[mythtv-users] Watching TV the "MythTV way" and finding new programs

Bruce Markey bjm at lvcm.com
Sat Mar 31 19:26:53 UTC 2007

I've been using DVR's for so long it's hard to get back to
that mind set. At this point I wonder how a channel surfer
really expects to find something new that they'd really
like to see (as opposed to killing time for now). Channel
surfing is a terrible way to to try to discover new series.
First, you could only find things that are on while flipping
channels but not the other majority of the time (unless you
surf more than 12hrs/day =). You catch bits from the middle
rather than the beginning of the shows. The chance of stumbling
across something that might turn out to be a favorite show are
slim at best. You might see a bit of a show that would be a
favorite but not recognize it as such or flip past during a
commercial. You might discover a show weeks after it started.

That's for series. For specials or one time events, the chance
of stumbling across something you really would have enjoyed
are negligible. However, the assumption that you find new things
by channel surfing may not be as true as you think. You often
see promos, actors doing the talk show circuit, mentions on
entertainment shows, jokes in late night talk show monologues,
promo animation in the corner of the screen, etc. When you hear
about a show that might be interesting, you need to remember the
day and time, plan to be home and in front of the TV, remember
what channel to tune to, see that it sucks then go do something
else. With myth when I'm FF through a recording of Reality Remix
and see a preview of something that looks interesting, I exit
playback, look up the show and set a record rule then go back to
Remix. At this point, I don't need to know what channel it was,
what day or time it will be on or the title or even what it was
supposed to be about. Sometime next week a recording of this
unknown show will pop up on my Watch List. I can watch a few
minutes, FF, see that it sucks and delete it.

The question seems to me to be one of familiarity as how do I
do things differently than I'm used to. So, the question strikes
me as akin to 'how do I dig a trench if I don't have a sharp
stick'. Well, a backhoe sounds scary but... ;-).

Chad wrote:
>> Once in a while I go to Manage Recordings>Schedule Recordings>Search
>> Lists>New Titles and scroll through to see if there's anything
>> interesting in there.

I've never been impressed with suggestion systems. As nifty
as they sound in a demo, in practice they are generally
close to useless. When I used a commercial DVR, I'd look at
the lists suggested by the stations and the list from their
scoring system and it was mostly a waste of time because I
knew most of the titles and had already decided if they were
shows I did or didn't want to watch. However, I always looked
at these because sometimes there would be a new title that I
didn't know about yet. One day at lunch it hit me, 'why don't
I make a list of all the titles that I don't know about yet?'
So, mythfilldatabase deletes old data every day but before it
does so, I merge all the titles of shows that have already ended
into a table 'oldprogram'. Now, any show that hasn't ended yet
which has a title that isn't in that list is a new title.

Titles are discarded if they haven't appeared again in 11 months.
This way holiday specials and annual events (Indy 500) are shown
as "new" and so the list of old titles doesn't grow forever.

A couple big problems with a suggestion based system. Say I
watch Letterman every night. The suggestions should then be
that I might want to watch Leno, Kimmel, O'Brien, Ferguson or
Daly. The quality of the scoring system might be determined by
how accurately it produces this exact list. However, I know about
all these shows and I choose to watch Dave. These other suggestions
may be annoying when they appear the second day but not nearly
as annoying as after a week, two weeks, a month, two months, a
year, two years, etc. The other problem is that the assumption
is that I want to record more shows just like the ones that I'm
recording now. This is not true. I record Dave rather than Jay
or Conan. The fact that I record Letterman and Nova in no way
hints that I'd really like to see a Curling match if one is ever
shown. I already record the shows I want for their genre. What
I want to add to my schedule are things that are different.

The What's New list addresses both of these. Because the New
Titles list are by definition titles that have never appeared
before (or at least not in the past year), as I look at it today,
the list is as fresh as it was when I first set it up several
years ago and several years from now I will be exploring the
unknown again every day. It also doesn't try to make assumptions
about my tastes. I often find things that tickle me even though
I've never recorded anything like it ever before.

> Thanks for the response!  :)  What's funny is that is exactly what
> prompted me to ask this question.  I just found that place and thought
> it was quite useful for seeing what's new, but wondered if there was
> something...  better I guess.

I'm biased but I don't think there is =). At the time I was
actually thinking about integrating the Futon Critic calendar
(wow, it's gone. Anyway http://www.thefutoncritic.com/ ). However
the what's new list was more to the point, more complete, geared
to the user's local listings and didn't create any dependencies
(on pages that are no longer there).

>   But better as in grouping types of

For most scheduling pages the view keys Home and End change
the lists on the page. This is especially true for the proglist
pages for the Search Words and Search Lists pages. "Time" shifts
by hours, "Movies" change the minimum stars rating, etc. For the
New Titles page they cycle through All, Premieres, Movies, Series,
and Specials. "Premieres" may be the best list as this also
looks at the original air date and only shows new titles that
are on the date that it is first shown plus movies with release
dates within the past year or two and some minimum star rating.

I normally look at the All list for the next 24 to 48 hours
then switch to the Premieres list and look a week or more ahead.

> programs and describing the new series; though I guess I can always
> read the description and make my own judgements.

You can press "U" to get the Program Details for the selected
show. I find the Category (and genre) plus the type and air
date help me decide.

In addition to the what's new list, you should take advantage
of the Search Words pages. Once you've entered a search term
(for whatever reason) it is stored. These can be deleted but
once you have it, you may find the results interesting again
in the future. Here again the view keys are important. On these
pages they cycle through your search terms. If I go to Title
and press enter on "Baseball", I can hit End to see "Big Break"
results, End again for "Celebrity", and so on.

For example, a couple years ago there was a show called "But Can
They Sing?" with a celebrity(?) named Bai Ling. I entered a
People search to see what movies she had been in. No matches.
In fact, never any matches until today while typing this I see
a match for "Edmond".

I don't go through searches as often as the New Titles but I
do look at these at least once a week usually.

Also, there's a trick you can do with Custom Record that was
quite popular when this first came up but hasn't been mentioned
recently. Go to Custom Record and look for the example called
"First Episodes". Click Add then Record. On the options page
go to Scheduling Options and change the last item to "This
recording schedule is inactive".

This creates a rule that matches every episode of any series
that is cataloged as "0001" when it is shown on it's original
air date. IOW the premiere of a new series. These are included
in your Upcoming Recordings list but because the rule is marked
as inactive, they are in white marked with an "x" and won't
record. These just appear as reminders that a new series is
starting. If something shows up that you want to see, press
enter on the item then click "Record anyway".

I've been working on this stuff for several years and I can
tell you for a fact that from my perspective, this is the
"MythTV way" :)

--  bjm

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