My new digital life.

Ok, so living out in the sticks isn’t the most high tech, but I think I got a couple things worked out.  Number 1 on the list, TV.  I really hate paying for a ton of channels that I never watch, and well, I get all of two over the air, what’s a guy to do?

Leverage some damned tech, that’s what.  I had a Vista media center PC (note the past tense, see previous post about WD drives).  Well, it’s got some new drives and is sporting 7.  In a nutshell, I like it.  I put both of my USB tuners on it and it now records two channels at once (freakin spiffy).  Ok, so now I have some bigassed .wtv files, wtf is a wtv file you ask.  It’s a new flavor of the old dvr-ms format.  There are tools on the market that convert the latter to other formats, but that’s pedestrian and very ‘hands on’.  Remember that Archos pmp?  It doesn’t play wtv or dvr-ms files.  So…

I got this idea, yeah, dangerous at times.  If’ I’m going to be DVRing TV at Mom’s, why not boost her tech level and redo the whole media thing for her.  She recently remodeled a room upstairs into a den.  I ended up donating a 26” LCD TV and two 360’s, as well as the DVR PC.  Now she’s got media extenders in the den and down in the living room.  I had to relocate the router to the basement so I could get ethernet to the living room, but that wasn’t a big issue.  The den 360 is riding G wireless.  Not the best for streaming video, but it does a good job at any rate.  But what about those wtv files?

Well, it just so happens that MS put out a product that is kind of odd for them.  It does a number of things amazingly well, but is relatively inexpensive (stupidly inexpensive is more like it).  Windows Home Server.  Yeah, a server OS that runs on old hardware (and screams on server hardware), that does workstation backups, web hosting, and media archiving.  This is where it gets juicy.  When you tell media center to archive recorded TV, you can also tell it to convert the wtv files directly to wmv for the Zune (yup, the Archos plays wmv files like a champ).

Now, every night my DVR PC gets backed up, and the recorded tv gets converted to a file type I can simply copy to my Archos, take home, dock with my TV and enjoy my fav shows out in the boonies.  Problem freakin solved.  Oh, WHS can be had for $85 from amazon.  If you’re interested in WHS, google it.  HP and Acer also sell out of the box WHServers.  I put it on my Dell PowerEdge SC440.  I’m going to get a non-eval copy next week.

Well, that’s about it for now.  Have a great holiday season.

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