[nSLUG] PVR systems

George N. White III gnwiii at gmail.com
Sat Feb 12 09:21:23 AST 2011

On Fri, Feb 11, 2011 at 3:02 PM, Robin Murray <nibor.yarrum at gmail.com> wrote:

> This is where all the complexity sets in, trying to scope out the hardware
> that will give you a good mythtv experience. I'd been using built in
> haupauge cards but found they sometimes produced a herring-bone picture. I
> think if I got back into this again I'd use external USB units to reduce
> interference. I wireless keyboard is great for using your large-screen tv
> for internet access. Keep in mind you have a full system at your disposal,
> not just an appliance PVR, so you can pause your show, check your email,
> update facebook, and go back to your show again.

Until recently, my home PC tended to get busy rebuilding big systems (texlive,
a NASA remote sensing package, and sagemath) that took days on a P4.
I considered mythTV but would have had to research and build another
system and the spare time wasn't there, so we have an Eastlink DVR.
My observations:

1.  it is understandable that the mythTV developers are sometimes
grumpy -- I'm sure they get a huge number of questions for which
answers are readily available.   I suspect mythTV attracts users who
have little understanding of the FOSS community and come with the same
attitude they would use with support for a commercial product.

2.  I use the DVR for time-shifting.  It is important that the
database be accurate.  Too often broadcast times slip from those in
the advertised schedule.  This is especially true for live sporting
events where there can be weather delays, etc. but too often the
schedule does not match reality and you end up with only part of the
program or some entirely different program.  It pays to search for
repeat broadcasts and try to get 2 copies of programs so one will be

3.  the commercial DVR is not nearly 100% reliable.  Sometimes the
display gets corrupted and you have to cycle power to get it back, and
a couple times we have had to call customer service to get it working
(software reload?).  I'd rather run fsck than go thru cust. support,
but my wife feels the opposite.

4.  there is an enormous amount of entertaining and educational video
on the web.  Many MIT and Stanford entry level courses are available,
as are many lectures from conferences on computing topics.  Having a
full system that is dedicated to the TV might make it easier to take
advantage of such materials, although I find my TV time is interrupted
too often to get much out of a technical lecture.

George N. White III <aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca>
Head of St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia

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