The Deliverator – Wannabee

So open minded, my thoughts fell out…

Archive for the 'The Boob Tube' Category

The Silver Screen

Posted by Deliverator on 23rd September 2007

My recent trip to the Toronto International Film Festival, amongst other things, definitely hammered home one point; there are just some movies that demand to be seen on a big screen. While I sometimes relish the experience of going to a movie in a packed theater on opening night, more and more I have become annoyed with traffic, parking hassles, overpriced junk food, crying babies, cell phones, annoying ads and previews I couldn’t give a rats ass about, and thugs watching me pick my nose with “nightvision” flashlights. Unfortunately, my living situation doesn’t let me get away with my brother’s massive 56″ DLP TV and surround sound setup, but watching Blackhawk Down at his place during my recent trip definitely made me think about what I could manage. I did some casual research into current projector offerings which made me think that maybe current projector tech wasn’t such a bad alternative these days.

After returning to Seattle, I worked some late nights getting caught up on the backlog of work induced by my trip to Toronto. A few nights ago, while picking up a hard drive at Best Buy (not my first choice of shopping locations by any means) to replace a failed drive in a point of sale machine, I couldn’t help but check out their projectors. They had the Optoma HD 70, a unit about which I had read rave reviews in my brief research, and at a steal of a price. I picked it up and have gleefully been watching movies from my bed for the last few nights.

So far I really like the HD 70. It offers native 720p resolution (1280×720) at the same price as many 1024×768 entry level projectors, has inputs for every video type imagineable (composite, component, s-video, vga and HDMI), has a well designed, backlit remote and on screen display and is remarkably quiet for the amount of heat it has to dissipate. My one worry about projectors has always been the artificially high cost of replacement bulbs ($275-300 for the HD 70). The manufacturer claims 2-3k hours of use per bulb. If it gets the advertised life, I will consider the bulb replacement cost more than fair trade for the “joys” of seeing a movie outside the home these days. For the present, I am going to try to do the bulk of my movie watching on my own silver screen.

Posted in Media, Movies, The Boob Tube | No Comments »

Slingbox AV

Posted by Deliverator on 14th April 2007

So, I bought a Slingbox AV at Compusa the other day. The Slingbox is a funky little device that fills a niche that nobody even new existed until a few years ago. It lets one watch YOUR TV (or other video outputting device) where-ever you happen to be. It streams the video to you over whatever network connection (including Internet) you happen to have handy, and is smart enough to adjust the bitrate on the fly to suit your connection. There is viewing software available for Windows, Windows Mobile, Palm OS and Mac (the latter two being long promised/advertised and only recently being delivered). The Slingbox also includes a built in IR blaster to allow you to remotely control the connected audio video equipment. There are tons of supported AV devices which currently work with the Slingbox and include nicely designed on screen controls. In principle, the IR blaster should be able to control just about any audio/video equipment, but there is no facility that I can see to “train” it to use your remote’s control code should your device not be currently supported.

Set up of my device was as painless as could be. I plopped it on top of my TV, positioned the IR blasters in front of my Tivo, hooked up S-Video and RCA audio cables (included), plugged in the Wifi Taco in bridged mode and plugged in the power cable. I then downloaded and installed the latest client software. The software found my device, updated the firmware, helped me adjust some settings for best viewing and a few short minutes later I was viewing and controlling my Tivo from my laptop. Video quality at 640*480 at 1700 kbps average bitrate was quite good. I watched Ronin, a movie with a lot of car chases (some consider it to have the best car chases ever seen in film), gun fights and lots of fast action and I was quite pleased with the video quality and lack of tearing.

I also set up my router to allow for remote viewing/control of the Tivo from the internet. The quality was quite watchable at 320*240 given my limited upstream bandwidth (3/4 mbit).

If you are a TV junky or frequent traveller, a Slingbox is a great way to get access to your media while out of the house, and a simple way to sling your media to whatever device is most convenient while within your home.

Posted in Media, Portable Computing/Gadgets, Tech Stuff, The Boob Tube, Tivo & PVR, Wireless | No Comments »

Via EPIA SP13000 based mini-media center

Posted by Deliverator on 17th January 2006

My new Via Epia SP13000 arrived today. This is the 5th EPIA motherboard I have owned over the years and it is the fastest to date. The MII 12000 that powers the carputer comes close, but this new board edges it out in several ways. The SP 13000 has Via’s latest generation EDEN processor clocked at 1.33 ghz and is the first Via Mini-ITX system to support DDR 400 memory. All previous systems ran on slower PC133 or DDR 266. The SP 13000 also features 2 SATA ports (in addition to 2 eide ports). Given the small places people try to cram mini-itx boards, the nice thin cables used by SATA is a very welcome change from trying to deal with big fat eide ribbon cabling. The SP13000 also features USB 2.0 and Firewire, although the board only has two backplane mounted USB ports and all other ports are offered as pin headers only. Given the increasingly universal use of USB for connecting to virtually all peripherals, it would have been nice if they had included a few more USB ports on the backplane.

I installed my new SP13000 motherboard along with 512 MB of Kingston DDR 400 into my existing media center case and did a fresh install of XP and all the fixings. Along the way I updated the bios to 1.07, which I am happy to note adds support for 1280*768 resolution. The picture looks fabulous on the Hitachi 32″ now. I broke in the new system by playing some high resolution + high bitrate XVID encoded videos. The system handled playback like a champ and didn’t come close to pegging the CPU. I need to perform some additional upgrades, though before I am ready to call this project done. Here is what I have in mind:

– The existing single platter hard drive is lacking in capacity and voom. Will probably replace with 250 GB SATA drive from my main desktop and upgrade the desktop drive to a 400-500 GB SATA drive, likely one of the Seagate 7200.9 series drives.

– Replace existing case with a mini-itx case that can support a PCI card or two via a riser.

– Get a PCI 802.11g card with a decent external antenna to replace the Orinoco USB 802.11b client adapter I am currently using. I recently installed a Linksys WAP54G in G only mode upstairs and I just need a good G client adapter to go with it. I have pretty much decided trying to do streaming on a .11b link is a pain in the ass. NO, I CAN’T/WON’T RUN CABLE.

– Install recently purchase slimline DVD-RW

– Mount all gear out of sight.

– Set up software on minimedia to automatically download all Tivo content and de-drm it. Get .11G client adapter for Tivo to improve transfer rates (currently still on a WET11 bridge).

Posted in General, Media, Tech Stuff, The Boob Tube, Tivo & PVR | 27 Comments »

Media Center Mark 2

Posted by Deliverator on 6th January 2006

I managed to get my exisiting media computer working on the new Hitachi 32″ HDTV – mentioned previously. I had great difficulty getting my media box to output a VGA signal to which the Hitachi could sync. I managed to get an old IBM laptop with VGA out to work with little difficulty, so I knew the VIA Epia M motherboard was at fault. To get the Epia working with the Hitachi’s VGA input I needed to flash the bios, update the display drivers and perform a little registry hacking. I was eventually able to get the Epia working at 1024*768, but not at the more optimal 1280*768. At 1024*768 I either waste large areas of potential screen real-estate to the left and right of the area being displayed to black columns, or I can choose to stretch the image and distort everything being displayed. At 1280*768 I would only be wasting a small ammount of space, as the Hitachi’s native resolution is 1366*768. Unfortunately, VIA only wants to output extremely common resolutions like 640*480, 800*600, 1024*768 and 1280*1024. I tried using Entech PowerStrip, an extremely powerful tool for doing all sorts of wacky things with video cards. I have used PowerStrip a number of times over the years for overclocking and setting custom resolutions/refresh rates. Unfortunately, the video chipset used by the VIA boards is not supported. It seems my only option is a PCI video card – preferably one with DVI-D output capabilities. My current case can’t support a PCI riser card and the M6000 motherboard is marginal for a lot of video playback tasks, so it looks like I am in the market for a new system. I am currently thinking:

– Via SP 13000 motherboard – Over twice the speed of my current system’s processor with support for DDR 400 ram and SATA devices. The SATA is nice as big fat ribbon cables and tiny cases do not go well together. Problem with this route is motherboard has same crappy resolution support as my existing motherboard, so I would have to add a PCI video card as well.

– I am currently thinking about either a Morex Venus 669 case in black or a Travla C158 also in black. The Morex case would allow for more flexibility in component choice, but the Travla has more of a “shelf component” look to it that wouldn’t be as visually distracting in the room.

– I would likely add to this base package a good sized HDD, a slot loading DVD-RW and an in-face media card reader. I might also add a PCI 802.11g card or a better sound card using the second video card slot.

– Low profile VGA out card, preferably with DVI and support for oddball resolutions. Any suggestions all knowing interweb?

– DVI cable

– 802.11g bridging (In the straight through wireless < -> ethernet sense) AP.

As you can see, my shopping list has gotten rather long an expensive. At this point I am wondering whetherI should just bite the bullet and move up to a Pentium-M based SFF system and a good AGP or PCI Express based system with significantly greater processing muscle. A Pentium-M based system would allow for gaming, PVR functions, etc. that a Epia couldn’t hope to perform. I don’t like throwing good money after bad, but I also whether my enjoyment of such a system would be commensurate with the significantly greater expense.

Posted in General, Media, Tech Stuff, The Boob Tube | No Comments »

32″ HDTV – Hitachi 32HDL52

Posted by Deliverator on 3rd January 2006

The major gift at the Marsh household this year was a 32″ HDTV. It is a Hitachi, model 32HDL52. My dad has been itching to get a big screen for quite a while (major understatement). At his behest, I spent a lot of time reading reviews, prowling various forums and picking brains over at Magnolia HiFi (sorry, I can’t bring myself to call it Magnolia Audio Video). Despite all the “due dillegence” work, my father ended up making an unresearched impulse buy while at Circuit City, based largely on picture quality. I did at least make sure that the unit featured a ATSC (over the air) HDTV tuner, a plethera of video inputs and various other features, but I didn’t get the chance to do the slightest bit of research. All in all, this is a very nice unit with excellent image quality. For a LCD, it produces remarkeably deep blacks, has very few image artifacts, has impressive off-angle viewing and doesn’t seem to suffer from much (if any) motion blur problems. The unit features a motorized pedestal mount that allows one to rotate the display using the remote control, should you want to view the TV from another location in the room. This is a very neat feature and one that I hope becomes more readily available. I do have a few caveats that may limit this unit’s appeal for certain types of home theater enthusiasts.

– While the display itself is first rate, the remote control feels cheap and has poor quality, small round chicklet buttons for many major functions. The remote is not ergonomic in the least and one has to constantly shift ones hands to access major functions. Because of the often uniformly sized keys, one needs to glance at the remote to choose the appropriate key. As the keys are not backlit, one pretty much needs to keep a light on to use the tv, which really spoils the whole “home theater” experience. I would definitely recommend a good programable remote if you want to use this TV.

– Only certain video inputs can be displayed in combination using the picture in picture and splitscreen views.

– No Cable-Card or HDMI inputs.

– Analog RGB and DVI-D inputs are a plus, but it appears that the RGB input will only display at very specific resolutions and vertical/horizontal refresh rates combinations. The display will supposedly sync to a number of resolutions between 640*480 at the low end to 1280*768 (actual native resolution of the display is 1366*768) at the high end, I could not get it to sync to ANY of the resolution/refresh rate combos offered by the VGA output of my current VIA EPIA based media PC. I will try playing with the DVI input tomorrow, but this unit may be a poor choice for hooking up to a PC. If they weren’t going after the PC market, why not throw some HDMI connectors on and go after the home-theater crowd? They even went to the trouble of including a very high quality VGA cable in the box.

– The HDTV tuner takes a LONG time to do its initial channel scan and didn’t find several of the major channels in my area, despite a strong signal. I had to add these channels manually. My brother’s 56″ Samsung DLP on the other hand took hardly any time to set up and detected all channels in his area, whether it could get a good picture from them or not.

– The “Operating Guide” is a poorly written joke. I honestly nearly returned the TV because it would not power on when I pressed the power button on either the remote or the TV itself. The manual made no mention of the fact that there is a hidden, recessed main power button located out of sight on the bottom side of the LCD. My dad found it by accident after I had already placed several irate calls to Circuit City. Not only do none of the diagrams show this switch, but the manual mentions several times to just push the power button on the right side of the screen to turn the unit on/off. The manual isn’t even an “all your base” style bad translation. It is just plain bad.

All in all, this unit has a great picture and some unique features, but is lacking the “total package” feel that it really needs, especially given that it is priced unfavorably compared to many other, more feature rich units in the 32-37″ range.

Posted in General, Tech Stuff, The Boob Tube, Tivo & PVR | No Comments »

Tivo2Stay – Yay!

Posted by Deliverator on 19th October 2005

The people at Tivo must read my page or something, because they finally seem to be giving users at least some of what they have been crying for (about time! #@#&). The recent Tivo system update to version 7.2 along with Tivo Desktop 2.2 have added a number of features that I have written about lately. Tivo rolls out its update gradually, so you may not have it yet, but you can request to be put on a priority list to get it sooner. With this update comes the ability to not just download shows, but upload video as well. The format support is limited by Tivo’s reliance on dedicated hardware chips and a relatively slow general purpose CPU, so you will probably have to transcode anything you want to upload. The good news is that DRM stripped files are recognized without transcoding. Rumors are that this rollout is going out to DVD burner equiped Tivo units as well, which opens up a world of possibilities. It should now be possible to download video off the tivo, de-drm it, edit out the commercial using stream editing (without requiring additional transcoding), upload the video and then burn the video to DVD using the Tivo’s DVD burner. The Tivo can attempt to play video that is being uploaded before the upload completes (although this is somewhat limited by the slow network support), so it should be possible to use a PC (with its much greater hard disk capacity) as a giant media library and just feed video to the Tivo unit on demand. Video can be requested from the Tivo, so one doesn’t need to do anything on the PC side of things – just pickup the remote and go. I am really excited about this feature!

There have been a number of other features added in the new software, and it will probably take a few days to explore them all. Next to the video upload abilities, I am most excited about something being called HME or HMA, which allows for PC hosted JAVA applications that do all the “heavy lifting” and then feed data to applications running on the Tivo unit itself. It is great that Tivo is starting to finally recognize that people want to be able to run third part applications on the Tivo, and by hosting the heart of applications on a PC, they get around the underwhelming hardware limitations. Some of the neat applications I have checked out so far include an RSS reader, podcasting app, mp3 streaming, netflix que viewer, movie times finder, etc. With 3rd party development finally getting real support from Tivo, applications are being rapidly released, so who knows what interesting stuff will be available for my Tivo when I wake up tomorrow!

Posted in General, Portable Computing/Gadgets, Tech Stuff, The Boob Tube | No Comments »

Serenity

Posted by Deliverator on 3rd October 2005

Went and saw “Serenity” last night with my brother. I am a big fan of the series “Firefly” upon which it was based. Firefly got treated quite badly by fox, running the episodes out of order, not airing the pilot (which does an excellent job of laying out the premise/ backstory for the whole series), and giving it an impossible schedule slot. As much as I wanted to like this movie, I felt like it was deeply torn between being a movie for general audiences and one made for the fans of the series (who did after all buy something like 9 million DVD boxed sets of the series). Here are a few of my objections:

-The movie didn’t do a very good job keeping the western feel of the series. What few western themes were present in the movie felt very “thrown in.”

-I didn’t like the cinematography or the blue tones to the lighting. It felt much too space/sci-fi and not space/western.

-The movie didn’t spend enough time setting up the characters, their personalities or relationships. Two important characters from the series die in the movie and I don’t think the non-fan audience cared one bit. Wash’s goof-ball lovableness hardly makes an appearance in the film, so you don’t get a sense of how his vibrant, life-loving personality counterbalances what is lacking in the graven, war-scarred persona of his wife. The sudden, brutal way in which he is killed quite frankly makes me angry. Book’s death makes me angry for a different reason, as it ends (without explanation) all the intrigue relating to his past and why he still has pull with “The Alliance”

-Capt. Mallory seems far too mean spirited in the movie. With none of the back-story of how each member of the crew came to be aboard ship or the wealth of well-disguised acts of heroism on his part, I myself wondered why any of the crew stayed by the bastard or were so willing to follow him into danger.

-Far too much time spent on special effects and action sequences, rather than the witty dialogue and sharp characterizations that made the series such a great ride. I find myself less and less impressed with special effects with each passing day. Like props in a play, special effects should only be used where necessary to tell the story. Eye-candy is great fun to watch, but you are left wanting meat.

-I felt like the movie was a “one take pony.” I felt like most of the actor’s performances were not up to the high standards of the series. Is film really so expensive? The one exception to this is the actor who played the un-named operative. I am pretty sure he is the same actor who had such a powerful role in a movie called “Dirty Pretty Things” a few years ago. I don’t recall his name offhand, except I remember it being hard to pronounce.

The movie had some great moments, but just didn’t hang together well enough for my liking. I will probably see it again once or twice. I do hope it does spectacularly well in theaters and that fox is somehow compelled to bring the series back as a result.

Posted in General, Media, Movies, The Boob Tube | 2 Comments »

Tivo, if I ruled the world

Posted by Deliverator on 20th September 2005

Ever since my recent rants on Tivo, a number of people have asked me about those self evident missing features or problems with the way current features are implemented. I have been giving this some thought and here is an extremely rough (and poorly formated)draft of what I came up with:

Improved buffer management.
When watching Live TV, Tivo keeps a buffer of the show being watched that can expand to up to half an hour long, but no more. There are a number of problems with the way they do buffering.

  1. Say I am watching a show and the phone rings. I pause the Tivo to answer the phone. It is a lengthy business call. As soon as the buffer hits 30 minutes, the TV starts up again at full blast. It would be nice if the maximum buffer length could be specified, or at least have Tivo handle buffer full scenarios more gracefully, say by converting the buffer into a recording, beginning playback again but with the sound muted, prompting the user for a decision, etc. All of these actions would be far more preferable than the way Tivo currently handles it.
  2. I am watching a show and accidentally hit the change channel button. The channel changes and I instantly loose the accumulated buffer. There is no way to recover the buffer and if I want to resume watching the show, it is now half over. I should be able to buffer surf
  3. If I am watching the news (for example) and see a segment that interests me that I want to record for a friend, if I hit the record button and the buffer spans two shows, it decides ARBITRARILY that I must want to record the show currently being broadcast, rather than the segment that I was watching. It begins recording and…you guessed it, deletes the buffer!

Improved program search functionality, program scheduling, wishlists, season pass

Despite detailed guide data looking forward more than a week, delivered daily, Tivo supports only rudimentary abilities to search that information and make scheduling (wishlist) decisions based upon that data. I should be able to create wishlists that at the very least use Boolean logic and can discriminate between the title, actor and description fields.

  1. For example, I could not currently schedule my Tivo to record shows where actor includes the word Eastwood and description includes the word western. The best I could do currently is either items anywhere in the guide information. This would be the equivalent of record all shows where either Eastwood or western can be found anywhere in the guide information. This would result in my hard drive rapidly filling up with every western out there, more than a few Dirty Harry movies and very little of what I am actually looking for, which are Clint Eastwoods Spaghetti Westerns.
  2. Say I hear about a show from a friend that sounds interesting. Lets pretend that the show is one that has a distinctive story-arc, and watching the episodes out of order will serve only to confuse me. A good example would be HBOs The Wire. I rent the first few seasons of the show from netflix and manage to get relatively caught up. I want to have Tivo record this seasons episodes as they air, but also last season’s (which havent made it to DVD yet) episodes as well. Despite airdate data being plainly visible in the guide, I cannot tell my Tivo to record all episodes of The Wire where airdate = 2004 or 2005. The best I can do is create a Season Pass that records either First Run episodes or all episodes including reruns.
  3. Say I want to record all new episodes of The Simpsons. I also wouldnt mind watching a rerun every once in a while, but while I want to make absolutely sure that I dont miss any new episodes, I dont really care about reruns that much. I certainly dont want to have reruns take priority over another first run program. Currently, there is no way to do this. I cannot create more than one Season Pass for a given show on a given network. If I create a single season pass for The Simpsons that specifies all episodes and place the season pass high up in my season pass ordering, I will record all episodes of The Simpsons, but given that shows longevity and popularily, my Tivo will spend almost its entire time recording reruns of the Simpsons and block out other shows I want to watch. What would be ideal is to be able to create a high priority pass for first run episodes and a low priority pass for the rerun episodes.
  4. Tivo does a very poor job of reconciling programs. Say for example I tell it to record a movie on HBO. Later that week, I see something else in the guide that peeks my interest. I press the record button and Tivo discovers that I have attempted to record two things at the same time and asks me which to record. It is smart enough to recognize a conflict, but is too stupid to reconcile it intelligently. For example, that movie on HBO might be showing again that same night at 3am and could be recorded at that time instead. Or, if a second showing of the same program couldnt be found in the existing guide data, how about offering to create a wishlist entry to record it when it airs again sometime in the future?

Tivo needs better hardware

  1. Although there are a number of different hardware vendors for Tivo units, each offering a slightly different take on the basic Tivo unit, there isnt enough differentiation in those offerings. Right now, consumers have 3 basic choices. You can have a standalone unit with a single tuner, a unit with a DVD recorder (with some features crippled), or a DirecTivo, a DIRECTV only unit capable of recording two shows simultaneously, but with a number of features crippled at DIRECTVs request. Where are the standalone units with 4 tuners? How about a multi-user Tivo capable of streaming to multiple TVs via analog outputs or ip broadcasting to thin client boxes, ala Microsofts Media Center Extenders? How about a unit with an RF remote control? How about a firewire port for adding on additional storage via removeable hard drives or capturing video from DV cams? How about a built in ethernet port/wireless adapter?
  2. Tivo doesnt make good use of the hardware that is already out there. The USB ports on my Series 2 Tivo support USB 2.0, but Tivo runs them at 1.1 speed. This limits Tivo 2 Go transfers to an acheingly slow speed. Tivo 2 Go currently transfers my shows at about 150% greater than real time. Tivo also only supports a very small number of USB WiFi and Ethernet adapters and doesnt do a good job of documenting which hardware revisions are supported.
  3. Most Tivo units still have slow processors and limited memory, relying on dedicated hardware compression/decompression chips for most of the serious number crunching. As a result of inadequate general processing power, Tivos user interface is often sluggish, reordering/reconciliation of scheduling information often takes a long time, etc. With more ram and faster processors, Tivo could be a much more versatile platform.

Tivo needs to be an open platform for application & hardware development.

  1. For Tivo to survive, I feel they need to become an more open platform upon which other companies and individuals can build applications. Tivo is currently being squeezed by users on the one side and the entertainment industry on the other. By creating a plugin/extension architecture, 3rd parties could begin adding value to Tivo platform, without burdening Tivo with the cost of development, support or legal liability. Tivo needs to give people a reason to keep their boxes and their service, especially as other companies begin offering far more compelling hardware & software. Otherwise, Tivo is going to become the Kleenex of DVRs. Nobody carries around handkerchiefs any more, everyone uses disposable facial tissues. People still call them Kleenex, but almost everyone buys generic.
  2. Tivo has much too limited an idea of what a DVR can be/do. Here you have a general purpose computing device connected up to TV, phone and/or network connections. How about creating the first widely successful video phone? How about VOIP? How about displaying caller-id info on screen when the phone rings, so that you can decide whether to pause the TV or go on watching? How about some truely interactive TV? How about TV based networked games? Tivo could be used for unimaginably many things. Just like the PC moved beyond being a glorified word processor/spreadsheet and has become a platform to fill myriad niche uses, Tivo could be for the PERSONAL Entertainment Center what the PC has become for PERSONAL Computing. As is, Tivo has somehow stagnated into a role of being a glorified VCR.

Posted in General, The Boob Tube | 1 Comment »

Tivo to Go (GO ALREADY *#&$%*!!!)

Posted by Deliverator on 12th July 2005

I bought my original Tivo for a rather large wad of $ back when they were first introduced, and unlike many of the early units that quickly burned out modems, my Philips unit has been a real workhorse. Still, it was getting rather long in the tooth compared to some of the newer Tivo units. My cousin David was sent me his newer Humax Series 2 Tivo for a modest fee and I have been playing around with it for the last few days. All in all, I really like the unit. It is far more responsive to button presses than my Philips unit, is physically somewhat smaller and has an improved version of the “peanut” remote found on my original unit.

Most important to me, this new unit features two USB ports, to which can be hooked up a variety of wired and wireless network adapters. Tivo has had a feature for some time now called “Tivo to Go” which allows you to transfer shows from one Tivo to another over the network, or to a computer. The files do include DRM, which makes them difficult to much with (other than view), but through the use of some DirectShow filter-graph trickery, you can get around this minor annoyance.

After scrounging through my collection of wired/wireless adapters, I found one that worked, a Linksys USB200M wired USB ethernet adapter. I didn’t want to have to run an ethernet cable to the Tivo, so I plugged the USB ethernet adapter into my WET11 wireless bridge and set it to associate with an old Orinoco RG1000 AP (that is running firmware that makes it into a transparent bridge) which is in turn hooked into the back of the router to which my main media box is connected. After a little fooling with the Tivo, I got it an IP address and set it up to get all its program guide updates via the network. No more 50 foot phone cord, yay! I installed the Tivo Desktop application on my media box and set it up with the Tivo’s “Media Key” and it was able to see the Tivo on the network. I tried to get it to transfer a show over to the computer, but the application kept puking after transferring over anywhere from 1 to 40 MB of a show. I consulted the Tivo Community and found out that there are two likely causes of this weird behavior. One is due to DHCP and the other has to do with an unknown conflict with the onboard NIC controller found in the Nforce chipset that my media box uses. I moved the interface over to a dedicated PCI NIC and set the Tivo up with a static address and I have now transfered over 400 MB of data without a hitch. Transfer rates look to be about 50% greater than realtime for max quality video, but what can you expect from a USB 1.1 NIC hooked into a 802.11b bridge hooked into a long defunct Orinoco AP running alternate firmware? :)

I am going to try the de-DRM trick tomorrow and see if it still works the way I believe.

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Dish goodness

Posted by Deliverator on 17th December 2004

My dad, Scott and I went out for breakfast this morning. Over breakfast, my dad began mussing, “wouldn’t it be nice to have a home-theater.” This has been an oft heard phrase in the Marsh household, so Scott and I were absolutely floored when dad took us to Best Buy to look at gear with the intention of ACTUAL BUYING. We looked at a number of plasma screens and lcd monitors, but have to go back and make some measurements before moving any further along that line.

We did end up signing up for Direct-TV service with HBO and the whole enchilada. We got a DirecTivo that is capable of recording two shows at once, while the viewer watches a third, two extra tuners boxes and a HDTV capable dish. My dad does intend to get HDTV service in the future. Likely, once the 2 new Direct TV satellites go up. These 2 new satellites are going to be capable of broadcasting 1500 HDTV channels! I don’t think digital cable has any chance any hell of competing effectively once that happens , unless they get a serious move on and start offering video-on-demand services through an IP-TV type system.

Anyways, is was nice to see some movement on this issue after so many years of deprivation :)

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