What’s an HTPC? (Another annoying geek post)

I think Shoe said it best, “uh, what’s an Htpc?”

That pretty much sums it up for the great majority of computer users. I answered her, at least a bit. It is like Tivo on steroids. Live TV, recorded TV, DVD library, music, pictures, gaming. All on a computer hooked to my television. I also run my home automation software on the same box, and some of it is tied in to my HTPC setup.

My current HTPC is running on a home brew PC. Athlon 64 3200+, Abit UL8, don’t remember how much memory it has. Although I love tweaking my PCs and the software that they contain, I have learned to leave this one alone, and just let it do it’s job. I use Windows XP as my operating system. I have tried Linux, but the HA software designed for it sucks compared to what I use, and the hardware is just not designed for it. Too much damn tweaking. The HTPC software programs that I tested under Linux just don’t do everything that I want it. No extra programs running, no anti-virus, no firewall (other than my external routers). I don’t need them since I don’t read email on this machine, or browse the web.

I have four TV tuners in the machine, a Hauppauge PVR250 (roslyn), a Hauppauge PVR150MCE, a Hauppauge WinTV PVR 2 USB external tuner, and a generic bullshit tuner I bought at a computer show a few years back. The PVR250 is hooked into my Motorola cable box via component video, and I have a serial cable run to the box as well, for channel changes. The bullshit card has a feed from my Sony VCR, and regular cable, as do the other two tuners.

Video is run from my Nvidia Geforce 6600 LE via DVI/component to my TV. Just a generic Sharp flatscreen. Nothing special, but but my eyesight isn’t particularly sharp lately anyhow.

I run sound from the MB’s onboard connectors to a Sony audio receiver, and out to about 10 mini speakers around the living room.

If you do a search around the web, you will find that mine is a pretty generic, low-price setup. I’ve seen some sweet setups that would run $10k+ that just make me weep when I think about them. I like mine though. For the most part, it does what I want. This is the second machine I have built for this purpose over the last five years. Not bad considering it gets constant 24 hour usage, and they were both built with parts from previous PCs.

My software setup is a bit more complicated. I have been interested in HTPCs for about ten years or so. I got my first TV tuner in 1995 or so, but was never able to really get a nice setup that worked, or that I could hook to my TV and my family could use. That’s one of the key factors. If my kids can use it, it works.

I started getting interested in X10 and home automation about six years ago. I picked up a basic kit, and hated the free software that came with it. After looking around for awhile, I found Homeseer and loved it. I still use it. I would like to move away from X10 into some higher end stuff, but that shit is expensive, and with my current extra spending money of $2/week 🙂 it will just be awhile. I have about 13 X10 controlled light switches, several lamp modules, and several appliance modules. I have 10 or 12 RF motion sensors that communicate with Homeseer and tell it when anyone is in proximity, as well as whether it is light or dark. I have about 10 temperature sensors around the house inside/out and a humidity sensor. Homeseer also controls my audio/video appliances via IR as well. All of it is accessed via remote control, switches, voice, as well as through a web browser in other parts of the house. I also use a couple of programs that interface with Homeseer as well as iTunes and WMP, so I can feasibly turn on the tunes from the shitter.

Anyway, about the HTPC software. I run several pieces of software. On the back end, as I said before, I sometimes use itunes and WMP through my HA software. I also access my music through a front-end, BeyondMedia. It’s OK, but not the greatest program I have used. I used to use one called Meedio, but it is now defunct, and there is no more meaningful development going on. BM is not at the top of Snapstream’s development list, but I am sure that they will get back on the bandwagon, or integrate it into their PVR product. It works for what it is supposed to though. Videos, DVD library (using a plugin), games (also using a plugin), photos, as well as access to some online stuff, although I don’t use anything other than the weather. I also access itunes on the TV screen for a few shows that I have downloaded, although the legibility sucks since it was made to be looked at on a PC screen.

The part that gets used the most is the PVR software, BeyondTV. BTV kicks ass. This post actually started out as a review of the software that someone asked me to do, but I will do that later, perhaps on my day off when I have a few extra minutes. Although there will probably always be stuff that it doesn’t do to my satisfaction, it is by far the best PVR software out there. It is easy to use, both for me and my family, right out of the box. Watch live TV, pause, rewind, record four shows at once to watch later (which is what I mostly use it for), as well as tune to FM radio. I can do this with the IR control from my HA software to my receiver, but using BTV is MUCH easier.

My favorite part, and what makes it so easy for the rest of the family, is the remote control. I have a couple of remotes that I can use. I use two different IR receivers, and both can transmit as well, but I much prefer the RF Firefly over the rest. It is easy to use, easy to set up to work with multiple programs, and fits right in my hand, so it’s not too bulky. It ties all the rest of it together. I only wish that it were a combination of RF and Infrared so that I could program it it to control my components as well.

I have tried several other programs out there, including MCE, MythTV, Sage, Meedio, Yahoo Go, and a few others, and none of them are as good as what I am currently using.


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Comments |0|

  • Don’t believe everything you read. This is total BS. Stick to what you know managing Waffle Houses.

  • Which part is BS, the part where he choked the toddler? Or maybe the part where he threw the child on the bed at least four times according to what HE TOLD THE POLICE? I’m more than willing to change the post and or update it if more facts come to light but as it stands right now he is the one that confessed.
    When you searched Google for Edwin Gabriel Ramos and found this site, what are you doing, going around to any site posting this and rectifying the ‘facts’ as you see them?
    If you know something other than what has been posted please feel free to share. I will attempt to verify them and be more than happy to update the article. I don’t want something up that isn’t true but unless you have something else besides “This is total BS” then I have to figure you don’t know what the fuck you are talking about.

  • That’s very true. The dude may very well have been a really nice guy but the fact that he has admitted to killing a kid makes him a child killer and a criminal. There’s not a lot else to say beyond that.

  • The simple fact is you are passing judgement on something you have no knowledge of. Your being spoon feed by the media just like a baby.
    Its one think to duplicate the article, its another to duplicate, add your commentary, then post it on Digg???
    I’m not sure what your trying to gain by doing this. More hits?More Traffic? your the only one that dugg it.
    You seem like a decent enough person with a hobby, but until Mr. Ramos actually confesses with a lawyer present or in front of a judge, I will not pass judgement and neither should you.
    Please stick to your Tramp Stamp Tuesday articles??LOL. They suite your site much better.

  • I don’t have any sympathy for anyone that hurt or kill a child. I don’t understand why a mother would leave her child with someone so irresponsible. The mother had to know that this guy smoke or sold weed. I think some of the blame has to be put on the mother. The fact still remains that little Kenny was killed at the hands of somebody that was in the house.

  • All u guys need to really mind your bussiness. edwin is a close friend of mind i know something in this case aint right… and he didnt kill that baby… theres some pieces missing in this case… i love edwin dearly and i know edwin for yrs.. and theres no way he would hurt a child…

  • i agree, edwin is a very close friend of mine, and i have never known him to violent or temperamental. i hope ur right and this really isn’t how it happend. this is an absolute nightmare

  • What’s missing? If he didn’t kill the child then he didn’t and I will stand corrected and correct the post as well but unless you have something else to offer then the facts as we know them right now stand.
    From what I understand the guy has no prior criminal record but that doesn’t necessarily mean a thing. ACloseFriend, I saw where you had also posted over at the Sentinel about checking some girl that is pregnant with his baby? Would you care to elaborate on that? I’m sure that the police might be interested in the facts as well. Perhaps it’s a case of Edwin covering for someone?

  • just b/c he’s going to have a baby does not make him father of the year!!! u might think u know some1 really well but u never know what a person is capable of. he knew what he did was wrong. if he didnt then why did he come up with a detailed story?? he changed his story and told the truth once the evidence proved the first story was wrong. he is scum. and he will get whats coming to him. and if he didnt do it then why did he admit to it? edwin is not that gallant, he wouldnt take blame for something he didnt do. he got caught and knew it. he had no where to hide and no one to help get him out of this. its his doing and only his. as the case unravels it will prove what really happened and whose really at fault.

  • listen .. strong opinions u need to mind ur business and if u dont know shit then just keep ur mouth shut… Cuz i know what going on theres something missin in this case….and u r right it will come out in court and hopefully the truth comes out .. that its not him… and i believe he admitted to it so his girlfriend wouldnt suffer… becuz days before that he never said he hit the baby.. that came out of no where… and there had to be some arrangement between him n his girlfriend that he takin the blame… becuz i know edwin … hes family… and hes not like that … i put my word on it…. and the whole thing about his girl bein pregnant… I say Ask Her…… And Richard i do believe this is a case that edwin is covering for someone…

  • I truly don’t think he could have done this.. I have known him for so long and there is no way in hell that this child taunted him enough in order for him to kill him. I know his family and I know his little brother, if this is a case of taunting he would of murdered his younger brother years ago because that kid there is a pain in the ass. So believe when I say that this is all some kind of set-up so that his stupid ass girlfriend ( the dead childs mother) doesnt go to jail just because she is pregnant. The bitch didnt even cry at her own sons funeral! Isnt that a bit odd? According to some other close friends she has been just peachy keen.. No mourning… nothing.. I say the cops do a little more investigating on her.. And I understand that he admitted to doing it but I know him.. And he folds under pressure.. He has always been the one to just say what people want to hear.. and thats what happened… He didnt kill him.. And I will be more than willing to testify in front of anyone to prove he is not guilty.. If known of you know any details its best you don’t comment because believe me when I say there is alot that we know and have heard from his mouth before he was arrested and I say its enough for me and all of his friends and family to know that he is innocent.

  • I’ve known goldo for a long time and i know him inside out!! he would neva do something like this… I have never seen him lose his temper or get mad not even with me even when i was the biggest pain to him!! I believe something is up! i just cant see him doing this for weed i dont think so cuz he wouldnt make a big deal about a garbage can!! Edwin told me so much stuff before this happend that makes me stand by him 100%. all of ya know wat the media says but those of us that know him personally know that he isnt that person we know the gentle funny guy!!!!

  • I keep hearing this and I want to believe ya’ll so how about some information. I’ll even keep it OFF the blog if you email it to me. I corresponded with a few members of Erin Maxwell’s family the same way and changed some of the details of my post on her as well.
    The media always blows things out of proportion but in this case so far they seem to have it right. This post is going to stand as-is until I see more information I can verify.

  • Dawg told me on Sept 13th that the baby choked on a piece of pancake. I felt sorry for him when I asked him where was the baby (he was with the baby’s momma) and he told me that the baby choked on the pancake, that it expanded in Kenny’s little throat and he choked. I gave them $40.00 to help them out (something told me to do it). Three days later I’m learning that they had arrested Edwin for the murder. I’m going to wait I don’t judge anyone. That’s why there are professionals.

  • You seem like a decent enough person with a hobby, but until Mr. Ramos actually confesses with a lawyer present or in front of a judge, I will not pass judgment and neither should you. I think he will not disappoint me.

  • first of all im not scared to put my real name! and second of all i have said it before he’s a pussy. thats why it didnt fo to court, he plead out because he’s too pussy to go through the trial and get sentenced for murder 1. and he doesnt feel sorry. and the people that said they would testify…. u would only do it to help out your “friend”. there is a baby that was murdered by that scum and u people the the nerve to stick up for him. u are no better then he is. if u have kids and u trust him with them then ur crazy. i say he needs life. he needs to suffer how that poor baby did, but then again thats the easy way out for him. i pray that he gets whats comming to him…. an he is!