Category Archives: Video

Kyle Doe

So, anyone else see the slightest bit of similarity between the new ABC Family show Kyle XY and the dearly-missed Fox show John Doe? They both have no memory of themselves, fantastic abilities, woke up in the forest, set in Seattle but probably shot in Vancouver… Of course, in keeping with the usual way of doing things lately, ABC had to slap together a viral marketing campaign too. Like the Hanso Foundation from Lost, we have the Mada Corp, a shadowy group that claims to be all about doing good and yet has a secret blog hidden in the job search link where someone writes that “they” are coming to get him. With the implication of freaky experimentation, maybe there’s a dash of Dark Angel in there too.

My point? I don’t have one, just thought that Kyle XY was strangely reminiscent of other shows.

I’m not addicted…

I can quit any time I want. It’s a good thing most of the programs on my MythTV box are set for “autoexpire when the drive gets full.” Here’s the latest status line.

297 programs, using 242 GB (246 hrs 31 mins) out of 345 GB.

Now, to be fair, I have a truly stupendous number of cartoons for the Boy, as well as a significant number of DVDs ripped to the hard drive (no need to mess with the disks, which is good if you’re six years old).

St Bernard Parish

This video has to be seen if you want to truly understand how long it will take to rebuild New Orleans.  It’s 22 minutes long, 82 megs in size, so don’t be impatient with it (or use dialup).

As [info]ikilled007 has said, years – not months – years to bring it back, if ever.

Aaaarmy Training Sir!

Exactly why is it that nobody in The Unit wears a uniform while in garrison? Sure, when they’re in the field, they wear a mishmash of military and civilian attire. But, when they’re supposedly doing their homebase training, they hang out in t-shirts and jeans. Yeah, right. Well, there is one guy who stays in BDUs (the Colonel), but he doesn’t wear insignia of any kind, name tapes, patches, nothing.

Some of you may say, “But the US Code says that you can’t wear an accurate uniform.” That is actually not true for actors. Oh, it was true once, but it’s not true now and hasn’t been for years.


I read the graphic novel a while ago, and the movie version of V For Vendetta
is true to the source material and yet quite different.

The Commander’s review pretty much covers the material, so I won’t be redundant.  The most striking difference between the novel and the movie in my mind was the final scene.  I don’t recall a scene like that in the novel (the above ground bits, that is).  Makes the movie more hopeful than the book, which is not nearly as dark as most Moore stuff.  Might explain why he screamed to take his name off it.

Why 350 Gigs?

Several people have recently asked why in the world I would need 350 gigs of storage space, when that equates to hundreds of hours of video footage – way more than I could watch in a reasonable amount of time.

So, here’s the explanation for those who haven’t drunk the DVR koolaid yet.

I don’t record things to watch them at a specific time (except for a few shows that I look forward to talking about at work), but to have them for whenever I feel like watching them. Say I feel like watching a cooking show.  Six months ago, I could flip over to the Food Network and hope one of the shows I liked was on, or deal with watching the Al Roker barbecue special again.  Now, I just see which Good Eats or 30 Minute Meals episode I feel like watching. And Alex has three episodes of every one of his shows on tap, for whenever he wants to spend his 30 minutes of screen time per day.

Although I’m still opposed to the idea of tuners being not part of an industry standard and therefore being held hostage to a cable or satellite company for digital signals, I can see the utility of a dual-tuner HD box sometime in the future. The bigger problem is that whole DRM nonsense. As the consumers get more educated and begin to revolt against all the copy protection crap the MPAA and RIAA want us to encumber our media with, they continue to plan even more.  France has legislated the first step toward making DRM illegal, and yet the US government opposes the measure.  It’s astounding.

As Cory Doctorow says, nobody wants to do less with their media today than they did yesterday.  Yet, that’s what the MPAA want to force on us.  Why?

Obscure Reference Man to the Rescue!

I swear, Family Guy is written just for nuts like me. Just in the first seven minutes of tonight’s episode, the references included Mytzlplk, 80s children’s television, John Cusack movies, the Disney versions of Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, and the war in Iraq.

The other obscure references that I noticed include the Dukes of Hazzard, Punk’d, the psychotically vague Second Amendment verbiage, a particular Burgundy wine (or restaurant in Tribeca), Planet of the Apes, Woody Woodpecker, Fatal Attraction, Less Than Zero (or maybe Bright Lights Big City – I’ve only read the books not seen the movies), and zombie movies.

There was also a reference to a movie that doesn’t seem familiar – ancient language-speaking forestdwelling people who are apparently reincarnated soul mates later in history. Anyone know that one?

More fun with hard drives

Remember the new hard drive? Well, I decided to stop the separation of the various media files between hda4 and hdb1, because it causes issues that require me to manually move recorded movies to the video share in order to free up the space on hda4 (which was the original purpose of the extra drive). So, I spent a few hours today moving 140 gigs of files around from drive to drive, so as to get the system up and running using the Logical Volume Manager system. Now that it’s up, it’s sweet and future maintenance will be crazy easy.

Previously, the df command showed

/dev/hda1 /
/dev/hda3 /cache
/dev/hda4 /myth

/dev/hdb1 /myth/video

Now, the df command shows:

/dev/hda1 /
/dev/hda3 /cache
/dev/mythvg/mythlv /myth

Physically, that /dev/mythvg/mythlv device is a logical device, spread across two physical devices, with a combined total available space of 365 gigabytes. Now, instead of having 120 gigs free on the video drive and 80 gigs free (and falling fast) free on the main myth drive, I’ve got 206 gigs free on the logical myth drive. And, if I decide to be a bigger packrat, I can grab a SATA drive or two and extend the logical volume group across the new drives as well. I’m gonna get a terabyte, babay!

Fun with hard drives

Officemax had a deal on a 300 Gigabyte Baracuda drive this week, so I grabbed one to replace my secondary drive on the Windows machine (which was a 160 GB Maxtor).  Then, the 160 went into the MythTV box, to serve as a storage place for ripped DVDs or movies I record from TV but don’t want to erase for a while (if at all).

The default structure used by Knoppmyth is to make four partitions on the primary drive (hda), with the fourth being the /myth directory and using the vast majority of the space on the disk.  With a 250 GB drive, I ended up with 160 GB used within six weeks of starting this project.  So, I added the 160 GB drive as /myth/video and away we go.

New partition structure:

hda1 – / (user files and operating system)
hda2 – swap
hda3 – /cache (for live tv)
hda4 – /myth

hdb1 – /myth/video

And now I’ve got over forty gigs used of the hdb1 partition, and down to less than half used on the hda4 partition.

When I bought some blank CDs this week, I ended up with a free 128 MB USB thumbdrive.  Anyone want it?  What the heck will I do with this thing?  I’ve already got three SD cards of varying capacity, an old CompactFlash microdrive (340 MB), and a spare 128 MB memory stick.  Like I need more solid-state storage?

How goes that MythTV Box?

Well, I’m so glad you asked.  Since I have two MPEG-encoding tuners, it’s amazing what my poor little Sempron chip is capable of.

Right now, 60% of the CPU is being used by mythtranscode, which is going through the movie Road to Wellville and removing all the commercials while compressing it to MPEG4 instead of the default MPEG2 (about half the size with equivalent video quality). Another 22% of the CPU is being used to transcode the movie LA Story from DVD to MPEG4, so I don’t have to find the disk to watch the movie whenever I want to (and just to prove I can). Meanwhile, both tuners are recording shows (Surface and Stargate, I believe) and I’m watching the Simpsons from last night.

I’ve really been abusing the recording features, and I’ve got 66 programs saved, using 68 gigs of my 212 available. After removing commercials and transcoding to MPEG4, a 30 minute show fits in 360 megs.

State of the PVR – Night the Fourth

I didn’t do any work on the MythTV box Wednesday, but I got a borrowed monitor to help me set things up Thursday.  Looks like I’m in business, although I need to get a cable to split the speaker output from the sound card into RCA jacks to get to the TV.  Then, I’ll push a tunnel through the firewall so I can program my PVR from work.  Oh yeah.  That’s the stuff.

I promise to post a full review and more pretty pictures soon.

State of the PVR – Night the Second

And the hardware is installed.  Tonight, I have completed my mother’s federal tax return preparation and then finished installing the hardware in my MythTV box.

The only tricky part has been finding somewhere to tuck all the power cords. The PSU I chose has a lot of cables attached to it, very generous compared to most power supplies. Unfortunately, I only need two of them to power the drives and front case fan – the rest are just in the way.  Fortunately, I have a spare 5 1/4 drive bay that I am not using, and it’s placed perfectly to hold the cables.

Strangely, neither the motherboard (which has onboard sound) nor the DVD drive included an audio cable, so the optical drive won’t be pumping any CD audio for the time being.  Good thing that’s not a big issue for me, eh?

The case now contains all the components I intend to install. The only other parts that are not connected are the mouse, keyboard, and remote control.  Whew.

For photos of the progress so far, check out the gallery.  Good night.

State of the PVR – Night the First

I just spent an hour putting the first pieces into the case. The LC13 case is quite roomy and built like a tank. The Sempron processor is easy to install, as has been the case with every ZIF-style chip in the past decade. The heatsink was equally easy to install, although they sure have grown since the last time I installed a processor (that was a K6-200, if I remember correctly). The pre-installed thermal paste is a nice touch and worth the extra few bucks for the retail package, in my mind at least.

I’ve got the hard drive temporarily placed, as I have to pull its cage out again in order to install the DVD burner (which arrives via UPS tomorrow). And, that’s enough fun for tonight. My pile of hardware has dwindled considerably, with the tuners and video card being the only parts left to install (after that burner, of course) tomorrow night.

I’ve got the parts

By this time tomorrow, I’ll have the last piece of my MythTV kit in the house. I will probably not assemble it until this weekend, but ya never know. The initial hardware will include a 250 gig hard drive, two analog tuners, and a wireless keyboard and mouse to assist the remote.

Photos and details as I complete the project. This should be fun. 🙂

Return of the return of the Broadcast Flag

Boy, those congresscritters really don’t seem to get it. Nobody outside the MPAA and RIAA wants a broadcast flag, no matter what you call it. As always, Cory Doctorow’s analysis is fantastic.

Under the DCPA proposal, digital media technologies would be restricted to using technologies that had been certified by the FCC as being not unduly disruptive to entertainment industry business-models.

Unduly disruptive? Hey, folks, the disruptive technologies are the ones that drive us forward and upward to ever-higher levels of economic and creative success. Phonographs, automobiles, computers, compact disks, radio, television – all disruptive technologies in their time. There is no Constitutional right to protect existing business models, and isn’t Congress supposed to be in the business of protecting the Constitution and the sovereign people of the United States? Or are they instead in the business of protecting campaign donors against their own customers? Yeah, that was rhetorical, thanks.

Save Our Bluths

Save our Bluths is surprising in a way. Based on the last episode of Arrested Development (hilarious, watch it), I’d kind of assumed there would be something at – nope. Apparently predates the episode, and was probably the inspiration for the URL flashed on the screen during the show.

Seriously, watch it.  It’s surreal and bizarre and not based around the foibles of teenagers with too much money living in some Orange County neverland.  Instead, it’s based on a completely wacked out world of rich people and strange humor.  Think Monty Python without so many accents.