Posts Tagged ‘Windows’

EyeTV is awful

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

So, for quite some time, I’ve been using Windows Media Center and have generally been very happy with it. Sure, the remote is ugly as hell, and the recording format is a bit impenetrable, but as a user experience it’s really very, very good, and it generally works exactly as you’d expect. Combined with an extender like an XBox 360, and it’s really quite a slick bit of kit.

However, lately I took delivery of a second-hand Mac Mini from work, and I thought I’d put it to service as a little media box under the telly. Everyone keeps telling me how wonderful Macs are, so I left OS X on it, and shelled out for a copy of EyeTV so I could use it as a PVR, too. Well, it turns out that’s a mistake because, compared to WMC, EyeTV is utterly terrible.

For example: Even though Freeview in the UK has a perfectly serviceable set of programme guide data, EyeTV instead defaults to fetching programme information from an company called TvTv – which seems to lack a bunch of random channels, and although you get a year for free with EyeTV, it actually charges for the data after that. You can use the over-the-air programme guide, but you have to select that for every single channel manually, and it seems virtually impossible to get full details for a programme, even though they’re visible on my TV’s built-in EPG.

Or how about recording? Tonight, I had QI scheduled to record at 9:30pm. Naomi wanted to watch Kirstie’s Homemade Christmas, at 8:00pm, but was marking books, so I set that to record too. Just before 9pm, Naomi finished work, and I switched to EyeTV and zipped back to the start of Kirstie’s Homemade Christmas, and we started watching it, assuming that as it had recorded, we’d just be watching the recording, and EyeTV would record QI at 9:30pm, as scheduled. But oh no – EyeTV assumed that because we were watching the channel it was recording, we wanted to continue recording the channel we were watching, and it did so silently. So, instead of recording the programme I’d asked it to, it silently continued recording whatever was on after Kirstie’s Homemade Christmas, and totally failed to record QI.

And that’s not even beginning to mention the picture quality – which is, frankly, poor compared to Media Center or even my TV’s built-in tuner. It’s washed out, and the de-interlacing is awful.

It’s bad enough that I’m on the verge of wiping OS X from my Mac Mini and replacing it with Windows 7, just for Media Center. As a PVR, the Mac Mini with EyeTV really doesn’t cut it.

Cityscape – update 5.3

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

Well, I spent ages fighting with Windows Movie Maker but couldn’t make it do what I wanted, and it seems Adobe Premiere Elements 2 really doesn’t like Vista, so the video I wanted to put up of this will have to wait for a little while.

This basic gist is that I’ve ported the project to the XBox 360, to finally make some use of that Creators Club account I’ve been paying for but getting virtually no use out of for the last couple of years. The code isn’t publically available as it contains a couple of dirty hacks and I haven’t cleaned it up such that it doesn’t affect the Windows codebase yet.

I hit a couple of… interesting issues. The first was that if you set invalid parameters on the vertex/pixel shader or graphics device state, then your first render call will bail out with a driver error indicating that something is wrong, without being terribly helpful about telling you what; it took some experimenting to figure out exactly what combination of parameters the XBox was happy with that didn’t also look like total ass. The other big problem I had was that the XBox version of XNA doesn’t support the GenerateMipmaps() function on textures, which means that if you generate your textures at runtime, you either have to downsample them yourself (and I’m not sure if XNA supports manually generated mipmaps – I’ll have to read into that some more) or have horrible shimmery textures. I eventually went for the third option, which is to cheat and use a premade texture generated by the PC version, and used the content pipeline.

Anyway, the upshot is that it all works – not hugely fast; getting the same sorts of numbers as update 5 on my laptop, but work it does, and that’s quite satisfying, at least.

I really will get some work done on making the buildings look more realistic next, I promise.