NBC and ABC Network schedulers outsmart themselves

I was reviewing my MythTV Schedule for tomorrow (Wednesday) and noticed something strange. Usually, there is a conflict between Law & Order (NBC 9pm – 10:01pm) and Heist (ABC 10pm – 11pm) due to the infamous ‘Tivo Busting’ one minute shift in the schedules (the last minute of Law & Order overlaps the first minute of Heist). But on this night, there was no conflict. Why? Because Lost (ABC 9:00 – 10:01) is bumping Heist’s start time to 10:01pm. Classic. Was this a move by NBC to regain TiVo viewers for their 10pm timeslot? Will ABC retaliate by going to 10:02? Will CBS jump in the game and mess everything up? Or maybe, they will stop the silly games, and realize they are simply hurting their own industry with these childish antics.

Windows MCE, MythTV Smackdown…

O.K. Maybe I took liberties with the title, but Bruce Shankle does a side-by-side comparison between Windows MCE, and MythTV. It’s not a feature comparison, but rather an installation, ease-of-use, comparison. He does get a bit into what he considers his key feature (the ability to watch and rip a DVD) where MythTV is the clear winner. My favorite quote from the article:

I try again, same thing. It can’t play the DVD. After hours of Googling I learn that I have to buy a piece of software (a DVD decoder) that let’s Media Center play DVDs. I’m thinking ‘WTF? Media Center can’t play DVD’s out of the box?’

That’s right. If you want that feature you have pay for it.

Link:Bruce Shankle – Inside Out: Windows Media Center vs. MythTV (or Making my own PVR)

Center for Social Media releases Fair Use booklet

Joshua Paul blogged about Fair Use over at O’Reilly Digital Media. I jumped over to the link he mentions in his blog and found a wonderful description (and an 8 page booklet with more detail) of Fair use.

“Fair Use is the right, in some circumstances, to quote copyrighted material without asking permission or paying for it. It is a crucial feature of copyright law. In fact, it is what keeps copyright from being censorship. You can invoke fair use when the value to the public of what you are saying outweighs the cost to the private owner of the copyright.”

If you haven’t had a chance to read it, jump on over and take a look

Link: O’Reilly Digital Media

How long can the television industry last like this?

I just finished reading the stuff about the music industry and how artists are now considered more ‘in control’ of their own destiny, and the entire distribution model that was in place is falling apart, and I’m wondering just how far we are from a parallel thing happening with the Television industry. I see the film industry leading the way on this front, as they seem to be more accepting of independant artists. Perhaps it may never happen because Television isn’t considered ‘art’. Therefore, and ‘indepenant’ TV producer would never happen.

Windows Media Center requires an NTSC tuner? WTF?

I was cruising AVSForums when I ran across a thread from somebody complaining that they were having a hard time setting up their MCE PC with just an HD (ATSC) capture card. Lo and behold, after a bit of digging, I confirmed (for myself at least) that it is indeed true. That in order to set up High-Definition in MCE2005, you must have an NTSC tuner installed. Here’s the snippet from Jay P. Kapur, Lead Program Manager, WIndows Media Center TV Team:

You must setup an NTSC tuner first, so that MCE2005 can get the correct guide information for your area. There are no reliable ATSC only EGP services, so we have to key off of the NTSC information. If you don’t setup the analog tuner and EPG, the ATSC experience won’t work correctly.

Ah yes. Another reason to jump the Windows ship for MythTV.

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Sony BMG Lawsuit (get the word out)

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has done a great job fighting for the consumers rights in a digital age.  As a member, I’ve been very proud to support this organization and what they have accomplished.  Currently they are trying to get the word out about the Sony BMG Settlement. 

Here’s a snippet from their newsletter:

EFF’s campaign to help music fans claim their share of the
Sony BMG settlement is off to a great start. News reports
and EFF’s settlement banners have spread around the web,
driving over 20,000 hits to our settlement site in one week.

Help us keep the momentum going. Sony BMG won’t be held
accountable for infecting its customers’ computers with
dangerous DRM if music fans don’t learn about the flawed
software, the settlement, and how to submit claims. EFF has
created a webpage to guide people through the Sony BMG
settlement site, and we’ve designed several banners that
link to this webpage. By posting a banner on your website or
blog, you can help music fans protect themselves and get
what they deserve.

So folks, if you are interested in getting the details, hop on over to the EFF site and check out the FAQ.

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Coming soon: The 8-terabyte desktop

I’d more consider this a media backend server than a desktop.. strange headline.  I think folks are finally getting it right with the disk space.  The initial estimated street price will be $8,000.  The smart buy would be to buy an empty system and fill it as you go.  My reasoning is that with the constantly dropping price of storage, you should always buy just what you need, when you need it.  Then by the time you are actually buying the last few disks to fill the 16 slots, you will be buying 2TB disks at $120.00 each…

From the article:

Depending on the standard and the compression, HD video can require anywhere from 11 to 410 gigabytes per hour of video. (1,000GB make up 1TB.)

A point of clarification is that broadcast HD will *never* be 410 GB/Hour.  That is a the requirement for completely uncompressed 10bit 1920x1080i 60fps 932Mbps video.  Trust me… that ain’t gonna happen.  More realworld numbers are from 6-9 GBytes/hour depending on 720p, 1080i.

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Narrow minded uninformed opining by wired.com

The good folks at wired.com are becoming about as tech savvy as cnet. Maybe this is what happens when you get too big for your britches. The article “Build Your Own PVR, Then Trash It
sounds as if it was written by somebody at the MPAA and Microsoft, and handed over to wired. Here is an example:

For those suspicious of free software, a host of commercial options are at your disposal.

You can buy a brand new PC, running Windows Media Center Edition, and pair it with an Xbox 360 in the living room.

As the article goes on you begin to realize the theme (I’m paraphrasing here)… “Building your own PVR is expensive and stupid. It’s expensive because ultimately it will cost you more than your TiVO and it’s stupid because Cable, Satellite, and even Over The Air broadcasts are coming with DRM technology which will make it impossible to record shows in the future.”

Nowhere in the article do the mention organizations like the EFF who are fighting for the consumer’s fair use rights, and have successfully helped to knock down several attempts by the MPAA and others at implementing the Broadcast Flag initiative.

Another quote to get your blood boiling:

For the home brewer, this means their solution won’t work if they upgrade to high-definition cable, because the cable box won’t send a readable signal to any tuner card that isn’t part of a locked-down environment, such as TiVo or Windows Media Center.

Want more? How about this gem:

You could always unplug your cable box and record free HDTV off the public airwaves, but perhaps not for long. The industry is trying to get Congress to make it illegal to build TV tuners that record broadcast HDTV without including DRM on the recording.

That means the only option for a future-proof PVR is to use something like TiVo, Windows Media Center or a cable company-provided
recorder, which may or may not think your mp3 player or your second television is secure enough to access your own media.

Well.. I guess that’s it… I’d better trash my MythTV system right now, because wired.com says so.

Upgrade to Mythtv 0.19 (smooth)

I upgraded to version 0.19 of MythTV last weekend, and here is my takeaway. The upgrade went very smoothly, I have a frontend running FC3 (apt) and a backend running FC4 (yum), and both went well. I was a bit dissapointed that I had to update them simultaneously as once I updated the frontend, it would no longer connect to the backend until I updated it.

To my surprise, once I finished the upgrade, I went into the recorded shows section, and for the first time, was able to playback all of my HD content; 1080i, 720p, everything, smooth as silk. skip forward, back, seeking, all worked flawlessly. This simple new ability has changed everything for me. I now no longer have to transcode all of my shows and view them in MythVideo.

The first thing I wondered was, now that I’m not transcoding my shows, how does mythtranscode work? At first it appears that I’m able to transcode shows automatically, but I’m definitely going to have to fiddle with the settings to get satisfactory results.

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