Thursday, July 9, 2009

OpenSource Rant

Hi Ranters!

I've been on a kick to lower monthly expense here at the MAD Pelican house. With losing my job (then finding another one- but at a reduced wage), I need to use technology for what its true potential really is... lowering expenses while enjoying the same things.

First thing I did was increase the bandwidth to the household by switching from DSL internet to Cable. You ask why? Isn't it more expensive? Well, yes and no. my DSL and telephone is $71 per month. My new Cable internet is $59.95 per month. You probably are saying... So? Are you going to sign up for their $24 internet

VOIP (Voice over IP) phone? Well, no. I am going to use a product that has been out since 2005 and has GREAT reviews... Ooma. I've ordered it, but it hasn't arrived yet. Ooma is an easy to set up VOIP system that is completely free after you buy the hub. I will also port my existing phone line to this system so that hopefully, my family won't be negatively impacted.

Second thing is that I want to get rid of my DVR. Don't get me wrong, I love my DVR... My family loves the DVRs, but there are three major drawbacks to my DVRs. -- First, there is a monthly fee (about $11.90). Second, there if something goes wrong with it, they have you reformat the drive and start over -- even though you have some great movies and shows on it. ...And finally, if you switch from your Satellite/Cable operator, they want the machine back (so you lose everything). Oh and as a bonus, if you stay with the same company, you can only record so much before your disk is full!

No more! I want the ability to:

  • record and keep what I'm recording,
  • stop live tv, and
  • be able to add storage as I want!
So, you asked what is the easy replacement to the DVR? Well, I haven't found one. So, why do you even bring this up? Boy, aren't you pushy! Okay, in the past I've participated and programmed in Open Source projects. I thought there must be a DVR replacement in the Open Source community. So, I signed on to the Godfather of the Open Source community ( and searched some terms (DVR, TIVO, HULU, etc), to see what comes up. After all the searches, one project seemed to have the most support (support is key in Open Source projects). This was Mythtv.

I wanted to investigate the possibility of using Mythtv as a replacement for my DVRs, so I went to my usual sources... Wiki, Youtube, and blogs (oh My!). Reading the Wiki of Mythtv was like reading the an IBM redbook. Some good information, but dry, boring, and not very well written text. This was definite

ly not a project for a novice! Not to mention that I would need a dedicated server running the Linux operating system (AARG!!!! All of my servers are Windows XP!). Now, it becomes more complex, there are four main distros (configured versions on different flavors of Linux). Most people would probably have given up by now, the satellite DVR is looking better and better. Also Tivo is only $12.95 per month!

This brings me to my rant of the day (all this is just the set up to your

rant? I could have been watching my soap operas!!!) Open Source! It is GREAT to get free software, but there is a price you DO have to pay! ...and keep on paying. Most people responsible for Open Source projects would like you to use their software, but really don't want to be tied down to explaining everything to you. You have to really dig in and read allot. After you get in, it is not easy getting out... You start speaking their language, understanding their logic. ...And you get involved in this community that really has no concern that you don't really have a personal life. All that matters is the project! Your life is the project! Setup and forget is not a mantra for Open Source. Setup, configure, update, update, tweak, read some more, and attend some conferences are the life of Open Source users. So, with that s

aid, I can be satisfied with the satellite companies DVR, or purchasing Tivo, or purchasing other knockoff products (such as Replay). But, where would be the challenge? So, over the next few months, I'm going to build one of these machines (actually a couple of them -- one backend and a couple frontends).

Wish me luck, because I know that I'm just asking for trouble!

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