Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Hidden Costs

nVidia PureVideo Drivers

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Switching to Microsoft MCE

MythTV keeps crashing on me, even when I watch non-HD shows. I am done with downloading the latest code, rebuilding and restarting the computer. I have therefore decided to switch to Microsoft Media Center for Entertainment 2005 (MCE 2005), as I believe they have no software bugs whatsoever :)

Since the firewire option does n't work with MCE anymore, I am purchasing a dual-TV tuner from Hauppauge (WinTV-PVR-500MCE PCI-Tuner) to record programming. This TV tuner card allows me to record one show and watch another simultaneously or record two shows at the same time.

Cost: $133 (

Monday, June 06, 2005

Downcast with Comcast

Comcast has more than one reason to bring me sorrow. I swapped in/out three Comcast HDTV receivers in the last month because they kept switching off randomly. In my last visit to the local Comcast store, I was pitched the new DVR Comcast HDTV receiver which only costs $5 extra per month. Although It doesnt provide any of the additional plug-ins like MythTV does (that I still havent gotten working)...the integrated viewing capability is very enticing. It provides 15 hours of HDTV and 90 hours of non-HD recordings with a maximum of two simultaneous recordings. Also, I records any HD content even from movie channels like HBO.

My biggest gripe is that my present Comcast receiver has disabled the firewire port that provided my MythTV box access to the unencrypted HDTV feed.

I am contemplating putting Microsoft MCE 2005...I hope things change before I do that.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Tad Tuner, 802.11g

The story so far...I got a backend AMD64 Linux machine connected to my Television. It records HDTV and non-HDTV content from the firewire connection okay but...
- Comcast deactivates the firewire when any of the movie channels including IFC are selected.
- Installing the new nVidia drivers has resulted in my Television display gone all awry. For the interim, I am watching the non-HD shows on my PowerBook.

To watch IFC and Encore (dont like many of their movies actually) I will need to get a TV Tuner card and connect it via S/Video. The Hauppauge 350 is an option although I have exceeded the budget.

I need to tweak with the display properties (xorg.conf)...for this I will finally need to read the television manual. I like the PowerBook option, but can not hope to use it with the HD recordings as I only have a 802.11b wireless router which supports a maximum 11 Mbps transfer rate...and my PowerBook doesnt support the 802.11g option.

Now I am staring at an 802.11g wireless gateway along with a PCMCIA card. The Apple Airport Base station and Airport Extreme look like good options although they are very pricey. If MythTV decides to support iSeeiTunes like TiVo, then it might be an interesting option.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Scope Creep - PowerBook Support

I originally intended to have only the Shuttle box in my living room...but with my Mom visiting I need to provide MythTV watching capabilities on my PowerBook as well so she can watch her Zee TV and I can watch my shows.

I tried the easy way by installing a VNCServer on my backend and a VNCViewer on my MAC OS X and running mythfrontend in a session. The GANT theme looked alright but I couldnt watch the shows or any recordings.

Luckily MythTV supports multiple front ends that can connect to a backend (very scalable). I followed the instructions in MythOnMacOsx. Instructions were easy to follow although a bit out-to-date regarding the mysql client part. I made the correction and also my first contribution to the MythOnMacOsx wiki.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Shopping Cart Contents

Here are the system specifications at the checkout counter...
Shuttle XPC SN95G5 SFF Case with nForce3 Motherboard: $288
AMD Athlon 3200+ Processor: $190
Sony DVD+-RW Drive: $52
nVidia GeForce FX5200 Video Card: $53
Seagate 200 GB HDD: $130
1 GB DDR: $110

Frys Electronics
Firewire Cable

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Living on the Edge - HDTV Support

"If you are not living on the edge, you are taking too much space."

To watch shows in HDTV, one first needs an HDTV input. I have Comcast's Digital Cable and get a few channels on hi-def. Some local TV stations air HDTV content terrestrially. This provides me with several options:
  1. Use a TV Tuner card that supports HDTV content from Comcast
  2. Use a TV Tuner card, like pcHDTV or Air2pc that allows me to receive terrestrial HDTV content using an antenna
  3. Use the firewire output from the Comcast receiver containing the decrypted HDTV content.
I decided to go with #3 as it meets the cheap/inexpensive criteria. Firewire support was recently included in the latest 0.17 release of MythTV but is getting better in the top of the trunk. I have decided to use the freshest sources from the CVS repository to build my mythtv.

Very bleeding edge!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


"Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice."

My quest for owning/building a Home Theater Personal Computer (HTPC) is fraught with challenges. The biggest one of them is about making the right choices. From the overarching solution down to the processor there are multiple options:

Assembled boxes:
TiVo, ReplayTV, Microsoft Media Center for Entertainment Boxes, Comcast DVR
MythTV, SageTV, Microsoft MCE

Intel Pentium, AMD Athlon, AMD 64...

Computer Case:
Dell, Shuttle, Alienware, Mac Mini

TV Tuner Card:
Hauppauge, pcHDTV, Air2PC,

Ultimately, my options will be limited to and selected based on these criteria.

- HDTV Support
- Quiet/Noiseless
- Remote Control support
- Music Library
- DVD Library
- News Feeds
- $$$