Monday, July 26, 2010


This will be a quick post. Momma Abrams is thinking about ditching her huge Comcast bill in favor of something a little simpler to deal with when it comes to paying the bills for television. Anna and I haven't had cable since we moved out of the student housing over a year ago, but we've still been satisfied with our tv content. Getting to watch Grays Anatomy, The Office, SNL and whatever happens to be on Netflix instant play has been a sufficient amount, and they're all available over the internet. In addition, getting local channels is nice when it comes to watching some of the more random shows like True Beauty, Simpsons, America's Got Talent or any of the other array of dumb crap littering the airwaves, but in order to watch these as we would on tv (and more importantly, record them when we want to watch them but can't) is a whole different monster.

So here was the solution Anna and I have lived well with. I built myself a fun little computer and got it to plug into the cable outlet in the wall. Not only can we now watch tv on the computer but we can record it as well! In addition to watching and recording on our computer we can stream the live shows (and recorded) to the Xbox which is hooked up downstairs on our big tv. Like TiVo, DVR or so many of the other rip off products that charge monthly, we get it in multiple places for free (plus the cost of building the computer, but I wanted to have this baby anyway).

So my PC is pretty amazing. Amazing because it's mine, and I built it, and I can do pretty much anything I want with it because it's got the bawls to put pretty much everybody else's comps to shame. This is beside the original point though, this article is (once again) aboot why I'm up late in the middle of the night (I think my former Canadian room mate rubbed off on me a little, did you notice?). The reason I'm up reverts back to the first paragraph involving my good ol' MIL (that's Mother-In-Law for those of you with poor acronym translators). Her and I spoke a little this morning about her situation with the cable peeps but she still really wants to be able to watch her Grays Anatomy on the tv in her living room and how I might be able to help her do that. My first inclination was to say "just plug in the aux cable from the wall to the tv" but that's way too simple, and it isn't something I'm going to dwell on for hours at night. She also doesn't think her tv has a tuner in it (which I'm sure it does) but even if it does, she isn't going to be able to watch very much other than the few live local channels that come through. It's a horrible shame that we've become so accustomed to life's luxuries that we can't do without our DVR now. What did people do before that? I remember years ago before TiVo and all these other things that recorded tv, if we didn't watch it we'd either set our VCR to record it (as complicated a task as setting the clock on it, near impossible) or we just talked to friends the next day about what happened. That's been the solution the world has used going all the way back to Moses!

The solution I'm proposing (if she would like something a little more shnazzy than plain ol' tv plugged in to the wall) is for me to build her an HTPC (Home Theater Personal Computer). It's been a craze with all the popular kids these days, everybody is doing it. Best thing since sliced bread (which came out just after the VCR, a couple years after Moses parted the Red Sea). So I've been configuring different hardware options to build a cheap computer for her to do everything she wants to do (and more). It would be a very easy task, but I'm taking a little bit extra time in this one. Momma Abrams is an Apple girl so I can't just take apart her computer and add a few extra things, I'd need to build a new one. Also, I'm creating this HTPC in a small and economical system, low power consumption, low noise, and low cost.

One of the big parts of this build is the operating system. Windows 7 works great, but it adds an extra $100 to the cost of the system. I'm hoping to find a nice way to skip it, since she doesn't really need it. A good Linux distro and XBMC or MythTV would be free, but I still have a lot of research to do regarding the tv tuner card that would go into the box.

I think this blogging thing might work pretty well for me. It's stopped me from continuing in my reading about Linux which I would probably have done for another couple hours. Now I'm bored with writing and rather than go back to my studying about Linux, I'm just going to brush my teeth and go to bed, or skip the teeth brushing because I've already brushed them this week.


Oh, and our iPhones get here on Tuesday. I hope they aren't in this shipment.

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