One of the newest developments in MythTV land is the development of “multirec”. Multirec is the name of the SVN branch of Myth where code to handle the recording of multiple DVB streams from a single tuner (providing the streams are on the same multiplex). This means any DVB users (in the UK this essentially means Freeview users) have the possibility of recording many more channels at once. In fact if you had six tuners (three Nova-T 500s for instance) you’d be able to record the whole of Freeview (if you had enough hard drive throughput at least). Unfortunately using this wonderful feature requires you to run the latest SVN version of MythTV. Since I didn’t fancy compiling Myth from souce I looked for a simpelr way - the answer is Mythbuntu. Mythbuntu is basically Ubuntu (7.10 - Gutsy) with MythTV installed. It’s basically the same idea as the other MythTV distributions. The big difference is that they also provide weekly packages built from trunk - i.e. if you’re willing to accept the small chance of instability you can have bleeding edge MythTV installed without having to leave your package manager (well within a week of bleeding edge at least). PS - You can also add MythTV to an existing Ubuntu 7.10 installation by clicking the relevant link on the Mythbuntu page. This also comes with a nifty called Mythbuntu Control Center which lets you choose whether to install a frontend, backend or both as well as choose which desktop to use (Gnome, KDE or XFCE) and enable/disable various useful services (VNC, MySQL etc.) all in one place.
At the moment I have a Sky subscription with a Sky box. The Sky box outputs to my computer which is running Media Center which can change channel on the box using an IR blaster. This isn’t ideal and also means that I’ll never get HD since the Sky box only sends an SD signal out of the scart/composite output. Surely there must be a way to connect the computer directly to the computer and receive TV that way? Well there is. But there are issues. Firstly you need a DVB-S card. These are just digital TV capture cards that you can plug the cable from a satellite dish into. If you stop there you will be able to receive all the free-to-air channels. Oddly enough though that won’t get you all the free channels. To get the encrypted Sky channels you will need a CAM - Conditional Access Module - with a card reader. In theory you just put your card in and set up your DVB card to use it. Of course anything to do with decrypting commercial stuff is never that easy. You see there are many different encryption methods and most CAMs don’t support them all (and some only support one). What’s even worse is the method used by Sky is VideoGuard from a company called NDS (which is owned by News Corporation, the company which owns Sky). And guess what? You have to pay a license to use it. That doesn’t mean you can’t physically use it though. There are a couple of CAMs (literally two from what I’ve read) that can decrypt VideoGuard signals but the legality is questionable. Which is silly since generally speaking you’ll still have a (paid for) Sky subscription card in the reader. The other issue is Sky’s Terms and Conditions on this issue. They say that the card must stay in the box the whole time, that you can’t use the card for unauthorised purposes and that the card needs to be paired to a specific box. However it doesn’t actually say you need to use a Sky box and the very first thing it says is that you are bound to the conditions once you put the card in the box. So surely if you never do that you aren’t bound to the conditions..?