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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