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Ask Slashdot: Dealing With Flagged Channels For XBMC PVR? 328

Posted by timothy
from the you-want-everything dept.
AlphaWolf_HK writes "I own an HDHomeRun Prime tuner, and unfortunately I live in an area where the cable provider (Cox) blanket flags all channels to be copy restricted. I'm tired of using Windows Media Center due to bugs and other problems, but since the channels are flagged it is the only option. Satellite is of course not an option at all (no cablecard or similar standard.) I've already begun moving most of my content watching to XBMC in the form of using sickbeard and couchpotato, both of which do an amazing job even with torrents now that Usenet has been getting hit pretty hard. To match this, I've already dropped my cable tier to the lowest possible for some basic digital channels that people in my household still watch and aren't available over torrents. But ideally I'd like to cut the cord completely as the service is otherwise useless. Are there any options for obtaining this content without physically moving to Comcast territory where they don't do this? Or perhaps any workarounds for the CCI flag? Ideally, anything that allows XBMC with digital content and no transcoding."
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Ask Slashdot: Dealing With Flagged Channels For XBMC PVR?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 07, 2013 @03:55PM (#43108169)

    Write to your congress critter, whine online, nothing will happen. Cancel the service, you can live without cable-TV.

    • Cancel the service, you can live without cable-TV.

      Agreed.

      If you're using sickbeard and/or couchpotato to download TV shows from Usenet, what do you need Cox for?

      • For the shows he can't pirate.

      • Submitter here:

        Actually not using usenet. Used to, and it was good, but not anymore.

        The first and second rules about usenet do not apply, and I want to emphasize that strongly. I knew this would come up, but my summary was becoming too long as it is. Everybody and their mother's dog knows about torrents though.

      • by seinman (463076) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @04:35PM (#43108727) Homepage Journal
        Live broadcasts. For me, it's sports. There are a lot of sporting events that I want to watch that are only on cable/satellite. Even if there was someone torrenting sporting events (I've looked high and low, unless it's the super bowl, this doesn't exist), I would still rather watch most of them live.
        • by feld (980784)

          you're not looking hard enough. i see 720p releases of sports all the time.

    • by fustakrakich (1673220) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @04:06PM (#43108303) Journal

      I believe the OP is looking for answers, not a lecture.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I canceled cable tv about a year ago. No history on the history channel, and reality tv on TLC/Discover etc. Honey boo boo was the last straw. I looked at our viewing habits closely and realized we really didn't watch that much any more that couldn't be replaced with DVD rental and Netflix/Amazon streaming. I honestly haven't missed it and get more than enough entertainment from those other sources. We watch less TV, but what we do watch is far more focused on what we want to see rather than whats on a

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by BobNET (119675)

        I, personally, would rather spend my time doing something useful than watch television. In fact, I don't even own one.

        I'm not an elitist. It's just that I'd much rather sculpt or write in my journal or read Proust than sit there passively staring at some phosphorescent screen. If I need a fix of passive audio-visual stimulation, I'll go to catch a Bergman or Truffaut film down at the university. I certainly wouldn't waste my time watching the so-called Learning Channel or, God forbid, any of the mind sewage

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 07, 2013 @04:34PM (#43108711)

          I'm not an elitist.

          Yes you are. Telling people with a certain hobby that your hobbies are superior to theirs is the very definition of elitist.

          Why not spend that time living your own life, instead of telling other people how to live theirs?

          • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 07, 2013 @05:02PM (#43109099)

            I'm not an elitist.

            Yes you are. Telling people with a certain hobby that your hobbies are superior to theirs is the very definition of elitist.

            Why not spend that time living your own life, instead of telling other people how to live theirs?

            Because his real hobby is telling people how much better he is than others.

            My hobby is pointing out hypocrites. Of which I am one.

        • by poetmatt (793785)

          everyone has their preferences, but I think the mistake is using a TV to watch TV. Use TV as a gigantic monitor with which to broadcast what you download. Why else should anyone even want a TV? To spend 30 minutes watching a 20 minute show? Since when does that even make sense?

        • Troll alert! Bobnet is reusing words from a link posted about an article by 'The Onion'. Reading Proust in his spare time was the giveaway.
      • Compare these two things.

        Hulu/Netflx Subscription with buying / renting DVD/BLURAY of things you would like to watch not available on TV

        VS

        Cable TV (or SAT) package that has "most" of the stuff you want to watch and still supplementing with DVD/BLURAY purchases/rentals.

        The $100/mo cable plan looks really expensive just to get a few shows on Premier night and the few live events you're interested in.

  • Go OTA (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lev13than (581686) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @04:02PM (#43108231) Homepage

    What about using an antenna? I cut cable about 7 years ago - everything comes in on Mythbuntu via an HDHR hooked up to a small roof-mounted antenna. We get about 30 channels OTA with no excess compression and no copy protection. Everything else comes in over the net (Netflix and "other").

    You don't say what metro area you are in or whether you are living in an antenna-friendly building but you've already got 90% of the gear you need. Lots of info on the web about how to make the jump. You may have already investigated OTA, but if not you definitely should.

    • Re:Go OTA (Score:5, Informative)

      by DriveDog (822962) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @05:12PM (#43109193)
      If you have an attic, I would suggest hanging several directional homemade Hoverman antennae in the attic, each pointed towards a station you want. Materials for the antenna—wood, coathangers, screws, wire, possibly ratwire or something for a reflector, and a balun, should cost you maybe $5 each (I had all the junk to make several without spending a dime). You might need to buy some coax. These things are much, much better than the indoor antenna junk being peddled in stores for $30, $50, even more. I implanted one in the wall behind the TV just for backup in case the IPTV setup goes down. The angle just happens to work for the two closest channels.
    • Re:Go OTA (Score:5, Informative)

      by ChaseTec (447725) <chase@osdev.org> on Thursday March 07, 2013 @05:21PM (#43109311) Homepage

      Don't buy some expensive antenna, you can build a good one yourself, see http://www.tvantennaplans.com/ [tvantennaplans.com] I also used two android apps, TV Antenna Helper (to figure out where the transmit towers are) and Hdhomerun Signal Meter (to make sure I had the direction of my antenna perfect).

      Hulu, NetFlix, and Amazon Prime for the rest of my content.

    • +1000 Go OTA (Score:4, Informative)

      by jddj (1085169) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @05:24PM (#43109355) Journal

      Been over-the-air for years.

      We get pristine 1080i network-supplied digital picture for free, no broadcast flag, a fair number of local channels, and Netflix, Amazon and Sony Playstation Store supply the rest over the internet.

      Haven't really done much with Hulu, but it's another opportunity for you to stream fresh content.

      I use MythTV and a HD Homerun tuner, running on Debian on a QNAP TS-119 (which draws something like 6 watts spun up). For TV frontends, I use the PS3, or a recent Mac Mini.Very reliable.

      Took a fair amount of setup, but all works great. My just-turned-five kid has been working the remote himself for about 18 months, getting lots of great commercial-free kids programming from PBS.

      Been forever since I've paid for cable TV.

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      I'm doing just that for locals, but all my cable channels are just SD right now.

      I'm on FIOS, and I'd like to move to HD, but honestly trying to get the non-OTA channels in HD just sounds like a real PITA. They charge more for the tuners, and then I'd need an HDCP-remover and hardware that can encode in realtime (likely at poor quality levels for the bitrate - but maybe it is decent). The family will live with SD, so I probably will just get HD content from other sources if I want it.

      I don't mind paying fo

    • I too use OTA only, no cable. The problem is, I am a baseball and football fan. In the last 6-8 years or so Major League Baseball has sold something like 95% of the rights to local coverage of baseball to cable TV. Even the first round of the MLB playoffs are only on Cable. NFL Monday and Thursday night games are only on cable as well. The online Major League Baseball streaming is only for those games they haven't sold the rights for already (so you can't watch the local team). The online only NFL streaming

      • by yurtinus (1590157) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:42PM (#43110423)
        I'm not big on sports, so I haven't done the research you have - but it makes me curious how much money they are leaving on the table by not making games available as streams. I expect if the cable companies rigged up pay per view streams for all of the games they cover, they could bring in tons of money from folks not interested in huge season costs.

        Then again, I stopped letting TV rot my brain long ago! After all, every hour spent watching TV is an hour not spent playing video games...
  • HD PVR (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 07, 2013 @04:06PM (#43108311)

    Use an HD PVR with the component outputs of your cable box - no cable card so you have to pay the monthly cable box rental fee. This will allow you to record anything that the cable box can see.

    http://www.hauppauge.com/site/products/data_hdpvr.html

    I haven't used XBMC but this works very well with MythTV and Verizon FIOS.

    • I second the Hauppauge HD PVR as pretty awesome as a PVR. I use it to record gameplay videos, and it also works under Linux, although not officially supported. The Mythbuntu FAQ I believe has a good entry on using it. It worked with no extra steps just plugging it in under my Ubuntu install.
      • by nabsltd (1313397)

        I second the Hauppauge HD PVR as pretty awesome as a PVR.

        I also own a Hauppauge and use it to capture off my DirecTV DVR, but there are issues that need to be addressed.

        If you use optical digital audio input, then it better be 100% perfect with no glitches. If not, there will also be video glitches. Analog audio does not have this problem, but can only support 2 channels.

        The Hauppauge is not a "set it and forget it" device, at least not with the software that is included. The hardware needs to be power-cycled at least once a week because it stops responding.

        • I can't speak to the optical digital audio issue, because I use analog RCA stereo audio and have no issues with that. As to needing to power-cycle the unit, maybe there's a newer firmware that my unit was loaded with, but I have never had this issue myself. I actually run all my consoles through a component AV switch that goes into the PVR and into a single component input on the TV, so I can record any console by changing the switch. The unit is on all the time (just not recording) and if it crapped out
    • by Bigby (659157)

      I have used PCHDTV, Hauppauge PVR-350, HD-PVR, and now InfiniTV. I have had TimeWarner, WOW, Cox, and now Comcast.

      With Cox, it was analog (yes, I've been using MythTV since 2003). No problems, obviously. Other than the stability of MythTV on Gentoo.

      With WOW, it was analog (PVR-350). I was also able to use firewire to the cablebox and capture the HD stream. I actually contributed some code to MythTV when getting this to work. Then WOW cut that loophole off. It was great: only the cost of a firewire ca

  • It's totally awesome and completely changed my TV watching habits. Also bonus points for UK citizens, you don't need a TV license :D

  • by schwep (173358) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @04:07PM (#43108329)

    Get a pair of digital rabbit ears - you should be able to pick up many local channels (which is what it sounds like you want). Depending on where you live, a TV antenna either out doors, or in your attic might solve the problem. Then you can pretty much cut the cable completely - and still be legal.

    Alternatively, look for other (smaller) providers. I have family that lives in an area where there is one big cable company, and 2 or three much smaller companies that offer very similar & competitive products.

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      > Get a pair of digital rabbit ears

      Enh.... rabbit ears are not "digital" or "analog". The "digital" on the package is marketing for the uninformed. Like "color" used to be.

      Also, those set top antennas that are shaped like a dish? They're not really satellite antennas. Sorry.

      One Christmas I bought the wife a large farmhouse-style antenna, put it on a tall mast (suitably protected against lightning) and DARED the homeowner's association to try to make me take it down. It's been five years; no takers s

      • That's not true (although digital antennas don't look like the rabbit ears of yore).

        Digital Television broadcasts on a different set of frequencies and requires a different style of antenna for optimum reception. Wavelengths are shorter so instead of a big huge V to catch the longer wavelength analog TV signals, you can use an array of smaller V-sections. Your old set of rabbit ears will still work, just like sticking a wire and some aluminum foil into the antenna jack would work (not optimized, but sti

  • Geeze (Score:5, Funny)

    by TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @04:09PM (#43108345)

    First world problems...

  • See subject... I'm fairly certain hdhomerun + MythTV has no issues with unencrypted channels. I've been using that combo for year.

  • How about dropping digital cable entirely and just ripping from analog channels?

    It worked for TiVi et al for a decade before digital cable became common.
    • I've been considering doing exactly this, but would like to avoid it if possible. Reasons I want to avoid it include no encoding and if I buy an analog tuner it won't be useful for that much longer as the analog cable spectrum is about to be removed.

      • ...if I buy an analog tuner it won't be useful for that much longer as the analog cable spectrum is about to be removed.

        Aw,sure it will! Just swap the leads, and voilà! Instant analog transmitter!

  • by sl3xd (111641) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @04:11PM (#43108365) Journal

    Budget is something that you should consider as well. You can get what you want, if you have the coin.

    For instance, before I cut the "cable", my setup was as follows:

    * Sattelite, outputting to component video and optical spdif
    * A Hauppage HD-PVR, which takes component video in, and optical spdif in, and records/encodes the video to H.264
    * MythTV (though you can choose other options)
    * An IR blaster, pointed at the sattelite receiver.
    * A $50 recent nVIDIA or ATI graphics card that supports VDPAU (ie. GPU-accelerated H.264 decode).

    What happened is MythTV would signal the IR blaster to change the channel on the satellite, and then record the video.

    The HD-PVR made excellent quality video, at an acceptable size. There are limitations to the HD-PVR's video (the video it encodes, while H.264, is in a format that requires a single, fast core to decode - something about multi-core decode not working at all...).

    The HD-PVR even comes with its own IR blaster; I just never took the time to figure out how to use it, as I already had an exceptionally nice IR blaster. The HD-PVR is also a bit finicky, occasionally crashing and requiring a hard power cycle - I even had a network-commanded power relay that would cycle the power to the HD-PVR @ 3:00 AM daily (when even Satellite stopped broadcasting)

    In the end, it was not bullet-proof (as occasionally the channel didn't change quite right, for example), but it worked 99% of the time. Full 1080 video with AC3 surround sound.

    I've since discontinued my Satellite service, and record on-air ATSC broadcasts - and switched to steaming services. I don't really miss Sattelite, and save about $100/month in subscription fees...

    I'm considering hooking a MythTV recording box up at my brother's house (who has cable), and pay him double the "extra TV" charge per month, and then just swap out external hard drives occasionally...

  • I don't get all the local channels, but I get all but one and live pretty far away from the transmitters. The quality is far beyond satellite and cable even when you pay for the supposed HD channels. Those just aren't compressed quite as regular D and besides the image aspect ratio. Over the air antenna is probably the best you are going to get. And it is free. So what if you don't get all the shopping channels and the hands in your pockets preachers.
    • by SpiceWare (3438)

      QVC recently showed up OTA here in Houston, on channels 10.4 and 34.3. Not sure why they're broadcasting on 2 channels, perhaps they're low-power stations that cover different parts of the city (though I get them both where I live). Quality's pretty bad though, they're sending it letterboxed on a 4:3 480i signal so when you watch it on an HDTV you get black bars on ALL FOUR SIDES of the picture.

      Here's the The Houston DTV blog entry [wordpress.com] about it and other recent channel changes.

    • by Arker (91948)
      The funny thing is, the OTA stations dont have any more ads than the cable channels these days, so unless you have a massive appetite for TV (in which case internet options are probably better anyway) there is no reason at all for most people to get cable.
  • If you can't find 90% of your TV shows on Usenet, you are either stupid, or doing it wrong. Some shows, NCIS, NCIS LA, Supernatural and a couple others get tagged right away, UFC stuff gets tagged within 5 hours usually. so I torrent those files usually.

    But the rest? I have no problem finding at all. Oh, wait, The Carries Diaries never show up, but I think it's sort of a kid/teenagers show. Actress is hot though.

    Granted, there might be a time soon when it's getting hard to get TV shows off Usenet, b

    • You should try reading the summary a bit there hoss. It's somewhat difficult to torrent live broadcasts.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @04:16PM (#43108423) Journal

    a) Cancel cable service. Retain or sign up for broadband.

    b) Erect old fashion antenna. (We get 13 digital channels off the antenna, although many of them are crap.

    c) Buy roku box. ($99 Amazon), less than the cost of 1 month of cable.

    d) Subscribe to Netflix streaming, and/or Hulu +, Amazon streaming (Any combination still a tiny fraction of the cost of cable/satellite)

    e) Whatever you can't get via above, torrent, or maybe read a book, go walk the dog, try to remember what your kids look like.

    f) When all else fails, remember, It's Only TV. It's quite a ways down on Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

  • Rule #1 of Usenet. You do not talk about Usenet...

    Whoops, too late.

  • As title. Get a life, then no need to watch the box.

  • You keep wanting something that they do not want to give you. Until you realize this, you have taken the losing position. Move your dollars to service providers that provide content on your terms.

  • Hauppauge's HD-PVR takes component input. It's an expensive and inelegant solution, but it's the one you're looking for.

  • But ideally I'd like to cut the cord completely as the service is otherwise useless.

  • by spire3661 (1038968) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @04:47PM (#43108909) Journal
    When did Cox turn flags on the content? I had a HDHOMRUNPRIME running on CableCARD last year until the Olympics melted the server. (was re-compressing to mp4 from MPEG-2, Q6600 just couldn't process that much video that fast.) I could record pretty much everything but HBO, Showtime etc. Now im just using antenna and the old school HDHomerun ATSC tuners so i havent tried premium cable in a while. Guess ill set it up at my in-laws and see what happens.
  • So is six strikes actually stopping anyone, or are people continuing to torrent?

  • I also went ota, built my own antenna and put it inside the garage up in the rafters.see http://www.digitalhome.ca/ota/superantenna/index.htm [digitalhome.ca] for lots of information and plans. I needed a pre-amp for the 90 feet of cable to my tvs. The nearest broadcaster is about 45 miles away. I get the standard stations: ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, FOX, and ION along with their sub-channels. That's 13 channels that come in very well nearly all the time. I also get several other channels, but not consistently.
  • by Orphaze (243436) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @05:28PM (#43109409) Homepage

    To get around a similar situation with Comcast, I use an Hauppuage HD-PVR with my MythTV setup. It's basically a $160 USB device that takes the analog component output from your cable box, along with digital audio, and spits out an h264 file stream. It works, but there are some downsides: It's prone to needing bi-monthly to monthly power cycling due to hangs, there is a slight bit of quality loss since you're converting digital to analog back to digital (though the audio is untouched,) and you have to use an irblaster or firewire channel changer to control your cable box.

    All that being said, the quality loss is negligible (even on my 59" plasma) and I love the fact that I never again have to worry about my cable company mucking about with their channel encryption flags, frequencies, etc. If your cable box can view it, then you can record it. Period. Because of that, I put up with the HD-PVR's quirks while happily watching all the HD channels I have access to.

  • by mattack2 (1165421) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @07:22PM (#43110825)

    If you truly mean *all* channels, even rebroadcasts of OTA channels, are protected, then this is against the FCC's rules, and you should file a FCC complaint.

    Also, if *other channels* don't want themselves to be protected and they are being protected, you can help get them unprotected (I have seen people talk on tivocommunity.com of having this work on their cable systems).

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