Computers, Entertainment, Technology

I Finally have MythTV

After talking about for quite a bit, I finally have a computer setup running MythTV 🙂

I decided to go for MythDora. It has the advantage of being straight forward to use and still leaves me with a fully functional desktop computer (which KnoppMyth doesn’t really do. It did leave me one slight headache – I didn’t have a spare DVD drive (MythDora is 1.2GB) so I had to borrow the one from Windows desktop).

The hardware I have is pretty moderate (well, really low end for most applications – a Sempron 3200 and on board GeForce 6100 with a Hauppauge HVR 1300) but it runs as a combined backend/frontend without any problems, even when recording, transcoding and viewing TV (an “advantage” of living in a country where HDTV is still not an issue).

On the subject of transcoding, there was one stumbling point – specifically it just didn’t work at first (I got the illuminating error message “Failed with error code 0”). After posting the output to the MythTV-Users mailing list someone pointed out it was a MythDora packaging problem – libmp3lame hadn’t been installed.

The only thing that isn’t working now is the MCE IR blaster for controlling my Sky box (I’m just using Freeview though the DVB tuner on HVR 1300). lirc seems to be setup right since when I run irw and press buttons on my remotes (either the MCE remote that came with the HVR or the Sky remote) it detects them properly. Running irsend doesn’t do anything though (there’s not even an error). But at the moment I’m recording more than I can watch with just Freeview anyway…

Next time, less rambly 😛

Entertainment, Technology

The future of Stargate

In case you didn’t know, Stargate SG-1 has been “cancelled”. To be specific the Sci-Fi channel in America has decided not to pay for another series after series 10. But all is not lost. According to Wikipedia they will be making two straight-to-DVD movies by the end of the year (filming in April and June). The first will wrap up the Ori storyline and the other will be unrelated (check Wikipedia for some spoilers). Also another completely separate Stargate series is planned to start in 2008 :o)

Computers, Entertainment, Technology

Some progress with MythTV

I finally (technically) installed KnoppMyth (a Debian based Linux distribution designed just to run MythTV) today. I say technically since I installed it somewhere where I couldn’t connect any sort of TV signal up to it. So, although it works fine, I haven’t actually managed to test any of the important features.

The only part of the installation that was a problem was that the hard drive KnoppMyth uses must be the master device on the primary IDE channel. I had it on the secondary and it was not happy…

Computers, Entertainment, Technology

Zudeo and the BBC

Apparently the BBC will begin offering programmes for download though Zudeo, a movie sharing service similar to YouTube, owned by Azureus, the developer of a popular BitTorrent client.

Although the downloads will contain DRM, the very fact that the reputation of BitTorrent for illegal downloads hasn’t put the BBC off partnering with a company that relies on it says a lot about them.

Computers, Entertainment, Technology

Sky TV without a Sky box

At the moment I have a Sky subscription with a Sky box. The Sky box outputs to my computer which is running Media Center which can change channel on the box using an IR blaster. This isn’t ideal and also means that I’ll never get HD since the Sky box only sends an SD signal out of the scart/composite output. Surely there must be a way to connect the computer directly to the computer and receive TV that way?

Well there is. But there are issues. Firstly you need a DVB-S card. These are just digital TV capture cards that you can plug the cable from a satellite dish into. If you stop there you will be able to receive all the free-to-air channels. Oddly enough though that won’t get you all the free channels.

To get the encrypted Sky channels you will need a CAM – Conditional Access Module – with a card reader. In theory you just put your card in and set up your DVB card to use it. Of course anything to do with decrypting commercial stuff is never that easy. You see there are many different encryption methods and most CAMs don’t support them all (and some only support one). What’s even worse is the method used by Sky is VideoGuard from a company called NDS (which is owned by News Corporation, the company which owns Sky). And guess what? You have to pay a license to use it. That doesn’t mean you can’t physically use it though. There are a couple of CAMs (literally two from what I’ve read) that can decrypt VideoGuard signals but the legality is questionable. Which is silly since generally speaking you’ll still have a (paid for) Sky subscription card in the reader.

The other issue is Sky’s Terms and Conditions on this issue. They say that the card must stay in the box the whole time, that you can’t use the card for unauthorised purposes and that the card needs to be paired to a specific box. However it doesn’t actually say you need to use a Sky box and the very first thing it says is that you are bound to the conditions once you put the card in the box. So surely if you never do that you aren’t bound to the conditions..?