I have been wanting to buy a TiVo for many months now, but have not had luck getting approval for this from my better half. The Humax TiVo with built in DVD recorder is what I have really wanted, or the Toshiba version that comes with a lifetime basic TiVo subscription, but somehow we have not found an extra $300-$400 laying around the house that would be required for this new purchase.

Now, thanks again to my innovative and tech-savvy cousin Devin Henley, I have learned about MythTV (www.mythtv.org). Have access to an old P3 or newer Windows computer? You can install a free copy of Linux and MythTV, and make your own digital video recorder that can not only rival the capabilities of a commercially produced TiVo but actually exceed its capabilities in many ways.

I have not attempted this yet but chances are extremely good I will in upcoming months. Yet more proof that open source technologies rock– and more intellectually speaking, that the collective efforts of many creative people working together (which is what open source technology really represents) can just knock the socks off of many things that people are getting paid big bucks to develop– evidently in less creative and capable groups.

Again I have not tried this, but Devin told me that many users are buying relatively inexpensive Mac mini computers and putting them with their stereo/home theater components, and are then able to stream high definition video and audio from their Linux box running MythTV straight into their home theater setup. This apparently does require the faster 802.11g wireless networking components, 802.11b is not fast enough / does not have enough bandwidth for HD.

Yes, I did write HIGH DEFINITION. Have you watched ESPN-HD by the way, on a large screen high definition television? I have (did this weekend for the first time, other than seeing TVs at BestBuy and Circuit City)– and I have to say, the resolution and picture quality is astounding.

The main disadvantage I see to having some sort of home-DVR system is that it would encourage me and other family members to watch more TV, which I generally regard as a waste of time. Still, there ARE worthwhile programs on TV, and sometimes it is good to just veg out and watch something rather mindless. If DVR technology allows us to time and place shift so the things we watch ARE worthwhile, and we are no longer captive to the available programming of the moment– then I think this use of technology could be not only worthwhile but essential in our thousand-plus channel universe. (Especially if we can avoid being subjected to advertising when we do choose to watch something.)

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