Content here is by Michael Still All opinions are my own.
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This is my page for MythTV information, including details of my book on the topic.

Wed, 13 Aug 2008

MythNetTV mailing list

posted at: 16:56 | path: /mythtv/mythnettv | permanent link to this entry

MythNetTV release 4

    New things in this release:

    • Removed gflags because people found it hard to find
    • Bug fix patch from David Linville applied
      • Fixed broken imports caused by refactoring
      • Transcode not needed for avc1 and m4v
    • Another bug fix patch from David Linville applied
      • Store filesize in the db
    • Removed some namespace imports I am not a fan of
    • Made verbosity optional for --update
    • Small code cleanups
    • Let the user know of repeated attempts to download a program
    • Documented the need for bittornado for bittorrent to work
    • Abandon downloading after 3 failed attempts (you can configure the number)
    • Detect stuck bittorrent downloads

    Release 3 had a few bugs folks reported, this release should fix those problems. Let me know if you still see any. You can grab your copy here.

    Tags for this post: mythtv mythnettv release
    Related posts: MythNetTV beta 4; MythNetTV release 7; MythNetTV release 6; MythNetTV release 3; MythIPTV Beta 2; MythNetTV release 2

posted at: 16:47 | path: /mythtv/mythnettv | permanent link to this entry

Mon, 11 Aug 2008

Getting rid of cable TV?

    I'm thinking of getting rid of comcast and getting a high def over the air tuner as well as a netflix subscription. I'd be interested in people's opinions of netflix. I guess I'm just fed up with comcast's woeful customer service, quite ordinary analog reception, and complete lack of any new programming. Its been about six months since there was something we really wanted to watch on the channels we get, and I've only just noticed...

    Tags for this post: mythtv comcast
    Related posts: Free on demand from Comcast; Comcast Lies

posted at: 20:35 | path: /mythtv | permanent link to this entry

Sun, 13 Jul 2008

MythNetTV release 3

    New things in this release:

    • Started work on an RSS exporter for MythTV recordings
    • DX50 doesn't need transcode
    • Tweaked supported video mime types so "Tikibar TV" and "Ask a ninja" work
    • First cut of Bittorrent support
    • Schema upgrades
    • Archive recordings as well as importing them
    • Improved --list output
    • Subtitle restrictions on download as well
    • Make subscriptions inactive instead of deleting them (for unsubscribe)
    • Better filename safening
    • More markread options
    • Refactored code to be more sane
    • Don't archive things imported from the archive location
    • Bulk import (--importmanylocal)

    This version was a long time coming. Sorry about that. You can grab your copy here.

    Tags for this post: mythtv mythnettv release
    Related posts: MythNetTV release 5; MythNetTV release 1; MythIpTV Beta 1; MythNetTV release 2; MythIPTV Beta 2; MythNetTV release 4

posted at: 21:36 | path: /mythtv/mythnettv | permanent link to this entry

Sat, 12 Apr 2008

init script

    Jake Graft pointed out in a comment that I had forgotten to put the init script from the MythTV book online. My apologies.
    #! /bin/sh
    # mythbackend
    test -x $BACKEND || exit 0
    set -e
    case "$1" in
            echo -n "Starting MythTV: $BACKEND_NAME"
            su ${MYTHUSER} -c "$BACKEND -v all -d -l ${MBE_LOGFILE}" &
            echo "."
            echo -n "Stopping MythTV: $BACKEND_NAME"
            killall $BACKEND
            echo "."
            echo "Usage: $0 {start|stop}" >&2
            exit 1
    exit 0

    Tags for this post: mythtv book init script
    Related posts: Rsyncing everything but the data; Building a symlink tree for MythTV recordings

posted at: 17:53 | path: /mythtv/book | permanent link to this entry

Thu, 11 Oct 2007

The book is doing ok

posted at: 10:43 | path: /mythtv/book | permanent link to this entry

Fri, 14 Sep 2007

Illegal download sites for the MythTV book

posted at: 09:43 | path: /mythtv/book | permanent link to this entry

Mon, 03 Sep 2007

MythNetTV release 2

posted at: 20:24 | path: /mythtv/mythnettv | permanent link to this entry

Sat, 25 Aug 2007

Schedules direct is live!

posted at: 16:36 | path: /mythtv/guidedata/usa/zap2it | permanent link to this entry

Wed, 22 Aug 2007

Guide data update

posted at: 14:50 | path: /mythtv/guidedata/usa/zap2it | permanent link to this entry

Video and slides from the Google talk

posted at: 13:57 | path: /mythtv | permanent link to this entry

Mon, 13 Aug 2007

MythTV talk at Google

    I'm giving a MythTV talk at Google in the next week (although I can't find it on the events calendar at the moment, I'll update this post when I do) so I've been playing with MythTV 0.21 a little more than I have in the past. Its pretty cool.

    I'm still writing the talk, so I don't know 100% what it will cover, but I'm thinking it would be good to include some of the stuff from 0.21 as a teaser. Storage groups, the flash player in MythWeb, and the tweaks to the theme system seem like good things to include. Does anyone have other things they think are really cool in 0.21?

    Oh, and I'll have to cover guide data for the US, so it might be time to catch up with my MythTV email backlog once again.

    Hopefully in you live near Silicon Valley you can come along to the talk and we can chat afterwards.

    Update: I found a Google blog post with the details. To quote the most important information:

    Like all sessions of the Open Source Developers @ Google Speaker Series, Michael's presentation will be open to the public. Doors open at 6:30 PM at our Mountain View campus; guests should plan to sign in at Building 43 reception upon arrival. Refreshments will be served and all are welcome and encouraged to attend. Michael's presentation will also be taped and published along with all of the public Google Tech Talks.

    Tags for this post: mythtv talk google open source developers
    Related posts: I'm getting fed up; Registered for MySQL User Conference 2006; Backing up a disc partition; Lego Mindstorms NXT and open source; Registered for MySQL User Conference 2006; I won a radio shark and headphones!

posted at: 15:01 | path: /mythtv | permanent link to this entry

Sun, 12 Aug 2007


    Here is a nice video explaining the MediaMVP. I've been looking for silent ways to park MythTV front ends in the kids bedrooms for a while, and this might end up being the way to go. The xbox that Matthew uses at the moment is simply too loud for most use.

    I am left wondering if ad skipping works on the device though. I guess there is only one way to find out...

    Tags for this post: mythtv mediamvp

posted at: 10:34 | path: /mythtv | permanent link to this entry

Sun, 15 Jul 2007

More reviews

    I just got back from a lovely four days in Tasmania, and am just now catching up with the resulting email backlog. There are some new alerts about reviews of the MythTV book in there which are worth pointing out:

    I'm surprised and disappointed that the installation of MythTV through pre-built packages or a CD distributions like KnoppMyth or MythDora were not covered deeper than a sentence or two in passing. This is likely to be a turn off for readers who were hoping for a quick and simple method of getting MythTV up and going.


    On the whole I consider this a good book that is excellent for the new to intermediate MythTV user, although advanced users may pick a few good pieces of information out of it as well. It was well written and covered most items at just about the right introductory (yes -- practical) level. Once it has taught you the basics, you can then go and look up more details online for features you want to get more information about.

    I think the comments about installation technique are fair, although the method described in the book is very likely to result in a nicely working MythTV system, which was not true for the MythTV packages that shipped with Ubuntu at the time of writing (they were a quite old version). Additionally, if you already have a Linux system you want to add MythTV to, then the way described in the book is better than the CD distributions because it doesn't involve a reinstall. I think it's horses for courses -- CD distributions are better for new users, but not for advanced users.

    I'll add coverage of CD distributions to my TODO list of things to cover here sometime in the future.

    Another review:

    My main concern would be the assumption of prior Linux knowledge. The introduction states you need limited or no experience with Linux or Unix. I think that in this case, some time should have been taken to introduce complete Linux newcomers into the Ubuntu environment, which is something that wasn't touched on an awful lot. The installation of Ubuntu was well-covered and is generally a very simple process, but after that not much time was given to familiarise the user with the Ubuntu environment used throughout the book.

    The rest of the book is extremely well written, clear and is a very good companion to MythTV. True to its name, it takes a practical approach to solving problems and if you're a Linux user interested in setting up a MythTV installation, it will make a very good resource.

    Again, it is fair comment to say that we don't spend much time introducing Ubuntu apart from the bits needed to get MythTV working (we talk about installing Ubuntu on bare metal, apt, packages, LVM, disk resizing and so forth). Then again, I imagine that most people who build a PVR machine for their living room only run the PVR software on the machine, and don't tend to use the machine as a general purpose system. After all, who wants to write email on a TV sitting on the couch? Laptops are much better for that. There are also many excellent Ubuntu and Debian books out there already, so it would be a shame to lose focus on our core content and try to be too general. For those needing a more complete Ubuntu introduction I highly recommend Beginning Ubuntu, The Official Ubuntu Book and Ubuntu Hacks.

    So, I'm going to chalk that up as two positive reviews, both with useful comments to consider for next time.

    Tags for this post: mythtv book review
    Related posts: Juno nova mid-cycle meetup summary: social issues; Status of the book; Book reviews; Slow git review uploads?; Juno nova mid-cycle meetup summary: slots; Review

posted at: 18:41 | path: /mythtv/book | permanent link to this entry

Sat, 07 Jul 2007

Zap2IT shutdown update

posted at: 02:44 | path: /mythtv/guidedata/usa/zap2it | permanent link to this entry

Fri, 22 Jun 2007

MythNetTV release 1

    I figured it was time for another release of MythNetTV, especially since I've fixed some bugs recently and rolled in code generously provided by George Nassas. New things in this release:

    • Initial work on transcoding smaller files to something else
    • Better error checking for MySQL configuration and accessibility
    • Fixed bug where MythNetTV was unhappy if there were no channels configured in the MySQL database
    • Found, and hopefully fixed, a bug where program dates were not always being tracked correctly. Also added a check to make sure this doesn't happen again
    • Added --markread, which lets you mark old shows as already downloaded

    The code has seen a fair bit of use now, so it should be fairly stable. Let me know if you find any problems...

      $ ./mythnettv --statistics
      Programs tracked: 735
        Google EngEdu: 350
        Scoble Show: 85 2007: 74
        Mobuzz TV: 82 32
        Net Cafe: 2
        Foo: 1
        ABC News: 2
        Australia: 1
        Play School: 1
        Diggnation: 72
      Programs still to download: 50
        Google EngEdu: 49
        Diggnation: 1
      Data transferred: 103 gb (111017264341 bytes)

    Get it here if you care:

    Tags for this post: mythtv mythnettv beta release video download rtsp mms stream
    Related posts: MythNetTV beta 4; MythIPTV Beta 2; MythIPTV Beta 2; MythNetTV release 6; MythNetTV release 4; MythNetTV release 7

posted at: 11:49 | path: /mythtv/mythnettv | permanent link to this entry

Thu, 21 Jun 2007

...and then there was a pause...

posted at: 09:30 | path: /mythtv/guidedata/usa/zap2it | permanent link to this entry

Wed, 20 Jun 2007

Some quick further thoughts on the Zap2IT shutdown

    The Zap2IT forums has a thread about the shutdown (you need to have a Zap2IT login to get to the forum). One of the posts on the thread about the shutdown expands on the reasons for the free guide data shutting down:

    - Continued use of the service to support commercial products, in violation of the agreement.
    - Commercial products continued to grow despite previous appeals that this activity stop.
    - There are significant changes to the supporting data structure forthcoming and we could not devote resources to the continued upkeep and enhancements of the service.
    - Maintenance of the service is impacting our resource pool for other projects.
    - We sought alternative options but were unable to find a solution.
    - We recognize the hardship this creates for the user community. We are open to alternative solutions and would consider proposals that met the needs of the user community and our company.
    - We looked into options to turn this into a paid service however we do not have the infrastructure at this time.

    So it seems that the folks selling MythTV based solutions which used the guide data, as well as possible other commercial uses (the was no real way to check what system was connecting to the guide data) are the main reasons for the service shutdown.

    That seems reasonable to me... It's inconvenient for MythTV users in the US, but there are other guide data sources. It is certainly disappointing that people we misusing the free service and caused it's shutdown for everyone.

    Tags for this post: mythtv guidedata usa zap2it shutdown reasons
    Related posts: ...and then there was a pause...; Zap2IT shutdown update; An initial analysis of the removal of Zap2IT guide data in the US; Schedules direct is live!; Guide data update; Breaking: Zap2IT turning off guide data for the US?

posted at: 09:17 | path: /mythtv/guidedata/usa/zap2it | permanent link to this entry

An initial analysis of the removal of Zap2IT guide data in the US

    (I had some spare time while waiting for the kids to finish their breakfast, so this is posted earlier than I planned).

    As mentioned briefly earlier today is reporting that Tribune Media Services (TMS) is turning off their free guide data service for MythTV on 1 September 2007. This is mainly because of claims of abuse -- the theory on the MythTV users mailing list is that this abuse is vendors selling pre-configured MythTV systems for profit, which use the not-for-commercial-use guide data service from Zap2IT.

    The announcement from TMS reads:


    For several years we have offered a free TV listings service to hobbyists for their own personal, noncommercial use. In October of 2004 we posted here an open letter saying the future of Zap2it Labs was at risk because of certain growing misuses of the Zap2it Labs data. Unfortunately this misuse has continued and grown. These misuses, combined with other business factors have led to the decision to discontinue Zap2it Labs effective September 1, 2007.

    We thank those users who have honoured the terms of the agreement, and we suggest you consider the many TV listings options offered by the commercial licensees of TMS TV listings data.

    If you would like to discuss how to license TV listings for commercial use, please let us know by e-mail ( and include your company name, telephone number and the best time to reach you. We will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.

    We anticipate this decision will generate discussion and invite you to respond via the Zap2it Labs forum. We will do our best to respond to relevant questions posted on this forum in a timely manner.

    There has been much consternation on the MythTV users mailing list about this announcement. There haven't been a lot of helpful suggestions yet though. There is the assurance that the development team is looking into options, and some users are suggesting rounding up enough people to pay for a commercial license. The reality however is that this is likely not a big deal. I can think of a few possible outcomes:

    • Doom! The guide data stops, we all go home. This seems particularly unlikely though. It would take many people ignoring the problem, and just accepting that their MythTV systems are going to stop working.

    • Some sort of scraper using XMLTV is written. This is in fact how guide data is obtained for most other countries at the moment. This technique is discussed in my MythTV book (Amazon), and is well understood. I would expect new XMLTV grabbers for the US to start appearing in the next few days.

    • A conglomerate is formed to buy a commercial license to the guide data, and then sells that in XMLTV form to US based MythTV users. This option seems less likely to me, although not impossible. It would take someone being willing to buy the license for the data, on the assumption that enough people would actually pay for a XML feed. Lots of people have said they would, but there is already arguments over how much they would b willing to pay and it's yet to be seen if those people will actually front up with the cash. It should also be noted that this sort of arrangement has been tried in other countries, and seems to invariably fail.

    • Another company steps up to provide guide data for free. There are lots of companies which have this data for their own uses now. Examples include the various TV guide web sites out there. They might chose to provide the data as a way of generating good will, as well as because providing the XML will cause less load on their systems than being automatically scraped to produce a third party XMLTV feed (the second option). This was the reason that the Zap2IT feed started being provided in the first place after all.

    So, no doom yet. I'll post more analysis as it appears.

    Tags for this post: mythtv guidedata usa zap2it alternatives
    Related posts: Zap2IT shutdown update; ...and then there was a pause...; Some quick further thoughts on the Zap2IT shutdown; Guide data update; Schedules direct is live!; Breaking: Zap2IT turning off guide data for the US?

posted at: 08:21 | path: /mythtv/guidedata/usa/zap2it | permanent link to this entry

Breaking: Zap2IT turning off guide data for the US?

posted at: 07:06 | path: /mythtv/link | permanent link to this entry

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