MythTV learnings

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Eureka! MythTV has never quite worked right nor has my HD Homerun Prime. It should but didn’t, but finally, all the software is coming together. Here is what is working:
1. MythTV 0.27 on MacPorts. This appears to work and build. It is insanely hard to go through all the directions, but you basically install macports and then mythtv and it does seem to work after much work configuring sqlite. What is broken is the MythWeb doesn’t seem to work and port access to other myth clients like Myth for iOS and XBMC doesn’t work. Commercial detection works well and you can
2. XBMC Gotham Beta 2 works with MythTV! This is the first time the myth has worked properly at least for me on the Mac. It works on a single machine and you can see live TV, the recordings and the EPG. Only works on the same machine as MythTV, but not remote (see above).
3. MythTV and also the Kmmtg application that I use to get data off the TiVo all produce MPEG-2. It could be 2x more efficient with commercial skipping giving effectively a 30% compression and moving to X.264 another 30% on top of that, so files can be smaller.
4. Also the indexing of content is hard since MythTV has a database, there is a mythTV renamed, so need to figure out how Macports version of MythTV works with that.
5. MythWeb on Macports. I screwed up building this because I was running MythTV at the same time, so eventually, fixes applied to MythTV failed and I got into a strange state with Macports. It complained about the port being active. I deactivated (sudo port deactivate mythtv-core.27), but this didn’t help. I finally had to uninstall and then reinstall. Got it working again.
6. Apache2 wouldn’t startup. The Mythweb is a little unclear about how to get it all started, but something broke so that apache2 from macports didn’t start. This is because I had typos in the /opt/local/apache2/conf/httpd.conf file from mistyping the configurations in http://www.mythtv.org/wiki/MythWeb_via_MacPorts. Apache2 will silently fail. So you have to first debug the https.conf commands with “sudo /opt/local/apache2/bin/apachectl -t”. If you just say sudo apachectl -t this doesn’t work because it points to the Mavericks version of apache.
7. MythWeb configuration. With MythWeb working, the usage of the thing is pretty obscure. But to watch a video, you need to click on recorded programs and there is a small thumbnail on the left. You need to have VLC installed and when you click, it starts a separate VLC streaming session (so it is not in the browser). I don’t see the Live TV option.
8. Separately, MythTV supports live streaming in HTML5 via port 6544 and you need to install JWPlayer to use it. See http://www.mythtv.org/wiki/HTTP_Live_Streaming_Server, but right now it looks like I have a greyed box for allowing video streaming as it requires It currently expects that ffmpeg is installed and compiled with mp3 support, and that the recordings files are accessible to your webserver userid. So on to find ffmpeg and compile it so that mp3 is visible to MythWeb. Argh!
9. Unlike experiments with KMMTG commercial skipping, the system for MythTV works pretty well because it is nondestructive. It just tags the commercial skips. You hit END (now is that not intuitive) to skip and HOME to go back. It is quite CPU intensive, but the most frustrating thing is that the setting keeps moving around. On Myth.027, the settings are in Setup/Video/Playback/Commercial Skip (panel 8 of the 10 in playback). You can set to notify but do not skip if you don’t trust it or to automatically skip if you do. I leave at notify as it doesn’t guess right enough. If it guess wrongs, then the right arrow key moves forward 30 seconds 🙂
10. MythTV is producing the raw MPEG-2 that comes out of the cable system, so lossless in that sense, but MPEG-2 is fat (about 6GB/hour for normally for 1080i content). Just switching to X.264 and the more advanced encoder should halve the disk space needed at the expense of lots of encoding CPU power requiring 1 hour of encoding on a Mac Mini (mid 2011) with Sandy Bridge  dual core 2520M 2.5Ghz iCore 5  (I can run this from another spare machine as a computer server). MythTV  has an autotranscode setting that I need to experiment with, but perhaps it is better to just use Handbrake (a dedicated transcode front-end to do this). Right now it looks like CQ=21 to 23 is about right for Blu-ray and CQ=19 to 20 is right for DVDs. Most folks recommend CQ=18 if you just want something small but lossy. Experimenting with this on 720p files running at 3GB/hour shows that CQ=18 gives a 800MB file so probably quite lossy.

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