Well that was stupid…easy MythTV fixes

2 Comments | This entry was posted on Nov 23 2008

Just a real quick tip for anyone having problems watching live TV or recording shows in MythTV. After a fairly fresh install I could not watch live TV. My screen would go black for a second and I would be kicked back to the main menu. I also was not able to record shows. The recording would show up on the schedule but nothing would happen when the time to record would actually come. So my tip is check your log files!!! They are stored in /var/log/mythtv (at least they are in ubuntu). You should have mythbackend.log*, mythwelcom.log, and mythfrontend.log* in that directory. The log files are incremented making the highest number the oldest file and the one without a number your newest file. So check the newest file first.
As for my problem I checked my frontend log first, but I didn’t see much information besides the fact that I changed skins. So I decided to check the backend. Here is what I found.

2008-11-23 10:26:22.432 TFW, Error: Opening file '/media/mythtv/recordings/1941_20081123102621.mpg'.
eno: Permission denied (13)
2008-11-23 10:26:22.436 TVRec(1) Error: RingBuffer '/media/mythtv/recordings/1941_20081123102621.mpg' not open...
2008-11-23 10:26:22.437 TVRec(1) Error: CreateLiveTVRingBuffer() failed
2008-11-23 10:26:22.438 TVRec(1) Error: Failed to create RingBuffer 1

Now this may not be too obvious to most people but take a look at “Permission denied (13)”. DOH! I forgot to give my user permissions to the directory I set up to record my shows in (as well as my live TV folder).

sudo chmod 777 /media/mythtv/*

and now I am able to watch live TV and record whatever shows I feel like.
Just thought I would save you the hassle if this happens to you.

MythTV…another build

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Nov 16 2008

So I have really been missing the ability to record/rewind/pause TV. I haven’t had a full time MythTV box for over a year and a half. I sold my old MythTV computer and had been saving the money till something perfect came out to use as a fast and quiet MythTV computer and samba server. I actually bought a Mac mini about 2 months ago in an effort to get it working with a external hard drive for speed and storage. Needless to say, Apple did a good job of making the Mac mini too annoying to try and get it to work the way I wanted it to. I will post a little on my experience there later.
So I returned the mini and found the AOpen mp45-dr. It is about the same size as the mac mini (technically smaller) and it came bare bones. This is great because I could either get the same specs as the mini for cheaper or I could improve the parts I wanted to improve and not get the “features” I didn’t need (like internal wifi or internal laptop hard drive). Unfortunately, the mp45 had one thing I really needed to complete my HTPC, firewire. I looked around to see if I could get firewire out of the eSATA port or one of the two internal PCIe mini ports but I couldn’t find anything that would work the way I wanted and I needed firewire to record premium HD shows from my cable STB. So I found the mp945-dr which is just the older model of the same computer. It looks almost exactly the same but has a slightly slower video card, no eSATA port, and slower chipset (which included a slower FSB). When I really looked at it though, the parts it came with would be plenty for what I needed and so I used the money from my MythTV sale (and a few other side projects) and bought the AOpen mp965-dr.
Here is my build.
AOpen mp965-dr (from
Intel Core 2 Duo T8100 (from newegg)
2GB Kingston Ram (from newegg)
WinTV-HVR-950 Tuner (from newegg)
1TB ministack v3 (from other world computing)
Sata -> eSATA cable (from mwave)
I also already had a HDHomerun tuner and firewire cable for a tuner from my STB.

I am excited to get this up and running again and will post my build as time goes on. Here is a quick rundown/reference to the sections I will be writing. I will update these later with links.
Part 1: Setting up the hardware
Part 2: Choosing the software
Part 3: Setting up software
Part 4: Using the machine day to day

How-to tether Windows Mobile to Ubuntu

7 Comments | This entry was posted on Oct 16 2008

Another random site I found the other day had this little tip on tethering your Windows Mobile phone to Ubuntu.
Seems pretty straight forward. I haven’t tried it yet but I don’t think it would be too complicated.

apt-get install subversion
svn co
cd usb-rndis-lite/
sudo ./
sudo make install

Then you just need to go to internet sharing on your phone and plug it in. Whenever I have a chance to give it a try I will let you know if it works for me.
If you get a chance to try it leave me a comment and let me know.

Ubuntu CPU scaling

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Oct 16 2008

I ran across a good article on how to scale your processor in Ubuntu. For me this was turned on by default and it really helped my battery life on my laptop and now it is nice to know how to configure it.
Here is the link to the full page. I am going to echo the text here just in case the website becomes non-existent like so many good sites do.

CPU Scaling is a feature built into most modern (mobile) CPUs that allows them to scale up or down in how fast they run and how much energy they suck down based on demand. If you have a fairly modern mobile computer there’s a very good chance that your CPU(s) can handle frequency scaling.

Why should you care? Well, you can control this to tell you computer how much power and how fast it should allow it’s CPU(s) to operate. This can save some energy and thus battery life at the expense of a little performance – which is great for extending the use time of your laptop when it’s unplugged.

Can your CPU(s) handle scaling? There’s an easy way to find out. Open up a terminal session (Applications -> Accessories ->Terminal) and type or paste the following into it:

cat /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_available_frequencies

On my machine I get back

1667000 1333000 1000000

Those are in Hertz, so my machine is capable of 1.66Ghz, 1.33Ghz and 1.00 Ghz.

Now that you know your CPU(s) can handle scaling, let’s see what modes are available. In the terminal, type or paste:

cat /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_available_governors

Again, I get:

powersave ondemand userspace conservative performance

Powersave will keep the CPU constantly at the lowest frequency. Ondemand will set the CPU at the lowest frequency (in my case, 1.00Ghz) until use of the CPU increases, then it will automatically bump it up to the highest frequency (with me, 1.66Ghz). Userspace means that a different program will be used to control the CPU’s scaling. Conservative is where your CPU will go up as needed, starting at the lowest frequency, and then bumping up to the next available until it maxes out. Performance simply sets the CPU(s) at the highest available frequency and keeps it there.

The lower your frequency, the less power you use. So, if you’re bent on extending your battery life to the max, you’d want to keep your CPU(s) at their lowest frequency – but you’ll do this at the expense of computing power. In my case my 1.66Ghz processors would effectively be 1.00Ghz processors.

Now, how do you actively control this? It’s fairly easy. Right click on an empty space in your taskbar (where your applets and such things as Applications, Places and System are located) and choose “Add to panel”. From there, find the CPU Frequency Scaling Monitor. Double click on this and it will appear in your taskbar. Right click on it and choose Properties and you can set various options like have it show your CPU frequency as a frequency (i.e. 1.33Ghz) or as a percentage. If you have multiple CPU’s or a dual/quad core machine you can also choose which CPU to monitor.

To configure this applet to actually allow you to control how your CPU(s) scale, you’ll have to had back to the terminal.

Type this:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure gnome-applets

This will throw up a nifty blue screen asking you to say Yes. Do so. Then it will ask if you want to install cpufreq-selector with SUID root. Say yes. Once you’ve done this, go back to your CPU Frequency Scaling Monitor in your taskbar and left click it. You should now be presented with a bunch of options from which you can choose the one you want. You can also directly set the frequency at which your CPU(s) will run at, which can be handy if you want to scale up or down for a short bit and then manually change it again.

As you can see, I’ve got mine set to Ondemand, allowing the frequency to scale up through three different settings (1 GHz, 1.33 GHz or 1.66 GHz) as needed.

While this will take effect immediately, it will only be in effect until you reboot at which time your default settings will come back. To change the default head back into your terminal and type:


From there head to apps -> gnome-power-manager -> cpufreq. Find the settings policy_ac and policy_battery and change them to whichever setting you want for the default.

For those with multiple cores or processors who happen to be a bit needy in the info department (like myself) you can add an applet for each CPU. Just add as many applets as you have CPUs and then right click on them, choose Preferences and use the drop down to choose which CPU that particular applet is monitoring.

Now you know a lot more about CPU Frequency Scaling then you may have when you started reading this article and you know how to set it on your computer.

All credit goes to arsgeek at Hubpages.
While I didn’t use the applets the whole article is very well written and has lots of information.

Make Ubuntu better with brainstorming

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Mar 04 2008

It has been a while since my last update but I have been really busy with lots of stuff. Here is a quick update I have for now.

I will start with saying that the Ubuntu developers saw it fit to ask its users for good ideas to put into the operating system. The best way to do this of course is to put it online and let people come and suggest whatever they want. Well was launched last week and let me tell you there are a lot of great ideas on there. I actually think I learned more by looking at the ideas that were posted and going through the comments to see what people said you can do right now to fix it than if I had just gone to the Ubuntu forums and searched for hours and hours.

That being said here are a couple of things I found that make Ubuntu a little better in my opinion.

First is the fix for when Ubuntu has to scan your hard drive at boot time (every 30th time a volume is mounted). This is very annoying to say the least. Especially if you have more than one hard drive in your computer. My computer is scanning itself once every eight times I turn on my machine. That not only slows down productivity but it also just makes me not want to use my desktop. Some people say you can easily turn off the scan but I am a bit too paranoid for that. So I found a couple quick fixes to make scanning more manageable. The first one, the one I am currently using, is called AutoFsck. All AutoFsck does is it warns you when you go to shut down your computer that Ubuntu will want to scan at next boot. It then prompts you if you want to restart now, have the scan run, and then have the computer shut itself off.  Or you can choose just to let the scan run as it normally would. While restarting and scanning seems to waste even more time than scanning at startup, it still makes it easier because if I am shutting down my computer, chances are I am done using it and it can stay on scanning as long as it needs to. The second tool is called Bonager. This one works a little different by letting you know how many mounts you have left before a scan will be forced and if you want to you can schedule the scan for the next boot.

The second thing I found is called Gnome Control Center. It is actually really old and as far as I know is installed by default but isn’t configured to show up in the menu. To enable it you can go to the Ubuntu preferences and find the main menu option. When it comes up select System on the left and then check the Control Center box. You can remove Administration and Preferences to make the menu smaller and more usable. The Gnome CC lets you manage everything that was in the other two lists in a single window. In my opinion this is far better and makes things easier to find. The find feature helps for that too.

That is all I got for right now. I have a few things I am working on but nothing to post here. I am looking forward to the April release of Ubuntu 8.04 and am excited to see what the Mythbuntu team does for that release.

Until I have some more news let me know if you find any other helpful tips from

A2DP in Ubuntu

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Feb 10 2008

I got some Motorola headphones a couple of years ago for my birthday and I love them. Only problem I have had was that I never figured out how to get the headphones to work under Ubuntu.  I am currently using Ubuntu 7.10 and although Ubuntu detected my bluetooth adapter just fine I have had problems getting it to detect my headphones.

Thanks to Jacob over at FOSSwire I now have my headphones working and a easy way to switch between them and my internal speakers. I don’t want to copy and paste the full article out of respect for internet traffic/site uniqueness so just hit the link, download the script, and enjoy some wireless music in Ubuntu. I also attatched the script just in case it gets taken off of FOSSwire.
Link a2dp install script

How to: Menu transparancy in Compiz-fusion

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Nov 27 2007

I never liked that Compiz-fusion didn’t have a transparent menu setting by default. Luckily people on the internet are smart. Well, some of them. Ryan Paul (I have no idea who he is) posted a article on how to add the transparency I was looking for.

In order to set up menu transparency, users will need the Compiz Config Settings Manager, which can be acquired on Ubuntu by installing the compizconfig-settings-manager package. Users can launch the utility from the command line or from the GNOME Preferences menu. The settings manager contains a number of tiles that provide access to various plugins and features included in Commpiz. To set menu transparency, select the General Options tile and navigate to the Opacity Settings tab. Expand the Window Opacities section and click the Add button. A small dialog window will open and prompt for window specification and the desired opacity.

In the Opacity Windows text field, you have to input a pipe-separated list of window types to which you want to apply the transparency. I use the following string:

Tooltip | Menu | PopupMenu | DropdownMenu

Then I set the Opacity Window Values field to 90 to indicate that windows of the previously specified types should be 90 percent opaque and 10 percent transparent.

That is all it took. I ended up making my menu’s 20% transparent but that is all it took. His post also shows how you can set up conditional transparency for specific programs (he uses pidgin as an example).  Have fun with that little tip.


1 Comment | This entry was posted on Oct 04 2007

I had a realization today.  I really like osx.  I think the operating system as a whole is just pretty good.  I am not used to it and it would take me a good long time to learn all of the shortcut keys that are available, but on a whole I like it.

The downside I found with the operating system is the supporting programs.  Things like email, photo editing, media players that are everywhere for Windows seem to be a bit harder to find in OSX (especially if you don’t use it much).  And even programs that are ported over from windows *cough* Entourage *cough* seem to be crippled compared to their windows counterparts.  Sure all the best programs are made straight from Apple themselves but what if you don’t like iphoto, imovie, and *gasp* itunes?  You really don’t have vary many other options.

Then I got to thinking, 90% of the problems I run into on Windows are… the supporting programs.  Sure there are TONS of everything available but a lot of the time they are half assed or not updated.  I would say supporting programs is what makes both OSX and Windows suck.  OSX because the lack of programs and Windows because of the overwhelming amount of crappy programs (some of which are Microsoft’s doing).

Then I move over to using Linux.  In Linux there are lots of options, except for video editors, and the programs are updated a lot, for some every day.  But then I run into the problem  that every time I turn on my computer I have to do updates before I use it.  Yes I know I don’t HAVE to do updates but I have this compulsion of running the latest/greatest.  I feel as if I am missing out on something if I am not beta.  In a sense I really would be.  I am running the latest beta Ubuntu with a beta Compiz Fusion and I just recently took off the beta video driver I had.

When it comes down to it operating systems are only as good as their supporting programs.  If you make the greatest operating system in the world with no holes and more usability than you can shake a stick at, it is still just a operating system if you don’t have programs.

Kinda reminds me of the current video game system race…