My ghetto tivo has been down. For most of the week. I haven’t had time to deal with it so I’ve been *very* judiciously trying to schedule recordings so as not to break it. With limited success.

Here’s what has been happening…

I watch TV, and there is the occasional stutter. If I record one show while watching another, the stutter increases. Watching HD seems fine, which is ironic since HD requires a lot more horepower than regular SD television. At first I could get around it by recording TV and just not watching it till later, but that soon stopped working. The recordings would randomly pixelate and freeze and they were nigh impossible to watch. What gives?

Well, after much hunting I found that one of the services the program uses was jacking my CPU usage through the roof. Watching one channel would use up between 30-50% of the CPU. Watching a second channel meant an additional 30-50%, pushing the total up to 80-90%. Now my CPU fan is *always* on, trying to cool down the CPU. Not what I want or need.

So I try different versions of the open-source MediaPortal (which is the software that drives my ghetto tivo), going backwards and forwards trying to find one that works. Nothing did. I posted on their forums, nothing there either. I dug through the logs, nothing helpful there other than it thought the video source kept changing size (no idea why though). It was a frustrating experience as I seemed to be the only one (out of millions of other users) that had this problem.

Now, I don’t watch a whole lot of TV. But the TV I do watch, I REALLY WATCH. And this week the Olympics started, and I want to watch that, MLS games were going on, Sci-Fi’s Eureka and Stargate Atlantis just started, etc. And coming up soon is MORE Olympics, MORE MLS, MORE Redskins, etc.

So finally I gave in. I did a complete re-format and re-install of everything. Windows, all drivers, all software. I spent a bit of time hunting for MCE remote drivers, which I vaguely recall doing last time since they don’t ship with regular XP Home. I hate doing this because reformatting takes forever, and then after Windows installs you still have to go get all the updates, and then you start installing all of your software.

Late last night I finished with the installation. I’ve so far setup two SD tuners so I can record from the two cable boxes I have setup. I have yet to test what happens with multiple recordings at the same time, as that was one of the key issues before, but I think it should be OK as CPU usage was down to about 5% (where it should be) down from about 30% when it was all busted. The next step will beĀ  to setup the HD tuners (they get clear QAM programming) and make sure they’re working ok. Then also to test with all the tuners working at the same time and see if it holds up.

If all goes well, then I will officially put the “Harv’s World Stamp of Approval” on it.