The Clicker: “You’re going the wrong way!” - Home Entertainment -

The Clicker is a weekly contribution to Engadget, usually focused on High-Definition televsion. Much of what he contributes is usually pretty entry-level stuff. In this entry, however, Stephen Speicher has two very good points. First, he suggests, that the networks who want to compete with ABC selling their past episodes on iTunes for $1.99 do so by selling their 'future' episodes for $1.99 instead of just saying "Me Too" and selling their past episodes at a lower price point.

Second, he comes up with an interesting concept. Launch a 'Pilot' web site (say where viewers could download and watch pilot episodes of new shows for the price of filling out a survey. The survey data could then be collected and used to determine if the pilot should be launched. I would even take this a step further. The networks would probably complain that this idea would only get data from on-line viewers, and not the general population, so theorhetically, a show could be a hit on-line, and bomb over the air. That brings me to my natural conclusion that sometimes the networks broadcast different shows on line than they do over the air.
The Clicker: “You’re going the wrong way!” - Home Entertainment -

Disney offers next-day iTune downloads of TV shows

Disney offers next-day iTune downloads of TV shows: "Opening the door to a new revenue stream for television content, the Walt Disney Co. said on Wednesday it will begin offering next-day digital downloads of its biggest ABC prime time hits for $1.99 per episode."

$1.99 per episode?!?!? Bwahahahaha! Just how much do they think this crap is worth? That's as ridiculous as $.99 per song for music. My price point? $.05/song $0.15/hour of TV. And it damn well better be High-Def!

Rent My DVR

This site just came on line recently. It's a completely fascinating concept, and I'm wondering just how legal it is.

Rent My DVR: "Now you don't have to remember to program your DVR or VHS to record you favorite TV show. With the Rent My DVR site you can simple hire someone that will do the recording for you.

Simply file a request on our site to have someone record for you and as soon as a new episode of your favorite show has been broadcasted, it is downloaded automatically to your computer and you can watch it whenever you want."

Their FAQ addresses the issue of legality by saying:

Q. What does the TV networks have to say?

A. According to fox networks it is OK to ask a friend or co-worker to tape video shows for you. We at are all friends.

They will not store old episodes of shows and re-distribute them, instead they state that you can only ask somebody to record a future showing. The lawyers are going to have fun with this one.

New 3-tuner HD backend system finally up

I've finally finished putting together my new backend system. I went slightly over my $1,000 budget, but was pretty close.

  • Three HD-3000 tuners
  • 960 Gbytes of disk space
  • FC4
  • MythTV (18.1)

After getting through some initial issues with my hardware, everything has been working flawlessly. I was able to keep the cost down by going with a *CHEAP* video card (it's just a backend afterall), slower processer, less memory, etc... And the installation time was fast because I didn't have to configure all of the frontend stuff (lirc, alsa, xorg.conf modelines, etc...)

Technorati tags: hdtv

Hitachi’s DV-DH1000W, a terabyte hi-def DVR with DVD recorder

While this device has not hit the streets in the U.S. I still can't get over the fact that I've been sitting on an over 1TB HD PVR/DVR DVD Recorder for well over a year now (thank you MythTV) that outstrips every feature I've seen yet in a consumer set top box, and allows me to do whatever I want with the content.


Room to room HDTV with HomePlug AV

HD Beat has a snippet on HomePlug AV. This is a technology which allows network connectivity over your home power lines.

Link: HD Beat

A couple people dissed the overall concept, but I think it's viable. Yes.. it has been around a while, but the fact that the protocol just received approval by the alliance board should give it a bump.

New Backend only system

I'm in the process of putting together an exclusive backend only system. When I get a chance, I'll put the specs together here, but basically, I'm going for a three HD tuner (HD-3000) six drive system running Fedora Core 4. I'm starting out with two tuners and two 400 Gig Drives but the case I got expands to six drives which is going to be key for a Heavy Duty HD Backend system.

Coupled with my Shuttle front-end in the Family Room, and my Avel LinkPlayer II upstairs, I'm transitioning to a distributed media architecture which should suit the family well in the future.

Ultimate AV: Hot Streaming HDTV

I personally think that MPEG-4 compression would be better suited for streaming of HDTV but the possibility that we might soon have the capability to stream HDTV via DSL is astonishing.

Ultimate AV: Hot Streaming HDTV: "This week, the broadband bottleneck opened quite a bit wider. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has ratified a new high-speed standard called VDSL2 (Very-high-bit-rate Digital Subscriber Line 2), which is said to reach speeds of up to 100Mbps both downstream and upstream. Amazingly, VDSL2 is intended to operate on standard copper telephone cable using existing equipment."

Link: UltimateAV

500GB Hard Drives in Q3 2005

Don't know the price, but this is very good news for us HDTV recording freaks. Now we can drop 1TB in just about any computer. WOOHOO - Press Center

My new (cheap) HD frontend for MythTV

I've just purchased the IO-Data AvelLink Player. It's a High-Definition Network Media player which also plays DVD's (standard DVD's as well as any other media file including MPEG4-HD files!). It has a D4 digital output (which is a standard in Japan) and comes with a D4 to Component dongle. All for just $249.00. I haven't received it yet, but when I do, I'll do a write-up on it. I touched on it before in this entry. The thing that really put it over the edge for me is that they released a Linux version of their AvelLink Server.

The Broadcast Flag, She Is Dead : Gizmodo

Maybe it shouldn't but it kinda surprises me how quickly this saga seems to be coming to resolution, but the broadcast flag appears to be dead for good. And we have a republican from Texas to thank?

A new Congressional Research Service report raises concerns that the broadcast flag's technological limitations could hinder activities normally deemed "fair use"” under copyright law. For instance, students might not be able to email themselves copies of projects incorporating digital video content because no secure system exists for email transmission. "“The goal of the flag was not to impede a consumer'’s ability to copy or use content lawfully in the home, nor was the policy intended to '‘foreclose use of the Internet to send digital broadcast content where it can be adequately protected from indiscriminate redistribution,'"” the report said, quoting from the FCC order.

Link: Gizmodo

TV Executives could care less about Consumers

Edward Felton (Freedom to Tinker) has a blog entry about what the Television Network executives have to say about the Broadcast Flag, and how it can negatively impact device compatibility. To sum it up, Rick Lane, vice president of government affairs at News Corp. said: "Compatibility is not a goal". His comment was seconded by NBC Universal's Senior Counsel for Government Relations Alec French. From Ed Feltons blog:

"The FCC and Congress had better be careful in handling the digital TV issue, or they'll be blamed for breaking the U.S. television system. Mandating incompatibility, via the Broadcast Flag, will not be a popular policy, especially at a time when Congress is talking about shutting off analog TV broadcasts.

The most dangerous place in Washington is between Americans and their televisions."

Here here...
More reading on the topic:Engadget | Techdirt

Brad Ideas: We strike down the broadcast flag!

Happy Happy day! As Brad Templeton writes:

Brad Ideas: We strike down the broadcast flag!: "On both a personal and professional note, I am happy to report that the federal courts have unanimously ruled to strike down the FCC's broadcast flag (that's a PDF) due to our lawsuit against them.

This is huge. I'm not quite sure that it's over yet. I'm inclined to think that there will be appeals, but at this point, things are looking up.

Congratulations, and thanks go to Brad Templeton and Wendy Seltzer (and all the other folks at the EFF who worked their tails off for this result).

Link:Brad Ideas

Local HD channels

Setting up a channel table can be a bit of a bear when you are using the HD-3000 in DVB mode. As such there have been a few folks that I work with and around here that are interested in a dump of my channels table. Obviously this is only useful for people in the Portland, OR area, but here it is: channel.sql

cx88_dvb fun

I use MythTV (atrpms) with the pcHDTV HD-3000 card. I downloaded the 2.0 driver and compiled, and, as per the instructions, attempted to modprobe the cx88_dvb driver. I kept getting kernal errors, module mis-match errors, and on and on. Finally, after a few re-boots, rearranging of modules, etc... I got it to work. The unfortunate thing is that I really have no idea what I did, so writing up a how-to would be impossible.

The along comes a friend of mine and he has the same exact problems. After futzing with his system for two hours, I suggested that we get my pcHDTV bits, and simply do a 'make install', then modprobe cx88_dvb. Guess what. It worked. So, I have no idea what magic exists inside my driver bits, but here they are for anybody else who wants to try. Simply extract the tar file to a directory and (as root) type make install then modprobe cx88_dvb.

On another note, You need to make sure that your dvb device files are configured properly, and the permissions are correct. So I'm attaching my files in /etc/udev/rules.d/10-pchdtv.rules and /etc/udev/permissions.d/10-pchdtv.permissions

Hope this helps somebody

Update to 0.18

I'm looking forward to getting some time to update from 0.17 to 0.18 of MythTV. Chris Pinkham updated some mythtranscode bits to help us pcHDTV folks.

FC 3 install on SATA drive - finally

I've finally gotten Fedora Core 3 installed on my SATA drive. You may remember that I had some problems getting Fedora Core 3 installers to see my sata drive (bug in sata_nv). My solution was a bit complex, but it ultimately worked:

  1. dropped a small (40Gig) IDE drive in
  2. installed FC3 onto it
  3. updated (as per Jarod's Guide) to 2.6.10 which can recognize sata drives
  4. partitioned my SATA drive to look like my IDE drive
  5. copied entire drive contents from IDE -> SATA
  6. edited fstab and grub
  7. rebooted
  8. reordered drives in bios (sata first now)
  9. fought my way through some filesystem integrity problems (not too bad..., just let fsck do it's thing)
  10. ... and that's it!

Wendy's Blog: Legal Tags: Broadcast Flag: D.C. Circuit Asks About Standing

Wendy Seltzer (fellow MythTV HD user, and lawyer working with the EFF) has posted a bit about some progress they're making against the implementation of the Broadcast Flag.

Link: Wendy's Blog

Dvorak on MythTV

John C. Dvorak has written a small bit on MythTV for There's nothing earth shattering or revealing in his writings, but simply having Dvorak write about MythTV is yet another step bringing the 'future' technology to the masses.

Opinion Column by PC Magazine: The Secret TV Revolution: "Everyone I know who has ever seen or played with MythTV wants it, but it's a do-it-yourself project and not for the timid. Eventually that will change as packagers appear and bundle prebuilt systems together.

There are other implications of all this. In a changing universe, technologists will refuse to be hemmed in by artificial roadblocks created for the purpose of maintaining the status quo. Microsoft and Hollywood and whoever else can create all the DRM schemes they want; they can sue college kids for trading songs, block trading networks, shut down BitTorrent systems—but it won't do them any good. The forces of 'We want it our way' will overpower them again and again, because that's the way technology works.

And this will all be shared. In a networked, computer-based world, the sense of community breeds a socialistic desire to share, not covet. This mentality is at the root of all the open-source activity and cannot be ignored or denied. I want my MythTV."

From: PC Magazine

Fedora Core 3... Where for art thou?

I've got some new hardware for an updated front end, and I'm dying to get it up and running on the new version of MythTV (0.17) and Fedora Core 3. It's a Shuttle SN95G5 with 1Gig of Ram, two 300Gig SATA drives and one 250Gig external (total .85 TBytes). nVidia GeForce 6600GT Vid card, pcHDTV HD-3000 High Definition capture card, Dual Layer DVD Writer and AMD 64 3200+ CPU.

Only one problem. Fedora Core 3 won't install on SATA drives attached to nForce motherboards....

The workaround is anything but elegant, and if I am able to make any progress at all, I'll keep y'all up to date.

Public Knowledge leading a lawsuit to fight the Broadcast Flag

With the deadline for the mandatory compliance with the broadcast flag looming, Public Knowledge is filing a lawsuit fighting the flag. Here are a couple bullet points from their court challenge:

The flag’s proponents portray it as a narrow mandate that will only prohibit illegal distribution of digital television content, but in fact it will do much more:

  1. the flag will impose significant strictures and constraints on the design of consumer-electronics and computer products — limitations that will diminish interoperability between new products and old ones, and that even pose interoperability problems among new devices; and
  2. the flag will limit what users can do with broadcast television content to a significantly greater degree than they are limited now.

From: Engadget

The Future of Television?

Andrew Turner on High Earth Orbit has written a nice essay on the future of television. Here is an excerpt:
In the end, this sharing is happening, and based on how effective the MPAA, RIAA, and other entities have been in fighting this sharing, I doubt it will go away anytime soon. Therefore, I believe the video industry has an excellent chance to embrace these technologies to broaden their market reach and customer interest.

I wholeheartedly agree with his perspective. I remain, unfortunately, pessimistic. I think it's somewhat idealistic to think that the industry will embrace the new technologies.
From High Earth Orbit

Interesting black box approach to DivX HD Playback: G-Tech's G-Play

G-Tech is going to release a line of 'Black Box' media players called G-Play. I took a look at the site, and it looks like a nice alternative to network media players. Imagine, you don't have a network, but you want to be able to play your HD content wherever you are. Just sync this thing up with your Video files captured on your PC, disconnect, and hook it up to your TV through it's Component adapter. Bang.. High Definition playback.

From: Engadget

MythTV ... a non-mythical solution

Shelly Palmer, Chairman of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has blogged about the NYT article on MythTV. It is a very well written commentary on why the Television Industry needs to change in order to survive, or more importantly, prosper.

My opition is that technology is an enabler, and it is allowing the network executives and the industry at-large to get a free glimpse at the future of television. They can either be a part of it, or fight it (read: RIAA). Unfortunately, the trend is to treat customers like criminals.

A great quote from the blog:

So, the problem really isn't the technology. The problem is that the TV industry has been enjoying a technological monopoly for so long that it has forgotten how to serve its customers.

DVR reference design runs Linux, open source MythTV

ESG and Transmeta are designing a fan-less (read: really quiet) set to box with Royal Linux and MythTV built in.

I only hope that since they will be building it on open source, that they will be good GNU citizens, and contribute back to the project.

DVR reference design runs Linux, open source MythTV: "We hope that we will be one of the first to offer a commercial product based on MythTV"

Here's the original press release from Transmeta

Marketing in the age of Ad-Zapping

The Australian has a nice peice on the Marketing perspective of ad-zapping. The quote below, to me, is a fundamental reality that over the air networks are going to have to come to grips with in the not too distant future. The question is, will they go down kicking and screaming like the RIAA, or will they learn to somehow embrace technology and turn this into an advantage... My bet's on the former. My guess is that we are going to be sued and legislated into watching commercials. The big networks are going to turn us all into criminals.

The Australian: Marketing in the age of ad-zappers [January 27, 2005]:
"Though 2005 will not see the death of the 30-second television commercial, it may prove to be the beginning of the end of free-to-air television as the automatic answer to a marketing challenge. The risk-averse marketing industry will be forced to re-evaluate its own conservative conventions and how it spends an estimated $3.5 billion."

From: eHomeUpgrade | Buffalo Technology USA Announces LinkTheater Hi-Def Wireless Media Player

eHomeUpgrade | Buffalo Technology USA Announces LinkTheater Hi-Def Wireless Media Player

Buffalo Technology releases a Wireless Hi-Def DVD/Media player which support DivX, DivX HD, and WMV. A quick look at the press release tells me that it will be available the beginning of February for roughly $350.00 (US). This puts it about $100 more than the IO-Data AvelLink player. It's hard to see at this point if they have a Linux server or not, so we'll have to play a bit of wait and see, but it sure would be nice to get a cheap HDTV front end for my High-Def programs captured with MythTV. If the price point drops to the $150 range, then I could see putting one in my family room, and one in the bedroom.

The end of PVR's?

Stand up and take a bow Telewest Broadband (UK Broadband company), the company is investing £20 million in the development of TV-on-demand and personal video recorder (PVR) services in 2005. This appears to be a first step in TV-on-demand. I can only hope that US cable companies get it, and begin to consider long term solutions to a 'PVR in every home'. PVR's are great inventions, MythTV has revolutionized the way that I view television, but they could very well become extinct if TV-on-demand ever becomes a reality. Comcast is piloting their Video-on-demand solutions in several regions throughout the U.S. but the content is usually only available for 24 hours after broadcast. It's a nice start, but hardly 'on demand'.

PVR UK: PVR (Personal Video Recorder) and DVR (Digital Video Recorder) news, reviews and how-tos for the UK: Video On Demand: CableCos answer to PVRs?

The morality of it all

I find myself grappling with this scenario constantly:

I set up my PVR (MythTV) to record a given show, say, Lost, from 8-9 on ABC on Wednesday nights, I notice that American Idol is on at the same time. If I had two cards (which I will soon), I would record them both, cut out the commercials, and watch them both at my leisure. Unfortunately, I don't (have two cards that is), so naturally, I set up my RSS Importer plugin in Azureus to download whatever show I'm not recording, in this case, American Idol. The bottom line is that I end up with both shows on my hard drive, they just got there in different ways. One completely legitimate, and legal... the other makes me a criminal.

WishTV from Brad Templeton

From Brad Templeton's weblog: Brad Ideas: Changing the nature of TV again

He has written a perl script to create a wishlist for MythTV. It is a great idea, and has far more features and functionality than the 'WishList' feature of TiVo. I haven't tried it out yet, but I'd be interested to use it. My only critique of the concept in general, is that I would now have two places to manage my programming needs (MythTV's guide, and WishTV).

New HD-3000

A few friends and I have taken a leap. We are putting together an order of 8 HD-3000 High Definition recording cards before the famous Broadcast Flag stuff becomes Law (June?).

Right now, each of us are ordering two each, and I plan on eventually building a seperate backend with at least .5 Terabytes of storage. I still plan on transcoding to smaller resolution, but long term, I think the idea is to build enough disk space and tweak my front end to be able to play HDTV natively without the transcoding mess.

DivX networks say HD DVD is ready now - HDTV -

From Engadget

A player from I-O data is already available for $250, and they expect DivX-capable players to drop to around $100 within a year (what’s odd about the Times piece is that they neglect to mention that there are actually a lot of players out there that support DivX, the big deal about the I-O Data player is that it supports the high-def version of DivX).

I checked out the player as a possible alternate simple frontend for MythTV and unfortunately, they don't have a Linux client which serves the content. I think it is only a matter of time before this kind of thing is common place, and can act as a cheap front end for MythTV which you can drop in just about any room that you want.

UPDATE: I got an e-mail back from them saying that they will be releasing a Linux version of their Media File Server. This has once again become a very interesting option for a remote (second/third/etc...) front end for a MythTV backend.