Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Media Center? We don't need no stinking media center!

Hi ho 5thsister readers! This is Mr. Sister again. While 5th is out of town partying and carousing, I have agreed to push forward to keep you entertained with a new multi-day blog post. So here goes…

I come to you today, not with joyous technological conquest, but with angst and woes that have shaken my hi-tech foundation. Yes, I admit it! Not all of my technology coups end up successful. But, I get ahead of myself.

About 6 months ago, I developed a plan on how to use technology to reduce my monthly expenses while keeping the same or better quality of life. First getting a Roku player, then a faster internet pipe into the house, and installing Ooma as our home phone (see earlier posts). I felt like I could do no wrong. Everything was working

according to plan! Only one more thing to do and my plan would be complete. I wanted to build a Personal Video Recorder (PVR), something similar to a Tivo or a DVR. This would allow me to stop throwing money at the Satellite Company and just get regular basic cable. With this PVR, we could record, playback, live TV, plus with internet connection combine some of the entertainment aspects on the net with basic extended TV. Sounds simple enough! Right? Well, if your definition of simple is one obstacle after another, then – Right!

To give you an idea of where I’m heading, I’ll use this analogy… 5th sis has said that some of you are runners, so Imagine, you have shown up for a 5k that you wanted to run and now, you are lining up at the starting line. You look over to your fellow runners to trade light-hearted banters when the person to your right asks you “how long have you been doing steeplechases?” (by the way, a steeplechase is a race with obstacle that the runner must traverse). You immediately retort “I don’t do steeplechases!” Then he replies “what are you doing here?”. Slowly, you look up to see that you are not in a 5k road race, you have signed up for a 5k steeple chase and then the horn sounds and everyone lurches ahead. You think to yourself, “what did I get myself into?”. Well, that’s how I feel.

So, back to the story of my PVR… doing my due-diligence, I found that there are a number of possible PVR solutions (MythTV, BeyondTV, SageTV, and the list goes on Well, after reading many blogs and signing on to a lot of forums, I found that most people were moving over to SageTV. It had a very high WAF! (WAF is a term I learned in the blogs, it stands for Wife Acceptance Factor). So, I investigated exactly what I need to get one of these PVRs up and running. So, my checklist was:

· Windows XP Server – (easy, I can build/salvage/buy one for under $100 – they mention that you don’t need too much power 1.5 Ghz processor, 128M of RAM memory – 256M recommended )

· TV capture card (I saw that I could purchase a card that can record and watch two shows at a time! I’ll get 2 of them)

· SageTV Software ($79, pricey, but it had a high WAF!)

· Extender box for each TV, (that was the real expense - $179 per set. Now it is starting to seem like a hobby instead of an easy cheap set up).

· Some way to hook up the extenders to our LAN (I was able to use SageTV’s beta software and connect it via a couple of USB 11N dongles (see my MagicJack blog entry to find out how many laughs were generated by using the term dongle!)

Stay tuned for tomorrows episode (think of Rocky and Bullwinkle) …


“Singing in the Rain” or “When it rains, it pours!”


Willoughby said...

$179 per box? Wow!

Pelican Joe said...

It gets better (or worse, depending on your perspective)! Actually, I think we will have to keep this setup for quite a while to get an adequate return on investment. I think by the turn of the next century, we should be pretty much even!


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