[nSLUG] PVR systems

Ted Tibbetts intuited at gmail.com
Fri Feb 11 00:09:52 AST 2011

On Thu, Feb 10, 2011 at 9:58 PM, Daniel Morrison <draker at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Back to the original question "is MythTV appropriate for a non technical
> person?".
> Ted carefully laid out four original questions -- I'm afraid that is
> not one of them.

I'm a bit afraid of that myself, since it was chief among the questions I
*intended* to pose.

Is it reasonable to expect a cost saving for a MythTV system vs a
proprietary box?  I would think that the proprietary boxes might be a bit
cheaper to build since they are not as general purpose.  Though, this may be
balanced out by the economy of scale in using general-purpose parts.  I
wouldn't expect that any tremendous amount of money is spent on OS
development for these things, so the proprietary software may not add much
to the price tag.

I'm intrigued by the remote sub-thread.  Good remote functionality is
essential, at least for my use case.  Having to use a keyboard would be a
sure dealbreaker.  Even as a gift.  Picture the intended recipient as the
subject of "$#!^ My Dad Says" and you may have some idea of what's needed.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that ext3, even with
journaling enabled, will normally run a periodic fsck based on elapsed time
(6 months?) or number of boots since the last check.  Although this doesn't
(in my experience) require user interaction -- unless you want to skip it --
it would be annoying to have to wait 10 minutes or whatever for it to finish
before you could watch TV.  But then maybe they've disabled the check, at
whatever peril that entails, or otherwise avoided such issues.  Actually it
seems like it would be ideal to run the core system off of a read-only
volume, maybe on a small flash drive.  You'd still have to wait for it to
fsck your terabytes of figure skating competitions or what have you, but at
least they could handle the situation more gracefully by doing it after boot
with some sort of informative user notification, and making some
functionality available in the meantime.

Daniel, thanks for the tip about the Shuttle.  It's not quite the right form
factor, though -- I think my target recipient would prefer something more
vcr-shaped that could fit into the limited height of the cabinet space under
the TV, especially if the thing has a DVD slot.  Also, it seems like a P4,
in addition to being hot, and thereby presumably loud, might not be able to
deal with the demands of HD.  My Pentium M 1.4GHz laptop is a bit too slow
to play compressed 1080p video without dropping frames.  Of course much of
this depends on how much work is done by the video card(s); the laptop has a
lustreless old intel craphics chip.  I noticed that one of the four Shuttles
has an Athlon 64 CPU; I'm not sure how they compare to the P4.

Anyway, thanks to all for your contributions.  I'm still very much undecided
on this, and any further revelations will be read with avid interest.


> On 10 February 2011 19:45, Michael Sutherland <mike at checkthisshitout.com>
> wrote:
> > On 2011-02-08, at 10:54 AM, Robin Murray wrote:
> >> My system would run for months and months with 0 issues, it just hummed.
> The remote worked fine. It's been used by kids of all ages and non-technical
> spouses, and rather than being turned off or frustrated by it, they never
> want to go back to regular TV again. This in itself speaks volumes.
> > I don't blame the remote issues on myth, I blame lircd :-), If you use a
> keyboard to navigate or haven't had the pleasure of capturing remote control
> codes using irw, then you then you have not gone far enough down the rabbit
> hole.
> Sounds like Robin didn't need to go "down the rabbit hole", since "the
> remote [has] been used by kids of all ages" without difficulty!
> Actually I am curious. Could the choice of remote play a major role in
> shaping users' experiences with MythTV? Do people just recycle their
> old VCR remotes, or are there particularly good third party ones? I
> own a SIMA SUR-25, which is programmable, and I was very happy with it
> when it was in use, but it's really big, even for someone like me with
> large hands. My VCR remote would be the next obvious candidate.
> >> Saying the mythtv community is rude is a generality. Like most other
> groups, the vast majority are great, with a few assholes sprinkled in.
> > Guess what bug was finally fixed?  Am I bitter? Yes...
> Sometimes nastiness is misdirected or misunderstood difficulties in
> communication. Many developers become impatient and short-tempered.
> You might consider proof-reading your communications, and editing for
> clarity.
> > Back to the original question "is MythTV appropriate for a non technical
> person?".
> Ted carefully laid out four original questions -- I'm afraid that is
> not one of them.
> > A simple example is after a power outage, a non technical user wouldn't
> know what to do when fsck rears its ugly head, but with a settop box, you
> just have to press power on the remote.
> fsck? ext4 ships by default on major distro's now, but you're still
> talking about a non-journaled filesystem like ext2? Linux runs on
> plenty of settop systems (and has done for a decade now). Also: with
> the money you saved on free PVR software, buy a UPS!
> Note: I have never used MythTV or been involved with it. I've been
> curious for some time however. While my instinct would be to try to
> install it myself, piece by piece, I'm sure I would test an all-in-one
> customized distro such as Mythbuntu before taking the plunge.
> Ted, if you're looking for a nice "low-profile, appliance-like box",
> consider a used Shuttle XPC. Here are some old eBay auctions (all
> <$100, but some needed parts) as examples:
> http://cgi.ebay.ca/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=140503671490
> http://cgi.ebay.ca/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=230577542674
> http://cgi.ebay.ca/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=380311327702
> http://cgi.ebay.ca/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=120673595646
> -D.
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