The PVR saga continues…


Current Specs:

The remainder of the stuff is the same as my first attempt. I’ve decided to use a video card to drive The TV so I can get the 16:9 aspect ratio (which isn’t possible with the PVR-350 card’s tv out).

I’m unable to get the Nvidia card to display at The TV‘s native resolution (1366×768) so I’m using 1024×768 and The TV is scaling it up. Not perfect I know, but good enough for now.

To get the correct aspect and screen dimensions in X11 (and xine) I added the following to the “Monitor” section my XF86Config-4 file:

DisplaySize  600 330

To get the correct aspect ratio when playing video files I had to modify the mplayer settings in Utilities/Setup -> Setup -> Media Settings -> Videos Settings -> Player Settings:

/usr/bin/mplayer -monitoraspect 16:9 -fs -zoom -quiet -vo xv %s


I gave up on using the PVR-350 remote, there were too many times I ended up needing to switch to a keyboard. I replaced it with an IR keyboard (the ACK-580 from Directron) which works great. The range is excellent, however I cannot get the mouse pad thingie (in the upper right hand corner) to work. It works well on a Windows machine (Ick! I feel sullied!) but I cannot get X11 to see it.

Overall, I’m pretty happy. Some things I’m still want to work on/tweak:

  • Get automatic comercial skipping to work reliably.
  • Figure out how to transcode recorded shows to Mpeg4 to reduce their size.
  • Get torrentocracy working.

OS X Cyrus DB corruption fix?

We’ve been battling Cyrus database corruption on OS X Panther for longer than I care to admit.

We don’t have an exceptional number of users (something a little north of 500) but some of their mailboxes are quite larger (ie: greater than 2GB). Just restarting the Panther mail services can take over an hour to do it’s integrity check and bring IMAP up. Reconstructing a corrupted Cyrus DB takes even longer (several hours in fact).

To compound that pain, every-time we reconstruct the DB the read status of all of the users mail gets reset. So not only is mail down for the duration of the repair, but even if the corruption happens off hours our users will know about it because all of their mail is marked as unread when they log in the next time.

Generally this was a lousy place to be. Especially with a service as essential to our users as mail. Clearly something had to change, we’d even begun to investigate alternatives to Cyrus and/or the OS X mail service (Courier, CommunigatePro, etc).

So anyway, the other day I was doing some searching and came across a number of posts that identified stability issues with Movable Type and Berkeley DB on Panther. These may have been specific to MT rather than BDB but it got me thinking.

I started looking through the info-cyrus mail list archives and I came across several posts that seemed to indicate that using BDB was not recommended any more. Instead they recommended using skiplist.

Now this was getting good! A quick search turned up this post on AFP548 demonstrating how to modify a script from Apple to change your Panther Cyrus install to use skiplist instead of BDB. The interesting thing was that the original script is used by the Tiger installer to switch your Cyrus DB if you are upgrading from Panther.

Cool! We where planning on upgrading to Tiger anyway, so this gave us that extra needed push. We scheduled some downtime, took a snapshot of the Server boot volume, and ran the Tiger upgrade and the subsequent updates (to Tiger 10.4.4). Everything went swimingly.

We started the mail servers and mail came up – not in hours – not in minutes – in seconds. I was blown away. Other than having to replace our shared ical directories from backup all of the services worked without a hitch.

It’s too soon to tell if this has returned long-term stability to the box, but so far the results are very encouraging. If you have been battling the Cyrus DB stability issues on Panther, I highly recommend looking at upgrading to Tiger or at very least changing from BDB to skiplist using the script above.


Badunk! Thwuppa! Thwuppa! Thwuppa!


The "thwuppa" sound means I just impaled my tire on a foreign object and it’s thwacking my fender. That means it’s stuck. Impaled, stuck, and tire are not good things to combine.

Sure enough, two blocks later my rear tire is flat. I thought they were kevlar belted, I guess I was wrong.

Out comes the cell:

“Al, I’m a 5 minute ride from home, but I’m going to have to walk, I’ll be 20.”

She’s waiting to leave for dinner with friends.

“Sorry, I’ll walk quickly.”

Later, I investigate the cause of the puncture. Steel stud drywall screw, embedded to the hilt. Damn! I hate those things. What is it about winter that covers the roads with construction detritus? The last time I got a flat (that wasn’t caused by a faulty installed rim) it was a drywall screw too.

Anyway, not only did it puncture the tire and tube it punctured the other side of the tube too, only a mm away from the tube stem making the inner tube impossible to repair. So now I’m riding on my spare.

Oh well, off to MEC to order some more bike stuff.