Monday, August 08, 2005

PVR Build Log #06 (Final Log)

OK, how does this posting thing work again? It's been almost a month.

As you read above, this will be the last PVR Build Log post. The system is done, or at least as done as any system of mine can be. There will be tweaks and adjustments, but I really like where it's at, and I'm happy.

So here are the details that I forgot to include in that last post, and whatever else I think of. It's the final wrap-up, so pay attention.

First; Windows. I'm really glad that I gave MythTV a try, and I'm really glad that I finally gave up on making this a Linux-based box. Home theatre PCs, in my humble opinion, are still screaming for Windows simply because it's SOOOO much easier to set up in the first place, and then use.

And OMG, Linux, can you say "Driver problems," or "WTF Dependencies?" Because I can, as I shake my tiny fist at you. Linux geeks are a bunch of damned masochists. There simply is no other explanation. They don't have the social skills to get some sweet girl to put on leather and whip them, so their computing experiences have to hurt instead. Your secret is out, Linux geeks. Good thing for you, no one reads this blog.

Here is a brief sampling of things that Windows is doing or allowing and that Linux wouldn't:
  1. Optical audio from my onboard sound card to my Harman Kardon receiver.
  2. Native support for my multimedia keyboard (some of the distros recognized and used the Gyration keyboard ok, but none of them knew what to do with the multimedia buttons).
  3. Windows boot time: ~45 seconds. Fedora Core 3 boot time: Well over 2 minutes.
  4. DeepFreeze. Not available for Linux.
  5. Disable power button from OS. My kids like to press buttons. Now the power button will turn the machine on, but it won't turn it off.
A note on DeepFreeze. It made this list because it's a big deal to me for the following reason: I don't want to accidentally kill all the work I've done on this machine. Knowing now what I know about Linux, not having something like DeepFreeze, to completely disable the changing of the OS drive, is a deal breaker. What a truly cool product. I, for one, welcome our alien overlords.And Faronics could make a killing if they ported DF to other platforms.

I've been unfreezing the PVR about once a week and letting AVG update. There is literally no housekeeping to be done on C: as long as DeepFreeze is running. While the system was unfrozen today, I did a registry scan for invalid entries. An average scan on a clean system will turn up fifty or so. I got one invalid entry, and I'm pretty sure it was just from the few minutes that I'd already had the system unfrozen.

I wanted an elegant screen saver, so I headed on over to Really Slick. This guy programs these as a hobby. You've probably seen his popular SkyRocket screen saver, which puts on a graphics card-killing fireworks show. As I said before, the vid card in this system isn't a fast one, and SkyRocket is too showy for this application anyway. So I used a different Really Slick one called Euphoria (OpenGL). It turns the 19" LCD into a very beautiful 21st century lava lamp, and it takes very little CPU.

So that's about it. It just works. It now does everything I want it to, except run the picture through a projector, which I can't afford yet. Oh, but I will. So finally, I'll give a complete list of the installed software on my PVR. It's what I consider to be an ideal list.
  • Windows XP Professional, Service Pack 2
  • Other non-stupid Windows updates (I'm choosy about updates)
  • SageTV
  • Nero 6 Ultra Edition
  • SlySoft AnyDVD
  • Elaborate Bytes CloneDVD 2
  • ATI Remote Wonder
  • AVG 7 Free Edition
  • Faronics DeepFreeze
  • Half-Life 1, with updates and High-Def pack
  • Hauppauge WinTV2000 (Just for drivers, I don't use the application)
  • Java 2 Runtime Environment (Required for SageTV, preferred for Firefox)
  • Microsoft .NET Framework, v1.1
  • K-Lite Mega Codec Pack (with Media Player Classic)
  • Motocross Madness 2
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • PowerDVD 5 (Yes, I know there's a newer version)
  • Microsoft TweakUI for XP
  • Farstone VirtualDrive Pro 8
  • WinAmp 5.x
  • WAWI (WinAmp Web Interface - it allows me to control WinAmp from any PC in the house)
  • WinTidy (Remembers desktop icon and window settings)
  • RegCleaner
  • ReallySlick Screen Savers
  • Windows Blue Curve Wallpaper
  • SNES Super Nintendo Emulator
That's it! My desktop has about five times as much crap installed. But not this system. I want it to stay clean and shiny.

So the PVR records more TV than I'll ever watch. I go through and delete TV shows that have built up all the time, even though SageTV would do that for me, if I let it. But I rule with an iron fist.