[mythtv] [mythtv-commits] Ticket #2320: Add a 'watched' flag to recordings

Bruce Markey bjm at lvcm.com
Thu Sep 7 23:49:07 UTC 2006

Stuart Morgan wrote:
> I'm all for choice, but I'd at least like to hear a good argument
> against it first :)

Alright, I'll take that ;-). We've been down this road before.
Donovan had floated this idea in the past and after exploring
it at that time, I came to two conclusions:

1) There is no algorithm that can determine if a user has
"watched" (whatever that means) a show to her satisfaction.

2) There is no universal correct decision that the system can
make based on it's inference that something has been "watched".

There could be several approaches to setting such a flag and
none of them are meaningful in the real world. It could be the
time spent in playback mode, the percentage of frames accessed,
if or where a bookmark is left, max frame number access (which
it appears you've chosen), and probably others. None of these
can reliably tell the system if the user has seen the content
they intended to see. Much more importantly, none of these give
the system any indication as to whether or not the user intends
to enter playback mode again(!).

I have a rule for "Talk Show Guests"

program.previouslyshown = 0 AND program.description REGEXP
'(Lance Armstrong|Taylor Hicks|Adam Morrison|<more names>)'

This has a list of names to find in program descriptions and
records any shows where these people appear; normally daytime
or late night talk shows that I never watch. When I get one of
these I FF to the interview, maybe 60% in, then watch 4 minutes
and exit. At that point, I'm done watching.

If a Special is shown three or four times and I record the first
one, I may not watch it for a couple weeks but I'll FF through it
or jump to the end just to see if it recorded okay or if I need
to try again.

I may be interrupted while watching something and hit pause.
After a long period of time I may come back and exit without
watching the conclusion.

I may add a lot of extra time on the end of a baseball game and
exit when the game ends well before the end of the recording.

There is no way to say whether or not any of these were watched
(whatever that means), however, I have a very reliable method
that I use. When I'm done watching something, I press "D" and
select "Yes, delete it". There, it's "watched" and still marked
as previously recorded in the 'oldrecorded' table.

I often record movies that I didn't go the see at the theater.
These can sit untouched for months before I realize that I don't
want to sit through it at home either =).

So, things that are untouched I obviously don't care about and
the things that I've seen (however that's determined) and didn't
delete, I want to keep. Whether it is a favorite scene, song,
quote, or I want to see the whole thing again, I kept it for a
reason. The assumption that "watched" things can be thrown away
sooner or the desire to re-record can be determined by such a
flag is, to me, backwards(!).

I'm guessing that there is an assumption that a lot of people
finish watching a show, decide they are done with it but don't
delete it and wait for auto-expire to do the deed. This approach
baffles me. If I had a hundred shows from three months ago, 98 are
junk and there are two that I want to see, why would I want to
wade through all that crap looking for them? Why would I risk
expiring things I still want to see? It makes no sense to me.

I'd like to believe that my approach (and everyone I know =) of
deleting files when I am done is commonplace. I'd like to believe
(and certainly hope) this is true for the vast majority of users.
A system that assumes that everyone or the vast majority keep junk
files after they are done, I believe is ill conceived.

So, I've entered playback and I've triggered some arbitrary
criteria then exited and chose not to delete. What does the
system now know about how I feel about that file? Do I hate the
show? Do I love it? Is it a waste of space that must be cleaned
up or should it be preserved at all costs? What? I don't get it.

I do not want my system trying to make decisions about my
recordings based on any such inferences. Any decision to set
such a flag will often be incorrect. The reason that a show was
"watched" (whatever that means) but not deleted is unknown and
the conclusion about what to do about such as show may well be
completely wrong. I can set or unset the auto-expire flag, I can
choose which shows I want to keep or delete or re-record for
myself and I don't want the system to think it can out-smart me
and make these decisions for me.

--  bjm

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