General (Dis)satisfaction

I think our MythTV/KnoppMyth experience started out well, and I thought it would get better as MythTV improved and as I customized the details to better suit us. But that doesn't seem to be the case, at all. Daily, using MythTV has become an exercise in frustration. Last night we tried to watch Survivor: Fiji and had trouble. Sherree spoke both of our minds when she said "I just don't want to deal with this tonight."

A constant problem is that scrolling through the list of recorded TV shows will just pause--for as long as 30 seconds at a time. After it's done doing whatever it's doing we can continue to scroll through the guide to pick a show again, but this can happen several times before we decide what to watch.

Another problem is that after selecting a show to play there is a pause between when you hit the Play button and when the video actually starts. The delay varies between less than a second and about 20 seconds. The short delay is to be expected while the computer finds the video and fills the buffer, but I can't fathom what the long delay is for. Often, after the long delay, we are taken back to the guide with the message "You've finished watching..." and the option to delete or save the show. Of course, we never actually started watching it, let alone finished watching it! Of course, the logs don't record anything having happened.

Our MythTV system had 512 MB of RAM in it. According to the KnoppMyth Wiki that should be plenty, since we aren't recording HD content. Some of these pauses were causing a spike in hard disk use (as evidenced by the RRD graph tool), so I decided to try adding another 512 MB to it: a total of 1 GB of RAM made a huge difference! The pausing while running through the guide has (almost) completely disappeared and the pause between when you select a show and when it starts playing is typically pretty reasonable now.

Bumping the RAM up hasn't made the user experience all that much better, however. A larger problem is that the time of many shows is messed up. A 30 minute show, for example, will appear to playback fine. If you bring up the on-screen display (OSD) at--say--5 minutes into the show, it might tell you that it's actually only 12 seconds into the show. Using the skip button to jump ahead 30 seconds will actually end up jumping 15-20 minutes through the show, then the show will appear to be over when Myth thinks it's only 1 minute into it.

To back up a little, when the crazy timing issue is present, if we just let the show play--without trying to skip or fast-forward through the show at all--it will playback fine, start-to-finish. About 50% of the time, however, hitting the skip, fast-forward or commercial skip buttons will cause a lock-up of the MythTV frontend. Sometimes it will return to the recorded shows screen (with the "You have finished watching..." message) and other times it will just sit there. The longest I've ever left it like this is about 20 minutes; I figure something should have happened by then, but it doesn't. Ctrl-alt-backspacing to restart X is the easiest way to bring it back to life.

Of course, hitting the fast-forward and skip buttons has become ingrained in us at this point so remembering not to do this the next time we try to play an affected show is tough and often creates a nasty cycle. As I said, I'd estimate this problem affects about 50% of our recordings.

Some research on this crazy timing issues indicates it's a database problem. I've run myisamcheck and mysqlcheck many times over the last several months and they have always reported the database was good, however. A KnoppMyth forum post pointed out that doing a lossless transcode on the affected show will fix that show's timing issues, which does seem to work. Great, but it's still a pain to find out that a show is busted, have to restart X, locate the show, start the transcode, and then pick something else to watch... which may well cause a repeat of that cycle again.

So, what now? I'm getting pretty tired of all this, and can't find that others are having the same experience. Is it KnoppMyth, or MythTV? I could try MythDora, which would be good because it's still MythTV... but if our problems are actually with MythTV and not KnoppMyth that'll be some wasted effort. Maybe I should just break down and go to Windows Vista Premium (which incorporates Windows Media Center)?

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Older Comments (3)

Dan & Sherree & Patrick currently uses Facebook for comments. Older comments are still here for readers, though. Read old comments »

Hey man,

you should try MythDora. I also started with KnoppMyth but didn't really like it then went to MythDora and couldn't be happier with it.

Sounds like you need to do a clean install. Corrupt data files....

from my experience with Windows Media Center Edition, you are bound for problems. Maybe not the same problems, but problems anyway. Maybe Vista is improved over MCE but my Vista experience sucks too.

you might want to run the transcode on the file after it records as a script or something.

I've been using knoppmyth for a week now and my overall experience so far is positive only because my only problems were my fault initially. Now it's just ironing out the details and hopefully not running into these same problems :) but if I do, I'd rather stick with mythtv.

Good luck.

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