October 25th, 2009:
Media center “upgraded” to Windows 7. Race car plans.

Over the weekend I “upgraded” my media center/server to Windows 7. As noted in a previous post, I’m using an ATI Digital Tuner for TV recording. However, it still uses very heavy DRM to lock down recorded content. As a result, everything I’ve recorded with the digital tuner is unavailable for playback form Windows 7 and my extenders because I chose a clean install instead of an upgrade. When are Microsoft and the cable companies going to realize that this is exactly why people are using non-proprietary system and downloading TV shows from Bittorrent? Very frustrating. In any event, only a few episodes were still unwatched since the installation of my digital tuner, so not much will have to be replaced with the methods previously mentioned.

I’ve been thinking about my options relative to my current race car. It’s never been built up beyond my initial prep for Spec Neon apart from a header minor top end cleanup before my first season of 100% ITA. The engine is tired, I have no limited slip diff, I need a real suspension setup, and bigger diameter/wider tires and wheels. The cost of everything combined is close to the cost of a complete, competitive race car. Though I considered staying in ITA, it’s a class where you have to keep up with the Jones’. I don’t have the funds to keep tweaking my car. My other option was to switch to a spec class, such as Spec Miata. But, that has become a very expensive class over the years. I’ve decided to switch to Spec Racer Ford and race alongside my father-in-law. I’m working on getting a new car now and will have more updates soon.

- Duane

September 1st, 2009:
Media Center solution: less hacky, but still pretty hacky…

We’ve been using Windows Media Center for about 5 years. At first, we were stuck with standard definition recorded via s-video from our set top box. Later, a friend told me about this solution that records HD via firewire in a very hacky way. A new solution allows us to use a cable card-based digital tuner to record and watch live TV on all of our extenders in HD. Comcast came out and had us set up very quickly with a working digital tuner in our media center PC.

For the sake of over information: the digital tuner is hooked up to my Windows Media Center server in my basement which feeds my extenders. Nobody actually watched TV on that monitor (it’s an old 17″ Dell) and runs at 1280×1024… to VGA works just dandy for this purpose. Before I was using the FireSTB hack that John told me about. The catch was … Read Morethat I couldn’t watch live TV in HD because of the weird way it recorded SD and HD in parallel, then deleted the SD file after it was done recording, replacing it with the HD version. The hack also let me change channels (usually) via firewire instead of IR blasting. Unfortunately, the hack also turned the volume on my cable set top box down one “click” each time it changed channels, effectively muting SD recordings after a few days. The digital tuner solution fixes all of these issues. The catch? Technically, you’re supposed to have an OEM media center PC with “supported” DRM-friendly bios. There are now workarounds for this…

- Duane