Linux Media Center

After a long time thinking about it, I’m finally decided to use a computer as my media center. I already have a DVD recorder, which uses Windows as OS and, of course, which fails a lot :-( , and that every time it loses the signal for a single millisecond, it hangs, and you have to reboot it by plugging it out. Also, I’ve been using a USB hard disk, which has “media center” capabilities, but which doesn’t accept all video files I have, even though I first test them with mplayer on my Linux box, where they work. Also, I use only once in a while my HI-FI system, given I listen to music on the computer most of the time. So, it’s time for a change, and for removing lots of wires and hardware from my living room :-)

But I still have some doubts that, I hope, dear lazyweb can help me solve:

  1. I’ve tried the S-video output on one of my servers, and it worked great with the S-video integrated in the graphics card. Since I need to buy a new computer for this media center, I assume all graphic cards with S-video output integrated would work the same way, right? That is, I just need to configure X for the TV output, no need to use atitvout or anything similar, right?
  2. For audio output, what would be the best way? Using separate speakers, or buying a cable to connect the audio output of the computer to the input on the TV? I’ve got a very good 5:1 sound system on my desktop machine, but of course I’d prefer to keep it on my “office” room, where I’ll still be listening to music for hours every day.
  3. As for software, I’m going to use MythTV unless someone convinces me there’s something better. MythTV seems to include everything I need (recording, TV, DVD, Music, … even a web browser), and seems to be quite healthy from what I heard.
  4. As for normal computer usage on TV, my previous experience is that it’s quite hard to read the fonts on the TV, and since the only screen the computer will be connected to is the TV, I’m worried I might not be able to do some tasks. On a virtual terminal, on text mode, it’s not perfect but you can read it quite well, but on the graphical mode, it’s quite hard to read. Is there any solution to this?
  5. I have bought a Pinnacle PCTV 400e, which is the only one I’ve found that can be used for the satellite antenna cable I have. I’ve read people with good experiences with this, but I’d love to hear more opinions.

Any other pointers, ideas?

Pisto manchego

The other day I cooked a “Pisto manchego”, and since us, hackers, need to have a healthy life :-), I thought about sharing it, for the GNOME Cookbook, if people like it.


  • Green peppers
  • Aubergine
  • Courgette
  • Onion
  • Chopped tomato (or tomato sauce, if you prefer/don’t have)
  • As for quantity, I’m not good at that, so just put more or less of each ingredient as you want. Some people even do the Pisto without tomato, but for me, it is very much needed.

    It’s very easy, just fry the onion (until it gets “yellow”) and then add the other vegetables, cooking them until they are soft, and removing continously, then add the chopped tomatoes and cook it slowly for 20 minutes or so. Put some salt as you like. Then, just fry 2 eggs (I eat fried eggs 2 by 2, so fry one only if you want :-), and you have a very healthy dish:

    Pisto manchego with fried egg

    (The photo is not mine, the Pisto I cooked was so delicious that I ate it all before getting the camera :-)

    Spanglish (or Engpanish)

    I’ve always had, since many years ago, my computers (and any hardware) running in English, because, when I started using computers, translations were not always very good, apart from the fact that, specially on Windows, when installing applications in English, which replaced some system libraries, you ended up with a dialog with the text in Spanish and the buttons (or anything else) in English, or viceversa. With free software, this changed, since the translations are usually included with the applications, and, for big projects like GNOME, their quality is usually quite good (it is the case for Spanish).

    But proprietary software is still broken. Last night, a friend came to visit and brought “Colin McRae 2005” game for the PS2. I had played that game in the English version, while visiting my sister in London, but never had seen it in Spanish. So, with horror, I found out that translations can be very very broken. Here are some “jewels”:

    • Custom Rally -> “Rally de costumbre”. It should have said “Rally personalizado”
    • ? -> “Protector”. I don’t remember the English word, but it was for starting a race, and a “protector” is something/someone that protects you, nothing related to starting a race AFAICS :-) In fact, before selecting it, I tried to find where I could start racing.
    • Split -> “División atrás” ????
    • But the worst was the co-driver comments. It seems to be just a literal translation of the English version, which ends up in a succession of words with no sense.

    Who did they pay for the translation? This reminds me of the manuals of some hardware equipment, which, when reading the localized version, are very hard to understand, with sentences with no sense.

    Control center plans

    At last GUADEC, we had a Control Center meeting to decide, first, the most urgent things for the upcoming GNOME 2.20, and, second, to raise some ideas about capplets organization. Further discussion is taking place in the control-center mailing list, in case anyone is interested.

    We are looking for ways to reduce the number of capplets, not just for the sake of it, but because there seems to be confusion and duplication (see the several “Keyboard*” capplets, for instance) in what we have right now. So, if anyone has anything interesting to add, please join the discussion.