Nov 25 2011

Blog - MythTV Reloaded - Day 15

I've done a bit more research into this remote control thing and found a couple of commands to use for debugging.  First is ir-keyboard.  If I run ir-keyboard with no options it will show me what device is found, what protocols it is capable of and which one(Drunk it is using.  In my case the output looks like:

Found /sys/class/rc/rc0/ (/dev/input/event5) with:

        Driver imon, table rc-imon-mce

        Supported protocols: RC-6

        Enabled protocols: RC-6

        Repeat delay = 500 ms, repeat period = 33 ms

In addition, I can run ir-keyboard -t and it will put the IR receiver into test mode.  Every time I press a button on the remote it puts up the codes and key names that it decodes.  According to this, everything it being seen properly and should be working.  I guess it's just an issue with the handoff to LIRC that's the problem.  I'm a step closer but still confused...

Again, I can say that the hardware is working fine and it's a software config issue that's holding me back.  Now to figure out what that is...

Nov 24 2011

Blog - MythTV Reloaded - Day 14

Well, I've had a bit of time to look into the new Fedora 15 load and it appears that without doing anything with LIRC at all I have basic directional pad controls on my remote working.  Volume also appears to work.  However, when I install LIRC and point it to lircd.conf.mceusb I get nothing when running irw.  If I do lsmod | grep imon I see that the imon driver is loaded by default, which is apparently what I should be seeing.  Obviously the hardware is connected right and recognized because some of the buttons work.  I guess I have a bit more research to do to figure out what has changed in this new kernel update.

At least I have hope now that I will reach my goal of a working remote eventually.  That's a step in the right direction anyway.  Any thoughts or ideas of things to try?  Leave me a comment!

Nov 23 2011

Blog - MythTV Reloaded - Day 13

Ok, after a good night sleep I have cooled down enough to be productive again.  I decided to reinstall Fedora 15, this time using KDE as the desktop instead of Gnome.  I'm sure that if I had dug into it far enough I could have figured out how to resolve the windowing issues that I was facing.  Maybe there was a desktop effect that I could have turned off somewhere or something but I didn't feel like figuring out that problem when all I want to do is get the MythTV frontend up and running.  So I decided to kill that installation and load up Fedora 15 with KDE as the desktop environment this time.  The rest of the install process was identical as far ask I can tell.  After I got the graphics drivers and MythTV installed I found that I did not have that screen corruption issue.

I did still face the second problem that I reported in my last entry - MythTV playback was corrupted.  This problem turned out to not be as big of a problem as I originally thought.  To fix it I went into the setup options for TV Settings -> Playback and changed the profile to High Quality.  Once I completed that, playback proceeded as normal.  I'm sure that down the road I may tweak the playback profiles some more to get a bit more out of it, but at least it works now.  That's as far as I'm going for now.  I'm still a little annoyed that I had to go through that in the first place.  

Needless to say, WAF is not at its highest right now.  Hopefully there will not be many more setbacks in this process.  Need to get that remote figured out...

Nov 22 2011

Blog - MythTV Reloaded - Day 12

Ok, it seems that every time I take a step forward I also take one back.  So before jumping into setting up the remote I decided to take a quick spin through the desktop and then MythTV to make sure the basics still work.  Now I'm very glad I did that.  I don't know exactly what's going on here because I've never seen anything like it but I'm getting some major visualization issues in my desktop.  What happens is that I open a window and everything looks fine.  Then if I try to move the window or resize it, the window tilts 45 degrees.  That's not the best description so try this.  Imagine a vertical bar that makes up one row of pixels.  Then shift that bar of pixels 45 degrees.  The edges of the windows wrap.  So instead of columns of icons like this: ||||| I see "columns" of icons like this: /////  It's all very messed up.  I wish I had a screen cap of it but I don't.

To make things even worse, I can get to Mythtv and the issue shows up there as well.  But that's only the start of the problem there...  If I try to launch a recording, the recording launches but the playback is at about half time and the image is almost like a checkerboard with the "white" squares showing the correct video image and the "black" squares showing orangish/red blocks.  Arg!  I'm about to give up!

Help me Obi Wan Kenobi.  You're my only hope!

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 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 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 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.

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