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que3jxp said:
And yes, MARCP, this is me eating my hat ;)
This is the kind of quote that gets my attention... ;)

The approaching TV season has too many frigging new shows that are interesting and I am not going to allow myself to run into the conflict problem, so I am going to be proactive about it.
I know the feeling and there are also lots of shows I want to give a try to see if I'll like. So I linked my PVR to my Google Calendar which has all the new and returning shows and their first air date. That way, my PVR will automatically set a schedule when a certain show enters the EPG. However, there are so many of them and so many that I want to sample that having two Hauppauge PVR500 is awesome (4 tuners total). So far, the most I had to record at the same time was 3 (my wife loves Canadian Idol and Big Brother that air several times a week at only one time - no time shifting).
 

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Discussion Starter #22
The one unexpected (And unrelated to MCE) issue I have run into is splitters!!!

I have Rogers:

Internet
Home Phone
1 x DCT 6208
2 x DCT 2500
1 x Analog TV converter

The SNR is a real pain in the butt to keep at respectable levels. It only got worse when I needed to put the second DCT2500 into place.

Any ideas? Do those signal booster units that one can get actually work?
 

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The SNR is a real pain in the butt to keep at respectable levels. It only got worse when I needed to put the second DCT2500 into place.

Any ideas? Do those signal booster units that one can get actually work?
Since the line from the road to my house is 500', Shaw added an amplifier to boost the signal.

The configuration was:

line -> splitter -> cable modem & amplifier

amplifier -> splitter -> TV, cable box, vcr x2

I think the amplifer has to be bi-directional since the cable box has to communicate with the head end for PPV and all that.
 

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Discussion Starter #25
Thanks for the tip on the bi-directional part. I will keep that in mind when poking around.
 

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I have Rogers:

Internet
Home Phone
1 x DCT 6208
2 x DCT 2500
1 x Analog TV converter
I wouldn't get a signal booster. They can cause as many problems as they solve. If your signal is inadequate, get Rogers to fix the problem. It is usually free as well. Rogers has been known to run a second line in extreme cases like yours. There could also be other problems such as a bad or corroded connection somewhere on the line or a general problem in your area.
 

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Discussion Starter #27
I found one that is actually made by Motorola (All the NB hardware except Home Phone is Motorola. This includes our head ends.). It is fully compatible with a bidirectional cable infrastructure.

As for cabling, I doubt there is a problem in the area as all of the infrastructure in my area was replaced about 3-5 years ago when Rogers bought NB from Shaw.

Also, my house is new and wired totaly properly with ALL RG-6 throughout.
 

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... all of the infrastructure in my area was replaced about 3-5 years ago when Rogers bought NB from Shaw.
5 years is probably the half life for cable systems these days. I have seen RG6 connections deteriorate in only a few months as well. Rogers rebuilt my neighborhood. Signal strength was good but it would only take a 6 dB loss before analog pictures became snowy and digital signals became marginal. That's only 4 connections. You have 6.

I would call Rogers and ask for a second line for the internet and phone. After all, they are getting the big bucks for those services which cannot tolerate an extra signal split and are making the TV signals weak. If Rogers cannot or will not support those services properly it is time to take your business elsewhere. That's what I did when they failed to fix my TV and internet problems.
 

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Discussion Starter #29
I would call Rogers and ask for a second line for the internet and phone.
I have considered this but after doing some serious juggling of where all of the splitters were and what number of splits were where, I was able to pretty much stabilize all of the TVs at no less than 30 Db snr and the Cable Modem was all the way to 35 Db snr. I even managed to get one of the DCT2500 units to push 38 Db snr.

The secret...

In all of the shuffling and reexamining, I found a factory end on one of the RG-6 runs that was basically one sneeze from falling off. My recently purchased compression tool and one pass stripper lept into action and I repaired it. It would not surprise me if all the bleed was coming from that alone. It also was the cable that is feeding the two DCT2500s that are hooked to my HTPC.

So when you said:
There could also be other problems such as a bad or corroded connection somewhere on the line
, you were so right.

I plan on, very shortly, going through the house and eliminating any more factory ends that may exist and replace them with compression fittings. They are just so much better. I will probably make sure to preen all of the cable runs down to their actual required length as there is a ton of slack back at the splitter/dmark area and not on just one of the splits.
 

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Discussion Starter #30
I just got my DVI-D cable from Monoprice.com (I Love them!!!).

I have got to say that if you are using a low end card like the GeForce 6200 that I have, then go DVI if you can. The difference in the viewing quality vs. the VGA connector is amazing!

With the VGA cable, there was always a slight (5-10 pixels to the right of an object, not unlike ghosting on an analog cable signal) shadowing effect on the LCD. Now, there is none. The image also seems to be a LOT crisper and DVD content seems to scale up a little better as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #31
Well, I have been back at it again...

First, I put my money where my mouth was and tried to give MythTV a chance. Here is what I thought (Note that I treated the experience very much from a "User" perspective):

- When multiple NICs are present, Linux is still too cryptic about which one is which.

- The IPG is WAY too difficult to set up. I am guessing that this my be more an issue with XMLTV than with MythTV.

- The 10ft interface is still too utilitarian looking.

- DVD playback was unacceptable "out of the box". It stuttered badly.

Here is the build and hardware for those that will want to know:

- KnoppMyth R5D1
- ABti NF7-S 2.0
- Athlon XP 2500 mobile
- 1 GB PC3200
- 80 GB Hitachi 7200RPM
- ATI Radeon X1600 Pro 256 MB

Also note that I did not waste much time fussing with it as the interface was unacceptable to my wife. It is likely that I would have overcome the bulk of the issues but the WAF is a huge issue in my universe.

On the upside, if it were not for the DVD playback issues and the frustrating IPG setup, KnoppMyth is DRAMATICALLY faster to set up than MCE 2005. Some of that speed is obviously due to the fact that the KnoppMyth install is stripped down and built up with all of the needed and up to date drivers and software.

If someone built an up to date MCE 2005 equivalent to KnoppMyth, the difference could be reduced but I doubt that MCE will catch up with KnoppMyth for install speed any time soon. MCE takes 1.5 CDs right from MS. KM only uses one. Padded up with everything, it is likely that MCE 2005 would easily be bigger than 2 CDs and possibly more than half a DVD.

I did some more playing with MCE but that will be in the next post...
 

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Discussion Starter #32
MCE and Firewire!!!

So after my above Myth-adventure :), I reinstalled the system with MCE 2005 and downloaded the latest Firestb.msi from Timm Moores site.

http://home.comcast.net/~timmmoore/firewire/readme.htm

At the same time, I was forced to pull one of my hauppauge 150 cards from my dual tuner setup in the bedroom. So with that, I also rebuilt that box so that I could clean up some of the mess from all of my tinkering. I will save that for another post as there is a few things that I want to touch on.

Back to the firewire fun...

I built up the system and patched fully, something that is highly recommended by Timms installation instructions. After that, I installed the Firestb.msi package but I did so with my Motorola DCT6208 hooked up to the computer. There is no definitive warning against this in the instructions but I was to discover that this is not the preferred way. It is better to leave the box disconnected and to hook the firewire cable up after the Firestb.msi package reboots the PC.

So after getting the software/drivers (There are drivers in the msi as well) installed, everything started to come together. Timm has a command line test that can be run to confirm channel changing is working. With my incorrect installation giving me unplanned insight, I can say that if you test the channel change function and it works, it nearly guarantees 100% that recording over firewire will work.

Once I was recording successfully, I started watching how things behaved. The first is that the firewire recording is stored in a subdirectory of the MCE target recording location. The directory is named "fire". Depending on how you set Firestb to handle the two recordings, er, let me take a pause and bullet out a few things...

Limitations of Firestb:

- Only works 100% on the most dominant STBs like SA and Motorola. Others will work but only to varying degrees.

- Will not push the firewire stream as the actual Live TV feed.

- Still requires an analog tuner card for each firewire connected STB

- Requires a set amount of free space for the temporary storage of the firewire recording as both the firewire and analog feed are recorded at the same time.

Back on track...

So after recording, you have 3 ways to deal with the two recordings:

- Keep both

- Delete the analog on successful firewire recording

- Archive analog recording to a subdirectory called "Old" on successful firewire recording.

I can only see using the keep options if you are leary that there is an ongoing issue. Otherwise, just set to delete the analog.

A neat thing that I took note of was that it seems that the MPEG2 stream from the firewire port produces SD quality recordings at only half the size of the Hauppauge card. HD recordings are obviously larger. Timm states that they should be around 7 GB per hour. As I continue to use the new setup, I will take a close note of how much space is used on average.

Beyond this, I can't say a whole lot. I have only been using this new setup in the main HT for a day. I can say that as annoying as the Live TV limitation is, it is not a showstopper. I still have the component video feed going to my AV switch so I can always switch directly to the STB to watch HDTV properly.
 

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So after my above Myth-adventure :), I reinstalled the system with MCE 2005 and downloaded the latest Firestb.msi from Timm Moores site.
Who is your cable co - Rogers? If so then that is one thing that you folks in NB have on Rogers customers in Ontario. We cannot get a STB with an active firewire port, at least as far as I have heard.
 

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Discussion Starter #34
Who is your cable co - Rogers? If so then that is one thing that you folks in NB have on Rogers customers in Ontario. We cannot get a STB with an active firewire port, at least as far as I have heard.
That is right! The one thing that Rogers NB does right hardware wise!!!

I am likely to get a DCT6200 in place of my DCT2500 that my upstairs MCE box is using.
 

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Discussion Starter #35
Timewarps and wormholes :)

I made another (re)discovery...

For whatever reason MCE 2005 spazzes out REALLY bad in regards to keeping the system time tracked well.

This morning was the first check on a full night of recording with my new firewire setup and everything was a good 20-30 minutes out. At first I thought it was sports shows bumping it but then I remembered. I had the same but not as dramatic problem with my first MCE box.

Now there are tons of conversations out there on the WWW in regards to ways to fix the problem natively in Windows. Forget them all. It is a waste of time and energy as the problem will come back.

The solution is this. Install a piece of software that was suggested in another thread I read somewhere on the WWW. The software is called Dimension 4 and can be found here:

http://www.thinkman.com/dimension4/

Some may know of it already, but for those that don't, get it now. MCE will mess with the clock on ANY system. No matter how good the RTC is on the motherboard.

And when I went downstairs this morning? The clock was out by no less than 32 minutes!!! That was the drift in about 38 hours of uptime on that MCE system. :eek:
 

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Discussion Starter #36
A neat thing that I took note of was that it seems that the MPEG2 stream from the firewire port produces SD quality recordings at only half the size of the Hauppauge card. HD recordings are obviously larger. Timm states that they should be around 7 GB per hour. As I continue to use the new setup, I will take a close note of how much space is used on average.
I paid attention to a few HD recordings and they come in at a beefy 7.5 GB per hour. So that works out to a bit more than 30 hours on a formatted "250 GB" drive. Boy am I glad I am running a 500 GB RAID 5 array. :p
 

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Well, I have been back at it again...

First, I put my money where my mouth was and tried to give MythTV a chance. Here is what I thought (Note that I treated the experience very much from a "User" perspective):

- When multiple NICs are present, Linux is still too cryptic about which one is which.

- The IPG is WAY too difficult to set up. I am guessing that this my be more an issue with XMLTV than with MythTV.

- The 10ft interface is still too utilitarian looking.

- DVD playback was unacceptable "out of the box". It stuttered badly.

Here is the build and hardware for those that will want to know:

- KnoppMyth R5D1
- ABti NF7-S 2.0
- Athlon XP 2500 mobile
- 1 GB PC3200
- 80 GB Hitachi 7200RPM
- ATI Radeon X1600 Pro 256 MB

Also note that I did not waste much time fussing with it as the interface was unacceptable to my wife. It is likely that I would have overcome the bulk of the issues but the WAF is a huge issue in my universe.
Well, I am glad to see you gave MythTV a shot. I think your points are quite valid. Just some thoughts:

Multiple nics: Yes, network setup is a little obscure. However, knoppmyth also is MUCH harder to use than Fedora Core 5 in this respect... the network control panel in FC5 is very informative. And the network card setup during install of FC5 is also pretty easy as well.

IPG: I find the IPG a little frustrating for folks in Canada. Setting up an account at labs.zap2it.com makes things a little easier. But the datadirect XMLTV data feeds seem to treat Canada as second fiddle to people in the US. Once setup it works, but it is not that clear that is for sure.

Oh yeah, and getting OTA ATSC channel data in Canada is next to impossible without digging into some obscure settings - which I hate as I use MythTV with OTA in Toronto. Datadirect/Zap2it it only shows CityTV as being available in digital in Toronto. (But manages to map it to 53_1 instead of 57_1.) I get programming data for all the Buffalo channels, so it is annoying but not really a deal breaker for me. (But for someone that only gets Toronto OTA ATSC it is less than ideal.)

10 foot interface: Hmmm, I like the MythTV interface. (And my wife likes it too.) But I also immediately switch out of the default interface as it is downright ugly - it has been a while since I used KnoppMyth so I am unsure what theme is defaults to, and whether is even installs the nicer themes out there.

DVD stuttering: I personally have not experienced this before. However, it is a common complaint with Linux as DMA is often not turned. This is definitely a knock against Linux. However, Knoppmyth also seems to default to very conservative settings during install to ensure it runs on as much hardware as possible.

If you ever decide to give MythTV a shot again, I would strongly recommend trying Fedora Core 5 as your base. And then follow the great guide at: http://wilsonet.com/mythtv/fcmyth.php
The downside is your install/setup will take a lot longer than KnoppMyth. Actually the two biggest time consumers are downloading the FC5 DVD ISO and running 'yum upgrade' after the initial install to upgrade the base FC5 install before installing MythTV. I typically need to download 500-600MB of updates when doing this... which is rather slow to complete.

My experience with KnoppMyth is it is not the greatest for a base for MythTV. Though it is a great way to test the waters. I found things run much better with Fedora Core 5 as the base.

My biggest gripe with KnoppMyth is it really does not offer much in the way of GUI tools at all. With FC5 you get a lot more and lot nicer admin tools to work with rather than the spartan knoppmyth package. (IE: Configuring multiple network cards in FC5 is as easy as WinXP. Video settings are easily adjusted. Etc.)

I also suspect you would not experience stuttering while playing back DVDs using Fedora Core 5. (As FC5 is pretty good at setting DMA correctly in the first place, and it is easy to force DMA on to see if that helps.)

FC5 also seems to handle detecting video cards and monitors a lot better than KnoppMyth. I was shocked to have FC5 automatically detect and set the resolution when I hooked up my latest MythTV box to my Panasonic 32" LCD TV with a DVI-HDMI cable. I did initial setup on a 1280x1024 LCD and then hooked it up to the TV after. (It made me feel like I was using WinXP when it just brought up the system to the correct resolution.) Neither the KnoppMyth nor Ubuntu Linux distributions do this without manually fiddling with your xorg.conf file.

Again, congrats on trying MythTV out... and hopefully you will find time to try MythTV in the future again. Cheers.
 

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Discussion Starter #38
Again, congrats on trying MythTV out... and hopefully you will find time to try MythTV in the future again. Cheers.
If you know me, you will know that I most certainly will. I started with KnoppMyth due to being in a bit of a hurry to test it. I also wanted to challenge the supposed "easy" factor that is preached. It is not hard for someone that knows Linux/UNIX, but otherwise, not so nice.

I am planning on dual booting my Work system with either Ubuntu or FC5, so I will get loads of time to play with each and then make up my mind as to which one to use.

Where I have firewire working quite acceptably for myself, I am no longer as passionate about converting to Myth but my tinker "gene" is kicking in again so you never know.
 

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If you know me, you will know that I most certainly will. I started with KnoppMyth due to being in a bit of a hurry to test it. I also wanted to challenge the supposed "easy" factor that is preached. It is not hard for someone that knows Linux/UNIX, but otherwise, not so nice.

I am planning on dual booting my Work system with either Ubuntu or FC5, so I will get loads of time to play with each and then make up my mind as to which one to use.

Where I have firewire working quite acceptably for myself, I am no longer as passionate about converting to Myth but my tinker "gene" is kicking in again so you never know.
Cool. I would recommend Ubuntu for anything but MythTV right now. I initially went with Ubuntu 6.06.1 and had a lot of frustration trying to get MythTV to work well.

MythTV-FC5 is a great combo because of the website I mentioned and the fact you can install MythTV from the ATRPMS repository with minimal fuss. I have yet to find a reliable Ubuntu repository for MythTV anywhere. ATRPMs has a critical mass that ensures issues are dealt with promptly at ATRPMS. And the ATRPMS mailing list is very active and very helpful if you have a problem. I have seen Ubuntu-MythTV repositories come and go with way too much frequency.

I find going with Ubuntu-MythTv means you are on your own. As well, Ubuntu does not seem to release updates to packages that MythTV depends on very frequently. (For example, I had to compile my own LIRC package as the Ubuntu one was out of date and was compiled with way too generic settings to be useful for anything but one type of IR receiver.)

Ubuntu is also extremely slow in release updates with new Kernels. I expect to see 2.6.18 very soon with FC5 whereas I would be surprised to see 2.6.18 within 6 months with Ubuntu. This is an issue as kernel releases support out of the box more and more HD tuners. My pcHDTV 5500 tuner will be supported out of the box with the 2.6.18 kernel... so I will no longer have to worry about compiling support into Linux.

As well, a newer Kernel equals more hardware support for newbies, so more people can try it out without needing to compile drivers for their hardware. (I'm waiting for 2.6.18 in FC5 to see if it supports my AMD AM2 cpu motherboard better to let me finally jump to 64bit with the Athlon 64 X2 4200+ cpu I am using.)

Don't get me wrong though. Ubuntu is really cool and an awesome product. (I recommend Ubuntu over FC5 for anything but MythTV right now.) Cheers.
 

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Discussion Starter #40
Don't get me wrong though. Ubuntu is really cool and an awesome product. (I recommend Ubuntu over FC5 for anything but MythTV right now.) Cheers.
Well, that is no fun, you just took the tinkering away :(

It is settled, Ubuntu at work and FC5 at play.
 
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