Archive for June, 2010


Posted: June 30, 2010 in Uncategorized
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I posted before about getting 7MC working on a small ION board. I’ve still not managed to actually ‘deploy’ it to the lounge, too much tweaking to do still – commercial skipping, tidy the menus, add channel logos.

Trouble is I’ve found a new toy….. yaVDR ( is a Linux distro that provides the stable VDR backend to handle TV duties combined with a (relatively) stable SVN build of XBMC with the PVR capabilities. This means that I get all the XBMC gorgeousness with the ability to use it as a PVR! Result! Score!

Now all I’ve got to do is set it up! Bugger.

How the hell does this VDR thing work? My German sucks – where’s the English forum?

OK, I need the ‘channels.conf’ file to get the TV channels working…. 

Google is my friend! I’ve found the instructions on how to do that….. now why won’t it let me do this? ‘Not primary device’ – WTF?

OK, I’ll just paste this one from the internet into the VDR web admin. Yay have a working TV channel! Now need to get the rest of the TV channels in the right order….

Nope still can’t get this command to work.

I’ll get the TV working later, I’ll just get XBMC set up…. Well that took 10 minutes, back to the VDR setup…..


… I’ll try tomorrow…. it’s far too late…..


Having just walked past an O2 shop on my way to work and seen the HUGE queue of people lining up to buy the new iPhone, I can only laugh at reports of issues with this new ???must have??? gadget.

Edit – Ok more stuff??starting to appear. And again.



The Lounge Media Box

Posted: June 24, 2010 in Uncategorized
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I love XBMC (, I personally think that it is the best media playback software available. I started playing with it on the original Xbox. I bought the mod chip, soldered the cables, burnt out the traces, repaired the traces and flashed the new BIOS all to get it to work. Video, MP3 and photo happiness!

Running next to that was a Topfield 5800 PVR….. an older bit of kit, but one that is still used on a daily basis. Pause live TV, record 2 programmes while watching a recording, skip commercials –  all of which exceeded the WAF.

These two bits of kit have spoilt us…. between them, they gave us almost total control over our media. Then the world started going HD and the poor old Xbox started to show its age…

I’ve played with Microsoft Media Center (MCE) ever since it first came out as a specialist Windows XP version. Trouble is, I’ve always run it on a ‘second machine’ one that isn’t as good as my main desktop, so it’s never really worked. The video card wasn’t good enough; CPU wasn’t powerful enough, not enough RAM….. and because it’s never quite worked, I’ve never really been able to justify the purchase of better hardware. This has led me to play with loads of open source/alternative media centre applications – Meedio, GB-PVR, MediaPortal to mention a few. All of which are great, but never quite managed to hit the sweet spot.

Using Linux (MythTV & Freevo) has always produced better results on the older hardware, but my limited knowledge has always prevented me from being 100% satisfied with the end result. The ability to tweak is great, but I lack the knowledge to roll out my inept tweaking often resulting in broken systems.

I recently got hold of a Mini-ITX Atom 330 ION board from Asus. I’ve bunged the latest version of XBMC on to the box and it’s great, both the XBMC Live and the slightly more complex XBMCBuntu version! Combine XBMC with a skin like Aeon and it looks like a high end CE device, especially if you put it in a small discrete case. However the current releases don’t yet support TV. There are huge strides being made in the XBMC community to integrate PVR functionality, but these aren’t necessarily stable or easy to configure. So with huge regret, I sloped off back to the Windows world.

To my surprise, the ION board combined with Windows 7 and a dual card Freeview tuner is proving remarkably good. Channel changes are a bit slow, but it is more than happy to play back all of our media. I know I should finish the build, get all the plug-ins working correctly, optimise it by killing unwanted services etc etc. The missus hasn’t objected to the nicer interface, she can still get to all her programmes, music and photos. The PVR functionality isn’t the same as the Toppy, but that’s more about familiarity than usability.


XBMCBuntu –

And so it begins….

Posted: June 23, 2010 in Uncategorized
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How’s that for a welcome? All those things I thought I’d write have suddenly decided to go off to the park and sit in the sun, leaving me staring blankly at the screen….

I guess I’d better improvise and tell you a bit about me; I’m a web developer, based in London, that’s been writing code for far too long. When I’m not banging my head against the keyboard I waste time playing with HTPC, XBMC and general video based toys. Actually that’s not true, when I’m not banging my head against the keyboard I’m trying to renovate an old house, keep my 2 year old daughter amused and keep my wife off of eBay/garden centre web sites. Once all that is done, I might find time to play with HTPCs, XBMC and video based gadgets.

So I guess that this blog will become about any or all of the above…. assuming I get the time of course…….