Dreaming of a useful HDTV PVR

I want an HDTV PVR as unencumbered as possible. Ideally, it would sit by the TV/cable box and communicate closely with my Linux computer. Failing that, it could be a card in my Linux computer, and I'd just have to snake a cable from the living room to the computer room. Unfortunately, this is a much more complex matter than I would have thought.

The set-back to the broadcast flag leads me to think I have more time to buy/build the right device, especially since it's unlikely to be reversed this year, but I still don't see any coming solution to the basic technical problems.

The main resource I've checked out is the EFF's HDTV-PVR Cookbook. It makes it clear that the only real option for me is limited to "terrestrial broadcast (free over-the-air) digital television using an antenna." Cable apparently uses encryption. Problem is that almost everything I'm interested in watching in HD is on a cable channel.

I suppose the fact that Tivo seems to be increasingly terrorized by big media and scorned by cable and satellite outfits renders unlikely our ever seeing an HD Tivo that allows capture to a Linux box.

[Uche Ogbuji]

via Copia


So long ago—another life.
I can feel your heartbeat.

It's not a dream—remember us.
I can see it in your eyes.

We'll find our place in time,
A place in time beyond the sun.

We'll find our place in time,
A place in time to call our own.

--Amanda Abizaid--"A Place In Time"

Free "A Place in Time"! That's not an advertisement, but an imprecation. If you watched The 4400, a fun science fiction TV series (started last year and—hooray!—picked up again for this year), you'll have heard the gorgeous song in its intro. Lebanese-American Amanda Abizaid (viva emigrante!), a totally small-time (but shouldn't be) singer/songwriter composed and performed this brief ditty (the above are the entire lyrics of the munit or so that make up the song).

If you haven't heard it you can listen to it on the Bosshouse Music Web page Flash intro.

She starts off humming the extremely haunting bars that form the backbone of the song, and croons softly through the verse that's ostensibly a love lyric, but carries a very gothic edge to it because of the way the minor key clutches at your ear. It's soft rock, but hardly as forgettable as you'd expect from that genre. It almost feels as if she's going to break into major key for the chorus, but somehow it loses none of its creepy feel despite the modulation. Lori and I actually used to sing "We'll find our place in time, in space and time..." when we heard it on the series, because of the theme of the series, and the fact that the lyric felt as if it should treat on something at least as exotic as the space/time continuum. Abizaid only hints at such a stretch when she says "A place in time beyond the sun."

So gorgeous song, right? Time to go buy the CD, right?
Uh, nuh-unh. It turns out that, unfortunately, the only way you can hear the song is by watching the show or going to the Boss House Web site. Viacom/Paramount, those notorious IP churls, are holding on to the song with a vise grip. I'm not sure why; the response to the song was tremendous, and people are fairly clamoring to buy it. This should be good promotion for the series. Here's's just one of the forums discussing the matter. Abizaid, when contacted by e-mail was originally very generous in sending people MP3s of the song, but then, in her words:

Thank you for your kind words about "A Place In Time". As much as I would like to [send out the MP3], unfortunately, I got a call from Viacom/Paramount Pictures this weekend saying I am not allowed to give out an MP3 since I do not own the song. If there's any way to get the song, they would be the one's to get in touch with. I hope you understand. Hopefully with all this interest in the song, there will be a longer version. Keep your fingers crossed.

Oh, they're crossed, alright. There's a lot more that's crossed, as well. Sometimes you just want to roach-stomp Big Media. Let's hope Viacom comes to their senses and release a soundtrack with a longer version of "A Place In Time", or at least free Abizaid to include it in an album. Until then, if we want polymer rather than bits, we have to content ourself with Abizaid's EP The Great Plan, which is very good, but not really offering anything quite as breathtaking as the 4400 theme song.

[Uche Ogbuji]

via Copia