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