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Posts Tagged ‘andrew manugian’

New Thailand travel video. Go here if you want the full HD 1080 version (be sure to click the gear and change to 1080)

It was hard to make a Thailand video. I was there for 2.5 years, yet only had a little video from really touristy stuff. More interesting scenes like street scenes, food and clothing markets, and nightlife would have been awesome to include, but I never had my camera with me and never made a concerted effort to film anything with the intention of making a video.

More personal video, such as some classroom fun with kids and film around my house might be added at a later date, but for now, the video includes:

  • Bangkok (urban sprawl, traffic, and shopping)
  • The North (countryside and Wats)
  • Wats and Palaces (Wat Pho, Wat Arun, Grand Palace)
  • Muay Thai
  • Sukhothai (one of my favorite places in Thailand)
  • Elephants (footballing, bathing, and painting)

I hope you enjoy it.

On a related note, I lost two (2) HDDs while making this video, and barely managed to recover the editing data (some of which was corrupted).

Why I constantly subject myself to the whim a device comprised of magnetic discs spinning thousands of times a minute, I’ll never know, but I was lucky enough to only lose my main 2 TB HDD (with my software, preferences, and recently-worked on stuff that’s saved to the desktop), and a mere 1TB external with music that’s never been backed up.

Classic “S.M.A.R.T. status BAD backup and replace” error. There ain’t no coming back.

Oh well, easy-come-easy-go. I’m back up and running, with several extra 2TB drives and a NAS box on their way in the mail. Determined not to lose more important stuff, this might be my first step into seriously backing up what I do, perhaps with software such as freenas.

4-bay Probox for NAS. You could RAID or JBOD

Why does it take a catastrophe to spur someone to back up? I’ve always known hdds are unreliable and have lost my fair share in the past, but it seems like as soon as my computer is running smoothly again, it becomes such a nebulous threat– something that happens to other people–and I slowly become more and more negligent about backing up important data until I get bitten again.

Finally, I know I’m late to the game, but I’ve been playing around with Google Sketchup, a free 3-D modeling program that can be used for anything from videogame modeling to architecture to engineering and design. I initially started using it to make a diagram mapping the location of our 20+ sprinkler zones at our house, but I started to make a 3-D model of our house, and have lost hours playing around with its various and user-friendly features.

Sketchup’s the reason you’ve been seeing 3-D models of famous buildings in Googlemaps, and you can use it to add your own house, school, or place of work, down to the minute interior details.

One of Google’s hopes for the product is that people will accurately model buildings and landscapes in order to upload them to Google Maps, which is just a little scary in terms of criminals being able to case joints, etc. I already think streetview’s a little intrusive. But a part of me really loves this–it’s one step closer to having our whole world mapped in VR, which is in turn one step closer to the Matrix.

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Here’s an old Kronos stop motion animation I did in college.

weird

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HBO’s award-winning show Game of Thrones, based on George R. R. Martin’s equally magnificent 7-book series (2 of which have yet to be written), has managed to wow TV scholars, superfans of the novels, and first-time viewers alike with resounding success. No doubt a major key to the show’s success is the ingenuity of George Martin’s intricate fantasy tale of kings and queens, knights and monsters, and the nature of power which spans hundreds of years in a medieval world not unlike our own. However, it takes more than a great story to make great TV.

George R. R. Martin, the brains (and looks) of the operation

When any narrative makes a crossover to a different medium, there’s often constant debate concerning canon vs non-canon material, incongruity with fan expectations, and narrative quality (sometimes from lack of direction from the original author, and sometimes from lack of original content from fresh writers). People’s mental images get shattered by casting, mise-en-scene, and acting. Fans get livid when their favorite characters are culled or plotlines are merged for brevity’s sake. This sort of crossover is a treacherous undertaking as epic as the series itself, but the HBO series navigated it with skill, remaining close enough to the books to appease fanboys while still delivering original content in its own unique style.

There aren’t many books that require a map and printed genealogy at your side in order to appreciate them.
Click the picture for an impressive interactive map.

A Song of Ice and Fire features the stories of 24 point-of-view characters (and over 100 well-developed major characters) as they quest, merry-make, scheme, kill, and generally vie for power in an alternate fantasy version of our own medieval times. With its 1000-page books, complicated history, vast cast, and countless and diverse locales, translating a.S.o.I.a.F into easily-digestible one-hour programs is a daunting task, and some changes and omissions have to be conceded in order to streamline the TV narrative. However, the changes (both additive and subtractive) to the original story are few and far between, often very well motivated, and well-within the character of the Game of Thrones universe (although I will not be defending the egregious and ribald “sexpositions” scenes G.O.T. seems so fond of whenever they need more character development).

So, in addition to Martin’s brilliant source material, Game of Throne‘s success is a result of superb casting and acting, the use of multiple, talented cinematographers who manage to bring the epic cinema look to the small screen, careful omission and editing of the source material, and very importantly, the addition of well-written new material that adds to and reimagines the Game of Thrones universe, much of which has George R. R. Martin’s consent, direction, and sometimes writing.

So, here are some of the new scenes and modifications in Season 2 that make Game of Thrones better. here be spoilers


1 – Every Scene with Lord Tywin and Arya Stark

An easy first pick and fan favorite, the interactions between the cunning patriarch of the House Lannister and an incognito Stark girl posing as a wine bearer at the haunted castle of Harrenhal really steal the show. Even though these scenes are totally non-canon, replacing Amory Lorch (a minor Lannister bannerman) with Tywin afforded the writers several opportunities for Tywin’s character development and dramatic tension. Arya hides her noble birth well, but Tywin’s shrewd eye misses nothing (although he doesn’t suspect she’s a Stark), and after he promotes her to wine bearer, she gains an exclusive glimpse into the inner workings of her enemies and their difficulties in fighting her brother (You’re too smart for your own good,” scolds Tywin).

“My legacy will be determined in the coming months. You know what legacy means? It’s what you pass down to your children, and your children’s children. It’s what remains of you when you’re gone.”

Tywin even confides in Arya his calculating motivations and concern over legacy, his effort in combating Jaime’s dyslexia, and her brothers supposed invincebility (“No, my lord,…Anyone can be killed,” Arya states…and the crowd goes wild). There’s an extremely tense scene in which Lord Littlefinger is present, presumably recognizes Arya, yet decides to remain silent that further emphasizes the fact Lord Baelish play the game for himself only. Tywin’s gets more character development earlier than in the books, he becomes a wholly more likable and sympathetic character, and tension and dramatic irony totally ensue…everyone wins!

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2 – Margaery Tyrell

Poor Margaery Tyrell…a seemingly sympathetic and passive character in the books, Margaery gets the attention she deserves from HBO as a woman just as power-hungry and calculating as any of the challengers to the throne. Her marriage to the gentle Lord Renly must be tough on her, but I don’t think her obvious acceptance of the situation is simply a testament to her dutiful nature. It’s just another reminder than almost every union in Game of Thrones is for power (except Jamie and Cersei and Robb and Talisa). Margaery is just making the lot she’s been given work with what she’s, no matter the cost. In her case, in this universe, a woman’s position is fortified by childbirth and legacy. “The best way to stop them is to put your baby in my belly,” Margaery insists to Renly, who’s having another one of his “headaches,” that only her brother can soothe. “Must be the wine,” Renly says, turning away from his totally smoking nude wife. Ever the pragmatic problem solver, Margaery asks “Do you want my brother to come in? He can get you started, I really don’t mind” she helpfully suggests, “Or I can turn over and you can pretend I’m him.” She’s not even joking.

“Fleshing out a character” takes on a whole new meaning with Margaery Tyrell

It’s hinted at in the books, but HBO obviously doesn’t have faith in its audience’s ability to catch subtle hints and decides to out Renly and Ser Loras in scenes that leave no doubt as to the nature of their friendship. Audiences across the country were surprised with scenes featuring intimacy between her husband and her brother, but Margaery doesn’t seem to think it’s a big deal and neither should you. George R. R. Martin gave more than a few hints throughout the series. Here are but a few:

  • …I got Margaery. You’ll be pleased to know she came to me a maid.” Renly says to his brother. To which Stannis replies, “In your bed, she’s like to die that way.” Zing.
  • Now sheathe your bloody sword, or I’ll take it from you and shove it up some place even Renly never found.” Jamie threatens Loras.
  • Renly’s dubs his personal guard the “Rainbow Guard,” he’s well-known for being the best-dressed, and Catelyn notices he pays little attention to his comely bride.

Finally, in a great new scene after Renly’s death, Lord Littlefinger asks, “Do you want to be a queen?”  “No,” Margaery responds,“I want to be the queen.” And as easily as that, she assesses her situation, abandones allegiance to her dead husband’s lost cause, and agrees to wed the monster Joffery. She’s not charging into the lion’s jaws without any help, however. The power and scheming of Highgarden support her every move towards claiming power over Westeros.

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3 – Talisa of Volantis

Talisa is a great an example of simplifying a storyline to a show’s benefit and she her character serves in showing some of the courtship and strain that causes Rob Stark to forsake his vows. In the books, Robb returns dutifully and happily married to Jeyne Westerling (of one of the Lannister’s sworn houses) after a night in which she “comforted” him and healed his wounds. On the other hand, Talisa is a medic who follows Robb’s camp, impresses him with her passion for treating the injured with equality, challenges his morality with biting comments, and flirts relentlessly with him. The substitution of the relatively undeveloped Jeyne and her secret wedding with Robb by Talisa and her slowly-building romance is fine by me. Plus, she’s not hard to look at.

Good scenes with Talisa include arguments with Robb over treating friend and enemy alike, a tale of a near-death childhood experience explaining her devotion to medicine, and epic interference by mother Catelyn Stark between the two young lovebirds. This courtship and the strain of command culminates in sultry boots-on sex scene in which begins with this adorable dialogue:

I don’t want to marry the Frey girl,” Robb admits.

I don’t want you to either,” she blurts, obviously relieved they’re on the same page. “But you needed that bridge.”

They hastily and hungrily commence undoing all the strings, latches, buckles, etc. typical of the attire of that time which are probably designed specifically to arrest this sort of irresponsible behavior.

Adorable.

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4 – Littlefinger

A Game of Thrones (on which season 1 is based) has 8 point of view characters, and A Clash of Kings (Season 2) has 9:  five Starks (Catelyn, Sansa, Arya, Bran, and Jon Snow), Tyrion Lannister, Davos Seaworth, Theon Greyjoy, and Daenerys Targaryen. Because of a heavy Stark and Tyrion viewpoint bias in the first few novels, a lot of the conniving and court intrigue of Tywin, Littlefinger, Varys, and others happen behind the scenes and are often discovered (sometimes long) after the fact. Two great non-canon Littlefingers come to mind (although my first is more of a Cersei Scene), but he’s a delight every time he’s on screen.

As Cersei and Littlefinger trade veiled threats in a courtyard, Littlefinger (with his newly created house sigil) pushes her too far by claiming his knowledge of her incest is power. Seeing fit to teach him a lesson, Cersei commands, “Seize him! Cut his throat.” The guards leap into action. “Stop,” she sneers” Oh wait…I’ve changed my mind” She’s just toying with him. “Power is power,” she sneers at a visibly shaken Littlefinger. This scene is great because it shows Littlefinger’s ambition getting the better of him, and Cersei’s ability to still cut him down to size.

A second great new scene is when Ros (an example of a 1-shot character getting developed into a minor one) is being consoled by Littlefinger about her performance at his brothel. Sshshing and consoling, Littlefinger seems sympathetic at first, but then he matter-of-factly whispers to her a story about how this one time there was a prostitute not unlike Ros who was crying and not making him money. So he sold her to some client whose needs involve more than your average amount of slap ‘n tickle. So, after this compassionate pep-talk, he gives her a quick “you’ll be happy tomorrow hmmmmm?” Yet another scene showing how ruthless Littlefinger can be to the people who get in his way.

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5 – Yoren

Yoren’s given a good deal more depth than he has in the books, and is given a more interesting role as protector and tutor of Arya Stark, serving as the next step in her education after Syrio. A perfect balance of couldn’t care less badassery and surprising decency, Yoren sticks to a code of honor, defending his ragtag pack of criminals more than most knights would protect the innocent. And every moment he’s not being a badass (by saving Arya’s life,  threatening a gold cloak, or Boromir-charging a platoon of Lannister men), he’s a hilariously pessimistic philosopher, in a way only spending decades without women or warmth on the wall can make a man.

“And one day, Willam came riding back into town. And I buried an axesword so deep into Willam’s skull they had to bury him with it.”                                                                                       There little girl…that’ll help you sleep.

His short bonding scene with Tyrion in the first season is funny (“And how do bear’s balls taste?” /”A bit chewy.”), his presence at Ned Stark’s beheading is epic (“Don’t look!”), his threat with his knife pressed against a mounted goldcloak’s thigh is very cool (“and there’s no-one nearby that can un-nick it’), and his last stand is heroic (“Get up you lazy sons of whores! There’s men out there that wants to fuck your corpses!”). However, my favorite new scene of Yoren’s is the advice he gives Arya on his last night which consists of a revenge tale from his past which inspires her to start saying the names at night. He understands her need for revenge and doesn’t dissuade her from following through, even though he knows how her thirst might be all-consuming. I like how Arya’s personality is getting shaped by a variety capable teachers– on her journey from Syrio’s Bravosii wit and zen-like water-dancing to Jaqen H’ghar’s elite assassin skills, Yoren is a pefect pitstop for her to harness her anger and hate into a fatalistic worldview.

>>>Like This Article?

>>>Continue to Part II: MORE Season 2 Scenes that Improve Game of Thrones

>>>Or perhaps you want to check out my Prometheus Rant

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Billiam ‘Wartime Consigliere’ Clary and I have a sort of love-hate relationship with bugs: we hate them, and they love how messy we keep our house. Of course, in Thailand, bugs are scarier, faster, and more widespread than anything I’ve seen before. Coming from a brown recluse-infested city (whose bites can result in this), I was relieved to hear that at least the spiders aren’t dangerous here — only everything else. The first time Bill and I came to notice this bug problem was during our first few weeks here — we were marveling at how much faster the ants are here — moments before Will almost took a big gulp of ant coffee that he had placed on the table  for mere seconds. Our old apartment was plagued by maggots. Not everywhere or all the time, but they certainly came in waves, and we became pretty familiar with their life cycle. I realize this sort of infestation might bother most people, but determined as ever, Billy and I took it in stride, only finally cleaning house when we realized that all the little bites over our bodies must be from these constantly-hatching flies.

ignoring the problem eventually results in very necessary epic cleaning days

We didn’t have an ant problem, and our roaches were cute translucent things that visited for only a season. Sure, we had ‘horror bathroom,’ a flickering-light bathroom so filthy it depressed me to linger in there for more than a few seconds, but by our standards, our bug problem was ‘under control.’ Since Will and I seem to be embroiled in what might be considered a perverted form of ‘cleanliness chicken,’ a battle of wills that probably originated from college laziness, we tend to let these hygiene problems really get away from us before we go about doing anything. It’s a miracle neither of us have gotten sick. At college, after breaking the thermostat in a temperature battle, we endured sub-zero temperatures in our rooms for days rather than call to get it fixed. Letting trash or dirty dishes pile up in America (especially a cold environment like Vermont) isn’t such a big deal, but in tropical Thailand, it’s a big no-no.

Of old was an age when was emptiness

Moving to a house became a whole-new ballgame. Our beautiful 2-story house and garden has but few faults — the more egregious of which include lack of sealing, awkward low points (with resulting stagnant water pooling), and neighboring swamp. We keep all our windows open all the time, but even if we closed them, there are gaps so big you could drive a truck through on every warped doorframe or cracked windowframe. Prior to some home-improvement, our house even had an outdoor kitchen (!). And we have ants. Not just a few western-style, steal-your-picnic, military-marching ants that I’m used to. We have a lot of ants, and they’re small and fast. Ant highways and biways divide our house, they cover any open food after only a few minutes, and they diligently and rapidly skeletonize every other dead insect or animal in our house — nothing is left but the wings of dead roaches after only a half-hour. 

dust to dust

The ants are aren’t our only problem — spiders, roaches, geckos, maggots, the occasional rat or giant centipede…we have lots of pests, all of whom are seemingly constantly at war over what must be very valuable turf – our kitchen. Bill and I have a decent amount of fun keeping track of the rise and fall of all of these warring creatures — a dangerous Game of Thrones, if you will, with Will and I acting as checker and balancer, buying the appropriate pesticide if one faction gains such a powerful advantage that they threaten our wellbeing. Therefore, I’d like to think I’ve been pragmatically acclimated to the presence of two or three roaches when I enter my kitchen at night. I welcome them as old friends, lament the encroachement and irreverance for the dead these new ants have, or discuss the constantly-changing politics and intrigue governing their petty wars (“Where did those big ants go? Their armies disappeared almost overnight.”).

You wanna live forever?

Bill and I met unexpected resistance upon our return to Bangkok

Our ‘laziness machismo’ forced us to ignore this for the time being. It was only when Will witnessed the miracle of life – a slew of baby cockroaches bursting from a dead adult’s carcass – did we decide to crack down and do something about it. It was time to go to war, so we set a date.

Going to War                                                                                                                                            …and the uncounted legions of the Orcs perished like straw in a great fire, or were swept like shriveled leaves before a burning wind

We knew we had a coackroach problem, but even we were surprised by what came next. We were armed to the teeth with smoke bombs, mega-strength bug spray, plastic gloves, and traps. Assaulting one of the more suspicious cracks in our kitchen tile, we weren’t surprised to see a cockroach or two flee from under the tile. Easy kills — we drew first blood. Unfortunately, these scouts were followed by more roaches (adults, adolescents, and nymphs) than I’ve ever seen in my life. Will and I hopped around spraying these charging bugs in shifts, finally getting into a routine that ensured us certain victory. Fortunately, we noticed a large number of them flanking us before it was too late, so we split up and fought on two fronts — Will at bathroom drain detail, while I continued to cover the crack in the tile. For the better part of an hour, we stood, head on a swivel, killing a constant stream of bugs from what must be an expansive underground network on our respective fronts, occasionally sliding to cover each other’s flanks or rears for runners. 

Last of all Húrin stood alone. Then he cast aside his shield, and wielded an axe two-handed; and it is sung that the axe smoked in the black blood of the troll-guard of Gothmog until it withered, and each time that he slew Húrin cried ‘Aurë entuluva! Day shall come again!’ Seventy times he uttered that cry; but they took him at last alive…” -The Silmarillion

Tensions were high — the room reeked of bug spray, sweat, and pasión, but it was becoming all-too apparant the tables had turned — our assault was turning into a last stand. Their numbers were too many and our cans (and heads) were feeling decidedly too light — we had to revert to melee (stomping) in order to conserve ammo. After what seemed an eternity, the stream seemed to be slowing down, so we made the call – detonated a 3-hour bomb, and didn’t come back to the room until much later that night.

someone set us up the bomb

“If the radiance of a thousand suns / Were to burst at once into the sky / That would be like the splendor of the Mighty one… / I am become Death, The shatterer of Worlds.”                    -Bhagavad Gita

Our blitz proved successful, and our subsequent clean and trap-setting is a shock ‘n’ awe campaign  of unparalled military genius. It’s funny, because a few days prior, Will and I discussed going into the pest control business together.

It was the best Easter ever.

“We must meet this threat with our courage, our valor, indeed with our very lives to ensure that human civilization, not insect, dominates this galaxy! Now and always!” -Starship Troopers

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voice-main-video

I just created an account on  Google Voice, and am very excited to see how well it works. Google Voice lets you create a single Google Telephone number (from a list of available US numbers) that can call all (or any number of your phones). In the setup, you can configure which phone rings based on which contact is calling so that you can separate personal life from work numbers, or set groups based on geographic location.

Since this service uses a combination of Google software, voice over IP technology (VoIP), and SMS text messaging, it is useful for a number of reasons. These seem to be the most useful, but the technology is still improving, and I have different needs than others.

  • A single number for all your phones – Like Thunderbird (Mozilla’s email application that can consolidate all your emails) or Pidgin (a free chat client that can communicate on Facebook chat, gchat, AIM, MSN, and more), having a single program take care of all your voice communication needs is a really efficient idea.
  • Free Transcription of Voicemails – This is the feature that really interests me. Google Voice automatically transcribes your voicemails, sends them in text message form to any of your phones, and can mail them to your gmail account. The software is still a little buggy (see below), though, but for someone who never checks his voicemail, this is the ideal way to see what messages people are leaving in SMS text message format.
  • Customization – Google Voice offers a lot of customization, like  personalized voicemail greetings for certain individuals or groups, assigning different phones for different groups. Even though all your information and contacts are in one place, it affords its users lots of control over how well the information is parsed.
  • Cheap international calls – Haven’t tried this out yet, but Google Voice (like Skype) offers extremely cheap (as low as .01USD/minute) international service.
  • Free SMS text messaging anywhere in the United States – For people who don’t get free text messaging, you can save on your limited number by sending them from Google Voice, if you’re near a computer.

Is this just another example of Google providing technology that will eventually render us totally helpless? Could be — but I’m all for simplification/consolidation of media, social and otherwise.

Like I said, the transcriber’s a little iffy, like a game of Chinese Telephone (which is probably not the PC term anymore). But I’m not sure if it’s having trouble with my Southern accent. So…call my number…leave me voice mail, and we can see just how well this transcriber really works.


>>> Andrew Manugian: (901) 205-9217 <<<

Bonus Section! List of childhood games  as I knew them and their new PC names

  1. Smear the Queer – Kill the Carrier
  2. German Spotlight – Spotlight Tag
  3. Chinese Telephone – Broken Telephone

EDIT: Examples of transcriptions I’ve gotten (this technology might be in need of improvement).

Yeah this voicemail. Kinda about section wait delivering Galway survey start work and I will go straight to voicemail. Gonna anyway. It’s Thursday, it, all the parties. If you want and I got all right about 12 cases beers, so you know need your truck for anything. I may need to get I. So that’s about it, so if you want, thursday 6 o’clock. You can call me for more details if you want. But if.
Andrew, It’s me the check so just Wednesdays. Yeah, I called number then, and indeed answered found this number. Anyways, I was trying to so I was checking to see what’s up. But seeing wired of also asking for a free ride. Ask for an insight for the whole group voice. Thank you, because I could use it. My number of your local number so I can get people move it to my apartment to actually call me at all. Bye call my phone but thanks see. This actually transcribe vehicle this. I’ll talk to you later. Bye.
Hey Paul space. Talk to you talk, I’ll kill you and your 6 you this.



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A few weeks ago, I was looking through our library for my favorite childhood books when I came across a veritable tome that caught my eye. Quips, idioms, truisms, and queries cover all sides of this book in black. The book’s a workout—to lift and to read, and I’ve been casually flipping through it for days now. This book is Alan Fletcher’s The Art of Looking Sideways (Phaidon Press 2001).

It’s a tremendous book for casually browsing as every page is chock full of anecdotes, oddities, illusions, illustrations, photographs, excepts from essays, and trivia–all haphazardly organized into some 72 chapters with such intriguing titles as “Space-Time,” “Perfection,” “Perspective,” “Paradox,” and “Stereotypes.” In some ways, it reminds me of Adult-Swim bumps without the music, and any fan of that programming block could easily see the similarities between their favorite programs and Fletcher’s imaginative and absurd collages.

artofsideways

Get The Art of Looking Sideways on Amazon

However, give the pages the more critical look they deserve, and you’ll be justly rewarded with a highly-referential media consumption experience that challenges, educates, and demands a reader’s total attention.

Since I graduated with a degree in Film and Media Culture, I have had difficulty absorbing any media without thoughts of encoding/decoding, semiotics, meta-narratives, psychological and anthropomorphic needs, and culturalism racing through my head. Usually, any such remark or pontification expressed in a social situation is immediately shot-down or disregarded as rapidly as was my first foray into more experimental media interpretation, back in 11th grade (slightly paraphrased):

 


Mr. Shelton: The element water is often used in classical literature in order to thematically represent cleansing or renewal. Baptism or submersion imagery, in particular, are literary devices that represent a renewal or transformation. Characters may plunge into total immersion, only to find themselves emerge anew, transformed, or changed.

11th grade Andrew (dying to raise hand): So, like in the film Predator, the plunge into water reverses the tide of battle?

Mr. Shelton (raising an eyebrow): Andrew, this is an English literature class, we’re not talking abo…

Andrew (cont’d): …the previously-invisible Predator’s cloak malfunctions in the water, rendering him visible to Arnold, whereas his means of thermally seeing Arnold is also foiled because Arnold is able to disguise his heat emanations by covering himself in wet mud, thus rendering him invisible. It’s a role reversal and turning point in the film caused by immersion in water!

Mr. Shelton: Sure, and then John the Baptist grabs a Gatling gun and mows down bunch of orcs?

Andrew: No…it makes a lot of…

Mr. Shelton (interrupting): Moving on…

An entire class of sophomoric boys laughs uproariously, and Andrew is left red-faced, silent, but determined to apply traditional academics to the movies and video games he loves. His next comment citing the Classical unities of place, time, and action for the success of Die Hard met slightly less resistance and he moved on from there.


predator

Even meeting considerable resistance from a young age, I knew I was headed for media study greatness

(I should note that the diminutive, chain-smoking Mr. Shelton was also one of my most influential teachers in high-school. His no-nonsense grading, resigned (yet tailored to perfection) method of teaching adolescent boys, and cynical attitude ending up teaching the lot of us to roll with the punches, to respect oneself regardless of the derision of an authority figure, and to perform one’s best when met with an extremely challenging situation).

However, back in the 21st century, I’m happy to say my education in media studies is totally applicable to this particular book.

The author, Alan Fletcher, has compiled an expansive compendium of word and image designed to tackle discrepancies between signifier and signified, find the bizarre and amazing in the routine, attack the passive acceptance of cultural consensuses, and reveal the contextual and arbitrary nature of any form of communication. A reader is forced to flex, challenge, and strengthen his visual and communicative intelligence as he finds himself making perceptual and mental jumps that defy convention.

pipe

Thanks to its referential and combinatorial aesthetic, The Art of Looking Sideways, ventures into the realm of postmodern collage, shattering conventions of high culture and combining them with science, popular culture, and non sequiter connections…but after reading this book for a few weeks, a reader might venture that after careful study, nothing is a non sequiter…

A reader fully commited to understanding this book must struggle to make meaning of the overwhelming amount of sometimes loosely-related stimuli presented to him. A single page might have an optical illusion, a clever turn of phrase, a hand-drawn nestled figure, detailed architectural blueprints, and a brief timeline of life on earth.

Victory, by Shigeo Fukuda

Victory, by Shigeo Fukuda

The reader finds himself shedding rigid perspectives in making links between different symbols and ideologies in the context of the overarching chapter..asking himself did Alan Fletcher deliberately design the theme of the page, or is “Nothing is a sign unless it is interpreted as a sign,” and as such, my decoding is as valid as any authorial input?

 

Besides being both an enjoyable read for a casual consumer, a study of cultural and social origins, norms, and iconoclasm for a psychologist, and an exercise in media studies for the media-culture scholar, The Art of Looking Sideways could also be a useful go-to for graphic designers or advertisers looking for inspiration. It’s a complex snapshot of our culture and aesthetic today, with insight of its origins, and perhaps its future. I definitely recommend it.

 

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In the past few weeks, I’ve been playing around with home networking and media centers and decided to set up a MythTV home entertainment system. It was pretty confusing at times, but definitely really educational, and I ended up learning a decent amount about AV stuff (which used to be totally foreign to me), Linux (of which I’m still getting a grasp), and networking/routing (around which I’ll never, ever wrap my mind).

I’m not pretending to be an expert, but I thought there should be a more consolidated guide on how to get MythTV up and running for those who aren’t as Linux and AV-savvy (like me), those who aren’t fully aware of all that MythTV has to offer, or those who don’t want to sift through the massive amount of information on the MythTV wiki. MythTV is a really fantastic tool, but the number of features and options can definitely be overwhelming at times, and although there are many good tutorials scattered around the wiki and on various blogs, I’ve always preferred consulting a single complete walkthrough. This post covers what MythTV is capable of, why you should use it instead of the alternatives, and how you can set up your own MythTV box.

Here is a diagram of my ideal MythTV/house setup. I haven’t completed some of the parts (like the security cameras), but it should give you a basic idea of what you can do with MythTV.

ourhouse2

I welcome comments (and criticism) from experienced users and questions from newbies. Andrew.Manugian@gmail.com

If you like, you can download a PDF of this walkthrough.


Navigation


-ABOUT MYTHTV-

What MythTV is:

MythTV is a really awesome tool: it’s basically Tivo, Slingbox, and a media/information center packaged into one free, open-source program and it’s a great way to run a robust home media network without a lot of complicated setup and ugly hardware. It allows its users to record TV and then makes it and all your other media accessible to a limitless number of computers/TVs/media devices in your house (and is even accessible over the internet).

what

Why you should use MythTV:

It’s Free: MythTV is totally free. And since it’s open-source software supported and developed by an entire community (complete with an extremely detailed wiki, you have all the support you’ll ever need if something goes wrong).

It’s capable: MythTV is capable of everything Tivo and other DVR hardware can do (pausing, rewinding, conflict-avoiding scheduling, etc.). It even has some pretty advanced commercial-detecting and skipping options (which I don’t use and should be the topic of an entirely different post), that aren’t available on most DVRs. Depending on how many capture cards you install, MythTV can record several feeds at the same time, so you can watch one feed while you record another one (or two, or three).

It’s clean: MythTV eliminates a lot of the local boxes and ugly cords that many people have on every TV and computer in their house. You could have your noisy, ugly, and bulky computer loaded with MythTV software located anywhere in your house (perhaps in the attic or basement) so you don’t have to bother with a bunch of wires and boxes (DVR, DVD, satellite receivers, external hard drives) around every TV or computer. It just makes for a much cleaner and quieter setup. You can access your formidable music collection without lugging around a bunch of external hard drives.

It’s Comprehensive: MythTV is definitely an example convergence culture. From a single TV, you can access the internet, record and watch TV, play music, stream videocasts, view photos, DVDs, and media clips, check the weather, Skype friends, and check movie times…and that’s just for starters. With all the available plug-ins and thanks to its open-source nature, the number of MythTV features seems only limited by the imaginations of its community members. Like classic videogames? Why not install a Super Nintendo or Arcade emulator? If enough people in the MythTV community express a need to have a feature, they will collaborate to incorporate it into the next release.

An ideal setup would include some sort of social networking like StumbleUpon or Digg in which individuals with similar tastes could recommend or even schedule recordings for you and you could post on or discuss specific episodes inside that episode’s schedule listings.

It’s Mobile: With a little knowledge about routing, you can schedule recordings and access all your media from a browser (or even your iPhone) anywhere in the world. Don’t like the tunes at a friend’s party? Log into your Mythweb account and play your own music. Stuck in traffic on your drive home? Pull out your iPhone and tell your MythTV box to record your favorite show. Can’t decide on what to watch at a friend’s house? Access your movies and recordings on his laptop and plug it into his TV.

How MythTV is different:

From my description, MythTV seems to sound like it’s imitating a lot of different products, but I’m of the opinion that it combines the best parts of many different hardware and software options. This section outlines the differences between MythTV and the products it resembles.

  • Like Tivo, MythTV schedules recordings, resolves programming conflicts, and lets you pause and rewind live TV. Unlike Tivo, you don’t have to switch rooms if you happen to have recorded a particular desired program on the downstairs unit because one MythTV box set up in your attic or basement can take care of all of your recordings and distribute them to various TVs as you see fit. Also unlike Tivo, it comes with no monthly fee.
  • Like a Slingbox (which is basically hardware that lets you remotely view and watch your TV on a computer anywhere), you can remotely access your TV from anywhere over the internet. Unlike Slingbox, it doesn’t have to monopolize your video source, because it can distribute to any number of computers. And since you can store the information on a hard drive (instead of only streaming it), you can direct download your recorded shows over the internet (if your connection is dodgy and your stream is constantly buffering). Also unlike Slingbox (and Tivo), it comes with no monthly fee.
  • Like Windows Media Center, MythTV provides a 10-foot interface in which users can access and view all their pictures, music, and video on a large TV screen from the comfort of their couch. Unlike Windows Media Center, you don’t need to purchase Premium or Ultimate Windows Vista as well as Windows-certified hardware and remotes for every TV… and your media formats are not limited to only Microsoft-approved ones.

What MythTV can do:

Like I said, besides the normal DVR function, MythTV has a variety of plug-ins that offer a lot of features DVRs do not. This section outlines a few of the ones I use.

  • MythTV: Watch a TV stream from any computer or TV in your house. Pause, rewind, and skip TV. Schedule, manage, and view recordings. Flag and skip or delete commercials.
  • MythWeb: Access and control your MythTV backend remotely from anywhere in the world. Schedule and manage recordings, watch TV, and listen to any of your MP3s (you can make playlists and stream them). Mythweb is the reason I use MythTV: with a 40 GB netbook and an internet connection, I can be in Thailand and still record and watch United States TV as well as access terabytes of information while it remains safe in my climate-controlled house in Memphis. You can even use Mythweb on your iPhone.
  • MythGallery: Bore your friends with vacation pictures! MythGallery lets you view your entire digital photo collection on your TV. Now, everyone can see those thousands of pictures that you’ll never get printed.
  • MythMusic: Listen to your digital music from any computer or TV in the house. Play your favorite mp3s while you choose what to record (or as you sort through your vacation pictures). Watch a visualizer with your friends.
  • MythVideo: Watch all those .avis and ripped DVDs that have been sitting on your hard drive on a big TV.
  • MythTube: Search for and watch streams from Youtube and get your favorite RSS feeds.
  • MythGame: Emulate classic console and arcade games. Play Super Mario World, Street Fighter 2, Metal Slug, and other classics from any TV in your house.
  • MythZoneMinder: Access your ethernet surveillance cameras to keep track of your kids and property. Great for home security or just for fun.

How MythTV works:

I’m not going to go into too much detail (mainly because I don’t think I really know that much myself), but MythTV runs on what they call a backend (which is your computer that runs the serverside software) and is accessed from frontends (client software).

Backend servers do all the work: recording, commercial flagging, transcoding, storing all of your media, and streaming all this content to any frontend you may have set up. You can set up a massive backend server near your cable or satellite feed while keeping laptops or netbooks on every TV or speaker setup. Frontends access any recordings or media you have as well as have the ability to schedule recordings or access a variety of information (weather, IMDB, movietimes, etc). Frontends can be a computer, xbox, or Big-screen TV with a laptop attached.

A backend will have a video feed and hard drives with whatever media you see fit. No more searching through empty DVD cases and struggling with scratched DVDs…if you upload all of your media to a hard drive on a backend server, you can access it from basically anywhere. The number of possible simultaneous recordings is based on the number of capture cards you have on your backend server.

Since I’m a digital packrat, and with hard drives cheaper than ever, I could see myself running several backend servers with multiple capture cards recording all the TV I possibly can for posterity. With two new 750GB hard drives, I just seriously upped my amount of available storage.


-BUILD YOUR OWN MYTHTV SETUP-

I’ll walk through exactly what I did to make my MythTV setup. Obviously, depending on what you want to get out of your system, you might change some things, so I’ll try and cover a few alternatives.

Step 1: Hardware

Having a capable machine is obviously an important first step, but after doing a little research, it became apparent that MythTV isn’t the most hardware-intensive (or wallet-intensive) software, so long as you make some good buying decisions. I was able to create a MythTV backend by harvesting parts off of my last two computers (one of which was 9 years old) and adding about $450 of new parts in order to create a Frankenstein.

hulk

My new MythTV box made from old and new parts…and a rare glimpse at my limited-edition Screaming-Action Hulk Doll.

Obviously, you don’t have to build a new computer…you could use an old one or buy a pre-made one. However, building your own computer is not only an educational exercise—it’s also extremely cost-effective, and you can ensure every component is exactly what you need. By each important part, I also list what are considered to be minimum requirements for MythTV.

  • Motherboard: I bought an Asus P5KPL-CM G31 for $60 because I fried my old one. Just make sure your motherboard has the right slots for what you need and can fit your CPU. This one has a PCI express slot for my graphics card and two PCI slots if I wanted to get another capture card. It also has onboard sound and SATA inputs for my hard drives.
  • Processor: Your CPU does all the transcoding, fastforwarding etc, and commercial flagging, but you don’t have to invest in an awesome CPU if your Capture card has its own encoder. I have an Intel Core2 Duo E7400 that I purchased for $110. I’ve read 800Mhz PIII systems and above are capable of capturing and watching live TV.
  • RAM: I put an old 2GB DDR2 stick in this computer and it has a slot for another. Although I’ve read MythTV boxes run adequately on 500 MB of RAM or less, I’m under the impression that you can always use more RAM.
  • Storage: I bought a 750GB SATA hard drive for $109. Encoded TV can take up to 2GB an hour, and if you want to put music and DVDs on your hard drive, you’ll definitely need a lot of space. Fortunately, I already had  two big external drives already full of media.
  • Power Supply: I used an old 650 Watt power supply, which is more than enough for this box’s needs.
  • Graphics Card: I bought a GeForce 7200 for only $44 dollars (I have no idea why it was cheaper than the 6k series). It’s a pretty powerful PCI express videocard with TV out. If you’re planning on hooking a TV directly into your backend/frontend, you’ll need a nice graphics card that’s supported by MythTV. Otherwise, don’t worry about it.
    • Capture Card: A capture card is what captures (and sometimes transcodes) your TV stream. If your capture card has hardware dedicated to doing the encoding, it takes considerable strain off your CPU. Once again, make sure MythTV supports your card before you buy. The Hauppauge PVR-500, which I got for $65 on ebay, has two tuner inputs (so you can watch and record two coax feeds simultaneously) as well as a S-video input (for my DirectTV box) and serves my needs quite well. It fits into the PCI slot of my computer, and a simple coax cable runs from a cable wall-jack to the card.
My PVR-500

My PVR-500

  • Cables: My local cable feed comes in on a basic coaxial cable from a wall jack into Tuner1 on the capture card, and the Satellite feed comes into the receiver from a coaxial cable and out of the receiver into the capture card with S-video and composite dual-channel audio cables (red and white). Additionally, if you want to control your satellite receiver from the computer, you’ll need either an infrared blaster cable or a usb-to-serial cable that’s approved by whatever set top box (STB) you have. Cooldvr has a lot of information on the matter, and the webmaster is very helpful and informative.

Step 2: Install Mythbuntu

mythbuntu

Mythbuntu is basically for people who don’t know enough Linux to make their own MythTV setup from the ground up (for example, me). It is the software that makes all this possible. Here’s how to install Mythbuntu.

  • Download Mythbuntu 9.04 from Mythbuntu’s download page. I got the 64 Bit version, as its recommended for more intensive actions, but either will probably do.
  • Burn CD/Create Bootdisk
    • CD – The file comes in .iso format, so use whatever preferred mounting/burning software you have to burn it to a cd. DVD Decrypter works just fine. Insert a blank disc, select the .iso from wherever you downloaded it, and burn it to disc. You now have a Mythbuntu install CD that can create a backend or frontend out of any computer.
    • BOOTDISK – Thanks to Paul for mentioning I should include this much easier method. Using the program Unetbootin for Windows and following these steps, you can install the .iso without having to burn a CD (plus, knowing how to use liveboot thumbdrives can be extremely handy in salvaging a harddrive).
  • Install CD on new computer. (Note that depending on what release you selected, some of these steps are out of order or nonexistent. Just be reasonable during the installation and everything will go fine…you can change most of these settings later anyway).
    • Click the default install option and go through the menus for preferred language, time zone, and keyboard setup. When they ask about partitions, click “Guided – use entire disk” to make the entire PC a Mythbuntu PC.
    • Next, set up your username and password. I used a complex password to make it more difficult to access Mythweb.
    • I did not set up any IR devices.
    • When they ask about drivers, load the proprietary drivers for your graphics card, and if you plan on using a TV out, select the correct resolution for your TV.
    • When they ask what system you want to set up, click “Primary Backend w/ Frontend” so that you’ll be able to access whatever media you record on the same box.
    • I didn’t do any backend configuration here because you can do it later, so skip that option.
    • For additional services, plug-ins, or themes, I selected all of them.
    • Finally, check over the installation summary to make sure you’re happy with all your settings. Click next… and Mythbuntu’s installed!

Step 3: Configure MythTV Backend and Control Center

CONFIGURE MYTHTV BACKEND:

The option to configure the backend is available during installation, but I doubt you’ll get everything right the first try. If you right-click your desktop, it’s an option under Applications->System->“Configure MythTV Backend.” You should now be looking at a screen a lot like this:

backend

The backend setup screen

  • General: You don’t really need to change many things in here unless you’re planning on running frontends on different machines. If that’s the case, you’ll need to set your Pin to 0000 and your IP address for MythTV and your backend to anything other than a IP provided.
  • Capture Cards: Configure your capture cards here. Select “New Card” for each new option. Hopefully, MythTV identifies the hardware, so all you have to do is name it and select what type it is. My cable feed’s name is cable, it’s encoder type is IVTV MPEG-2, it recognizes the card as a PVR-500, its location is /dev/video0, and its input is tuner1. My DirectTV is the same IVTV MPEG-2 encoder type, but location /dev/video1, its name is satellite, and its input is S-video 1.
  • Video Sources: In video sources, you basically assign a name and source to the inputs you just set up on your card. Select“new video source” and name it whatever is appropriate (I named one “cable” and the other “satellite”). Then assign the source to the corrosponding card and input. You should probably keep frequencies the default unless you still use a broadcast frequency or you see your specific frequency on the list.
  • Input Connections: Input connections lets you scan for channels as well as manually set channels. It’s a good tool to see whether you connected your box to the source correctly, but the mc2xml setup (explained later in this tutorial), does the channel import for you.

CONFIGURE MYTHTV CONTROL CENTER:

The MythTv Control Center is an easy-to-use GUI for a few more settings, most of which were offered in the original Mythbuntu installation. Access it by right-clicking your desktop and going to Applications->System->“MythTV Control Center”

config

The MythTV Control Center GUI

  • System Role: Change your system role (from dedicated backend to backend/frontend, etc).
  • Applications and Plug-ins: Select what plug-ins you want to appear on your frontend and set your Mythweb un/pw. I selected most of the plug-ins.
  • Remote Control: Although I haven’t, you can set up a IR remote control to work with your system.
  • Proprietary Codecs/Proprietary Drivers: Although MythTV can’t officially support or condone this, you can install all the codecs you need to view different file types. Simply click the option to enable the unofficial package and your installation will be underway.

STORING OTHER MEDIA:

I use MythTV’s default directories to store my other media. If you place the files in the correct folder, the MythTV frontend will automatically populate its Media Library.

  • Place music in                      /var/lib/mythtv/music
  • Place videos in                    /var/lib/mythtv/videos
  • Place pictures in                /var/lib/mythtv/pictures

Step 4: Configure TV listings

This one took me a little while to figure out, but it makes a lot of sense. The backendneeds to be getting your TV listings data from some service in .xml format (which is basically a spreadsheet with a week’s worth of TV listings in it). You could pay $20/year (with a 7-day free trial) at schedulesdirect or use mc2xml, which is a command line that downloads TV listings from Windows Media Center and TitanTV servers and puts them into a .xml file for free.

Without listings, you won't be able to tell your MythTV backend to record anything.

Without listings, you won’t be able to tell your MythTV backend to record anything.

HOW TO SETUP MC2XML:

  • First, if you run 64-bit Mythbuntu, you have to get some 386 libraries. In the terminal (right click->Open Terminal Here), type:

sudo apt-get install libc6-i386 (it will ask for your password, which you type and hit enter, even if you see nothing on the screen)

sudo apt-get install lib32nss-mdns

  • Download mc2xml for linux: link
  • Open the terminal and make a directory called mc2ml and move the file you downloaded there:

mkdir ~/mc2xml

cd ~/mc2xml

mv ~/downloads/mc2xml . (the period is important)

  • Make mc2xml executable and run it from the directory in order to configure it.

chmod 755 mc2xml

./mc2xml -c us -g yourzipcode

  • Answer questions about your TV provider (I selected Comcast Cable). Then update your mythfilldatabase.

mythfilldatabase –refresh-all –file 1 ./xmltv.xml (the way the –file command works is –file <source id> <xml file>, so if you have different files for the different sources you created in the backend setup, pick the ride modifier after –file. If you only have one source, 1 should be the default).

  • Finally, set up a cron jobthat can update mythfilldatabase with your mc2xml file daily.
    • First, open thunar as root (be careful as you can harm your system if you play with stuff you shouldn’t). Type sudo thunar in the terminal (and enter your password if it asks).
    • Then, in the /etc folder of your filesystem, open the file “crontab” and fill this information in on a new line. Change “user” to your username.

    27 3 * * * user /home/user/mc2xml/update.sh

    • This is code that makes your computer run a particular program daily at 3:27 am.
    • Finally, make a new file (right click->Create from Template->Empty File) in the mc2xml folder called update.sh and type this in it. This is the file that the cronjob is accessing.

    #!/bin/sh
    cd ~/mc2xml
    if ~/mc2xml/mc2xml ; then
    mythfilldatabase –refresh-all –file 1 ./xmltv.xml
    fi

TO SETUP LISTINGS FROM DIFFERENT FEEDS:

Setting up multiple listings in the same .xml isn’t particularly difficult, and you’ll want to do it if you have both cable and satellite feeds or any other combination of two sources. To set up multiple listings, you use mc2xml’s commands to add a created channel list to a new one and then write a new file:

-D =sets .dat filename     -C =sets .chl file

-I = Insert                       -o = sets output

mc2xml -D sat.dat -C sat.chl –o sat.xml for the satellite .dat, .chl, and .xml outputs

mc2xml -D cable.dat -C cable.chl -I sat.xml -o cable_satellite.xml creates a combination .xml file after inserting the satellite output from above

Now, download mc2xml for linux

http://mc2xml.110mb.com/#download

then, open the terminal and make a directory called mc2ml and move the file you downloaded there:

mkdir ~/mc2xml

  • cd ~/mc2xml

  • mv ~/downloads/mc2xml .

Make mc2xml executable and run it from the directory in order to configure it. Then update your mythfilldatabase.

chmod 755 mc2xml

  • ./mc2xml -c us -g 10000

  • mythfilldatabase –refresh-all –file 1 ./xmltv.xml

Finally, set up a cron job that can update mythfilldatabase with your mc2xml file daily.

First, open thunar as root (be careful as you can harm your system if you play with stuff you shouldn’t):

Terminal
Sudo Thunar

Then, in the /etc folder, open the file “crontab” and fill this information in on a new line. This is code that makes your computer run a particular program daily at 3:27 am.

Step 5: Configure and use MythTV frontends

If you would like an additional frontend, you can just follow the steps from your Mythbuntu installation CD as you install it on a new computer.

  • HOSTNAME: You’ll have to enter your backend’s internal IP (eg. 192.168.1.104), which you can discover by right-clicking your internet connectivity icon on your toolbar and clicking “Connection Information.”
  • DATABASE: default is mythconverg
  • USER: mythttv is default
  • PASSWORD: find this on your backend in /etc/mythtv/mysql.txt

Access your Frontend on your Frontend/Backend setup (right click desktop->Applications->Multimedia->MythTV Frontend). This is where you’ll watch TV and recordings, and access all your media. There are also a lot of settings you can play with inside the frontend. Accessing your frontend interface on any dedicated frontend machine is as easy as turning it on.

frontend

The main frontend screen — this will  be the interface on TVs or any other frontend

From the frontend, you can watch live TV, recordings, and any other media as well as schedule future recordings.

Watch TV is self-explanatory–provided your feeds are set up correctly, you can watch TV. Here are some of the buttons I use, but if you choose not to program a remote, here’s a full list of keybindings.

P = Pause                    R = Record

S = Guide                    O = Options

[ = Volume Down       ] = Volume Up

Y = Switch between video feeds

Numpad = Channel number input

Arrow keys = Skip left and right, channels up and down

The Media Library is where you access your recordings, videos, music, streams, pictures, and games.

media

Your Media Library…watch recordings and videos, listen to music, or play games

recordings

Access your recorded shows…in this case, my first recording is this year’s kid’s choice winner, iCarly

videos

Access your digital videos…like Aeon Flux, Morel Orel, or Superjail

music

Listen to metal while you navigate the menus

The Information Center has a bunch of useful information, based on what plug-ins you chose to install.

info

Get news feeds, movie times, weather information, movies trailers and more in your Information Center

Frontend configuration inside Setup/Utilities is extremely straightforward and mostly deals with aesthetics. The few exceptions are setting your zip code for weather/movie times, preferred news feeds in the Info Center Setup, and emulators in Media Setup->Games Setup.

Step 6: Configure Mythweb and Router Settings

This is the really cool bit. From Mythweb, you can schedule and access recordings and any other media you happen to put on your backend. There are several ways to allow outside access to your computer, and it’s important to properly password protect.

You can compensate for a router that issues dynamic local ips for your computers several ways, but No-IP is a really easy and free service that creates a static hostname for your dynamic IP. It also offers a service in case your router or cable provider prevents port 80 forwarding.

Select what programs you want your backend to record from anywhere

Select what programs you want your backend to record from anywhere…

...then stream or direct download them

…then stream or direct download them                                                           

Stream playlists

Stream playlists comprised of your stored music

PORT FORWARDING:

Port forwarding sends any outside http requests to your Mythbox’s local IP.

  • Right-click the connections icon on the taskbar on Mythbuntu and click “Connection Information”…your computer’s local IP should be listed. Since I use a linksys router, my MythTV box’s IP is 192.168.1.107.
  • To access my router settings, I have to type 192.168.1.1 into a browser (it varies depending on what router you own, so get out those hardware manuals). Under Applications and Gaming->UpnP Forwarding, you can make port 80, which handles http requests, always route to your MythTV box (address 192.168.1.107).
  • What this does is automatically send any outside http request to the MythTV box. Therefore, if you type in your home’s IP address from outside the house (get your address here), it should access your Mythweb, barring your router or internet provider blocking port 80.

I would definitely recommend password protecting both your Mythweb access and your router access with strong passwords. While your box is still password protected, this isn’t necessarily the safest way to do this, so I avoid it.

SECURE SSH TUNNEL:

SSH is a secure protocol used for sending information between two networked computers and the way I remotely access my Mythweb. I couldn’t write a better FAQ than this one: MythWeb ssh tunnel howto.

Linux usually has ssh installed, but if you’re connecting from a Windows PC, you can download PuTTY, which is an .exe which makes this whole remote connection process pretty easy.

Step 7: Optional Stuff

SDLMAME:

Mame is a multi-platform game emulator that MythGame is capable of running. Installation is quite easy.

mame

Be playing your favorite arcade games on any frontend in no time.

  1. Download a SDLMAME installer from here. I got the 64-bit Ubuntu 9.04 version.
  2. Double click the .deb file to install.
  3. Download whatever ROMS you feel like playing from ROM-World’s MAME section (or wherever else you can find your favorite games). Place the still-zipped games in “/usr/local/share/games/sdlmame/roms.” Recommended:  Marvel Vs. Capcom, Street Fighter Alpha 3, Metal Slug Series
  4. Inside MythTV’s Frontend (Rightclick desktop->Applications->Multimedia->MythTV Frontend->Utilities/Setup->Setup->Media Settings->Game Settings), create a new player entitled “Mame” with type “mame,” command “mame,” and ROM path “/usr/local/share/games/sdlmame/roms”.
  5. Enjoy! Access your games by selecting Media Library, then Games in the main MythTV frontend.

DIRECTTV THROUGH SERIAL:

Because I’d like to watch my Satellite feed after it’s been decrypted by a set top box, my MythTV box must have some way to communicate with the box in order to change channels. Luckily, this isn’t particularly difficult. I have a D12-100 DirectTV box, which is quite current, and I got a USB to Serial Cable from CoolDVR.

  1. Download the Directv.pl control script from here and place it in “usr/local/bin/directv.pl”
  2. Under “Input Connections” in the  backend setup, select the satellite connection and then add the script’s location to the channel change parameter. Mine was in /usr/local/bin/directv.pl
  3. Make sure your satellite box is activated and plugged in correctly, then connect the usb port to your computer’s serial port.

Whew…that was pretty exhausting to write. If you have any (simple), questions, I’ll try and answer them. And if you’re knowledgeable, please ridicule my more glaring mistakes.

Thanks for reading my guide,

Andrew Manugian

Andrew.Manugian@gmail.com

Twitter-32x32digg_321249076982_Stumbleupon_32x32

-Bonus Gallery-

Here are a few shots of the collection of my (not really that) old action figures.

IMG_1136 IMG_1135 IMG_1137

and my brand-new USB Missle Launcher

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