[mythtv-users] Linux MCE project

Adolfo R. Brandes arbrandes at gmail.com
Sat Mar 24 12:22:22 UTC 2007

On 3/22/07, Kevin Kuphal <kuphal at dls.net> wrote:
> Looks like another Myth bundle is available.  This time on Ubunutu

  I'd like to brush the whole "out-of-the-box" and "socially retarted"
discussions of the video aside, for a moment.  We all know the guy's
mostly full of it on those points.  I'd like to focus on the good side
of the thing.

  But before going on to how this relates to MythTV and In order to
establish some credibility, I've been a heavy MythTV user for the
better part of a year, with monthly SVN recompilations and a few
one-liner hacks.  Much like LinuxMCE, I also run Asterisk on the same
box to handle all my home's telephony.

  Which brings me to what I think will be the long lasting
contribution of the LinuxMCE project: the user interface.  More
specifically, the fact that it was constructed with a 3-button gyro
mouse in mind, as opposed to a 30-button IR remote.  Was it only me,
or did "wiimote" pop into your brains immediately?

  My wife and I are currently pretty comfortable with the MythTV UI
and the Hauppauge IR remote. If you pardon the obvious pun, we've been
watching it get better and better (and on occasion, worse) from the
front seat, given that it is never more than a few weeks before we get
the latest SVN updates.  However, there is much room for improvement
in everything from the Program Guide to the MythGame Browser, and the
steps that are currently being taken by the development team don't
seem to address some of the issues we have.  Namely:

Gripe 1. Searching and klunky text input from the remote:

   I realize this is not necessarily a problem with MythTV, but a very
general one that involves available hardware (the ubiquitous IR
remote) and the known text input methods.  But the fact remains that
I've always hated typing text messages from a dialpad, and thus I hate
doing it on the remote.  The onscreen keyboard is a step in the right
direction, but it still seems as tough as entering your name on an
80's videogame console.  This makes the wife growl every time she has
to search for something by it's name.

  Which is why I immediately loved LinuxMCE's solution, which involves
matching an onscreen keyboard with gyro mouse.  You can bee-line to
the letter you want as fast as your personal dexterity will allow.
Naturally the ideal solution would involve a working wiimote pointer
driver (not just gyro), given a gyroscope's limitations on accuracy.
But given the Wii's popularity, surely this will come in time.

  And since I'm already ranting, why is there no searching by name in
MythVideo?  Worse than having bad text input, is not having text input
at all.

Gripe 2. Browsing the Program Guide

  MythTV suffers from the same WindowsMCE malady as exposed by the
LinuxMCE video.  Even if you have a huge widescreen TV with very small
fonts, there's at most only a couple of hours and a handfull of
channels visible on the screen.  It's like working with a 1000x1000
spreadsheet and only beeing able to see a 10x10 cells at a time. Of
course you can search the programs by name, artist, and director, but
this is about browsing (and see Gripe 1).

  It seemed to me that LinuxMCE's tree-like way was much more
practical and less time-consuming.

Gripe 3. The Whole 30-button Thing

  I have a friend who is the real-life counterpart of the character in
Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance who doesn't want to learn
how to fix his bike.  In other words, he is as technologically unsavvy
as it gets.  Last week he was showing off his new huge widescreen LCD
TV, and after a few rounds of oohs-and-aahs he brought the remote to
my attention.  He said, "You can finally build a movie theater in your
house for less than 10 grand, but the bigger the TV, the klunkier the

  He is, of course, completely right.  Not only is the layout on
remote controls not standardized, the more functions a device has, the
more keys it needs.  Take MythTV and the grey Hauppauge remote, for
example.  I have mapped every single button on that thing and I'd need
more if I were to use all of MythTV's functions (many of which are not
on easily accessible menus), even given the fact that the same button
can do different things on different screens (which is of course a BAD
thing).  Not to mention all the work that goes into configuring the
whole shebang.

  To sum it up: if you can pull it off with just 3 buttons and an
(admittedly) brilliant UI, why 30? Apple, Nintendo and now LinuxMCE
have already caught up on it.

  Well, that's it for my rant.  Kudos to MythTV and LinuxMCE, may they
make my living room an ever better place.


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