlacing which is essentially a means of compression.  In other words, it allows more lines of resolution in a given amount of bandwidth, albeit at a slower frame rate.  When a frame is interlaced, it is divided into two fields with each field representing half the frame.  The fields are then transmitted in alternating fashion such that the frame rate is equal to half the field rate.  Thus, the frame rates of PAL and NTSC are 25fps and 29.97fps, respectively.

Naturally, people wanted a way to take film content shown in cinemas and display it on their televisions.  However, this presents a problem because film and video frame rates are different.  To compensate, “telecine” was created which is the general term used for “pulling down” film frames into video.

Nov 22 2010

Blog - MissingRemote Re-Launch Contest Giveaway #4- BigScreenGlobal

THIS CONTEST HAS ENDED! Thanks to everyone who participated.

We hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and that you’re enjoying the contest giveaway as much as we are! Even if you haven’t won yet, remember we have a LOT more prizes coming so you still have plenty of time!

Now onto this week’s worth of prizes! Today we’re giving away a prize bundle from BigScreenGlobal. Fellow MVP and owner Niall Ginsbourg has put together a package and the winner will be able to select their choice of TWO licenses from the following products: BigScreenWeather 2, BigScreenHeadlines 2, BigScreenContacts 2 or BigScreenPhotos 2.

Nov 19 2010

Blog - The geezer is back! Now get off my lawn!

I have been flogging HTPC websites in one form another for several years now. I guess it is not in my blood to give up this damn hobby. Mike, in all his stubborness, keeps chipping away at me until I finally folded like a cheep card table.

What inspired me to come back at least on a part time basis?

20% of this decision was based solely on the fact that the website design has a nice new blockquote feature. It could use a little more orange, but hey I am not complaining.

Look at this shiznit. Back in my day, we had use three pages of code and we were lucky if it didn't bork the whole wesbite.

An additional 5 or so percent is related to the site redesign itself. Looks damn good.
Another 25% of this decision can be attributed to the talent Mike has recruited to replace the old cows that were running the place before.
Though mainly, I decided to get back into this game because more home entertainment system is in an awful state since my most recent move. It has been that way for quite sometime and I aim to do something about. I hope getting back into the game would inspired me to make this work Smile.
What does this meaningless ramble mean? Mostly I will be helping Mike on the occasional news post. Don't fret though. My posts will still contain typos and I will likely blockquote everyday thing on the site at least twice a week.
So what do you guys want to see from your old news guy?
Congrats to the site for a great relaunch and here is to another great chapter in MissingRemote's life.
Nov 19 2010

Blog - MissingRemote Re-Launch Contest Giveaway #3- Vidabox CubeCase

THIS CONTEST HAS ENDED! THANKS TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED!

Hope everyone has been enjoying this week as much as we have, with our grand unveiling of the new MissingRemote layout and community. Please be patient with us as we work out all the kinks--we figured if we bribed you with prizes you would be more lenient!
 
The weekend is fast approaching, so for the following prize entries will be accepted until Monday at noon, to make sure everyone that might have missed out on the previous day prizes has plenty of time to enter.

Nov 17 2010

Blog - MissingRemote Re-Launch Contest Giveaway #2 - Patriot Box Office (PBO Core)

This contest has Ended! Thanks everyone for participating!!!

Hopefully everyone is enjoying the new site design as much as we are, as well as our first prize yesterday of Arcsoft’s Total Media Theatre. That contest has ended, but worry not we have LOTS of PRIZES still available!!

Today’s prize is a fantastic media streamer courtesy of Patriot Memory, the Patriot Box Office HD player. We reviewed this little guy earlier this year and found it to be a very solid and capable player with an MSRP of $99--read below for instructions on how to win!

 

And in case you missed it, Patriot has continued to innovate since our review! The product has been renamed to the PBO Core and it includes a wealth of new features via their new firmware.

Patriot Memory, a global pioneer in high-performance memory, NAND flash, storage and enthusiast computer products, today announced a refresh of their High-Definition media player product line. The Patriot Box Office has undergone a series of changes adding improved functionality, an enhanced user interface, new product packaging and a new product name. Box Office is now named PBO Core: a name inspired by the legions of devoted fans and active forum participants who often discuss the product under the name “PBO”, short for Patriot Box Office.

PBO Core has an enhanced User Interface which is more visually pleasing, while also proving to be easier to use and navigate. Functionality has been enhanced with the addition of Internet Media Services (IMS), greater compatibility with HDTV’s, ability to play data from external optical USB devices and album artwork during audio playback. The addition of IMS provides a variety of streaming and internet enabled services such as video RSS feeds, streaming podcasts, online photo albums, live stock info, weather, news and more! The latest firmware which provides these features and improved user interface is available now and is backwards compatible with all Patriot Box Office media players on the market.

HOW TO ENTER
To be eligible to win the Patriot Box Office HD (PBO Core) simply respond to this post with an answer to the following: What video format do you store your movies?.

For this prize, we'll once again allow additional entries via Facebook and Twitter (if your twitter/Facebook name doesn't match your MissingRemote username, make sure you mention your it in each submission below).

  • For Twitter:
  • For Facebook:
    • Visit our Facebook Fan Page and click the Like button
    • And reply to the Patriot Box Office contest status with the video format you store your movies in.

Good luck everyone Smile

RULES/TERMS

As mentioned above, each user is eligible for up to 3 entries into this contest. Every prize will have its own prize definitions, so make sure to check the rules!

Entries will be accepted from 12:01AM PDT on Wednesday, November 17, 2010 through 11:59PM PDT on Thursday, November 18, 2010. Winner will be selected by November 21, 2010.

  • This contest is unfortunately only available to US residents in one of the 50 states. Sorry to our international readers, but we are looking into expanding our prize packages in the future.
  • You are only allowed to enter using each method once. Multiple entries will disqualify you.
  • Must be a registered user to be eligible to win (remember, if you are entering additional entries when applicable via Twitter/Facebook you must mention your MissingRemote username in that entry)
  • Editors and staff, and associated family of staff are not eligible to win
  • Each prize may have its own rules for eligibility established by Product Sponsors, please read the directions carefully
  • Users may reply to a thread as many times as desired, but only one post will be counted towards the drawing
  • Winners will be notified via e-mail, as well as posted in a news post on the home page of MissingRemote.com; Failure to respond within 72 hours will result in a forfeit of prize and the prize will be re-drawn
  • Most prizes will be shipped to winners via either USPS Priority Mail or Fedex Ground and tracking numbers will be provided. It is the recipient's responsibility to coordinate receipt of item.
  • Some prizes will be shipped to winners directly from Product Sponsor--tracking will still be provided to those as well
  • Prize packages are in excellent condition and have not been used outside of for review purposes and are delivered in AS-IS condition
  • Any attempt to circumvent contest rules will cause ineligibility for user

Nov 15 2010

Blog - MissingRemote Re-Launch Contest Giveaway, Day 1 - Arcsoft Total Media Theatre 3 Platinum

This contest is CLOSED! The winner will be announced shortly. Make sure to check our homepage for the latest contest! Welcome to the MissingRemote.com Re-Launch Giveaway Contest! As you might have noticed by now, we have done a complete makeover to the website and forum community. As you may imagine, we are still making tweaks, changes and fixes to this new layout, but if you see any issues big or small, please make sure to let us know in our Site Issues post.

A bit of history...MissingRemote.com has been around since 2006 providing you the latest news, reviews and forum discussions on the topics of Home Theaters and HTPCs, etc since then, and we feel this new design should make everyone’s time here more enjoyable.

As a thank you to everyone for their continued loyalty and support, we’ve got some awesome reviews and articles lined up. But you all want some free stuff for your home theater, right?

Well, to help kick things off, we have received amazing support from our product sponsors and have some awesome prizes to giveaway....and will be doing so OFTEN!!! We will be giving away a PRIZE almost every 48 hours, literally until we run out of prizes! We have 17 companies that have helped chip in, and with almost $5,000 worth of prizes , there's plenty of chance for everyone to win!!

Nov 02 2010

Blog - HoustonWinMeet: A Windows Entertainment and Connected Home Meet-up

Update: We have a new location in downtown Houston. I apologize for the late notice, if you have registered for the event you will be receiving an e-mail from me shortly.

#houstonwinmeet

Sponsored by Microsoft

With talks from Cannon PC, Fluid Digital, Amulet Devices, Missing Remote’s Michael “Mikinho” Welter and more!

  • Date: Tuesday, November 30, 2010

  • Time: 6:00-9:00 pm

  • PageSoutherlandPage
    Architects Engineers Consultants
    1100 Louisiana Suite One
    Houston, TX 77002

  • Space is limited! Please RSVP via houstonwinmeet.eventbrite.com

What’s going on?

Ever wanted to unleash the power of a PC on your home entertainment experience? Want to create one seamless entertainment solution for your TV that gives you one interface for TV, DVR, Internet-based content, music, pictures and more? Looking for a great ways to make sure all your content is backed up and safe? Ever wanted to build your own Home Theater PC or really take advantage of that sweet HDTV you recently got? Got questions for the experts? Then this is the meet-up for you!

Connect with other digital entertainment and digital living enthusiasts in and around Houston, and have a chance to check out some of the latest products when you join us for a few hours of presentations, demonstrations and hands-on time with the latest Windows features and related hardware that make next-generation entertainment experiences possible today. Plus, have a chance at winning some great prizes and giveaways!

 

Oct 29 2010

Blog - Old School HTPC Gaming

With the advent of my HTPC sitting front and center in the living room, attached to the plasma TV, I quickly realized that I don't feel like going upstairs to use my regular computer.  First off, it's warm up there.  Second, even with 3 screens, it's not the same as a 50" plasma.  Third, my home theater speakers are much better than the Logitechs.  So, I started playing Baldur's Gate from the very beginning (again) a few months ago, on the plasma.  These old games don't look very good on monitors with native resolutions of 1920x1200, but they do look quite nice on my 720p plasma at 1366x768, especially with EasyTutu installed, which allows you to utilize the higher resolution Baldur's Gate 2 engine in BG1.

This leads me to a small dilemma.  My HTPC is using HDMI via an ATI 4650, through my receiver.  Due to this, I'm using onboard audio for gaming.  However, I can't use the EAX features of the game without a compatible sound card.  Also note that I'm using 64-bit Windows 7.  Anyone know how to get EAX working under this scenario?
Oct 27 2010

Blog - Improving WAF for completely selfish reasons

How pathetic am I?  I could just stop there but I won't.  Smile  In a recent blog post I described how my family is currently testing out Netflix.  While it was fun at first to be able to stream movies on my laptop I quickly got tired of the small screen size.  Unfortunately, since we have a newborn at home it's hard to get to our family room (which is in our basement) to watch shows on the big TV.  We're kinda stuck to the main floor for a while. 

In order to allow my wife (and I will admit - me too) to take better advantage of the subscription while she is home on maternity leave I recently moved my 32" LCD TV into our living room.  Essentially, it is sitting on my daughters drawing table right behind the footrest for our rocking chair.  So if you're sitting in the chair, it's about 5 feet away from you.  At that distance the screen is nice and large.  It makes sitting with a sleeping child for a couple hours much more enjoyable.

It works great for me and it won me points with my wife as well.  She loved it.  What do you think?

Oct 26 2010

Blog - Netflix Streaming Only Plans?!

netflix_logo.gif

We may have been the last holdouts but my wife and I finally joined the present and signed up for our 1 month free trial of Netflix. What I found interesting was that when we signed up we noticed that one of the plan options was $7.99 unlimited streaming only plan.  This is the plan that is used by our neighbors to the north in Canada.  Due to a snafu in our trial membership we were on the phone with a very friendly and helpful rep from Netflix and asked him about it.  It seems that they are just now starting to debut this plan in the US so you lucky readers get to be among the first to hear about it.

 

tnnetflix-plans.jpg
Netflix trial plans

 

Oct 14 2010

Blog - Xbox 360 Chatpad Driver Challenge!

Lately I have started playing games on my Home Theater PC. Sitting on my couch and playing video games on my 42" tv is absolutely great. It's comfortable, the screen's big, I can kick my feet up. All around excellent. To play games I use a Logitech Rumblepad 2 for playing the game and a Logitech diNovo Mini for communicating in the games. Pick up, put down, pick up, put down...over and over. This for me is the biggest issue I have with gaming on my HTPC. I've also never really been interested in the lap board with keyboard and mouse. I like my controllers!

Enter the Xbox 360 Gamepad with Chatpad - A controller, a great one at that, that has a snap in thumb keyboard for typing. It's amazing anytime I use it on the Xbox. 

220px-360_chatpad.png

The Catch - While the Xbox 360 Gamepad works great on the PC, there is ZERO support from Microsoft for the Chatpad. People all over the internet have pushed on Microsoft in every public forum imaginable, but all that ever happens is one division at Microsoft points at another as having responsibility for the development. Someone even wrote a Macintosh OS X driver for it, and there is still nothing working for the PC. 

Beyond playing games on your HTPC, this also becomes an alternative style remote for Windows MC or other app. With great wireless range, and no line of sight required, you could locate your HTPC in a closet or cabinet and still surf the web, or just use the Dpad and buttons to quickly navigate around. Analog sticks can be remapped to mouse movement, all of which makes this a very unique and flexible alternative to you standard mouse/keyboard combo.

To that end, the folks over at MP3Car.com have started a collection fund to support the rewarding of the first person to develop a PC driver for the Xbox 360 Chatpad. Today I pledged $25 via PayPal, and if this is something you think you'd find useful I encourage you to go do the same. Who knows, our very own Mikinho might be the one to solve the problem.

The Goal - To create an open-souce, fully functional set of drivers for the Xbox 360 Controller to utilize the Chatpad peripheral accurately to work on Windows computers. There is a Paypal donation link provided, and the winner of this contest will get the full purse. MP3Car has voluntarily gestured to start the bank with $25, and they have pledged to pay any associated paypal fees; this ensures the winner will get the entire donated amount.

The Rules
1. Driver must be open source.
2. Driver must install in windows XP, Vista OR Win7 (support for only ONE operating system is now OK).
3. Xbox Chatpad must work like a regular keyboard in Windows.
4. Driver must install along with or completely replace the original Xbox drivers, and must not effect the original function of the controller in any way. This can be accomplished by re-writing the original drivers, or having a one-click accessible add-on activate on top of the working original drivers when wanted.
5. The first member to post their own original working drivers in this thread will be the winner. This winner must be accepted by the majority of the participants, for quality of product and authenticity of workmanship.

 

Oct 11 2010

Blog - Blu-ray Player Poll Results

First off, thanks to the 197 people who participated in last week's poll, asking the question of "What is your primary Blu-ray playback software or hardware." It was said after our last poll on HTPC software, that our members are somewhat skewed based on the content MissingRemote caters to, but the numbers here seem pretty understandable.

We show 15% of users either using the Playstation 3 or other standalone Blu-ray hardware player, which is about what I would expect simply given their cost. This is countered by 19% of respondants who have yet to hop on to the Blu-ray bandwagon. I think an appropriate follow up question to those folks would be what's stopping them--is it the financial barrier to entry, their quality of TV, or just that they don't see the overall value to justify the overall increased cost of ownership?

bluraypoll.png

For the HTPC crowd, the results were honestly what I expect with Arcsoft dominating the polls with just over 43% of the tally, and Cyberlink and WinDVD accounting for less than 15%. While I've heard some positive things about Cyberlink recently, and their new software really has done a wonderful job of improving, Arcsoft really gained ground on them and quickly has taken over. Given their support of BDMV (ripped Blu-ray) which is definitely a geek format for storing movies, Arcsoft has that market completely cornered as Cyberlink does not support BDMV.

The other results combined for less than 10% of the vote, and my guess given our previous poll is that these are probably SageTV users utilizing the built-in playback abilities of it--which I was not aware of but have since been educated.

Overall, hope you enjoyed the poll as much as I have enjoyed the results. We won't always run a poll, but if you have a poll you'd like to see, definitely let us know and we would be happy to ask the audience. This week up we have a question on Calibrating your Television, so make sure to check to the right and answer!

Oct 07 2010

Blog - Daily Frustrations when being a HTPC enthusiast

I've been using a HTPC in some way shape or form for over 7 years now. Throughout that time I’ve gone through every single stage of enthusiasm. Where in the beginning I was all gung-ho about everything I did, was willing to try new things, new pieces of software, new pieces of hardware, basically anything I could get my hands on. Over the years I've tried to perfect the installations, stabilize the setup, and get to the point it would just work. 

I no longer run every plug-in for media center under the sky, I have the select few that I run, and that is it. I don't install any unnecessary software, I don't run the latest and greatest drivers or firmware, all for fear it may break the stability I have going on with my HTPC setup. My goal is to never have to touch the desktop of my HTPC, never have to use the mouse or keyboard, and use it as a STB type device that "just works". For the most part I’ve accomplished that goal. While it has taken me a while to do so, I think I've gotten to that point where I want it or at least I thought so.

Recently I added a Ceton Corp InfiniTV4 cable card tuner to my setup, and ever since I did that I've had one bad thing over another. While this might not be directly related to everything Ceton, some of it is a odd coincidence. After I installed my Ceton tuner, I started having issues with my local CBS affiliate. I could no longer watch or record CBS without some form of pixilation or all out video freezes. I tried different pci slots, uninstalled the drivers and reinstalled drivers for each and every single piece of hardware in my HTPC.

I tried different hardware combinations, different hard drives, you name it I tried it. Doing all this while did in the heart of TV season. Not a place you want to be when your wife is getting more and more pissed off that "you're breaking my tv". Extenders were locking up or disconnecting, you name it I was seeing it. Eventually I took out, and removed the software and drivers for every single tuner card in my system, except for the Ceton. Once I did that CBS started working perfectly. So WTF? I slowly re-added my tuner cards one by one, and found out that my Silicon Dust HD Home Run was causing compatibility issues with my Ceton tuner. 

Not knowing exactly what the issue is, and not knowing how to proceed with debugging this issue, I've removed my HD HR tuner (for now) so that I could restore the already low WAF in my home. So for the time being the self proclaimed "Tuner Whore" is down to 4 tuners :( 

If you have seen similar issues please post up here on the forums I would love to hear any sort of feedback on this issue. Until then, thanks for reading.

-Josh

 

Oct 06 2010

Blog - A small update

Well, I'm sad to say that I had to temporarily disable my server power savings.  There were a couple of key problems that I ran into while using the shutdown and wakeup scripts.  The first was that there were a few times where I would be watching a show on my frontend (which is a separate machine from the backend) and it would run for an hour or two but then the backend would "forget" that there was a system connected to it and it would shut itself off.  The show would just freeze wherever it happened to be.  After turning the backend back on again it would pick right back up as though nothing had happened.

The other thing that I ran into was that after a certain number of power ups the system would force a filesystem check on the hard drives which would take upto an hour to complete.  This wasn't a concern for me before because I never had to reboot my server.  Mythtv is very reliable and I really only needed to shut it down to upgrade hardware or to physically relocate the server.  The result for me was that I missed a couple of recordings because the system expected to be up and running in 5 minutes or less.

I think that both of these issues have probably been resolved with updates to Mythtv.  The current release is 0.23 (soon to be 0.24 - yay) and my production server is running 0.21.  Once I determine what Linux distribution I end up liking on my development system I plan to update the production server to something current.

Speaking of which, on my development system I have so far tried out Debian, CentOS and now Mythdora.  In all of these setups I have been able to use packages to get Mythtv up and running quickly and easily.  The issue that I've been struggling with in each of these systems is getting the same system to also run Zoneminder as well with the long term goal of being able to use the MythZoneMinder plugin.  There has been some level of fail that I've run into on each of these setups.  That is not to say that I couldn't have gotten everything working on each of these setups, I just wanted something that would work out of the box.  And if you are not interested in Zoneminder, each of these setups ran Mythtv alone very well.  Especially in the case of MythDora, getting Mythtv up and running was a breeze.

I've got ArchLinux and Gentoo distros downloaded and burned onto CD to try out soon.  I'm sure I'll be back soon with an update for both of you that are still interested.  :)

Until then....

Oct 04 2010

Blog - Primary HTPC Software Results and New Poll!

Wanted to thank everyone for participating in our poll last week. It was very interesting watching the poll results come in and seeing the final results. In case you missed them, here's the results:

 

htpcpoll.png

 

Almost 400 people participated and surprising myself, SageTV came out ahead of everyone with 44% of the votes. Windows 7 Media Center was just beaten out, bringing in an impressive 41.7% of the votes--this is especially impressive when you consider that Win7 has not been in existence for very long, but just shows how eager users were to shift away from Vista or XP.

I was a bit surprised with the rest of the results given the trends I've seen in the past. XBMC was 3rd up with 6%, but other XBMC-based programs like Boxee and Plex each only received 1 vote themselves. There's still 1.5% of users with BeyondTV--I used to love their software, but it's clear they've gotten away from the consumer line of products as it has not been updated in ages.

So what did we miss? We had 11 votes for "other" software--what are you folks using that we didn't include specifically?

In the meantime, we've opened up another poll on the right hand side--What software/hardware are you using for Blu-ray playback? Hope to have as good participation as the first, thanks everyone!!

Sep 29 2010

Blog - HD PVR support for Windows Media Center: Development is alive and well

Hauppauge HD PVR

Over the last three weeks I have received quite a few e-mails from concerned readers that Hauppauge may have "dropped" development on HD PVR support for Windows Media Center. The last beta drivers, v1.0.28201, were released a little over two months ago, July 21, 2010, and we haven't heard much since then.

I'm happy to report that development is alive and well. Read on for whats new.

 

Sep 25 2010

Blog - The perfect OS for a Mythtv Backend?

I've been working on my development system lately trying to determine what operating system I want to use for it.  In my "production" Mythtv server I am using Fedora.  I started out with Fedora Core 5 on this box and have upgraded it to Fedora Core 8 over the years.  Fedora is now up to Fedora 13, with Fedora 14 coming out soon.  While Fedora has been nice because a newer version comes out every 6 months or so with more features, it is also a pain because the ATRPMS repo that I use for my Mythtv packages only supports the current and previous versions of the OS (currently 13 and 12).  Because of this it forces me to update my backend every six months or so, which inevitably means that my frontends also need to be updated to stay in sync which in turn means that my Mythtv network is down for repairs for a day or two while I work out the kinks that always pop up after an upgrade.

If you are interested in what I have since tried out and what I am looking into next, please read on.
Sep 17 2010

Blog - Niveus Media Discontinues Consumer High End Media Center PC Systems

If Ferrari stopped manufacturing sports cars, would that mean that cars in general are dead? That's the question posed to me today as I learned from confirmed sources that Niveus Media--the creators of arguably the most luxurious high end media center PC's you could imagine--has announced to their dealers that they will be discontinuing manufacturing of all of their consumer lines of Media Center systems. Instead Niveus (now rebranded and removed the Media from their name) will be turning their attention towards specialized software opportunites, such as Project Snowbird which will enable secure streaming and file transfer of premium content from copy protected service providers. Niveus manufacturing will continue on a modified scale now focused on volume digital signage opportunities.

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I have been assured that Niveus is not going anywhere as this transition was made due to the increased software demands and the desire to ensure that they aren't competing with their potential PC OEM customers who are also selling media center systems on a larger scale. From my understanding of the present CEDIA channel, less than expected sales probably had an influence as well. Existing customers will still receive the same support and warranty as promised upon purchase.

So where does that leave Media Center? On the heels of all the positive announcements from IDF regarding Windows 7 Embedded, I think this is just a small step towards a more streamlined Media Center PC. Gone are the days of the power hungry Denali's as the demand for something smaller, quieter, cooler and more affordable have taken over. For now, if you want to see more about what Niveus is up to, head over to their new website at Niveus.com .

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Sep 13 2010

Blog - Crap, it's not always Comcast

Let me start with a disclaimer, this does not pertain directly to home theaters, it is a simple lesson in my own humility.  And when it comes to technology, I very much dislike feeling stupid.  Read on if still interested, otherwise check out some of the new reviews.

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