Ever since my friend Jason Markham and his brother Steve introduced me to the wonderment that is a digital video recorder (DVR), which was then called Dish Network's PersonalTV system some 6 years ago, I have marvelled at what TV is becoming. And because I'm not one of those people who just happens to find themselves in front of the television at the same time each evening, I never seem to be able to partake in conversations at social gatherings that start off like: "hey, did you catch this week's... something-or-other?" And though I believe few of the offerings on the tube are worthy of my attention, not to mention able to maintain my attention, there are some productions which simply should not be missed.
Enter the DVR. This is one device that everyone, bar none, will wonder how they ever friggin got along without one. And for most the options are few but shaping up to be quite dependable: Tivo and ReplayTV. Both companies sell DVRs and both are holding their own and doing quite well. Chances are you have yourself even looked into these mystical little boxes. And if you're a geek and know a little about Linux, you can now build one of these little devices yourself and have ALL the features, even those that Tivo and ReplayTV cannot provide (like 30-second skip for commercial bypass) for fear of pissing off the powers that be.
Enter MythTV: a completely free software package for home-brewed DVRs, which even sports a graphical user interface, support for multiple tuner cards, fetches television programming guides off the net, archives shows to video CD (VCD), and more. Isaac Richards launched MythTV about a year ago and, with the help of several other hackers, is close to finishing a complete solution -- though there are many who have the system up and running now and working just fine.