Oct 08 2010

News - Weekly Podcast Roundup, October 7th 2010

Sorry for the late posting of the podcast roundup, traveling for work this week, but it's here! Is it just me or is there a TON of podcasts in the past week. Guess it's the month of October, including one of my favorites--HTPCentric!  Enjoy!

Joining us this month is Brent Evans of Geektonic.com.  Brent’s been a SageTV user for some time and he walks us through the pros and cons as well as the big changes that have happened with the company over the last year.  Whether you’re a beginner, someone who’s considering SageTV as an HTPC solution or just want to decide if you should upgrade to the Version 7 beta, Brent has you covered..

If you know of a podcast you would like added to the weekly roundup, please do e-mail me at mike (at) missingremote dot com and I'll make sure to add it's RSS to my list!



Oct 07 2010

News - Logitech Revue with Google TV details

There's been so much news about the new GoogleTV box since they had their press showing this week, but I've been tentative to comment on anything until something more concrete came around. Here's engadget's details on it, and it's much more in depth than what I've seen. I've been skeptical of the GoogleTV box since I first heard about it's details, and judging by the price and information here...I don't think I was that far off base. The comments from Engadget are spot on--the video conferencing features are great, and at an amazing price if the quality keeps up, but everything else is just meh. I read somewhere and I agree, this feels very MSN TV to me. Let's hope it doesn't fail like that one did. Seeing as GoogleTV is built off of its Android platform, I think good things are coming here, but I'm taking a cautious approach. Personally...just give me that keyboard. *drool*

In fact, that's our biggest takeaway here -- there's potential all over the place here, but very little of it is actually realized. The Revue is a really nice way to get Chrome on your TV with Flash 10.1, the video conferencing system is slick, and we're definitely psyched to see what Android devs do with the platform, but potential alone isn't necessarily worth $450. That impression might change after we get our hands on a review unit, but we'll have to see -- leaving a netbook on the couch is pretty convenient, after all.


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.



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 05 2010

News - Help a Charity and Enter to Win, Courtesy of DMZ

Not sure how nobody else posted it, but one of my favorite podcast guys and fellow HTPC geeks at TheDigitalMediaZone are having a wonderful contest full of great prizes. To participate you make a donation to Child's Play Charity organization, and then you have a chance to win some great stuff! Go help a good cause and hey, maybe you'll win some new toys.
We’ve decided that we want to help out some kids.  As such, we’re asking for a $5 donation to Child’s Play in order to enter the contest.  You can enter as many times as you’d like.  The sky is the limit and only you can decide how much you want to help out or how badly you want to win.  100% of all donations go straight to Child’s Play and will help provide long-term care children across the country gaming platforms and other things to make their stay at the hospital just a bit easier.  Even if you choose not to participate in our contest, we encourage you to help out.


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