Monthly Archives: May 2006

utah open source planet has changed my life

Utah Open Source Planet has changed my life. Before my blog got pulled into the local community feed, I was only getting 3 unique visitors a day, with zero comments. Now, I’m getting 300 unique visitors a month with zero comments. Plus I’m really popular with 192.168.1.2, whoever that is, wow! *waves*

Getting so many hits and visits has really changed things. Now hair grows on my chest. My Cheerios taste better. I can program in Perl. I’m sure you’ve learned a lot from me as well — I always get IMs asking me how I manage to even keep a computer running for more than 20 minutes!

Thanks UOSP, you rock! And thank you, too, Planet Gentoo. I love you guys. :D

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almost back to normal

People who don’t know me well wonder why I have issues with such seeminly simple setups, like running a mythtv server. People who do know me well wish they’d never gotten to that point. The answer is quite simple, really — I just can’t help but tweak things until they are almost broken to the point that I have to replace everything but my processor all to get it back to a state of working where it was fine for three months but completely destroyed in five minutes of boredom. I got lucky though, this last time I only had to swap out the RAM and re-emerge everything.

The moral of the story is this though — once you get your MythTV system working just how you like it. Don’t touch it. Really. At all. No tweaky. I’ll never learn that lesson myself, but maybe I can at least warn others. The reason I run into so many problems with mythtv is for two reasons. One, I run the development version of MythTV. Two, I use an MPEG4 USB TV recorder that will only work correctly under linux with myth. My only alternative is Windows MCE, which I can guarantee I’d sooner buy a $400 TiVo or go back to Comcast’s crappy DVR service before I end up running that.

Anyway, I love MythTV, don’t get me wrong, even though I do rant about it a lot. The problem I ran into was that after a recent svn update, recompile and install, any transcoding was throwing the A/V out of sync by just a few milliseconds. Most people probably wouldn’t notice it, or if they would, they wouldn’t let it bother them. I’m hyper-attentive to detail though, and it made me want to claw my eyeballs out. Trying to fix that was what sparked my complete rebuild, and even then it still didn’t help. Finally, I just realized that I was already recording to MPEG4 and since the transcoding was only making it about 1% smaller, I should have just left the files alone. Of course, it took me two days to realize something that if I had sat still and thought clearly for more than three seconds it would have come to me anyway. Ain’t life great?

I did learn some really cool stuff along the way though. One, avidemux rocks. Turns out it can read MythTV’s Nuppel Video files natively. I was having issues converting stuff directly from it, but in some cases it worked. The second cool thing is that mplayer works great in converting them from the original recording. I’m really glad for that, since that means I can finally export them or backup the video files. Thirdly, nuvexport actually works amazingly well. I have 28 episodes I’ve been converting, and out of those, nuvexport handled all of them except for 2. That’s pretty darn impressive.

So, I’m happy. My mythbox is recording things just the way I want it now (going through all this has forced me to learn some new features, which is always good), and I know how to export any of the recorded files … the easy way and the hard way. Now if Myth would just record straight to AVI, then I’d really be happy. Ah well. It still beats anything else that’s out there.

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avidemuxxin'

Man, I’m stoked. :D

I spent all weekend repairing my MythTV box (which, btw, I have a lot of issues with the project as a whole … but that’s another post), and I finally got it to where I want it — working partially. Anyway, I just started playing around with mencoder to see how hard it would be to convert these files to something other than mythtv’s special nuv format (must … contain … rant…), and it actually turned out to be spectacularly simple. All I really have to do is just re-encode them so the AVI index is rebuilt.

The really cool part is coming up next though. I wanted to strip out the commercials myself, and at first I started thinking of how I could do that with mythtv’s commercial flagging. After all, it does just store the cutlist in the database, right? For the record: yes, it does, its in the recordedmarkup table, which took me a while to find out. Well, after my average research time of 2 seconds, I couldn’t find an easy intuitive way to use that to tell mencoder when to cut the video into pieces. I had heard of avidemux before, but last time I tried it (back when I was using Mandrake … eek. Nothing wrong with MDK, that was just a loooong time ago), it only crashed and burned horribly. I figured this was a good a time as any to give it a swirl.

And man, it works great. There’s this great feature it has “skip to next black frame” which pretty much finds the commercials for you. Then just set marker A and B at the start and stop of each break, cut it, and save the file and you’re done! All you need is about 15 minutes each to re-encode each NUV and then maybe 2 minutes to manually cut them, but you’ve got a great perfect looking pristine TV episode. Sweet. :)

I should mention that I already know about nuvexport, but I’ve never had much luck with that either. If anyone’s interested, here’s a raw howto I actually got this far:

  1. Set mythtv to keep original recordings (they’ll be saved as foo.nuv.old) or just don’t transcode at all
  2. Reencode from an MPEG4 NuppelVideo to an MPEG4 AVI, video only: mencoder foo.nuv.old -ovc lavc -oac copy
  3. Run avidemux2 on the AVI, cut out commercials and reencode the audio to mp3 (usually PCM audio works too, but sometimes it gets scratchy).

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Filed under Computers, Multimedia, MythTV, Transcode

fortune-mod-scriptures: gentoo ebuilds ready for testing!

Okay, these are my first ebuilds that I’m really serious about (apologies to those sitting in b.g.o that never got accepted), so I’m hoping someone will help me out and test these for me. They should be okay, but if you want to peek at the ebuild structure and rip on it, that would be even better. I find the whole ebuild developer documentation confusing — not because it isn’t well written, just because there are a lot of variables to it, and what I’m trying to accomplish is actually really, really simple (drop a few files into a directory). Yes, I’m a perfectionist sometimes.

So, without further ado, here’s where you can download the overlay: http://mdp.nephi.org/download/gentoo/

Just unpack the tarball in your PORTDIR_OVERLAY directory, and it will create games-misc/fortune-mod-mormon and games-misc/fortune-mod-scriptures directories along with the digests. You should just be ready to do emerge fortune-mod-mormon from there. Plus, it will pull the tarballs of the packages straight from sourceforge (isn’t that cool) so you don’t need anything else.

And if it breaks your entire system, well, you’re using Gentoo. You asked for it. :)

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mythtv woes

I have a bad habit of breaking things on a regular basis. Only at home though. At work, I’m actually uber-conservative .. it’s just too bad some of that common sense won’t translate to my setups at home.

The main purpose of my server is to run mythtv, which I’ve broken again. Right now my commercial flagging isn’t working properly at all, and I can’t seem to find a fix for it. Not that I’ve really tried, much more than changing my kernel, running the development version, changing mysql and all my backend preferences. But other than that, I can’t pinpoint the reason.

So, I decided I should do a sort of a version freeze on the installation. From now on I’m just gonna use this: 2.6.14 gentoo-sources kernel (with no pre-emption), alsa 1.0.10 libraries, mysql 4.0.x and the latest mythtv ebuild. That’s quite a step down from all the random configs and version changes I’ve been flinging at it lately.

Hopefully things will run more smoothly. I really can’t stand commercials, and I’d do just about anything to get rid of those. Maybe even run a stable system and read the documentation. It’s worth a shot.

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the physics of superman

Wired Magazine has a pretty interesting interview with the director of the new Superman movie coming out.

The last question is classic — it just shows me this guy knows what he’s doing, and why X-Men and X-Men 2 didn’t suck (he directed those, too).

What about the quandary in the first Superman movie when he flies around and around Earth, spinning the planet backward and turning back time? It’s always been strange to me that all of a sudden he can fly so much faster.

Yeah, well, that’s a moment when the death of Lois Lane stimulates him to do the unthinkable, to fly faster than he’s supposed to. That had a romantic logic, but in my opinion, it broke several rules. After all, the idea that flying around the Earth would cause time to go backward, when really if you stop the planet that would just basically cause everyone on Earth to fly off. We don’t have anything quite like that in this film.

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fortune-mod-mormon: debian packages

My friend and LDS OSS cohort Charles Fry has done me a huge favor and packaged fortune-mod-mormon for Debian.

I don’t have any Debian-based distro installed anywhere on my boxes, and even if I did I don’t think I could figure out how to install a 3rd-party package, so if anyone would be nice enough to try these out and let me know if there are any problems, that would rock. Or, if there aren’t problems, tell me that too, so I can put them up on Sourceforge.

Download here: http://mdp.nephi.org/download/debian/

Oh, and I’ll have a Gentoo ebuild ready soon.

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