Thumbs up to Tomato Firmware, Thumbs Down to X-Wrt

I have an old Linksys WRT-54G v3. I have ran various different firmwares over the years, but performance was never a big deal. I was mainly looking for something that allowed to me to access all of the devices features and a nicer frontend than the one that Linksys provides. At one point I was using different firmwares for QOS when we were sharing our connection with some other people in our building. Anyways, I had been using X-Wrt (white russian) for quite some time. It is basically a nice user-friendly version of OpenWrt.

Recently we purchased a Squeezebox Duet and even more recently we purchased a second Squeezebox Receiver. We finally have wirelessly-streamed music in pretty much every room of the house. We had been noticing gaps in the audio and I decided it was finally time to fix it. I discovered a diagnostics page (called "Server & Network Health", available via SqueezeCenter's Help page) and noticed that streaming rates I was getting were much lower than the 3000 kbps that I was expecting. In fact I was actually getting much lower than 1000 kps and had to change the scale of the measurement just to get a proper reading.

I decided to upgrade to Tomato firmware, which I had heard a lot of good things about. Immediately, I was getting about 3000+ kbps and the audio problems were gone. As an added bonus, we are now able to watch MythTV from a wirelessly-connected laptop, which were not able to do before (previously I had assumed that wireless streaming video was just too much for today's wireless networks to handle, or too much for MythTV to handle). I think I am going to make a donation to Tomato because it has made such a big difference for us. We can now enjoy listening to our mp3 library anywhere in the house (without gaps) and can watch recorded TV shows on our laptop.

Save Zap2It Labs Free MythTV Schedules

To all you MythTV users out there, if you use Zap2It Labs' freely available TV listings, there was some potentially sad news today. Zap2It Labs announced that their free TV guide service would no longer be available. If you are like me and you rely on this data source in order for your MythTV box to function, go to Zap2It's forums and let them know that you do not want the service to stop and if you are willing to pay for it, let them know that as well. There are two threads of interest in the Announcements section.


MythTV 0.20 Released

MythTV 0.20 was released today. I can't wait to install it and check out the new features. I completely rebuilt my MythTV box last week and it is totally kick-ass now. It has a new 250GB hard drive which allows me to record 100 hours of TV. Some other improvments I made were, setting up XvMC which allows my video card's GPU to help out with some of the MPEG-2 decoding (bringing my CPU usage from 20% to 10% during video playback). Thanks to the Hauppauge PVR-350 card my CPU usage during recording is nil. I also got a new video card with composite out rather than s-video. That fixed a problem with the flaky s-video connector I had (whereby it would slip out and cause the screen to go all fuzzy) and also fixed a problem I had with 3 vertical lines on the TV during playback. We also bought and expensive composite cable to make sure that there are no problems. Finally stuck everything in an Antec Sonata II case for maximum silencing and cooling (not to mention how cool the black case looks).

Now that I have 100 hours of recording space (compared to 3 hours before) I set up a whole bunch of movies to record using the movie list view. It is amazing how many great movies are playing on TV at 3 am. I've also got the CBC National, Simpsons, Seinfeld, and the Colbert Report recorded daily (at any time on any channel, excluding already seen episodes), countless documentary programs and other miscellaneous things like Saturday Night Live. I love watching the TV shows I want, when I want, without commercials, and at faster speed if I want without the audio pitch getting screwed up. For example, I often watch the National at 1.4x speed without commercials. This means I can watch the entire hour-long news in about 32 minutes. Pretty sweet eh?

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