It was like some kind of nightmare scenario. I got a brand new HDTV Thursday, set it up Thursday night, and sat down to enjoy it only to find out that I’d broken my DirecTV somehow. It wasn’t configuration, it wasn’t loose wires, I just couldn’t get a signal. It had been working just fine before, but wasn’t now. Incidentally, for those that say debugging computer problems is hard, try it with home electronics: at least a computer will try and tell you what’s wrong. Cable boxes? Forget it. It could be the wire, it could be the down converter, it could be the box, it could be the output, and there’s no real way to tell where the signal is getting choked off.
Anyway, given that it was the day before a holiday weekend, I was resigned to having no TV (and thus no Sox) for the three days off. But credit to Denver Broadband, the company with the service contract for my building: I called them at 10 AM on Friday and they had someone there by noon. Turns out the problem was a faulty down converter (no, I don’t know what it does). Cost of replacement? Zero dollars. Cost of service call? Zero dollars. That kind of service is just about impossible to find these days.
While I had them out, I took the opportunity to ask them about getting HDTV set up in here as my new TV has that capability, and apparently it’s very straightforward. Then I asked them how much the DirecTV HD units equipped with Tivo go for. Answer? $900. Well, I love Tivo, but I don’t *love* Tivo, if you follow me. At least not that much. So as you might expect, I started cruising eBay and found a few units in the $500/$600 range, still more than I wanted to spend. Only then did it occur to me that it might be possible to roll my own, MythTV style. I’d have to get a new video card for a personal server I have here, but apart from that I have pretty much everything I might need. I’ve played with Myth a bit in the past – just from a UI perspective – so I’m curious as to whether or not any of you have used it. Does it work? How would you compare it with the commercial equivalents (it presumably can’t be worse than the Comcast/Windows entry)? I know there are a few of you out there that have used it – would love any feedback on whether it might be worth setting up a spare server with this, or just waiting till the prices come down on the HD Tivos.
In other news, I finally selected a VOIP provider for my home line. Based on a personal recommendation and some positive reviews, I went with Packet8. Will keep you posted on how that goes.