My TV is actually a PC behind the scenes, running the MythTV on Ubuntu Linux. It records the programs I have selected to record, figuring out when they are on from an automatically updated electronic guide.
I hardly ever watch live TV and have no idea when programs are actually broadcast… don’t see ads either as MythTV detects and skips them. I can even add a recording rule remotely while I’m travelling – if I find out about a certain program I’d like to see later. I don’t watch that much these days, but at least with this at TV can be useful again.
The box can also play DVDs, and one problem there is the stupid copy protection that get put on them – mind you, these are DVDs I bought and thus have the right to play in my home. Inevitably the copy protection breaks the DVD standard in some way, requiring playing software to figure out what the blazes is going on this week.
Disney is particularly good at it, although frankly they should be ashamed of themselves for causing so much hassle, and frankly grief to children.
Some months ago I bought some collectors’ DVDs of the Muppet Show (Kermit turned 50yo! ;-) and I watched some with Phoebe. Naturally, she loved it! The DVD menus weren’t working perfectly at the time but enough so that we could watch. Then a software upgrade (which was necessary for other reasons) made it no longer work at all. Suck. Phoebe sad, but not nearly as much as my crankyness against Disney.
Of course, Disney is no match for the open source community, there are so many capable developers out there that will just solve such problems quickly. I’ve added a special respository (software update source) to my Ubuntu setup, so that it now grabs the very latest fixes of MythTV in a particular version. The info is at http://www.mythbuntu.org/auto-builds and setup is a breeze.
The additional advantage is that I can have the same packages on other machines even if they are running a different version of Ubuntu Linux. This is handy because MythTV is a client-server system. You don’t have to watch programs on the machine where they were recorded or received, it can stream them over the local network.
Good stuff. Thank you, Mythbuntu & MythTV developers!