Nov 21 2011

Blog - MythTV Reloaded - Day 11

Welcome back to another exciting entry into what should have been a well planned out and straight forward upgrade from MythTV 0.21 to MythTV 0.24.  Here's a recap:

1) Upgraded the backend

2) "Upgraded" the frontend

3) Got MythTV working on Windows

4) Performed integration testing

5) Failed integration testing - Frontend no workey.  X-Windows doesn't load, then no remote

At this point I was faced with a decision - get a different IR receiver or load a new OS.  I decided to go with an OS upgrade.  This time around I went with Fedora 15 x64, primarily because it is the most recent version of Fedora that I already had downloaded.  Installation was very straight forward following procedures previously mentioned.  As it turns out, the kernel used in this version is so this gets me to the 2.6.38+ that I apparently need to get my remote working.  I didn't get so far as to test it out tonight but I did get Fedora loaded, MythTV installed and the graphics driver loaded.  Tomorrow I will verify that what I have so far is working and then dig into the remote some more.  Until then, have a good day/night depending on when you are reading this.

Nov 20 2011

Blog - TiVo Goes HTPC

When choosing the perfect chassis for a home theater PC (HTPC), something that is more "consumer electronics" (CE) looking is often desired. Missing Remote reader, Kirby Baker, didn't just buy off the shelf in his quest. He modified a TiVo Series 1 chassis and built an extremely capable HTPC inside. Kirby did an awesome job and it is a lot of fun to think about the possibilities of old CE chassis!

You can check out his original thread in our forums. After the gallery, is the system build list and description of the steps involved to modify the TiVo Series 1. We would love to see more of these creative re-uses so let us know if you've come up with something.


Here is the hardware list:

Nov 20 2011

Blog - MythTV Reloaded - Day 9

Tonight, while pondering my IR receiver, I decided to take it easy a bit and play around with MythTv Player on my laptop.  This has led me to another shortfall of my current setup in that I still need to get Mythweb running.  Mythweb is very handy for use with MythTv Player because the player doesn't have the ability to schedule recordings.  So instead I can do that from a web browser and Mythweb.  I  guess that's another thing I'll need to add to my list once I get the basic functionality worked out.  I'll try to do a guide for that as well.


Nov 20 2011

Blog - MythTV Reloaded - Day 10

I've been doing a bit of research today and it doesn't look good.  Getting the remote working a matter of installing LIRC (either with yum install lirc or else building it manually).  In the past, once it's installed, I've had to load the lirc_imon kernel module which is the driver for my Antec Fusion 430 Black IR receiver.  Then I would copy the correct lircd.conf file - in my case lircd.conf.mceusb - into /etc/lirc/lircd.conf.  Once the module is loaded and the config file is ready, you start the lirc daemon and then run irw.  At this point every time I press a button, it should register on the screen.  But that isn't the case this time around.

Nov 19 2011

Blog - MythTV Reloaded - Day 8

Today I spent a while poking at the frontend again.  If you will remember from yesterday the changeover didn't go quite as smoothly as I had hoped for.  When I turned on the frontend I was greeted with a black screen.  Eventually I was able to get to a command line but didn't get any further before going to bed.  After looking at a couple of things and trying to start X Windows manually I realized that I had forgotten to install the AMD graphics driver.  Once that was done I could get the system to boot into X Windows normally.  Mythfrontend started up just like it was supposed to and this quickly brought to light the next thing that I forgot to do - setup the remote control!  

Tomorrow I will begin looking at the remote control receiver and see if I can get that running.   Hopefully that will be as simple to get running also.  It's always gone fairly smoothly in the past but it's been a couple of years since I last did it so I may be a little bit rusty.  We'll see.  Until next time...

Nov 18 2011

Blog - MythTV Reloaded - Day 7

I think I'm ready to do a full system changeover tomorrow night.  That'll be the moment of truth.  We'll see how much I've missed at that point.  I'm sure there's something.

Why, oh why, did I have to say that?!

Nov 17 2011

Blog - MythTV Reloaded - Day 6

I am happy to say that after a couple of hours of Googling and poking at my MythTV server, I've fixed my issues causing my Windows MythTV install to not connect to my backend.  It turns out that it was a firewall issue no the backend after all.  When I configured the backend originally I had opened up the firewall to allow access to the MythTV specific ports (6543 and 6544) but it turns out that MySQL uses its own port (3306).  Once I opened that one up I was able to connect to my backend.  This wasn't an issue for me in the past because all of the installation instructions for MythTV said that to simplify setup you should disable the firewall and SELinux.  Current OSes do not have that option anymore during install so when I did the backend this time I tried for higher security by leaving the firewall and SELinux enabled.  Obviously it caused me some small problems but I feel better knowing that I have this protection while my server is hooked up to the network.  Expect a short guide on necessary firewall ports once this update process is finished.

In other news, I was also able to take the Windows installer for MythTV that was created as part of my build process and install it on my wife's laptop.  Her system is also able to access the backend after a quick test.  Things are now back on track.  For now I have set the server back to 0.21 so that we can use it today and tomorrow but I think I'm ready to do a full system changeover tomorrow night.  That'll be the moment of truth.  We'll see how much I've missed at that point.  I'm sure there's something.

Nov 16 2011

Blog - MythTV Reloaded - Day 5

Well, up until this point, everything has progressed exactly as planned.  As with all things that I do though, something must go wrong.  Well, now I have hit my first big speed bump with this build process.  Today I set my backend system to run the 0.24 install that I made a couple of days ago and that is still working fine.  After re-migrating the database, everything still shows up locally.  

The issue that I'm running into now is that when I launch the frontend application on my laptop I get an error message saying that MySQL couldn't connect to the database.  Eventually I get the initial setup screen asking for the language to use and then later what IP to use for the backend.  I set that up and then once again I cannot connect.

I poked around in the backend for a bit and noticed that there was a spot to set a PIN for the system.  The description said that a blank pin will reject all connections and a pin of 0000 will allow any system to connect to it.  Otherwise, the pin needs to match between backend and frontend(Drunk.  Just as a test, I set this to 0000 but I am still unable to connect to the backend.  When I setup the backend I made sure to open the firewall ports for Mythtv (6543 and 6544).  Not sure where to go from here.  Guess it's time for a bit of Googling.  Until I get it figured out, it's back to 0.21 for the backend.  Still no hickups for anyone other than me so WAF is still OK.

Nov 15 2011

Blog - Media Server Rebuild - Part 1

Server MotherboardI'm in the beginning stages of rebuilding my Windows Home Server box.  Feel free to check out my original blog for the current setup.  (Note that the blog hasn't been entirely reformatted for the new site.)  There, I stated that my intentions were for my first media server to last a minimum of 5 years.  The fact that I'm writing this just around 2.5 years after the original server went live may seem like I failed in epic fashion.  The truth of the matter, however, is that the server is still running fine and I firmly believe it would continue to meet my needs for at least another 2.5 years.  To quote Mythbusters, I'm calling this one "confirmed" (so far).

The reason I say that is because this won't be a complete rebuild of the server hardware itself.  In fact, my actual, original words were, "Meet current and unknown future needs over the next 5 years (minimum)" and it would appear that the hardware is succeeding in that regard... thus far.  But, it will still include some major changes.  First of all, in a fairly significant change of heart, I've decided to upgrade to Windows Home Server 2011 (more on that in a bit).  Second, I'll be moving to a virtualized environment on the server, with multiple client OS's running, consolidating at least one other computer into the server.  This may be a fairly big undertaking in the amount of underlying changes, but the technology I'm using has been around for quite some time, so I'm extremely optimistic this will be a productive change.

Here are my plans...

Nov 15 2011

Blog - MythTV Reloaded - Day 4

So far in this process of bringing my MythTV setup up-to-date I have upgraded my primary backend to 0.24 (but put the old hard drive back in so that it is compatible with the rest of the house running 0.21 still) and my primary frontend to 0.24 (but put in the old hard drive so people can still watch TV).  The last two systems that I have to be upgraded are my laptop and my wife's laptop.  Both of these laptops are running Windows 7 Professional.  Up to this point they have been running MythTv Player but one of the main things that I wanted to do with this upgrade is install the full MythTV native frontend so that they can have the full experience of MythTV.

To that end I decided to take a crack at building MythTV on Windows.  Details of the process are posted in the link.  The build process was not without speed bumps but in the end it appears that I have a functional Windows build of MythTV.  Tomorrow I will setup the new backend for a little bit and see how well the Windows build works with it.  I will have to re-migrate the MythTV database however because new shows have recorded since the original migration and I don't want to lose anything.  That would not help the WAF at all.  I think that's good enough for today.  :)

Nov 14 2011

Blog - MythTV Reloaded - Day 3

I think that the next most important system for me to get up and running is going to be the main frontend.  Again I've decided to load CentOS 6 onto a separate hard drive that I've got sitting around. Where did I get all of these extra drives, anyway?  Again, installation was fairly straight forward following the same Mythtv installation guide for Fedora.  This time through I skipped the steps related to configuring the backend since I will only be using this system as a frontend.  Since my backend is currently running MythTV 0.21 until I'm ready to do the final changeover I did not have a chance to do the final configurations that happen during the first time you run MythTV.  Specifically, I'm referring to designating the IP address or name of the backend.  By default the frontend will point to localhost (itself) as the backend to use.  So that is something that I will have to do later.

There were a couple of things that I did do though such as configuring automatic login (this is a dedicated MythTV system and I don't want to have to pull out a keyboard every time I want to watch TV) and automatically launching MythTV once logged in.  

That is about it for this system right now.  I've got it running a system update over night to pull in all of the latest packages and once that's done I may setup a VNC server on it so that I can do remote administration on it in the future as necessary.  First thing in the morning though, once the update is done, I'm going to put in the old hard drive so that the frontend can be used with the old backend while the rest of the systems get overhauled.  So far so good.  Two systems updated and nothing has been affected by it.  WAF still high.

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


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


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.



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 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,


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> ( </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.



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