Blogs

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.

Denali.png

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 .

Niveus.png

 

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.

Sep 10 2010

Blog - Shutoff your HTPC when not in use!

These features have been widely available in Mythtv since at least 2008 but in the last couple weeks I have finally been able to implement ACPI shutdown/wakeup for my Mythtv server.  Using the information found here I have setup my backend to power off when not recording a show.  The system automatically sets the time of the next recording and will wake up 5 minutes before hand.  Also, if there is a show starting within the next 90 minutes it will not shut itself off.  Otherwise, the system will automatically turn itself off after 20 minutes of idleness.  All of the specific time values are user-definable and can be set to whatever you want.  I've had my setup running this way now for about 3 weeks and it has been flawless for me (other than the one time that the BIOS hiccupped when detecting hardware and prevented a proper boot sequence).

There are still a couple of areas that I need to improve.  I would like to set the system to suspend instead of shutdown and I need to set the frontend systems to wake the backend when starting up.  I'm sure that I'll be tweaking the various time settings for a little while too, but I am very happy with this setup right now.

If you haven't already done something similar in your HTPC software you should definitely consider looking into it.  What started me down this path?  I looked at last month's electric bill.  I've been meaning to do it anyway but that was enough to push me along.

Good luck and leave a comment with your experiences if you decide to do this with your system.

Sep 06 2010

Blog - Mythtv for Windows

I am happy to say that I now possess two Windows based laptops that each have the Mythtv frontend software built natively on them.  The Mythtv devs have been very busy over the lasts couple of weeks putting together a server to host all of the Mythtv dependencies - MinGW, MSYS, etc - so that the build script will reliably build for Windows users.  You are no longer forced to see if there is an updated package when the build script is unable to find the version that it was expecting.  I can say from experience with both this script and the previous versions that this one is much easier to use.  The process is still the same but you save a lot of time and headache not hunting down the dependencies.

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Aug 12 2010

Blog - Introducing TunerSalad! (aka I need more tuners…)

Introducing TunerSalad! (aka I need more tuners…)

Now that the Ceton InfiniTV 4 has been released, are four CableCARD tuners just not enough? The My Channel Logos (MCL) Development Team has answered your prayers (well complaints).

Tuner Salad

Aug 11 2010

Blog - Getting your Ceton InfiniTV 4 this week? Some hints to a successful install...

 

First, let me start off with an apology.  I've been burning the midnight oil but still have some tests left for Part II of my Ceton InfiniTV 4 review.  It is getting there and if you do have any questions, please ask.

With the delay in Part II and consequently Part III I wanted to share some hopefully helpful hints for a successful install.

 

Ceton InfiniTV 4 

 

Aug 04 2010

Blog - I bought a new HDTV...and it's not 3D

8/10 UPDATE:
The unit arrived this morning! Absolutely beautiful. Haven't had a chance to play with it much yet, but thought I would share the picture!

plasma2.jpg

A bit of a history lesson--I have been putting off buying a new HDTV for quite some time. When I first moved to the bay area about 4-5 years ago, I bought a used 32" Westinghouse 720p LCD television, knowing that I would be moving several times and only having it in my bedroom. Shortly after, I got a job working for a home theater company which loaned me a 40" Vidikron for me to test with, 1080p of course, so that also helped with the postponement of my own purchase. That TV was in the living room and the good ol' Westinghouse went in the bedroom. Long story short, that job ended, the TV was returned and I was stuck back to my 32" in my main living room at a lower 720p resolution. The resolution downgrade actually didn't affect me as much as dropping a mere 8" from 40" back to 32".

I decided to have a conversation with our resident AV Expert Andrew Van Til, the very proud owner of a Panasonic VT25 3D 1080p HDTV television set, who once again encouraged me to purchase a new TV to "properly test and evaluate for MissingRemote." This would come to be the most expensive instant messenger conversation of my life, as that was a good enough sales pitch for me...and thus the hunt for the right TV began!

Let me establish my own guidelines I setup before doing any actual research:

  1. I did not want to spend over $1000 -- I know I will move at some point within the next few years since I'm a renter, so not worth a bigger investment to me; plus I knew at that price I could get a pretty awesome set that compared to either Vidikron or Westinghouse which are both older models would blow it away.
  2. No 3D --  This is a combination of factors. Price as noted above was going to make it difficult to budget and get 3D technology, and if the TV hit my price WITH 3D, it probably wasn't going to be a high quality set. The main reasons however are that I would have little use for it, seeing as I only subscribe to basic cable...so I would essentially be paying the extra cost for the few Blu-rays I *might* rent that would be in 3D. I know the future can hold blah blah, but that's where budgeting only $1000 comes into play. If 3D takes over the world in 3-5 years, I can graduate this one and be able to justify buying a new one with 3D THEN.
  3. No frills/extras needed -- I rent an apartment, so wall mounting was OUT so it must have a stand. But as far as any technical extras go, I don't need Netflix, Yahoo or any other crazy pointless widgets these TV companies are coming up with these days--that's why I use an HTPC!
  4. 24p Not required -- This heavily would hit up against my #1 point, as it's a very expensive feature, and I just don't feel I would notice the difference enough to justify the price hit. Also since I'm running an Intel HTPC, I would have to deal with some issues there as well with handling the automatic rate switching.
  5. Tuner not necessary -- obviously since I have everything going through my HTPC, all my content goes through that including television tuning.
I was hoping to make this a quick blog...but it's not :-) So click Continue reading to read the rest!
Jul 07 2010

Blog - Update: HD PVR for Windows Media Center

Minor update, Hauppauge added another registry key so the version being released will be 1.0.28190. The only change is that the FlushOnChannelChange registry was split into two settings, FlushOnChannelChange and PauseOnChannelChange.
 

We were lucky enough to get early access to a forthcoming updated beta driver, 1.0.28188, from Hauppauge for their HD PVR support for Windows Media Center. Normally we would update our original Preview: HD PVR for Windows Media Center and leave a comment or two about what was new—that would not do it justice.

HD-PVR

So what is new?  Honestly not much.  Before you question my sanity let me explain. The currently available beta driver, 1.0.28171, is fairly stable and works as intended. For those that are already using the beta, there simply isn't much to add.

What they did add is huge for those hesitant to try the beta, in particular they have 1- added support for external blaster applications; 2- added the ability to toggle whether channel changing stops the encoder and flushes the internal queues or not to.

I am a 64-bit fanboy, but for those using 32-bit versions of Windows 7 this means you can continue using firewire channel changing via Tim M. Moore's FireSTB or any command line based channel changing method you currently use with DVBLink.

For those sticking with the internal HD PVR blaster, you can optionally choose to continuing using it in addition to an external blaster application.  This can help troubleshoot any channel changing issues that may occur by logging channel change requests.

For existing beta users there are a couple of fixes and new options.  The most prominent being the ability to toggle whether channel changing stops the encoder and flushes the internal queues or not to.  What does this mean?  By default the drivers will stop encoding when changing channels, this can cause a delay in Windows Media Center and consequently the dreaded low signal error.  You now have the option to turn that off. 

On a negative note, the external blaster application is currently only available via manually editing the various registry settings.  If that isn't improved by the public release I will provide an easy tool to configure the various settings.

There are a few other settings available so I urge you to read the upcoming release notes in detail.  If you have any questions please let me know.

A big kudos to the Hauppauge team working on the HD PVR for Windows Media Center support.  It is clear that they are listening to feedback and making progress towards an official Windows Media Center driver.

Update

I've gotten the OK from Hauppauge to share the change log.  Please note that it is subject to change.

1.0.28190 Change Log

- Include latest WHQL’d HDPVR analog driver. 

- Include latest IR support for compatibility with other Hauppauge products. 

- Added “Blaster” registry key 

 

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\PSWTuner\SWT_HDPVR\Blaster] 

 

And several values to control blaster operation (defaults shown): 

 

• "ActiveBlaster"=dword:00000001  

0 - no blaster 

1 - use HDPVR blaster 

2 - launch external blaster application 

 

Used to select the active blaster.  This is a bitwise value so multiple bits can be set.  

When set to “external” the application specified by "ExtAppName" will be launched with 

the command line parameters specified by "ExtAppArgs". 

 

• "FlushOnChannelChange"=dword:00000001 

0 - internal queues are not flushed after blasting 

1 - flush internal queues after blasting

 

• "PauseOnChannelChange"=dword:00000001 

0 - encoder is not paused before blasting 

1 - pause encoder before blasting 

 

• "IntOpenMode"=dword:00000000 

 0 – internal blaster port is opened once and handle saved for subsequent use. 

 1 – internal blaster port is opened/closed on each use

 

Opening the blaster once provides faster operation but the saved handle will be 

invalidated if any other application accesses the blaster hardware. Once the handle is 

invalid the MCE software will not be able to blast. For example, if you test the blaster 

operation using BlastCfg.exe you must reboot the PC (or restart the service) or the 

blaster will fail when MCE next tries to change the channel. 

 

• "ExtAppName"="D:\MyTests\blast.exe" 

Used to specify the full path and name of an external blaster application.  External blaster 

mode must be enabled in "ActiveBlaster" for the application to be executed.  Do not 

include opening and closing quotes in the value you specify. 

 

• "ExtAppArgs"="-c%c" 

Use to specify the command line parameters passed to the application specified in 

"ExtAppName".  The MCE software will replace the first occurrence of %c in the 

command line with the channel number to be blasted. 

 

Jul 01 2010

Blog - Sage My Movies Preview

PluckyHD has done some amazing things with SageTV, the most popular being Sage Movie Wall.  Instead of converting the wall for Sage V7, he's been working on a port of MyMovies for Sage V7 conveniently called Sage MyMovies (SMM).  The private beta has been running for a couple months now and what he has accomplished not only gives V7 users a fantastic replacement for the stock video library but also highlights what the new animation and rendering system in V7 is capable of. 

Now SMM isn't quite ready for a public beta (probably not until the end of July), but Plucky has decided it's time to share some screen shots and a video that will give all the Sagies out there something to look forward to.
Jun 29 2010

Blog - What's happening?

It seems that it's been a while since I last updated my blog. At that time I was looking at running the various Mythtv-based linux distrobutions.  Among the distrobutions that I had mentioned are Mythdora, Mythbuntu and LinHES.  At the time, I had tested Mythdora. Well, I recently found myself with a bit of free time so I decided to load up Mythbuntu 10.04.  I have to say that if you're new to Linux and want to take Mythtv for a test drive, it doesn't get much easier.  It was litterally a matter of answering a couple of questions during installation to determine which pieces you want installed (frontend, backend, etc) and then a regular Mythtv configuration from there.

Looking at these newer distrobutions made me start thinking about upgrading my production Mythtv network.  It is currently running version 0.21 and Mythtv is up to 0.23.  So this got me thinking, what distrobution would be best for a dedicated Mythtv backend?  The reason that I'm in this situation is because my current system is based on Fedora Core 8.  Mythtv was installed from packages provided by atrpms.net.  Unfortunately, this repository only supports the three most recent versions of Fedora and Redhat.  Fedora is now up to 13, with Fedora 14 coming soon I'm sure.  This means that in order to get support for my current Mythtv setup I would first have to update the OS from Fedora 8 to Fedora 13.  With a major jump like this I just know that I'm asking for trouble. 

One option would be to backup the Mythtv database, wipe the system clean and start with a fresh installation of Fedora 13.  However, I don't want to find myself in this situation again in a couple of years.  So I thought that I would throw this out to the community: What Linux distrobution would you recommend for a backend system?  I'd like to be able to keep Mythtv up-to-date without having to update the OS itself every six months or so.  Whenever I do an upgrade it inevitebly causes something to break, which brings down WAF for a couple of days. 

So what should I do?  Leave a comment!

Jun 17 2010

Blog - What Do You Want to See Turned Into a Movie?

As a consequence of George’s [Skirge] well deserved ridicule in this week’s Blu-ray Releases thread, I realized I was a sucker for epics and I am guessing George is as well (*cough* Waterworld *cough*).  You may further mock me for leaping from Waterworld and Dances with Wolves to timeless classics such as The Battle of Algiers, Lawrence of Arabia, Spartacus, Ben-Hur and Braveheart but I did just that.  While reminiscing, my mind wandered to thoughts of what other epic films I would like to see made.

I realize everyone’s definition of what entails an “epic” film will vary but here is my list.

  • Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
  • Imajica, by Clive Barker
  • Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert A. Heinlein
  • God of War, video game series
  • The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester (no Jumper was not good enough)
  • Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
  • The Dark Tower Saga, by Stephen King (broken into at least 3-4 movies)

What book, video game, comic book, graphic novel, cartoon, etc do you want to see turned into a movie?

Jun 17 2010

Blog - Comcast Flubs ESPN3D Rollout

I love soccer – watching, playing even coaching is fun most of the time :).  So when Comcast announced that they would be carrying ESPN 3D in time for the World Cup I was very excited.  But even though ESPN 3D went live on Friday June 11th for South Africa v. Mexico I still haven’t watched a game.
May 07 2010

Blog - HTPC Client Woes

Recently, my normally rock-solid HTPC client has been locking up and turning off every so often.  I had been thinking it was a memory issue and swapping some of the chips out and/or putting them in different slots seemed to make it work again.  This, in spite of the fact that memtest showed no issues at all.  I was beginning to think the slots themselves might be bad in the motherobard.  However, it's still happening.  Now, I'm beginning to suspect a failing PSU, so I'm looking for some options.  That Enermax reviewed earlier this week by SPCR sounded ideal, but it's simply not available here in the states.

I'm currently thinking about the Seasonic X-650 due to the modular cables and SPCR's glowing review .  I definitely want quiet, efficient, and modular.  650W sounds like overkill, but it's my understanding that you generally want to run a PSU at about 50-60% of its capacity.  A 450-500W unit would be ideal for my HTPC, it would seem that, based on the chart on this page , the Seasonic is my best bet.  Any other suggestions?  I'm also trying to find a decent price ($160 seems the going rate at reputable stores).  Newegg isn't usually an option for me because of shipping and sales tax.

Apr 08 2010

Blog - Heatwave HTPC fun!

I've been happily chugging along with my SageTV server /client setup for some time now.  After 2 major snowstorms here in the northeast, accumulating a very unusual 48+ inches, only to be followed shortly thereafter by 2 rainstorms, which wound up with FEMA assistance coming in to some areas, we are now coming to the end of our first--quite early in the season--heatwave this week.  Monday started off in the low to mid 70's, ramping all the way up to nearly 90 yesterday.

Normally, this heat would be very welcome at this point, but it managed to bring about an issue in my SageTV setup.  It would seem that one of my HD-PVRs is having heat-related issues.  I have two of them side-by-side and only one was acting up around 10pm last night.  I had to reboot every time because it was a hard lock.  SageTV threw up a recording error in the middle of the show we were watching, so I immediately knew something was up.  The other HD-PVR was recording fine through all of this.

Luckily, I purchased a spare HD-PVR when I was initially having issues getting them working and was able to swap them out quite easily.  I set the backup HD-PVR to record something for the next hour and it did so without any issue whatsoever.  Given the heat we're due to have again today, I'll be watching this very closely to see if the backup has any issues.  If not, it's RMA time!

Apr 07 2010

Blog - Vacation Update

Hey guys.  Here's a little tidbit that I thought I should share.  I was at Sea World yesterday with the family and while we were waiting to get on one of the rides in the kids play area the ride attendant directed that we "secure all cameras, video cameras, cell phones and Ipads."  I don't think that this is part of the official script yet but still...  It's been what, four days since they were made available?

Apr 04 2010

Blog - Vacation time

Hello to everyone from California.  This week my family is on vacation in California.  Yesterday we thought it would be fun to take the little tyke to Disneyland.  She loved it.  So did I.  But the reason that I'm writing this post is because while we were there we went to the Innoventions exhibit in the Tomorrowland section.  It looks like they recently updated the facility because they had Media Center systems all over the place.  Everywhere you looked was another Media Center PC or a Control4 wall panel or a digital photo frame in one size or another.  It was all based on HP equipment - touch screens, monitors, printers, etc, etc.  There were a bunch of Xbox360s and lots of other displays like that. 

The other thing that caught my attention there was the Microsoft Surface.  If you aren't aware of what it is, it's a multitouch input/display device.  It is able to track as many fingers as you want to use.  This is the first time that I've seen one of these in person although I've been following the technology for a number of years.  In fact, it has interested my so much in recent weeks that I've started collecting pieces to build my own over the last two months.  So although it will probably take a few months to build it up, keep your eyes on the website here because I plan to blog about my build process.  When it's all done I intend to do a guide that you guys can all follow if you find yourself interested and want to build one for yourself.

That's all I've got for now folks.  Back to the warm sun.
Tim (Lothar)

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