Upgrades galore

For the past six months, I’ve been content with Ubuntu 7.10 and mythtv 0.20. Very stable, very smooth solid HD playback, no recording glitches. Everything I could ask for. When Ubuntu 8.04 came along (along with an upgrade to MythTV 0.21) I resisted for a bit. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Maybe it was just an excuse, but after deciding to set up a second front end upstairs, I also decided to install Mythbuntu 8.04. Little did I know that 0.21 frontends are not compatible with 0.20 backends… and so my upgrade began.

I’ll chronicle a few of the major gotchas I had and how I solved them over at the MythTV Tips page, but as a quick summary, it took about two days, and several nasty looks from my wife and kids to complete the upgrade of both the backend and the frontend. Everything is working wonderfully (again/finally) and there are a few cool surprises in 0.21 that made it all worth it.

Next up… installation of a frontend upstairs. I think I might go with a mac-mini for that one, and since I don’t have cat-5 upstairs, I *might* just try 802.11n.

Ubuntu + MythTV = happy me

Well, I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve been a busy camper, and this blog hasn’t quite risen to the top of my todo list in a while. I was re-reading my past posts, and noticed that the theme has been my thoughts about switch from Fedora Core to Ubuntu. An update is that I made the switch a few months ago, and haven’t looked back. Ubuntu comes with all the mythtv packages that I use and was incredibly easy to set up for both my backend, and my frontend systems.

My current system is Gutsy (7.10) and I used the guides from the Ubuntu community docs for setting up mythtv (https://help.ubuntu.com/community/MythTV). No big gotchas for me, even with my HD setup.

Mythbuntu looks promising

I just ran across a new distribution of mythtv in a box (along with MythDora and KnoppMyth) called MythBuntu and I plan on giving it a test run this weekend. The project is currently in alpha. One nice thing is that they offer a live cd version so that you can simply drop in a disk and run a mythtv frontend anywhere you want (we’ll have to see how well that one works!). Lirc is not available yet, so it won’t be an option for me in terms of actually replacing my FC5 frontend, but I can’t imagine it will be too long before they get that working.

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Back from Vacation

I just got back from a vacation with the family. 2,000 miles in two weeks with a four and seven year old in the back.

Of course, no major road trip would be complete (or even possible these days) unless you provide some kind entertainment. When I was a kid, that consisted of hours on end of singing “I’ve been working on the railroad”, and playing every possible variant of I-Spy (I spy something that starts with the letter P — Peterbilt — again…). But for somebody with MythTV on the brain, you have to think a bit outside the box. Enter LaCie’s Silverscreen.. I won’t go into a major review here, but this little guy can output up to 1080i via component, it also outputs S-Video, and composite, and can play almost every popular video format. We hooked it up to a pair of 7″ TFT displays strapped to the back of our headrests, and the kids had more shows than they could possibly watch during the trip. Where did the shows come from? MythTV + nuvexport to Xvid format. Being able to take my content on the road with me in a totally open format is one of the great advantages to MythTV. I know there are other commercial solutions available, but since they are all closed source, you need to use proprietary solutions which are either more expensive, or have less features.

Wendy Seltzer, EFF Lawyer and MythTV user debates Fritz Attaway from the MPAA in the WSJ

When Fritz Attaway starts out the entire debate with this line:

Attaway:“Digital rights management is the key to consumer choice…”

He then goes on to explain how by being able to control the content, and how it can be distributed, and used, the movies studio’s can get a return on the millions they made to make a movie. See how much better that is for us? It occurred to me that he really believes that.

Wendy replies that the DMCA stifles technological innovation, and she describes that there are still no legal solutions for viewing DVD’s on her Linux computer (go Wendy). Then she throws him this:

Seltzer:“DRM plus DMCA protects existing business models, such as that of the blockbuster movie, but at the expense of new developments that could create more value for both creators and users of content. In the era of podcasts and YouTube, I’m quite interested in seeing what those users can do as they become creators.”

What she’s getting at here is that if the MPAA continues down their current path people will find ways around them, not just DRM.

Over and over again, Fritz stresses that any possible innovation around Media technologies that are disallowed because of current DRM are completely acceptable because it’s more important that the studios make money.

Fritzie:“‘Transformative’ uses are fine, but they cannot be given priority over the incentive to create new works. A central tenet of our fair use doctrine is that fair uses do not interfere with the ability of the creator to exploit the economic value of her work.”

I don’t know about you, but it seems clear to me he knows exactly who pays his bills.

The debate rages on, and is a must read.

The broadcast flag is back, let’s knock it down!

I got my EFF Action Alert in my inbox this AM, and sure enough, the broadcast flag has jumped up again. This is the text from the newsletter:

“The Communications, Consumers Choice, and Broadband
Deployment Act of 2006 is a monster name for a monster bill
— in its latest form, it contains 159 pages of densely
plotted telecommunications reform. But while politicians
struggle with its major clauses, the RIAA and MPAA have
piggybacked their own agenda: the broadcast and audio flags,
which restrict innovation and legitimate use of recorded
digital radio and TV content. Your call today could force
the flags to find a home of their own.

The Committee markup of this bill is on Thursday, and your
Senator is on the Commerce Committee. One last push from
you could get Congress to remove the entertainment industry
mandates from the bill.”

The call to action is to either call or write your Senator. They make the process of writing your Senator incredibly easy by providing a form that you can fill out, and they provide sample text for the e-mail. I can tell you that they do get the message so I encourage you to write.

Major League Baseball v. Sling Media (and the rest of us)

Major League Baseball says that users of placeshifters like Slingbox are lawbreakers. According to them, if you are remotely watching a baseball game that is being broadcast at your home, you are stealing from the local cable/satellite companies that paid to broadcast in the area you are watching the game.

Read More: Major League Baseball takes swing at Sling Media | CNET News.com

My two cents, I can’t imagine what MLB is trying to enforce here. The customer is paying for the content once somewhere, isn’t that all that’s important?

Time to clear some disk space!

Not much going on lately, except that now that the summer is here, I get to clear out the backlog of shows that I recorded but didn’t watch. Including the entire season of Alias! It should actually be a fun summer. I find my viewing habits have changed so much with MythTV (or any PVR for that matter). I don’t feel the need to ‘keep up’ with shows any longer, with the exception of a couple reality TV shows.